Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Whole grains. We're always hearing about how important they are for us. Lots of fiber, essential vitamins and minerals. All that good stuff. And then you're given your options. Dry cereal or factory baked bread. Mind now - I totally love bread. If I had to pick a single Desert Island Food it would be bread. But I have yet to find a store bought bread that I really want to eat. Something in the recipe, possibly whatever it is that gives these breads any shelf life at all, just ruins it for me. Even the fancy bakeries in the city have disappointed me. That leaves baking bread myself. Fortunately, I like to bake bread and often do, but I can't always bake it and to get me to light up my oven in the summertime requires a visit from the queen.
Dry cereals don't appeal to me. For me, a filling size portion of dry cereal needs to be a cup and a half. I love me some hot oatmeal - and I like grits well enough. I like all good tasting grain products. But I'm tired of what is available locally - which is whatever is available from Walmart and Food Lion. Some interesting flours but few and besides - flour means baking and I am curious about what these grains taste like just plain.
And so, my 2011 food quest is to sample Whole Grains in as many ways as I can. I started with what's already in my house which was Quinoa flour and pearled barley. I already knew I liked barley and I was curious about what the cookbook authors meant by quinoa's earthy taste.
okay. earthy means it tastes like dirt.
LOL well, no. it just had that hint of dirt - earth - scent and taste when I dipped my finger into the flour and tasted it. And the authors (dang. I don't have the book near me but I'll have it next time I post) did warn me that it does well cut with something sweet in the bread, like pine nuts. I didn't have any pine nuts and I really didn't want to make a sweet bread.
I used their recipe which is a pretty basic bread recipe ... 3 cups liquid to 6 cups dry. I used 3 cups whole wheat, 2 cups all purpose and 1 cup quinoa and, as per the recipe, double the yeast. which is good since I had to quit making the bread mid-way and put it in the refrigerator after the first rise. As such, it came out a little denser than I think it would have been if I'd been able to stick with the normal time schedule. Happily, I like dense bread.
Unhappily, the quinoa gives a slight bite or tang to my bread. It fades quickly and can be completely masked by a nut butter - almond or peanut worked. Interestingly, Jelly and blueberry butter did NOT mask the tang.
I don't call it good bread unless it's good with nothing on it - so I would give quinoa a go by as a flour product. I'm not sure what I'll do with the rest of this bag of flour either, since I'm really not tempted to bake anything more with it ... but I am still researching recipes. I may change my mind.
As for the barley - oh. well. YUM.
I already knew I loved barley. I love it in soup and my husband insists it be put in pot roast - and sometimes I comply. The down side to barley and most of the whole grains - is it takes a LONG time to cook them. With barley, though, you can cook up a big batch - it swells to three times its size so 1 cup uncooked will give you 3 cups cooked - and refrigerate it. I like it hot with a few raisins, cinnamon, a dot of butter and a little milk. Yum. In fact - I will have some for breakfast today. And it's yummy in salads. But we had it with a shrimp stir fry made up of a pound of shrimp, a bag of frozen stir-fry vegetables, sliced mushrooms, some garlic, a pinch of pepper flakes, about 1/2 teaspoon of powdered mustard and maybe 1/4 cup soy sauce. a little water, a teaspoon of corn starch for thickening .. even my picky eater husband loved it.
I love how long you can chew barley - it makes a half a cup of breakfast cereal last a long time and it lasts a long time in my tummy. Three days now I've had it for breakfast at 8 and wasn't hungry at all even when noon rolled around. That alone is enough to make barley my new favorite grain ... but there are So Many Others out there - and I plan to try them all.
Happy Hump Day
Monday, January 03, 2011
A new moon is on the way and astrologically speaking that's a good time to get rid of things - things like
1. the fat on my body
2. any eating that isn't pure pleasure
3. Fear and it's younger sister, worry
4. the Untruthful living one does based upon fear.
those are the 4 things I want to let go out of my life this year, and I'd like to continue to release the frittery procrastination I began releasing last year. I was amazed at how successful I was with releasing bad juju last year - especially the habit I had of grousing about long gone injustices and hurts whenever I was doing housework. I don't know how I started that practice but I realized it was a really creepy damaging thing for me to do. Whenever I'd catch myself doing it last year, I'd stop and say, in a much louder voice than my muttering voice, a list of everything I could think of that I was grateful for of everything I could see right then, that was beautiful. Truth is, I don't even remember the last time I grumbled about something though I think it was some time in the summer.
so. to add a little more oompf to the process of getting rid of things I don't like I wrote them down on pieces of paper and one by one, I burned them up in the stove. Watching those little bits of paper shrivel away did feel good. and with an eclipse and a new moon on the way - I can smile at the thought that I picked such an auspicious time to do it.
May you be able to release your bad juju to make room for all the wonderful things out there just waiting to fill up your world.
Saturday, January 01, 2011
Oh my. Sometimes I surprise myself at how cool I am.
Wait! No! I mean.
Sometimes I surprise myself at the cool ideas I come up with. Alas. I don't always follow through with them – but they're awfully good ideas. So last year, in the days leading up to 2010 I made three lists – one, of things I'm grateful for, one, of things I want to let fade out of my life and then 31 things I wanted for my body. Cool, huh?
Of course, for me, coming up with ideas and carrying them out are two different things. I'm like my favorite juvenile fiction character, Betsy Ray, (of the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud H Lovelace http://www.betsy-tacysociety.org/ ) who was forever making lists and coming up with adventurous ideas that her spunky friend Tip carried out. Betsy, Maud, and I admit this facet of our characters, but just because we don't always act upon our grandiose plans doesn't mean we don't ever act. In fact, many of Betsy's lists, resolutions and plans were so compatible, I adopted them for myself.
So what about all my 2010 plans and resolutions anyway? I don't know where the gratitude list is but the other two were posted in a blogs here. Of the 6 things I wanted to let flow out of my life, all of them have at least gotten closer to the door.
1.Unhealthful food - in unhealthful proportions This one barely budged, though it was nudged slightly further away by the addition to my daily life of a yummy green drink made of juice and dark leafy greens and almonds that BD and I have become addicted to. The day doesn't feel right if we don't have our green drink.
But there is something I don't like about this particular release ... something about turning food into an enemy ... much like health food people turn food into something magic ... it's a semantical thing but definitions are extremely powerful so I need to think about how I could reword this to make it both more positive and more truthful.
2.My sedentary body and it's accompanying aches
Learned yoga – hurt my back twisting too much during yoga – had to stop doing yoga – took up swimming again - feeling far fewer aches and pains now. ALSO Realized that i CAN do yoga but I have to only turn as much as I can't feel the pull. My own extremely loose ligaments make it too easy to stretch too far. Recent unbelievably easy yoga practices have shown me that I need to be looking for something different from what other people look for in yoga.
3.Grumbling while doing housework
Ooo. I forgot I wanted to let this go. It's almost completely gone though. Cool!
4.Multi-tasking and it's evil twin...
6.The mother of #4 & 5 ... Frittering away my time slash Procrastinating
I made substantial progress on these three things – especially in my work world. I began using a computerized calender and taking the time each month to fill in every thing I want done and the steps (and deadlines) for accomplishing them. Last year was the absolutely most productive year in my job I've ever had. And that productivity left me in a consistently good mood that was so high I looked forward to Monday every single week!
Man. I want More of this!!
As for the 31 things I wanted for my body (since this is a weight/health/body blog) I achieved 24% ... which, in my book, is pretty durn good. This is not just leaving me proud of the previous year, but excited for the new one.
Well, well, well. So today is January 1, 2011. As per one of the very few rituals I keep, I will take down the tree, clean the house, put away my Christmas perfume, take a wonderful luxurious bubble bath, and sit down with pen and paper and a fresh new notebook and start making my new lists. I already know I'll lift some things from last year's lists but I've also begun planning the new items I want to add to this year. I love me some New Year's Resolutions.
My wish for you is that your year, whatever you resolve to do with it, is so glorious and thrilling and rewarding that you, too, look forward to every Monday – even the rainy ones.
Friday, December 31, 2010
I'm making good use of this long vacation to ask myself some deep searching questions. I'm inclined to do this anyway and the coming new year is just more motivation. I love using the left hand/right hand writing to start the juices flowing and often find that on days when I do, interesting answers and valuable insights will bubble to the surface throughout the day.
I took a long meditative walk yesterday, across slushy fields, beneath soft grey clouds and asked myself a frequent question:
Why, when I love exercise so much, do I ever skip it?
And the answer came to me in a flash. At least, a part of the answer. A part that comes from my childhood. As a very young girl I begged to learn how to play the violin and it turned out I had a rare talent for it. This was before Suzuki and all those wee tiny toddlers playing twinkle twinkle little star in group recitals. 5 year old violinists were extremely rare back than and my parents, never loath to set high standards and unrealistic expectations for their children, very quickly took over my life. From the time I was 5 there was never a day of untrammeled play for me. Unless I was sick in bed, I was expected to practice my violin 3 hours a day during the school year and 5 hours a day in summer. 5 hours is a lot of a child's play time, considering the music schedule in no way shortened my share of the household chore schedule. I never had another day of play again until I grew up and actually quit playing music at all.
I am sure I submitted to this rigorous schedule mostly because I really did love music and fairly quickly on learned to crave the approval I got for being a good musician. There was even a day when I was 11 when I really thought hard about whether I wanted to quit or stay, assessing all the burdens of staying and deciding the rewards were worth it. Evidently I was introspective even as a child. But the down side of such demands on an introspective child was that I learned to fritter away time to look busy, to push the clock back when I began practicing and pushing it forward when I just couldn't stand it any more, and many other bad habits that linger at least in memory, if not in practice.
Alas. Play - free, unfettered movement and activity, or even sedentary pursuits of hobbies, still shimmers with an aura of forbidden fruit for me. Play is for other people, not for me. Play carries with it a hint of guilt and a bit of a pointing finger, frowning brows and withdrawal of love. And what is exercise but vigorous play? Yikes!
I'm on the quest to add to my life, not restrict things. I want there to be so many better, more wonderful things out there to choose from, that i won't want to choose worthless food or slothful inactivity - or worse - time wasting frittering!
And so, the revelation that struck me forcefully yesterday, on my walk across the country, was that Play is permitted and Exercise is Play - and the thought of playing for 30 minutes a day seems so much more inciting than the thought of exercising 30 minutes a day. As I gave myself permission to play yesterday, I began to think of all the really fun things I could be doing. There must be 50 dance videos in the library and I love to dance. I belong to a gym with a pool. I can swim laps, but I could also just swim. period. or play water volleyball or just anything that seems like fun. anytime I want to do something structured - that's permitted too, but the point is to remember that it's ALWAYS Play.
Let's see if this helps keep me more active and having more fun to boot.
as for the points - ahh well. good news.
1. the Water, Fruits and Vegetables thing ____X___
2. 30 minutes of right hand/left hand writing ____X___
3. AM Yoga. ____X___
The score, this final day of December is 79.5 points or 6 hours and 38 minutes. I enjoyed these three so much I'll do them again today. This will be my last post about baby steps, though I'll continue doing them till I reach that magic 8 hours of time off. I'll let you know how I spend that special free day when it happens.
May you all, my dear Spark Friends, know how valuable you've been to me, this wonderful year of 2010. I've had some ups and some downs and then, some more ups. You've always been there for me and I thank you profoundly. May 2011 be all that was good of this year plus new good things of its own.
Here is a photo I took earlier, on this last dawn of 2010. I think it looks so hopeful I want to share it with you all.
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Yesterday was a good day - a good day for cleaning my house around a still glittery Christmas tree - a good day for tidying up the piles of paper that got stuffed in my bedroom to make room for the glittery Christmas tree - a good day for thinking about how to make my weight a non-issue in my life - to get comfortable in my skin - to get the size skin I can be comfortable in.
And what do you know - along came today's Best of Spark People article by Dean Anderson: Stop Dieting and Start Living!
I have read this article before but it was good to read it again because it is just what I'm trying to do. I'm sick of the subtraction, minus, restricting, numbers game. I really think I am supposed to live slim and fit and well, just the right size - for me - for the rest of my life. I'm really and truly tired of "struggling with my weight" and, I admit it, being "on a diet" or about to be "on a diet" or just gave up "on a diet".
Yesterday I asked my Wild Child if she thought she could live the rest of her life as a 145 lb woman and she said "sure" and then "so long as you listen to me" - and also so long as I actually asked that part of myself what I really want to know. Not what I think I want to know.
It's all about being honest. About not playing games. About not setting traps for someone, even if that someone is me! (An aside here - this is why I hate most modern comedies, chick lit, and even straight fiction. The game playing dysfunctional behavior of the characters is so blatant and unsympathetic I don't really care what happens to these characters - let 'em suffer I think as I shrug my shoulders and walk out of the theater or put down the book.)
I don't mind being on the quest - but I'm tired of being on the healthy body quest. I want to have gotten there so I can take that healthy body someplace else. I want to be comfortable in my skin so I can take it swimming, not because it'll help me lose weight - but because it's Fun To Do!
I'm sure I'll have more to say on this subject as the new year rolls in - but soon I hope I have nothing more to say because I'm talking about Other Things.
So - how did I do yesterday
1. FIVE times today, at 10, Noon, 3 p.m. and during dinner and at bedtime, do a "How am I feeling?" assessment. How is my body feeling, how hungry am I? do my muscles feel comfortable? Am I thirsty? Is anything bothering me? ____X___
2. the Water, Fruits and Vegetables thing ____X____
3. A long walk out to the mile point and back ... or maybe even to Robert's Landing (3 miles rt) ____X___
sweet. 3 for 3 and I cleaned the house to boot. That gives me a score of 76.5 points or 6 hours and 23 minutes.
And for today
1. the Water, Fruits and Vegetables thing
2. 30 minutes of right hand/left hand writing
3. AM Yoga.
This baby step program ends on January 1 ... at least I'm going to stop blogging about it - but I will keep doing the baby steps and when I have earned a day off, I'll set another reward for the rest of January.
So. Happy New Year's Eve Eve to you all!
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