Cheater Pickle Experiments

August 13th, 2013 by kaplods

I love pickles, especially sweet, spicy, cheap pickles.   I like making pickles and relishes, but mostly stick to refrigerator, freezer, and cheater pickles because they’re cheap, easy, and fast.  And they’re perfect for small batch experiments.

A cheater pickle is a pickle made from a pickle.   One popular recipe calls for draining a can of generic, super-cheap dill pickle slices, pouring off the liquid and tossing the drained pickles with sugar – lots of sugar, and then returning the pickles to the jar (you don’t reuse the original brine, as the sugar and pickles create a syrup).  You can use the same process for pickled jalapeno slices.

I tried substituting Splenda for the sugar, with poor results.  The peppers were quite tasty, but had shriveled up and lost all crunch (some pickled jalapenos have no crunch to begin with).

Last night, I decided to try something new.  I drained the jalapenos (reserving the liquid) and tossed the pepper slices with dried minced garlic, which I then returned to the jar.

Into the reserved brine, I added a full packet of  Apple flavored sugar free drink mix.  I used the Walmart brand (which is like apple juice flavor, not the jolly rancher green apple like Crystal Light’s Appletini).

I will experiment with other flavors, if these turn out well (check out youtube videos for KoolAid pickles, which were my inspiration).

I used apple, because it seemed like the least odd, like using apple cider vinegar and sugar in a conventional pickle recipe.

I’ll taste test in a few days, and let you know how it went.

Update (after 24 hours in the fridge): I was relieved to see that no shriveling occurred.  I tasted the peppers, and found the texture unchanged (they weren’t any more or less crunchy than they started).  The flavor was good (and I’m sure will get better).  I’m not sure whether the sweetness level is right, but I can’t decide if they need to be less sweet or more sweet.

The apple flavor is more intense than with apple cider vinegar, which is a bit strange at first.  I think they’d be very delicious on a sandwich or topping for crackers and cream cheese.

Why The Simple Diet, Why Meal Replacements.

August 8th, 2013 by kaplods

When I’m feeling good, I love to cook.  I love to taste as I cook, and eat again when it’s done.

A semi-paleo exchange plan works pretty well, when I’m feeling good.

However, I don’t always feel good.  I have a multitude of health issues, and much of the year (Midwinter through early Spring and Midsummer especially) I feel cruddy more often than not.

When I feel cruddy, I don’t want to cook, but I do want to eat.  Boy! Do I want to eat… carbs, carbs, and more carbs (with fat and salt on top).

David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating, taught me why.  The fat, sugar, salt combo is a euphoric – part opiate and part stimulant, a perfect storm of pain reliever, mood elevator, stimulant, antidepressant, and sedative.

I found that carbs took the edge off arthritis, fibromyalgia, and menstrual pain much faster than tylenol or prescription pain medication.  They didn’t suppress the pain as well, but they had the advantage of working almost immediately (and gave me something to do, waiting for the pharmaceuticals to kick in).

On bad days, I don’t like to cook, measure, track, or count my food (I don’t always want to do so on good days, either, but on good days I can usually suck it up and do it anyway).

On bad days, craving carbs (for medicinal purposes only – well primarily…. ok, partially) and not wanting to cook or count, I nibble.  All freakin’ day.

Even paleo nibbles like jerky, fruit, nuts… add up very quickly.  And I don’t always stick to paleo nibbles, because hubby’s carb stash (hubby doesn’t eat paleo) of carby snacks starts looking pretty good to me.  Maybe just a little, and then a little more.  I can’t heeeeelp it, I’m tired and booooooored (and whiny like a 6 year old with an earache).

So, what does any of this have to do with meal replacements or “The Simple Diet” (based on the book by J.W. Anderson and N.J. Gustafson)?

Well, I ran across talk of this book on the website several months (maybe almost a year) ago, and I didn’t think much of it.  Pretty much a poor man’s HMR or Nutrisystem:  shakes, soups, puddings, bars plus fruits and vegetables.

Lots of processed foods, “Not my thing,” I thought.

Then I gained 35 of the 109 I had struggled eight years to lose.  It felt like three years wasted, and I feared it would take three years to catch up.

I reread “The Simple Diet,” and the meal replacement and prepackaged meal forums on 3FC.  Maybe this was a strategy worth considering.

So here I am, using “The Simple Diet.” On good days, if I feel like cooking, I’ll make a recipe that fits the book’s guidelines and if I make extra, I’ll divide the leftovers into containers to freeze.  I’ll make high protein yogurt (made with nonfat milk and whey protein isolate) about once a month.  I work on recipes that will be easy for hubby or I to throw together in minutes.

I also buy frozen dinners, soups and protein bars, because I don’t always have time to make my own.

The Simple Diet isn’t a perfect solution, but it is a simple one, and simple is what I need right now, and the results have been good so far.  In six weeks, I’ve lot 20 of the 35 lbs I gained (2 years ahead of schedule).

The speed of loss is encouraging, I haven’t lost this rapidly in more than fifteen years.  Maybe the gain was mostly water retention, or maybe I’m finding it easier to stay on plan, because the plan really is so much simpler.

Only time will tell, but the experiment has gotten off to a promising start.

Dreamsicle Shake

August 1st, 2013 by kaplods

1/2 cup light vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt (80 -100 calories)

20g whey protein isolate, microfiltered (70 calories, 18g protein)

3/4 cup frozen strawberries (about 50 calories)

Diet orange soda or water (about 1/2 cup more or less depending on how thick you want your shake)

1/2 single serve packet orange drink mix (such as Crystal Light), or to taste

200 calories (or 1 shake and 1 fruit on “The Simple Diet”)

Blend all ingredients in personal or standard size blender.

For an even more decadent treat, shave a small amount of dark chocolate before blending.  I allow myself one square of Dove dark chocolate Promises per day.  One individually wrapped square contains 42 calories, and I find half a square perfect for one shake.  If your blender has a strong motor you can put the whole (or half) square of chocolate in, but I use a paring knife to shave the chocolate into my Sonoma Kucina personal blender cup.

Poor, unappreciated, grumpy, fat, old, arthritic….. cat.

July 15th, 2013 by kaplods

Five or six years ago, my very fat, middle-aged husband, and my very fat, middle-aged self, adopted a very fat, middle aged cat.

We thought putting her on a weight loss regimen would be easier and more successful than our own (we were wrong).

As it turns out, it’s even harder to get weight off a cat.  Feed them less, they sleep more and move less (Boy, can I relate).  Switch their food and they stop eating entirely and get very sick, very fast.

Within three days of changing her food over completely (we had been blending the food for two weeks prior – she ate around the new food), we woke to our cat wailing in pain.

Luckily, it was just constipation and not a bowel obstruction or kidney failure.  Our vet told us that it was safer for our cat to be fat than to stop eating, and that cats were very difficult to successfully slim down.  Keeping her as active as possible by playing with her and keeping her from gaining might be the best we could accomplish (Again, I SO can relate).

To hear our cat tell it (which she does consistently and loudly throughout the day), we treat her very poorly indeed.   Sad cat diary on youtube has a cheerful tone, in comparison.

Before you call the Humane society to report our neglect, you really need to understand the extent of our abuse of her.

We’ve learned that we cannot allow the bottom of the white food dish to become exposed.  She will howl until we come to shake the  dish or add more food to cover the dreaded “white spot.”

Likewise, she will howl if anything is contaminating her water dish, whether it be a bug, a cat hair, or a bit of kibble backwash (she actually drinks with her mouth full of kibble).

She also likes to have company when she eats (or poops) and will howl until we comply.

She can no longer jump onto the bed or couch by herself, so she will meow, howl, or grumble until we pick her up and place her wherever she wants to be, and then repeats the routine five minutes later to be somewhere else.

She also has learned to demand air-conditioning.  She will settle herself comfortably on her back, in just the right spot in the path of the air conditioner vent and yowl for room service.

She has learned how to “ask” us to play her favorite games – by scratching the box where hubby keeps his laser pointer, or at his ipad for kitty video games or at my Nook for cat youtube videos (not videos of cats, videos FOR cats to watch.  Aquarium fish, birds and squirrels at a feeder…)

When we first started using the game aps and youtube videos, for an instant, I thought our cat must be the most spoiled and over-indulged cat on the planet, until I realized someone had to program those apps and make those videos, probably for their own cat.

Yes, our kitty girl has it rough. We’ve never written a game ap for her, or videoed birds in the snow for her amusement.

She does have a pile of toys she guards whenever anyone comes to visit.  She sits on the pile until she’s convinced that no one is going to steal her toys.  Then she makes the rounds, greeting each guest (especially any who are allergic) and meows, grumbles, and yowls to anyone who might listen.  I don’t speak cat, nor do our guests, but we’re pretty sure from her tone, she is lodging her complaints against our ill  treatment of her.  How we never feed her, or give her any attention whatsoever.

She HAS convinced many guests that our no-junk-food rule is completely unreasonable.  One friend in particular will bring ranch flavor Doritos to any social gathering so that he can slip some to the cat.  She loves her favorite uncle very much.

Poor girl, such a rough existence.

The Simple Diet Experiment

July 14th, 2013 by kaplods

I’m finding myself short on time, energy, and interest in food preparation lately, and have decided to experiment this week with “The Simple Diet,” from the book of the same name by James W. Anderson and Nancy J. Gustafson.

The first and primary stage of the Program is one of meal replacements (shakes or soups and prepackaged meals (such as frozen dinners) and fruits and vegetables.  Nutritional Guidelines and qualifying products are given.

The plan minimum is 3 shakes or soups, 2 entrees, and 5 servings of fruits/vegetables

Meal replacement guidelines:

Shakes 100-200 calories, 10g – 26g protein, 0-6g fat

Entrees 140-300 calories, 10g – 25g protein, 0-9g fat

Soups 100-200 calories, 10-20g protein, 0-6g fat

Bars 100-200 calories, 6-20g protein, 0-5g fat

Bars are intended for emergencies and occasional use (up to 7 or 8 per week).

Originally I thought I’d  use The Simple Diet only as a sick-day back-up plan, but I’m going to give it a full test drive this week.  If I like the results (or still don’t feel like cooking) I’ll extend the test drive for another week.

Using hedonism to my advantage.

June 21st, 2013 by kaplods

When I try to change my unhealthy behaviors through guilt and self-denial, the process always backfires on me.  I end up feeling resentful, angry, guilty, and frustrated. Frustration becomes hopelessness, and without hope, I see no reason to continue the self-denial.  Hey, if I’m never going to be thin anyway, I should at least be able to eat what I want.

For me, removing the punishing, guilt-inducing aspect of weight loss, also removes the motivation for quitting.  If I’m eating and exercising in ways I find easy and enjoyable, why would I ever even think of quitting.

That philosophy has helped me lose 110 lbs, over the course of several years.  Then I stopped working to make the process fun.  I started adding in guilt and unrealistic expectations, and when health issues and other stresses came up, my motivation fizzled.

Over the course of only a couple months, I backslid a whopping 29 lbs.

Egh, life happens.  Feeling sad, angry or guilty isn’t going to erase those 29 lbs.  In fact, in my experience, the feelings will only contribute to further regain.

I still believe that low-pressure weight loss works best for me, but it’s time to recommit to assigning a higher priority to my health.

I deserve this.

Comfort foods for pain relief

June 21st, 2013 by kaplods

I have fibromyalia, osteoarthritis, and autoimmune arthritis, and today I’m having a severe pain flare.  All I want to do is eat, both to distract myself and to treat the pain.  Comfort foods are generally quite effective pain-relievers as they tend to be serotonin-boosting carbohydrates.

Knowing this makes me crave such food even more, but I also know that such high carb comfort foods (at least in my case) only worsen the situation in the long run.

The pain is severe enough that I’m taking my maximum allowed pain meds and between the pain and the side effects of the medications, I’m feeling a bit queasy.  I’ve been using the nausea as rationale for eating as little as possible (while the little voice in the back of my mind keeps whispering “carbs will settle your stomach” ).

So far, I’m resisting.

I do wonder whether the pain-relief and mood-boosting aspects of carbohydrates explains food addiction.  Is food addiction an actual type of drug addiction.

Cocaine addicted rats will often choose sugar over cocaine (I believe I read this in David Kessler’s book, The End of Overeating – awesome book, by the way).

Seeing food as a drug-equivalent does help me view my food plan (a reduced-carb exchange plan) as a “dosing schedule.”

To me, it also explains why intuitive eating practices have never worked for me.  My intuition and instincts, through cravings, hunger, and appetite; are telling me that I need these foods to relieve my pain and fatigue.  Rationally I know that food pain-relievers are a poor choice, but if I eat intuitively, my intuition will always call out to the foods that provide the best short-term solution.  Which is the salt/sugar/fat combination Kessler talks about in his book.

Blueberry dark chocolate smoothie

June 17th, 2013 by kaplods

In a blender, food processor, or mini/personal blender (I used a Rocket personal blender), blend until smooth (you’ll hear the chocolate stop clunking)

140g (3/4 cup) frozen bluberries

1 cup milk or milk substitute ( I used Coconut Dream, 45 calories per cup)

30g (1 scoop, about an ounce) unflavored or vanilla whey protein powder – I prefer undenatured, unflavored whey, Because it dissolves well, even in water.

1 square Dove dark chocolate (it will blend more easily if you chop it into four or more pieces – or you could use a tbs of chocolate chips)

270 calories, 2 protein, 1 fruit, 1 dairy (if the milk you use contains less than 20% daily calcium, count as 2 fats instead of   a dairy)

I’m back

June 16th, 2013 by kaplods

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted, and not coincidentally a long time since I’ve lost any more weight.  I’ve even backslid and regained about 20 to 25 lbs.  Which for me, is actually quite a small regain.  Which for me is actually quite a minor setback, considering my “normal” regains of the past were to regain more than I lost before getting back on track.

I regret that I allowed myself to become distracted, but I have to avoid wallowing in guilt, because when I do, I start to feel helpleds and hopeless, and when I take hope away from myself, I eat for comfort (if the situation is hopeless, if I believe success is not a path open to me, food is my consolation prize, a booby prize (quite literally since my bustline is the first place I lose and gain weight).

I stopped blogging, because I wasn’t sure if my writings were of interest or value to anyone, but myself.  I didn’t realize that it doesn’t really matter.  They’re useful to me, and if they’re of use to no one else, they’re still useful to me.

I haven’t yet decided how I’m going to use this blog.  What I’m going to write, or how often, but I owe it to myself, if no one else, to find out.

Beating the Odds

May 4th, 2010 by kaplods

Over in the 3FC forums, a member asked, “….Do you get discouraged when you hear statistics about, basically, how rare it is for people to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF? Or facts that say that the majority of people end up gaining it all back, and then some (like me)…    And if so, what motivates you do keep fighting to ‘defy the odds’….”

It’s a great question.  One I’ve been contemplating a lot recently.  Here’s my reply:

I’ve been trying to lose weight since I was 5 years old, and I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded (in the past). I lived the statistics. I really think I failed just like nearly everyone else because I went about losing weight “just like nearly everyone else.”

In my mid-twenties I found FA (Fat Acceptance) literature, and encountered the theory that dieting results in weight gain, rather than weight loss (it’s sure been my experience). So for a while I vowed to not diet, and my weight didn’t skyrocket. It stabilizied. I was afraid to try to lose weight, because in my experience dieting made me fatter, and refusing to diet did not. I wished that I had never dieted (and still wonder if I’d be nearly as overweight if I did not).

Then I started getting health problems and really didn’t know what to do. Dieting didn’t work for me (that is dieting the only way I knew how to do it).

I don’t think I would have attempted dieting ever again, except that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and my doctors said I would probably lose some weight “without even trying.” I chuckled at that, because I had never, ever experienced an unintentional permanent weight loss (the flu doesn’t count).

Well, what do you know? I lost about 20 lbs without trying (and without noticing. I didn’t even own the scale and I was six months between doctor’s visits).

It made me realize that losing weight wasn’t entirely impossible – but how to go about it? Certainly not “like I always did,” because “if you do what you always do, you get what you always get.”

I do not believe that “every diet works.” I know that the cliche is “every diet works, if you work it,” but many diets are so difficult that they’re practically impossible. How to find a WOE that I could make permanent?

From the time I decided to “diet differently” about 4 years ago, I’ve not had a significant regain. My weight is moving consistently downward (a trend I’d never had in my life last more than 2 years. And even my no-diet vow (and no-gain/no-loss period) didn’t last this long. So something is different.

80 lbs in 4 years, doesn’t sound like success. But it’s so different than what I used to experience, that I know I’m “onto something.” I’ve been trying all this time to find the WOE that works for me, and I have found it (low-carb, the only WOE I never attempted for more than a few weeks – always giving up because I thought the diet wasn’t healthy). Now, I’ve known for almost 2 years that low-carb, virtually no grain is the diet that I can physically follow and lose and manage myt weight. In fact, on low-carb eating I feel better, fewer health issues, and the crazy hunger disappears.

I was losing weight slowly (and not much at all in the last several months) because while I knew my best WOE, I couldn’t accept it. I kept trying to find ways to make it not true (kept trying to find ways to include grains and other high-carb foods at least occasionally).

I’ve been thinking about it, talking about it, and I finally hit my turning point when I realized that learning to eliminate my problem foods entirely was going to be easier than trying to learn to incorporate them – so why was I even trying?

The book that helped me gain that realization was Dr. Barbara Berkeley in her book, Refuse to Regain!: 12 Tough Rules to Maintain the Body You’ve Earned!

The book changed my life, even though the information isn’t new, it’s just consolidated. Reading it, I wondered why I hadn’t come to the same conclusions she did, much earlier in my experience, and I only can say that I was so busy trying to lose weight, that I never gave maintenance any thought. I never concerned myself with how I was going to keep the weight off.

I’m not discouraged any more by the statisitics. I can now see why diets have such a high rate of failure. Maintenance needs to be stressed from the beginning. It’s the most fundamental thing I have changed. I vowed from the beginning that I would find a way to maintain every pound lost. Even when I felt like giving up, I told myself I could decide to stop losing, but I would not decide to accept regaining.

I think I can now beat the odds, because I’ve realized that I can’t eat or diet like I did before. I can escape the fate of “nearly everyone else,” by approaching weight loss in a way that isn’t just unusual – it’s revolutionary.

The idea of giving up grains entirely (or even 99% of the time) is a “crazy” idea by modern standards, maybe it’s just crazy enough to beat the odds. I’m betting on it.