Monday, 31 December 2007

Welcome 2008!

If all goes to plan (and how often does that happen, but one must live in hope) 2008 looks set to be a pivotal year in my life. I will reach the age of 60 in April and hopefully will still have all my faculties, all my teeth, and three pensions. Not riches, but enough income to do everything I want to do, given that I deplore mindless extravagance. The only worry is that I will find that I still don’t have the spare time for all those little projects that have been on the back burner!

My other half being quite a bit younger than I (pause for a blush) is still a wage-slave but has recently acquired an assistant at work which should mean that he will at last be able to take all his annual leave, and not fret or be interrupted with phone calls while he is on holiday. So I am looking forward both to more me-time and more us-time. Holidays, trips and general fun-stuff are being booked!

Time for the New Year resolutions, and mine involve taking more exercise, (unless it involves ironing) and being more rigorous with my CR. My CRON practice has refined quite a bit over the last year and I can see it getting even better. Daily use of Cron-o-meter, and even more imaginative cooking lie ahead.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Strategy and Tactics

So – the Xmas holiday bit is over. While my other half knows all about and supports my CRON there are other relatives we see less often and believe me it would be a whole different ball game and not worth the effort to explain. I knew I wouldn't be doing strict CRON for a few days but I can limit the main excesses. So my aim in steering my way around the calorie-fest was excluding the really heavy stuff. I trotted out the handy hiatus hernia which explained why mince pies and Xmas cake and pudding are no-nos for me, and why I avoid very fatty foods, and late night snacks are not a good idea as I don’t eat after 9.30 or I don’t sleep. And as a pure sideline I don’t like very sweet stuff. All of which is actually quite true. And it does mean that no-one presses me to eat things I don’t want. I pleased the relatives by expressing lipsmacking delight at vegetable dishes and delicious salads, which I consumed with relish. So I’m back home now and maybe a few ounces heavier but not much. Easily adjusted. Only New Year's Eve to do now, and that should be easy as we are spending it with friends eager to return to virtue after the gluttony of the last few days. I am taking a few of my special dishes along for the buffet. But 2008 will be an interesting year and I will spend some time in what remains of the holidays re-thinking my CRON and seeing where I can be better in future.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Happy CRis-mas

This is a difficult season of the year, whether those around you are celebrating grease-mas or saturatedfaturnalia. Personally, I prefer CRONukah. But I decided to get into the festive spirit by devising CRis-mas pudding. Put 90g fresh blueberries in a dish. Quarter 90g dark grapes. Put grapes and 1/4 tsp ground mixed spice (the sort used for baking cakes) into a food mill or processor and pulse a few times until the grapes are lightly chopped and have exuded some juice. Mix the grapes into the blueberries, add 50ml pomegranate juice. This is quite sweet enough without any additional sweetener. Whisk in half a teaspoon of konjac powder (or you could set it with a little gelatine or agar), and divide between two ramekin dishes. Allow to set. About 73 calories a pudding. You could top it with some natural yogurt, a few flaked almonds or fresh redcurrants to decorate. Serves two virtuous people.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Gas attack!

I recently read an article in a health-oriented magazine about the benefits of vitamin K, which it said was best obtained from real food, the recommended sources being cauliflower, beans and green leafy veg. The same magazine had an article on how to reduce flatulence, one tip being to reduce consumption of the foods which were mainly responsible – yes, you guessed it, cauliflower, beans and green leafy veg. Mind you, the same edition of the same mag had tips on reducing calories at Xmas dinner, one of which was serving Brussels sprouts with chestnuts instead of butter and bacon. 66 pages later on in the same magazine was a recipe for Brussels sprouts with – come on, now, if you can’t guess this one you’re not really trying!

But back to the subject of gas. I have always been a windy little person and I love my green veg with a passion – kale, Brussels sprouts, chard, spinach, cabbage – bring it all on, I say. After a nice green plateful, huge bubbles of self-generated gas churn around my lower intestines and can look quite alarming from the outside if you don’t know what they are, since my slimness makes then stand out like large moving lumps. It doesn’t cause me any pain, but of course there are social issues. I am consuming infusions of fennel, ginger and mint to help, but this will only do so much. I am unwilling to consume medication, which does not have greatly proven benefits in any case. The tips in the recent online Harvard Medical School leaflet weren’t really too helpful either. I don’t smoke, of course, don't drink much in the way of fizzy stuff, rarely eat eggs except the whites, and eat meat in modest amounts. It’s beans and the healthy leafy stuff that has the – um – explosive effect. So maybe I shall just have to live with it, and perhaps even turn it to some practical use. Has anyone any tips on how I can tap into this source of energy production? On a good day I should at least be able to run our household lighting system.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Buffalo Gal

We recently sat down to meatballs with spaghetti followed by pumpkin pie and ice cream. No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses – the meatballs were made from bison meat made juicy with chopped onion and pureed aubergine (eggplant) bound with eggwhite, and simmered in a broth of tomatoes with a splash of red wine. The spaghetti was spaghetti squash. There was also a nice crunchy salad. The pumpkin pie was Bob’s recipe from the CRS Wiki and the ice cream was a small scoop of my low fat no added sugar frozen dessert. For those of us who want to eat red meat, (and my other half believes there is nothing wrong with a vegetarian dish that can’t be mended by serving it with meat) bison is the obvious choice. Lower in calories and fat than chicken, nutrient dense, it is so lean that the extra expense is offset by there being so little waste, and the fact that it doesn’t shrink on cooking. I get it from the farmer’s market. There are bison farms in the UK where the animals are reared naturally. I have visited the farm in Wiltshire, and seen the great beasts roam free in the fields. There is a Native American powwow there once a year. Burger, anyone?

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Food, inglorious food

We went to the theatre in Battersea after work on Wednesday, and not really knowing the area decided to eat out first at a restaurant we knew where I had a scrummy vegetable and couscous stuffed aubergine with yogurt in a tomato and onion broth. When we got to Battersea we found there were loads of cafés restaurants and takeaways lining Lavender Hill, and then on the way home as we passed through Victoria Station even more eateries, in fact most of the outlets there were selling food of some sort. It really came home to me just how surrounded we are with food for sale, and not the sort of food that you take home and cook, but all ready to eat, - sandwiches, pies, pastries, chocolate, cakes etc, wafting their sugary fatty aromas to passers by. How easy it is to be unthinkingly seduced by your own tastebuds into ‘treating yourself’ to a 500+ calorie snack that you don’t really need! No wonder such a high proportion of people are overweight. We have become so used now to just picking up food and eating it without a thought. Humankind developed in an environment where we hunted or gathered our food. It wasn’t easy to find, it wasn’t always there and it took some physical effort to get it. There were gaps of time where there was no food available. When there was a lot, we ate our fill, not knowing when the next meal would come. Nowadays people just thoughtlessly eat their fill, again and again.

On CR it takes some re-adjustment to know when to stop eating. I like April’s advice – eat when you are very hungry, stop when you are not hungry. And of course ‘not hungry’ happens way before you have a full stomach. I interpret it as a nice comfy feeling, which would be spoilt by over stretching my stomach. But what is ‘hungry’? Now this isn’t at all scientific, and indeed it is very personal to me, but I recognise three types of hunger. At the most extreme level, there is ‘body hunger’ which is to be avoided – I feel weak because I haven’t eaten enough. Funnily enough since CR I don’t get this as I am monitoring my nutrition and do a ‘little but often’ regime. In the past I mainly experienced it when researching in the British Library when I got so engrossed in what I was doing I forgot lunch! Then there is ‘stomach hunger’ – the signals from the tum telling me it is empty. That means it is time to eat, and when I do, even if it is something very light, I sense that nice grateful sensation of my body absorbing what it needs, (that is, of course, what it needs and no more) the way that water quenches a thirst. And finally, the vile seducer, ‘mouth hunger’ which is those naughty little tastebuds saying – ‘we want a treat’. That’s the one that leads people to overeat. All the satisfaction takes place in the mouth.

Many people overeat from boredom and stress. Stress is another issue, which I won’t comment on, as it is so complex and individual, but I do observe a lot of eating behaviour which is just for ‘something to do’ and it’s mainly snacking. On holiday last summer I saw a lot of our fellow travellers munching crisps and sweets as they went between locations, and having seen what they scoffed from the breakfast buffet I can be quite certain they weren’t hungry!

It’s easy to tell the difference between stomach and mouth hunger, and tell the latter to ‘get thee behind me’ – it can be diverted also, by the tingling of a sparkling mineral water, or the clean flavour of green tea. The other way of satisfying those tastebuds is to eat more slowly at meals, which I am trying to learn to do, so that I get more satisfying sensations from my food. The flavour of foods is intensified by CRON, in any case, which is a bonus, and that quarter glass of red wine I have with meals is taken in very small sips. I enjoy every one.

Friday, 23 November 2007


When I was 14 I decided that I really ought to learn something about cooking as this would be a useful skill, so I started reading recipes. That was the start of a lifetime’s interest in food and its preparation. I am one of the unusual CRers who loves food and cooking. I have been subscribing to a cookery magazine for many years, and have recently been going though the back issues to see what CR-friendly recipes I can glean. I am currently putting them onto a database in order to be able to dispose of the magazines which I don’t have room for. There isn’t really a CR-friendly magazine as such. I have looked at slimmers’ magazines and they are obviously designed for people who are overweight and want to be slimmer not skinny me who wants to stay that way, so the recipes are still way too calorific. But the mag I usually take does have quite a few healthy style recipes and many which can be tweaked usually by reducing the amount of oil used (for tablespoons read teaspoons) and substituting a few ingredients. Some recipes intended to be side dishes can suddenly find themselves promoted to main course status. There are a lot of recipes that are way beyond the pale, however. The classic signs to look out for are names that include certain key words such as ‘creamy’, ‘cheesy’, ‘sticky’ ‘luxury’, ‘decadent’ and ‘indulgent’. And any recipe whose title includes the word ‘heaven’ is probably going to get you there a lot faster. We are urged to treat ourselves to things that are naughty but nice. This does call to mind the time I saw a friend who I knew was trying to lose weight, consuming a large sugary snack. She commented guiltily that she knew she shouldn’t be eating it but reckoned she deserved a treat. But that was a treat only for the tastebuds, a few minutes of pleasure followed by hours of regret. A treat should be something that is going to benefit our bodies, not do them damage. My friend didn’t deserve that snack because she is a good person who should be with us as long as possible.

The useful thing about the magazine is that for each recipe it supplies a calorie count per portion plus analysis of protein, fat, saturated fat, carbs, sugar, fibre and salt. And what a horror story this sometimes tells. There have been 500 calorie starters, dessert recipes with over 800 calories a portion, vegetable dishes dressed with cream and butter, and one main course which was over 1100 calories! The magazine would probably say in its defence that it always possible to make adjustments elsewhere in the meal, but this argument doesn’t apply to features which recommend a three course menu. Taking a magazine at random I went through all of these set menus and counted the calories. Not including drinks with the meal, I found that they were advising people to consume 2000 to 3000 calories at one sitting. So I wrote to them pointing out that while I appreciated that this wasn’t a slimmers’ magazine, they were suggesting that readers eat at one meal as many or more calories than were recommended for the average person to consume in a whole day. In other words these were weight-gain menus. They didn’t reply, but I noticed they did do lip-service to this point in a later issue by stating that a course could be omitted if it was felt to be too much!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

The Two of Us

Great excitement today – Sarah visited for a cup of coffee – this is the first time I have met another CRer – so I told the other half he was officially outnumbered which he took with his usual good grace. As ever I think we wanted to talk about everything on our first meeting but couldn’t squeeze it all in – good to know we were in agreement about so many things and we also found other interests in common, a love of cats and the theatre. Probably loads more we haven’t found yet. It would be great if more London-based CRers could meet up. Sarah had a great suggestion – the ideal place is the Wholefood Store in Kensington where you can just choose your own food and take it to the dining area to eat and chat. Must try and set that up sometime!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

Not my actual birthday but my CRON birthday. I don’t know the exact date I started CRON but I do recall it was mid November 2006, so I have nominated November 15th. So here I am, one year on and I am thinking about what has changed. Well I am lighter than I have been all my adult life, about 90lb. I put on fashionable clothes, look in the mirror and feel horribly pleased with myself. My mood is lighter, too – the CR euphoria effect, even though I don’t fast. Those people who think CRers are miserable are so very wrong! And I haven’t had a cold all year, at least nothing with the usual sniffly congested miserable symptoms, even though my other half has had three, and I used to get every cold he had, only worse. Food tastes so much better, I love to savour its fresh flavours. And I have plenty of energy to buzz about and do all the stuff I need to do. I have not had to give up any food that I enjoy eating. I have been able to make low-calorie nutritious versions of things I like. Some unhealthy foods I find I no longer want to eat in any case. I can still, with a little ingenuity in choices, eat out regularly. I have had a hiatus hernia for some years, and used to take medication to fight acid reflux. Not any more. And I don’t have to prop myself up on lots of pillows to sleep. Through the CR Society I have made the acquaintance of a great number of intelligent and interesting people, read their comments daily, and look forward to meeting them some day. I have learnt a huge amount about nutrition. Nothing is worse, lots of things are far far better. My only regret is that I didn’t discover CRON earlier.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Just Desserts

I have never had much of a sweet tooth, and a year on CRON makes me even less inclined to eat sweet stuff. But I do like a nice not-too-sweet pudding, especially ice-cream, and I don’t see why with a little kitchen ingenuity it can’t be part of my diet. Some CR-friendly desserts are designed to be as low calorie as possible, but why not shift the emphasis and make the dessert the star of the show? Fresh fruit, natural yogurt, skim milk, egg whites, low fat soft cheeses, good quality cocoa, nuts and seeds, all can be employed to produce dishes full of vitamins, protein and calcium. Start the meal with a big salad or steamed vegetables, then tuck into a fruit and yogurt ice-cream sundae sprinkled with chopped almonds. To the casual onlooker you seem to be scoffing something wildly calorific – only you know it’s health food – and they will wonder how you maintain your trim figure!

Saturday, 27 October 2007


We eat out pretty regularly, and of course this is quite a challenge, as it is impossible to know exactly how many calories you are getting. A fair basic knowledge of nutrition does enable me to make a good estimate, and I try to be realistic. Underestimating what I am eating does no-one any favours. I choose the healthiest options I can find on the menu, assume that I am eating more calories than usual for that day and then adjust the day after. After a meal last evening – two fairly modest courses – I felt pretty full and continued to do so right until the following morning. And I realised something interesting. I didn’t really like the sensation. In fact I was looking forward to regaining the feeling I get inside when I am CRd. Some may call it hunger but after almost a year of CRON it feels different to me. I adopt the ‘little and often’ eating pattern so rarely go many hours without food. A light breakfast, lunch and dinner with 50-calorie snacks (usually almonds or fruit, or cottage cheese or a drink of oat milk) in between and lots of green or white tea to sip. So my stomach is either in the state of feeling comfortable, though not especially full with what I have just consumed, or it is in an empty resting state. And resting is good, without any discomfort or stress on the system. For many years I suffered from IBS – painful spasms of the intestines, precipitated by a horrendous bout of gastro-enteritis. There were a lot of remedies for this, none of which helped me, and I got a lot of advice about things to take, but when the pains came on all I could do was take painkillers, lie down, and wait for them to go. And then it dawned upon me – I was constantly being told to put things in my stomach, when what my body was demanding was a rest. So I went on a fast, and two days later the cycle of painful attacks was broken. And they never came back. I have been free of IBS for ten years. I can see why people feel peaceful when fasting, the body is not labouring to digest volumes of food. Not that fasting is for me, except on that one occasion. But I welcome back that little rumbly tickly feeling in the stomach that tells me I am properly CRd. In a peculiar way I have grown to like it. Incidentally, I contacted an IBS research organisation to tell them of my experiences, as I thought it might help others, but my comments were not taken seriously. Ten years on, I see that fasting is now recommended as a strategy for helping sufferers!

Friday, 19 October 2007

On the hoof

What to eat when out and about is a perennial problem. You may not always know how long you will be out, how much or what kind of food will be available and whether you will have access to any kind of cool food storage. I have a few solutions. If it is just a matter of being out for a few hours, most food will keep cool if well wrapped, so I take my finger salad – stuff like celery cucumber etc cut in strips that I can eat with my fingers out of the box, plus cherry tomatoes and small salad leaves. I add some cubes of low fat cheese or a few almonds. Almonds are a great portable emergency snack and I have sometimes lunched off a small handful of almonds and an apple. I am also experimenting with a healthy flapjack recipe. Best kept in fridge or freezer they can be taken out just before you travel. On a longer trip your hotel may not be the health food emporium you would like it to be and will look askance if you bring your own food and ask to use their fridge, so last time I was on a weekend trip I took apples, plus a tin of butter beans, (a large white cooked bean - nothing to do with butter!) two tinlets of tuna in water, a small plastic box and a tin opener. Day one, I opened the beans, put half of them in the box for the next day (they will be fine for 24 hours unrefrigerated) and used the rest plus one tinlet of tuna for a salad. The next day I used the rest of the beans and the other tin of tuna. That was two lunches. Dinner and breakfast being buffet style in the restaurant I was able to choose something suitable.

Sometimes these situations will lead to serendipitous discoveries. Not long ago I was staying at a location where mass catering was the order of the day and breakfast was going to be bacon, sausage, fried eggs etc. I rooted around the kitchen and found a pack of rolled oats but there were no facilities for cooking a single portion. So I improvised by pouring some oats into a serving bowl and adding boiling water. In five minutes I had porridge. And it was the best porridge I had ever eaten! The grains had a little bite to them and the nutty taste of the oats was more evident than if I had simply boiled them. I made another discovery on a similar occasion. Again, staying away from home, I was in a cold house and wanted a hot breakfast. There was a big bowl of delicious fresh fruit salad in the fridge which was just what I fancied eating except that it was cold. So I filled a bowl with it and put it in the microwave just long enough to warm it through but not long enough to actually cook it. Yummy. Even if I was lowering the vitamin content by warming it I was still getting more vitamins than if I hadn’t eaten it at all. So warm fruit salad is now a winter staple.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Win some, lose some

The downside of CRON is that you have to go and buy an entire new wardrobe of clothes. The good thing about CRON is that you have to go and buy an entire new wardrobe of clothes. I have been trying on last year’s winter garments, and some of them, principally skirts and trousers, are hanging on me like old sacks – or at least like clothes made for a larger woman. Sadly, there are some real favourites where the structure of the garment means they can’t simply be taken in – I am the daughter of a tailor and believe me, I know. So they are destined for ebay or the charity shop. The worrying thing is the stuff that fits. What on earth did I look like in them when I was 20% heavier than I am now? I must have been deluding myself into thinking that the bulging tum wasn’t really all that big and no-one was really going to notice that extra roll of blubber on the midriff; whereas now the fabric sits nice and smoothly over my trim waist and hips. In fact, for those of you who feel an urge to binge, or have secret cravings for CRON-unfriendly foods, here is my tip to drive away those hunger pangs – put on a clingy top and look in the mirror. Works for me! I think it may be an age thing. When I was in my 20s I used to wonder what the year 2000 would be like. Picturing myself then at the age of 52 I imagined a dumpy little woman rather thick around the middle. Today, I am in low-rise size 8(UK) (that’s size 4 USA) cargo pants and a skinny sweater, and getting away with it. At the age of 59 this is not something I take for granted! Anyway – must dash – I’m off to buy myself a cinch belt. The fashion gurus dictate that the waist is back. Thanks to CRON I’ve got one.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Happiness is a Nearby Farmer's Market

Feeling very elated right now as a new farmer's market has opened which is minutes walk from my home. I went with high hopes of what I might find and was more than delighted. I am now back with organic chicken, turkey and bison, the fabled spaghetti squash (I have never seen this on sale before) also another kind of squash and some black kale. So dinner tonight will be a lovely casserole of lean bison with red wine and veg. Looks like it will be a weekly event, and if the attendance I saw is anything to go by it has been a roaring success.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Selling Myself Short

I have been making a great effort to track nutrition on CRON-o-Meter. While I have established a good daily eating pattern this is a great way of showing up the potential gaps and making adjustments. I was alarmed recently to see that I wasn’t making my targets on potassium and zinc. It’s not a question of adding in one food to redress the balance, I think that the main way I will make those targets is eating a wide range of items all of which do provide those nutrients. One problem I have is that many of the products already on CRON-o-Meter are American, while the British ones I use are not there, and the nutritional analysis provided by the manufacturer only tends to give calories, protein, fat, carbs, fibre, salt and a very few of the major vitamins and minerals. One such item is fat-free yogurt which I make with an Easiyo mix, adding a little skim milk powder to increase protein and calcium. Originally, I entered the new foods onto CRON-o-Meter using the analysis on the pack, but have realised that by doing so I am omitting to include a lot of the trace nutrients which are undoubtedly there. And those little traces add up. So my total at the end of the day is inaccurate. I suppose what I ought to do is write a letter to all the manufacturers involved asking for a more detailed nutritional analysis (and then wait for ever for a reply) but what I have been doing in the meantime is revisiting my entries on CRON-o-Meter and seeing where the gaps are. The best way I have found is to look for something already on CRON-o-Meter which is very similar to what I am using and then adjust and re-name it. It won’t be perfect but even if the traces of zinc for example are not exactly right at least they will be there and not entirely absent! When I did this I found that my daily results were far better than I had feared, indeed I had made my targets of zinc, and only fell short of potassium a little. I need more greens and pulses, obviously. I like greens and pulses, in fact there are many delicious Indian soups and side dishes with those very ingredients, but if I produce any more gas I will probably go into orbit.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

The Incredible Shrinking Woman

No, I haven’t suddenly lost half an inch in height, but I have adjusted my details. I have been 4ft 11” all my adult life. Two years ago I was measured as part of a routine check and was told I was 4ft 10 1/2 “. I wasn’t convinced this was accurate, and still went around thinking I was 4ft 11” After all, it’s easier to say "four foot eleven" if I was asked how tall I am, and if you say you are 4ft 10 ½ some snidey person will make a comment about how important the half inch is. There’s an answer to that but I won’t post it here. I know the potential problems of having such a small frame. Last year I had a bone density scan which showed no cause for concern, and of course I make sure to eat lots of calcium rich foods and take supplements of calcium and vitamin D. But the other day I decided to get measured again, and I had to admit I as 4ft 10 1/2. The only good thing is that it means I haven’t dropped any height in the last two years.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Beach holiday

Five beaches to be precise: Juno, Gold, Sword, Utah and Omaha. We have just returned from a tour of the D-Day landing sites, and the places where battles were fought inland to get a foothold in Normandy over the 77 days of the 1944 campaign. So I have seen the Mulberry harbours, crossed the original Pegasus Bridge, and walked on Omaha beach. We also visited a number of war grave cemeteries, all beautifully and respectfully maintained. It’s humbling to think of all the young people who died for our freedom.

Normandy is of course, the land of cream, butter, and full-fat cheese, so I was a little concerned if my 4-day stay was going to pile on the calories. I took with me some apples almonds and low calorie cereal bars in case I was ever stuck somewhere with nothing at all I wanted to eat, but in the end I needn’t have worried. Breakfast was a buffet affair and there was always fresh fruit and plain yogurt. Most cafés will do a salad with seafood or chicken. Big surprise was a chain called Buffalo Grill, an American diner and the last place I would have expected to find low calorie meals, but they do a number of designated healthy dishes of less than 330 calories. Best one was the lean bison steak, grilled and served with a mound of steamed green beans sprinkled with garlic. Perfect. I did have a buckwheat pancake one day, stuffed with lettuce and goat’s cheese, but didn’t eat all the cheese. My main indulgence was a glass of good Merlot in the bar at the end of the day. At home I have about a quarter of that. I must have done something right as I returned the same weight as when I left.

Salads are easy to get but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of variety of vegetables. So I’m looking forward to getting back to my big mixed veg plates with cottage cheese for dinner. I’m used to some cereal fibre in my diet and everywhere most bread was white, so next time I go to France I will take some oatbran and oatgerm to add to my fruit and yogurt in the morning.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Fat-free cheese

As an avid reader of April's blog I naturally want to cook some of her creative dishes, but I haven't been able to locate two vital ingredients - fat free mozzarella and ricotta. I was at the Kensington Wholefoods market yesterday. It's a good thing I can regard some food merely as art, dining off its beauty rather than its calories! I will return when I feel a little less dazed by the massive variety there, but I did get some red cabbage and broccoli seeds for sprouting, and an excellent Thai curry paste, packed with herbs and spices (and no oil!). I specifically asked about fat free cheese but they didn't have it or even know it existed. Frustratingly I can find it on the internet, on sale in the USA, but I don't think it's one of those things you can order by mail in the UK! I have just written to the store asking if they plan to stock it. Has anyone in the UK had better luck in tracking it down? The other thing I wanted was cartons of eggwhites. They did have these - frozen. I had planned to buy fresh and then divide them up to freeze in batches. I'm not sure I can use 33 eggwhites up in a week! Has anyone any thoughts on this? I have written to the manufacturers to see if there is anywhere I can get them fresh, but they are not widely distributed.

Saturday, 1 September 2007


Nemi eats loads of junk food and drinks far too much yet is effortlessly slim. This is because she is a cartoon character. I adore the Nemi cartoons which are a great commentary on our everyday lives. Yesterday's (I read them in the London edition of the Metro) showed Nemi having just scoffed a plate of iced cakes reflecting without a trace of guilt that joie-de-vivre is better than self-control. Wrong, of course, but that is how people do think. Self control, in the CRON sense, leads to joie-de-vivre, in the long term, a kind of sustained gentle pleasure that is so much better than the quick fix.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Luigi Cornaro - CR icon

I have only just discovered the discourses of Luigi Cornaro, ‘How to Live 100 Years, or Discourses on the Sober Life’, written some 450 years ago and yet so fresh and beautiful. The man was way ahead of his time! He describes the kind of life I would like to lead, healthy and simple and full of gentle pleasures. There are quite a few websites with this on – here is one –

This evocation of peace and happiness and contentment is like a balm on our frazzled modern consciousness. I have read it through several times and aim to read it again often. The thing that gets me is that he was writing at a time when nutrition as a science didn’t exist. There was a concept of what food was good for invalids, i.e. very simple digestible food, but that was about it. He had no idea that vitamins existed, and no nutritional software! His diet was pretty reasonable – meat, fish, vegetables, soup, egg (only the yolk) milk, panado - which I think is a bread and milk pudding, and wheatmeal as opposed to refined bread. He doesn’t mention fruit but he did drink what to us would seem like a lot of wine – I don’t know how strong it was back then! The then current way of thinking was that if food was good for the palate it was good for the stomach. He tested this idea on himself and realised that it was wrong. The reason being of course that even then, for a man of means, there were all sorts of refined foods very far from what was available in nature, which deluded the palate with flavour unconnected to good nutrition. Having changed his diet to a modest and simple regime he said that after many years he relished his simple food more than he would have done refined delicacies. So he effectively reversed the prevalent idea – feed the body and the palate will follow. So if you eat food which is good for the body eventually you will come to prefer that food to the unhealthy stuff. So – eventually - no cravings – it’s just a matter of sticking with it.

The man is an inspiration!

Monday, 27 August 2007

Wot, no pasta?

I do like a nice Bolognese sauce – I use Quorn mince as a base, with beef broth to add flavour, garlic, tomatoes, onions, peppers and herbs. Even my almost obligate carnivore other half likes it! But what about the pasta? I have been using wholewheat in small amounts but it doesn’t give the nutritional ‘bang for the buck’ as they say. I have been experimenting with substitutes – one is finely shredded lettuce, which does give nice long thin threads for the sauce to cling to and a crunchy freshness. The other idea is courgettes - (zucchini in the USA). I cut them very thin lengthways and steam in the microwave till tender. A nice alternative to penne is mushrooms sliced quite chunkily. Shirataki noodles are quite good and almost calorie free but are best in wet dishes like soups. I was wondering if anyone had any better ideas?

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Back from the BBQ

Thanks for the welcome messages!

I think I did OK at the BBQ. The trick is to bring a dish I know I can eat, (lime and chilli chicken) fill up on sugar-free drinks while I am waiting for the food to be put out and get cooked, then dig into the salad and chicken. There were sausages and burgers, there too, all very fatty and indigestible. Not at all tempting to me. But there were some great vegetable skewers, and corn on the cob, and strawberries and a good red wine. Perfect. More calories than I am used to, but I balanced it with a lighter than usual lunch before I set out and a smaller than usual breakfast this morning.

Saturday, 25 August 2007

My first blog posting

This will at present be an occasional blog – only as time permits. Life is too busy for me right now but I look forward to next year when I retire and will hopefully have a little more time.

I am 59 and have been practising CRON since last November. It is a fascinating process of learning and refining which still has a long way to go - an exciting journey which I am really enjoying. I may well be the shortest Cronie at 4ft 11” and weighed about 110lb when I began. My weight shaded down gradually losing about half a pound a week and now varies between 91 and 92. I haven’t felt this good in ages, and love the way my clothes fit.

There have over the last few months been a number of ‘challenges’ to meet - restaurant meals, weekend trips etc but these have been much less of a problem than I had imagined. I can usually find something I want to eat. Last Saturday I was at a wedding held in a Weatherspoon’s pub. The buffet consisted of large platters of chips, fried chicken, fried onion rings, fried onion bhaijis, and similar stuff with seafood salads smothered in mayonnaise and a cheeseboard. There was some white pasta with tomato sauce and shaved parmesan. Hmmm. I did find a plate with some melon slices and grabbed one, then got the grape garnish off the cheeseboard, and managed to excavate some salad that had missed out on the mayo smothering. I found a dry cracker, looked at it, decided I couldn’t be bothered with it and left it. I had a few bits of pasta in the sauce. I drank a glass of champagne and an orange juice. It was enough until I got home and had a nice salad dinner.

Was I tempted by the chips and other fried stuff? Not one bit. My stomach is used to fresh healthy food with good clean flavours. Had a large bowl of blueberries been placed on the table no-one else would have got a look-in!

Good to read about how little ladies like me have an advantage in CRON as we eat less. I aim at about 1200 calories a day. Rarely more, sometimes less. I weigh most stuff apart from salads and the really watery veg. But once I have weighed an item I don’t need to do it again. I know how many almonds make a 50 calorie snack. I know the calories in the normal size portion of chicken and salmon. My tuna tin says on the outside how many calories within. It’s not that hard.

I love good wine and good chocolate. I manage to consume both in moderation.

Today I am going to a friend’s barbecue. I am taking a dish with me – chicken breast portions sliced lengthwise into thirds, marinated in one teaspoon of mild chilli powder, the juice of a lime and a handful of chopped fresh coriander. If I was at home I would bake this in the oven on a non-stick baking sheet. And bring on the crunchy salad!

Testing testing

This is my first posting - let's see how it looks!