Saturday, January 09, 2016

Day 9/31: a Cold NO-ADDED-SUGAR day

It is mighty cold today! Minus 41C. Is it really that cold? Yes it is. It's Winnipeg after all. 

I thought back to yesterday and wondered why I was so hungry in the afternoon. I concluded that I did not have sufficient breakfast to start the day and throughout the day, I did not drink enough fluids. I usually have a cup of coffee at breakfast and if I have another one, it's about 10:00 am. 

I think it was more thirst rather than hunger I was feeling in the afternoon, and instead of drinking a large cup of tea or water, I had a cup of coffee instead (a bit of a a diuretic) and didn't even drink all of it. I came home and had a piece of cheese but again, nothing to drink. The slight saltiness of the cheese may have contributed to my thirst too. Finally, after making an avocado and almond milk shake, I felt full. This bit of reflection on yesterday is hopefully going to make me recognize thirst and not confuse it with hunger. 

This morning, I decided that I would spend the day reading but of course I decided to bake.This time some mini quiches but with no crust. It turned out wonderfully and of  I am collecting almond meal from the almond milk I am making so I dry and make almond flour with it. I have to find creative ways to use it. Hence the crustless quiches. This one had a small amount of smoked turkey, spinach, onion, feta cheese, almond meal, garlic chives, cheddar cheese and of course eggs seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley and powdered chives. I made the powdered chives from dehydrating a whole lot of chives from my garden this fall and it provides a nice hit of mild onion flavour in dishes without the chunks of onions.   

Mini quiche with almond meal

With feta cheese

A bit of cheddar

Yummy baked crustless mini quiche 

Ready to eat. Yum! 
I watched my usual cooking shows on PBS while enjoying a real fire in my fireplace. I read another recipe book about sugar-free cooking and baking. This was a bit of a waste of time because the substitutes they use have equal amounts of fructose as regular sugar. Naturally occurring sugar in dried fruit is still a large amount of sugar and because it's called honey or maple syrup does not mean it's not sugar. I also spent some time reviewing accreditation documents in preparation for my visit to Jamaica in two weeks.  All in all, it was a good day despite the cold weather. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Day 8/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR but I was hungry

No added sugar today but I was hungry in the afternoon. Not sure why. I tried drinking more water but that didn't seem to help. I got up and walked and I walked a few extra hallways at lunchtime but that didn't help either. Made an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon but neither did that. I came home and had some chickpeas and a small piece of cheese. Somewhat satiated but I should have more water or a cup of tea. 

I had a later than usual breakfast. Usually I have breakfast before I go to work but today I didn't feel like it so I took it to work, boiled eggs and a 1/2 of a thin bun. I had that about 9:00 am and should have had my half of avocado but I didn't feel like eating that so it came back home. Healthy fat is probably what I needed since this morning. 

For lunch I had chicken and broccoli and some of my chia parfait with some cantaloupe. I walked about 7500 steps so that may have accounted for the bit of hunger. Plus I did not drink enough water and sometimes thirst can feel like hunger. 

I came home and drained my batch of kefir I started last night. I use a lot of it as it is an excellent probiotic. I usually drain it a bit more so that it is the consistency of Greek yogurt and mentioned in a previous post that I have a new concoction of mixing part drained kefir and part feta cheese with some herbs and spices for a veggie dip. Cuts down on the salt of the feta and gives the kefir a boost of flavour. 

Untrained kefir

Drained kefir

I did my 4,000 steps after dinner of butter chicken and rice with some roasted sweet potatoes. Before dinner though, I blended my half avocado with some almond milk and had a drink to tide me over. It looked like a liquidy version of a green smoothie but it was a more minty colour. Should have taken a picture. Next time. That felt so good that I had less supper than I was feeling like about half hour before. 

It's cold tonight so I brought in some firewood, lit a fire and had a cosy rest while reading a few books I borrowed from the library on sugar-free cooking. I browsed through the first one and it was a dud - lots of recipes with dried fruits or large quantities of sugar substitutes and other forms of sugar like maple syrup, honey and agave syrup. That's not helpful if one is trying to cut down on sugar. Calling it by another name or using large quantities of substitutes is definitely not the way to go.

Okay, that was my rant. Maybe I need to publish some of my recipes that use less sweetener of any kind. That's a great idea Sandra....

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Day 7/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR day 7 completed

It was a busy day today with meetings and more meetings. A bit better than yesterday which was 3 hours of meetings in the morning and another 3 hours in the afternoon. I suppose it keeps me distracted enough but it sure makes for a long day when I have to sit that long. 

I have aVaridesk Proplus 36 which allows me to sit or stand and work. I have an app that I programmed to remind me to stand for 40 minutes and sit for 20 minutes of every hour. It works really well and makes my day seem to go much quicker. 

With meetings most of the day, I did manage to take some time to get more than half of my steps in. By the time I got home, I had done about 7,500 so it was only another 4,000 after dinner. It's 8:30 and I've done 12,000. 

I've been sharing my journey on Facebook and I am getting encouragement from my friends which helps keep the motivation high. Another huge bonus was getting my Fitbit badge for completing climbing 14,000 floors!!! It's actually 14,015 floors as of tonight. a floor is about 13 stairs but I have noticed that the Fitbit doesn't count the stairs if you have not done 13 in a row - meaning that some of the sets don't get counted if there are only 10 or 11 in the set. Not to worry. If I've done that many even without counting many sets, I feel I am still getting the health benefits. 

Now that total sounds unrealistic but I accumulated that number over almost exactly 3 years. My total mileage is 2,760. That's 4,471 kilometres! I am thoroughly impressed with myself but I know I can do better so I am working toward that. 

If you have a Fitbit, you'll know how excited you get when you receive a badge. The only thing is that the longer you have it, the harder it is to earn the badges. I have my 2,500 mile badge (earned in October) but the next one is 2,983 and I am about 200 miles away from earning that one. If I do 4 miles a day, I'll earn it in another 50 days which would take me till almost the end of February. That's too long. If I do 5 miles a day, I can earn it in 40 days. That will take me to about Feb 18 when I am basking in the sun in Mexico. 

Maybe that's too long of a goal. I'll try for 100 miles which I should do while I am in Jamaica in the last week of January. This one is not a vacation. It's work - kind of. I was invited by a quality assurance agency of the Jamaican government to do an accreditation visit to an educational institution in Kingston. It should take 3 days so I am not sure how much free time I'll have to walk and how or where I'll do the walking. I am sure I'll have some of that information soon. 

Now for my sugar-free progress: I had another successful day and no cravings. I did feel hungry when I came home but I had a piece of cheese (no crackers which I would do) and a few cashew nuts and I was fine. 

I made another set of almond milk this evening but I used a 1:5 ratio instead of the 1:4 that Vitamix recommends because it tasted a bit rich or maybe it's because I soak the chia seeds in it the night before and the mixture is thickened by the time I eat it the next day. 

I've gotten used to the taste of it which is quite surprising because I am such a milk lover. I would drink gallons of full-fat milk if I had the chance but only restrain myself because I have bought into the "fat is bad" message. Well, I made it through another day and realize that I am doing okay because I am not spending oodles of time planning what to eat and when to eat it, 

What's helping a great deal is menu planning (this is not new), packing a healthy lunch (neither is this) and not mindlessly snacking when I get home from work (not doing this is a new strategy). Tomorrow it's butter chicken for dinner. Looking forward to that. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Day 6/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR day completed

Now that I am doing my 31 days of no-added-sugar, I am hearing a lot about the impact of sugar in our diets. I am not sure if this is 2016 version of the "Low fat" craze of the 90s or the "lower your salt intake" of the early 2000s. I was not a big salt eater but I did lower my salt intake about 10 years ago and now I really can't eat salty foods or even foods with too much salt. 

Today I was listening to the news on CBC and the journalist referenced a study in the UK 
Linking between sugary drinks and obesity and how the government is planning to tax soft drinks. He also noted that the AVERAGE CANADIAN CHILD CONSUMES ABOUT 33 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR EACH DAY FROM JUICE AND SOFT DRINKS!   It is hard to believe. 33 teaspoons. That's about 3/4 of a cup of sugar - each day!  

I used to subscribe to a newsletter called Nutrition Action (Canadian version). It was one of the best health newsletters I ever subscribed to. They take no government or private funding  so they are completely independent and give the best information. They are also great advocates for healthy eating in every form. Unfortunately the Canadian version is no longer viable (as of last month) but if you can subscribe to the US version which is not the same but would likely be helpful generally. Check out some of the archived articles anyway - which are free. 

Now for my report of my day today. I had a great breakfast of sardines and toast. Yes. Sardines. For. Breakfast. And I make sure I brushed my teeth again before leaving for work. So no sardine breath at work. 

It was a busy day of back to back meetings but I did manage to go for my lunch time walk with my colleagues. If I aim to complete 6,000 steps at work each day, I'll only have to do another 5,500 when I get home. So that's going to be my goal each day. Not always successful - especially with all day meetings but I am going to make every effort to do that. 

For lunch, I had some black bean pasta and chicken stirfry and my chia parfait with raspberries and black berries. For a mid afternoon snack, I had some cut up carrots and feta/kefir dip and half a clementine (similar to tangerine). Not mandarin oranges. Don't like those. I love the Moroccan clementines best but they are hard to source. The California ones are a reasonable substitute. 

On my way home, I was feeling a bit peckish so I opened a bag of crunch peas (from Costco and only 100 calories per pack) and nibbled on those. For dinner, I had curried chicken and roti. Preferred that over rice. As I said, I am doing no added sugar but that is not the same as no carbs, although I eat whole grain carbs when I do. I am trying to eat more veggies - at least for this month. If I am successful, I'll continue next month. 

It's 9:30 PM and no sugar was added. As an added pat on the back, I've reached my 11,507 steps and will likely do another 500 before I go into bed. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Day 5/31: Another NO-ADDED-SUGAR day

I went to bed late last night and woke up early knowing that I would feel tired from insufficient sleep but it was not a bad day at all.

How did I start my day? Feeling like my skirt this morning was a tad bit looser than it regularly fits. One of the side benefits of no added sugar may be a looser waistband at the end of this month and I hope to carry it on for another two months.

I had boiled eggs and half of a toasted ciabatta bun for breakfast and while there was a half a Bartlett pear, I decided to take it to work for a mid morning snack with my chai and almond kefir parfait. Yes you read that right. I made kefir with some of my almond milk. It turned out fine but it's a bit too much to be doing with also making regular milk kefir.

For lunch I had a stirfry with black bean pasta and lots of cruciferous veggies - broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and some bell peppers. I used some of my homemade pesto and it smelled delish when I was heating it up.

For an afternoon snack, I had some carrots and snap peas with a dip I made from half feta cheese and have Greek-style kefir (meaning I strained the kefir overnight through a coffee filter until it was thick and spreadable like mascarpone cheese).  This is something I usually make but had not mixed it with feta which I love but is somewhat too salty for me.

A very long overdue (by about 3 weeks) visit to my chiropractor this afternoon had me in quite a bit of discomfort at supper so that meal as very light - eggplant with shrimp and potatoes. Oh, and two Aleve pills for the pain and inflammation that was built up for more than a month. Oouch.  

Early bed for me tonight but first I have to get my 3,000 additional steps  to meet my 11,500 step goal. 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Day 4/31: Successful NO-ADDED-SUGAR day

This was my first day back to work after a two week break. I usually start my day with a full breakfast. I plan a weekly menu to help take the guess work out of meals. I tray to standardize breakfast so that twice a week I have eggs,  toast, a piece of fruit and a coffee with milk; twice a week I have a bowl of oatmeal, a piece of fruit, a cup of coffee and if I am am still feeling hungry, a piece of cheese, and a slice of home-made loaf (or I sometimes take this for a mid-morning snack). Once a week I have fish - sardines or salmon and toast. I know you might think having sardines for breakfast is weird but I love sardines anytime of day and since I can't really take it to work, and it is not really food for dinner, I have it for breakfast. Same with salmon. Mine is canned salmon with sauteed onions and some hot pepper but some of you probably have lox, cream cheese and bagels for breakfast. Similar except for the salt. 

Today it was steel-cut oatmeal and I took some mini zucchini muffins for my mid-morning snack. I plan lunches too and today it was some black bean pasta (made entirely from black beans and available from Costco), a piece of turkey, a small amount of my chia parfait with extra ground flax. I had some veggies with kefir dip for a mid afternoon snack. 

Take note that there was not a single thing with added sugar. So far, I am doing well. I did a little over 6,000 steps at work so when I came home I watched Young and Restless and did another 4,000 so I've reached my goal for today of 10,000. By the time I go to bed, I'll probably do an extra 1,200 which will take me to 8 km today. I changed my goal today from 10,000 steps per day to 11,300 which is exactly 8 km. If I accomplish that, I'll be pleased. 

For dinner, I had turkey divan, baked sweet potatoes and squash and a small piece of sourdough garlic toast. Yum! 

I spent some time tonight cleaning up some computer files and uninstalling some useless programs and then I packed up my china cabinet to get ready for installation of hardwood flooring next Monday. Those things kept me distracted enough not to want anything sweet to eat tonight. Another successful No-sugar-Added day plus 11,500 steps. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Day 3/31: Successful NO ADDED SUGAR day

My day started a bit slowly as I could not think of what to do first. This is the last day of my holiday break and I've not given any thought to preparing for work tomorrow. That's a good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks off and spending the time cooking and playing with my grandkids. 

I felt a sense of accomplishment that yesterday was not as hard as I thought it might be. I was not confident this morning that I could get through today with no added sugar. My strategy was to focus on one meal or snack at a time rather than trying to visualize the entire day. That seemed to be a good strategy as it is now 8:00 PM and I have not had a sugar craving all day. 

For breakfast, I had my chia/oatmeal/almond milk parfait with raspberries and I took my time tasting the fresh berries. At this time of year, imported berries are not so great but these are excellent. I also had a cup of coffee with my almond milk. 

My cousin Eddie thought the chia mix looked like sago and it does in some small way. I grew up drinking sago and loved it but the grains these days are too small and get mushy before they are cooked. Cooked sago is quite similar to bubble tea but sago comes from the sago palm and bubble tea is made from tapioca which is made from cassava. 

Later in the morning, I made some more almond milk and I have no idea what I did differently from the first batch, but I had a whole lot more almond meal that I did with the first set. I dehydrated it in the oven and stored for later use. 

For lunch, I had sauteed chicken livers and a mini-flax muffin that I made (no flour; entirely from ground flax). The liver was from a large chicken that I cut up for curry. I made some mini zucchini fritters using some of my almond meal. They'll be good for breakfast during the week. 

For dinner we had curried chicken and half a roti I am trying to keep the carbs to small amounts but I am not really abstaining. Refined sugar for sure but not all carbs.

I have to complete my 10,000 steps for today so I will treat myself to some Downton Abbey while I complete my steps and have my cup of green tea.