20 May 2012

Stuff... ya know... stuff...

So I should probably update this blog since it’s been a while. I'm so sorry you guys.

Ken and I did compete, I won. Not by much and it wasn’t fair, because we kind of gave in. We didn’t dole out prizes or anything. We just went on with our lives. And played dominoes with my parents. :)

Things have been hectic around here. I gave up school last August because I couldn’t focus enough energy on my studies. (I promise to go back!) Then work became really busy. (I promise not to talk about work much, if at all. I might put you guys to sleep.) The commute, the amount of time I want to spend with my son, eating gluten-free. (and low-carb -which btw, could be a job all its own. I mean, have you seen the amount of dishes I make from one simple dish?! Sheesh.) Medical appointments, life appointments (bills, taxes, etc.)… Life became overwhelming. I took some amino acids (via the book The Mood Cure By Julia Ross) and for a while things got better. Then they got worse around the holidays when I had a hard time keeping up with my diet, we stopped eating at home as much… and started making big decisions on our relationship (more on that later). We’d taken the time to enjoy ourselves and we overindulged on foods no one could misconstrue as healthy. Meh. So apparently I’m an emotional eater when I get stressed… anyone shocked? I’m not.

It feels like some of the past months were a blur. Much like I feel like I’ve known Ken forever but not long enough. I mean both in a good way. Yes, I’ve been stressed. However, the time spent with my family and friends (which basically feels like extended family) has been the best and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But all that time has meant that I’ve had to do a lot of the stuff I didn’t want to either, like dishes.

Then, after the holidays, we decided something had to give. We started by eating dinners at home more often. First meals on the weekends. That was the easiest because we were actually home during this time. Then dinners at night on the weekends. Then I would cook breakfasts and lunches. Sometimes people eat them, sometimes they forget I made them. Dinner is always at home now. It’s been 3 weeks. We’ve eaten almost exclusively at home for most of our meals. Yay us!

Then we started working on the quality of our meals. Everything is pretty fresh. Everything has pretty good quality for what you can buy at a regular grocery store. Eventually I’d like us to source meat from a farmer, but we’re not there yet. Baby steps, young padawan. Currently we eat low-carb, whole foods. I would call it a hybrid of low-carb and paleo. We don’t eat grains or beans, but we do eat occasional processed foods ("treats"), and dairy. The dairy isn’t in huge amounts. Mostly berries with whipped cream (YUM!). There has been a few nights where we do actually eat lacto-fermented foods - that I made! We are being gentle with ourselves. I’ve noticed there is a huge push back movement to be pure about paleo. I know  if we’re overly concerned with being “pure” we’ll never actually stick with it. We already know this is a plan for life; let’s not try to sabotage ourselves early. So far it appears we're losing 1 lb a day (both of us). That's a great pace. I'm comfortable with that.

We’ve also started exercising more. Since December I’ve been lifting weights the superslow method (or slow burn). I am really strong and I’m in a lot less pain. But I’m not great with any type of endurance. The plan is to run a Warrior Dash this fall. So, we have a lot of progress to make. I know that we’re going to do it. We have a whole team of people that are coming with us. I do have ideas on how to get in better shape myself this summer. It’s just going to be some work. I’m not looking forward to being in physical pain – i.e. sore – but that happens to everyone who was as out of shape as I have been. I'm trying to promise myself not to do that to myself again... but that seems like a lot of pressure. So, uh, yeah... workout for the week sounds great. :)

I will be the first to admit that my lack of weight loss up until now has also been due to sleep deprivation. I promise I’m working on that too. I do really well on the weekends. My multitasking skills have been put to good use lately during the week. I just need to learn when to give up and go to bed. I can't build an universe in a day; apparently I'm not God. (Don't tell Reece. Although, I think he already knows.)

I have been sending recipes to my mom that I try and fall in love with. I’ve been considering changing the look/feel of this blog in relation to that. Change will happen this year. I’m just not sure what direction I want to go in. Once I decide, you’ll start seeing some changes. Any input?

So for this week what’s going on?

This week I plan on making some ghee. I also want to make some bacon jam, crockpot caramelized onions, and this amazing sounding chicken chili I have in a recipe book. If any of it turns out decent, I'll post links and comments so you guys can try the stuff too.I mean, I don't want to pass along stuff unless it's quality.

I think that’s mostly it. I am going to try to work on this blogging thing a little more and get better at it. I do like it, apparently just as much as I like sleep - both which I devote little time to. (cue some failure music - wah wah wah...)

Oh yeah. And I cut all my hair off for the summer (or longer)… I am actually dating someone who likes short hair. WIN. I’ll post pictures on Facebook possibly on Wednesday after my bang trim, as long as everything goes ok. I swear I'm not always photogenic... which is why I'm not a supermodel for a living. (I only play one in my head.)

25 August 2011

Biggest (Fat) loser – Low Carb vs. Low Calorie edition

A lot has been going on and I promise to catch you up. This post is more about what’s going on with my fitness/diet for the next 90 days. No, I haven’t decided on a specific workout program… I started dating again, as you know. But you may or may not know that I’m now dating a super awesome guy named Ken. Here’s a picture of us at a wedding last weekend.

Stand back celebrities - check out the new hottest couple around!

The problem was that once we met, we put both of our diets aside. While we had tons of fun and enjoyed normally forbidden foods – we both also gained weight. Ugh. I don’t think this was inevitable, but I wouldn’t go back and change anything either. (Just to let you know, my hands have been very healthy – Ken is very mindful of me eating gluten free. I haven’t cheated on that part.)

He has also lost a lot of weight in the past, but his was through low-fat means. I have talked to him about what I know about low-carb and he tried it for a bit. But nothing much happened. We didn’t go into details of his diet or whatever. I will say that I think you need to read the book of the plan you are going to do before attempting it (or while attempting it). He still thinks low fat is the way to go. I completely disagree. We’ve agreed to disagree.
Then, we decided to make our weight loss a competition. Ken is going the low-fat, high exercise route. I’m doing low-carb, gluten free with about 40 minutes or less of exercise (kettlebells, HIIT, or tabatas) a day. I’m working on weaning myself off dairy. Goats milk seems to agree with me more. I’ll post more information about the actual diet part of my routine later as time goes on. 

As of last night I weighed 203.4. That dress in the picture above is an 8/10. I could tell I was gaining weight by looking at my chin disappearing again. (I have been told many times I don’t look like my weight, which I appreciate.) As of last night Ken weighs 282. He would like to lose 80 lbs. I would like to lose 73.4. We also took inches so we wouldn’t get discouraged later if we didn’t lose a lot of weight one week. 

We’re not sure of the prizes yet. (Let me know some suggestions!!) But the best part is that we’re doing it together – and being completely supportive. I dislike dirty competitions where one person tries to sabotage the other. In the end we’re both winning because we’re both getting healthy.  We do plan on running a few 5ks. These are mostly to mark the different months, but also to show ourselves how much of a difference we’ve made in our fitness levels. At the very end we’ve agreed to do a day at the spa – and just in time for Thanksgiving. By that time everything should be routine and we won’t have to worry so much about the holidays (I never do, but that’s another post).
My first day update: 
Today was rough sailing. I feel really sick, and I have a headache. I did have a craving for chocolate ½ way through the day. I squashed that with some L-Glutamine. I fully expect Ken to win this week because of my hormone fluctuations, but also because I’m adjusting to ketosis so it’ll take a few days. I will workout tomorrow.  That should push me into ketosis quicker. Also, tonight I’m really wishing for some chips, so instead I’ll have to make jalapeno poppers and have my fill. But tonight? Lots of sleep and some vitamins. Poppers can wait until tomorrow.

03 July 2011

Day 3...

Every July first I go back to the induction portion of Atkins – or at least cut my carb intake way down –until the 15th. It’s something I actually look forward to. I eat all the foods I love and really try to take care of myself. I try to get more sleep, make sure I take my vitamins, and I also make sure to do an at-home spa day at least once. I work out a little harder than I did and get myself back on track. I also find myself cleaning the house more during that time.

This year it was about 2 days of a massive headache. I didn’t think my carb levels were high, but I guess I was wrong. I really dislike taking medicine of any kind, but I was reaching for some OTC headache stuff yesterday. Extra sleep helped. I have had breakfasts of sunny side up eggs, plenty of bacon, steak, mushrooms, salads.

I went to the farmer’s market and got livers!! Yes, you can be disgusted – but I like pate. I will be making a pizza crust tonight for tomorrow. (Recipe from my lovely friend Jamie aka Carbarella at Your Lighter Side) and jalapeno poppers tonight. I plan on making stock, making my own sausage (most commercial sausage has gluten in it so read labels people!!), a low-carb lasagna with eggplant rather than noodles, and some lacto-fermented salsa for later. Those aren't going to be done tonight though.

I read in a magazine (so I don’t know how credible it was) that there was a study that showed people who did 30 seconds of sprints with 4 minutes of rest (and cycled for 4 – 6 times) four days a week lost double the body fat than those who did chronic cardio of (either 30 or 60 minutes) four days a week. I am aware that intervals are always better than sustained activity. I would like to see what the longer rest period does. So, I’m attempting that with kettlebell swings to see how it goes. I picked kettlebell swings because I didn’t want the weather to be a factor in completing the workouts. I can do those in the comfort of my own house. I just started today so I’ll let you know the results in about a month. I’ll also try to find the source so I can read the study and site it with the blog post.

In more exercise news my slow-burn trainer, Wayne, left the gym I was going to. I have mixed feelings about it. I’m glad my contract was over since he was leaving. I’m glad that he’s moving on to do something he wants. I’m sad that I don’t get to see him on Saturdays and work out/talk his ear off. I have a tendency to be overzealous (yes! hard to believe. /sarcasm) with my workouts so I was concerned that I would either stop working out all together – or hurt myself. It went to the more stop working out thing. It was nice to take some time off, but I felt icky. So I started working out again so I could stop feeling icky. That worked. Wayne said he would be offering in home training later this fall, and I will probably take him up on the offer. Until then I’m on my own for a bit.

Otherwise, the house moving/unpacking is still on going. I’ll be done with school in a year… Ok, well, done with the first phase; then on to my masters. I’m trying to simplify things in the house/my life. That’s going to be a slow process because of all the unpacking – both with the house and my personal life. And I’m going out more – and not just with friends or by myself. Yes, gentlemen callers have been taking me in public! I considered starting another blog about my single life and weird experiences that I’ve had. Maybe give advice or something as I go. I’ve always thought I was odd possibly bordering on eccentric, but I can confidently say there are some really strange people out there. I know this because I've had the pleasure of meeting or talking to them. For the most part I’ve decided not to write about it. You know, protect the (not-so) innocent or whatever. You would find it laughably entertaining, I do promise that much. At least I’ve had a good attitude about it and I have yet to take anything (too) personally.

Sometimes I’m not sure how much of my life to share with others on this, or any blog. Eventually I’ll find a nice balance.

22 June 2011

Down with the Pants... er... wait...

I know I haven’t written in a while. Hopefully I can start posting with some regularity soon. I will say that my hectic life offline is going very well and I’m extremely happy. Lots of love to everyone!! 
Summer has started. If you live near me, summer started sometime at the end of April. Last month I decided to boycott pants because of the high humidity and very hot weather. To me summer is BBQs with friends, lazy summer nights by camp fires watching the stars, fresh food at the farmer’s market, more quality time with my son, planned (learning) vacations. It’s actually one of my favorite times of year because of how lazy and easy going it is even if the rest of my life is not like that. But summer also means it’s bathing suit season.

Maybe you’re like me; I really don’t care about how I look in a bathing suit anymore. I’m more concerned that it covers the right areas it’s supposed to, rather than looking cute/sexy/whatever it is you’re supposed to look like in a bathing suit. As I’ve lost weight over the years I’ve noticed bathing suits getting baggy. That’s definitely something you don’t want!! Playing in a pool with kids is not the time to become a flasher. Save it for the rock concerts, people!

For some reason the summer is when I like to off load the extra weight I’ve been carrying. Probably something biological there, but I'm not going to look too into it. I will continue to think the skimpier clothing choices spur my motivation. I’m going to give you some tips that I’ve used in the past. Maybe this will help someone else.

Keep a Food Journal
I can hear you audibly groaning. Yes, I hate doing it too!!! I did it in the beginning when I first started losing weight. It wasn’t to police myself or to beat myself up though; it was to count carbs to see where I was for the day. I would weigh myself daily (not something I recommend) and put the weight loss for the day next to the food. Now, I can look back and see what I ate for the first month if I want to lose weight again like that. If I had not kept a food journal I wouldn’t have had a way to look back and find the hidden carbs and where I was unwittingly doing some self-sabotage. Even now I keep a list of ideas for meals that we’ve had that have been successful. That’s what my journal has morphed into over the years.

Read the book / find the meals
Consider it part of your summer book club reading. Pick the book you want to follow. When I decided to lose weight I read the book (Atkins’ New Diet Revolution). I loved it because Dr. Atkins talked about all the foods you could eat on the diet. Here’s a sample:

sauteed portobello mushrooms in garlic and butter sauce, beef shish kabobs with multicolored peppers and summer squash, scrambled eggs and bacon, lobster in drawn butter, juicy steak, avocados, vegetables with blue cheese...

One of the reasons people hate diets is because they believe it has to do with starvation and bland meals rather than lavishness and treating yourself well (i.e. love and respect!!). So what I did was write down all the foods I loved to eat but couldn’t have when I was eating low-fat. I did plan some meals, but for the times I didn’t I made sure I was surrounded by choices that felt so decadent that I couldn’t believe I was “dieting”!! Now this is the way I live. Eventually it will be the same for you. In the beginning since it’s going to take some effort anyway so at least make it worth your while. Some of the meals Dr. Atkins’ described, I ate. I didn’t want to equate this way of living to pain, suffering, and misery.  I knew I was going to be doing this for a lifetime so it better be something I love. I know I can’t always afford the extremely decadent meals. My daily meals are better tasting than they were before. And I figure if you’re going to treat yourself to something, might as well be full fat and delicious!

I really did want to be that girl that eats anything and still looks fabulous – without a lot of guilt, reinforced undergarments, or excessive exercise!! I have achieved that. The foods I don’t eat I don’t miss because their side effects were too painful. Therefore I don’t want them anymore. What I do want is the food that makes me feel good. Picking your favorites from what is offered is a great start. I eat lots of full fat, red meat while other girls are nibbling on bland chicken. Yes, I’ll have some of that very fatty cheese. I call dibs on the deviled eggs! Yes, please pass me the macadamia nuts! Oh? There’s bacon! Why didn’t you say so?! I’d love to have some more of that. That's been cooked in raw butter? Coconut oil? Lard? And it’s gluten free? I’ll take it. No, don’t bother. Just hand the whole plate over. Did someone say pate? Yes, I might sound gluttonous. I never hide the fact that I do like food. I will throw down like a starved teenage boy some days. But I can only eat as much as my stomach will allow in one sitting. Those foods are entirely too filling for me to eat hefty amounts around the clock. And really – feeling full and not obsessing over food is the best feeling in the world!! You can go to the pool full and leave feeling satiated. You can spend time with your family. It is not fun to be planning your next meal while you should be paying attention to your kid.

Enjoy the summer
I’m not going to tell anyone to exercise. That just seems so hypocritical of me – I barely exercise. (Much less than the 1 hour a day “they” tell you to anyway). But I do think being out in the sun helps – get free vitamin D. Relaxing will lower your stress and help combat the inflammation in your body. I know it also helps me sleep better when I do it. So, if you go to the pool lay out. Don’t burn. I don’t bother with the sunscreen. But I’ve never been one to follow other people’s rules. Eating lower carb will help you stay looking younger, so I don’t even worry about wrinkles caused by the sun. (I hypothesize that worrying causes wrinkles… and who wants their face to freeze like that?!) Enjoy yourself. Find something that is summer related that you love and have fun with it.

So, those are my three tips. I figure that’s a pretty manageable list for the summer. Did I miss your favorite tip? If so please leave it in the comments below.

Until next time!

29 April 2011

Fatty, fat, fat...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye.
~ Miss Piggy

Today someone told me I was fat.

Ok, not in so few words. Actually it was that I am “at the weight where people start to think about losing weight.” and something along the lines of “keep going” because I’ve got a long way to go still. We weren’t even fighting. It was polite conversation… well, until they said that.

You know… It’s just not nice punch someone in public no matter how much they deserve it.

I don’t know why people think that if you’ve got extra padding on your meat suit that it makes verbal bashing bounce off you more easily. We’re all human – and we all hurt the same. I’ve been tiny and huge. I’ve got friends that fit both ends of the spectrum and everywhere between. It’s unacceptable to talk to people like that. I assume these people saying these things are emotionally hurting very deeply or stupid. Not ignorant - like they don’t know to say these things. Nope. They’re stupid.

One of the things I am teaching Reece is that everyone has opinions. They’re not right or wrong. They are just opinions. The problem begins when you don’t believe in yourself long enough to realize others’ opinions are not facts.

The weekend that I decided it was time to start losing weight, my 5-year-old son told his dad on the phone that I was disgusting when I sat down. Reece said I grossed him out. This was something his father was teaching him to say, not something he thought on his own. Even now Reece doesn’t think there are “fat people” in his class. (Fact: Not true. I applaud him for looking past it or being unaware.) I was used to his father telling me I was fat. He hinted at it when we were dating. Then when we got married he constantly said it. It’s completely different when you hear your child say it. My self-image was never that great to begin with, which is why someone like that would be allowed to get that close to me.

This girl 

and this girl

have the same problem: Neither like themselves. But you wouldn’t know from talking to either of them. Yeah, that’s me in both pictures.

Being overweight is not a reflection on your character. It’s a physical manifestation of the food you’re eating and what your body is doing with it. Not stopping to reflect before you open your mouth, saying stupid stuff to others that will hurt their feelings – those are reflections on your character.

I can’t wait until the LC lifestyle becomes mainstream because that will help debunk the myth that people who are heavy are lazy. I am finishing my B.A. – full time college student here. I’m a single mom. I work full time and my commute is like another part time job. That should be enough right there… but it’s not for me! I also have hobbies. I’m passionate about life! I love my son and I want to be involved. I do way more than some “skinny” people I know. The lazy myth just cracks me up and makes me shake my head. 

Maybe it’s that I’m 30 now. I heard that when you turned 30 you would like yourself and feel more comfortable in your skin than you do any younger age. My entire 20s I looked forward to my 30s. I don’t necessarily think it’s the years (turning 30), but the amount of time you spend getting over hurdles that are of varying difficulty. Basically, proving yourself  to yourself. I’ve always known I have incredible inner fortitude. I’ve been through some crap and I respect myself a lot more for it. I used to look at those high school pictures and wish I looked the same.

I’ve got news for you. I don’t want to be that girl ever again.

In high school I used to get so angry looking in the mirror because I thought I was ugly. I cried when I would be forced to go off my low-fat diet (and lash out at others for full fat dressing – really). I hid my body in baggy clothes because I was embarrassed of my figure. I pretended I didn't care what others thought, but people and their opinions still got to me. I attempted to contort myself into someone I thought others would like outwardly, while still trying to maintain some resemblance of myself inwardly. It’s a tightrope act. No one makes it out of that alive. When I was younger every accomplishment made me feel empty because I was chasing someone else’s approval. It never came. I ended up in some horrible relationships and situations because of it.

It is true you have to love yourself first. The difference is night and day. I like who I am now. Even now I am working on loving myself more. I am proud of myself and the things I’ve done. I dress better now and show off my curves because I’m hot. I see a pretty face when I look in the mirror. It’s nice to be found attractive, but its amazing to feel good about yourself without others telling you that. I think I’m nicer now to others because I really don’t care what others think. I treat others like I would treat myself - with love. I respect myself, and now others do too. Today it’s easier to walk away from other people’s opinions. Because that’s just what I did when that person said that. I walked away.

I don’t put up with that anymore.

30 March 2011

To Thine Self Be True

This year I haven’t blogged as much as I resolved to. There was good reason for that.
In the middle of January, after almost 4 years of dating, Derek and I decided to break up. I want to get married and have children. Derek does not want that with me. We agreed it wouldn’t be fair to remain together when we had goals that were so different. It was not an easy choice. We’ve broken up but remain friends. At the moment we’re still untangling bits of our lives.
Deciding this was like playing black jack with my life. Do I stay or do I hit (leave) and gamble again? At 30 the stakes are a little higher. Most of my friends are having their second or third child already. My dad told me when I was younger that it's not a race. But part of it is... Yes, I’ve been married once. It wasn’t really a marriage and I deserve better.
I thought when I was younger that when I turned 30 I would have most of the answers. As I get older I notice how interconnected the world is, but I feel like I have more questions than I do answers.
There is no shortage of love advice in the world. Everyone has their nose in your business. Check the internet, libraries, articles and columns in magazines. People obsess about relationships so much there is an entire genre of entertainment dedicated to romance. Yeah even Shakespeare, that stud; he even had tons of advice on love, too. But the quote for the title of this post seemed more appropriate. In the end it wasn’t about romantic love to another but more about self-love and self preservation.
When I was little I told my mom I wanted 12 kids. Then I babysat and I decided 4. Then I watched 4 kids and decided to get plants. Then I found out I don’t have a green thumb and thought maybe I’d invest in inanimate objects like stuffed animals, books, or trinkets. At least, I joked about that a lot.
I started saying it around the time that I was told that I had endometriosis and that it might be difficult for me to conceive. I worried about this because I knew I wanted to be a mom some day. For much of my younger years, until I had Reece, a lot of the things I did were to save my fertility – surgery, drugs, etc. My family always talked like I would be able to have kids in the future. Of course it wouldn’t be a problem.
When the Army told me I wouldn’t be able to have kids I mourned inwardly. I felt I was too young to try to have kids, but the idea that it was closed off forever to me was difficult to take. I was angry, sad, and had feelings that I couldn’t explain. I had already grown up pretty fast. Despite that maturity these feelings were things that I didn’t have the capacity to express to anyone.
Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of being married. Unlike stories I’ve heard of other women – I never dreamed of the actual wedding, what it would look like, the proposal, or even the engagement ring. Although I did dream of dancing and a party afterwards – those are things that were pretty major in my huge family growing up. Even my wheelchair-bound grandma tore up the dance floor at the after party! (She had Lou Gehrig ’s disease, hence the wheelchair. Her spirit was very strong and bright; disease never kept her down.) Basically I’ve just dreamed of being with someone who loved me and lifted me up just as much as I would them. And of course, I have had dreams of being a mother. I really don’t want to be the woman who waited around and figured everything out too late. I don’t want to mourn the loss of children I never will have, again.
Reece and I had conversations about my choices. I’m sure more of this will come up in later years. For now I tell him what I think he can handle. He knows that I want more kids but reminds me that I have one already. I told him because he’s so amazing he makes me want to have more. I love being a mom. He knows that... He also knows he wants two gerbils for our new house. I am not so keen on the idea.
Speaking of which - Monday, I purchased a house. I love it! I know what I want. I don’t think we’re given ideas, wishes, or hopes all willy-nilly. (Super Troopers totally ruined that phrase, didn't they?) There are passing desires, but anything that you want deep within your soul is exactly what you should go after. To know the difference, you need to know who you are and be honest with yourself. This is no easy task. I know that eventually I always came back around to me. In the past I didn’t always believe that I deserved good things. I know better now. Ever the optimist I believe luck is in my favor. I am the adult I want my son to emulate. I know what I’m looking for. As always I am going to do what’s right for me. The answers I do have are who I am, and I know I can be true to myself.

I wish the same for you.

14 March 2011

In the world of squiggles and curly Qs

AHHH! Busy, busy, busy.

I had some very stressful weeks recently. I decided to take off blogging and other fun hobbies and attend to my "interesting" personal life. Since you’re here and reading, I appreciate you! (Big squeeze hugs!) It got so busy I had to contact my college and drop a class so I'm not attending full time right now. I just couldn’t do it. I’ll return shortly to full time status. I just know my limits. Some days I’m super-woman, some days I feel sub-human. (It usually has to do with the amount of sleep I get... which ties into how busy my life is.)

At the beginning of the year I like to review the past year. That’s when I decide what kind of goals I have for the next year. I usually line this up for my birthday rather than use New Years. I mean, what’s another month?! I'm usually starting when people start giving up. This year was extra special because in February I turned 30. A whole new decade awaited me!

I know for some women getting older can be depressing. I just don’t get that! All I’ve heard is how women feel more comfortable in their skin in their thirties. You finally are financially stable (or at least not begging mom and dad for cash every week), established in your career (or at least know what you want more than you did in your twenties), you have a family (or are starting one), etc. Being more comfortable in your skin, knowing what you want, realizing you can go get it? None of that is bad so it baffles me why people mourn their twenties. I say good riddance, but my twenties were pretty poopy.

One of my goals was to start eating more fermented foods. Since my hands started exploding into something that looked like a horror film – from eating gluten – it seems obvious I need to do some gut healing. (Your immune system is basically in your gut, in case you didn't know. I think that's why we say stuff like "I have a gut feeling" or "Go with your gut"...) Reece was really sick and couldn’t shake it for a couple weeks this winter. Adding more beneficial bacteria just seemed like the best thing to do for both of us. Lo-and-behold! There was a class online about fermented foods! Ask and ye shall receive.

After freaking out at home, at work, at school and pretty much anywhere else for the past 3 weeks… I took some time out this weekend to make ketchup.


Yes. Ketchup. I bought a massive amount of tomatoes and made paste (recipe below). Then I used whey I got from separating it from yogurt cheese (recipe below again) a few weeks earlier. It was relaxing. I’m excited because it’s something I made completely from scratch! I’m looking forward to eating it, giving the extra away – making more!!! I can make gluten-free, additive-free ketchup! Amazing.

So, this morning I explain that I did this to one of my co-workers. He said “Yes, because when I think relaxing, I think slaving over a hot stove.” Ok, maybe it’s not for everyone. Necessity is the mother of – ketchup, I guess. So we converse about fermentation (why would you ferment ketchup?). Well, fermentation allows the ketchup and other homemade condiments to last for up to 6 months (less or longer depending on what you made) because the bacteria keeps mold and other harmful substances at bay - while pumping your gut full of friendly stuff that keeps you healthy and happy.

That’s when he told me I do not belong in the world of “squares and lines.” That perhaps I should have a cooking show or a recipe book. You know, get my knowledge out there. He might be right. I feel grateful that my job allows me to use one facet of me, and my hobbies allow me to use another side. Some day they might co-mingle a little more. One of the reasons I didn’t start blogging quicker was because I felt that if I could find all this information, so could you. I’ve been told though, that some people just can’t get into this kind of information and retain/relay it the way I can. That really has to do with interests. My soul loves food and anything to do with it – even kitchen math I’m better at than regular math. There are some subjects (like exercise science) that I could really care less about. I leave that to other people whose souls that sings to.

Anyway, I ordered some kefir grains (not really “grains” they just look like them) – both the water and milk kind. Yes, there is a difference. I will be using coconut milk and water to make kefir until I start purchasing raw milk again. (Then I’ll make kefir ice cream! Oh yeah!) And I’m considering growing my own mushrooms. I did purchase some herbs for the kitchen but I’d like to grow my own for healing (drying, etc.). It’s all really not as ambitious as you think. I think the HOA wouldn’t allow me to own chickens or a goat – though that would help keep insects away and I wouldn’t have to mow… *sigh* Well, I’m not big on pets anyway (except for cats and that's because they're pretty self reliant).

I feel cooking is fun and relaxing. I get to listen to my audio books, music, or talk on the phone while I cook. I know what goes into the food and soil. Maybe it’s the long-lost farmer in my genes. ( Michigan was farmland before it was car-land and my families on both sides were farmers for as far back as I know.) I get to control the ingredients. I get to see something made out of random parts and see how it all fits together. Maybe that’s the engineer part of me (all the men in my family up to my grandparents are engineers).

Recipe part:

Ok, so the ketchup recipe said to use several cups of paste. I’m not sure what was cheaper – canned or homemade. I just decided to go whole hog and make my own paste. I couldn’t find a recipe I liked so I combined two. (I didn't save the sites where I got them from on accident so if this is a combination of yours I need to thank you.)

Here’s my tomato paste I made and it smelled delicious! (I didn’t taste so this could turn out disastrous. I trust my nose though.) I didn't write this down like normal so you'll have to read through it first. (Sorry - I told you my brain wasn't working properly due to the stress!)



1 cup onion, quartered
2 cloves garlic (I might have used 3)
4 red peppers, membrane, stem and seeds removed

Into your food processor. Finely chop everything. Place in a heavy bottomed pan on the stove.

Here’s where it took some time. I peeled the tomatoes, de-seeded them, and discarded the extra water. All 4 lbs of tomatoes.

To peel a tomato you need a pot of boil water. Once you've got the pot to a rolling boil (not a puny boil but big bubbles) stick the tomato in there for a minute, then take it out and put it in the bowl of ice water you have sitting next to you. Wait another minute, then you can peel. Come to find out, you can find canned peeled tomatoes (oh yeah, um, I forgot. Where'd that brain go?), but sometimes I like to do things the hard way. I guess this was one of them.

Then you put the tomatoes in a blender/food processor. Whir until slush. Put the tomato slush in the pan with all the other ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a few bay leaves (I used 3).

Slow simmer/Boil down for 2 hours. The original recipe said 3.5 hours but when it was really thick I figured it was done. I had it on 3 or 4 on my stove (which goes to 8  not 11, Spinal Tap) the whole time. I might be impatient. Stir once in a while. It’ll make you feel better. I think it also keeps things from sticking on the bottom… but that doesn’t make sense since the acid in tomatoes helps you pull stuff that burned to the bottom of the pan up (deglaze). Whatever.

When it’s thick and pasty add some lemon juice and put it in jars. Make sure to discard the bay leaves before you put the paste in jars.Ta-da! Paste.

And now for yogurt cheese and whey
Get some yogurt. I use Stonyfield Whole Milk Yogurt because it was on a recommended list from WAPF and it’s what I can find at my store.
Put some cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer – over a bowl. Dump the entire carton of yogurt into the cheesecloth. Walk away. Just walk away. The whey separates into the bowl and the left over stuff on the cheesecloth is yogurt cheese. I do this process over a work day. When I get home I usually squeeze the remaining whey out of the cheese by ringing it. I think you’re supposed to hang a spoon over the bowl, but my fridge is not deep enough for that and I don’t have bowls that will accommodate that kind of rigging. Go with what you have.
The whey lasts for 6 months so mark the jar you put it in and make sure the lid is tight. Then store it in the fridge. Then ferment something with it or use it in homemade formula.
The yogurt cheese lasts about a week (I wouldn’t push it longer than that). It can be used whenever you would use cream cheese. So we’re talking herb dips and spreads, mixed to make a chopped meat salad (rather than using mayo), a really nice low-carb no bake cheesecake, jalapenos wrapped in bacon, to make a cheese ball, inside an omelet…  really the possibilities are yummy and endless.

What a post! No pictures (boo!) but you did get to learn how to make 3 things. Yay!