Thursday, July 29, 2010

On a roll

That's what I'm talking about...and that was only after one meal! The star of the show? Cheesy macaroni-cauliflower bake. I had about 1/3 of the missing casserole with salad and a side of roasted beets. It looked like this (2x).
If you have family and friends who like comfort food or good ole' grandma-made-it style cooking, this recipe will really work for you. Normally I just use the packet of cheese powder that comes with the macaroni, but this time I got a little crazy and used nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is better for you - it packs the B-vitamin and protein punch to make this meal quite healthy.

Cheesy Cauliflower Macaroni Bake

1/2 lb macaroni
1 whole cauliflower head
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1/2 c milk
2 tbsp smart balance or butter
1 c shredded cheese
1 tbsp flour or cornstarch
1/4 c breadcrumbs (optional) 

Boil the noodles until al dente. Steam the cauliflower in a large pot or in the microwave. Mash with potato masher until a coarse texture like rice is achieved. Add the nutritional yeast, milk, butter, and flour to the cauliflower. Mix until coated. Add noodles and continue to coat all the noodles. Mix in 3/4 c cheese and pour entire mixture into greased casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake 350 for 30 minutes covered. Uncover and raise oven temp to 410. Bake an additional 10 minutes until browned.

Otherwise, food has been pretty boring. We're attempting to clean out our pantry, which houses food products that we both brought with us a year ago when we moved in together. These delicious (but less-than-healthy) options include Tuna Helper, multiple jello and jello pudding choices, odds and ends of baking chips, and other boxed goodies.

Pistachio pudding with cool whip...

Angel food cake with peaches and cool whip. Yummm.

Like everyone else, I like these foods. They don't make me feel too great though, so I'm trying to limit consumption to this short period while we're using them up. After this, there will be no more stacks of jello pudding as high as the shelf (Mark my words, fiance! Just watch!)

Otherwise, it's been hot and I've been terribly busy. I promised myself that I wouldn't let work affect my mood anymore, and this week I'm doing better. I have been having a lot of these...

Tropical Green Monster (Spinach, Pineapple, Banana, Mango, almond milk, protein powder)

Spilled purple nurple (blueberries, spinach, banana, almond milk, protein powder). Evidently it was too early for motor function.

Crystal Light cocktails -- vodka and various flavors of crystal light with some lime wedges. It's too hot for anything else!

As for real food, I haven't been doing too shabby. I'll admit that I've either been at catered events or gone out to eat quite a few times recently. I was either at work events or out with friends, so I didn't take pictures. To give you some idea, I order very similarily to how I normally eat. I had a hummus platter with a cup of veggie soup at one lunch. I had veggies, fruit, cheese, and crackers at another (stayed away from all of the creepy meat-roll-up style food), and I had a thai green vegetable curry at another. Otherwise, it was the usual. I ate a lot of leftovers, so I'll only show you the highlights:

Mahimahi crusted in cashew flour and baked. Served with swiss chard in ginger-oyster sauce.

I tried to eat the last piece of lentil loaf, served with 3/4 c noodles. All covered in marinara and cheese...
But, in this epic battle of (wo)Man v. Food...

Lentil loaf won. I couldn't even touch my the fiance was more than happy to take care of the rest for me. He was also more than happy to take care of this...

That's the remnants of a watermelon. He ate 3/4 of it! No worries, when we went to the store, we bought two! Watermelon is my major source of sugar and hydration for the next week!

This week is black bean week in our house, but instead of showing you the ridiculous amounts of black beans on rice I eat, I picked a few better pictures:

Black bean salad. There are rice and beans on the bottom, I promise.

And again, all stirred up for lunch the next day.

I got 'creative' (errr....?) and made nachos on some pretty tri-color chips. These were actually made with fajita fixings from a meal of the fiance's - he actually ate the rest of the beans!

Finally, I made some Brazillian feijoada stew. It's basically black beans stewed in veggies and pork with a whole orange. It's so good. I remember it from my childhood. My mom made the vegetarian version all the time. I got my vegetarian recipe from Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and just added pork. I actually fish out all the pork and keep it seperate. I then eat the dish without the pork (but including all the drippings and such). I promise others in this household are happy to eat the meat for me.

Finally, here are some of the beautiful pizzas we had at dinner the other night. This place uses all natural and as many local ingredients as possible...and they fire grill their pizzas. So good!

Otherwise, it's pretty much been the regular grind. I have my big race on Sunday and then we'll see what happens for the rest of the summer. Here's my exercise to balance all of this food!

Eating Requires Activity (ERA): Thurs swim 2000m + group power; Fri off; Sat 3 mile run + 850m outdoor swim; Sun 30 mile bike + 6.5 mile run; Mon swim 2200m; Tue 5 mile run; Wed off; Thur 1800m swim + 11 mile easy bike.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The soy dilemma

At the turn of the century, soy protein was touted as a miracle answer to our protein needs. We could now safely, easily, and conveniently eat all the meat-like product we wanted without ever touching meat. We could even add it to meat products to bulk them up and change the texture. In fact, soy was amazing. It had anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

Then, the EVILS of soy were revealed. It is PLANT ESTROGEN. It will give you breast cancer whether you're a boy or a girl. It can turn males into females. I even found this link that claims eating soy can turn male babies homosexual. Suddenly, the wonderfood was the #1 enemy.

So, what is the deal? Well, soy protein is an excellent source of protein for those who choose not to imbibe in meat (can you 'imbibe in meat'. Well, I think you can, so you can!). You should be aware that, with the protein, you get small amounts of isoflavones (a type of small molecule) that act as estrogen (a sex hormone important to development) in our bodies. These are termed 'estrogen mimics' because they aren't actually estrogen, but they can bind estrogen receptors. So, this is estradiol, the active form of estrogen:

And here are the soy isoflavones: Genistein and Daidzein

See how your body could mistake one for the other? I think it's possible.

What do these molecules do? Well, in low doses these can act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and yes, anti-cancers. In 1999, it was recommended that people eat 25 g of soy protein daily to reduce their cholesterol, and they are particularly helpful in male cancers related to testosterone, namely prostate.

However, in larger doses, these can be detrimental to our health. They start to interfere with proper hormonal signalling, and they can lead to hormone-related cancers, usually female breast and reproductive cancers, and sexual dismorphia in males and females. So, the recommended dosage was dropped to 15 g/day and isoflavones less than 100 mg/day. A good review is available here.

At first, I was really skeptical of the data. I mean, the animal studies used a lot of protein every day. It was the equivalent of a 150 lb person eating 48 grams of soy protein everyday. Which is a lot, right? But then I started thinking about how much soy has infiltrated our food chain, and I reconsidered.
 First of all, these isoflavones are not just in soy. They are in quite a few plants in low levels. For instance, they are high in coffee beans as well, and roasted, brewed coffee can have as much as 0.3 mg per 8 oz cup. Cocoa beans have them as well, and they are high in chocolate.

Second, these are fat soluble molecules, meaning that they are swimming in the soybean oil that is used heavily in industrial cooking. Maybe you don't use soybean oil at home, but if you buy processed foods, it can be in there.

Third, soy protein is in a lot of things that you don't think soy protein would be in. Frozen pizza, even Kashi or Amy's, often bulk up their crust with textured soy protein. Cereals have it. Packaged dinners. It's only recently become common to see labels on packaged goods stating the product 'contains soy' or is 'soy free'. How about your healthy granola or protein bars? Do you eat Clif bars or Luna bars? They contain 8-15g of protein, with a considerable amount coming from soy.

So, this can really add up in your diet. Let's just look at three example days and see how much soy protein can add up. Also, consider that there will be small amounts of isoflavones in many vegetables and fruits that I can't account for in these examples.

So, you eat an on-the-go breakfast, a packaged lunch, and some prepared french fries from your freezer for dinner, and you're already over the 15 g of soy protein and 100 mg of isoflavones for the day.

While I totally agree that protein supplemented cereals are the way to go, and I obviously have a love affair with Kashi Go-Lean Crunch, you should be aware that these are often supplemented with soy protein. Why? It's super shelf stable! Finally, while this day was a little extreme in terms of protein intake, a packaged lunch and dinner at a Chinese restaurant aren't really that strange for many people. How about you?

Ok, I chose this particular set of meals because, if you read the blog, you know I eat these meals. I mean, if I'm super busy, fruit & latte are a go-to. If I have a long day, a veggie burger sounds amazing. I don't always eat all of these things on the same day, but I could.

For the record, I used the 3 mg of isoflavones/g of soy protein conversion that is considered low by the USDA.

Ok, so hopefully I've given you some food for thought. I certainly am going to be more careful about my soy protein and soy product consumption, and I would encourage you to do the same.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Things I don't recommend...

...having a banana and extra large latte for breakfast (oh yeah, and I plan to have one tomorrow too!)

...feeding your card-carrying, gun-toting, Republican fiance lentil loaf (he LOVED it. It's GONE!)

...not exercising for four days and slipping into an exercise-induced funk (I'll let you check our my activity at the end of the post).

...eating 9 eggs in the course of three days (in my defense, at least 6 of those only donated their whites to my mouth).

...eating things only because they are so darn easy (boxed TJ's soup with a handful of roasted veggies and leftover lentils thrown in, the same lentils with leftover sauteed veggies.)

...eating the same thing for dinner two nights in a row...maybe three...(I didn't even take more than one picture. Tempeh stir fry).

...using goldfish crackers as your carbohydrate source (and like Britney Spears, 'Oops, I (just) did it again')

...eating things you find on your front porch (my tomato crop has come in! And porch basil!)

...waiting until the end of the post to reveal the raspberry jam winner (I just forgot, my apologies to those who receive updates!). Laura picked the name for me from a mason jar: MISSIE! 

That's all for now, here's the ERA. I should be back tomorrow with a science post.

Eating Requires Activity (ERA): Wednesday 30 min elliptical, 4 mile speedwork run; Thursday 17 mile bike, 1 hour weightlifting class; Friday-Monday I might have walked the dog...1 mile....; Tuesday 6 mile run; Wednesday 20 mile bike + 5 mile run.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Raspberry jam giveaway!

 Canning is a family legacy. When we moved to the 'Great White North' in 1996, we started a huge garden. To preserve the food we couldn't eat right away, we froze and canned the produce. My dad has downsized this year, so here are some shots of the garden and the 'can room'.

(I picked two enormous bowls of beans and peas this morning with my Dad. We were out there about an hour and filled two giant mixing bowls!)

With my parent's property came a huge amount of raspberry patches. I estimate we have 1/2 acre of raspberry bushes that produce tons of raspberries. We don't fertilize. We don't use pesticides. We don't really care if they live or die because we have YEARS of frozen raspberries and if we have a bad season, we'll finally catch up on our supply. In fact, after almost 15 years of my family living here, I really don't care for raspberries anymore.

The one exception: Raspberry jam
Honestly, you can't buy jam in the store that even compares to home-canned raspberry jam. I've been searching, and I've paid the $4-6.00/jar for a variety of organic and whole fruit varieties only to find out the ONLY thing close to what I grew up with is Crofter's

DISCLAIMER: I am in no way associated with the Ball jar promotion being held by Caitlin, Kath, and Emily right now. 
Now, lucky someone can win one 8 oz jar of this delicious raspberry jam. The giveaway starts when this post publishes...and ends Wednesday at 9am CST. Here are the ways you can enter: 

1) Comment on this post and tell us your favorite type of jam, jelly, or preserves. 
2) Link back to this post on your own blog. 
3) If you are my facebook friend, post a link to this blog on your wall or in your feed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

I made it!

After 8.5 hours of driving and only minimal traffic through Minneapolis, I made it to the great white north. My family lives in the 'orange zone' - an hour from Canada (north) and an hour from North Dakota (west). The nice thing about going this far west is that it stays light so much later, so I got in at 8:30 and it was light for a good 1.5 hours...So I got to go look at the river:

But a brother got in the way!
Then we looked at the garden:
(those are the raspberry bushes. They go on in either direction!) But another brother got in the way!

In addition to the raspberry bushes, Dad planted beans and peas, greens, beets, carrots, potatoes, a zucchini, Roma tomatoes, and bell peppers this year. We have always had a huge garden, but he decided on a smaller plot this year. It's making tons of food for my family with less stress!

Finally, a couple of shots of our animals and I'm off!

Geoff! With his murky swimming pool (he HAS fresh water everyday, but this is his swimming pool to cool him off on hot days. He lays in it half-submerged like an Alligator! I have no explanation for his desire to drink that water right now!)
Nicky! She's our crabby calico. She was a humane society rescue. We walked into a giant room of cats and this was the cat that my 6 year old brother picked (at the time) up by her tail and held upside down. She came back for more attention and we took her home.
Zhingos is black as night! She is my black-and-white cat's sister. They were all wild cats on our property and my mom tamed them with cheese. Their other sister ran away earlier this year, and we think she probably died. :( Her name was Esiban and she looked like a holstein cow.

I'm off to go to my friend's bridal shower and tonight we're making raspberry jam (remember to keep checking back for the giveaway!)! And my technology savvy brother is going to help me make a video. If it works, I'll post it.

Happy Saturday!