Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Single Mom Food

Yep, several days as a single parent again.  What with getting up, trying to work out, making breakfast, packing lunches, cooking dinner, doing dishes 2x a day, giving my son a bath, taking out the recycling, doing puzzles, reading books, playing with legos, dropoff and pickup at school...I'm beat.

I made a whole pound of whole wheat pasta with roasted vegetables, cheeses, and tomatoes on Saturday, and have been eating it for lunch and/or dinner every day this week.  Sometimes with salsa and avocado, sometimes with frozen or fresh veggies mixed in.  We got corn from the CSA yesterday, and I couldn't face washing lettuce, so carrot sticks it was.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Post race meal

Turkey sandwich, melon, and I already ate the green beans.

Pre race meal was toast with peanut butter and banana.

Time was 1:02:58, a full 45 sec. faster than last year.  Splits aren't up yet, but I can tell you I lost time on the bike-run transition.  My spot on the rack was taken, I knocked someone else's bike off while trying to squeeze mine back in, then had to put theirs back on, and mine back on, all the while trying to ignore my coworker yelling my name from the sidelines.

Updated to add splits:
Swim: 1:05 faster than last time!  Next year: try to break 14:00 mins (this year was 14:13).
T1: 30 secs faster, even getting on the Vibrams.  Not sure if I can break 3 min getting those on.
Bike: 32 secs slower than last year.  Short of getting a road bike instead of a mountain bike, or getting pedals with the straps on top, not sure what I can do here.  Not interested in spending $600-1000 on a bike to get faster here.  I mostly use my bike to ride to work.
T2: 5 sec faster, even with the problem getting my spot back.
Run: 23 sec slower.  Last year, I'd just come off a half marathon.  This year, I had a side stitch and kinda felt like puking for half the run.  I was a hair slower than a 10 min mile.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

The ABC's of me

This has been going around, and I think it's fun.  So I decided to do it.

The ABC’s of Me:
A. Age: 40-something.
B. Bed size: Queen.
C. Chore you dislike: Cleaning
D. Dogs: None.
E. Essential start to your day: Tea
F. Favorite colors: teal, purple
G. Gold or silver: Gold.
H. Height: 5’3’’ on my tiptoes
I. Instruments you play(ed): Clarinet, for a few months in elementary school.
J. Job title: engineering manager/senior engineer/mom/chief cook and bottle washer.
K. Kids: One
L. Live: Central Coast Cali
M. Mom’s name: Mom
N. Nicknames: Eminem.  Or M&M.
O. Overnight hospital stays: Two, surgery when a kid and then I had a kid.
P. Pet peeves: Poor grammar and people who text when driving.
Q. Quote from a movie: "Son, you're in a heap of trouble" - Cars
R. Righty or lefty: Righty.
S. Siblings: Eight, yep, eight of 'em.  I'm 8 of 9.
T. Time you wake up: Between 5 and 5:30 am.
U. Underwear: Yes.
V. Vegetables you don’t like: Fennel.
W. What makes you run late: My child.
X. X-rays you’ve had: Bunch of 'em.  Mostly for my teeth.
Y. Yummy food you make: Just about anything.  But I am the queen of appetizers and salads.
Z. Zoo animal you like: eh...we go to the zoo to ride the train. I guess I like the penguins.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Week in Pictures - the "Free Food" Edition.

It can be overwhelming sometimes, but a key to frugal cooking is to not say no to free food (unless it's terribly unhealthy food.  I mean, I say no to cookies and brownies all the time).  This holds true even if preserving the food is a lot of work.  But friends know I am willing to take free food so it won't be wasted.  Case in point: my neighbor gives me free fish (missed out this week, we weren't home when he called).  My engineer also goes fishing, and gave me a huge bag of mackerel.  Need to figure out how to cook that.  I think that will be a project for the long weekend.  Maybe grill it.

This week in free food:

My boss brought in a big bushel of apples from his orchard.  After a couple of days of letting other people have their fill, I took a huge bag home.  Made homemade crockpot cinnamon-applesauce.

Totally unrelated to food, but my son had a fever/cough this week, and we spent 2 days at home.  Our method when this happens is that my spouse and I split the day.  We basically look at our schedules and see who can be at home when (with meetings, etc.)  Of course, when he's traveling, it's all me.

Our farm had an "all the early girl tomatoes you can pick" day.  Bring a friend, bring water, go nuts.  My son was sick that day.  So I sent my husband and said "3 or 4 lbs".  He forgot about that and came home with 30 lbs.  We did give some away to friends, but decided to do some canning.  Thursday after work, we made salsa. 
Canning is a lot of work.  Not so much the CANNING part, which does require a big canning pot of boiling water and a smaller pot to keep the jars warm, but the blanching, peeling, chopping, and seeding of tomatoes.  Chopping peppers and onions is easier.  Lotta work for 6 pints (about 4 hrs, but not steady work).  Doing something like this at the end of a work day is pretty tough, and I would not have been able to do it without the spouse.  I cooked dinner that night too.

A random breakfast photo.  After the night of canning, I was too tired to prep my overnight oats.  So instead, for breakfast the next day: yogurt, banana, Love Grown foods granola, and some peanuts.

Saturday, in between triathlon training and my annual quilter's potluck, we canned spaghetti sauce.  Again, lotta work to chop and simmer the veggies, but the actual canning part is pretty fast.  Spouse does the canning part (cleaning the jars, filling them, putting them in the big pot).
 And now the tomatoes are all gone.

Gotta go find a missing lego...

Monday, August 15, 2011

A variety of meals

I had every intention of blogging about each of these separately, and including tallies and all.  But life (sick child, work, triathlon training) gets in the way sometimes.  So, it's one big post while my sick kid naps on the couch.

Salad with deli turkey meat.

Fried organic potatoes and onion (fried in a little olive oil and coconut oil)

Carrot soup with ginger (DEELICIOUS - leftovers tonight).  Organic carrots are 79 cents a pound.  Add onion, garlic, ginger, stock, a pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper...can't go wrong with this one.

Whole wheat penne with roasted peppers, roasted cherry tomatoes, roasted garlic, plus a "sauce" of goat cheese, gouda, parmesan, and the cooking water.  Topped with avocado.  More leftovers tonight.

Smoothie-in-a-bowl: strawberries, banana, and milk, topped with Lovegrown foods granola that I won from Biz's giveaway.

Stir-fry: local free range beef (Rancho San Julian) with frozen veggie stir-fry mix from Costco.  Plus green onion, garlic, and ginger, a little sesame oil-soy sauce-rice vinegar.  And sriracha on top (natch!).  Over a bit of brown rice.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Overnight Oats

I have to thank Kalli for reminding me of how much I like these. With the new diet, I am always looking for simple, easy, and healthy breakfasts. Ones that I can eat day after day, knowing exactly how many points they will set me back (8).
I’ve eaten them so much the last two weeks, I think I may turn into a chia banana. Ooh. I am almost out of chia seeds.

Overnight oats: (for one). In a bowl, mix:
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats: $0.08
1 Tbsp chia seeds: 0.10 (I don’t actually remember what I paid for these)
1 banana, diced: 0.19
1/3 cup plain yogurt: 0.26
½ cup plain milk: 0.21
Sprinkle of cinnamon: 0.05
Pinch salt
Let sit in the fridge overnight. In the morning, stir in
1 Tbsp sunflower seed butter (or other nut butter): 0.12 for sunflower seed butter, the others in my fridge are cheaper
Total: $1.01 for a nice big bowl.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Viva La Fiesta!

Ah Fiesta time. That 5-day period where tourists descend on Santa Barbara. To enjoy the scenery, watch the traditional dancing, eat the amazing food, and get drunk off their asses.

I’m not really into fiesta. I’d like to be. It’s not like I’m AGAINST festivals. I like festivals! But, they can be expensive money sinks and the food is not that healthy. If the only festival in the area was fiesta, I would go and happily enjoy it. But. We’ve got the French Festival, the Greek Festival, the Lemon Festival, the Avocado festival, I Madonnari. Plus the Santa Barbara fair and expo, Earth Day. All with some sort of rides and carnival foods and opportunity to buy stuff.

I enjoy the lemon festival’s $5 (last-year’s) t-shirts. I also enjoy a lemon beer, or lemon ice cream. All of the festivals sell some pretty good lemonade. I got great vegan food at Earth Day. But it’s not cheap. My spouse and child enjoyed Fiesta on Friday. They bought a fried doughy treat and spent $30 on an all-day ride pass. Which can be worth it, as the rides are $2 to $5 each. My son is still too short for many of the rides. In the past, I have loved watching the dancing at the Mission or the Courthouse (free), sitting on a blanket and eating our snacks.

This year, I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve been trying to lose some weight, and deep-fried Mexican food is not the way to get there. There are several options during fiesta –a few locations, various booths run by different school and community groups. The best food, my local friends tell me, is at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Which isn’t really part of the official fiesta festivities, it just happens to be well-timed to align with fiesta. I’ve been there before, and the food is indeed good. I met friends for lunch there Saturday. The lunch was late (1:45 pm) because of their son’s late nap. As I’d done my triathlon training in the morning (including getting my ass whomped by two 5 foot waves while trying to exit the ocean – yeah, that was effing scary), I was pretty much ravenous at noon. So, while I could have found healthy options, such as chicken soft tacos (tortillas, chicken, onion, cilantro, hot sauce), I had to pass. I’d already eaten lunch. I did enjoy a soda and a chat with my friends though.

Most of the fiesta food is fried and salty. There’s always room in a diet for a little bit of that. But I try to avoid it.  Especially since Saturday is only 2 days before my weigh in.  And we know what happens when I eat salty food.  Anyway:  Taquitos (fried). Tostadas (fried tortillas). Hard tacos (fried). Sopes with lots of heavy meats, sour cream, and cheese. Churros (fried and covered in sugar).  Ah…luckily for me I wasn’t hungry. I bought the soda, a churro to take home for the family, and a few fiesta eggs (might have to learn to make those myself).
Sunday, however, I decided to re-create a healthified tostada. I think the tostadas at the church were $3 or $4 each. Here are mine:

Tostadas: To make two

Fat free refried beans: pinto beans, garlic, onion, pureed in the food processor until desired consistency. Dried pintos are $0.79 a pound, and you get about 6 cups cooked per pound. Half a cup of cooked beans would be about 7 cents.  I microwaved some onion and garlic to go in there, but I needed to add more salt or spice.
Cooked chicken: I cooked a whole chicken or two from the farmer’s market. A whole chicken is $12. I get about 4 cups of cooked chicken for this. Half a cup of cooked chicken is then $1.50
Pico de gallo: tomatoes, onions, cilantro: $0.30 per half cup. Or less.
Avocado: $1 each, 1/3 of an avo for two tostadas.  There's no magic in the amount.  There are 3 of us in the family.
Lettuce: $0.10 a cup
Salsa: My favorite is $0.37 for 2 Tbsp. You don’t really need it with the pico.
Tortillas: Two small are $0.17. The key here is to spray with cooking spray and bake until crispy, so they are not fried. A little chili powder and cumin can spice them up.
Sour cream: 2 Tbsp of light comes out to $0.11
Cheese: I avoided this for me, but for the family, ½ ounce of cheddar is 6 cents.  But I didn't feel like shredding it, so we skipped it.

Total for two tostadas: $3.01, or half the price of buying them at Fiesta. Maybe less even. And certainly healthier. And at fiesta, you wouldn’t get the avocado.  Mine were not very authentic, I'm sure.  The beans could have been better - I did not fry them up in oil, which really deepens the flavor.  I was feeling lazy.  But I was happy with the result.

Fiesta eggs: These are eggs with a hole cut on the bottom. Egg removed, cleaned, dried, and painted. Then they are filled with confetti, and closed up with some tissue paper. You break one on someone’s head while saying “Viva La Fiesta!”, and they get confetti in their hair and on their clothes.  I guess you have to be there. You can buy them for 3 or 4 for $1.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Daily Weight Tracking

Yesterday, Biz had a disappointing weigh in at Weight Watchers, and she was looking for some cheerleading.  I was happy to oblige.  One of the tips that I gave her was to weigh yourself every day.  I know that WW discourages this so that you don't get "obsessed".  But as an engineer, I prefer to have knowledge...knowledge of how my weight fluctuates day to day NORMALLY. 

My weight fluctuates over the course of a month, but it also changes depending on what I eat.  If I eat processed for or other overly salty food (meals out or pickles, for example), then I will retain water.  This was no more true than my first weigh in on WW online two weeks ago, where I'd gained weight from the week before.  The day before the weigh in I'd gone to two parties.  There were tacos, chips and bean dip, bacon wrapped water chestnuts...and even though I stayed within my weekly points and didn't use any of my 41 activity points for the week, I gained.  And the weight stayed high for 3 days.

By getting on the scale daily, I can see not only how sodium affects my weight - which both lets me relax about the gains AND reminds me to be careful about sodium - BUT I can also see that my weight fluctuates for no obvious reasons.  It's the overall downward trend that matters.

So here's a graph of my weight for the last 3 weeks, since I started counting my points again.  Peaks and valleys, but with an overall downward trend.  For fun, I am saving a copy of my daily meals and exercise in a folder in my computer, so someday I can look back and see what was successful and what was not.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Today's Topic: Weight loss, and how thin is too thin?

I got some very nice comments about my weight loss on my blog.  Thank you. :)  I am happy that the scale is going in the right direction finally - I've always had success with Weight Watchers in the past.  But the first time I lost weight (57 lbs) in 2002 the plan was different than it was in 2008 (when I lost the baby weight).  And it's different again now.  So it always makes me nervous, especially as I get older.

I even updated my "goal weight" from 128 (where it's been FOREVER) to a more realistic 132 lbs - where I can maintain it pretty easily, once I get there.  You see, my husband and a couple of friends think <130 is "too thin".

What is "too thin"?  Well, that will depend on the person.  For each individual, I recommend looking up a BMI chart and/or height weight chart for your height - and be totally honest about your "frame".  There are many ways to figure out your frame size.  One way is to look at the size of your elbow or wrist.  Here's the problem: I've got small bones.  But a big butt and thighs.  The size of my wrist says nothing about the massive muscles I'm toting around.  For that reason, I put myself in "medium" frame.

And then be honest about your age.  People gain weight as they age.  Until recently, it was thought that this is bad for you.  However, recent studies note that your hips get wider as you age - your actual bones (true for men and women), so you almost cannot avoid gaining weight due to that alone.
If you are at a healthy weight for your height and frame, and you are fit, try to avoid hitting that magic "number".  It may be a number you had at 18 (and now you're 40).  It may be a number that your best friend has (YOU ARE NOT YOUR BEST FRIEND).  It may be that elusive number that you  never saw.  Is that number a healthy number for you?  If not, don't do it.  Is it those jeans you used to wear that don't fit?  (Remember, your hips get wider as you age!  You may never see those jeans again!)

Now, there are a lot of people, as you lose weight, who will tell you that you are getting "too thin".  I experienced that when I lost the 57 lbs in 2002.  I find that these people fall into four categories:

1.  The overweight people who are jealous of you for losing weight.  (I didn't know any of these people.  I was the fat one.  But I've BEEN one of those people.)
2.  The thin people who look at you as the "fat friend" and feel threatened that you are no longer that person.
3.  The friends who are just USED to you looking a certain way.
4.  The close family/friends who really think you are getting too thin.  Like, my friends who point out that I am starting to look a little too gaunt as I get to 130 lbs. 

I didn't always have the "gauntness" problem - it has happened as I have gotten older.   Less plumpness in the cheeks.  The trimmer the face, the older I look.  I guess I'd prefer to be 41 and look 30-something at 132 lbs than be 41 and look 41 at 128 lbs.

So, if you are trying to lose weight, and someone tells you are getting "too thin", consider the source.  And if a friend is trying to lose weight, and you are thinking of telling them that they are getting "too thin", think FIRST about why you think that.  THEN, if it's REALLY because they are getting too thin, and NOT because of any other reason, go ahead and say it.  Nicely.  Gently.  With a smile.  And if they disagree with you, drop it.

(For a little while anyway...if there's a risk of an eating disorder - bring it up again!)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Big salad with marinated portobello mushrooms and skillet pasta

What can I say, I saw a couple of beautiful large portobello mushrooms at the store, and I bought two.  I followed the recipe to roast the mushrooms in Veganomicon, and made a big salad.  That was our dinner two nights in a row.  Walnuts, goat cheese (naturally, this was not on the Veganomicon recipe), avocado, white beans, cucumber...on top of spinach and romaine. 

Skillet pasta (with another salad) on another day:

Onions, peppers, collard greens, garlic, spices, marinara sauce, pasta, water.  One pot.  Done quickly, except for the chopping.  If you want a "go to" meal on a night that you get home late, have to cook dinner, deal with a child, and get ready quickly after dinner to go to the pool at the Y, this is it.  (On that note...time to go to the Y).

Oh, and I made my spouse lemon cupcakes from scratch.  His birthday is this week.  He had to make his own frosting.  Recipe was from Vegan with a Vengeance, but I used regular milk (it's what I had), so they aren't vegan.  Nice and lemony though.

On another note...week 1 on Weight Watchers on line, and I gained a pound.  This week, I lost 3.8 lbs.  Just goes to tell you that eating too much sodium the day before your weigh in will mess you up for a few days.  Only 11 more lbs to go.