Archive for March, 2012

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

I have been having a tough time coming up with something to eat between teaching and dinner. I get home at about 1:30 (I teach part time) and have been grazing all morning at school but that is not enough to tide me over until dinner. I saw this recipe and thought it would be great to try — and it was! Easy to make, easy to store, easy to eat, tasty, filling. Win-win-win-win-win!

Take care, though — they are very calorie-dense, so you don’t want to eat a whole mess of them at once.

Pictures on food blogs = food porn. Pictures of food on my blog = gives you a general idea of what it looks like.

Peanut Butter and Oat Energy Bites from The Cilantropist

  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup (or more) dried cranberries
  • 2 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, making sure to evenly distribute all the ingredients.

Once mixed, if it is not sufficiently sticky, add a bit more peanut butter or honey. If it’s too wet, add oats or flax.

Once it’s just right, take a bit and roll it into a ball.

That’s all!

You could, of course, change up the ingredients — different seeds, different fruits. You could also make them sweeter with chocolate, carob, or yogurt chips.

They’ll keep in the fridge for a week or two in an airtight container, but I don’t think they’ll last that long!

7-Year-Old on an “Aggressive Diet”

This article floated through my Facebook news feed and prompted quite a discussion.

Summary of the article:

  • Vogue magazine published an article detailing the path of an obese 7-year-old to a healthy weight
  • At 6 years old, the girl was 4’4″ and weighed 93 pounds
  • Mom didn’t begin to intervene until someone at school called the girl fat
  • Mom has severe food issues herself, including “Atkins, juice fasts, laxatives, Weight Watchers and more to stay thin” and still binges on sweets in secret
  • Mom publicly chastised the girl for her food choices at parties and the like
  • Mom denied the girl dinner if she had already eaten her allotted calories for the day
  • The girl lost 16 pounds which doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s 17% of her body weight

There are so many things wrong with this (letting a 6-year-old get that fat, using your daughter for your own publicity, pasting your own issues onto your kid, public humiliation, insufficient nutrition), but the one I’m going to focus on is attaching emotion to food.

It is not inherently shameful to eat a piece of cake. But if you’ve been taught your whole life that cake is bad, you’re going to feel guilt or shame in eating it. If you’ve been taught that cake is a treat, then you’re going to “deserve” it when you do something that ought to be rewarded.

Food doesn’t have to be emotionally charged.

We are so ingrained with food as reward, or good food/bad food that most people don’t seem to realize that there are alternatives.

Of course, there is food that is “good for you,” or nourishing to your body, but that is physical, not emotional.

We are taught from before we can even talk that junk food is bad but rewarding and that healthy food is punishment.

  • You can’t have dessert (junk, reward) until you finish your dinner (healthy food, punishment).
  • If you are good, you can have a cookie.
  • You did great in the doctor’s office, so you can take a lollipop.
  • You went pee pee in the potty! Good job! Here’s an M&M!

While we don’t grow up believing that every time we pee in the toilet, we deserve candy (though perhaps it would help with some men’s aim?), most of us continue to believe that sugar is a reward. What’s the problem with that? When it’s reward, it carries extra weight (no pun intended) and is emotionally charged, and that’s where there begins to be issues.

People also attach “happy childhood” to “junk food.” You’re taking a young child out. What food do you get at any of the following: carnival, amusement park, circus, arcade, goofy golf, roller rink.

The Big Man and I have agreed (though I’m more on board than he is, I think) not to give The Kid food with added sugar until he’s at least two. So fruit is good. Cake, cookies, ice cream, etc. not so much. When I have had conversations about this with people, you’d think I told them that we were going to lock him in a dungeon and feed him only bread and water.

If he doesn’t want it or need it, he’s not deprived by not receiving it.

If we can teach him to eat healthy food first without setting up the good food/bad food dichotomy, there’s a much better chance that he’ll be more interested in healthy food when the other stuff shows up. Isn’t it easier to be disinterested than to have to employ willpower?

(He spent a good five minutes sucking on a broccoli stalk the other day.)

Well … I’m off and rambling again.

Did you read the article? What do you think (whether related to my ramblings or not)?

Change All Over

It’s Wednesday! Today’s post is by Nichol.

Last week, one of my miles was hiking Mormon Trail with a co-worker/friend. Right before we left for the hike, I was standing in the parking lot at 6:00, well maybe not standing so much as jumping and twirling (don’t ask). The front office manager made a comment to me as she was leaving about my energy level. She said that my energy level doesn’t seem to decrease between starting work at 8 and leaving for home (or school) at 6. That got me thinking…

As my friend/co-worker and I were coming down the trail, we were talking about relaxation and energy levels.

(I’m going to leave out the part about it being dark by this time and me leading us off the trail 3 or 4 times, although I will happily tell you that last year, it took me and a friend a little over two hours to complete Mormon Trail. This time, it was an hour.)

She was talking about how relaxation used to be laying on the couch and watching TV. I agreed; that was also my former main mode of relaxation. And by that measurement, I should have been the most relaxed person on the planet, with the cleanest house, no stress, floating on a cloud of happy. In actuality, my house was a pretty constant disaster, I was a giant, exhausted stress ball, and I was anti-social.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t just my body that had changed. It wasn’t just my eating habits or what I drank. It wasn’t even my job, or my life goals. It literally is everything.

Monday through Friday my couch and I don’t see each other at all. Saturday we hang out a little bit. Sunday, my couch sees me in spurts. I’m up and down all the time — cleaning my bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, vacuuming, mopping, making phone calls, meeting friends for coffee or brunch… When I really started to think about it, this thing has changed me completely.

I’m more sociable. I try new things. I go out with new people. I’m neater. I’m definitely more outgoing and energetic. I have loads more confidence. If I met two years ago me, I wouldn’t recognize her.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like my Saturday night with a beer, my pillow, and a couple dozen episodes of Ghost Adventures on the DVR, but it’s less often than it was.

I’m starting to come to the realization that I have changed in a million different ways, many of which I haven’t even discovered yet. I like this me. Some old friends aren’t used to her yet, they still expect old, co-dependent me and they may cease to be friends because they want the lay around the house, self-conscious, do the same thing we’ve always done Nichol, but it’s just not me. I made it my mission to make myself happy and that’s what I’m doing.

I have two things in closing. The first is a picture of what I look like when I get up in the morning (I had an urge to share a non-sweaty pic this week)


And the second is a quote from Shay Butler (aka ShayCarl of the Shaytards from YouTube). I’ve been watching Shay’s videos for about two years. In the past year Shay has lost over 100lbs, which was a long arduous process for him. That wasnt the reason I watched his videos, but it’s nice to see his journey parallel with mine. Because of his family’s daily vlogs, and his Shayloss channel, I’ve been inspired by him. He recently completed the LA Marathon.

Shay says, “My favorite quote is from Tony Robbins. He said ‘change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change’ which means it is more painful for me to stay to stay how I am, not being able to sleep very well, not being able to run around and play with my kids without getting winded. Feeling like crap, having my pants be tight. Going out in public and feeling like ‘oh I’m fat, people are looking at me’. That pain is greater than the pain of exercising and eating healthy and not being able to have your Coca-Cola Classic. It’s painful not being able to drink my Coke, but it’s not as painful as feeling like crap. I definitely want to lose weight, but more than anything I want to feel good.”

He’s right. My previous life was a million time more painful, in a million different ways. And although I still have a ways to go and I have my bad days, I feel good. Those pains have been disappearing, bit by bit, day by day. And it feels amazing.

“Legitimately Tasty”

The more I read about sugar and all of the nasty things it does to your body, the less I am OK with eating it. So my long-term goal is to cut foods with added sugar. I’ve already cut foods with artificial sweeteners (chewing gum was the most difficult!).

When I don’t eat a lot (or any) junk food for a while, fruit is a whole lot sweeter and easily satisfies my sweet tooth. I’m slowly trying out recipes without it to see what I can make that is legitimately tasty. What is “legitimately tasty”? Let me give you an example.

When I was dairy-free for a while, I had an ice cream sandwich made from soy ice cream. It was fine, but it wasn’t an ice cream sandwich. That falls under the category “not legitimately tasty.” In other words, it was not a product I would seek out unless under special circumstances.

I also would mash frozen bananas together with pieces of pecans, or with berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries — doesn’t matter). Legitimately tasty. I have eaten this many times now. Frozen, slightly sweet, creamy (if I mash it enough), very tasty. Also an excellent way to save bananas that aren’t going to get eaten before they go bad.

This is a standard I keep for all foods that are somehow taking the place of a food that I don’t eat any more. In general, I’m not a fan of mock meats. Mock meats leave meat as the main event in an entrée, which isn’t really how we should be eating (whether we actually eat meat or not). They are rarely as good as their real-deal counterparts, though I have found a few that I find quite tasty. And they’re full of garbage ingredients. Different garbage (mostly) than what is in their meat counterparts, but garbage none-the-less.

I know a lot of people on restricted diets for a variety of reasons: veg*n, gluten-free, soy-free, casein-free, dairy-free, corn-free. Everyone wants food that they can eat that tastes good. The fewer ingredients, the better, most of the time. All ingredients recognizable tastes better most of the time. (I can’t think of an exception offhand, but I’m sure there is one somewhere…)

Of course, you don’t need to be on a restricted diet to be faced with plenty of food that is “fine” (or less). Most of the junk food that is left in the break room isn’t tasty enough to be worth the calories.

I hope that we work our way back to food that is real and healthy and away from food that is cheap and full of garbage. It won’t be quick or easy, but as more of us do it, more companies will notice.

What have you found as far as food/food substitutions and tastiness?

Meatless Meals (I Wish) My Mother Made

This recipe floated through Pinterest. It intrigued me, though I have to admit, I had no hope that it would actually taste like brownies. Really? Black bean brownies??

Pleasant surprise! It was tasty!

We didn’t have many chocolate chips on hand (what you see is all we had) — these would have been better with chips. Also, beans that were slightly overcooked probably would have been better (canned would be fine), as would a tiny bit more time in the food processor … but I was impatient 🙂

And so, from Lynn’s Recipe Adventures comes …

Flourless Black Bean Brownies

  • 1- 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor or blender puree the black beans, eggs, butter, cocoa, vanilla, and sugar until smooth.
  3. Stir chocolate chips into the batter and spread into a greased 8×8 pan.
  4. Bake for 30-33 minutes.

Backyard Garden: March Update

I am pleased to report that almost everything that was planted in the yard is thriving! Just the green beans are on their way out. The peas sometimes look great and sometimes look like they’re giving up. Everything else looks great!

dwarf lemon tree with many flowers


I had saved the seeds from the inside of a butternut squash a while back. There was room in the bed with the tomatoes, so I tossed them all in just to see. This is one of three sprouts I see so far.

lettuce, kale, broccoli, sweet onions, peas, green beans

blackberries, blueberries, strawberries

It’s pretty exciting for me as I see the plants growing and thriving. Can’t wait to start eating!

Spring Break!

It’s Wednesday! Today’s post is by Nichol.

I have a week off from school! Yay! Not quite as awesome as it was in my teaching days, but that’s okay.

This will be a short and boring blog post, mostly because I have been sick for almost a week now. Only two days where I was completely down and out, but about four days of not feeling well, complete with runny nose and cough.

This has not been awesome for my mile a day goal, but I haven’t slacked off yet. That’s probably what keeps me going. Just the fact that I’ve gone this long, and even with a fever, I walked to Circle K.


So now I’m off to drink some TheraFlu and crawl back under the covers. See you next week!

A Pound of Fat

This picture has been circulating. Thought I’d share it in case you missed it.

Revisiting No-Poo Shampoo

The Big Man, The Kid and I were out of town last week visiting relatives and the beach. The Kid was a pretty good traveler, though he woke up at night more often than usual. Overall, it was nice to visit, and it was nice to come home.

In packing for the excursion, I put some baking soda into my bag but decided to do without the vinegar.

(For those just tuning in, I use baking soda to wash my hair and white vinegar as a rinse — commonly referred to as “no poo shampoo.”)

As it turns out, the vinegar is pretty critical.

Normally, my hair feels fairly soft (not as nice as it was pre-cancer, but better than it was immediately afterwards) and it lays nicely. By the end of our five days out of town, it felt heavy and gross (not a great descriptor, but it’s all I got right now) and didn’t lay well at all.

Not having time to wash it right away before I wanted it to look decent, I decided to just give it a vinegar rinse and see what happened. Result: much improved, though not as good as when I use the two together.

Moral of the story: the vinegar rinse is important!

My current usage: about a teaspoon of baking soda and a tablespoon of vinegar. I don’t keep them in the shower itself. I scoop out the baking soda into a little cup and pour the vinegar into a large plastic glass, left over from many years ago (I think I bought it when I was in college). The little cup fits perfectly over the mouth of the glass, helping to minimize the vinegar smell.

I dump the baking soda into one hand, then transfer some of it to the hand that had handled the cup, and work it into my scalp with both hands. Then I rinse with water. I fill the cup with water (so the vinegar is diluted; the original recipe I saw said one tablespoon vinegar to eight ounces of water), tip my head back, and pour the mixture all over. I’ve been doing this for over a year and got vinegar in my eyes only once. (It didn’t feel great, but it’s pretty diluted, so it’s not as bad as it could have been.)

Have you tried no poo? Do you otherwise avoid chemicals in your hair care products?


It’s Wednesday! Today’s post is by Nichol.

I have discovered that I like running intervals. Currently I am doing them on the treadmill. I warm up at 3.5 for 5 minutes and then alternate 2 minutes at 4.0 and 1 minute at 5.5. Based on my reading, it’s not true interval running. It’s Nichol’s version of intervals. As I get more stamina I’ll build up to 3/2 minutes.

I have also been looking at stationary bike intervals. It exists! I don’t know how soon I’m going to do those though. I like my biking routine now. I usually start on level 10 and work up to level 20 and stay there for about an hour. I also use some free weights while I’m riding.

The last new incorporation is nightly arm exercises. I do at least 3 reps of 12 to 15. I alternate three things every night before I go to bed. My reason? My legs are starting to look killer, but my arms and belly need a lot of work. I don’t expect to be (in my eye) bikini ready (I will never wear a bikini… well maybe once) but I want to look like I can wear a bikini.

So before I conclude, here is you picture of the week:


My mile last Thursday was a two mile walk to The Farm with a coworker. It was a lot of fun and something that will become a bi-weekly ritual.

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