Sunday, January 25, 2009

Obesity riddle solved.

Intriguing new research shows the reward center in the brain of obese people lights up in anticipation of food, more so than in leaner people's. However, their brains show less satisfaction while actually eating the food. In other words, leaner people enjoy food more, crave it less.

My experience bears this out: my imagination goes into overdrive when I'm stressed, thinking about foods that will meet my needs - I want a cupcake, I want the macaroni and cheese sold at the West End Grocery, I want a bag of Cape Cod chips followed by a chocolate truffle. My brain comes up with brand names and locations of previously secured fattening foods. But, I'm often disappointed by these treats or meals I go to a lot of trouble to make, or buy at restaurants. There are many examples on this blog where I describe a fattening meal as "gross" or just not satisfying.

I think my own obsession with recipes and meal planning may indicate I am more controlled by the idea of food, than leaner people are, who think eating a cube of cheese, a hunk of bread and apple are enough for a satisfying meal. I have been reading about the role of dopamine deficiency in the brain and its link to depression, ADD, overeating and other addictions. Just knowing that my craving for ice cream is not my body needing calcium, but my brain needing dopamine, is helpful in examining why I sometimes overeat. Its amazing to think how our behavior is influenced by the chemicals in our brains.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Tagliatelle with Lemon

This week I froze 6 burritos individually, and took one to work each day. I love the idea of a zip- loc bag full of burritos in my freezer, and the easy lunch solution, but next time I would take more care with my recipe because they did turn out kind of gross.

I did a variation of the Tagliatelle with Lemon recipe from French Women Don't get Fat by Mireille Guiliano. This recipe reminded me why my favorite foods involve dairy and pasta: but that's probably not a good thing to remember. Here's the recipe: Cook tagliatelle (ribbon pasta, I used spinach) in boiling water. Grate zest of 4 lemons and reserve juice from 1. Warm up 1 tblspoon of olive oil with zest add 6 oz of creme fraiche (I think sour cream would substitute ok), pour in juice of one lemon and boil. Add 4 oz parmesan cheese as it thickens, season with pepper and salt and add drained pasta. I added sauteed mushrooms, which made it even better.

I also made a Thai Coconut Red Curry Soup with Shrimp this week, which came out a little watery, probably because I used Lite Coconut Milk instead of regular, so it wasn't very creamy. The revelation, however, was how good Better Than Boullion is. Better Than Bouillon is a paste that comes in Chicken, Beef and Vegetarian flavors. The blogger at Cheap Healthy Good recommend it.(I only found that blog after I named mine.) The Boullion really does add a fantastic taste. And it has tumeric, yay! That's a spice that is supposed to lower risk of Alzheimer's.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stimulus Package

My grocery receipt looks like a stimulus package for the grocery industry. Total was $111.51.
(At least it doesn't include any pork. heh heh.) Last week I spent $28.00 at the store, which I thought was good, but then I got pretty sick of eating my chili and chickpea/salmon salad every day. Thursday I ate dinner out $17.00, and I got a slice of pizza at lunch $5.00. Friday I ate lunch at the Japanese restaurant next door $12.00, and bought snacks at Joe's Market on the way home from work (wine, chips and chocolate. $10.00.)

Taking a different route this week, I bought more than enough for the week, planning to make food to freeze so I'm not caught flat footed, with nothing I want to take for lunch. I went to the store with three or four recipes buzzing in my head.

I bought: multigrain tortillas $3.99, salsa $2.99, creme fraich $4.49, sour cream $1.19, black beans 2@1.09, cannelloni beans $1.09, kidney beans$1.09, canola oil $3.19, brown sugar $1.33, cheddar cheese $7.69, Worcester sauce $1.59, sardines $2.50, milk$4.19, olives $1.59, can of red curry $1.19, organic crushed tomatoes 2@$2.19, tomato paste .89, tagilette pasta $3.49, Omega spread $2.89, chicken thighs $2.59, ground turkey $3.89, Better Than Bouillon $3.89, acorn squash $1.18, celery .78, green pepper $1.53, red pepper $1.45, zucchini $1.15, dill $2.29, rosemary $2.29, sliced mushrooms $2.49, 3 lemons $1.00, 5 lb onions $2.99, 2 bags frozen shrimp $9.98, toothbrushes $3.49, ziplok freezer bags $2.49, plastic containers $3.39, wax paper $1.99.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Eating doesn't change anything.

Thursday night it was really, really cold in Maine and I was hurrying from work to my second job, feeling sorry for myself. I decided to treat myself to dinner at a nearby restaurant, instead of just eating a power bar, like I’d planned. Well, the waitress was annoying, the food was pretty bad, and then I was mad at myself for spending too much money. Suddenly, it hit me: just eating a meal, even if the food had been delicious, was never going to change the fact it was so cold outside. Getting better restaurant service was not going to make me any happier about having to go to work. I really got the fact that eating doesn’t automatically make things better. This seems amazing because I always think eating something good will magically improve any of life's problems. But overeating can't change the weather. It just makes me fat! I hope I can remember that. It makes more sense to exercise to feel better, because that, at least, makes you stronger and healthier, positive changes to the body, not just adding an extra roll of fat somewhere.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A frugal grocery bill: $28.14

I will make a turkey chili which will last most of the week, and a salmon/chickpea salad I saw a recipe for on the chickpea can. I bought oatmeal and blueberries for breakfasts and soymilk to put in my coffee for a change. I have spices and oil in my pantry.

can of tuna $1.00
can of salmon $1.58
kidney beans .89
generic brown rice $2.29
no-brand Oatmeal $1.69
organic crushed tomatoes $2.19
Progresso can of chickpeas $1.30
Wyman frozen blueberries $3.49
Omega olive oil spread $2.89
ground turkey $2.79
silk vanilla soymilk $2.49
1 lb carrots .99
celery $1.49
stirfry noodles $1.49
coke zero (bad me) $1.49
bag refund +.05

chili recipe
Heat olive oil in a large pot, saute chopped onion and garlic. Add ground turkey and brown. Add the following ingredients, ( 2 tbs. chili powder, 1 tbs. cumin, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, 3 cups water, salt). Stir to mix and bring to boil.Reduce heat and simmer, covered until the sauce is as thick as desired.This could be an hour or so. Add a can of kidney beans and heat through.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Does your online checking account site allow you to create a Budget?

I only just noticed there is a Budget function on my online checking account site. I spent some time today setting myself up to keep track of expenses and create summaries reflecting the data.
Now, when I view my transaction history at, I can assign categories for each deposit and cleared check or debit. I can keep better track of where the money goes.

Why haven't I done this before? It's so easy. According to my first summary, for December, I spent $150.00 on eating out and $110.00 at the grocery store. Eating out is almost always a whim, or the result of forgetting my lunch, or a response to a stressful event (I took myself to dinner after I got my mammogram.) The trouble with grabbing a sandwich at Amato's is, the food is cheap but not nutritious. A sandwich from Mr. Bagel is more nutritious but not as cheap. I don't regret my post-mammogram dinner at the Thai restaurant because it was relatively economical, beautifully prepared and nutritious. I could not have prepared that meal for myself any cheaper.