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Bad Bloggy.

I’ve been a bit of a slacker for the past couple of days because work has been insanely busy and the last thing I’ve felt like doing when I get home each night is turning on the computer.  I spend all day staring at one, so my eyes are totally burned out by the end of the day.  Especially during a no-lunch-break kind of week, like this one has been.

We’re still going strong on the South Beach Diet plan.  I guess today would be our 6th day and I’ve had no sugar cravings whatsoever, which I find amazing.  The first few days I felt a bit achey and tired but after a couple good nights of sleep, I’m feeling awesome.  I’m actually finding this very easy, which I’m surprised about.  If this is supposed to be the most restrictive phase of the diet, this will be no problem at all.  I may even stay on the strict phase a week or two longer.  You’re encouraged to move on to Phase 2 after two weeks but you can choose to stay on it a bit longer if you want.  They give the two week limit because of the nutrients we are missing out on from fruits and whole grains, but we are eating a ridiculous amount of veggies, lean protein and low-fat dairy (though not much), so I don’t feel as though there are a lot of nutrients we’re missing.  I’m being careful to take a multivitamin every day to supplement. 

We donated blood yesterday…always a good time.  There is always a somewhat desperate need for blood on the Rock because they have so many restrictions on who can donate and so, being prime candidates, my man and I try to donate every three months or so.  However, I haven’t been able to donate since December of 2009 because some bloodwork came back showing very low iron levels.  This time around, my hemoglobin measured in at the top end of
“normal”, which was a lovely surprise.  But my blood pressure, which has been historically low to the point that my doctor always makes the “are you even alive?” joke when she checks it, was high for the first time.  I know you can’t use one BP test because blood pressure fluctuates so much during the day, but it bothered me.  It wasn’t high, but it was on the borderline between normal and high.  So, that’s something I’ll be keeping an eye on.

Back to the SBD – here is what we’ve/I’ve been eating for the past week or so:

Breakfast:  2 eggs or 3 egg whites, scrambled with onions and spinach, topped with hot sauce OR, for my egg-hating guy, sauteed ground turkey with vegetables.  Kind of an omelet without the egg.  Whatever works.

Lunch:  Leftover protein from the previous night’s dinner with either a huge salad or leftover vegetables.  Easy.

Dinner:  Big salads, chicken, fish, and lots of steamed broccoli and cauliflower because it seems as though I *might* have gone a bit wild at the market last weekend. 

Not a lot of planning involved, which is nice, but the meals are satisfying and easy to put together.  I do have the SBD cookbook which hasn’t been featured much this week…it will have it’s time to shine in the week to come.  I’ve already flagged some winners.

While the lack of sugar cravings was the intention of this change in our eating style, I can’t help but be happy about the 3 pounds gone this week as well.  I’m sure it’s mostly water, but when your pants feel a bit better, you feel a bit better.

OK, off to get ready for work.  Have a great Friday!

Is it Friday yet?

Seriously. 

So, we’re on day 2 of eating on the South Beach plan and so far, so good!  I’m following it mostly because I’ve had some crazy sugar cravings lately and have found myself eating things that don’t usually find themselves on my plate (or in my purse).  Baked goods, particularly, haven’t been a part of the regular rotation for years but suddenly I have one lousy muffin and BANG, I want more.  What?  Cookies are a different story…I LOVE cookies (and so avoid them as much as possible), but for a little while there, I was eating a huge oatmeal-white chocolate-cranberry cookie every. single. day.  Again…what? 

So, the thing about sugar is that the more you have, the more you want.  Know what that means?  That means that the less you have, the less you’ll want it eventually, once those addictive beasties have left your system.  Some people have more difficulty with cutting out sugar and generally, if it’s hard for you, that’s a good sign that cutting it out is the right choice!  Your body doesn’t receive any benefits from sugar consumption.  And no, “it tastes so good” is not a benefit.

The South Beach plan cuts out all sugars (including fruit, for the first few weeks), flour products and starchy vegetables (there are other things, but these are the biggies for me).  Once the initial phase is over, the “rules” become more lenient.  All in all, it’s one of the most sensible plans out there (in my opinion), as it really pushes the consumption of vegetables, lean protein and healthy fats.  And NO cookies.  No big, chewy, delicious, oat-y, chocolately cookies.

Sigh.  OK, I’m over it.

As I said before, so far, so good.  Today would be Day 3 and avoiding my favorite little coffee place (where those cookies are, enticing me from the confines of a big glass cookie jar) was no problem yesterday.  I crunched away on my celery sticks and roasted chickpeas (more on that in another post) and felt surprisingly good for a sugar-free day.  I had some minor aches and pains last night, which are a good sign that my body is going through a bit of a detox.  Success!

Today’s meals:

  • Breakfast: two organic eggs scrambled with 1/2 cup chopped onions, with a splash of tomatillo salsa
  • Snack:  organic cherry tomatoes!  YUM.  With some roasted chickpeas and a light Babybel.
  • Lunch: leftover chicken cooked with onion, garlic, artichoke hearts, kale and veggie broth.
  • Snack:  same as the morning snack, minus the cheese.
  • Dinner:  steamed broccoli and…something yet to be determined.  Kind of not into chicken twice in one day, but I’m not going to lie to you…it might come to that.

I am totally procrastinating my morning routine, so I better get to it.  Those eggs aren’t going to cook themselves.

Almond Butter, Blendtec-style.

From the moment I opened my Blendtec on Christmas morning, I’ve planned to use it to make almond butter.  Almond butter is one thing I absolutely refuse to buy on the Rock, because the huge jar of Maranatha that I can pick up in Canada for less than $10 costs over $30 here.  Ridiculous.  So, on Saturday afternoon, I fired up the Blendtec for something other than kale, for once, and figured out how to refill that Maranatha jar all on my own.

I started out with about two cups of raw, whole almonds.  I poured them into the Blendtec jar and, following the Blendtec cookbook instructions for peanut butter, ground them up using first speed level.  I let it run the whole cycle (50 seconds), scraped down the sides, and ran it for a full cycle at speed level 5.  I repeated this – the scraping and level 5 – until it reached the consistency I wanted (VERY creamy).  All in all, it probably took 10-12 50-second cycles at level 5 to get to be the texture I wanted.  I probably could have gotten there quicker at a higher speed, but I’m still in the honeymoon phase with my Blendtec and wanted to take it easy on my baby.

The result?

Success!

Delicious, creamy, perfect almond butter.  I’m so proud.  And SO excited to spread it all over everything in my fridge.

Verdict on Making Almond Butter in a Blendtec:

All in all, I got the perfect result.  The Blendtec did not disappoint in the slightest.  However, I think I could have made the process quicker by using a higher speed. 

Whether or not the Blendtec did a better job than a food processor would have, I’m not sure.  I still would have had to stop and scrape down the sides, but a food processor would probably be better for larger batches, simply because of the wider shape of the food processor bowl, versus the narrower Blendtec blender jar.

Now that I’ve figured out the basics, I’m excited to experiment with flavours and add-ins.  Yum!

Snacktastic.

Action shot. It's such an exciting snack.

I’ve recently rediscovered the awesomeness of popcorn.  When I was a kid, my family had an air-popper and we’d have popcorn as a treat with movies on family movie nights.  However, the invention of microwave popcorn kind of stole the air-popper’s thunder, and the much-loved appliance was put to the back of the kitchen cupboard in place of those handy little microwaveable bags. 

Recently, a good friend of mine left the Rock and offered me her air-popper when she left.  I was ecstatic.  First of all, it’s identical to the one my family had when I was a kid (though, would they really have changed much?), and second of all, she even threw in some kernels.  Awesome. 

I put a scoop of Earth Balance in the little melting tray, plugged it in and let ‘er rip.  A minute or so later, I was popping up a storm and two minutes after that, I was on the couch with the perfectly seasoned bowl of popcorn, watching Lost in Austen.  I am not sure that it gets much better than that, unless chocolate had been thrown into the mix.

Snackeriffic.

My toppings of the day?

  • Earth Balance
  • Dulse flakes
  • Herbamare Bombay Seasoning
  • nutritional yeast flakes

Want a close-up?

Awesome...no?

While the popcorn is going to have to stay unpopped while we attempt the South Beach Diet’s first few weeks, rest-assured that the air-popper has made a comeback in our house.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

I’m trying to read one book each week, in an effort to make my way through my Hoarders-style book collecting.  I picked up The Elegance of the Hedgehog the last time I was in Canada and picked it up about 15 seconds after finishing The Shack, desperately needing to get that book out of my head.  My experience with The Shack was less than stellar.  It did make for an interesting book club meeting…9 out of the 10 of us didn’t like it!  Just not our cup of tea, I guess.  I think it was the first time that we’d read a book that most of us didn’t enjoy.

Anyways, I had heard good things about Elegance, so I was eager to get into it.  It is a truly beautiful book.  Well written, entertaining and engaging, this book made me want to go to bed a bit earlier each night so I could make some headway on it and some of the writing is so beautiful that there were lines I read a few times over, just because they were such lovely thoughts.  I really enjoyed it.

OOTR’s Book Rating: 8/10

Next up is The 19th Wife: A Novel by David Ebershoff.  This one is a book club pick and I’m looking forward to it!

To market, to market…

Though I’m more inclined to buy a fat fig than a fat pig, I love me some farmer’s market!

This week’s bounty:

An abundance of GREEN.

Florets and Leaves.

The only kind of eggs I'll eat: eggs from happy chickens.

My next Blendtec experiment: Nut Butters.

I’d say that it was a fairly successful market day.  I picked up:

  • kale
  • boston lettuce
  • a huge head of romaine
  • an avocado
  • a bag of spinach
  • two bunches of green onions
  • a huge bunch of dill…just because it smelled so good
  • two heads of cauliflower
  • two heads of broccoli
  • a dozen organic eggs

This morning’s load (produce and eggs only) cost me just over $40.  Given that it is all local, organic and picked about an hour before I bought it…I think this was a good deal, especially compared to the prices of organic produce in our local grocery stores.  I love the market.  I wish it was open year-round (it’s only open from November until June).

Afterwards, we went to a little coffee shop for a pick-me-up, since we were at the market at the crack of dawn.  By that I mean 8:00 a.m.  I had a bowl of cottage cheese with fresh fruit on top and a drizzle of honey…mmmm.  A quick stop at the local health store for nuts, earth balance, tempeh and a few other odds and ends and our morning errands were done.

We used to laze around our apartment on Saturday mornings, often not even getting dressed until after 12:00 p.m.  I’m finding that getting up earlier and getting out – to the market, or wherever – really makes the weekend seem longer.  I love it!  Why not make the most of precious time off?

How do you like to make the most of your weekends?

Two years ago today…

THE big moment.

My man put a beautiful ring on my finger on an amazing deserted beach in the middle of nowhere, Mexico. Happy engagement-aversary to us!  And yes, that’s really us in the photo.  The whole thing was so well planned that my Mom, who we were vacationing with, sat at the other end of the beach with her telephoto lens and captured the entire thing with the most beautiful engagement shots ever.  I still get excited when I look at them.  :-)

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