Days 5 & 6

Last night was just was to crazy around here to post. I spent a good amount of time refining my kitchen. After I got bagged up 6 bags (yes, 6, not 5… I missed one in the fridge…) of groceries and gave them away, I headed to Whole Foods to restock. Not cheap, but so good! I spent 2 hours looking around, reading labels, checking stuff out. So fun! I came home with stuff like:

  • raw wildflower honey
  • apple cider vinegar
  • tons of fruit & veggies
  • tilapia
  • coconut oil
  • sunflower seed kernels
  • fresh ground peanut butter
  • fresh ground almond butter

I asked the guy at the meat counter what the advantage of buffalo was over beef, as they had a bunch of it there. He went off on how much less fat is in it, it’s got a ton more iron, and so much more. Then he said, “would you like to take some home to try?” Free meat? “Sure!” I expected like a 1/4 lb. of something, just to test it. He not only let me choose the cut (I chose ground, in a panic) and gave a pound of it, for free. Nice! I cooked that up tonight. Not bad!

But, the big reason that Whole Foods is my new favorite store is for their spices. Just like you can buy flour, seeds, nuts, rice & all kinds of stuff in bulk, you can buy spices in bulk, too! And it was SO much cheaper! Even the organic spices were 1/10 of the price of the packaged ones. I bought $0.15 of celery seed & $0.19 of thyme! Love it.

Then I came home and repackaged, froze, split stuff up. Everything is all organized and I love it.

Yesterday’s food wasn’t so great. We had been invited to lunch about 2 months ago (literally), so we had to go. We had Thai food, so it wasn’t too bad. It tasted great! We got brown rice and stayed away from deep fried foods. Tried to load up on veggies. You do the best you can, you know? we both split our meals and finished them for dinner, they were so big.

My favorite meal today was breakfast. I had some Acai berry granola that I bought last week at Whole Foods & sliced a fresh peach on top of it. SO GOOD! I also made some home made salad dressing and Chris and I had that on huge salads for lunch. Boiled some eggs and added that to my salad, too. Not bad. :)

Spent on groceries: $108.04

Total spent: $275.63

 

Purging

So, I just spent the last hour going through my cabinets, fridge & freezer and bagging up stuff that fit into one of these categories:

  • a.) stuff I am not eating right now & it will go bad before I can eat it, like cheese.
  • b.) stuff I hope to never eat again. Have you read the ingredients on some of this stuff??? My named brand canned tomatoes had corn syrup in them!!!
  • c.) food I just don’t want sitting around tempting me. Most of this fits in above categories as well, but sometimes Twizzlers & frozen pizzas sitting around are just too much for me to handle.

It came to 5 bags full of food, and honestly, it’s not all of it. Some things I kept that have a long shelf life (shouldn’t that be a sign to me?!) that I might want to occasionally indulge in later, but that is about 95% of the food in my house that I needed to get rid of.

I feel kinda bad unloading my, er, um, “not good food”, on my dear friend, Melissa, but I also know that it is still food and I shouldn’t waste it. Also, I understand that not everyone eats the same. If the reverse would have happened a week ago, and she had called me & asked if I wanted all of her food she wasn’t going to eat, I would have gladly taken it. So, Mel, enjoy! :)

Off to Whole Foods to get some more staples & to refill my fridge! :)

 

Day 4

Wow, doesn’t seem like it’s been 4 days already! That means no chocolate for 4 days!!! Dang! :)

Ok, real quick…

Breakfast:
Me:

 

Day 3

Good evening! Tonight I remembered why, when given the choice, I quit cooking completely from scratch. 1 1/2 hours of prep time, 20 mins. of clean up… for 10 mins. of eating. *sigh*

I bought a scale this afternoon… nope, still not going to tell you how much we weigh! :) If you notice at the bottom of each post, I have a grocery tally going. I will add my and dear hubby’s BMI, and hopefully, weight lost. We will start tomorrow, and then check in each Sunday. (Don’t want to get to obsessive over it by going daily.)

So today’s breakfast:

  • Scrambled eggs (4 total) with onions, mushrooms, garlic, basil, black pepper, sea salt & fresh spinach cooked in a pat of butter
  • Spelt bread toast (me with butter & garlic, him with butter & marmite)
  • Fruit (me – strawberries, him – blackberries)
  • Tea w/ Stevia

Chris noticed today that we’re eating less overall, small portions, etc., but we’re not hungry (except when we wake up). I imagine that’s because of the protein increase. Anyone know for sure?

So, this was our first try at Stevia. Interesting. Sure glad I bought the vanilla flavored one, though it kinda tastes like a bit of coconut in it. I don’t mind it, but it will take some time to adjust to it. Chris isn’t a fan of it and may go more the raw honey route with his tea. He also learned, today, to take his fish oil before he eats, and not at the end. :)

Chris went back to work today, and snagged some oatmeal raisin cookies to take along. I had a few through the day, as well.

Lunch was leftovers from last night. I finished off the guacamole and salad and He finished brown rice from the other night, along with our chicken. Interesting note… brown rice microwaves faster than white rice.

I also ran to Target today (bought that scale) and grabbed some more fruit as well. Strawberries and red grapes. Yum!

For dinner I had some really thin slice beef fillets to cook up. I tried Google but couldn’t really find much to do with them. In the end I created my own thing.

First I made a brown rice stuffing. Brown rice, diced onion, zucchini, mushrooms cooked in a bit of butter, to soften the onions and such. Dumped it in a bowl, added a handful of Crazins (I know, they have sugar in them, but I need to use them up), and chopped up some almonds. Mixed it all up with some of the brown rice, along with some spices (garlic, basil, oregano… I really need to buy some more herbs).

Then I “squared off” the fillets that I had and put the rice mixture inside, and rolled it up. That’s when I realized I had no toothpicks or cooking string to keep it all together. Hmm. Well, I threw a bit of safflower oil in a skillet and stuck the beef rolls seem side down cooked them until they were done.

Threw some leftover rice mixture on the side & had steamed green beans with it. Dinner is done.

It wasn’t bad. It was a little tough as it had to cook a little longer. The rice stuffing tasted good, though, especially with the Crazins in there. And some of them opened up and dumped the rice out. Oh well. Next time I think I would tie it up and maybe bake it. I think it wouldn’t be so tough then.

Also, a few clarifications. I’m not really listing drinks. Other than morning tea, I’m going only water. I read to drink half your weight in ounces of water each day. For example, if you weight 130 lbs, you should drink 65 oz. of water each day.

 

Day 2

I’m really thankful that we’re starting this while we’re both on Spring Break. Granted, Chris still has to work, but I’m home & he’s off school. I really hope we see enough results in a week to motivate us to continue this once we head back into the hectic life we normally have!

Chris got up and left for church/work before I even got out of bed, so he made his own breakfast:

  • Tea w/sugar
  • Ez 4:9 bread with butter & marmite

Yes, we made a trip to World Market yesterday, and the ingredients seems to be within our standards. I think the stuff is nasty.

I don’t remember what I ate! I know I had something, though. If I think of it, I’ll insert it here. :)

After church, I went to Whole Foods to scope out some more things to fill our pantry, namely Stevia.

1 1/2 hours later, I came out with a wealth of knowledge, more ambition, and a bit of damage to my bank account, mostly because I also bought some dietary supplements (and realized I should have those on here, too), but also I didn’t buy groceries last week, so I was out of a lot, anyway. Overall, it seemed to me that the prices there were better than at Sunflower Market, and the variety is much better.

Some note-worthy purchases were:

  • Gluten-free baking flour
  • Safflower oil (I hate olive oil & read this is also very good for you)
  • Fresh Spelt bread
  • Fresh spinach
  • Tilapia (yes, more fish!)
  • Stevia (vanilla flavored)

I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen.

We had sandwiches for lunch-

  • Spelt bread, toasted, leaf lettuce, sliced ham, tomatoes, cucumber & cucumber spread

I had been looking for some kind of natural spread I could use on bread to avoid mayo & found this wonderful cucumber spread. Not until after I put it on my sandwich did I realize it has a sour-cream base. Hmm. Oh well.

The spelt bread was not bad, especially for a sandwich. It does have a bit of a different taste, but it’s easy to adjust to… and I’m a pretty picky eater. :)

Then I decided to make some oatmeal raisin cookies. This was going to be a test, as historically, Chris can not eat anything with oats in it. It always would give him massive heartburn, literally within minutes. We started talking and wondered if it was the oats or if it was the flour & oat combination, putting off too much gluten. So, off to the kitchen I went to experiment. I pulled out my Gluten-free baking flour and even found a recipe on their site for oatmeal cookies. Problem was, it had a ton of sugar in it (white and brown). After some research in how to substitute honey (decrease other liquids, decreasing temp, adding baking soda, etc) I tried it, and this is how the first batch looked (click to enlarge).

They were so thin and quite crisp, but very flimsy. Not good. After some tweaking, I finally got a good batch, which looked like this:

Much better! They were round and soft but firm. Very happy was I. In the end, I realized that, in all my adjustments, I had not taken into consideration baking at altitude. Duh. So, my recipe follows, but it for the Mile High city, so you may have to adjust it again. :)

Gluten Free Oatmeal Cookies

(Adapted from Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods)

Ingredients

* 1-1/2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
* 3 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats (though I’m not sure mine were gluten free)
* 1 cup Butter (softened)
* 7/8 cup honey
* 1 tsp Vanilla
* 1-1/4 tsp Baking Soda
* 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
* 1 tsp Cinnamon
* 1 large Egg
* 1 tsp Xanthan Gum
* 1 cup Raisins (Unsulfured)

Directions

Preheat oven to 315

 

Day 1

Today is the first day of our 30 Day Experiment. Still trying to flesh this out, so things may get changed a bit as we go along, but this is the beginning.

I wish we had a scale so I could see if we lose any weight. For now we’ll have to judge based on clothes that don’t quite fit right. :)

Breakfast (for 2):

  • Scrambled eggs – 5 eggs, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, splash of 2% milk, cooked in margarine.
  • Bacon – 3 pcs. each
  • Strawberries
  • Tea (with sugar)

Then we went shopping & headed to the Sunflower Market down the street. It was my first time actually buying fresh fish, which also means, it would be my first time to cook it! The guys selling it were awesome in giving us ideas of what to do with it.

Came home to have lunch:

I know Ezekiel 4:9 bread is not gluten-free, but it is flourless, made with sprouted grains, so we thought that would be a good transition. Plus Sunflower Market didn’t really have much in the way of gluten-free breads.

Dinner was a challenge. We mad bought Basa fish, so I had to figure out what to do with it. Google to the rescue. I made Baked Basa Fillet with Vegetable Rice & Steamed Green Beans. It was pretty good. Not tons of flavor, but not fishy at all. Next time I’ll use some sea salt on it.

So far, so good.

Spent on groceries: $47.43 (Sunflower Market) & $11.99 (King Soopers)

Total spent: $59.42

The 30 Day Expermiment

In the past few days, we’ve started an experiment in our home (like we need more things going on right now). We’re completely changing our diet, which has been my motivation to get this blog going again. When mentioning that I was doing this, someone (*cough” Lauren) expressed interest in knowing how it all pans out, financially, health wise, etc., so this is my answer for that. :)

My goal is to post (at least)

 

Change…

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I last blogged. So much has happened in that time, but it would be way too much to tell all. The short of it is that in October we moved back to the USA and are not living in Denver, which we LOVE. we are both working and both going to school, so it’s been a crazy transition, but God has been blessed us so much and has provided for everything that we’ve needed.

On to the new…

 

Latvian Driving Laws

Chris and I are studying (yes, still) for the Latvian driving test. We need to get a Latvian license… actually, should have about 3+ years ago, but now it’s imperative, at least for him. We’ve been studying like mad, which hasn’t been easy. We have a book of laws in English, a rough translation of said book, but 1-2 versions older, and a website of practice tests, all in Latvian. But, we can still take the test in English. Odd how it seems they don’t want you to since they give no help to study in English. (The rough translation we have was done by… someone and has been making it’s rounds through the English-speaking community. We’ll pass it on when we’re done.) We plan to take the test for the first time tomorrow, if for no other reason than to see what the English is like on there.

There are all kind of fun things in here, and we’re regularly told, by Ieva, when we’re taking the practice tests & she’s translating on the fly for us, “Remember, this isn’t America. The rules are not the same.” It usually means to choose the answer opposite of my gut reaction.

Some people have been surprised we’ve been stressed out about this. Well, after we pass, I hope to get some of the questions up here so you can test yourself, then you’ll understand. :) Here’s some laws I’m coming across…
60. The number of lanes designed for vehicles not requiring a railway are indicated by the corresponding pavement markings or road signs; if there are no such indicators, the number of lanes is determined by the individual drivers, considering the width of the roadway, dimension of the vehicles and necessary space between lanes of traffic. (read: if there’s no road markings to tell you how many lanes there are, decide for yourself. Confused yet?)

Continued a few days later:

Ieva and I are translating and writing down the 400 or so questions in our practice book that have no pictures to them. That was so we can study without her. Here’s my favorite of the evening:

What should the driver do in case of force stopping during the dark time of the day, outside of the built up area if you’re not able to drive off the drive way and one of your front or back parking lights don’t work? 

Why do I want to add “…when the moon is full, you’re wearing a blue sweater and there is a cow following you, but with no bell…” or something like that? This is nuts.

 

New Year’s Day & Last Frost Dates

I have this memory from growing up… Actually, I’m not sure if it’s a real memory or just something that was just likely to happen and in my mind it is pegged to that day, but to me, it is real. New Year’s Day was the day to start new things, mainly focused around my dad. I remember cleaning out files in the file cabinet one New Year’s Day, using new files, rearranging them and remembering our trip to the office supply store a few days ago smelling the new paper and looking at all the new pens. Good times. But the one we always recalled kind of tongue-in-cheek was that it was the day that Dad sat at the kitchen table and read the new Tax Code, half under his breath and half silently, repeating various sentences because it helped to hear them read out loud as well as see them. I understand that.

Well, this year I didn’t clean out files (mine are still packed from the move), nor did I read Tax Code (I think it would have accidentally slipped into the fire I was stoking). No, this year, while watching the temperatures drop (they’re down to 9F right now) and snow pile up, I started to dream about my garden. I’ve been container gardening for a few years but this year, since we have a house & a yard, I’m dreaming of a big garden full of all kinds of yummy veggies, some which are not very popular here in Latvia. Today I made my final seed list and sent that off, as well as figured out my calendar of what to do when. (Ok, I’m a bit of a nerd, but if you read the first paragraph, I think you’ll admit that I come by that honestly.)

My list looks something like, “5 Weeks before Last Frost: Start tomatoes inside. 2 Weeks before Last Frost: Plant carrots, lettuce & spinach, transplant cauliflower…” I have 12 weeks of plans, from 10 weeks before the last frost date through 2 weeks after the last frost date. The only thing I need to know now is… what in the world is the last frost date for western Latvia?

Now, before you tell me to “google it”, let me tell you that I tried that. After a ton of searching, I did discover that we are in European Hardiness Zone 5, but that doesn’t help. And it’s not like we have a county extension office to call and ask. Grr. Somewhere I heard something about April 1, but I really didn’t think that was accurate. So, I started checking for Ohio last frost dates, which confirmed to me that there is no way our last frost date can be April 1, when back in Ohio it’s at least in late May. Google has failed me. Bored, I started looking through other places in the US at their dates. I always like to look at Alaska, since we’re similar in latitude, even though we have different weather patterns. Juneau is May 15th, with their first fall frost at September 15th. Ok. Then I glanced up the list and started laughing. I’ve always wanted to go to Barrow, Alaska, just to say I’ve been there. Glad I’m not trying to start a garden up there. Last spring frost date, July 24. First fall frost date: August 5. HA! 12 days frost free! Wow, even my Sub-Arctic Plenty tomatoes need 49 days! I guess the greenhouse comes in handy up there. :)

Anyway, I know I need to try to track down someone around here who would have this local info, though I think most of them just know when they do things “Tomatoes go in the greenhouse on this date. Peppers go in on this date”, etc. It’s always like me to shake things up. Wait till the locals get wind of the plan I have to experiment with Square Foot gardening and not plant in long crazy rows!!!

Gotta put wood in the fire. It’s down to 8F now. Stay warm, and happy New Year!