Monday, May 14, 2012

Redirect yourselves

So, I've got this other blog that I update more regularly, it's here. Enjoy!

I talk more about knitting, gardening, and whatnot, but I do talk about cooking and stuff. :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I have recently switched dieting strategies.

I have come full-circle, as it were (not only a pun because it's the CSA I subscribe to). 

Back in high school, when I did gymnastics twice a week and had marching band practice, but was otherwise sedentary, I managed to lose about 20 or 30 lb one summer by doing the Zone diet.  It's basic premise is that you have a low, sustained insulin response, and they encourage foods that do not promote an insulin burst (vegetables, fruits).

Since then, I've tried multiple things - heck, I even recently went through a few months of dicking around with some naturopaths who meant well, but proved useless to me (and wanted to stick me on some horrid-sounding "nutrtional shake elimination diet" thing based on rice flour. Horrors!)

At the advice of my trainer, I tried going ultra low-carb Paleo.  The end result was it just made me angry if I sustained it for any period of time without "falling off the wagon". (A phrase which I think should really be "choosing to step off the wagon for a bit", because you are making a choice to ingest certain things). I was eating ~150 g of protein a day, and aiming for < 60 g carbs.  Often, over 50% of my daily calories were from fat (nuts, oils, meat-fat).  Interestingly, I didn't gain weight on this diet, but I didn't lose any, either. My acne was surprisingly clear (except when I went off the wagon).

Another trainer at the gym suggested  "OK, maybe a little more carbs, and a little less fat", after I told her the low-carb thing was difficult to sustain.  Tried that, and then it hit me that I was basically doing Paleo-Zone, but a little lower-carb.

I used this handy Zone block calculator to figure out how much I got to eat.  According to them, at 155 lb, 30% body fat, and medium-to-hard activity 4-5x / week, I get 14 blocks.per day.  A Zone 'block' has the following:

- 9 g carbohydrates
- 7 g protein
- 1.5 g fat (assuming a low-fat protein source)

That means I get to eat a total of 126 g of carb, 98 g of protein, and 21 g of fat per day.

To be honest, it was also very difficult for me to actually commit to ingesting 150 g of protein a day - at approximately 7 g protein per ounce of meat, that comes out to 21 oz, or 1.3 lb of meat per day! (Or more if you are eating certain seafood).

Time will tell if this new diet works; I think it will, as it has worked before on me.  This isn't to say that low-carb doesn't work - it does! I've seen it work on several people, and I think with the right foods and attitude, it is sustainable.  It is just a pain in the ass for me.  (And I was noticing I was starting to get that acetone smell in my breath that tells you ketosis is acting... I have had a couple of friends with the most God-awful breath in the world, who were on Atkins and drank coffee... ech, makes me cringe just thinking about it!)

Friday, February 26, 2010


Starbucks has detailed nutrition information for all beverages and food items.

If you pick an item like caffe latte, for instance, you can choose from several types of milk, and then hit the "recalculate" button to find totals for calories, grams of fat, grams of sugars, etc.

This is where I found soymilk listed twice – once as "soymilk (US)" and once as "soymilk (CD)." When I compared the two calculations I found that the U.S. product has more calories, but fewer fat calories, compared to Canadian. U.S. soymilk also has less sodium, but way more carbohydrates and about TWICE as much sugar.

I imagine there are Starbucks customers who choose soymilk every day (believing the myth that soy = healthy), completely unaware that their 12 oz. caffe latte contains the equivalent of more than three tablespoons of sugars before they even ADD any sugar!

(ETA: I tried this again recently, and found that the Canadian soymilk was removed from the list of choices.  Starbucks must have realized where my IP address was coming from, and accordingly filtered it's site).

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


2/22/2010 - I PR'ed my deadlift, increasing by a whole kg: 72 kg x 5 reps

2/24/2010 - I PR'ed my 500 m row sprint - 2:12. No, I'm not super-fast by any means, but it's a great improvement for me! I think I have started to internalize the rowing method shown to us by our trainers: pushing more with your legs, doing a longer stroke, and keeping the strokes per minute < 34. Keep your gaze straight ahead and don't look around! Plus, a guy who rowed in college told me to basically smack my boobs with every stroke.... it's kind of annoying, but it works and I no longer create slack in the chain by changing it's angle relative to the pulley.

Damn right I'm proud. :)

Paleo Chili

Since I've gone all super-low-carb, I thought I'd share my Paleo chili technique (since y'all know I'm not big on measured recipes... I tend to improvise as I go along).

What You'll Need:

- meat (preferably grass fed.. I used 1 lb ground beef from Skagit River Ranch, but stew chunks work, too)
- vegetables that you would cook in a stew
- large can of tomatoes (any style... I like the whole, fire roasted ones from Muir Glen Organics)
- aromatics like onions, garlic, shallots, etc. (I used 1 large whole garlic head and 1/2 a large red onion)
- salt
- chili spices (I used Penzey's Chili 9000)
- Dutch Oven or large pot

What You Do:

Heat up your dutch oven to medium-high heat, and drizzle in some olive oil.

Brown your onions, garlic, and whatever other aromatic vegetables you like. If the other vegetables you want to use could use some browning, throw them in. I usually wait.

Add your meat to the pot, and brown it. Season it liberally with salt and chili spices.

Add the other vegetables, and the can of tomatoes, including the juice. I like to take my mixing spoon and break up the whole tomatoes a little bit. (The reason I buy whole tomatoes is I feel they are potentially higher quality fruit than the cans of broken-down tomatoes. That may or may not be the case, but that is my opinion, and I'm sticking to it).

I suppose if you wanted, now would also be the time to add some wine or beer to the party. I added more chili spice.

Bring the pot to a simmer and cook it slowly till the mixture thickens up to the point that you like it. The vegetables should be cooked thoroughly by now....

How To Serve:

In a bowl. I add chopped avocado, maybe some chopped fresh onion and/or tomato .... and more chili spice.

Note: For those of you going super-low-carb, be aware that, despite their awesome fat content, a medium avocado contains ~15 g of carbohydrates. (ARGH!)


I just received a vegetable box from my CSA yesterday, so the next time I make this (very soon), I'll be adding zucchini and some other fun stuff. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I'm Back

Hello, World!

It's been a l-0-n-g time, but I decided to come back to this blog.

I thought I would steer it toward a little more personal vent, that being my health & fitness.

Late last year, my mom insisted that I go to a naturopath to try and work through some hormone imbalance issues. This had transpired out of her disbelief that I could be doing Crossfit 4x/week, Pilates on Sundays, and generally something outdoors-related on Saturdays (hiking, skiing, kayaking, whatever the season called for), and still be fat around my gut.

I ate Paleo. Nothing changed externally, although once I gave up grains, my stomach sure felt a lot better.

Naturopath #1 did about $1000 worth of ancillary tests - stool samples (ugh), blood, & saliva tests. These confirmed an elevated cortisol level, an elevated fasting glucose level, and high cholesterol. Awesome. They then wanted to start me on a 6 week "fasting" diet composed of these hideous medical shakes used for people with IBS, which cost about $150-200. The shakes are basically made of rice flour + a bunch of vitamins so you don't get malnutrition, and then you add fiber so you actually go to the bathroom. I looked at her fiber source and said, "I am allergic to flax seeds". This naturopath hadn't done her homework, since I had provided her with a complete dietary profile from a trusted food allergy testing company. Also, I am convinced that large amount of rice flour would not have done me any favors. In addition to the fasting, I would be required to visit their office weekly, to "assess progress", at $150 per office visit, plus the cost of any ancillary tests. Besides that, they were crappy at drawing blood from me. Did I mention none of this was covered by insurance? Yeah, out-of-pocket. All of it.

Naturopath #1 was out.

I next visited another naturopath, this one requiring me to travel to Portland, about 3 hours south of Seattle.

This naturopath looked at all my test results, my gym attendance record over the past year, looked at me, and said, "Have you ever considered that this is how you are supposed to look? Maybe take a look at your ancestors...". Honey, my ancestors were all skinny. Unacceptable! At least she told me I could tell her to go to hell and she wouldn't mind. :)

Fast-forward to Fran, my old trainer who recently opened up her own gym in south Seattle.

Her recommendations? Lower the Crossfit to 3x / week. Rest enough, eat strict Paleo, and go super-low carb. In preparation to meet with her, I'd eaten for two weeks at less than 100 g carbohydrate / day. I use Fitday ( to track my diet.

Where I'm at now? Less than 60 g carbohydrates per day. This really restricts things, folks, but it is (surprisingly) feasible.

The secret? I eat lots and lots of meat and fat. Like, 50-60% of my calories come from fat. Good fats, though - not french fries or doughnuts. Fats like nuts, olive & nut oils, coconut oil & milk, and fat inherent in meats. I eat almost all grass-fed meat products. Organic vegetables & fruits. My sister was amazed to hear my diet. (And she's always been the skinny one!)

What am I avoiding? Dairy. Grains (for sure). Root vegetables, because they have an incredible amount of sugar in them. (Consider, after all, that root vegetables evolved as energy storage devices for plants).

What do I cheat with? Super high quality bourgeoisie dark chocolate. I actually drink a little more wine than I was drinking in the past 6 months; by "more" I mean I drink maybe 3 -4 glasses a week now, and enjoy it thoroughly. I do put 1 tsp of agave syrup into my morning coconut milk latte.

I bought myself a Sodastream water carbonator, and enjoy acting like I'm drinking something "fun" when it's really just carbonated water with a citrus slice in it, or some flavoring extract like vanilla or orange.


I'm going back to Fran in a month, so we'll see how things progress!

In the meantime, I've got some bacon I need to go heat up in the microwave...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Little Humor

I got passed this via email, and thought it was pretty cute, so I am posting it here:

A letter from a "farm kid" in the Marines to their parents:

Dear Ma and Pa,

I am well. Hope you are. Tell Brother Walt and Brother Elmer the Marine Corps beats working for old man
Minch by a mile. Tell them to join up quick before all of the places are filled.

I was restless at first because you get to stay in bed till nearly 6 a.m. But I am getting so I like to sleep late. Tell Walt and Elmer all you do before breakfast is smooth your cot, and shine some things. No hogs to slop, feed to pitch, mash to mix, wood to split, fire to lay. Practically nothing.

Men got to shave but it is not so bad, there's warm water. Breakfast is strong on trimmings like fruit juice, cereal, eggs, bacon, etc., but kind of weak on chops, potatoes, ham, steak, fried eggplant, pie and other regular food, but tell Walt and Elmer you can always sit by the two city boys that live on coffee. Their food, plus yours, holds you until noon
when you get fed again. It's no wonder these city boys can't walk much.

We go on 'route marches,' which the platoon sergeant says are long walks to harden us. If he thinks so, it's not my place to tell him different. A 'route march' is about as far as to our mailbox at home. Then the city guys get sore feet and we all ride back in trucks.

This next will kill Walt and Elmer with laughing. I keep getting medals for shooting. I don't know why. The bulls-eye is near as big as a chipmunk head and don't move, and it ain't shooting at you like the Higgett boys at home.. All you got to do is lie there all comfortable and hit it. You don't even load your own cartridges They come in boxes.

Then we have what they call hand-to-hand combat training. You get to wrestle with them city boys.. I have to be real careful though, they break real easy. It ain't like fighting with that old bull at home. I'm about the best they got in this except for that Tug Jordan from over in
Silver Lake . I only beat him once.. He joined up the same time as me, but I'm only 5'6' and 130 pounds and he's 6'8' and near 300 pounds dry.

Be sure to tell Walt and Elmer to hurry and join before other fellers get onto this setup and come stampeding in.

Your loving daughter,