Category Archives: Food

All That & A Bag O’ Chips

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” 

― Julia Child


Every time I turn around there is some new “fad diet” or some commercial hyping a new piece of wonder-equipment.  I hear friends talking about Herbalife, Weight Watchers, Atkins, The Paleo Diet, The South Beach Diet or whatever is the name of the anti-fat game this week. (All trademarked etc.)  And I’m not bad-mouthing them though I’m sure it will seem this way. I know millions of folks have lost weight with them and I’m happy for them and I hope those people can keep it off. However, with some of these, I cannot see why I have to pay money to buy products to lose weight when God has given me natural, pure and healthy foods to eat. It’s the junk that kills. 
I have fallen prey to more than a few fad diets in my 40+ years. (The worst of which I don’t want to discuss, but cost me my gallbladder.) But about a year and a half ago it got real. It took me hitting the 200 pound mark to suck it up and face reality.  It took me hitting a size 22 to do so. Am I proud of those facts? No. It has taken me a year to admit it in a public forum.  Am I where I want to be? Not yet. But I’m getting there. I’m down over 40 pounds and 4 dress sizes and counting. Yay! Call me a happy camper. 
 I’ve been keeping it simple and I’m just calling it the Common Sense Lifestyle Change. 
First, let’s talk about FOOD! (Because we all like food.)

* Most of the foods I buy are organic or generally have ingredients I can pronounce.  I take my additives very seriously and try not to buy anything with hormones or anything that would gross me out if I were to watch how it was made. Very rarely do I buy things that aren’t “simple.” I’m probably about 85% vegetarian about now. I just can’t seem to give up my steak and seafood. Yum. However, I have tried being a raw vegan for a bit and I actually am probably closer to vegan than vegetarian… but for the love of seafood, steak… oh, and Texas BBQ. Mmmmmm. 


One of the main reasons for this is I have to be very careful of nitrates and preservatives in food because of the migraines they trigger. Makes me not so happy.  There are a lot of things in food that affect a lot of people differently. If you have health issues, you might have a food allergy or intolerance. It’s something to at least consider. 


* I generally measure out the foods I’m going to eat.  – Portion control. –  Once you are used to eating a pint of ice cream at a time (which I have done), you have to retrain your brain to understand what a “true” serving size really is.  That’s one of the reasons people are obese.  Learn what constitutes a portion and it gets much easier from there.

EXAMPLE: A chip-bender to the bottom of a 9-ounce bag is 1,260 calories sans the dip. So stick to 1 serving, about 15 chips—that’s 140 calories—or pick up some 100-calorie snack packs and save 1,120 calories

* Learn to slow down when eating and understand what “FULL” really feels like. There’s no need to finish everything on your plate. The first few times I left food on my plate at a restaurant, I felt really, horribly guilty.  (Starving kids in China…?)  But at the same time, most restaurant portion sizes are enough for two people. WHY would I want to do that to myself?  The sad thing is that I did that to myself for a long time. 


* DO NOT EAT IN FRONT OF THE TELEVISION. If you eat in front of the TV, studies show you consume almost 300 calories more than if you ate at the table. 


* Last but not least, I don’t deprive myself. If I want some creme brûlée or dessert once in a blue moon, I will enjoy some. But I’m not going to go Banzai bat crap crazy and I’m not going to feel guilty. I will eat right the rest of the time and make up for it. No starvation. No binge/purge. Just pure, clean eating. 
Now, I know that I’m going to turn off a lot of people when I say the next word, but bear with me. “Exercise.”   But I’m going to add something to it… if you haven’t exercised in a long time, you don’t have to go to extremes starting out,  join a gym, do DVD’s, workout on the Wii or anything like that.  Ready? Cool secrets here:

* If all you can do is walk up and down a hallway of your house do it.


* From the hallway move to the driveway or the front sidewalk or maybe to the end of the block. (You get the picture.)  I used to tell my dad at 90 years old when he was recovering from a fall, “Just take one more step dad. One more step will get you stronger. What will one more step get you?”  

* From steps, move to a strength move of stairs or a curb.  Step up and down. If you need to hold on to something, do it. 

Something fun for cardio and to get the muscles engaged: Dance like there is no one watching. For Heaven’s Sake, put on some great tunes and get moving. It doesn’t matter if all you can do is sit in a chair and tap your feet and clap your hands or raise your arms. It’s SOMETHING. 

     Side note: It’s been said TAPPING YOUR FEET THROUGH OUT THE DAY BURNS ABOUT 350 CALORIES A DAY!!!!! Seriously… those who fidget have got to have an edge on the rest of us. 

Some of my favorite tunes while cleaning house (WHICH ALSO BURNS CALORIES:)
* Aretha Franklin – Chain of Fools
* Michael Jackson – Beat It
* Beatles – Twist and Shout
* Cameo – Word Up

* Fall Out Boy – Dance, Dance
* Fun – Some Nights
* AC/DC – Back in Black
* Toby Mac – Burn For You
* 3 Doors Down – Kryptonite

Again, those are just a few of the tunes I’ll throw on and then dance around like a loon. It’s all about getting your body moving. When you have some upbeat music on, vacuuming and dusting or moping the floor (or what have you) is not only a little more enjoyable, but goes faster and becomes a better calorie burn. 

Like I said… I’ve dropped over 40 pounds so far just using these little tips. You’ve probably heard it before, but I’m the proof that it works.  

There’s no need for anything other than eating right and moving your bod. 

“Diet food is for lazy people.” 
― Ice-T

St. Louis Adventures

“Now, on the St. Louis team we have Who’s on first, What’s on second, I Don’t Know is on third. “
~ Bud Abbott ~ 
(Of Abbott & Costello) 

This week, I had the privilege of going to St. Louis, MO on business and stayed in a hotel downtown.  Props to the Embassy Suites. I will stay there again. However, I wanted to also take some time to reflect on what was a really good trip. 

First, when you go to st. Louis, you have to see the Arch. Most people go up to the top of it and look down over the city.  Frankly, I have been to the top of many tall buildings and looked down over many cities. I’m sure it’s a cool view, but unless I’m in NYC or Paris, this really isn’t going to WOW me, if you know what I mean. There were some other things that did. The park surrounding the Arch was beautiful… the spring green was amazing.

St. Louis – Gateway Arch

Within walking distance to the Arch is the Old Courthouse. I am a sucker for really pretty buildings, old architecture and history. If you put them together, it’s irresistible.  I took the following picture at sunset. 

St. Louis Gateway Arch & Old Courthouse 

The next morning, when there were a couple of sessions that had nothing whatsoever to do with my job, T and I skipped out and went for a walk through downtown and we went inside. 

Inside the Old Courthouse where the Dred Scott Case was tried and decided

Dred Scott, a slave who had lived with his owner in a free state before returning to the slave state of Missouri. Scott argued that his time spent in these locations entitled him to emancipation. In his decision, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a staunch supporter of slavery, disagreed: The court found that no black, free or slave, could claim U.S. citizenship, and therefore blacks were unable to petition the court for their freedom. The Dred Scott decision incensed abolitionists and heightened North-South tensions, which would erupt in war just three years later.  (Thank you History Channel for succinctly saying what I wanted to. )

I sat in the judges chair, the defense attorney’s spot and prosecutor’s seat.  I cannot imagine any of those individuals would hazard to know just what this case would mean. 

 
Inside of the Old Courthouse to the top of the rotunda

Looking out the “back door” of the courthouse to the Gateway Arch


While I was in St. Louis with T, there was “Food.” I mean food in the mouth-watering, non-McDonald’s-style-restaurant, yummy-deliciousness that can be found many other places than where I live.  I was in hog-heaven. 
Tigin’s Irish Pub at 333 Washington Avenue was outstanding.  http://www.tiginirishpub.com/stl/

I ended up having the Pulled Lamb French Dip. $12.95 
T had the Chicken Boxty Quesadilla $9.95  
For the amount of food. The price was well worth it. 
Atmosphere and service were really good. 
I also had a mixed drink – a kamikaze – which I’m pretty certain the waitress / bartender didn’t really know how to make.  It was heavy on the sweet/sour.  At the end of a long day though, the food more than made up for it. 
Empire Deli and Pizza Company at 1131 Washington Ave was excellent
We didn’t stray from downtown during the trip, but really wanted something simple for lunch. This hit the spot.   This was a huge slice of Veggie Pizza (baby spinach, tomato, squash, zucchini, and no tomato sauce, but cheese and an alfredo type sauce. Delish!) Yes, I even had to take a picture of the food. 

Hard Rock Cafe, St. Louis at 1820 Market St.  was really, really good. 
After walking for what seemed like forever  (it wasn’t) and passing our 100th park (it wasn’t), we ended up at Union Station, which we really wanted to see.  Inside the old terminal, it’s now a lounge for the hotel and a sort of shopping complex and other things.  One of my favorite places is the top of the “whispering arch.”  At the bottom of the arch (as I’m standing on the second floor) you quietly say whatever it is you want the person at the other end of the arch to hear and say it. Poof, the sound travels the arch and they hear it.  
Be advised: best not to be talking behind someone’s back… 
After traveling through Union Station… the Hard Rock.  Again, for me and whether business or pleasure, trips out of town are almost always about the food.  I had the:  

It was one of the best salads I have eaten in a long time.  And of course, I wouldn’t be me unless I included a shot of the food, eh?

Let’s see, what else can I tell you about St. Louis?  

The Metro is clean, air-conditioned and fast.  We got to Union Station, once we got on the train, in about 5 minutes. If we had walked it the second time (because we had to go back for swag at the Hard Rock) then it would have been about 25 minutes on foot.  The train swings by about every 12 minutes so that’s not too shabby.  Round trip cost us $4.50 each – much better than the taxi that starts off at $3.50 for the first 1\10th mile and $.22 for each mile after that. 

The Dubliner – ate there one night and literally our dinner starts off with “Five drunk women walk into an Irish Pub…” and we weren’t the women!  It got really loud, really fast and I was NOT in the mood for listening to a group of drunks.  T and I were concerned the bartender kept serving the obviously intoxicated.  Food was “so-so.” We both had burgers and on a scale of 1-10, I would give mine a 6. It might actually only have a 5, but because it has Gouda cheese it gets a bonus point.  The mixed drink / shot “Applesauce” was FAB. (Goldschlager, Apple Pucker and Pineapple juice.) 

Game night for the St. Louis Cardinals… park downtown early. There are many garages within walking distance and they are reasonable.  Also, unless you are a die hard Cards fan, leave a little early. Getting out of the garages can be a nightmare.  Downtown St. Louis is a grid of one-way streets and I saw more than a few people cursing up a blue streak. (Of course, that night the Cardinals also lost…) 

The Mississippi River was above flood stage of 30.0 feet at 32.2 feet.  It was supposed to go back down in a couple of days; however, I also wonder if they factored in the rain / snow that was supposed to hit the day we left town.  We  get tornados – they deal with moisture control issues. Interesting. 

The PEOPLE were awesome.  They were some of the friendliest folks I have met in a long time. From the folks at the airport, to the hotel employees to people we just met while walking around town, I was somewhat surprised and amazed at how friendly everyone really was. 

There were a lot of other things I really wanted to do, but didn’t get to do because of time constraints. However, I can definitely say there WILL be a next time.

Thank you St. Louis for a wonderful time. 

Rockin’ the Veggies!

“Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein –

My youngest daughter is seventeen – you might remember seventeen, the age at which all things are possible.  She’s working out what she wants to do in the future and figuring out who she is. She’s really quite amazing and watching her go through this process is quite eye opening and I wonder if my parents took the amount of time I spend studying her studying me.

One of the things she has done is decided “enough is enough” and started improving her diet and getting in shape.  She is working out and has gone vegan, eating no meat / animal products and is working really hard to go raw vegan. 

As a result of her dietary changes, I have had to learn a lot about veganism and vegetarianism and other isms I didn’t know a thing about .  So before I go further, lemme give you the short version.

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Ovo-vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products and  Lacto-vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.

Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey. (This is the most common type of vegetarianism in the USA.)

Veganism excludes all animal flesh and animal products, including milk, honey, and eggs.

Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.

Fruitarianism permits only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.

Sattvic diet (also known as yogic diet), a plant based diet which may also include dairy (not eggs) and honey, but excludes anything from the onion or leek family, red lentils, durian fruit, mushrooms, blue cheeses, fermented foods or sauces, alcoholic drinks and often also excludes coffee, black or green tea, chocolate, nutmeg or any other type of stimulant such as excess sharp spices.

Buddhist vegetarianism (also known as su vegetarianism) excludes all animal products as well as vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, chives, or shallots.

Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables.

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Wow…  that’s a lot to learn, but even more to practice. Like I said, she’s vegan and going raw vegan, but not completely there yet.  Like I said, I’m proud of her. Through the working out and eating right, she’s lost a bunch of weight and is gettting in shape. Her goal is to eventually run a marathon. I can’t say I’ll ever run a marathon, and honestly, I don’t want to. But I do want to run in the Susan G. Komen 5K next year. She’s just one of the inspirations I have for doing so.

My mother had breast cancer and has been cancer free for more than five years now. It had spread to her lymph nodes and she had to have some of those removed.  Fortunately, it hadn’t gotten bad enough that she would have had to have a mastectomy. She and several other people I know are other inspirations to make the run. I have to do my fair share of getting back into shape, but there’s no reason why I can’t … except for excuses. Lots of excuses.

As I look further into vegetarianism and getting back into shape myself, I may decide to modify my diet.  I don’t think I’ll ever go vegan. I have to face it – I’m a Texan and I love a good steak. However, I believe I can morph more that direction and definitely eat more of a natural / vegetarian lifestyle and less of a processed foods lifestyle and make it work.

More on that as I make the change for the better… and again… I just have to say – I’m really, really proud of youngest. Rock on, girlie!!!