Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't Eat Before Bed

A little while into my reading I decided to go European style and have my dessert first. I also figured this would be better for digestion to avoid having a sweet thing in my stomach last before going to sleep. This Plum Cobbler was so good I think I won't be able to make it unless for special occasions. It was that good! It just went to fast and I will have to reserve it as a treat from now on. Tough!

About 50 pages down in my reading of Dracula I decided to make a quick dinner. I wasn't super hungry but I would rather eat a little something at 8:30 than wait and be ravenous before bedtime. Going to sleep directly after eating is terrible! Doing it once a week isn't the worst thing in the world, luckily our bodies have a Plan B. But habitually eating directly before going to sleep can lead to:
  • constipation
  • absorption problems
  • heartburn
  • damage to the immune system
  • weight gain
  • tiredness thank you! When you sleep, so do most of your bodily systems, including digestion. There is one, however that is more active when you are sleeping than when you are awake. Can you guess??

The immune system! When you go to sleep with a bunch of food in your stomach your body is forced to spend energy moving food out of the stomach and into the small intestines (where it will sit and wait until you wake up...a whole other set of issues). It spends energy that would otherwise have been used towards the immune system which fights off infection and heals existing offenses. Are you starting to see why making this a habit is a bad idea? I try to put at least three hours in between my last bite and my in-the-bed-about-to-go-to-sleep time. (I can't just say bed time!)

Anyways for dinner I had a mixed baby green salad with my homemade lemon vinaigrette dressing and an improvised potato hash. For the hash I used
  • 1 small red potato, grated
  • 3/4 of a 1/2 of a large white onion, grated
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, chicken (free) seasoning.
  • drizzle olive oil
I mixed everything together in a small bowl and poured onto a hot pan at medium heat. I cooked them like hasbrowns, giving them time to brown throughly.

Well I still have quite a ways to go in Dracula but I must say I actually enjoy the classic. It's written completely in journal form and is supposed to be a compilation of journal entries from all the main characters. For instance, I'll read the retrospective account of the same day from three different characters' journals to get a complete, and yet still somehow lacking, picture of what is going on. It is making me really want to start keeping an accurate journal, you know, just in case I become vampirized anytime soon! At least I have this blog where I record a lot of the little details of daily life that would otherwise be totally left behind. Oh, bloggy!

Anyway, enough of that, back to reading. Good night and I wish you all a restful sleep. We could all use one!

Oatmeal For Lunch...I know!

For breakfast this morning I started with an apple and a mug of Honey Lemon Ginsing Green Tea. I sipped the tea, then ate the apple and waited at least ten minutes before I started sipping the tea again. I wanted to rehydrate my body but also tried to avoid diluting that apple in my stomach.
I was in such a rush this morning that I didn't have time to make anything! I grabbed this Honey Graham Z bar which held me over just fine.
When I came home, my oat fix hadn't been met so I decided to just have oats for "lunch". I added a little scoop of almond butter on top and some cinnamon. In the mix was
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water (which I did by accident. Should have only done 2/3 cup but it worked out fine)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. milled flaxseed
  • shake cinnamon
  • shake stevia

Lunch (Number Two)
I started with the usual: a bowl of rosy looking cherries.
I know this must be getting pretty boring seeing the same foods over and over again at different meal times but you know, it's hard to plan far in advance or get fancy these days with all the work I've been doing. I don't feel bad though. I'm still eating well! This vegan chili has proven versatile and delicious. Paired with those Food Should Taste Good Chips...and I'm a happy girl!
Now I really must get back to The Count...Dracula that is. I have to finish the whole book today! It's a 400 page book and I'm on page 222. Good thing I'm enjoying the story, right?

Unless I've been vampirized, in which case you should get yourself some garlic and someone with A positive blood for a transfusion immediately, I will be back!

Later :)

Plum Cobbler!

Bloggies, I fell behind yesterday and didn't get a chance to blog at all. I was working and reading non-stop! Here's the recap:

I started my morning with a mug of Honey Lemon Ginsing Green Tea. This tea is really flavorful and, not that I usually do anyway, but doesn't need any sweetening.
I cut up and gobbled this grapefruit. When grapefruits are good, they are so good! This one was particularly juicy and sweet.
30 minutes or more later I made a quick bowl of Coach's Oats, steel cut oats that cook faster than regular. I sweetened with a little honey just for something different.

After class I came home and decided to have some of these lovely looking cherries.
Cherries make reading sweeter.
30 minutes later I had an 'appetizer' of Food Should Taste Good multigrain and sweet potato chips with some garlic lover's salsa. yum!
I reheated a bowl of vegan chili and enjoyed a hot lunch.

I headed back to campus for my two other classes and instead of going home again afterwards decided to stay on campus, getting a little reading done, and get a Jamba Juice with the gift card my mom gave me! I went for peach perfection and took it down to the pond.


I also had a few almonds and pecans I had hiding in my purse.

After work I decided that my plums were either going to go bad in the fridge or I would make the Plum Cobbler I had been so dying to make from FatFree Vegan Kitchen. Also my brother Eric was going to come over and hang out for a while and I thought he might like a break from dorm food!
I sweetened the tops of the plums with a drizzle of agave because I was worried they weren't all the sweetest plums...
Wets and dries.
True to cobbler nature, dough went on top of the fruit.
Popped it in the oven for 45 minutes and voila!
I'd never made this before so I had no idea what to expect!

For dinner I started with a mixed salad of baby greens, tomato, cucumber, avocado, sunflower seeds, and a homemade lemon vinaigrette dressing.
I love when salads taste like food, not just plants!
For my entree I went for quick and easy: sauteed onions and a grilled piece of salt and pepper seasoned tofu. Doused in garlic chili Cholula and the meal was complete.
Eric and I sampled the cobbler and agreed it was pretty good. If you can imagine a spectrum from pie to cake with cobbler in the middle, this definitely rates closer to the cake side of things. I would even describe it as something of an upside-down cake. With a little almond milk on the side it was totally satisfying!
We'll be in the present all caught up soon!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

No Glitches In My Gears

After classes I had an hour and 35 minute break before I had to head over to work. I opened a brand new box of Peppermint tea, woohoo! I love minty flavored tea.

Before I left for work I opened this bag of Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips. These are deadly good. Sweet but not too sweet and with the perfect amount of saltiness.
I had a couple with some roasted tomato salsa.
Then I had a few pieces of candied ginger just for a little something sweet and headed out to work.

Work went by really fast but I came home with a fierce appetite! I heated up some of the vegan chili from last night and mixed in some quinoa I had already cooked. Topped it with some roasted tomato salsa and garlic chili cholula, sweet potato chips on the side.
I am currently plugging my way through the reading for my Religious Studies class. It's not difficult reading but I sometimes get in the bad habit of reading with words in my mind while at the same time zoning out and completely failing to internalize what is actually being said. I have to pay attention while I read, otherwise, what's the point!

My motivational snack/dessert is an Orville Redenbacher mini bag of kettle corn. Only 100 calories in one popped bag, whoopie.
Today was a good day for me and I hope it was for you too. There was nothing exceptionally exciting that went on but there were very few glitches in the gears so to speak. That's a good day in my book.

See you in the AM!

Who's Milk is it Anyway?

Good Morning Blogworld!
I want to start off by saying that I got a great comment this morning from Fehlease, which can be found here, asking for some clarification on what I meant when I said in my last post, "I'M BACK! Mind Blowing Nutrition Info!" that milk is not good for any body at any time. What I meant was chiefly cows milk but should include the milk of all animals. Her question has inspired me to do some more research so I can give you all the best facts out there and I will post it as soon as I can. In the meantime, check out that comment for a little more clarification. And again, thank you Fehlease for bringing this to my attention!!

Woke up bright and early this morning and decided on this watercolor apple. The skin was so beautiful looking and it had a flavor to match. I love when apples actually taste like apples, ten points for organic.
30 minutes later I poured up a bowl of Golden Flax cereal and Almond Milk NOT cows milk :)

I pre-made my lunch today since I am going to stay on campus for my lunch break instead of coming home like I usually do. Remember that massive amount of reading that I mentioned I have? Yeah...hasn't gone away.
Anyway, on the menu for lunch today will be:
  • fresh cherries
  • salad with cucumber and avocado fixin's
  • almond butter and boysenberry jam sandwich

Yum yum yum.
For summer school I am taking German 3 (to brush up on that Grammatik!), Vampirism in Literature, and Religious Studies 5: Jews, Christians, and Muslims. A pretty interesting line up if I do say so myself. I love that without planning it at all, my classes seem to relate to one another somehow.

I hope you have an interesting Monday. See ya later!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vegan Chili

My first shift at work since I've been back flew right by and I zipped home to whip up some dinner. I started with a salad of baby greens, cucumber, tomato, avocado, and home made oil and vinegar dressing with a few squirts of chili garlic Cholula (it's so good, you should try it if you can).
I concocted a vegan chili using
  • 2 cans of stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 1 white onion diced and sauteed
  • about 1/2 cup vegan "Soyrizo"
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • chipoltle chili powder, regular chili powder, black pepper, and garlic powder
Served with "Food Should Taste Good" Multigrain chips on the side.
And now I am stuffed! I still have ridiculous amounts of reading and a kitchen to organize so I am going to get cracking till I just can't any more.
I hope you had a relaxing Sunday evening and I will see you in the morning.


I'M BACK! Mind Blowing Nutrition Info!

Blogworld, I'm back!!
I'm sorry to have been gone so long but I'm back now with lots of exciting updates. I missed blogging and I haven't stopped taking pictures of my food; I haven't forgotten about you! I've been home from Israel for about two weeks now and I've been readjusting to my usual swing of things, starting my first week of summer school back in Santa Barbara, and living in my new apartment! I have so much information that I want to share with you but it's impossible to try to do it all at once. Hopefully things will come up organically as I begin to post regularly again and I will also try to put up highlights from my trip every week.

Before I get to my first Breakfast post since being back, (woohoo!) I want to share one valuable set of lessons that I learned while in Israel that has changed some of my eating habits. While I was in Tzfat with a group of friends for a Shabbat weekend, I stayed in a hostel called Ascent which hosts themed Shabbat retreats for guests of all ages and backgrounds. With no pre-planning we happened to be there during a Shabbat themed around nutrition for the body and soul. Obviously I was very interested in what exactly this was going to be and so we all attended the series of lectures over the course of the weekend.

Suffice to say, I was soaking everything up like a sponge and buzzing with validation as the Dr. began spelling out nutritional information that was not only very similar to what I had been doing before but was connected to the teachings of the Torah. One of the key things I learned that I have really made an effort to change is the concept of timing out and ordering the various foods as I eat them.

What I mean by this is that there is a different approach to diet than what most people take. (And by diet I don't mean a structured, goal-oriented eating regimen but rather the foods that compose one's sustenance.) Rather than focusing on the properties and attributes of the foods that are eaten, the main concern is instead the function of those foods within the body and the mechanism of the digestive process. It seems like such a subtle difference and yet, it makes so much more sense, I can't believe it isn't the standard! Surely most 'diets' or lifestyle plans are designed after this principle but I've never seen it spelled out directly in this way and I think having the knowledge behind the plan makes it easier to carry out and stick with.

So what are these guiding principles and how do they apply? I am in no way an authority on this nor am I deserving in any credit for the originality of the information. I will relate what I learned and give you my word that the facts are, as far as I know, accurate. But don't just take my word for it! Alright, here it goes.

1. The Stomach-- Listening To Your Gut
Imagine an empty ballon. It's pretty small in size but has the ability to stretch to an impressive volume, hopefully while avoiding popping. Now imagine filling that balloon with grains of rice until the ballon is 3/4 full and tying it off. If you were to mush that balloon around in your hand you could theoretically come into contact with every grain of rice through the rubber. Now imagine that instead of 3/4 full you filled that sucker till it was jam packed and tied it off. If you were to mush that balloon around in your hand it would be stiff and some grains of rice may be trapped in the middle, never coming into contact with the walls of the balloon.

This balloon is your stomach. It stretches and it mushes just like the balloon, but the kicker is that the lining of the stomach secrets acids which saturate and digest stomach contents while nutrients are absorbed through the stomach walls. If your stomach is 3/4 full it will have the ability to be the super efficient digestive organ that it is and properly digest food and absorb nutrients. Conversely, when the stomach is filled to the brim, proper digestion and absorption are compromised--at your expense!

How to avoid this:
  • Only eat until you are 3/4 full. Stop eating while there is still desire.
  • Allow your body time between meals to digest so that you take each meal with a blank slate, empty stomach-- ready for action!
  • Do not drink water while eating-- this dilutes the acid in your stomach and prevents foods from being fully digested. Drink before meals and wait at least an hour after to start drinking water again.
  • Remember: it is better to have a little bit of 'bad' or unhealthy food than it is to over eat even with 'good' or healthy food.
  • Only eat when hungry. Never eat when sad or angry. "The conditions favorable to proper digestion are wholly abolished when unpleasant feelings such as vexation and worry and anxiety, or great emotions such as anger and fear, are allowed to prevail" (Walter Bradford Cannon, Bodily Changes in Pain, Hunger, Fear, and Rage, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1915, Chapter 1 "The Effect of The Emotions on Digestion",Click here to access on Goggle Books, 9). And on the flip side, digestion is better when you're happy!
2. Fruit-- Everything You Thought You Knew Is Wrong!
Well, not everything, don't worry. But I was shocked to learn that the way I was thinking about fruit was counterintuitive to its properties and functioning, and how it should be best utilized. Fruit is amazing. It is was one of the most perfect foods in existence for a few reasons: it is easily digestible, all are chocked full of various 'life-extending' nutrients, they are high fiber and high water content, and everyone can agree they taste amazing! The problem with fruit is that most people assume that because fruits are "healthy" foods, it's a good idea to substitute them for desserts and to eat them at the end of a meal. Don't get me wrong, it is way better to have a bowl of fruit salad than a bowl of ice cream after a meal but is not the way to get the most out of your fruit.

Like I mentioned before, fruit is very easily digested. Most will only take 30-45 minutes to digest, absorb, and leave the stomach. According the the Puristat--Digestive Wellness Center website, proteins take 3 or more hours to digest, fats depend on the amount but can take up to 3 hours or more to digest, starches take 2 hours or more to digest, and vegetables take about 45 minutes to digest. The best way to eat a piece of fruit is alone, without anything else, and on an empty stomach followed by refraining from eating for at least 30 minutes to allow full digestion. The best time to eat fruit is 30 minutes before each meal. Think about this: when you eat something that takes 3 hours to digest, like meat, and then have a piece of fruit, that fruit is just sitting on top of the protein waiting to be digested. If too much time goes by the fruit will rot in the body before getting digested and nutrients will not be properly absorbed, but you will still get the calories! All for nuthin'!

Just remember this simple guideline:
  • What goes out first should go in first. Fruit is digested the quickest followed by vegetables, starches, and then proteins. If you follow this rule correctly, within days you will begin to notice more regularity and frequency of bowel movements due to the high fiber and proper digestion. And that's a good thing!
I think this is enough for now to get your wheels turning about how you eat, when you eat, and what your body actually has to say about it. Again, I am no expert on this and I am still working on getting it right myself when I eat, but perfect practice makes perfect. One last thing I will say about my experience at this seminar was that after the first lecture I approached the doctor and asked, "As a vegan what would you suggest as a healthy protein source?" After explaining that we don't need as much protein as we think we do and that beans, sprouts, legumes, nuts, and limited processed soy products are good sources, he told me that he is a vegan too! He is vegan during the week and enjoys a small piece of meat and fish on Shabbat. I was glowing! I felt so affirmed that after going vegan based on my personal belief that it is the best way to give my body what it needs, here I was, being told by the expert himself that he has the same diet! Talk about validation. Also, his exact words were "Milk is not good for any body at any time." Golden! Please feel free to ask questions about these concepts and if I don't have the answers I will do my best to find a credible source and seek them out.

Now, On to the present! I've spent so much time writing about my new nutrition info that I have to fly through this so I make it to work on time! Following with my fruit first rule, I had a grape fruit after drinking some water upon waking.
30 minutes later I enjoyed a bowel of golden flax cereal with almond milk and a cup of Starbucks VIA with stevia and almond milk. I haven't been going crazy with the coffee lately (thankfully) but it was one of those nights and hence, one of those mornings!

After working hard on organizing my new kitchen I took a lunch break which started with this beautiful bowl of cherries.
Next I had a small bowl of red leaf lettuce with a homemade oil and vinegar dressing.

I waited 30 minutes before having this toasty almond butter and boysenberry jam sandwich.
Now I have to rush to get ready for my first shift back at the Music Library since I've been home! Don't wanna miss it. It's so good to be back guys, I just want you to know. There's a lot of good stuff in store and I hope you'll be nice if I'm not super consistent at first. I'm still getting grounded in my routine here.

love love love!