Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hiking at the Montalvo Art Center - Saratoga, CA

I love to hike - love love love it! - but I rarely have the time to do it, which is crazy considering I live within 20 or 30 minutes of a trillion local preserves and county parks, with miles and miles of hiking trails.

To tell you the truth, it's not just the "time" issue for me.  I've come to realize that my biggest pet peeve about hiking in the local preserves, especially the ones near town, are the people.  I was raised in a family that respected nature - tread lightly, keep your voice down, and no littering. 

When I hike, I walk quietly and enjoy the sounds of nature around me: the birds tweeting, the creeks flowing, the crackle of the underbrush as lizards and ground squirrels run away from me.  The last thing I want to hear is some loudmouth woman yakking so loud on her cell phone that you can hear her coming half a mile away.  Or the troupe of kids who are destroying the trail and surrounding area while the moms trail behind, talking to one another and not minding their brats!  I return home from those trips feeling more stressed out than when I went - the opposite effect I wanted.

So, I've been looking for some alternatives - something close to town but not well known or used.  That's when I stumbled across the Montalvo Art Center located on the outskirts of the small village of Saratoga, CA.  All the signage along the road says "Montalvo Villa" - it's all the same thing.  The property is a Santa Clara County Park and free to enter, though their hours are more like banker hours than anything else (probably why not a lot of people go there).  The center includes an arts residence, arboretum, a large lawn, the villa (used as a museum and rented out for events) and an amphitheater.

I didn't go to Montalvo to see art but rather to hike.  As you can see from their map (PDF) there are a plethora of trails in the surrounding property, some easy, like the nature trail that runs behind the villa, and some more difficult, but all short and well marked.

I walked the "Lookout Trail" this morning, which meanders along the hills surrounding the property, with an additional spur that takes you up to the top of the hill, where you have a magnificent view of the San Jose valley.

Fall in San Jose, CA - As you can see, we don't get a lot of color change here

Climbing that hill was a good workout and I found myself having to stop to catch my breath.  The trail was well graded with very few rocks or roots to trip you up - a good thing for a clumsy person like me!  ;-)

I ran into a few other hikers, mainly couples taking their morning walk, but not as many as I ran into at Rancho San Antonio Open Space just down the road.  One group, a group of 8, were a bit rowdy for me but once they saw me approaching on the trail, they settled down.  Guess they didn't realize there were others around.

I plan to return to this park often, though next time, I'm bringing my real camera.  My cell phone camera just didn't do it any justice.  ;-)

Saturday, October 30, 2010


A couple notes before I head out to the library, two grocery stores, and the mechanic for an oil change:

  1. You get a LOT of strange looks when you unload 12 lbs of frozen vegetables, 10 dozen eggs and 2 jars of peanut butter on the conveyor belt of Target - and that's just for two weeks!.  I think I alone keep the Target chickens in business.
  2. Talking about Target, what is up with their prices lately?  I've watched prices on the few staples I buy (bread, oatmeal, and jelly - all for the kids) go up and down by a good 50 cents each.  It was annoying to pick up a big tube of oats, to find that it had gone up 51 cents in 2 weeks!  TWO WEEKS!  To say the least, I put the tub back, since I knew I could get oats for 69 cents at the health food store around the corner.  And it's always a guessing game to see what the bread price is going to be - the price is never marked correctly on the shelf and each week my receipt says something different.  They're always the cheapest in the valley so I buy it anyway but one week they're 85 cents a loaf and the next they're 1.25/loaf.  It's annoying as hell to a woman like me who keeps a running track of prices in her head.
  3. I finally had to add a belt to my wardrobe.  Really, it was getting to be a necessity - my skinny pants are now "baggy pants" and I was tired of pulling them up every two minutes.  A friend of a friend just lost a lot of weight and is passing her size 16 pants to me.  I'm hoping there are a few pairs of jeans in there.  LOL
  4. No Trick or Treating for us - the neighborhood has pretty much banned it in the apartment area and the other parents in my complex tell me that the nearby houses (which is a mainly Asian mix of people) don't celebrate it - it's one big black of darkness over there on Halloween.  And personally, I'm not in the mood to drive to South or North San Jose and drag a 3 and 5 year old around T&T, especially my is has sensory processing disorder who is deathly afraid of talking to strangers and the other is 3 and has no sense of danger to him yet.  It's OK - it's not like I need all that candy in the house.
Anyway, I hope  y'all have a safe and sane Halloween and that you stay out of your kids' candy bags!  ;-)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Surfing the Sales

Today is Friday and in my house, Friday is mail-processing-and-grocery-ad-reading-day.  Yes, I only check my mail once a week - it's my way of reducing the time I waste sorting and tossing the piles of junk mail I get.  Since almost all of my business, financial, and personal business is done online these days, most of the mail I get ends up in my trashcan anyway.

After spending a few minutes standing next to the big kitchen trash can, chucking ads for things I can't afford and political fliers I'm not interested in reading, I toss the to-do mail in my inbox, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down to review this week's grocery ads. 

I typically already have a grocery list started, mainly things I needed to pick up during our biweekly trip to Target, so I add to it, marking down things that were within my price range.  I amend the list as I go, scratching off items from one list and adding it to another as I find better prices.As you can see, it can get a little crazy.  ;-)

Yes, this looks like a lot of errand running - it can be.  I usually try to consolidate errands - sometimes I don't feel like making so many stops, so I'll scratch items off my list and do without or pick them up at a place I'm going to be at.  For example, a few weeks ago, two stores had apples on sale - one for 47 cents and the other for 57 cents.  Since I was already stopping at the 57 cent store for something else, I just picked up the apples there. 

It's going to be a busy weekend...but at least the fridge will be full again!  ;-)

Chicken and White Bean Soup

Beans are one of those "questionable foods" when it comes to the Paleo lifestyle.  It's a whole food that comes from nature but some question the likelihood that cavemen actually ate them - they do take a while to harvest and cook.

Personally, beans and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love them, my body hates them.  OK, maybe not HATE but they do give, you know the old chant, "Beans, beans, a wondrous fruit..."  So, I rarely eat them these day.  When I do, it's usually as a filler for a soup, like the "Chicken and White Bean Soup" I made a few days ago.

Since we're getting into Fall, prime soup and stew season, I want to share with you my recipe for this yummy soup...but first I must warn you about something: I am not a "cups and teaspoons" type of cook.  When I make up new recipes (baking excluded), I toss a little of this and a bit of that into the pot until I get the taste and consistency I want.  This can drive some people, you have been warned!


Anne's Chicken and White Bean Soup

  • 2 cups of uncooked white beans OR 2 cans of cooked white beans
  • 3 tablespoons of your fav cooking oil or butter
  • onion, diced
  • garlic, smashed and chopped fine
  • carrots, diced
  • celery, diced
  • cooked chicken, diced
  • about 6 cups of chicken broth (add more or less depending on how liquid-y you like your soup)
  • Seasoning - salt, pepper, cumin, paprika.
  1. Cook the beans, following the instructions on the bag.  Drain and put aside. (If you're using canned beans, drain and rinse well before setting aside)
  2. In a large stew pot, saute the garlic and onion in the oil or butter over medium heat until the onions are almost translucent.
  3. Add celery and carrots, stir and put top on.  Let cook for 5 minutes, stirring every once in a while (you don't want them to burn).
  4. Add cooked chicken - stir.
  5. Add beans - stir
  6. Add spices (I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and a sprinkle of paprika, salt and pepper....and then season to taste at the end) - stir.
  7. Cover and let this combination of veggies, protein, beans, and spices cook for a few minutes - this helps the spices "mature" and cook into the chunky stuff.
  8. Add the broth, stir, cover, and bring it to a boil.
  9. Once it's at a boil, reduce heat and let it cook until the carrots are at the consistency you like.  I like my soft - they soak in my homemade chicken broth and taste like heaven!
  10. Serve and enjoy!
  • Sometimes I add the beans when they're al-dente and let the soup boil for a while.  This not only cooks the beans but concentrates the flavors of the broth.  This is not recommended when you're using canned chicken broth - reducing that salt-laden stuff will turn your soup into a "salt lick".
  • Make extra - this tastes great the 2nd and 3rd day AND it freezes well.  Sometimes, I'll make a big pot of paleo-friendly soup and then freeze the leftovers for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.
  • This is a pretty versatile recipe and pretty hard to screw up (unless you add too much salt - yuck!). Feel free to experiment - add other vegetables and spices.  Add less broth and more vegetables to make a "stew".  Mix in a thickener, toss into a baking dish, add a gluten-free bread topping for a yummy "chicken pie" sort of recipe.  There's lots of possibilities!  Have fun!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Are you a hobbit?

As the days trudge on, I've come to realize the truth about me: I am a Hobbit.

Remember in the LOTR movies, when Aragorn woke to find the Hobbits making breakfast over a fire?  You remember...that impromptu breakfast and almost gave away their position.  Well, after he tossed the food and put out the fire, one of the hobbits says, "But what about second breakfast?  Elevensies?"

That hungry little hobbits words rang true for me.  (Mmmmm...elevensies....)

After some research (thank you,Wikipedia), I found out that Hobbits enjoy "at least seven meals a day, when they can get them – breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and (later in the evening) supper."

Of course I don't eat that often but it's pretty damn close.  I eat breakfast around 7 or 8, lunch around 11, a large snack at 2 PM, dinner around 5 and then a heavy-protein snack around 8.  That's *counts on fingers* five meals.  And on the mornings that I wake up super early, I'll add in another meal to keep me going through the day.

Now, most people look at me strange when I tell them how many meals I eat in a day.  What they don't realize is that they are small meals, not the carb-heavy mega-meals that most people eat.  I'll have maybe 3 or 4 ounces of protein, veggies, and sometimes if I'm really hungry, a fruit. 

Lunch is always my biggest meal - I'm rarely starving in the morning and I don't like feeling extra full at night (makes me too sleepy to work).  I usually eat leftovers - I fix a double portion of food the night before and immediately reserve half of it for the next day's lunch.  That way, I'm not rushing around like a crazy loon, trying to find something paleo-friendly to eat.

For example, yesterday's lunch was a small bowl of chicken and white bean soup, a handful of carrots sticks and two wedges of apple with peanut butter (my kids talked me out of the other two):

 Dinner that night was another bowl of soup and about 3/4 pound of frozen broccoli.

A few days before, I had an omelet stuffed with the leftover BBQ chicken from the night before (no cheese of course) and carrots:

That was a very filling lunch, thanks to all the protein, so I wasn't hungry until dinnertime 5.5 hours later, when I had 4 oz of steak and brazed greens.

(And just in case you're curious, that's a small plate - about 6 inches across.)

I feel best when I eat this way (small meals approx every 3 hours) - I don't get overly tired after I eat, I have endless energy, and I feel like I have a lot of concentration and focus in the afternoon and evening, my prime working hours.

What about you?  Do you like to eat a lot of small meals or a few large meals?  

Feeding Kids...a Neverending Battle

Have you met my kids yet? Here they are:

OK, maybe that's not an actual picture but it's a damn close representation.  Every time I read  "Cat in the Hat", I can't help but see the similarities between the cat's two trouble-making helpers and my two kids.  All it takes is one look at my living room at the end of the day and you'll know what I mean.  ;-)

These two have gone through all the usual food phases that kids go through.  My three-year old son is in the throws of a "carb-a-thon".  The only protein he's interested in eating is peanut butter.  Eggs (which he loved a month ago) are left on his plate, all cold and unloved.  And dinner...  Well, let's not even go there.

I spend many many a dinner repeating to myself, "He'll eat when he's hungry...he's not starving to death...It's just a phase."  I find myself biting my tongue a lot these days when it comes to meals.  I know if I make a fuss about him eating or not eating, he'll keep doing it just to get attention.  So, I shut up and eat my dinner and ignore him.

Of course, with him in a "carb mode", it makes meal time more interesting.  There aren't a lot of "carb" options in our house these days....mainly to protect me and my diet from myself.  The few we have are "paleo friendly" so that my daughter can eat them too (her system doesn't like a lot wheat either) - but sometimes I find myself standing in the kitchen wondering, "What in the heck am I going to feed them today?"

I had another mother  recently ask me, "Why don't you just let them eat 'regular food' like all their friends?"  Once I was able to pick my jaw up from the floor, I told her, "I am feeding my kids 'regular food' - I'm feeding them 'real' not created in a laboratory and not filled with chemicals and preservatives." 

She huffed at me and walked away (ah, the joys of play groups!)...and I was happy to watch her go.  If she wants to let her kids eat whatever they want and get addicted to junk food, which they'll later pay for with their health, she's welcome to it but that's not going to happen in my house.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Where art though, food?

I cracked open my fridge this morning to see this:

Hmmm...looks like the maid forgot to go grocery shopping this weekend.  Gotta fire her one of these days.  ;-)

Yes, my fridge is looking a bit bare this week.  I'm trying hard not to go grocery shopping until this weekend when the bank account will have a little more money in it.  And really, I just don't have the time or patience to wrestle the kids out of the house, into the car, through two different grocery stores and the produce market, and then home. (Just thinking about it makes me tired.)

So, I'm going to make do with what we have.  As you can see, we have enough fruit (apples and bananas) to get the kids to Friday, though I'm sure they'll be sick of apples by then.  We have 3.5 dozen eggs - plenty for breakfast and emergency meals.  There's onions and dry beans in the cupboard and chicken and broth in the freezer, so I'll probably make a big pot of stew tonight - a filling and warm meal that can be stretched to feed at least me for a few days.  Oh, and let's not forget the meat and frozen vegetables in the freezer - instant meals. 

So, yes, we'll make it through to Friday night. Though I do know one thing is certain - I'm not looking forward to the massive amount of grocery shopping I'm gonna have to do this next weekend!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some Link Love

Taking a break to share a couple links - 

Food Addiction: Could It Explain Why 70 Percent of Americans Are Fat?
(Explains a lot about why Americans eat tons and tons of junk food even though they know it's bad for them.)

Feds Consider Limiting Potatoes For Kids
(Personally, I think they're going after the wrong monster - what about all the corn and wheat products that are prevalent in school lunches?)

By the way, loving the cooler weather that's hit the San Fran Bay area this week.  Cloudy and overcast all morning and a little sun the afternoon with mild temps all day long.  Wish it could stay this way all year long! 

It's perfect soup weather - I made a big pot of Garlicy Chicken with Veggies Stew for dinner Weds night and have enjoyed it for lunch the last 2 days.  When I have a moment, I'll share the recipe...  ;-)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's on YOUR Kitchen Counter?

I lucked out this morning and found about 30 minutes of downtime between a project and a client call.  So, I poured myself a cup of coffee and opened up Google Reader.  It had been about four days since I last peeked in there and my "Food" folder was overflowing with unread blog entries - 232 to be exact!  Wow!  I think I follow way too many blogs!  LOL

Anyway, this post over at Cosmopolitan Primal Girl caught my eye.  (She talks about how they finally tossed the toaster after being grain-free for months.)  Personally, I haven't owned a toaster in....well, years.  I was never a big toast eater - there's something about the "crunch" that gives me the willies.  Whenever my kids wanted toast with their breakfast (which is rare), I just popped 2 pieces under the broiler while I made their eggs. 

But it did make me think about all the stuff you find on people's kitchen counters.  Some people like their counters to be clear of clutter and appliances while others want everything in easy reach.  Personally, I'm in-between.  I like having the "used often" items sitting within reach but I also like having plenty of workspace. 

As my diet evolved over the last year, my kitchen setup has changed too.  Every few months I find that things just don't feel right - tools that I need are too far away or I seem to be tripping over things I don't use anymore.  So, I rearrange the kitchen, moving things on and off the counter until I reach a new equilibrium.

The one thing that stays on my counter 24/7 is my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer.  Though I don't bake as often as I used to I still love my mixer - it can whip up egg whites in 2 minutes flat...YUM!  Plus, the thing weighs three tons and I don't have anywhere else to store it.

And then there's the "drink station"  - that's where my electric hot water kettle, Melitta coffee filter and thermos sit.  I drink a lot of coffee and hot herbal tea throughout the day and having everything in one place means I can have hot tea in 2 minutes flat.

The other appliance I use a lot is the microwave - mainly to heat up frozen veggies, steam something, or warm my coffee.  It would be living on the counter too....if my 3 year old didn't think it was the greatest toy in the world.  The microwave now lives on the top of my fridge - it's the only place where he can't reach it.

Otherwise, everything else is either stored in a cupboard or drawer or sitting on a set of utility shelves on the other side of the kitchen.  Surprisingly, though I'm cooking more and more "homemade" meals at home, I find that I need less and less equipment these days.  I've given away or sold many kitchen gadgets that I just don't need anymore (*cough* breadmaker *cough*).

So tell me...what's on your kitchen counter?  Have you had to clean out your kitchen since going Paleo?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Busy busy busy!

As some of you have probably noticed, I haven't posted in the last few days.  It's been busy around here - I'm outlining my next book, I have a couple new freelance projects that I'm trying to stay ahead of, and the kids...well, let's just say that it sounds like we're reenacting the bombing of London most days.

So, as you can tell, it's kinda crazy here.  Posting is going to be sporadic until I beat some of these projects into submission.Until then, eat real food, enjoy the fall air, and try not to stress out about things ... and I promise to do the same.  ;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rant: Selling Stuff on a Paleo Blog

***  This blog entry is in no way connected to or endorsing Mark's  Daily Apple or any of his products. ***

While wandering through my RSS reader earlier this week, I was surprised to see Mark of Mark's Daily Apple touting a new product: Primal Fuel.  Having been a long time fan of Mark, I clicked on the link, read the information and watched the video...and promptly had to walk away from the computer.  Walking away was better than beating my head against the desk.

To me, the Paleo/Primal diet revolves around the idea of REAL food - protein, fruit, vegetables and fat all from natural sources.  I've read Mark's blog for almost a year now and felt that he was a true champion of the cause.

So, you can imagine my surprise and shock I clicked on that link to find him hawking a "ready to eat" shake that was supposedly Paleo/Primal friendly.  How could that even be possible?  There's no real food in there...and if there is, it's been processed within an inch of its life to be shelf stable.   It's like saying Cheetos are healthy for you because the ingredients are all natural.  Come on!!!

To give you an idea of what I'm talking about, here is a screen shot of the nutritional information from his website:

The last time I checked, I can't go out into nature and find "Whey Protein Isolate" or "Inulin" or "Guar Gum" without a lot of processing...and that's just the beginning of the ingredient's list.  Can someone explain to me how a shake full of processed compounds is Paleo?  Huh?  Anyone?

Now, I understand that Mark has to make an income somehow and I know that he's been selling the Primal Blueprint book and supplements to cover his costs, but I think this is is really stepping over the line.  

Maybe I come from higher morals but I believe that if you must sell things, then sell items that stay within the lines of your teachings.  To do anything else is only stabbing the Paleo/Primal movement in the back....all for a few bucks....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Another Inexpensive Exercise = Moving Furniture

I spent my Saturday afternoon rearranging and cleaning my living room.  Had to empty and move 3 bookcases, excavate my desk and then move it to a new corner, disassemble and reassemble the computer and all it's paraphernalia, and shove the couch across the carpet a couple times before finally setting it into it's new home along a difference wall.  And in-between it all, I vacuumed the rug and put away all the small things that seem to sneak into our living room.

Let me tell you...THAT was a workout.  I worked up quite a sweat and by the end of the day, my legs were aching, my back was complaining.  I took a hot shower, downed some ibuprofen, and curled up with a good book.

When I woke Sunday morning, I was surprised that I wasn't sore.  Stiff and very, very tired.  (Probably didn't help that I didn't get a lot of sleep that night too.)  Thankfully, I'm back to normal today.


Food Allergy Update:

It looks like nightshades are safe for me to eat.  I've been itch-free and rash-free since my discovery of being allergic to cantaloupe Thursday, even though I ate a lot of tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers all weekend long.  It's so nice to be "itch free" once again...  Ahhhhhh...

Friday, October 8, 2010

Elimination Diets for Food Allergies

Source: justinknol
I've been having sporadic allergic reactions for the last few months. Every once in a while I'd eat something that would upset my body...and I'd itch for hours. It wasn't "all over itching" but rather "spotty itching" where I'd itch in one spot for a second and then another spot another second - AUGH! Then the next morning, I'd wake up with a light case of red, itchy dots and dry skin on the back, lower half of my shins. Weird, huh? Most people get hives on their chest or arms or all, I have to get them on the back lower half of my shins!

So, after months of this sporadic insanity, I decided late last week to do an elimination diet. I ate pure protein last weekend (meat, chicken, eggs) and on Monday, began to add food back into my diet, starting with the "lower allergenic" ones so I'd have some variety in my diet.

By Weds, I had figured out I could eat protein, peanuts, nuts, watermelon, honeydew, carrots, celery, cucumbers, pears, and a few other minor things. I still had to test apples, cantaloupes, and nightshades (tomatoes / potatoes / peppers), all of which I've eaten a lot of in the last few months.

First were apples - I ate 3 apples over a 24 hour period with no adverse reaction, so they were safe. Yeah! Can't live without my "apple w/ peanut butter" treat. ;-)

Then came cantaloupes. These melons are a treat for us - I only buy them when they're on sale...but they've been on sale a lot this summer. First clue!   So, for dinner last night, we had steak, cut-up carrots and celery with ranch salad dressing for dipping, and cantaloupe. Not even an hour later, I started itching all over, my throat was sore, and it felt like a sumo wrestler was sitting on my chest. Ah-ha!

All the symptoms passed in another hour (I only ate a little). So, after I put the kids to bed at 8, I decided to really test it. I mean, I did eat a whole meal with it - the itching could have been caused by something else. So, I had another serving of cantaloupe - and all the symptoms came barreling back.

So, I guess I'm allergic to cantaloupe. Damn! I like cantaloupe!

I'm still going to test nightshades this weekend, just to make sure I don't have a second food issue. Should be fun fun fun! ;-)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!

I remember 20 or so years ago (gee, has it really been that long?), coming home from 6th grade all excited about "recycling".  My teacher had gone through a dog-and-pony show, touting the greatness of the town's new recycling program.  He told us what could be recycle and what couldn't, what happened after we dropped off our cans and what could be made of all the recycled glass and aluminum.

At the time, we were living behind my grandparents' home, so I always went to their house afterschool.  I remember running into their house, all excited about all the new information I learned.

My grandmother listened to me talk and talk and talk.  When I finally ran out of words, she matter-of-factly told me, "That's nothing new.  We did that during World War II."  I was surprised - what do you mean recycling isn't new?

That's when she sat me down and gave me a history lesson about the homefront during WWII.  My grandmother was one of the "Rosie Riveters" who left her homemaking to work in the factories to support the war effort.  She told me about the hardships, rationing and recycling that went on, all to ensure victory in Europe and Pacific. A common motto during that time was: "Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!"

A far cry from our current "throw away" society.  I'm amazed at the amount of perfectly good food that people toss every month because they either don't use it before it goes bad or they don't know there are other possibilities.  I almost cried when I watched a friend toss a barely-picked-over turkey carcass in the trash - look at all the wasted meat!  Look at all the broth you could make!  AUGH!!!


"Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do, or Do Without!" seems to be the motto in my house these days.  Nothing goes to waste in my house.  Really, I can't afford waste!  My food budget (heck, my whole budget!) is so tight, I can bounce sugar-free bubble gum off of it.  So, almost every bit of food that comes into my house is consumed in one way or another.

Some ways I "use it up" in my kitchen:
  • Leftover meat and chicken are eaten for lunch the next day or re-envisioned for the next day's dinner (chicken pieces are a fine example of this - whole pieces one day, then chicken salad or stirfry the next).
  • Fats  from meat sources (bacon/chicken fat/etc) are rendered and saved for later cooking.  (Heaven is an egg fried in bacon grease!)
  • We eat the whole egg - white and yolk.  (This idea makes my "low fat" friends shudder.  HA!  They just don't understand...)  For those recipes where I need just egg white, the yolks are saved for the next morning's eggs.
  • I use bones/chicken carcasses to make my own chicken and beef broth.  
  • Vegetable scraps (the bits that you cut off while prepping veggies for stir-fries or other veggie-heavy dishes) are tossed into a bag in the freezer to be used in the next broth-making session.
  • Older vegetables are turned into a stew or tossed into the "scraps" bag in the freezer.
  • Any fruit that starts to look "interesting" is eaten at the next meal - over-ripened pears are poached, old apples are cored and baked with some cinnamon, brown bananas are put in the freezer for the next time I want a smoothie or I need something sweet to add to something. 
  • Large dishes (like casseroles) are cut into "meal sized bits" and frozen for later quick lunches.
These are just a few ideas.  Now yes, I know that to many these ideas are extreme.  But if you're serious about eating healthy while keeping to a budget, you've got to do what you've got to do, right?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Corn Refiners Association courting Mommy Bloggers

I guess I've been asleep the last few days...or maybe I just don't swim in the same ponds as the infamous Mommy Bloggers out there.  Either way, I was certainly surprised to open my blog reader this morning to find some of the more "eclectic" moms (hippy moms?) in an uproar about a recent ad campaign by the Corn Refiners Association.

It seems the makers of High Fructose Corn Syrup (aka - Corn Sugar) asked to find mommy bloggers to help improve their "image".  So, not only are they changing their product's name but they're buying sponsored blog entries to get their side of the story across to the public.

A few examples include:
(There are a trillion more out there - just google the phrase 'corn refiners association gift certificate')

If you read through the  comments of the last entry, you'll notice another mommy blogger who commented:
"I guess there is a lot of people not happy with this post, but at the same time you are presenting information that was presented to you. We only know what we are taught. I actually was thinking about doing more research after doing my post as I am not educated enough on this topic to really say how I feel about it in all honesty. I simply was using this as a way to educate myself as to what is in my pantry."
My head almost exploded when I read this this morning...

As I said, other mommy bloggers are upset about this little ad campaign:
My favorite quote from mom101 is:
"This week, a whole team of bloggers got paid in gift certificates by a multi-million dollar lobbying organization so that when concerned parents hit the web and Google High Fructose Corn Syrup, they'll get a bunch of posts from "trusted moms" saying HFCS is just like sugar! Don't cut it out any more than you cut out honey! It's fine! It's NATURAL. Doctors told us so."

Here are my comments:
Mommy bloggers, are you really that cheap?  Are you really that gullible?  Are you really that stupid?

Some large company wiggle a few gift certificates in front of you and you immediately start dancing to their tune.  "Just like sugar!"  "It's Natural!"  You sound like a bunch of trained parrots!

Yes, we are business people...we are trying to make some extra money so we can stay home with our kids and pay the mortgage.


It's our main job to raise our kids in the healthiest way possible and to protect them from harm.  If you believe the swill the CRA is trying to feed the public through these "trusted" bloggers, you're certainly naive.  HFCS (aka - Corn sugar) is POISON!  "Gee, I wonder why little Charlie is so chubby!"  Gee, lady, maybe it's all the junk food you feed him?  Maybe it's all the sodas he's chugging?  Maybe it's all the HFCS-containing candy, fruit-like drinks and white-four/white sugar items that you're allowing him to eat?

I am amazed at how it seems the mommies at the meeting were dazzled by the supposed "experts" touting the greatness of corn sugar.  These women believed everything that came out of their mouths just because they were doctors and scientists with more degrees and education than most people.

Um...hello!  You're at an event sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association.  Didn't it occur to anyone that these "experts" were being paid to say those things? 


I agree with mom101 - I hope it was a damn good gift certificate...because ladies, you just sold your souls.


For anyone that is interested, here are a few links to real information about  HFCS and their effects on the body:

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend Cooking

How was my weekend?  Oh, it was great...that is if you think spending a majority of your time grocery shopping and cooking is fun.  ;-)

Source: Anotherpintplease
I couldn't help it.  There were some great protein sales this week, including 10 lbs of London Broil ($1.99),
pork ribs (.99 cents / lb if you bought a full rack), and 5 lbs of full fat ground pork ($1.59).  I also found some good looking steaks and boneless pork ribs in Safeway's "clearance meat" section.

Now, I'd like to pause here for a moment to state my opinion on the "clearance meats".  I've had people gag at the thought of buying meat that was at or near it's "sell by" date.  I have no problem with it as long as I plan to cook or freeze it right away.  It's an inexpensive way to buy cuts I'd never be able to afford, like this week's T-bone steaks for under $2/lb.  Now of course, I do have some standards: it can't be green.  Green meat is just....  *shudder*  I have had a few people tell me "Oh, there's nothing wrong with the meat - just cut off the green stuff!  Ewwww!

Anyway, the London Broil steaks and ground pork were portioned out into "meal sized" packages, wrapped and frozen right away.  The "clearance steaks" were de-boned and either cooked right away or frozen, depending on their condition (the more "interesting" pieces were cooked right away and eaten over the weekend while the better cuts were wrapped, labeled as "eat soon", and frozen).

Then I broke out my pressure cooker and started cooking ribs.  This is my absolute favorite way of cooking ribs - toss in the ribs, add in BBQ sauce and enough water to cook them in, pop on the top and cook for 20 minutes.  I had so many ribs, I had to do two sets.  Once they were done, I poured the leftover juice into a pan and reduced it down so I could use it as freezing liquid for the cooked ribs.  Once everything was cool enough, I popped the bones out (when you pressure cook ribs, the rib bones can easily be pulled out), packaged the ribs away in freezer bags along with a cup of cooking liquid, and froze. These are mama's "quick meals" - think homemade TV dinners - just defrost, add a dollop of BBQ sauce on top, and broil until the sauce is brown and the meat is warmed through.  Yum!

Of course, nothing goes to waste in this house.  All the beef and pork bones, along with any gristle, were tossed into the stew pot along with onion, celery, carrot and garlic to make beef broth.  That broth will be used this week - it has to be...the freezer is full!

Yes, the poor freezer is full now.  I had to rearrange it 3 times to finally get everything to fit.  Here's a pic of the mess:

Imagine my surprise when I stumbled across a 3 lb package of bacon while emptying out the freezer. Considering that I couldn't remember the last time I bought bacon, I thought it was a good time to cook it.  Anyway, there was no way I was getting that slab back into the freezer.  So, I spent Sunday morning oven-broiling bacon.  My daughter, who is a bacon-freak, stood at the oven for the longest time, touting the wonders of bacon: how good it smelt, how it was cooking, how it was going to taste, etc. etc.  When the first batch was cool enough, she snatched a piece and ran.

Anyway, that was my weekend - food food and more food.  I went to bed early Saturday - completely exhausted.  Who knew dealing with food could be so tiring?

Friday, October 1, 2010


A few quick updates:

Yes, I'm feeling much better today.  My throat still hurts a little but I'm sure I'll live.  ;-)

I realized something while lying prone on my couch yesterday - It's really rare for me to get sick these days.  I think maybe I've had two colds since January, when I started changing my diet.  Big change from last year where I seemed to catch everything that came withing three yards of me, including the flu...TWICE!


This was one of the stranger colds - usually when I'm sick, I crave simple carbs (sugar!).  This time, all I wanted was protein.  I ate a dozen eggs all by myself in the last two days - mainly poached to save my sore throat.  Mmmmm....poached eggs.....  See!  I'm still craving protein! 


Remember all of that food I bought 2 weeks ago?  All gone.  My poor fridge looks bare once again.  We ate it all though I did have a few peaches that I had to toss - I think they arrived at the house rotten.  (Mental note - don't buy peaches at Sprouts again.)


Sorry for the quick entry but I have a lot to catch up on today.  Working out of my home means I can take a sick day when I want to but it also means there's no one around to take up the slack.

Hope you have a great weekend...and whatever you do, get out there and get some sunshine!  Won't be long before the winter doldrums hit.