Sunday, July 26, 2009

One Meal...One Day At A Time

Last weeks posting brought about a barrage of questions and interest surrounding my 30 day experiment. I thought is might be easier to answer the most commonly asked questions, by listing them below…

Q: Does your diet have a name?
A: Yes & No. Although the “concept” is known as “Clean Eating,” I would clarify by labeling it is as more of a choice or a lifestyle, than a diet. The soul of “Clean Eating” is simply consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. Sadly, it’s not even a new concept. Before the invention of preservatives and fast food drive thrus, it was the way our parents and grand parents have eaten for generations. Simply put, if it isn’t grown in the ground…or if it doesn’t have a mother… Don’t eat it!

Q: What are the basic rules or ideas surrounding “Clean Eating?”
A: Ahhh! That’s a simple one, because this is so easy to follow! Start with lots of healthy fruits and veggies, lean protein, and complex carbs that are 100% whole grains. Try to purchase seasonal, and locally grown whenever possible. It will be cheaper and reduces your carbon footprint. Choose organic, pesticide & hormone free products where available. Finally, avoid processed and refined foods like white flour, white sugar, white pasta along with saturated and trans-fats. Choose healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil. Yes it will be a bit more expensive…but the fewer toxic chemicals and steroids in your body, the better.

Q: Are you only eating raw?
A: No. Most cooking methods apply, such as roasting, sautéing, grilling, braising stewing, slow cooking & searing. Frying is the only unhealthy method I can think of…but I’ve never been a fan, anyway.

Q: Are there any trick of the trade that you might recommend?
A: Yes. As a general rule, always keep in mind…”If it isn’t grown from the ground…or if it doesn’t have a mother…DON’T EAT IT!” Also, be label savvy. Clean foods will generally have one or two ingredients, which you should be able to pronounce. Partially hydrogenated, sodium aluminosilted, dipotassium-ANYTHING should be avoided at all costs. Also avoid items that are high in sugar content

Q: Do you find this lifestyle challenging, restrictive or boring?
A: On the contrary, I find it invigorating as well as creative! It’s actually given me a new inspiration while creating an appetite for learning and a curiosity for new foods & products I’ve never used before. It’s feeding not only my body, but my soul and spirit too! It does require a shift in mindset. I have to make a conscience effort to plan my menu weekly, which requires advanced shopping and preparations efforts. When I do not allow the time for this crutial step...I find that I often set myself up for failure because that means eating out when I am hungry, which in my case, can lead to faulty decision making. Planning ahead is more likely to set me up for success. Over all, I’d have to say that’s not such a bad plan, and not at all boring in the least.

I think that I've answered all questions and concerns, but if you feel that there is something I may have missed…please feel free to comment on the site or contact me personally. I will do my best to answer your questions as thoroughly & as quickly as I can. Also, I acknowledge that many are curious about my result, thus far, but please know that (good or bad,) my plan will be to report back to you the Sunday following August 12th...since that falls mid week.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Profitability Of A Well Planned Investment

I have never been one to push principles or practices on anyone…but I have always been glad to share or exchange information, when products, theories, and/or ideas, meet or exceeds an expectation. I don’t think there is much surprise to any of you, that over the last few weeks, I’ve been singing the praises of foods grown without pesticides, hormones, and harmful chemicals. I’ve tried hard to simply concentrate of the concept of consuming only the most natural food available, while eliminating processed foods and products that contain preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners/flavorings. The subject of my experiment…to adjust my thinking towards a more healthy, and natural lifestyle, while experiencing just how practical, affordable and sustainable such a lifestyle can be.

My findings…
At the monthly follow up visit to my doctor to determine if a plan of attack might be needed to aggressively defend a family history of high blood pressure… not only was it down to a respectable 126/82…but I also had an unexpected drop in weight loss of a whooping 6.2 lbs! These findings may not sound like much…but in only 30 days, truly they are amazing! Let me share with you why that is…

, let me reiterate… my concentration was only on eliminating the processed foods and trying to eat foods in an organic or more natural state. There was absolutely no effort what so ever to incorporate any less or more activity that I normally would have expended. For example, I eliminated “Splenda” and replaced it with 100% pure raw cane sugar (turbinado), honey, or agave nectar. White rice, potatoes and breads were replaced with 100% whole grains, brown rice or sweet potatoes. Meats like pork, beef and chicken were hormone & steroid free, grass or vegetable fed and all natural. Dairy and goat products (like cheese & milk) were naturally homogenized, organic, and growth hormone free. Fruits & veggies were either organic or local. This also takes into consideration, last week’s party, in which, untold amounts of margaritas & beer were consumed, and well as (2) 16 oz. diet cokes (because I was tired of drinking plain water,) ½ of a small red potato, and 1 entire ear of corn. I swear…I didn’t touch a fry or a hush puppy…but will confess that they were screaming my name to the top of their lungs! I wanted them badly…but resisted the temptation! Yeah me!

Secondly, I was also determined to reduce my carbon footprint…and found that is was an easy compromise, since a lot of these concessions were costing me a fortune. I brought my own reusable bags to any store I spent my dollars in. There are a few that willingly apply small discounts for not using the paper or plastic they supply. I opted for locally grown products when the cost of organic was more than I was willing to spend. When you combine these small savings with ever-growing healthcare costs and medications I might need in the near future, given my family history of diabetes and high blood pressure…I would have to say that I am leaps and bounds ahead of my expenditures. Considering that diabetes killed my father much earlier than it should have, I prefer to look at it as an… “INVESTMENT IN MY GOOD HEALTH & WELL BEING!”

, let me please restate for the record…I am not at all declaring that this is a miracle cure to fix whatever ails you…nor am I trying to push this concept upon you. I am simply stating that I have found something that seems to work well for me. What works for some, may not work for others…but just it’s one idea, one inspiration, one muse.

Since we are talking about inspirations, I’ve decided to take my experiment to the next level. For the next 30 days, from July 12th – August 12th, I will take what I have learned about healthy eating and put it into practice, while incorporating a sustainable and reasonable exercise plan that can easily be incorporated into my crazy and hectic life. Nothing extreme…and nothing more than what I’ve already discussed. Just healthy eating combined with a minimum of 30-45 minutes of exercise, six days a week. And since I’ve already put my money where my mouth is (literally,) what have I got to lose except a few extra pounds???

Monday, July 6, 2009

Mystery Meat 101???

This Independence Day…I had the distinct pleasure celebrating the birthday of the girlfriend, who is affectionately known as my “Texas BFF!” Between the two of us…we could probably come up with quite a few weight loss “DON’Ts”…but I think we’ll save that topic for a future posting.

Be that as it may, during a previous visit, her husband and I caught a glimpse of a cooking show in which the host was preparing, what appeared to be a simple but, mouth watering, lip smacking, flank steak for the grill. After we wiped our saliva off the floor, I extended the offer to prepare this delicious piece of meat and bring it on my next visit. A week before my visit, I research the recipe, make a list of the ingredients I will need, and plan a trip to one of my favorite grocery stores. But as is usually the case, an unexpected work trip comes up and I am dutifully out of town for the majority of the week. Upon my return, I find the need to make the compulsory decision to frequent the local grocery chain that I absolutely loathe.

This particular location isn’t equipped with a butcher’s counter, so I am forced to flounder the meat section for the perfect slab of beef. Wishing I was married to a butcher at this moment, my eyes fixate on a handsomely- thick, marbled hunk of red cow’s flesh ironically labeled “flank steak.” This is the one I decide…and hastily conquer the crowds in the aisles to assemble the rest of my provisions. I brave the long check out lines and I return home after a most cantankerous trip, to quickly begin the round two of saliva testing. The recipe calls for marinating our steak from a minimum of 4 hours, but an optimum 24 hours is preferred. I want my cow’s flesh to be succulent and flavorful…so 24 hours it is.

Well, I suppose that steak is probably not an appropriate choice for a “CRAWFISH BOIL”…but my “TEXAS BFF” being the gracious host that she is…quickly resolves that our steak will be featured in Round Two of her “Independence Day / Birthday” Bash. No on knew there would be a round two…until just that moment, but we were okay with that decision. Round one featured a fabulous firework display, along with twenty pounds of crawfish, probably another twenty pounds of fried catfish, fries, hush puppies, corn on the cob, red potatoes and all the beer and margaritas one could drink. (Probably, not the kind of thing that one would post on a weight loss blog…but I did mention that my friend and I could list a few “DON’Ts”…didn’t I??? This might be one of them!) The party was indeed a HUGE SUCCESS…the next morning…not so much.

The next morning brings with it headaches, hangovers, and a backyard that looks like a frat party was held in it. Beer bottles, cans and hush puppies are tossed around the yard like graffiti, and the decorations are barely tied to the canopy with the loose ends blowing the morning wind. Despite the hangovers and the headaches, the yard is cleaned up and restored to it’s pre-party glory for round two to begin. Our steak which has now been marinating for almost 48 hours, finally hits the grill to bask in its manly, muscular, he machine for then next 1 & ½ hour. Round three of the saliva test has indeed begun. The smells permeating from the he man grill are heavenly. As our red, thickly marbled hunk of cow’s flesh is plated, the beautifully crusted grill marks, and sensuous juices seeping from our beef makes one really want to “Slap Yo Mama”…in a matter of speaking. It’s allowed to rest before we slice into it and see its pink juiciness goodness. Our host and hostess serve it along with hot tortillas, home-made salsa, guacamole, grilled peppers, onions, and marinated portabella mushrooms. I opt to taste our meat alone, in an effort to savor it’s juicy goodness…and with first taste, it’s has really great flavor, as I chew, and chew, and chew and chew some more. As I look across the table I notice more of the same, chewing… and chewing…and more chewing. I brought to this party a tasty, marinated piece of rubber. It’s later that I learn that what I actually purchased wasn’t flank steak at all, but brisket…a much tougher cut that must be slow cooked over several hours to achieve and edible tenderness. And just who tells me about my little faux paus…the master butcher in attendance. With my tail tucked between my legs, my rubber is wrapped in foil, handed back to me, and I am allowed begin my long journey home, hood-winked, bamboozled, embarrassed and led astray by a mislabeled hunk of marbled cow flesh.

The moral of this story...know your beef…or marry a butcher!

In an effort to salvage my now badly damaged reputation as a “foodie”… I came home and quickly inserted my thinly sliced pieces of grill-braised rubber into the oven with a bit of the left over marinade, and allowed it to roast for an additional three hours at 325 degrees…DELISH & FALL APART TENDER…but just a bit too late!!!

For Grilled Tequila Lime Flank Steak Recipe (I just used the marinade)