Monday, February 21, 2011

My New Friend...Chia!

Hooray! Week four has flown by. I am now half way through this detox eating program. I never thought I would be able to go 4 weeks without chocolate or cheese or chips. The most difficult night occurred when we had dinner at Provo's Brick Oven Pizza. My niece ordered the most scrumptious looking garlic chicken pizza. It smelled heavenly. The baskets of buttery, crispy garlic bread made my mouth water. Mmmmmm...Fortunately, there was a marvelous salad and soup bar. Unfortunatley, I forgot to take our own salad dressing. All they had available was creamy dressings and all the soups were either milk/cheese based or had lots of noodles. Becky and I decided to try the homemade chicken noodle soup and just pick out the noodles. It was mediocre. I can honestly say that I make a far superior chicken soup. My one downfall was the tablespoon of ranch-style dressing I put on my salad. I had already eaten a "dry" salad for lunch and I just couldn't face another one. I put egg and olives and other moist ingredients on the salad (protein day), but they didn't have any salsa or vinegar/oil dressings. So sad! Oh well. It turned out well, and we had a great time visiting with family.

My weight has plateaued, but that's okay too. I didn't start this focused on my weight as much as an attempt to gain better health. I do feel much better. Saturday, I steam cleaned the tile floors, base boards and kitchen appliances. A couple of months ago, I would have retreated to to a chair or even to bed and spent the rest of the day reading or watching a movie or sleeping because of pain. Instead, I had energy left over and went right to work on another project. Feeling better makes this whole idea totally worth the effort.

The newest food I am using is chia. So far I just put a couple of tablespoons in my green smoothie every day. The more I read about chia, though, the more fascinated I am with its nutritional properties. I think I will make some chia gel and try using it as a thickener. One article I read claims that you can use chia gel in place of fats in many recipes and cut the calories by almost 90%. Sounds too good to be true, but I will experiment and see. Chia does have calories, although not many, and it is the highest of land plants in omega-3 oils. It is high in fiber, iron, magnesium and potassium. oh, and then there's the protein and fiber and...yeah. lots of stuff! Chia lowers bad cholesterol and triglycerides and slows down the conversion of carbohydrates into sugars...thus stabilizing blood sugar levels.

We'll see how this week turns out. I want to add exercise to my routine now. Not sure how to make that work. It is difficult to justify spending the time on me for some reason. I think I will try going back to yoga twice/week now that the car is repaired. and maybe walk three times/week? I'll figure it out!

In the mean time...I have a huge research paper and two exams I need to take before the first week in April. Yikes!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Path to Better Health

I keep thinking I am going to use this blog more effectively...and then life happens. The other day I realized that I really do need to write about these life experiences. I always feel like life is pretty mundane and not anything anyone would really care to read about, but since several of my children have taken the time to comment and ask for more, I will try harder.

A few weeks ago, a friend in the neighborhood told me that she wanted to get a group of people together to try out a weight management/healthy lifestyle program. I had been doing some research and trying to get motivated to improve my health so I told her to count me in. Becky expressed interest as well. I'm glad. It really does help to have someone else in the house on board with something like this. My main motivation came from being tired of feeling ill every single day. Feeling like you have been hit by a truck day in and day out gets old really fast. I also wanted to wean myself off of the sleeping aids I have been using for several months.

Fast forward three and half weeks. No sugar, no preservatives, no white flour, no dairy. Fruits and vegetables everyday -- as much as I care to eat -- with the addition of either a meat protein, a starch, or legumes, depending on the day. A green smoothie, usually in the a.m., and every now and then popcorn with ghee and sea salt for a snack. The week before I started this detox program I also started using a nutritional supplement with L-arginine as the main ingredient. I have cut my medication at night by 75%. My thinking is more clear, and I have a lot more energy. The pain of inflammation is almost completely gone. I still crave sweets. I'm hoping that will diminish. On top of feeling better, I am down nearly 20 pounds. Yahoo!

I am going to post recipes that I have been trying, including several that I am very pleased to have come up with. Of course, none of them are as amazing as the chocolate mousse recipe I came up with for Thanksgiving. I had intended to make it again for Valentine's Day, but I knew I would not be able to make it and then not eat some. This program lasts for eight weeks. I want to continue healthy eating, so I intend to follow it pretty closely, even after the eight weeks. (although, I may have to make some of that mousse to celebrate our 33rd anniversary in April) Hopefully by then I will be able to use self control and enjoy a little bit of chocolate now and then. Right now though, I don't dare. Sugar really is an addiction for me and taking even a bite right now would be my undoing. I have been an emotional eater for a very long time. Eat to keep awake. Eat to soothe tender feelings. Chew something yummy to keep from chewing someone out, etc. Now when I get stressed, I try yoga or go for a walk or immerse myself in a good book. I write out the things I am feeling and acknowledge the lessons I am learning. Rather than live to eat, I now I choose to eat to live.

It has been a challenge to plan meals that the family will eat and still meet the eating plan Becky and I chose to follow. I don't have the time or desire to cook two different meals 3 times/day. So I plan a main dish that I can add to or take away from to please everybody! If it is bean day, I try to make a vegetarian chili or black bean soup or white bean and carrot soup...or who knows...for the rest of the family, I just add rolls or crackers, etc. For a stir fry on veggie day, I add chicken and rice for the family or if it is a protein day, Becky and I can have the chicken. It works! It's not as difficult as I thought it would be. I love that I am trying new recipes and eating veggies that I never thought to try before because I thought they would be a pain to prepare. I have fallen in love with asparagus and even enjoy pickled carrots. who knew? Oh, and pickles and olives have become very good friends. Along with kimchee. Becky and I have eaten almost a gallon of it these past couple of weeks! It is a great food for introducing healthy bacteria into the gut. You have to get the good kind from a Korean market though. American grocery store kimchee is nasty. I think our Korean daughters spoiled me.

So here is the first recipe. I'll try to get Micaela to post the picture she took of this meal before I served it. It was really pretty!

Veggie - Chicken Stir Fry (Kari style)

Chicken tenders or cut boneless chicken breasts into strips (enough for 8 servings) and place in a pressure cooker, crock pot, or deep dish.

1/2 - 1 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 cup water
1 kiwi, grated
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 - 4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed (or more if you like)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped onion - I use green onions or white or yellow depending on what I have

Mix ingredients together and pour over chicken strips. Marinate about 30 minutes. Pressure cook for about 5 minutes at 15# or place in a crock pot for a couple of hours or put on the grill. (Just cook the chicken...!)

Prepare veggies:
3 stalks of broccoli, cut into florets
1 onion, sliced
3 - 4 large carrots, or several baby carrots, chunked or sliced
2 - 3 zucchini, sliced
6 - 8 white mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips

2 -3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Mix together:
1/4 cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Better Than Chicken stock ( I get this at Costco and it is organic)
dash of cayenne (red pepper)
dash of black pepper
2 tablespoons corn starch

Stir fry the veggies until just barely tender. Add the sauce and stir quickly to mix. This will thicken quickly.

Serve with the chicken strips and brown rice or quinoa. Becky and ate just the veggies. This is really good with a side of roasted asparagus. I know it looks complicated, but the time is just prepping the veggies. David declared it a restaurant quality meal. Everyone gobbled it up. I was a happy mama! In the next couple of days I will share a yummy fat free trick that works to thicken dishes without using cream soups.

Time to go climb in bed under the warm covers and read a good book, so that I don't cave to that dark chocolate bar calling me from the kitchen!!! The wind is howling, it is starting to snow, and I would love a cup of hot chocolate. But you know what? I want to improve my health first. I want to have the energy to play with my kids and grandkids. Oh...and by the way. I was asked the ages of my 9 children today. I told them my youngest is 13 and my oldest is....older than me!

hee hee...

Wrote this post last night, just before we lost Internet service to the raging wind. The sun is shining today!