Once Upon a Fat Girl

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Another step

We paid off another credit card today. What a fabulous feeling! And it looks like we'll (if we get our tax return and don't spend anything extra) be able to pay off another one in February. That just leaves one, and we only need to get that one down to where we've only used 75% of the balance before we can start looking for a pre-approval for a house.

Now if only the housing market would cooperate.

I get so frustrated and angry when I hear the idiots on the news talk about how the housing market has hit bottom and will start "recovering" soon. Recovering from a place where rents are still half a mortgage payment? Recovering from a place where most Americans couldn't buy the houses they live in today. Where most Americans can't afford to buy a house, even with a median income.

I just saw on the news the other day where for the first time most people in the 24 to 35 age group can't afford to be homeowners.

And this is the bottom? We need to recover from the slight (very slight) return to sanity that we've seen so far?

My hope is that our house will come on the market this spring, and that when it doesn't sell by the summer, the owners will be ready to sell for less.

Four bedrooms, a basement, a fireplace, at least three acres.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Food: Jan. 26, 2007

I shop at Sunflower Market. It's a sort of Whole Foods/corner grocery hybrid that takes some pride in offering organic options. The organic produce bin is like a beautiful surprise every week.

If I go early in the morning, I have the best choices. This time of year there are plenty of juicy pears and gorgeous apples. Squash and potatoes, too. If I'm lucky there are some California tomatoes. Greens, cabbage and broccoli are abundant in the fall.

The other, non-organic bins have green beans and plenty of tomatoes, bananas, oranges, mangos, peppers, plums and peaches. All the crops that love the sun and grow well all year in Peru, Mexico and Chile.

Seeing them is sort of like teasing myself with little shakes at my Christmas gifts.

Because I've made a commitment to feed my family organic foods grown as close to us as I can manage.

So beans and oranges and peppers will have to weight until the summer. Buying seasonally is a byproduct of buying organic and local. If California isn't getting berries, neither am I.

I'm surprised to find myself feeling a sort of joy at going to the organic bin every Saturday and seeing what it has to offer me. If there are California tomatoes, I carefully choose half a dozen and feel grateful for them.

This week, for the first time, I bit the bullet and bought organic milk. It costs more than twice what a gallon of regular milk costs. And for a while I've been using the fact that I can buy a local dairy's milk as an excuse not to buy organic. But my baby gets at least half her calories from milk still and I can't keep feeding her hormones and antibiotics and god-only-knows what else in an effort to save $5 or $6 a week.

I can't find organic crackers that don't cost the Earth, so I skip them. I like to buy Paul Newman's stuff because I can count on it to cost good and not cost too much, plus it goes on sale fairly often and he donates his proceeds to good causes. And everyone always said my mother had Paul Newman eyes--bright blue and intelligent--so when I buy his stuff I think of her.

In the month since I've been shopping this way, I've noticed a few things. I don't feel as entitled to oranges in January as I used to. I don't waste food, the good stuff is too expensive. I feel much more connected to what I'm eating, mainly because I'm paying attention to where it came from and what went into making it.

My little farm is so perfectly framed in my mind. I can see my orchard and my big vegetable garden. And the chicken coop and my little goat barn. And my beautiful greenhouse attached to the south side of the house. My herb garden and a big patch of cut flowers.

Every time I buy the kind of food I want to grow, and offer, myself someday, I feel like I'm taking a step toward my dream.

Gaia's Garden

My ex-husband's mother (who lives in Ely and whom I've been close to since I was 15) called today to tell me that her neighbor got all excited about my CSA and wants to join!

Okay, so I don't have a CSA (yet) and I don't know how to grow enough food to feed us, much less anyone else (yet)...but still, how exciting is that? The woman whose CSA we're joining this spring told me her children live in Ely and would join as well.

Here's my dream:

A nice big farm house, about five acres of land (I'd say more if we lived somewhere where the extra acres might be wooded or a pond or something, but in Nevada it's all wide-open rangeland. Even in the mountains.) I want to build a big chicken coop, a small barn and a greenhouse.

Because I love to make the gods laugh, here's my Big Plan:

Between now and the end of April pay off $8000 of debt. Our tax return will help.

Between May and August save as much money as possible.

Find our perfect place just in time for the kids to start school in Ely. I go back and forth on this one, because I believe the housing market is going to come down some this fall, so it's tempting to wait a bit longer to buy.

I have to do some research about when we can plant fruit trees. If possible, I'd love to get an orchard in this late summer/early fall. And build a chicken coop before it gets cold so we can get chicks next spring. And maybe till up a big garden and get a cover crop planted on it.

I'm tempted to want to have a barn built this fall as well so we can get goats in the spring, but I'm thinking one barnyard animal at a time might be wiser.

And a greenhouse. Oh, how I want a greenhouse.

I spend a lot of time daydreaming about my little farm. About a beehive in the orchard, my kids picking berries right off our vines. About my neighbors coming by to pick up their weekly produce and eggs. I dream about little pygmy goats that get excited to see me, and a hutch of rabbits for my baby girl to feed and pet. I even dream about spreading all that organic fertilizer over my beautiful garden. Oh, and a basement pantry filled with lovely jewel-like jars of put-up tomatoes and beans and ocra and carrots.

So we're taking our first steps toward the first thing that has to happen--debt paid off. This month we've paid off our two smallish debts, leaving two large ones that (I can hear the gods laughing now) we should be able to pay off, with the help of our tax return, in three months. Paying off these four debts will open up an extra $400 a month, which will really help when it comes time to get approved for a loan.

Friday, January 26, 2007

An Embarassment of Riches

I spent a lot of time and energy today trying to figure out a way to move my family to Ely, into a house with enough land for a little farm, in the next eight or nine months. During that time we'll be able to pay off all of our debt and save about $10,000.

And then I turned on my television tonight and caught a 20/20 about kids living in Camden, New Jersey. Did anyone else see this show. Camden is the poorest city in America (average annual income of $18,000) and the most dangerous. It looks like a war zone. Fucking heartbreaking.

How is it possible that in this country there are kindergarteners that people eat three meals a day? Or that there are children living without heat. People who have to choose between shoes or food for their babies. Homeless five-year-olds or middle school kids who are so poor they don't even know what to wish for.

I had a fairly privileged childhood--I grew up in a nice house in Southern California where I went to good schools and had more than enough of everything. We moved to Las Vegas when I was 15 and for a while things were still pretty good.

Then my dad went to jail. My teenage years were spent trying to figure out a way to graduate from high school while working full-time to supplement my step-mother's appallingly low teacher's salary and taking care of six brothers and a sister while the same step-mother was drinking her troubles away.

I got pregnant when I was twenty, again when I was twenty-two, and two years after that my husband left. I spent the next five years as a single mom.

Now I'm married to a man who works and works and works...then works some more...so that the end of this summer I can have a farm in Ely.

So I've been on both ends. So poor that I was opening cans of corn to feed my baby brothers because that's all we had in the house. And so rich that watching a show about poor kids makes me feel a little queasy.

I've been thinking a lot about the class structure in this country. And how much easier it is to pretend it doesn't exist. How much simpler it is to say "those parents need to get a job." Anyone can succeed in America, right?

Capitalism breeds contempt for the poor, I think. Our president proposed a plan during his State of the Union address to give a tax break to those who buy their own health insurance, and never mentions the millions and millions of Americans--people he is charged with leading and protecting--who will not be helped (and likely will be hurt) by his plan. They are too poor for his tax break to matter. He wages war without raising taxes, insuring a huge burden for the next generation. Probably the one after that, too. A fraction of the cost of his war could give health insurance and food to every American. He wants billions to rehabilitate Afghanistan when there are places like Camden right here?

My family makes about 150% of the national median family income. We don't come close to being able to afford the median house (not just for our town, but for the nation.) The national median house costs about $225,000--our income qualifies us for about $180,000 using the three-times-annual-income rule of thumb.

And yet on the news everyday I hear some idiot or the other saying that the market has stabilized, prices will start to go up again now. Like that's a good thing? It's a good thing for prices to go up when the average American family can't afford to own a decent home? When so many of those who do own homes have loans that are so screwy they aren't likely to hold on when they reset this year.

Even if you work hard, go to college, get a decent job--owning an average American home is out of the picture unless you make two or three times the median family income.

Don't get me started about the Senate tossing out the minimum wage hike because tax breaks weren't included. Or the chick on MSNBC who said families earning more than $80,000 are the middle class.

WTF. Seriously. Just WTF is going on? There is a huge disconnect in our country, and it scares me to see how little the people in charge care.

You know what? I'm pissed off. And I'm sad. And I'm scared for us.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Food: Jan. 24, 2007

I'm trying to incorporate new grains (and other foods) into my family's diet. I'm also noticing a sort of trend toward vegetarianism. Not a cold-turkey thing--just a preference to not eat meat more than once a day. Even to skip it all together some days. Part of that is my recent awareness of what I'm eating. I don't want to eat the cheap meat from my local grocery store. (Have you read Diet for a New America by John Robbins? Yeah. Read it.) Organic, natural meat that isn't full of hormones and where the animal actually got to be an animal during its life is EXPENSIVE.

So the point of all that is to let ya'll know I made quinoa.

Quinoa is a tiny little seed-like grain that is full of protein. It's very healthful and excellent for vegetarians because of the protein. You make it like rice--2 to 1 liquid to grain, steamed.

Here's how I did it:

Mediterranean Quinoa Goodness

1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetarian stock
1 each yellow, red and green bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup tiny grape tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
1 small white onion (or half a larger one)
olive oil
1/3 cup pepitas (shelled, roasted pumpkin seeds)

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Chop the peppers, garlic and onion fairly small. Add the chopped veggies, cranberries and tomatoes to the pan. The tomatoes will split and sort of break down in the pan. When that happens, add the broth and bring to a boil. When the broth is boiling, carefully add the quinoa. Cover and let cook for twenty minutes over low heat.

The quinoa will be translucent with a white ring of hull around it when it's done. It won't soak up all the water like rice, but it should soak up most. The grain will be translucent with a white-ish ring of hull around it when it's done. Toss in the pepitas.

I added some chicken and apple sausage and blue cheese. Next time I'm going to skip the cheese. There were so many flavors going on, it wasn't needed and barely even tasted. The sausage went perfect, but the dish would have been filling without it and just as tasty. I think a little red wine with the broth would have been good.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Food: Jan. 23, 2007

I'm 35 years old, and today I ate my first eggplant. And it was good. Very good.

I made Eggplant Parmesan (except that I just realized I didn't put any Parmesan cheese in it. Maybe it's named after a region?) It was completely organic and very healthy. And delish.

Eggplant Parmesan

Two eggplants
One can tomato sauce
One can diced tomatoes
Italian seasonings (I used basil, oregano, garlic and crushed red pepper)
Shredded mozzarella (I used about a cup)
Two eggs
Italian Breadcrumbs
Olive oil

Two things. One, you can use a jar of spaghetti sauce instead of the cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce and Italian spices. Two, I tried making this with Pam instead of olive oil and I didn't like the results, so I went ahead and used oil. Don't use too much, because eggplant is like a sponge and will soak up as much as you use.


Peel the eggplants and salt both sides, put on a plate with paper towels on top and bottom, topped with another plate. The salt will release a lot of liquid from the eggplant, which is a good thing. It takes like five minutes.

Beat the eggs in a bowl and put the breadcrumbs on a plate. Rinse the eggplant VERY well, pat dry. Dip each piece in the egg then the breadcrumbs.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Add a quarter of the eggplant and cook until golden brown on both sides. The eggplant will suck up all the oil, so really watch that you just use enough. Let the eggplant drain on some paper towels while you repeat this process with the rest of the eggplant.

Mix the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and Italian spices.

Spray Pam in a casserole dish. Put some of the tomato mix on the bottom. Be a little stingy with the sauce, because eggplant is a very juicy vegetable and you don't want to end up with a soggy mix. I only used about 1/3 of the mix on my whole dish.

layer 1/3 of the eggplant, a handful of cheese, drizzle with sauce. Repeat three times, then top with the a little more cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes until bubbly and scrumptious!

Mmmm mmm mmm...SO good and heart healthy and really yummy.


I've decided to only weigh myself once a month. You know I have a love-hate thing with my scale. I'm finding myself slipping slightly into a diet mentality and I don't like it. I keep thinking to myself "I have XXX calories left, so I can eat this." Which isn't what I want. I just want to eat enough healthy food, not stuff myself, and that's that.

So watch for my next weigh in on Feb. 1. I'm going to start with my Jan. 1 weigh in...311.5 pounds, and go from there.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Kevin got a gift certificate to The Outback for dinner from work for Christmas and the babysitting-stars aligned tonight so that we could go. Good god.

For the first time in three weeks I overate. It all started with that damn blooming onion (I ate about 1/4 of one). Then I thought--what the hell--and had a baked potato with the works. And that yummy pumpernickle they serve. With BUTTER. I was good and had Ahi Tuna. It was spectacular. I also had the equally spectacular chopped blue cheese salad.

If I'd just ordered the fish and ate it with the steamed veggies it came with it, everything would have been fine.

Instead I gorged and I feel like C-R-A-P. My face broke out, I have big dark circles under my eyes. I've been eating so CLEAN for the last several weeks. My body is rejecting the Blooming Onion. I want to curl up and cry, my stomach hurts and I feel this weird anxiousness.

That might be the soda. I haven't had any in three weeks, and in the last two days have had about six cans.

I don't want to feel like this. Ever.

I went to the grocery store today and stocked up on some nice organic yumminess. I'm not doing this. I'm just not.

I'm going to skip my weigh in tomorrow, because I refuse to let myself be messed up by an artificially inflated number on the scale.

CSA--Yum Yum!

I found out today about this CSA farm near my dad's house in Logandale (an hour outside of Vegas.)

CSA stands for Community-supported Agriculture. We'll buy a share in the farm and every week get locally-grown, organic, in-season produce, eggs and fresh flowers.

In Southern Nevada our growing season is 10 months long. So for $700 we'll get fresh produce, eggs and flowers from March through December. Actually, we'll pay $350 for the Spring season and $350 for the fall.

I spend about $50 a week to buy organic produce and eggs for my family right now. So we'll pay off the spring season share with six weeks of savings at the grocery store. The spring season lasts from March to mid-July. That's a huge savings.

Of course, it's a risk as well, since we're paying in advance for the share and taking the risk along with the farmer that one or more of his crops will fail.

I'm in love with this idea.

Friday, January 19, 2007

What's Going On?

I have a few blogs I like to read that deal with homesteading. They give me hope. This woman believes that our country will need 100,000 small farmers to survive what's coming. Small farmers like this. That's a tenth of an acre, a California city plot, and they are growing enough food to mostly feed themselves and to make a profit as well.

I'm still so shocked at how unconcerned most people are. No one, not even Saudi Arabian big wigs believe that we aren't on the verge of running out of oil. Those guys say they can only keep up with oil needs for 30 years. Even if that is true, in 30 years my baby will be younger than I am now.

Many, many smart people say Peak Oil has hit, or will hit very very soon. Not in thirty years, but within five years. Add to that the real threats of Global Warming, and war, and an economy that bears striking resemblence to the economy just barely post-1929 and it's a scary situation.

How sustainable is your life? How dependant are you on foreign oil? Could you walk or ride your bike to work if you had to? Do you have work that is dependant on oil? Could you find food that isn't trucked thousand's of miles to your nearest grocery store (the problem in the future won't be getting to the store, but getting food in the store)? How about keeping warm? Ask the hundreds of thousands of people left without power during ice storms in our country's midsection if this is a legitimate question. Ask the Californians who got snow last week.

If we end up in Las Vegas through the summer I'm very concerned about the possibility of some crazy weather (or crazy something else that I can't even imagine right now)knocking out electricity in my area and leaving us without air conditioning in what could be the worst summer in history if this year proceeds as it has been. Even if we have a normal summer, having no air conditioning in Las Vegas in August could be a deadly situation.

Preparation is smart, and it's important. Being aware, and not falling into the trap of believing that there is nothing you can do, so it's easier not to think about it, could be life saving.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Supersize Me

Adrienne and I watched Supersize Me tonight. You know...a guy named Morgan (incredibly healthy, fit, normal) eats McDonald's for every meal for thirty days and gains twenty-five pounds, has liver problems, cholesterol problems, pressure in his chest, can't walk up his stairs without huffing and puffing.

I've seen bits and pieces of this show before, and I really loved his series last year. Really sitting down and watching it this time (followed by an ABC Medical Mysteries about people who weigh more than 1000 pounds) had an impact.

The nutritionist said that he was eating about 5000 calories a day, or twice what he needed to maintain his 185 pounds. That brought home to me the correlation between what I eat and what is hanging off my body. It takes 3500 calories to gain a pound, he was eating nearly that and gained 25 pounds in 30 days.

It also really made me think about what the fuck I've been doing to not only myself, but my children, too. Because you know, I don't eat a McMeal and then come home and feed my children a Superfoods meal.

I haven't eaten fast food for seventeen days. I guess a few more, I'm not sure of the date of the last fast food I ate. Strangely, I don't want it. In the past, even just when I first started this blog and was making an attempt to lose weight, I would dream about Big Macs. I'd have to physically stop myself from going out and getting one.

So far I've avoided that the last few weeks. I think part of it is that I've finally really made the connection between what I put in my body, and my health. Both of my parents had cancer. My mother died of breast cancer. Both of my grandmother's died from cancer. My grandfather died of cancer. I do NOT want cancer.

Beyond anything else, I have an obligation to my baby to stay healthy. It just isn't right to decide to have a baby at 33 and then not take care of myself. If I die as young as my mother was when she died, Ruby will only be 15. Fifteen.

I have always had a thing about pretension. I hate it. It's my biggest pet peeve. But maybe it's okay to be a foodie, a kitchen snob. You know--only organic food, only free-range eggs, only $3 loaves of whole wheat bread. Maybe it's okay to be too good for Big Macs.

I'm feeling really good. It's surprising that only two and a half weeks of diet changes could make a difference, but it's true. I feel lighter, less bogged down. My skin is clearer, much softer and no more excema. Surprisingly, my back doesn't hurt. I've had this weird nerve-y pain in my left shoulder/upper back going down my left arm for ever, and it's gone. Maybe it would have gone away right now anyway, but I don't think so. I have more energy lasting longer into the day. I had started noticing a drop in my energy at about three p.m. and now I'm not feelng that until seven or eight. Still not perfect, but getting better everyday.

I know that part of why I feel so strongly right now about figuring out a way to preserve my health is because I believe being healthy will help me be able to take care of my family in whatever weird peak oil/global warming/war times are coming up. I'm not sure that the medical care we take for granted now (well, those of us lucky enough to have access to it)will be as readily available in the future. How's that for a Pollyanna end to this post? LOL

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Weigh in

Weigh in day...307 pounds. I've lost four and a half pounds since January 1. Not bad, not bad at all. More importantly, I'm feeling really good. Very energetic and not deprived or like I'm on a diet at all.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Food: Jan. 15, 2007

Dinner tonight was good old Campbell's chicken noodle. It's freaking COLD here tonight. Brrrrr. (I know, I know...if you're from the midwest, it's actually scary cold...but my poor cold nose and fingers don't think that logically!)

I have a new favorite breakfast. A half cup of low-fat granola and a cup of Brown Cow lemon yogurt. Mmmmm...it's really filling and scrumptious. And with the oats, nuts and yogurt, gets three superfoods in. Nice. If I add an orange...that's four.

Lunch was a salad with grilled chicken.

Here's my favorite salad blend. Super easy, healthful and delish.

Equal parts romaine or other dark green lettuce and baby spinach
A cup or two of chopped fresh broccoli
Half a head of shredded red cabbage

Mix it all up and eat away. If you have the patience to grate carrots, then that would be an excellent addition.

I keep my salad mix in one of those old school rectangular Tupperware veggie keepers. They're green and have a little grate thing that sits in the bottom. If you can find one at a thrift or garage sale, snap it up. It's worth it's weight in gold. I've had salad last ten days in one and stay just as fresh as the first day I bought it. I had some broccoli in mine that had been in there since the first, and it was still crunchy and fresh. I added it to my salad.

I went to Sunflower Market last night and for the first time bought only organic foods. It wasn't easy. I think because I went so late in the day. I'm going to try for a morning trip next week. The funny thing about organic is that it doesn't look as perfect--without the waxes and whatever they have on them--but the taste is unbelievable. I think they have to sell them faster, because they don't have any perservatives on them. Maybe?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

No more sowing Wild Oats for me

Today is shopping day. Yesterday I thought I'd get a jump on things and go to Wild Oats. Let's just say that today I'm going back to my beloved Sunflower Market. The prices at Wild Oats were outrageous. And just like Sunflower Market, the produce was a mix or organic and non-organic. Not only that, but as soon as I walked in the store I was hit in the face with this strong perfume-y scent. I thought it was the candle display right by the door. But I noticed a guy giving massages by the produce and the smell was coming from his area. Some sort of oil probably. I'm not usually so sensitive to environmental stuff, even though I have allergies, but whatever he was using made my throat feel like it was closing up and my eyes tear and sting.

Kevin bought me some cherries this morning on his way home from work. Isn't he sweet? He really is. As I was making myself a bowl for breakfast, I noticed that the bag said "product of Chile." The distance between Las Vegas, Nevada and Santiago, Chile is an incredible 5589 miles.

How much oil did it take for me to eat cherries for breakfast in January? Not to mention the petrolium that was certainly used in the pesticides that kept the Chilean bugs off my cherries. And the gasoline necessary to harvest the fruit and truck it from whatever port it was shipped to in the US to my desert grocery store. How about the petrolum used to make the plastic bag they came in?

I have a new goal for my family. I don't believe it's possible to eat entirely locally in Las Vegas. I truely believe that when eating locally becomes a life-or-death thing, Las Vegas will be a ghost town. But I can eat food that is grown in the western U.S. I found a farm in Ogden, Utah that will deliver local produce to customers in Las Vegas. It isn't really local--Ogden is more than 500 miles away. But 500 is a vast improvement over 5000, no?

It might mean no more cherries in winter, but maybe eating more responsibly will mean an easier transition later, when it counts.

I'm not sure if I believe that my eating locally, or even a bunch of people eating locally, will make a big difference in the global warming/peak oil crisis. But I do believe what Margaret Mead said:

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.

We've been a one-car family for about a month. It's working out really well. I have no doubt we could make this permanent. Beyond being better for the environment, we're saving $80 on our insurance bill every month, plus at least that much in gasoline. Plus the maintance required to keep a 15-year-old car with 200,000 miles on it running. More money for our "buy a house in Ely" fund.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Eyes Wide Open

I feel so strongly that the world is on the verge of massive change. There are all these things in the wings, like animals barely held back by their handlers. That's all the media/government/corporate bigwigs are, don't you think? Their job is to keep each other happy.

It's shocking to me that in the past several month's I've talked to just about everyone I know, and NONE of them had even heard about Peak Oil. Not my dad (I'm so disillusioned! I thought he knew EVERYTHING.) Not my ex-step-mother the science teacher. (She'd barely heard about it, but I still had to explain it to her.) Not Kevin, or his parents, or my best friend. Not my ex-husband who when we married was a diehard survivalist. Not his parents. Not anyone. It wasn't that they decided it was a bunch of nonsense. They'd never even heard of it.

Even the most Pollyanna-ish experts say that Peak Oil will hit by 2025. That's 18 years from. Eighteen years ago was 1989, the year I graduated from high school. I'm here to tell you, eighteen years is a blink of the eye. It's nothing.

And a lot of incredibly smart, educated people believe that Peak Oil has already hit, or will in the next year or two.

And everyone that I know (and I know people who SHOULD know) has never heard of it.

I'd like to ask all of you to read this. Just the essay on the front page. I promise you, it's so incredibly eyeopening, you'll never be the same.

Peak Oil would be enough. Add to it an economy about to collapse on itself, lead by a housing market already in recession. And Global Warming. And the threat of diseases like Avian Flu. And a war lead by a president who seems intent on escalating it to Biblical proportions. And we, folks, are teetering on the edge of the American life that Dick Cheney said not too long ago was non-negotiable.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Food: Jan. 11, 2007

Okay, that Tofutti Better than Cream Cheese stuff? It so is. I really like it. Damn those transfats.

I didn't cook tonight. The kids ate left overs and I had: Whole wheat toast brushed with 1 teaspoon or so olive oil and topped with avocado. I also had baked lays and an orange and a banana. It was delicious, superfood-y and satisfying.

I've noticed something odd the last two days or so. I'm not hungry. This is a big deal for me. It isn't just that I'm controlling cravings or having will-power. In between meals, there is no hunger. I really attribute this to eating about twice as much fat and fiber. I don't need as much food to feel full, and I'm staying full much longer.

In the past ten days, 100 percent of the added fat I've eaten has been from olive oil. (Meaning that any fat I've added to something has been olive oil, instead of butter or margerine or some other sort of oil.) My skin looks lovely.

Oh, ooh! Also since we've stopped buying soda for the house, I've been drinking a lot more water. It took some getting used to. I really think that at least some of my ickiness last week was my body adjusting to the lack of caffine.

So, ten days in I'm really happy with the switch to looking at food as a path to health. I went out to lunch with my dad yesterday, and I was able to keep with my program. Not because it's a program, or because I'm on a diet and need to have willpower, but because I feel so good right now and I didn't want to feel sick.

I read an article last week about how to prepare for Peak Oil, and one of the suggestions was getting healthy. It just makes sense, if you believe that our world is in a time of change, to be as physically well-prepared for it as you can be. And even if by some stroke of miraculous luck Cheney was right when he said that the American Way of Life was non-negotiable, I'm still not willing to be continue to be left behind because I weigh twice what is healthy for me. I'm not willing to continue sacrificing bike riding, sitting comfortably in a restaurant booth, my chances of being a healthy Nana, or being around to see what changes really are in store for the world.


Nick and I walked to his doctor's appointment today. Coming home was uphill and against heavy winds, so that's gotta be extra points! I've walked 90 minutes out of 150 that is my goal for this week (ending Tuesday.)

Nicky Update

I took Nick to see his psychiatrist for the first time in six months. What a disaster. She couldn't find his file (!) and so I had to tell her everything she knew about him. First thing she said was...so he has ADHD.

No. Six months again she said he didn't, and the school psych said he doesn't as well.

Okay, then he's bipolar.


She said six months ago he's not. He had a severely not-good reaction to the bipolar (and ADHD for that matter) meds. He's not cycling.

What he is doing is hitting himself in the head when he gets frustrated or angry. The whole reason I took him back to see her. She said that is a sign of bipolar disorder. I feel like we're on some sort of horrible merry-go-round.

She gave him a RX for Seroquel. I haven't decided to give it to him. I like it better than some other meds because 1) it will help him sleep. He only gets maybe six hours of sleep a night, which is not enough for his age and I think that might be adding to his behavior issues and 2) I can have some control over the dosage. It isn't like some other meds where the dosage has to be protected to keep him stable.

His doctor also referred him for neuropsychiatry testing so that he can get a medical diagnosis of autism. I'm going to hold off on meds until after that assessment (not the testing) on Monday.

In the meantime, I want to try some behavior modification techniques to try to help Nick learn to control the insomnia and self-injury without meds. He really doesn't want to be medicated again, so right now the motivation for behavior modification is high for him.

I think a new night time schedule is called for. Right now we don't really have one. Part of the problem has always been that he needs so much less sleep than I do. And that's been aggravated lately by my need to wake up at six or so with Ruby.

Here's my plan: A family walk at five, dinner, an hour of some sort of family activity (this brings us to about 8 p.m.) Then shower, an hour of free time and lights out by 10. I'm not going to hold my breath, but we'll see. The thing with Nick, like any insomniac, is that if I force the lights out thing and he can't fall asleep, just laying there actually makes it worse. I think I'm going to try music, instead of Gameboy/TV.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ely...for sure this time (I think)

Kevin and I sat down over the weekend and came up with a concrete six-month plan for getting the hell out of dodge. And now that my initial shock over Nick being "officially" autistic has warn off, I'm not as keen on moving to Denver, ten hours away from family.

I think.

Yes. Definitely, I know I want to be in Ely. I love the place. Everytime we're there, it makes me feel clean and happy. It's so pretty and peaceful. I'm slightly worried about being so isolated from the rest of the world. For 100 miles in any direction is a big old bunch of nothing but high desert. Most things are shipped in. But then I started thinking. A hundred years ago, before the real advent of the oil age, Northern Nevada thrived. THRIVED. All the quirky little towns were rockin' back then. And Vegas? Vegas was a few very hardy souls living in cabins and trying to survive.

Ely and all the other little towns up there were originally railroad towns. I think it's likely that, with the advent of Global Warming/Peak Oil/Energy Crisis, train travel will come back into vogue. Might not hurt to live in a town that's already set up for that.

I found this blog today and loved it. Check out her essay on life five years after Peak Oil. Fascinating stuff. This family is doing what we (okay, mostly I) want to do. Preparing, but still living.

One thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. If summer 2007 is really going to be worse than summer 2006, which was worse than any other summer on record...I do NOT want to be in Vegas for it. No way. I want to try very hard to move by June.

The Food: Jan. 10, 2007


Tonight Nick helped me make rissoto with marinated shrimp and green beans with almonds and cranberries.

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To make the rissoto I just made up a pot of chicken stock and kept it hot on a burner. I put about a cup of rice in a pot, toasted it for a couple of minutes, then added about half a cup of broth. Then Nick stirred, stirred, stirred until it was absorbed. Add half a cup of broth, and repeat until the rice is soft and creamy. About half an hour, and roughly two to two and a half cups of broth. I squeezed a lemon in the pot halfway through.

Marinated Shrimp

A pound of peeled and deveined shrimp

three garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3 T cocktail sauce
cayenne pepper, salt to taste

Mix everything but the shrimp together. Dump in the shrimp and let it marinate for at least an hour. I meant to kabob the shrimp, but the sticks wouldn't fit in my biggest pan. It worked out well just stir-fried in a pan, too.

Green Beans with Almonds and Cranberries

Toss fresh, clean, trimmed green beans with enough olive oil to coat (about 2 Tablespoons.) Put them in a pan and bake at 425 degrees until softened and starting to brown. (I cooked them for fifteen minutes and it wasn't quite enough. I'll go twenty next time.) In a little bowl combine 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 1/4 cup dried cranberries with the zest of a lemon. Top the hot beans with the berry/almond/lemon mixture.

I based the beans on a recipe I caught on Bobby Flay's show on the Food Network today. Not exactly the same (who the hell has hazelnuts on hand?) and the berries were my own addition (super, super, superfood.)

If you're used to dieting, this meal might seem heavy on the olive oil to you. In reality, you end up with about a tablespoon of oil all together. Maybe less. Most of the marinade is left in the bowl, after all. Olive oil is a healthy, monounsaturated fat that gives you pretty skin and adds something that I think is very important to your meal: Satisfaction.

Product review: Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese

I was all set to write a glowing review of this product. It's a soy-based cream cheese. Soy is a superfood, and one that I have a hard time getting enough of since I haven't mastered the art of tofu yet.

What the heck...I'll give the good news first.

The product is marvelous. It's thick and creamy with a real cream-cheese flavor. And at only 60 calories for two tablespoons (about the same as light regular cream cheese), it eats up less of the daily allotment than full-fat Philly's 100 calories for the same amount. It also has two less grams of fat. If you're trying, like me, to cut down on the animal fats, this is a really good substitute. The flavor is rich and cheesey and it doesn't feel like a fake at all. If you've been using fat free cream cheese, try Tofutti. The extra 30 calories are WELL worth the fabulous texture and taste. It's also a vegetarian product, and gluten-free.

Now for the bad news. This product contains partially-hydrogenated soybean oil. It has 2 grams of transfat per 2-tablespoon serving. Unfortunately, that makes this an occassional treat instead of a staple. I'm going to be on the lookout for a similar product made with healthier fats.

Also, I first saw this product at a regular chain grocery store and it was something like $4.50 a tub. I got it on sale at Sunflower Market for $1.99 and the regular price is only $2.79 there. So, you know, price it out.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Food: Jan. 9, 2007

Since I grocery shop on Sunday, Mondays and Tuesdays are always "good dinner" nights because all the fresh stuff is still--well--good and fresh. Tonight was no exception.

We had couscous with dried cranberries and slivered almonds topped with sauted tomatoes, portabello mushrooms and fresh spinach. Nick and I also had the most scrumptious chicken and apple sausage from Sunflower Market. If you are lucky enough to have one of these stores near you, try it out. It's mild and very lean (made with ground skinless chicken breast.) Adrienne is still on her vegetarian kick (and looking fabulous. Who ever heard of a fourteen old with perfectly clear skin? I'm not kidding...totally gorgeous skin. And she looks like she's thinned out some. She hasn't lost any weight, but maybe it's redistributed or something? I'm not making a big deal about it, because I refuse to give my kid a complex. And she wasn't overweigt to begin with. She just looks fab. I'll try to get a picture, if she'll let me.)

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Studded coucous with veggies

one cup couscous (whole wheat and organic if you can)
one and a half cups water
one boullion cube
1/3 cup each dried cranberries and slivered almonds

Two portabella caps
Two tomatoes
Two cups fresh baby spinach
olive oil
Salt, pepper, cinnamon, white wine vinegar

bring water and boullion to boil, add cranberries and let it cook for a minute or so. Add nuts and couscous, cover pot and turn off heat. In five minutes it will be cooked perfectly.

Heat about two tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms and cook until they start to get soft. Add the tomatoes and cook until they and the mushrooms are cooked through and there is some liquid in the pan. Add the spinach and stir around until it wilts. Season with salt, pepper, cinnamon and a splash of vinegar.

If you'd like to add a lean meat to this dish, cook it with the veggies.

We ate it with oranges. Super good and way healthy. Nearly every ingredient is a Superfood, except for the boullion.

Kevin and I took the baby for a walk to the park this afternoon, too. I was right. I really DO need to get off my ass. I felt so energized afterward. I still do. Ruby is the best medicine for don't-want-to-move-itis. She's such a blast.

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Superfoods, Week One

I've completed a full week of my health kick. I ate I'd say 90 percent Superfoods this week. I did eat Pizza with Kevin and the kids on Saturday night, but what the hell. I'm not on a diet and I refuse to feel guilty. Power to the fat chicks!

I feel really good. Lighter. Which, you know, I should since I've lost 2.5 pounds this week. (309.5 if you're keeping track. I'm not changing my ticker until I get lower than my low so far.) But I feel like I'm digesting my food better, using it better. I have some energy, which is always a good thing.

The biggest thing I've noticed is that I don't have that desperate "I have to be full-full right now" thing going on that I did last May when I started this. I was sure, since I'd gone back to letting myself be full-full all the time that I'd struggle getting back to a place where I was comfortable with "full-enough."

I think having an ounce of Dove dark chocolate at night helps. It definitely keeps me from feeling deprived, but since it's not the super-sweet milk creamy chocolate, I'm not tempted to eat the whole bag in a sitting. It's good, but best in small doses.

I'm reading the Mediterranian Diet right now, and it's so interesting. It doesn't preach super low-fat, which is what I'm used to. I spent many, many years as a devout Susan Powter follower. But the research about having a diet that's 30% monounsaturated fat and the health benefits thereof is really fascinating to me. I want Kevin and I, and our kids, to break our family histories of cancer and alcoholism (my side) and heart disease (his side.)

It's amazing, truly, how much more satisfying food is if it has some fat. Take a salad. I like vinegar as dressing. I don't need the oil to make it eatable. But add just a teaspoon of olive oil and a few bites of avocado or a tablespoon of bluecheese (the cheese, not the dressing) and suddenly I'm not on a diet, I'm eating something that will keep me satisfied for a few hours.

Here's what I had for lunch today. It was absolutely scrumptious!

Avocado Tomato Yumminess

Two slices whole wheat bread
One teaspoon olive oil
Half an avocado
One tomato sliced thin
Baby spinach leaves
salt, pepper and garlic bread seasonig (this is so good...garlic and a little romano cheese and really low in calories.)

Brush the oil on the bread, sprinkle with garlic bread seasoning. Slice the avocado and tomato. Arrange avocado on bread and sort of smoosh it in, spreading it. Top with tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and then top with spinach.

I ate this with some grapes and orange wedges.

I TOLD you I'm not on a diet!

I need to start exercising. This last week, not having a car, I pretty much sat on my ass most of the time. Enough of that already.

My goals this week are:

1. Tomorrow I'm having lunch with my dad at a restaurant that I will walk to instead of having him pick me up.

2. Thursday Nick and I are walking to his doctor's appointment and home again.

3. At least twice this week I want to walk with Ruby to the park.

That's four walks. Not a marathon, but it's something. I love that it's exercise for life's sake, not exercise for exercise's sake.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First weigh in of 2007...a new starting point

I'm finally starting to feel better. I've wondered this week whether at least some of my yuckiness came from changing my diet. Specifically, giving up soda. I went to the movies yesterday and had a Diet Pepsi. That's the first soda I've had in...a week at least. Normal for me would be maybe a liter a day. Also, I've been eating more whole foods and much less processed foods...so maybe the toxins were making their way out via my sinuses? Who knows.

Today is the first Tuesday of the New Year, so I weighed myself for the first time in about a month. 311.5. Yes, that makes me feel sick. No, it's not discouraging me. I'm still down more than ten pounds from last May, and every year for the past say ten years I've been up year-over-year. So...I can handle this.

Has anyone else read SuperFoods RX by Steven G. Pratt, MD? It's fascinating stuff. He doesn't advocate a big cut in calories or fat. In fact, he doesn't even discuss it. He just tells you why these fourteen SuperFoods are the heros of the nutritional world, and is so convincing that you want to get yourself to the grocery store immediately.

I went last night, as a matter of fact. The last week or so I've been sort of, kind of trying to do the SuperFoods thing, but I hadn't been to the store so it was hard to follow it exactly. I spent $200 at Albertsons. That obviously can't go on. Some stuff was stocking-up type food that I won't need every week. I'm going to have to stretch the food that I bought over ten days, maybe two weeks. Although I think I'll have to buy some produce before then.

I have a New Year's Resolution to use Calorie King to track what I'm eating this year. It isn't that I'm trying to diet, more that I'm trying to be very aware of what is going into my body. When I planned today's meals around SuperFoods, it came to just at 2000 calories, which is what Calorie King reccomends for me to lose down to my goal of 150 and maintain there. I know that 2000 may seem a lot to chronic dieters who are used to plans that put you on 1200 or 1400 or even less calories. But 2000 is a good deal less than I've eaten to get to where I am. And it's enough to keep me from binging.

Besides the SuperFoods (beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats (really, all whole grains), oranges, pumpkin, wild salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts, yogurt), I'm also cutting out partially-hydrogenated oils and transfats.

I feel lighter and healthier today. Maybe the toxins have left the building? I don't know. But I do know that I feel a little more energetic, and a little less sluggish.

Last night I made turkey burgers on whole wheat buns and baked potato wedges and cherries (a blueberry 'sidekick' or substitute.) We had romaine lettuce (a spinach sidekick) and tomatoes on the burgers.

Here's my recipe for turkey burgers. They turn out PERFECT everytime. I get the Honeysuckle White ground turkey breast.

Perfect Turkey Burgers

one to one and a half pounds ground turkey
one onion
garlic powder, dried parsley, Montreal Chicken Seasoning, salt, pepper
Italian bread crumbs
Olive Oil

Put the turkey in a big bowl. Grate the onion over the meat. Sprinkle seasonings to taste over the meat to taste.

Put the breadcrumbs on a plate. Make the turkey into patties. Remember that turkey does NOT shrink the way that ground beef does. So if you're going to eat these on a bun, make them the right size and thickness. I like to make sort of smallish, thick burgers to eat without a bun, but with loads of cranberry sauce. Coat each burger in bread crumbs.

Heat the oil, maybe 1 or 2 tablespoons (turkey does not have a lot of natural fat that is going to come out into your pan, so use enough olive oil), and place the burgers in the pan. Cook, turning halfway through, until a meat thermometer shows the inside temperature is 180 degrees.

Nick and Kevin like these as regular burgers. They're really good that way. I like them best without the bun, topped with cranberry sauce (another blueberry sidekick!) Grating the onion in is the secret. It keeps the burgers super juicy despite their low low fat content. Don't skip this part! They don't end up with a strong onion flavor.