Progress Report ::: Good Medicine

On Thursday I had a wonderful meeting with my new primary care physician – a naturopathic doctor who spends a considerable amount of time asking really good questions and listening intently. We discussed my current eating plan and levels of exercise and agreed I should go off of Metformin for a few days to see what happens to my blood sugar. I’m happy to report that I’ve been off Metformin since Thursday and my blood sugars are stable in the “normal” range. If I can keep this up, I won’t have to be on medication to control my blood sugar. There really isn’t an “if.” I hope that my levels stay in a good place and I will keep doing my best. 

In addition:

  • I’ve lost 25 pounds as of this morning (!!!)
  • I jogged today in intervals of 5-10 seconds, and then walked for a minute in between. I only jogged for about a minute or two total, but it was surprisingly easy and felt amazing. I actually jog slower than I walk. Matt casually walked beside me as I “ran.” It’s hilarious. But it counts! 
  • I found a pair of jeans in a bin of clothes to donate in my garage. I grew out of them a couple of years ago, and they’ve just been too tight almost since the day I bought them. I didn’t think they’d fit but I tried them on anyway, and not only do they fit, but they require a belt. I guess my brain hasn’t caught up with my body yet.
  • Matt and I bought a basketball and spent time this afternoon shooting hoops. We’re finally able to go out and do things together that we’ve never done before. It turns out that he’s really good at it, and we had a lot of fun. 

All in all, very good things – I couldn’t be happier. What I’ve learned is that food and exercise is very much a form of medicine. It won’t cure everything, but I cannot believe the impact it’s had on my life in just six weeks. I will go into further detail in the coming days about my diet plan and what a week of eating typically looks like for me. I think this will be helpful to document. 

I’m beat. I spent all day on my feet, moving and grooving, and I’m looking forward to dinner and an early bedtime. 

Keep smiling! 

Breakfast ::: Chia Seed Pudding

I know it might resemble something less-than-extraordinary, but this little concoction is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants. I’ve adapted this recipe from The Blood Sugar Solution. It keeps me full for hours, keeps my blood sugar regulated, and doesn’t taste terrible either. I must admit, it takes some getting used to – which isn’t talking it up much – but once you do, it’s one of the best breakfasts around. 

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As always, there are tons of modifications available to make this more palatable (there I go again talking it up) and dynamic. This is how I make it, which isn’t how Dr. Hyman makes it, and I also vary it from time to time. It can’t hurt to try, right? 

There’s a ton of information about the health benefits of chia seeds, unsweetened cacao powder, cinnamon, and blueberries. Throw them all together and you have a powerhouse breakfast. Chia seeds are amazing at absorbing toxins from your body and “passing” them out. 

“Chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.” They have been eaten as sustenance and for nourishment far before they were spread on terra cotta Chia Pets in the 80’s. Who knew? Ch-ch-ch-chia! 

Easy Ingredients: 

1/4 c. chia seeds 

1/2 c. unsweetened coconut milk (or sweetened if you go that way) 

1 T. unsweetened, organic, fair trade cacao powder (you can use sweetened or semi-sweet too) 

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt 

1/4 c. fresh or frozen blueberries (or any fruit you prefer)

(Optional items: sometimes I add a few cashews or a spoonful of almond butter – the sky is the limit with this one. If I didn’t have dietary restrictions at the moment, I would eat this with semi-sweet chocolate, coconut flakes, almond slivers, and cherries. Oooohhh yeah!)

Easy Instructions:

Stir chia seeds thoroughly into coconut milk. Cover and let stand 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, the chia seeds will have softened and become the consistency of a thick pudding. If you want it thinner, add more coconut milk. Add the other ingredients and stir. Done. That was easy! 

Dinner ::: Red, Yellow, Green, Repeat

It seems lately that every meal consists of something red, yellow, and green. I guess it’s the season for that though – and because I’m not quite yet eating starchy vegetables (soon, my pretties, soon) I don’t have a lot of color variety in my diet. 

Tonight’s dinner was delicious.

IMG_1511 Seared tofu steaks (please, let me elaborate if nothing but for the sake of my own culinary pleasure) and roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and yellow squash over a bed of fresh baby spinach. The cooked vegetables wilted the spinach ever-so-slightly…deeeelish. I also added a small smattering of scallions and herbs.

Oh, and see that white stuff? Yeah, that’s Feta CHEESE!!!!!! I’m eating feta again. In very small doses, to the very huge delight of my taste buds. It’s amazing what foods taste like heaven for me now – blueberries, feta cheese, fresh green beans, sprigs of cilantro. 

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If you want to make this dish – it’s simple. Find a bunch of vegetables you like, chop them into relatively uniform bits, saute on a griddle or frying pan with a little olive oil. You can add chicken, beef, or tofu. Whatever your pleasure. I use Nasoya extra firm tofu, and slice it in 1/2 inch slices. I just grilled them on the griddle for a few minutes on each side to get them toasty brown. When they look like campfire marshmallows (curses!) they’re done. 

Dinner ::: Kicked Up Chicken with Chickpea Salad

I love it when the ingredients for a dish just sort of come together…

The Cherry and Sungold tomatoes are starting to show their plump, round, enticing faces at the farmer’s market. Sweet as candy. We picked up a pint this weekend with intentions to just eat them here and there in salads or as a quick snack. But then we found some ripe cucumbers in our garden, and some cilantro pesto (I know, right?) at Sweet Clover Market in Essex, VT. 

This dish is ridiculously easy – it took me ten minutes to make it all. Again, there’s a lot of room here for variation: 

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I use chicken tenders because they’re fast and easy, but you can use any kind of chicken. Cook it until it’s mostly done and then spoon your favorite salsa over the top and finish cooking thoroughly. 

Chickpea Salad

2 medium cucumbers, peeled or not, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1.5 c. cherry or sungold tomatoes, quartered

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) drained and rinsed

1 T. dijon mustard 

1 T. cilantro pesto

salt & pepper to taste

(Optional: any kind of pesto or additional veggies you’d like – I recommend artichoke hearts too)

Just mix it all together and enjoy cold! 

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This whole meal is best served with some fresh avocado (as shown) and a big glass of cold water with lemon. Perfect for a hot summer day! 

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Lunch :: Nothing Fancy Tuna

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It’s nothing fancy, but in a pinch tuna can really get the job done. Actually, I really liked this quick and easy lunch last week. I use Starkist packets of Albacore…no cans or draining. Since I can’t have mayo, I made this with a little dijon mustard (sugar free) and diced celery.

Served over a bed of romaine and cucumber, it was tasty and filling. Shown here with my amazing blueberry muffin and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds.

Snacks :: Blueberry Muffins

Say what!? Muffins? 

After only two weeks of being entirely off sugar I discovered these muffins in The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Mark Hyman, MD. The first time I tasted one the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and I heard a Hallelujah chorus. To my now highly sensitive palate, they taste just like the blueberry muffins of days gone by. I’ve come to crave the subtle sweetness, and their cakey consistency is very similar to their fatty, gluten-filled, sugar-prolific counterparts.

But make no mistake – these little babies are indeed sugar and gluten free. The recipe & instructions below are straight out of the cookbook. I don’t mess around with baking. No, I lie, there’s one change. I don’t use oil-greased cupcake liners. I use parchment paper liners (available at traditional grocery stores for the same price as the paper liners). The muffins tend to stick badly to paper liners even when oiled, but if you use the parchment liners they slide out and into your mouth like magic.

You’ll love these. Promise.

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Makes 6 Muffins

Easy Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 T. unsweetened vanilla extract 
  • 1 T. unsweetened applesauce 
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries

Easy Instructions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 6-cup nonstick muffin pan with baking cups and lightly grease the cups with the oil. (Or save yourself the trouble and calories and just use parchment paper cups)

2. Stir together the almond meal, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.

3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the eggs, applesauce, and vanilla extract.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until there are no dry patches.

5. Once the batter is smooth, fold in the blueberries.

6. Us a  4-ounce ice cream scoop to divide the batter evenly among the 6 muffin cups

7. Give the pan a few gentle taps on the counter to remove any air bubbles that may be trapped in the batter.

8. Bake for 25-30 minutes. The muffins are cooked if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a muffin.

Let the muffins cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before serving. Leftover muffins can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Nutritional Information per 1 Muffin:

Calories 170 Sodium 124 mg
Total Fat 12 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 2 g Total Carbs 9 g
Polyunsaturated 0 g Dietary Fiber 3 g
Monounsaturated 0 g Sugars 0 g
Trans 0 g Protein 8 g
Cholesterol 109 mg
Vitamin A 0% Calcium 0%
Vitamin C 0% Iron 0%

 

Dinner :: Seared Sea Scallops

I’ve always loved scallops. They have such a satisfying texture if done correctly, not unlike a rare filet mignon. I’ve always overcooked them to the point of rubber erasers, and though they were enjoyable even at that state, I thought I’d have faith in the process and cook them a little less. This time, they were perfect. Our house still smells like a really good seafood restaurant.

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This recipe serves two, but could easily be doubled or tripled.

Easy Ingredients

  • 2 T. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 fresh lemon
  • 6 scallions, white parts only, sliced thin
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 large yellow squash (about 6 – 7″), cut into 1″ pieces or sliced (zucchini may also be awesome here)
  • 1 c. grape tomatoes (or Sun Golds or Cherry), sliced in half
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • spray olive oil, like Pam

Easy Instructions 

  • In a skillet or wok, spray a little olive oil and add the garlic, scallions, and onions. Cook the onion until it becomes translucent and just begins to brown slightly. Caramelizing the onion in this way lends itself nicely to the sweetness of the scallops. Once the onions look good, add the yellow squash and cook until it just becomes soft, but is still al dente. Then add the tomatoes and parsley until the tomatoes are heated through.
  • Just as the tomatoes and parsley are added to the mix, heat a little spray oil on high heat on a griddle or flat-bottomed skillet. Once the oil is bubbling a little (or whispering as I like to say), gently place your scallops onto the pan. Let them sit for about three or four minutes and then flip them. They should be slightly browned on one side. Scallops become opaque when they’re adequately cooked, and it happens quite suddenly. Don’t be alarmed or worried! They’re delicious even if slightly overdone. After a few minutes on the other side, check to see if both sides are nicely browned. They should cook for a total of 8 minutes or so, but you can judge by the opacity and the seared brown tops and bottoms.
  • Divide the vegetables into bowls and set the seared scallops on top. Squeeze a little lemon, salt, and fresh pepper over the top and you’re done!

 

This recipe was created out of the things we had on hand. I was going to just bake the scallops, but I thought searing might be tastier and seem more decadent. I was right! They’re such great sources of protein and B12. If you can find a good source of fresh sea scallops, they’re a great addition to the weekly meal plan – very versatile, and not to “fishy.”

My eating has gotten a little boring lately. I had a busy week at work and all of my culinary creativity went out the window. I’m hoping this coming week to be a bit more adventurous.

Cheers!

Breakfast :: Eggs Overture

“What are we having for breakfast?” Matt yells down the stairs to me.

“Eggs over chard!” I yell back, opening the fridge to a shelf brimming with fresh rainbow chard.

“Eggs overture?” he asks.

“Yes. Eggs overture!”

This breakfast is modified from The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook by Dr. Mark Hyman. I don’t know how to poach an egg, and further, it seems too nitpicky a task for me to take on first thing in the morning. Instead, I cooked the eggs in a little bit of olive oil, over-easy so they’d run a little. Ooey gooey – this will get your day going. And keep your day going…and going…until lunch.

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Easy Ingredients: 

4 cups Swiss Chard (or Rainbow Chard, or Collards, or Spinach, or any leafy green you desire)

4 large eggs (locally grown from chickens that get to live in the house and watch Netflix on iPads)

2 T. sunflower seeds, unsalted (or any way you like them, who am I to judge?) and divided

1/2 T. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or spray oil, but not butter – if I can’t have it, you can’t have it)

herbs to taste (I use salt free “Mural of Flavor” from Penzy’s Spices)

Easy Instructions:

  • WASH and steam the greens until they’re wilted – do not eat the greens straight out of the garden or you risk eating bugs. You’ve been warned. Please learn from my mistakes.
  • Divide the steamed greens into two bowls – be sure to use pretty bowls because it’s part of the magic of cooking and eating amazing food – make every meal special
  • In a large frying pan, cook 4 eggs over-easy or sunny-side-up in a little oil and throw them on top of the greens. Poke the eggs a little so they run – if you’re into that sort of thing
  • Divide and sprinkle your sunflower seeds and herbs on top of the eggs
  • There you go. Have an awesome day.
  • If you’re bored – caramelize some onions and throw them on top!
  • If you’re still bored, add some feta.
  • If you’re still bored….we’re done here.

 

An Introduction

For some, food is a social thing. We go out to eat with our loves, we pick at platters at parties, and “grab a bite” with friends. Holidays are spent congregated around an often luscious spread of fatty, sugary, salty food. Food is, admittedly, a deep pleasure for most people. And for some us, it’s also deeply personal.

There are a lot of health, diet, food, and fat blogs out there. So many people, the great majority I’d assume, relate to food and their own bodies in ways that are less than desirable. As a society, our diets are so far removed from what our bodies have evolved to process that it’s like putting diesel fuel in your unleaded tank.

We all know this. We know that sugar, salt, fat, and processed foods are biggest contributors by far to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer – as well as a host of other diseases and maladies. There are documentaries on Netflix if you’re ever bored – I’ll recommend some and review them from time to time. I believe we know intrinsically what is good for our bodies. I think Michael Pollan summed it up beautifully: “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.”

My own relationship to food has been rocky. I have carried around an obese body for 34 years and I don’t recall a time that I wasn’t fat. I know that my eating habits and lack of exercise got me here, and intellectually I knew all along what I should have been putting into my body. I have been reluctant to give up my deeply personal, comforting relationship with food. But, a few weeks ago, I was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. Suddenly, it wasn’t an option anymore. For me, the diagnosis was a life-saver. It was a glaring message that the effects of my lifestyle ran deep – and could, in a very real way, alter my life forever.

So I decided to kick some ass.

I picked up The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman (check it out here) . I’ve been following the Advanced diet plan in this book for two weeks and I have already lost 14 pounds. My fasting blood sugar – which was 281 the day after I received the letter from my doctor stating that I had diabetes – has now come down to a normal level for someone without diabetes. But that’s only the beginning.

I feel amazing. Think bounding gazelles. My skin is radiant. My body feels coiled with energy – ready to get up and zoom. And despite the fact that I’m still carrying around two people on my one skeleton, I feel as light as possibility.

Very few people know this about me, but it has been my greatest dream to learn how to surf. I know I’ll never surf at Pipeline Masters (though it’d be nice to see in person – and a trip to the North Shore of Oahu does sound like good medicine) but I could work my way up to a 3-footer! I have always believed this was an unreachable goal for me. Just to stand up on a surfboard is beyond my physical ability. Not to mention, surfboards have weight limits. Did you know that? These are the things I’ve had to worry about when most people as stoked to surf as I am are worried about wiping out or holding their breath long enough. I would be happy to just stand up.

I think “going public” with my journey helps me stay committed, but also helps me to define myself in ways other than “the fat lady.” There is so much more to me, but I have often believed a great deal of people can’t see past my physical body. I wonder if people meet me, think I’m great, and wonder how I ended up so large – and why I don’t do anything about it. These are good questions – if extremely personal. Unwinding the answers to these questions is part of my journey too. But one truth I have learned is that everyone carries around something – some pain, some sense of failure or unworthiness, an addiction, a coping mechanism, fear, anxiety, depression, etc. –  I just carry mine on the outside. The world gets to see, and judge, the private weights my heart carries.

Not all of my posts will be this wordy. I hope to touch briefly upon the process and the results from time to time – but this blog is about FOOD. It’s about what I’m eating and why. I will post recipes, pictures, reviews, and inspiration. I hope that anyone following along is inspired to discover whole foods and their amazing health benefits. I hope to serve as a success story and an example of what determination and courage can change in a person’s life.

And, eventually, there will be pictures of me…surfing.