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Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all

Monday, March 23, 2009

I really liked my dinner tonight. My husband really hated it. It happens. Sometimes, I wish he could be more open-minded so I could be a more creative cook, but I also know that he is much more open-minded than when we met, so that is wonderful. We had steak (dusted with garlic salt and ground pepper, broiled medium), roasted cherry tomatoes (tossed with salt and pepper), and the dish I really liked: Brown rice with brussel sprouts and asparagus in red wine sauce. Recipe:

Cook brown rice
Mince onion (1 large slice) and garlic (3 cloves)
Saute in olive oil asparagus cut into 1 in. pieces, onion and garlic.
Cut brussel sprouts in half. Push other ingredients to the side and brown the cut edges of the brussel sprouts on the pan.
Make sauce: mix 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup red wine (mine was a cooking wine), 2 tablespoons apple butter (mine was homemade), 1/4 cup water
Add sauce and simmer, covered, on low/med for 10-15 min.
Add spices to taste (I use plenty): Mrs. Dash, sea salt, ground pepper, rosemary
Mix in brown rice

Don't feed to husbands who don't like sweet things at dinner and had bad days at work, order pizza, trust me. Probably should have done that.

I am not making the best eating choices right now. My friend brought apple cake in today, and I had three, little, pieces. But still three. One was okay, three was too many.

I am getting closer to making a chocolate bar. My last one is soft, but it is solid at room temperature. However, I slightly burnt the chocolate and had too much fat. Next time: only milk and sugar until 235F, then remove from heat and add chocolate, and maybe more milk, and just a bit of shortening. I'll see if that goes better. This time, I cooked all ingredients to 235F and got burnt chocolate and liquid shortening separating from everything. Still, the bar pieces will make for an acceptable dark chocolate fix for far cheaper than Lindt or Ghiradelhi.

I think tonight for snack, I will have ricotta with strawberries, maybe I'll make pancakes out of the ricotta with egg white. I'll see how hungry I am. I also need to soak some chickpeas because I want to make hummus. I have lots of carrots, dried chickpeas, and tons of olive oil, and no hummus. I may need lemon though. I wonder if rice vinegar would substitute?

I did go up the stairs at work twice today fast in an effort to burn more calories, hooray! My morning workout was 8min tabata style, it included burpees, whew! Tonight I think I will repeat the 20, 19, 18 etc. workout I did before with a 15min. biking start. I should do that now.


The palest ink is better than the best memory

Sunday, March 22, 2009

So, since Sunday is my shopping day, I thought I would talk a bit about my savings today and then post my menu plan for next week. This might be a good way to track my awesome deals and stock-up items! Don't forget, I'm still learning and still starting out!

Today, I went to 4 different stores, CVS, Whole Foods, Big Y and Stop and Shop (the last two are my local grocery stores). I'll only list important items.

CVS (EB = extra bucks)

1st transaction (things with coupons and EBs)

3 12-pk cans of diet pepsi @ 3/$11 with buy 2 get 1 free coupon = $7.33, $2 EBs
bottle deposits (MA thing) = $1.20
1 crest pro-health @ $3.49 with $1 off coupon = $2.49, $3.49 EBs (made money on this!)
Playtex sport tampons @ $8.49 with $1 off coupon = $7.49, $$2 EBs

Total w/tax = $19.23 recieved $7.49 EBs

2nd transaction (things I needed)

CVS atringent = $3.99
CVS cotton pads = $3.49

Total = $7.48 paid with EB's above.

Total value of items bought: $31.78, total paid: $19.23, saved: ~40%

Whole Foods

deals: Food Should Taste Good tortilla chips (jalapeno flavor) on sale for $2 with $1 off coupon = $1
thinkGreen bar (a snack for me) on sale for $1.25 with $0.50 off coupon = $0.75

Items in bulk for good prices

organic cocoa powder: 0.46lb @ $2.99/lb = $1.38 (0.5lb on sale at Big Y = $1.99, not organic)
popcorn: 3.17lb @ $1.39/lb = $4.41 (plain kernals in supermarket are often $3-5 for a lb or so!)

Big Y

Sargento cheeses BOGO! Lowfat cheeses are tough to get cheap, this makes each pack $2, which is great!
Arm and Hammer laundry detergent BOGO with $1 off coupon = $5.29 for like, 4 months of laundry (plus a previous buy = ~6 months of detergent stocked up)
Progresso crushed tomatoes and whole tomatoes, 28oz, $1.50 each, with $1 off 2 coupons, bought 4 (2 coupons) = $1.00 each, which can be used for 2 meals each ($0.50/meal)
Free diet Dr. Pepper
Apples for $0.88/lb

Value of items: $106.78
Saved with card/sales: $36.17
Coupon savings: $9.04
Paid: $61.57
Percent saved: 43%

Stop and Shop

2lb fresh strawberries for $2.99! That's even cheaper than my frozen ones!
Country crock tubs (16oz) @ $1.99 each, $1 off two coupon = $1.50 each (added to my promise is three stocked tubs of low-cal buttery stuff)

Value of items: $39.04
Saved with card/sales: $8.06
Coupon savings: $6
Paid: $24.98
Percent saved: 36%

I think I'm doing very well at the moment! I did not buy any meat this week because I have a freezer full and no sales were good enough. I have enough toothpaste, feminine products, laundry detergent, and cans of tomato products for the next 6 months as well.

Anyway, moving forward, here is my Menu Planning starting Monday

Monday: Steak, rice with white beans, brussel sprouts, asparagus in a red wine sauce

Tuesday: Homemade gnocchi and bolognese (frozen from batch last weekend!), caesar salad

Wednesday: Enchiliadas using zucchini, corn, and black beans and whole tomatoes to make sauce

Thursday: Chicken in creamy garlic sauce, crispy baked potato pieces, italian salad

Friday: Thai-peanut sauced meat and veggies

Saturday: Sausage and tomatoes and green beans, chickpea salad

Sunday: Parmesan broiled chicken, tomato soup using diced tomatoes, caesar salad

This menu was designed for high carb Mon-Thurs, and low carb Friday-Sunday. I'm not going to do that anymore, but Bill might, he's done well with the low-carb weight loss. This morning I got up and did 2 min. of cardio and 4 min. of strength tabatas. Nice! Tonight for dinner is classics, so not much to discuss, so this will likely be it for today.


Too many people miss the silver lining because they’re expecting gold

Saturday, March 21, 2009

So last night, me and Bill got into a fight, and somewhere in the midst of it, or soon after, I was having a small breakdown, and realized a few things about my life in general and recently. I was brought up in a no-fail household. We were held to rather high expectations about almost everything. Now, many times we could meet those expectations, but when we didn't, parents were unhappy and we were in trouble. The best course of action when one did not do well was to simply ignore it and try to hide the evidence. Once, me and my sister "lost" one quarter's worth of grades. We figured if we both did it, no one would remember that it was grade time. It worked. So, this method has pros and cons, the pros are that clearly I still hold myself to high expectations and often I am able to meet them. The con is that I hold myself to high expectations and sometimes cannot reach them. When enough of these happen at once, it can be a problem.

The last few weeks of my life have been a bit crazy. I've been determining whether or not I am intolerant of wheat (still up in the air!), I've been dealing with all kinds of issues at work with machines and procedures that are just not working well. I'm dealing with multiple manuscript revisions in an attempt to get published. Our finances are always very tight, and we just had some work done on the car and will likely need more, so I've been diligent about coupons and such, although my grocery bills haven't quite dropped yet (stocking up takes time). Bill has school stuff we need to deal with. Comcast has DVR issues, and just costs way too much. I've been working extremely hard to control my food intake and exercise and planning things out very specifically, and trying some low carbing. I've also been exercising like a maniac. I read a ton of blogs on diet and exercise and saving money that can be hard to keep up with. Essentially, I have a lot going on, and a lot of it right now is giving me either no results or is failing. This is not a good place for me mentally.

Of course, using my childhood training, I bury the things that are failing, and sometimes I avoid the things that appear to be most likely to fail, which tend to be the more important things to get done, and get focused on things I feel like I can control, like diet and exercise, although the stress of the whole things makes the diet hard because I'm craving high-carb comfort foods while in a low-energy situation. Also, I don't even realize this is going on, because I tend to mentally block anything that isn't working until it breaks through all at once and then I deal with it.

Well, that's now. So, I realize that I have to drop the OCD about things, and get over my fears of failing or of not being perfect in every way (hence, the OCD), and just get stuff done, even if it is half-assed or doesn't work out. The best way to start this is to drop the things I try to control the most, the calories. If I spend a little bit of time focusing on how I feel about eating versus counting, timing, and being crazy, I know I can carry that over to the other bits of my life. Plus, I use calorie counting and meal planning as procrastination for not doing things, especially at work, that are trouble. I'm also going to relax about reading the blogs and such, and maybe thin them out. I'm going to exercise, but not plan ahead too much what I want to do, just do whatever exercise I feel like. Today, I'm going to do some push-ups and maybe crunches and 4 min. of something aerobic from Dax Moy's website. That's it. I'm going to enjoy dinner, and eat snack if I want to, when I want to.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LIVEN2BPINK 3/22/2009 6:45AM

    We all have to step back now and then. I get caught up in doing the OCD thing too with a few things. I find I am the most successful when I pay the most attention towards something...lettting other things go when it gets to be too much. Then I notice the mess building up...it's a vicious cycle. I backed off quite a few things on SP because I was at the computer too much. AND I didn't feel I was getting any support back.
I am doing my best to stock up on grocery items too. Keeping my mind on the good postive changes I am making. It's never going to be perfect and it's okay not to be.

Healthy thoughts, Deb

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Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points

Friday, March 20, 2009

Well, dinner got switched around a bit because I forgot to prepare white beans for the chili, so we had the chicken and veggies in cream cheese sauce instead. It was good! I made the sauce by mincing onions and 1 jalapeno with seeds and satueeing them slightly in homemade stock, then I put in the food processor 1/5 cup of stock and 1/3 cup of lowfat cream cheese, 1 oz of cheddar cheese, and some Mrs. Dash and garlic salt. I added the sauce to the onions and jalapenos, and also chicken, celery, corn, green beans, and cauliflower. I thought it was good, I think Bill did too. He said it didn't need salt, which is a win in my book. If you don't like spice, you might want to leave out the jalapeno, de-seed it, or substitute it with a less spicy pepper, such as an poblano, chipotle, or anaheim. A delicious lower-carb, high protein meal!

My workday was insane, running from one experiment to another. Suddenly, I have a million things going on! Next week I need to fix some equipment, do a lot of FISH, count quite a few cells, and clone clone clone. Whew!

The weather has been nice, although the nights are still cold. However, I hear this will make for some nice maple syrup! Too bad it makes it chilly inside at night sometimes. I can't wait for spring to really hit, mostly because I can't wait to go shopping at the farmers market for fresh produce! I'm so sad. I'm still dreaming of the day when I can afford grass-fed beef on a regular basis!

My wheat experiment is so-so, last night I felt crummy. I definitely notice that I feel great in the morning and deteriorate throughout the day as I eat the wheat more, but I'm not yet getting nearly as sick as before Christmas. I am eating wheat every day, mostly puffed wheat and yucky Atkins bars now, but Sunday I'm back on carbs and therefore can eat fiber one bars, which taste better, and have fiber in them! I do think though, that I may look into buying some wheat bran and making my own bars. Maybe I'll use the sorghum flour or quinoa in them, yum.

I did another crazy workout tonight. I started on the bike with a lopsided pyramid, increased from level 1-7 over 7 min, and then dropped back 5, 3, 1 over the las three minutes. Then I did 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, and 10 push-ups on my knees, get-ups, squats, crunches, dips on floor, and leg raises. That's 100 of each. Whew!

I'm not sure I'm loving the high carb = weights, low carb = aerobic/circuit workout schedule, because I feel very tired on low carb. I think for the first two weeks of April I'm going to focus on low-density, high-fiber, low cal, balanced but not excessive carbs/proteins (I'm thinking 80-100g protein, 160-200g carbs). Go back to a split with 3 days of strength, 3 days of circuits/aerobics, and 1 day of yoga/pilates for workouts. Even if this month's weight loss results are reasonable, I don't function on low carb and lots of workouts, my body simply can't handle energy production in that way, I know, I keep trying.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CINCYDORA 3/21/2009 3:13PM

    I'm not familiar with you high carb = weights, low carb = aerobic/circuit plan but that sounds counter-intuitive to me. I've always been told that extra protein helps strength building and complex carbs make for a better aerobic workout. I'd love to see the logic behind suggesting the reverse.

If you aren't feeling well with your current plan, your April plan of going back to a standard strength/cardio alternation might be smart. I hope is works out for you.

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A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tonight, I made a fabulous dish for dinner! Chicken with asparagus and tomato in a creamy balsamic sauce. I pretty much put it together myself with some ideas and a few "oh, you can combine those" from the internet.

I browned 1in chicken pieces in just a bit of olive oil and spiced them with garlic salt, Mrs. Dash, and oregano. Then I added cut-up fresh asparagus and a bit more olive oil and sauteed until crisp tender. I made a sauce of 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/4 c heavy cream, a tsp onion powder, which I heated for a bit, and then added to the chicken and asparagus and let simmer for about 10min. Right at the end I added 2 cut up roma tomatoes and topped with a four-cheese Italian mix (although I'm sure mozzarella would have been fine). It was delicious! Try it. We had a salad on the side.

Enjoy! The rest of my day was pretty typical. It was a bit crazy at work, lots of people needed my help, I had a conference call that actually lasted an hour about modeling. My PCR still doesn't like me, but my FISH is going nicely, so far.

This morning I did a Leslie Sansone boosted walk, and this evening we went walking. It was nice earlier, but it got so cold when we went out, and my left foot felt incredibly numb for a while, and we started later than my workout usually starts, and I was starting into severe low blood sugar when we got back, so I jumped into snack, and switched my snack around to grab something faster, but still fit into my calories and stuck with lower carb options, however, I'm pretty sure I hate Atkins bars. Lower sugar or not, I've got to find a better way to manage that, maybe I'll buy more fiber one and make my own again.

I am tired tonight. Got to get some serious sleep!


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