It’s Sunday Morning, so I thought it would be a good time to have my Apple-Oatmeal Pancakes. They’re Aztec Diet friendly and easy peasy to make. They’re moist and sweet, so they don’t need butter or syrup. If you want to reduce the fat, reduce the batter to one egg or use egg-whites instead.
Heat your frying pan or griddle medium (these are tender, so you don’t want it as hot as for regular pancakes)
Dump the following in a blender:
1 apple, in chunks (minus the core)
1/2 Cup almond milk
1 Cup rolled or quick oats
1 TBSP baking powder (non-aluminum, preferably)
1 pinch salt
Blend until more-or-less smooth
lightly oil your griddle (coconut oil preferred)
Pour dollar-sized pancakes (these do not flip well if they are made as full sized pancakes)
Turn when bubbles break and set in the top.
Makes a feast for one or modest portions for two.
Add cinnamon to taste
Add in a handful of walnuts and pulse once the batter is ready.
Substitute 1/4 cup plain yogurt and 1/4 cup water for the almond milk, or use regular milk
Add 2 TBSP cocoa and honey to taste for chocolate pancakes.
Last time I wrote about my diet, I talked about how I’d departed from the path of righteous food consumption and was determined to climb back up the slippery slope. I girded my loins and set forth to fight the good fight.
Then my swain dumped me.
It’s for the best, really. Still, it left a hole. I resisted filling that hole for 2 days. I tried to rationalize it away, then I cracked. I got in the car and went out to pick up a 1.5 quart tub of triple chocolate ice cream. On the way to the freezer, I detoured for a package of fudge strip cookies. Then I grabbed a jar of microwave hot fudge for a triple chocolate binge: crunchy, cold and gooey.
I ate nothing but chocolate for the next 24 hours. It made me ill. I knew it was going to make me ill, and I didn’t care. I wanted to be nauseated and bloated, and for the world to leave me alone while I ate my ooey, gooey chocolate.
I could have bought a half-pound of cacao with what I spent on junk chocolate. But I wanted the cheap stuff. Junk chocolate is my friend in low places.
Chocolate works. They’ve proven it with science. Cacao is brain food and mood food. If I’d had some on hand, I might have been able to derail that little escapade. Cocoa would have worked. I was out of that, too.
People under stress revert to old behaviors. Science has proven that, too. It’s in my nature to turn to food for comfort. I enjoy food too much. I enjoy sharing food with the people I love. I can’t be one of those people who consider food only as fuel.
The trick, I think, is to focus more on quality than quantity, and to develop go-to treats that aren’t carb and chemical mother-lodes. Treats that satisfy in low doses. Like the recipe below for raw fudge.
In case you’re wondering, I’m fine now. I went back to the grocery store and this time I have restocked my fridge with better choices. This morning I had a Chocolate Cherry Banacado> Right now I am eating Curried Black Beans, not chocolate.
Raw Chocolate Fudge
Mix equal portions of cacao powder and coconut oil (you can substitute cocoa powder for the cacao)
Sweeten to taste with raw honey
Add walnut or pecan pieces, if desired (walnuts are another brain food)
Smooth in a flat dish with sides, making a layer that is no more than an inch thick
Harden in the fridge.
Store in the fridge and cut off a small piece as needed. It’s very rich!
Note: heating the oil and cocoa or cacao will make for a smoother texture, but will destroy nutrients in the cacao. Cocoa powder has already been heated, so add this step if you like. I prefer not to have another pan to wash.
It happened. When did it start? Was it Friday, when Anna wanted to have breakfast to share her fears about her schnauzer, Zipper, newly diagnosed with cancer? I chose eggs with goetta, potatoes and a pancake instead of the spinach omelet I knew I should have. The cancer turned out to be too far progressed for treatment. Saturday, Zipper got his angel wings. We went to the movies for a distraction (Iron Man 3 was excellent, BTW). That included buttered popcorn and Popeye’s chicken afterwards. I ate the biscuit and the crunchy skin. This week, I had a raspberry chocolate chip milkshake made with chocolate milk, two small pieces of cheesecake, a Dove Bar, and a Frappuccino. There was also a chicken quesadilla and a beef gordito in there somewhere. There must be other, undocumented sins. I woke up today, two pounds heavier.
I really have to go back further than Friday’s breakfast. I bought kale and spinach 2 weeks ago, and did not touch either until this morning. I was just tired of smoothies, tired of thinking about food, too tired to fix food, tired in general. Perhaps it had something to do with being out of meds for a week. My therapist says this can promote carb and sugar cravings. Switching jobs from grading tests in the evening to polishing flutes in the afternoon must have played a part.
My TBI (traumatic brain injury) has been acting up. That means that simple, everyday tasks require the herculean effort of Frodo clawing his way up the slopes of Mount Doom. “Sam, I can’t do it anymore,” is a frequent mental refrain. I eat whatever is easiest.
This is not so much about blaming or explaining as understanding. I enjoyed my little trip off the food reservation, but I don’t like the aftermath. I don’t want to do this again.
So, how does one climb back up the slippery slope? One step at a time.
2 Cups spinach
1/2 Cup yogurt
1/2 Cup pomegranate juice
1 Cup water
2 – 4 TBSP ground chia
Menu, 5/9: Pre-Breakfast: Coffee; Breakfast: 12 ounces cottage cheese with 1 cup blueberries and 1 banana; Lunch: chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell; Dinner: I was too exhausted to think about food. 12 ounces of almond milk and a red bell pepper; Evening snack: 2 bananas
Thursday was busy and I was grabbing food on the go. I didn’t do too badly, considering.
I want, want, want to get back to writing Maximum Security. Life is interfering with art again. Now that the audiobook is in the pipeline, I’ve got a pile of flutes to polish for Pat and a number of practical matters that need attending. Plus, Zipper, the amazing paraplegic schnauzer has just been diagnosed with cancer. Pat and Anna are needing extra TLC. They’ll find out this afternoon about his treatment options and prognosis. As Brent says, “Life is messy.”
Now that I’m talking about Phase II and solid food, I thought I’d talk about beans.
Beans are a terrific and often un-sung diet food. Cheap, filling, nutritious, packed with fiber. On paper they have more carbs than are desirable, but beans have a high percentage of “resistant starch,” meaning they do not break down quickly like typical carbs and thus, don’t spike blood sugar.
Beans are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Green bananas are another. Other stars are whole grains, such as rolled oats and long-grain brown rice. You can amp-up the effects of your Aztec Diet by choosing resistant starches whenever possible. (Get more info on resistant starch here)
You can further increase the nutritional value by sprouting the beans before you cook them. Sprouting your beans first has the added benefit of reducing gas.
I usually make a pot of Curried Black Beans every week. I get four 12 ounce or six 8 ounce servings per pound of beans. Nuke a bowl and top with grated cheese and yogurt (a great substitute for sour cream). Stir in a scrambled egg or some sauteed veggies. Toss them on a low-carb tortilla with hot sauce.
Today I’m starting a pot. It’ll be done some time Sunday. Don’t let that scare you, the prep is super-simple and can be tailored around any schedule.
Curried Black Beans
Soak 1 pound dried Black Beans in your crock-pot for at least eight hours (overnight works well). If you see tiny bubbles forming on top, drain, rinse and replace the water. Otherwise, the beans might sour.
Rinse the beans, then let the damp beans sit for 24 hours or so (if the beans dry out, rinse them and drain again). By this time, you should be seeing little “tails” on some of the beans.
Rinse again, then cover with an inch of water
Add 2 – 3 rounded TBSP curry and 2 bay leaves
Cook in your crock pot until soft, around 5 hours on high. If you’re going to be gone all day, put them on low and they’ll be done for dinner.
Add 1 TSP Real Salt or other whole salt in the last 10 minutes before serving (Don’t add salt in the beginning, it prevents the skins from softening)
I’m awed by the fabulous job Jane Boyer did with the narration, bringing Lia, Anna, Peter, Bailey and the rest of the dog park gang to life. When I first contacted her, I told her that the tone of Shot ranged from creepy to cozy. I said it had a large cast of characters. She didn’t blink, and she’s been a consummate professional throughout the entire process. Jane has committed to continuing the series with Drool Baby, and I couldn’t be happier. Expect the second audiobook before the middle of August. I can’t wait, because I know the next book is going to be even better.
My evening job is over until June, so I’m back to regular hours and getting my Aztec Diet in hand. Not that it was totally out of hand, but I did make a number of concessions, including having a solid food in the evenings. I still managed to lose a few pounds. Now I’m looking at Phase II in earnest, and working on more quick and easy recipes for one to suit the Aztec Diet.
I’m a big proponent of raw food, and it fits well with the Aztec Diet. No, I can’t do a 100% raw food diet. But 50% raw food is do-able for most folks and still gives significant benefits.
Most raw foodies are vegan. I’m not. Fish is easy to consume raw. Easiest is sushi. Of course, we aren’t allowed to have sticky rice. But you can have sashimi. I occasionally stop at the sushi counter at Kroger’s and ask them to make me a sashimi plate. Sushi is still a fringe food in Cincinnati, so the sushi chefs at Kroger’s are always thrilled to get a special order. They fix it up with avocado and cucumber on a bed of baby romaine. Yum.
If you want to do-it-yourself, you can always pick up a package of individually frozen tuna steaks, a jar of pickled ginger, a tube of wasabi and a bottle of soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s. No, the tuna won’t be as tender as sushi quality, but it will be cheaper and you can have it at your leisure, at home. Be sure to slice against the grain.
Only use tuna. Sushi grade fish is frozen for an extended period at 0 degrees to kill any parasites. If you have a source for sushi-grade fish, great. If you’re like me, you’re stuck with the grocery store. Tuna is the only readily available fish safe to eat raw, as it does not get parasites like other types of fish.
Another wonderful raw fish option is ceviche. Ceviche is a South American specialty consisting of raw fish that is “cooked” by marinating it in something acidic. I fell in love with it when I was in Peru. You can use vinegar, fresh lemon juice or lime juice. Lime juice gives the tastiest results. If you are feeling decadent, you can use vodka. Ceviche can be made from any white fish. Shrimp and scallops are also used. Tilapia is inexpensive and gives nice results. Raw salad vegetables and spices are added to the marinated fish. Often oil is included. You can check out these recipes: Tilapia Ceviche http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/marcela-valladolid/tilapia-ceviche-recipe/index.html and Vodka Ceviche http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/30/dining/302prex.html
Or, you can try my recipe for a single serving, below:
Carol’s Easy-Peasy Ceviche
Dice 6 ounces of tilapia filets (or other white fish), place in a glass jar
Add juice from 2 large limes put the lid on the jar and rotate the jar to ensure the juice has coated all the fish. Put the jar in the refrigerator, rotate occasionally to re-coat the fish. Fish is ‘done’ when it is white and opaque. Time will vary, depending on the size of the pieces. Minimum 20 minutes to a couple hours.
While the fish is marinating, dice 1/4 – 1/3 Cup each: English cucumber, red bell pepper, tomato (optional. I don’t use tomatoes because I can’t eat them, but they are a classic ceviche ingredient)
Thinly slice the white part of 1 green onion
Dice 1/2 avocado (optional)
Dice 1 serano pepper (optional)
When the fish is ready, drain the lime juice and discard.
Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Add hot sauce to taste, if desired
sprinkle on fresh or dried cilantro
Stir in 1 heaping TBSP mayonnaise or Miracle Whip (optional, but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it)
Stir in vegetables
Many folks eat this on saltines or tortilla chips. Since we’re all about lowering carbs, I suggest simply eating it with a fork. You can also spoon the ceviche onto baby romaine leaves for finger food.
It’s been three weeks since I started at DRC. I find eating solid food in the evenings is not helping me at all. The project I’m on will end either tonight or tomorrow. I start a new, two-week project on Monday. Then I’ve got one month off before I start another two week project in June.
Right now, I’m settling for maintaining my 18 pound loss despite the ongoing temptations of baskets full of chocolate and vending machines full of sodas and salty snacks. I am not normally prey to junk food. When faced with trying to maintain my concentration in the late evening while reviewing hundreds of test papers, my stomach becomes very distracting.
I’ve been choosing caffeine over sugar and bringing air-popped popcorn with me for nervous munching. And I’m sticking to a few Aztec Diet approved lunches (for my dinner) and Aztec Diet approved snacks. It’s not a perfect solution, but at least I am not back-sliding.
Meanwhile, the very talented Jane Boyer is making progress with her audio recording of A Shot in the Bark. I’ve completed the cover art (above). I’m also building a web-site for my books, which I’ll launch as soon as the five minute audio sample is ready. Right now, I’m looking at a Memorial Day weekend debut for the audio-book.
I’m only getting in one day a week on Maximum Security, but I continue to refine plot points in my head. Really, murder is such a complicated business. It amazes me that anyone ever gets away with it.
Meanwhile, I checked in with Eric to make sure he understands what it means to be featured in one of my books. He thinks it would be totally rad to come to an awesomely gory end in literature. I think he’ll make a terrific stalker and will do what I can to ensure that his demise exceeds his expectations.
Meanwhile, I need to find an appropriate title. Current working title is Stalker, but that’s not doggy enough. I thought about Predator Instinct, but that sounds too much like John Sandford. Maybe something with the word Hound in it.
Pre-Breakfast: apple; Breakfast: Dr. Bob’s Kale Blueberry Smoothie; Lunch: venison stew; Snack: apple; Dinner: low-fat cottage cheese with 2 TBSP chia, topped with an avocado and peach mango salsa; Snack: 2 celery ribs and a small handful of zucchini chips
I think my absences in the evening are upsetting Shadda. This morning I couldn’t find one of my Crocs. After hunting all over the apartment, I found it in one of the dog beds with the strap chewed off. This is the first time she’s eaten one of my shoes in a couple years. So maybe she misses me. Or maybe she’s just tired of me wearing these everywhere, looking like some kind of duck-footed dork.
I’m getting tired of tuna. And venison. I’m longing for a lovely pot of curried black beans. I was thinking about that tonight. Then I looked around me. More than 60 people in my work room, with stations every 4 feet. A sudden influx of beans would be horribly antisocial. That means humus is out, too. Dang it. Curse real jobs, and the need for social acceptability.
I did better than ever with not being hungry at work. I believe stirring 2 TBSP chia into my cottage cheese did the trick. It made a nice meal with avocado and salsa. It’s a meal well worth repeating.
As for writing, I’m mostly considering what kind of love offerings Eric can leave for Lia. Something that would appeal to the artist in her and only later strike her as a bit creepy. Like maybe little dioramas made out of scrunched up tinfoil. Never heard of this? It’s one of my favorite crafts. A couple years ago, I made an entire soccer game for the Northside Branch Library. Why? Why not? Does that make me weird?
Breakfast and Lunch: All Day Blueberry Banocado Plus; Snack: low-fat cottage cheese and an apple; Dinner: Tuna on sprouted grain bread; Snack: celery and zucchini chips; Late Snack: almond milk
I feel like the guy in Green Eggs and Ham. I keep avoiding celery as a snack, yet I tried it last night on my break at work and it kept me fairly full and more alert than expected. I topped this off with a few zucchini chips at my desk. Yes, they’re wafer thin. But they absorb water so they make you fuller than you would think. I didn’t even tap into the bag of air-popped popcorn I brought. Note: When making zucchini chips, salt them SPARINGLY. Especially if you are using RealSalt or Celtic sea salt. The chips shrink down, intensifying anything you put on them. So my first batch of chips wound up really salty.
Down side? I wound up ravenous at 11 p.m. Thus the late glass of almond milk.
Yesterday I told Eric I had an opening for a stalker in my next book. He said he’d take it. Then he me to give him hair and make him taller. Ain’t gonna happen. Eric is really cool, just the way he is, short and prematurely bald. He’s upbeat, fun and funny and helpful. Making him conventionally handsome would be a slap to his coolness.
I told Tom (real life model for “Jim” in my books) that Jane made him sound too young and sexy for his part. (Did I stick my foot in my mouth? Probably, I’m a Sagittarius. We do that) I said I was going to have her fix it. He says, It’s okay. You don’t need to change it.” Thing is, I (and many others) love Tom for his simplicity and his good heart. Making him sound like George Clooney is like saying that’s not enough.
Decade ago, “Vogue” was hesitant to feature Cher on the cover because A. She wasn’t blond. and B. She has a bump on her nose. Guess what. That cover outsold all the previous issues.
As an artist, what makes up our “style” is really the way we deviate from the norm. The “norm” is perfection. So our style is really based on our faults and how we deal with them. The art is in turning a fault into a thing of beauty.
Writers love warts. They’re what make us all memorable and different. When we read, we love people who have no filters, who aren’t perfect. A story isn’t a story without mistakes.
In real life, those of us who are sane hate people like Martha Stewart, who are perfectly groomed, perfectly organized and color coordinated, and do everything perfectly well. With flair.
So why do we go through life wishing we were taller, prettier, shorter, richer, more successful, anything-er but what we are? If we could see ourselves through the eyes of someone who loves us, we could abandon our insecurities.
I know all this. I’m still not giving up the diet. It’s a health issue. Yeah, that’s it.
All Day Blueberry Banocado Plus.
Banocado means the base is a banana and an avocado. Plus means I added a big handful of spinach. This is perfect for two servings or for an all-day smoothie.
1 Cup blueberries
1 large handful of baby spinach
2 – 4 TBSP ground chia seeds
1 heaping TBSP cacao powder or cocoa (Optional)
1/2 TSP ground ginger (optional)
Water, to desired consistency
Pre-Breakfast: 1/2 ruby red grapefruit; Breakfast and Lunch: All Day Chocolate Cherry Banocado Plus; Snack: low-fat cottage cheese and 3 ribs celery; Dinner: Tuna Sandwich on sprouted grain bread; Snack: air popped popcorn
Today Jane posted the first 15 minutes of the audiobook of A Shot in the Bark. I was so nervous, I put off listening to it until after I was able to settle myself. Turns out the woman is an even bigger genius than I thought she was. And no, I’m not sharing her last name until I get both books out of her. I wish there was some way to share the recording with you. So I was having a “WOW” moment today.
I used to celebrate big moments with chocolate. Or cheesecake. Or chocolate cheesecake. If it was a really big moment, a fillet, followed by a Chocolate Stampede. I haven’t figured out what to do instead. I don’t drink, so champagne is out. Getting a massage would be great, except you can’t get a good massage on the spur of the moment. At least, I can’t. Maybe you can. When I have an answer to this problem, you’ll be the first to know.
I made it through work without anyone flinging chocolate at me. I suspect I’ll be okay for the next couple weeks, as long as I keep appropriate snacks on hand. No need to worry until the project winds down. Then, one of two things will happen. Either we will be ahead and the work will come slow, with lots of down time conducive to boredom snacking (not good), or we will be behind, and the bowls of chocolate and assorted candy will be passed around from station to station to give us a little something help us keep our focus (also not good).
I need something to chew on that won’t make me fat. Like a piece of rope soaked with hickory smoke.
Today I made dehydrated zucchini chips, thinking this would make a good snack for work. They taste like potato chips, but are sweeter. There’s no frying or oil involved. Zucchini is low in carbohydrates and calories and contains fiber. I popped the first batch into the dehydrator about noon, and they were ready after I got home from work at 10 p.m. I miscalculated, though. I thought 5 zucchinis would make enough chips to last the rest of the week. These are addictive. I’ll be lucky if they last more than 24 hours.
My neighbors, Mike and Marti Dourson (source of Peter Dourson’s name), gave me a t-shirt for Christmas. They had it made up special. It says, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.” I wore it tonight. So Eric, my team leader, asked me if he was going to be in my novel. I told him he might. I have not shared with him what I do to the people I put in my novels. He’d have better odds for survival as a Red Shirt on Star Trek. And a cleaner end, should it come to that. I’ve been thinking he’d make a really great stalker. Maybe I’ll let him choose his own demise. That would be the polite thing to do.
Slice zucchini thin, about 1/8″. A food processor is fastest, but you’re likely to wind up with paper-thin chips. A mandolin works fine and gives more control and consistency. You can slice them by hand as well.
Lay out on dehydrator trays (if you have one) or on baking sheets lined with parchment (if you don’t).
Sprinkle lightly with salt or other spice of choice, such as cumin, pepper, curry, etc.
Dehydrate at 115 degrees for about 6 – 10 hours, depending how thin your slices are. you can flip these halfway through. It’s not necessary, but it will prevent sticking. If baking, bake in a warm oven for a couple hours, keeping an eye on them. Flip when the tops are crisp and continue baking until done. I can’t give you exact times, because I’ve never made them in an oven.
Breakfast: granola with almond milk; Lunch: venison stew; Snack: low-fat cottage cheese; Dinner: Blue Hawaii; Snack: none
Breakfast: Dr. Bob’s Kale Blueberry, made with coconut water; Lunch: venison stew; Snack: Chocolate Pudding; Dinner: Miso Green
I stopped off at the Library on my way home from the dog park Saturday morning. This is what I saw when I walked in the door:
I knew it was going to happen, but I didn’t know it had happened. Sarah was not around for me to hug. I stared stupidly, and said, “That’s my book.” I pointed for the benefit of Chuck, who was sorting the reserved books. Chuck thought I was pointing at M.C. Beaton, and probably wondered why I didn’t just pick it up off the display if I wanted it. After I stupidly kept repeating, It’s my book, he noticed my name on the cover to the right and I got an “Oh, wow, cool!” out of him. Then I ran home (okay smart ass, I drove) to get my camera. Being that I was starving, I had a quick cup of granola instead of the nice leisurely smoothie I had planned. It was a moment.
I spent much of Sunday writing. Poor Lia. All she wants to do is find a missing dog. Little does she know what kind of trouble THAT’s going to cause.
I feel stalled out on my diet. Which means it’s a good idea to get back to basics. This weekend I started thinking about calories more. I may need to re-tool my recipes. Or quit eating venison stew. I’ve been looking at the charts in Dr. Bob’s book, and I find it frustrating that his food lists are so limited. I want to know what he thinks about bean thread as a pasta substitute. And homemade zucchini chips for snacks. Kale chips can be flavorful, but they just don’t satisfy.
Meanwhile, I have had a request for chocolate, so I made some chocolate pudding. Not for every day, but better than stopping off for a hot fudge sundae.
1 Cup almond milk
1 ripe banana
3 TBSP cacao powder or cocoa
4 TBSP ground chia seed
Blend the banana and almond milk. When you have a nice whirlpool in the blender, open the lid and add the cacao and the chia. pour into 2 cups and refrigerate until set (If you can last that long. I didn’t).
3/4 Cup blueberries
3/4 Cup tropical mix (pineapple, mango and strawberry)
large handful of baby spinach
1/8 Cup cashews
water, to desired consistency