Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday Mash Up

Again I find myself neglecting the blog.  After not getting a single reaction to my last post, which I thought was quite reaction provoking, I haven't felt encouraged to come back.  But I got over it.  

I had Rob home for nearly two weeks, which was nice, but he's gone off to Chicago for another two weeks. This time armed with some new gear from LL Bean.  I ordered him gloves, a neck warmer and a warm cap.  Tally went nuts when she saw Rob put on his red mad bomber hat but then quickly recovered when she realized it was just her Bunny in a funny hat.


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Here's a little recent food porn...

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I made ricotta stuffed meatballs in a quick marinara sauce.  A few of the meatballs burst in the oven.  Next time, smaller balls of cheese and a thicker layer of meat.  Other than that, it was a heavenly dish that Rob and I enjoyed immensely!

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And this was just awesome!  Crispy salmon cakes with a spicy avacodo cream over crunchy, chopped salad.  The salmon cakes were NOT good leftover, though, so next time I'll make just enough for the one meal as not to waste.

My latest obsession...

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I don't claim to be a coffee aficionado but I know what I like and don't like and this I love!  It is chock full of rich chocolate notes but without the cloying sweetness of hot chocolate.  Low acidity but dark and rich!    It makes the best cappuccino and I'm going to go broke keeping it in stock.  What is your favorite coffee?

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With it being "flu season" and Rob has been traveling so much, I've been trying to boost our immunity.  Since we refuse to get flu shots, I made up this lovely elixir that Rob dubbed Dragon Juice.  It's an infusion of turmeric and cayenne pepper with lots of freshly pressed ginger and Meyer lemon juices sweetened with just a little raw, local honey.  It's so spicy that you feel the heat it in your ears, throat and chest, hence the name.  We've been drinking it every day and it feels great!  I wish I could have sent a batch with Rob, but he doesn't check luggage when he travels, so no go.  Do you get a flu shot every year?

And lastly...

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The author was kind enough to send me a copy of his book The Diet Dropout's Guide to Natural Weight Loss: Find Your Easiest Path to Naturally Thin to read.  I just started it, it's a quick read so hopefully I'll have a review up for you soon.



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Male Jurors Biased Against Obese Women, Study Shows

I heard about this study on a radio show the other morning.  The radio announcer mentioned the study using the term "fat chicks." And he kept saying it over and over. Then he asked his producer to offer her thoughts.  She said something to the effect how it made perfect sense to her because "fat chicks" have no self control when it comes to eating, so why would they when it comes to obeying the law.   

I came home and looked up information on the study.  Please read the story, it is linked and quoted in its entirety and cited and let me know your thoughts.  


  Sydney Lumpkin for an ABC News Blog writes...
Male jurors are more likely to find obese women guilty than lean women, but they didn’t show the same weight bias against their own gender, a Yale University study found
Researchers showed 471 study participants a photo of one of four people – a lean woman, an obese woman, a lean man or an obese man – and asked them to determine whether that person was guilty of an imaginary check fraud crime on a scale of 1 to 5. Men were more likely to find the obese woman guilty than the lean woman, and the results were statistically significant. 
“I think it’s one more nail in the coffin of how painful it is for people that are of larger sizes,” Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association. “These people could be healthy. We’re judging people. We’re making stereotypes. We did this with race years ago. We did it with religion.” 
She added that while obese people are perceived as lazy or sloppy, people should remember that obese people don’t choose to be large. They may have medical problems, different genes or a newly identified mental illness  associated with binge eating. 
Lead researcher Natasha Schvey said she and her team controlled for age and attractiveness by using the same woman twice and photo-shopping her to be both lean and obese. They did the same for the men. 
Schvey said she’d read about weight bias in other settings, such as office environments, but wondered whether it existed in the justice system. 
“This seemed like a critical gap in the literature on weight stigma,” Schvey said, adding that it’s not clear whether  negative socioeconomic perception based on body mass factored into the results. “Since this is really just the first study of its kind, we just wanted to determine whether or not something might be going on.” 
Ultimately, she said, the results were “disappointing but not entirely surprising.” Men tend to judge women more harshly than men, and women tend to be more sympathetic. The female study participants showed no weight bias. 
“I think [it may be] because many women have gone on diets and had difficult times, and they’re not meeting their weight goals,” Grefe said. “I think they’re more understanding. A piece of it is [that] they feel sorry for them because they’ve been through it themselves.” 
Grefe thinks there should to be anti-discrimination laws on the books for weight just as there are for race, religion and sexual orientation. 
But women can take some comfort in the fact that mock jury studies isolate specific factors that rarely make their way into actual jury verdicts, said Paula Hannaford-Agor, the director of the Center for Jury Studies
“Most studies of actual jury trials show that the weight of the evidence is the single most important factor affecting jury verdicts,” Hannaford-Agor said. “Factors such as victim, defendant and juror demographic characteristics only account for a negligible portion of variation in jury verdicts.”

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunday Chit-Chat

My "Year of Positivity" is turning into a year of productivity, maybe they aren't mutually exclusive. The powder room toilet broke yesterday, the flapper went floppy and the water wouldn't stop running.  I turned off the valve off and put "fix the toilet" on Rob's "Bunny-Do" list.

When I woke up the this morning, I thought, "This isn't the 1950's, you don't clutch your pearls and wait until your husband gets home!"  So I went to Lowe's, bought a flapper and fixed it myself.  It took exactly 3 minutes. Yay, me!

I also shut off the water main to the irrigation system and purged it so the pipes won't burst in case we get a hard freeze.  Not that I'm convinced, since it has been getting warmer all week, it broke 70 yesterday and it's just about 70 right now.

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Poor, confused daffodils!

Two dear friends visited yesterday, I made a lovely brunch that included Deliciously Organic's Grain Free Banana Bread, which turned out beautifully. It lifted nicely and was tender and moist with good banana flavor. It was easy, too.  I dumped all the ingredients into the Vitamix, then poured the batter into the prepared pan.  I can't wait to try it toasted with a cup of tea a bit later.

I also made a half-batch of these maple coconut chocolates. With only two tablespoons of maple syrup for 6 chocolates there is just 3.6 grams of sugar per chocolate about the size of your standard peanut butter cup (which by comparison has 10.5 grams of sugar.)  So rich, we could only eat one each which is saying a lot for me, I can suck up candy like a Dyson. But OH! it just melted it my mouth, so amazingly delicious, I can't even describe.

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I look forward to having one as a treat during my Sunday evening programs.  The Golden Globes are on tonight hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as well as Downton Abbey, which is as delicious as the maple chocolates.  Decisions, decisions.

The dog has been walked and the house is clean.  I look forward to enjoying the rest of my Sunday relaxing. I feel like it has been well earned.  And that's a very good feeling.  Have a fantastic day!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Just Say No (to television)

When I was injured last year I missed a lot of work, so my status changed from part-time flex to PRN.  Since then work has been sporadic.  Feast or famine, as the saying goes.  So there are many days that I am at home. Throughout the latter part of last year, as Rob starting being away for longer stretches of time, I began moping in front of the television more and more.  It's so insidious, it took me a while to realize how mentally draining of a habit it became, how much of a time sucking trap.

Last Saturday I instituted the "no moping in front of the television" rule. I've started eating all my meals at the kitchen table, I don't turn the television on until after supper and I'm spending more time outside with my dog.   This first week has been extraordinary.  I can't believe what a difference it has made in my mood, my overall state of mind.  My outlook is much more positive, my house is tidy, clean and on the way to being super organized behind the scenes and I go to bed feeling tired and satisfied that I put my time to good use.  Tally has benefited, too, without me having pony up the cash for doggie daycare.

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A tired dog is a good dog and has a happy Mamma!

One of the projects I tackled was organizing my nail polish stash.  I love following nail polish trends, I love to do my nails which means I have lots of nail polish.  It was a mess!  Under the sink in an overflowing bin, in small boxes here and there and in carrier bags in various drawers.  I pulled them all out...

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I had already given away over 30 bottles last year.  I culled an additional 15 bottles this morning then organized my collection into zip top bags by color family, glitter polishes and special effect topcoats.

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Another project I did today was to make my own "green" spray cleaner. Over the past couple of weeks I started to save my citrus peels, stuffing them into a mason jar filled with distilled white vinegar.  Today I strained out the citrus vinegar and poured it into a spray bottle. I added a teaspoon of dish washing liquid and some filtered water.  WOW!  I just finished cleaning the kitchen and powder room with it, floors and everything.  Streak-free, no residue and it smells amazing.  It's going to get so much use, I am constantly wiping down my kitchen counters because I have a dog and I'm fussy about my food preparation areas.  Cheap, easy, chemical free. You must try it.  (I can't credit any one blog/blogger with the idea.  I've seen all manner of DIY cleaner recipes on Pinterest and this is what I came up with.)

One last thing, another small project I'm taking on. This is from Pinterest, you may have seen it, no one seems to know the creator of this great chart but it is just too good not to share...

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Are you up to the challenge?



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cilantro Lime Chicken Lettuce Cups

You don't have to be on a grain-free, paleo or primal eating plan in order to appreciate the simple deliciousness of this recipe.  Fast, easy and really tasty!

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I've not had much luck cooking whole chickens in the crock pot. The meat always turns out flavorless, mushy and completely dried out.  This time it was different thanks to Paleo Pot's excellent recipe! I think it was the long marinade that really helped get flavor and moisture into the meat.

Slightly adapted from Paleo Pot's Chili Cilantro Lime Chicken.  

Cilantro Lime Chicken Lettuce Cups

1 whole organic chicken, mine was about 4 pounds
1 whole lime
the juice of 2 limes
1 bunch of fresh Cilantro divided (reserve a generous handful for the guacamole)
3 garlic cloves
3 scallions
3 fresh red chili peppers 
two teaspoons each cayenne pepper, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper (it may seem like a lot but the slow cooker tends to dilute spicy flavor)
guacamole (recipe below) and lettuce cups for serving

You'll want to prep the chicken the night before so it can marinate "all night long"/Rob Schneider.
Add the lime juice, 3/4 of the bunch of cilantro, stems and all, garlic, scallions, chili peppers and dry spices to a blender and blend until you have a thick sauce.  Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the lime (edited to add: I pierced the lime all over with the tip of my paring knife) then place the chicken in a zip top bag.  Pour the marinade over it, seal the bag then smoosh the chicken so the marinade gets in every nook and cranny.  Refrigerate overnight.

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The next morning, dump the chicken, marinade and all into the crock pot.  Cover and cook for 6 hours on low.  Remove cooked chicken to a plate and harvest all that moist, flavorful meat.  Serve chicken in lettuce cups with a dollop of homemade guacamole.  Devour!

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For my quick guacamole I mashed two ripe avocados with the juice of two limes and a few glugs of hot sauce then stirred in a handful of the reserved cilantro, chopped, two thinly sliced scallions, a chopped tomato and garlic salt to taste.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

A Real Eye-Opener!

The last three days have been quite interesting.  To start, instead of a Whole 30 I opted to do a two  day juice fast.  There are plenty of reasons for a juice fast but for me it is simply the best way to reset my palate after eating lots of highly palatable savory food and sweets during the holidays.  Eating clean and grain-free is such a pleasure after that.  I made a creamy all-vegetable soup on Sunday, which was a nice addition to the juice fast.  It was so warming because if you've ever done a juice fast you know how cold you feel.


The Hulk (collard greens, celery, zucchini, carrot, 
cucumber, ginger, lemon,  green apple)

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Butternut squash, cauliflower and sage "cream" soup

I was so inspired by Michael Moore's post  about walking that it really helped changed my mind-set.  I have enjoyed long and brisk walks with Tally each day so much more than I ever have.  Changing the focus to "I have to walk the dog" or "I have to exercise"  to "Let's go for a walk!" has really helped me get more motivated.  I even stopped to take a couple of pictures of pretty things I noticed along the way. 

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Can you believe these are CABBAGE!  They are so gorgeous and the colors are so welcome in winter.  

Speaking of cabbage, I've got a pan of Barefoot Contessa's cabbage going and a pork chop in the oven for my dinner.  I went to Costco to stock up on meat (their selection of organic meat has really exploded) to see if I can cut down on the grocery bills and the amount of time I spend food shopping.  The boneless pork loin chops were a steal, $2.99 a pound and an instant $3 coupon at the register.  I got 9 plump piggies on the cheap!  

My timer just went, it's time for dinner.  I hope you had a great day and I'll be back to let you know how the Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken that's marinating for tomorrow turns out.  

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013

Welcome back! I hope you all had a safe and satisfying holiday season.  I was bereft when Wednesday morning rolled around and Rob rolled off the driveway for more time away.  Such a wonderful vacation we had, we ate, drank and enjoyed each other's company.  We watched movies, relaxed and saw some old friends.  I logged in lots of time under my Snuggie, not good for the waistline but good for the soul and I regret not one single second of it.

Now it's January and back to austerity they tell us.  LOSE WEIGHT AND GET OUT OF DEBT, they say.  After telling us to eat, eat, eat and spend, spend, spend for the last three months.  No wonder balance is so hard when we have mixed messages coming at us from every point in the universe.  It's a trap I fall into as well.  But I do love the fresh start of a new year.  No sweeping resolutions I know I won't keep, just a return to simpler eating, more activity and an extra dose of POSITIVITY!  

I had a really hard time adjusting to Rob's new work schedule this past year, during which I spent way too much time moping in front of the television.  I'm definitely going to put my time to better use this year.  For starters, limiting the time I spend in front of the television during daylight hours and increasing the time I spend outdoors with Tally.  Also, I'm going to be mindful of what I take in, not just from a food standpoint.  No blogs that spout negativity, no magazines that make me feel bad about myself.  I want to take in things that inspire, build and nourish in positive ways.  And I want to pass that on to you in return!

To start, please read this amazing post by film maker Michael Moore that was posted on his Facebook page.  I keep reading it over and over.  So much inspiration, so perfectly stated.  The bold type is the part that touched me the most.  It's long but it is truly worth reading, worth sharing.  Happy New Year!
I am now in Week 42 of my walks. Each day, 30 minutes, that's it. Thousands of you have joined me since that Sunday night on March 18 when, as a joke, I said I was going for a walk. I had read that morning in the paper that there were now more people in the U.S. on anti-depressants than those who go to the movies. I tweeted out that maybe that's the problem -- perhaps if people got out and went to the movies more they might feel better. This unleashed a lively conversation about mood-altering drugs, the lousy movies these days in theaters, the rip-off prices for 3D films, etc. Finally, someone wrote: "Sometimes I think what I need is just a brisk walk." I tweeted, "Hey, there's an idea! I'm putting my shoes on right now." I went out and came back home after 30 minutes -- and a few hundred of you had amazingly joined me where you live. So I went walking the next night, probably out of some sort of obligation because so many had written to say "please let's do it again tonight!" So I did. And the night after that. By the end of the week it was hard to determine how many thousands were now going out with me on these "virtual walks" in hundreds of cities and towns, but it had taken off like a rocket and so we all went walking every night from that point on.
Now it's 250 days later. What a simple, great idea that person had! Some have asked, "Why are we walking?" "What's the cause?" There is no cause other than to go for a walk. We do it just because it feels good. We do it because we can. We do it because it's free and it takes no time. All you need to know is how to put one foot in front of the other (or, for the disabled who've joined in, by any means necessary). It's the perfect slacker/schlub activity. 

I am often asked "How much weight have you lost from all this walking?" For a while I didn't understand the question. I mean, why would I want to lose anything? I have enough trouble finding my keys! Then I got it -- skinny people (1/3 of the country) want us, the majority, to be like them. That's so nice of them.  

But the truth is, exercise does not work, diets do not work, feeling crummy does not work. Nothing works. My advice: Quit trying to be something you're not, be happy with the life you've been given, and just go for a pleasant walk outside. With me. Wherever you are. Get off the treadmill, stop drinking diet Coke, throw out all the rules. It's all a scam and it conspires to keep you miserable. If it says "low-fat" or "sugar-free" or "just 100 calories!" throw it out. Remember, one of the main tenets of capitalism is to have the consumer filled with fear, insecurity, envy and unhappiness so that we can spend, spend, spend our way out of it and, dammit, just feel better for a little while. But we don't, do we? The path to happiness - and deep down, we all know this -- is created by love, and being kind to oneself, sharing a sense of community with others, becoming a participant instead of a spectator, and being in motion. Moving. Moving around all day. Lifting things, even if it's yourself. Going for a walk every day will change your thinking and have a ripple effect. You'll find yourself only eating when you're truly hungry. And if you're not hungry, go clean your room, or have sex, or call a friend on the phone. Without knowing it, you'll starting eating like the French (there is no French word for "fast-food") -- and you will feel better. You do not feel better admonishing yourself or beating yourself up or setting up a bunch of unrealistic rules and goals with all the do's and dont's that are just begging to be broken. You wanna know something? I eat ice cream every friggin' day. I drink a regular Coke every single day. I put butter on things. But I also walk every day. Some days now, I walk twice. And now I've started to do some push-ups and lifting stuff. It's building muscle, and in doing so, has created an extra furnace to burn stuff and create energy. Weird! That, in turn, makes me sleep 7-8 hours a night which is another game-changer. And all the walking and lifting makes me thirsty, so that makes me drink more water -- another huge plus!  

So, you can see from the photo of me up in the box that something has changed. I have no idea how much weight I've lost and I don't care. I don't care about that or diets or home gym equipment or rules about what I can or cannot eat or anything other than making sure I go on my walk today. That's it. That's the big secret. It costs nothing. I feel great. I can see my feet! There they are! Hello, feet! Wanna go for a walk? The feet say YES! Ask yours right now. And if you want, join me. But do NOT go on that walk with me if you are doing so to "get fit", "be healthy", or "lose weight". You are fine just the way you are. Only walk outside with me right now because you know it might just feel good, because it's a beautiful day, or someone is joining in with you, the fresh air is invigorating, you have to drive down to the drug store but you realize you can walk there, or simply because it's just nice to be alive for one more day. Walk to walk and nothing else -- and the other stuff will take care of itself. 

I'm heading outside in an hour. Join me. And let me know how it went!