Weight Loss & Being Frugal

A nice bowl of stoup!

This isn’t about comparing the relative costs of grass-fed beef against factory-farmed meat. Nor is it comparing the merits and pricing of organic veggies to those herbicide and pesticide-laden choices we sometimes make. This is about the challenge of sticking to a diet when you’ve been endowed with the frugality gene. And I am so endowed with the frugality gene!

Being raised in a household where “clean your plate” was a dinner time mantra, I learned my lessons well. Perhaps too well. I struggle to leave that token amount on the plate. What a waste of good food, I just can’t do it! My habits are more to the contrary, and I’ll mop up whatever residue remains on the plate with just one more bread roll. Buttered, heavily, of course. Now that I mostly don’t eat bread, I have nothing to mop up my plate with. And I haven’t reached the point of licking the plate yet! But I have transferred the expression of my frugality gene to the fridge.

As we approach garbage day, I start surveying any foods that are likely to wind up in the garbage. Or that I know will not be consumed by other members of the household. I feel obliged to consume such foods. And I often do it in the form of a stoup. A dish that is too thin to be stew. Yet too thick to be soup.

My latest stoup was an Irish-German-Mexican-Thai fusion! Garlic & onion, sauteed in the bottom of a large pot starts the process. Add a liter of (organic, as it happens!) chicken broth to the pot. One large, peeled & sliced, potato as a thickener for the broth. Then I go hunting through the fridge. A full head of cabbage, excellent! A bunch of ignored cilantro. Half a dozen wieners that somehow survived a barbecue. Oh look, a little bowl of leftover mashed potato! And another chicken broth container, with a little less than half the contents remaining. A quick smell … yep, that’s good too. Good job I had that extra mashed potato to thicken up all that extra liquid! A couple of slices of cooked bacon. Wash the inside of that German mustard jar with a little broth & in that goes to the pot. Another half an onion in a container. And … wait for it … half a tub of sour cream! Season that pot with some salt, pepper, some other weird condiment mixes & then … a spoon of curry powder. Absolutely essential that.
Oops, now I’m short some liquid. Can’t spoil the pot by adding water, can I? But a can of coconut milk will do the trick!

I can tell you that this was quite delicious. And I should also admit that that one cute little bowl of stoup in the pic wasn’t all I ate!

It probably wasn’t the perfect dish to have on what should have been a low-carb day. Though I’m sure I’ve done worse. But, being frugal, I’m forced to eat all those leftover foods that others (all of them skinny!) won’t eat. It’s just not fair!

But … with all the money I’ve saved … we’re going out & I’m going to treat myself to a nice steak dinner now! 🙂

Keeping Busy When Fasting?

Keeping Busy When Fasting?

One Pot Cooking - Beef Roast

One Pot Cooking – Forgot to take a pic of the ham, oops! This is a beef roast that received similar treatment. Clean-up is a breeze! The fat is in there because of the Omega 3 content in grass-fed beef. And it’s so tasty!

I thought I’d try a fast day at the weekend. My fast days are typically shortened when I give in to temptation and eat dinner in the evening. That’s not all bad but, every now and again, I would like to do a full wake cycle fast. Aside from weight loss, there are supposed to be all sorts of health benefits associated with fasting and I wanted some of that. I started out the day committed, very committed. But then don’t I always! 🙂

I knew I needed to keep busy and watching soccer on TV is not keeping busy. Knowing you can’t eat is exactly what triggers thinking about food. Almost non-stop. It’s the old story about what happens when someone tells you to not think about the elephant! I wondered if I could turn that around and use it to get a positive result.

And so, I decided to spend my free time cooking!

I had a nice ham in the fridge. Pasture raised pork, what could be better? I’m not a fan of clean up so most of my cooking happens in a single pot or pan. One Pot Cooking has been a thing for me since my school years. I browned a chopped onion and half a dozen cloves of garlic in olive oil first. Tossed in the ham and covered it with two liters of organic chicken broth (what can I say, again it was all I had to hand, that’s bulk buying for you), a little rosemary, salt and pepper. Now I had some food to focus on!

This thing bubbled along its merry way for about 4 hours before I lifted it out and put it on a plate to settle. It was falling off the bone tender and it smelled so delicious. While everyone else enjoyed their meal, I was eyeing up the pot of liquid. A few more chopped onions, three diced potatoes, and a bag of frozen peas later, the pot was bubbling again. A tablespoon of curry powder and another of coriander, along with a couple of habanero peppers from the garden, and my nose told me I was done. When it had done its thing, a few minutes bouncing the hand blender off the bottom of the pot gave me this luxuriously thick, heavy soup. I added back some of the shredded ham to finish it off.

What do you think I did next?

I apportioned the whole pot to a set of containers and stuck ’em all in the freezer. Along with the rest of the ham.

But I made it through one complete fast day without anything other than coffee and water. The answer to the opening question is that to avoid eating on a fast day … I cook!

Attaboy Paul!!!

 

Potatoes & Blood Glucose

Potatoes & Blood Glucose

Potatoes

Earth’s Other Gold!

I just knew I shouldn’t have written about potatoes yesterday! Maybe it was in my head to do this already, but writing about it made it a certainty. I had spuds for dinner yesterday. Lots of them!

When trying to lose weight, one of the first categories of foods that fat people tend to drop is all the white stuff. Sugar, flour, rice & potatoes. While I’ve done that, & I’m sure I’ll do it again, it may not be necessary to do it all the time. Though not diabetic, I have one of those little glucose test meters. Every now & again, I’ll pull it out to test how my body is reacting to whatever my latest dietary penchant is. Usually, I’m doing it to prove I can safely eat more of something that I think I ought not to be eating. And spuds are one thing that I want to repeatedly prove that I can eat more of!

Most of the week, my glucose levels were between 5.1 & 5.5 mmol/l (92 & 99 mg/dl), even after meals. When I’m monitoring like this, my fingers look like pin cushions so I measured immediately after eating, one & two hours after eating, etc. That was still my range. Pretty good, eh! Yesterday, however, I boiled & cooled a huge pot of potatoes. I stuck them in the fridge to cool, in order to convert some of the starch to resistant starch (more on this another day). Then I pan-fried them, in the leftover grease from frying bacon (pasture raised this time), with an onion. Finally, I added a large pot of boiled Brussels sprouts to the pan. Along with all the herbs & seasonings. I ate dinner from the “bucket” that was the focus of my post from a few days back. I was stuffed. And I mean really stuffed. So what happened to my blood sugar level?

After eating, it was 7.2 (130 ml/dl) mmol/l. A little over three hours later it was 6.8 (122 ml/dl) mmol/l & this morning, it was 6.1 mmol/l (110 mg/dl). Those aren’t really awful, & they’re a little slow to come down for sure. Still, I prefer to be in the five point something range most of the time. I was, however, running low carb prior to this so maybe my body needs to get used to controlling carbs again? Hey, I like that concept … I’m going to feast on potatoes for the next couple of days to see if the glucose control improves! Whoohoo!

Oops! I forgot to mention something. I ate a large, oil & vinegar drenched, feta & tomato salad before the bucket of spuds. And someone might have left a bit of steak on their plate that I just had to have a taste of. In my defense, it was a grass-fed steak! And … about an hour after dinner … I had a big bowl of that raisin, nut & chocolate mix. With these really sweet, dried fig, mango & coconut balls. All covered in cream. I wonder if that did anything to the blood sugar! 🙂

I was also supposed to be on a one meal day fast, with dinner being the one meal. I guess it turned into three meals at dinner time. Is that okay, d’ya think!?!

Down 9.2 lbs.

Bit in a Bucket!

Bit in a Bucket!Beef & Cabbage Chilurri

Whenever anyone asked my mother if her child would eat such & such a food for dinner, my mother’s standard response was …

“Just give him a bit in a bucket & he’ll eat it.”

Dismissive though it sounds, it was pretty accurate. I would eat anything. Indeed, I would probably prefer to have my meal served in a bucket because it held so much more than a plate or a bowl could. That proved all too prophetic as the years went by. Today, & I can’t believe I’m admitting this out loud, but when no one’s around, my preferred serving dish is a large, round, plastic storage container! Not only can this baby hold an amazing amount of food, but as you get towards the end, you can tilt it on its side to get every last morsel into the bottom “corner” to scoop it out. To make matters worse, it’s the best way to eat in front of the TV!

I try to justify this as being a hangover from my student days. It was really just a time saving techniques, wasn’t it? I only prepared meals in one pot, or on one pan, in order to reduce clean-up time. Dumping everything into a large bowl did the same. I would stir my tea with a dessert spoon & then use that to eat my dinner from the large bowl. Besides, forks might leave a morsel in the bottom! Efficiency was everything. Back then, there were too many pubs to visit. And life was too short to waste any of it washing dishes. And as children, we were encouraged to clean our plates so I was really just adhering to my childhood training.

Much though I hate skinny people telling me that “it’s all about portion control”, I know I’m a little beyond the pale with this particular one-bowl strategy. That said, it is what it is, & I do really enjoy my alone-time occasionally. With my favourite bowl.

When I’m paying more attention though, I do try to fill my big bowl with better choices. It’s an unbelievable way to eat massive amounts of poutine, for example. And if you don’t know what that is, you just have to pause & look it up. Okay so that’s NOT one of the better choices for weight loss! 🙂

Last night, as I’m trying to change things, I chose a “normal” bowl. And I filled it with a one-pot grass-fed beef roast & cabbage chilurry. Chilurry is my own special blend of chili & curry. I sometimes can’t make up my mind what I want so I combine the flavours. And grass-fed beef chilurri sounds so much more sophisticated than boiled beef & cabbage, doesn’t it!

How does it rate as a good dietary choice though? The essential fats balance of the grass-fed beef choice is probably understandable. Cabbage is a fantastic no-penalty volume veggie so it’s a no-brainer ingredient. Garlic & onions are essential, they’ve got miraculous super-food powers & stuff, & they taste so good. Add 2 litres of organic bone broth, thickened only by three (okay, it was five) potatoes, & it’s a dish fit for a king. Or for a fat guy trying to get thin!

Full disclosure … I had three of those piddly little bowls before I was happy. And the 2nd & 3rd weren’t like the one in the pic, they were filled to overflowing! 🙂

It does look nice though, doesn’t it!

Let Them Eat Plastic!

Steel Water Bottle

Let Them Eat Plastic!

I watched a CBC Marketplace show the other day. It might have been a rerun of an older one, but it was all about plastic water bottles. We’ve all heard the horrible stories about plastic in the ocean impacting fish, whales, and so on but this one was about their potential impact on us. The show folk ran around buying brand name water from four cities across Canada and they brought them all to McGill University, in Montreal. Here, they ran tests on them to see if there were tiny plastic particles in the water we like to drink.

There were! It turned out these particles, though to a lesser extent, were in some glass bottled waters too.

For the most part, I choose to drink tap water. It runs through the filter on my fridge. Though I often hit the reset button on the change light when it comes up, rather than change the filter right away. As it turns out, some of these commercial water bottles are filled with tap water too. Sure, it’s filtered while being bottle but, sometimes, we’re just paying a silly price for tap water. And the environmentally unfriendly plastic bottle comes along for the ride. Who knew!

It seems that there’s so much of this stuff going around these days, & not just from water bottles, that it shows up in our oceans, lakes and rivers. And they can detect them in the fish we eat. So are we now eating and drinking micro-plastic particles?

Now nobody really knew if these plastic particles were doing us any harm. But that’s sometimes the case with such things, often for years, and then all hell breaks lose. While they figure all that out, we might be better off not drinking water coming in plastic bottles. It’s not that I have 100% faith in the water quality coming from our municipalities either. But if the bottled water is coming from the same source, but with added plastic particles, I think I’ll stick with the regular tap water for the most part.

I guess I’m a bit of a closet tree-hugger. I’m far too macho to be going around openly trying to save the planet. I want to pillage it and get rich! But while I do that, I’m going to dig out my stainless steel water bottle to remain hydrated! 🙂

Now I’m worried about the poor folk at the water bottling plant being out of work. Modern living is way too complex sometimes.

Note from yesterday’s post … the debreceni sausage wasn’t to my taste. I’ve had really good debreceni before, it’s just this one that I didn’t like. The recipe, however, was good so I’ll try it again with another sausage. Regardless, and in retribution, I behaved really badly afterwards. I ate lots of sea salt & caramel chocolate bark with my cherry ice cream. Twice! Oops!!!