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Saturday, January 25, 2014

25 Days of Cooking and Eating

Three weeks into January and the scale isn't budging at all.   And, while I haven't been perfect, I have made some pretty considerable changes to my diet that I hoped would make an impact.   I stopped eating most meats (I eat fish once per week), and have increased my fruit, vegetable and legume intake.    In doing so I have made some pretty interesting and tasty dishes.  Some are just repurposing old standbys like pureeing carrots and kale to add to home made spaghetti sauce.   Others are totally new to us, like making an almost vegan macaroni & "cheese."    I think eliminating meat was a good first step for me.  The next step is going to be really focusing on making my meals a little more balanced.  I think this first month resulted in a little over reliance on actual cheese -- we had home made pizza -- with plenty of real cheese twice and my broccoli bites are definitely on the cheesy side.    I'm not looking cut out cheese completely -- because life without cheesy pizza is not worth living.  I am also still working on finding a good balance of carbs.   I ate more pasta this month (3x) than I probably have in that short of time - ever.

The biggest change we made this month wasn't really the elimination of meat though.  It was the fact that we stopped eating out for dinner.   We made a conscious decision that all dinners would be eaten at home -- that doesn't necessarily mean "homemade."  We relied on a couple of prepared dishes from Trader Joe's (a vegetable lasagna, a thai fried rice dish).   While we hope to stay away from those as much as possible (they have higher fat and salt content than when we eat at home), they came in handy.   Similarly, most of my lunches were packaged soups from TJ's.  So, this week I made a large pot of white bean soup to take for my lunches and am hoping to start doing more weekend preparation for the upcoming week.

The next step for me is to attempt the 100 days of real food challenge.   (See   That means no processed food for 100 days.   The real challenge for me is lunches.   As I mentioned I can cook at home to bring foods on days when I am in the office, but when I am traveling that becomes much more difficult.   I may have to borrow a few ideas from Oliver's lunch plan (discussed below).  The other hurdle I've wrestled with is my diet coke habit.   It's only one a day, so even though it's not real food -- it's also not food its a beverage, so I'm keeping it.  It will be a tough 100 days even without that change.

Starting on Monday, I will be sending Oliver to school with a variety of new foods.   This is a six week real food lunch plan for kids.  We will have to wait and see how he likes the change!   He doesn't really like it when we deviate from his "usual" -- an all natural peanut butter and organic jelly on whole wheat.     Although, we did send him to school with some spaghetti (with the above described sauce) and he ate it all up!

As a general rule, people who don't like and/or try different foods have always been a mystery to me.  So, I have no intention of "becoming" a vegetarian or pescetarian and certainly have no intention becoming a vegan (I consider them to be completely anti-food).   But, I think that by making more sustainable and plant based choices when we are cooking at home is a good choice for us.   When we start eating out again, who knows I may head straight to a steak house, but in the mean time, and while we are at home, I am enjoying becoming a better cook and eating better quality meals.

Here are the links to two of our favorite vegan recipes:

Vegan Mac & Cheese

Quinoa Cucumber & Red Pepper Salad

Keep in mind, I never follow a recipe exactly, so that "vegan" mac turned vegetarian when I used butter instead of margarine.   And, I served that quinoa salad warm and cut the oil in the dressing. 

Happy Eating!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 - Where did you come from?

So, my last post was just about nine months ago.  I hadn't really thought about this blog since then.  I started it while training for a marathon and have only updated it when I was training or running, which well, I haven't done since March of 2013.    Physically 2013 wasn't a great year for me, I didn't run, I didn't even walk for the most part.  I was sick, more than once, and had a fair number of tests to try to figure out what exactly is wrong with me.  (Doctors have no idea why I have a burning sensation in my hand, but did discover I am sick all of the time because my anodes are swollen -- and may need to be removed)  None of this should have prevented me from exercising, but, well, I pretty much just sat around being depressed and eating my feelings.   It wasn't being sick that I was depressed about (although, that certainly didn't help).   Regardless, I gained a fair amount of weight as a result. 

That's not to say that 2013 didn't offer some good times too, we as a family took a vacation to Kansas City and Hannibal Missouri, we made our way to northern California for Thanksgiving and the birth of our new niece/cousin and Oliver turned four and had a spectacular birthday party with special guest Anakin Skywalker.   Christmas was wonderful and we as a family have taken a number of long walks/hikes during our time off.  

As I returned to work I felt that nagging pull of the snack room, that stress starting to build in my back as clients began to call, and the anxiety that comes from my everyday work life.    So, as I reflected on the past year and geared up for the new, I decided that this would be the year that I made a substantial change in that area.  That's a pretty big resolution -- and a long term one.   In the interim, I still need something to make me feel better.  And, what I learned during that short two week break, is that exercise does make me feel better. 

So, once again, I am kicking off my blog to update my progress.   I don't have any major events planned.  I am running the LA Marathon 5K in March, but other than that, I am really just approaching exercise purely as something that has the potential to make me feel better.   As a result, I will walk, run, spin and swim my way into the new year!