Tuesday, July 24, 2012

cholesterol watch on vacation

Last week we went to Yellowstone and a family reunion in Idaho.  Watching my cholesterol at home is hard enough.  I was worried about being away from my kitchen and eating at restaurants. So my solution was to bring most of our food with us.  We had access to kitchens in both places we stayed.  In total, we ate at a restaurant twice the entire trip.  This was nice for our wallets too. Here's what we did.

Breakfasts: Homemade cereal bars. The picture below is my son helping to form the bars.  Despite his expression, he was having fun.  Really.  

Recipe: This recipe is an extremely modified version of this. I liked this version but it took way too long to make for 12 little cereal bars. I also removed the butter.

Apple Cinnamon Bars
2 c. oats
1c. whole wheat flour
1 c. white flour
1 c. brown sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 c. olive oil
1 c. apple sauce
1 t. vanilla

Pulse oats in food processor until a coarse flour.  Add remaining ingredients. Process until it forms a thick dough. Add flour or applesauce for right consistency.  Form into bars.  Bake @ 350 for 20 min (or longer if you like it crunchy)

These bars are pretty dense and moist and traveled really well.  I kept them in a ziplock container.

Homemade cereal

The first time I made this cereal, it came out crunchy, but slightly burned.  The second time it was too soft. It tasted right, but we like it crunchy. I'll post a recipe when I figure out the happy medium.


I froze the smoothies, along with everything else that could be frozen, before we left.  I  packed them with our frozen water bottles and they stayed frozen for the entire five hour drive.  Our little cabin at Mack's Inn had a refrigerator so we put all the cold food away as soon as we arrived.  The big smoothies were for me and had spinach, yogurt, and a variety of fruit.  The smaller smoothies were for my kids and had milk and fruit. I put the smoothies in the fridge to thaw the night before, but the fridge was too cold so we ended up packing them in the cooler and drinking them for lunches in Yellowstone.  I had it figured out by the time we got to the reunion at the May Family Ranch and had them for breakfast there.

We also brought regular cold cereal for my husband and the kids. I brought milk with us since I wasn't sure if we could find a store.  It did great surrounded by frozen smoothies.

Here's one of my favorite shots in Yellowstone

For lunches we brought nitrate free lunch meat (my boys get migraines from nitrates) and peanut butter for sandwiches, fruit cups packed in juice (not syrup), apple sauce, and I caved and brought cookies.  You have to indulge a little, right? 

On the second day, we realized we hadn't packed the cheese to go with the ham sandwiches. (I was planning on peanut butter) So we had lunch at Mammoth Hot Springs.  I ordered a salad and had them leave off the cheese. They had the most delicious poppy seed dressing.  If anyone has that recipe, I would love it.

Monday - I brought chicken, potatoes from our garden, onion from our garden, carrots from the store because I got crappy seeds that didn't grow, sea salt, and olive oil. I packed them in tinfoil, baked them for an hour, and discovered that our oven didn't work very well.  Then I cooked them in a little frying pan and we had a late dinner. It was delicious.

Tuesday - We did a everyone gets-what-they-want meal.  My husband and daughter had KFC, my boys had Arby's, and I had a subway sandwich. It was the chicken breast sandwich.  I left off the cheese and piled on the the veggies.  Yummy.

Wednesday - We did restaurant food for lunch so we ate sandwiches at the cabin for dinner.

Thursday - This was the day we traveled 5 hours to the family reunion at the May Family Ranch in  Clayton Idaho.  Here's a shot of the water slide.

We also went to a museum town where the kids panned for gold.  They even found some. (Real gold!)

Dinner Thursday night was nitrate free hot dogs cooked over a fire with fruit and potato chips.  After driving all day, I didn't really care what I was eating.  The chips don't have cholesterol but they do contain saturated fats, which I should also avoid.  One thing I decided when I chose to watch my diet instead of taking meds was that I wasn't going to deny myself the foods I love as long as I use moderation.  I can have some saturated fats as long as I overindulge.

My sister cooked dutch oven chicken Friday night.  It was so good. I stuck with one piece of chicken. (I was soooo tempted to get more.) We also had green salad, fruit, and beans.  Beans are high in iron and fiber.  I'll be eating a lot more beans.  The only problem is the canned beans contain a lot of sodium so I'll have to learn to use dry beans.

We drove home on Saturday and, with very little food in the house, had spaghetti - without meat.   I didn't miss the meat at all and my kids didn't either. We also had salad from the garden.  The lettuce still hasn't bolted so I cut up a zucchini and an onion and mixed it with the lettuce.

By bringing most of our food with us, I was able to control what we were eating.  We did have a nice lunch at Mammoth, and my daughter will tell you that her favorite part of the meal was her brownie sundae.  She told me about it often enough. I didn't have any dessert and I love brownie sundaes. My favorite part was that poppy seed dressing.  I really must find the recipe.

Here's a shot of my whole family in Yellowstone.
My youngest child was very tired.  That's the only explanation I can think of for the look on his face.  

This last picture is a place near Mack's Inn called Big Springs.  It's beautiful there.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cholesterol check

So if I keep my diet the way it's always been, I'll have a heart attack at 50.  Doctors are such downers. I've spent the last 6 months exercising more and eating whole grains, blah, blah, blah.  I lost about 10 lbs. But my cholesterol didn't go down.  It went up.  Crap.

I'm not big on medication.  The cholesterol medicine side effects aren't especially terrifying, but I'd rather avoid them.  I can't help but think they aren't the best option.  So I've decided to cut my meat consumption down to once a day.  The average adult can have 300mg of cholesterol a day.  Those trying to lower cholesterol can have 200mg.  I'm trying to stay around 100mg.  It's not easy.  Cholesterol is in all animal related foods, which are some of my favorites.  Eggs, meat, milk, cheese... Mmmm. Now we all know why my cholesterol was going up.  Ugh.

I already miss scrambled eggs.  But this isn't goodbye.  It's more of a long distance relationship.  I'm going rather drastic for six months when they'll check my blood again.  If I've lowered my cholesterol, I'll go for an occasional scrambled egg.  (Yes one.  Eggs are around 200mg each - yikes!)

I'm blogging about this because I'm hoping there are other people out there who have successfully cut down their cholesterol without going vegan or using medication.  I also thought that I'd post how I'm altering my recipes to be more cholesterol friendly. I'll post recipes if anyone is interested. I might post some anyway.

So here's my plan:
  Green smoothies. The fruit and spinach are cholesterol free.  The yogurt contains about 7mg.  I'm not giving up the yogurt because it does wonders for my digestion.  Any more on that would tread on TMI.
  Homemade granola bars. Oats are apparently really good for lowering cholesterol.
  Homemade cold cereal.  I'll post this recipe another day.  I made some and we ate it all before I could take a picture.  It was that good.
  I'm trying to cut out some of the prepackaged food since they tend to be full of sodium and ingredients I can't pronounce. I've been thinking of doing this for a while but since I'm being forced to change my diet, I figured now was a good time to do it.

For lunch I've been having green salad (the lettuce in our garden is growing like a weed. I've also been having peanut butter and honey on Sandwich thins. I need to find some other options.  I'm getting tired of peanut butter and salad. Suggestions? (No tofu)

Dinner is only slightly altered.  The main difference is I'm keeping my meat servings down and cutting out red meat.
  Monday - Chicken Joes. I slow cooked the chicken, shredded it and mixed it with our regular sloppy joe sauce.  We also cut up a fresh pineapple,  cooked some corn on the cob, and had more green salad. I put baby zucchini in the salad.  Tasty.
  Tuesday - Crepe dinner.  Crepes have eggs and milk in them.  I figured they have about 40mg per crepe so I only had two.  We put fresh fruit and homemade jam on the crepes.  This is super yummy but not super filling.  I dug some potatoes out of the garden, sliced them, and sauteed them with zucchini, onions, peppers, and Italian seasonings in olive oil.  I should have taken a picture.  I just don't think about photographing dinner.
  Wednesday - Chicken in homemade Rice a Roni. I boil chicken breasts in water with some Italian seasoning.  Break spaghetti noodles into tiny pieces and brown in olive oil.  Then I added rice and the water I cooked the chicken in.  I mixed a cup of skim milk with some corn starch to make it creamier and added the chopped up chicken. This recipe had the added benefit of being lower in sodium.
  Thursday - Homemade pizzas. I used Sandwich Thins instead of crust.  This helped me control proportions. Then I put all the fixings on the counter and did a pizza bar.  Here's what I put on mine. Pizza squeeze sauce - high in sodium, unfortunately, but very convenient. Jimmy Dean Sausage is 45mg for 2 or 3 oz. (It's also nitrate free.) I only sprinkled it. Pineapple and peppers.  I forgot to add the onions, dang it.  Mozzarella cheese is the lowest cholesterol cheese I can find - 20mg per inch chunk.  I didn't measure but I did only a light sprinkling of cheese.  My kids added all the stuff they like.  My oldest son skipped the sauce and just did roast beef.  My daughter also skipped the sauce and just did ham and cheese.  My youngest son piled on the nitrate free ham, sauce, pineapple, sausage, and a mix of cheese.  My husband put a little of everything.  Everyone was happy.  I kept my cholesterol levels down.
  Friday-  This is our leftover day.  No cooking for me!

Next week we'll be going on vacation.  I'll post later about how I did on the road.  I'm a little nervous about keeping track but I have a plan.  I'd love to hear how other people are lowering their cholesterol.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ugly to Cute

I have this shirt that's been sitting in the back of my closet for a while.  I got it for $5 at Walmart.  I love bargains. It fit the first time I wore it and then it shrunk and turned into this.  It was too tight, too short, and looked weird.  I didn't take any pictures of myself in it because I like myself too much to do that. The only time I wore it was when I needed something clean to do laundry in.  Then I wore something else.  But I like the color and I hate wasting stuff.  

Then I saw something on Pinterest that could rescue my shirt.  You can see their instructions here.  The only problem was their sleeves started out short.  My sleeves had to go because my arms are too fat muscularly. I decided to do it anyway and figure out the sleeves as I went.  But when I went to look up the pin the Internet was down so I had to work on memory.  I recommend following their instructions.

So I cut the shirt down the middle and chopped off the sleeves.  Later I remembered to cut around the collar.  That's actually an important step, as I learned first-hand. (It would have been nice to have those instructions CENTURY LINK.) As you can see in the picture, I slit the sleeves. My drawing below shows exactly what I did.  I cut a Y up the side of the sleeve and then sewed the slit down so I could thread my ribbon through it.

I originally tied a bow on the sleeves but it tickled my arm.  I ended up tying a knot in the ribbon. I think an elastic on the sleeves would work just as well. Here's a close up of the finished shrug. It took about an hour to make - and that was with picking out half the stitches to remove the collar. A more experienced sewer could pull this off in no time.

And here's me next to my book shelf that needs some serious organizing.  If you're wondering why there is an igloo on my shelf, I'm not really sure.  My 7 year-old must have thought it looked nice there. I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What does Pinterest mean to you?

Since joining Pinterest, I've learned a lot.  Just today I learned you can  open those stupid little plastic packs with a can opener.  I hate those plastic packs.  This is genius. I've also learned who is obsessed with zombies and Disney.  It's fun to see other people's interests, although some people are a little too obsessed with pigs.  Seriously. 

My husband doesn't get Pinterest.  He likes the recipes that involve chocolate.  Not so much the healthy recipes and all the crafty stuff.

My kids are less than enthused by all the new uses I've found for vinegar.  The stuff is amazing - and cheap.  I like cheaply amazing things.
I love all the organization tips.  It doesn't mean I actually follow them.  I just like to think how great it would be if I were ever organized again.  I say again because it did happen once.  Oddly enough, that was before Pinterest.  Check out my mad art skills.  I single handedly removed like ten years from my face.  It bet there's a post for how to do that on Pinterest. 

My son took one look at this picture and said, "We don't have a banana computer and no one draws on the walls."  At least he thought my interpretation of myself was accurate.