One Less, One More

Here’s how I lost 30 pounds.  It’s advice I still have to remind myself to take sometimes (I’m talking to you, See’s Candies).  There’s no way I’m giving up chocolate.  Maybe there’s no way you’re going to give up your burger and fries.  Everyone feels differently about their food.

So this is what I do: I eat one less.  One less chocolate.  One less handful of chips.  One less cookie.  One less chocolate kiss (Not just one.  One less.).  One size down on the fries OR one less piece of cheese OR one less piece of bacon on the burger (I’m a vegetarian, but you see where I’m going with this).

You don’t have to deny yourself all of the joy of eating until you’re left with a sad (Veggie?  Beef?) patty wrapped in lettuce with no fries.  That’s the kind of behavior that leads to eating a box of cookies in the car of the grocery store parking lot under cover of darkness like a wide-eyed lunatic.  Ask me how I know.

After you’ve taken away one, add one more.  One carrot.  One apple.  One mandarin orange.  One Persian cucumber that you can eat mindlessly at your computer before lunch to fill you up just a little and take away the biting hunger.  Any watery fruit or vegetable will do nicely.

Have the one more before the one less.

It couldn’t hurt, and you won’t find yourself suffering or obsessing over it, driving your family or colleagues insane.  You won’t see results in a week, either.  But over time, you will see change, and you won’t even know how it happened.

This is how good eating habits are made.

The workout routine that can save your life

I could have hurt myself this morning, but I decided against it.

I wanted to stay still, to drift back into sleep after the alarm sounded at 4:30 am because my husband thought that he needed his travel-alarm foghorn to start his morning shift.  Next time I’ll set my own, less jarring alarm and give him a brief slapping around instead.

Instead, I wobbled down the hallway as I usually do, made a strong cup of tea and got down to business.  I work out every day for 45 minutes before my incredibly sedentary 10+ hour shift.  It’s a four-day marathon, but it’s Monday, so I have a bit of sleep in the bank, and I promised myself that tonight I could brush, cuddle the kid and promptly stumble back into the Land of Nod.  (It’s likely that reality will prove this to be a lie.  Sometimes I live on a steady diet of delusion.)

I never used to work out in the morning.  I never used to get up early either.  Maybe you don’t want to do that, and who could blame you.  I didn’t either.  But you want to have the body and movement of a child, like my 65-year-old yoga teacher, who whips the hell out of us once a week.  She makes me feel both inferior and inspired.

Try five minutes.  Wake up five minutes early.  Just five, don’t get crazy and aim for more than that.  Do 5 minutes of exercise.  I do 60 crunches in that time.  Do 10 jumping jacks.  Reach up with both hands into a gentle stretch, then touch your toes (or knees).  Breath deeply.  There.  You’re all done.  Tomorrow curl a couple of soup cans for 5 minutes while you watch what the weather will be.  You can build your biceps while you decide what to wear.

I do my stomach exercises before bed, for five minutes or less.  I have great abdominal strength, and I know because in yoga class people 20 years younger than me were groaning when Ms. Lee beckoned us into a V, arms stretched forward, until time stood still.  I got to feel superior, if only for one moment.

Five minutes.  Do it tonight.  Do it tomorrow.  Who knows where it will lead?

A radical diet with beef, butter, and carbohydrates

It’s not very popular to take the middle ground when it comes to recommending a dietary pattern in America, but I’m standing by it.  We have a tendency to swing the pendulum too widely, with unintentional results. Continue reading

Improving on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

cornbreadplateI make cornbread for us about once a month. A 12″ cast-iron skillet and one bag of mix yields a giant skillet of cornbread. We use ¼ to 1/3, and I freeze the rest for later (which can be mighty convenient on a 100-degree day when I’m only up for tossing a salad). I’ve made a few amendments to the mix, and I think they really help. First, and I know sugar is a villain so feared that, like Voldemort, we dare not to speak its name, I add it anyway (I really like to live on the edge). Second, I add more milk – ¼ cup more. Third, the way you mix the batter matters. Continue reading

How to make brown rice — UPDATE

I’m always messing about with cooking — who knows, tweaking a bit might make it better, right?

This version makes rice that is fluffy and less starchy, which brings out the nutty flavor of the rice.

  • 1 cup of brown rice, rinsed and drained (removes excess starch)*
  • Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil in a covered pot before adding the rice.*  Set a kitchen timer for five minutes and head off to open mail or tidy up.
  • Once the water boils, add the rice and give the pot a shake to distribute the rice evenly.*
  • Leave the lid almost closed, but with a little space to vent (or the rice will foam and create a mess)
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes and go live a little.
  • When the water is at the same level as the top of the rice, turn off the heat, close the lid and walk away for another 15 minutes.
  • Fluff and enjoy.  Makes about 3 cups.

*These are the only steps that differ from my original post, but oh, they make a difference.  In the first post, the rice goes from the bag to the pot of water before heating it all to a boil.  The result is more starchy, sticky rice (which is nice if you prefer it that way, or are making sushi).

 

Can you use eggs past the expiration date on the carton?

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According to the Julian calendar, these eggs were packed February 21, 2014 (the 52nd day of the year) and must be sold by March 22nd. After that, I’d give them about a week.

Yes.

The date on the egg carton is usually a “sell by” date (if it says EXP, that’s an expiration date.  Don’t use them after that).  A “sell by” date means that the eggs are good for a few days past the stamped date.  How long?  They are safe to use for 3-5 weeks from the date of purchase, according to the USDA (if stored correctly, and if kept at proper temperatures before storing).

I prefer the Julian date to determine freshness.  The Julian calendar numbers the days of the year 1-365.  The Julian date appears to the right of the “sell by” date on egg cartons.  Click here to download the Julian calendar for 2014.  I use eggs 3-5 weeks from that date, because eggs degrade over time.  The egg whites become looser with age, and though older eggs will usually bake all right when you’re making cookies and such, it’s best to use fresher eggs for omelettes, scrambles, and soufflés.   Cakes like angel food require very fresh eggs as well, because their structure relies on fresh egg whites.

How can you tell if an egg is still safe to eat, aside from the date?  Put the egg into cold water at the bottom of a saucepan.  A fresh egg will lie on its side at the bottom.  If it’s less fresh, but still all right, it will begin to sit up a bit.  If it floats, it’s compost.  Toss it.

Still need more information about eggs?  Check this out.

 

Is capitalism making you fat?

I wouldn't eat it, but I get it.

I wouldn’t eat it, but I get it.

Is capitalism making you fat, or are you making you fat?  The degree to which you believe either of these statements helps define how you feel about legislative reforms directed at your health, and more specifically, at obesity.

While adults can freely choose what they eat, it’s more than hunger that drives us.  Appetite as well as hunger, boredom, anxiety and visual stimuli direct us toward foods we consume.  Brian Wansink, at the Cornell Brand Lab, experiments with this sort of thing.  In his book Mindless Eating, he details an experiment during which secretaries are gifted candy dishes to place on their desk.  They are the only candy consumers during the experiment.  The subjects consumed more candy from a clear dish than an opaque one.  They consumed even less when the dish experimenters placed the dish three feet away.  The secretaries consumed the least candy when it was placed into a drawer.

Which of these accounts for breakfast sales soaring to about $47 billion in 2013 (up from 25.5 b. in 2011)?  Continue reading