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 caf├ęs 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.