Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Aha" Moment - Lorrie

The following story is written by my friend,  Lorrie B. She and I worked together for 2 years, and I was able to talk with her in bits-and-pieces about her journey to a better self. We would talk about the different things she was trying to do to lose weight, and I remember the day she announced that she had successfully gotten in the habit of going to the gym everyday, and was loving it! Then she endlessly invited me to go with her. (She quickly discovered that was a losing-battle). She is truly an inspiration for any young woman who is looking to lose weight, adapt a diet, and exercise more. Thanks for sharing your story, Lorrie!

   My first “aha” moment was in the summer of 2010 when I stepped on the scale at a local Big Lots. I was at my biggest, in the 270’s! I have been plus size my whole life but just kind of ignored it. The smallest I can remember being is a size 16 and that was when I was 13 years old. I started to realize the toll of the extra weight on my body. My back would go out every few weeks, I had severe pain in my feet even when I stood for only a few hours, It was harder to keep up with people, and don’t even get me started on “chub rub”.  If I wore a dress within a few hours my inner thighs would be swollen and at the end of the day they would be bleeding. I decided I needed to make a change so I could live a happier life. 

The first thing I needed to do was focus my mind and start setting goals for myself. Practicing SGI Buddhism really helped me achieve those things, through chanting. Being addicted to sugar  and cheese was a hard habit to break. I quit the sugary drinks. I was already a vegetarian at this point  but you might as well have called me a “cheese-atarian”. My boyfriend and I decided to go vegan for our health because of how addicted I was to cheese. As a result of these changes I dropped down to 258. I really wanted to lose more weight but didn’t know how to start.  This is when I saw celebrities on TV/ videos on you tube of people doing the lemonade diet and I decided to give it a try. I convinced my boyfriend to go along with me. On this diet my goal was to drink this lemonade and not eat  for at least a few weeks. Not surprisingly on day 4 I felt week and terribly hungry!  My boyfriend  came home and said that he had done some research on this diet and said that over all this was not a healthy way to lose weight. I agreed and that night we each had a giant bowl of red beans and rice. I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed food so much! I did lose 7 pounds during that 4 day period but gained it right back. Ultimately this is when I decided to find a healthy approach to weight loss that would not be a quick fix but a lifestyle change.

A few weeks later my boyfriend called me from his work telling me that he had found this free calorie counting website “”. I wasn’t sure if this would work for me but I gave it a try. It took a few weeks to get the hang of logging everything that I ate. I learned how many calories that I needed  to eat to lose the amount I wanted to lose per week (2 pounds) based off of my personal info like my height, age, and activity level. I realized the more that I exercised the more I could eat while losing weight.  The website started me off with 2,000 calories (now I‘m down to 1,700).  For the next 21 days exercised because I wanted to make a habit of  it. I would go for 6 mile walks with my boyfriend and go to the gym on the days we didn’t go walking. After 21 days I knew I was in the habit so from then on I allowed myself 1 day off per week. Sundays became my weigh in day, I focused on my nutrition, and wrote down every work out I did on my calendar. It was so exciting to watch the pounds come off each week and reach my goals! 

It has been almost 7 months of diet and exercise. Now I am down to 200.6 (57.4 lost). No longer am I in pain and I am over half way to my goal of losing 100 pounds in one year!

Ice Cream Wars

Oh ice cream, why did I buy you two weeks ago? Luckily, Richard ate a full carton by himself (what to do with that man), but the cookie dough ice cream has been calling my name a lot this weekend, and I answered that call.

Someone told a funny story in church today. In short, this guy said his grandmother had some weight-issues, and she was trying to combat her sweets addiction. So being a religious person, she prayed about it. And the next day she woke up and announced she no longer liked chocolate. According to her grandson, she was dead serious; that she no longer cared for the taste. And from then on she found it easy to say no to chocolate.

It was a funny story, and afterwards, my friend nudged me with his elbow. I guess I know how to solve my addiction problem now! Hahaha. In all seriousness, though, I think prayer is a good tool to use when combating an addiction.

But another good idea is not buying the ice cream in the first place.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Friday Farmer's Market

June to September in Seattle is my favorite time of year. 1. It's summer. 2. The local farmer's market is up and running. I absolutely love hanging out there on a Friday afternoon, browsing the selection, and listening to the music. We have invited some people over for dinner on Tuesday and I plan on cooking up a stir-fry for them, completed with as much local & organic produce I could lay my hands on. 

Whenever I go, I try to pick a vegetable that I'm unfamiliar with. This weeks pick was a different variety of zucchini. It's formal name has already escaped me. I knew I should've written it down! I was told it's a sweeter zucchini, that also stays a lot more firm when you steam it. I'm excited to try it out! 

Of course, I picked up the berries for good measure. Do they not look absolutely perfect
From Schuh Farms, Mount Vernon, WA

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Pancakes and Maple Syrup

I love maple syrup. I think it's the ideal topping for pancakes and waffles, and a delicious dipping choice for sausage and scrambled eggs. Yes, I dip my scrambled eggs. Sometimes.

But once again, it's like I've been living in la-la land all these years, and never realized how syrup is pretty much straight-up sugar. Holy schmoley! I'm extremely interested in trying pure maple syrup, but I've heard it's very expensive. Someday...

I love this. Check out the ingredient list on Richard's favorite "blueberry" syrup.

So, as you may have guessed, tonight's dinner was pancakes. Initially, I pulled out a pancake mix from my pantry, and then checked the label. Much to my surprise I noticed sugar as an ingredient! I was fairly close to going over my sugar count for the day, and I knew syrup would push me right to the edge, so I put away the box and pulled out Aunt Lisa's buttermilk pancake recipe instead (they taste better anyway).

For the syrup I had to carefully calculate how many teaspoons I could give myself so I wouldn't go over my goal. I'm not exactly sure, but I guessed my homemade maple syrup is about 44g of sugar in 1/4C. My brother helped me with the math (cuz that ain't my forte) and I gave myself 4 tsp of sugar which is about 14.6g. I also slathered my pancake with a tablespoon of peanut butter (1.5g).

I know all this measuring seems petty, but it's not all that difficult and I'm feeling much better about my food choices already.

I would just love to congratulate myself on meeting my goal...but just as I was writing this post, I remembered I ate a snack that included a lot of sweetened coconut, that I completely forgot to record. So, I went over. Bummer.

Alright, now to the good stuff. I adapted Aunt Lisa's recipe a bit and hope you enjoy them as much as we did. Richard was super pleased with them and said he never wants to taste that box-pancake-stuff again. (Yay for happy husband!)

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

1 c. sifted white flour
1 c. sifted whole wheat flour
A spoonful of wheat germ
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 c. buttermilk (I use powdered milk--with a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar)
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. melted butter, cooled
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1 banana, mashed

Sift dry ingredients together. Add remaining ingredients and stir lightly just to moisten dry ingredients. Cook 'em up, and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gram Count Check-in

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing my math right.

And then I wonder if I'm just doing better than I think I am.

I am still consuming more sugar than I want to be. Having a cup of cookie dough ice cream gives me 30g, or 7.5 tsp. That's a lot of sugar, but I could eat quite a lot of ice cream before maxing out my goal of 19tsp from the past week.

July 19: 50g--12.5tsp
July 20: 29g--7.25tsp
July 21: 75g--18.75tsp
July 22: 54.6g--13.65tsp (Should actually be higher cause I didn't measure all the snitches of frosting I tasted as I tried to make it.)
July 23: 75.6g--18.91tsp (Rough day. Potluck desserts. But I only took one brownie!)
July 24: 52.6g--13.15tsp
July 25: 19g--4.75tsp

Hooray! I met my first goal! I'm sure I'm missing something, somewhere and that my measurements are imperfect, but I am not stressing about that. I'm just doing the best I can. And cutting back to just 19tsp really wasn't that difficult. I was still putting a lot in my mouth.

As for my second goal of measuring my son's intake--I didn't do so well. I did it for one day, but found it pretty difficult to keep up with his continual snacking and meals. So I'm going to reformulate a plan for that little one.

I would love, love, love to hear about your sugar-intake goal, see your numbers in writing, and read a little bit about meeting/not-meeting your goal.

Starting today my goal is to eat no more than 15tsp of added sugar. Babysteps. I'll do my next report on Wednesday, Aug 3.

Theo Winner

Richard finds it funny that I'm choosing to giveaway chocolate bars on a blog where I am encouraging people not to eat as much sugar.

Is this not the sign of a messed up individual who is struggling to cut back, but still enjoying the good things in life?

Let me rephrase my personal goal as it stands at the moment: I want to significantly decrease the amount of sugar in my body by tracking my intake and reducing the amount of sugar I choose on a weekly basis. This does not mean cutting back completely or going cold-turkey. No way, Jose! I still plan on indulging in cupcake and cookie baking--I'll just plan it around a time where I can share the wealth, and not eat every cupcake from the pan. Maybe my perspective will change in the future, but right now I believe if you're going to indulge, you'd better invest in a good thing---a chocolate bar that's worth it, like Theo's.

Which brings us to our winner. Thank you to all those who entered, and especially to those who continue to read Sugar&Greens.

Alright, I'm on right son's gonna click the button...and the winner is:

SUZY! who requested both bars be toasted coconut. Good choice. That's the new flavor I picked up last time and it's mighty good.

Monday, July 25, 2011

USDA Rundown

The more I learn about organic foods, the more I try to implement locally-grown, organic produce into my diet. Not only are organic fruits and vegetables higher in vitamins, minerals, and proteins* but I also respect local-farming methods.

My husband first latched onto the idea of organic eating after reading a book titled "Silent Spring" which focuses on poisons from commonly used pesticides at home and in wide-spread agriculture and its affect on our food. Richard isn't a big reader so when this book grabbed his attention, he grabbed mine whenever he talked about it. Two years ago was the time we started to really focus on bringing more organic food into our home, and learn more about it. 

The USDA Organic-Certified seal first started appearing on food labels in 2002 with continued demand for organic products, and it was meant to keep a standard of accountability. But does the average consumer know what it takes to get this seal--what legal rules the producers and farmers have to follow in order to legally use that seal? 
Here's a little more about what this seal means:

•For a farmer to be "USDA Organic-Certified" the land must go through a three-year transition away from prohibited pesticides.

•13 pesticides are allowed in organic farming, but they are made from ingredients like bacteria and fungus, found in soil, flower petals, clay, and oils from plants. 

•Farmers must use approved methods and non-synthetic fertilizers.

•Small farmers may end up skipping the costs of getting organically certified but still practice sustainable farming. Some, simply because they can't afford to pay the fees to have the seal.  But, you can believe that if a small farmer has paid the sometimes $1000+ for "Organic" in writing, they'll advertise it.

•Organic meat farmers must give animals organic feed and allow them access to the outdoors. They engage in preventative measures to prevent disease. 

•Do not confuse "Organic" with other terms such as "all-natural," "free-range," or "hormone-free." These may be important factors to organic, but just displaying the latter terms doesn't necessarily mean organic.

•Products that have 100% organic ingredients, and processed according to USDA standards can bear the seal. But a product that has at least 95% organic ingredients can be labeled "organic" and have the seal as well. Think about this: is there really such thing as an organic cookie? It's all a bunch of food science.

•And my final thought: Organic junk food is still junk food. 

Did you know?

Children's chemical levels in the bloodstream can drop to negligible levels in as little as 7 days just by switching to organic vegetables.

*Stewart, Kimberly. Eating Between the Lines. Pg 10-11.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Frosting Fail

We had some family coming over for dinner and my first thought was, "PERFECT! I can whip up some cupcakes, they can help eat them up, and I can enjoy just one for dessert!" I have been craving pineapple, so I baked up a dozen white cupcakes with a hint of pineapple. For frosting, I wanted to make a coconut pineapple buttercream. I wasn't sure how the citrus was going to work in the frosting, so I did some quick research and found a simple recipe to follow.

I started my frosting at 3:30, right when a friend showed up to take her baby home (whom I was babysitting). I told her, "Stay! The cupcakes just got out, the frosting will be done in no time, then you can have one too!" Of course, she agreed. I mean, why wouldn't you?

Well, I blame my first mistake on conversing too much while making the frosting. I forgot I was halving the recipe--and added the FULL amount of pineapple juice. So, I quickly adjusted the rest of the ingredients. But, the frosting was not setting. It was SO extremely runny, and I'd already added an entire bag of powdered sugar, and extra butter to try to get it to set. It was not coming together. GRR!

"Oh, no worries," I thought, "I'll just stick with the classic buttercream recipe I always use, that never fails, right?"


The blasted thing wouldn't set either! This recipe involves egg whites, and my friend so kindly blamed the humidity (not me) for it not working out. And my dear friend had now been with me in the kitchen for 2 hours. Yes, 2 hours trying to make frosting for 12 cupcakes! I was lucky she was there, because I'm sure I would've been in tears over the whole blasted situation.

So the family came over. We enjoyed a delicious curry dinner. And much to my amazement, I find out two of my cousins are trying to cut back on sugar as well and they respectfully refused a cupcake.

Our other cousin claimed she isn't a fan of frosting anyway, so she was happy with plain cupcakes.

And, I was happy that this frosting fail potentially stopped me from indulging a little bit too much.

All ended up well in the world.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Yogurt, simplified

I can't believe I've been so naive about yogurt my whole life. I have learned about the food pyramid in school when teachers tell you to eat more dairy products. I have heard that yogurt is a healthy choice. But have you ever looked at all those delicious flavors, stacked row-upon-row and wondered how Key Lime Pie Yoplait could possibly be good for you? 

My advice to you: Not all yogurts should be treated the same

What should you look for in yogurt:
1. Live active cultures (for whatever reason, that phrase kind of makes me gag). 
2. You want a variety of cultures (I mean, seriously, you're like eating bacteria--but it's an important factor).
3. As little sugar as possible!!! Label laws don't differentiate between added and natural-occurring sugars. Lactose in milk and yogurt is a sugar, so these products are bound to contain naturally-occurring sugars.

Now, remember this number: 11g

In a 6 oz cup of plain yogurt, there are 11g of natural-occurring milk sugars.* So next time you pick up that savory, creamy strawberry banana yogurt, check the nutritional label, and minus 11g from the sugar count and realize that's how much added sugar you are unnecessarily adding to your body.

Did you know?

The bacterial cultures in yogurt have been shown to stimulate infection-fighting white cells in the bloodstream. They can also help replenish the intestines with helpful bacteria before harmful ones take over.

*Stewart, Kimberly. Eating Between the Lines. Pg 139-140.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Flavored Milk, Jamie Style!

Have you ever seen this episode of Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution? This is a small clip, a dramatic example, of how much sugar that's consumed in flavored milk in one week in the entire L.A.U.S.D.

One week! A whole school bus spilling over-the-top with white sugar. Okay, I'll be honest, when Richard and I first saw this we didn't believe it. I thought there must have been some TV exaggeration in there.

But, then we bought some chocolate milk and read the label. Seriously, go look at the label of your favorite flavored milk, and do the math yourself. How much sugar would you be adding to your diet by drinking one glass (sometimes two) for 5 days a week, 9-10 months out of the year?!? I know that was a constant part of my diet for all my school years. *Sigh*

Just one of those things that I have personally committed to cutting out. How about you? What's something you have consciously decided to cut back on recently?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Spinach-Berry Smoothie

Concentrating on limiting sugar comes a desire to increase healthy foods into our meals. Spinach is one of my favorite greens, and I could eat it regularly. The boys, however.............
So, for lunch today, I blended up a Simply Easy and Nutritious Spinach-Berry Smoothie.

Spinach-Berry Smoothie

1-2 cups spinach
1/3 cup milk
6-8 frozen strawberries, or any berry of choice
1 banana

First blend up the spinach and milk, until spinach is very fine. This is important if you don't want spinach chunks. Then throw in the banana and berries. Stick a straw into a cup and drink it up (because drinking through a straw makes it all the more fun!)

The more spinach you add, the greener the smoothie will get. I didn't want to completely scare off my boys from trying it, so I kept it at 1 cup spinach/smoothie. Looks like a pretty regular smoothie, doesn't it?

Theo Chocolate Bar Giveaway

This is going well! (She says, after just one day....) I met my goal Monday eating less than 19 tsp. of added sugars. AND, I went to a kickboxing class getting a solid hour of exercise into my day as well. *Punch, Jab, Cross* It was awesome! I don't exercise (more than just walking) very often, and I love waking up SORE! :) It's been a good start for the week! Although, we did go grocery shopping yesterday. I should've taken a picture of what we bought...

...because I'm sure you would've laughed and shook your head at us.

"Oh, goodness, are you not trying to limit your sugar intake? Then why in the world are there bakery snickerdoodles, 4 varieties of lemonade, graham crackers, white chocolate chips, and 2 Theo chocolate bars in your cart?!?" I imagine that's exactly what you would say to me, gradually getting louder as you list off each item. And yes! I caved, I bought not just one, but TWO Theo chocolate bars. They had a new flavor I hadn't tried yet. But mostly I credit it to writing about it in yesterday's post, and then couldn't stop thinking about how much I wanted one afterwards. (Addict, no?)

But, I only ate 1/6 of it yesterday (4.3g) and that was plenty. That 70% cocoa in the bar really satisfies quickly, and it's oh so delicious.

I really am partial to Theo Chocolates not only because they're located in Seattle, their products are organic and Fair Trade. Integrated pest management protects cocoa farmers and the environment from damaging pesticides. I am in support of anything organic, something I hope to write about more. But, until then, how about a giveaway?

One lucky winner will get their choice of two of the flavors below.
•Spicy Chile
•Cherry & Almond
•70% Dark Chocolate
•45% Milk Chocolate
•Toasted Coconut
•Salted Almond Dark or Milk Chocolate

To enter, leave a comment with the 2 flavors you'd choose. To receive an additional entry, follow this blog and let me know by leaving a comment. For a third entry, tweet or Facebook about it and post the link as a comment.

I will post the winner on July 26!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sugar Trip

Baked goods are my sugary downfall. It's hard for me to resist a freshly baked brownie. Baking cookies is one of my favorite pastimes. And as of late, learning new cupcake baking and frosting techniques has been extremely fun. I prefer to share the cupcakes I whip up, but plenty of them stay with me.

Cereals are another sugary downfall. Bran flakes and plain oatmeal are not the most desired tastes for me. My latest craving has been for Waffle Crisp. (12g of sugar/serving). I would hit my sugar high with just one bowl. (Good thing I haven't seen it in any grocery stores for years--or I might cave).
Another sugary downfall comes in the form of straight up candy bars. Anything from Hershey's to Theo chocolates. Heaven help me!

What is your sugary downfall?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Above Average

Oh, goodness. This isn't going so well. Although I've been doing really well at measuring out my added sugar, I haven't been reducing my sugar intake.

Here are my counts for the past few days-
Thursday: 22.5 tsp., 90 g
Friday: 24 tsp., 96 g
Saturday: 31 tsp., 124 g

My average daily sugar intake so far, seems to be around 29 tsp., or 116 g

It's the start of a new week and I have two goals for myself.
1. Reduce my daily intake this week to 19 tsp/day. This should be as simple as cutting out that extra brownie, or saying no to a cold glass of chocolate milk. Have you ever read the label on that drink?

2. Start measuring out my son's sugar intake. I've been pretty much living in denial about his sugar intake, but I'm ready to face reality here. I can positively declare my son is very sweet, inside and out.

Good vibes welcome.

Did you know?

The average American consumes 21 tsp., or 84 g, of added sugar daily? The recommended sugar intake for adult women is 5 tsp., for adult men it's 9 tsp., and for children it's 3 tsp., a day.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just a spoonful of sugar

So this sugar problem of ours has been eating at me for sometime--both at an individual level, and as a parent. I may look fit on the outside, but inside I feel like crap.

Richard pushed us towards a magnificent idea, a visual demonstration of our sugar intake. The next day, we would calculate the amount of sugar in the foods we ate and measure it out, teaspoon by teaspoon.

We have been rather simple in our endeavor. We don't count fruit sugar. If the food we eat has a label, we measure. If we home baked something, we did the math as accurately as we can. We learned approximately 4 grams of sugar is a teaspoon. And we were absolutely clueless as to how many teaspoons we would accumulate by the end of our day.

I must say, doing this is similar to keeping a food diary (which I find short-lived and kind of boring), but the part I like is that I become acutely aware of what I'm about to put into my body. I feel somehow more in control, more empowered. And what woman doesn't want to feel that way?

I had a cereal breakfast, a simple healthy lunch, lots of water and no snacks. Well, I would've had a Reeses cup, but Richard had eaten the rest of them so graciously "saving me the trouble of having to scoop out those teaspoons of sugar." I made tacos for dinner and lime bars for dessert. But that wasn't my downfall. You see, our dinner guests brought over brownies. A lot of brownies. And they were delicious. I am salivating just writing about them again.

So how did our first day measure up?
Richard: 50tsp., 200g (left)
Diana: 39tsp., 156g (right)

But, I realized today that I forgot to measure in servings of canned peaches (in a heavy syrup and additional sugar added to the ingredient list.) Seriously!??!

It appears this is going to be a long, educational journey.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sugar Affair

Hello! This is me, Diana. And that, on the left, is my sweet husband Richard. Let me let you in on a little secret, that's actually not a secret at all to those who know us well--we love sugar.
I can't remember a moment from my entire life where I didn't pick chocolate milk in the school cafeteria, where I didn't love going to wedding receptions because of the refreshments, or being at home where cookies and brownies weren't readily available (even if I had to bake them up myself).

When Richard and I married, he liked sweets but didn't crave them incessantly. I was surprised when I would bake brownies and Richard would hardly touch one. That would've never happened in my home growing up. Once a large pan of brownies was cut, my 6 siblings and I would devour the entire thing in less than 5 minutes. I am not exaggerating.

It wasn't long until Richard's habits changed noticeably. I saw him opening and closing cupboards over and over. I asked him, "Honey, what are you looking for?"

His eyes got wide and he yelled, "CHOCOLATE! I NEED CHOCOLATE!"

I was completely saddened when I saw in him this ugly trait I saw in myself. And I definitely felt guilty that I played an active role in getting him there. But, then I'm sure I pulled out the chocolate chips.

This sugar affair has got to end! I don't know how. I don't know how long.

But this time I'm gonna hold myself accountable--right here.