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February 2010

Groceries unplugged

I'm a big coupon clipper, and every Saturday night I go through my stash plus the weekly grocery circular to make my shopping list for the week.

(Exciting Saturday, I know. Jealous?)

But I've been tossing out a lot of coupons lately with my pledge to buy and consume fewer processed foods.

I've also noticed that when there are fewer packaged foods in the fridge or pantry it's less easy to grab a quick snack or meal. I have to think about it more -- a good thing.

Instead of an easy frozen "diet" meal or can of salt soup for lunch, I'll fix myself a sandwich or make a big salad. When snack time rolls around I used to reach for a protein bar. Now I shoot for Greek yogurt and fruit.

Having more "perimeter" foods in the house usually means more nutrients, more fiber, less preservatives, less mindless eating and more creativity.

Because I am a big stinking busybody, I surreptitiously snapped this photo during a recent trip to the grocery store. I was floored at how much overprocessed crap was in this shopping cart and how much money this person was going to spend on packaged garbage.


Fish gone wild

Close-up of a cod fish

For some time I've made it a point to only buy wild fish at the grocery store. You're less likely to get a fish stuffed with antibiotics, crappy fish food and pesticides, and more likely to get a better tasting fish with higher omega-3s.

So for me that usually means salmon. Anyone who shops at Publix is lucky, in that the grocery chain pretty much always has frozen wild coho salmon in the prepackaged seafood section.

But today I tried something different. Broadening my horizons, I picked up some wild cod that was on sale this week. (I also bought a piece of wild flounder.) I had always thought that cod was one of those stinky "fishy" fish but I was wrong. With just a dribble of olive oil and a dash of lemon pepper seasoning the cod was flaky and not stinky at all. (I think it was a bad experience with perch that turned me off of anything but salmon.)

I know wild salmon is a champion of health and eco-friendliness but I wasn't sure about my dinner choice tonight so I hopped over to the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector.  Turns out, U.S. Pacific cod falls in the "OK" section. I'm not exactly sure where my fish came from, but I'm guessing it's Alaska.

Sardinecrackers Another fish I've been digging recently has been sardines (rated eco-best). Don't wrinkle your nose -- sardines are awesome! They're cheap, sky high in omega-3's and high in calcium (dem bones). They're also low in contaminants.

A new favorite snack is sardines on GG Scandinavian Bran Crispbread. This is a crazy hard-core healthy snack (and yeah, it's not pretty, but whatever).

A can of sardines in water is 150 calories and two GG's are 24 calories. Add a sprinkle of lemon pepper (I'm really into my bottle of Badia lemon pepper seasoning) and you're done. You get -- ready? -- 19 grams of protein, 25 percent of your calcium, 1.3 grams of omega-3's and 10 grams of fiber.

The road to hell is paved with barbecue sauce

Empty-bottle I threw out a little stack of barbecue sauce containers that my mom insisted I have.

That smoky, sweet, sticky, syrupy stuff can be my undoing.

Sure it's just a chicken breast, but add a hundred calories of hickory-smoked goo and it becomes dinner and dessert.

Crap like barbecue sauce is what gets me into big trouble. Barbecue sauce, salad dressing, ketchup,  marmalade, Thai sweet chili sauce (oh, how I love it).  All those blasted condiments.

It's all mostly sugar, with a little fat thrown in for bad measure. It's not food, per se, right?

Those invisible calories have got to go. Because I don't do a little dab of barbecue sauce or ketchup -- I drown food in it.

To make up for the sauce sabbatical, I'm breaking out the Mrs. Dash and balsamic vinegar. No syrups, no salt but lots of flavor -- especially the Mrs. Dash chipotle flavor. 

Yet another thing I'm doing differently in 2010.

How much weight can I lose blowing my nose?


Yay, vegetables!

Some odds 'n' ends as I empty another box of tissues:

I've only had this cold since Saturday night but I'm thoroughly ready for it to go away. I've got a bunch of new workout DVDs that I'd love to try but when putting laundry away leaves me winded I figure I'll just chill on that until my breathing's better.

One task I did enjoy was compiling a list of 10 wonderful healthy blogs, in a guest post I did for You can find that list HERE.  I'm pretty sure I have let everyone on the list know that they're included.

It's only 35 days until Fitbloggin' 10 begins and I can't wait! It'll be great to finally meet some of the bloggers who I've tweeted with and e-mailed in the past. So what happened to that 20 pounds in 20 weeks grand pronouncement? Eh ... so far it's only 5 but hey, there's still a month left.

Which leads me to calories -- I need to cut back on them, so my new plan is to load up on fresh fruits and veggies when I head to the kitchen. It'll give me more fiber and antioxidants for fewer calories than other snacky things.

Speaking of fiber and antioxidants, I've been reading The O2 Diet and the The F-Factor Diet, two great books by two of my Twitter favorites. And they're not gimmicky "diet books" -- they point the way to foods high in antioxidants and in fiber.

Keri Glassman's 02 Diet touts foods high on the ORAC scale, or Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. It's a food's antioxidant capacity. Blueberries, cranberries, black beans and artichoke hearts are all high ORAC-scale foods. Herbs and spices, such as cinnamon, cloves and oregano are also high on the ORAC scale.

And many of the high-ORAC foods are high in fiber. I knew beans and berries were excellent sources of fiber but I was surprised to learn that artichoke hearts were also fiber superstars. I learned this in Tanya Zuckerbrot's F-Factor Diet book. The "F" of course is for fiber.

The book also reintroduced me to an old favorite -- GG Bran Crispbread. When I mean "favorite" I don't mean "mmm-mmm good" favorite. These crackers are hard-core high-fiber roofing shingles. But as a crunchy carb fix, they can't be beat. Each oversized cracker has only 12 calories but 5 grams of dietary fiber. A little smear of peanut butter or guacamole or a smooshed Laughing Cow Light on top makes them much tastier and only adds a few calories. A great little snack.

So it's superfoods and fiber as my primary foods -- clean, real food. You can't help but eat fewer calories with all that goin' on, right?

Checking out Nutrisystem's new foods

Sick as a dog -- that's what I've been this weekend.

(Although when my dog feels sick he goes into the back yard, eats some grass and pukes on the dining room carpet, so I'm not sick like that.)

I was guzzling Theraflu all weekend, taking advantage of the appetite-killing properties of the decongestant. So Super Bowl Sunday didn't cause any damage. Hubby grilled hamburgers, which I'm sure were delicious, but I couldn't really taste anything.

And being sick meant my husband did the grocery shopping, so now we have 5 pounds of baby carrots and seven heads of garlic -- overkill but greatly appreciated.

(Anybody have any garlic carrot recipes?)

Nutrisystemporkwrap Thankfully I have some soup to comfort me, courtesy of Nutrisystem. They sent me some of their new entrees to check out and some are really good, including their new wraps (buffalo chicken, Southwest chicken, barbecued pork, at right) and new soups (the chicken tortilla and creamy tomato are excellent).

The entrees have added fiber and protein to keep the glycemic index on the down low, helping to satisfy your hunger.

Nutrisystem cinnamonbun Their new breakfast muffins are a big improvement over past varieties. The blueberry and double chocolate muffins are great. And while the cinnamon bun (at left) isn't like anything you'll find at Cinnabon, it is a satisfying substitute. And what cinnamon bun do you know that has 7 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber?

I also wanted to find out about their Jumpstart plan that's being touted in TV commercials. Part of that are Nutrisystem Flavorfulls, drink powders in lemonade and iced tea flavors that contain 3 grams of fiber per serving. The Jumpstart also includes a one-on-on phone consultation and a success packet with tips for success. The lemonade Flavorfulls were my favorite and were a good way to sneak in more fiber and take the edge off a grumbly tummy. 

And while I haven't been doing Nutrisystem 100 percent, I ate it for most of my meals and snacks last week and discovered that I lost 4 pounds -- just the jump start that I needed.

It's World Salt Awareness Week: Here's how I cut down

It's World Salt Awareness Week. Do you know what too much sodium in your diet can do?

Osteoporosis, stomach cancer, kidney disease, stroke, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure.

Not to mention ugly bloating and those salt-overdose headaches and cotton mouth.

Nosaltlentilsoup Added sodium is everywhere in processed foods -- even foods you might not realize. An innocent cup of lowfat cottage cheese has a ridiculous 760 milligrams of sodium. Most canned soups, even the "healthy" stuff, can eat up half your recommended sodium for the day if you eat the entire can -- which most people do for lunch.

Want to cut soup sodium? Here's my hard-core way. Short of making my own soup, I sometimes buy Healthy Valley Organic No Salt Added soups. An entire can of the NSA black bean soup has 60 milligrams of naturally occurring sodium. Their lentil soup has 50 milligrams per can.

I'm not going to sugarsalt-coat it: The soup tastes like organic baby food. So I add a teaspoon of Frank's Red Hot sauce. A teaspoon has 200 milligrams of sodium, which is still far less than a can of regular soup. You get some sodium plus the zing of hot sauce. You also get a slight metabolic charge from the chili peppers.

Once that's in, the soups are filling and loaded with fiber and protein. One can of the lentil has 16 grams each of fiber and protein.