Tuesday, March 03, 2009
I went to the other contra dancing group last night, & it was fantastic! It was a good-sized group--maybe 30 toward the end, & I was told there are sometimes as many as 60. Turns out that a friend from my church goes regularly, & another friend who tried it out with me really liked it & intends to return. So this is definitely going to be one of my regular types of cardio exercise.
It is HAPPY DANCING--I spend the WHOLE session with a silly grin plastered across my face. I can't wait to introduce my husband to it.
If you're interested in trying it out, here's a link to find dances in your area:
And on another topic, below is a Sparkrecipes link for a slow cooker stew that I tried out on Sunday. It says the recipe makes just 4 servings, but I'm going to get more like 6 servings from it. Extremely yummy & nutritious. You could make it more cheaply, too, by taking the breast meat from a whole chicken rather than buying skinless/boneless breast (but it's hard to carve breast pieces off an uncooked chicken). Twelve ounces (as this recipe calls for) seems to amount to about 3/4 of the whole breast of a chicken.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
Well, my new cooking regimen continues to work out really well. What with eating beans (or lentils or split peas) twice a day, along with my homemade muesli, my fiber intake has climbed rapidly. I'm eating a small amount of chicken most days to provide extra protein. I serve myself big piles of veggies--the curried cauliflower soup I made last weekend was really great. And legumes are complex carbohydrates that include protein & thus digest slowly--I feel satisfied after each of my little meals & don't feel ravenous by the time the next one rolls around.
The Sparkrecipes database has a number of recipes for dhal that look really good. None of them is quite like the recipe that I'm using, so here is a link for it. The nutritional values are based on using split peas; you will get even more protein & iron if you use lentils.
And here's the recipe for slow cooker curried cauliflower soup that I made. I found it online somewhere but can't seem to find it again--here I entered it for my own use rather than for the shared database. Let me know if the link doesn't work for you, in which I'll copy the recipe into another blog post later:
And in late-breaking news that makes me very happy, my husband told me last night (over the phone from Colombia) that when he returns he does not want to keep buying frozen prepared dinners & veggies from Trader Joe's, as he has been doing for years. They are quite yummy & generally nutritious except for high salt content; his blood pressure is a bit high & he wants to cut down on sodium. So it appears that the changes I'm making for the sake of lowering calories & cost will be agreeable to him, even though it will involve eating more leftovers.
Our bank account at the end of February is SO much healthier than it was a month ago. It's encouraging to be saving money, getting better nutrients, & losing weight all at the same time!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
I have lost 4 pounds this week! Wow, that's motivating. I didn't starve myself to do it, either--I was a bit over the recommended calorie range 2-3 days. And I haven't even gotten into the full swing of regular exercise yet.
Eating proper portions of mostly home-cooked food was part of it. I drank tons of water too--my bite-valve Camelbak bottle really helped.
This extra weight hadn't really settled in my body; it was recent rather than long-established. I like to think that my body was eager to get rid of it.
Let's see, this weekend I'm going to cook up a mess of green beans. For another side I have spinach & mushrooms to saute together in olive oil, maybe sometimes with tomato. For main dishes I still have plenty of dhal, baked beans, brown rice, & chicken! Good thing I don't get tired of repeating foods. I think I will make some tuna salad as a lunch alternative.
Here's the recipe I use for baked beans. It's from the More with Less cookbook & therefore I can't share it through SparkRecipes:
Basic Baked Beans
Soak overnight or by quick method:
1 lb. navy beans
2 qts. water
In same liquid, bring beans to boil and simmer till tender, about 1.5 hours. Drain, reserving liquid.
Preheat oven to 275-300F. Combine in 2-qt. casserole:
1/2 c. molasses
1/4 c. ketchup (optional)
2 t. mustard
2 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper
1 T. chili powder
1 onion, chopped
bean liquid to cover
Bake 4-8 hours, adding liquid occasionally if needed. Cover during first half of baking time, then uncover.
Serves 8 @ 0.75 c. serving (172 cals.); serves 12 @ 0.5 c. serving (113 cals.).
Unfortunately the SP Nutrition Tracker doesn't list dry navy beans. If you enter this at SparkRecipes (remember that it can't be shared in the SP system), you'll have to find dry navy beans' nutritional values elsewhere--I found them here:
FYI, 1 lb. of dried navy beans = 2.3 cups ---> 6 cups cooked.
Quick method of soaking: Bring the dried beans & 2 qts. water to a boil on the stovetop. Allow to boil for 2 minutes, then turn off heat, move it off the hot burner, & allow to rest for 1 hour. Then you're ready to actually cook the beans.
As you can see, you need to plan ahead, but once you've soaked the beans it's super simple. You can leave them simmering for 1.5 hours while you do other things (remember to set the timer!), & then adding the other ingredients takes only a few minutes. Then they bake with no attention needed till time to take them out & eat! If you're not going to be home to check on them, though, just leave them covered the whole time. Better a bit runny than dried up.
Oh yes, & use a covered casserole dish that is relatively deep rather than shallow. That will help keep the moisture in. I have a wonderful old bean pot that belonged to my great-great-aunt who was in the Oklahoma Run! I'm sure the pot doesn't date back to the Oklahoma Run, but it's definitely vintage.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Really well so far!
After all that weekend cooking, I have TONS of food on hand that I can just heat up in different combinations. Besides the other foods I listed in my previous post, on Sunday I boiled a whole organic chicken that I had bought; then I deboned it & added water & the bones back into the broth to make more good broth. The broth is now in the freezer, along with a couple of small packages of the chicken meat. I have one container of chicken in the fridge to use in various ways. Tonight I cut some up, mixed it with ratatouille, & heated it up with green beans on the side. That was so yummy!
It's a LOT easier to get back into a good eating pattern while my husband is away. Eating is social for us, & if he says "Let's get some good beer" or "Let's have ice cream tonight," I have a hard time resisting. But he had a checkup & lab tests recently & does want to eat less sugar & lose some weight, so hopefully we can establish a better rhythm together once he gets home next month.
I still have to talk to my doctor about getting physical therapy for my left arm. The other day I tried putting my weight on it when climbing onto my kitchen counter to water plants in the display window--it was EXCRUCIATING, I had to jump down immediately & yelled "OWWW!!" The pain went away quickly, thank God, but the issue definitely needs attending to. I won't be able to do pushups or the plank until it's well.
Speaking of which, I always have a hard time being motivated to do strength training, though I know it's very important. What I'm going to try is a bit of cardio AND a bit of strength training in every exercise session, of course alternating the upper- & lower-body work so that each part gets the needed rest. It will be easier to face the exercises if I know I only have to do, say, 2 sets of 3 exercises.
I've started putting together the spreadsheet to figure out our budget! An important part of my plan is to open an ING account for each of us & put a chunk of discretionary $$ into each of them each month while paying the regular bills. Then each of us will have control of our own money & can decide whether we want to save for a trip or something else, buy clothes, take the other out to eat, or whatever. And when we've spent it, it's gone & the credit card will be only for emergencies. That should be much better than open-ended "I want this" use of $$/cards.
Tonight on the phone I told my husband that I'm working on this & excited about it. He sounds pleased--I think I was able to communicate it in a positive way rather than gloomily or harshly. It will be a great relief to get our resources under control.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
As my weight ticker shows, I DEFINITELY need to get back to being disciplined about food & exercise, so here I am again.
I have a new plan to budget & reduce our monthly spending--I can't control whether my husband has work or not, but I can live more frugally, & I will. One part of that is reducing food expenses. I am going to be cooking from scratch more, especially on the weekends, in quantities that will provide for several meals in the following week.
Here's what's going on in my kitchen as I write:
1. Boston baked beans (from dried navy beans soaked & then cooked) are in the oven & making the house smell heavenly. I'll have some for supper tonight & then take portions for lunch at the office, alternating with . . .
2. Dhal--this time I'm making it with a mix of mung beans & lentils, which are soaking at the moment & will be put on the stove to cook a bit later.
3. Yogurt: I bought a yogurt maker recently because my husband eats a lot of it & it's expensive. He was a bit suspicious of the first batch because it wasn't perfectly smooth, but when I convinced him to taste a little (with vanilla & honey), he LOVED it. We'll keep making a new batch as soon as the previous one is done--another quart-plus is in process right now.
Tomorrow my daughter is coming to dinner with an old friend (they invited themselves, which makes me very happy). I'm going to make spinach lasagna, ratatouille, & for dessert apple crisp (I have a bag of organic Jonathans & they're a bit mushy, better for baking than for eating raw). The leftovers will be part of my meals next week. And on an ongoing basis, I'll keep making muesli for breakfast because it's so very yummy & not drenched in sugar/syrup like commercial cereals are. If I can find the time, I hope to start baking bread regularly as well--I love to do it & it would help us save.
My husband is in Colombia for a month right now, so this is the perfect time for me to start a better rhythm of cooking & exercising. Sleep is going well for me again--I am immensely thankful for that. So this coming week I intend to go to bed by 10:30 each night so as to get up & either ride the recumbent bike or do strength training before I get ready for work.
In the evenings, when I'm not doing freelance work I'm going to be messing with a spreadsheet & gradually nailing down a budget. We ARE going to live within our means--I'm determined. With God's help, of course. Please pray for me!
Oh, & I look forward to being in touch with all my caring Sparkfriends. I'll be making the rounds gradually to see how you're doing--I'm going to limit my time here & make every minute count. Hugs & blessings to you.
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