Saturday, February 22

Day 6, Phase 2: Inflammation Diet

Well, Phase 2 of our inflammation diet is underway.  Yesterday, day 6, was interesting.  In this phase, some "new" foods are re-introduced to the diet plan, like eggs and oat bran.  Also introduced are two breakfast foods--a cheesy scrambled egg "quesadilla" and mini quiches.  I tried the "quesadilla" recipe yesterday morning, and was sadly disappointed following the recipe as printed.  The eggs were good--you scramble four whole eggs with two wedges of spreadable mini cheeses, which was fine.  I'm used to adding a little shredded cheddar cheese to my eggs, so that was nothing unusual.  The "quesadilla", however, was another story altogether--it literally tasted like cardboard.  Not kind of, not a little like, no--EXACTLY like cardboard.  I was sad, because they smelled pretty good while they were cooking, kind of like pancakes.  I knew there wasn't anything in them that would be flavorful, but I guess I hoped that there would magically be some flavor explosion in all of the bland ingredients, like they would all meet in the mixing bowl and somehow change to something that tasted, well, good.  It's kind of like when two unattractive people somehow have cute kids.  You don't know how it happens, but somehow it does happen.

Anyway, the recipe uses Greek yogurt and egg whites to create a low-fat, low calorie bread-y type crust; yes, this does make a difference in the calories, but also in the texture and flavor.  A little like subbing applesauce for oil in a cake recipe...mmm, applesauce...  It was bordering on unpalatable, though, so I altered the recipe a bit, adding the fat back in and adding a little (allowed) sweetness to it, because I can't eat the cardboardillas for the next two weeks!

6 eggs
1 1/2 C oat bran
1/2 C unsweetened coconut milk soured with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 C water
2 TBSP pure maple syrup
1 mashed ripe banana

Spray a medium frypan with non-stick spray and allow to heat up.  Sour the coconut milk with the vinegar and let it stand for a few seconds to thicken.  Mix all of the wet ingredients together well, then add the oat bran.  Allow to stand for a minute--the batter will thicken as it stands.  Using a 1/3 C measuring cup, scoop the batter into the heated pan and spread the batter out into a circle.  Cook as you do regular pancakes! Makes 10 or 11 pancakes.  (To see the book's original recipe, click here: Cheesy Egg Quesadillas.)

On a side note, I had some ripe bananas that I had purchased to make the smoothies, but couldn't use them in time, so I peeled them and threw them in bags in the freezer.  I took one out to eat with the quesadilla, and found out that I like frozen bananas!  So that was fun!

I have a sneaking suspicion that my continuing symptoms are a result of the increased dairy in this plan.  I did some internet research, and found that it's common for low-cal, low-carb diets to use a lot of dairy in substitution, and this seems to be no exception.  I've had a hard time tolerating yogurt ever since I started feeling ill, but I'd read that Greek yogurt can sometimes be tolerated by those unable to eat regular yogurt.  However, I don't think I'm one of those people.  I couldn't find any plain soy yogurt at the store to substitute, so for the time being, I'm making some changes and removing the smoothies from the plan and limiting the soft cheeses.  I'll see if the symptoms go away or at least get better, and if so, I'll have my answer! 

Friday, February 21

Inflammation Diet, Phase 1

Well, we were finally able to start our 21-Day Tummy routine on Sunday.  Due to some events that were out of our control, we had to postpone our start date until then.  We had hoped to have three weeks of uninterrupted time to just focus on the plan (but that's already out the window).  The reasons for doing this diet?  My inflammation and gastrointestinal problems, and to lose weight and be healthier.  Good reasons.  So, what do we think so far?

This first phase, lasting for five days, has been hard for both of us.  You pretty much cut out all sugar cold-turkey and eat a  very low-fat meal plan, with limited amounts of olive oil for cooking.  That has been hard for me!  I have a affinity for sweets (like, a whole mouth full of sweet teeth), and the cravings for sugary foods and fats (like using butter for cooking) has been hard to fight.  We've both experienced what I call withdrawal headaches from the lack of sugar--I know it's not caffeine withdrawal, because coffee is allowed, and hubby still drinks it daily.  I don't drink coffee, but I do drink pop, although I don't drink it enough to cause headaches when I don't have it for a day or two.  Ergo, sugar withdrawal!

Simple dinner--baked salmon and potato, sprinkled with parmesan
We've tried several recipes, and have liked most of them.  We have made some slight alterations to account for items we didn't have or personal tastes.  I've also had a need to make quick meals due to a family emergency, and found that it's easy to just use elements from other meals to make something fast, like a piece of fish and a baked potato or sweet potato.  The smoothies are the worst for us--it took a few days to find a tolerable smoothie flavor combo, and because smoothies are part of the first 14 days, finding a palatable combination was important.  Neither of us likes yogurt, and it's more tart than either of us cares for, but we'll soldier on.  I'm hoping that my tastes might change, or I find a sweet enough combination to get me through the duration.  So far, the most tolerable smoothie flavor combo has been banana, cocoa powder, vanilla, and cinnamon.  I miss real food for breakfast, and am counting down the days to no more yogurt smoothies.  Other than the smoothies, the meal suggestions and recipes have been decent so far.  I say "decent" because the book states that spices like garlic are inflammatory (despite the fact that I've always heard that it was anti-inflammatory), so they recommend not using them, and the food can be a little bland when following the recipes exactly (the Hearty Roasted Vegetable Soup recipe should be renamed Cooked Vegetables in Hot Water Soup).  It helps to have a little cooking knowledge under your belt with this plan to make the meals a little more flavorful.  
A typical smoothie--I make them the night before and store them in the fridge in insulated glasses so that we can just grab and slurp in the morning.

The format of the book is taking a little time to get used to.  There are recipes in the book, but there are also general meal directions on the day-to-day meal plans that are not found in the recipe section.  There are shopping lists in the back to make buying groceries easier, but depending on what you plan to make, you might end up with more than you need if you discover you don't like a recipe or if the recipe makes four servings and there are only two of you (such is our case).  I decided to make my own meal plan for Phase 2, and it took a while to go through all of the recipes and come up with a tailored grocery plan.

There is also an exercise section of the book, but I have yet to try any of the routines--I just haven't had time yet.

Vegetable soup--a very bland recipe.
I also found new foods that I like, such as chard (never had it before), sweet potatoes (just never cared for them), kale (a little bitter, but great in salad), curry (although I think it caused some of my symptoms during the week, and will be limiting its use), and zucchini (I've never liked it prepared in restaurants).

I have still experienced some GI issues during this phase.  It's possible that my body is adjusting, but it's also possible that the foods we've cut out so far have not been the cause of my problems.  I think that the severity and frequency of the problems has decreased, and I am not kept up at night with intestinal pain, but the fact that the symptoms still remain gives me pause and makes me continue to wonder what could be causing this.

Here's my summary of these first five days:
Pros--rapid weight loss, decrease in inflammation symptoms (but not elimination).
Cons--constantly hungry, some of the recipes are bland, still experiencing GI symptoms. 

However, after the first five days, I've lost 5 pounds and two inches off of my waist, which is enough encouragement to keep going.  I guess.

Monday, February 17


"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.  They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.  Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."  Psalm 19:1-4

I love butterflies; I always have.  There's just something so sweet and innocent about them, as they flutter about their day visiting bright flowers and helping pollinate plants.  They come in all shapes and colors, some with muted tones of browns and creams, others with bright jewel tones of oranges, reds, blues, can anyone see a butterfly and not smile?

So, when I got an e-mail from the Toledo Zoo about a temporary exhibit of butterflies in the middle of winter, I resolved to head up and check it out!

The exhibit was set up in a portable tent in the middle of one of the exhibit buildings.  It was full of leafy plants and little brightly-painted pots with nectar inside to attract the butterflies, and was nice and warm and breezy.  We were told upon entering to watch for butterflies landing on the floor, and to have fun!

Butterflies were fluttering all about!  It was so neat.  Everywhere we looked, butterflies met us.  My hubby had one land on his hat, then come over and land on my hand, which was so cool...he stayed there long enough for my hubby and a stranger to take pictures.  I eventually  had to have an zoo worker gently move him off of my hand (we were told not to touch the butterflies, as the oils in our hands can hurt them).
Photo courtesy of the hubs!
The exhibit was so great.  It was so nice to see something summery in the dead of winter, and it gave me warm fuzzies that I hope will last until I get my own flower garden growing in the warmer temps.  A great way to spend the afternoon!
Think spring!  Here's lookin' at you, kid!

Saturday, February 15

Will It Ever End?

We were covered with another four inches of snow last weekend.  
We've been getting hit pretty hard this reminds me of when I was young!  Curious about the depth, I ventured out the back door with a yard stick and measured the snow on the ground: fifteen inches! 
This is the most snow I've seen since we moved here.  Our driveway looks more like a snow tunnel than a means to access the garage. 
The snow piles along our sidewalk are waist-deep in places from shoveling. 
The trees along the street are buried at least four feet up the trunk.  It's impressive, no doubt!  I usually like winter, and I enjoy the snow, but this year I'm ready for spring now.

  Anyone else?

Tuesday, February 11

Winter Blues=Spring Garden Planning

With temps this cold for this long, my thoughts inevitably turn to warmer weather.  I'm aching and tired and sore from shoveling snow nearly daily.  Temperatures have dipped below zero more times than I care to think about.  I realized that in the summer, we had days where temperatures rose to over a hundred degrees and now we have had temperatures well below zero--that's a swing of at least 110 degrees' difference!  Crazy!

Around here, it's almost time to start seeds indoors here to prepare for the spring and summer gardens.  However, this year, I think I'll do something different with my garden beds.

I think I've been planting veggies out there for the past four summers now.  I want to give my garden a rest and plant two beds full of cutting flowers to have around the house this summer--I've never done this, so I think it would be a great change of pace.

I'm also planning to transplant some perennials that grow on the north side of our house.  The bed gets constantly overgrown with weeds every summer because it's a narrow space that is close to the house next door and never really gets sunlight, so it remains damp and shady all the time--perfect conditions for growing weeds, we've found!  I'd like to take the lilies and move them to the front yard, along with the large sedum.  A friend of ours gave us tiger lily transplants a few summers ago, which have done fairly well in the weed patch, but will probably be moved to the backyard.  Once that's clear, we'll just spray the bed with weed killer and not have to tend to it anymore.  Plus, we'll have some nice plants in our front yard, so win-win!