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My Week of Eating Dangerously March 25, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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You may already know more than you want to know about my dietary woes.  I get migraines, and I have LOTS of food triggers.  Most people know about the big ones to avoid: red wine, chocolate, aged cheese, MSG.  What you may not know is that there are about a bazillion other foods that can cause migraines as well.  In my quest to be headache free, I’ve given up wheat, dairy, soy, nuts, seeds, legumes, vinegars, citrus, onions, raspberries, avocados, tomatoes, bananas, anything with carageenan, and anything fermented, smoked, dried, cured, aged, pickled, canned, or preserved any way other than refrigerated or frozen.  That’s the short list.

As you can imagine, travelling and eating out can be challenging.  The safest way for me to eat is to be in control of my own food, but at least in a restaurant I can make a pest of myself and ask how every little thing is prepared and request adjustments.

Last week that wasn’t possible, because I was at a conference.  They fed us breakfast, lunch and dinner out of large, hot, silver people-troughs.  I was lucky that the salads weren’t already dressed.  So for a couple of days, I subsisted mainly off of lettuce, fruit, and crudite.  Where I thought I could get away with it I snagged an ounce or two of meat.  And my savior in all of this – Starbucks.  Did you know you can order the oatmeal dry?  They’ll give it to you, spoon included, all nice and dry so you can take it with you and all you need is some hot water!  I ate a lot of oatmeal last week.  (Tip:  grab a dry oatmeal before getting on a plane, then ask them for hot water when they come around with the beverage cart.)

But alas, my willpower is not so strong that I can resist temptation when it’s right in front of my face for four endless days.  The thyme sugar cookies had to be sampled.  (At least I was smart about it, and only took one as I was leaving the room so I couldn’t go back for seconds.)  The cake pop wasn’t what we’ve come to know as a cake pop, but rather a small square of german chocolate cake on a stick, dipped in dark chocolate.  The braised beef -I had two small chunks – was goooooood.  I know that some of what I ate contained no-no food, but I did it anyway.  And I seemed to be getting away with it, headache free.

Then I woke up on Friday morning with the worst headache I’ve had in a while.  It got progressively worse all day, and continued on Saturday.  Finally, after two days it’s gone.  I actually got off lucky, since I’ve had headaches for as long as nine days in the recent past.

What lesson did I learn?  Truthfully, nothing I didn’t already know.  In fact, it re-enforced some lessons I have already learned the hard, painful way many times over.  But I have renewed my committment to eating only migraine-free from now on.  And please, don’t feel sorry for me because of all my dietary restrictions.  I actually eat really well, and I’d rather have no headache than an onion.

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Defensive Supermarket Shopping 101 March 24, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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Food is confusing.  So many foods are touted as healthful, but aren’t.  So many are believed to be bad for you, but are actually good to eat.  I have been religiously reading all of those “25 Superfoods You Should Eat Everday” and “Eat This, Not That” articles for years, and here’s the accumulated wisdom that I’ve collected along the way.  Please note, I’m not a nutritionist, medical professional, dietician, or research scientist.  I’m just repeating what I’ve seen over and over again from various sources.

  • Nut butters (including peanut butter) are good for you.  Just not too much.
  • Bread is good for you. Just choose the whole grain variety, and not too much.
  • Potatoes are good for you.  Just not fried, and not too much.
  • Red meat is good for you.  Just choose lean cuts, and not too much.
  • Eggs are good for you.  Just not too much.
  • Eat foods you enjoy.  Just not too much.

Are we seeing a theme, here?  Most whole foods are not inherently bad for us, it’s how we process them and the quantities we consume that are problematic.

Even the so-called healthy options are often just as bad as regular products, in their own way.  In this day and age, you’ve got to be a label-reader, because the claims on the front of the package can (more…)

Slow, and proud of it… March 17, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Running.
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I recently went through what I like to think of as an exercise valley.  Ok, I was slacking.  So for the past two weeks, I’ve been stepping it up in the gym and doing walk/jog intervals to ease back into running.

This week, I decided to run until I dropped or until I ran out of time, whichever came first.  On Monday I ended up running 3.25 miles before gratefully realizing I had to hit the shower if I would make my next meeting on time.  Aw, shucks.

On Wednesday I ran 3 miles.  It’s been a long time since I’ve done over 6 miles in one week, and the week’s not over yet!  I’m feeling pretty chuffed up about it, actually.

Running gives me time to reflect.  I have lots of facebook friends who run and post their results.  I also cast sidelong glances at the treadmill next to me to see what my neighbor is doing.  I know I’m slow.  What I call running is someone else’s easy jog.

Rather than beat myself up for being slower than the six-foot-something ectomorph next door, I take pride in my pace.   When I run a 12:30 minute mile, I’m well pleased.  I like the fact that it doesn’t come easily to me and that I’m pushing myself every step of the way.

Sometimes I mention that I’d like to be faster, and my long legged, fast muscle-twitch buddies are quick to assure me that I’m fine as is, and they’re right.  The problem is, I just don’t have enough time in the day to run a 13 minute mile if I’m training for a 10K. 

Other than for purely practical reasons, I really have no desire to be faster.   I do everything else slowly, too (think, cook, clean, walk across the room), so why not run slow?  It’s how I roll.

Jewish Hippie Food March 17, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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My husband calls my style of cooking “Jewish Hippie Food.”  I think it’s because I use alot of vegetables, and I like soup.  Also, every now and then I have a moment in the kitchen that I think would have made my grandmothers proud.

I had one of those moments tonight, but the story really begins last night, when I made Mini Turkey Meatloaf Muffins:

Servings: The recipe makes 12 muffins, but at 87 calories per you can do the math and figure out the right serving for yourself!

1 lb ground turkey
.5 cup uncooked oats
3 egg whites
1 carrot
1 red bell pepper
1 sweet potato or yam
1 heaping cup broccoli slaw
.5 tsp sage
.5 tsp oregano
.25 tsp garlic powder
.5 tsp kosher salt
.25 fresh ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 12 cup muffin tray with non-stick cooking spray.

Shred the carrot, sweet potato, and bell pepper in a food processor.  The pepper will partially liquefy.  That’s good, it will keep the meatloaf moist.  Combined with the broccoli slaw, give everything an extra chop so you wind up with bits instead of strips.  You should have about 4 cups of vegetables total.

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I Like Meat March 16, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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When I was 13, I somehow got hold of a copy of Mother Jones magazine.  After reading an article about veal calves, I went downstairs and informed my mom I wasn’t eating that anymore.  Banning veal from my diet was my gateway to vegetarianism, and I ended up a happy lacto-ovo vegetarian for about 10 years.

Enter my husband, who says he’ll eat spinach if it’s mixed into something (as in, not on it’s own or on top of something) but when I put it in stuff he pokes at it and asks “Is that spinach?”  I have to admit, he was a bad influence on me, because not long after our relationship began, I started eating fish and poultry again.  I stayed strong on the red meat front, however, for over twenty years until I drastically changed my diet to avoid migraine triggers (it’s a longer list of no-no foods than you can imagine).  I’ve since found that sometimes in restaurants the only thing I can eat is a steak.  Hunger wins out over ideals.  Sorry.  Well, not really.

I still have friends and family that freak out when they see me eat meat.   Maybe it’s because I enjoy it so much.  I love my beef rare.  Really rare.  Blue, even.

But, you can’t always go for the filet mignon.  Sometimes, you need a concoction that is easy on the cook, easy on the wallet, and easy on the waistline.  I have it on good authority that the following recipe is delicious: (more…)

Hulk! Eat! March 8, 2012

Posted by starshipexercise in Recipes and Food.
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I’ve been stepping up my exercise the last couple of weeks, which seems to have stepped up my appetite, as well.  On Monday afternoon I was completely starving when I got home from work.  Yes, I was literally ribs-caved in, on the verge of death, starving. 

I’ve read somewhere that thin people don’t mind feeling hungry because they know it’s temporary.  I’m trying to get in touch with that, really.  But I hate being hungry, especially when I’m driving.  When I get hungry in the car, I think I actually experience a form of road rage.  I start yelling mean things at my steering wheel and I have to suppress the urge to rear-end those Sunday drivers in front of me because they never take off fast enough when the light turns green.

Mr. McGee, don’t make me hungry.  You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.

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I Made a Fish Thing March 4, 2012

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My poor little man is feeling poorly, so I decided he needed some emergency pasta for dinner.  That meant preparing a fine spaghetti dinner, complete with an onion-laden meat sauce. But while my honey appreciated the heck out of the sauce, I couldn’t eat it.  Those who know me are well aware that I can’t eat onions because they are a migraine trigger.  Nor can I eat tomatoes or many other foods.  And even if I could eat tomatoes, I can’t eat anything canned, smoked, jarred, pickled, cured, dried, fermented, aged, or preserved in any way other than frozen.  Consequently, most processed foods are not on the menu for me. There is virtually no such thing as convenience in my diet.

My two exceptions to the no-processed food rule are corn tortillas and brown rice pasta.  Since I was already making the pasta for the hubby, it seemed reasonable that I use it for the basis for my own dinner, too.  But no oniony tomatoy meaty sauce for me, so what to pair it with?  Frankly, a bowl of gooey gluten-free pasta is not very appetizing.  It needs some flavor to make it taste good, because the brown rice pasta has a yucky, sour taste on its own.

I rummaged through the fridge and found a salmon fillet and a bag of pre-washed, chopped kale.  With a shrug and a prayer, I threw three big handfuls of the kale right into the boiling water at the same time I put in the pasta.  I then immediately slapped that ol’ salmon fillet in a hot saute pan with some canola oil spray, skin side down.  I let it cook for about 5 minutes, then covered it and moved it off the heat to finish.  The kale cooked up with the pasta.  After draining out the water, I dropped about a cup of the kale and pasta in a bowl, flaked about 3 oz of the salmon on top, and sprinkled the whole thing with a pinch of kosher salt and a dash of garlic powder.  OMG. It was good.  Or maybe I just have mutant taste buds.

The beauty of this meal is that it was tasty, so easy, and not including the seasoning, there are only three ingredients.  Three.  THREE.  Did you hear, there are only THREE INGREDIENTS IN THIS DISH.  Yes, I know I’m yelling.

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