Monday, June 22, 2015

What's for Dinner?

As I thought about it, I realized that I had misled you in yesterday's blog when I wrote that not much had changed since my last blog. That's not quite true. I still strive to maintain a diet of healthy, non-GMO foods and still exercise every day. But my husband gave me a birthday gift last October that radically changed how I manage and monitor my healthy lifestyle. I had asked for a Fitbit, and he did what he always does - researched every activity tracker on the market, then got me what he thought was best - the UP24.

And for a change, I'm glad he didn't listen to me.

I cannot emphasize how much I love this activity tracker and (probably even more importantly) its app. My daughter had a Fitbit. She washed it twice (clipped to her bra). The second time seems to have been the death knell. Since the UP24 is worn around the wrist, that's not likely to happen. I don't take it off to wash my face or to do dishes, and it's fine. The only time I have to remove it is to shower. I wear mine backwards from what I see pictured, primarily because I would rather have the silver cap visible than the wider side of the band, but I also think this protects it better since the top of my wrist doesn't rub against objects as often as the underside of my wrist.

The reason my husband chose the UP24 over the Fitbit is because of the UP's better performance at monitoring sleep. It is uncannily accurate. It is supposed to get more accurate the longer you use it, but mine was on the mark from the start. If I woke up at 3:23, I would see that the next morning. If I tossed and turned for an hour before falling asleep, it would show up on the graph on my phone the next morning. I FINALLY knew why I felt tired when I'd been in bed for eight hours - I had only slept for six of them. My job stress at the time was through the roof, and I soon saw a pattern of good sleep on weekends, and poor sleep on week nights.

I like the ease with which I can log my workouts after I finish them. However, I am also glad it has the ability to detect increased activity and prompt me about what I was doing for those times when I forget to log it in. In addition to tracking sleep and steps, I love the food tracking function on the app. I usually just scan the bar codes of the food I eat as I eat them, but I have manually entered recipes I make regularly so I can easily add those as one item. As the day progresses, the app adjusts your calorie expenditures based on your step count so you know how much more you need to eat (or when to stop eating). It rates the quality of your food choices, but I completely disregard this information. I know that eating real food is always better than eating man-made food substances that are "low-fat." The app is basically assigning a rating based on prevailing wisdom, and prevailing wisdom just isn't very wise at the moment.

So if you need a little help with motivation (and believe me, I get motivated when I see I haven't met my step goal, which is customizable), this might be the very thing you need to get you started. Any activity tracker will do; I just like the UP24. Do NOT make the mistake I did and respond to a Groupon with an unbelievable price on the UP. I bought one for a Christmas gift, and then I realized the UP has to be manually synced. It is not the same as the UP24, which works via Bluetooth.

But I digress . . . dinner was the topic at hand . . . 

I decided that one of the easiest ways to talk about healthy food choices is to discuss the dinner menu item by item.

Tonight's Menu

Broiled Creole Salmon
Steamed Asparagus
Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice
Pacific Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
Yogurt and Berry Medley
Herbal Tea

Salmon: I buy only wild-caught salmon, preferably Alaskan due to the state's fight against GMO salmon. I addressed my concerns against fish genetically modified with human growth hormones in an earlier post and agree with its nickname, Frankenfish. Its impact on us and on our supply of healthy fish could be devastating. I buy Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning as it does not contain MSG.

Asparagus:  I was unaware that I had to worry about asparagus being a GM crop until recently when I ran across this article. Shocker! So now when I can't buy organic, I check the PLU code of the produce. For my asparagus, the number was on the rubber band holding it together - 4080. When the produce is genetically modified, an "8" will be the first number. When it is organically grown, a "9" will be the first number. Conventionally grown produce has a four-digit code in the 3000 and 4000 series.

Seeds of Change Organic Quinoa and Brown Rice: I love Seeds of Change products. I have also tried their Spanish Rice (something I normally don't like), but it is great with a little cilantro, lime, and sliced almonds. Tonight's menu was for rice straight out of the package. It can be expensive, so I buy it in bulk at Costco. Their rices are a base for several of my lunches that can be made ahead and become more flavorful after sitting in the refrigerator overnight. I'll share those in the weeks to come.

Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup: My husband and I both just love this soup. Pacific isn't the only brand, and I've seen it at just about every grocery store I shop. Red peppers make the list of super foods, but they also make the dirty dozen list most years for excessive pesticides (something like 16 different ones used on red peppers). I eat them a lot, but I ONLY eat organic red peppers. I find them for $5 per jar at Whole Foods, but at that price, they cost about the same as buying non-organic peppers at my farmer's market during the height of the season. I almost always get around five full peppers in a bottle. Once I showed my husband this, he stopped complaining (and started devouring them). Of course, most people don't think twice about sitting around the TV polishing off a similarly price big-man-sized bag of Oreos. I've never quite understood that!

Yogurt and Berries: Okay, so this is an area in which I am currently trying to improve. I always buy organic dairy products due to my "non-negotiable" - corn. Cows are fed GMO grains unless you pay to avoid it. So I've been buying organic yogurt for years. I also only buy whole milk dairy products (see earlier post - "Real Food in an Unreal Time") to maximize the nutrition and my body's ability to correctly utilize the fat. I have learned to love plain yogurt more than sour cream on potatoes. I do not love it with fruit. I have always had to add maple syrup as a sweetening agent. But I know that plain yogurt is more nutritious. So I committed to making the switch, and I found a trick that helped. I got a great deal on frozen organic dark sweet cherries the last time I was at Costco. They can pretty much serve as the sweetening agent by themselves, then I can throw in some blueberries, raspberries, strawberries - whatever. Be careful, though. Berries are almost all on the "dirty" list, some more than others, so they are on my organic priority list with red peppers, corn, white potatoes, soy products, etc. You can often find organic berries for the same price as non-organic. Something is always getting close to its "use-by" date, and I take advantage of this whenever possible (like yesterday at Publix for my organic blueberries).

I love the Food Babe, and she recently wrote about how to pick yogurt that is really good for you. Most yogurt is about the same as eating candy for breakfast (in my humble opinion). I have tried a few of the brands she mentioned, but Stonyfield is still my favorite and easy enough to find, even their whole milk line.

And finally, the beverage -
As I've mentioned before, I just don't like water. I have finally stopped craving Diet Coke, but it took a while. I honestly didn't think I'd ever conquer that demon. But I don't even want it now. I think I may have had one a year ago, but I really don't remember. It has been that long.

The trick for me was to find a tea I like and to keep it cold and ready in the refridgerator. The winner for me turned out to be Trader Joe's Pomegranate White Tea. But there's a catch. Darn that Food Babe! 

Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the water . . .

. . . she does this bit about one of Trader Joe's teas.

So I knew when I first tried the tea that it was only 96% organic (says so right on the box). I also know that "natural" means absolutely nothing from a legal standpoint, so I was bothered by the "natural flavors" in the ingredient list. But affordable, mostly organic teas of the type I like are difficult to find. I priced the teas the Food Babe recommended the last time I was at Whole Foods, and they were HIGH, as much as $10 a box (the TJ's tea is $3 for the same 20 bags). So I wrote to Trader Joe's, and to their credit, they wrote back to me promptly. They assured me that it is not their "general" practice to treat their paper wrappers with epichlorohydrin, but I only felt slightly better. I don't know how often they veer from their "general" practice and what the alternative practice might be. I'm just not all that sure what they really expected me to take away from that statement anyway. I despise the word dance advertisers do, but that's a blog for another time. 

So that was my husband's dinner. I'm a girl, and as everybody knows, metabolism favors men with muscles. At 125 pounds, I just don't get to eat bite for bite with my husband. My dinner looked like this. 

I didn't get the rice. I had my grain for a snack earlier in the day (my homemade corn and wheat tortillas), and yogurt and berries served as my breakfast. So I had a nice crunchy pear for dinner. They aren't supposed to be crunchy, are they? Maybe that season is just too long gone to still be buying pears. Anyway, life isn't fair for the ladies, but I guess I'm not the one who has to change the flat tire, so it's all about trade-offs. 

Next Time - Nature's Anti-depressant!

Until then. . . eat healthy, be healthy!

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