Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ready or Not

With 40 people on this challenge so far, most of us busy working moms, time management becomes just as big a challenge as changing our menu. We are spending a stressful night trying to figure out what's for breakfast/lunch/dinner tomorrow?

No breakfast until after my glucose and weigh in so making enough Coach's Oats to go, putting some nuts in containers and putting some oats in containers so Big Spazz can take it camping this weekend. I'll put the fruits in tomorrow. Packing some decadent loose herbal masala chai tea to replace my mug of coffee.

Lunch: lots of salad, and hot veg of the day with homemade balsamic vinaigrette
Snacks: edamame, apple, banana

Dinner: Big salad, Lisa's lovely lentil stew and Big Spazz will have his one serving of brown rice since he'll probably have a smoothie instead of oatmeal tomorrow morning.  His planning ahead has to do with to rice or not to rice - that IS the question and whether tis better to give up the oatmeal forever for a promise of brown rice for dinner.
Other questions to ponder from page 216: "The Six Week Plan"
  • If white potatoes are limited to one serving, and rice (with no ethnicity marker) in front of it is also on the list, does that mean that white rice or hapa rice is actually a limited and not an off limits item? Does the ethnicity designator on the rice actually count? What about wild rice? Does its untamed nature keep it as a whole grain or could it be a sprout? Or a legume?
  • Where does quinoa fit in? Is it a whole grain when it is small enough to look like a seed?
  • Chia seed is equivalent to flaxseed, but if you sprout the chia, then does it become a raw veg?
  • Here's the bag of chia seed that I got at the Down to Earth closing sale. It kind of looks like ant eggs and termite doods but it's supposed to contain lots of omega 3 (1 T. max per day). If Down to Earth didn't run out of their sprouting jars, I could have tried growing the chia to make sprouts. So isn't it better to grow the seed and eat it as a raw vegetable? Are chia seeds not the origin of chia pets? If not, then why do they name them the same thing?
  •  And finally, with all the emphasis on unlimited beans and legumes, why does the book not talk about the flatulence issue? Jonny O in his jonnyogoesvegan blog talks about his "Mount Big Sexy" erupting and his Grandfarter Clock going off at night, but Dr. F doesn't hint at the storms coming and nobody else I know who has been on the challenge talks about how they deal with the mighty winds. Is it not a problem? Does your body suddenly absorb bean gasses into its system? Is it the farting that cleanses the colon and prevents colon cancer? Have you seen my office? It's a cubicle with no air circulation. I'm alone in there. There is no blaming the dog. I'm freaking myself out now and this fasting is making my stomach gurgle. Can I recall that mass email I sent to the staff offering my help with their goals and letting them know that they should just stop by my office? Scary.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011

    3 day countdown: RIF

    RIF - reading is fundamental -
    Uh oh, perhaps I should have started reading earlier. I realize that this is a plant strong menu. I just didn't realize HOW plant strong.

    Expected minimum food consumption per day--
    1 pound of raw veggies
    1 pound of cooked veggies
    at least 4 fresh fruits
    1 cup of beans/legumes

    That's an OBSCENE amount of food to try and eat and digest!

    2 out of 4 fruits for the day - that's about one and 3/4 pounds of grapefruit and only half the required intake.

    Two whole bags of green beans - 1 bag to be eaten raw, 1 bag cooked still only gives me 1/2 a pound of raw and 1/2 a pound of cooked out of the expected two pounds.

    Is there such a thing as vegan spam and beans?
    Lo and behold, found me a recipe for vegan spam, but I'll post the pilfered photos, and have at it if you dare.

    Here's the ingredients for vegan spam, and to make the shape, you use a tin can to form the concoction.

    Need to start saving my cans so Big Spazz can eat vegan spam and beans.  :) Got donations of clean cans?

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    4 Day Countdown: "What is six weeks?"

    After spending the weekend in Honolulu at graduate classes, I had to let my friends and family know that we were going to change our eating habits come September 1. What was great was that although we got some funny faces, and, "ugh, I could never give up. . ." everyone was very supportive. I'm on tap to cook Sunday dinner next week so my mom asked what vegan dish I was going to make. . . Chef AJ's disappearing lasagna. I could see the cogs in her head turning and by the time she was in the kitchen washing dishes, she had decided what vegan dish she was going to make for the next Sunday. With all the support, we have no choice but to succeed. The pressure is on.

    Like Liana says, "what is six weeks?"
    Well, six weeks is
    42 days. . .1008 hours. . . 60,480 minutes. . . 3,628,800 seconds
    Whoa - that's long!

    So what can you do in six weeks?

    In six weeks, Lifehacker Fitness says they can take you from zero to one hundred push ups.
    If you've been pregnant for six weeks, your baby looks like this -
    A fetus only a mother can love.

     According to psychologists, it takes 6 weeks to form a good habit, and hopefully that's how long it takes to break a bad habit.

     At six weeks, a puppy should be weaned and ready to adopt.

    It takes six weeks to recover from major surgeries like back surgery, hysterectomies and heart surgery

    And finally, in six weeks, Big Spazz and I will hopefully be leaner, meaner, plant eating machines.

    The next four days will be spent on menu planning and staples buying. More on Thursday.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011

    Countdown: 7 days - Dip the Big Toe In

    Today was the day for fire drill action - just go through the motions as if this were the real event, so bought me some kale (because if I were actually growing my own kale it would be dead already anyway), and tried out the chai green smoothie just to see if I could actually get myself ready, harvest my make believe, but very successful crops on FarmVille, and make the smoothie for breakfast. Like a fire drill, the intent is to learn what went well and what needs to be tweaked.

     First batch was fine, but I have an old Osterizer blender that may be older than me, so after the first batch the engine was a little pooped.
    This recipe makes enough to bring to work: now I need glass jars.

    The verdict: It's like teaching for the first time. The trick is to try and stay more than 10 minutes ahead of the kids and then hopefully it gets better and you stop standing in front of the class (or the refrigerator) wondering what to do now. Boy 3 said it was OK, but Big Spazz said he's not a fan of chai. He really should have said something last week when I was raving about it. More for me.

    I need to own this figurine. Seriously! Tried yoga today at work in anticipation of all this upsurge in energy we're going to get on this new journey.  Breathing = good. Stomach getting in the way and left knee starting to shake under the strain = bad. The motto for yoga today: do not fart. 

    My last endeavor, try a product so I can figure out how to modify it for the challenge.

    Tofu shirataki fettuccine noodles is a favorite of Hungry Girl and I hear Ming Tsai. Instead of eating complex carbs or learning to tolerate the weird texture of whole wheat pasta, this is an alternative. You find it in the tofu and konyaku area of the supermarket. It's made out of tofu and water. Period.

    The trick is to drain it well, put it in the microwave for a minute. This will get rid of the fishy smell of the noodles. Otherwise it smells like ika. Blech. 

    For the original recipe (to be experimented on more later), I used 2 tablespoons of fat free cream cheese, 2 tsp of Parmesan and 1 tsp of sour cream. Season with a little salt and pepper. Mix with the dried noodles and put it in the microwave for one more minute. Done. Fake fettuccine Alfredo.

    The verdict: the texture is a little more chewy than real fettuccine, but like tofu, it takes flavors well. Next time, maybe Thai peanut style or in Asian broth, some lime, cilantro, chilies, mushrooms, coconut milk, ginger, garlic, little shoyu. . .smells good already.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011

    Preparing Our Kitchen for the Challenge

    Most sensible, educated people will be reading the Eat to Live book and getting their pre-challenge physicals taken care of. Most intelligent people will also be cleaning out their pantry and refrigerator of those foods that leave us "overfed, yet malnourished" (the heading for chapter 2)

    Big Spazz would probably be reading the book just to make sure that *gasp* his 3 cups of coffee per day are actually not allowed, however, our books are stuck somewhere in "Hebron" which means they are NOT in Honolulu.

    As I am the sensible one, genetically proven because I am the one with the pake blood, it is up to me to clean out the kitchen, so breakfast and dinner on day 9 and 8 of the countdown consisted of my clearing out the kitchen and cooking our malnourishing food, because I am sensibly pake, so hell if I'm throwing it out. As my grandma would say, "ho, the poho that!"

    Step one: Don't save the "good stuff" for later: bust 'em out!
    This includes using our Honolulu Coffee Company coffee beans that my nephew TK roasted himself. Honolulu Coffee Company on the third floor of Ala Moana is always busy, and since they have no wi fi, it's just the coffee that brings people in.  One of their baristas, Pete Licata, actually won the western regional barista competition and took like second in the international competition. Pete actually went to hand pick the beans on the Big Island from a small farm in Kona and Kau. According to my nephew, roasting is a very difficult skill to master because there's a fine line between ready and burnt. I must say we have been hiding this coffee and we may be down to this last bag, but we will enjoy it while it lasts.

    Step two: Follow the advice of addicts and alcoholics
    Take the concept of the nicotine patch. You get people off of their nicotine addiction by feeding them nicotine, and then slowly weaning them off the amount of nicotine they're accustomed to. Like methodone to get people off of heroine. They're both opiates.
    Here's my drug of choice - bread. This one is a ginger-pineapple sweet bread. What better way to get off bread than to eat bread. Not only that, what better way to get off butter than to fry the bread with butter. And since I'm pake, may as well make the portuguese sausage in the refrigerator too so no waste.

    We're leaving the reading to the young ones and those postal workers in Hebron that are holding up my books.

    Monday, August 22, 2011

    10 day countdown to changing our life

    Meet my husband of almost 24 years. We met when I was 18 and we have been together ever since. In high school he used to be called Spazz, and then he became Big Spazz. We are self proclaimed foodies. When we travel, our motto is "try something different." Trying something different means we never eat at franchises when we travel and we try not to eat at the same place twice. For better or worse, we have raised our boys to enjoy food. Big Spazz is also an expert chef. His fried rice and peanut butter mochi are legendary (along with his catch and eat dishes like uhu tempura, steamed moana kali, crispy papio, etc.)

    Obviously from our wedding pics, we are a lot bigger now and yet at that point in our life, we were the heaviest we had ever been, except for my pregnancy weight. In this pic, I was already a new mom and our oldest was almost two months old.

    We did not get obese overnight. We've been this way for a while. We've tried different plans, albeit half heartedly (Weight Watchers, exercise, diets). In the mean time, Big Spazz was put on high blood pressure medication and I have not felt comfortable in my skin for so long that I don't know if I've ever felt normal. I am always the biggest one in the group. I never used to be that girl, but I've been that girl for all my adult life.

    We are committed to changing our life and we're starting with this little book. It won't be easy. In fact, there may be swearing, but I feel like I have to do it for us. After one year of living away from my family, I have come to realize that I missed my husband more than anyone. I want to make sure that we spend as many healthy years together as possible.

    My grandmother said that words held mana. Once it's said, it carries its own power, so I'm saying it out loud. We will change our eating for life, not because we need to lose weight, but because we need to live strong. The change starts on September 1. There is no looking back.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Liana's Yumm-O Chai Smoothie

    We're actually working today, but my friend Liana, cheerleader extraordinaire and Dr. Fuhrman cult leader shared a jar of her chai smoothie that's chock full of kale! The chai spice makes this drink so rich and tasty that I don't even notice the kale.

    This is definitely one for our new adventure starting on September 1!

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Zucchini ribbon lasagna

    My son's tattoo clients sent him home with a box of veggies including a couple beautiful zucchinis so in my attempt to flirt with veggies, I replaced lasagna noodles with zucchini. I can make it even healthier by replacing the cheese and using soy crumbles instead of the turkey Italian sausage, but so far so good.

    For the sauce:
    2 14.5 oz cans tomatoes (fire-roasted if it's on sale, diced with seasoning, stewed. . .)
    2 T. extra virgin olive oil
    1 red bell pepper, diced (or onion)
    1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
    12 oz ground turkey, or one tray of turkey Italian sausage, or 1 bag soy crumbles
    2 T chopped fresh oregano
    1-2 diced garlic cloves
    For the lasagna:
    2 zucchini
    1 container part-skim ricotta, or fat-free sour cream
    Other shredded cheese

    1. Make the sauce: saute bell peppers, flakes and oil in a pan until soft. Add turkey, cook until browned. Meantime, pulse tomatoes in a food processor until finely chopped. Add tomatoes and garlic; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 20 minutes. Stir in oregano.

    2. Make the lasagna: preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice zucchini lengthwise into thin strips  (about 1/8" thick). Place 1/3 of zucchini slices on bottom of baking dish. Top with 1/3 of sauce. Dot with ricotta and cheese. Repeat layers. Bake, uncovered, until lasagna bubbles and top browns, 50 - 60 miutes. Let stand for 10 minutes. 

    I had some leftover zucchini ribbons, so hubby made some zucchini toast.

    Flirting with Veggies

    This past year, I have been on a faith journey. Basically, I believe that I just prepare for anything, and the neon signs will light up for me to show me the path that I need to take. My faith journey has found me teaching high school again for one year, moving to Honolulu, starting my doctoral studies, spending a year with my oldest son, teaching educators in South Africa. Not everything made sense, and I can't explain how I got all of these opportunities handed to me, except to say that I am on a faith journey.

    Now that my year is over, I believe that I'm still being led by neon signs, I'm just not as swift to jump at it, but I'm still going to listen.

    The neon sign that is loudly flashing in my life now: get healthy, eat healthy, live plant strong.
    My friend Liana (So Duck Soup) has changed her life around and she is the most powerful cheer leader and motivational speaker I know. We've also been following Johnny O "Big Sexy"'s blog about taking on the 6 week challenge and going vegan. "Big Sexy" has a lot in common with my own "Big Sexy."  Still, I am not at the point where I'm ready to follow the neon sign. For now, I'm just flirting with using more veggies, taking familiar recipes and trying out more healthy substitutions. 

    Yes, I will follow that sign. . .but first a little foreplay.