Posts Tagged ‘food’

Kidney Stew, I Am My Mother’s Son!

July 8, 2012

Kidney Stew

I like Kidney Stew because my mother liked Kidney Stew. My brother and sister hated it and when we were poor under fed kids which was the last time I was underfed in my life until I adapted my new lifestyle of portion controlled meals, this was the only meal where I actually got enough meat to eat.

Seems, my sister and brother hated kidneys so bad that I could trade one piece of carrot or one potato for a couple of pieces of their kidneys. So I ended up with all their meat and still retained some of my potatoes and carrots. When I mention that I still make kidney stew, and have actually ordered kidneys in mustard sauce as an appetizer, it just confirmed to them that I am still nuts. Well, Mom lived to be 93 years old with her mind still functioning so she must have been doing something right with her diet.

The recipe is a standard stew recipe with a few adaptations to make allow for cooking in my coffeepot. The single biggest one being to stew the kidneys n olive oil and rum for a couple of hours to tenderize them and avoid that rubbery texture you can get when you cook kidneys too fast at high temperatures.

Ingredients:

1 T Butter
1 T flour

2 Potatoes cut into bite sized pieces
2 Carrots coined
1 tsp salt
6 cups water

1 pound kidneys (trim off all the fat and cut into bite sized pieces)
1 T crushed garlic or 3 cloves minced
1 onion rough cut
1 oz Rum
2 T olive oil
2 stalks of celery cut into small pieces
1 bay leaf
1 beef bullion cube
12 oz of water

Method:

1. Let the butter come to room temperature then mix in the flour until a smooth paste. Let sit at room temperature until needed.

2. Wash then peal the potatoes or not, it’s your choice. Cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces.

3. Wash then slice carrots into coined pieces.

4. Add carrots and potatoes to coffeepot with salt and pass about 6-8 cups of clean water through the coffeemaker.

5. When done, cover with foil and cook covered for about 2 hours until soft.

6. While waiting, all of the fat has to be cut off the kidneys prior to cooking. This is a tedious process so go slowly until you get the knack of it. Cut the kidneys into bite sized pieces

7. When done drain the potatoes and carrots and set aside.

8. Add the kidneys,onions, garlic, olive oil, rum, bay and celery to the pot.

9. Cook covered for 2-4 hours, until tender.

10. Add bullion to the pot and then pass the 12 ounces of water through the coffeemaker.

12. When water is done steaming mix it into the flour and water mixture in the bowl until you get a smooth gravy.

13. Add the carrots and potatoes to the pot and return the gravy to the coffeepot. Cook covered for a couple more hours.

If you like kidneys, you will love kidney stew. If you have never tried it, they are very inexpensive to cook and you just may like them. They are in the same texture and flavor range as beef liver. For me, they also bring back fond memories of my Mother.

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Coffeepot Lasagna: Oxymoron or Good Eating?

June 23, 2012

Rolled Lasagna: Coffeepot Style

When my parents started getting older, it seemed that all they wanted to talk about was the weather and their grandchildren. Now the first topic is boring and there is not much I can do about it, but I must admit that I spend a lot of time talking to my children about their wonderful and sometimes not quite so wonderful children. I also spend a significant amount of time talking to my children about business, exercise (their’s and mine) and cooking.

My daughter discovered a recipe for rolled lasagna in early April and was concerned that it was not quite perfect. We talked about it and it sounded like something that could be done in my coffeepot but I didn’t get around to it until just before Memorial Day and have been too busy since then with my anti-inflammatory diet to worry about publishing new recipes.

However, I get two of my three Granddaughters for the first three weeks in August and this is another one of those fun meals that shouldn’t be possible to make. Even the name Coffeepot Lasagna sounds like an oxymoron. One of the most important things I learned with his meal is that you can cook the whole box of lasagna noodles and the ones that you don’t use can be frozen between layers of wax-paper and are perfectly fine for another day.

Naturally, my daughter and I never cook anything exactly the same way. She tends to be aware and adapt to the contemporary interpretations of old recipes and I tend to do it the old-fashioned way. It’s all good. When I cook, she loves it. When she cooks, I love it. The biggest difference in this recipe is that she included crumbled cooked sausage in her cheese mix for the filling, I sliced cooked meatballs and made it a layer on top of the filling. If I were including sausage, which I have in the past, I slice it and include it with the meatball slices or in a separate layer. Oh well, to each their own.

Rolled Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 cup Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan
1 egg
4 oz shredded Mozzarella
handful fresh parsley minced

3 Lasagna noodles cooked as per box directions.

Method:

1. Cook all the noodles and freeze the ones you don’t use between sheets of wax paper.

2. Microwave one portion of frozen meatballs for the appropriate amount of time.

3. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Spread the Cheese Mix on the Lasagna Noodles

4. Spread the cheese mix on the noodles.

5. Place the sliced cooked meatballs on top of the noodles and dab a little sauce on top of everything.

6. Roll and spike with toothpick to hold.

7. Put a little sauce in bottom of coffeepot so nothing sticks.

Cooked Rolled Lasagna

8. Place meatballs inside and cook for two to four hours.

9. Enjoy

I haven’t made this in the three years since Dolores died but I am definite I will make it when my granddaughters are here. Truth be told, I forgot to dab the sauce on top of the cheese and meatball layer before rolling because it’s been too long, but that is the traditional way to do it.

Ah, I remember it well!

Everything from Soup to Nuts – Spicy Foods in the Old World and Asia

June 22, 2012

Italian Pumpkin Soup

When I used to visit Aunt Adel, she used to prepare a six course Italian meal described by her as “Everything from Soup to Nuts.” Now any one of the courses could have been a meal unto itself but if you were really Italian, which I was not, you learned to pace yourself, which I did not. 

I never much thought about the purpose of each course and why some foods were alleged to go together until I first started thinking about the Inflammation Factor and healthy anti-inflammatory spices. Now as I mentioned before on the post on pumpkin soup, the addition of a chicken breast and some carrots makes this a hearty meal and since pumpkin is still on sale, I decided to check it out and find out how healthy it was.

I went to the Nutritionaldata site to check for the calories, protein, carbohydrates and Inflammation Factor for each ingredient including a chicken breast and carrots. I added up the totals for everything in the pot and was amazed at how healthy this soup really is and how high the anti -inflammatory qualities are. The results have been divided in two to reflect that the pot holds enough food for two people or two meals.

Calories 319
Protein 46
Carbohydrates 30
Inflammation Factor 709

Now this is a very impressive balanced low calorie anti-inflammatory meal, just the type I wanted to experiment with on my detox. Since I never do anything half way, I added fresh grated ginger, hot pepper and celery and more than doubled the anti-inflammatory properties without altering the other values by much.

I begin to see the concept of “Soup to Nuts” when I checked the anti-inflammatory properties of Almonds which Aunt Adel traditionally served at the end of the meal and found out they also had a positive influence. The concept would appear to be that if the meal started with and ended with foods high in anti-inflammatory properties, you could indulge in whatever you liked in the middle courses.

Pinto bean Curry

This new knowledge got me to thinking about other old world foods so I checked on some Indian Recipes while searching for a vegan recipe. The pinto bean recipe was also an original Indian recipe and unmodified by me as I don’t know enough about Indian Foods to alter the spice blends, but “I know what I like.” Once again I was utterly amazed at how high the anti-inflammatory properties are.

Calories 586
Protein 19
Carbohydrates 82
Inflammation Factor 1141

I guess in the old days, the people of the world did not have the luxury of picking and choosing what they were going to eat and just ate whatever was available to survive. To compensate for what might be the ill effects of refined flour and white rice, they just added spices and balance to the meals and got on with their lives. In many of these cultures, people live longer than Americans despite drinking too much wine and eating refined grains and starches so, I guess spices could be important.

In my mind, the jury on anti-inflammatory foods is still out but I intend to monitor what I naturally eat for the next year and make my decision after I go through a winter where my level of aches and pains traditionally increases.

Spices and the Inflammation Factor

June 16, 2012

Spicy Fish and Baked Potato

I decided this week when I went on my occasional detox for 2 weeks and 2 days to not only drop all wine but to completely modify my diet to see if I could reduce my aches and pains. I know I like what I eat and I have settled on a fairly healthy diet of whole grains, potatoes with the skins on, vegetables, fruits and fish and chicken. I also like spicy food. There is a cute tool over at Nutrition Data, which allows you to track, carbs protein, calories and the total Inflammation Factor for the days consumption.

Pretty much like most people, I eat what’s available and what I crave. I found my consumption of fruits and vegetables is fairly constant so my carbohydrate loading is 150 to 230 grams and I am not likely to change until next winter when fruit is less abundant. I intentionally eat a high protein diet as it is necessary to feed by brain and body for my manic lifestyle so that is not gonna change. The range is 73 to 127 because I like vegan foods once in awhile and that might actually be a little low. Hence, the only number I can focus on is the Inflammation Factor and I am doing pretty good at maximizing but prior to my detox, I was not consistent as I varied from about -300 which is bad to plus 2000.

The concept is that by avoiding foods that rise your Inflammation Factor level, your joints and body will ache less. This diet has not been well received because meats, dairy, fruits vegetables, whole grains and beans vary all over the place, sometimes in a counter intuitive fashion. The huge variation in my diet came not from what I ate but from the spices I used and this I found comforting.

In my heart I know that poor people will eat whatever is available on the prior list without being cave men or vegans and the biggest difference is that people in the poorer nations will use more spices. I tend too look at the foods we chose to eat  as those that heal us, those that are habits and those that are available. I believe that the use of spices and cooking evolved at about the same time and that spices were included in meals to solve some problem know by the Village Shaman.

I do suffer back pains and have suffered chronic pain in the past and the naturally chosen spices on my list seem to top the scale for positive Inflammation Factor and are allegedly helping me. So I did a search of Top Ten Spices for many nutritionists  and compiled a list of the 30 because there was little consensus in the area. After researching those spices and searching for the highest anti-inflammatory properties The following ones were the only ones that could counteract a day of bad eating with enough positive value to turn the whole day positive while using reasonable quantities.

Spice                             Quantity                          Inflammation Factor.

Fresh Ground Ginger    1 Tablespoon                             903
Hot Pepper                       1/2 tsp                                 740
Turmeric                       1 Teaspoon                              508
Crushed Garlic             1 Tablespoon                             500
Onion                             1 medium                               257

It amazed me that their was only one person, Dr. Jeremy Webster, had the most agreement with all the other experts and also got all five spices and herbs with the greatest anti-inflammatory properties correct. He had the best records of anyone for compiling a Top Ten List as most agreed with him in general more than they agreed with each other. Unfortunately, I already had these five items on my list of good stuff so got nothing else for my efforts except that Cinnamon with is almost neutral on the negative side for IF factor made everybody’s top ten list except mine. I rarely use it but I guess I’ll start.

Duck Rack and Fish placed on Grill with Baked Potatoes

The picture above is the setup for me grilling spicy fish on my duck rack because I forgot to show it last time and it is a easy way to grill fish fillets. The anti-inflammatory properties of the two Grilled Spicy Tilapia fillets is an incredible 1944 because I eat all the spices and always have. The first time I tried it because my daughter told me about a similar meal with fewer spices and I just liked the idea after adding a few more of my favorite spices.

I never knew that tasting good could be good for me, but I’m learning.

Grilled Spicy Fish and Grilled Bok Choy

June 15, 2012

Grilled Spicy Fish and Bok Choy

Seems my daughter called a few weeks ago with a recipe for Tandoori Salmon which she got from a magazine called Cooking Light which promised a whole bunch of recipes involving 5 ingredients and 15 minutes. This is one of those slick magazines by the checkout counter in grocery stores published by the people at Coastal Living and Southern Living. The spice list was basic involving Ginger, Turmeric and Cumin.

I laughed and told my daughter I was starting to like and become a fairly decent Indian cook and was sure I had never cooked Tandoori because I didn’t have all the spices and this was so basic that it probably bore no resemblance to real Tandoori. She said she was OK with that because there were limits to what her daughters would eat. I checked Tandoori and I was correct, I didn’t have the spices on hand to cook that style but I could bring this basic recipe up a notch with spices traditionally used in Tandoori cooking. As a matter of fact, these spices are fairly traditional in all Asian Cooking. I used the rub with tilapia which is a fairly bland fish but could see it working with much stronger fishes like tuna.

My Spicy Fish Rub

Ingredients

1 oz ginger grated about 2 Tablespoons
1 T crushed garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 T Lemon Juice

Method:

1. The Ginger was grated and the spices and lemon juice mixed in a bowl.

Coated Bottom of Fish and Spice Mix

2. The spice mix was coated on one side of the fish.

Fish on Duck Rack with Both Sides Coated

3. The fish was placed on a duck rack for Grilling with the spicy side down. I use the duck rack because I don’t have to flip the fish or move it until it is over a platter. This prevents fish in the coals.

4. The spice mix was coated on the other side.

The Grill is set up for Bok Choy (top) and the Fish (bottom)

5. The grill is set up with areas to grill the Bok Choy and grill the fish.

Grilled Bok Choy

Grilling Bok Choy is simple and another nice and easy way to eat it. The Bok Choy is cut in half in the long direction, placed in a bowl and drizzled and tossed with Olive Oil.

The fish is placed on the grill and cooked for about 10 minutes. The Bok Choy is tossed on the vegetable area (top of grill picture) and cooked covered. Every couple of minutes toss it like stir frying. When done remove from grill and serve.

Coffeepot Meatloaf!

June 7, 2012

Turkey Meatloaf and Coleslaw

I love meatloaf. It is one of the all-time great comfort food and every family makes it good and every institutions gets it wrong. I made meatloaf, my wife made meatloaf, my mother-in-law made meatloaf and my mother made meatloaf. It was all different and all good. When I was still eating a lot of beef and pork, I kept ground pork and ground beef around because the mixture makes a pleasant meatloaf. I tried making meatloaf in my coffeepot several times and was not satisfied with the results. It was either messy, stuck to the mold or just didn’t work out correctly. It seems you are never too old to learn from your children and this meal was made possible by learning from both my son and my daughter.

While visiting my son, He and my Granddaughter were making cupcakes and I was just amazed to see how well Silicon Cupcake molds worked. You use them as standalone molds on top of a cookie pan and the cupcakes cook and nothing sticks to the mold. I just knew that they would be perfect for coffeepot meatloaf and I got some. After cooking each mold holds a 4 ounce piece of meat loaf so this meal is for two portions. I must admit I ate two of them for dinner because it came out so well and snacked on the third. Oh well!

None of my previous recipes came out particularly well as they are all too moist and there is no way to cook off the extra moisture in a coffeepot. For this success, I turned to my daughter who is an excellent cook and for more traditional cooking methods, you might want to visit Dinner By Dagny. The key to my success was her recipe for turkey burgers which I adapted into turkey meatloaf. She is a big fan of ground turkey and there are two secretes to her success. First, purchase quality ground turkey not the cheapest house brand and also start with a good recipe.

Turkey Meatloaf

Ingredients:

Meatloaf:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 egg
1/2 T crushed garlic
1 handful of fresh Herbs (I used basil and parsley and minced the blend))
1/2 tsp Adobo or other seasoned salt
1/2 tsp cracked pepper (I put peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and cracked them)
1 Tomato diced
1/3 cup breadcrumbs (I grated the amount off a piece of frozen whole wheat bread)

4 oz tomato sauce to cover the meat. (I used leftover sauce)

Method:

Add all the ingredients to a bowl except the sauce.

1. Add all the ingredients to a bowl except the sauce.

Mix all the ingredients together and stuff the cupcake molds.

2. Mix all the ingredients together and stuff the cupcake molds.

Place carefully in the coffeepot and cover with sauce.

3. Place carefully in the coffeepot and cover with sauce.

Cook covered with foil for over 4-8 hours.

4. Cook covered with foil for over 4-8 hours.

5. Take out of the molds and serve.

This was excellent meatloaf and a double success. The turkey meatloaf was excellent and the molds did their job.

Thank You Andy and Dagny!

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew!

May 30, 2012

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew

When my brother, Walt and sister-in-law, Marge, come to visit, almost anything can happen in my kitchen. The pantry may be rearranged so it takes me six months of using up hurricane supplies to find everything again or all my cabinets are rearranged and glasses put directly above the sink even though I never use glasses and drink the water from a bottle and coffee and tea from my mug. The reason of course is that “everybody does it their way” and this would make it easier for guests. Now the only frequent visitors are my daughter’s family and their daughter (my niece) and the last time everyone came, they complained they couldn’t find anything because it had all been moved.

Oh well, none of this is important and worth worrying about so I just ignore it. Besides, sometimes I even learn something new. Like Marge does, I usually buy chicken thighs on sale and skin and bone them myself and the same with chicken breasts. Marge likes to cook and Walter prefers food cooked exactly her way with exactly the ingredients they use at home. This means at the end of a visit I end up with weird stuff I never use full of sugar and artificial flavors and colors which end up getting dumped. Every now and then a good idea sneaks up on me by surprise.

One year, after they were gone, I pulled some frosted over chicken parts out of the freezer for my next days dinner and when I started preparing my evening meal, I found a bag full of skin and bones with almost no meat. Naturally, I avoided confrontation and called my niece to find out what the heck I was looking at and it seems she knew the answer and this time it was logical. This was how her mom stored all the chicken parts from deboned chicken thighs and breasts and also the carcase from a roasted chicken after it was finished carving. She uses it as a base for chicken soup.

I liked the idea but decided to carry it to the next level. Since many recipes that call for a quarter teaspoon of a pinch of some spice are difficult to scale down, I hold the sauce constant and cut back on the meat and vegetables to four to six ounces of meat instead of a pound. Some times I will use the sauce and turn a vegan meal into a chicken meal, other times I will just save the sauce and add it to the skin and bones container and freeze it.

If the sauce is really good, it is likely to be rebuilt into a second meal. If I don’t think it was perfect, I will add it to the container of skin and bones and freeze it. The container could be quite eclectic with Pot Liquor from Collard greens and smoked turkey, sauce leftover from vegan or chicken curry, standard giblet gravy or pan drippings from a roast turkey or chicken. Everything vegan, chicken or turkey goes into the container. I don’t include any vegetables as the get mushy – just the sauce gets added to the container.

I don’t worry too much about the mixture of flavors. I also add the liquid from canned beans when the liquid is not added to the recipe. It seems that our local stores pack 5 pieces of chicken to a tray in the meat counter. Recently as I tightened up on my portion control, I add the odd pieces of chicken to the pot as I know I only need two small legs or thighs and cooking that extra piece in a pack serves no useful purpose as leftovers but does help build the pot of soup.

Pretty much the stew featured above was made from various sauces, skin and bones with one thigh and one leg. After defrosting and cooking for a couple of hours I removed the skin and bones and discarded them leaving just the thigh and leg. I added a handful of parsley and celery from my garden and a can of garbanzos with the liquid and a half cup of barley and let it cook a couple more hours. Next, I added the potato and carrot and 12 ounces of water as the barley had adsorbed all of the stock and it needed to be thinned out to cook the carrots and potato.

Sometimes, I add dumplings and leave out the potato. If I have leftover peas or corn, it gets added to the pot. Depending on my mood and what I have, I could also substitute brown rice for barley.

There can be no  recipe for this chicken stew because;

Indescribably Delicious Chicken Stew is a lifestyle.

 

Fish is Brain Food – Fact or Fiction??

May 19, 2012


Salt Fish Marinara (Baccala alla Marinara)

My mother always said fish was brain food and ate a lot of fish. She snacked on sardines and tuna and loved any fish we caught and cooked it for herself if no one else wanted fish. She died at the age of 93 with her brain still functioning and her wit and wisdom intact. I eat a lot of Fish because I like it.

When I first started my lifestyle change, I went to a nutritionist who also supported the consumption of large amounts of fish and the use of a fish oil supplement for improved cardiovascular health and this was definitely not a problem for me. Now that I have been living my new life style for two and a half years I am satisfied with my weight and excercise program so I have started to focus on what I eat. Unfortunately, fish has a tendency to concentrate the highly toxic environmental pollutant methyl mercury. Methyl Mercury is so toxic that a few drops on the outside of a scientist’s protective rubber glove which was cleaned and disposed of instantly still caused death within five days by skin adsorption.

Around 2000, the FDA and EPA put out a joint advisory that women who wanted to get pregnant, were pregnant or lactating should stop eating fish. Many did and the results proved my mom knew what she was talking about. Seems that scientist found a benifit for children of women who ignored the warning and continued to consume ocean fish. Their children had advanced cognitive and motor skill development compared to the children of women who skipped fish in the diet. Moreover, resent research reports from the University of California at Berkley document that eating fish can play a positive role in mental health. Some interesting preliminary studies suggest that fish oil, usually in the form of supplements because they are easy to use in research, may be of some help in treating bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) and schizophrenia.

I never stopped eating fish as the probability of me being pregnant or lactating is remote and at least two (anchovies and tilapia) of the four fish that I regularly eat are low in mercury. I am not too worried about the high mercury level in ahi tuna as I can’t afford to eat it very often. The other fish I love has been worshiped in a bawdy calypso song by the Mighty Sparrow.

Saltfish,
Nothing in the world sweeter than
Saltfish
English, colloquial, Bajans
Saltfish,
It’s sweeter than meat
When you want to eat
All saltfish sweet

If you look up the health benefits of saltfish, people who are not familiar with cooking or eating this fish condemn it for it’s high salt content. If you check Mediterranean or Caribbean Recipes, you find the salt is extracted from the meat over 24 hours with multiple water washes and you sometimes have to add flavor to the pot because all the salt has been removed.

The meal pictured above was actually closer to my Perfect Puttanesca because after washing the saltfish, it had very little flavor. You don’t lose the protein or oil by soaking the fish just the salt. Since I was just starting the meal, I used the following ingredients to build more flavor.

Ingredients:

Tablespoon extra virgin Olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic minced
1 large yellow onion -diced
Thin slice scotch bonnet hot pepper or crushed red pepper to taste
3-4 thin pieces of anchovies the size you get on pizza -diced
1 sprig basil with leaves
1 fresh bay leaf
T capers
Can of diced tomatoes.
4 to 6 ounces of well washed saltfish

Method:

1. The oil, garlic, onion, anchovies pepper, bay and basil are placed together in the coffee pot and and sautéed for about two hours
2. The capers are added to the pot along with the can of tomatoes. Stir and let cook 2-4 hours
3. About 1 hour before dinner, add the saltfish.
Serve with Pasta

A final thought is that all saltfish is not created equal. The three main variety of fish are Ling, Cod and Alaskan Pollock. Ling and Cod have high mercury levels so Alaskan Pollock is the preferred choice. Even at that, the recommended amount of Ling and Cod is no more than 12 ounces of fish per week I eat 4 to 6 ounces of saltfish about once a month so I guess it really wouldn’t matter which one I chose. Given that they are all available and all about the same price, I guess I’ll stick with Alaskan Pollock.

What does it take to Lose 101 Pounds? My Story!

May 12, 2012

Eric over at Health Demystified is young and serious and trying to save the world from the ill effect of obesity with a free product. More importantly in my mind one of the obese people he is trying to save is his father and he deserves all the help he can get. At my advanced age, I am not sure that there is a single product that would help people lose weight, and even if it were free, I’m not sure how many people would use it because of all the negative uses of the word free on the Internet.

However, his knowledge, sincerity and hard work make me want to help him so I took the time to assess what were the principle reasons I achieved a lifestyle change starting in 2010 which led to my 101 pound weight loss and as of today I am now stable around 173 pounds with a 37 inch waste when measured above the belly button. A waist above 40 inches is just as deadly as obesity and I have been as high as 57 inches at my peak weight of 265 pounds.

I apologize for the length of this post, but the following text described the knowledge gained from forty years of dieting and 3 years of lifestyle changes.

There are only a few elements to consider for a permanent weight loss and perhaps hundreds of ways to focus on them. Any holistic plan to achieve a permanent drop in weight from life threatening obesity must address all of the key issue and recognize where weight loss information is being compromised usually for commercial purposes. At the simplest level, your weight is governed by the calories you eat and drink and the amount of physical work you do. There are no magic drugs, exercises or food plans. When it comes to calories and the fat in your body, “in minus out equals accumulated weight.”

The biggest problem with this simple wisdom is that on the short term it doesn’t seem to work as our body fights our erratic behavior and tries to maintain stability. Up to a point, fat is good to provide energy when, and if, there are lean periods of reduced consumption or periods of increased activity. Yet if we eat or drink too much and exercise too little, there is no instantaneous weight gain because our body will get rid of those excess calories in our body waste. Eventually gluttony wins the battle and new fat is added to our body and a new higher weight plateau is reached.

Likewise, the reverse of the process is not instantaneous. Going to the gym without a lifestyle change probably won’t alter your weight very much. While exercise is an excellent lifestyle change to help you control the weight you are at and increase longevity, the results would be more realistically evaluated with a tape measure, a mirror and your wardrobe.

There is a very good reason to be concerned about your appearance beyond vanity. The chances of health problems double with people who have a big belly even if they have “normal weight”. Measured just above the belly button, a man should be below 40 inches and 36″ is the recommended size. For a woman to sustain good health, she should be below 35 inches and 31″ is recommended.

There is also no magic solution to shedding belly bulge. It simply involves eating and drinking less and exercising more but the gym alone won’t shed weight. An hour of moderate workout in the gym will burn about 300 calories and it would take about twelve days to lose a pound if eating and drinking habits remained the same. Even at this modest rate of loss, most grossly overweight or obese people are only capable of light exercise so they would have to workout for two hours every day to lose a pound in twelve days unless they reduce food consumption.

At 265 pounds with a 57 inch waist, I was too ashamed to go to a gym so I purchased a treadmill which I hated because I was bored to tears. I used it and controlled my drinking and eating and dropped to 225 pounds but was still bored to tears because the only way for me to cut back on food and alcohol was to cut back on socializing. My weight drifted all over the place because of my lack of commitment to a lifestyle change. When I started on my current path in December of 2009, I was 245 pounds and had a 47 inch waist, which was still in the deadly zone because of both waist size and obesity.

Now I am a cautious person and I never make a commitment without understanding everything about the nature of the endeavor. For me, a person should know enough about obesity to understand that obesity is not just about the length of time a person will live, it is also about the general quality of life and the ability to participate in family events. Also, the chance of a slow, lingering and painful death increases with weight. Morbid obesity is associated with a substantially increased risk of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

The hardest first step for an obese person is to accept they have real issues. When I was morbidly obese, I didn’t know anything about obesity, Body Mass Index (BMI) or a slow and lingering death and in the case of obesity, ignorance is bliss. I didn’t even own a scale. I got weighed on the doctors scale and at work so was generally aware of my weight range. The two issues which had the highest impact on family life bothered my wife and I different ways. Above 235 pounds, breathing became an issue and it stopped me from having an active sex life which didn’t seem to bother my wife very much. The issue which bothered her was sleep apnea.

Dolores had been trained as a nurse and my father had died from sleep apnea where he simply stopped breathing in his sleep at age 71. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder with abnormal long pauses in breathing during sleep. Individuals with low muscle tone and soft tissue around the airway (jowls because of obesity) are at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. Old male couch potatoes, with jowls and weak muscles, are more likely to have sleep apnea than women and Dolores was worried about me.

So at that point in time, I got a scale and an education on obesity. Health problems relative to normal people start occurring almost instantly as people move outside the normal weight range. At the extreme of morbid obesity (BMI over 40; or for me 262 pounds at 68 inches tall), the odds of incurring any health care problem is twice as often and the cost goes up with the amount of excess weight. The penalty for morbid obesity is about $3000 per year more in medical bills than for a normal person. Only 2% to 3% of the nation is in this special group but I qualified.

It didn’t take me long to learn enough to abuse science. From the studies and BMI charts, I found that I only had to drop to Class 1, Obesity at a BMI of 30 to shed about 3/4 of my health problems and costs. Also the drop in weight led to an improved sex life. The problem of sleep apnea occasionally remained as I bounced around in a range between 220 and 240 but moistly above 230. This meant every time I did binge level eating or drinking and gained a couple of pounds, the sleep apnea returned. As long as Dolores was alive and sharing my bed, I was constantly appraised when I was on the wrong side of the line because my irregular breathing was ruining her ability to sleep. I stopped using the exercise equipment, and the scale wore out and was never replaced because of my lack of commitment. Thirty-six percent (36%) of the Nation is obese in all three classes

In my adult lifetime, I had a tendency to binge eat or drink when I was under severe stress. My first diet, the Stillman all protein diet, was in 1970 when I was starting a winery and trying to balance a full time job. The first gas crises in 1974 crushed my tourist winery that I had successfully started and which depended on people driving to reach it. In 1982, I lost a job and sought solace in food until I opened an outdoor beach club which did exceptionally well and I dropped to 182 for the last time until my current lifestyle changes . In 1988, it rained on 39 consecutive outdoor events at the Beach Club and I was broke and lost the business. By 2004, things were going reasonably well and I just got fat and lazy due to becoming a “desk jokey” and not engaging in any physical activity because I could hire people to do everything that needed to be done and take time off to go fishing and drinking beer with my friends.

Still after that zenith of 265 in 2004, I managed to hold between 220 and 240 using the Type O diet until Dolores died. Then I started seeking solace in food and cooking and eating too much. Drinking was no longer that big of a problem as I was not happy enough to enjoy socializing and drinking. Unfortunately, Dolores was no longer sharing my bed to tell me when I was too fat to breath at night. This is where My Daughter Dagny and My Niece Cait joined forces and convinced me it was time for a lifestyle change.

So what are the essential elements of my 101 Pound weight loss.

1. General knowledge about obesity and acceptance of the scientific data. You must understand the problem before attempting to solve it.

2. Strong Emotional support from family (Dagny, Cait and Carson). Non judgmental loving support and encouragement is needed. Very few can solve the obesity problem entirely on their own.

3. A strong and vocal Personal Commitment and let the world know. Commitment is a struggle especially at the start because your weight loss is so fragile and unstable. When I started my diet at 265 without a commitment to a lifestyle change I had dropped about 45 pounds in a few months just by starving and working at the gym. I went on vacation where there was no scale and gained 27 pounds in a long weekend eating 3 meals a day, drinking beer mid day and having wine and a big dinner in the evening. I brought a scale because I felt I was gaining weight and when I got the result, I knew it was flawed and returned the scale to the store. Eventually, I quit the diet because the diet failed me and the weight loss wasn’t permanent. The first three to five months of a lifestyle change are most critical and a lifestyle change of only three months will also fail.

4. A commitment to reduce the calories consumed with beverages and food.  My personal commitment is covered in my book “An introduction to coffeepot cooking: How I lost 101 pounds cooking Portion Controlled Meals” which is available in Kindle format from Amazon. You can get a free Kindle app for almost every computer and operating system.

5. A commitment to a minimum of a half hour of exercise everyday or worst case every other day. It is better and you lose more weight, if you do a minimum of a half hour everyday and an hour a day three times a week. It is also better if you do it first thing in the morning to jump start your metabolism and stay physically active all day.

I firmly believe That there is no substitute for the advice in the first three steps. And a great amount of flexibility in the last two. When it comes to exercise, it is the time you commit to exercising regardless of which form of exercise you choose. I like walking because almost everybody can do it. When you work with your heart monitor and push yourself to safely do only a half hour a day, you get stronger everyday and are able to do more. Everybody in my family has a favorite physical activity and mine just happens to be walking and not a chore at all because it fits my personality. When I miss two days because of rain, I’ll look for a break in the weather and go for it. If it rains, I don’t care because I am still walking and enjoying the sights and proud of my accomplishments.

When it comes to eating, you can eat and drink what you like as long as your total calorie count is around 2000 which if you pace it during the day with moderate amounts of fruit, vegetables and protein; and then eat a light dinner, there is still a 1000 calories left over for a few glasses of wine. If on the other hand you don’t drink, then stick with the light fruit and vegetables all day and have a slightly heartier dinner and you will lose the weight a little faster by skipping beverages with calories and carbonation.

I don’t believe in special diets or severely restricted diets because for me they simply create a repressed demand for the foods I want and the quantities I am used to. When I started holding about 2000 calories, walking in the morning, getting into yard work as much as possible, walking in the afternoon when possible, and going to bed relaxed on a full stomach, I didn’t feel deprived of anything and drifted into a steady routine right away.

The process isn’t fast. In the first month, I lost 20 pounds and in the second 15. In the third month I lost 5 pounds. Remember, from previous diets, I found those first three months are the most unstable and the easiest time to have a relapse and regain the lost weight. After that, I shed weight at the rate of about 3 pounds per month. If this was a diet, I probably would have quit after the second month because I would be bored with a steady special diet of meat, carbohydrates, vegetables, vegan, caveman food, or any other cult diet.

However, this was a lifestyle change which allowed for lapses while on vacation with planed sacrifices of more work and less food after vacation. I also started in January when I wouldn’t see my family and party with them for the next six months or so I planned. I have now stuck with the plan for about 3 years and see little reason to change.

A natural evolution is that I now eat vegan about once a week, vegetarian twice a week and chicken, turkey and fish the rest of the time. However, and this is important to my mental well being, if I get a craving for liver, kidneys, sausage or any of the other weird things like my mother ate which let her live to be 93, I eat them and don’t consider it a failure in my lifestyle, just part of it. The same is true if I have a few midday beers while hanging with my family or friends. The only results my family really cares about is what the scale says and how big my belly is and that’s fine with me.

My total diet was discussed in the book mentioned above but;

Remember continue to enjoy fine food, just less of it.

How do you gain 5 pounds in one day?

May 10, 2012

Well my five pound weight gain started by going to lunch with a friend who loves to eat and drink even more than I do. For lunch I had a BLT with greasy fries and washed it down with 3 beers. On the way through town, we passed a little Mexican place where they serve $2.00 Taco’s and he just had to have one and he was driving. One more Taco and one more beer.

Then we actually did something productive and went to Home Depot. Naturally we stopped for a glass of wine before taking the cement to my house. Before picking up my car he wanted one more drink as he was departing to meet his wife. What he didn’t know was I was the distraction to keep him away from his surprise birthday party and we were starting to run late. He was driving and it was his birthday so the best I could do was to make sure we had a quick one.

We got to his surprise party and it was fantastic; people, food, band, moonlight and more. Of course this blog is food focused and the food was fantastic, just appetizers, which was more than I needed. Of course I had a dozen Swedish meatballs and about 10 deviled eggs. I really had had enough food for the day when they brought out a tray of moist rich chocolate cupcakes with a maraschino cherry on top and of course I ate three or four and thought I was done eating until they brought out the angel food cake drenched in amaretto. I couldn’t discriminate so I had three slices of cake that of course I cut myself on the large side. Now at the hotel, I washed all that food down with four glasses of wine.

Feeling completely contented, I went home and went to sleep. When I woke up this morning at my usual time, I was a little afraid to assess the damage with my scale and took note that I was up 5 pounds. What the heck, that’s a lot better than the 10 to 12 pounds I would expect to gain on a family vacation. Unfortunately, it rained this morning, and before 6 am, all the party goers who committed to walking last night called to say they were not going

So what was the special occasion that we celebrated so much. It was my friend Ted’s Surprise Seventieth Birthday Party. This is the same man that I did the 26 mile walk with on January 14, 2012 and the man I am planning to walk a tough 20 miles with on May 27th. Well as Ted always says, “The Liver is Evil, it Must be Punished!” or in my case, I think I punished my whole body.

If yesterday was part of a diet, it would have to be assessed as a failure. As part of my lifestyle, I openly acknowledge that there will be days where I socialize and eat and drink far too much and that is not likely to change. The real challenge is to get on with my life and work hard and eat properly today. It’s clearing up outside, so i guess I will repair a one mile trail that has become overgrown because of the excessive rainfall in the last couple of weeks. Not sure what I will have for dinner tonight but I am pretty sure it won’t include beef, bacon, eggs, sweets or any of the other “greasy kid’s stuff” I ate yesterday.