Monday, February 25, 2008

A little fun

...because I do get tired of writing about food & culture sometimes.

I like to think of funny names for meat/animal product substitutes. Some of these are real and some I have made up. Join me?

Salmon= Salm-un
Tuna= Tu-not
Meatballs= Neatballs
Chicken= Chick-un
Pate= Pat-yay
Veal= Heal
Liver= Live-er
Sausage= Soysage

(Pushups completed: 890)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Pollan & Pleasure

Huh, do you think this guy is covering Miss Jackson? I wonder.

I recently read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I was pretty shocked to see that it was #1 on the bestseller list. Pollan draws some conclusions which are quite a radical departure from the Standard American Diet. His mantra, originally expressed in a seminal NY Times magazine article, is "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I love Pollan and could go on for some length about his new book, but I want to focus on one thing he says towards the end:

"What nutritionism sees when it looks at the French paradox is a lot of slender French people eating gobs of saturated fat washed down with wine. What it fails to see is a people with a completely different relationship to food than we have... They seldom snack...they spend considerably more time eating than we do. Taken together, these habits contribute to a food culture in which the French consume fewer calories than we do, yet manage to enjoy them far more."

I think this could be the next diet trend: it's not what you eat, it's how and where you're eating it. Mireille Giuliano has touched on this but it really deserves more attention. Americans as a whole eat in their cars, at their desks, in front of the TV, standing up--often as quickly as possible in order to attend to the next task. It takes the body 20 minutes to register full-ness, but I would bet most Americans rarely eat a meal outside of a restaurant that lasts that long. I, for one, have been focusing on
--buying high-quality food, even if it's more expensive
--savoring my food as much as possible
--if I must eat at my desk, I turn away from my computer and concentrate on my food
--consciously thinking about whether I want to finish a whole portion instead of just eating until there is no more food

Since I do eat most of my meals at work or alone, this is a challenge, but I think I've been eating less, experiencing more pleasure, and feeling more satisfied.

(Pushups completed: 720)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Chilling Out

I spent a long holiday weekend at the Ananda Ashram in NY state. My friend J and I went there to do some yoga, catch up, and relax. The ashram grounds (shown above) are beautiful, but we were unprepared for the extreme cold (by the way, that is a lake frozen solid in the picture). We had to walk to different buildings for classes and meals, and the paths we were walking on were solid ice. We did see many deer (pictured in the distance below) enjoying the snow, though. Our taxi driver told us they like the ashram and are not afraid of the people there. I guess they know they are not in danger of ending up on the menu!

The food at Ananda is vegetarian, and about 75% vegan. Of the three ashrams I've been to over the years, Kripalu has the best food, but Ananada was nothing to sneeze at (and also, Ananda is about half as expensive as Kripalu). For the dinner shown below, we enjoyed seasoned tofu, collard greens, root vegetable stew, and pineapple-coconut cake. As much as I love cooking, I also love a break from it sometimes!

(Pushups completed: 640)

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy Heart Day

I didn't mean to be alarmist in that last post. I would describe myself more accurately as "hypoglycemic" rather than "diabetic." I have had one test that confirmed that a few years ago, but since then my blood sugar tests have been normal. I'm definitely going to try to focus on vegetables rather than animal products as I try to lower the amount of carbs in my diet. Of course, the most important thing for me is to cut out/severely limit sugar and white carbs. Progress has been slow but mostly steady on that front.

In any case, we had a delicious, healthy vegan meal for Valentine's Day. We went to Sunflower vegetarian restaurant, which was packed with people of all different ages and backgrounds. I always love to see a vegetarian restaurant full!

We started with miso soup and "sushi" as appetizers:

and moved on to a veggie & tofu sandwich and "Orange Imagination," a delicious plate of seitan, broccoli, carrots, orange slices, pine nuts, and goji berries all coated with a tangy orange sauce.

It was a very satisfying and special meal. And to top it off, a copy of Veganomicon was one of my Valentine's presents!

(Pushups completed: 370)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The lament of the diabetic would-be vegan

I've been tweaking my diet a bit recently. I'd been having pretty strong cravings and unstable blood sugar. I did a lot of thinking and realized that in the past the only type of diet to successfully keep these things at bay has been a lower-carb, higher-protein diet.

For the past 3 or 4 weeks, I've been restricting carby foods to lunch only. I've been eating some eggs, cheese, and fish--more than I have in a while, but not huge nasty quantities. I try to make the carbs I eat at lunch have some redeeming value (whole grains, sweet potatoes, etc.).

The difference in the way I feel has really been striking. I no longer walk in the door after work ready to eat anything in sight. I don't have to have a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon snack. I feel more alert and have more energy. After I eat carbs, I feel markedly sluggish and I can feel my heart rate increase. (This happens even if they're healthy carbs, but is most pronounced when I have sugar.)

My grandmother is diabetic and I've always thought I am borderline. I don't know yet how much I can cut down on my intake of animal foods without getting the blood sugar swings I know so well. I feel best after a meal with fish or eggs as the main course. I have been eating a lot of vegan, vegetable-based meals, though, and I try not to have two animal-based meals in a row.

Being a semi-diabetic vegan seems pretty daunting. Especially when I come across sample diabetic vegan menus like this one, with pretzels, white rice, and sugar substitutes. Bleck! I hope I can find more non-animal meals that satisfy me and aren't heavily processed. So far I like beans, tofu, stir-fries and salads, avocadoes, and--anyone have other suggestions?

(Pushups completed: 190)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Headlines I never wanted to see

or, Reason #512 to stay away from meat:

"Inhaling Pig Brains May be Cause of New Illness"

If you think the headline is gross, you should (or maybe you shouldn't) read the rest of the article.

(Pushups completed: 120)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Fit in February

I've decided to set a fitness goal for myself this month. See the picture above? It's a push-up counter. You hit it with your chin on the way down. As shown, it counts up to 999 pushups. Well, that's not enough for me, because in February, I'm going to do 1,001 pushups.

I'm not talking about on-your-knees pseudo-pushups, either. I've been doing about 20 "real" pushups a day for the past several weeks. To make this goal, I need to do 34.5 pushups a day. I'm going to aim for 40 a day in case I need to take a day off. I won't do them in one long set, but probably 2 sets of 10 in the morning and in the evening. Does anyone want to join me?