Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Year, New Vegetarian.

As I always do on Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year, I take stock over the spiritual side of my life. New Year's Eve in December is for fun and tiny resolutions for the other parts of my life.  Anyway as I took stock, I realized how much of my food/health life has changed, intensely and for the better, this past year.

For one, I went vegetarian. Last November I ate my last steak. Never looked back. As I phased out poultry with a due date of end of June, I found that by May, I no longer wished to eat it and again, never looked back.

I eat really well for the most part. Even as a vegetarian- thank you chummus and so many other delicious options. I miss out on nothing. Slowly I've added a new range of interesting items to my cupboards. Experimenting has been fun, delicious and much more satisfying than expected. Recipes to come.  Personally, I'm a creature of habit. I have a ton of responsibilities, at home, at work, writing my who knows when and if it will ever be finished manuscript, my volunteer work (animals natch) and with day to day life. I don't always want to think about what to eat. It's a though process I try to do without. Sometimes it's great. I don't get many food moods because I keep the basics in motion (oatmeal or fruit for breakfast, nuts or a granola bar or fruit for snacks, etc.) My food is on a steady and easy rotation.

When I get a craving, I always satiate it before I start hearing the siren call of  cheesecake or french fries through a shop window.

And I always have canned chick peas, canned corn, tomato sauce, tomato paste, buckwheat, quinoa, rice, pasta, soy products and a slew of frozen vegetables and cubed frozen herbs in stock at all times. Because that means a simple, fast and healthy meal is NEVER more than 15 minutes away plus, leftovers for a few more meals (I ALWAYS cook healthy food in bulk).

If I am a person who needs convenience right now (canned and frozen) - during this particular life cycle, so be it. I do what makes any change  simple and easy.

Ultimately, any changes I make are step by step. I know who and how I am and even though I always look to improve and evolve, I have to stay true to myself.. I firmly believe that this is one of the most pivotal points between the success and failure of long term health and weight loss.

Accept yourself, face yourself and make some easy and simple changes keeping your current state of life, health and willingness to make changes in mind.

Because losing weight and getting healthier really doesn't have to be that hard. The facing yourself is what is hard.

So, on a personal note-I wish you all the the strength to look into the mirror, face yourself and admit who and how you are. And also, fix your hair before you leave the house. Good hair makes you feel awesome.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Weight Loss Monologues

We all have them. No one is immune.
That's why so many people are fighting with their weight. Not struggling, but literally fighting.

As an ode to the end of bikini season I decided to compile some of our best aruguments over the years. And by our, I mean me and my weight.

ME:Why can't I stop eating at night?
WEIGHT: You don't know a better way to deal with stress.
Weight Round 1.

ME: I'm hungry, I'm going to grab a cookie.
WEIGHT: Have fruit instead.
ME: I don't wanna.
I like my ...cookies.....or...nacho cheese flavored Pringles.... (insert food of choice)
WEIGHT: Well then I win.
Weight smugly wins Round 2.

ME: Why can't I lose this weight?
ME:It must be because of my slow metabolism.
WEIGHT: It's not because you have a slow metabolism.
It wasn't.
Weight Round 3.

ME: I eat when I'm hungry only. I eat food instead of junk and when I am full, I stop.

WEIGHT: Great. How is that working for you?
ME: I feel great and I look great.
Round 4 Me.

ME:Why can't I lose more weight?, I'm eating so well?
WEIGHT: You need to make time to exercise instead of excuses why to not.
ME: Shut up weight. I'm tired.
WEIGHT:So is everyone else. Just start by going up and down an extra flight of stairs, going for a ten minute walk, or doing crunches and legs lifts twice a week while you veg out in front of the tv. I promise, a lil motion adds a lot of saved calories ..)
ME: Shut up weight I'm tired.
Round 6 Weight.

Our argument today?
ME: What should I wear for my workout?
WEIGHT: Who cares, you are going to workout, not win a beauty content.
ME:Shut up.
Round 7: ME!!!-Because I will be going to workout AND look cute doing it.

What arguments do you and your weight have?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Decision Affliction

I believe in the hype of little things meaning a lot. A glance, a slight touch, a little gesture- are all important. But what's the underlying importance behind all that?  The importance of little bits and bursts of effort. 

Sometimes, after I get home from work, back from Ruby's walk and finally back home from my day, it's 9pm. I'm tired and hungry.  I go through phases of cooking many dishes and portioning them into 1-2 portion containers and freezing it so I always have something to eat at night.

But, sometimes, my stash runs out and I get stuck.

It's gets really annoying to me because I have to start deciding what it is I want to eat, get ingredients and spend time cooking. NOT HAPPENING. Those evenings really annoy me. If I'm not really hungry, I might just have some fruit or a bowl of cereal- it's classic and delicious and simple so why not. 

But, if I am hungry then I have decisions to make. I don't always have patience for those decisions and for me ordering in is more of a chore than a relief - it requires looking through loads of menus to decide what I want, noting that the minimum delivery order might require me ordering 2-3 huge meals and waiting at least an hour for delivery. By the time I decide what I want- so much time has gone by that the added hour of waiting would mean my dinner would only arrive at 11 and that is too late to eat a large meal that comes with delivery food.  This happens to me.....Every.Single.Time.

If you don't have the decision affliction that I do- then sure, ordering in once in a while is fine. Grilled meats or fish, loads of vegetarian options, everyone does low oil if you ask.  But- not really a good option for me. Back to the drawing board.

I can totally run downstairs where I have loads of options just around the corner, chummus, "home" cooking, delis, pizza, bakeries, cafes, sushi, Chinese.  I live on a great block. I can get around the culinary world in just 10 minutes-who really needs 80 days?  Arrggh, but same dilemma-decisions decisions. Takes me too long to decide. If I opt to run down to  pick up food, I just use my default option and hit up the chummus place- it's fresh and hot, comes with a finely chopped salad and pita. Delish, but chummus does require bread or chips or something to dip into it in order to get it to my mouth (cutlery has no place here). Fine, but again- not all the time. Arrgg. it's really annoying this decision affliction of mine.

Time for the little effort means a lot part. I force my lazy, indecisive ass up and into the kitchen. I take 3 tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, a can of chick peas-rinsed and a can of corn-rinsed (these are my always have on hand staples). Dump in bowl, add lemon, salt and olive oil (and cilantro if I am not too lazy to chop). And voila- 5 minutes of effort to make a really delicious, filling salad. Well 5 minutes and 1 hour hour if you include trying to decide where to go and what to eat.

Even the lady of the tray approves of my effort!  

 I always end up feeling like Dorothy.  All along it was right there, in my own fridge. No Ruby slippers needed. (And I have the best Ruby anyway).......
Ruby of Oz- way better than any slippers.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Top 5 Foods

Went out to dinner with couple of friends last night. While we enjoyed some tasty burgers (minus the bottom of the bun for me-because I wanted some fries-moderation is the key) on the beaches of Tel Aviv, with our toes wriggling happily in the sand, we started chatting about a friend's recent trip to Paris and the French accent.  This reminded me of one of my favorite flicks 'Better Off Dead' with John Cusack. His quirky mom tries to make a French themed dinner complete with "franch fries and franch dressing" and I shared these giggly tidbits with KJ n AM.

Conversation naturally turned to John Cusack and other films we love him in, which in turn, turned to  'High Fidelity' another film I love (I really need to read the book too). Naturally, we started talking about one of the main themes of the movie- the top 5 lists. Anyway, long night short, dinner went on, we continued to relax on the beach enjoying the end of summer winds flying towards us with the cool freshness only the velocity of coming off the toss of waves can bring.

Ruby taking in some Vitamin D
This morning on my usual walk, Ruby decided, as she does each morning, to catch a 5 minute suntan on her taut belly. As she relished her roll on the the warm grass and settled into her 'catch some rays' position (where she stays blissfully content for 5 minutes), I had the thought that watching her do this was one of my top ten things to do as part of my daily routine. Which led me to last night's conversation, which led me to begin thinking about what my 'top 5 foods that I would not be able to live without' were.


1.Tomatoes - I eat them everyday in everyway.
Sometimes, when I'm hungry and cannot think of anything I want to eat or cook, I slice up 2-3 tomatoes (removing the seeds n pulp), sautee them in a 1/2 pat of butter, add a little salt and garnish with a little bit of parmesan cheese for a light and super delicious dinner. (It's also good over pasta and with spinach).

2.Freshly baked bread.
I realize that is specific, but that's my requirement. A simple piece of good bread, fresh and warm from the oven spread with a bit of good cheese and freshly sliced tomatoes. Gooooood.

3.Dark chocolate.
I don't eat chocolate everday. I really should (just a couple of squares). It's delicious and in small amounts, it's good for you. Nuff said.

4.apples/nectarines/figs/strawberries,bananas and grapes
I'm totally cheating here. I know it and you know it. Sigh. Fine--grapes. I couldnt live without grapes because they are my go to food. When I can't overcome my intrinsic need to pick, nibble and snack- I go to grapes, They are small, pickable, refreshing and relatively low in calories. I can only have so many grapes before I am full, they stop water retention, satisfy my sweet tooth, I can grab them and go with convenience, they are easily shared, are really good boiled down and used as a topping over other foods and in a pinch, I can ferment them into some tasty wine.

5.Chummus/Chick peas
I'm not vegetarian, but as mentioned before, aspire to be and think about it often. I do still eat meat-as mentioned that last night's dinner was a burger.  That said, I am careful not to eat meat very often- perhaps 1-2 times a month at the most, fish- slightly more more often.  But, the bulk of my diet is vegetarian. I think its better for the world and environment as a whole, am against the level of cruelty to the animals that sacrifice their lives for human consumption and are thanked with tortuous conditions and believe that if everyone would eat animals on a more moderate basis (not preaching vegetarianism, just better treatment and appreciation) the demand we could create for better lives and living conditions for the animals would benefit the world and the animals that were consumed would be healthier for the people consuming them (no mad cow from vegetarians forced to eat meat causing gene mutations....karma people, karma). Whew. Ok. It's my blog and I'll soapbox if I want to.

Chick peas are totally delicious, packed with protein and iron, good for skin and hair, are super filling and fry up super well into protein packed balls called falafel. Naughty and nice= win win food.

(Top 5 condiments - salt, sugar, olive oil, butter,cinnamon)

What are your top 5 foods you couldn't live without? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So hot / So cold

It's hot. Like. Africa hot. That's a line from the movie Biloxi Blues, uttered by a young Matthew Broderick, huffing along the desert in his army gear (It's also a pretty good movie). Except for the fact that I actually live in Africa/ Asia (whichever side you choose to define where the coutry of Israel resides) and it is HOT. Even when it isn't burning hot- it's wet and damp.  Jeans are an impossibility and half the time, it's feels too hot to eat.

On the other hand, when sitting inside freezing offices or restaurants or your apartment- it gets so cold (thank you-oh inventor of the ac), that you might be convinced you need to eat more to warm you back up as you do in the winter.  Last year that happened to me a lot. 

This year- I decided to keep my windows open most of the time with a fan on and put the ac on at night when the desert really heats up.  I work from home a couple of days a week and of course- Ruby is home all day, so fresh air and bright light are imperative.  The bonus to this- aside from a lower electric bill, is the fact that- my appetite has decreased exponentially.  Yesterday was the first time in a long time that I ate 3 times in one day and I was pretty surprised when I realized that. I just can't. In the morning I get an iced coffee and grab a cold nectarine or other juicy fruit and eat it mid morning. Somedays I eat lunch, sometimes I grab a few whole wheat light crackers and slice up a cucumber and tomato, sometimes, I am just so hot I end up drinking glass after glass of water to cool down and then just feel way to full to eat.  Dinner I do eat- usually a cold salad and some sauteed tofu or eggs or a small chicket breast.  I keep what I am eating healthy, but eating and food- in this weather feels like more of a forced effort than not.

It might sound a little weird to some or like I am purposely not eating. Totally not the case. All the rules say we should eat 3-5 meals a day (3 larger or 5-6 smaller).  I agree to that to an extent. The otherside of it is eating when you are hungry.  I don't mean- starve purposely all day and then stuff face at night until you fall into a food coma. I mean- if you need to skip a meal here and there- it's ok. The body won't think you are starving yourself.  Don't not eat anything-but listen to your body.
-How often do you confuse hunger and thirst? Most people who need to lose weight, I think, make the mistake pretty often.
-How often do you eat because it is a designated mealtime even though your aren't hungry?often we do sort of coast by mealtimes in a state of routine rather than one of hunger or thirst or need.

Anyone else notice these ebbs and flows in eating habits or the zoning out of mealtimes?

Just something that's been on my mind....

Saturday, July 9, 2011

As American as Apple Pie

So lately, for no good reason, I have some serious cravings for apple pie, apple cake, apple crisp. Why? no idea. Maybe I'm feeling nostalgic as it was the 4th of July. Who knows.

It's really not apple pie/cake/pastry or crisp season here AT ALL. Summer in in full throttle in Tel Aviv and even though the most intense heat has not yet hit- it is hot-as in way too hot to hit the beach midday if you value your skin and don't want a red zebra stripe going down your scalp in the part of your hair.

Theses apple dishes are simply not part of this season and there aren't even that many to buy here- as Israel doesn't import fruits and vegetables.  Our agriculture is so rich, we mostly export what we grow and we eat the crops of each season. I eat loads of fruits of vegetables and my current kicks are the green, crisp grapes that are so sweet and refreshing as well as tons and tons of carrots, beets, nectarines and lemons. So, I am not chalking up this craving to any particular vitamin my body is seeking from the apple- just a good old fashioned head want.

I know I could make a mini apple pie or an apple crisp but, I really don't feel like baking. As it is, I spent 3 hours on Friday cooking up a storm. I made- roasted salmon with garlic, cilantro, salt and lemon; cod fillet with olive oil, fleur de sel, lemon and a touch of butter; spinach and baby peas mixed with more cilantro (I bought a huge bunch), lemon and quinoa; sauteed green beans with roasted tomatoes; a tomato, cilantro and spicy pepper salad and roasted spaghetti squash. All so yum.

Anyway- after all that cooking- I got lazy. I wanted something simple and effortless which is near impossible without going to a restaurant. Cafe's here don't make apple pie like they do in NY, like Chef Jessica or like my bubbe.  So after an entire weekend craving getting stronger and stronger, I went to the market. I found all sorts of gross items-like prepackaged cakes with fake apple flavoring-even the pictures of the cake inside the wrapping were gross.

Plain apples-I know- but they weren't the craving--I did buy a couple and considered baking them with cinnamon and a little bit of red wine- but again, effort and the hot oven.  I continued my search and am ashamed to admit--I wished for one frozen box of Sara Lee pre packed pie full of chemicals- that is how the strong the craving got-as there is no way I would ever buy that in the states.

Getting annoyed and frustrated- I decided to refocus my efforts to chocolate, but alas- all the rows of chocolately goodness were utterly lost on me. I search for apple confiture-to maybe add onto a tea biscuit- store was out. Now I was pissed, I would have taken out some mini frozen pancakes from the freezer and slice up and sauttee one of the apples. Until I remembered that when my freezer broke- I had to empty the contents and haven't made a new batch. ARRGGH. annoying. There was NO way I was cooking again, I already finished my kitchen time and I am not a lover of doing dishes.

I decided to see what was frozen- something that might calm the apple beast withing.  I noticed frozen pancakes - huge ones- almost as big as the ones that crushed the houses in the book "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and even though they were tempting- a single pancake was 250 calories (huge!). Then ......I saw them. Blintzes (crepes). Stuffed with apples......no way. I grabbed the box and read the ingredients- apples as the first ingredient!!!, lemon, citric accent, sugar (not corn syrup!) stuffed into a plain crepe dough made of salt, flour and water. Each one was 100 calories and 5 bites worth. I cannot explain how happy I was with this little discovery.

It was perfect. Sometimes- we just have to have exactly what we want in a small amount and that is that. Craving satiated and gone.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

From paunchy puppy to willowy wolf

So- back in February, I started tracking Ruby's weight.  She was up to 20 Kilo.  I promised to add in some progress reports for her as I believe that weight and obesity runs within familial units- as a rule of thumb.  Since I was responsible for the gain, I am also responsible for the weight loss. My vet, recommended that Ruby not lose more than 1/2 a kilo per month, max.  It's a good lesson- no crash dieting for animals-it's very dangerous for their overall balance and well being.

The truth is- is that crash dieting always ends with a crash of epic proportions- slowing the metabolism, causing roller coaster emotions and patching bad eating habits half hazardly 'til they burst back into jeans that will simply not button up.

Waiting for our morning run
So- as mentioned, I kept to my word of taking Ruby on a larger variety of activity.  In the mornings,- I take her to a field of grass and we run, play tug of war with a bone, fetch with a ball, etc.  I take her to the dog park to socialize, I take her to the dog beach to run in the sand and play in the ocean, around the track in the park- and pretty much anywhere I can.  I am lucky-because I live right across the street from a lush green park and a ten minute stroll to the beach and Tel Aviv is one of the most dog friendly cities I have ever been to.but you can walk, jog or run with your pets anywhere (except the middle of the day when it is far too hot for their little paw pads and they should be kept safely at home to avoid heatstroke).

Ruby pooped after our run (hugging my shoes like a teddy bear)

I noticed that Ruby seemed to look a bit smaller and since she had some allergies, pulled a muscle and got scratched by a little kitten I found and took home for a couple of days- over the last few months, I have seen my vet a little more than I would have liked; but, I was able to weigh Ruby more often to gage her progress. Last week- at the vet, Ruby weighed in a a svelte 17.6 kilo!She can still go as low as 16kilo but overall her progress has been unsurprising but very satisfying.

Little less food and a lot more activity has shown that the best options are slow, steady, healthy and way more conducive to a good mood and healthy puppy! And owner!