VHALKYRIE   16,233
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VHALKYRIE's Recent Blog Entries

March Weigh In

Friday, March 01, 2013

Short blog with just a status update today. I stepped on the scale this morning for the first time since mid January. I was apprehensive because I ate a lot of fast food for a few weeks, and I've made a couple of changes to my routine. I haven't been getting a lot of gym exercise done, but I have been 'working out' hauling moving boxes, and raking my new yard. Irregular exercise and eating fluctuations are usually setups for disaster and disappointment.

Instead, I found I am down a pound to 129.0! That's below my pre-holiday weight, and just 2lbs above my last summer low of 127.0. I'm pretty pleased with that!

I'm pointing out the obvious, but the lesson that I'm taking away is that weight gain is a cumulative effect. When I became obese, it was due to long term bad habits. Now that I am mostly maintaining my weight loss, short term of less than ideal circumstances isn't a deal breaker.

My main troublespot is becoming overconfident that just because I didn't suffer bad consequences doesn't mean that I am immune. If I didn't go back to my good habits as soon as possible, then I could have had a very different outcome today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 3/3/2013 6:31AM

    I agree! I have been maintaining and slowly losing despite not eating the best during the move...I do try to be somewhat sensible but have kind of been in survival mode. I need to get back into my good habits as well because, like you, I know that if my current eating becomes my "normal" things will not go so well!

Great job on your loss! You have the complete right attitude!

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KAYOTIC 3/2/2013 8:58AM

    Good for you! You got to enjoy the holidays, suffered a bit of stress with the move and all, and came out nicely! I agree, getting back to the good habits as soon as possible is key to maintaining. emoticon

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CATLADY52 3/1/2013 10:12PM

    Now you know what to do and you do it instead of both not knowing, and not doing. It is probably one of the hardest lessons in life. Congratulations to you! emoticon

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BILL60 3/1/2013 6:45PM

    Your words are smart words. Hang tough!!

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WALLINMW 3/1/2013 9:18AM

  Keep it going!

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Why I Don't Buy Gluten-Free

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A few blogs ago I said that I am mostly low carb, but with a few exceptions. Sometimes I eat steel cut oats for breakfast, and half sandwiches for lunch. I eat low quantities of wheat and grains because I found most low carb substitutes to be unsuitable. Someone wrote to me and asked why that is, and why I don't choose some of the gluten free options.

An interesting question, and I thought it would make a good blog topic.

Back in the 80s, we were told that high fat diets were the cause of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Health conscious consumers immediately threw away their lard and butter and replaced it with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. These same consumers also noted how much fat was in yogurt, Chips-Ahoy-Cookies and tortillas. Food producers reacted to this new wave of marketing and reduced the amount of fat. When this happened, consumers complained that low-fat food tasted terrible. In order to make food taste better, they added more sugar. Take a look at a cup of Dannon low-fat yogurt. It has almost 0 fat, but 26g of sugar. That's as much as a Snickers bar. Snackwell's cookies were extremely popular with my girls dorm in college because they were 'healthy' low-fat. Let's be honest. Snackwell's taste ok, but do they really compare with grandma's full butter cookies? Not a chance. Fat is a flavor enhancer, and so is salt and sugar. All chefs know there is an optimal balance between all three to make a person say, "YUM!" Take any one of those away, and you have, "Meh."

Let's fast forward to today. Low-carb diets are becoming more popular with some people. Food producers are always ready to capitalize on latest trends. So they have started introducing gluten-free and low-carb tortillas, cookies, chips and numerous other foods. But be very wary that they aren't pulling the same 'fat becomes sugar' switcharoo. Just because something is gluten-free doesn't mean it's low carb. Those of us that follow low carb generally do so to avoid the insulin spikes that trigger weight gain and shut off body fat burn.

In general, I feel that most gluten free food is best for people who have wheat sensitivities. Gluten-free bread typically uses potato starch or tapioca starch instead of wheat. These starches will be broken down and absorbed immediately as though it were refined white sugar. Starch IS sugar. It is a carb that is made of glucose chains. If you are buying gluten free food that is made with potato or tapioca starch, you haven't accomplished anything.

There are some gluten free foods that are low-carb. I'm a particular fan of flax these days. Flax is not a grain - it is a seed. It is low glycemic and rich in Omega-3. When ground, it can't be used entirely as a flour substitute because...well...it's gluten free. Wheat gluten makes awesome bread, cookies, and cakes and that's that. I've tried many, many recipes that claim to be just as good, but I must be a really picky customer because I can tell. It's not the same.

I have made a pretty awesome flaxseed tortilla, though. My husband and I love a flaxseed cracker brand called "Mary's Gone Crackers". But I very carefully check packages that say they are flaxseed. Most of them are wheat mixed with a little flax.

I wrote back in my Christmas blog why I was baking full sugar/wheat cookies and breads. What works best for me is to have a little bit of the 'real thing', rather than try to fill gaps with substitutes. Sometimes I like the substitutes better, like in the case of "Mary's Gone Crackers", but most of the time I don't. I'm baking a chocolate torte for my husband's birthday this coming Sunday, but that will be our first dessert since Christmas.

Most mornings I prefer to eat eggs, but there are days when I need to move faster. I freeze batches of steel-cut oatmeal for mornings where I'm really rushed, and I'm out of eggs. I make sandwiches with thin cuts of bread because there really isn't a more portable and convenient lunch on the go. It can be eaten without utensils, which sometimes I need. If I don't prepare these foods, then I'll end up holding a fast food wrapper instead, and I definitely don't want that. If I had gluten intolerance, I'd use the gluten-free options. But since I'm not, I'm not gaining anything in these situations.

Back before I started school, it was easy to completely avoid wheat and grain. I didn't need portable food, or a fast breakfast. Now that I do, this is what I've found fits my needs. I'll keep doing it as long as it hasn't hurt my weight goals. If it does, then I'll adjust. A quick count on a food tracker shows that I am still under 80g carbs per day, well under the 160-240g I used to eat.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 3/3/2013 7:42AM

    I like your attitude about it all. We don't have nearly as many gluten free products here as you do but there are some. I always like how sensible and smart you are about what you are putting in your body!

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KAYOTIC 3/1/2013 7:52PM

    I've eaten my share of those snackwells, and agree with your review of them, meh...

I have completely changed my perspective on food over time, and now make most of my meals, and things that go in my meals...I've even started making the granola I put in my kefir in the morning (for my favorite breakfast, a 1/4 cup of granola, a cup of kefir (plain) and fruit.) Lately it's been strawberries, yum!

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VHALKYRIE 2/28/2013 9:01PM

    EWEFLUFFY: I don't have urges for carby foods, either. The oats and sandwiches are two cases where I've introduced in small quantities because of convenience. There's a lot of foods I used to eat that I've pretty much eliminated - I'll talk more about that in a later blog.

MyLady4: I have some coconut flour, but I haven't had a chance to make something with it yet. I'm actually thinking it would work for an angel food cake because it's a very delicate cake where a lot of gluten development isn't desirable. I think the slight coconut flavor would make a delicious angel food cake, as well. But I'll have to save it for a special occasion.

Comment edited on: 2/28/2013 9:02:23 PM

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KICK-SS 2/28/2013 8:49PM

    I think we need to do what works for us as an individual.

I'm pretty much wheat free, however on occasion I will still have some sort of treat, bread or something like that. I try to make those occasions small amounts and not very often. I'm in this for life, so don't intend to make myself miserable. Over time however, I don't have the urges for some of the carb foods that I used to. Life is too short to not have a little enjoyment now and then!!

On most of the wheat "substitutes" I'd rather just do without than some of the horrible tasting stuff they offer - just like in the old days of the fat free stuff, some of that stuff was nasty! Give me a small amount of the real deal, not some phony processed food.

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MYLADY4 2/28/2013 8:03PM

    Yep, being Celiac I see so many options out there for gluten free items. They even make gluten free glazed donuts (never ever tried them and never ever will). Most of it has too much sugar in it but I did see some Coconut flour bread with like 6 ingrediant in it. I will be looking for that stuff soon.

I think you do what I am hoping to do it to eat when hunger and stop when satisfied and proves that it work. emoticon

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Mediterranean Diet Beats Low-Fat Diet

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I was pleased to see the latest headlines making the rounds in the new cycle today: Mediterranean Diet beats Low-Fat diet.


This particular passage caught my eye:

"The study's findings, released Monday by the New England Journal of Medicine, also add to mounting evidence contradicting a long-held tenet of dieting to improve health: that all calories are equal."

Hurray! Calorie is not a calorie.

Back in the 80s we were told not to eat eggs. Then experts changed their minds and said eggs were ok. Nuts are looking to be the new 'eggs'. No more counting out exactly 14 peanuts lest you go over your fat grams!

The diet in this study emphasized olive oils and nuts. They were not limited on calories. They were told to limit their red meat consumption.

Olive oil is my main oil for cooking, and even though I no longer follow a low fat diet, I still choose to eat leaner cuts of meat.

Why? Because when cows are fed their natural diet and are pasture raised, they are very lean. Modern cows are only heavily fatty because they are fed corn to make them that way. They are obese. The only animals that are naturally fatty when healthy are whales, seals and salmon. So I choose lean cuts of meats because there is something unnatural about the heavily marbled meats. Maybe I'll enjoy a ribeye occasionally, but I prefer NY strip if I'm going to have steak. I prefer more protein over more fat.

As a general rule, I don't avoid fats as they naturally come. Eggs and nuts are staple snacks for me. It's a shame they were maligned for so long.

I would be wary of the nut butters, though. Those mixed with hydrogenated oils or palm oils are introduced as stabilizers so the oil doesn't separate. I check the ingredient lists. It should have exactly one ingredient: the nut. Peanut butter should have peanuts, nothing else. Mixing the separated oil before using is not churning butter; it's not hard or time consuming.

I'm glad that conventional wisdom is starting to get wise.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BEECHNUT13 3/3/2013 11:22PM

    I started making my own almond butter in our food processor. The ONLY ingredient is almonds. Delicious! Also, anything other than natural peanut butter tastes gross! I can taste the fake in the others. Barfy.

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KAYOTIC 2/28/2013 10:50PM

    I've been tracking lately, and find that my fat % is higher than used to be recommended w/ a "low fat"diet, but is more in line with the Mediterranean diet. And that's the way I really enjoy eating, and feel good eating that way too. It's great that it has been validated by study as well.

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THINRONNA 2/28/2013 1:42PM

    Another great blog!

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VHALKYRIE 2/28/2013 9:58AM

    I should have noted that I use extra light olive oil (ELOO) for cooking, as it has a high smoke point. Extra virgin (EVOO) can be used for cooking ONLY if it is a very fine quality, but then it is very expensive and I wouldn't use it for cooking! Most supermarket EVOO has a very low smoke point, and should only be used for non cooking purposes, like salad dressing.

I also use coconut oil, but only for certain types of meals like Thai food, where the coconut flavor is complimentary. Avocado oils I love for salad dressing, but they are prohibitively expensive, so I only buy if they happen to go on sale! Which isn't very often, unfortunately. Avocado oil also has an extremely high smoke point for cooking, but I prefer the mild flavor of the ELOO.

Comment edited on: 2/28/2013 10:09:01 AM

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EXOTEC 2/27/2013 10:33PM

    Bravo! We're finally beginning to get daring folks who are willing to come forward with the truth...and intelligent people who want that truth and recognize it when they hear it (like yourself).

Olive oil is one of the few really good oils. Coconut oil is touted as the best, along with palm kernel oil. Avocado or macadamia oils are good too, if you can bear the sticker shock! LOL The only thing about olive oil is that its bonds break under cooking heat, so I limit that to mostly dressings and drizzles on already cooked foods. Delicious. Great in marinades, too!

Grass-raised and -finished meat is fine for the fatty cuts. The ones that pose the health threats are those raised or finished in feedlots where they're fed as much grain as they can consume. That gets stored in their fat, and when we eat that, we're getting all their bad nutrition. Actually, animal fats from naturally raised animals are very good for you. I love a good ribeye! The more marbled, the better.

I love nut butters! of course, peanuts are not nuts, so that doesn't count. But it's such a simple matter to make your own nut butters -- and you know exactly what's gone into them! yum

I so hope this good information trickles down to the general populace...and quickly! It's about time they gave us some *good* news.


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KICK-SS 2/27/2013 6:37PM

    It's been on our TV and in our newspapers out here on the West coast the past few days too... Good news... I just heard this morning that "low fat low calorie diets are NOT the answer" to obesity!!

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/27/2013 6:16PM

    Yeah, I read the same article in the NY Times earlier this week.

Of course to take the diet to its fullest extent, I feel obligated to rent a villa on coastal Italy or the southern shores of Turkey...I'd have to have a boat so I could go fishing every day....and probably my own olive grove and vineyard....and maybe even have to look up Sophia Loren and have her come visit on the weekends!

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CATLADY52 2/27/2013 4:43PM

    emoticon You were ahead of the mainstream on this. You were right on.

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EXPOGIRL50 2/27/2013 4:08PM

    Love a Mediterranean diet...would love it even more if in the Med!!

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Always Someone Better

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today is mid-term - I seriously had a nightmare about one of my exams last night! But all is well - I have an "A" overall in both classes I'm taking. A girl who sits behind me in Calculus is a high school student who is so advanced, she is taking college credit courses. I think it's incredible that she is so young and has an opportunity that I wish I had when I was her age. We got our exams back today, and I got an 89%, which I am totally thrilled about (because I literally had a nightmare it was terrible!) She seemed hesitant to share her grade, so I was worried she might not have done well, but then she revealed she got a 100%. I cheered and congratulated her. I think she was worried I might be jealous that she got a higher grade. It doesn't matter where I am relative to anyone else - we aren't graded on a curve. I made a couple of silly mistakes, and I would have liked my grade to be higher, but that's because I'm in competition with myself - not her or anyone else.

Truth is, there will always be someone better, smarter and more successful. It is stupid to compare ourselves with anyone else. I think it's even more stupid not to applaud people who do well and not push them forward. It is a very poor reflection of ourselves if we can't recognize talent in others.

My husband and I are doing well at the moment, and we recognize that while we've worked for it, there is always an element of luck in any ups or downs. I'm disappointed that I'm not working, but I am happy to be back in school. I really hated being at home with seemingly no purpose. My husband says my mood has been 100x better since I started classes and have some structure keeping me busy.

It has been disappointing that there are some people in our lives who are less than happy about what we've accomplished. Some either consciously or subconsciously have tried to diminish us. We ran into one of my husband's coworkers at Lowe's when we were shopping for window blinds. He explained to his wife that we just bought a house. She said, "Oh, is it a prebuilt house?" I thought that was a very odd question, but I later learned that they are in the process of having a house custom built. Hmm...ok...was that an attempt at upstaging? Then my husband said this coworker approached him at work and said he'd never buy a house less than 2 years old because you're just buying someone else's problems.

My husband is from England where all the houses are old. Good luck finding a plot of land to build a custom house if your name isn't Lord or Lady something. Where I'm from, generally buying a house less than 10 years old is risking foundation problems because the soil is very unstable. The house we bought at 23 years old has no structural or foundation problems - it's been standing long enough that those problems would have revealed themselves. That's one of the reasons why we bought it.

He's the coworker that belittles my husband for driving a fuel efficient Honda, while he brags about his luxury sedan. The thing is, my husband and I could care less. We don't care about playing keeping up with Jones or Kardashians or whatever. We compare us to ourselves. I'm not jealous of my coworker and his wife, but I now have a very poor opinion of them. We have had dinner with them before on occasion, and I told my husband that I don't really care to meet with them again. He agrees.

Right now we have a fold up table and patio chairs for our 'dining' table because we've been mobile for many years. Our real friends wouldn't care if it was a grand formal or a turned over box in the middle of the floor. Those who judge otherwise reveal themselves as persons of poor character.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 2/28/2013 1:38PM

    You are so right about all of this! I love this blog! we have no kitchen table right now ...our Apple computer is on the ground and the wooden fold up chairs are sitting around the computer desk until we can figure out a table situation! The house that we owned in the US was built in 1875 and was one of our great loves! ...There was a tree stump in the basement crawl space that appeared to be assisting in holding up the house...character...it is what I call character.

I am so tired of those who judge and of those who feel threatened by others success. Back in Oslo Quin had a hard situation with some girls who were upset with her because she was able so say that she drew well out loud. They told her that she shouldn't say things like that about herself! Why not!?! Really...do we have to diminish what we do well to make others feel better about themselves. Bah! No way!

Great---Great Blog! Thank you!!!!!

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SKIRNIR 2/28/2013 12:15PM

    Keeping up with the Joneses is a silly thing. And I won't buy a new house probably ever. My husband brother did and I couldn't stay there overnight without mega inhaler usage. The new building dust can be awful it seems to be for a few years. Even new stores or newly remodeled stores get me big time.

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JT_GMOTU 2/27/2013 11:09PM

    How nice that you could realize THEIR positions...and ignore the not-so-subtle jabs....I have found my husband and I have managed to phase out the folks who act like this...a lot easier all around!

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CINDYAST 2/27/2013 4:09PM

    Ah, keeping up with the Jones', really not worth the effort. Love your attitude about it. Some of our best times were when we lived in a tiny 12x56 mobile home. We had a huge yard so we always entertained in the yard. Once we had 50 or 60 people in the yard and it started sprinkling rain, we just all crammed into the house and had a great time laughing about how "close" friends we all were. It makes for some good memories and even better friendships!

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MYLADY4 2/27/2013 3:33PM

    I am with you on not keeping up with the Jones. Are they any happier with all of their "stuff" then you, I don't think so.

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KA_JUN 2/27/2013 1:55PM

    Don't let others bother you, you know what's important to achieving your own goals and that's what matters. Saying what they did was poor form. Perhaps they have more money, but money can't buy class. emoticon emoticon

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What Lifestyle Means

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm still sticking with what works for me. I'm mostly low carb, but there are a few differences, which I'll explain in a bit.

My breakfasts don't vary too much. I pick one of the three:

- Pastry-less quiche. It's pretty much the quiche filling without a crust.
- Plain yogurt with blueberries.
- Steel cut oats and milk.

Lunch varies greatly, but it is a fairly standard formula of protein+veggies+fruit.

- Homemade soup (seafood stew or ham and bean)+half sandwich (turkey, tuna or roast beef)+cup of fruit salad.
- Salad (lettuce, tomato, bell pepper, no dressing)+half sandwich+small orange.
- Chicken cobb salad.

Snacks are simple - and portable.

- Pickled eggs. It sounds weird, but I've found that I like these. I just take peeled hard boiled eggs, put them in a jar with a teaspoon of pickling spice, then pour boiling 1 cup vinegar + 1 cup water solution over the top of it. I refrigerate when cool. It allows me to have a hard boiled egg on hand for up to 2 weeks so there's no rush to eat them. Although mine rarely last a week.
- Celery and carrot sticks and hummus. I LOVE hummus!

Dinner varies the most, but follows protein+veggies formula. Once or twice a week I will add 1/2 cup of rice or a small sweet potato. I rarely ever have dessert.

- Grilled flank steak+steamed veggies (green beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts, etc).
- NY strip steak+steamed veggies.
- Grilled or baked chicken breast or thigh+steamed veggies.
- Grilled or baked fish (salmon or tuna)+steamed veggies.
- Beef, chicken or pork stir fry+rice+stir fry veggies.
- Roast chicken or lamb+assorted roasting veggies+sweet potato.

I haven't been drinking much wine or beer anymore. With my college work, I simply can't hold my concentration in the evenings after dinner if I have a glass of wine. So I've been saving it for the weekends.

I've mentioned in the past that I limit my wheat and grain products. The sandwich bread and steel cut oats are not usually recommended on low-carb plans. I eat them in small quantities mostly because of convenience. A sandwich is tough to beat for portable food on the go. The steel cut oats can be cooked in advance and frozen into individual breakfast sized portions. 2 minutes in the microwave from frozen makes them ideal 'fast food' for my mornings. I've tried various low-carb substitutes, and they don't work quite as well.

I don't diligently track my carbs and calories at the moment, but I know from my past record that I am higher than most low-carb plans, and much lower than the standard Spark diet recommendation. Even though I get excellent weight loss results with a VLC diet, it is difficult for me to manage my vitamin and mineral balance, particularly with the potassium drop. So I eat more fruit and potatoes than most LC plans recommend.

On the flip side, I cannot eat large quantities of breads, grains or starches, or I will start to gain weight. I also get other secondary issues like sinus trouble. If I have steel cut oats in the morning, I can't have a sandwich at lunch and rice for dinner. So I pick one bread, grain or starch a day.

It might be if I was running on a treadmill for an hour a day or training for a marathon that my energy needs would be different, but this is what works for me in my normal daily life. I find it simple to manage, and I don't have to think about it too much. That's what lifestyle means to me, anyway.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINNYMINNY 3/1/2013 5:59AM

    I always enjoy your blogs. Thought-provoking and well written, your entries offer great ideas. Thank you!

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KAYOTIC 2/27/2013 9:40PM

    Nothing wrong with fruits and veggies and lean protein, and it's hard to argue with success. If you feel good, and it's easy to stick with, then you have fount the "sweet spot" of healthy lifestyle! emoticon

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THINRONNA 2/26/2013 2:13PM

    I have been so interested to see how your diet (meaning what you eat) has progressed and change over several years. You really have found what works for you! I like that you have so many choices and that you do incorporate the occasional grain...even if just for variety or convenience. It seems really healthy and like a sane way to eat. Good going!

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HEALTHY-SPARK 2/26/2013 12:30PM

    I think this is great how you've outlined your basic plan for each meal. I have one as well, but it sorta floats around in my head. I ought to write it down -- so that when I'm needing some inspiration for meal ideas, I can come up with other ideas that "fit the plan".
Thanks for sharing!
I love roasted red pepper hummus and carrots -- my favorite afternoon snack!

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ARCHIMEDESII 2/26/2013 12:20PM

    I emoticon hummus too !

Do you eat tuna ? I do have friends who won't eat canned tuna anymore. I still do. Anyway, if you eat tuna, try swapping in hummus for mayo. I really enjoy the taste of the tuna/hummus combo in a sandwich. I add some romaine lettuce and a couple of slices of tomato. YUMMMERS !

One day, I may try that with eggs. I've been craving egg salad for some reason. go figure.

anyway, guess you have your kitchen up and running. How are you enjoying your new home ?

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EGALITAIRE 2/26/2013 11:33AM

    Nicely put together blog. A great example of finding out what works for you and then continuing to refine, while not being worried about "the rules".

Sounds like you are in a comfortable place with the nutrition and exercise - congrats.


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