Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hey, 10 Pounds...Take A Hike!

Last week, I was talking with a friend of mine about some research I did on artificial sweeteners. What I found was really disturbing. Splenda inhibits the good bacteria in your digestive tract? No thank you. Some of the others were equally bad - pun intended - and worse. One article discussed how, due to the intense sweetness of artificial sweeteners, it was causing us to have a bigger sweet tooth and, as a result, actually making us more overweight. Ugh. I'm sure that last bit holds some truth, but probably depends on other factors, as well. But, still...

I told my friend that after what I read about artificial sweeteners, I completely nixed using them. Instead, I began using honey...loads and loads of honey. And, if a recipe called for sugar, I would substitute (unsweetened) applesauce. As a last resort, I would use sugar, but sparingly. He told me about a really powerful lecture made by a professor/doctor in California about sugar. He sent me a YouTube link that really shocked me. It's about just how bad fructose and high fructose corn syrup is; how our bodies break it down and metabolize the stuff*. Although, it's pretty long - 1 1/2 hrs - it's completely worth sitting through. In the video, this book is mentioned. It was written decades ago and, evidently, much of what is "prophesied" has or is happening due to our over dependence on sugar and sugar substitutes. I'd like to read the book, but it's difficult to find and even more expensive!

After watching the YouTube video, I looked up the chemical properties of honey and, oh boy. It's mostly fructose with a little bit of sucrose and inflammatory properties kicked in. So, while I will still use honey and sugar, both will be extremely sparingly!

When Lent rolled around, I decided that it would be a good opportunity to give up (10lbs by giving up)sugar, even though, I no longer consider myself Catholic. Meh, it's a good time to do something good for yourself and others. I can experiment and share how my journey makes me feel and tell others so that they can, hopefully, reap the same benefits!

So, here we go. So far, I'm beginning to get used to how my coffee tastes like crap without any sweetener. I do still use creamer; however, I moving to Silk brand soy creamer, which only contains 3g of sugar. This week, I've lost 2lbs. That's not completely unusual. I'm more likely to lose or maintain my weight during the work week, then everything goes to hell in a handbag on the weekend. Last night, I had a birthday dinner to attend. I made dessert; orange walnut cake. The recipe that I've found does contain brown sugar, but not too much. I used dark brown sugar and decreased the amount by about 1/4c. My motivation was to avoid ordering something worse at the restaurant!

It was not only edible but very well received by everyone at the dinner. No one's plate had even a crumb left. Which is a huge compliment, as I'm not the best cook.

*read poison

Friday, February 19, 2010

The End Of Life As We Know It

One of the great things about winter (and there are only a few from my perspective) is cuddling up with a hot toddie and a sappy movie. You know, the kind that would not normally be on the agenda if the sun were shining and there were pool parties to attend. A movie like P.S. I Love You.

It's a movie that reminds me, I am capable of feeling profound happiness and heartbreaking sadness. No matter how extreme the moment, perseverance is possible, because it's in those most wonderful moments and miserable times, (that feel they will never end) I realize that - good or bad - those are the moments worth having. That's why we're all here, right?

I suppose I like it when things are not "wrapped up in a bow" at the end. The usual "Hollywood Ending" just isn't much like reality most of the time. But it's nice to have hope; to know that in the most devastating times, something amazing can happen.

Ok, so movies that can warm my - oh so cold - heart, are one of the great things about winter. A few others:

Hot Chocolate;
Irish Cream (my recipe below);
A funny book;
Belted tunics with leggings;
Boots. Lots & lots of boots!

Jeez, I can't wait until warmer weather, but until then, I will thoroughly enjoy those few things I love about winter.

Mar-teez Irish Cream
1 1/4 c. Irish whiskey, bourbon, or rye whiskey (I like Irish whiskey best)
1 12 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 c of whipping cream (not whipped cream)
1 c of pasteurized egg substitute
2 Tbsp chocolate syrup
1/4 c brewed coffee

Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix well. Will keep up to 3 months (mine never lasts that long!) in the refrigerator.

The thing I like best about the recipe, apart from it being delicious, is that it leaves room for creativity and experimentation. For instance, I've added creme de menthe to the recipe before. Lately, I don't think I've made to batches the same. Please let me know what delicious additions you've made to the recipe!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lucky Is As Lucky Does

If lady bugs are lucky, then I should head to Rio or at least buy a lottery ticket. What is with all the lady bugs on my balcony? It's such a nice day, and my apartment building tends to be stifling in the winter months, so I decided to let in some of the crisp, fresh air. Well, within about 30 minutes, my balcony screen was covered with lady bugs. Almost every plant I've ever owned, I managed to kill - even the cactus I bought, thinking that there was NO way I would kill that thing. Alas. I. Can. Even. Kill. A. Cactus. Turns out, I'm even deadlier than a desert. That said, this swarm of lady bugs couldn't possibly be after my plants...