Thursday, December 15, 2011
Bubba Burgers are delicious, but I'm wary about eating too many of them, given that they come from feedlot cows. While I don't really have any evidence to back up my claim, I truly believe that the reason red meat is "bad" for you is because it comes from bad cows.
My husband and I discussed ordering ground beef from U.S. Wellness meats, but then it occurred to me that maybe I should take a look at local farms and see if anybody nearby sells grass-fed meat. I'm not even sure how I happened on Eat Wild, but they informed me that there are four farms in Rhode Island that provide pastured animals. Rhode Island isn't exactly big, so I was impressed, and especially pleased to see that one of the farms was only a 15 minute drive away.
They're open on Thursdays from 3-6pm, so today hubby and I drove up there to check them out. Sure enough, they have a little barn with lots of coolers and vacuum-sealed grass-fed meat. I walked away with two pounds of grass-fed ground beef at $6.50 a pound (really a steal: ground bison, which is grass-fed and grain-finished, is $6.99 at the commissary, so for the health purposes, these guys win), beef livers at $3.50 (good price, too), some beef kielbasa for the hubby (okay, it was $8.50, but there were 7 kielbasas in there, and I often pay $4.99 for four nitrate-free chicken brats at the commissary, so it's actually slightly less per sausage), and then just for giggles we walked away with a half dozen eggs for $2. I think my Eggland's Best eggs are 2.50 for a dozen, so I won't be picking up pastured eggs often, but the last time I bought farm eggs was in Texas, and they were $5.00 for the dozen. Compared to U.S. Wellness meats, their prices are essentially equal on some items, but on the beef liver, I walked away with a freaking steal. I might have to ask them about other beef organs if they're going to offer them at such an inexpensive price, although I think the organs end up in the sausages.
The farmers were really nice, too. We talked a lot about Newport and Jamestown, they let us know about two of their favorite restaurants, we talked about their farming, they gave us a little pamphlet about tours of their farm and times when you can just walk around, stuff like that. We talked more than we shopped! It was really great. For stuff like that, I'd happily go back.
Now for another story. My husband and his mom were talking about what we're going to make while we're visiting. He decided that we should make this baked chicken dish I tried the other day. I dunno, something about cooking things in drinkable wine makes it totally awesome. Beef in red wine, chicken in white wine, it's all good. It's easy, too: coat the chicken in cinnamon, salt, and pepper, brown it on all sides, then saute some onions and garlic, add 1/2 cup of wine and let it all simmer until it evaporates. Once it's evaporated, add tomato paste, chicken broth, fresh oregano, and the chicken and let it all simmer until the chicken is done. Easy peasy.
Well, hubby explained the dish to his mom and said that we usually just eat it with a veggie like broccoli and cauliflower. His mom thinks maybe we need to have something else to go with it, like a potato. Hubby disagrees. He would much rather do some mashed turnips and parsnips if they must have a side dish. His mom says that she had bought these pre-made twice-baked potatoes that are really good and have cheese on top, and we can add cheese to the potatoes. Hubby was like, okay, I was thinking about something Deanna would actually eat. His mom was confused that I don't eat potatoes. Hubby said it's not that I don't eat potatoes, but neither of us would ever choose to eat potatoes, and I am sensitive to dairy. He had already told her that I was sensitive, but somehow she forgot. So she offered up French fries, at which point hubby slammed his head into his hands and realized that she really just doesn't get it. I told him that it didn't matter to me if they had the nasty twice-baked potatoes because I'd be happy with my chicken and broccoli, but he said he really wanted to make a healthy side-dish that proves you can have a good side dish without spending a lot of time or relying on Pillsbury rolls and baked potatoes. We certainly have our work cut out for us.
His mom also already told him that she is going to make a lasagna one night because his sister wants a lasagna. Well, who am I to stand in the way of that, but hubby decided that when we get to Tennessee, we will buy eggplant and make an eggplant "Italian bake." He won't call it lasagna in front of his family because it doesn't have noodles. I do appreciate how much more supportive hubby has been of my diet, because after 2 1/2 years of experimenting, I keep coming back to this same eating habit. It's not a diet anymore, it really is a lifestyle. I realized I'm truly clueless when it comes to cooking anything grain-based except steel-cut oatmeal, and I feel like I wasted calories when I eat something like rice or beans. I want my calories to be spent on meat and veggies and coconut milk.
I found a recipe for cranberry-orange glazed turkey meatballs. I doctored it up a little bit since the meatball recipe called for ricotta cheese and bread soaked in milk. Uh, pass. But I used coconut flour to try and hold it all together and keep the little bit of fat that was in the turkey actually in the meatballs instead of leaking out all over the place. I used a little too much because the meatballs had a little bit of a gritty texture when you bit into them, and coconut flour leaked into the glaze. The glaze was good, though, and again really easy. A package of cranberries cooked in 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup honey, some fresh ginger, and some cayenne pepper (yeah, some random heat!) When all the cranberries are burst, you strain out the juice. The thing was, I had so much pulp left over that I didn't have the heart to throw it out. I put it in the container and figured I could mix it in with the ground grass-fed beef to make burgers. I have no idea if it will be good, but I can't let good pulp go to waste!
Anyway, the only thing I could have used to do differently, other than the coconut flour, would be to put the meatballs and glaze in a pan and let it all simmer until the glaze gets thick. It was still pretty thin, but I was hungry and didn't want to wait. It was really good, though. Hubby thought I could have used to make more.
I think it's a good base recipe for making a meatball sauce out of berries. I bet it would be good with blueberries, too. Just something else to consider.
One last tid-bit before I hit the hay. The local organic grocery store now carries these things by Hail Merry called chocolate coconut macaroons. They are dehydrated balls of cocoa, coconut flakes, coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla. So they're dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, all that sort of stuff. Yeah, that stuff is important to me, but even more important is that those things are AMAZING! They're not like your typical macaroons. They're more like a truffle, in my opinion. There are only eight in a bag, and they're not cheap, but they are so delicious that it's worth it. It might even be worth trying to make on my own, now that I have a fabulous food dehydrator.
So, Hail Merry makes chocolate tarts made with coconut oil and an almond crust that are heavenly, and now I found these macaroon-truffle-balls-of-awesome. I think that company is a godsend for my tastebuds, and now I know to look for them everywhere.
Okay, enough of that. Time to hit the hay!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
So I tried on my pretty yellow honeymoon dress the other day... It doesn't fit! Poop! So now I'm back to tracking my food for the next two weeks to try and lose the bit that I've gained. I'm pretty sure I can do it, but I don't WANT to. I'm really over the whole yo-yo of putting on a few pounds because I had too many big eating days and then having to diet down again. I should be able to maintain my happy weight.
So yeah, more than just mildly frustrated. But the truth is, I like myself better a wee bit lighter than I am now, but not too much lighter.
I had a gig last night for the Air Force Holiday Ball, and a girl came in to the area we were playing. She was wearing a satiny dress with some gathering right near the small of her back so that it made a mini-train. The problem was that she was stick-thin and had no butt what-so-ever, so the train just hung there. I thought, "Get thee to a gym and grow thyself a butt!" Ugh, I just wanna fit into my dress again!
In other news, a long holiday season is finally basically done for me. Today we had our holiday concert. Tomorrow I have the day off, and then for the last four days of the week, we only have to show up for our gigs. On Friday, we have an all-hands, most likely for a field day (super-cleaning the building) and once everything is spic-and-span, we'll be allowed to go.
Something very random I noticed now that I've tightened up my diet. If I feel like I need "comfort food," I do better at killing any craving if I eat something fatty. But I've noticed that something like nuts don't do it. I'm not sure what it is, but nuts and nut butters and whatnot make me want to eat more. But a burger with ample amounts of organic mayonnaise makes me feel like sugar is the last thing I want. Interesting. So this is something I might experiment with a bit more: if I still feel like I'm wanting something, find a way to eat some more straight-up fat.
I am going to order some 75% grass-fed beef patties from U.S. Wellness meats. I loved my Bubba burgers these last couple of days, but I'm worried about my health if I eat too many of them, since they don't come from happy cows. So I'll make Bubba burgers a "filler" because the grass-fed ones are so expensive, but keep the grass-fed ones so I always have a stand-by quick-n-easy dinner.
Those are my thoughts for now. Now I feel like I need a hot drink!
Thursday, December 08, 2011
Ahhh, a much-needed day off! Wait, am I saying that when I just had Monday off this week?? It just occurred to me that yes, I am. I am sitting here praising a day off when I only worked two days so far this week!
Well, Sunday wasn't really a day off, and I can't remember what I did on Monday. It involved working out with hubby, and some other stuff. We went places, we failed to get dinner the way we wanted, and I went to his dress rehearsal.
Then on Tuesday, I had work as usual, beginning with 7:30am command physical training. I practiced in the morning, went to take care of my paperwork to extend my enlistment so my promotion would go be valid, and then we had rehearsal for our holiday concert which took us until 3:30pm instead of our normal 3:00pm let-out time. Right, and then we ran out and picked up my uniforms and then I went with him to his jazz dress rehearsal.
Then on Wednesday, I took the day off, had holiday concert rehearsal, and then headed out for a Pearl Harbor remembrance. We actually walked out of that gig. They had no idea what they asked for in a woodwind quintet and vocalist, talking about how we were going to bring our own sound equipment and stuff. Uh... no. We were in the balcony, but there was no room for us, so we ended up in the hallway. People weren't supposed to sit in the balcony, but because they ran out of seats, people were coming up anyway. They had to walk through us to get to the seats, so every time we finished a piece, we had to get up, move aside, and let people through. We played three pieces, then it was about time for the ceremony to start, so we got up and packed up. We were supposed to play after the ceremony, but all the people in the balcony were just going to walk through us to get out, so our unit leader took photos on her phone of our playing situation so the boss understood why we walked out. When the vocalist was done with the anthem, we left. Thank goodness! Then that night we went to our senior chief's jazz recital for his masters in music. He wrote all the music, which was really cool, he was a proficient player, his pianist was ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY AMAZING, and the sound guy was awful. He kept adjusting the levels on the mics and the monitors, so sometimes the sax wouldn't be amped, and sometimes the bass would start getting horrible feedback. It was horrendous. Good performance, bad sound guy.
So today's day off was more than welcome. Hubby and I worked out in the morning, then he went in for a half-day of work. When he came home, he played a video game while I talked with a friend, and then he went to play racquetball while I made some dinner. We had baked salmon, steamed cauliflower, and bowls of pumpkin soup that I whipped up. It was super-easy: a can of coconut milk, a huge can of Libby's canned pumpkin (the 29oz. can), enough homemade turkey stock to make it soupy (turned out to be 2 cups), and a lot of sauteed onion. It was so freaking delicious I was beside myself! I have another can of pumpkin and tons of turkey stock. I can't wait to make more! In fact, I think that is going to be a base recipe for a lot of "Cream of Whatever" soups. I do have a whole lot of dried mushrooms waiting to be used for something...
I celebrated my evening alone by drawing myself a warm bath with coconut oil in it to soothe my increasingly dry skin and, at hubby's suggestion, hooking up our small TV and PS3 in the bathroom, turning out the lights, and watching a movie. I picked "Sleeping Beauty." I love most of the classic Disney princess movies, but that one stands out as a work of art. My favorite princess is The Little Mermaid, but that one, like all the others, is really more fun than anything. Sleeping Beauty is a real work of art: the story-telling form, the darker colors, using the real ballet music for the soundtrack. It's all genius. Needless to say, I really enjoyed myself.
I'm working on running again, getting used to logging miles on the treadmill. What's neat is that today I ran a mock-PFA and then jogged another 1.5 miles. I can't do the run at a 7:00 mile pace on the treadmill, so I decided to start at 8:00 and steadily work my way down from there. At this time last year, I could set the treadmill at 8:00 per mile and I would have to count down every single minute until my 1.5 were up, but this time I finished with energy to spare and only eased up to a 9:00 mile pace for the last 1.5. So, I'll keep working on the running, but I'll mix some other activities in to keep it interesting.
Enter tomorrow's CrossFit workout. I haven't done a CrossFit workout since Sunday, and tomorrow's looks fun. Just alternating 21 reps of deadlifts with sprinting 400m. It sounds like exactly the leg-power workout I was looking for and a lot more bang for my 20 minutes than pounding out three miles like the running workout suggests. So that's what I'm gonna do!
Tomorrow's going to be a long day, complete with gigs in the morning and a dress rehearsal in the afternoon that we've been told to prepare to go late. Poop. So with that in mind, I am going to turn in for the night.
Monday, December 05, 2011
Yesterday was Navy Band Northeast's annual holiday party. I'm going to be the new assistant for Morale, Welfare, and Recreation, so I got to assist. It made for a long day: hubby and I went to the gym to work out in the morning, we bought ingredients for our side dish, and I got the cheap present for the Yankee Swap.
At 1pm, I had to go to the band hall to load up a van with the tablecloths, soda bottles, sparkling cider, water, ice, and cleaning supplies. We went over to the community center, where we took out trash, swept, mopped, and otherwise cleaned up the mess that was left behind from the previous night's party. Then we hung up Christmas decorations: lights in the rafters, garland on the mantle, a tree in the corner with fake presents underneath. We set up tables with cloths and poinsettia centerpieces, and then we had an hour and a half before we had to show up to help when people arrived.
Hubby got stuck making a ratatouille recipe I found on Epicurious. It was a little more involved, but it sure was worth it compared to basic throw-it-in-a-pot ratatouille. He blanched and peeled the tomatoes, salted the eggplant to draw out water, and sauteed everything in a little oil before tossing it all in the CrockPot to stew. We had almost no leftovers, and the two vegetarians at the party were really happy we added another vegetarian dish. So were we. I think I will always champion the vegetarian cause at these events because so many people are happy bringing nothing but meat and desserts that I would feel like I didn't have a complete meal if I didn't bring a veggie side.
It's a good thing people in the band are good cooks. We had real smoked pulled pork, brisket, sausage, and bacon-wrapped stuffed peppers (my husband's favorite!), some gumbo, some curry, spinach-artichoke dip, spaghetti and meatballs, sausage and peppers, mac-n-cheese, baked ziti, lasagna (see why I want to champion the vegetarian cause?), turkey chili, a veggie tray, a fruit tray, and more desserts than I care to mention. I partook in some pulled pork, some brisket, a sausage, chili, curry, and lots of hubby's ratatouille! Yum yum. Dessert is where I was proud, though. I ate two of my friend's bourbon balls, one peanut butter ball, and one little coconut bar triangle. All-in-all, it was really good for me and desserts, especially considering the spread. I only ate one of what looked worth it, and a second of the one thing that was truly fabulous.
We did the Yankee Swap, which is where each person who brings a gift draws a number. Then when it is your turn, you can either choose a gift on the table to unwrap, or you can choose to swap with someone and make them take a different gift from the table. Hubby and I drew number 29. Dead last. That means we got to see what all the gifts were, except for the last one. Well, the movie "Dune" came up, and hubby was really excited about getting to swap for it. Our senior chief thought the same thing, so when his turn came up, he took "Dune." Then, about 10 turns later, we came up, and nobody had given a thought to "Dune." I walked up to the senior chief, said, "Sorry, Senior," and took "Dune." Wow, the band thought it was hilarious, and Senior hammed it up by acting all sorts of depressed and dejected! I actually kind of felt bad, because it was a good gift! But that's the game for ya.
After the Yankee Swap, the party was pretty much over. Hubby told me that hey, if I started cleaning up cups, maybe people would get the hint. Sure enough, I collected a bunch of cups, tossed them out, and then went to get more cups and saw that they had all been collected and people were starting to clean. We were done and home by 9pm, which was amazing. I tried to thank people for their help, since really they didn't need to stay back and help; that was the job of the three of us on MWR and our boss.
So I'm proud of myself for filling up on meat and veggies and limiting my desserts. Today I ate lightly: eggs and Applegate sausage for breakfast, a protein bar for lunch, and a wedge salad and chicken wings for dinner. Dinner was a little hefty, but considering we did a tough traditional legs workout today followed by 20 minutes on the treadmill, I'm not too worries about it. Tomorrow I will eat light for all three meals. I tried on my yellow honeymoon dress, and my backside is a little too big for it right now!
I'm a little over this yo-yo that I get on where I am good for several weeks, get to my "happy weight" where I feel good about myself, then eat too much for a few days in a row, put the weight back on, and then have to lose it again. It's not worth it. I also feel like CrossFit is a good butt-whooper for days when I need a change of pace or simply can't fit in a traditional workout, but I like traditional workouts. I was so happy doing my big legs workout, although I will give yesterday's CrossFit workout credit: 20 minutes of alternating 250 meters on the rowing machine and 25 pushups. Hubby and I were both puddles of sweat when that was over. But, that was a particularly good workout. Regardless, my legs are super-happy to have had a traditional day.
So that's what I have. I'm counting down to Christmas and my honeymoon, and with the goal so near, it makes it a little easier to push through the workout or eat a little less food. It's only three weeks away, and I can't wait!
Friday, December 02, 2011
That probably doesn't make any sense. But I'm back to my old, happy dietary ways, and I'm sitting here thinking about my little failed experiments of the past going, "What was I thinking?"
Today, I had some egg whites and an egg for breakfast, two Applegate chicken maple sausages, and a small apple. I had a banana for an emergency snack to hold me to lunch. I had chicken breast on a salad with some tahini dressing for lunch, and those cherry tomatoes tasted like heaven. I grabbed a bag of beef jerky for a mid-afternoon snack, and I had beef stew for dinner. I even had a second serving since hubby is gone tonight. When I was done, I was so full that I had no desire to think about even thinking about a dessert!
Last night, I made up a brine for the lone last all-natural turkey breast I grabbed at the commissary. I called my dad for the recipe, he told me how to do it, and he also suggested that if I wanted to, I could throw in some fall-type seasonings like sage or thyme if I had those lying around. I did, in fact, have a few bunches of those fresh herbs that were really looking like they were going to turn nasty, so I threw them in the brine. The turkey came out with this amazing aroma and taste! My dad's was really good, but I felt like this had a little extra somethin'-somethin' to it. Heck, maybe that somethin'-somethin' is just pride in the fact that I successfully made my own turkey, and now we have a pile of leftovers.
My cats also have some "turkey leftovers" to nom on. I had some large chunks of just skin and gristle and fat sitting around, and when my one cat expressed an interest in the turkey (she expresses interest in everything I do in the kitchen, because it often involves something far tastier than cat food), I just tossed a few large chunks in the bowl and gave it to her. She sniffed it, she licked it, she pulled out a chunk as big as her head and proceeded to chomp on it while it dangled out of the side of her mouth. I'm just sad she didn't do it twice so I could get a picture! It was too cute!
I also have the turkey carcass sitting in the CrockPot, turning into stock. I am thinking pumpkin soup. There's still plenty of canned pumpkin in the commissary, plus I have a can of coconut milk begging to be used. Some curry, and voila! Curry pumpkin soup!
I also made the super-simple cranberry sauce recipe. I tried it once sweetened with maple syrup, and once sweetened with raspberry preserves. Hubby and I agree, maple syrup wins! I'll need more cranberries, though, to go with this pile of turkey!
If all goes according to plan, tomorrow hubby will be coming home from his friend's place with some sort of wild game, and then we'll be set!
So today's CrossFit workout was supposed to be a rope climb, 20 wall-ball situps, and run 200m, repeated as many times as possible in 15 minutes. My gym doesn't have a rope to climb, so I used the cable cross with a single rope attachment and pretended to climb. I could do the wall-ball because the gym does have the proper big padded ball, and since running is part of our assessment they had the courts in the gym mapped out for distances and laps. So 200m is one large lap. Cool. I really enjoyed the workout! When I was done, my upper body was all twitching. So far, my only criticism is that my lower body doesn't seem to get an equally awesome workout, so I will probably stick with at least one day a week of good old strength training the legs. I finished up the workout with a bit of elliptical.
From then on, I felt pretty worthless for the rest of the day. I'm still recovering from that stupid stressful night with the 2:30am run. Boo. But, for all that I felt worthless, I did spend my time at the band hall setting up a profile with hubby for USAA, opened a checking and savings account with them, submitted my information to have my direct deposit changed, got a quote on auto insurance, and got a financial counseling. They think we can put away $424 a month toward retirement. HAHAHAHA! What were they thinking?!
Hubby does agree, though, that we should open an IRA with them so we have another retirement plan other than the Thrift Savings Plan through the military. And while I was always the one who wanted a savings account and he didn't, now he thinks we are in the green enough that we should have an account so that if we're in a surplus one month, we can transfer the money to the savings account. I like this train of thought. I might actually have a retirement fund for us AND a vacation fund! Yay!
Well, it is getting late and tomorrow is a very early working day, so I must get some Zzzzzzs... I should make more sleep part of my healthy plan.
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