Life: Why I’m not doing Whole 30

I’m under the impression that a lot of people are doing Whole 30 this month.  I’m not that tuned into the Whole 30 community online (or off for that matter), but I do appreciate and like the idea of a Whole 30.  I’ve reached that point in my eating habits where my eating is a lot more fluid than it was when I started eating paleo/primal. However, a month of clean eating would probably be a good thing for me, especially since paleo/primal desserts and sweets have crept into my diet.  I would also like to drop a few stress induced pounds that have been hanging out since December.

So, why oh why am I not participating in this month’s Whole 30?  Well, for a number of reasons.  The biggest reason is that my mind is not there.  I have a lot of things going on and I just can’t pay enough attention to do Whole 30 right now.  Trying to force the food issue right now would only result in more stress, not less.  I tried a few times over the last few months to eat cleaner, but it never really stuck.  Right now is just not the time and I just have to be okay with that.  

I eat all right for the most part, so when I have that mental space and time, I’ll jump in and do a month of clean eating.  For now, as much as I hate to just let it go, I am letting it go.  

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Eat: Roasted Beet Hummus

If you like beets at all, even just a little bit, you have to try this Roasted Beet Hummus recipe from The Primalist.  This recipe has garnered rave reviews.  Ever since I shared the recipe with some friends, the rave reviews are nonstop.  You can even boil the beets if you don’t want to go through an hour of roasting the beets.  My only thought now is trying this with golden beets.

Had I known about this recipe over the winter when I was suffering from beet overload, I might have been on better terms with beets during the late winter and early spring.  No matter, this recipe is for the save and use over and over again file.

Go try it:

Roasted Beet Hummus Recipe by The Primalist

 

PS If you have a food processor, save yourself some grief and use that.  If you don’t, I hope you don’t end up fighting with your blender like I did.  After fighting with my blender, a Vitamix is on my wishlist.

Do: Read, Process, Discuss

This morning I woke up to find a round up of links on No More Dirty Looks about carbs, milk, brain aging, and exercise.  The round up is a bunch of things that I think people should be talking about and things that I have an interest in, so I’m going to discuss those things briefly here and encourage you to go and read the original post and the links over at No More Dirty Looks.  The quotes below are all from the original post.

  1. “Refined carbohydrates may trigger overeating.” I would argue that it’s not just the “refined carbs” of white bread and pasta that are the problem, but also things like rice, whole wheat items, and other less refined/unrefined grain sources of carbohydrates.  While I have been heavier than I want to be at times in my life, I’ve never had a big issue with my weight.  However, I have noticed that when I ate grains back in the day, I would almost always inevitably keep eating until I was over full.  I used to think maybe it was an issue of mindfulness (and I’m sure that is part of the equation), but I think that where your carbs are coming from makes a big difference in how much you end up eating.  I prefer to make it easy on myself when I eat and just avoid grains.  I don’t have to worry about overeating and my weight stays more stable.
  2. “Hobbies like reading and writing make for a stronger brain later in life.”  Well, no problems in that department here, but reading this made me think of my grandfather.  He worked into his 90s and was always reading and practicing golf.  Not only is he a well regarded intellectual and scholar, but he is also very fit physically and could out hike my aunts and uncles.  I’m pretty sure that his deliberate way of living is why he is still alive today.  I have a suspicion that he’s healthier than I am.
  3. “Skim milk not healthier than whole milk.”  This is really no longer an issue for me since I’ve stopped drinking milk altogether.  However, I did drink milk growing up and had to drink a glass with dinner every night.  I believe we drink 2% milk until I was in high school and started drinking skim milk.  At the time, I thought I was being healthy drinking skim milk, but I have seen over and over again recently that altered foods are far from healthy.  I still eat cheese and yogurt from time to time, but I get these from local vendors at the farmer’s market and they are all of a full fat, whole food variety.
  4. “Mystery solved: How exercise calms anxiety.”  All I know is that I feel better when I have a mental break everyday to walk or run or rollerblade or lift weights.  I used to belong to a small gym that I could go to early in the morning and workout in peace and quiet.  I loved it.  Now, I belong to a chain gym that has great hours, but even at 5 am is blasting obnoxious pop music.  So much less enjoyable.  I’ve been trying to get a walk in before work, but so far that’s proved challenging.  I used to walk after work a lot with a friend or two and that was a great way to get a walk in and get some social time in.

All right folks, I hope you’ll go and read the interesting post and the links found on No More Dirty Looks.  I’d love to hear your reactions to the topics at hand and what you think about my reactions.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

 

Eat: Zingy Dressing

Last week, I was on the phone with one of my best friends (I realize that makes no sense, since best implies one, but just go with it, okay?) and she asked me if I had any ideas for zucchini.  Of course my favorite way to eat zucchini popped into mind and I sent her Health Bent‘s Paleo Pad Thai.  In return, she sent me a dressing recipe.

Now, you must know, I hate dressing.  It’s seems like a lot of work and extra calories.  (I’m not one of those skinny minnies for the record…just trying to justify my laziness when it comes to making dressing.)  Plus, why eat salad if you have drench it in dressing to make it edible.  That just boggles my mind.

Rants aside, this dressing recipe changed my mind.  The recipe is for a full salad, but you know me, I barely follow the rules.  Given that I didn’t have some of the ingredients and I don’t eat peanuts, I made a bunch of substitutions.  So below is my version of the recipe.

Zingy Dressing

inspired by Food 52’s Lacinato Kale and Mint Salad with Peanut Dressing
  • 3 Tablespoons Almond Butter (I used Justin’s Maple Almond Butter)
  • 3 Tablespoons room temperature water
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (this is my friend’s substitution and optional)
  • 1 Tablespoon wheat free Tamari
  • 1-2 cloves of smashed/minced garlic
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of fresh minced ginger (peel first please)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and pour over your salad of choice.

My version was actually a bit of an accident because I read the original recipe wrong.  So you’ll see a lot more ginger and garlic in my version.  I’ve also forgotten to put the honey in and it’s a lot more zingy.  In fact my sister and I prefer the honey free version.  We get enough sweetness from the maple part of the almond butter that we have.  Finally, I have a tendency to just approximate and throw together what I remember from memory.  Tastes good every time.

Final note, I think that blitzing all the ingredients together in a blender would make the dressing extra creamy.  I haven’t tried this one yet, but there is a thought for you. (Edit: The original instructions say to make the dressing in a blender…I did not read carefully the first time around…so, not such an original idea.)

I love that this dressing is all sorts of good ingredients thrown together in a tasty drizzle worthy dressing.

Enjoy!

Eat: Green Smoothie

I don’t know when the last time I wrote a blog post was.  It’s been a while.  A good long while.  In that span of a while, a lot of things have happened, but nothing productive that I wanted to happen really happened.  Life has been chaotic and I feel like I’ve been dragged around by life rather than my being in control of my life.  I suppose we’re not always in control, but I feel better when I think I’m in control of what’s going on.

Stress has a way of making me lose my appetite.  Food hasn’t been all that appealing and I’ve definitely gone to sleep a few nights this past week without eating dinner.  Tonight, my solution to this problem was to make a green smoothie.  I was inspired by this recipe: Ginger and Spinach Green Smoothie.  Check out the link for beautiful photos of a what sounds like a very tasty green smoothie.  I didn’t take any photos of mine.

I made some changes to the inspiration recipe and this is what I came up with:

Funny Eater Green Smoothie

Arugula, a handful

Spinach, two fistfuls

Fresh ginger root, about two inches long, peeled and chopped

Coconut milk, about 2 cups

Chia seeds, a few tablespoons

Frozen mango chunks, a few large chunks

**Dump everything into a blender and blend until smooth.**

As you can see, there aren’t any exact measurements.  I tend to use whatever I have on hand when cooking.  I prefer not to buy more ingredients when I don’t have to.  My farm share started a little over a week ago, so the arugula and spinach were fresh from the farm and oh so tasty.  I had some left over mango chunks in the freezer and this seemed like a good time to use them.  I liked that the mango evened out the green flavor without eliminating the peppery spiciness of the arugula and the zing of the ginger.

I’m usually not a fan of drinking my calories, but right now I need to get some calories in at dinner time and this seems like a good way to do it.  So, mission accomplished.

What kind of fresh smoothies do you like to make at home?

 

 

Why Organic Food…

**Note: I use the term organic because that’s what most people are familiar with.  When I say organic, I mean foods that are grown naturally without chemical pesticides and harsh treatment.  This includes naturally grown foods and other food designations that encompass this method of food cultivation.**

A lot of people like to write off organic food as overpriced nonsense that the bourgeoisie like to use as a status symbol.  While the use of organic food as a status symbol may be true, organic food is not BS, as one of the physicians I worked with declared one morning.  The reasoning was that if food was all grown organically, the world’s population would starve and that we wouldn’t have gotten to this place in the first place.  That sort of unthinking declaration made me really mad.  I considered responding with a persuasive argument, but as the absolute lowest person on the totem pole, I had nothing to really gain from trying to educate someone who was going to insist that organic food is nothing but a scam.

Organic food is hardly a scam.  Sure, considering the types of things that tend to harm people first, the distinction between organic and conventional food is low priority.  Most of the people I see in the hospital have other more pressing issues to resolve – substance abuse, poverty, gun shot wounds, infection, heart disease.

Organic food does make a difference though.  Organic food means food grown without heavy chemicals.  I have a farmer friend who told me that pesticides were really not too big of a concern for the consumer because most of it is broken down by the time the food reaches the consumer.  The bigger problem was the farm workers who applied pesticides.  Those were the people who got all the ill effects of pesticides.  While on a macro level, this might be true, I imagine that on a microscopic level, that whatever is left of pesticides on foods is not good.  Not to mention that foods grown in an unnatural state tend not to be very nutritious.  (If you want better researched and thought out information on this, click on the links at the bottom of this post.)

If you’ve ever grown your own garden or had organic food from your local farmer’s market, I’m telling you organic makes a difference.  Same goes for “organic” meat.  This past Thanksgiving, I debated the merits of hauling a free-range, organically fed turkey home to my family or just going the easy route and letting them buy a turkey locally.  (I’m sure there are free range, organically-fed turkeys where my family is, but I don’t know where to get one.)  After a lot of back and forth, I bought a turkey and packed it in the trunk of my car with 18 pounds of ice and drove home to my family hoping that the turkey wouldn’t go bad.  The effort paid off.  Everyone raved about how the turkey was the best they had ever had.  Of course, while we can’t discount the role that my sister’s amazing culinary chops had in making a tasty turkey, I have to say, the turkey was exceptionally good.

I know my Thanksgiving tale is just one example, but I can tell the difference between organic foods and conventional foods.  The taste is different and all of a sudden those vegetables and meats that I choked down before are actually appealing to me.  Organic foods also means humane treatment of animals, healthier farm workers, and happier people overall.  I think that’s a pretty picture that I want to be a part of.

Yes, organic food is more expensive, but if you can afford it, why not treat your body to the best that nature has to offer?  Why not support the farmers who are out there trying to make a difference?  Sure, there are big commercial organic farms.  I try to buy local and organic before resorting to commercially grown organic food, but even that is better than the alternative – a world filled with toxins where there are people getting sick and exposed to pesticides just so you can eat.

I might be cynical about a lot of things, but you can taste the difference in your food and that alone is worth eating organic.  Local and organic is even better, but the local foods discussion is another discussion for another time.

Finally, for some intelligent and coherent discussions on organic foods, read the recent bunch of articles posted by Mark Sisson over at Mark’s Daily Apple:

What do you think about organic food?

The Blahs

I’m having a bad case of the blahs.  I blame the suddenly 50 degree temperatures that started right after it was 80 degrees, I blame the shorter and shorter days, and I blame the fact that I haven’t gotten my blah self cooking nutritious foods or going to the gym.  I did go rollerblading on Sunday when it was freakily 70 degrees outside, but other than that and a short stint at the gym 1.5 weeks ago, I haven’t done much.  This all from the girl who burned herself out a couple years ago going to the gym 2 – 3 times a day in an effort to be “healthy.”  Yup, I’m a woman of extremes.

I’m writing this post to declare my war on the blahs.  I’ve got to do something before I end up staying in bed all day and feeling sorrier and sorrier for myself.  The blahs will do that to a person.

  1. Pick something to do in the morning that I want to do.  This has been my go to strategy when I dread getting out of bed in the mornings…right now, that’s where I’m at.  It takes me the better part of an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and then I move slowly and have to rush to work.  Not cool.  There isn’t much to do at 5 am, but the gym I belong to right now is 24 hours during the week, so that’s where I’m heading when I get up in the morning.  Now I just have to remember that I actually do like going to the gym.  The blahs can really hit you hard sometimes.
  2. Sit in front of my happy lamp.  A  couple of years ago, I was really depressed during the winter.  The cold snowy north does me no favors when combined with my long hours and indoors all day work.  The goal is to do this in the morning so I don’t end up being unable to sleep at night.
  3. Pay attention to my feelings.  I tend to be the kind of person who doesn’t want to feel my feelings, more so when I’m having the blahs.  So, some journaling (preferably in front of the happy lamp) to get those feelings out instead of bottled up would be nice.
  4. Get outside.  When I’m having the blahs, I don’t want to go outside.  Throw in some 50 degree weather and you’ll find me sitting at home in my sweats watching online TV while stuffing myself with yet more eggs because I don’t feel like cooking.
  5. Actually cook meals.  Speaking of cooking, I need to cook.  I need to stop the carb-ing with the white rice, which I’ve been doing for far too long now, and get back to eating lots of vegetables.  Right now I’m feeling veggie averse even though I know I feel much better when I eat a lot of vegetables.  It just seems like a lot of effort right now to cook and eat lots of vegetables.  Don’t ask me about the reasoning behind that one.
  6. Connect with people.  Right now, I’m feeling pretty disconnected.  My best friends are far away and have been for some time now.  It’s been harder lately to catch up with them regularly because we’re all running around with crazy schedules.  Throw in a time difference and we’re barely making time to catch up once a month.  I also have an awesome pen pal that I’ve been neglecting, so I need to get on writing some letters to her.  Maybe it’s also time to throw a housewarming party.

I’m sure there are a million other things that I could/should be doing to battle the blahs, but let’s start with these, shall we?

What do other people do to battle the blahs?

Morning treats

I’ve had a stupid head cold that I haven’t been able to shake all week. I blame the room that I’ve been stuck in for most of the last couple of weeks and the other people I’m working with. I will refrain from telling you my opinion of both of these entities for fear of ruining someone’s appetite and because it’s not nice to talk about other people. (Unless you’re saying nice things of course!)

20121005-071628.jpg

So now I’m sitting here with this beautifully topped Americano waiting for breakfast. The lovely people at this coffee shop are mostly used to my crazies because I probably came here every morning for the better part of a month when I was moving and ordering whip cream on top of my Americano. Now, they don’t question it.

Well, I better get ready to eat since it looks like between the rain that has just started to fall and my late start this morning, I’m going to be making a run for it.

PS In case anyone cares, I love my new phone! 🙂

One Change

One change can go a long way.  I just read Domestic Man’s post about Easing into a Paleo Diet and he has some great advice on how to make some small changes to get yourself eating better.  Reading his post got me thinking about how even one change can really improve a person’s health.

Back in the days of yore, I had a classmate in college who between freshman and sophomore year lost a good amount of weight.  When someone asked her how she did it, she said that she cut out soda completely along with some other dietary changes.  She remarked that just by cutting out soda, including diet soda, she lost 10 pounds.  That was before she made the other dietary changes.  I remember thinking one simple change could make a big different.  I also remember thinking, “Soda really is evil!”

Fast forward to the present day.  I had a patient that I was seeing and I asked him about his diet and he said that ate a lot of meat and drank a lot.  He had already quit smoking, so I decided to ask him to make two changes – stop drinking and eat more vegetables.  He readily agreed to try it.  I think that instead of asking him to stop eating meat, which appeared to be a huge part of his culture, I just asked him to add something to what he was already doing.  Stopping alcohol might be a bit harder, but I figured I had a window of opportunity and asking for two changes didn’t seem like a whole lot.

Contrast giving that kind of advice to giving the kind of advice that I’ve heard most people give other people.  You need to eat better.  Well, I think most people know that, but when you give advice in general terms, people become overwhelmed.  Those people start to feel guilt that they aren’t eating better and they can’t seem to ever get to the point where they are eating better.

Writing this gives me an idea for creating a hierarchy or a list of nutritional advice that’s focused on getting people to actually make a positive change that could be used in the medical setting.  I don’t agree with a lot of the nutrition advice that’s being doled out in physicians’ offices, but I think that things like eat more vegetables is something that we can all agree on.

Lots to think about.

I’m interested in other people’s experiences with nutritional advice and interactions with the healthcare system, so leave me comments.

To Be or Not To Be

Caffeinated.  That is the big question today.

I never was much of a coffee drinker until after I graduated from college.  Starbucks was for the corporate and wall street types and as far as I know studying in coffee shops was not the hip thing to do.  Or maybe that was just my college, since there were plenty of cooler placees to get your study on.  Then again we are talking about a pre-Facebook era.

In any case, the most coffee I would have would come in the form of a blended coffee drink of some sort maybe three times a year.  I just never really got into the whole coffee thing.

Now, I’m not sure which came first, but somewhere between the amazing coffee that my sister brought back from Costa Rica and a backpacking trip though Spain, I started drinking coffee.  I loved the way it tasted and smelled and I got a nice euphoric high off of it that would have me going all day long.

Pretty soon, I knew which types of coffees I liked and would seek out novel coffees to see if I enjoyed them.  Around this time, I was also spending a lot of time in New York and well, there is some pretty darn good coffee there.  A busy schedule meant that I started drinking coffee almost everyday.  Unless I had to cram in extra work into the wee hours of the morning, I only drank one cup at breakfast.

Fast forward a few years and without the crazy schedule, I stopped drinking as much coffee.  I didn’t need to make sure that I was alert and ready to go at 5 AM any more, so I didn’t see the need for it.  Of course, if I did enjoy indulging in a good cup of coffee every so often.

More time travel to the summer of 2011 when I changed to paleo eating.  I ate a really strict diet for a month and then it sort of naturally continued on from there.  I didn’t drink coffee until I started having overnight shifts and even then, I only drank coffee when I needed to.  Up until this point, I never noticed that I had an issue with coffee.

A little side note here.  I might be sensitive to coffee in that it can keep me wired for three days after one good cup, but I never had the shakiness or the palpitations that some other members of my family had.

Welcome to the present day.  I drank a cup of coffee this morning that I brewed myself, french press style, and my heart is pounding pretty hard.  I’ve noticed over the last couple of weeks that this has been happening to me when I drink coffee.  I’m not liking it.

I love the clarity and up that coffee used to give me, but now coffee seems to just give me heart pounding and not a whole lot else.  I don’t know if this is because I eat such a clean diet that this issue was not apparent to me in the past or if the whole mycotoxin theory is actually correct.

The only reason I am even drinking coffee at this point is because it’s allergy season and anti-histamines make me drowsy (yes, even the non-drowsy kind).  I’ve noticed that this year I’m doing okay with one allergy medicine (versus three in years past) and that skipping a day or two of allergy medicine doesn’t cause huge problems.  However, I still have work to do.

So, much to my utter disappointment, I believe the correct answer here is to not be caffeinated.  I’ll just have to be that much better about eating well and getting good sleep.

In the end, I would love to have all the energy I need without relying on any sort of caffeinated beverages.  I’m pretty sure my reliance on them in the winter of 2010-2011 is what precipitated a huge burn out (another story for another post).  So, we’ll see if I can actually get through everything without the occasional caffeine boost.