Posts Tagged ‘Diet’


March 10, 2010 1 comment

I’ve been off the strict Paleo phase for about 17 days now. I’m still feeling strong and making different food choices. The thirty days were very effective in breaking some habits.

I’m still in a “try it to see how it feels” phase. I had a couple beans in chili recently. I made banana bread, but I replaced 3/4s of the flour with almond and coconut; I replaced 3/4 cup of sugar with 1/3 cup of maple syrup and an extra banana. It turned out dense and a little crumbly, but delicious. Not exactly paleo, but it confirmed my suspicion: I don’t need a lot of sweet; and there are suitable alternatives to white flour.

But now I’m shopping at a greater variety of places in order to eat “clean.” Where can I get grass finished beef? Where can I buy pasture butter? Are there price differences in Spaghetti Squash? Why can’t I find canned Icelandic fish? Where’s the best place to get high quality Sardines? Shiratake?

I will spend a good three minutes reading a label like I was a Sanskrit scholar translating a verse from the the Upanishads. I ponder the phrases “organic” when I read them. I consider the meaning of “fed a vegetarian diet.” Not grass fed, but no risk of Mad Cow, I think. Corn is bad, but not many options at this grocery store.

I get veggies from the cheap Asian market: my spaghetti squash, mushrooms, and yams. Whole Foods is expensive in some things, cheaper in others. I’ll go down to Fairway in the city to find less expensive, but organic, meats. Trader Joes has 6 dollar Spanish Olive Oil.

Wild caught fish will be expensive everywhere. So will heritage geese. There’s a greater difference between flours and nuts. Occasionally I find an amazing steal: my Asian grocer sells domestic prosciutto for $10 a lb. Not every grocery store has my fascination of the day.

And I do get canned ingredients – especially in the winter. I had baby corn and bean sprouts in the stir-fry medley of “mixed vegetables” in my pantry last night for a generally paleo thai chicken dish I concocted. It’s a rule I have: use whatever canned vegetable is in your kitchen pantry.

It is probably a rule I’m going to change.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

My first foray into sugar

February 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Yesterday was my first foray into some serious sugar, aside from my reentry into the drinking world.

Fan and I went into NY to see a play. She’d gotten tickets for free due to cancellations to the play, Mr. and Mrs. Fitch. It was entertaining and smart, if vapid and soulless.

Before the play my first cheat at “New York’s best” diner: half the hashbrowns with my avocado / jalapeno pepper omelette. I chose no cheese with the omelette. I accidentally put half and half in my coffee. Just one, however, and it didn’t make the coffee taste better. The coffee was pretty bad, with or without cream. The company was fabulous, and the diner was fine, but I’m spoiled.

After the play we went to City Bakery. I first went to City Bakery about four years ago, and since then I gave up hot chocolate. Because there is no other place else that could compare to the luscious, creamy liquid pleasure they served.

And I had a chocolate chip cookie.

We took an extra long walk back to the train station, but that evening I went to a wine tasting for a friend’s 50th birthday party, a distributor of high quality Australian wines especially from the Margaret River. As it happens, a well known pastry chef made a buttery cake. I’d resisted successfully until I was led by hand to the cake itself.

I’d been good around the appetizers. No cheese. Some prosciutto. I’ve been around enough cakes to have experienced the mediocre, dry, plastic in a box birthday sugar fest. Once led to the chef who was receiving plenty of praise from adoring fans, I decided to have a bite. If it were a cake of exceptional quality, I’d consume. If not, I’d leave it.

As it turned out, it was pretty amazing.

I do not feel guilty. Although I completed the challenge on Tuesday, Saturday I had my first bite of sugar. I believe that I’ve successfully changed my habits. Today, I’ve remained sugar and alcohol free, but I think I enjoyed the cheats more than before – precisely because they are rarer and for special occasions.

I don’t think I failed in these choices: they were deliberate, thought out, and even planned. It wasn’t a matter of me “slipping.” I even brought an extra piece of cake back for my brother and lady.

And I didn’t even slip a bite for myself.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,


February 10, 2010 1 comment

Last night I had a dinner meeting at a board member’s house.  I was excited, because she’s a great cook.

This is a foodie family.  They love good food and wine – and there was plenty. For our casual meeting, she provided several appetizers.  Tomatoes and mozzarella in olive oil, garlic and basil.  Small dogs in bacon.  Goat cheese the size of quarters,covered in chives.  Stuffed mushrooms, with sauteed bread.  Sopressata.   Jim asked me if I needed any wine.

“Oh no.  No drinking for me.”


Nope.  I usually provide a bottle, and also drink it.

So I ate sopressata, picked out the tomatoes and tried a couple of the dog/bacon bites.  I’m sure it was probably processed or cured with sugar, so I decided, after a couple, to stop.  I’ve been having trouble finding bacon without sugar.

We then sat around the table.  Dinner.  Penne and Vodka sauce.  Before me, a challenge to all I knew about civility and manners.  Because there is one rule I’ve almost always followed:  eat what you’re served.   Maybe not all of it, but some of it.

I didn’t know what to do.

Sit there and not eat anything?  Should I give it back?  Everyone else began to eat.  They all began to murmur:  It was soo goooodLaura, what did you put in this? Cream?  Wow.

Within five minutes one person had gone back for seconds.

I picked up my plate and took the hostess aside, who wasn’t sitting down.

“I’m sorry, Laura.  It looks fabulous.  I’m not eating pasta.”

“Oh!  I totally forgot!” She said.  “What do you eat?”

“The normal.  Filet Mignon, Truffles in a light saffron cream sauce, Southern Bluefin Tuna.  I mean, meat, vegetables, nuts and fruit.”  I smiled.  “I’m not hungry.  I’ll have some of the sopressata.”  She was quite apologetic.  I shrugged.

After we finished, I sat next to her in the living room.  I wanted to assure her that it was not her, but me.  She apologized.  “No, I should have reminded told you,” I said.

“Yes, you should have!”

Normally, if I’m in such a situation and on a restrictive diet, I would have a little.  I wouldn’t finish it, but consume the amount the size of my hand – Zone quantities.  But not on these thirty days.  I might make that a rule:  pasta only when forced to, in extreme circumstances, for the sake of social harmony.  Not at parties, where people don’t care and there is a variety of hors d’oeuvres, but when people are watching.    Then a small amount of pasta may be endured, if it doesn’t kill you.    This time, however, for 30 days, I’m remaining obnoxious as an extreme social and physiological experience.

Fortunately, I wasn’t hungry.  The benefit of the paleo diet is that I’m hungry less.  My eating seems to be habitual, merely because food is present.   Yet, I’m still losing weight.

Later, she brought out dessert.  Key lime pie.  Chocolate chip cookies, all home made, still warm.  I’m sure if the chocolate chip cookies could talk they’d say, “hey you.  Stop staring.”

Trusting in my own discipline, I wrapped some up and brought some home.  For my brother.   Resisting kindles more resistance.

But on this cold day, a part of me dreams of Hot Chocolate, especially as a reward for shoveling.


January 28, 2010 2 comments

One of the ways I’m managing is by changing in increments, by making small replacements.  I don’t give up the entire ritual, I just make one change that I convince myself is fairly small.

Coffee with Byrne’s Half and Half  —-  Coffee, Black.

Mashed Potatoes and Rice —-  Cauliflower, mashed

Potatoes, generally —–  Yams, sparingly.  Admittedly, I’ve not made the jump from French Fries to sweet potato fries

Vegetable, Peanut Oil and Butter —- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Beer —– Soda Water with a wedge of lime or lemon

Zone Bars —- Larabars

Chocolate —- Figs (?)  It’s better than dirt mixed with water

Maple Cured Bacon —– Applegate’s organic, sugar free bacon.

Prosciutto —- Prosciutto

Candy —- Nuts

Cheese, Crackers and Hummus —- carrots, nuts and dried fruit

Any other ideas for replacing foods?

Categories: Diet, Food, Recipe Tags: , , ,


January 27, 2010 2 comments

Once a week, every Tuesday, I have hotel food.  I’m a member of a service club that meets weekly at the Crown Plaza in White Plains.

Usually I’m repsonsible about my choices.  I have a big salad, lots of vegetables, the meat of choice and one small potato.  I usually just have vinegar on the salad.  I never have dessert, even though they have an enticing selection.  Cheesecake, chocolate fudge, and a key lime pie are the normal choices.  And fruit.

I steered away from the vegetables.  I know how they are cooked:  a pound of butter.  Usually I forgive this, but not now.   I took two pieces of pork that had no sauce on them, and scraped off what I could.   I didn’t want to take the chance that the sauce would have flour:  the normal constituent part of a deep roux.  The flavor in whatever was rubbed onto the fat was enough.

Following Paleo would be tough for anyone who is in regular social situations.  I’m involved a lot in community events.  The week before the challenge I had a Martin Luther King breakfast where they served sausage, eggs, grits and orange juice.  Two evenings later at a YMCA event, the sponsoring restaurants would serve such delicious dishes as steaks on white bread; shrimp po’ boys in hot dog buns; pumpkin ravioli; pastrami sandwiches; chicken tikka on rice.   Paleo nightmares.  Fantasies for most.

Today the service club had a big birthday party, the 90th birthday of one long time member of the club.  There was singing, stories, and a very big cake.   In this case, a vanilla butter cream white cake with a chocolate filling.

I was the only person at the table who said, “no thank you.”  I can proudly say I said it with confidence.  As I said it, I thought, I do not need those toxins in my body.

I watched them consume.  I had the fantasy of saying to them, “You realize you’re killing yourself.  You’re destroying your bodies.  You’re encouraging slavery in Florida.  It doesn’t need to be this way.”  I didn’t.  Still, I wavered between horror and envy, wanting to feel the sensation of a velvety cream frosting upon my lips and tongue.

Inevitably, some compromises will be made.  I will probably, after the 30 day challenge, have a couple vegetables, even if steeped in butter from bad cows.  But I’ll continue to refrain from the potatoes, even though they looked pretty good, roasted, salty, inviting.

Dinner I could control:  leftovers.  Cod curry over broccoli, and a spinach salad.   The curry tasted better after a couple days, the flavors mingling, and more robust.  My lady friend thought it was a little salty the previous evening, but Cod requires salt.

The work out was 5 x 5 – 185 lb backsquats.  I had a longer day, so as I didn’t go to Stamford, my form wasn’t perfect.  I’m still not very flexible on my squat, but I was able to push myself up when I let the weight push me down.  I did do 4 strong minutes of rowing, and 10 minutes of run-walking in my new Vibram shoes.

And I weighed myself.  It was encouraging.

But I’ll wait to share the details.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , , ,

Temptation #2

January 25, 2010 1 comment

My brother, who lives with me, made some chocolate chip cookies last night.  Inspired, my housemate went out to get some milk and made some brownies, which he left right square in the middle of the kitchen.

Normally, if I were my thoughtless self, I’d just have a piece.  Then another.  Then another.  In another time, it would have been breakfast.

Fortunately he makes them from a box.

I walked around it and considered it just another blog entry.

My brother placed the cookies up and out of sight.   Fan later moved the brownies as well.

It’s not that hard right now because I’m focused.  I have plenty of alternatives in the refrigerator.  I’ve got a half pound of sliced turkey, marinated olives and cut up carrots for snacks.  I even have Larabars.

I do not need box made brownies.  They are signifiers of all that has ever been wrong with modern food.  I reject them, no matter what instant pleasure they may give me.

No to brownies, made by Duncan Hines, placed in the middle of the kitchen.

I’m sure they’re taking bets to see when I’ll succumb.

Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , ,

The First Grocery Store Trip

January 25, 2010 2 comments

I left the seminar rearing to go.  I’d been paid, and all the money saved by  not spending on the recent 2007 vintage of Rhone wines would be spent going to Whole Foods, the great consumer of the bourgeois paycheck.

It was on my way home.

I don’t go to Whole Foods that often.  Vegetables are cheaper at Apple Farms, and I mainly go to my local butcher for Bell and Evans chicken.  Stop and Shop usually is more economical.  Some specialty items are, however, less expensive at Whole Foods – high quality yogurt, Kombucha, and the occasional 3 pounder of strawberries.  But add a few artisenal cheeses from Vermont, Prosciutto from Italy, and Wild Salmon and a reasonable bill goes from $50 to $150.

My project was fairly simple:  get some meat, olives, and a bag of spinach for the day until I had time to go to Apple Farms, where red peppers are $.99 a pound.  Yes, they’re probably farmed using slave labor, robots, or inside somewhere.   At least the meat will be happy.

They had a few sales.  Wild cod for $11.99 a lb.  Yes, that’s a sale.  But it is wild, and the instructors ver very clear that wild is best. It was cheaper than the wild Salmon, which is probably a hundred dollars a pound by now.   A got a couple steaks, and looked for some bacon.

A few years ago, when I gave up high fructose corn syrup, I made sure I read all the labels. Just one trip to the grocery store and the educated foodie learns what an uphill battle eating right will be.  Everything has it.  It’s probably an easy way to give up most store-bought bread, because there are only a few bakeries that don’t use it in their ingredients.

The same for sugar.

I’d done some research.  One, Applegate Farms, seemed fairly reliable as a producer of organic, friendly meats, including a variety of comfort foods.    Alongside them was Niman Ranch, one of the first national distributors of heritage meats in the country.   Neither had nitrates.  Both came from happy pigs.  But Niman Ranch added one ingredient that would eliminate it from anyone following a strict Paleo diet, who intended to go 30 days on the straight and narrow.


It wasn’t corn syrup or a sugar variation.  It was a more friendly variety:  raw cane sugar; cane juice; turbinado sugar; maple syrup.  But no matter how friendly the ingredient seems, it is still the enemy.  It is still “less bad.”  It is still the toxin most responsible for our health care crisis, world-wide famine, and will bring us ever closer to the apocalypse.   Only Applegate farms eliminated this ingredient.

Sugar, the pleasurable toxin of choice, was everywhere.

Not that I’m judgmental.  I still have not yet had to resist Chocolate Chip cookies or a bar of Scharffen Berger chocolate.   Instead, I’ve replaced these decadent joys with Larabars.  Melissa, the coach, sometimes puts a health spread on them:  I might choose almond butter.   Larabars, made only from fruit and nuts, will eventually enjoy their own entry on this blog.

I was able to pass the dairy section with merely placing a dozen eggs in my basket.  I didn’t purchase the dessert-like The Greek Gods fig Yogurt.   I walked straight past their cheese station, even though I’m sure there was a block of Jasper Hill Blue waiting for me.   I didn’t pick up a six pack of Rogue, and after passing the deli for some turkey, I went straight to the check out counter.  Success for $133.47.

I might have gone a little overboard with the steaks.

But I’m at least prepared for a week.