Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I finally cooked!

I finally got ambitious and cooked something other than eggs...and rice. Other than eggs and rice, I haven't done much in that arena for way too long.

The motivation? It's gross outside. Time for comfort food! Plus, this was super-passive comfort food. If I had a crockpot, it would've made an awesome crockpot meal! The veggies and fruit pictured above (onion, small red potatoes, carrots, apple) received a rough chop.

I then placed two chicken breasts (they were monster ta-tas!) on a greased pyrex 13x9 pan and topped with the veggie mix, minced garlic, salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme.

See the chicken hiding in there?
I then poured in chicken broth. How much?
That much. Maybe half a carton?
I popper her in the oven at 400C for 50 minutes. In the interim, I graded a quiz and I ate my dessert first (3 hershey's kisses, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 1/4 c oats - microwave 30 seconds, eat. Try it!) Then I raised the temp to 450 for the last 10 minutes and got the golden brown look going on.
Veg and chicken. It's a huge plate, so I'm sorry it looks like a tiny portion. I also have tons of leftovers to last me all week!

This was perfect for me because I'm a chicken-phobe. First, I don't really like to eat meat, so I'm more than happy to eat beans, eggs, veggies, protein powder for most of my protein sources. However, I get super low energy when I don't eat any meat, so I like to pepper it in occasionally. Since I started living alone, my meat consumption has been limited to deli lunchmeat. I have a whole bag of chicken in the freezer, so I thought one huge dish of chicken that can be eaten all week would do me well. And I only had to touch it once and it only touched one dish, and that dish got up to temp and can't be filled with salmonella. Chicken-phobe, see?

Plus, if I don't like the way the chicken tastes later, I can always respice it and repurpose it in tacos, bbq, salsa chicken, etc. Don't believe me? Tune back in!

Also a teaching tidbit: I teach biochemistry and biochemistry lab at a small state school in Minnesota. At this school, they are a little behind-the-times in equipment, so they actually have a lab for the students to do that involves pureeing raw chicken in blenders and extracting an enzyme (a special type of protein) from the raw chicken. OMG. The fiance laughed so hard when I told him this was the first thing I was going to change in my curriculum for next year. Imagine, 110 students over 5 days (we run labs Monday-Friday), 4 blenders, and 7 chicken breasts. I will be rocking the lysol spray that week in class!

Ok, take care. Do you have any food phobias?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crazy, crazy, craziness

Well. I'm getting busy again. I'm the kind of busy where my to-do list is so long that it literally doesn't matter what I do because even the smallest task gets something checked off the list. This is roughly the same situation I had when I was finishing my Ph.D. Neverending work! At least now I have some fun students to keep me entertained.

I teach biochemistry, which may sound terrifying, but is pretty fun. I do a lot of inclass activities, so I figure I'll share them with you all after we do them. I'll explain what's going on, since many of the topics assume a strong chemistry background. But that could be fun...maybe we'll all learn something?

Otherwise, this is what I've been up to:
Still carrying my ratchet...gotta get that bike looked at!

I'm a terrible food blogger lately. I ate the marinated chicken, veggies, and rice I told about for about three days straight. I ran out last night, so I had to think fast in order to have a lunch to pack. My friend Maggie makes a lot of frittatas, so I asked her via gchat if she could tell me what to do. So I sauteed some onion, yellow pepper, and zucchini together in a pan with some fresh basil and oregano...took a picture...and promptly forgot to take pics of the rest. So, the final product in a very unglamorous tupperware is what you get. Final product had 4 eggs, some parmesan, and around 1 oz of chopped turkey lunchmeat. It is actually pretty good. Eggs do the trick! I added a salad for fiber, but I think I needed more carbs. I was starving 3 hours later.
 I found this super tiny bottle of balsamic for my office. That's a 6 oz coffee mug (You can see an 8oz one in white in the background). I usually bring salad dressings and condiments in little plastic bags, but vinegar smells terrible in the trash. 90% of the time I just want a splash of balsamic anyway. I figure I can bring a baggie when I want something else!
 I'm also back on the soda bandwagon after pretty much being soda-free all summer. I used to allow myself to get it when we went out for a meal, but lately I have been craving it so badly. The interesting thing is that they contain so much sodium and I can tell that I feel thirstier after I drink one. So, I drink a lot of water, too. In my awesome metal waterbottle (gotta love race swag). But soda is a 'treat', albeit calorie-free.
Yes, still a coffee fiend too, but just in the AM and usually about half the travel mug. Coffee isn't that bad for you (I drink it black), and I keep the rest of my caffeine in check.

Finally, the weather sucks here. Humidity came back and is killing my hair. I can't get a good hair day for anything....
Frizzy even post-flatironing!

Going to a wedding back in Iowa this weekend and then we'll see what's up for next week. Take care blog-world!
Anybody have a cure for humidity-frizz?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (a review)

Friday night was a celebration of being far enough ahead in my classes to reward myself with a movie. Having already determined that the DVD I had from Netflix was terrible (Time Traveler's Wife...ugh. I am way too much a scientist for that crappy movie. No offense if you liked it), I went to the internetwebs to find something that might be streaming. I found 'Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.'

To be honest, this was actually not a typical movie choice for me. I might be a food/healthy lifestyle blogger, but there are a lot of movements that I don't generally buy into. For instance, I'm not a huge fan of 'The Biggest Loser'. Why? I think they do a great service for morbidly obese people to get them to a point where they can then do 'normal' activities without difficulty, but the lifestyle they teach is not something that can be maintained in the long run. There have been finalists and winners that relapse back hundreds of pounds. Those people go back to their jobs, their families, and their food and need to be able to cope when a literal and figurative carrot isn't dangling in front of them.

I also really dislike one-sided arguments. Michael Moore movies bother me (I don't like people who yell a lot in general). I have read Michael Pollan's books, and the best thing about them is that in one he admits that he doesn't have all the answers. Because I think food, food policy, and the social aspects of food complicate the story in ways that he never gets to. I will say that I really enjoyed 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution' series, but that's because he really exposed America's problem with food in a new way and had to 'learn on the go' how to reach people.

Ok, so now I've let you in on why I generally wouldn't choose this movie. But I did, and so you probably want the synopsis and the review.

Joe Cross suffers from an autoimmune disorder that is making his life miserable. He has tried all of the modern and alternative medicines that he can find, and nothing is helping. He decides to drastically change his diet via a 60 day juice fast, which he does while facing his enemy in the food-lover's haven: the USA. Along the way he interacts with a variety of people, talking about food, lifestyle, and morbidity and mortality. He also recruits two 'real world' examples of everyday people to try his method.

Hopefully I didn't give too much away! Ok, the review: 

-Joe Cross is likeable. He doesn't come off as pompous. He's a little self-depricating. He's understanding when people disagree with him. 

-He seeks and acquires the correct medical supervision. 
-The auto-immune disorder gives him a good case for removing unnecessary stimuli in the form of food from his diet. 

-He talks with experts. One expert, Joel Fuhrman, who is a medical doctor, has built his career around a new food pyramid with a plant basis. This isn't a vegetarian or vegan food pyramid. It's just a new way of thinking about food consumption (and the fiance will attest: even though I had no idea about this pyramid, it's how I cook and eat). Here is the pyramid: 

He also did a study correlating diet to weight loss, cardiovascular health, and metabolite counts (like cholesterol, triglycerides) from patients following this diet vs. a traditional food pyramid diet over 6mos-2 years in treatment. Those patients following this plant-based pyramid lost and kept off the most weight. Here is a link to the study summary: Plant based High Nutrient Diet and Weight Loss.

-He gets regular people to try it and they like the results. They stick with the program. This will become more important when I get to the things I wasn't crazy about.

-He never talks about calorie consumption. He isn't trying to sell you a 1200 calorie diet. One of the regular people weighs over 400 lbs. He gets to start by drinking more juice. Obviously, 400 lbs requires more fuel than a 200 lb person. 

-The juicer he uses isn't fancy-schmancy. It's a Breville. You can buy them at any big-box store. He does have this battery generator that lets him juice out of the back of his car, but that's not neccesary. One of the regular people in the film just juices enough to fill a pitcher in the morning and carries it around with him for the rest of the day. It shows two reasonable ways to juice all day if that's what you're going to do.

-He doesn't demonize specific foods or the people who eat them. 

Not for me
-Juicing as your only source of food? I don't think it's necessary. However, juice does contain less fiber than whole fruits and vegetables, so it will be better for people who are transitioning from a low-fiber diet. One of the regular people talks pretty candidly about her GI problems when transitioning to the juice fast. The influx of 'micronutrients' really does a number on the osmotic pressure in your intestines. Diarrhea is a normal side effect. (Want more details? How diarrhea and food poisoning works)

-He never talks about calorie consumption. We all know that if you want to lose weight, calories in << calories out, right? Well, that's never addressed. The experts claim that you don't really have to measure calories because the nutrient dense foods keep you full, but I'm going to say that people can still gain weight with that mentality. I am a bigger fan of the counting calories (at least initially) or listening to your body and understanding how that correlates to calorie consumption.

-He's really very wealthy. He can fly to the US on almost no notice. He's spent his lifetime building his wealth, and while he does work, he is the boss of his work. In fact, only one of his regular people continued to work during the fast. And one of his regular people actually decided to change jobs because of this lifestyle change (was a truck driver, now works at the YMCA). This is probably not a good lifestyle for those of us who work 40+ hours per week or are in a transitional period of our lives because it requires so much dedication and control.

-While all three of the people profiled in this documentary had major medical problems that are not understood by modern medicine: migraines & auto-immune disorders. I definitely think a healthy lifestyle is a way to keep these problems under control and that weight loss is going to help regulate the way your body responds to stimuli, but I don't think a juice fast is the only way to do it.

-Finally, I am afraid this is going to become a weight-loss gimmick. And it shouldn't be.

Ok, so my final grade for this movie was B+. 

Not too much propaganda. Involved real, everyday people (from Iowa!) and was narrated by an approachable enough person. It was fun to watch. You wanted people to succeed. And there wasn't too much demonization of specific foods or the people who ate them.

What is your favorite diet or food and lifestyle philosophy?

Monday, August 22, 2011


...Balanced dinner:


+ 2 slices turkey and cheese and mustard rollups (added 30 minutes later)

A balanced dinner! ...right? 

 And now my brain is so overwhelmed that I'm watching shows meant for tweens!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A new kind of lifestyle

I have survived my first week of work! In fact, I feel alert, exhilarated, and really, really tired. BUT this job is more wonderful than I could've imagined. Here are the highlights (and some exercise, science, and food fun thrown in).

I live 3/4 of a mile from work, which is about a 15 minute walk or a 10 minute bike ride including all the crossings. The 'Steel Beast' is still acting up, so I carry a ratchet  with me. Yes, I'm that awesome. I'm the girl with a ratchet. Anyway, it's kind of awesome to have 20-30 minutes of exercise build into my day.

Living separately from the fiance is lame and boring. I eat the same things everyday because no one tells me that I can't.

...that said, I've lost weight again and it might be from the food and it might be from the exercise. Either way, I would really enjoy another 10 lbs off this semester.We'll see if that happens for me.

So, this is what I normally eat:

Bed of spinach, rice, salmon, Japanese eggplant sauteed in teryaki sauce.

Oh! And I found this preservative free and amazing soy-sauce. It's kosher...and MSG free...maybe it might be ok for people who are sensitive to MSG? In any case, it was low calorie and tasted amazing as well. Two points for SoyVei!

Ok, I lied. I don't actually cook like that most of the time. I make a giant pot of rice and MOST of my meals are rice/beans/lettuce/salsa with the occasional treat of cheese or avocado. Delicious, but not the most interesting.Or photogenic.

Moving on...
This is kind of what I wear to work. Slacks with a dressed-down top OR jeans with a dressed up top. I tried a totally dressed up look for my first day, but decided it was too much...

Cute, but too dressy. I'll save it for another occasion.

I have a giant office (wheeeeeeee!!) and more drawers than I know what to do with, but I do have several predetermined drawers:
1) Tenure drawer: For documents that will win me job security.
2) Class drawer: For students that I advise and documents associated with the classes I teach.
3) Administration drawer: For things that I better not lose OR ELSE!
4) Snack drawer. Because by 4pm I need a snack. My favorite addition:

I also have some PB filled pretzels and some dried pineapple. These get me to 5-6pm and the commute home.

Speaking of food, lunch was provided every day this week. Luckily, academia usually promotes healthier lifestyles, so they had good arrays of cut fruits, veggies, and usually some kind of sandwich-type foods. It was fine, but my veggie consumption was pretty narrow (especially since I ate beans and rice with salad for dinner 3 nights out of four). So, I'm determined to do a little better next week. I did a little prep work this morning in anticipation:
Cut Honeydew
My dad left this at my house when he came last week. He also left the appropriate chicken to marinade, too (thanks Dad!). So, I'm marinating some chicken...
...and a big pot of rice to go with it (and obviously required for beans + rice when I run out of chicken).
My dad also left a bunch of zucchini, peppers, and onions so I figured I can make a chopped veggie hash to go with the chicken. 
Cleaned fruits and veggies for juices

Yummmm....this one had some kale from the fridge in it. And a nib of ginger. 

Finally, I'm making pesto for quick weeknight dinners. The beauty of pesto is that you can freeze it, unlike fresh basil. The oil (and I only use 1-2 tbsp in a double batch) allows the volatiles that give basil its amazing taste to go into the mix

It has a 1-year shelf life, but I doubt it'll last that long. Think about it...as a spread to jazz up some sandwiches, marinade some chicken or pork, or tossed with pasta + beans + tomatoes for a lovely side dish. Yummmm! 

Ok friends, I have to go study....
Oh yeah. I might be done with my formal education, but I'll never be done studying. That particular binder contains the details of our health, dental, life insurance policies as well as our retirement plans. I have to make choices, but this is not my forte....so it's time to study up!

How do you prepare for the upcoming week?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Extreme Makeover: Steel Beast Edition

I couldn't help it. The name was just too fun :)

My lovely bike, 'Steel Beast', got it's 'ultimate commuter' makeover to become my 'go-to-work' bicycle.

This bike was in tough shape. You can't see the damage from this angle, but here are some closeups:

The seat was all torn up...

The chain was rusted and the gears were all out of whack.

This bike was once a great bike: it is an old steel touring bicycle from the 80's. It once saved my life, as I was hit by a car (T-boned) and the bicycle took damaged, but it and that in itself probably saved my life. I was thrown off rather than pinned under a car. Since then, it's taken a few winters outside and sustained some damage. But I saw that it could once again be great. 

I took it to the bike shop and got a new chain, new gear lines, and got it tuned. I then got on the internet and ordered some 'ultimate commuter' accessories. I got some saddlebag baskets and a new seat. Check out the Steel Beast!
I took him out for an inaugural ride a while ago...

And during that ride, the pedal bolt broke!AhhhhH!

The exact bolt couldn't be found at the hardware store, but I think I have something that will work in the short term. Hopefully my 'fast-fix' holds for the 0.75 mile commute in the morning!