Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Apparently my new best friend is named Pam

The one thing that I have always baked is chocolate chip cookies.  My kids can bake them almost with their eyes closed.  In fact, they were both bitterly disappointed when they discovered that the recipe is not an old family recipe handed down from generation to generation but is, in reality, the toll house cookie recipe on the back of the bag of chips.  Really, an old family recipe in this house????

Because of the baking, there was always a can of Pam around.  Pam is like that kid that you went to school with that didn't have much impact on you but you always knew her.  Eh, kinda bland but there.

Pam has a much larger significance in my life now.  She is my new "go to" gal.  The Healthy Cooking cookbook has me relying on her.  If you are cringing a bit, I can understand.  There is something about spraying that stuff on a frying pan that makes my toes curl.  But I am getting over it.  My favorite warning in the cookbook is to make sure you remove the pan from the open flame before using it.  I am seeing massive Pam fires sweeping the nation - all those poor innocents spraying Pam and the flames from the stove sending a giant WHOOSH into the air. 

To get back on target here - I use Pam to coat the baking dish, the frying pan, and (extra large shiver) to actually spray on the food in one recipe.  There are other cooking sprays, I know but they don't have a name that is so short and sweet.  Oh and Pam works.  Hard to fight that. 

So that is today's tip.  Good old Pam.  She is my right hand gal.

I thought that I would also include a recipe today.  When I first read this recipe, I was not impressed but somehow made it anyway. It was a much bigger hit than you can imagine.  It is great for those nights that you don't have much time.  Kinda weird but good. I will tell you in advance that the chicken does not get "browned" in this recipe.  It will still look pretty white at the end of cooking.

Baked Caesar Chicken

Place four 6 oz. boneless skinless chicken breast halves in a greased 11 X 7 in baking dish. 
Combine 1/2  cup fat free creamy Caesar salad dressing, 1 cubed avocado and 2 tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese. 
Spoon dressing mixture over chicken.
Bake uncovered at 375 for 30-35 minutes.  (or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees).
Sprinkle with 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese before serving. 
Serves 4.

This recipe is from Kirsten Norgaar of Astoria, Oregon and was in the Dec/Jan 2012 issue of Healthy Cooking Magazine.

As an exercise update - my neighbor decided that she was not going to let me escape from exercising yesterday.  We went for a walk or in my case, a power walk.  I guess that she decided that we need to go a bit faster yesterday.  I was still panting 5 minutes after we got home.  Oh yea, I feel so much better for it.....

Thanks for reading!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Hmmmm... Exercise

Being a novice to this blogging thing, I don't really understand all the nuances.  For example, on the side of this post, you can sign up to be a follower.  (And it is so nice if you are!) It seems that being a follower does not get you updates that there is a new post.  You have to sign up for emails to get a notice about a new post.  Apparently the email goes out about 8 hours after I have posted.

Also, I am sure that "the husband" was a follower but as of this morning, he isn't.  Either you can fall off this list or we had a bad morning....

See, I can even put off writing about exercise! 

Exercise has been the hardest part to incorporate into "our new life".  We really concentrated on the food aspect at first.  I think that the doctor thought that we should do everything at once but we respectfully took it a little slower.  We were making so many changes and had some mental adjustment issues to deal with so we have gone with the "slow and steady wins the race" mentality.  Silent Sam and our daughter started using the long dusty treadmill.  It has now broken.  Silent Sam diagnosed a problem, ordered a part, and installed that part.  Unfortunately, while doing the install of the new part some other parts broke and they have now been ordered.  The treadmill has been down for about 2 weeks.  So the last 2 weeks have not been quite as sweaty as they should have been. 

We do have a goal though.  We have all signed up for a 5K walk at the beginning of May.  Daughter and boyfriend are hoping to run the 5K while Silent Sam and I will be walking.  As usual, I am the one that really needs to get training.   In case you think I have not been doing anything, I do some exercising but not as much or the variety that I should.  This has to change because waking the 3.2 miles will not go well if I don't get going. 

Silent Sam could see from taking his blood sugar levels that working out really made a huge difference in his numbers.  This is the incentive to get on that treadmill.  Silent Sam goes to a web site once a week and reports his blood sugar numbers.  The doctor checks them every two weeks or so and can make adjustments to his medicine if she feels that an adjustment is necessary.  It is really great but also really telling if you are not behaving.  Those numbers don't lie. 

I will be the first one to say that I know that I feel much better when I exercise.  Everything works better when I exercise.  But it is so easy not to exercise.  It is so easy to be too busy to exercise.  To be too tired to exercise.   To feel too anything to exercise.  So I do the wrong thing and stop.  And then starting over feels like such a hurdle.  Well, today I am going to start again.  I am going to get that exercise feeling again. 

When I was in college, I had a friend who would occasionally decide that he needed to make some changes in his life.  He would tell me that he needed not to turn over a new leaf but to turn over the entire tree.  (okay, there may have been an expletive in there)  It seems to me that this usually involved not talking to me for awhile but  he would fall back into his old patterns.  I think that making too many changes at once lessens your chance of making the changes stick.  I think that making one change at a time and getting used to that change and then moving on to the next change is the way to go.  We are now pretty diligent about the changes to our eating habits: it is time to move into being more serious about  exercise. 

Looks like I am going for a walk today.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Has any of this worked?

I guess I have to start off and apologize to ALEC Baldwin for screwing up his first name.  I apologize.  It was an mistake.  I know he understands about mistakes....

So, you are wondering if the changes around here have produced any results. A very valid question.  Let me first tell you that Silent Sam's home diabetes team has a challenge in progress.  Yes, as of the end of November, Silent Sam, our daughter, her boyfriend, and our son are completing to see who can lose the highest percentage of weight.  WHAT??  Where is your name on that list, oh Wifey?  Quite frankly, I don't do well in those types of competitions.  Even if I set a goal for myself like - I will lose 5 lbs. in the next month - I will screw it up.  So I did not join the competition. 

Each of the competitors put $50 in the kitty.  The winner at the end of April takes the entire $200.  I took a quick poll this morning so I could give you an update.

Silent Sam - 8.6% down
Daughter -   4.9% down
Boyfriend -  5.8% down 
                                                            Son         -   Not telling   -"Oh, I haven't weighed myself lately...."

If I were in the competition, I would be in last place.  Whew, saved that $50.  

There is no question that Silent Sam has lost weight.  Not only can you tell it in his face but his mid-section is greatly reduced.  He is down two pant sizes and one shirt size.  Even his underwear got baggy!  In case you think this has all been smooth sailing, we did take a vacation and he gained weight on that vacation.  He took it off the first week home but still, it was bit of a shock to see how much he gained that week.  I did not get on the scale when we got back because I am a chicken.  We have been back 2 weeks and I am still up one pound from pre-vacation. 

Probably the bigger change is in his medications.  When we got home from the hospital, he was on an injection before each meal and one before bed.  His injections have been stepped down several times since then.  He is now on two injections a day - one in the morning and one before dinner.  We are really hoping that in the next 6 months or so he will be off the injections and down to oral medication.  Then at some point off that also.  

Silent Sam is a very focused kind of guy.  While he ignored the "pre" phase, he is certainly not ignoring the "you have it now" phase.  Please understand, I think this is a very hard disease for a person to accept.  He doesn't really feel any different than he did before.  There is no obvious sign of illness.  The problem is that it can be so devastating to your body.  I know that they say that high blood pressure is the silent killer but I think that that same logic can apply to diabetes.  It is hard to want to admit to and I am very fortunate that he is working on it.  Let's hope that he thinks he is very fortunate to have a wife that has decided to write about this to the entire world. 

Oh, that exercise crap.  Ah, there is always tomorrow... to write about it.

Thanks for reading!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Rant, Rant, Alex Baldwin, Rant Rant

I was up later than usual the other night and David Letterman was on TV.  To be honest, I wasn't looking at the TV, I was lying in bed falling asleep.  His first guest was Alex Baldwin.  Dave (my good buddy) complimented him on his apparent weight loss.  Alex told Dave that he discovered that he was "allergic to sugar".  Dave asked him what that meant and Alex said that he could not eat sugar and that it was hard because sugar was in lots of foods.  That he could not even eat pasta because it converts to sugar in the body.  It turns out after further conversation, that old Alex is not allergic to sugar but he was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. 


The first question that I could raise is - Is it better to be "allergic to sugar" than pre-diabetic?  I suppose in those famous words "Whatever gets you through the night" but golly wouldn't you, as a famous celebrity, be doing a great service to admit that you were diagnosed as pre-diabetic and have decided to take control of the situation to try and avoid becoming diabetic?  That could actually help people. 

BUT (and this is really more my rant on the subject) JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE PRE-DIABETIC OR EVEN DIABETIC IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU CANNOT EAT CERTAIN FOODS.  You can eat anything with moderation and a little planning.  Granted, moderation could be the diabetic's 4 letter word but if you want a taste of something - you can have a taste.  No, you cannot eat an entire cherry pie. You can plan in your meal selection to have a small piece of cherry pie.  Or a couple of cookies. Or a small dish of ice cream.  You may decide that it is not worth eating a small piece but you have made that decision.

I think that is is easy to understand that if you are told that you can NEVER have something again, you are going to eat it.  You are going to want that cherry pie so bad that you will be ready to sell your wife (my husband's fondest wish) to get it.  You can't have as much of it as you may have had in the past but (and I know you won't necessarily believe me - I wouldn't have before) you can have a smaller amount and you can enjoy it.  Perhaps you will discover that mindfully eating it - actually paying attention to what you are eating and eating it slowly will help you enjoy the small portion just as much as the portions size you used to have.  Try putting the fork down in between each bite.  Kind of like the 9 inch plate - it does help. 

So, this isn't what I was supposed to write about today but I am in rant mode and you get to find out about it.  I am still irritated with Alex Baldwin. 

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Who knew? Spices add flavor…

We have had to stock our kitchen with new things.  I was not a great spice user before and now these new recipes call for lots of spices. Did you know that if you cook enough, spices stay fresh?  What a concept.  We replaced the spices left from when we lived in Lincoln Park – that was only 28 years ago.  We have also stocked up on different can goods than before.  The no salt or low fat added varieties of things we would normally have had.  This does make going to the grocery store a bit more of an adventure.  It can take much longer to find the no salt added or low fat varieties in the store and we have not always been successful in finding them.  I will say that the products we have used have been tasty.  We were warned that fat free mayonnaise is just gross and to stay away from it.  It has been a bit of a shift to go from butter to  “I can’t believe it’s not butter LIGHT”.  I have found that when used as part of a recipe it is fine.   There is also more fresh produce in our house than before.  While fruits are not unlimited for Silent Sam, he does get to have some.  On Weight Watchers, I get to have unlimited fruit so we have plenty of apples, oranges, and pears around.  Also, we now have salad items and fresh vegetables.  We have even branched into summer squash and zucchini for stir fry vegetables.  While this might be a “duh” moment for you, it was not for me.  I just never thought about it.  Okay, to be honest, I could not have told you what a summer squash looked like.  In case you don’t know, it is a yellow zucchini.

I have also been going to our local Sara Lee outlet.  WHAT???  How can you do that?  Calm down.  The Sara Lee outlet also stocks Market Day items.  Market Day is a food provider that normally sells through schools as a fund raiser.  Why do I shop there?  Market Day items are portion controlled.  The “ChicNSteaks” are small chicken breast portions that are the right size – not the huge ones that you buy in the grocery store.  They also stock small steaks and seafood.  I absolutely could die for the seasoned salmon.  The main reason I shop at Sara Lee/Market Day is really the portion control.  That is one of the biggest things for us.  We really have found that we are full at the end of a meal and it is nowhere near the amount of food that we would eat before.   

Are you wondering if this is working?   Ooops, out of time - tune in tomorrow boys and girls.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Okay, I’m cooking again….

 Before Silent Sam’s diagnosis (DUM DUM DUM…) I had not been cooking very much.  There were various reasons but really, I just never liked to cook.  Getting up really early each morning meant that by evening, I was tired and didn’t feel like cooking.   Silent Sam seemed to enjoy it more so he was doing the cooking.
We had to make changes.  One of these changes involved sitting down and actually planning meals.  We suddenly needed to have the right foods in the right portions around the house.  Apparently this takes planning.  Who knew?

Let me say a word here about cookbooks.  They are so pretty.  They have such great sounding things.  But if you aren’t much of a cook, some cookbooks are really not meant for you- especially some of the prettiest ones.  Between the ingredients and the prep, you need to be realistic.  Since we could no longer eat the steaks- as- large- as- your- head anymore, we needed to find a way to work on portion control and still feel like we ate a meal.  Completely by accident, it turned out that the first cookbook that I bought back when he was diagnosed pre-diabetic is a great cookbook for us.  The cookbook is from the American Heart Association and The American Diabetes Association and it is called Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook.  The recipes are fairly simple and have been really good.    Also, thanks to my daughter, we have a subscription to three magazines (Taste of Home, Simple and Delicious, and Healthy Cooking) that are devoted to recipes.  The magazines are all published by the same company and are very inexpensive.  I have had the most success with Healthy Cooking.  It has lots of recipes in each issue that have worked for us.   So when I sit down to try and figure out what we will have for dinner, I have lots of options.  

I have even started a binder where I put copies of new recipes that we like.  I did this so I could easily find the recipes again but I also know that by Christmas everyone will want to know our secrets.   I figure that by then we will have wowed everyone with our physical changes and they will want to be like us.  You know, perfection… (right…) and I can go to the binder and  give them a copy of the recipes we are now using. What a generous friend –or- someone living in a fantasy world who thinks she has birds help dress her.  We’ll see….

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

What is the 9 inch plate???

Did you know that in the United States dinner plates have grown to be 11 – 12 inches in diameter?  Why does this matter?  Well, psychologists will tell you that we were taught to eat everything on our plate and when your plate is 11 or 12 inches across, you are eating a lot of food.  It was suggested to us that we should have 9 inch plates.  (Somehow from looking at us they guessed that portion control may be a problem.)  In checking the cabinet, I found that our dinner plates were 10.5 inches across and the new plates that I bought (to replace chipped ones) were even larger.  So I went on the hunt for 9 inch dinner plates so we could experiment and see if it made a difference.  Now, I would hate to think that I am such a simpleton that changing the size of the plate would make a difference in how much I ate.  After all, could just having a smaller plate make a difference in making me feel full?  

Once again Silent Sam’s diabetes (in your head please follow that word with the ominous DUM, DUM, DUM soundtrack) has led me to shopping.  So this is not all bad.  Just kidding.  It took me a little while to find a plate that was 9 inches.  I finally found that Fiestaware has a luncheon plate that is 9 inches.  Please note – this is not the salad plate or the dinner plate but the luncheon plate.  Really, does one need that many sizes in casual dishware?  Oh well mine is not to wonder why, mine is but to do or buy….

I decided to order 4 luncheon plates.  Of course that leads to the hard decision as to what color to order.  Over the years, I have heard conversations about the color of plates.  One person was sure that the way that you picked a plate color was to imagine spaghetti on it – would it look appealing?  And with Fiestaware, do you pick just one color or an assortment?  I decided to go with one color for the preliminary order.  Yes, I was planning ahead or perhaps feeling positive about the outcome of this experiment.  I also ordered some small bowls for frozen yogurt.  Let me admit here that there is no way to tell what size a bowl is from a picture on your computer.  They looked small…  

I may or may not have told the family about this purchase until the plates and bowls arrived.  Luckily no one objected to my color choice.  The bowls are small – Silent Sam took out the measuring cup and announced that they hold ¾ of a cup of liquid.  The plates looked much smaller in the cabinet but they were a cheery color so I was hopeful.  

I am a simpleton.   Since we started using the plates, I do feel full at the end of the meal.  One of the tips that we were given for portion control was to divide a 9 inch plate into quarters.  One quarter was for protein, one quarter for starch, and the other half for vegetables and salad. It is mostly containing the protein and starch parts of the meal where we had problems.  I would say that there have only been a couple of times since we started this new lifestyle that I have been hungry at the end of dinner.  I will admit though that with the “frozen yogurt bowls” that I have occasionally wanted to lick the bowl clean but I have resisted so far.  Something about the visual of that stops me in my tracks.  

Now you have it.  My first and perhaps best tip right now is the 9 inch plate.  There are more tips and tales to come – and not all involve shopping.  

Thanks for reading!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Hospital time is not as much fun as Hammer time….

So, once in the hospital, they are not as concerned about his leg as they are his blood sugar levels.  And the levels are not going down very fast.  It was quickly determined that he was beyond the “take pills for it” stage and was taught how to check his blood sugar levels and how to inject himself with insulin.  There were instructions that quite frankly I didn’t completely understand but I figured that between the two of us we might be able to piece it together.  (I am such an optimist...)   The hospital sent in the Diabetes Educator to talk to us.   I was trying to follow but I don’t think she was ever given a lesson in talking to idiots.  She was perhaps a level or two above where we could comprehend.    I don’t think that she understood how panicked and stupid we felt.  Basically we left the hospital with lots of written information and not much completely sinking in.  We knew that he had to keep his blood sugar as consistent as possible but we weren’t really clear how to do that except that he had to eat and eat the right things.  Interestingly, the right things for him were not the same right things for me on Weight Watchers.  Whereas I could eat all the fruit I wanted, he absolutely could not pig out on fruit.  Really has anyone ever put those words together?  Pig out on fruit?   Talk about a contradiction in terms!  

 A long 4 days later,  we are going home with insulin (2 kinds) and antibiotics, lancets, alcohol wipes, gauze, packing tape, sterile water, and bandages.  I have been trained to “pack” his wound and he has been trained in taking his blood sugar levels and giving himself insulin.  I am not sure that either one of us is confident about our new roles but we weren’t really given a choice.  

At home, we read a lot and worked on figuring out snacks.  For some reason, snacks seemed very involved.  This might give you an indication as to how out of it we were.  We were obsessed with snacks.  It was probably easier to concentrate on snacks than to look at the big picture.  Part of this is that snacks were not what we thought of as snacks.  They were move of a “bite” than a snack.  And there seemed to be some mysterious balancing that needed to be done.  He sat at the computer and entered in lots of information and I looked at cookbooks.  I also went to the bookstore and picked up some books.  We played to our strengths – he did spreadsheets and I went to the book store.  Luckily, we went to the endocrinologist the next day.  

In my editorial fashion, let me say that the endocrinologist is about 12 years old.   I think this is great.  Why?  Well, two reasons – she should be around for awhile and because she should be up on the latest information. Another other positive thing is that she has access to the hospital electronic medical records and therefore has access to all his medical records.  She knew all his levels and what they had done in the hospital.  She checked him out and issued her feeling that he was in good shape and had probably not been diabetic very long as there did not seem to be any damage.  He has complete feeling in his feet – an important indicator it seems.  This is great news.  Also, she indicated that he is an excellent candidate to get off the insulin shots – IF HE LOSES WEIGHT!  Then we were ushered into the dietician’s office.    Each time you see the doctor you also see the dietician.  This is brilliant.  We really needed her help.  And help she did.  I will admit that I was not as smitten with her as my husband.  Since he was the important one, that was okay.  She recommended a cookbook and another book for carbohydrate counting.  (Oh goodie, I got to buy more).  We left there armed with more information and the knowledge that we did not know anything and were really sloppy in our eating habits.

I promise I will explain about the 9 inch plate in the next post!

Thanks for reading.