Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Sometimes it strikes me that cooking doesn't take *that* long, and then I just have to make something. I jumped rope yesterday evening, and I didn't want to eat dinner immediately after, so I had to find something to fill my time. Enter Almond-Coconut Biscuits from Girl Gone Primal. They're very simple: almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut oil, an egg, and flavoring. I forgot the vanilla, which probably contributes to the fact that mine are a wee bit plain. But then, per the recipe suggestion, I made myself a small plate of blackberries, topped them with coconut cream, and ate a serving of biscuits alongside, and for THAT purpose, they're very good!
I don't think my mom will buy into it, though. She has a killer sweet tooth. So I will try a batch that uses butter instead of coconut oil. I'm also curious to see how they would taste if I dunked the bottom of them in chocolate, kind of like a Milano cookie, or just artfully drizzled some chocolate on top. Oh, and stevia. I'm personally against adding any kind of sweetener to anything, but I'll try it to see if it makes the cookie more like a sweet cookie. The one thing I DON'T want is to send my mom some cookies and have her think they taste like "diet" cookies! That would just take an already kind of depressing situation and make it really suck. I do hope, though, that with the diet change she loses some weight. Not that she's fat or anything -- she's probably only slightly overweight, but I know that she would be happy if she lost some weight. We'll see!
Sunday, January 31, 2010
I've been experimenting with the wonders of coconut recently. I bought some coconut creamer from Sprouts. Of course, I looked at the ingredients in the store, but I must have only really glanced, because then when I used it the other day, I saw that right after "Organic Coconut Milk" was "Organic Cane Juice." That's a lovely way of saying SUGAR. I'll use it for now, but I won't buy it again.
I have been cooking my eggs in coconut oil. It's definitely a different taste, but it makes the eggs kind of creamy, and since I'm a fan of snotty eggs anyway, this is a good thing. I might start using a teaspoon instead of a tablespoon, though.
I also don't have access to coconut cream yet. Maybe the world foods section in Kroger has some, but mostly I can just find Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk. I think I'd rather have the cream because then if I want milk I can just add water. But in this case, I did just the opposite. Yesterday, I took a can of milk and stuck it in the refrigerator. Then, when I opened the can, instead of shaking everything and mixing it all up, I just scooped the firmed-up cream from the top of the can and used it to top my blackberries instead of whipped cream. It was pretty heavenly. I wonder what would happen if I whipped it like heavy whipping cream...
Then today, I topped off Coconut Week 1 with some "popcorn shrimp." I took half a bag of previously frozen shrimp, peeled them, dried them off, coated them in one whipped egg, coated them with unsweetened shredded coconut, and fried them. They're good! The coconut comes out very breading-like, and the shrimp come out, well, shrimpy. That's okay with me because the usual popcorn shrimp are totally flavorless. I mean, that could be chicken under that pile of breading for all I know! But no, these are bread-y and shrimp-y. I would just alter my technique a little. I tossed all the shrimp in a bow with one egg, and then I tossed them all into a bowl with the coconut, then shook them around. Some of the coconut ended up clumping with the egg instead of really sticking to the shrimp, so next time I'll toss all the shrimp in the egg and then place them on a plate coated with half the shredded coconut, then sprinkle the rest of the shredded coconut on top. Then, instead of frying them in one batch, I'll fry them in 3-4 batches that i can control more easily. It's mostly an aesthetic thing, really. And it'll up the cook time from, oh, 3 minutes to maybe 10 minutes. Shrimp cook so fast that it's not a big deal, really.
Hubby liked them as a snack. I was surprised because, as an avid hater of all things coconut, I was pretty sure he wouldn't touch them with a 10-foot pole. But I showed him my shrimp, how pretty and breaded they were, and then as I was leaving he sneaked up behind me and ate one. And he liked it!
They're not much of a meal, but I turned mine into a small meal by serving them on a bed of fresh collard greens with a little bit of hubby's homemade mango salsa. Then I topped the day off with some blackberries and coconut cream. Delicious!
On another note, my mom went to the doctor, and her blood sugar is still elevated. She decided, once and for all, that she's going to start taking my dietary advice. She attributes it to the holidays, but on the phone today, she said enough is enough, she's going to try making some serious dietary changes to get her blood sugar under control. I applaud her for trying to do it through lifestyle change instead of medication and trying to nip it before it turns into full-blown diabetes. I also let her know that she can bake some "junk food" that won't spike her blood sugar. I shared a breakfast recipe with her, and i think I'll be sending her a care package one of these days with Paleo almond-flour cookies. When I was in undergrad, parents had the option of ordering special "finals week" care packages for us, and they always had two choices: one with candy and chips and chocolate, and one with fruits and nuts and pretzels. My parents always sent me the fruit one because they knew I would like the apples and oranges more than the chocolate. Well, now I'm gonna send my mom a care package that basically says, hey, you don't have to give up your favorite foods just because you're pre-diabetic. Let's make cookies!
Besides, it's my mom, and it's her health.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I have mixed feelings about my audition on Monday. First of all, the stats. There were 120 people who showed up for the audition, and I was number 78. They heard 10 people in an hour and took a lunch break, so I didn't get a private practice room until 4pm and didn't play my audition until 5pm, in spite of arriving to register at 9am. By the time I played, only one person had been advanced to the final round. Out of my group, two people advanced, and they were numbers 76 and 77 -- in other words, the two people who played right before me. That actually has no bearing on whether or not I advanced, it's just an interesting observation.
Why the mixed feelings? It was hands-down the best audition I've ever played, but I've learned sooooooooo much from my DSO teacher that now I understand fully why I've never advanced. I have a whole laundry-list of problems that need to be fixed (they would seem minute to a casual listener, but if I can hear it, guaranteed the musicians behind the screen who are judging me can hear it, and possibly even more). I'll never stop hearing problems; the goal is to be so finely tuned to how I want to sound and play that the only person who knows I made any mistakes is me. Lofty goal.
Am I upset? Sure. I cried my eyes out last night, and today I'm taking a mental health day. I will still go to my class and teach my after-school students (fortunately the morning students are on a field trip, so I had the morning off), but the clarinet will go untouched, and the gym will go un-visited.
What about the diet part? Well, after reading that link about carb-loading, or, NOT carb-loading on the Paleo diet, I've decided that next time, I won't try it. I'll stick to my regular diet. I think I needed to feel like I was doing everything I could pro-actively, so I tried it. Well, my body sure isn't used to huge amounts of fiber from dried fruit like that! Thankfully the discomfort hit after the audition.
Sticking to the diet, though, was relatively easy. And it's pretty nice when you go into a restaurant, prepared to eat only a salad -- then it's not hard to choose. What was even better was the one night when it turned out I could get some fresh Atlantic salmon with a side of simple broccoli and carrots. But, I was happy with my salad with grilled chicken on Saturday night and my flank steak salad with tomatoes and onions yesterday. They were all so good that I didn't even miss bread or sweets. And believe me, after the audition, I was just so tired that "treating" myself to a gorge-fest on chocolate chip cookies was not beyond me. Instead, I ate a healthy meal, treated myself to an Irish coffee for dessert (and didn't turn down two mixed drinks at the bar later), and the next day "treated" myself to a new jacket, dress, and skirt from H&M -- one of my favorite stores. It's a pity it STILL hasn't found its way to Dallas!
So yep, still sitting here loving the Paleo diet. I suppose if I learned anything about the diet, it's that it is really hard (at least for me) to make drastic changes in my weight. I'm circling around a happy number, and my body is loathe to make a move in either direction. Add the refined, processed junk food back in, and I'll put on weight no problem. I'll also feel like garbage. So there you have it.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Lol, just a few days late, I got an e-mail from my subscription to Paleo Cookbooks that included a link to an interview. The athlete is a bicyclist from Austin, TX, who went Paleo in the beginning of 2009 and says that his performance is better than ever. He also believes that carb-loading is a myth. Here's the link to the article:
Yup, so there you have it. I would like to note that, if anything, my carb-loading experiment has proven that it is impossible to eat a high-carb diet when eating Paleo. I have been eating nothing but dried fruits, whole fruits, salads, etc. in an attempt to get my carbs up and I don't think I topped 150g even once. So there you have it.
Let me give a shout-out to one of my new favorite restaurants. My sister-in-law took me to Art and Soul today for lunch, and it was fabulous! Gourmet food with a southern twist. My meal was surprisingly Paleo-friendly, even if I let myself indulge in the non-Paleo stuff. First came some bread, of which I ate a small amount because it was actually a kind of bread I'd never tried before. Can't remember what it was called, but it was gooooooooooooood! Then I ordered a butternut squash soup that was garnished with a few parsnip chips (parsnip chips!) and some creme fraiche. Okay, hello paleo. Then I had salmon with a warm apple and green cabbage thingy (not quite sauerkraut, not quite coleslaw, all good), and roasted beets with what they called a citrus brown butter. Tasted more like dijon mustard sauce to me, but that's okay, it was delicious. Then for dessert I had almond cheesecake. The crust was definitely not a typical pie crust. It was crumbly and good, I suspect some blend of nuts, butter, and brown sugar. Okay, that part wasn't Paleo at all! But that's okay, I call it a cheat meal.
It was sooooooooooooooooo good! And not cheap. They were having a lunch special, where first course, second course, and third course came for a total of $20.10. Doesn't Applebees have some special where you can get an appetizer and two dinners for $20? And then the dessert is an additional cost, of course. Oh, wait, Applebee's isn't half as good as this was! So if you're in Washington, D.C., this restaurant is HIGHLY recommended. The menu is small and you can't substitute anything, but I truly believe it's better to have a little of very good stuff than to have a ton of junk. Yup. Yum!
Tomorrow's the big day!
Friday, January 22, 2010
I had this plan that I was going to carb load before my audition so I had plenty of energy. Then hubby sent me a link to an article from the Mayo Clinic about carb loading. It was really interesting, and of course commented that before you carb load, you have to be eating low-carb. Their definition was that carbs need to be less than 50% of your caloric intake. Mine is less than 20%, so there you have that.
But then it said you should start 3-4 days before the event. That's today. So hubby and I were debating how I should do this. There was a risk list at the end of the article that basically said carb loading can cause wacky blood sugar or digestive discomfort. Neither of those are exactly desirable for an audition! So... Paleo carb load!
Starting today, for the second half of the day, I will consume lots of fruit and try to keep the fats low (from what I've heard, it's the fat/carb combo that's killer, but you'll be okay if you do high carbs and low fat). We sold our tube TV for $30, so that money is going to be used for dinner tonight on a huge salad, followed up either with a big bowl of blackberries (although those are low-carb) or maybe an apple and my homemade raw "cereal" (all nuts, seeds, and dried fruit). Breakfast tomorrow will definitely be an apple and homemade raw "cereal," and hopefully lunch and dinner can be delicious salads.
Sunday I'm not sure what I'm going to do, because my sister-in-law got us reservations for a Southern restaurant in D.C. that is having a killer special going on. I didn't even think about it until after the fact, but if I'm not careful, that will do a doozie on my tummy! I guess I will aim for fruit and lean protein (at a Southern restaurant? Hah!)
Not sure what I'll do Monday, either, except that I plan on bringing some Larabars with me, which, being all dried fruit and nuts, will be plenty of carbs. We'll see.
I'll be honest, I'm pretty nervous about this audition. My lesson with my DSO teacher was great, my lesson with my UNT teacher was not. So I'm just ignoring my second lesson. And that's that. Wish me luck on Monday!
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