What this is all about...

Friday, July 30, 2010

Day 25: Amazon

No, not the Amazon, amazon.com.  I hopped on amazon.com to see how much their maple sugar is since I can't find it around here (verdict: waaay expensivo) and I happened to look down at the bottom of the page, the section that says, "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought."  I started cracking up, because the items were things like umeboshi plums, kukicha tea, shoyu sauce, and, of course, The Kind Diet.  Kind Lifers are taking over Amazon!  And wow, who would buy a case of Fig Newmans?  That's a lot of cookies.  And what does kukicha tea taste like anyway?  And mochi?

Last night was a pizza night (my son was so excited he jumped up and down yelling, "Hooray!"--I think I will do that the next time I get to eat a chocolate peanut butter cup) and I added some fresh basil from my Aerogarden to mine.  (I have a total black thumb--one of my goals in life is to learn how to garden.  I have great success with my Aerogarden, however.  I got one for my mom for Mother's Day--she is a master gardener, my parents' yard is absolutely beautiful--and all her poor Aerogarden herbs, save the mint, either kicked it or didn't grow.  How did that happen?  Maybe the Aerogarden really is the Garden for Dummies.  Actually, I think she just got a dud box of seeds.)  Very tasty.  It's quite a heavy meal, though, so it wasn't especially conducive to my trip to the gym.

To the gym we did go, though, and I kicked up my intensity level on the elliptical machine.  I was so proud!  People at the gym probably think I'm crazy, because Jeopardy! is always on one of the televisions and I listen to music and watch the closed-captioning and answer the questions.  I could totally go on Jeopardy!.  I had a teacher in high school who actually was on Jeopardy!.

I'm gearing up for this weekend, and will update everyone on the cupcakes (we're actually making a cake, my son is insisting) when I return.  Happy Friday!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Day 24: Smoothies!

I am a big ice cream fan.  When I had to give up dairy, the first thing I did was find good soy ice cream.  However, all frozen desserts seem to have sugar in them, so I've been feeling very deprived.  I love the "mouth feel" of ice cream, or soy frozen desserts--cold, rich, creamy, perfect for hot weather.  Summer used to equal evening trips to Dairy Queen.

Last week I was grumping around the kitchen in the evening, looking for a snack.  A few days before I had tossed a ripe banana in the freezer (I forget where I read about doing that--someone somewhere suggested putting ripe bananas in the freezer, and then running warm water over the skin and peeling it and using it for a smoothie) and I decided I would try out the unsweetened coconut milk that had been on sale and make myself a smoothie.  After about 10 minutes of searching for my blender (every single part was in a different area of our apartment, go figure) I pulled out the banana.  It doesn't exactly peel--the outer layer of skin comes off and then you have to scrape off the inner layer.  That got tossed in the blender, along with frozen blueberries and the coconut milk.  IT WAS DELICIOUS.  Mmm mmm!  The frozen fruit allows you not to put any ice in it, which keeps the flavor rich and creamy.  (Also, much to my husband's chagrin, we never have ice cubes in the house.)  I have never tried coconut milk before, but it is great in a recipe.  It doesn't have that...interesting...aftertaste that soy milk does, and is richer than rice milk.  (I have yet to try almond milk.)  Since it is pretty much all saturated fat (good saturated fat, but saturated fat nonetheless) it's quite filling and definitely gives you that "mouth feel" of ice cream.  And it was really pretty.  I should've taken a picture of it.  My boys refused to try it, which was fine, because more for me!  I've made it again twice, once with another frozen banana and once with a fresh banana.  You really need a frozen banana to achieve the texture and frostiness, and you also need to make sure your frozen banana was super ripe before popping it in the freezer.  This makes it more sweet.  Hmm.  I wonder what would happen if I froze the coconut milk into ice cubes?

Tomorrow night I'm going to make Alicia's favorite cupcakes from The Kind Diet.  I was pumped when I found this recipe because it's almost exactly the same as my recipe for my son's favorite vegan cupcakes, except it uses agave nectar instead of sugar, and the the frosting doesn't use any powdered sugar.  I have also discovered, through reading fabulous vegan baking blogs, that you need to use whole wheat pastry flour in cupcakes or muffins instead of regular whole wheat, because the regular whole wheat makes your baked goods too heavy.  We'll have to see if it works (I had to search all over for whole wheat pastry flour and finally found a teeny bag at Whole Foods).  We're taking the cupcakes to my best friend's 30th birthday party--should be a fun time!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 23: Home stretch

I only have a week left of my sugar-free challenge!  When I started this, I thought I'd be dying for soy ice cream or something else super sweet.  I saw that soy ice cream buried in the back of my freezer last night, and I wasn't even tempted.  I thought I'd be desperately counting the days until the end...but I'm not! 

I have been feeling pretty good so far this week.  My sweet husband informed me last week that I was incredibly grumpy, and I took a look at why, as nothing was really wrong.  But I was feeling really down about not being able to eat what was "easy," and also down on myself because of the constant scale-monitoring.  After my husband hid the scale, I felt a lot better and am able to focus more on how I'm feeling rather than on what that number is doing.  I'm a complete perfectionist, and I am not a patient person, and those two things combined can make something that's supposed to be gradual, like bettering your health and/or weight loss, quite difficult.  Being able to treat myself to yummy chocolate peanut butter cups also took away that "I'm so deprived!" feeling.

I am also trying to focus on getting 8 hours of sleep every night.  As a working mother of a young child, this is not always possible, but I am the sort of person who needs sleep or I start to feel a little desperate.  I'll be taking my first graduate-level course starting the end of next month so I need to get into this habit now. 

I had a really great workout yesterday!  I'm going longer and faster and I'll be moving up to the next intensity level next time.  I finally had some music (can't find my iPod, loaded music onto my phone only to find out I had to get special headphones, and listening to people grunt next to me on the elliptical while watching closed-captioned Wheel of Fortune just wasn't getting my motor running) and I was bustin' out.  My husband got me these really nice sport earbuds.  They don't hurt my ears (I have small ears and normal earbuds are too large) and they have these things that hook over the backs of your ears to keep the earbuds in place.

I must be off, but next post I'll tell you all about my replacement for the aforementioned ice cream. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Day 21: Still truckin'

Hello, Day 21!  I was having a rough time this weekend...weekends are extra hard for my no-sugarness, probably because I don't have the structure of my workday to help me along.  I told my husband that I was "sick of this no sugar thing!" to which he replied, "Well, you don't have to keep doing it."  However, I'm exceptionally stubborn, as my entire family will attest to, so I simply sighed and said, "No, I'll keep doing it."  So I made more chocolate peanut butter cups, tweaking the recipe a bit, and they are gooood.  I actually found graham crackers with no sugar (well, molasses, but that's not on my no-no list), and I used unsweetened coconut milk instead of rice milk, which gave the chocolate a richer taste. 

I also made this:

Fruity French Lentils from The Kind Diet.  I used strawberries instead of raspberries, and it was pretty good!  Definitely a good summer dish.  However, I don't think the orange juice in the recipe gives it enough of a kick.  I'm used to this lentils and veggies dish that I buy from the health food store, and it uses lemon juice.  So maybe next time I'll use lemon juice, or half lemon juice, half orange juice.

So, I made my husband hide the scale. I was getting a bit...obsessive...with the scale, and I think it was hurting my morale. So he hid it and informed me I wouldn't be able to get it unless I was tall....which I'm not. Aw, thanks, honey. He was also instructed to yell at me if he saw me touching my face. (I'm so high-maintenance, aren't I?) My skin has been breaking out horribly over the past week, from what I have no clue, and I am most definitely a popper, which is only making my skin worse. I have been successful in leaving my face alone for almost 2 days now, and it's healing up nicely. I also decided to try Aubrey Organics' Vegecol line of skin care--I've read so many great reviews about it helping people with super sensitive skin and rosacea. They have a little sample pack where you can try the whole line, which is great for me because I always spend money on a full bottle of something and then have a reaction to it (I even react to mineral makeup). I currently use Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash, which was recommended by my dermatologist, but it has fragrance in it--the fragrance doesn't really bother me, but I don't like using anything with synthetic fragrance in it. The Purpose scores a 4 out of 10 hazard score on the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, while the Aubrey scores a 2. Just as an ingredient, fragrance scores an 8. Definitely check this site out!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 18: Freaky fake cheese

I tried Daiya faux cheese the other night, and let me tell you, it is JUST like real moocow cheese.  It smells the same, looks the same, melts the same, and even stretches the same.  I thought it would be super exciting to eat something so close to cheese, but to be honest, it freaked me out!  Me, who used to eat melted-cheese-in-a-bowl....totally freaked out by fake cheese stretchiness.  In fact, I am so unused to cheese (it's been over 4 years since I've eaten it) that I almost choked on the stretchiness.  And my tummy reacted to it in the same way it used to react to real cheese--it was not a happy camper.  I think I prefer Follow Your Heart--it tries so hard to be cheese but it's not, it just kind of glops off your pizza--but there's something weird and space-alien-y about imitation food that's so convincing that you have to have another person try it just to be sure it's still fake.

However, I did find a convenience pizza that my little guy just loves--Amy's Kitchen Single Serve Non-Dairy Rice Crust Cheeze Pizza.  This is actually a true non-dairy pizza, with no milk parts at all.  It also has a rice crust, which to me makes it a little soggy, but my son loves because he doesn't like crust or anything hard.  It's gluten-free and sweetened with agave nectar--no refined sugars--so Mommy got to have some, too (I added the aforementioned Daiya cheese to it).  They're pricey little buggers, though, and pretty hefty on the fat, so they're definitely a once-in-awhile treat.

I also made tofu scramble again, but failed miserably this time.  I cooked the tofu too long and it got all dry and gross, and I added cannellini beans--which just don't go with tofu.  Black beans or pinto beans would probably have been a better bet, but I had cannellini beans from a kale recipe I was going to try.  I waited too long to use my kale, though, and it got all moldy in the fridge.  Sigh. 

Yesterday I was at my local used bookstore (I can spend hours in a bookstore, or the library) and I asked an employee if they had a copy of The Kind Diet.  She was so funny and honest--"No, we don't, because I can guarantee you that if we did, I would've grabbed it already!"  I told her I was also looking for the cookbook Veganomicon, and she said that it's an awesome book (they didn't have that, either).  She also recommended another cookbook to me called Laurel's Kitchen, which is a vegan cookbook from the 70's.  I think I will be asking for Veganomicon for my birthday.

The night we had pizza my little man wanted more, and I told him that he had to eat his green beans first (which is pretty much the only green thing this kid will eat) but he refused.  He insisted that he was still hungry, though, so I told him he could have something healthy, like a banana.  He said no, he wanted pizza, and I waved him towards his green beans.  A few minutes later he comes back to me and says, "Mommy, I want somefing heawfy!"  "Like what?"  He gives me his little stinker grin and says, "A popsicle!"  I just started cracking up--he did too, because whenever we laugh at something he says he thinks he's a comic genius--and informed him that a popsicle is not healthy, and told him to eat his green beans.  I'm going to have to find a green smoothie recipe or something to get more veggies into that kid.

Tomorrow is the farmers market!  I hope they have more blueberries. 

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Day 16: Ennui

Sigh.  I have a case of ennui...I am having a hard time sitting behind a desk indoors all day.  I've been missing my little guy, wanting to be home cooking and cleaning and taking care of my family.  My job is so slow right now, but somehow more stressful...I love being busy and having things to do.

Aaanyway...not much new to report on the food front.  Tonight I'm hoping to have time to make white beans and kale.  I stopped taking my calcium supplement when I started this, because it's a chewable and has sugar in it (plus tons of food dye, which I try to avoid all the time).  I should get some new supplements, just because I know I'm probably not getting enough calcium or B vitamins, but I have a secret: I can't swallow pills.  Well, I can, but I have a really hard time swallowing any pills, even the smallest ones.  I have a very small gullet, and I have this choking fear (which walks hand-in-hand with my drowning fear, and suffocating fear, and anything that would render me unable to breathe).  I remember when I first became pregnant with my son, and my sinuses freaked out and everything swelled up, and I constantly felt like my throat was closing up on me.  It was a highly unpleasant time, let me tell you.  Anyway, I need to get more dark leafy greens in my diet, hence the kale.

Natural deodorant update: I know you are all waiting to hear how smelly I am.  Well, the answer is: not at all!  As I said before, I don't exert myself much at work, but I've used my Kiss My Face Liquid Rock for working out (I apply it in the morning and don't even reapply before exercising) and I have had great results.  Last night my husband and I were sitting at the rec center and I sniffed my armpit to check on my deodorant's performance.  My husband rolled his eyes at me and said, "You don't have any shame in front of me, do you?"  To which I replied, "Honey, you watched the doctor slice me open and pull out a human being--I'm beyond embarrassment with you."  Right as I said that, this poor guy walked past and, according to my husband, looked totally freaked out by what I was saying.  He probably called everyone he knew to tell them to watch out for the crazy redhead at the gym.

I officially signed up to take the GRE in the fall....and I'll also be starting my first graduate-level class.  I am SCARED, people.  I am so anxious at the thought of trying to balance work, school, home, a young child....and I'm also worried about taking the GRE, because I haven't taken any kind of math in 12 years.  The most math I do is adding and subtracting numbers, and maybe percentages.  I guess I will be spending my lunchtimes doing math review. 

I will try to get some sunshine today to get myself out of my ahn-wee.........farewell!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 15: Really? Halfway through?

I can't believe I'm halfway through!  Wow!  Last night my husband informed me that my no sugar-ing is harder on him than it is on me.  *rolling eyes*  However, I can't complain because he has been super supportive and tells me how great I'm doing all the time.

Last night we went to the rec center and I did the elliptical for...wait for it....15 minutes.  Yeah, not a super long time--in college I could bust out 45 minutes no problem--but I haven't seen the inside of a fitness center in a long time so I didn't want to push it.  I am so tired today, but that's more from lack of sleep than anything else.  I need to make some more brown rice--yes, my dreaded brown rice has now become a great source of energy for me!  I really do think it has the perfect yin and yang balance.  Seriously.

As promised, here are food pictures.  I'm so jealous of the bloggers who take these totally gorgeous pictures of their creations!  I'm an amateur for sure, so don't judge me...

Tofu scramble

Sweet potato and lentil soup...this soup is really better suited for cooler weather.  I think I'm going to freeze mine until it gets more fall-ish around here.  It's also way too oily for my taste, so the next time I won't use the amount of oil Alicia recommends.

Rosemary-onion roasted potatoes--perfect for freezing!

Chocolate peanut butter cups--if you make these, use graham crackers instead of brown rice crisps.  The texture will be much nicer.  The maple sugar instead of the brown rice syrup would probably be better, too--or any granulated sugar.  I brought some into work and my office roomie loves them, weird texture and all!

Yummy fruit--peaches and blueberries from the farmers market, and sweet northeast cherries from the grocery store.

Now that I'm eating more natural foods, I really understand when Alicia talks about eating locally as well as seasonally.  The rich, heavy taste of that soup is really more suited for autumn, but the tofu scramble is made with veggies in season and bought locally--the squashes and green pepper are all at their peak right now--and is perfect for the warmer weather.  I think I'm going to try to learn more about macrobiotics, to learn more about what foods are designed to do what within your body.  For instance, mango and pineapple are from the tropics and cool your body down--I'd love to find out what warms your body up, especially with the kind of winters we've been having!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Day 14: Cooking mania!

Hello everyone!  I couldn't even remember what day I was on so I had to count on my calendar.  I am feeling great!  I am especially pumped because I lost 3 pounds last week...which, estimating with my ghetto scale, means I've lost approximately 10 pounds over the past 2 weeks.  I keep tripping over my pants because they're hanging so much lower now.  (My husband would tell me to get a belt, but really, I hate belts.  I just need to learn how to hem pants.)

I cooked so much this weekend.  It was nuts.  I went to the farmers market on Saturday morning with my little guy and got cucumbers, zucchini squash, yellow squash, blueberries, and peaches.  The blueberries are the best I've ever tasted.  Saturday afternoon I finally made tofu scramble.  Well, it was more like smooshed tofu, but it was still good.  I sauteed the tofu in olive oil, added nutritional yeast, turmeric, garlic, and a little salt, then added green pepper, yellow squash, zucchini squash, and snow peas.  My veggies to tofu ratio was a little high, but it was still delicious.  It was enough for a filling lunch (mixed with brown rice) and I had enough leftovers for 2 more meals--I had some for lunch today.  On Sunday I made a turkey breast with gravy (I didn't read the label on my chicken bouillon before I tossed it in the gravy--it had cane sugar in it so I couldn't eat it, which was probably for the best anyway), my roasted potatoes in french fry form, sweet potato and lentil soup from The Kind Diet, and chocolate peanut butter cups from The Kind Diet.  My son was my little helper, putting the cut-up potatoes in water and "mixing" them.

I've been asked for my roasted potatoes recipe, which I adapted from Betty Crocker's cookbook.  I hardly measure when I cook--only when I bake--so let me know if you want exact measurements.

-Potatoes (I've found that organic potatoes are the best)
-Rosemary (dried or fresh and chopped)
-Thyme (dried or fresh)
-Dried minced onion (if you like to chop onions, I'm sure they would be fine...but I HATE chopping onions so I never use them if I can manage)
-Sea salt (regular salt works in a pinch but I love freshly ground sea salt)
-Freshly ground peppercorns (regular pepper is fine)
-Grapeseed oil (the original recipe calls for vegetable oil, but I like grapeseed better--just make sure you use an oil that remains stable at high heat)

Scrub potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes (or into french fry form, like I've been doing).  As you cut the potatoes, place them in a bowl filled with cold water.  After the potatoes sit in the water for awhile (anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours, depending on what else you've got cookin'), drain them and either pat dry with a paper towel or toss them in the salad spinner.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the potatoes in a large bowl and add enough oil to coat.  Then dump in a lot of minced onion, a palmful of rosemary and thyme, and sea salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Place the potatoes on a greased or oiled cookie sheet.  Make sure the oven is at temperature and then place the potatoes in the oven.  Cook to your desired crispness, turning over a few times.  (My husband likes crispy potatoes, so I roast mine for about 40 minutes.) 

The sweet potato and lentil soup turned out okay.  I didn't have several of the spices the recipe called for, so it was a little bland.  I also used too much water.  However, the soup smells so good and the combo of sweet potatoes and lentils is something I had never thought of before.

I had to tweak Alicia's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup recipe.  I couldn't find maple sugar so I used brown rice syrup, and I didn't even try to find graham crackers without sugar, so I used brown rice crisps.  I had one this morning, and they were tasteeee.  However, next time I'll crush the rice crisps up more and also add a bit of vegetable shortening to the chocolate so it sets better.

I'm hoping to try a kale recipe sometime this week, and I am getting tons of super yummy recipe ideas from everyone else's blogs.  I took pictures of everything, so I will post them when I get them off my camera.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Day 11: TGIF!

For some reason this has felt like the longest week, even though I had Tuesday off.  I had a horrible migraine yesterday and things were just cranky and stressful.  But today is Friday, and I get to have date night with my hubby, and tomorrow I get to sleep in and then hit up the farmers market!

I have really been craving ice cream.  My husband asked me if I wanted dairy ice cream and I said, "No, soy," and he laughed himself silly at me.  "Oooh, you're so bad!  Soy ice cream!"  I don't even remember what dairy ice cream tastes like.  However, I certainly remember what Trader Joe's Cherry Chocolate Chunk Frozen Soy Dessert tastes like, and I miss it.  It's been so hot--maybe I will make some juice "popsicles" this weekend.  My little guy loves those.

Today was a first for me--I managed to use up all the fresh fruit in the house!  Usually I toss out at least a few brown bananas or old apples, but this morning I discovered I had one peach left in the whole place.  My son helped me finish off the organic strawberries from Whole Foods (they were on sale for $2.99...so ripe and juicy....I wish I would've gotten more!), ditto with the bananas, and all my cherries and blueberries were finished at the beginning of the week.  I had to buy an apple in the cafeteria today for lunch--the first time in 11 days I have bought something at lunch (at work--weekend don't count)!  Now, if only I could say the same for the kale waiting to be cooked...oh kale, I will get to you this weekend.

Last night we re-joined our community recreation center.  They have an awesome indoor pool complete with a kids' splash area (and a lazy river, my husband's favorite), tons of classes, and a good exercise machine area.  I have a feeling that my next 30-day challenge will have something to do with fitness.  I am also going to take swimming lessons.  For those of you who don't know me personally (and maybe even some that do), I have a huge water fear.  I almost drowned in the ocean at 16 and have been terrified of water ever since.  I'll get in it, but never above my shoulders, and I never put my head under water (which goes along with another fear of mine, not being able to breathe).  My husband loves water, however, and loves to swim, and our son is currently taking swimming lessons at the rec center with my mother-in-law--and he's turning into quite the fishy as well.  The rec center offers adult swim classes and I'm going to join the class, which starts the end of August and runs through the beginning of October.

Eek, I'm getting totally anxious just thinking about it!

(Photo Credit: Wesley Hargrave, Daily Mail)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Day 10: 1/3 of the way through!

Welcome to Day 10, everyone!  I must say, I had my doubts on if I'd get this far.  I'm feeling pretty good!  I feel a lot more steady, and my moods feel a bit more consistent throughout the day.  My skin is also looking a little better--usually during my "time of the month" my face has a freakout, but this month it was relatively tame.  I'm still having problems with rosacea, however--not sure if that will clear up a bit the longer I'm off sugar.

Last night I wanted a treat so much!  It didn't help that I was home alone with the little guy, hanging out and playing trains.  He wouldn't care if Mommy had one of those soy ice cream sandwiches, as long as he was allowed one, too....but I stayed strong, thought of my adoring public (yes, Husband, I can see you rolling your eyes), and had a half of a peanut butter and jam sandwich on Ezekiel bread, which seemed to take care of the fat and sugar I was craving.  I am not a fan of the natural peanut butters--all that gloppy oil grosses me out, and after you put it in the fridge it does not spread and destroys your bread.  However, the last time I was at Whole Foods, they had a coupon for the Earth Balance peanut butter, so I tried it.  It's really good!  To be honest, it's a healthier version of traditional, Jif-life peanut butters--sweetened with agave syrup, has some added oils and flaxseed--but I think it's great for people transitioning to healthier peanut butters.  I have the crunchy at home--I'll have to get the creamy for my guys (my husband loves Jif and also loves to quote the commercial at me--"Choosy moms choose Jif!"--which never fails to anger me because it implies that if you don't choose Jif you're just a crap mom). 

Yesterday I went to Whole Foods without a list, got overwhelmed and hurried, and managed to leave without getting what I went for--some sort of sea vegetable.  Sigh.  I don't know if they have them in any of the stores closer to me--my local grocery store may, though, because they have a decent international foods section.  I didn't see any the last time I went, but I was also attempting to keep my son from barreling down an old lady or small child with the shopping cart, so I could have missed something.  However, I did get new, natural deodorant at Whole Foods yesterday.  I switched my shampoo and conditioner to Kiss My Face Big Body last summer, and I love it.  It doesn't have any synthetic fragrances in it, which I am incredibly sensitive to, but has essential oils that smell wonderful.  I've been waffling on changing my deodorant, because I've been using the same deodorant/antiperspirant my entire life (well, since puberty), and I didn't want to be smelly.  Also, even though a lot of products are supposed to be all natural, some still contain synthetic fragrance, and I was a bit confused by all the differences in formulation.  I'm reading Do It Gorgeously, however, and the author, Sophie Uliano, has a recipe for making your own deodorant, and in it she says that lavender essential oil is great to use in deodorant because it has antibacterial properties.  I LOVE natural lavender.  Love love love!  They have these lavender sachets at Trader Joe's that you toss into your dryer and they make your clothes smell so good (our clothes all have kind of a non-smell because everything I use is fragrance-free), but not overpowering.  So I grabbed Kiss My Face's Liquid Rock in lavender, which seems to have good reviews.  Today is my first day wearing it and I am smelly-free so far (but I don't exactly exert myself at work).  It stayed wet for awhile this morning and I walked around with my arms in the air trying to figure out if it needed to dry before I put my shirt on.  Good thing my husband was still asleep, or a picture would've ended up on Facebook--me drying my armpits in front of a fan or something.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 9: Sea vegetables

Whenever I think of a sea vegetable, I imagine that crab guy, Sebastian (okay, I had to Wiki the name), from The Little Mermaid tending an underwater garden.  (He's wearing a sunhat and gardening gloves over his claws, and maybe wearing a little apron.)  I also think of the first (and only) time I tried to eat a sea vegetable.  It was my freshman year of college and the girls in the room down the hall from me were super into eating well.  One night they decided we would try seaweed.  Well, I did, and it was revolting.  They all laughed for about ten minutes at the expression on my face.  So, as you can see, I am not too familiar with all the sea veggies Alicia talks about in The Kind Diet.  Nori?  Kombu?  Whaa?  However, since they are supposed to be super healtherrific, I've decided to journey to the Whole Foods and try some out.  But how do I eat it?  I have a feeling that eating it plain will garner about the same reaction from me as it did in college.  (Some people experiment with drugs in college....I experimented with seaweed.  It was an honors dorm.  Go figure.)

If the first third of this challenge was about detoxing from sugar, the second third will be about trying new things and expanding my food horizons.  I have a list of things I want to make--lentil loaf, lentil soup, the mac & "cheese" that Vegan Rocker Girl posted on her blog, kale (thanks for the suggestions, everyone--they sound great!)...the list goes on and my weekend is filling up.

I have also realized that even having botched, stale-tasting treats in the house is a bad thing.  Those crispy peanut butter treats I made tasted so much like peanut butter and chocolate that I started od'ing a little on them.  I will report, however, that while a regular rice crispy treat would give me a massive headache and shaky hands if eaten on an empty stomach, these did not, so the brown rice syrup must be easier on your blood sugar levels.  Next time I will reduce the amount of syrup and actually use crisp rice instead of puffed rice....but I also recognize that the small amount of self-control I have can only handle me making these treats every so often.  They're not good to constantly have in the house.

However....I think I might just be a miracle worker.  Last night my husband and I had a long talk about....of all things....nutrition.  He told me that he would like to find something to do to make himself healthier and is trying to decide what he would like to do.  He even admitted that he has considered the possibility of...wait for it...becoming a vegetarian.  

Pause for jaws to resume position on faces

I was SHOCKED, people.  But I am so excited that my healthier eating has inspired my husband to become healthier as well.  So if anyone has any advice on how to help him re-train his palate to like veggies and "different" food, please advise!   

Monday, July 12, 2010

Day 7: The best part of waking up....is burnt rice?

I should not be permitted near a stove in the morning.  I didn't get around to lunch-making last night because I was too busy destroying Alicia's crispy peanut butter treats recipe, so 6 a.m. found me chopping carrots and cooking rice.  "Hey, I'm using a huge knife in before I'm hardly awake!  Is this advisable?"  I still have all my fingers intact, but I did drop a plate on my foot--since it's good ol' Corelle, it didn't break.  I left my pot of rice cooking away while I hopped in the shower, and when I got out, I immediately smelled the burning and ran for the kitchen.  Nothing caught on fire, but the whole apartment had a lovely scent to it and I had to toss my rice.  Plus I'm going to have fun trying to clean my pot tonight (unless my wonderful husband reads this and cleans it for me?).

Well, here we are, Day 7, and, as my Great Aunt Doris used to say, I'm still kickin'!  The weekend had its difficulties--eating out on this diet is really, really difficult, at least for the places our family usually frequents.  We muddled through, however, and on Saturday I made a delicious vegan pizza from a store-bought flatbread crust (the brand was Rustic, I think, and sourdough, and sugar free, and yummy), plain tomato sauce, and Follow Your Heart mozzarella-style soy cheese.  I didn't burn it like I usually do, and it was tasteee.  My son loved it (he also loved helping me make it), but my husband didn't want to try it.  We also hit the drive-in movie theater that night and made a bunch of popcorn with Earth Balance buttery spread and sea salt, and the little guy was so happy because he was allowed "special pop"--the Izze fruit juice "soda".  (Mommy enjoyed it, too!)

Last night I made the crispy peanut butter rice treats from The Kind Diet,  and...yeah.  My first problem, I believe, is that I used brown rice puffs, not brown rice crisps.  Makes a huge difference.  I took a picture of it, but I'm not going to post it, because a food photographer I am not and somehow my pictures of food look way grosser than the food really is. Take my word for it.  I believe I got the topping correct--a whole lotta brown rice syrup, peanut butter, and I mixed in some grain-sweetened vegan chocolate chips.  In fact, my new taste buds think that this dessert is too sweet.

Wait a second...did I just say something was TOO SWEET?  I believe I did.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I think I've finally overcome the initial crazy craving period.  While my favorite vegan bananaberry muffin taunts me every time I go into the kitchen, and while it took an enormous amount of willpower not to share my boys' lemonade at the farmers market on Saturday, I don't feel faint with hunger or totally deprived anymore.  Everything I've read says that it takes anywhere from 3 to 10 days (some say 3 to 7) to stop craving sugar, and I was expecting the full 10 since I have such a sweet tooth.  I am a bit disappointed, though, because my moods haven't evened out like I thought they would...but let's face it, it's PMS week.  I have, however, lost weight--I don't really know how much, though, because our scale is way wacky.  It's an analog scale and fluctuates about 10 pounds depending on how you stand on it.  We bought a new one over the weekend and were not happy to discover that the actual weight was 15 pounds more than the highest number from the old scale.  But we'll just see how cocky I am tonight when I have to make banana muffins for 20 preschoolers.

Now I'd like to focus on introducing new greens into my diet.  I have kale in my fridge.  How should I cook it? 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Day 4: Alejandro...just let me go!

Happy Friday, everyone!  I am so glad it's the end of the week....the weekend means date night tonight, farmers market tomorrow, and sleeping!  We're thinking of having a cooking day this weekend, so we're not scrambling for meals during the week like we have been.

Today I'm feeling much better than yesterday.  Yesterday...oh man.  The she-beast escapeth.  I was labeling envelopes at work (no matter what job I have, it will probably always include mailings) and my hands were so shaky that all my labels were crooked.  When I finally got home after picking the little guy up from my mother-in-law's and stopping at Trader Joe's, I was ready to faint from hunger.  I stood in front of the refrigerator and was SO MAD.  "I don't want to eat another freaking salad...rice is the devil....I want a glass of Very Vanilla soymilk....."  I ended up eating a turkey burger patty (again), watermelon, and a salad.  I had been having low-grade nausea the past few days, too, and had only gotten 6 hours of sleep the night before, which improved my mood even more.  I was super crabby with my husband and son and wanted to lock myself in a room where I could stomp around and moan about how I didn't want to do this anymore.  I was all, "What did I get myself iiiinto?  Why do I feel so baaaad?  Why can't I detox from this stupid sugar already?"  Stomp, pout, whine, stomp.  Slam the door for good measure.  Stomp.  (Okay, I actually didn't do any of that, because what would that teach my son?  I did pout a bit, however.)

I don't know if it was getting enough sleep, the fact that it's Friday, the weather cooling down considerably, or my body adjusting, but today I'm feeling....okay!  I tried to do the oatmeal in the morning earlier this week, but it just wasn't doin' it for me.  I picked up some raw almonds at TJ's and had those with raisins this morning and it really sustained me.  I think I need that kick of fat and protein in the morning to stabilize my blood sugar or something.  I had apple slices mid-morning and ended up going to lunch late because I wasn't totally starving.  For lunch I had the other half of my sandwich from yesterday, a salad with sugar snap peas (which I looove--so crunchy and sweet), rice, and cherries and blueberries.  True confession time: I really do not like rice.  White rice, brown rice--I am not a rice kind of girl.  Alicia recommends eating it with every meal, and in macrobiotics they claim it's the perfect food because its yin and yang is so close to balanced, but I just am not a fan.  I might be getting used to it, though, because it wasn't too bad at lunch today.  Another grain I cannot stand is quinoa (pronounced keen-wa for those of you reading who didn't know--I didn't know until I Wiki'd it).  I've tried it a few times and I hate the texture.  It looks like slimy little eyeballs to me.  I know, gross, huh?  And it tastes kind of like hose water.  Maybe I should mix it with something?

This weekend I just need to stay on track and make lots of yummy food for the week.  I might make myself a treat with brown rice syrup (which is permitted, since it doesn't crash your sugar levels up and down like cane sugar)--if I can find it.  I will have to head to the local health food store, which I am currently in a fight with because they treated my husband and son horribly there one day when my husband was picking up some bakery for me.  I need to find:

-brown rice syrup, as mentioned
-brown rice cereal puffs
-almond milk
-shiitake mushrooms
-some sort of sea vegetable
-Daiya vegan cheese (which is rumored to be way better than Follow Your Heart, which I currently use)

So wish me luck in my hunt, and I will probably not check back in until Monday.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 3: Meh

So, maybe this is normal when you're not hyped up on sugar, or maybe it's because I got way less than my requisite 8 hours of sleep last night, but I'm feeling very....yeah.  Just kind of here.  Just really mellow. 

Aaanyway.  Yesterday I did much better with the eating, and I didn't try to eat my steering wheel by the time I got to my parents' house after work to pick up the little guy.  We ended up staying for dinner and I had my leftover rice and cherries and blueberries from lunch and a turkey burger patty.  I was in a horrible mood, though, and didn't feel fit for being in public, and my son was not happy to go home early and be taken away from his cousins.  I wanted to do some tofu scrambling last night but my son needed lots of Mommy time, so I played trains (which somehow morphed into playing tigers) and gave him a bath instead.  When he had his snack of toast (the kid is a toast freak, he loves bread like crazy!), I had a piece of toasted Ezekiel bread with Earth Balance and all-fruit spread (which we've been eating for months, so much yummier that high-fructose corn syrup jam).

This morning I set my alarm 10 minutes earlier so I wasn't cutting it so close on leaving for work, but my little guy decided he was going to wake up with me....so, "Mommy, I want to snuggle wif you!" and "Mommy, I want to watch Blue's Clues!" and "Mommy, I want a sammich just like yours!" ate up a lot of time.  I had leftover oatmeal at work already, and I packed myself a turkey, mustard, and Follow Your Heart vegan mozzarella cheese sandwich on Ezekiel bread, leftover rice, salad greens, watermelon, apples, organic chips and salsa, and cucumbers and carrots.  Waaay too much food, I know, and I'll be taking it home for dinner, but I like knowing I'm going to have something to snack on if I get stuck in traffic again.  The key to this new way of eating is to eat a little bit, but eat often.  When I ate my lunch I only had half a sandwich, half of the amount of rice I brought, my salad, and half of the fruit I brought, and I'm totally satisfied.  I've been working on chewing my food thoroughly, too, especially since my body isn't so used to a lot of whole grains. 

I've also noticed a huge benefit to bringing my lunch--soooo much less garbage.  I usually eat lunch in one of the cafeterias on campus, and I would throw a whole tray full of garbage away every day.  Now I pack my lunch in reusable containers and bring my reusable water bottle with me and today I threw away...one napkin!  Plus I have more time during my lunch hour to read and relax, as opposed to standing in the cafeteria line.

This weekend is going to be a real challenge, however, because we tend to eat out at restaurants a lot on the weekends.  And tomorrow night my husband and I are having "date night"--dinner and a movie--and I'm trying to figure out where we can eat and how I will stay strong against the tasty (butterless) movie theater popcorn.

Because if I have one weakness, it is popcorn...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Day 2: Your Crock-Pot: Not Just for Dinner Anymore!

Welcome to Day 2, everyone!

After yesterday's debacle with breakfast, I found a recipe for slow-cooker oatmeal on the forums on The Kind Life.  Good thing, too, because by the time I got home yesterday I was starving and shaky because I didn't pack enough healthy food for work.  Then I discovered that my vegan breadcrumbs have evaporated cane sugar in them....hooray.  But I still managed to make a delicious dinner of oven-roasted rosemary and onion potatoes (cut into french fry slices so my son would eat them), garlic chicken with olive oil (I know, vegans reading this blog, I know), watermelon, and cucumbers and carrots.  My husband loved the meal, and my son ate everything except the veggies...yeah, we're working on that.

Anyway, the slow-cooker oatmeal consists of oats (steel-cut are best but I grabbed "Irish" oats without looking to see if they were steel-cut or rolled), 2 cinnamon sticks, water, and frozen peaches.  I didn't have frozen peaches, but I did have frozen cherries, and I tossed everything in the Crock Pot last night and woke up this morning to a house that smelled like Christmas.  The oatmeal smelled awesome and tasted pretty good.  Not as sweet as I'm used to, and I used too much water, but it was filling and I'm not ready to eat the paper on my desk right now, so that's good.  Here is the lovely oatmeal:

Mmm, pink!

I also made a pot of rice this morning.  I never cook in the morning but I ran out of time last night, so now I have rice for lunch.  I also made a turkey, mustard, and sprouts sandwich on Ezekiel bread, blueberries and cherries, salad, cucumbers, and carrots.  I brought salsa and organic white corn chips for an afternoon snack...and I'm going to have to be careful to not go the other way and eat too much salt.  (Popcorn with Earth Balance spread and sea salt...ten times better than movie theater popcorn!)  I am going to have to either make my lunch in the evening or get up earlier, because by the time I fiddled with the oatmeal, put the rice on the stove, smeared hairball control medicine on my cat's paws and ticked her off, showered, and dressed, I was cutting it close.

So, I don't know if it's the extreme heat or the no sugar, but I am exhausted.  And cranky.  That could be due to the huge traffic delay on the way to work today, or it could be getting close to *that* time of the month...but I have a feeling that the next several days are going to be rough.  Alicia said in her book that when she cut out sugar she "felt grumpy for a week."  "Grumpy" is not what I'm feeling.  Grumpy is a cute little dwarf who pouts.  By the end of the week I may be a raging she-beast and have to go into seclusion.  I apologize to everyone in advance.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 1: Breakfast issues

Today is the first day of going sugarless!  I prepped this weekend by getting rid of (i.e. eating) most of the sugary treats I had left in the house.  My best friend, who was up visiting for the weekend, took some stuff home with her.  I still have a quart of Trader Joe's Cherry Chocolate Chip Soy Ice Cream that I may have to store at my mom's house.

I also dragged my husband and son to Whole Foods to stock up on a few things that Alicia suggested in her book--miso soup (which just sounds yummy), brown rice syrup, etc.  However, I discovered that my local grocery store and Trader Joe's (which are both 2 minutes away from my house, as opposed to 45 minutes away) probably have everything I need (I couldn't find miso soup without sugar, brown rice syrup, or Vegenaise at Whole Foods).  My son got a vegan blueberry muffin, though, so he was happy, and my husband stoically endured the long grocery store visit.  He told me that he knows I'll have to be eating a lot of fresh foods on this quest, and since I don't have a lot of time to go to the grocery store he volunteered to go to the store for me if I needed him to during the week.  That is support, people.  My man has a strong dislike for any store that does not sell electronics. 

I have a delicious lunch packed--turkey, hummus, and alfalfa sprouts on a whole grain tortilla, a big leafy salad, and cherries and blueberries.  (When I was living with my parents right after college and was still a vegetarian, I bought sprouts and put them in the fridge.  My dad was perusing the shelves one day, spotted the sprouts, and yelled, "Why is there grass in the refrigerator?!  It belongs outside!")  But I'm going to have problems with breakfast.

I am not a big breakfast eater.  I know I need food in the morning, but I don't have time to eat breakfast at home and I need something that isn't rich but still has protein.  Since I started back to work, I've been making a trail mix that consists of raw almonds, cranberries, raisins, and chocolate chips.  Let's face it--the chocolate chips are what makes it good.  I can't eat chocolate chips (well, I can eat the grain-sweetened, but I tasted them yesterday and was not too hyped) and I can't find unsweetened cranberries anywhere.  So this morning I just had almonds and raisins.  Well, I was distracted at Whole Foods yesterday (making sure my son didn't mow any innocent shoppers down with the mini shopping cart) and just grabbed a bag of unsalted almonds.  I discovered this morning that they are not raw--they are roasted with peanut oil.  Now, this should make them more delicious, but, like I do with lots of foods, I have issues with peanuts, especially in the morning.  My tummy doesn't like them and they have been a trigger food for my migraines ever since I was pregnant with my son.  But I didn't have anything else protein-wise besides a block of raw tofu, so I just packed them and ate some anyway.  And now I have a migraine and my tummy is irritated with me. 

I need breakfast ideas, everyone!  Please post them. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let the crying commence!

So, the reality of this whole no-sugar thing is starting to sink in as I prepare for Tuesday.  Earlier this week I was like, "Yeah, this will be great, go me!"  However, I think I've been underestimating how much I LOVE sugar.  It's so sweet and yummy and the way is dissolves on your tongue....(Incidentally, yesterday I read the phrase, "sugar wouldn't melt on her tongue," meant to imply sweetness of personality--but what dissolves sugar?  Not sourness--liquid.  So all the book did was imply that this person is incredibly dehydrated.)

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.  Sugar.  Delicious sugar.  Case in point: yesterday I thought, "Hey, I'll try this Honest Tea that was on sale at my local grocery store.  It has way less sugar in it than other tea."  So, I tried it--BLECH!  It was horrible.  I ended up dumping about 4 packets of (raw turbinado) sugar into it to even make it drinkable.  (And honestly, Honest Tea, your name is hokey.)  There are just some things that should not be unsweetened.  Tea, coffee, soymilk....People are born with a natural sweet tooth.  It helped keep us from being poisoned in the wild.  But modern food science has exploited this natural consequence of evolution and has turned me into a freaking crack addict.

Okay, it's not fair to blame the makers of the Pop-Tart for wanting to make money and therefore ruining America's health.  And I don't eat Pop-Tarts anyway because of the high fructose corn syrup and food dye.  Funny story, and true: when I graduated from college I worked at a law firm downtown.  At the time I was a vegetarian and wasn't eating gelatin, but I was still eating Pop-Tarts--just the unfrosted kind.  One day I was walking to my office and a guy came up to me, claiming he was hungry and homeless and needed money.  I don't give money to people on the street as a rule, but I felt bad for the guy.  So I rummaged around in my bag and said, "I don't have money, but here's some Pop-Tarts!"  And the poor guy probably felt shafted because he managed to talk to the one vegetarian on the street and got an unfrosted Pop-Tart.  Hey, I could've given him my fake turkey sandwich.

I know that from my experience of kicking high fructose corn syrup that this is going to be incredibly difficult.  I was a Canada Dry addict for the longest time after my son was born, and last October, after re-reading The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood by William Sears, I decided to cut it out of both Ben's and my diets, along with food dye.  Ben was easy, because he's not permitted to have soda (or, as we call it in my family, pop), and I just switched his crackers to the Whole foods 365 brand and his regular jam to all-fruit jam (which he loves and calls "little jam" because it's in a little jar).  For me, not drinking pop, which I had been doing regularly most of my life, was torture.  I was irritable and moody and it didn't help that the first week coincided with PMS week.  I fell off the wagon when I started back to work in January.  It was easier to get back on the wagon.  Now whenever I have pop I feel horrible, so it's easy not to drink it.

I'm hoping that's what this will be like....I don't know.  I'm also a bit afraid of the detoxing symptoms that Alicia describes in her book, as well as other symptoms other people experienced.  I can deal with headaches, but tummy problems are rough for me, and insomnia will make me even more crazy. 

I'm gonna do it, though.  *cue Rocky music*
"You're gonna eat thunder and crap lightning!"