An Excellent Week For Food Waste!

Good afternoon!

This week I am so pleased to say that I have no food waste to report.  None.  Absolutely not a scrap.

The only waste we had this week in the Domesticated Physicist household was a very old container of generic Metamucil.  After having told my mom about my, um, most annoying pregnancy issue, she bequeathed me with a bottle she’d had in her cabinet.  Apparently that bottle had been there since before I graduated high school; it expired March of 2005.  Although I’m not sure how Metamucil expires, I wasn’t about to risk seven year old fiber powder.  I do like my colon, thank you very much.

Since I usually have some gross picture of inedible food, I’ll change it up this week and post a few pictures Beard took earlier this week:

This is the good old pregnancy gut.  Small, but it’s a start.  (17 weeks)

This is what my pregnancy gut will eventually look like.  Yes, I will have to make that face.  It is the only way to offset the discomforts of late pregnancy.

This was my idea.  Taking belly pictures with the Bitsy Girl, so we can chronicle how both our little people are growing in one easy photo.

And finally this picture.  My husband has figured out how to make it look as though Bitsy Girl is taking a picture of herself (classic MySpace shot).  This cracks me up, and it evidently cracks her up, too.  I love it.

Well, that’s all for now folks.  Happy Food Waste Friday!

FoodWasteFriday

 

It’s Going to Be a Green Monster Kind of Week

First, let me explain what a green monster is, then I’ll tell you why I’ll be drinking these all week.

I first read the term “green monster” on the blog  Oh She Glows.  This blog is written by a very creative vegan baker and blogger.  She has some of the best tasting and most innovative recipes I’ve seen on the web, and they’re pretty darn healthy, too!

Now, if you’ve been reading long enough, you’ll know that no one in the DP family is vegan or even vegetarian, but that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy the occasional healthy vegan recipe, including, of course, green monster smoothies.

A green monster is a smoothie that is made with a few cups of greens (usually spinach or kale) in addition to the usual fruit, ice, milk/yogurt, etc.  Green monsters are almost always very green in color (thus the name) but have little to no taste of the greens in them.  They are an excellent way to get your  daily dose of greens!

Why will I be drinking these things this week?

Since college I have been eating a green salad for lunch almost everyday during the warm months (and soup in the cold months).  I am one of those people that just loves veggies dressed in olive oil and vinegar.

I know there are those readers thinking “yes, yes, me too!” and then there are some of you thinking “ugg, I knew there was something I didn’t like about this lady”.

In the past week or so, though, (approximately weeks 11-12 of this pregnancy) I have not, for the life of been, been able to eat a green salad.  Which is weird.  Beyond weird.   But, of course, being the huge fan of Sam’s Club that I am, I bought the giant container of fresh baby spinach this week (which for the record, I go through by myself in a week and a half with no problem.

So my problem is that I have tons of spinach and no appetite for it.  And my husband is not about to dig into a green salad either.  Because of this, I’m embracing the green monster smoothie, both to use up my spinach and also to get it in my body in the least offensive way possible.

One of my go to green monster smoothie recipes is this:

DP’s Go To Green Monster Smoothie

(makes 2 servings)

2-3 cups spinach

1 banana

1/2 cup milk or yogurt

3-8 fresh or frozen strawberries (depending on size and mood)

2-4 tbsp flax seed (depending on how things are “going” that day)

1 cup of ice

I throw this in my blender on high until it’s smooth, then pour into two small Mason/Bell jars.  I’ll keep the second serving in the freezer if Beard isn’t feeling a smoothie; it’ll thaw just by taking it out and sitting on the counter at least a half hour or more before you want to drink it.

 

As a treat, sometimes I’ll look up some crazy delicious sounding green monster smoothies, and this is one I loved from Oh She Glows:  Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Bomb .

I did alter the recipe quite a bit when I made it because of what I had on hand:

  • I didn’t use tofu
  • My spinach was raw
  • I used extra cocoa powder instead of carob powder and Chocolate Infusion powder
  • I used cow’s milk
  • I used no oil
  • I used flax seeds instead of chia seeds (which DON’T do the same thing, but I just wanted flax in there)

The smoothie is a delicious treat!  Try it. 🙂

 

My New Best Friends

So now you have it, folks.  Your one and only Domesticated Physicist has a bun in her oven; she’s in the family way; she’s going to have a baby.  Again.

And do you know what that means?  Pregnancy brings with it a whole host of fun and exciting peripheral symptoms, but the one that plagues me by far the most is, uhh, lack of movement.  So far in two pregnancies I haven’t been super nauseous, haven’t really vomited much, nor have I had a lot of the nasty sounding first trimester symptoms some women get.  But oh boy do I see a significant decrease in my digestive action.

Now, I fancy myself an amateur nutritionist, so I’ve looked up and studied some of the guidelines for all the stages of a woman’s life.  One of those fun things that always pops up is fiber.  (For more on fiber, please see my nutrition series.)

During pregnancy, a woman needs an extra few grams of fiber.  And while she is nursing, she’ll need still a few more.  Well, what if you are in both stages?  Bitsy girl wouldn’t give up breastfeeding if she had to trade her left leg, so I have no intention of forcing her to stop just yet.

(For the record, she is not yet 12 months old, and her and I had a deal that she’d breastfeed for a year; I can’t go back on a deal with my firstborn, now can I?)

From what I’ve read and learned, it seems that in order to maintain any sort of digestive regularity I’m going to have to consume a lot of fiber.  And by a lot, I mean a lot.

So these have become my new best friends:

On the left is a generic brand Metamucil, orange flavor.  Yum!  And the baggy is filled with golden flax seeds.  I’ve been putting these suckers in nearly everything, much to my husband’s dismay.  He hates picking them out of his teeth.  But he tolerates it because he’d be much worse off if he had a cranky wife!

Just thought I’d share some fun tidbits from the life of the DP household.  Thanks for stopping by!

Fitting it All In

This is my final installment in my nutritional series.  Please check out the previous ones if you like this post.

 

For the past week I’ve been blogging about good nutrition to fuel your body.  I’ve touched on fiber, the low-fat craze, the meat/vegetarian question, and nutrition especially for pregnant and breastfeeding women.  Today I’d like to give some pointers on how to easily fit good nutrition into any lifestyle and on any budget.

 

1.  Have fruit and veggies convenient and available.  Our family has always kept most fruits on the counter because they do not require refrigeration.  Our regulars like bananas, apples, oranges, mangoes (unpeeled), and clementines are fine sitting on the counter staring us in the face.  When fruit is right there in your face, you are more likely to grab it when you are hungry.  The same goes for vegetables; have them and make them convenient.  If you don’t normally cook with vegetables, buy something fairly easy to use, like those tubs of washed baby spinach.  It’s easy to make a salad or sautee that up for a nutritious treat.  Baby carrots are also my best friends.  We are members of Sam’s, so we can buy 5 lb bags of baby carrots, and yes, we can eat them all before they go bad.  They are delicious!  For other vegetables (like peppers, broccoli, avocado, tomatoes) think about how you usually use them or may want to use them, and cut them or slice them when you have a few minutes.  Having a container of pre-chopped bell peppers means I am much more likely to throw them into a sauce than if I had to chop them after having already chopped the onions and garlic.

 

2.  Buy real food.  And you will know what real food is when you see it.  It will require washing, maybe soaking, and usually some cooking, but it is worth it.  I promise that learning to make your own rice pilaf is so much tastier and healthier than the box of Rice-a-roni you’ve been serving.  The same goes with meat.  Buy pre-cooked, pre-seasoned meats means you don’t really know all that is put in your food.  Sure you could read the label, but who really knows what dextrose gum and xanthanol are anyway??

 

3. Buy whole chickens.  This is really to help in the budget area, but it is also so simple that no matter what our food budget has been I’ve always like to roast a whole chicken.  A whole organic chicken at our grocery store usually costs about $8.  I can either roast the chicken whole or cut it into pieces and cook it that way.  When budgets were very tight for us, Beard and I would survive on one chicken per week for the two of us.  We could have pieces of roast chicken one night, some shredded chicken in quesadillas or paninis another night, maybe a stir fry another night, and make some chicken soup with the bones.  The best part, the chicken is real and you know what’s in it.  And whatever you add to it is your own choice.

 

4. Stay away from reduced fat anything.  I learned this lesson all too well with peanut butter.  When a company advertises some food as low fat, typically all they have done is removed some of the fat and replaced it with sugar (or worse, processed syrups) for flavor.  Usually the reduced fat versions have nearly as many or just as many calories as the full fat version, but they simply won’t keep you full as long because it will spike your blood sugar and leave you hungry an hour later.  Do yourself a favor and go ahead and buy the full fat version of whatever you’re purchasing.  Your waistline and your taste buds will not be disappointed.

 

5.  Use whole grains.  This is almost a no brainer.  Experts have been saying to eat whole grains for more than a decade now.  The truth is whole grains have more nutritional punch than any of the white, bleached ,tasteless carbohydrate products you can buy.  when you’re bringing home a loaf of bread, make it whole grain (not whole wheat, that’s a misnomer), and cook with whole grain pasta.  Sometimes it may cost a little bit more, but your heart and your colon will thank you (they told me so, I promise don’t ask why bodily organs speak to me, but they do).

 

I hope this series was helpful to my readers.  Tomorrow we’ll be going back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Thanks for reading!

Fiber: The Best Friend You Never Knew You Had

According to Wikipedia dietary fiber is “is the indigestible portion of plant foods”.

Wait a minute, there!  If fiber is an indigestible material, why is it such an important part of the human diet?

Excellent question.  On a basic level, fiber is what helps things move.  We all know that after we eat food, it must pass through our digestive system and then, um, leave.  Without fiber, this process is very difficult.  (Dietary fiber has many other benefits, continue reading to find out more.)

Some Minor Details

There are two basics kinds of dietary fiber:  soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.  Soluble fiber absorbs water in the intestine and forms a gummy substance; it also is easily fermented by intestinal bacteria.  Soluble fiber benefits the body in two significant ways:  it lowers cholesterol and lowers our bodies’ reaction to sugars.  The liver uses cholesterol to produce bile acids, which aid in the digestion of fats in the intestines.  Soluble fiber binds to bile acids, essentially pulling them along for the ride out of the intestinal tract.  In this way, soluble fiber aids the body in lowering cholesterol levels.  Soluble fiber works similarly with sugars.  Sugar molecules (which are relatively bulky) are trapped in the gummy substance the soluble fiber forms in the intestines, disabling it from absorbing into the intestinal walls quickly.  When sugar absorbs slowly into the intestinal walls, you don’t get a “sugar rush”, the telltale sharp increase in energy and sudden drop of energy associate with the consumption of simple sugars.  (Quick digestive tract review:  there are millions of capillaries along the intestinal walls which absorb the nutrients that your food is broken down into, these nutrients travel through your blood stream to muscles and major organs.)

Some sources of soluble fiber include:

oats

beans

peas

citrus

apricots

bananas

apples

broccoli

carrots

sweet potatoes

onions

flax seeds

almonds

and more.

 

Insoluble fiber is “metabolically inert”, which means it does not bind to any nutrient or molecule in the intestines.  It simply absorbs water, increases in volume, and eases bowel movements.  Though soluble fiber has some surprising health benefits, insoluble fiber simply increases bowel volume, softens stools, and decreases the time waste stays in the intestinal tract.  Simply put, insoluble help prevent constipation.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include:

whole grains

wheat

bran

seeds

potato skins

green beans

zucchini

avocado

kiwi skins

tomato skins

and more.

The big question left is how much fiber do I need?  General guidelines state that women should eat about 25 g of fiber per day, while men should eat about 38 grams of fiber per day.  Children require less fiber than adults because they have smaller intestinal tracts.  Women need different amounts of fiber during different times of their lives, but I’ll discuss that later in the week.

For now I’ll leave you with some of my resources:

http://www.healthcalculators.org/calculators/fiber.asp?Submit=Close – University of Maryland calculator for daily fiber intake based on age, sex, and body build

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_fiber#Fiber_recommendations_in_the_USA – the good old wiki

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/foodnut/09333.html – Colorado State article on the benefits of fiber

Next Up:  Fats Won’t Make You Fat

 

 

 

Fueling the Machine, Intro

According to a 2010 U.S. Center for Disease Control Study, over 20% of the adult American population has a body mass index (B.M.I.) over 30, qualifying them as obese.  Compare this figure to only ten years ago:  in 2000, about 15% of American adults were considered obese.  (http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/trends.html) Some blame these weight issues on a decline in physical labor for the average American worker, and others tout the detrimental side effects of a mostly processed diet.  There are still others that claim hormonal imbalances and digestive disorders account for the sharp increase in obese individuals in the United States.

There really are many causes for the current obesity epidemic.  This week I will focus on one:  a shift from knowing, eating, and loving real food to eating the quickest, most easily-portable thing on the go.  The human body is a machine, just like a car, and any good mechanic can tell you that if you put in cheap gas and junky oil, your car simply won’t run optimally.  The same goes for the human body; pump it full of fake, processed stuff, and it won’t run properly.  The change in American eating habits is surely one of the causes of the large percentage of obese individuals in our country.

In hopes to educate a few on some of the basics of real food, this week I begin a series I’m calling “Fueling the Machine”.  It is in honor of our country’s health issues that I write the series.  I will be posting on a few key topics:

  • Fiber
  • Fats
  • Meat
  • Pregnancy/Breastfeeding Nutrition
  • Fitting Nutritious Meals into a Busy Lifestyle

Please stay tuned for each installment, and as always, please feel free to contend or question what I say.  I am but one writer/researcher, and my information may not be 100% correct, so in the interest of giving the best possible information correct me if you see fit.

Next Installment Fiber, The Best Friend You Never Knew You Had