21 Days to Pangie

Wow, has it really been 3 weeks already? Time has been flying by on this. I don’t have too much new to say about the last couple weeks that were different from the first week. I slipped up a few times, made the Food Not Bombs Special for dinner often, and enjoyed the challenge.

Since this challenge is supposed to be for the entire month, I’ll be checking in again over the next 10 days as this wraps up, but I’m not expecting any big food catastrophes before November.

I do have a couple fun food things planned over the next week or two, like making granola and doing a lot of canning!

I’m a few days behind here, so rather than try to backpost days 3 through 6, I’m just going to do a lump post to catch up.

I’ve failed a couple times on this already. On Wednesday, my team and work went out for FroYo. I don’t eat FroYo, what with the dairy and all, but they have a sorbet there that I really enjoy. I mean, in theory I could totally make strawberry kiwi sorbet at home out of strawberries and kiwis and sugar. But I’m willing to bet that they add a few other unnecessary ingredients. I also had Rice Chex one day. I’m pretty sure that’s not something I could make at home, and also I’m pretty sure there’s an unhealthy dose of GMOs in there. But I already had the box at my desk at work, and for what it’s worth, I ate it with my homemade almond milk. But the big failure was the day I bought myself a Coke. I don’t even have the excuse of “But I already had it in my fridge” for that one. It was a moment of weakness at the grocery store. I absolutely love the Mexican Cokes, and my grocery store is sold out of them more often than not, so when I saw that they had some in stock, I got one.

There’s nothing I can do but accept the little setbacks and move on. I made another Food Not Bombs Special last night. I left out the turmeric and ginger this time, but the rest was the same. I think I liked it a little better this go around. There was just a little too much going on with it before. I also added sesame seeds, which are always fun.

I’m going to go make some hash browns now. My favorite!

And on the off chance anyone might know: Anyone have a good recipe for making Coke at home? 🙂

October Unprocessed – Day 2

October 2nd, 2012

Well, yesterday was a success! I had dried fruit for breakfast, sushi (I did eat out, but this totally passes the kitchen test) for lunch, and what I like to call the Food Not Bombs Special for dinner – veggie stir fry with whatever you have available. It was beautiful: heirloom tomatoes, carrots, gold potatoes, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, bell pepper, eggplant, black beans (that I canned last fall), onion – all local and organic from my CSA, with a bit of fresh ginger root, sea salt, and organic safflower oil to saute in, and a sprinkling of turmeric for flair. So delicious! I ate about half of what I made last night, and I had the leftovers for lunch at work today.

Which brings me to another interesting question: Where does the microwave fall on the Unprocessed challenge? Of course, a competent cook can use a microwave in a home kitchen. But it’s definitely not natural. I have unplugged my microwave and moved it out of the kitchen. It’s currently in a corner in the living room with a pile of stuff I want to get rid of sitting on top of it. I think I’m ready for it to go, but I’m just not sure yet. I nearly never use it, but what if I need it for something? The microwave at work, however, is my biggest weakness. When you only have an hour and home is 20 minutes away (if you actually drove that day) and all work offers is a microwave, it’s hard to pass up. I have some awesome insulated containers by LunchBots that a friend recommended a while ago, and for a while I was in this great habit of cooking up something in the oven or on the stove while getting ready in the morning and then putting it, hot, into the insulated container. This was brilliant, convenient, tasty, and not microwaved! I just need to get back into this habit. It also helped kick the temptation of eating out, which is a nice bonus. Today I reheated my leftovers in the oven on a cookie sheet and loaded them into my container, and it was perfect.

So, readers, what are your opinions on the microwave?

October Unprocessed – Day 1

October 1st, 2012

Baby, I’m back, and you can raise the roof on that!

It has been far too long, but thankfully I have been inspired again! I had been thinking about starting a new round here, and then I stumbled upon this: The October Unprocessed Challenge

In true Mardi Gras fashion, I finished off September by chugging a Coke.

This seems to me like the a make-your-own-rules type of thing. What do I consider to be processed food? Eating Rules, the site responsible for this awesome challenge, offers up this suggestion:

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients.

They also go into more detail here.

I really like their “Kitchen Test” definition. I may expand this to include nutritional yeast. Would that be a whole-food ingredient, or something that someone made? I don’t use much of it, but I’d like to have it available as an option.

I have determined that no matter how you look at it, margarine is pretty much out. There really isn’t much I use it for where I couldn’t substitute coconut oil or oil+salt, so I don’t have much of an excuse. This may be the hardest thing to give up for me, though. I eat a lot of baked potatoes for lunch at work and always drown them in margarine.

I found a recipe for margarine a while ago that I’d been wanting to try making. This recipe is mostly awesome ingredients, but I don’t know if sunflower lecithin or guar gum would pass the unprocessed test. I’m leaning toward “no,” especially since I’ve been thinking lately about how I want to avoid gums (guar or xanthan) in my baking, too. I may try playing around with this recipe without those ingredients and see what I can come up with. Maybe it will just be less shelf-stable without them, which I could handle.

At any rate, I would love anyone’s input on what you consider to be processed or unprocessed! Any thoughts on Daiya vegan cheese? Nutritional yeast? Guar or xanthan gum? Sunflower lecithin? Whiskey?

I had a lot of fun this round! I really didn’t focus too much on the mileage, even; it just added up. In fact, this week I was well past 26.2 miles by Friday! And this has just been running errands, not even specifically going for a bike ride.

Day 15: 1.8 miles biking
Day 16: 4.2 miles biking
Day 17: 9.8 miles biking
Day 18: 4.3 miles biking, 0.5 miles walking
Day 19: 10.5 miles biking, 2 miles walking
Day 20: 2 miles biking, 1.5 miles walking
Day 21: 4.2 miles biking

Total biking: 36.8 miles, total walking: 4 miles. Total: 40.8 miles.

This brings my 21 day total to:
Total biking: 82.3 miles, total walking: 13.4 miles. Total: 95.7 miles.

Wow! I moved myself nearly 100 miles in just 21 days. I think I can safely say I am back in the habit of biking!

Marathon Week 3

Marathon Week 3

I biked quite a bit less this week than I did last week. I’ve been pretty busy, so I didn’t get out on any rides just for the sake of riding. I’ve only been biking as transportation this week. I did walk a bit more than last week, though. Here’s how it played out:

Day 8: 4 miles biking (And 1 mile in a car – though I was a passenger)
Day 9: 3.5 miles biking, 1.5 miles walking
Day 10: 3 miles biking
Day 11: 2 miles biking
Day 12: 4.8 miles biking, 3 miles walking
Day 13: 2 miles biking, 1 mile walking (and 2.5 miles in a car – though I was a passenger again)
Day 14: 1.4 miles walking (and 125 miles driving)

Total biking: 19.3 miles, total walking: 6.9 miles. Total: 26.2 miles.

Ooh, barely made it! And today marks the first day I haven’t biked all month. I’m certain those two points are related. But hey, at least I accomplished the goal!

Marathon Week 2

Marathon Week 2

Marathon Weeks – Days 1-7

June 12th, 2011

I spotted a challenge on Twitter recently called Marathon Week. The goal is pretty simple: Do a marathon this week. I realize it doesn’t sound that simple when I say it that way, but the goal isn’t actually to run a marathon. It is to move yourself 26.2 miles (the length of a marathon) over the course of the week. Do this by running, walking, biking, swimming, whatever suits you.

Since this blog is based around the 21 days (or 3 weeks) concept, I’ve decided I am going to do 3 Marathon Weeks for this round of my 21 days. My main focus is biking, though I’ll probably supplement with some walking. If I get really crazy, I may throw in some running, even! We’ll see.

When you split out 26.2 miles over 7 days, it’s really not all that daunting. It averages out to less than 4 miles a day.

Here’s how my first week played out:

Day 1: 4.4 miles biking
Day 2: 1.8 miles biking
Day 3: 2.3 miles biking, 2.5 miles walking
Day 4: 2.3 miles biking
Day 5: 10 miles biking
Day 6: 1.8 miles biking (And I must admit: 100 miles driving.)
Day 7: 3.6 miles biking

Total biking: 26.2 miles, total walking: 2.5 miles. Total: 28.7 miles.

Success! I actually did a marathon of biking alone, and had a little extra with the walking I did one day. I’d been fairly successful avoiding driving all month, but Saturday we went down to Denver for Greta’s birthday, and I have a firm You Should Not Drive On Your Own Birthday rule, so I offered to drive.

I have a little marker board hanging on my wall, so I’ve decided to use it to keep track of this stuff. It’s hanging in a spot that’s very easy to see from where I sit and work all day, so it’s been good for motivation.

Marathon Week 1

Marathon Week 1

Success! I have made it through the first 21 days of the new, stricter No Pain Diet! The 21-Day theory is that things should get easier from here on out. These last 3 weeks have really flown by, though I must admit I find myself thinking about soda or cheese on occasion still.

Now that I am in the habit of not eating the foods to avoid, my next step is to make sure I’m getting enough of the good stuff. I haven’t been very good at making sure I have all the right nutrients these days, and it’s time to fix that. Tomorrow I will start my next 21-day cycle, and that will be the goal.

I took a picture a few days ago of how well the new food processor shredded my potatoes for hash browns. It was incredibly easy, especially compared to using a cheese grater to shred the potatoes.

The other picture is to show off how beautiful my pea plants are looking these days. They look so pretty, and I am so excited for them to start making peas for me to eat!

edited to add:
It was brought to my attention, by my dear friend Jess, that I didn’t really explain how I feel after 21 days on the No Pain Diet. That might be important information, huh? It’s amazing how much better I feel. My energy levels have increased exponentially, the pain has been non-existent on most days and manageable on the others, and I’ve lost about 12 pounds without trying. All in all, I am loving this! It is absolutely worth any passing craving I might have to deal with.

I went for another bike ride with Greta today. We were on our way back to my place, less than a mile away, when we stopped at a red light. And I. Tipped. Over. I had my left foot still clipped in, and I lost my balance to the left and just fell down. The cars stopped at the red saw me fall, so they waited until I was safely on the sidewalk before going when the light turned green, and Greta was behind me, so she was looking out for me, too. To be honest, I think Greta was more scared than I was. We went across the street to get some french fries after this because I didn’t quite feel like biking home just yet, and we were hungry anyway. I’m actually not supposed to be eating deep fried foods like that, but when I know they don’t use hydrogenated oils, I figure it’s okay once in a while.

We did make it back to my place just fine, and once we got there we decided to walk to the movie theater instead of bike. That turned out to be a good idea, because it was a gorgeous evening for a walk! We saw X-Men First Class, which was pretty great.

I went for another bike ride with Missy today. I am loving how much I’ve been biking lately! Rachel would be proud. We even went up a fairly decent hill and didn’t have to stop at all! I can’t get over how much my energy levels have increased in just the last couple weeks. I can’t see anything that would be doing the other than going off the medication and the diet change. This is definitely a bonus to the No Pain Diet!

After biking, Missy and I grabbed some dinner. I got my favorite salad at Mad Greens again – mixed baby greens, double avocado, almonds, and carrots, topped with a bit of lemon juice. It’s so tasty. The lemon juice just makes it perfect! I brought some flax to mix in, but I forgot to get that in the picture.

My Favorite Salad

My Favorite Salad

I had a doctor appointment today. This doctor is the only one who has me on any medication at this point. When she found out I had gone off that other medication a couple weeks ago, (when I started this round of the No Pain Diet) she cheered! And then she took me off the last medication I was on! I cannot even explain how excited I am right now that I am on NO MEDICATION. I’ve been on some medication or another since the late 90s. I’m really over it.

After my appointment, I went for another ride with my friend Greta. We ended up with a little over 6 miles, which was nice. It was fairly windy, so we weren’t really all that interested in doing much more than that. Earlier today, I installed my bike computer on my bike, so I am now confident on how far we biked rather than estimating it with Google Maps and my memory.

We stopped for dinner at one point. I got brown rice, brown lentils, and kale, topped with shredded beet and carrot. It was pretty good! When I shook it all up to mix it, the beets turned everything kind of pink. We also split an avocado roll, which is always delicious. Avocados are currently my favorite food; I just can’t get enough of them.

Beets Make Everything Kinda Pink

Beets Make Everything Kinda Pink

I was informed that today is National Running Day! To celebrate, I got on my treadmill and ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I set the speed to 5mph and ran my ass off. For a whole two minutes! This may not be very impressive to most people, but I am pretty pleased with myself. It wasn’t that long ago when one minute was a real challenge. Little by little, I am improving!

I went for a nice bike ride after work today with my friends Greta and Missy. I mapped it out when we were all done- it was about 8.5 miles! Not bad at all. We all had a good time and have decided to make this a regular thing. We stopped toward the end for some dinner. We went to my new favorite restaurant – Mad Greens. It’s a salad place (though they also do wraps and paninis, I believe) and you can do a build-your-own if you don’t like any of their suggested combinations. This time I did baby mixed greens, double avocado, almonds, carrots, and tossed it in lemon juice instead of any dressing. It was AMAZING. This is the first time I’ve tried just lemon juice, and I loved it! I will definitely be having that one more often. I’m glad I’ve started putting avocados in salads, by the way. They’re amazing.

I had my first acupuncture appointment today. It was an interesting experience, and I’m still not sure what I think of it. I didn’t go in with any acute pain, so it’s tough to say how it stacked up against the endometriosis. She said it’ll probably take a few cycles to see results and she recommended I go in weekly for a while to see results. The one thing I definitely noticed was how relaxing it was. I felt really mellow by the time the whole thing was over. The needles didn’t really hurt, but I could definitely feel them going in. Once they were in, it felt really weird. She left me in there under a couple heat lamps for a while. I honestly have no idea how much time passed while I was just laying there. I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at one point, maybe even a couple times. It was really relaxing. I’m definitely interested to see how the next few weeks of this go.

Man, today has been a crazy day. The BolderBoulder 10K race was today. A friend of mine was having people over to watch as they ran by her place. Her place is about 2 1/2 blocks from mine, so normally it’s very easy to get there. The catch today was that I live on the other side of the course from her. I decided to cross over at 6:30, before the race started, and spend the morning walking around, running errands, and enjoying the day. I stopped at my favorite juice bar for the last day of its current ownership. Starting in June, it will be run by new people. I’m sure they’ll be great, but I wanted to stop by one last time when I knew for sure it’d be awesome. I enjoyed my apple+beet juice while watching the first of the wheelchair racers go by. They had these cool looking 3-wheeled racing chairs and they just flew by. Very impressive! Once I was on the inside of the loop, it was hard to find anywhere that wasn’t total chaos where I could sit and read, so I ended up walking around a lot more than I had planned. It was a pretty nice morning, though, so it felt good to be out and moving.

Once I got to my friend’s place, we watched the last of the regular race, and then saw the professional race. Those are some fast people! It’s amazing what people are capable of. I felt pretty lazy when we were sitting there watching. The hostess had snacks prepared for the spectators, and I let her know not to worry about me for snacks. I enjoyed a Larabar while everyone else ate the snacks she made. It was perfect!

After the race, we walked downtown to the Boulder Creek Festival to enjoy the festivities. We had planned to go on a couple rides, but the wind got a little out of control and we opted to go home instead. Once I got home, I decided I was craving sushi, so I called another friend and asked if she was up for it for dinner. She suggested she meet me downtown, so I turned around and walked back! I really should have planned that out better, but I didn’t mind the walking. I sure worked up an appetite, too, so the sushi was great. Avocado rolls and avocado+cucumber rolls, and strawberry rolls for dessert. Delish!

After that, I figured why stop now. I went to the grocery store and picked up a couple more avocados. Once I got home, I mapped out all the walking I did. According to Google Maps and my memory of where I was, I believe I walked about 9 miles today. Wow! This is another testament to how much my energy levels have increased. I definitely couldn’t have walked 9 miles in a day before. I also couldn’t have got up at 5:30am and still been wide awake at 8:00pm.

I spent a few hours today helping out with the Boulder Food Not Bombs, which is a group that serves free vegetarian food to people who are hungry. We met at someone’s house first and prepped a bunch of food. The food is all gathered through donations and dumpster diving, and then they figure out meals with it all. We made a giant pot of soup with veggies and rice, a bunch of stir fried veggies and rice, a really big salad, and some sun tea. They also got a ridiculous amount of bagels from some local business. It was really great. I chopped a whole bunch of produce, and didn’t draw any blood! (Though someone else did. Oops!) I diced a golden beet for the salad. I don’t think I’ve actually encountered one before. It’s really pretty! It actually looked quite a bit like mango once it was cut up and tossed with the salad.

Once we got it all cooked and ready to go, we biked downtown to set up and serve it. (One person drove so we didn’t have to worry about biking with soup and a table and whatnot.) The Boulder Creek Festival was going on this weekend, so that displaced us a bit. The festival was taking place in the spot where they usually set up to serve, so we moved south a bit. Since this was my first time helping out, I don’t really know what a typical day looks like, but I’m imagining we didn’t get as many people, or at least fewer regulars, since we weren’t in the usual spot.

I’m very glad I went. I enjoyed it, and I will definitely be going back to help again. It was nice just to get out of the house and meet people and talk to people, and now I’m feeling very inspired to fry up some rice and veggies like we served, or make a big batch of soup. It was all really great food.

Someone pointed out that my bike tires were SUPER flat. I am no good at filling tires, so I went over to the fair and talked to someone at a bike booth and he was awesomely helpful. We got my tires back up to a respectable pressure, and I rode home. It was one of the best rides I’ve ever had! It’s amazing what a difference a little air makes. I am suddenly much more motivated to go biking. On top of getting my tires taken care of, I’ve also had so much more energy after committing to the No Pain Diet and going off the medication, so I wasn’t so tired from the biking. Things are going great!

For my food processor’s first run, I figured I’d go easy on it and do some banana ice cream. (Peel then freeze a banana, then puree. Should be about the consistency of soft serve ice cream. Add vanilla, cocoa powder, or whatever to taste.) Banana ice cream just got a million times easier! I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating it a lot more often now that it’s so easy. I opted for plain (just the banana) today. I normally do a dash of vanilla and a bit of cocoa powder, but since I’m supposed to be avoiding caffeine, I figured I should skip the cocoa. The banana alone is plenty sweet, so it really doesn’t need anything to help it out. I think I will start experimenting with spices, though. Cinnamon and cloves, perhaps? My friend Rachel is who told me about banana ice cream, and I know she’s gotten creative with flavoring, so I’ll have to see what she recommends and what hasn’t worked out so well.

Banana Ice Cream

Banana Ice Cream

I went to the Boulder Creek Festival today with a couple friends. I love those types of events with all the booths and what have you. I stumbled upon a booth for the Vegetarian Society of Colorado, and they told me about the monthly potlucks they do, and VegFest Colorado, a big vegetarian event in Denver this July. I’m pretty excited to check out the potlucks and VegFest! The people I spoke with said they’re pretty good about keeping things clearly labeled for those who have allergies or other dietary restrictions beyond vegan, so that’s handy for me! It seems weird to me that I have more vegetarian/vegan friends in Fargo than I do in Boulder, so I think it’s time to remedy that.

A few days ago, I walked over to Bed Bath and Beyond to buy a food processor. They didn’t have the one I wanted, so they ordered it to be delivered to me. It arrived today! I opted for a Cuisinart because it was reasonably priced, and one of my favorite bloggers, Ricki Heller, recommended the brand to me. I figure if it’s good enough for her, it’s good enough for me. She has some of my favorite recipes on her site. Her vegan, anti-candida diet is nearly indistinguishable from my No Pain Diet, and it’s nice knowing I can eat nearly everything on her site.

I spent a bit more than I had planned to, but I’m glad I went with this one. There are so many different parts to it! There’s a short lid, a tall lid, a small pusher, a large pusher, a regular blade, a dough-kneeder blade, a shredder, and a slicer! Check it out!

Shiny New Food Processor

Shiny New Food Processor

Day 11 is always my favorite in a 21-day cycle. If it’s been going well, I can think, “Wow, halfway through it already!” If it’s not been going well, I can think, “I made it through the first half; I can make it through the second half.” Either way, it’s a nice motivation bump for finishing the entire 21 days. This is also the point where I usually start thinking about what I’ll do next. I’m very proud of myself for avoiding the bad foods so far. I’m less impressed, however, with my attempts at consistently eating well. I’ve had fries and chips and a lot more bottled/canned juice than I’d like to admit. This led me to the decision that my next 21-day cycle should be meal plans. With my garden sprouting and the weather screaming “Spring!” at me, I have been very excited about salads lately, so I’m looking forward to working them into a meal plan.

A couple weeks ago, a blogger I follow, No More Bacon, posted a challenge: Identify your “trigger food” and stop eating it for 14 days. A “trigger food” is something that once you eat it you start on a downward spiral of bad food choices. It’s an interesting idea, so I signed up for cheese as my “trigger food.” Two weeks later, we were to send a little write-up of our results. Here’s what I sent:

I have identified my “trigger food” as cheese, so I have been focusing on avoiding cheese for the last 14 days. The timing of this challenge was really perfect for me. A few days before it started, I had decided that once all the cheese was gone from my apartment, that’s it, I’m done. It was interesting facing things with the idea that cheese is a “trigger food” rather than just one of the things I shouldn’t eat that I crave. I didn’t think it would make such a big difference, but it really did. For the first few days, I focused on nothing but avoiding cheese. Without trying, I also avoided everything else I shouldn’t eat – sugar, egg, other dairy, caffeine, alcohol. When I officially went on my No Pain Diet (more info at http://www.pangie.com/21days/) last Monday, it was practically effortless. I have a really good feeling about sticking to things. Thanks for the challenge!

I find this to be an interesting approach to cutting out bad things from your diet. Let’s face it: there are a lot of things I don’t eat on the No Pain Diet. Most people would find this pretty overwhelming to drop meat, egg, dairy, soy, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol all at once, cold turkey. But if you identify one food that makes you give up on your diet and cut that out, it gets a little easier. Once you adjust to that, move on to the next. I can only picture it getting easier and easier as you go on.

I planted a balcony garden a couple weeks ago. I have 3 planters: spinach and a lettuce mix in one, peppermint and anise in another, and sugar snap peas in the third. In the past, I haven’t had much luck with growing things. As it turns out, plants prefer that they get some water, and without it they don’t like to grow. I’ve managed to remember to keep my garden well watered so far this year, and it’s already paying off! My spinach, lettuce, and peas have all sprouted and are looking great. I’m worried I did something wrong with the peppermint and anise, though. I haven’t tried growing either of those before. My guess is that I put too much dirt on top of the seeds. The packs said not to use too much to cover them. I’m looking forward to being able to eat from my garden. The worst part of gardening for me is the waiting. I’m already planning all the No Pain Diet meals I can make with all of it!

Today has been so uneventful that I don’t even have anything to write about. I’m sorry for the boring post, but I’m not sorry for the lack of pain!

I placed an order with ThinkGeek last week, and it arrived today. I got myself a Drink Carbonation Kit and a Grow Your Own Sweet Leaf stevia kit. I’m excited to try to carbonate my fresh juices, and probably a lot of water, too. I found a recipe to make mineral water a few days ago, also, so I’m hoping to make my own, much cheaper, Perrier. Pangier! The No Pain Diet does recommend a lot of mineral water, so I have high hopes for this. The downside of the carbonation kit is that I need two 2-liter bottles to make the stuff in. This means I needed to buy something that comes in 2-liter bottles. I checked the juice aisle very thoroughly, and nothing there worked. I reluctantly headed over to the soda aisle, and luckily I found some 2-liter bottles of store-brand club soda for 80 cents each. I can work with that! I will keep y’all posted on the success (or failure) of the carbonating.

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