When Do We Eat?

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This is one of the biggest questions among my family members. We came across this tin at Knott’s Berry Farm during a family vacation and just had to have it.

But seriously, “When do we eat?”

Especially on vacations, we are almost always hungry, which even prompted my dad to complain one time that he was “in the company of people who are never full.” We all thought he should be used to it by now and we laugh about it still.

And what should we eat? It’s near impossible to agree on where to go or what to make, if we happen to be eating at home. Which, I am usually hoping we won’t be.

If we decide to go out, we’ll drive around and try to decide where we should go until we get somewhere acceptable to everyone. Even if its just two of us, this still happens. And maybe it’s just part of our routine. Because I don’t know how to do it any other way now.

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Foursquare! Update and New Stats!

As you can see, these are a few of my most visited places.

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So, I’ve finally managed to capture the mayorship of Chow in Lafayette! I have no idea how, as I haven’t been there more often than usual but it was an exciting moment. Here are my current mayorships:

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And here are some of my most explored categories:

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Finicky Eating

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One of the most difficult things about eating, for me personally, is not getting bored. This is especially a problem when dieting because there are things that I know I shouldn’t eat and things I know I should eat. But I don’t want to eat the same things everyday. This is one major reason that I love going out to eat. I want to have pizza one day, chow mein the next, a burrito for lunch and curry for dinner. I want to try new things. I want something that’s slightly unusual. If I get bored with what I have to eat, then I am bored with life.

I suppose that I’m not picky in the usual sense. Even as a kid, I wasn’t the type who didn’t eat my vegetables. And I didn’t like ordering off the kids’ menu. The adult menu was always much more exciting. I hated fast food and still do. Of course, I loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like any kid, but I also loved shrimp, hummus and frittata.

When I find a new cookbook that I really like, I want to try every single recipe. I’d like to choose a new recipe to cook each day until I’ve made everything in that book. This way, I’d get to try something new everyday. I’ve never actually quite accomplished this, but I still really want to. Ever since I read Julie and Julia, I’ve started cooking my way through a certain book but I’ve never really quite made it all the way. Someday, I will do it. I’m sure it won’t be a French cooking experiment like Julie’s though, I’m much more certain it will be something vegan.

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Dieting Part Two, Measuring

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Dieting is proving to be not so hard after all. Actually, the things I had been eating were not all that bad. I’d just been eating too much of them. Portion control is something that takes some time to learn and get used to. I always thought that I’d HATE having to measure my food, but once I started doing it, I realized that any time you follow a recipe to make anything, you measure and weigh the ingredients. This is really no different. I’m not having any more of a hard time measuring the ingredients now than I did for any other recipes in the past. And I feel good! I’m eating things I like and gaining control over the way my body feels. No more feeling like my gut’s about to burst open. Good fats are our friends, people.

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Dieting is Hard. Or is it?

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Well, at the moment, my answer is yes. In the last four days I put myself on an “anti-bloat” diet. Thankfully, it only lasted four days and I made it, so yay! On paper the diet doesn’t sound so bad, and especially in the picture above. I got to eat chicken, green beans and potatoes for dinner! I also ate cereal, fruit and low fat string cheese. Nothing unusual or scary. But I was only allowed 1200 calories each of these four days. And that was hard. Also no salt. I don’t think I ever realized how boring food could taste without any salt at all. But now that I’m done “de-bloating myself” I’ll up my calories to 1600 per day and hopefully won’t feel starved. (And return to a normal intake of salt.) I also avoided gassy foods, chewing gum, sugar, certain spices, carbonated drinks, alcohol, coffee, tea, hot cocoa and fruit juice. Most of these were not a problem for me aside from certain veggies, legumes and tea. And chocolate

So, did it work? Well, I lost four pounds! And I do realize that it’s most likely all water weight, but I feel less bloated and that is a major plus! Mostly, I’m just really proud that I completed all four days. I’ve also realized that 1200 calories per day is not really enough to live on and that it can be dangerous to do that for too long. Honestly, four days even felt like pushing it a bit.

The National Institute of Health defines diet as “what a person eats and drinks; a type of eating plan.” I like this. The next phase of my diet will be to stick to 400 calories per meal, never go more than four hours without eating and eat one serving of healthy fat (monounsaturated fatty acid) per meal.

Hopefully I can stick to this for a month and then we’ll see what happens. :)

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Surprisingly Healthy Foods to Get Excited About

Some of these foods are obviously healthy but some may come as a surprise, or at least some of the benefits might. I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and I’ve learned that foods can affect the human body in unexpected ways.

For instance, monounsaturated fatty acids are heart-healthy, disease fighting fats that are good for you. These fats are found in things like almonds, peanut butter, olive oil, avocados and dark chocolate. And eating these fats can actually help your body to eliminate more dangerous fats and keep you slimmer. The trick is to eat these healthy fats frequently, in small amounts and to avoid saturated (bad) fats.

Oils – Canola, safflower, sesame, soybean, walnut, flaxseed, sunflower, olive and peanut oils are monounsaturated fats which can help lower cholesterol and boost the immune system. They help your body fight against obesity, cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Nuts and Seeds (also natural peanut butter and other natural nut butters) – Contain protein, monounsaturated fats, vitamin E, fiber, magnesium, folate and phosphorus. They help to fight obesity, heart disease, muscle loss, wrinkles, cancer and high blood pressure. Eating just a couple ounces per day can help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Avocados – They contain monounsaturated fat, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, folate, lutein, and beta-sitosterol. Adding avocado to your food can help maintain healthy eyes, keep cholesterol low, and protect your heart.

Dark Chocolate – Rich in flavanols, copper, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron. Boosts good HDL cholesterol, helps control insulin levels, relax blood vessels, lower blood pressure and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Beans and Legumes – It may not be surprising that they are healthy, but some of their benefits might be. These foods help to build muscle, burn fat, and regulate digestion. They help fight obesity, colon cancer, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Greens – Are obviously healthy but here are some reasons why. They contain vitamins, such as A, C, K, folate, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and beta-carotene. They neutralize free radicals and help fight against cancer, heart disease, stroke, obesity, osteoporosis.

Of course, we shouldn’t be eating just these foods but it’s a good idea to incorporate them and eliminate things like trans fats, artificial sweeteners and excessive saturated fats.

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What’s For Dinner?

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Today, I went grocery shopping. I usually tend to wait until the last minute possible, when we have absolutely nothing left in the house to eat and then I’m forced to go shopping. I hate the hassle of going to the grocery store, but I do love having good food to eat at home.

It seems that it’s come to the time of year where Tofurkey roasts are no longer available. I’d buy them year round but they only sell them during the holiday season. Anyway, while I was checking out the frozen meatless product section, I came across Quorn Turk’y Burgers. I thought we’d try them for dinner and they were a big success! Super easy to grill on the stovetop and I bet they’d be even better on a BBQ. I’ll definitely be buying them again.

The picture seen above is my dinner plate. Complete with Quorn Turk’y Burger on wheat bun with avocado and cheese, mustard braised potatoes and mixed green salad with sultana raisins, pine nuts and oranges. I can put together a pretty decent meal when the mood strikes me!

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I Hated It My Whole Life… Until I Tried It

I’ve always loved oatmeal. Besides eating it for breakfast, sometimes I will even eat it as a late night snack. My husband could never understand my love for oatmeal. He admitted that he thought it smelled good, especially when I mixed in a spoonful of peanut butter, but he still thought it looked gross. One night he must have been exceptionally hungry because he asked for a bite of my oatmeal and was pleasantly surprised because it actually tasted good! The next day, he was talking to my mom and told her proudly about his experience eating oatmeal the night before, exclaiming, “I hated it my whole life, until I tried it!”

Ever since then, whenever anyone in our family tries something new or something we previously wouldn’t have eaten, we use his phrase. This got me thinking about how true this is sometimes; how we can dislike a food because it’s different or we’ve never tried it and think we won’t like it and how so many times we actually do hate something our whole lives… until we try it.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few things that I would never eat as a kid, that I happily enjoy eating now. Asparagus, mustard, pumpkin, bananas, cabbage and whole wheat pasta are foods that I hated my whole life, until I tried them. To be fair though, I did try whole wheat pasta but I think the pasta companies make better whole wheat pastas now than they did even just a few years ago.

Aside from oatmeal, my husband has added avocado, salsa, wheat bread, soy milk, tofu, polenta, apple pie, berry pie, pecan pie and dark chocolate to his list of things he’s hated his whole life… until he tried them. Hopefully we’ll be adding even more to these lists as we discover “new” foods.

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My Week in Food

Today was Sunday, which means a late breakfast at Chow! I usually try to eat their pancakes because seriously, they have the best pancakes I have ever eaten. Ever. But everything there is delicious and today I had the veggie scramble. The veggie scramble was also awesome; made with egg whites, spinach, artichokes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and served with herbed potatoes. Sorry for the lack of picture, I will get one next time. Plus, it will give me a good excuse to eat there again soon. ;)

And here are the rest of the more interesting meals that I enjoyed this week! Obviously, I’m not going to include bowls of cereal or PB&J sandwiches because that’s probably not too exciting to look at.

Monday- La Pinata with my parents for dinner. I had a pinto bean, cheese and rice burrito. Here is a lovely picture of the guacamole and pico de gallo.

Tuesday- Late lunch at Tomatina. I had one of the monthly specials for January, which is a thin crust pizza with dried cranberries, roasted apples and arugula and just a tiny sprinkling of fresh parmesan.

Wednesday- Dinner at El Tapatio. I was bad and had the cheese enchiladas. Sadly, I didn’t take a picture either. But they have the best enchilada sauce there!

Bonus: Home prepared meal. Tofurkey with onions, gold potatoes and homemade rosemary gravy. This turned out great! I can’t remember which day I made it, but I think it may have been last Sunday night. My husband even loved it!

Thursday- Late lunch at Sunrise Bistro. Vegan burrito: tofu, black beans, broccoli, zucchini and greens with salsa and guacamole.

IMG_0530Friday- Family dinner at Pomegranate. Hummus and pita bread. I also had spanakopita, which is spinach and feta baked in phyllo dough.

Saturday- Dinner at Lemongrass. I had a yellow curry vegetable dish with tofu and rice. Pictured is our dessert of fried bananas with coconut ice cream!

 

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Cheese. Mistakes and Learning from Them

Eden McCain from the TV show, Heroes

Eden McCain from the TV show, Heroes

I have a love/hate relationship with food. On the one hand, I love food and I love to eat; but on the other hand, I’m incredibly picky about my food and have a hard time choosing what to eat to the point of frustration over food. (First world problems, right?)

Cheese is one food that I love. And when I say cheese, I mean real cheese. Not the kind in a spray can. Not cheese wiz or velveeta or American sliced processed plastic cheese. Real cheese. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Havarti, Provolone, Brie, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Feta, Fontina, Parmesan, Ricotta, Gruyere, Gouda, Munster, Jarlsberg… this could go on all day, to be honest, but you get the picture.

One of my biggest problems was that I was never particularly fond of eating meat, even as a child. This isn’t really a problem by itself, but I basically replaced meat with cheese. I think that this isn’t an entirely uncommon thing to do. If you take a glance through any entirely vegetarian cookbook from say the 1980s or earlier, most of the recipes will be centered around eggs and cheese. I suppose they are the most comfortable ‘replacements’. I even remember reading that Welsh Rarebit (which is a melted cheese sauce served over toasted bread) was created in the 1700s as a substitute for rabbit meat when people couldn’t afford meat. And I once read a cookbook made during WWII to help housewives cope with the meat rationing during the war by creating meals centered around cheese and/or eggs rather than beef, pork or chicken.

The problem is that in America, we smother everything with cheese. I’ve noticed that in other cultures, cheese is used more as a condiment than as an actual central food group. According to records when the government started tracking them in 1909, the average American consumed 4 lbs of cheese per year. By 2009, that amount had risen to 33 lbs per person.

In my early 20s, I was practically living on cheese. I ate cheese quesadillas, cheese lasagna, cheese enchiladas, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, and so on, and so on. The problem was that I wasn’t eating much else. I was eating very little vegetables or grains and cheese was my only source of protein, aside from occasional eggs and even more occasional beans. Not surprisingly, my cholesterol was high for someone in their early or mid 20s. My doctor made an appointment for me with a nutritionist who told me to limit my cheese intake. I didn’t have to give it up all together, just had to be more careful about how much and how often I was eating it.

My new plan included instant oatmeal with 2 teaspoons of peanut butter for breakfast before work every morning and focusing on beans and legumes for my main sources of protein. In addition, whole grains, oats, fruits, beans, artichokes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes and winter squash are all excellent foods for keeping cholesterol levels in check. Just by making this adjustment, I lost 15 pounds!

I still eat cheese. I’m not sure I could ever give it up completely, but I do I think I have become a bit more responsible about it. ;)

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