Inferior Imitator

ep·i·gone n. A second-rate imitator or follower, especially of an artist or a philosopher.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Zucchini Meatloaf

This is definitely going into the rotation. It was soooo good, and very versitile. I did the turkey option, and I had some fresh basil, so I added that in instead of the dried, and wow what a difference. I'm thinking I'm going to do a bit more tweaking of the recipe to incorporate more elements of Mom's meatloaf (which I consider the gold standard of meatloaf), and to switch up the flavors.

Zucchini Meatloaf

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup oatmeal, ground
1 cup shredded zucchini
1/3 cup finely diced onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 1/2 pounds ground turkey
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large loaf pan or a large casserole dish with vegetable cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl beat the egg with a fork. Mix in milk and ground oatmeal and allow to rest for a few minutes. To the egg mixture stir in the zucchini, onion, parsley, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and mustard powder. Add ground turkey and gently combine. Place in your prepared pan and press down slightly. (Form into a loaf, but don’t pack the meat tightly, if using a casserole dish.)

In a small bowl combine the marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. Spread on top of meat. Bake for 60-75 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees. Allow meatloaf to rest for about 5 minutes before slicing.

6 servings: 190 calories


Thursday, August 27, 2009

That's It?!?

My state fair hat came back in today's mail. I was a little confused at first as to why I was getting a package, but then I recognized my own handwriting. It was dark, okay?

They judged in three categories on a scale of one to five: Appearance (cleanliness, design, use of color, appropriate fiber choice), Workmanship (gauge, uniformity of stitches, proper casting on and casting off, no knots or loose ends, appropriate seams and other construction techniques) and Finishing (blocking, fringe, embellishments).

I got fives in all three categories and the comments "Very nice job. Tough class!"

"That's it?!?" was basically my reaction.

I don't have much I can go on for improvement for next year (oh yes, I'm planning for next year), except that they probably went a little bit on personal preference and I need to submit things that are more striking/memorable. I've already got a couple ideas in mind.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Cheeseburger Pasta

I'm behind on my recipies! Mom got me a subscription to Taste of Home Healthy Cooking magazine for my birthday. The first one came last month, and I decided to try out the inaugrual recipe on Calvin and Malea. What kid doesn't like cheeseburgers? Well, it didn't go over too well, but I think it was because of the incongruity between taste and texture. It did taste exactly like a cheeseburger.

1-1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat penne pasta
3/4 lb. lean ground beef
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. pickle relish
2 Tbsp. mustard
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. steak seasoning
1/4 tsp. seasoned salt
3/4 c. shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. In large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Drain pasta; add to meat mixture. Stir in the tomatoes, relish, mmustard, ketchup, steak seasoning and seasoned salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Remove from heat; cover and let stand until cheese is melted.

Serves 4: 390 calories

It was very "hamburger helper" in terms of ease. I did use ground beef because I didn't think the kids would go for the turkey, but I may as well have used ground turkey since I ended up eating the majority of it. I liked it.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

State Fair

First thing on the agenda was breakfast. I had eaten some cereal before we left, but Des Moines is an hour and a half away. Cinnamon Rolls!

We pretty much headed straight to the Varied Industries Building, since the Fabric and Threads display was on the second floor, and it was kinda raining, so an inside activity was definitely a plus. I didn't look at the results online beforehand, since THEY DIDN'T POST THEM, so it was a surprise to find out I didn't win anything. Oh well. It was still a good experience, and I got to scope out what won in the various categories for ideas for next year. I'll also get my judges' comments back next week after the fair ends, so I'm interested in seeing what they had to say. The winning hat had more colors and was a more intricate fair isle pattern, so I don't feel too bad.

We walked around the booths downstairs while the rain tapered off. There were very few freebies compared to what I remembered, but I did come away with a few home improvement ideas.

I think we hit food then. Everyone else went for corn dogs, then in search of something relatively healthy for Hayden. I went to the Pork Producers tent for a pork loin sandwich, then couldn't find the rest of them where we said we were going to meet and my phone wasn't working, so I was a little pissed by the time they finally found me.

We checked out the Ag Building (with one of the prettiest eggplants I've ever seen), then over to the Cultural Building for photographs, woodworking, and the dollhouses. More food stops and the weather was getting bad again so we headed to the Animal Learning Center for the baby animals, which Hayden enjoyed.

We looked under the Grandstands at more booths and the hawkers (I was thisclose to buying a microfiber cleaning set), but by that time we were about done. I tried the deep-fried Snickers, which was DELICIOUS, and we stopped by the Pork Producers for Dad this time, while I ate a cornbrat.

The day wouldn't have ended so bad, calorie-wise, if we hadn't stopped in Little Amana for supper on the way home. Chicken schnitzel and all the Amananite fixings. So good.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seafoam Lace Scarf

I finished Nicole's graduation present last week, and I dropped it off Friday before I went to pick up the kids. Nicole picked out the pattern and the color. I picked out the Blue Heron Metallic Rayon. I liked the subtle color changes, plus shiny! I liked the yarn so much, I picked up the same in Kelp for an as yest unknown project but I'm thinking another lace scarf. (I'm not the kind of knitter that stashes a whole lot of yarn, so this is significant.) This was my first scarf, and my first completed knitted lace project. I started a baby blanket with some lace in it, and I've done lace in crochet before, but this was a very good project for someone with my lace experience.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Calvin & Malea

Well, I survived. I was right about the weekend being both a blast and a disaster, and I'm really, really looking forward to being alone for a couple of days. One evening was not enough recovery time.

I went and picked them up Friday afternoon. We listened to Wylde Nept in the truck, which they enjoyed. We stopped to pick up groceries/supplies for the weekend. I had not yet learned to say no, so there's still things like chocolate milk in my fridge, but not too much. We also stopped by Papa Murphy's for a couple pizzas, which ended up being a lifesaver for leftovers. So we had pizza for supper while watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail for the first time. Didn't take long for my living room to become a disaster area.

Then we went for a bike ride, which ended up being the disaster of the weekend. We went a little too far, as Malea was complaining about being tired. We had just turned around to go back when Calvin took a header off his bike. I didn't see exactly what happened, as he had turned back to look at the train going over the bridge, but he ended up with a scraped knee, a sprained wrist, and a chip out of his front tooth. Took us forever to get back home in that condition. We iced his wrist, but it was swollen for the entire weekend, and it made it difficult for him to play. Update: They took Calvin in for x-rays, and it turns out he splintered the bone. Cass said it was just a tiny little lifting of the bone in the forearm, so he just has to wear a brace for a month while it heals. The doctor said we did everything right, and I know that in my head, but it doesn't make me feel any less bad. :(

Calvin's an early riser, so watched Holy Grail again while we waited for Malea to wake up. We went downtown for a little bit to look at the fountain and see where Saturday night's movie would be playing on the Pentacrest.

Completely by coincidence, it was Kids' Day at Kinnick Stadium, when they open up practice for the public. So we got to walk over and see the stadium, got free posters (and not so free football and t-shirt), and watched practice for about twenty minutes before they got hot and bored.

So we headed over to the Coralville Aquatic Center for the rest of the afternoon. I'd never been there before, but it's pretty awesome for a public pool. Two waterslides, a zero-depth pool for the toddlers, and an L-shaped pool that goes from zero- to diving depth. I stayed under an umbrella for the entire time, but ended up getting sunburnt anyway. Stupid skin.

We came back and took showers - I had to send Malea back in after she was done because she didn't wash her hair, and I think my bathroom rug is still wet, but all in all, not too shabby. A third viewing of Holy Grail let me shower, too.

I cooked cheeseburger pasta for supper (to come in a separate post), which didn't go over particularly well. I gave Malea her plate and she said, "This looks horrible" but she ate some of it. Calvin thought it sounded good but didn't like it, so that leftover pizza was welcomed. I thought it tasted exactly like a cheeseburger, and I've got the leftovers, so it's a good thing *I* liked it.

Then we popped some popcorn and took our pop and chips downtown for the summer movie series. They show movies every Saturday night on a screen outside on the Pentacrest, and Saturday's movie was The Wizard of Oz. Calvin wasn't too impressed with the size of the screen and Malea ended up falling asleep, but it was a long day so I don't think it was a commentary on the movie.

Sunday we watched Holy Grail for the fourth time, went to church and then to the Hamburg for lunch, and then packed up and I took them home.

So it was a full weekend, and I think I'll have to wait and see what Cassie says about what they say about it later. There was an awful lot of whining and complaining ("I'm bored" "I'm hungry" "I don't like this" "Can we go home?" "Is church almost over?"), and that was *my* least favorite part, but they're also nine and six, so that's most likely just the way they are and hopefully they'll just remember the good parts.

I think most people thought that I wouldn't be able to handle it for the entire weekend, but aside from the whining and the accident, I think it was fun. And hopefully I'll just remember the good parts too, so we can do it again next year.

Em says my next step is to take a 16-month-old for an entire weekend, but there's no way that can be too much harder. After all, he was entertained by a comb and a glass of water for half an hour. And I much prefer crying to whining.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Quarterly Evaluation

I had my quarterly evaluation at the gym this morning, with good results. With a quarter in which I ate like crap, I'm pretty damn pleased. Of course, I don't know what my eating was like before this quarter, since I only started my food journal at the beginning of May. But I'm looking forward to seeing how I do feeling like I have control over my eating habits.

Which, by the way, so far, so good. I took one high calorie day last Saturday, eating out with Mom at the Button Factory and then UFC at Buffalo Wild Wings. It was kind of difficult getting back on track again early this week, I've averaged 1615 calories this week as opposed to the 1500 I'm aiming for, but I'm still under 1600 for the month, so I'm on track with that goal.

Back to this quarter's results: I'll give the stat as of 4/28, the date of my last evaluation, then the stat for today.

Weight: 167.2/159.6 lbs.
Body Fat %: 23.6%/20.79%
Neck: 13/12.6 inches
Chest: 35.5/34.5 inches
Waist: 29.5/29.4 inches
Hips: 43.75/42.4 inches
Thigh: 23.75/23.05 inches
Calf: 15.75/15.0 inches
Arm: 12/13.2 inches
Abdominal: 33/32 inches

So weight is right on track, as I was thinking 2 pounds per month was a perfectly reasonable rate. Although my scale at home says about three pounds less, but whatever. Body fat percentage hit a milestone, or close to it, anyway. According to the American Council on Exercise, 21-24% body fat in women is Fitness level, and 14-20% is Athlete level, so I'm in no man's land between the two. (Note: my BMI is 25.0, categorized as overweight, which just goes to prove it's a bullshit measurement.)

Other big changes were in the hips, which I definitely knew because I had to retire two pairs of dress pants that were just starting to look ridiculous on me. Which means I have to go shopping sometime soon, or figure out how to handle skirts on my motorcycle. :) Lost an inch off my abdomen (I think the difference is the waist is about an inch above your belly button and abdomen is lower?) and an inch off my chest. I knew about the chest because I went in and got measured at Victoria's Secret Saturday and I'm down to a 35A. Stupid weight loss distribution. And check out that arm! That's all muscle, baby.

Goals for the next quarter. I'm thinking I'd like to aim for 17% body fat, which means losing about 7 pounds of fat. This last time, I lost almost eight pounds, but only 6 pounds was fat. So that goal may or may not be reasonable, since that body fat percentage is getting down there. Looking at my body, though, I think I could easily lose three pounds of fat off each butt cheek and still be completely healthy. ;) So maybe that goal would be more reasonable spread out over six months.

To test that theory, I'm going to keep working on those things that help me feel like I have control over my eating habits, and I'm going to add 2-3 days of cardio on the treadmill per week. I bought new running shoes and a subscription to Netflix to help with the second goal, and I'm already three episodes into How I Met Your Mother (finally!) and a pretty little blister from breaking in the shoes.

Thanks to everyone for your messages of support. Being able to talk about it, hearing about your struggles, sharing tips and's all a network of support I think I was lacking. I'm also going to use you to make me accountable. One of the things that helped me when I was doing the Biggest Loser at work was knowing at the end of the week I'd have to report my results. Three months is an awfully long time, so I'll have to think about what other intermediate results I can track and report.


Friday, August 07, 2009

Stuffed Zucchini Parmesan

I'm going to start posting recipes that I find and like. If I had thought of this before I ate supper tonight, you would be getting a nice picture of the finished product instead of my cold leftovers, but hey, nobody's first try is ever perfect.

The first one is Stuffed Zucchini Parmesan. I got a zucchini in my produce gift bag from Mom last week, so I was looking for recipes to use it in.

My modifications were as follows:

1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onions
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes (though I think next time I'll use more)
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic 4-5 minutes, or until golden. Stir in tomatoes. Simmer 2 minutes stirring occasionally. Arrange zucchini slices on a piece of wax paper. Combine basil, oregano and half the Parmesan. Sprinkle over zucchini slices and press into zucchini. Transfer half the tomato sauce to a bowl. Place zucchini slices over remaining tomato sauce in skillet, overlapping if necessary to fit in all the pieces. Spoon reserved tomato sauce over zucchini. Combine remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle over tomato sauce. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes until zucchini is just tender. Turn on broiler. Uncover skillet and place under broiler 1-2 minutes, or until cheese browns.

It supposedly makes 4 servings (as I did it, 135 calories per serving), but I ate half with a side salad so I was stuffed. This one is definitely going into the rotation.


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Social Networking Addiction

Twitter is down and Facebook is intermittant. I heard on NPR that both are under cyber-attack, which explains it, but doesn't do anything for my need to have you know what I'm doing at all times. So, a list of the tweets I would have made today. If they're more than 140 characters, it's because I'm too lazy to count and Twitter usually does it for me.

19 traffic lights. All working against me.

I need another UFC buddy; Bruce is unreliable. Anyone want the postion? #FB

Jello Mint Chocolate pudding is going on permanent rotation with Banana Fudge Supreme Sundae.

Boss just poked his head in and "berated" me for letting my motorcycle get dusty.

State Fair judging is half over. I'm on pins and needles!

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Conditioned Hypereating Is Just A Fancy Word For Bingeing

July was a bad month for me, eating-wise. I know exactly how bad, thanks to my food journal. There were some 3,000 and 4,000 calorie days in there, and when I look at those totals, I just feel sick. But also during July, I read a book that helps me understand that behavior, and now I just need to figure out what to do about it.

I picked up The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, by David Kessler from the library after hearing interviews with the author on NPR, hoping to gain insight into my relationship with food. The book confirmed to me what I had already known, what I have discovered in the eighteen months since I took on the effort to improve my eating habits, and gave me some tools with which to fight that battle against what the author calls "conditioned hypereating."

Conditioned hypereating, as defined by the author, is characterized by loss of control over hyperpalatable foods, an inability to feel satisfied by food, and obsessive thinking about food. This describes my problem exactly. I feel like I lose control over certain foods, and I eat beyond the point where food loses its rewarding properties, and still do not feel satisfied. Those foods are the ones loaded with salt, sugar, and fat, which is why they don't satisfy.

The book describes the process that eating has become for so many of us: we respond to environmental cues, which differ for each of us, we feel the urge to eat, and we feel the reward of eating, and this becomes a habit, so that we eat for the reward instead of eating for hunger.

The key is to become aware of this cycle, so that we can make a consious decision to eat, instead of relying on habit to tell us when and what to eat. So from my food journal, when I look at those high-calorie days, I know that my binging comes when I eat with family, when I go out to restaurants, and when co-workers bring treats to the office. My goal now is to figure out how to deal with these situations so that I don't come out at the end feeling horrible about myself.

One of the biggest things I'm taking away from this book is the reason why it is easier for me not to eat any of my trigger foods at all than to eat just a little bit. By eating just one, I have lost the struggle for self-restraint. The point of intervention is the decision, that moment of control when I say yes or no. By delegating my decision to eat to my subconscious, which is conditioned to overeat, I set myself up for failure.

The book suggests forming a set of rules for yourself to give yourself a decision framework. This takes away the decision to eat from your subconscious and engages your higher level brain function, where it is easier to take control. This is why I had such success with Seattle Sutton: if it wasn't on the meal plan, I didn't eat it. I have to come up with a more complicated set of rules to help me deal with the situations that are challenging for me.

I'm thinking that if I put the rule into place that I'm only allowed to have one serving of a trigger food, that might help (I already have a rule that I'm only allowed to buy trigger foods in single serving portions, which isn't usually an option, so that rule gets broken too often).

I'm also toying with incorporating a "high calorie day" into my food plan to allow for going out to eat and eating at my parents'. Those two activities don't usually add more than 500-700 calories to my intake, but I still feel like I failed because I'm not hitting my 1500-1600 goal range that day. So if I aim for the 1500 end on a normal day, and do 500-700 over on my high calorie day, I'm still at an average for the week in that goal range.

If anyone else has problems with bingeing and has found ways to deal that work for them, I'd be interested in hearing them.