Wednesday, October 31, 2007

20 Pounds of Tomatoes

My mother in law (MIL) gave us a box of tomatoes that she bought at the end of the farmer's market for a song. 20 pounds is a LOT of tomatoes!! I've got three stacks of tomato slices in the food dehydrator, and made a huge pot of tomato sauce that simmered all day with tons of veggies - onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and zucchini. I made polenta lasagna for dinner, packaged 8 individual pasta meals for MIL, served some to Jax for lunch (he dunked his grilled cheese into it), and put 4 quarts into freezer bags in the freezer. I still have about 5 pounds of tomatoes left, and I'm out of creative juices. I don't want to can them and Mr.M won't eat raw tomatoes. Do you know any tasty tomato recipes that will freeze well?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daily Menu for Saturday, October 27

I was on track yesterday. I was on track today. It's a start! I do need to be more gentle and forgiving of myself when I'm struggling, and more encouraging of myself for having on plan days.

Daily Menu

Nonfat latte

Lunch: (not CORE, but out to eat, what looked like the best option on the menu)
BIG salad with a scoop of Tuna salad (est. 6 Points for mayo in salad)
Roll with butter (3 Points)

Sweet and sour Lentils
1 c. milk

WPA (Weekly Points Allowance) points used today: 9
WPA points available: 28
Activity points today: 2 (Walk Away the Pounds)
Activity points this week: 2

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies - 5+
2. Whole grains - none today
3. Milk - yes
4. Healthy oil - 2
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+
8. Multivitamin - yes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tomorrow's daily menu: getting back on track

I'm going through an emotionally tumultuous time, in addition to being very busy outside of the house, and I've fallen back to my old standby of food to comfort me. I knew I did poorly last week and skipped a meeting, and this morning I weighed myself. I'm up again, no big surprise. I am not making any more excuses. I am not skipping any more meetings. I am not letting myself regain all the weight I've lost. I just have to push myself to do what I know how to do and let the rest work itself out.

I'm posting tomorrow's daily menu. And then Saturday's. And then Sunday's. I'm just doing it. I can't keep putting it off and hoping that I'll wake up in the mood to be on plan. I can't eat my way out of emotional discomfort.

Daily menu
Crock pot oatmeal with peaches (oatmeal from Windborne Farm, peaches frozen from Frog's Leap Winery)
2 c. milk (Organic Valley in Modesto)

Lentil-rice soup with kale and leeks (kale and leeks from the Full Belly box)
Sliced tomato salad with olive oil and vinegar

Egg curry (eggs from Glaum)
Carrots and green beans (from Full Belly)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Busy wreaks havoc on the best laid plans

This has been a very busy week, and I have not kept up with my plan. I know that without following it, I will not be successful. I know that by eating out instead of cooking, I'm wasting money, wasting Points, and wasting good vegetables that sit uneaten in the fridge. But still, after being busy all day, it's HARD to get up the energy to prepare a healthy meal. Sadly, I'm finding it difficult to even reheat my frozen meals and add a fresh veggie on the side. I'm slipping and I am not sure how to pull myself out of it. It's like the diet-honeymoon mentality has ended and my motivation slacks, but I'm only 20% to my goal and can't give up now!

I'm embarassed to even post my menus these days, since they're not menus, just the junk I've picked up in the school cafeteria, or fish sticks with the kids I baby sit. Not Locavore, not Core, not healthy, and not what I want. I don't feel as healthy, I'm sluggish, and I'm grumpy.

What do I do? What is the best way of sticking to plan when you're busy and tired?

The first thing I need to do is eat breakfast at home. I am so much better at staying on plan when I've eaten healthy food to start the day.

And I have to exercise! I feel so much better when I exercise, and I lose so much more consistently. I'm going to do my exercise video first thing in the morning.

I'm done eating for the evening, but start over tomorrow morning. I know I can do this - I've done it for months - I just have to DO it!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Daily Menu for October 15

I've been off track for the past few weeks, and as a result I've gained 2.8 lb. I need to nip this in the bud and get right back on track, because I'm not willing to let myself regain the weight I've worked so hard to lose. There is a sign in one of my classrooms that reads:

The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what we want most for what we want in the moment.

It has resonated with me and I'm thinking about it again in relation to my weight loss efforts. Why do I let what I want in the moment defeat my long term goals? It's too easy to think, just this once... Just this once I'll have a cookie (or 5). Just this once I'll get French fries from the drive through on the way home. Just this once I'll skip exercising. The trouble is, just this once leads to more and more, and before I know it, I'm completely off track with French fries wrappers piling up in the car, feeling sick to my stomach and guilty to boot. Not worth it.

So I'm back to posting my weekly menu and daily menu, which has been a great tool for me to date. I've used my Weekly Points Allowance already on a pointy dinner out last night (not the best move!), so this will be a strict Core week. The only extra points will be activity points. This is also a busy week with school, babysitting, and other obligations, so I'll have to be really on my game to pack lunches and stay on track.

Weekly Menu:
Monday - Snapper Veracruz, brown rice, green salad
Tuesday - Chili, polenta corn cakes with fresh corn, carrots
Wednesday - Curried eggs, brown rice, kale
Thursday - Chicken cacciatore, barley, acorn squash
Friday - Lentil taco salad, green beans
Saturday - Home made egg drop soup and pot stickers (Points)

Daily Menu

2 eggs from Glaum

Snapper Veracruz with locally caught snapper
Brown rice from Lundberg
Green salad with lettuce and tomatoes from Full Belly Farm and olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Hare Hollow

Leftover quinoa picadillo
2 c. milk

WPA (Weekly Points Allowance) points used today: 0
WPA points available: 0
Activity points today: 2 (Walk Away the Pounds)
Activity points this week: 2

Daily 8 - the 8 Healthy Guidelines
1. Fruits and veggies - 5+
2. Whole grains - brown rice, quinoa
3. Milk - yes
4. Healthy oil - 2
5. Protein - yes
6. Limit sugar and alcohol - yes
7. Water - 8+
8. Multivitamin - yes

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reasons to love the farmer's market, in addition to great produce

I'm reminded again this morning why I love the farmer's market. Not only is there a dazzling array of tasty, fresh, locally grown, seasonal produce, fish, tofu, sausage, nuts, oils and vinegars, cheeses, and breads, but today, vegan butternut squash tamales (yummy!), an accordian player, a small band, a man making animals out of rubber bands, and a Draft Gore stand with a petition to draft Al Gore to run for president. I discovered that cornmeal can be purchased from Full Belly Farm and ginger will be sold next year from the woman who grows all the yummy Asian produce. Yep, it's enough to make a gal like me weak in the knees. The Palo Alto farmer's market runs through early December, and then I'll have to find new Saturday morning entertainment.

This morning, I picked up a pound of snapper for tomorrow night's dinner, Snapper Veracruz; smoked cheddar cheese, dried cranberry beans, Glaum eggs (certified humane), a couple of yellow bell peppers, cilantro and green onions, and 10 pounds of "Sweet September" peaches to freeze for pancakes, smoothies, and oatmeal this winter. I also bought one heirloom Red Delicious apple, which was indeed delicious and resembled the glossy, mealy store-bought variety in name only. I spent about $45. So far this month, I think I'm up to about $90, including milk (Organic Valley from California) and soy milk purchased at Costco last week.

The CSA box this week includes:

Green beans
Red Russian Kale
Acorn squash

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Applesauce in Colorado

My Aunt Janet and Uncle Cole have sent me photos of their home grown applesauce endeavor for the Colorado edition of the blog. The first photos are of their tree and garden this spring, covered with apple blossoms. So pretty!

Next comes harvest, and they had quite the bounty in red delicious apples! They picked 3 five gallon buckets of apples from their tree.

Here is Cole with some of the freshly picked pears, berries, and apples. Finally comes the applesauce and apple butter. Cole described the process:

"We just cored & de-wormed the apples, cooked the heck out of them (with a little water), ran them through a ricer to remove the skins, and canned them. The apple butter was similar, but cooked longer & with lots of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice...)

It's a good use for organically grown apples. You can cut the bugs out of the ones that go into the applesauce and, at the same time, sort out wormless apples to snack on whole."

They now have 15 quarts of applesauce and pear-applesauce, and enjoyed apple-blackberry cobbler, pear-blackberry pie, apple brown Betty, and blackberry frozen yogurt with their homegrown fruit as well. Janet says that all the cobblers made low-no fat, with minimal sweeterns and diet friendly! She's a Weight Watcher, too.

The love for local foods apparently runs in the family! Janet and Cole are conscious eaters, and Janet's daughter and son-in-law, Panaena and Joe, are local eaters, too. They had a locally sourced cocktail hour at their wedding reception last summer. Janet just sent me a link to our cousin Jim's new website: Their goal is to:

increase the production and consumption of wholesome foods grown and sold
locally. We are developing a web-based exploratory learning environment where
folks can have fun while deepening their appreciation of the social and economic
impacts of "Buy Fresh, Buy Local."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Farm Fun at the Hoe's Down

Jax, Mr.M, Mr.M's mom, my friend B, and I spent Saturday at Full Belly Farm's 20th Annual Hoes Down, locavore heaven! We had a great time! Jax and Mr.M spent most of the day climbing through the straw fort, with occasional breaks to pet the goats and climb on tractors. The childrens' area also had quite a few workshops and activities for bigger kids, like making acorn bread, painting gourds, making clay creatures or corn husk dolls, story time in the tipi, ice cream churning, felt making, an obstacle course called "Peas and Chaos," and pumpkin carving. Next year, perhaps Jax will appreciate more than the straw fort, but he had a great time just climbing!

Meanwhile, I went to a few of the workshops with my friend B., including sheep sheering, a tour of the farm led by farmer Andrew Brait, and "What's Your Beef?" with Jim and Mary Rickert of Prather Ranch explaining what it means to be grassfed, natural, and organic when it comes to beef. The tour was especially interesting to me, learning about where the food in my CSA box comes from each week and talking to one of the men who puts it there. Here's a picture of the brand new broccoli, which we'll be enjoying later this winter.

Other workshops offered were a tour of a straw bale house (we arrived too late for that one,) blacksmithing (Mr.M caught that while I was learning about beef), cow milking, composting, a native plant walk, olives and olive oil, organic strawberries, fruit trees, chickens and eggs, bees, grapes, farm insects and diseases, and farm equipment. Old fashioned games like sack races, apple bobbing, a watermelon eating contest, and a manure pitch-off were held. Live music could be enjoyed at either of two stages, and a large group was learning to square dance as we were getting ready to leave. The Herb Yurt offered a variety of activities learning about herbs, and a wagon ride led by draft horses continually circled the farm for those wanting a bit of a break from all the activity. The California Indian Culture and Arts area offered demonstrations of basket weaving and how to make pine nut bracelets.

Additionally, a farmer's market was set up in the center square so we could enjoy the many seasonal fruits and vegetables, along with stands offering Prather Ranch organic hamburgers, chicken dinners with Rosie organic chickens, Drakes bay oysters, grilled veggies, baked goods, organic ice cream and popsicles. Our burgers were excellent, as was the grilled sweet corn and vanilla ice cream. It was not a Core meal, but it was worth it! WERC (Whole Earth Reusable Cooperative) provided reusable plates and flatware for all of the food, and composting was readily available for anything left uneaten. For an event this large (5,000 people were estimated to attend) you can just imagine how much garbage was kept from the landfill by reusing, recycling, and composting.

I had a chance to meet Jessica Prentice, author of Full Moon Feast, the local foods wheel, and one of the Locavore founders. Of course, I gushed that finding the locavore movement changed my life - I'm happier, healthier, and lighter since starting the journey.

One could spend the entire day and not see everything. Had we stayed overnight, we could have spent Sunday river rafting trip, learned about biodiesel, or taken a more extensive tour of walking tour of the farm. Next year we're camping overnight so we can enjoy more of the festivities!

A reporter from Woodland's Daily Democrat heard me compliment Andrew Brait, the Full Belly Farmer who led our tour, and interviewed me for the paper. You can read her story about the Hoes Down here.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Grains are Here!

I picked up my first Grain CSA shipment last weekend, and it included:

2 bags of pancake mix
1 bag of rye flour
1 bag of hot cereal
1 bag of hard red wheat
1 bag of whole barley
3 dried red corn on the cobs
1 spray of wheat

Each bag weighs about two pounds, some more, some less. The newsletter tells me that the whole corn can be used as posole, added into soups, breads, or whole with butter. I'll be looking through the whole grains cookbook for posole recipes!

The pancake mix has this to say for itself:

Rafael's Pancake Mix
You can use this pancake mix for waffles, pancakes, muffins, cakes, or any non-yeast kind of quickbread in place of all-purpose flour or pastry wheat. Rafael shucked all the corn for this and the San Francisco Waldorf's 4th grade class picked all the corn. This is Rafael's special blend of many rare grains, including: Oaxacan green dent corn, teff, flax seed, orange popping amaranth, len wheat, ry, Ethiopian hulless barley, and hulless oats!

I made up a batch of peach pancakes this afternoon, and the mix is made delightfully fluffy, light pancakes with a more complex flavor than standard white flour mix. I froze them flat between layers of wax paper for quick breakfasts; they'll be easy to reheat in the toaster. Everything but the spices and baking powder is locally grown, with pancake mix from the CSA and peaches frozen after our August trip to Frog's Leap.

Peach Pancakes
3 c. pancake mix or all-purpose flour
1 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ginger
1/8 t. nutmeg
2 eggs
2 T honey, melted to liquid consistency, or 2 T sugar
1/4 t. vanilla
1 T canola oil
2 c. fat free milk
2 peaches, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
(optional, 1/4 c. chopped pecans)

Sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, then beat in honey, oil, and milk. Stir liquid mixture into dry ingredients. Do not over mix. Gently fold peaches into batter.

Preheat griddle, then spray with non-stick spray (I use Canola oil in a Misto sprayer.) Ladle about 1/8 c. onto the griddle to make 4 inch pancakes. Cook until bubbles are just set, then flip to cook the other side. Serve immediately or freeze flat between layers of wax paper. Serves 8, 3 pancakes per serving.

Pancakes are not CORE because flour is not CORE. Each serving is 4 Points.

Dinner tonight is leftover lentil-rice soup with kale. I made a big batch last night. This had just 10 minutes of hands on time and made the whole house smell yummy. You might want a dash of Tabasco sauce for the heat-seeking eater, but it's really warm and hearty, full of fiber and protein, and lots of healthy veggies.
Lentil-Rice Soup with Kale
8 servings
1 T olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 cup brown rice
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 t. thyme
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. pepper
1 bunch kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
Saute onion, garlic, carrot, and celery in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add lentils and brown rice and stir together for a few minutes. Add stock and spices. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce to simmer for 45 minutes. Add kale and cook 5 minutes longer. Remove bay leaf before serving.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

This blog at 3000 hits!

This blog has had almost exactly 3000 hits since I started it in early June. It has had visitors from around the nation and the globe, including readers in Mexico, Canada, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Italy, India, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand! When I started the blog, I didn't expect it to have much appeal outside of fellow Weight Watchers and a few local eaters, but it seems that there is wider interest in the ideas of eating locally and losing weight.

You guys are finding me from Google searches as varied as "cupcakes" and "bean soup" to "fire trucks" and "Peninsula walks". However you got here, and wherever you're visiting from, I'm so glad you've stopped by. Hopefully you're finding something useful and interesting here. I'm excited to hear from you, too, so continue to post comments or e-mail me. The encouraging words have meant a great deal to me, and more than once I've gone back to read them instead of eating when I really wanted an ice cream sundae!

Thanks for reading and for coming back! Keeping the blog has kept me accountable, and that's been awesome for my continuing weight loss.

(Want to see where fellow readers are coming from? Interested in how many people have visited today? You can click the "sitemeter" button on under archives and check it out. The world map is especially interesting.)

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dinner was DEEElish

...but sadly didn't photograph well. I made beans and rice with the fresh cranberry beans from Full Belly Farm and brown rice from Lundberg Farm. To go with the beans and rice, I made a puree of roasted eggplant, onion, and acorn squash, all from Full Belly, and garlic from Gilroy. Those fantastic fresh Brussels sprouts from Green Oaks Creek Farm were a side dish, pan roasted with garlic, Hare Hollow olive oil, and a spritz of lemon from a neighbor's tree. Yum! A tomato-basil salad (both from Full Belly) rounded out the meal for a colorful, completely local, 100% Core Meatless Monday dinner. Jax is having a bit of watermelon for dessert, the last of the farmer's market watermelon from his birthday last weekend.

Here's the menu plan for the rest of the week:
Tuesday - Eggplant tamale pie (with leftover eggplant puree, tomatoes, and spices, and fresh corn in the tamale part), carrots
Wednesday - Chicken cacciatore (from the freezer) with wheat berries, zucchini
Thursday - Tofu stirfry with bok choy, bulgur
Friday - Grilled steak, mashed potatoes, kale