Later On

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Archive for the ‘Low carb’ Category

Finally: Below 200 lbs

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On 25 March I was ready for a brag: my weight was at the threshold of breaking 200 lbs (90.7 kg). The lead-up:

19-Mar 203.2
20-Mar 202.9
21-Mar 202.3
22-Mar 202.2
23-Mar 201.4
24-Mar 201.1
25-Mar 200.4

Nice steady trend. But then a plateau ensued:

26-Mar 201.4
27-Mar 200.5
28-Mar 201.5
29-Mar 200.7
30-Mar 200.7
31-Mar 201.2
01-Apr 201.1
02-Apr 200.8

This morning, at last: 199.6 lbs.

I know enough now to just wait out plateaus: keep up the regimen, given it time, and loss will resume in time. I do have to admit that yesterday I threw a quiet little fit: a glass of wine (4 points) with lunch, which was a piece of halibut—it’s halibut season here, something I did not know about, and the fish counter is stacked with fresh halibut—2 teaspoons butter, and lemon juice (total 3 points). For dinner, roasted Brussels sprouts with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and roasted salmon with lemon slices and another 1/2 Tbsp of olive oil (a total of 4 points, quite reasonable), but also a Manhattan (10 points) and a late evening salad (no points except 1 point for olive oil in dressing).

So altogether yesterday added up to 30 points, with my daily target being 24 (though I do get 42 points “surplus” allowance per week to use for such blowouts). But still I lost weight: 1.2 lbs. Go figure.

Still, my average weekly loss, which once was 2 lbs, is now 1.6 lbs, still perfectly reasonable. The chart:

I probably didn’t need to include the box, since the shape of the graph makes it obvious when The Wife was away. I do find it much easier to stick to the plan when she is here: planning on-program meals for her results in using the same plan for myself.

Still, glad to finally break through a 10% weight loss total to date.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 April 2018 at 9:26 am

Weight-loss graph tomorrow, most likely

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I had said I would post an update to my weight-lose graph when I got below 200 lbs (goal is 185), and this morning I was at 200.4 lbs. So I think tomorrow will be the day. I’ll mark the chart for the time The Wife was away, but the wild gyrations make it clear anyway.

Still enjoying the food. (This is what I’m doing.) For example, last night’s dinner was very tasty:

Preheat oven to 300ºF.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil (or you can use parchment paper, but clean-up is not so easy as with the foil).

Place on the foil a good-sized piece of steelhead trout—this one was about 14 oz.

Salt and pepper the fish, pour over 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to cover the top of the fish. Cut the ends off a lemon (preferable a Meyer lemon, but a Eureka or Lisbon (the common varieties) will also work) and then slice it thinly and lay the slices over the trout to cover. Don’t remove the peel: after it’s cooked, it tastes good. Some oil will run onto the foil, and I also laid lemon slices atop that oil to cook.

Put that into the oven and cook for 25-35 minutes. I checked at 25 minutes and it was almost ready, so I gave it 5 minutes more.

Extremely tasty, and only 4 WW points each (a total of 8 points for the olive oil, and the fish and lemon are zero points). The lemon slices roasted in the olive oil were particularly tasty, but it was all good.

Written by LeisureGuy

25 March 2018 at 9:19 am

Pea crabs, the redneck toothpick

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Paul Lukas has an interesting article in Taste:

Back in November, I attended an oyster roast on Virginia’s Eastern Shore, where one out of every dozen or so oysters I ate had a bonus treat: a tiny orange crab, roughly the size of a dime, lurking inside the oyster’s shell. Since the oysters had been roasted, the crabs had been cooked along with them. I saw other people eating the crabs whole, so I did the same with one of mine. It was delicious—a bit sweet, a bit briny, and soft with just a hint of crunch.

I mentioned to a guy standing next to me that I’d never seen these little crabs before. “They’re even better when you shuck the raw oysters, because then the crabs are still alive,” he said in a thick Virginia drawl. “I’ll just pop one in my mouth, let him scrabble around in there a bit. That’s what we call a redneck toothpick!” Several other people mentioned that finding a crab inside the oyster was a sign of good luck.

I’d been eating oysters for most of my life—in fact, I grew up in the Long Island town of Blue Point, namesake of the bluepoint oyster—but this was new to me. I soon learned that the little edible creatures are called pea crabs, or sometimes oyster crabs. They enter the oysters (and sometimes other mollusks, like mussels, scallops, and clams) as larvae and then grow to maturity inside their host. Because they’re protected by the oyster, their shells remain soft and slightly translucent. Technically speaking, pea crabs are classified as parasites, because they feed off of the oyster’s food supply, but they don’t harm the oysters.

“The oyster takes in enough food for both of them to be healthy,” says Peter Fu, chef de cuisine at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City. “And the crab doesn’t diminish the oyster’s quality in any way. Really, it’s a sign of a thriving ecosystem.”

If you’re not familiar with pea crabs, there are three likely reasons for that. First, pea crabs are more common in the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, with the Long Island Sound constituting the northern edge of their range. So if you prefer oysters from colder North Atlantic waters, as I do, or from the Gulf Coast or the West Coast, you’re unlikely to encounter them. Second, pea crabs are more common in wild oysters, not the farmed product that constitutes an increasing share of the oyster market.

But the biggest reason you may not have seen a pea crab is that most oyster consumption takes place at restaurants, where shuckers typically pick out any crabs they encounter. “We just discard them,” says Fu, who estimated that the Oyster Bar goes through as many as 1,000 pea crabs on a busy day. “If we miss one, our waiters are trained to tell the guest that it’s natural, like finding a beetle in your salad greens. One time there was a particularly upset customer, so I went out and explained that they’re harmless and also mentioned that George Washington was a great fan of pea crabs.”

That’s right, George Washington. America’s first president has become a posthumous pitchman of sorts for pea crabs. Many published references to them mention that Washington loved having the tiny creatures sprinkled atop his oyster stew, a story that has gained traction among pea crab aficionados. But Mary Thompson, a research historian at Mount Vernon’s Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, says she’d never even heard of pea crabs, much less of Washington’s supposed fondness for them. “It’s true that Washington loved fish of pretty much any kind,” she said. “But we’ve been plagued for years by stories of one food after another that people claim were a favorite of George Washington without citing a period source. Unfortunately, that makes these stories hearsay at best.”

Sketchy George Washington connections notwithstanding, pea crabs have a rich history and once had a much higher profile. A 1913 New York Times article refers to them as “the epicure’s delight” and describes shucking houses saving the little crabs, blanching them, and then packaging them in glass bottles for retail sale. Pea crabs were also commonly featured in old cookbooks. A 1901 volume entitled 300 Ways to Cook and Serve Shell Fish features 16 different recipes for them (one of which matter-of-factly calls for 500 crabs!)

So what happened? Why did pea crabs become an obscure footnote in oyster culture? . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2018 at 4:14 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb

My 4-point breakfast

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Above you see the makings of my breakfast, which is 4 WW points.

I start by chopping, which I in fact enjoy:

Then I heat 2 teaspoons of oil (3 WW points) in my Field No. 8 cast-iron skillet and sauté the vegetables for several minutes, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the vegetables are tender.

I heat my 8″ T-fal pan, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil (1 WW point), and cook the egg over-easy, which allows me the satisfaction of flipping the egg when the bottom is done. (You can practice the flipping motion by putting some dried lentils or beans in the pan and flipping those over the sink (to catch spills).)

The cooked vegetables and mushrooms go into a bowl, the egg on top, and I have my breakfast. A good amount of healthful food for just 4 WW points, the egg and the vegetables all being zero points. (Here’s a list of zero-point foods. I try to make up recipes with these because it’s a good idea to focus on foods that you can eat rather than on foods you can’t/shouldn’t.)

I would say this is a healthful breakfast—and note that it is very low in carbs. For a more general summary of how I’m eating nowadays, see this answer on Quora.

Update: I should say that in addition to the above, I take 2 tablespoons (3 points) or 3 tablespoons (5 points) chia seed in a glass of water—stir well to prevent clumping—along with 1 teaspoon inulin. So my total breakfast is 7 or 9 WW points, depending on the amount of chia seed.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 March 2018 at 8:14 am

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

An oddly detailed article on how to avoid sugar

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David Leonhardt has an odd article in the NY Times explaining how to avoid sugar in one’s diet. The article seems much ado about very little. It seems to me he’s making something simple become complicated. There are really just three things you need to do:

  1. Do not add any sugar to food as you cook (i.e., no granulated sugar, no syrup, etc.) or eat it.
  2. Look at the nutrition facts label of foods you buy. If the product contains sugar, don’t buy it.
  3. When you eat out, don’t eat anything that you know has sugar in it: desserts, sugared drinks, and so on.

I personally also avoid any foods made with flour, which has many of the same weaknesses as sugar: too quickly digested, too little food value. On Quora I summarized my dietary advice:

Sugar, along with other simple starches (white potatoes, rice, and foods made with flour—bread, bagels, pasta, pancakes, boxed cereals, etc.) disrupt the metabolism, as described in Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes.

I follow a diet that severely restricts carbohydrates and totally eliminates the simple carbohydrates mentioned above. Unlike fats and proteins, there are no “essential carbohydrates,” so minimizing their intake runs no risk of a deficiency disease. The calories lost by eliminating the carbs are replaced by calories from fat, which is digested more slowly and thus prolongs satiation, meaning that one tends to eat less and/or less often. See A low-carb diet for beginners – Diet Doctor and A Low Carb Diet Meal Plan and Menu That Can Save Your Life for an introduction. If you’re concerned about eating fats, I highly recommend the book The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. (Both book links are to inexpensive secondhand copies.)

update: I should note that I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which is why I switched to a low-carb, high-fat diet. That did in fact put my diabetes in remission and I have maintained an HbA1C of 5.7%-5.8% for years now. /update

However, the LCHF diet is not intended as a weight-loss diet; its purpose is to address metabolic issues. Weight-loss diets require calorie restriction. Many do lose weight on the LCHF diet, but not everyone, and I was one who did not. However, when I combined that with the online Weight Watchers Freestyle program, the pounds are dropping away easily. I like that program because I can do it online (no meetings) and I have to do very little counting because an enormous number of foods have zero points (though obviously one should not be a glutton in any event).

Sugar is particularly bad. See The Startling Link Between Sugar and Alzheimer’s and watch this video:

Note that food cravings can be driven by the makeup of your gut microbiome. If you eat high starch food, the microbiome tilts strongly toward microbes that process such foods, and the microbiome can drive food cravings if those microbes become hungry: Why you’re still hungry: 6 obstacles to healthy eating

By sticking with the LCHF diet, in time your gut microbiome will change to favor other microbes, and carb cravings will dwindle. Dietary fiber is an important food source for gut microbes, so pay attention to it—see How probiotics and prebiotics team up in your gut. I take 1 tsp of inulin and 2 tablespoons of chia seed in a glass of water each morning. Chia seed has benefits beyond fiber, of course. (And BTW, in the LCHF diet, one counts net carbs: total carbohydrates minus dietary fiber. Chia seed has very low net carbs: 2 tablespoons has 13.1g carbohydrates and 11.2g dietary fiber, so only 1.9g net carbs.)

Dietary fiber is not just for weight loss: it’s vital to our health. See Fiber Is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.

The NY Times quotes a research study that is consistent with the above recommendations: The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds.

Plateaus: Plateaus are important in weight loss. They are a time when the body makes changes: shrinking the skin, rearranging things internally, etc. Those who get bariatric surgery achieve rapid and significant weight loss without plateaus, but then cosmetic surgery is generally required to remove the floppy skin that results. My daughter knows a woman who did have bariatric surgery and then had to have cosmetic surgery to remove excess skin on thighs, tummy, and arms.

Knowing that the plateaus serve a purpose makes them easier to endure. She also said that, in general, each plateau lasts twice as long as the previous one. In my current weight-loss regimen, I hit my first plateau at Day 47, and then for 11 days my weight stayed at 208.x, going up and down within that range, before resuming a steady loss. I expect my next plateau will last around 22 days.

Lately I’ve also been eating about an ounce of oyster mushrooms cooked with my breakfast egg, after reading this article.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 March 2018 at 2:42 pm

Perfect dinner

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I’ve been closely observing points today, so I could easily afford a Friday-Night Rob Roy:

Fill one of my birthday Waterford Diamond Lismore crystal double old-fashioned glasses with ice cubes. A glug of Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, 4 glugs Grant’s blended scotch (who remembers “As long as you’re up, could you get me a Grant’s?” — triangular bottle), a good dash of Angostura bitters, stir well, then float just a little Grand Marnier on top.

Pretty good, if I say it myself.

Then dinner. I got a good cut of fillet of steelhead trout (toward the head, not the tail) and so did my fish-on-greens favorite. Tonight:

1.t Tbsp EVOO in large sauté pan.

When hot, add:

2 bunches large scallions, sliced including green part
3 Fresno peppers, cored and chopped
8-10 (or 12) cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
12 asparagus spears, tough part discarded, cut in 1″ sections
1 Tbsp salt
1.5 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp chimayo chile powder

Sauté until onions soften and become translucent, stirring often. When it seems ready, add:

2 Meyer lemons, ends removed, diced
1 cup sliced yellow cherry tomatoes (“Zuma” up here)

Stir and sauté until the lemons and onions have produced some juice. Add:

1/4 cup dry vermouth
handfuls of Costco Super Greens, a mix of baby kale, baby spinach, etc.

Add a handful, stir, cover, add another handful. Do that 3 or 4 times.

Let simmer 20 minutes. Add:

1 fillet of steelhead trout, skin side down, on top of greens

Cover simmer 10 minutes and test. in this case, the thicker part of the fillet was not done in 10 minutes, so I added another 5 minutes.

Then it was perfect.

I have seldom had so fine a meal. And there are leftovers (though, to be honest, not of the fish).

And for pudding: wild blueberries, tastefully thawed. Zero points.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 March 2018 at 6:09 pm

Finally found the right temperature for Fish-on-Greens

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I make this fairly often, and you can choose the fish you want and the greens you want. Tonight I used two tail sections of steelhead trout as the fish and baby kale as the greens.

Use large sauté pan, with lid standing by.

First, mince 6-8 cloves garlic and set aside for 15 minutes before starting to cook.

1.5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Heat, add

1 large red onion, chopped
the minced garlic, now 15 minutes old or older
good handful (or 1 bunch) asparagus, cut into 1″ lengths, tough part discarded
good pinch of salt
about 1.5 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper

Sauté, stirring often, until onions are soft and translucent. Add:

1 lemon (ideally a Meyer lemon), ends cut off and discarded and lemon then diced
several handfuls of baby kale, stirring and then covering for a while between additions so the kale can wilt.
1 good splash dry vermouth

Cover and simmer over medium-to-low heat for 20 minutes.

Place the fish on top of greens, skin side down—in this case two pieces of steelhead trout.

Cover and simmer for… and there’s the rub. How long?

I did 12 minutes and that was definitely too long. Tonight I tested at 8 minutes, and that was too short: not fully cooked.

But 10 minutes! Perfect. Fish done, tender, juicy, the skin almost like a liquid sauce.

By chance, I continued to simmer the pan for about 5-10 minutes, lid removed. It boiled off the liquid and (I assume through the Maillard reaction) added a lot of flavor. I think next time I’ll do it deliberately.

Probably not necessary to write, but: you can vary this in a lot of ways. Add shredded cheese. Add red pepper flakes and/or hot sauce to spice it up. Use a lot of scallions in the place of the red onion (more nutritious). Add some balsamic vinegar; or some soy sauce; or some fish sauce; or some tamari; or some mirin. How about some sliced cherry tomatoes? Diced dried chorizo? And so on.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

4 March 2018 at 3:02 pm

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