Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Recipe: Grains Salad!!!

Sorry! I haven't been updating this as I've been busy with work upon coming back from Thanksgiving!

As a "new" vegetarian, this year I decided to make something a bit less traditional for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm bringing a grains salad to my parents, which is somewhat of my own recipe, but mostly a synthesis of a few recipes I've read online. No, I'm not bothering to post up nutrition fats. It's the holidays, and I'm not keeping track of every little thing again until Monday. Then again the week before Christmas, it's going to happen again.

Anyway, here's the ingredients list:
  • 1c Barley
  • 1/2c Quinoa (Tri Color if you want some color. I tend to use plain)
  • 1/4" slice of sweet onion (Red onion if you want color), chopped
  • 2 cans low-sodium vegetable broth 
  • 3c black beans
  • 1c Mixed vegetables to taste. Make sure they're finely cut. Things like carrots, lima beans, corn, etc. If you don't want to add mixed vegetables, you can add more beans, onions, or another single vegetable. Completely up to you.
  • 3tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Parsley to taste
  • Salt to taste
Boil vegetable broth and equal parts water and mix the barley in. Cook until the outside it tender, but still hard on the inside.
Add in the black beans, chopped onions, and any other vegetables you want to add.
Bring water to a boil, drain MOST of the water / broth out, and drop to lowest heat settings.
Add in quinoa, oil, parsley, and salt (I don't think salt is necessary, but some do).

Cover and let sit for about 20 minutes.
That's it! :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meals: Breakfast ideas!

So last time I spoke of meals, I gave a shout to my favorite breakfast. I'm going to continue with the breakfast trend and speak to some of my favorite breakfast ideas. :-) It's my favorite meal of the day, right before dessert! This will be categorized into 4 sections: Essentials, Proteins, Carbs, and Indulges! These are some of my personal favorite things to eat. Feel free to comment with things you absolutely love - and just because I don't eat meat doesn't mean you can't share! If you're looking to lose, here's a good article about breakfast foods for weight loss.

Essentials
So what am I talking about when I say "Essentials"? I mean those things that no matter what breakfast I have, I typically have these around. This isn't simply a list, but I'll include reasoning behind each item listed. Some of these are generalizations that you'll see pop up in the others.
  • Water is absolutely essential to any meal. I think it helps you digest, and you should be consuming at least 8 glasses of water per day (64 oz). I can't start my breakfast without chugging down a whole bottle of H2O.
  • Whole grain foods. The fiber found in whole grains such as whole wheat or buckwheat pancakes and waffles, whole grain breads, oats, and puffed grain cereals make your meal filling and nutritious. 
  • Proteins in the early part of the day are a great way to have your body stack amino acids for the remainder of the day. This is more important for body builders than most, but holds weight if you're trying to lose weight and put on some muscle mass. I encourage the average person to intake at least 15-20g protein for breakfast, and if you're athletic, upwards of 30g.
Proteins
So what do I tend to do with proteins? There's a few options that I can suggest for both meat eaters and non. For vegans, this is difficult and don't know how to answer it, but I can certainly say for vegetarians there's a few.
  • Eggs are an obvious choice when discussing breakfast proteins. A single egg has 6g protein, and most omelets are made with 2-3 eggs. That said, if you're concerned about cholesterol, but want the protein, you'll need to double your eggs, as an egg white has half the protein, but none of the cholesterol. Last night for dinner I had a 6-egg omelet with some skim milk cheese. It was amazing.
  • Meat-Eaters: Sausages win over bacon. Despite the bacon fad that we're going through at this day in age, don't believe the hype. Sausages are amazing for you, and I've read a few articles over the last year that would advocate them over bacon. 
  • Buckwheat pancakes are a godsend for proteins. You might not expect this carb-heavy meal to pack a lot of protein, but you can check out Bob's Red Mill mix and you'll see that you can get a decent amount of protein from these delicious and hearty pancakes.
  • Yogurt and Greek Yogurt give you the probiotics, calcium, and proteins to help get your morning going. They're amazing, just watch the sugar content.
  • Leftovers are perfect additions to oatmeal, and the absolute perfect one: Quinoa. Quinoa is a neat little grain that if you make it the night before for dinner, throw it in your oats for breakfast. Don't make the mistake I did at first though. 5:30 AM, I didn't remember / realize that the quinoa salad I made with olive oil wouldn't be great in my oats!

Carbohydrates
Carbs were once given a bad name by all those people that said they make you fat. That said, they don't. They help keep your body going throughout the day, so long as you have the right ones.
  • Oatmeal can help you by packing your body with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which promotes heart health and the digestive system. The whole grains help with maintaining weight. They're quick and easy to make as well. Just make sure with the flavored ones, you're not packing in sugars. BTW - there's no per-weight difference between steel cut, rolled, or quick oats. For more information about what fiber does, check this article. As for the oats themselves, I fancy them up with nuts, berries, honey, pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, almond milk, unsweetened coconut, Greek yogurt, or scrambled egg whites depending on my mood.
  • Fruit is amazing. It's best that fruit be eaten on an empty stomach, as fruit digests quickly and is mostly water, fiber, and natural sugars, rather than the complex carbs and proteins found in other foods. Other than that, fruit is one of the best sources of natural sugars, contains antioxidants and micronutrients, and a large amount of water and fiber as previously mentioned. Fruit sugar differs from refined sugar in that they're not empty calories. They're packed with nutrients! They also differ from starchy sugars like potatoes and corn in that your body doesn't need to break these sugars down. I basically live by the Apple-a-day rule.
  • Buckwheat pancakes, obviously are here. They're excellent for both protein and carbs. See more above.
  • Whole grain cereals provide similar benefits to oatmeal, though I find the oats do it the best. Some alternatives that I do are shredded wheat, puffed grains, Fiber One, and Cheerios. Mixed with almond milk and berries, I'm in heaven.  


Indulgences. My favorite. :-D 
We all get bored once in a while of eating purely healthy, so here's some "indulgences" that I run with every so often, typically once or twice per month.
  • Sweet cereals get a bad rap for being loaded with refined sugars. I'm not saying to go eat a massive bowl of Fruity Pebbles, oh no - but I do dig some "healthier" alternatives. Particularly Special K with strawberries or any other with dried fruits, Chex and its varieties, and Honey Nut Cheerios. All aren't too sinful, but they're nice and sweet. Don't fret though - I eat Oreo O's and Cocoa Puffs every once in a while too. It might take me a year to finish a box of either, but I do eat those.
  • White flour pancakes. Sure, the buckwheat and whole grain ones are excellent and yummy, but there's something about white flour pancakes with syrup that just makes you feel good. Be VERY cautious with this though, as the heavy load of carbs in the morning will cause you to be hungrier throughout the day.
  • Fried ANYTHING is just generally bad for you. If you have to fry, use canola or olive oil. They have higher burn temps, and less likely to infuse your meal with trans fats.
  • Granola adds fat and sugar to your otherwise healthy breakfast. Add a bit to your oatmeal or yogurt if you get boring, but just make sure you don't go crazy.
 Next up, I'm going to post up more recipes! :-) and eventually getting around to writing up what happened in February.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Memoir: January 2012

January 2012; My goal for the month was to drop 10 lbs. I thought that it was a feasible goal, but I sure did underestimate myself. I mentioned previously that my goal for the entirety of the year was going to be 27lbs, and after reading some articles stating that typically the first month of a diet that you stick to, you lose more weight than in the months to come. Especially considering the more body weight you have, the harder your BMR works just to maintain it - though fat much less than muscle.

Anyway, to get started I was suggested to sign up for Livestrong.com's "My Plate" calorie tracker (Which, ten months down the line, I still use daily). You can add me if you're on it here: http://www.livestrong.com/profile/jscogz/. I entered my information and started tracking my calories to lose 1 lb per week. That, in conjunction with getting advice on what to eat as alternatives to meat and staying away from high levels of sodium, I made some excellent progress.

The first day of my diet (January 2nd) doesn't accurately describe the types of foods that I was eating during the first month, so I'll outline Day 2 at the bottom of this post. Don't worry, I wont outline every day of my eating here. It's tedious to read and write. I will, however, intermittently post some of the straight up healthier days that I've had as well as my cheat days.

So dieting, drinking a lot of water etc. by the end of the week, I dropped 8 lbs. I was absolutely shocked that on from January 2, 2012 to January 9, 2012, I went from 227lbs to 219.4lbs. My 1-month goal of 10 lbs became a "target" weight, and 20 lbs. became my reach. I now had confidence to hit 40 lbs for the entire year. Week 2, I started to work out.

My workout involved waking up half an hour early. I used to wake up at 6 AM. Today, my alarm is set at 5:15 AM. When I first decided to workout, I was waking up at 5:30 AM, going for a jog around the parking lot near my apartment for about 15 minutes, breakfast, shower, etc.

After work, I'd come home and do Tae Bo Cardio every day until I couldn't do it anymore. I started with 9.5 minutes after the warmup. The last time I did that particular workout, I went through the whole thing after a 3-mile run and still had enough energy to get through half of the P90x Yoga video. It's amazing how much progress you can make with baby steps.

Back to January, I kept up with the diet throughout except for my birthday. I indulged in a 2300 calorie day! That was good, but I got right back on track the next day. A movie that made an impact on me that month was Forks Over Knives. Some might call it a big advertisement for Whole Foods Markets, but if you take that out of context and look at "whole foods" being what they are, non-processed foods - it's a good flick. I didn't go vegan, nor do I plan to, but the whole "Pescatarianism" thing is working out really well for me.
NOTE: I have one post planned after this, for breakfast ideas. Then I'll be posting up less frequently.

Start: January 2, 2012: 227 lbs.
End: February 1, 2012: 209.6 lbs.
Loss: 17.4 lbs. 7.4lbs over my target for the month.

Food Log: January 3, 2012
Breakfast:
  • 3/4 cup Quaker Oats
  • 10 raspberries
  • 1 mug coffee with creamer
    • 400 calories
    • 16g fat (Mostly from the creamer)
    • 11.5mg sodium
    • 93.25 carbohydrates (Mostly from the creamer)
    • 6.9g fiber
    • 8.42g protein
    • 11.66g sugar
Morning snack:
  • 1/4 cup walnuts
    • 164 calories
    • 16g fat
    • 3.4 carbs
    • 1.7 fiber
    • 3.8 protein

Lunch:
  • 1 can Cambell's Select Harvest Tomato with Basil soup
    • 200 calories
    • 960mg sodium
    • 44g carbohydrates
    • 4g fiber
    • 6g protein
    • 24g sugar
Dinner:
  • 6oz grilled salmon
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1cup black beans
  • 5 green olives
  • 3/4cup cranberry juice
  • pinch of salt
    • 800 calories
    • 25g fat
    • 106mg cholesterol
    • 717mg sodium
    • 86g carbohydrates
    • 16.6g fiber
    • 55.2g protein
    • 23g sugar

Dessert
  • 2 Uh-Oh Oreo Cookies
    • 102 calories
    • 4.2g fat
    • 78mg sodium
    • 14g carbohydrates
    • .6g fiber
    • 7.2g sugars

Total for the day:
  • 1664/2519 calories
  • 62/82g fat
  • 107/378mg cholesterol
  • 1767/3023mg sodium
  • 241g/378g carbohydrates
  • 30/31g fiber
  • 73/63g protein
  • 67g sugar
  • 7 glasses of water (Not enough)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What "Healthy eating" means to me.

We've all heard about diets, and that you should do this or that to lose weight. Atkins does this, South Beach does that, Paleo does something else, blah, blah, blah. What the most important thing is something that each of these have to offer, but none of them will EVER tell you - None of them apply to everybody. None.

"Healthy eating" is different for everybody. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a nutritionist. I'm a human being, and I eat food. I need nutrients. Healthy eating is eating the foods that make you feel your best (Not necessarily that make your taste buds feel the best). This will be different for everybody, which is why some people are lactose intolerant and others are not, some can't handle fish or nuts, others can survive on a steady diet of bacon and french fries. Fish and vegetables do it for me. I haven't gotten sick, even with a cold since I started this diet, knock on wood, I'll wake up tomorrow with the worst flu I've ever gotten for blabbing my tongue here. (EDIT: Nov. 2, I took off of work, sick...)

The point is, you have to know what makes you feel great. Try diets, try limiting your intake of this or that and exacerbating your intake of other things. See what makes you feel better. You'll know when you're eating better as rising from bed will be a joy rather than a chore. I wake up at 5:30AM, jump out of bed and work out. Why? Not because it makes me healthy, but because I feel great enough to do that. Now, I'm not going to try and convince people they should eat a certain way, beyond this single tip: Eat whole foods. In other words, don't eat processed garbage (often, that is. I still eat Oreo's and chips).

Other than that, eat what you enjoy and what makes you feel good. Take thoughtful consideration into how you feel after you eat something. How do you feel through the day? How do you feel through the week? Don't be afraid to eat junk once in a while. I love dark chocolate, ice cream, frozen berries with whipped cream, brownies, cookies, cake, and beer. Do I stop any of these? Not at all, but I don't eat them every day. I also keep track of my calories, so that I know whether I can cheat or not.

At the end of the day, what's going to keep you motivated is not a diet with regulations that you would never normally follow. What will keep you motivated is finding healthy foods that you love and consuming them and eating so that you're no longer hungry, rather than eating until you're full. "Healthy eating" is overrated in the sense that there's no magic formula for it. Your body will tell you what you should and shouldn't be eating.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Meals: My Perfect Breakfast

When I think of the most important meal of the day, I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and advocate that you don't EVER start a day without breakfast. It's not even a bandwagon, honestly. It truly helps you get going and have energy throughout the day. That said, what should go into a breakfast?

I believe a solid breakfast starts with a good amount of rich carbohydrates and protein. Some takes on it involve pancakes and sausage or things like that. For us, non meat-eaters, we'll do yogurts, eggs, and even tofu for breakfast.

Every day, my breakfast looks something like this:
I wake up at 5:30 and typically am done eating by 6. Before I eat, I do a 4-minute Tabata Session and then I drink 16oz of ice cold water, which gets your metabolism to wake up, and start "cooking" breakfast.
Breakfast:

  • 1 mug (12oz.) coffee
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned or steel cut oats (NOT quick oats or instant)
  • 1/4 cup berries
  • 1/4 cup miller's bran or 2tbsp wheat germ.
  • 1/2 banana sliced
  • 6oz container of plain Greek yogurt (NOT vanilla)

Nutrition Information (Approximates)
  • Measures: 1/2c Oats, 6oz Chobani Plain Greek, 1/4c Shiloh Farms Organic Unprocessed Coarse Bran, 1/4c Frozen Blueberries, 1/2 banana, 12 oz. coffee.
  • Calories: 352
  • Fat: 3.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0
  • Sodium: 92mg
  • Carbohydrates: 63g
  • Fiber: 12.3g
  • Protein: 26.75g
  • Sugar: 17.8g

This runs you a decent balance of carbs, protein, natural sugars, and fiber - good enough that I'm not hungry again for several hours and it provides me with a good amount of nutrients to start my day.

Some good links about breakfast:

Some alternatives to this breakfast I've done:
  • Other types of fruit, dry or fresh
  • Honey instead of bananas
  • Peanut butter
  • Walnuts or almonds instead of bran or wheat germ
  • Egg whites instead of yogurt - then I wont add fruit
  • Cocoa powder. :-)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Memoir: Why did I decide to lose?

I woke up one morning in November of 2011 and realized I needed a change. I had just exited an unhealthy relationship, was heavier than I ever was at 227 lbs, couldn't move, and didn't feel comfortable in my own skin. The holidays were coming up, and I figured I'm going to indulge one last time, and I did. I recall eating two turkey legs, 4 pieces of ham, and a large bowl of potatoes for Thanksgiving, plus desserts.

I decided to go for a New Year Resolution - something that I never followed through with. I wanted to lose 27 lbs, and be at an even 200. It was a small goal and I used the months of November and December to figure out what the best way to do it is. I found a common piece of advice that wouldn't pose a huge sacrifice for me: Instead of drinking soda and juice, drink water - and drink 6-10 8oz. glasses of it per day. That's 3-5 bottles of water, or 1.5-2.5 fills of the water bottle I so religiously carry with me almost anywhere I am. I ended up averaging at 2 fills per day, one in the morning and one in the evening.

I mentioned the unhealthy relationship I was in, and one thing that I had began doing again in that relationship was eating meat, as my partner ate meat and encouraged me to do so. This was another sacrifice I made. I don't recall having enjoyed the taste of meat, or the feeling it left me with after eating it. That said, I am not a vegan as I still eat yogurt and eggs, nor am I a vegetarian as I still eat fish - I actually ate at a sushi buffet on Sunday night.

I had then set up target weights. I was thinking that 27 lbs was doable within a year, and I had set the goal of 40 lbs for a lifetime. I started with my "last indulging meal" before embarking on this quest at a Dunkin Donuts, where I ate two bagels with egg and cheese, a large latte, and a Boston Creme donut. I did this with the idea that I would do it, or something similar again at the 27 lb mark. I finished the rest of the day with water, and had a salad with balsamic vinegar (NOT vinaigrette) for dinner.

In January, my phone had broken, and with it I lost the last picture I took of myself before I started this. The only pictures I have are from last August and September.

I might be smiling here, but I wasn't happy. I was still in a bad relationship, I was obese... I couldn't even tell you what my life was like at this stage. I don't even think I was aware of it.

Today, is a different me.

Today, is a healthy me.

If this is of your interest at all, please follow this blog and I'll have posted up how in under 10 months (the following image was taken in September), I went from that to this:


I will always keep these pants as a reminder. They were once tight on me. I've lost 76 lbs in 10 months.