ASK Musings

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Monthly Archive: November 2012

Thursday

22

November 2012

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November 22: Thankful for …

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… so very, very much. As I wrap up this month of posts leading up to today, I’m thinking of all the different Thanksgivings I’ve been lucky enough to share. From ones with extended family through middle school, to the small, simple (and relaxed!) Thanksgivings with just my parents through my college years, to the last 13 Thanksgivings spent in Omaha, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, London/Dublin, Seattle and Munich, I associate this day with the family I was born into and the families I’ve created and joined over the years.

So today I am thankful for my parents, my sister, Austin, my friends from here, from across the country and across the ocean. 

And kittens. Because, come on. Kittens.

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Thursday

22

November 2012

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Final Real Food Weekly Wrap Up

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Well, that was an interesting and challenging experiment We’ve stopped a bit early, leaving the remaining challenges unmet: have at least one locally-produced food item at each meal (we do this already for the most part); go a week with no sweeteners in anything (please); and limit prepared foods to just five or six ingredients (something I’ve been trying to do since I first read over the challenges).

The blog I was consulting for these ideas is not particularly original and has some issues, but I definitely responded well to having things broken down into manageable bites (literally and figuratively). We are definitely continuing to incorporate some items into our food decisions: 100% whole grain, two fruits or vegetables at each meal (that one is still hard but kind of fun). limiting fried and fast foods, not buying things with added sweeteners (or at least added artificial or highly processed sweeteners); avoiding refined oils, purchasing local/organic meat; cutting processed foods with more than five or six ingredients. Which, when it’s written out like that: duh. I don’t think any of this is surprising to people who have read anything on food and health (or, frankly, anyone who has caught the evening news over the last decade). But I think there was definitely value in challenging ourselves. It’s led us to find some awesome new items (like these super fantastically yummy corn tortillas) and forced us (well, let’s be honest, me) to confront the sheer volume of added sweeteners in our diet. We were eating healthful food before, but now we have even more tools to help us make even better decisions.

Most of the time.

Tuesday

13

November 2012

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Real Food Week 9 Recap and Week 10 Challenge

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Oh man. No sugar for a week? That is REALLY HARD. We started the week a bit off as we learned that our salami has sugar in it. Ooof. After correcting that snack item, we moved forward. I baked some banana bread with honey (and coconut oil – yum!) so I would have some sort of baked good when the cookies at work called to me. I also made some ice cream sweetened with honey, but I also didn’t end up having dessert every night. And you know what? I survived! But it was a challenge – we had to drive to a special bakery to find bread (BREAD) that was both 100% whole grain AND had no sugar in it. Yikes. We did find a loaf at Whole Foods, but they don’t always have it, so that’s not a guarantee. We did eat out a couple of nights – once we had pizza, and it’s likely (although not guaranteed) that the sauce had some added sugar. Sunday night I broke the week’s sugar fast a bit early to make some icing for a cookie-baking get together today. Afterwards I tried out some peppermint ice cream we had in the freezer (SUGAR!) and it honestly felt way too sweet. So maybe over time I can recalibrate my taste buds.

Going forward, we’ve agreed that when we’re buying things to eat at home, no added sugar if it’s at all possible. We actually found a salami that doesn’t have sugar (yay!) or any added sweetener. And now that we know where to look for items, we can more easily cut it out. As for daily consumption, I’m still going to have sweets, but hopefully they’ll be ones I make myself. Sugar will be around, but for now my goal is no added sugar before dinner. I don’t really need a morning muffin from the cafĂ© or an afternoon hot chocolate.

As for other added sweeteners, this particular challenge suggests that maple syrup and honey are the best because they are the most natural and least processed – but they are still clear that all sweeteners should be used in moderation. However, that isn’t the only concern about sweets. Another issue is how it affects your blood sugar levels, and what that does to the body long-term. It does seem to have less of an effect on blood sugar as compared to table sugar (I’ve yet to find information on how honey impacts blood sugar), but some say that it is basically just as bad for you as high fructose corn syrup. This article, for example, seems to suggest that the glycemic index evidence is debatable, and it’s as not good for you as any other sweetener. I’m a bit torn, and probably won’t seek it out, but I may experiment with it a bit in baking, since if you have to use less than sugar then you’re at least ingesting less of it.

Ugh. It’d be so much easier if I didn’t like my sweets so much! Luckily there’s lots of fresh fruit around – apples and pears especially – so I can go to that for my fix if possible.

This next week we are to avoid all refined oils. This one will be near impossible if we eat anything not made at home from fresh ingredients. But that’s a fun challenge! We’ll avoid fried foods and commercially baked goods, and look to buy things at home to replace the not good items we have now. For example, thanks to the sugar experiment, we found unsweetened ketchup. And since the mayonnaise we have has vegetable oil in it, we’ll have to find a different kind if we want to use mayonnaise in our cooking.

We may take another break after this next week as the challenge is absolutely NO sweeteners (including honey and maple syrup), and it’s Thanksgiving. I’d still like my pie!

Monday

5

November 2012

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Real Food Week 8 Wrap-Up and Week 9 Challenge

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Well, this past week was not horrible. It asked us to do what we should be doing always – stop eating when we’re full. Admittedly this would have been a more difficult challenge if we’d eaten out at our favorite Italian restaurant during the week. As it was, the only real time I found myself actively breaking the challenge was on Halloween, when I essentially ate every sweet in sight after we had to cancel our trip to NYC. It wasn’t awesome, but it happens. I found that at times I did end up eating less, although not always, which makes me think that I’m usually pretty good at stopping when I’m full, even in the face of more yumminess. Austin had much the same response.

This week, though, might be quite challenging. No sweeteners except honey and maple syrup. In anything. Which sounds simple enough, unless you eat anything, ever. Seriously – sugar is added TO EVERYTHING. It’s kind of breathtaking. And then there are the actual sweets, which anyone who knows me knows are generally part of my daily routine. So yeah, this is going to be tough. But sorely needed. I’m okay with a week without sugar. Hopefully it will turn into a healthier life, where sugar is really only around on actual special occasions. We shall see …