Cameras Often Lie


Not bad eh?

I find the photo to the left one of my better recent photos.  However, I didn’t just sit down in front of my webcam and instantly take it.  I used a view-screen to get the best angle, I positioned my hand to cover my double chin, made sure my bandanna and eye patch‘s positions pleased me, I adjusted the light in the room, then after I took the photo I cropped it and adjusted the size.  These kinds of things help me lie with the camera.

However, I also know the brutal side of the camera.  When someone else takes my picture I get a better idea of how others really see me.  I wondered why my image appears better in the mirror than a photo, then I realized that I do quite a bit of angle adjusting when confronted with my reflection.  I don’t have that luxury when someone snaps a shot of me.

My friend Chuck turned me on to a podcast called Fat 2 Fit Radio.  I also heard an interview with one of the hosts, Jeff Ainslie, on my favorite podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.  Check out the episode.  The hosts of Fat 2 Fit Radio promote weight loss with scientific facts and no jive like fad diets, pills, supplements, or get thin quick miracles.  I also own a copy of their book, Fat 2 Fit: Getting There and Staying There.  It provides great info that works quite well for me so far.  On the Fat 2 Fit Radio home page a link labeled “F2F Power Tips”  goes to 15 short audio clips that help start the Fat 2 Fit method.  Power Tip #3: Initial Assessments recommends taking photos of yourself when starting your new healthy lifestyle.

349 lbs. – 6/22/12

I find looking  at the photo to the left difficult.  Yet, It motivates me to look forward to a day when I can painlessly pose for a shirtless photo.  It gives me something to look back at when I lose more weight and warn me how bad things got.

I’m Through Being Cool


The Fabulous Richard Simmons

When I posted a Richard Simmons quote as a “Super Quote” in my right margin, I suspected possible ridicule.  After all, Richard Simmons’ flamboyance counters what most of us deem cool.

Simmons approaches health, nutrition, and weight loss with no bullshit.  He does the same for life.  He shamelessly spreads cheer regardless of the sneers and jibes of others.  He is always himself and that takes guts.

Obesity plagued me since grade school.  People constantly teased and bullied me.  I believed being anyone but myself could achieve that.

I tried to deflect the jibes of others by developing a “cool” persona.  It resulted in one identity crisis after another.  Sometimes the persona won people over.  I can even say I enjoyed myself at times.  Despite that, I never really believed in myself.  I turned my life into a charade and denying it all resulted in the destruction of my career, health, and financial security.

All of my problems stem from not believing in myself and not being myself.  I just want to live better and I can only do that by being true to myself. So I’m through being cool.  I made a big mess and cleaning it requires defeating my insecurities and facing my fears.  A long road stretches before me and I know mistakes await me.  I just gotta remember Richard Simmons and his gusto for life.  If he can do it, I know I can.

Recipe 2. No Mayo Tuna Salad Wrap


Tuna Salad without Mayo

I don’t remember who suggested this to me, but it inspired the idea for using  olive oil in tuna salad instead of mayo.  Click this link for some interesting info.  I figure olive oil makes a healthier tuna salad than mayo,  even better than the light varieties, including the ones made of soy and whatnot.  Aside from the wholesome goodness extra virgin olive oil provides, it also adds no sodium.  My hypertension always keeps me looking for any way to cut sodium.

Ingredients

Preparation

Prepare the tuna salad first.  Open the can lid, squeeze the juice out of it by pressing the tuna with the lid into your sink or disposal, and place the tuna in a bowl.  Chop your scallion into small pieces and add it to the bowl.  Add the celery, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.  Stir to mix evenly, then pepper to your taste.  Cover the bowl, place it in the fridge, then allow to marinate for at least an hour.  Overnight makes for the best results.

Rinse, dry, and remove the stems from the 6 spinach leaves.  I recommend the smaller taco-sized whole wheat tortilla for better portion control, fewer calories, and less sodium.  Spread a bed of spinach leaves on your tortilla.  Take two tablespoons of tuna salad and place it in a thick line across the middle of the bed of spinach leaves to make it wrapping friendly.  Place 2 teaspoons of hummus on the tuna.  Click for my hummus recipe here.  I used spinach hummus in the wrap pictured below.

Tuna Salad Wrap, unrolled

Rolled Tuna Salad Wrap

To make spinach hummus, I follow the hummus recipe in the link above, I use 12 leaves of spinach, with stems removed, that I shred in the blender after mincing the garlic.  I also spike the hummus with 2 tablespoons of milled flaxseed, which is rich in B vitamins, minerals, and Omega-3.  The very subtle flavor adds a nice touch.  The picture below shows how the spinach colors the hummus an appetizing bright green.

Spinach hummus in the blender.

After placing 2 teaspoons of hummus on the tuna, wrap it burrito style and enjoy!  The versatility of this recipe invites all sorts of creative variations.  Please leave comments with your ideas, and mention how it tastes if you tried one.

Recipe 1. Hummus a la Blender


A couple of years ago, a passion for trying new things with cooking ignited in me.  Despite doing it since childhood, the past few years became the most difficult in my lifetime of food preparation.  Hard lessons of trial and error taught me much about the art.  I learned making food by following the recipe verbatim lacks a guarantee of success.  Experience teaches the nuances of the culinary craft needed for making great food.  Becoming skilled simply requires cooking as much as possible.  If this blog was about nothing but recipes, I could save time and just post links. I plan to write each recipe as my personal account of its preparation.

Hummus a la Blender

Hummus a la Blender

Hummus tastes great as a dip for pita bread, pita chips, and spreads nicely on bagels, sandwiches, crackers, and just about anything you like.  Low in sodium and calories, the fats in it come mostly from the olive oil and tahini, which have plenty of the good kind of fat.  It tastes marvelous plain, but you can make different flavors of hummus by adding spices or other ingredients to the recipe.  Store brands classically use roasted garlic, jalapenos, roasted red pepper, spinach, Kalamata olives, pine nuts, and other things I probably forgot.  I tried a few of those ingredients and others like Huy Fong Foods’ sriracha sauce , cumin powder, dill pickles, and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

I found this recipe on a website called Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.  Many vegans and vegetarians eat hummus for its great flavor and nutrients vital for such diets.  I am not vegan nor vegetarian, but websites and books concerning those diets provide many healthy and tasty recipes.  One time I tried making hummus in a an old harvest gold-colored (YUCK!) blender but it broke in the attempt.  This time I made it in a new sleek black Osterizer blender, made for crushing ice, with no problems.  I normally use a cheap 2 cup food processor.  It works well, but the blender makes a larger quantity.  The blender also produces smoother hummus than the food processor.

Hypertensionenlarged heart, and other medical problems call for reducing my sodium intake where possible.  Making my own hummus rather than buying it prepared allows me to do that.  It also means avoiding the ridiculously inflated prices for prepared hummus.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked chick peas (garbanzo beans) (or two cans chick peas, drained)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (or 4 tablespoons sesame seed)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Preparation

You can find this at Kroger, but I don’t know about their other stores like Safeway.

Canned chick peas work well for convenience.  Unfortunately, the cheaper store brand chick peas contain high sodium.  However, Kroger offers organic chick peas in their Private Selection line with lower sodium than other brands.  They cost a little more than the store brand, but go for less than the major brands.

Cooking my own chickpeas saves money and adds no sodium at all.  I cook them in a slow cooker.  Click here for the recipe.  I do just about the same thing as the link, but I leave out the salt and add a couple of cloves of fresh, peeled garlic.

To mince the garlic with the blender, I add it first by throwing in the whole, peeled cloves and start with the lowest speed and progress slowly until the garlic becomes tiny bits.  Try mincing certain ingredients to make flavored hummus with the garlic, like chipotle peppers, Kalamata olives, and roasted red peppers, for even distribution.

After that, I mix any flavored hummus ingredients I don’t mince with the garlic , like spinach, artichoke hearts, etc., with the chickpeas in a separate dish, then put them in the blender.  Next comes tahini, followed by the olive oil and lemon juice.  A jar of tahini costs from $6-10.  The recipe calls for only two tablespoons, so it lasts.  I never made my own but I plan trying to make and write about it.

This brand adds no sodium. I found it in the “health food” section at Kroger.

Next, I turn on the blender to the lowest  speed and increase it slowly.  To deal with air pockets, I stop the blender and stir the mixture.  During this process, I add water a little at a time and DO NOT dump it all in at once.  I pour and stop often to check for texture.  Then I add salt and spices, tasting to adjust them as needed.  I finish when I find the texture and flavor satisfying.  Then I scoop it into a dish, cover it, and place it in the fridge to chill and marinate for at least an hour.  It keeps in the fridge for about a week.

Many recipes call for sprinkling ground sumac on hummus when serving it.  The dark red spice has a subtle but sour flavor and aroma.  Finding ground sumac in conventional stores proves difficult.  After some searching, I found it in the spice section at Whole Foods in Cleveland, OH.  Some recipes recommend drizzling extra virgin olive oil on hummus when served.

Find the canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce in the Mexican food aisle.

At my friend Tammy’s request for the chipotle hummus recipe, I use chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from a can.  These have no fat and low calories but have high sodium.  I recommend about 4-6 peppers depending on how spicy you want it.  I mince the peppers with the garlic to get an even distribution of each.

With so many possibilities for this tasty and healthy treat, Please comment and share your ideas for flavors, things to dip in hummus, and anything else creative.  R’amen!

The Blog Sails!


In a parking lot on a hot August day back in 2002, a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or mini stroke, struck me.  I went to the emergency room where my blood pressure rated at a nearly fatal high of 212 over 180.  Shortly thereafter, I saw a doctor for medicine to control the high blood pressure, but I also suffered a mental breakdown over the simultaneous collapse of my marriage and career.  The resulting depression caused me to shun my responsibilities and health.  My self-destructive behavior continued for years, which led to congestive heart failure and a two-week hospital stay.

I never found work again and lived off of the kindness of family and friends for years.  An attempt to apply for Social Security Disability payments failed and two lawyers rejected my case for appeal.  At my worst, I weighed almost 400 pounds with great difficulty breathing, moving, and walking.  Even now, my security dangles by a thread from burning too many bridges and drove me to a deep think.  I decided to get my life in order.  I need to lose weight and gain the strength to work a steady job.  I started eating healthy, exercising, and adjusting my attitude.  After two months  I lost 27 pounds and currently weigh 349 pounds.

This blog chronicles my recovery with education, information, and entertainment.  I adhere to science based information on health and nutrition.  The weight loss and self-help industry generates many scam artists who use misinformation and pseudoscience  to victimize the desperate and needy making it difficult to discern the bullshit from the good.  Critical thinking eases this difficulty.

Aside from the “Medical Disclaimer” in the sidebar, which I suggest you read, I feel compelled to warn you that I often choose “not-so-pure” techniques and ingredients.  So if I offend your gourmet sensibilities, tough shit, my blog, my rules.

Check the site on Thursdays for new posts but expect them to pop up any day I please.  May His noodly appendage touch you.  Ramen!