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 caf├ęs 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.