Results … Month #11

I don’t have a result for this month yet because I can’t get to my scale. I’m writing this from my hospital bed!

My book wasn’t on the used books rack! Might have to sneak back in & donate!

Instead of writing up this month’s results, I’m worried about how my upcoming surgery will impact my weight-loss strategies. My superstitious Celtic nature prevents me from talking about the surgery now (in case I hex things!) but I will cover it later. Along with whatever new challenges that it might impose on my diet. But please, God, let me still be able to eat lots of fat. And hot & spicy stuff!

The dietary component of this week’s post is about the food provided by, what I believe is our best medical facility on the east coast. I’ve been in the Halifax Infirmary, part of the QE II medical complex in downtown Halifax, all week. Up until a few days ago, they fed me salty water in a bag. They they finally served me breakfast. They shouldn’t have bothered!

A low-fat yogurt, with added sugar. A lighter-than-air bread roll, that might as well be sugar. Accompanied by an industrial seed oil margarine. A refined grain cereal, ‘nuf said. And to wash it all down with? A wan-looking 1% milk. Who drinks this stuff!?! Even baby cows would be repulsed!

Now I have spotted better leftovers down the hall so, after a little chat with my favourite catering services person, I’m hoping things will fatten up for me going forward! ๐Ÿ˜

Meantime, you can’t help but wonder how menu planning advances happen in the medical world. Most of the folk working here know all about keto, low-carb, whole food, paleo, and so on. And I see them sneaking off to their break room with real food under their arm! Okay, a big chocolate chocolate chip muffin is a bit dubious. But if you’re gonna be bad, then be really bad. One day they’ll rise up & help us powerless patients get some real food too. I can only hope it’s before my next visit!

Talking of the people, they’re something special here. I’m sure everyone says that about their favourite local hospitals. But I think these guys have pushed the curve far to the right. I am almost ready to bawl my eyes out witnessing the patience, the perseverance, and pure kindness so many of these good folk bring to their job. And for the people who depend on them. Broken and distressed, as we patients can sometimes find ourselves.

Thanks a bunch, all you guys at the 4.2 & downstairs, I truly luv y’all. Even those cruel few who take just a little too much pleasure in taking my “vitals” at 4 in the morning!

But I hope the next time I see any of you again is in a pub. And when that happens, the beer’s on me!

ActiFry, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

ActiFry, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

One Big Pot!

Dieting is tough. If I don’t have the right food on hand, I’m going to eat the wrong food, right!?! Bulk cooking is a way to ensure that we always have a meal in a container. And if we’re lucky, it’s a meal that meets the dietary requirements for our current regimen. When it comes to bulk cooking, I want to make the maximum amount of food, with the minimum of fuss. And as little mess as possible. That usually means that I pull out my big 50 gallon pot. Or one of my one-pot wonders … the ActiFry, my Instant Pot, or my most recent acquisition, the slow cooker.

The benefit is that we can toss a bunch of stuff into any one of these things & hit go. Depending on which one gets fired up, we’re eating half an hour later. Or maybe we get to enjoy the cooking smells for 6 or 8 hours before we dig in. It’s our choice.

If speed is important, you just can’t beat the Instant Pot. It is fast, clean & efficient. The only drawback, & the failing in mine not the Pot’s, is browning. I don’t want to dirty another pan, so I brown my meat in the Instant Pot. I never deglaze properly &, as often than not, I get that burn warning when I close the lid. Forcing me to open it up, scrape the bottom of the Pot, & restart. For that very same reason, thickeners are better added at the end. That aside, this thing will turn old boots into melt-in-your-mouth food in double quick time. Depending on which model you go for, it does all sorts of other tricks. One of my favorites is the yogurt button. I like high fat yogurt & this thing does an amazing job with a no-boil yogurt. Though the cost for my preferred ingredients means that store-bought is probably still cheaper on sale. Since the pot liner is removable, cleanup is a breeze. This is a great little cooker.

Having ignored slow-cookers most of my life, I recently succumbed to peer pressure! With all day cooking times, having to think this far ahead was a little alien for me. But I found it surprisingly easy to get into the rhythm. Turns out that, as a morning person, it suits me. Toss a bunch of the appropriate foods into the crock, hit go, & come back later. Much later. I’m tired by the end of the day &, rather than cook, I tend to make poor choices with whatever is more readily available. If this baby is doing its thing all day, the cooking smells have me drooling by dinner time. And then it delivers! There were a couple of surprises here. The evaporative losses are minimal. So you wind up with almost the same amount of liquid at the end, as you started out with. This requires a little post processing if you want to thicken the sauce. The other surprise is that meat is tenderized to the point of falling apart. Yet the potatoes remain whole. How does that happen!?! Like the Instant Pot, browning may improve results. But you’ve got to do it on another pan. And that’s really the only downside. You don’t have to brown, but it does make the dish taste better. And look better.

The T-fal ActiFry is a well-used machine in our house! Diet or not, I like fried food. The first thing I did when I got this little beauty was toss out the little green spoon! You know the one? The instruction book tells you to limit yourself to two little spoonfuls of “heart-healthy” fat to make your French fries. Forget that! Hide that spoon & you will feel no guilt! I’ve tried everything in this. With & without the paddle. With & without the optional rotating basket. If you put enough fat in there, they all taste great. I generally use coconut oil or olive oil. But I’ve done bacon in the thing. And then used the bacon fat to cook French fries! Or mushrooms. Mmmmmmm! If you can stop fish sticking to the basket, that’s a great meal too. Other than the power cord getting a little hot during cooking, this little beast is great. I really like the flavor of the food coming from it.

My big pot! The good old fashioned saucepan. It’s a big thing with a small handle on either side, like little ears. You can beat this thing with a hammer, stir & scrape it with a metal spatula, or toss it outside the back door when the sink is full. The only downside is that you do need to sit it on the stove. For speed, it falls between the Instant Pot & the Slow Cooker. And, whether you need to or not, you’re going to come by to stir the contents every now & again. You can brown in it, but it too requires deglazing. Though it’s not as fussy as a lidded device. Its one big advantage is that liquids evaporate & the sauce thickens. Because you’re stopping by every now & again, it gets stirred & tasted. For a cook-by-feel person, that’s a plus. The other big plus of a plain old pot is its ability to release the flavors from spices. For me, that is mostly done by cooking the spices in hot oil for a few minutes, ahead of dumping in the major ingredients. By the time the cooking is done, this makes for a better blending of flavor than when you just add spices to the liquid in the pot.

So which one is best?

With the lidded-pots, you have to work a little harder to match the flavor of the regular old pot. But for convenience, you can’t beat these set-it-and-forget-it style pots. Fast or slow? Really depends on the day. The ActiFry is a totally different beast to the others. And it can be used by the low-fat & high-fat folk. Each one wins in a different way. But if you were to strand me on a desert island with just one, I’d probably have to stick with the trusty old pot.

Thankfully, I don’t have to choose. And they all have their place & space in my kitchen.

What’s your favorite?

Easter Eggs, Bunnies & Piggies

Easter Eggs, Bunnies & Piggies

Ever wish you liked tea!

If you check in on this blog for weight-loss tips, this is probably not the best month to do it! When I was a kid, the best part of Lent was getting fish ‘n’ chips on Fridays. My rebelliousness has only grown with age!

Though now, with Easter behind us, I wish fish ‘n’ chips was the worst choice I made over the Easter holiday. Sadly, I must confess to a little indulgence in the commercial chocolate-fest that is the product marketer’s version of Easter too!

Though to be fair, I tried to be good while I was being bad. The eggs on offer weren’t free range so I decided to go with the healthier wild game option … I ate chocolate bunnies!!! Unfortunately, they were milk chocolate. So help me, I never realized that ’til I was on the 4th one. ๐Ÿ™‚

This month, I was hoping to reverse some of last month’s gains. But spring can’t make up it’s mind whether it’s sprung, or not. Skies are grey, drizzle is constant, the morning fog is thick. Even the trees can’t decide if they should bud. An occasional good day makes me believe. And then it’s all snatched away again.

I wonder why there are only chocolate eggs, ducks & bunnies for Easter?

Are chocolate piggies too big a marketing challenge!!!

Results … Month #9

Results … Month #9

Results Month 9

I changed this month’s animated pic. Typically it would have proclaimed that I was “Down 32 lbs“, since I started the program. Instead, this month’s says that I “Gained 8 lbs“. I am keeping the Results post heading consistent but I didn’t want to hide the fact that this month’s efforts resulted in a pretty big weight gain. The first time that’s happened.

Of course, what I really wanted to do was scream out …

What a total loser! Or maybe it should be … What a total gainer!

What I said, after stepping on the scale this morning, was a tad worse. I won’t repeat it here. But you might be surprised to hear that I deliberately brought this all upon myself.

I had scheduled June for a bread test month. A couple of opportunities for some good bread eating turned up at the beginning of last month, so I flipped it to March. I have managed to work a lot of things back into my diet & I really wanted to see if I could integrate bread again. Why?

Because I love bread, of course!

For an entire month, I ate bread. Sometimes in controlled doses, at other times with abandon. And that wasn’t quite what my original intention was. It got so messy, so quickly, that I really haven’t learned anything new from what should have been a month of measured bread eating. I was so out of control that I was blaming eating bread for the slice of chocolate cake that followed. And for the bag of chips I scarfed while watching the big game on Saturday morning. For most of the month, bread was being blamed for everything. It was a total fiasco. I was, all at once, stressed, depressed, anxious & furious. And stuffed. It was all bread’s fault. It certainly wasn’t mine!

Was I anxious & depressed because I was eating all that bread? Or was it the anxiety that had me eating more bread than I intended? The whole month was so out of control that I didn’t know which came first … the chicken or the egg?

In fact, I didn’t care if it was the chicken or the egg, so long as they were between two slices of well-buttered bread!

Not only have I gained 8 lbs over the past month, but I’ve learned little to nothing from the experience. So I’ll have to do the bread month again. Properly this time. Just not anytime soon!

Now, a new month, a new start. It’s April. Maybe I’ll quit bread & smoking at the same time for the day that’s in it!?!

Happy Fool’s Day to all.

Unfortunately, I’m not foolin’ about the weight gain for March. It’s real.

Trying to be Kind in an era of Anti-Social Media

Trying to be Kind in an era of Anti-Social MediaAntiSocial Mediea

If you’re thinking I’m avoiding talking about my diet because I’m not doing so well at the moment … you’d be right! ๐Ÿ™‚

For the purpose of this piece, I’m going to blame my current, & hopefully temporary, lack of dietary success on the stresses of social media. Some folk are posting & sharing thoughts & beliefs that I could never have imagined coming out of their mouths. These are nice, kind, feeling, thinking people. I’ve spent time with them, eaten dinner with them, had a beer with them, & I can absolutely say that they are nice people. So why would such nice people flip out every now & again, to spread unkind thoughts, memes & tropes?

We seem to be pretty tribal by nature. We prioritize our family, our friends, our neighborhood, our city, state & country, over those of others. Maybe that’s okay up to a point. But it’s not so okay when we start belittling or taking action to lower the “others” position. If, without changing our own position or circumstance, we somehow feel elevated when we take down another, we are in a bad place.

Today’s social media platforms are an amazing way to stay in touch with family & friends around the world. They can be used to spread fun, joy & happiness. They can also be used as tools to denigrate each other, with the safety of that digital distance & anonymity between us. I have been so surprised by some of the posts & comments in recent times, that I renamed my social media app folder “AntiSocial”. Each time I open a social media app, it’s a quick reminder for me to think before I post.

Remember that old saying: if you don’t have something good to say, say nothing. It’s probably still sound advice, isn’t it? Now, I wish I could claim the high moral ground here & say that I am that kind of person. I wasn’t always & indeed, I’m sometimes not. But I think it’s worth trying to be that guy. And I am occasionally reminded of that, most often when someone has higher expectations of me, than I have of myself. We all have the capability of being good people.

This is a great day to remember all this because today, March 20th, is the International Day of Happiness. And spring arrives today!

Now that sounds like a great day to share a little of the good stuff on social media, doesn’t it!

Peace, love, happiness & all that sloppy, mushy stuff (Cut me some slack, I have to preserve some of my bad boy image here! ) to all of you. I hope each & every one of you finds an extra ration of happiness today, tomorrow, & beyond.

PS … I will get back to the diet talk, please bear with me while I battle my demons! ๐Ÿ™‚