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Does Cricket Flour Bug You? April 6, 2015

Filed under: cooking,diet,eating,health,Paleo — Susan @ 10:28 pm
Tags: , , ,
Photo Credit: N@ncyN@nce/Flickr

Photo Credit: N@ncyN@nce/Flickr

Until a week or two ago, I had never heard of cricket flour. Yes. Flour made out of dehydrated, ground up crickets. But then somebody brought some cricket-flour cookies into work and they were passed around the lunch table.

cricket

Hey Mikey! I liked them!

They were actually pretty good. Chocolatey. Like… a cookie. Because the crickets had been pulverized into dust, they didn’t FEEL like crickets. (ie., I could not distinguish any little antennae or cricket-legs as I ate my cookie) There was no discernible cricket or insect like flavor. They just tasted like.. cookies. I had no idea I had stumbled onto a hot new food craze. WHO KNEW?

A company here in the Bay Area produces both these cookies and the flour they’re made of. At first I was thinking, WHYYYYY? but then today I read this article about how my newfound love, almond milk, is sending us deeper into drought-land by the minute, and how we might all end up eating dried insects if this keeps up. Or how maybe we should, anyhow.

According to Bitty’s website,

Cricket flour is a tasty source of sustainable nutrition, packed with protein, healthy fats and micronutrients. We start with sustainably raised crickets, which are slow roasted to bring out their nutty, toasted flavor. Then we mill them into a fine flour that becomes the basis of our delicious, high-protein baked goods and baking mixes.

All our products are free of grains and processed sugar, and are made with coconut oil rather than dairy products. Best of all, they taste terrific. When you’re starting with an ingredient as good as cricket flour, why would you add any of the “bad” stuff?

Crickets are also one of the most sustainable forms of protein on the planet. Last May, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization published an incredible report concluding that edible insects may be the key to stabilizing the global food supply.

According to the UN, if edible insects become a part of the mainstream global diet, we can reduce greenhouse gases by 18%, and lower the average cost of food globally by 33%. Check out Bitty founder Megan Miller’s TED Talk to learn more about the benefits of cricket flour.

So what do you think? Would you eat cricket flour products to save the planet?

I’m not quite ready to pop a chili-flavored insect in my mouth, feet and all, but I just… might… be able to start with flour.

 

This Dairyholic/Grainaholic’s Month of Paleo March 5, 2015

Today marks my 30th day of eating Paleo. Woo!!! I’ve had a lot of surprises this month. Here’s my recap.

First, I learned to love a lot of things I either never liked before, or had never given much of a try. But given that I was someone who used to go through more than a quart of half-and-half a week (NO KIDDING), I had to figure some things out.

First off, was dealing with what to put in my coffee and tea. I tried coconut milk and almond milk. They were unacceptable. (in my drinks) Finally, I realized that all the joy had been sucked out of my caffeinated beverages, so I might as well just stop drinking them. The result? Not so much of a problem. I just stopped. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I just eat FOOD. And have some water. It’s fine. I’ve adjusted. Weirdly, I notice that I am, overall, MUCH MORE ALERT than when I was drinking caffeine. So there’s that. I realized that my coffee-and-tea drinking was a habit. A nice one. But it didn’t kill me to just switch to water. If you had told me this any time in the past few decades, I would not have believed it. I miss the ritual of coffee, the smell of it, the nice way that a warm mug feels in my hands. But I’ve survived that.
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Then, the issue of actual “drinking” milk. I was also a big fan of drinking a glass of milk, like, for pleasure. Lo and behold, I discovered that I also liked goat milk, which apparently some people on Paleo (or is it primal?) enjoy. I did feel a little cheatish though, in addition to feeling like Heidi, enjoying her grandfather’s goats’ milk up in the Alps. I tried a few almond milks. BLECH. Then, something in the super-fancy packaging of this Pop & Bottle brand caught my eye one day when I was at the little market near my office. Yeah, this tiny little 10 oz bottle cost $6.00. But I decided to try it, and YUM. I mean, YUM. I just hope I can figure out a way to replicate it. I’ll just save it as a special treat though, since I’m not eating desserts or drinking alcohol.

Oh, yeah?! What about dessert?? Well, I did indulge in birthday cake (twice!) during the month. The first time, I was pretty sure I would die if I didn’t get to have a piece. So after much agonizing, I did. It was delicious. The second time, at the end of week 3, I figured I would enjoy another piece for dear Mr McBody’s birthday. Totally different experience. I could TELL that it was “good,” ie. high-quality, but it just didn’t have that same delicious sensation. I had a couple of forkfuls and then left it. I developed a real fondness for eating fresh raspberries with coconut cream when I wanted dessert. But the need for daily desserts really reduced drastically.

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One of the best results, ever.

One of the very best things, though, has been the impressive reduction in my blood sugars. This number on the left is really the lowest I have ever seen it, since I began testing it in 2009. This was pretty dramatic.

I went to see my new doctor yesterday and had all my labs drawn. EVERYthing was in normal range, and especially my cholesterol and lipids were stellar. So there’s that.

But… how WAS it?! It wasn’t all easy. The first week was tough. After around 2-3 weeks, most of my craving for particular foods went away. But it was replaced by a strange sadness, like a mourning of the relationship I used to have with food. Which was, in many ways, like a love affair. I LOVED cheese. I LOVED certain kinds of desserts, and bread, and butter and so many delicious things.

The 30 Days are over. So now what? Well, yesterday I gave myself some sourdough bread with some real butter on it. It was… meh. I mean, I could’ve taken or left it. Today, I had a slice of homemade veggie pizza. Now that? That was pretty darn good.

Since starting on February 1st, I’m down more than ten pounds. This feels good. I’ve been trying to shed these pounds for the good part of a year, and this is the first time I’ve seen a steady decrease on a consistent basis in a long time. So I’m going to keep going. I might have a few non-Paleo treats once or twice a week, but I’m not going back to my pre-Paleo days.

This major re-setting of my food intake has been pretty dramatic. I’ve never eliminated so many different food groups ALL AT ONCE before. I learned that it didn’t kill me. Maybe quite the opposite. I’m feeling pretty alive.

 

The Paleo Experiment February 15, 2015

Filed under: diabetes,diet,Paleo — Susan @ 5:11 pm
Tags: ,
from Unsplash/Sonja Langford

from Unsplash/Sonja Langford

Anybody who knows me, knows that I am one of the least likely people ever to go the Paleo route. ME? I probably love cheese and dairy products more than anyone, ever. I LIVE for cheese. I put half and half in everything (coffee, tea, MILK). But this past year and a half has not been easy. I’ve had recurring aches and pains, a plantar fasciitis or other foot pain (possibly posterior tibialis tendonitis) that would not quit, and weight gain and the like. It has not been fun. (reason for not blogging in forever: I hate doing nothing but whine for months on end)

In December, I got together with a dear friend whom I hadn’t seen in a long time. She looked FANTASTIC. I’d remembered her at my 25th anniversary party, hobbling around and unable to walk the one block to the beach. She was in terrible pain, also in her feet. But now she looked slim and vigorous, and had done a 6 mile hike in Italy! She had lost 40 lbs, she said, and felt terrific. What happened?! I asked. And she said: Paleo. She had visited podiatrists and surgeons and therapists and chiropractors and acupuncture, and finally her own primary care physician suggested she might try an “anti-inflammatory,” i.e. Paleo diet. She was one step away from surgery which had a small chance of actually improving her situation. So she tried. She said that within two weeks, her debilitating pain was GONE. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Well humph, I said. She said, “Don’t do it for weight loss. Do it for pain relief.” These words kept echoing in my head. I mulled it around. I just didn’t feel… READY in January, that universal month of Good Intentions and Resolve. But when February came up and I was still hobbling down the stairs from my bedroom every morning, I thought, okay. I WILL TRY.

I had to not think about it too much. I had to just do it. I bought the NomNom Paleo book, and read a bunch of stuff online (which is unending).  I woke up on February first and set about learning how to make the most perfect hard boiled egg ever. (it involves pin-pricking the shell, and baking soda, believe it or not) And then I just started.

NO grains. NO dairy (except a little bit goat milk). NO legumes, sugar or alcohol. That’s a huge list of NO’s.

perfecting the hard boiled egg

perfecting the hard boiled egg

The first week was pretty rough, I’ll admit. It was really an epic psychological battle. I whined a little bit on Twitter and Beki pointed me to this Whole30 Timeline, which pretty well summed it up. I definitely went through the “KILL ALL THE THINGS” phase and the “Hardest Days” phase. Somewhere in the past few days, though, I have felt myself calming down, sinking into it, and looking around in utter disbelief that I, the Dairy Queen of the Universe, have survived thus far.

Things I have noticed:

  • I’ve dropped some significant poundage. Even though this was not the primary goal, it has been a relief. YAY.
  • For the first time in about 10 months, I have been able to descend my stairs without leaning heavily on the bannister. Like – bounding down the stairs as in days of yore. Very thrilling.
  • Foot/heel pain: pretty much almost gone. Maybe a little teeny tiny ache. But: so much better.
  • For someone who has had 2-3 cups of cream-topped coffee or tea per day for decades, I’m now just drinking water. And weirdly enough, the lack of caffeine has resulted in feeling MORE AWAKE THAN EVER. Especially at night. My brain feels like a giant, light-filled cavern. For someone who is used to collapsing into oblivion the second I lie down, this isn’t exactly what I had bargained for. But I am finding it interesting. And once I do fall asleep, I sleep long and deep.
  • I’m actually not a social pariah or anything. IMG_8120I even brought this big bowl of roasted veggies to a birthday potluck and people acted like I’d brought a huge pile of freshly-minted cash. They fell upon it, and the bowl was empty within 20 minutes.
  • I don’t hate or feel repelled by the taste of sugar. I did have a moment, on day 7, when (at the aforementioned party) I thought I would die if I could not have a taste of the birthday cake. I whimpered to my husband who said I wouldn’t die if I DID have some. So I did. I was expecting it to be this moment of “BLECH! TOO SWEET! UGH! HOW COULD I EVER EAT THAT STUFF?!” but no. It was absolutely delicious.IMG_8129
  • I have developed a taste for green smoothies. This is nothing short of a miracle! I gagged at any liquid green anything previously, but my daughter came home with her NutriBullet and made a delicious concoction of kale, cucumbers, carrots, apples, oranges, lemon, ginger and the magic AVOCADO. Yes, it was yummy. She knew better than to put anything abhorrent like bananas in there.
  • Did I mention? My blood sugars have been stellar. :-)
  • I love olives.
  • Cauliflower is the miracle food! It can be made into “rice,” “mashed potatoes,” “pizza crust.” It can be roasted and pureed. It can substitute for so many things. We tried a cauliflower-crust pizza, on my 3rd day of Paleo. I was hosting a writing group in which one of my friends is GF and DF. But I knew it would also help me stay on the Paleo track. Well, it was a unanimous HIT. Even the people who COULD eat the regular pizza, were totally enamored with the cauliflower crust one. BOOM.
  • IMG_8089So, today is officially my halfway mark. According to the timeline, I should be feeling pretty awesome. In fact, I do feel pretty good. It’s subtle, but I’ll take better-fitting-clothes, fantastic blood sugars and pain free feet any day. It’s what I had hoped for. Even more, really. Because it hasn’t totally KILLED ME.

(edited to add) Well, it didn’t kill me. But I would be dishonest if I didn’t add – one of the strangest little sad things about it, is that it has somehow killed my joy of food. I mean, I LIKE the food I am eating now. It’s fine. It’s even delicious. But it feels very consciously like “food = fuel” and food is not about pleasure in the same way that it used to be. I no longer swoon over food. I no longer spend hours and days thinking about it. This is a LOSS. I just have to balance it out with what I’ve gained. I admit it’s been a little bit (more than a little bit?) sad.

What will I do when the thirty days are over? I don’t know. I think I’m going to take it one day at a time. To choose mostly Paleo, whole30 type foods most of the time. If I can keep it up 80/20, I’ll be happy.

In the meantime… it’s nice to be back here. I’d love to hear from readers who are Paleo eaters, who have tried it, who do it all the time or a little bit of the time. Now I’m curious!

Do you eat Paleo? What benefits have you noticed? What are the challenges? What are your solutions? 

 

Diabetes: the Snooze Button September 28, 2012

Filed under: diabetes,diet,Fitbloggin',health,lessons learned,weight — Susan @ 12:18 pm

blood test

Yesterday I went to visit my new endocrinologist. My original, best doctor I’ve ever had left the practice last year and I was pretty bereft about it. I have some major Abandonment Issues, and yeah, I felt abandoned. So I acted out. I stopped testing my blood sugars and I neglected to call the office and get reassigned to a new doctor. I was mad and sad.

But leading up to Fitbloggin’ (that recap post WILL come, I promise!) I was practicing my show, which opens with me sitting in the doctor’s office. Doing this repeatedly reminded me about NOT going to the doctor’s office. I knew I had to stop putting it off. So I made an appointment and yesterday, I went.

The doctor was fine. I didn’t love her, but I didn’t dislike her either. She’s another young, female doc like my other one was. And I think I appreciated that she told it like it was.

“You’re not doing too bad… In fact, many people would kill to have your numbers. BUT…”

“Yes?”
“But, things are worse than they were. I don’t like the trend.”

I knew that was going to happen. Which is why I had been avoiding this visit. But by the time it actually came around, I was ready to hear it. I wouldn’t call it a wakeup call exactly. Because I was already awake. It’s like, you’re already awake, and you’ve already hit the snooze button so you can lie there, but you don’t want to get up yet.

That’s been me the last six months or so. Awake, but not ready to get up.

Now I’m ready to get up.

The doctor also said, “Also, your weight. You know that extra fat (pointing at my stomach. OW.) can increase insulin resistance.”

Yeah. Yeah I know. I know! I’m on it, doc. So she gave me a challenge. I need to improve things (weight and blood glucose A1C) by January. Or else. Or else what? She will increase my meds.

She also said, “You know, you probably could get off your meds altogether. If you work at it.” Sting.

So. This is my challenge. January or bust, baby. I know I can do this. I KNOW I CAN. And now post-Fitbloggin and post-everything, I feel ready to do it.

 

I (heart) Frank Bruni: A Book Review September 9, 2010

I just finished reading Frank Bruni’s memoir, Born Round. When I got to the last page I was a little choked up, feeling like I’d found a real kindred spirit. He’s like another Foodie McBody! Someone who loves and appreciates food, AND who wants to be healthy and fit. I know so many fit people who truly seem unmoved by food, or who see it purely as fuel (and not so much as a source of pleasure) OR as the Enemy. Anybody who knows me knows that I am constantly striving to find ways to have my (cup)cake and eat it too. And of course I also know the foodies who turn a blind eye to fitness or health. Please, can’t I have both?

Enter Frank! OMG. For the first (more than?) half of the book, we follow him through his childhood, where he is a ravenous toddler, and then a huge eater at family feasts orchestrated by his mother and grandmother. The descriptions of the incredible food-a-paloozas were enough to make me faint. Pasta! Italian food! Roast turkey! Frites! (fried stuffed yummy things)

And there’s Frank, simultaneously loving all the food and mortified by his plumpness. And I’m nodding like one of those dashboard bobblehead doggies with its head on a spring. Sigh.

I followed, completely rapt, while Frank joins the swim team and slims down, then joins up with his mother on endless diets (Atkins! I did that one with my dad, back in the 70s), back and forth, back and forth. Ultimately it gets into some pretty dark territory, of bulimia and then bingeing.

It’s a classic tale of Too Much of a Good Thing, when something turns and then doesn’t feel so good anymore. And I feel like I am constantly trying to find that balance. I still want food to be a Good Thing. And it is, until it isn’t. I don’t ever want to fear food or not enjoy it. So it was kind of awe-inspiring and very happy making to read about Frank’s ultimate challenge and job: to be the food critic for the New York Times. How could he manage to eat out 7-8 times a week, at amazing multi-star restaurants, and stay fit and healthy?

Exercise. Of course. Lots of exercise. And portion control. Right? Of course that’s the key. Calories in, calories out. I loved reading about Frank’s bootcampish trainer, Aaron, who sounds like a much meaner version of my own trainer. I was intrigued by his description of Pilates. It was fun following Frank on his transformation from couch-potato-dom to athlete.

The writing in this book is fantastic. Funny, poignant, honest, real. I laughed out loud a LOT, and also cringed and wiped a tear or two. And there was a crazy moment of recognition, much like when I read Kate Moses’ Cakewalk and remembered that I ALSO bit the toes off of rubber alligators from Disneyland (WHAT??? Really!). Maybe not quite as bizarre, but like Frank Bruni, I also had a mad love for cold noodles with sesame paste, something I’d long forgotten (I can’t find this stuff in San Francisco). I used to be obsessssssssssed with those cold noodles when I lived in New York, and my favorite spot was this teeny tiny hole-in-the-wall called OMei in NY’s Chinatown. My friend used to bring me those as a special treat after I moved away. It’s been so many years since I’ve had those noodles, and… sigh. Reading this book brought it all back. (Frank! if you or anybody else knows where I can find these noodles in San Francisco, pleeeeeeeeeease tell me!)

Anyway. Back to the book. I loved it. For someone who loves both Top Chef AND The Biggest Loser, it really spoke to my heart (and my taste buds?).  It made me feel like I had company, in the best way. And after I read it, Frank Bruni joined the ranks of my invisible fit-foodie-community. I finished the book on Monday and in the evening, I was contemplating going out to the cemetery to work out. But it was a Holiday. And I was tired. Suddenly, the voice of Frank’s trainer Aaron popped into my head. “Don’t be a wimpy quitter!” I went out there and did 3.5 miles, and added on 50 pushups and 480 stairs. Then I came home and looked for something really, reallllllllly good to eat.

 

Do You Splurge? August 18, 2010

photo by Jamieanne at Flickr

Yesterday, a really interesting conversation popped up on my food blog. I used the word “splurge” twice – one to jokingly say I’d eaten a whole bolani instead of my usual half. And then again when I had a Skinny Cow ice cream sandwich after lunch.

In reality, I don’t consider EITHER of these things “splurges” and if I’d been talking out loud I would have used air quotes. But it prompted Mish to ask:

What do you think of the idea of ‘splurge’? I find that it can be a good thing to do, but also dangerous for me..because for me I find it’s wrapped with guilt.

Just wondering what you think of that.

To which I replied:

What do I think of “splurge?” Hmm. That is such a good question. I think I don’t use that anymore. For example, I had ice cream and cake on my birthday. But I didn’t think of it as “splurging.” I just thought if it as “ice cream and cake, which I am enjoying” rather than “something I don’t normally do.” It has the same emotional weight as “juicy plum.” It’s just one thing I’ve photographed in my day.

Does that make sense? I’ve never really thought of it in that way. I definitely USED to think of “splurge days” (Ha, usually the night after my WW weigh-ins!) but I just realized that I do not think in those terms anymore. Although a lot of what I eat would probably be considering splurging to other people (I’m writing this word so many times now it looks crazy, what a funny word). Fried food. Sweets. Cheese. To me, it’s all food.

I like that. :-)

Then Mary chimed in and said:

Interesting. I don’t use the word splurge at all. In fact, it’s one of the words I hate. I really honestly don’t think of food in that kind of way. I read a food blog once where a girl ate a hamburger with some sides (beans? don’t remember) and she talked all about how it was a splurge but she enjoyed it so it was okay. I was thinking about how for me that was a normal meal – the idea of that being a splurge just made me feel like it’s a word I don’t want to be using for myself or in general.

Sorry, that might not be totally on topic, but I hate the word. And possibly the idea. ;)

I know that many people incorporate the word, and the concept of “splurging” in their weight loss habits. I I used to.  Back in my earlier WW days, I used to splurge (ie eat with abandon) the day or two after my weigh-ins.

But I realize I really do not think so much that way anymore (even though! I know! I used it twice in one blog post -it was sort of ironic). If I’m coming up to a big event — a birthday or wedding or something like that – I’ll plan for it. I’ll never go all-out and eat everything in sight as if it doesn’t matter. And like I said, if I eat cake, I’m just eating cake. Another time I’ll eat cherries. No one is more splurgey than the other.

I’ve really tried to stop thinking of foods as good or bad, as splurgey or everyday. Each day is different. Today I had “real” cheddar cheese on my English muffin instead of my more usual Laughing Cow Lite cheese. Did I splurge? (because I’d just done a 2 hour workout? :-)) Hmmm, I think of it as doing a little math in my head and deciding that I’d go for the real cheddar. Just because.  Because I wanted to.

I think this is a real shift (and a good one) from the way I used to think before. What do you think? Do you still think in terms of splurges? What about “treats?” (another very provocative word)

 

Fake It Till You Make It August 5, 2010

Trainer DJ and the mad ropes

I’ve been all kinds of wiped out/off track/tired/disoriented since coming back from camp last week. I’ve been majorly “off my game” so to speak.

But I’ve been trying really hard not to let my inner Stuff get in the way of my outer Behavior. So even though I haven’t particularly been EMBRACING the idea of fitness or eating really well, I’ve been trying to do it Anyway. The “fake it till you make it” approach. And I think it may be working just a bit.

On Monday evening I went to the cemetery for trainer workout. I was sooo soo soooooooo not feeling it. But I felt like if I waited till I felt like it, I could end up not working out for weeks or more. So I went, and told myself I would go at whatever pace I felt like. It would be okay to be The Last One (my customary position during all of elementary, middle and high school phys. ed.).

I started out last. We were doing a 3.5 mile circuit up and down hills, at very fast racewalking pace. When I got there, I needed to go to bathroom BAD. But the cemetery public restroom, in the main building, was closed. Wahhh! Trainer told me there was a port a potty about halfway up the first hill. So I stopped there. The rest of the group kept going. Which put me at a good 2-3 minutes behind the whole crowd. Greeeeeeeeat. I gamely attemped to at least keep them in SIGHT.

I finally caught up with the last person right before the highest point. Then I figured it was my time to make up time. When we began the downhill stretch, I started slowly jogging. Surprise: it didn’t kill me. I told myself I’d keep jogging until I no longer felt like it. Surprise: I ended up passing everyone eventually, even the trainer, and ended up back at the starting point FIRST. Well, whaddya know.

I was glad I’d gone. I didn’t feel like any great endorphined ball of energy when I left, but  I was glad I’d gone.

Yesterday I just worked all day. I didn’t work out at all.

Today, I went to my semi-private session at the gym. Trainer DJ was excited because he’d gotten some brand spanking new Ropes of Doom. All I wanted to do was lie on the floor and roll on the foam roller, but he wasn’t gonna have any of that. Me and my buddy ended up doing a ton of lungey things, then 25 Burpees (UGH!), more lunges with 10-lb weights (bicep curls into straight up in the air presses, while lunging/walking), then 50 raised leg butt lifts, then crooked pushups, then… he took the brand new Ropes out of the box. Shiny white! But not as long. But HARD! TOUGH! INflexible. Yow. They were truly killer. We ended up doing a totally kick-ass workout, in spite of my lack of oomph. Again, I did not leave feeling energized, but I was very happy I’d gone.

I feel like I’m beginning to get a bit of groove back. I ate vegetables for dinner tonight. I feel like I’m on my way back.

 

 
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