Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year, New.... Moon!

Hello friends!

It's been awhile since I've posted. I've been very bad. But here's to a New Year!

I'm very excited for 2014. It's a big year for me! I'm moving to California in April! Eep!

I was thinking about New Year's resolutions. I was planning out a nice long list of 2014 goals, and I realized that hardly anyone, myself included, ever keeps their New Year's resolutions. Why is that? I think it's because year-long goals are just too much. They're too long-standing, too far-reaching. Start with the small goals, which will work towards your larger goals.

So I've decided to do weekly and monthly goals instead, which will hopefully lead to my ultimate goals for the year! Here it goes...

With small, easy-to-manage goals, I hope to make 2014 the best year yet! What about any readers out there? What are your New Year's Resolutions?

Friday, August 9, 2013

An Update On Me

Hey everyone!  Sorry I kind of lost touch with this blog.  I'm back and I'm here to give you an update.  When Lindsey and I first started this blog, I was sitting at 300 pounds, and my goal was to lose weight and be a fitter, healthier me.  That's still my goal, and it's going to continue being my goal, probably for the rest of my life.  But today, I have some good news.  Some really good news in fact.  In the last few months I have managed to drop my weight to 266 pounds (268 on my official weigh in last Sunday)!

I owe a large part of all the success I've had to My Fitness Pal.  More and more I'm starting to believe it really is all about the calories.  Sure, you should have certain nutrients in your diet, but really if you're watching your calories, a lot of that other stuff seems to fall into place.  The best part about focusing on the calories rather than on the multitude of nutrients that I may or may not need is that I have flexibility.  I can eat whatever I want, as long as I'm willing to give something up in order to eat something that's less calorie friendly.

As of late, I've been eating a lot of salads.  I've been doing that for about two weeks now, and I feel it has really sped up my progress.  Now, mind you, these aren't Lindsey's pretty little salads that have a serving size of my 2 tablespoons.  These are man salads.  That's right, man salads.  I start with a head of romaine lettuce.  I don't really know if they're called heads since they're not round.  Maybe they're called a tube of romaine lettuce.  Anyways, I start with romaine lettuce and then I start adding stuff on.  Some common ingredients that I've added include hardboiled eggs, grated parmigiano cheese, tomatoes, watermelon bits, banana slices, craisins, bacon bits, rotisserie chicken, and even left over steak from the night before.  Rarely does the salad include all of that, but all of that makes an appearance once in a while depending on my mood, and on average totals to somewhere between 600 and 700 calories.

Don't take my words as some sort of health guide or anything, because I'm still nowhere near my goal weight, and I really have no idea how healthy or unhealthy that all really is.  All I know is that for my goal of losing weight, this has been working, and it has been working really well.

Monday, July 15, 2013

And I'm Back!

Hello again lovelies --

Sorry to have been so absent for the last... month. Wow, it's been that long? Time flies. I've been pretty busy with work and school, and really I've had nothing to say.

But I'm back! Hopefully  no more disappearing acts because I know how all 2 of my readers would die without this blog. :)

Enough of that, on to more important matters. Firstly, I've started a 30 day squat challenge that involves challenging yourself to work up to doing 200 squats a day.

200 squats. In one day. And no, if you're like my dear boyfriend Michael and wondering if you can spread those out to 15/hour -- you can't. 200 in one sitting. That's a lot of squats. Today was day 1; I did 30 squats and thought my legs were going to fall off.

Oh this will be fun.

If anyone is interested in the plan, click here.

Other important news: I have a delicious recipe for you! Mango salad! This was inspired by something I had at my work's cafeteria, which was also called.. Mango salad... No one said I was gifted at naming recipes, don't judge!

The thing I love about this dish is that it's so versatile (and delicious, of course). You can eat it on its own, on top of cottage cheese, on top of chicken, with spinach and cottage cheese, with spinach and chicken.. versatility, I love it.

Mango Salad

[makes about 6 cups]

2.5 mangoes, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 heaping cup black beans, cooked or soaked
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 cup lemon juice

Mix it all up and let it set in the fridge for several hours or overnight. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Walking the Walk

For the last week and a half or so I've been consistently walking for an hour and a half each day, and for a few of those days I also attempted jogging.  What did I find out about myself?  I am horrendously out of shape.  Okay, that's not really news to anyone.  I found out that I can only jog for about 5 minutes at a time, which made me feel pathetic.  Really really really pathetic.

For the last few days I've been slowly trying to up my jogging as long as I can, then walking, then jogging again once I feel up to it.  Yesterday I jogged for 5 minutes, walked for 5, then jogged another 5, and by then I was winded.  I tried one more set of 5 minutes of jogging and only lasted about 2 minutes, for a grand total of 12 minutes of jogging.  I felt even more pathetic.

More bad news: Sunday was my official weekly weigh in, and I was at 290 pounds.  I had actually gained 1.5 pounds.  I was both angry and depressed.  I had been eating within my limits and exercising every day, and yet somehow I managed to actually gain weight.  What gives?!?  Linz told me it might just be water weight that I gained because of my high sodium diet and not drinking enough water.  More water weight because I wasn't drinking water?  Yea, someone will have to explain that one to me again.  However, I've started drinking more water.  MyFitnessPal recommends at least 8 cups of water a day, but I've been averaging about 12-16 cups a day.

I really feel like this past week has been a bit of a road block in my journey to a healthier me, but I'm determined to keep walking the walk.  Today I'll be adding some more exercises to my routine of walking and pathetic jogging, so stay tuned!

Oh, and since Linz always puts up awesome pictures when she posts, here is a picture of me with Fat Dragon.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

101 Pounds, 1 Year, 1 Race

I love a good challenge.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I'm always challenging myself (or others). So when it comes to weight loss, I can't just be satisfied with losing weight and getting fit. No, I need to up the stakes. How am I gonna do that?

That's right. A marathon. I have it all planned out, literally.

I invite any and all of my readers to participate in my marathon pre-training and marathon training! I spent a good several hours researching the best ways to prepare and this is what I've come up with:

  1. Pre-train first. You have to be running (or be able to run) a good 20-30 miles per week before you start legitimately training for a full marathon. So I've developed a plan that starts with prepping me for a 5k, then a couple 10k's, and finally a half marathon. There ends my pre-training.
  2. Training. My official full marathon training starts in February. It's about 15 weeks long, which is on the short end of marathon training schedules. From what I've seen, they can be as long as 26 weeks. It's pretty adjustable. The basic idea is that you increase the total number of miles per week and taper off the last week or two before the big race so that you aren't too exhausted.
  3. Cross training. Through the pre-training and training schedules, you should do 1-2 days a week of cross training exercises, which means swimming or biking or something like that. 
  4. Nutrition. Once you've built up running endurance and are running several miles per week, you should begin consuming a runner's diet. Basically, eat lots of carbs. The ratio that was suggested is 60% of the calories coming from carbs, 25% from protein, and 15% from fat, give or take 5% for each of those. For now, I'm sticking to me regular diet, which is about 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. As I run more, I will slowly change towards a runner's diet.
That's the gist of my plan. Wish me luck everyone, and once again I invite all of you to try this with me!! If I can do this, everyone can!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Meal Planning 101

Hello my lovelies!

I hope everyone's weekend was wonderful. Mine was filled with working (as always) and lots of planning. I have a lot on my plate at the moment (hehehe no pun intended)! Thankfully, one thing I have mastered the art of... is planning.

I've found that when it comes to calorie counting, if you are like me and prepare pretty much everything you eat from scratch, it's very tedious to count the calories and other nutrients as you go along. First you have to look up all the info for each ingredient, then calculate for each serving.. blah blah blah. To alleviate some of the tediousness and pain-in-the-buttness of that, I've decided to do what I did before when I lost a bunch of weight: meal planning.

Here's how it works:
  1. Either the day of your grocery day or the day before, plan what meals you're going to eat for the week. I eat the same meals each day for that week.
  2. Write/type out the nutrition info for all the meals you'll be eating that week to ensure you'll get all the nutrition you'll need.
That's basically it! This is a sample of my meal plan for this week.

Super organized, and it saves a ton of time throughout the week. If you're a very busy person like me, I find this to be the most efficient way to ensure you're getting all the proper nutrients. If you'd like to have more variety throughout the week, you can always do this spreadsheet with different meals and whatnot. In other words, make more than one spreadsheet per week. I find that one week isn't long enough for me to get bored with the meals, especially if they're super delicious, so I don't do that. Plus, that's more effort than I'm willing to put in. ;)

I also find that doing it this way helps when you're actually trying to figure out what to eat. You can keep track as you're going along to figure out where you're lacking and where you're overdoing it with various nutrients, and adjust as needed.

You can use regular Excel (or similar software) on your computer to make these spreadsheets, but I like to use Google Drive. It's convenient because you can access it from anywhere you have internet (or through your smartphone). Therefore, if your computer hard drive dies (like mine just did a few days ago), there are no worries of losing it! Not that it's really THAT important, but who wants to go through the hassle of redoing such things? Another nice feature of using Google Drive is that you can share it with other people. That way, you can kind of create a little community where you and your friends can put their meal plans and help each other out and/or support one another, etc. Pretty nifty, if you ask me!

Now that you have the tools to meal plan, there's the trouble of figuring out what to eat and where to start. What I like to do is start with the idea that each meal should have a source of protein (meat, fish, dairy, etc) and lots of fruits and veggies. Then kind of just add whatever sounds good. With my meal plan above, I started with the smoothie/juice recipe because a smoothie just sounded good. It doesn't have a LOT of protein, but the protein it does have is very good quality protein. (I do believe avocados contain a complete protein.) With the next meals, I started with the fish because I knew I needed more protein. I also have to make sure to leave enough room at the end of the day for a chocolate treat! I need my chocolate. <3 Just take it meal by meal! Remember: you can always adjust later, especially since you're doing this before you even get the groceries, and trust me, it gets a LOT easier the more you do it. Eventually, you kind of just know which foods will fill in the gaps, and you can whip up a meal plan in 15 minutes.

Another nice tool for finding foods to fill those nutrient gaps is http://nutritiondata.self.com/. If you make a free account with them, you can search their database for foods based on nutrient information. For example, if you're looking for foods high in.. potassium, you simply search for foods highest in potassium! It's a wonderful tool, and I use this site everytime I make a meal plan. I highly highly highly recommend it.

If you give meal planning a try, let me know how it works for you! Also, if you have any questions on how to make the spreadsheet or anything else about meal planning, don't hesistate to ask! :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Leafless Salad!

Ahh, fresh sprouts. They really are delicious. But a problem starts to arise when you realize you have 3 cups of sprouts, and they supposedly only last a few days. How do I use up all these delicious sprouts!? I decided to attempt "preserving" them a bit longer by marinating them in a Lemon-Balsamic Vinegar dressing. I figure, both of these ingredients are natural preservatives so that's gotta work, right!? Here's the dressing recipe I used:

Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil

Whisk all ingredients together and let it set in the fridge for a good couple hours before use.

Now for those marinated sprouts, I added 1/4 cup of that dressing to my sprouts in a jar, shook it up a bit, and let it set in the fridge for awhile.

One thing I've noticed with the whole eating healthier thing is that I don't really like leaf veggie salads. Don't get me wrong, I love leafy greens.. just not as a salad. What do I use my leafy greens for? Well, I used collard leaves for collard wraps, kale for kale chips, spinach for sandwiches or wraps, etc. There are plenty of uses for leafy greens besides salads. 

I decided, with all these sprouts on hand, to make a sprout salad instead! Let me tell you, this is DELICIOUS. The flavors of the veggies compliment each other quite nicely, and the calorie count turns out quite low, all things considered. 

Marinated Sprout Salad

1 cup bean sprouts of choice (I used mung bean), marinated with above dressing
1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
2 T scallions, chopped
1/4 small avocado
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

What I did was kind of mash the avocado into the salad and it added a creaminess to it that made it unnecessary to add additional dressing.


I've decided to start something new with this blog post. From now on, with each of my own recipes that I post, I shall have the nutrition info posted at the bottom. As a calorie and nutrient counter myself, I always find it annoying when people don't post the nutrition info and I have to hunt it down myself. So here you guys go (and thanks Mikey-poopoo for making them)! And as a FYI, my usual source of nutrition information is http://nutritiondata.self.com  I love that website. It has a lot of nifty features on it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why do all the best foods have to be so bad?

Yesterday I had plans to go out to dinner, so like any calorie conscious individual I tapered my calorie intake during the day so leave plenty of room for dinner.  With a 2,030 calorie max, I consumed only about 600 calories, leaving 1400 for the delicious dinner that awaited me.

Outback Steakhouse.

Now mind you, props to Outback for adding calories to their menu.  I'm sure the waitress giggled a little when she saw this chubby brown man looking at  the menu angrily as he tried to figure out what to order, counting the calories with his fingers, and grimacing as he realized he'd be over his limit if he ordered everything he wanted.

Despite that, I persevered.  My order consisted of the following (Disclaimer: I didn't take these pictures, as I forgot to last night!):

Ceasar Salad (300 calories)

Garlic Mashed Potatoes (1/2 order) (Not including that steak!) (150 calories)

Green Beans (1/2 Order) (25 calories)

Outback Special (9 oz) (400 calories)

I was good to go.  Add to that half a loaf of bread and some butter, and my order consisted of about 900 calories, well below the 1400 calories I had set aside for this meal, and I was ready to chow down to my heart's content.  And then I realized my fatal mistake.  I had left out the most important part:

The Bloomin Onion (1949 Calories)

That's right.  That deliciously battered and fried onion soaked in that exquisite, slightly spicy yellowish secret sauce is utter perfection, and just under 2000 calories.  Of course, I had no intention of eating the whole onion, but half?  Half of the onion is certainly doable, and I can shamelessly say I've eaten have a Bloomin Onion in the past.  But that's still 1000 calories, shooting me well above my maximum.

What's a fattie to do?  Well, I dug deep and ate only 1/4 of this onion, lamenting as the rest of it went into the to-go box, never to experience it's former glory again.  I shall eat you today, Leftover Bloomin Onion, but I know that you'll be but a mere shadow of your former glorious self.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Beginnings

This past week was a bit tough for me, emotionally. I got a little down in the ruts and wallowed in my food for awhile, but I'm back in the game once more.

At the insistence of Mike, I've decided to use myfitnesspal instead of WW. Here's to hoping it works. It seems to be a pretty nifty site/mobile app. I think I prefer the mobile app to the website because the mobile app lets you view all the nutrition info you've consumed for the day more easily than the website does. 

Anyway, last week I teased you all with the claim that I would share a delicious recipe inspired by a restaurant I ate at in Los Angeles. Sorry for leavin' y'all hangin'. Truth be told, it didn't turn out that spectacularly. It was good, but not spectacular enough to post here. 

I did have one amazing success this past week though!

Bean sprouts that I sprouted myself! I've always had trouble in the past with sprouting. Either it just didn't work, or they ended up smellin' a bit funky. So, in the hopes that I am not alone in my troubles with sprouting, I will share with you all how I went about achieving sprout success:

1. Add desired beans (I used mung beans) to a large jar. Cover with a cheesecloth and secure with either a rubber band or the metal ring that secures the lid piece. 
2. Pour filtered water over the beans until they're completely submerged, shake it up a little, and pour the water out. Repeat once or twice more. 
3. After rinsing, the beans should be wet but not submerged under water, simply leave them either in the sun or on top of the stove and leave the stove on so it's nice and toasty. 
4. Rinse the beans 3-4 times a day using the same process as step 2.

Voila! Keep doing steps 2-4 until your sprouts are the desired length! The sprouts pictured above took about 2 full days to make. 

Try it for yourself and let me know how it turns out! Good luck! :)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dino Diet Gone Extinct?

I'm not one to say I told you so, but... Okay, I am one to say I told you so.  The problem with any diet that advocates eliminating entire food groups from one's diet is that you'll miss those foods.  And now that Lindsey has seen the error of her ways, it's time for the victory dance!




Okay I'm done.  Like Lindsey told you in her last post, we just got back from our road trip, and we cheated a lot, to the tune of way way too much fast food, and not nearly enough healthy food.  I swear they must put something in those french fries because they are really addictive!  I lost all of the progress I had made thus far, and so I'll basically be starting over.  Note to self: do not cheat for a week and a half.  However, it does present me with an opportunity.

At the insistence of both EJ and Mark, I've started using a website called MyFitnessPal in place of Weight Watchers.  It essentially functions in a similar fashion, calculating calories to determine what you need to eat to be healthy and lose weight.  The main difference is that while Weight Watchers assigns point values to different combinations of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fibers, MyFitnessPal monitors calories directly and makes suggestions for different nutrients as well.

In addition, there are several other features that sets MyFitnessPal apart from WeightWatchers.  For one thing, it's entirely free.  To take advantage of the official WeightWatchers, you actually have to pay a membership fee.  I was previously following it unofficially, and didn't have access to their official applications.    I don't know if the official application for WeightWatchers includes a database of point values for various foods, but MyFitnessPal has a user developed database, and for many foods, simply typing in the name will bring up its nutrition information.  Furthermore, MyFitnessPal takes into account exercise to adjust an individual's allotted daily calorie intake.  In other words, if you exercise more, it allows you to consume more calories.

One thing that MyFitnessPal and Weightwatchers have in common is that they both stress the importance of community.  WeightWatchers, if you're paying for it, actually has meetings where members regularly support each other.  Of course, as an unofficial user, I wasn't part of that.  MyFitnessPal instead uses social networking to put that same support and pressure behind its program.  If your friends are using it, you can see what they're eating, what sort of exercise they're doing, and you can compare their progress to your own.  Let me tell you, it's a real pain in the ass when your friend is doing an hour long workout and you're winded after a brisk walk around the neighborhood.  It's a real eye opener.

Anyways, at my preliminary weigh in this Sunday I was back at 304 lbs.  Today, I did an unofficial weigh in and found myself at 299, but I attribute that primarily to just not stuffing my face with McNuggets all day.  I have high hopes for MyFitnessPal, because it seems to have all the important attributes of a successful program.

Monday, May 20, 2013

We Have Returned!

Sorry for the two week absence, guys! Mike and I were roadtripping up the pacific coast! It was quite lovely.

However, whilst roadtripping, we were both very very very bad and ate awful foods. I know, I know -- we're terrible.

I have a new outlook on the whole weight loss/diet thing though. I've decided not to continue on the paleo diet quest. Quite frankly, I love legumes and a bunch of stuff that is forbidden on the paleo diet. Also, as Mike has pointed out to me and as I already knew myself, restricting oneself too much will only result in an eventual binge. A terrible, terrible binge.

My solution? Weight watchers! I still plan on eating mostly veggies, and a lot of my recipes that I post will be vegan friendly, mostly because I love vegan food. I might even continue to use nutritional yeast because I just love the flavor, and it's healthy to boot! However, should I decide to have some legit cheese once in awhile, I'm going to allow myself that! Our diets should be bent around our preferences; it's all about moderation.

I have no new recipes to share today, but on Wednesday I will have something super special to share with you all. It's a recipe I developed that was inspired by a dish I had at a Thai BBQ restaurant in Los Angeles. Check back on Wednesday for the deliciousness! ;)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Buffets are the Devil

I love buffets, but they are the devil.  Even more so than a normal meal out, buffets have this added pressure.  If you’re a fattie like me, I know you’ve experienced it.   When I go to a restaurant I tend to be rather cost conscious.  I’ll usually order just what I want to eat, without packing on a bunch of extras.  Buffets, however, are a whole different story.  The salads whisper, “You paid $20 bucks for rabbit food?”  The water chuckles, “That’s right, fill up on me so you won’t eat much.”  And that oh so delicious, not very nutritious taco bar, well, that says, “Hi, I’m a fuckin taco bar.  Need I say more?”

Buffets always tend to make me eat more than what I need to feel full.  There’s this internal cost analysis that seems to tell me I’m making money by eating more, and because of it, I’ll end up stuffing my face until all I can think about is rolling into bed and passing out.  I’m often satiated before that third trip back to the counter, but I just can’t help myself.  It’s really bad.

The worst is probably the all-you-can-eat sushi places.  They had you a menu with a grid, and you check off what you want each round, and the waiter brings the dishes to you.  The first time I went to one of these places was with my brother.  The lady handed us the list, and the grid had 3 columns, which we took to mean we could order 3 times.  We asked the waitress what would happen if we wanted more after a third time.  She just laughed and said we’d be done by then.  So what are two fatties to do, when the gauntlet has been laid down?

We ate.  We ordered a ton of sushi on the first and second rounds, and by then we were full.  We should have stopped there, but we had to prove that waitress wrong, so we ordered yet another round.  By the end of the third round, we were just about ready to burst, but we couldn’t let the waitress know that she was right, so we ordered a fourth round.  That fourth round was complete and utter torture.  The sushi that just 40 minutes earlier had our mouths watering now had us gagging.  20 minutes later, we had successfully completed that 4th round, and we paid our check and walked out, full of pride, and about 30 pounds of sushi.

What have I come to realize?  I don’t even like feeling that full.  At the very least, it’s uncomfortable, and when it’s really bad, it actually hurts!  Why do I do this to myself?  Because buffets are evil, but I love them anyway.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wait, Dinosaurs?

Well, Mike stole my post day, but that won't stop me from posting anyway. MY POST DAY, MINE.

Anyway, congratulations to Mike for actually doing research on a diet.

By the way, dinosaurs, Mike? Really.

On to more important things, like delicious food. This week, I had some fresh chickpeas that I had soaked sittin' in my fridge. What was a girl to do? I decided to make some yummy hummus. If you know me at all by now, you should know that I didn't just make regular no-flavor hummus. I added my own twist.

Spicy Roasted Veggie Hummus

1 1/2c chickpeas, dry
1/4c tahini
1/4-1/2c olive oil
water for thinning
1 red bell pepper
1 head of garlic
6 scallions
1T chili powder
2t garlic powder
2t onion powder
1/4-1/2t salt
1/2t cayenne pepper

1. Soak chickpeas overnight in plenty of water.
2. After the chickpeas have soaked, roast the bell pepper, head of garlic, and scallions for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. I cut my bell pepper into four pieces, cut the tips off the garlic, and brushed all the veggies with olive oil.
3. Put the chickpeas and tahini in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add the olive oil and water until it reaches a good consistency. Add the veggies and spices. Blend until well combined, adding water and/or olive oil as needed.

Even the color of this stuff is fabulous. I love the flavor of this stuff, but I have to warn you, this makes A LOT OF HUMMUS. I really wasn't intending on making this much hummus. So after filling my large mason jar with hummus and still having a ton leftover.. I was left wondering what to do with it. I decided on making pizza! Remember my pizza dough? Well, I did that except I didn't use flax this time. I used mostly oat flour, with a little buckwheat flour. Fresh ground for both of course. I really see no reason in buying flour when it's so easy to ground your own. This recipe also utilizes another creation of the week, vegan cheese.

This stuff is really easy to make.

Super Cheesy Vegan Cheese!

2c cashews
1c nooch
2T miso
1 1/2c water PLUS water for thinning
2T agar agar
1/2t xanthan gum

1. Begin by soaking the cashews for at least 24 hours in a warm place. They get a nice smell to them when you do this, I think maybe they start to ferment. Regardless, it adds extra flavor to the cheese so don't skip this!
2. Blend the cashews, nooch, and miso until well combined in a food processor. Slowly add water until it reaches a consistency you like. 
3. Add the mixture to a bowl, cover and let it sit for at least 24 hours in a warm spot to ferment some more.
4. After the cheese has set for at least 24 hours, add 1 1/2c water to a small saucepan along with the agar agar and xanthan gum. Heat on the stovetop and let it come to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, until it's a gel consistency.
5. Blend the gel with the cheese mixture until well combined.
6. Pour into a bread loaf dish, cover and refrigerate all night.

Voila! Cheese!

So with all this on hand, I went forward with my pizza. 

Scrumptious Pizza

1 recipe of pizza dough
1t olive oil
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder
1/4t salt
4 slices vegan cheese
1-2c spicy hummus
4 slices of a large tomato
1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 c baby argula

1. Roll the dough out in a 8x8 baking dish.
2. Combine the olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Brush onto the dough.
3. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 5 minutes.
4. Spread the hummus on the dough. Top with the cheese, tomato, and onion. 
5. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
6. Top with the arugula and bake another 5-10 minutes.

Pizza pizza! Who needs to order pizza when it's so easy and delicious to make your own? :)

Dinosaur Diet?

Lindsey will probably be upset that I’m posting this today instead of yesterday, which was my day to post (Oops!).  Hopefully she’ll forgive me when she finds out I decided to do some real research into the Paleo diet to better understand what she’s working on.  (By the way, I had been pronouncing it Pa-Lay-O, when it’s supposed to be Pay-Leo.  Linz got a good laugh the first time she heard me say it.)  Anyway, on to the content.

The diet basically calls for a return to the caveman diet, under the assumption that cavemen were healthier than Americans are today.  Of course, that’s not really a far stretch, since Americans are as a whole, obese, overeaters who don’t exercise enough, myself included.  Cavemen on the other hand had to spend all day foraging for food, hunting, and fighting/running away from dinosaurs.  I assume the hunting/fighting dinosaurs may have gone hand-in-hand, but who knows.  Some cavemen may have just done it for sport.

So, what did cavemen eat?  Well, they ate nuts, fruits, and vegetables that grew naturally, which means yes to apples, berries, bananas, and no to refined grains (bye bye bread, bye bye rice!), and they ate meat, dinosaur meat to be precise, but in the absence of dinosaur meat, fish and lean meats are preferred.  Now, the Paleo diet advocates not drinking milk, which I find a little confusing, as I would assume cavemen drank milk.  Perhaps cave buffalo were harder to milk than our modern day cows.  Who knows?

A few years ago I tried the Atkins diet, which had a similar premise – cut out the carbs.  I had some success with it too, but it and the Paleo diet share a common “flaw”: it involves the complete elimination of certain food groups.  That’s one of the major reasons I failed at sticking to the Atkins diet: I missed the rice.  As a Filipino, rice has been a staple in my diet pretty much from the time when I first began eating solid foods.

But enough about my person weaknesses, let’s look at the good and the bad of the Paleo diet.  The good: very low salt content and carnivore friendly.  The bad: some people with low will power (like me) may find it hard to follow, and completely leaving out certain food groups does present some health risks, namely not having all the right nutrients.  For example, there is a deficiency in vitamin D, calcium, and carbohydrates.  You really have to go out of your way to get these nutrients.

It’s definitely not a diet I’d be able to stick to, if past experience is any indicator, but it certainly has some good points.  It would definitely take a lot more discipline than I’m capable of, dietwise.


Monday, April 29, 2013

I Knead You!

Okay, cheesy title, I know but it had to be done.

Ah, fresh dough. The smell is so aromatic. Is there anything better?

No, I don't think so. I usually don't have the best luck with dough. I always make a huge mess, and get the dough all over my hands while cursing at myself and all those Betty Crockers who make it seem so effortless. But this.. oh this time, I got it right. Hallelujah! I guess the 3rd 4th 10th time really is the charm, eh?

What was different this time, you ask? For one, I made a smaller batch.. that might have helped. I just wanted a little dough to make a small pizza. Two, I did research, ensuring proper portion sizes of flour/water/yeast/sugar. Basically, I was prepared for this. You'd think I'd always be prepared, but then you really don't know me. :p

I didn't use regular flour, since I have none. Instead, I used flaxseed and oats ground up in a coffee grinder. Use whatever you might have on hand that can be ground into flour, I say. Oats, buckwheat, chickpeas, whatever! Go crazy! Cooking, I've found, is really a way to express your creativity and innovation.

Super Yummy Pizza Dough

[makes 1 small pizza]

1 1/2c flour of choice (mine was 2/3c ground flax and the rest oat flour)
1/2c warm water
2 1/4t active dry yeast
1t sugar of choice (I use organic coconut palm sugar)
Extra flour for kneading

1. Mix the warm water with the sugar until it's dissolved. Add the yeast and let it sit until it's super foamy, about 5-10 minutes.
2. Add the 1 1/2c flour and mix. It'll be super sticky, so don't touch it with your hands unless they're floured! 
3. Using a spatula, spoon the dough until a well floured surface. Adding more flour as needed, begin kneading the dough. Knead and add flour until it becomes less wet and doesn't stick. It should be elastic-like and be a little difficult to knead towards the end.
4. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let it rise for about 30 minutes.
5. Punch down the dough and let it rise another 30 minutes.

Voila! Now you can either refrigerate for later use, bake it up, or do what I did.

Make a personal pizza! This was about 2-3 servings worth of pizza. I simply rolled the dough out, placed it in a small 8x8 baking dish, brush it with olive oil mixed with garlic and onion powder, and topped it with my own homemade tomato sauce, which was really my "ketchup" mixed with some Italian spices. Then I added some sliced red bell pepper, mushrooms, arugula, a couple basil leaves, onion, baked egg plant, and nooch.

This. Was. Divine. So easy to adjust to one's own taste, that's why I love pizza. Basically, you just just throw whatever veggies you might have on top and toss it in the oven.

It's magical, really.

What's your favorite pizza? :)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Challenge Accepted!

As per our bet, Lindsey will continue to eat cheese that’s not really cheese and other weird stuff while I shall feast on delicious yummies.  Tonight’s course: duck!  Now I’ll be the first to admit, I have no idea what sauce they cooked this duck in, but it is sweet with just a slightly tangy flavor to it, and it is awesome.  So suck on that Linz!  Well, actually, suck on some imitation cheese.

This week I’ve started a new/old tradition.  I’ve started playing tennis again, with plans on playing at least four times a week.  I first started playing tennis back in high school, and I’ve been playing on and off ever since.  It’s only fitting that now that I’m trying to be health conscious, I should pick it up again.  Tennis makes for a great work out because it boasts a full body work out, taking everything from your legs to your arms, to your core and back through a full range of movements.  If you play at a fast pace, it makes for a great cardio work out too.

What I like most about tennis as a workout, though, is that it’s not boring.  Some people find it easy to hop on a treadmill and just run, or spend time in a gym working out, but I’ve never really been able to get into that because it’s boring.  Treadmills have almost made me feel like a hamster on a wheel, and despite having one in my room right now, I simply never use it.  Tennis, however, is fun.  Rather than repetitive action tennis has decision making and strategy, skill, and competition, which just gives me so much more motivation to get out there.

I guess my message tonight is that whatever exercise you choose to engage in, make it something you enjoy, because that just makes it a lot easier to stick to.

Oh, one last thing!  If you are into tennis and anime, I highly recommend Prince of Tennis.  It is an anime about a tennis prodigy that parodies the typical anime genre with flashy shots and intense dramatizations around tennis.  Prince of Tennis is the reason I started playing tennis in the first place.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You Feelin' Lucky?

So on Monday, my lovely boyfriend proposed that eating junk food in moderation would still allow one to lose weight. The obvious response to this is that, while of course you would lose weight since this really is just a matter of physics, the point of my approach to weight loss is to be healthy. Since I am a diabetic and have high cholesterol, eating junk food is not the way to go for me. However, I propose a challenge to you, Michael! We'll continue our opposite approaches to weight loss, and in 6 months time we shall get blood work and see who has the healthier blood work! You game, or you chicken? YOU FEELIN' LUCKY?

Okay, enough of the tough guy act, it's time to share some amazing food with y'all.

About a week or two ago, I tried my hand at making my own veggie broth.

Yes, I love onions.

It turned out okay, but a bit bland.

This week I tried again and succeeded in making a phenomenal broth.

At the end of making the veggie broth, I was left with a bunch of soggy veggies that I wasn't sure what to do with.. there was no way I was gonna throw out all those veggies! I decided to go with veggie burgers. As per my  usual creation routine, I searched my pantry high and low to see what I could find and I came up with chickpeas! I'm calling these burgers Falafel Veggie Burgers; I'm not sure how accurate a name that is, but I think it has a nice ring to it.

These burgers turned out so phenomenally that I am going to write a legitimate recipe up for y'all so you can try it yourself. You won't regret it.

Falafel Veggie Burgers

[makes about 8-10 burgers]

3c Leftover veggies from broth
1c dry chickpeas
1/2-3/4c flaxseed, whole
3T tahini
1T curry powder
1t cumin
1t dry cilantro
1/2t coriander
1/2t cardamom
1/2-3/4c sesame seeds, lightly toasted
olive oil for frying

1. Begin by boiling about 2-3 cups of water. Add the dry chickpeas and cook for about 30-45 minutes.
2. Puree the veggies in a blender or food processor and pour into a large mixing bowl. 
3. Add the cooked chickpeas to the blender or food processor and process/blend until they're fairly well chopped up but still have some bigger pieces. Pour about half of the chickpeas into the bowl with the pureed veggies then process the rest of the chickpeas again until they're a finer consistency. Add the remaining chickpeas to the large mixing bowl.
4. Add the tahini, curry powder, cumin, cilantro, coriander, and cardamom. Mix well.
5. Process the flaxseed in a coffee grinder (food processor or blender might work) until it's a fine flour consistency. Add to the mixture, and let it set for a couple hours in the fridge. The amount of flax you need may vary, so start with 1/2c and if you need more, add more.
6. Form 8-10 patties and cover them with the lightly toasted sesame seeds on both sides.
7. Heat some olive oil in a skillet and fry each patty for a few minutes on both sides. I over cooked mine on purpose because I like the crispy outside and slight burnt flavor, but to each their own!

These burgers are so yummy! You must try them.

After frying these up, I was trying to think of a sauce that would work well with them. I decided to make my own Ginger Tahini dressing and WHOA did it turn out delicious. It's creamy, sweet, tahini-y. Delicious. Once again, I love this dressing so much that I'm gonna post an official recipe! Look at me, being all chef-like.

Super Yummy Ginger Tahini Dressing

[makes about 3/4c]

1/4c tahini
1T maple syrup
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 inch ginger root
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1t soy sauce
water for thinning

1. Blend all the ingredients, except the water, in a food processor or blender.
2. Add water slowly until you reach a consistency you love!

Folks, this sauce/dressing is pure joy. Pure delicious. Pure YUM.

Go forth, try these recipes. Love me for it. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cheeseburger Diet?

Back in college I had a physics professor who made the argument that losing weight was simple: all you have to do is consume fewer calories than you expend over the course of a day.  He suggested that even a diet of nothing but cheeseburgers would produce results so long as the calorie count was correct.  Now, granted, a cheeseburger is a massive source of calories, and for many people, one or two cheeseburgers a day, while not very filling, would satisfy their calorie needs for that day, but the premise remains.

A while ago a “documentary” type movie came out called Supersize Me, and the entire premise of the movie was that eating McDonalds every day would cause someone to gain weight.  The central person in that movie did just that, and indeed, he gained weight, a lot of it.  I’m sure a lot of people who watched that movie were deathly afraid of McDonalds afterwards, the whole thing was actually a hoax of sorts.  In the movie, the guy was eating way way more than a normal person should consume.  Had he stuck to a more appropriate calorie intake, he likely wouldn’t have gained as much or any weight.  Of course, then the movie would have flopped.

Back to me!  I’ve been back on the Weight Watcher’s diet now for about a week, and during that week I’ve enjoyed cheesecake, white rice, peanut butter pretzels, polvoron (a type of Filipino cookie), and even fried chicken.  The variety of foods I eat in a given week did not change all that much, and yet in this past week I’ve lost about 6 pounds.  Why?  The Weight Watcher’s diet, while it takes in values such as protein, dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and fat, is basically a calorie watching diet.  You eat what you want, but you are forced to make trade-offs so that your overall calorie consumption does not rise.  For example, The day I ate the cheesecake, and man, that was one delicious slice of cheesecake, I skipped out on two meals of rice to make up for it.  When I had fried chicken, I only had a couple of pieces instead of the three or four I usually eat.

This brought me to the question of what it really means to eat healthy.  Is it true that you need to eat a certain balance of foods and ignore certain foods altogether in order to be healthy?  For example, Lindsey is looking at slowly omitting certain foods from her diet, and she has already nixed dairy!  No sour cream?  Bummer!  Or, can healthy eating be achieved with any combination of foods so long as certain minimums are reached and certain maximums aren’t exceeded?  If you have high cholesterol, maybe the cheeseburger diet isn’t for you.  If you suffer from low potassium, maybe you should eat a banana or two.  Calcium?  Drink a glass of milk. 

But should you omit foods entirely from your diet?  No, I don’t think so.  At least, I know I couldn’t do it.  The other night I turned down In-N-Out, and I love In-N-Out.  I had already reached my point maximum for the day, so I made the conscious choice to skip it, because I knew I could simply plan it into another day.  If I were never allowed to eat a Double Double again, well, I’d likely cheat, a lot.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Home Is Where The Heart Is

One of the things I've grown fond of while living a healthier lifestyle is making everything from scratch. I hate buying canned goods.. you never really know what's in there.. or maybe that's just my trust issues manifesting themselves. Either way, the only canned good in my apartment is a can of tomato paste, and eventually I'd like to make that from scratch too.

I've done a lot of experimenting in the past week from my own dressing recipe to tahini to homemade ketchup.

Before making tahini myself, I'd never had it before.. never tasted store-bought. Therefore, I had no baseline to go by as to how it should really taste.. I think I did something wrong. It tastes pretty bitter. Other than the bitterness, it DOES have a good flavor.. just that bitter aftertaste.. I'm wondering if maybe I over toasted my sesame seeds? I'm not sure, but I still used it to make a " goddess dressing" that I kept reading about through the blogs that I frequent.

Once again, never tried the store bought version of this stuff. Because of the bitterness of my tahini, I had to add a tablespoon of maple syrup. After doing that, it actually tastes pretty good. It has a very unique taste, and at first I wasn't sure if I liked it. It's one of those things though where the more I ate it, the more I liked it and wanted more.

I still think I prefer the taste of my own dressing creation: Curry Banana Vinaigrette. It isn't quite as universal as the goddess dressing - you can't just eat it with any veggie. For example, I found that it doesn't taste good with tomatoes, but it tastes great with broccoli. The flavor of this dressing is amazing though, and it oddly looks identical to honey mustard dressing.

Don't be fooled though! It tastes nothing like honey mustard dressing. It's very sweet, with a little tang, and a lot of deliciousness.

Curry Banana Vinaigrette

[makes about 3/4c]

1 banana
2T red wine vinegar
2T olive oil
1T maple syrup
1T curry powder
1t garlic powder
1t onion powder

Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor! Voila!

This dressing wasn't my only discovery of the week!

Homemade ketchup! I saw a few recipes for this online.. boy do they vary a lot. So I used what I had on hand and took bits and pieces from different recipes.. and added my own secret ingredient!

Yes! Worcestershire sauce! Okay, I admit that I'm really bad at keeping secrets, but I seriously think this added an awesome taste to this recipe. The only comment I have to make is that if you decide to recreate this recipe, you might want to reduce the sugar. It's quite sweet, which I don't mind because I have the biggest sweet tooth ever, but some people might find it TOO sweet... crazy people, that is.

Delicious Ketchup

[makes about 3c]

4 medium tomatoes, pureed
1/2c apple cider vinegar
2/3c packed brown sugar [maybe reduce to 1/2c if you prefer less sweet]
2-3 cloves of garlic, depending on size, minced
1 red onion, chopped
2-3 small celery sticks, chopped
2T Worcestershire sauce [The not-so-secret secret ingredient!]
1T olive oil
1t cinnamon
1t allspice
1t ground mustard

1. Begin by heating the olive oil in a pot, and saute the onion with the garlic until the onion is all soft.
2. Add all the rest of the ingredients!
3. Simmer until the mixture becomes a nice thick sauce-like consistency. This takes about an hour. Stir occasionally, but once you get near the end of that hour, stir more frequently so it doesn't burn!

Go forth, my friends! Make something homemade this week! A dressing, sauce, condiment, whatever! It's definitely worth it, they taste so much better made from scratch. :)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mung Beans?

Are mung beans a super food?  Now that I'm watching what I eat, I have to actually check out the nutrition data on what I eat, and today I ate mungo, a Filipino dish for which the primary ingredient is mung beans.  One cup of mung beans has two grams of fat, one hundred and thirty grams of carbohydrates, 49 grams of protein, and 34 grams of fiber.  I had to recheck the values several times because they simply did not make sense.

Of course, as I was typing this, I mentioned it to Lindsey, and she replied that beans in general are that way. I checked, and found that black beans have similar nutrition data.  Maybe mung beans aren't so special after all.  So much for my great discovery!  In any case, I'll leave you with this:

Bean beans the wonderful fruit.  The more you eat, the more you toot.  The more you toot, the happier you are.  So beans beans for everyone!

In case you were wondering, below is a picture of mungo:

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Less Whine, More Cheese!

Vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, paleo -- There are a lot of diets out there, each one with its own merit! How do you choose which one is the best for you!? Personally, I'm still trying to figure that one out, but for now I'm going by trial and error. My latest trial is the paleo diet; basically, you eat lots and lots of veggies and fruits, grain-fed meats, fish, and nuts & seeds. That's about it, no legumes, no wheat, no dairy, very little sweets. I've found from past experiences that changing one's diet too drastically too quickly is a bad idea -- So I'm going step by step.

Step 1: 

Bye bye milk.. bye bye cheeses. :(

I've been on step 1 for about a week now, and I'll probably stay on step 1 for a couple more weeks. It's a big step for me! I loooove cheese and milk and all the yummy things you can make with them!

So, my main focus as of late has been to discover and create authentic tasting vegan cheeses! So far, I've only found one -- I know that seems dismal, but to be fair, I've only tried two. Fifty percent isn't too bad! My one major success was a vegan Parmesan cheese

This stuff is DELICIOUS. I didn't exactly follow the ratio that the recipe states, mostly because I didn't feel like looking the recipe up when I decided to make it. I just guessed and did 1/2c cashews with 1/4c nooch , and I didn't add the salt. But regardless, this stuff is incredible. The cheesy flavor is just phenomenal; I really can't say enough amazing things about it.

While on a roll with this amazing vegan Parmesan cheese, I decided to attempt a "vegan cheese sauce." I didn't simply blend the Parmesan with water, though. First, I soaked a cup of cashews all day then blended it with a few tablespoons of olive oil and about 3/4c of nooch. Behold!

Cheese sauce! This stuff is as amazing as I thought it'd be. Creamy, cheesy, yum. Now that I have this amazing cheese sauce, though, I had no idea what to do with it.. You'd think I'd have had a plan? Well, that's too logical! I was just too excited to create this! I scoured around my kitchen to see what I had, and this is what I came up with:

Are you thinking what I was thinking? Well, I don't know, but I was thinking cheesy potato soup! And that's exactly what I did. Using 4 cups of my homemade veggie broth, a whole red onion, a whole head of garlic, 3 grated carrots, a 1.5 lb bag of fingerling potatoes, and my creamy cheese sauce (I decided to omit the fresh herbs) I created the most amazingly creamy and cheesy potato soup ever!

It's amazing what you can create when you have to be creative!

How about you guys? Anyone have a phenomenal vegan cheese recipe they'd like to share? I'm up for trying anything! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Starting Point!

If this weight loss plan is going to work, I have to be honest with myself.  There are many reasons why I've failed to lose weight and keep it off in the past, including cheating and just not sticking to the plan.  A few years ago I tried Weight Watchers on my own, not part of the group thing, and it actually worked for me.  I did manage to lose about 30 pounds, before I started cheating, and then outright stopped doing it.  So today I've decided to try again, for good this time.  The first step is to be honest about where I'm starting.  So here's me:

26 years old
6'2" tall
305 pounds (I thought I was 295 but somehow I gained 10 pounds in 3 days?!)

My goal is to make it down to 200 pounds, and to do that, I'm going to:

1.  Stick to Weight Watchers
2.  Drink at least 3 cups of water every time I eat
3.  Exercise daily (My lovely girlfriend Lindsey suggested the Circuit Trainer App on Android.)

I've got a long road ahead of me, and this is my starting point!