Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Theme meal, in theme of “C”

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Tonight’s dinner ingredients:

coconut oil

Sounds good, eh?

Written by LeisureGuy

21 May 2019 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

Hummus tonight

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I made my usual recipe, this time using canned chickpeas. I use Joyva Sesame Tahini (is there another kind?), which separates. The can I opened is several years old and the top half was sesame oil and the bottom half sesame cement. I poured the oil into my trust little 3.5-cup Kitchenaid Food Processor (just the right size for this recipe), and then I used a table knife to fracture the sesame cement into chunks, which I put into the processor with the oil. A minute or two of processing produced usable tahini, which I transferred back to the can and made the hummus, using a can of chickpeas. Pretty tasty. I’ve also made this variant.

I like making my own. I expect I’ll be doing that more often.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 May 2019 at 7:00 pm

Finding pleasure in the discomfort of learning new skills

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I often recommend Mindset, by Carol Dweck. It’s an entertaining read and it is informative in describing well the phenomenon of learning resistance. For some people, learning something new is the opposite of a pleasure: new ideas may contradict old notions with which they’ve become comfortable—so comfortable, in fact, that they see them as part of who they are, their identity. The new idea can seem like a direct personal attack.

And that’s just new ideas: new skills are even worse since the initial stages of learning a skill make us feel awkward and embarrassed by our struggles. This seems true even when we are young: those who have raised young children will have observed how out of temper—frustrated, irritable, and angry—a very young child is just as s/he embarks upon learning to walk. The old way is no good, the new way is too hard, and tears and tantrums are frequent during the transition from crawling to toddling.

Of course, the very young have little choice in the matter: they must learn to sit up, to crawl, to walk, to talk, to feed themselves, to go to potty, to dress themselves. Each step is for a while a separate struggle, but you’ve probably noticed that those same skills, now mastered, no longer arouse strong emotions.

And indeed, adults—who in general have a choice in what they do—spend most of their time in practicing skills long since mastered. (One exception I’ve noticed in business is that lower-ranking adults often do not have a choice in learning a skill: a clerk is simply required to master the intricacies of the new copier system or the new phone system. I once observed a company president who wanted to transfer a call on the new phone system somewhat piteously call out to his secretary to please come in and do it for him.)

The result of spending virtually all of their time in exercising skills already required is that adult who  are beginners in a new skill are often terrible students: they know clearly what they want to do, and they are acutely aware of what they see as failures (rather than as practice trials) as they try to learn to play the piano, or to speak a foreign language, or to cook a meal (for those adults who just learning to cook), and so on. That awkwardness and embarrassment and uncertainty seems almost toxic to them if they have become unaccustomed to the early stages of learning. They view their experience in those early stages of learning as a struggle rather than an exploration. New ventures are traditionally viewed as hazardous, and novelty in one’s own routines is often initially distasteful. (Those who have enjoyed Patrick O’Brian’s series of novels about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin will be familiar with the benediction upon parting, “Que no haya novedad”—May no new thing arise.)

The key, as is so often the case, is an adjustment of attitude, described well in Dweck’s book: to accept eagerly that awkwardness as the harbinger of a new skill, and initially focus your attention on your progress (which in the first stages of learning is remarkable) rather than on your results (which in the first stages of learning is best viewed only to measure progress).

If you have continued to learn new things, these difficulties are not such an issue, since they are (a) familiar and (b) you have, through practice, learned how to learn. But those who have successfully avoided learning new things, will have lost the skill (and the familiarity) of learning, so that for them the feelings aroused by the initial stages of learning become almost detestable because they are so unfamiliar and uncomfortable: they are unable to detect the implicit promise. They are acutely aware of the irritating grain of sand and don’t realize that the final result is a pearl of great value: a skill whose exercise has become a source of great enjoyment (cf. traditional shaving and the Guide displayed at the right).

I’ve just embarked upon learning how to follow a plant-based diet, and I am finding the usual (and now familiar) awkwardness. I continue to be careful in my intake of net carbs and to avoid simple carbs, so that is familiar, but I’m having to learn a new pattern. When I routinely followed an omnivore diet, I had a (mostly unconscious) repertoire of meal patterns: I could throw together a decent meal with little thought. I knew the drill.

Those patterns naturally involved using animal protein (meat, seafood, eggs, and/or cheese), which often functioned as the pivot point of the meal, and without those, my old patterns fall apart and I find I’m somewhat at a loss. It’s like the old knock knock joke that begins, “I have a new knock-knock joke. You start.” and when the other automatically says, “Knock, knock” and your respond “Who’s there?”, there’s the baffled full stop—who is there? The vacuum in the meal patter does feel awkward. But already I’m finding/creating new patterns, and meals are becoming easier to create. The transition for me is well underway.

It takes a little time to sort out, but I started this less than one week ago with reading How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease. I’ve had six days of preparing plant-based meals for myself and already I’m beginning to find my footing—getting my sea legs, as it were (I do love O’Brian’s novels) as I embark in a new course. For me this process is pleasurable: I love the experience of things starting to come together and make sense, and in fact make a new sort of sense. I’m almost bubbling with happiness as I dream up new combination to try and as I taste new dishes. A couple of days ago I wrote about my new standard breakfast, but I now realize I can improve it even more by adding a pinch herbs and spices to it.

I’m excited. It’s not every day that one has the chance to go in a new direction, and the fact that it’s healthful makes it all the better. 🙂

I’m not sure I’ll go full-on no-animal-derived food (I read an interesting review of How Not to Die that offers some caveats along with some praise), but certainly I will have a primarily-plant diet, and already I have extended my meal-preparation repertoire with some little tricks I learned from the book that increase nutrient value.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 May 2019 at 9:58 am

Good salad and good dressing, with some food notes

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Salad was a bowl of baby chard, baby kale, and baby spinach, with 1/4 cup roasted salted pepitas (I might have used chopped walnuts), a handful of steamed broccoli florets, 6 chopped scallions including leaves, a small zucchini diced, 8 cherry tomatoes halved, 1/2 large red bell pepper diced fairly small, about 1/2 cup broccoli sprouts, and 1/2 cup cold cooked Lima beans.

Dressing was 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, juice of a large lemon, about 1.5 teaspoons Maldon sea salt, about 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, about a teaspoon of dried marjoram, about a teaspoon of Fines Herbes, a tablespoon of horseradish (the kind that is sold refrigerated), 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, about a teaspoon of tamari, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes (which has a cheese flavor), and about 3/4 teaspoon achiote seasoning (normally I use smoked paprika, but I got a sample of this and thought “why not?”). I put that in a small jar, shook well, poured over the salad, and tossed it.

I hadn’t known it before, but I read in How Not to Die that horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable (as, of course, is broccoli). For horseradish, one tablespoon is one serving (in terms of Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen checklist).

The dried herbs and spices are due to having read this in that book:

The food category that averages the most antioxidants is herbs and spices. 

Let’s say you prepare a nice healthy bowl of whole-wheat pasta with marinara sauce. Together, they may achieve a score of about 80 units of antioxidant power (approximately 20 units from the pasta and 60 from the sauce). Add in a handful of steamed broccoli florets, and you may end up with a delicious 150-unit meal. Not bad. Now sprinkle on a single teaspoonful of dried oregano or marjoram, oregano’s sweeter and milder twin. That alone could double your meal’s antioxidant power, up to more than 300 units. 

How about a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast? By adding just a half-teaspoon of cinnamon, you could bring the antioxidant power of your meal from 20 units to 120 units. And if you can stand the punch, adding even a pinch of cloves could bring your unassuming breakfast up to an antioxidant score of 160 units. 

Plant-based meals tend to be rich in antioxidants on their own, but taking a moment to spice up your life may make your meal even healthier. 

Antioxidant-rich diets appear to protect against stroke by preventing the circulation of oxidized fats in the bloodstream that can damage the sensitive walls of small blood vessels in the brain. They can also help decrease artery stiffness, prevent blood clots from forming, and lower blood pressure and inflammation. Free radicals can disfigure proteins in our bodies to the extent they become unrecognizable by our immune systems. The inflammatory response this triggers can be prevented by saturating our bodies with sufficient antioxidants. Whereas all whole plant foods may have anti-inflammatory effects, some plants are better than others. High-antioxidant fruits and vegetables, such as berries and greens, have been found to douse systemic inflammation significantly better than the same number of servings of more common low-antioxidant fruits and veggies, such as bananas and lettuce.

I omitted the footnote references, but each statement has a footnote that references the relevant research and findings.

Things in the lunch that were specifically motivated by what I’ve read: pepitas, broccoli, Lima beans, marjoram, Fines Herbes, horseradish, and the achiote seasoning.

One other paragraph that I found interesting:

Bananas, although they’ve been marketed for their potassium content, aren’t actually particularly rich in the mineral. According to the current U.S. Department of Agriculture database, bananas don’t even make the list of the top-thousand foods with the highest levels of potassium; in fact, they come in at number 1,611, right after Reese’s Pieces. You’d have to eat a dozen bananas a day just to get the bare minimum recommended amount of potassium. What are some of the truly potassium-rich foods? The healthiest common whole-food sources are probably greens, beans, and sweet potatoes.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 May 2019 at 1:16 pm

Finding my way in a plant-based diet

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Today I worked out a meal plan, and I thought I’d present it with comments. I am doing this in the context of WW Freestyle, so I’ll note points, my daily allowance being 23 points. For each food that has points, points are noted. (Many foods on WW Freestyle are zero points.)

Breakfast – 7 points

I arise quite early, and I make a small pot (a pint) of tea, this morning Murchie’s No. 10, and pour it into my Temperfect mug to sip as I read the news. I also squeeze lemon into a glass, add 1/4 cup of pomegranate juice (2 points), ice, and white tea to fill. I generally drink that first, since the tea in the mug stays at drinking temperature for some hours. I drink pomegranate juice because it’s good for arterial health.

I made my standard breakfast, today with 1/2 cup cooked oat groats. I skipped the flaxseed, since I plan to have it for dinner. The extra-virgin olive oil was 3 points and the 1/2 cup of cooked oat groats 2 points.

Lunch – 5 points

I bought some salad greens and added 3 chopped scallions, 1/2 chopped yellow bell pepper, 5 or 6 sliced cherry tomatoes, some broccoli that I previously steamed, some broccoli sprouts, and 1/2 cup previously cooked Lima beans from the fridge.

For the dressing, I put into a little jar: 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (4 points), juice of a lemon, a pinch of salt, some freshly ground black pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. I shook it well, poured it over the salad, and sprinkled the salad with a tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes (1 point) because of its B12 content. (That much nutritional yeast has enough B12 to more than satisfy the daily requirement.)

Snack – 1 point

Mid-afternoon, I stir 1 tablespoon of mugi miso (1 point) into a mug of hot water. Mugi miso is made from barley and soybeans. It’s tasty and a nice lift. Miso is a probiotic and has good health benefits.

Dinner – 10 points

I halved a kabocha squash, removed seed, cut it into chunks, tossed it with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, and put it on a lined baking sheet. I sprinkled it with Maldon salt, pepper, cinnamon, and grated orange peel and roasted it until it was tender. I figure about 1 teaspoon of olive oil was lost to the bowl and baking sheet, so each portion will have 1 teaspoon of olive oil consumed (2 points total). (I also think there will be some kabocha squash left over.)

I’ll heat a cup of previously cooked quinoa (6 points total) and 1/2 cup of previously cooked Lima beans (0 points), perhaps adding a dollop of water if needed, and add 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts (4 points total), 1/4 cup ground flaxseeed (4 points total), 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (2 points total), and 4 teaspoons white sesame seed (2 points total). That makes 20 points total, so each of the two portions is 10 points.

Total: 23 points

I went shopping today and bought various things to cook and chill for use later: winter wheat (whole grain wheat berries), navy beans, broccoli (which I’ll steam). Also carrots (to roast), leeks, zucchini, and Melt, a vegetarian butter substitute that’s highly rated. Having things on hand makes it easy to throw together meals.

So far, so good.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2019 at 12:36 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Recipes

Solar Flare, Asses’ Milk Shaving soap, and Fine Marvel

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Phonenix Artisan’s Solar Flare brush made a superb lather from the organic Asses’ Milk Shaving Soap (which The Wife brought to me from Paris). Three passes with the Fine Marvel head on a bronze UFO handle left my face perfectly smooth and ready for Musgo Real’s Classic aftershave.

And today I had my first new standard breakfast, the variation with beans—lentils in this case, though I also have a batch of lima beans ready in the fridge. It’s quite a satisfactory breakfast and I don’t really miss the eggs.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 May 2019 at 8:36 am

A good resource for those moving to a plant-based diet

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I mentioned in this post the “Daily Dozen” foods advocated by Michael Greger MD, and noted that there is a free app for iPhone and Android that lets you track those foods. One of the resources he suggests is Plant-Based on a Budget and they list several resources on this page. The last item listed is “The Daily Dozen (On A Budget) Meal Plan.” It’s a PDF that you can download for $5, and IMO it’s worth it. With that, planning meals becomes much easier, starting with making the shopping list.

Take a look.

This video is also interesting (the awful soundtrack at the beginning stops fairly soon, so just endure it). I find that I respond negatively to the word “vegan” but positively to “plant-based.”

Written by LeisureGuy

15 May 2019 at 11:24 am

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