Thursday, March 17, 2011
So I joined a study as a research subject. It's kind of cool.
They lent me an Android phone for a month and I'm supposed to take a photograph whenever I make a health-related decision, rate it on a scale of -3 to +3, associate an emotion with it, and share it with the other people in the study who are also doing the same thing.
Then we can look at each other's photos and comment on them and have conversations.
Here's the page where the research study is described:
Look at the list of projects on the lower left and click "Vera."
If you don't feel like following the link, here's the blurb about the study:
"A key to behavior change is the ability to intervene at the point of decision. In health behavior, this could be the moment one must decide between taking the elevator or the stairs or whether or not to eat a piece of cake. These are also the moments where it is most difficult to reach people--they occur throughout the day, often randomly, in any location. Fortunately, the ubiquity and awareness of today's mobile phones provides us with a solution. The goal of this project is to explore the use of the mobile phone as a behavioral interrupt: how, at the point of health-related decisions, can we encourage people to take a moment to think about the ramifications of their decision, reflect on past decisions, and ultimately make healthier choices?"
So far I've only had one conversation with someone who posted a picture of her dog (I commented that I thought it looked cute and she said thanks).
It kind of reminds me of the blogs WOLFKITTY was doing for a while where she logged all her food by photograph.
I'm interested to see if it'll help me stay on track, because it often is at the moment of decision that I waver and sometimes end up making choices I regret - especially when it comes to binge eating. I'll let you know how it goes.
It's also kind of neat to have access to a smart phone. My cheapo Tracfone can't do these things. I think I prefer the iPod interface to Android overall, but I could get used to the swipe text entry feature...
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Inspired by another blog post to share some of my current eating habits.
I frequently buy the big family pack of boneless chicken breasts from Wegmans ($1.99/lb), and with kitchen scissors trim off the remaining bits of fat (those go in a container in the fridge for cat treats). As far as I can tell, Wegmans does not inject this chicken with extra saline.
Then I chop up the breasts with the scissors into manageable pieces and freeze them, in handfuls of pieces, in ziploc bags.
To use I dump the frozen raw chicken pieces into a microwave bowl with some water and cook 'em. Usually it takes about 3 minutes on high, then I poke them apart and cook for 3 more, often adding a can of "Light" soup (Campbell's and Progresso both make soups which have about 150 - 200 calories per can.) Or I just add actual vegetables and seasonings and make soup from scratch. If I have the time I lengthen the second cooking time to 10 or 15 minutes on medium power. The flavor is better and there is less risk of boiling over.
I like to buy these packages of salmon and keep 'em in the freezer. They're individually wrapped, which is convenient. I take one out when I arrive at work and it's usually thawed by lunchtime.
Then I fire up the toaster oven, spread foil on the tray, spray with some olive oil,
sprinkle salt-free lemon pepper, slap that fish on top, sprinkle with more lemon pepper, and broil for 5-10 minutes.
You can do the same thing with shrimp and you don't even have to thaw them first, although I sometimes do. You can also add shrimp to soups. It's one of the lowest-calorie lean protein sources out there.
Sometimes I just microwave the shrimp, stopping every few minutes to dump out the water and move the cold ones in the center to the outside.
Then I dip in Tabasco sauce as I eat them.
I also buy giant Hubbard squash (anywhere from 1-5 dollars each), drop them from chest height on the front stoop to break 'em open, scoop out the seeds, and bake skin-side down for about 3 hours at 350. The seeds go into the bird feeder where the blue jays enjoy them.
Sometimes I rinse the seeds and bake sprinkled with salt-free seasoning. It depends on how ambitious I feel and whether I want a high calorie snack sitting around or not.
When a fork goes in easily and there are lots of nice carmelized edges I scoop the flesh into microwave and freezer friendly containers and freeze them. One squash often yields more than 16 cups of actual food. I think the flavor is superior to other kinds such as butternut.
Then I microwave with seasonings (any kind of alt-free one works) or add a dollop to the chicken soup, above.
Sometimes for dessert I just take the squash cold, add some nutmeg and cinnamon and sugar substitute and mix it up. It tastes like pumpkin pie.
P.S. The absolute best tasting squash, in my opinion, is Buttercup.
I didn't mention it above because Hubbard is so much cheaper and tastes almost as good. I bake it the same way, but because it's smaller it takes more like 1-2 hours. They're small enough you can cut them open with a knife. Sometimes I'll bake half of one in the toaster oven for lunch. (No one else uses the toaster oven at work between breakfast and lunch so it's available.)
It was bred in North Dakota to replace sweet potatoes which don't grow there because it's too cold:
Yeager, A.F. and E. Latzke. Buttercup Squash: Its Origin and Use. Fargo, ND: Agricultural Experiment Station, North Dakota Agricultural College, 1932. Bulletin/North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station no. 258. 19 p. NAL 100 N813 no.258
In 1922 North Dakota researchers Yeager and Latzke undertook a squash breeding program that was initially focused on the Hubbard squash. Their aim was to develop a desirable variety that would take the place of the sweet potato, which had proved unsatisfactory in variety testing in the region. This report, issued ten years hence, describes the origin of the Buttercup variety, a small turban-shaped squash selected from an accidental cross of Quality and Essex Hybrid, and also considers growing methods and the variety’s cooking and food qualities. A good portion of the bulletin consists of general instructions for cooking and several dozen recipes (p. 13-19). With black-and-white photos, and bibliography (sources cited in footnotes).
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