VHALKYRIE   16,233
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How I Solved Our Dispute

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Earlier I wrote that the SO declared this morning he was on a diet, and had a list of how he wanted his food prepared. Everything sounded right on target, until he said he didn't want any more fried food. This came as a surprise to me.

Fried food? Me? I'm the least fried food person in Georgia! I'm practically a vegetarian in the south for my lack of fried foods! I'm ridiculed by neighbors and the clerks at grocery stores! (Yes, literally.)

I figured he must mean the small amount of oil I use for cooking and flavoring. I use about 1-2 tablespoons for cooking. A splash for flavoring. I never do a shallow fry, or anything resembling a deep fry. I don't even know how.

I've spent many years, even before we met, working on my cooking so it was both healthy and flavorful.

I was taken aback. He's been eating my cooking for years. The only time we gain weight is when we go on vacation, or if we eat out too much. I lose weight or maintain when I cook. While I try to properly balance our dinners, I can't control what he eats when he's outside the house at work. He skips breakfast, has Wendy's for lunch, and comes home ravenous. He starts eating crackers and whatever else he can find while I'm cooking.

Alright. Fine. Here is the dinner I prepared for us. You be the judge.

Garden salad with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and red bell pepper. I made a lemon-pepper-garlic vinaigrette. No oil.

Marinated flank steak cut into four 4 oz pieces. There was 1 tablespoon of oil in the marinade. Flank steak is very lean. The oil helps prevent it from sticking to the pan. 1 tablespoon divided 4 ways is marginal. An additional 30 calories.
100 grams of southwest potatoes. 1 tablespoon oil - necessary to keep potatoes from sticking. I made 4 servings, additional 30 calories per serving.
1/4 of a grilled zucchini. A drop of oil to coat the top. About as much from an oil sprayer. Negligible.

Total calories: 350
Carbohydrates: 30g
Fat: 13g
Protein: 28g

42% carbs/18% fat/40% protein. This is a well balanced meal. I actually shoot for zone diet ratios of 40/30/30. Tonight's dinner is a little lighter on the total fat, and a little higher on the protein. 40% carb is spot on - there should be no excess insulin spike from the potatoes.

Too fatty?

One of his requests was small portions of starch. To settle the dispute about how I portion his food, I let him serve as much potatoes as he wanted himself. He served himself about 150 g of potatoes, about 1.5 times my recommended serving size.

See? He gets smaller portions if I serve it. I suffer from serious portion distortion, and I measure everything. I've been doing it for years.

He enjoyed the meal. I asked him if this was healthy enough for him. He said yes. I asked if this was how he wanted his meals prepared. He said yes. I didn't change anything about my recipes. This is the way I normally cook!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JESS0107 4/6/2011 11:16AM

    It looked amazing!

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CHALLENGER15 4/6/2011 7:31AM

    Your meal looks delicious and very healthy!

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VHALKYRIE 4/6/2011 7:10AM

    Unfortunately, he was telling me I was making fried foods. We bickered about it where he told me to stop using so much oil. emoticon

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THINRONNA 4/6/2011 3:21AM

    I think I agree with BTVMADS...maybe he doesn't really know what he had been consuming prior to making his requests. Perhaps he just made a list of ways to cut down on calories and no fired food was on it...not really insinuating that you were frying foods. I would imagine if he eats at Wendy's then he eats french fries...maybe he was just thinking generally rather than just about the food that you cook.

Your meal looks absolutely wonderful and I would say he is a very lucky guy...in more ways than one!

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SEDGEY 4/6/2011 2:18AM

    That's just how I cook too. I'd love to have had one of those plates tonight. It looks delicious!

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VHALKYRIE 4/5/2011 10:04PM

    I think it's because he wasn't at home while I was preparing everything. He didn't see me add the oil. If he sees me add even a teaspoon he's like "Whoa! Not too much!" He didn't see it, so it must not be there. Hah!

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BTVMADS 4/5/2011 9:23PM

    I have a feeling he didn't really know what he had been consuming before he declared himself to be "dieting." Maybe his attitude should be more like my hubby's, which is: "If she made it, I'm sure it's healthy, and she'll make sure I get enough of the healthy stuff!" emoticon

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We're on Diets (and a rant)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

This morning the fiance came into my computer room and declared he's on a diet. He gave me a list of how he wants his meals prepared.

1) Meats no larger than 3 oz. Sounds good. Check.
2) Small portions of starch. Check.
3) Lots of veggies. Check.
4) No fried foods. Wait, what??

Sounds reasonable, except I'm a bit annoyed about number 4. I don't cook fried foods! I objected. He said I make fried foods sometimes. I cook in a *small* amount of oil! Like 1-2 tablespoons. That's HARDLY fried food! I'm taking him to Paula Deen's restaurant to show him what fried food looks like!


I try to make my food taste *good* with less calories, so maybe it's a compliment he thinks it's high fat?

Also, this is the guy who came into the house with a 1 gallon tub of Haagen Daaz vanilla ice cream, and a Costco sized tub of pretzels a few weeks ago. I chewed him out for bringing ice cream and empty calories into the house. He told me if he wanted ice cream, then he'll have ice cream. I bought an ice cream maker to make low calorie healthy ice cream and sorbets as compromise (see my homemade strawberry gelato recipe). recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai

Also a rant about the 3oz meat thing. I served him 3 oz meat, and he complained that it's 'not filling'. He also comes home and starts eating crackers and cheese while I'm making dinner because he skips lunch. It drives me up the wall that I'm cooking, then he says he's not hungry. GRRR.

I'm thrilled he's finally on board, but still annoyed about that 'fried food' thing. I was happy until he mentioned that, then I was offended. LOL

A tongue in cheek rant, with great affection. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 4/5/2011 2:00PM

    I spent a lot of time adjusting my recipes so they are low calorie and taste good. If he wants to make food with no oil, he's welcome to cook for himself! I'd be fine with us both cooking our own meals. I have my own full time job. As my grandma used to say, I'm no short order cook.


Comment edited on: 4/5/2011 2:11:53 PM

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THINRONNA 4/5/2011 1:21PM

    It is good that he wants to eat healthy...I like the idea of him cooking for you! Maybe he would like to be on Spark!

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CICI510 4/5/2011 12:32PM

    I definitely say give credit for wanting to eat healthier but to be that picky? Yea that would bother me too! LOL

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JESS0107 4/5/2011 11:14AM

    Hats off for him wanting to eat better but tell him you want him to cook so you can see what he wants! I know that will never happen but men forget what all we do for them.

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DIANE7786 4/5/2011 9:08AM

    I'd give him credit for wanting to eat healthy. Some diets limit good fats. His portion of the 1-2 TBSP of oil you cook with is more than he wants to eat. That's okay. There are plenty of other recipes. The good news is he won't tempt you with Hazen Daz for awhile!

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KELPIE57 4/5/2011 7:51AM

    Well, it is surely better than teaching him to drive a car! emoticon

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Patio Gardening Tips

Monday, April 04, 2011

Urban gardening isn't new, but it is relatively new to me. When I lived in Colorado, the weather was too extreme for planting. When I lived in Washington, I didn't have a sunny balcony.

Last year I experimented with patio gardening. I didn't have too much invested in it at the time because it was an experiment to see how successful it would be. I was thrilled with the tomatoes popping out every week, and the abundance of fresh herbs. I am doing it again this year.

This is my whole balcony. As you can see, it's not huge. A large part of the area is taken up with our bikes.

For container gardening, make sure to only use food grade containers. Don't buy a pot at the garden store just because it is pretty. Check to see if there is a label saying "not for food use". This will usually be on glazed pots. Terra cotta clay pots are safe for growing food. For plastic containers, use one marked as a "grower's pot". Plastic containers that once had food in them are safe. Reuse a plastic ice cream tub for growing something healthy! If you want to use a decorative pot, put your plant inside a grower's pot, then put it inside the pretty pot.

The next decision will be for clay pots or plastic pots. Clay pots are good if you tend to over water your plants as the clay will absorb some of the moisture. That means your soil may dry out more quickly, however. That said, water loss from clay pot isn't much of a problem in a humid climate like Georgia. It will dry out the soil very rapidly in a dry climate like, Arizona, however.

You can use the clay pot's color as a guide whether you need to water or not. When the clay pot is a medium tan, the soil is moist. If the clay pot starts to dry out, it becomes a light tan. That means the soil is dry, too.

If you tend to underwater or live in a dry climate, plastic will retain more water.

I have a mix of both. You will have to water more often with a container plant than a ground garden, no matter what. My tomatoes and peppers are in plastic containers. Tomatoes and peppers drink a tremendous amount of water as is, especially when bearing fruit. I water them to saturation in the morning. By the evening after work, they are usually ready for a second saturation. Especially in the summer months.

My herbs and lettuce are in clay containers. Herbs tend to like drier soil, so the clay pot helps with over saturation. It also keeps the soil cooler. This is better for herbs and lettuce.

You'll see a few changes I made compared to the pictures I took a couple of days ago. To conserve space, I added tier making garden shelves.

I have an east facing balcony, which means I get sunlight from 6am to about noon. There's an over the rail planter where my tomatoes sit in order to maximize sunlight. The bell peppers and jalapeno sit on the garden shelf. The herbs and flower pot rest on the balcony.

The cat has come to inspect my work.

Just for fun, I planted marigolds and a snapdragon in a tiered planter. I originally intended to plant the creeping plant around the snap dragon so it would cascade off the top, but I couldn't fit it in. I'll have to plant from seed if I wanted that effect, I think. I may try again next year, with seeds.

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with the creeper plant. I was thinking an urn or vase type planter it could cascade off, but I couldn't find the type I wanted at the garden store.

Marigolds will hopefully be functional as well as pretty. They serve as a natural insect deterrent in a regular garden. I'm not sure there are enough to make a difference on my balcony, but we'll see.

Speaking of insect control, since I am intending to eat my plants, chemical pesticides aren't an option. I use a very low tech method of pesticide. Dishwashing soap and water sprayed on the leaves with a spray bottle. It works. Last year I had these tiny bugs crawling on my tomato plant leaves. I don't know what they were. I sprayed dishwashing soap solution on the leaves twice a week, and they never came back.

I added a couple of tiered shelves for the lettuce and strawberries. It looks nice, and it saves some balcony space so I can get a chair on it.

Also visible are my gardening tools. Watering pail, scissors for snipping lettuce and herbs, and a digital moisture reader. It tests the moisture level of the soil. I use it to test the moisture level in the morning and evening to see if the plants are saturated or running dry.

The only other things needed not pictured here is a pair of gardening gloves and a small shovel.

The next thing I intend to experiment with are self watering options so we can go away for a long weekend, and I won't lose my "crop".

Living in Georgia, I've got a head start on the growing season. Hope this gives you a few ideas to plan your own urban garden for the summer! Have fun!

Have you ever made a container garden? Do you have any tips to share?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIVEDIVA1 4/5/2011 12:09PM

    I did the same thing last year, had a container garden on my patio for herbs and grape tomatoes. Loved it, but was watering twice a day as we have full sun from mid day on.....Love your pictures. I moved my herbs that could be overwintered into a bed, I am in Zone 4-5 so we get winter! I am going to have more summery herbs this year and try strawberries!

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TRAXINA 4/4/2011 1:49PM

    Thanks for this -- I have been meaning to plant a garden on my deck and needed the inspiration/direction!

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THINRONNA 4/4/2011 1:25PM

    Thanks for the tips! I am interested also to see what you do for self watering options. This is not exactly at tip but I always like to maximize my balcony gardens by planting edible flowers since they do double duty...looking pretty and being fun to eat. Snapdragons and some kinds of marigolds are edible by the way...

Beautiful pictures! I love the windows you have looking out to your balcony!

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Promising Tomatoes

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Looks like I'm on track for delicious salsa this spring/summer! I posted pictures of my balcony garden yesterday. This morning I went to check on my tomatoes, and they are popping with fruit and flowers in the Georgia sun.

I bought the plant with these green tomatoes already on them. They doubled in size overnight. This is supposed to be a cherry tomato plant; the middle fruit is already 1 inch diameter.

These flowers were also on the plant when I bought them. I bought this one with fruit and flowers because I thought it's a good sign the plant is healthy. Ahead start on yummy tomatoes doesn't hurt, either.

Buds just about to flower.

These buds are all brand new. They literally appeared overnight.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ANDEENNATE 4/3/2011 3:07PM

    I always grow tomatoes...My kids love to pick them and eat them right of the vine, so I do not get to make much salsa. Not much is better than home grown food! emoticon emoticon

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ARCHIMEDESII 4/3/2011 1:58PM

    Those are great looking tomatoes !! Gosh, I can't wait to get my tomato plants. it's still too early in the season here in the Northeast. We're still waiting for it to stop snowing !!!

LOL !!


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MYLADY4 4/3/2011 11:45AM

    So jealous. Love home grown tomatos. We still have snow on the ground. Last year at this time I was gettting my garden ready. At this rate, I might not be able to get out there till June!!

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THINRONNA 4/3/2011 10:25AM

    So cool! You have beautiful babies there! Love the bright sunny picks!

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Balcony Garden

Saturday, April 02, 2011

When I lived in Washington state, I was spoiled by farm fresh food. Now that I know what a vine ripe tomato and lettuce straight from the ground tastes like, I miss it.

I live in an apartment. I can grow a few things on my east facing balcony, but I don't have a lot of variety. There's plenty of sun, and plenty of heat in Georgia, so tomatoes are plentiful and easy to grow. I grew tomatoes on my balcony last summer. They kept popping out as fast as I could make and eat the salsa. It was great until we went on vacation, then my plants all died.

I'm hoping to repeat the success this year. If we go on vacation, I have some buckets I can fill with water so they can feed themselves.

I'm not sure the balcony garden will save me money on produce, but that is not my primary motivation. I like fresh food, and there's no fresher food than plucked straight from my balcony.

I don't have much luck starting things from seeds, so I bought starter plants. Not the cheapest option, but it is the easiest.

There's no substitute for a fresh tomato. There's no way I can grow as much as we consume, but this tomato plant should supply all my salsa needs for the entire summer. A few will be munched whole with a little salt before they make it to the salsa.

For fresh tasting food, I need fresh herbs. I have cilantro, lemon thyme, chives, rosemary, sage and basil. Lots of basil. I also have some mint, not visible in the picture. It will be great for mint lemonade when the Georgia summer gets sweltering. Mint also serves as a natural insect deterrent for my organic garden.

The far back pot has bell peppers and jalapenos, my summer crop. Can you tell my balcony garden is a salsa garden?

There's nothing like fresh lettuce, straight from the ground. It tastes "green" and "alive" is the way I describe it. After eating farm fresh lettuce plucked straight from the ground in Washington, store bought lettuce tastes "dead". Unfortunately, the growing season for lettuce in Georgia is very short in spring and fall. Lettuce is very delicate, and cannot handle temperatures above 80 degrees well. So I'm growing lettuce while I can.

From left to right: strawberries, starter head lettuce and bib lettuce, and garden mix lettuce, fully grown.

I can start using the herbs and the fully grown lettuce immediately. I'll wait for the basil plant to get a little bigger before I start plucking leaves. My tomato plant already has a few tiny green tomatoes and yellow flowers promising more fruit, so I may have my first tomatoes in another week, depending on how much sun we get. It's been cloudy and rainy the past few weeks.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNAWOLFE 6/16/2011 5:28PM

  I am going on vacation in a few weeks and I am trying to find a way for my plants to "feed themselves" for the 2 weeks I will be gone. How do you plan to do it with the buckets, and have you tested it out to see if it will work. I have tomatoes, pepper, and cashew seedlings. I don't want them to die while I am gone.

Comment edited on: 6/16/2011 5:29:34 PM

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CTTAGENT 4/4/2011 12:24PM

    What a nice assortment for living in an apartment. I am working on planting more things, but herbs is one thing I do want to try. They are so expensive when store-bought. We have a customer that brought in fresh veggies, fruit and herbs last year. There was one herb that I made in a chicken dish, and it was sooo good using that fresh herb.

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1MIN17SECB412PM 4/3/2011 6:45AM


Comment edited on: 9/8/2012 9:17:01 PM

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THINRONNA 4/3/2011 5:46AM

    Gorgeous pics! A feast for the eyes! Your balcony garden is making me pine for one of my own. I love to garden but it was hard in Nevis because it was so hot and the monkeys would steal everything. Here it is not too easy either but possible to have an herb garden. Very interesting with the midnight sun. You have inspired me to try a few vegetables since this place we live in now has a larger balcony than I have had in the past. Now if the snow would just melt I could get started! Keep us updated on your garden please!

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ERIKO1908 4/2/2011 8:02PM

    Makes me want to start growing stuff!! Apartment in MN though...isn't quite time...

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PAMMYLBEAR 4/2/2011 7:35PM

    Your garden looks lovely! I love edible landscapes. Did you know you can make your own self-watering planter boxes, like the EarthBox? Google self-watering planter boxes and you should get some instructions, complete with pics. I used them last year for out garden, and I have plenty of land for a garden! They were great when we went on vacation cuz my SIL only had to water once during the week.

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