Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Fall of the Squash

Recently mom and I were watching The Food Network and we saw a Chef preparing Acorn Squash. "What's that?" my mom asked. "Have you ever had Acorn Squash?"  

And no, I had never had Acorn Squash so we said next time we went grocery shopping we would pick one up, and we did.

We were going to make it the way we saw on the Food Network in a dish called Acorn Squash Agrodolce. Argodolce is Italian for Sour/Sweet.

Their recipe started out with cutting the acorn squash in half then scooping out the seeds then slicing it into 1 inch slices. Which I did, easy-peasy! 

Then you toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast about 30 minutes. Then it said to remove the peel. 

Well, I did all of the above but when it came out of the oven I tasted it with the peel as other websites said you can eat the peel and O.M.Goodness!!! It was so delicious. I almost ate the whole thing right then and there. Mom loved it too and she's a very picky eater.

Here you see a few slices that I had with my dinner that night, alongside some coleslaw and some cubed Parmesan crusted pork chop.

The rest of the recipe called for the agrodolce, which sounds terrific but it's very high in carbs due to sugar content. It calls for red wine vinegar as the Agro (Sour) and Dolce (Sweet) in the form of dried currants or raisins and honey. Also some crush red pepper, fresh mint and salted almonds. You can find the complete recipe HERE.

After I had eaten my fill of Acorn Squash I had to log it in to my food tracker which I will share more about in another post. 

Turns out that Acorn Squash is pretty high in carbs. Which makes sense because it was so delicious. 1 cup cooked has 30 carbs, then you minus the dietary fiber and you end up with 21 net carbs. Again, too high when you stick with 20 to 24 carbs per day. 

However I can eat a slice here and there once in a while. It is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. It's a great source of Vitamin A, Thiamin, Vitamin B6 and Magnesium and Dietary Fiber, Potassium, Manganese and Vitamin C.

Photo Credit -
Have you ever had Acorn Squash? What other squashes would you recommend? I think this fall I am going to try different ones. A friend of mine recommended I try Carnival and Kabocha Squash, so I'm on the hunt for those.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Living Low Carb and the Challenges that come with it.

Happy to report that as of this morning I have lost 18 pounds! 

That's just slightly more than 1 pound a week. If I can manage to lose 1 pound per week, I will have lost 52 pounds in one year. I don't need to lose 52 pounds, but I have set a goal to lose at least 1 pound a week and so far I'm hitting my goal!

I'm not going to paint a pretty picture and say that this has been easy because it's not easy.

One of the biggest challenges I have encountered is eating out. For the most part I eat at home, or I pack my lunches and snacks for work. But once in a while I have to eat out. My sister Lisa and I try to keep one night per week as a sister night. This used to be a lot of fun. We would go to a favorite Mexican food place and have margaritas and eat baskets of chips with salsa. 

Since I am eating low carb/high fat and Lisa is watching her sodium intake, it is very hard to find a place we can eat. I can't eat the chips due to the carbs and Lisa can't eat them due to the salt. We try to go places where we can eat salads but that's difficult because many salads have hidden carbs in the shape of croutons, won tons, rice, beans, corn and sugar in the dressings. For Lisa just the dressings themselves are packed with sodium.

One of our favorite places to eat was Coco's Restaurant. Our favorite dish there was the Spicy Asian Chicken Salad. Below is how the carbs/sodium facts play out. Remember I stick to 20 to 24 net carbs per day and Lisa I believe sticks to 1200 to 1500 Mg's of sodium per day. Our favorite salad has a net carb count of 81 carbs and sodium level of 1410 Mg's. Just one salad!

I also have the same problem eating out with my mom. Mom and I like to go shopping on Saturdays. We both love going to Goodwill and we also do our grocery shopping. We also usually have a nice lunch somewhere. But Mom is a very picky eater. She doesn't do salads and she has such a small appetite that she can't eat in a steak house where she would have to pay $15 or more just to eat one or two bites. Yesterday we went out and the only place she wanted to eat was Del Taco. I ordered their Chicken Bacon Avocado Salad. You can see the nutrition info for carbs is a net of 18. I figure it was less than that as I didn't eat the tortilla chips shown in the photo. I estimate I ate about 7 to 10 carbs. But the salad was horrible, not at all as pictured below.

Another challenge is exercising. My problem with exercise is that I've hurt myself exercising! You remember my post a few weeks ago about my heart attack scare where I actually had only hurt myself exercising. I was diagnosed with Bursitis. I didn't blame exercise at that time, but just this Friday I had to see my doctor for a horrible pain in my left ankle and foot. I explained to my doctor that I had started a walking regimen and she said it's either a heel spur or Plantar Fasciitis. I had x-rays taken and hopefully it's not a heel spur.

Unfortunately this has derailed my exercise routine. I tried all last week to continue doing the 1 mile walking video but by Friday I couldn't stand the pain anymore, and yesterday going shopping with my mom we had to shorten our day due to the pain. It really is irritating because I was enjoying the was daily exercise.  I'm going to start riding my stationary bike since that doesn't affect either my arm or my feet, we'll see how long my knees can hold up! But I'm not going to stop moving!

Another challenge is that because it's so hard to eat out I've literally stopped going out. No more Happy Hour with the girls. Margaritas have sugar in the simple syrup, about the only thing without carbs is drinking straight alcohol, like tequila or vodka and I'm not big on that. I can maybe have one Michelob Ultra which I believe has 3.6 carbs, but what about the happy hour foods? Chips and Salsa, Guacamole, Chicken Wings, Potato Skins? None of that is carb friendly.

But challenging as it is I am determined to continue with my new WOE (way of eating) and if I have to give up girls night it's worth it to feel as good as I do, to have the energy I have now. Sometimes it is disheartening and I guess that's why I'm venting now, but it would make my life so much easier if all my favorite things didn't have so many stinking carbs!!!


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Version of Bullet Proof Coffee

There's a trend that's been going on for the past few year for a coffee that is made with such ingredients that it can replace or enhance your breakfast. It's called Bullet Proof Coffee.

Have you heard of it? Have you wondered what it is? Well, the original Bulletproof coffee is the creation of Dave Asprey, Founder and Author of the book The Bulletproof Diet. 

My version of the Bullet Proof Coffee is a bit different. I don't include the Grass Fed Butter and I use Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in mine.

Here's a picture of the one I made this morning. Doesn't that look delicious? It's so creamy and the ingredients I use give it such a unique flavor. It definitely enhances coffee!

So how do I make this? 

1.  Coffee - We just brew it normal in a Mr. Coffee coffeemaker. I do have a Keurig but my mom makes coffee each morning so I drink the one she makes cause...well...she makes it for me!
2.  1 Tablespoon of  Coconut Oil, this is the one I buy at Trader Joe's . It's about $7 a jar, but you can see there are 30 servings so that will last me a month.

3.  2 Tablespoons Half and Half Creamer
4.  1 packet Splenda

That's it! I put it all in a pretty mug, like the one above. (During the week I put it in my travel mug). 

When I want to make it special I used my Aerolatte Coffee Frother. Using this is what makes that beautiful head of foam you see in the picture above. During the week I just wait until I get to work and I shake, shake, shake my travel mug and it gets just as frothy and I get a mini-workout's a win-win! (I bought my Aerolatte Frother at Williams & Sonoma.)

So that's it. That's how I make my morning coffee. I could add the butter, but that just seems like overkill to me.

Coffee this way is the first thing I have in the morning and it gives me energy and helps me feel full until 10 am when I have my morning break and I eat my bacon and eggs. Yeah, eating LC/HF is really, really tough!

When I mention to anyone the way I drink my coffee they always are skeptical of the Coconut Oil, but once they try it and taste the flavor it gives the coffee they get hooked just like I am. 

On my LC/HF diet I am supposed to get 70% of my daily nutrition goals from healthy fats. I'm not a big lover of fat. I've never been one to like legs and thighs on chicken, I prefer the drier, less greasy taste of chicken breasts. I always trim the fat off of pork chops and steaks. This way is an easy and fast way for me to get my healthy fats. The net carbs on my version of Bullet Proof Coffee is 3.

And the facts on calories, net carbs, carbs, fat, protein, sodium and fiber in the graphic above come from a handy dandy little website I'll be doing a separate post on them later, stay tuned. 


Monday, October 5, 2015

The Sacrifices Women Make - From Left to Write - The Little Paris Bookshop

Before you begin reading this post I need to clarify that I am writing strictly from the woman's point of view. I'm not saying only women make sacrifices, but writing only about the sacrifices that I have seen women make.

Disclosure: This post was inspired by the novel The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, where Monsieur Perdu--a literary apothecary--finally searches for the woman who left him many years ago.. Join From Left to Write on October 8th as we discuss The Little Paris Bookshop. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

We all know that women are strong, strong willed, and stubborn. I know this as a fact because that describes me. Those three attributes are not always considered to be an attractive or needed quality for a woman. We're the weaker sex, we should be submissive, quiet, recalcitrant. As women we sometimes fake those attributes in order to survive and prosper in this world.

This post was going to be about all the great things that women do for others, especially their children, but I deleted everything I had written after this because today I read something that really brought home the strength and courage of a woman and I think a lot of what is in that women is in all of us.

On Facebook, I follow HUMANS OF NEW YORK or HONY. HONY was started in 2010 by a fellow named Brandon who thought it would be cool to start photographing people in the streets of New York. He was going to photograph 10,000 people and plot their photos on a map.

Brandon didn't know what he had started, never dreamed where he would go, never imagined what HONY would mean to his life and the life of the over 10 million followers that he has worldwide! 

He's traveled and documented photos all over the world. Photos that make us laugh and photos that make us cry. Photos that prompt us to realize that we can make a difference in someones life other than our own. 

Currently Brandon is sharing his Humans of New York Refugee Stories. During a time when our country is horribly divided because of refugees here in our own country, he is showing us why refugees and immigrants seek to escape the countries they come from. It's gut wrenching and the photos and stories are not for the faint of heart, even the toughest of people read these stories and look at these pictures with tears in their eyes. 

The photo that I want to share today and the story that goes with it shows just how strong women are, how selfless, how protective.

Here is the story that goes with it...

This mother, this woman...the heartbreak she must have endured to send her beloved child out alone in the world. How does she sleep at night. How does she eat even a morsel of food knowing that her child is out there and not knowing if he is eating? I can't even imagine!

But she didn't think of herself, she thought only of him and of saving him. So many women do the same thing. 

In the book The Little Paris Bookshop, Manon, the love interest of Jean Perdu becomes pregnant while ill with Cancer and she doesn't tell anyone until it is too late to make a difference. She died so her daughter could live. 

Woman may be strong, strong willed and stubborn because it's the attributes we need to face the challenges that life brings so us. 


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Is it harder to stay thin now than it was 50 years ago?

Recently I noticed a post on Facebook with a picture of Jane Fonda doing her exercise video. I believe her video was the one that many of us first exercised too...well hers and Richard Simmons! Now I love the Leslie Sansone Walking Videos!

The post asked if it was harder for Millennials to stay thin than it is was for Baby Boomers? Just for the record I think it is.

If you have been following my blog then you know that I have been following a Low Carb/High Fat diet and have been having great success with it. I keep my carb intake between 20 and 24 carbs per day. To put that into perspective let me list a few of my favorite "regular" foods that I would eat before:

1. Venti Breve Latte with One Splenda at Starbucks = 25 net carbs
2. Coco's Restaurant Asian Chicken Salad = 70 net carbs
3. Subway Black Forest Ham Sandwich with Jalapeno Bread = 40 net carbs
4. Chips and Salsa = 35 net carbs
5. Cheetos (my poison of choice) = 14 net carbs per every 21 Cheetos (I would eat a whole bag in one weekend!)

As you can see if you are trying to stick to low carb, just one serving of any of the above and you have blown the carbs for the day!

Whenever I would sit down to watch TV in the evening or on the weekends I would have a snack. Popcorn, Cheetos, Chips and Salsa, cookies or some type of candy, Licorice being one of my favorites. Every single time!! So I've been having a hard time controlling cravings when I sit down and watch TV.

I started thinking back to when aimlessly snacking on junk became the norm for me and I realized that when I was a teenager we would have three meals a day, breakfast, lunch and dinner...and that was it! We didn't have snack time and we didn't even know what that was.

Oh sure, every once in a while my mom would give us some cookies or my dad would bring us home a small bag of sunflower seeds each or a piece of beef jerky, but that was few and far between and those were treats, not snacks or something that we had on a regular basis. We didn't crave them, we just enjoyed them when we got them.

At night when we would all gather around the TV to watch Chico and the Man or Sanford and Son, we would just watch TV, no snacks. Wow, I can't even imagine just sitting there and watching TV! 

When us Baby Boomers were younger, we just didn't aimlessly snack, at least I didn't. But Millennials now are bombarded with what I consider junk food. Chips, cookies, pastries, dollar menu hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, pizza by the slice! Even in the schools they have the school cafeteria and then they have the option of going to the snack bar and getting many of the foods I have just listed.

I remember my mom telling us to go outside after breakfast and not to come back in until we saw our dad's truck come home for lunch. Then we would come in and mom would have a lunch prepared and then back outside with instructions to not come in until Dad's truck was home for the evening.

So we rode our bikes, played with the neighbor kids outside, invented games, built forts, played school, threw rocks into the canals and just generally exercised the whole day away. On days we were at school, we had P.E. on a daily basis and then we also joined extracurricular activities like softball, volleyball, basketball, swimming and tennis. 

We ate well. We ate healthy. We didn't snack and we exercised regularly. I don't see that lifestyle with Millennials at all. Which is why we have an epidemic of obesity!

Many of the people that commented on the post mentioned the fact that it is cheaper to eat foods that are bad for you. You can go to almost any fast food restaurant and get 6 burgers and fries and drink combo meal cheaper than you can go to a store and purchase the ingredients. That may or may not be true, but it definitely is not better for your health. 

Many also mentioned the fact that it is hard to cook a meal everyday. It's so much easier to drive through a fast food place or place an order for pizza. Sure, cooking is hard, it's time consuming. But having high blood pressure, diabetes and/or heart disease is also hard. It's hard on the person that is ill and it's hard on the person that has to care for them. Pick your hard. Which would you pick on a daily basis?

It reminds me of a cartoon that my doctor has in her office...

I'm choosing to be healthier. I should have started sooner, but better late than never. I'm still on my low carb/high fat WOE and guess what? 17 pounds lighter today! I am so thrilled about that and it gives me all the incentive to continue. It hasn't been easy. I've had cravings and temptations, but I've managed to overcome them by taking it one day at a time!