7QT Good Friday–serious topics, serious sugar

1. I’ve been reading Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe.  It brings up some of the same points that are in Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman. It’s always a good sign when you hear the same message from very different sources (one a French, Roman Catholic priest, the other an American, married, Protestant woman).  I wanted to share some quotes with you–it would make this post at least generally apropos for Good Friday–but then I misplaced the book.

2. I followed the Candida diet for March, the less-restrictive version anyway.  It’s basically–no added sugar whatsoever, no fruit, no refined starches, no alcohol.  The idea is to starve off excess yeast in the body.  I had one major cheat but overall substantial compliance, which was a lot better than my no-sugar attempt in January.

I didn’t lose any weight, nor did I experience any noticeable improvements in health.  Bleh.  I was hoping to lose some weight  because that diet was really really hard.  I am so weak.

On the upside, though, it did loosen sugar’s grip on me.  Even though I had a big binge for a couple days when I ended it, I’ve since gone back to a very low sugar, low carb, way of eating, and it’s not nearly as hard as it used to be.  I eat a bunch of eggs and beef, as many vegetables as I can manage, lots of avocado, some rice and potatoes, limited dairy, and I feel great.

3.  Until this evening, anyway, when the girls and I had an Easter treat-making extravaganza.  Now I’m having heart palpitations from the sugar in all the frosting I sampled:

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4. We picked up a copy of Family Circle’s March issue

and the girls bamboozled me into making the treats featured on front.  I never do this type of thing but here we are.  I think I’m a softie.

Fortunately, they are thrilled with the results.  Girl 1 doesn’t even mind that little sister couldn’t form flowers on the cake that looked like the picture in the magazine.

5. Just now?

“He’s got the whole wor-rld/ in his hands/ He’s got the whole wor-rld in his hands. . . . Mommy, does God really have the whole world in his hands?”

“Uh, no not really.  But God is bigger than the whole world.  And he’s taking care of the whole world.”

“Where is God.”

“uh . . . in heaven.  But he’s here with us too”

“Does God really get nailed to the cross?”

“Uh, he did, on Good Friday.”

I’m not ready for all this; I’m really not.  I guess I need to buy a catechism book for her?  Catechesis of the Good Shepherd is wonderful but it’s not comprehensive at this stage.  I feel like Girl 1’s conception of God, heaven, earth, death, the afterlife, the universe and everything is very confused.  The education she’s gotten from me has been haphazard, at any rate.

6. Blog posts I’ve thinking about lately: The He/She Generation by Joseph Sciambra

when civilization is in decline there is always a rabid return of superstition; a form of moral panic occurs when society throws off all traditional means of self-regulation and censorship: the Church and the force of public decency are disregarded and silenced.

Currently, the most popular and widely apparent form of this reaction towards a slip into barbarism is the phenomena of tattooing, piercing, and body modification. These forms of self-flagellation are an attempt by the unknowing penitent towards order; a desire to recreate the body in an age when life is becoming more and more anaesthetized and disassociated.  [This reminds me of scenes in the book, Children of Men by P.D. James.]

Crossing gender is the most extreme example of this need to make sense with our bodies out of the present-day senselessness.

and also his post on The Gay Michelangelo: A Portrait of the Artist’s Lifelong Struggle With Same-Sex Attraction (is this historically accurate?  I suspect it’s a debated topic but obviously the author has researched it more than I)–this author has a perspective unlike that of anyone else I’ve read; his writing is clear-sighted and far-reaching and poignant and gets to the heart of things; the subject matter of some posts is extremely explicit and disturbing.

On a lighter note: Would You Like Fries With That? and its follow up What We Have a Right to Expect From College: what is the point of a Catholic higher education?  Does it have to be all liberal arts?  Does everyone need to study the liberal arts?  Lots of good questions here.

7. I hope you all have a blessed Good Friday and a lovely Easter!  Click over to Kelly for more quick takes posts (if she’s doing 7QT on Good Friday?  Perhaps not.  We’ll see.)

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This is typical.

A post with no advice.

I’m enjoying Julia Child’s My Life in France.

This morning I tried making scrambled eggs as directed by Julia’s instructor at Le Cordon Bleu.  I stirred the raw eggs together gently and poured them into a buttered pan set to low.  I waited three minutes, at which point Julia indicated the eggs would form a custard consistency.  Well, three minutes on my electric stove set on low did nothing to these eggs.

 

I set the timer for another three minutes.  While I waited, I pulled out Joy of Cooking and compared their scrambled eggs directions to Julia’s.  Both say to use low heat; Joy says to beat the eggs more.  Joy discusses the eggs’ forming “creamy curds,” which kind of grosses me out.

Three more minutes were up, and I stirred the slightly-cooked eggs around, keeping them on low.  It would be a while.  Good things come to those who wait.

I wandered over to my laptop, clicking to Pinterest.  Isn’t this dress lovely?   I got disgusted with all the many many “how-to’s” and  “improve your life in five easy steps” pins.   How many of these people really know what they’re talking about?  And if they do, are they really saying anything new?   I had a revelation that I don’t want to be a blogger with a bunch of “how-to” lists and Pinterest-y graphics.  I kind of always knew that but now I really know it.  I might do a graphic here or there when the mood strikes, or a how-to when I really and truly know how-to something.  But . . .

Oh yeah my eggs.

They had hardened into a solid sheet, a rubbery egg pancake.  Julia and Joy would put aside their differences and unanimously disapprove.

I chopped the eggs into chunks and ate them, thankful for all the butter I had used.

scrambled eggs

No how-to’s on scrambled eggs here!

Bon appetit!

The Mental Health Diet

and how it made me fat:

I treat my body like a temple/ 

You treat yours like a tent.

Jimmy Buffet

I’ve definitely been in the “tent” camp lately.  (Get it?  Tent?  Camp?  Yuk yuk.)

via Wikipedia

We left the Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”), after over a year of inconsistent-but-persistent resolve.  Pat lost some weight, and we felt pretty good overall.  But I didn’t lose weight, and it seemed like a lot of work for negligible results.  So we quickly slipped from PHD to mostly whole foods to . . . what I call the Mental Health Diet (“MHD”).

The MHD consists mostly of convenience foods, take-out pizza, dinners out, and fast food (I discovered the Taco Bell cantina bowl–yum!).  I started a tasting tour of sorts, trying out all of the kids-eat-free nights at our local restaurants.

My mental health diet

 

Not surprisingly, my weight has skyrocketed.  At least I think it has.*  I haven’t weighed myself in several months.  But all my clothes are tight.  I’m kind of dreading fall because even the jeans I was so excited about recently are feeling uncomfortably snug now.

Harumph.

This got me thinking that maybe the PHD helped me more than I realized.  I didn’t lose any weight but I also didn’t gain any.  On the other hand, my weight has climbed steadily ever since coming off it.  Also–now that I think of it–my weight was starting to climb before we got on the PHD.

I stopped breastfeeding Girl 2 around September 2012.  Shortly thereafter I switched from Zoloft to Lexapro.  Due to some combination of those factors (I think), my weight started climbing.  Then in November 2012 we started the PHD and the weight gain came to a halt.

All this is making me want (“want” in a limited sense of the word) to get back on the PHD bandwagon.  Or maybe even do the Whole 30 for a clean break.  Jenny’s experience, among others, makes it sound . . . hmm, not appealing, but . . . like-a-good-idea-ing.**

{Pat is never ever critical when we fall off the healthy-eating wagon and yet he is always game for healthy eating, bless his heart.

Me: “Honey, I think maybe we should try this thing called the Whole 30.  [15 second summary of Whole 30]  What do you think?”

Pat: “Yes, I’m in.  Good idea. . . . There’s always apples and peanut butter, right?”  (PB&A being Pat’s go-to meal.)

Me: “Uh, yeah, about peanut butter . . . .”

Pat: “Um, well, how about homemade hummus??”

Me: “Well . . . .” }

At the same time, I don’t regret our stint with the Mental Health Diet.  Junk food is never good for one’s mental health in itself.  Not feeling the pressure to cook, though, was a definite boon.

The MHD has been one facet of a change of course I’m taking in life wherein I focus less on doing more.  I’m here.  I love.  I’m enough.

We ate junk; ordered out; I hardly ever cooked.  Yet the world kept on spinning.  My kids are as healthy as they ever were (not saying much), and Pat and I are fine.  There’s just more of me to love.  Nutrition and physical health are important but they’re not all-important.    (As usual, I love Amelia’s thoughts on this topic.)  Eating junk probably didn’t help my low energy woes, but the slug life led me to the MHD, rather than the other way around.

All the same, I’m sick of treating my body like a tent.  I don’t want to be forced to wear a tent.  I think it’s time for a change.  Stay tuned.

 

*Update: Since drafting this, I weighed myself and, sure enough: I’m up 10 lbs over the last four months, 20 lbs over the last 14 months.

**Update 2: I decided the Whole 30 would be setting myself up for certain failure.  I signed up for Weight Watchers instead.  More on that later.

A Perfect Health/ Primal-ish Thanksgiving

I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, for the first time.  My parents and grandparents and my brothers are coming up for the holiday, and I’m so excited!  And a little nervous about the dinner.  But mostly excited, because I do enjoy cooking for people.

Ordinarily I might skip our diet for once, but my Mom is sensitive to gluten, corn, and oats.  So, I’ll be doing this Perfect Health Diet/   primal style.

Here’s what I’m planning to make:

  • Roast turkey (duh); I’m going to try to brine it ahead of time.  (It’s my first time roasting a turkey.  Why not make something as complicated as possible the first time you do it, I always say.)  A friend suggested brining it in a styrofoam cooler, outside overnight.  That way it doesn’t take up space in the fridge.  I plan to do that so long as the weather is cold.
  • Make-ahead gravy along these lines, using rice flour and homemade chicken bone broth.
  • Make-ahead freezer mashed potatoes.  Most of the time potatoes don’t do well after being frozen.  But I tried this recipe already, and it really works!
  • Wild rice “stuffing.” I made it for Thanksgiving dinner last year with the following modifications
    • I added about a cup of toasted chopped pecans.  I think the crunchy pecans contrasted nicely with the chewy rice.
    • I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice in place of wild rice.
    • I used jasmine rice is place of basmati.
    • I skipped the parsley.
    • I used a cup of frozen pre-chopped onion and green pepper in place of the fresh onion.
  • Homemade cranberry orange relish  (I’m going to make this ahead of time and might substitute rice syrup for honey.)
  • Green beans with mushrooms and bacon (or another simple veggie dish; Pat doesn’t like green bean casserole, and it’s better to skip the canned soup anyway).
  • Rolls: regular store-bought rolls for those who aren’t sensitive to wheat, plus a gluten and corn-free alternative if I can find one.
  • Pickle and olive tray
  • Gluten-free pumpkin pie (I’m still pondering whether to use this healthy, sugar-free recipe for the filling, or just pull out the old White Crystals O’ Death).
  • Sweet iced tea . . . because we’re Southern and it’s our life blood.  Maybe I’ll sweeten it with Stevia

No sweet potatoes!  I know!  But Pat doesn’t like them, and I like them best with brown sugar and marshmallow so . . . I’m breaking with tradition and skipping them entirely.

My game plan:

This week:

  • Buy all ingredients
  • Make and freeze potatoes
  • Make relish

Monday and Tuesday next week:

  • Make pie
  • Make gravy
  • Defrost turkey
  • Make rice stuffing

Day before:

  • Brine turkey
  • Defrost potatoes

Day of:

  • Roast turkey
  • Reheat potatoes, rice stuffing, gravy
  • Cook green beans
  • Warm rolls and pie

Also, I’m looking for ideas for a simple centerpiece.  Simple, because I’m not crafty, and because I don’t want it to clash too much with my busy blue and white china.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

 

Menu Plan Monday Plus Healthy Avocado “Ranch” Dressing

Lately I recalled something my sister-in-law unexpectedly said when she spent a semester Rome and was talking to us over the phone:

You know what I miss? . . . Raaaaanch dressing.

There she was in Italy, eating wonderful food every day, and she missed that uniquely American blend of soybean oil, buttermilk, and high fructose corn syrup.

I know exactly how she felt.

I am sick of oil and vinegar on my salad.  So I concocted a little Avocado-Ranch-ish concoction.  It might not taste exactly like Hidden Valley, but it’s delish and it’s Perfect Health Diet compliant (or at least it can be, if you make your own mayo).  Here it is:

Primal Avocado Ranch Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 2T mayonnaise (you can make your own from olive oil and egg)
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 2/3 c. whole-milk yogurt (preferably not Greek)
  • 2 T rice vinegar (or white vinegar or lemon juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried dill

Mash up the avocado and then mix everything together well.  Makes about 1.5 cups.

Primal avocado "Ranch" dressing

Primal avocado “Ranch” dressing

You can leave out the mayonnaise and increase the yogurt a bit.  It’s tangier and a bit less creamy, but still good.

I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday today.  Our menu has stayed pretty much the same the past few weeks.  Here’s what it looks like:

  • Breakfasts: Usually banana-egg “pancakes”
  • Lunches: Leftovers, plain yogurt with frozen blueberries, or rice cakes with cheese

We usually eat rice or potatoes on the side, along with either a green salad or a cooked, frozen vegetable.

Have a delicious week!

I Say M&Ms, You Say Scrambled Eggs: M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs! M&Ms! Scrambled Eggs!

. . . And Calf Liver and  . . . Epsom Salt Baths

I’m finally reading the second edition of Perfect Health Diet (“PHD”).   I’m particularly intrigued by their advice on nutritional supplements.  Apparently deficiencies in copper, zinc, and magnesium are quite common, even for those following a healthy diet.  You know what contains all of those nutrients?  Chocolate.  You know what I crave almost all the time?  Chocolate.  Hmmm.

Dark chocolate also contains iron, which I might be deficient in also.  I’ve started taking Floradix.  It’s too early to tell for sure, but I think it’s improved my energy levels.  PHD warns against iron supplements . . .  except for menstruating women.  Well, guess what I am?  And guess what I crave at those particular times of the month?  Hmmm.

I must admit I tried to follow the PHD supplement recommendations early on, but I quickly tired of taking so many pills, especially as I have to stagger them throughout the day to avoid stomach ache.   According to PHD, it’s basically impossible to get enough copper unless you eat liver every week, or possibly a LOT of chocolate.  I just cannot do organ meat.  Not. Going. There.  And chocolate prices are on the rise.  So, supplementation it is!

Problem is, sometimes M&Ms call out my name like you would not believe.  The dark, more bitter stuff just doesn’t compete.  PHD mentions that cravings for sweets often indicate a need for protein.  I have noticed that if I’m craving sweets but eat protein instead, the cravings go away.  The hard part is force myself to eat protein instead of the sweets.

So, I’m hoping not be undone by M&Ms (or chocolate peanut butter) so much in the future.  Next time the cravings hit, I’ll quickly down some scrambled eggs, with a chaser of dark chocolate, and then jump in an Epsom salt bath for some extra magnesium-y oomph.

We’ll see . . . .

Reading PHD again also reminded me that I should be eating less chicken and more beef  . . . or lamb or goat or liver so . . . beef it is!  Here’s my menu plan for the coming week, with an extra helping of beef.  I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday (better late than never):

Melt-in-your-mouth parmesan chicken breasts

  • Lunches: Leftovers, salads, and um, leftovers.  Oh, and plain yogurt with frozen blueberries.  Pat eats rice cakes with cheese a lot.
  • Dinners:

Monday: Paleo crockpot beef brisket (Really tasty and easy; I use chuck)

Tuesday:  Pan-fried salmon with rice and green beans

 

Wednesday: Yummy Baked Thingy (ground beef casserole)

Thursday:  Tilapia with spinach and tomatoes baked in foil

Friday: Shrimp stir-fry with rice noodles

Saturday: Parmesan chicken (using Greek yogurt instead of mayo)

Sunday: Crock-pot lime beef stew (trying out a new recipe)

Have a delicious week!

This Week’s Menu Plan

Real quick-like, here’s my menu plan for the week.  I’m  linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday:

  • Lunches: Leftovers, salads, and um, leftovers.  Oh, and plain yogurt with frozen blueberries.  Pat eats rice cakes with cheese a lot.
  • Dinners:

Monday: Shrimp stir fry with rice or rice noodles

Tuesday: Man-pleasing chicken  (so good; one of our favorite recipes)

Wednesday: Spinach and tomato frittata


Thursday:  Paleo crockpot beef brisket (Really tasty and easy; I used chuck)

Friday: Salmon cooked one way or another

Saturday: Cajun-spiced tilapia

Sunday: Back-to-school BBQ with Girl 1’s school

Have a delicious week!

 

New & Improved Menu Plan

I added some new recipes to our weekly meal lineup:

Easy chicken and spinach from Paleo on a Budget.  This is very easy and yet so good.  The lemon and basil flavors blend so beautifully.  I left out the garlic.  (**Just made it again using frozen spinach, which the recipe calls for.  It’s fine but better with fresh spinach.)

Easy spinach and chicken from Paleo on a Budget

Yummy baked thingy, also from Paleo on a Budget.  It’s kind of a cross between a hearty bolognese, a meatloaf, and chili.  So simple, endless variations.  Very satisfying.

Wilted spinach with scrambled eggs and avocado.  For breakfast!  Thank you Michaela for this idea.  Never would have thought of it on my own, and it’s great!

Hearty sausage fried rice a la Jen Fulwiler: I made this last night.  Very yummy.   I couldn’t fit the full four cups of rice in the pan along with all the other ingredients, so mine ended up being more sausage and veggies and less rice.  I used Jimmy Dean’s Italian sausage because it doesn’t have MSG, unlike some of the other varieties.   Will be making this again.

Finally, salmon with zucchini baked in parchment.  (I used foil.)

This reminds me of these guys:

Can anyone tell me why???  Is anyone out there as much of a creepy fan as I am?? *

So here’s the menu plan, linking up with Org Junkie for Menu Plan Monday:

Monday: Sausage fried rice (above)

Tuesday: Paleo crockpot beef brisket (I’m using chuck; we’ll see how it turns out)

Wednesday: Chicken and spinach (above)

Thursday: Yummy baked thingy (above)

Friday: Salmon and zucchini in parchment (or aluminum foil, as the case may be) (above)

Saturday: Man-pleasing chicken  (so good; one of our favorite recipes)

Sunday: Shrimp stir fry

Have a delicious week!

* The answer can be found in this article.

Amazing Steak From Aldi {Ye Olde Sometimes-Weekly Food Poste}

I made some delicious steak a few nights ago and just have to share.

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I used these frozen sirloin filets from Aldi.  They were $5.60 per pound, which is not cheap but it’s much less expensive than you would usually pay for this cut of beef.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from frozen steaks.  Maybe a connoisseur would find fault with the texture or something, but Pat and I both thought they tasted great!

I defrosted them on the kitchen counter (I like to live dangerously).  Then I seared them in a pan on the stove on medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side.  Then I broiled them in the oven.  Our broiler has “high” and “low” settings.  I used low because I’ve set things on fire before using high.  I don’t remember how long I broiled them, but they ended up medium-well, which I like.

I sautéed some fresh onion and mushroom in the pan with the steak drippings, adding some coconut oil, water, salt, and pepper.

Delish!

Aaaand, wouldn’t you know, just as I’m planning to write this post I read about how U.S. beef is all horrible and stuff (prior link didn’t work; sorry about that).  Anyway . . . if you can’t eat organic, grass-fed beef all the time, and you want some good but inexpensive steak . . . try the frozen sirloin filet from Aldi.

Linking up this week with Cari at Clan Donaldson for Theme Thursday.

For More About How We Eat, Read These:

Sweet and Sour Swiss Chard {Ye Olde Sometimes-Weekly Food Poste}

Swiss chard is still in season in some places, I believe.

English: Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris) with vari...

Swiss chard

We all know leafy greens are super healthy, but it can be intimidating to prepare them.  Here’s a quick, easy recipe for it that I really enjoy (from a vendor at the farmer’s market; no copyright that I know of).  It uses both the stem and the leaves.  It has a bit of sugar, so it’s not completely Perfect Health Diet compliant.  You could probably substitute stevia or rice syrup, but I have not tried it yet.

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Sweet and sour swiss chard, served with Cajun-spiced Tilapia

Surprisingly Tasty Sweet and Sour Swiss Chard

  • 1 lb. Swiss Chard
  • 1 Medium onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 c. raisins
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Rinse and pat dry the chard.  Chop the stems diagonally in small pieces and set aside.  Chop the leaves into 2 inch pieces.  Set aside.  In a deep frying pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chard stems, raisins, garlic, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.  Cover and cook for 8 minutes.  Place the chopped leaves on top of the mixture (do not stir in).  Cover and cook another 4 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir, and serve.

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I don’t have a menu plan yet for this week.  You can bet your buttons, though, it will include some beef, some chicken, some salmon, some tilapia, some rice, lots of green salad, lots of eggs.  *Yawn*