Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Food and Sanity: Understanding your body

When I was pregnant, my cravings weren't odd in and of themselves. It was the time of day I'd want them. Corn for breakfast, lima beans as a midnight snack, a bagel for lunch, and chips and salsa just about anytime, I wanted normal things, I just wanted them at abnormal times. Finally I found this chart that changed how I eat.

If you crave this...What you really need is...And here are healthy foods that have it:
ChocolateMagnesiumRaw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
SweetsChromiumBroccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calves liver, chicken
CarbonFresh fruits
PhosphorusChicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains
SulfurCranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage
TryptophanCheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
Bread, toastNitrogenHigh protein foods: fish, meat, nuts, beans
Oily snacks, fatty foodsCalciumMustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Coffee or teaPhosphorousChicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes
SulfurEgg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables
NaCl (salt)Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad)
IronMeat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
Alcohol, recreational drugsProteinMeat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts
AveninGranola, oatmeal
CalciumMustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
GlutamineSupplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice
PotassiumSun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens
Chewing iceIronMeat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries
Burned foodCarbonFresh fruits
Soda and other carbonated drinksCalciumMustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame
Salty foodsChlorideRaw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt
Acid foodsMagnesiumRaw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits
Preference for liquids rather than solidsWaterFlavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Preference for solids rather than liquidsWaterYou have been so dehydrated for so long that you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.
Cool drinksManganeseWalnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
Pre-menstrual cravingsZincRed meats (especially organ meats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables
General overeatingSiliconNuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
TryptophanCheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
TyrosineVitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables
Lack of appetiteVitamin B1Nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meats
Vitamin B3Tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes
ManganeseWalnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries
ChlorideRaw goat milk, unrefined sea salt
TobaccoSiliconNuts, seeds; avoid refined starches
TyrosineVitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables
Obviously some of these cravings don't apply to me at all, but I thought about it today as I was desperately craving a buttermilk biscuit. I mean, just because I'm not pregnant anymore doesn't mean my body can't tell me what I need, right? I thought I'd share it with you. I'm off to see about some high protein foods such as fish, nuts, meat or beans!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Food and Sanity: Caribou Coffee's 7-Grain Oatmeal

I've never been much one for oatmeal. In fact, when my mother-in-law makes it at home, I never eat it. I've tried countless occasions to like it, but it always comes across as slimy mush in my mouth. (I hope that made you go, "Ew!" That's how most oatmeal makes me feel.) Eventually I gave up, until...

Meng and I go to Caribou Coffee quite often. It's not too far from home, and there is free parking available if we are willing to walk a few blocks. The weather has been very nice, so here I sit at the moment in Caribou. The rustic, unfinished wood panels and cross beams make the room feel so cozy and less lofty than a Starbucks. It's a great escape from the sterile and often tense environment that is the in-laws' house. It was here in the solace of the smell of coffee beans that my (intuitive and persuasive) fiancée introduced me to Caribou Coffee's 7-Grain Oatmeal.

"It doesn't taste like normal oatmeal," he said. "And you can customize it!" I was skeptical, but I tend to trust Meng when it comes to suggestions. He has a pretty good sense of what I like and don't like, so I tried it. It is now, to me, the exemplification of comfort and contentment. They have several combinations on the menu, or you can put up to three items in your oatmeal. I like it with apple compote, dried cranberries and almonds, but Meng prefers the brown sugar crumble.

Maybe it's not a good thing that food is such a comfort to me, but at least I'm not compulsively eating chocolate. The cooking aspect is nice, too. Yesterday I made vegetarian chili. It was pretty good, but I missed that meat taste. The beans, corn, salsa, cumin, garlic, onion, tomato and fresh cilantro just didn't do it for me. If anyone has a suggestion, I welcome it. Tonight I'm going to try and make Spicy Turkey Meatloaf. I'll let you know how it turns out.

I know this is starting to look like a food blog, but it's really a life blog, and eating is a very important part of life. Besides, if I post a recipe, it's likely to be cheap and easy, and when you're in college, that's what your food needs to be!


3/20/2011 - Update

Turns out the chili leftovers are amazing. Apparently it just needs to season overnight in order to be marvelous, so what the heck! This is a variation of a more traditional chili recipe a friend gave me. Here's what I did:

1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tomato, diced (you can also use canned)
1 white onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 can chili beans
1 can yellow corn
1 can chili beans
1 can pinto beans (or whatever you have on hand)
1 can butter beans (or whatever else you have on hand)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 12 oz can of salsa
1 garlic clove (or you can just use garlic salt)
lime juice
dash of day-old coffee

Heat oil in a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic and 1-2 tbsp of cumin (adjust to taste). Cook until onions are translucent and the tomatoes are beginning to stew. Add all the canned goods, including the salsa. Add salt, pepper, a dash of lime, Tabasco and cilantro to taste. Let it simmer for at least a half hour. The more, the better. At the last minute add a dash of coffee.

So there it is. The great thing about chili is that there doesn't need to be a set recipe for it to turn out great so add or subtract different beans or other ingredients at will. I recommend letting it cool and putting it into the fridge overnight. The next day, reheat on the stove and serve with shredded cheese and sour cream. It's great with tortilla chips.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Food and Sanity: Mexican Lasagna

I don't mind the food that my in-laws cook. It's healthier than I'm used to because there are more vegetables, but on a daily basis I have to discreetly ask my (always informative) fiancée what it is I'm eating. Once in a while, we work an "American" dish into dinner, and so far the Liang's have enjoyed most everything. It's rather comical, actually. Every time I cook something, Meng's adorable mom says, "I am the kind of person that is very open. I will eat everything!" Several times, my food has been too salty for her. (The Liang's don't put salt on the table, so I've taken to not salting dishes and placing the salt strategically within reach for myself.) Meng's dad, on the other hand, will often tell me after a meal, "When I smelled this I didn't think I was going to like it, but it's pretty good!" Yesterday I made a big tossed salad with avocado on the side. (I was pleased to learn that "avocado in Chinese is "è yú lí," which literally means in English, "alligator pear.")

Anyway, on Monday Meng's parents were working late so I had a few friends over for dinner. One of my friends is a vegetarian, so I made "Mexican Lasagna." (Click here for the original recipe from The Economical Eater.) It's a tortilla and beans take on the cheesy, layered pasta we all know, and it was so easy to make, I just had to share with you. You'll notice I made some changes from what is posted in the link.

Mexican Lasagna
Yields: 4-5 servings
-2 tsp olive oil
-11/4 cups diced white onion
-2 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
-1 cup salsa (I used half a jar of Chi-chi's mild garden salsa)
-1 can (5 oz?) tomato paste (I chose one with roasted garlic)
-1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed

-1 jalapeno, diced and seeded
-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
-lime juice
-Tabasco sauce
-Salt and black pepper, to taste
-4 (8-in.) flour tortillas
-11⁄4 cups shredded cheese (I used Kraft Mexican Three-Cheese blend)
Garnish: sour cream

1. Heat oven to 400ºF. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray. (I lined the dish with tin-foil first, because I hate scrubbing things, but I don't think it was really necessary.)
2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Stir in tomatoes, beans, salsa, and jalapenos; season with cumin, salt and black pepper. Add a few dashes each of the Tabasco sauce and lime juice. Bring to a simmer. Add cilantro and remove from heat.
3. Put 1 tortilla in baking dish. Top with 11⁄2 cups bean mixture; sprinkle with 1⁄4 cup cheese. Repeat layers 4 times (I did only 2 more layers), or until you are out of bean mix. (I cut a tortilla into triangles and arranged them on top for a mosaic look.)
4. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes until bubbly around edges and cheese is melted. Remove foil and cook for 5 minutes more. Let lasagna cool for 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with sour cream, if desired.

And there you go. The beans are packed with protein, and if you serve a salad on the side and opt for low-fat dairy products, it's quite the healthy option! I totally encourage you to make this recipe, and check out the blog that I got it from, The Economical Eater.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Sorry, Sorry. Here's an Update.

It's been a while since I've posted, and I apologize. Between getting settled in the new environment, classes starting up and existing on a daily basis, things have been pretty hectic. So... updates?

School. I've started classes back at North Park and things are going sufficiently well. It's quite the trek up there (a 35 minute drive on good days), so I get plenty of time to listen to the radio. I am now up-to-date on my Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas and Britney Spears music, and to my chagrin I'm starting to enjoy it. I even (don't judge) turned up the bass when Enrique Iglesias' I Like It came on yesterday. It has a Court Jester reference in it! Gold star for you if you've seen The Court Jester, two gold stars if you can tell me what the reference I'm talking about is.

Theatre. I'm in the ensemble for our spring production, which is called Lilith. It's based off the talmudic myth of Adam's first wife, who is often thought of as the first vampire to appear in literature. The play is... complicated. You'll just have to come see it. This play, which will be amazing, incidentally, has me driving up to North Park almost every day.

Emma. "Finally!" you say, "This is what I want to read about!" Well, if my mother weren't among my readers, I'd have a choice saying for you, but for know I'll just say, "Thank you for your patience." Emma is 7 months old today and a whopping 18ish pounds. She is up to 2 jars (about 8 oz total) of baby food per day, in addition to formula, rice cereal and the occasional apple slice (which she does not really eat as much as suck on). As we speak, Emma is devouring some "Home-style Squash and Zucchini." She'll eat anything that we give her, the first time we give it to her, without exception. It's quite impressive. She's not quite crawling, but she can get into the right position and can squirm her way across a room in about five minutes. She wants to do everything that she sees us do, including drinking out of a glass, typing on a computer, using an Xbox controller and sorting papers (only for Emma it's not so much the content of the words as the composition of the paper, that is, tear-able in one pile, edible in another) She's incredibly happy all the time. I think she can tell how loved she is and she's radiating it back. She'll smile for anyone.

My Sanity. It's there usually. I must say that if it weren't for my (incredibly sensitive and understanding) fiancée, I'd have gone crazy last month. Living with his parents makes tension high, and not a day goes by when I don't wish we had the money to get our own place. I relax by knitting. I've been making scarves compulsively, and I'm determined that none of them will have a purpose. Once I have a reason for making a scarf, it's not relaxing anymore. I also spend quite a bit of time watching Film Noir movies on Netflix. I hope to get my bike in the city soon. Now that the weather is nicer, it'd be great to explore the area a little. This is a nice segue into the next topic...

My Weight. At first I didn't want to blog about this, but then I remembered how my mission on this blog has been to represent life with pregnancy and baby with as much realism and raw truth as possible. Before I got pregnant, I weighed in around 160ish. I never really kept track, but I was ready to admit that I could lose a few pounds. Seven months after having Emma, I weigh the same amount that I did when I was 8 months pregnant. That's 190 lb. Ouch, right? I only have two pair of pants that fit, one pair that fits comfortably. I've started Weight Watchers Online, and while I'm not seeing immediate results in my weight, I have seen a change in what I eat, which I believe is the first step. Writing down everything that I eat and seeing how the points system works really makes me think about the things I put into my system. I try to go to the gym at school when I have the motivation.

So that's what's up with me. I'll post more updates later, but in the meantime, I need to be out the door early tomorrow and have no idea what i'm going to wear!