PD – Week 3

Monday starts week 3 of reacquainting myself with the principles and living a Protective Diet. I’ve decided to change logging format to a weekly basis now, rather than daily. While I have many thoughts, it’s easier to post and hopefully have others in a similar situation follow along. Don’t want to feel I am boring readers with information they don’t need or want to read. Hopefully that isn’t the fact and if I can help one person with something I write, then excellent!

Week 3 started off well, but I find myself falling into some frustrating habits. In the motto of the Boy Scouts, “Be prepared!” is something I haven’t been. I’ve been attempting to follow a weekly menu I put forth each week, but after the first 14 days, I’ve started to run into problem. These could easily be resolved if I had time on my days off to follow SUS (Set Up Sunday) as Julie calls it, however, and I’ve said this before my days off are spent working, cleaning the house, doing house related projects. Rarely do I have time to cook for 2-3 hours in preparation for the week. Can I fit it in? Sure, I could make a few early morning adjustments and probably start my day working on SUS before starting my day off.

Going back to Julie and Class 200 – Stop the Snack Challenge, this was a key point that I had been failing on, which saw me start the downward slide. Outside of just a day or two, I have done well. Eating through out the day, has really helped to cut out those between meal snacks. I continue to struggle after dinner, grabbing a snack less than an hour after I eat. Not sure why, as I am satiated but left feeling hungry to some degree. I think there might be a connection, especially on the weekends, as I have been known to skip lunch on my days off, which makes me more hungry approaching dinner time.

Overall, things are still moving in the right direction. As I recall, from reading my words, it wasn’t easy to begin. While I don’t struggle in the kitchen, cooking was challenging, but the longer I followed McDougall and PD, it did get easier. While I have a plethora of recipes, it’s sometimes challenging with so much good food to eat, where to begin.

What I do know, the longer I follow PD, the stronger my conviction becomes. I know what I am doing is the right thing and while the start has tapered off just a bit as I start the 4th week, but continue to adhere to the program and most importantly, always learning.

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More DeNova Repairs!

It’s been far too long since I have taken a shot at DeNova Homes (#dontbuydenova) for their poor craftsmanship and lack of quality control. This has been seen repeatedly in our “new home,” lacking from before we even put down a deposit to confirm our home. If we knew all the red tape and bullshit we would run into with this purchase, we would never have gone through it and held onto our hard earned money. As a warning to future DeNova Homes owners, please rethink your purchase before it’s too late.

Just because I haven’t pushed the #dontbuydenova movement doesn’t mean all is well and good. It hasn’t been and we know it’s not going to get better. In fact it’s getting worse. It’s been a few months, but pulling up to our home in Emerson Ranch, Oakley I saw pick and green spray paint on the sidewalks. Not knowing what it represented I contacted a friend who was a Comcast installer and he gave me his best guess. Following that I Googled it. As the markings fell by the wayside, I didn’t put much thought into over the holiday period.

All the concrete in front of our home was marked, as seen to the left, as was much of our street. To my surprise, I came home last Thursday to see construction and many pieces of sidewalk suddenly missing, as a contractor has started to remove the marked areas. many of these marked with pink were due to cracking and I can only guess the green arrows confirm the portion of concrete to be removed.

A day later, we receive a letter on our door from DeNova Homes dated 1-12-18:

Their estimate of “2-4 days” hasn’t been realistic. Received the letter day after it was dated. While there has been some foggy, rainy weather over the weekend, as of this morning nothing had been addressed nor had all the concrete been removed. The same areas that were pulled out that week had been framed for pouring concrete.

Out of curiosity, I contacted the City of Oakley for clarification of the removal and replacement of the concrete sidewalks. Their response, “We haven’t accepted the concrete improvements yet and our inspector has marked some that we know needs to come out. DeNova jumped ahead to fix those – without notifying the residents or us. It doesn’t look like drainage is related.” The last comment from the city was related to a question my wife asked of the contractors doing the work. Since we owned the house there has been a major drainage issue. While DeNova Homes will claim the lot was “graded for drainage” NOTHING drains. This can be seen very clearly in the front yard right on the property line, as we had a swamp growing in size before a contractor attempted to come out, on the request of our neighbor. No drainage pipe was replace, which tells me there was no real fix to the problem. All the swamp grass was removed and they covered the area with new bark. Guess that qualifies as “fixed.”

My point of contention is, if the concrete poured isn’t acceptable as seen by the City of Oakley, then why the hell doesn’t DeNova Homes address the poor concrete that forms our driveway and patio? I cited on 6/21/2016, in another email to DeNova Homes, “059. Concrete on front porch, in front of door cracking.” The response from their warranty manager, “The crack is not wide enough to repair. No action will be taken at this time.” At this time, so when it does become wide enough, does it suddenly get repaired with DeNova footing the bill? Of course not, by that time the house will be our of warranty and the homeowner will be required to pay the price to repair the poor concrete that was poured.

These cracks are just part of the problem. Along with color footprints in the concrete there are chucks of the top surfaces that have start to break off, compromising the concrete. I guess this is also not the responsibility of DeNova Homes. The concrete being replaced on the sidewalks speaks. Sadly, we are coming up nearly 2 years of ownership and the problems DeNova Homes has claimed to repaired still exist. We still have blue and green tape in our walls signifying a problem area that was never addressed by their sub-contractors.

There has been no worse buying experience than that we have continued to face with DeNova Homes. After this email I will be sending them another email regarding these sidewalk repairs and to question why our concrete problems were not considered for repair. Hopefully discussion reopens with DeNova and they are willing to accept more criticize regarding our home. My wife and I have received numerous contacts from other, new DeNova Home owners and sadly they all have similar stories of poor quality and craftsmanship in their new homes. It’s not just our house. It’s not just us, as we were told it was. It’s a MAJOR problem with DeNova Homes. Not sure why homeowners have not united together and put forth a class action lawsuit against this company and this poor quality homes. Maybe that’s something I need to explore, I am sure there is an attorney willing to go after a developer like DeNova Homes.

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PD – Day 8

Growing up in Southern California, it wasn’t difficult to find good Mexican food, nearly every corner had a taco shop. Being minutes away from the San Ysidro border crossing, authentic was a car ride away. Growing up my mom was an amazing cook! Maybe it’s where I gained some of my culinary talents in the kitchen. While Mexican was a popular cuisine, Indian cooking was a virtual unknown in our household. It wasn’t until I moved out, grew up that I first experienced Japanese curry, but quickly moved for the Indian variety. In fact, I experience some of the best tasting Indian curry, down under in Australia, when I visited some years back.

Since that time, I have been fond of flavors out of India; cumin, tumeric, garam masala, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, mustard seed and cloves just to name a few. Now that I have my own kitchen, curry seems to be a regular dish in my repertoire, as I am always looking out for new and different recipes to try.

It’s quite easy to find vegan Indian cuisine, unfortunately many of these dishes are loaded with oil when cooked. There’s a local establishment that has some great food, while all  vegan I know I should have made a wiser decision and cooked my own. It’s one of those meals you bring home and the containers are laced with oil, but the favors are incredible.

Looking deeper for vegan recipes from India, the oil can be omitted in nearly every case. Last night I made the Protective Diet Tikka Masala. Oil free, plant based, this was one of the best dishes I have made! It was coupled with Indian Style Basmati Rice I found off All Recipes. I failed to use the PD Indian Spice Rice recipe, as I missed it when I was reading the instructions. Then again, failing to read Julie’s recipes ALL THE WAY THROUGH, seems to be a common theme with me. Funny because it’s usually the FIRST instruction she has when you start the recipe.

Last October I had two weekend long outings with the Boy Scouts of America. It was leadership training for adults, where were broken into groups of 5-6. Along with camping, we were told to cook our own meals during the second weekend. In our group we had a leader named, Praveen. As luck would have it, he was from southern India, vegan and asked if he could do all the cooking. While we pooled our thoughts for meals we could cook, he came up with some excellent Indian food.

While I had heard of Chana Masala (Indian chick pea dish), I had never cooked it but Prvaeen sold us the mean by another name, Chole. This was our main course for dinner the second night. This dish is created several ways depending on the time and richness you desire. He pointed me to this video by Vahchef as a guide.

 

While canned chickpeas and premixed garam masala can be used, the flavors are enhanced when can soak dried chickpeas and use individual spices to create your personal garam masala. Soaking the chickpeas you are able to control of hardness of the garbonzo, but usually overnight is adequate. Garam masala is a mixture of cardamom, cumin, clove, bay leaves and mace. This spice can be found in any Indian grocery, but also at nearly any market you shop in the spice section.

Accompanying our meal was a dish called upma. “Originally from South India, is a hot favorite breakfast food! Made with semolina and slightly spiced to make a tasty dish that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch or as a snack,” as described by Sanjay Thumma. The word translated;  “up” means “soft” and “ma” means “flat.”

 

The basic upma recipe as cooked by Vahchef:

Ingredients
1 tbsp channa dal
1 slice chopped ginger
1 small chopped onion
1 tsp cumin
8 leaf curry leaves
2 piece gr chillies
1 pinch hing
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil or butter
2 tbsp peanuts
1 pinch salt
1 cup sooji/semolina/rava
1 tsp urad wash

Directions
Add oil in a heavy pan ,add mustard seeds,cumin and add channadal ,peanutsand saute till they are cooked add urad wash, add chopped ginger,chillies curry leaves hing add salt and water bring it to boil add semolina/sooji slowly stirring continously so to avoid lumps mix well when all moisture is absorbed cover for 5 min and serve hot with chutney ,pickle ,sambhar and kids love to eat with some sugar (text from the You Tube video).

This recipe can easily be modified for a Protective Diet by removing the oil and the peanuts. In fact, when Praveen made it, there was no peanuts used, but he did use oil to heat the spices before the actual cooking started. However, it was the whole spices that really brought out a full, deep flavor in the upma.

One ingredient I had never cooked with, curry leaves. As I continued to search for more Indian recipes, I realized I had never seen curry leaves for sale at any market I go to, including the Middle Eastern markets I frequent. As luck would have it, a co-worker, who is Indian has a few curry trees growing in his yard and cut some branches for me. Fresh curry leaves are easily stored in a Ziplock bad, folded between newspaper in order to keep moisture off the leaves. Done properly, curry leaves could last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

 

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PD – Day 6 & 7

Honest, nothing happened. I didn’t fall off the PD bicycle just 5 days into the fun and excitement of eating all this good, healthy food. The fact of the matter is, I failed to check in on my website, as I still don’t have my PC set up. However with a bit of free time yesterday, I was able to get it running, but will need to update my wireless connection in order to stay connected when I am away from work. Last thing I want to attempt is blogging on my mobile device.

This past Friday was supposed to start with a afternoon/evening out with a childhood friend of mine, in town from Pittsburgh, PA. Unfortunately, I had to back out on our plans, which might have been a blessing, as I know it would have included quite a bit of beer and unsavory foods, which would tempt me. We reattempted to connect on Sunday but it just wasn’t to be this time around. I did keep busy all weekend around the house, with a load of energy to burn!

The kitchen is always a busy place in our house, as I am there every evening, cooking for the family. As mentioned in the past, it can be as many as three different meals a day. Maybe it’s going the extra mile for my loved ones, or the difference in how we all eat. In preparation for Friday’s dinner, Chorizo Tacos, I made the Ultimate Cheeze Sauce, Taco Sauce and Taco Slaw, earlier in the week. The following day I put together the Vegetarian Mexican Rice. So good! I could probably have eaten the entire pot for dinner that night. I also soaked the black beans (as I was out of pinto) in preparation for the IP. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and the tacos had to wait until Saturday.

I am a huge Mexican food junkie, I love a good burrito or ceviche, but rice and beans were my soft spot. As there is so much lard used to “flavor” these side dishes, I knew neither to be healthy. Over the years I have tried to find recipes full in flavor, but usually these dished tasted a bit bland as if they were missing something. It appears I have found the most flavorful replacements that accompanied the Chorizo Tacos over the weekend. I made the Pintos & Cheese from the PD site, but opted for another Mexican Vegetarian Rice recipe, which featured a few substitutions to conform to the PD lifestyle.

While it was all about the food this first week, I did fall back on planning my meals, which was made easier because many of the ingredients I already had. Amazing to think there were times I would find myself wondering, “what can I eat?” You know that moment. Open and look in the pantry and there is NOTHING made, just bulk foods and canned goods. I found myself getting very lazy, which was cause for a big downturn in my health. In the back of my mind I knew I had so many different meals I could be making, but didn’t

As Julie talks about in her video series, Class #32, #33 and #34, Stocking Your Kitchen For Efficiency and Savings, this can make a world of difference as is relates to your success. While cleaning the kitchen on Saturday, I opened the cabinet that holds my spices. That is where I stayed for the next 2 hours, cleaning and organizing my spice cabinet, as well as the bulk items in my pantry. It seems you can never have enough spices, as the cabinet is bursting with flavor, so to speak. This collection continuously grows. In fact I have an Indian recipe I want to try uses whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. In all honesty, I could have stayed there for another 2 hours and I still wouldn’t have accomplished everything.

Thankfully, my kitchen is stocked! I was surprised at what I was finding, that I honestly thought needed replacing. What my pantry is missing is more organization. While many of the bulk foods are in plastic bins, I have others that sit in plastic bags, not easily stored or identified as what it contains. I found myself tossing some unidentified bags out, while making a list of a few other bulk items I was low on in order to fill the next time I went shopping.

While a bit of the geek side, I recorded all the spices I owe in the mobile app, Out of Milk. There have been a few times I’ve gone shopping, only to forget if I need specific spices. I use the mobile app to shop and approximate the grocery bill. Adding the spices and pantry list to the mobile app will help me track what I already have, which would help reduce monthly grocery bills.

In just a week, I feel as if I have more energy, as witnessed by the cleaning I did this weekend. Stepping on the scale, I was down about 3 pounds. The next few weeks will be more telling, as even 5 pounds would make a difference in how my pants fit. I do recall, when the weight started dropping off, it came off relatively easy. Looking forward to completing the first 30 days. Maybe if I am brave enough, I will post those before and after pictures.

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2018 Resolutions

Happy New Year! 2018 was ushered in as we said goodbye to 2017. Unfortunately, as I look back in The 6th Floor archives, I failed to post my 2017 resolutions last year, first time since 2011. As for 2017, I am glad it’s over, as it was a very challenging and busy year, both personally and professionally. Thankfully, a new year is like a clean canvas reading to receive each brush stroke that will make up your masterpiece. Here’s what I expect in my 2018 “masterpiece.”

This year, I have changed my approach to the year, as I desire to focus on a keyword for the the next 365 days. I’ve sent resolutions in the past, but as with most, they slowly fade away. While exercise and weight loss, usually top the charts, this year I wanted something different and feel this approach runs deeper and will have more impact in my life and those around me. That word is “selfless.”

 

self·less
ˈselfləs/Submit
adjective
concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish.
“an act of selfless devotion”
synonyms: unselfish, altruistic, self-sacrificing, self-denying;

This word is a perfect fit for how I want to start the year off. While I do volunteer much of my time, for PTA and scouting, there seemed to be a disconnect in the time spent concerned with my wife and son. The two most important people in my life I call family.

While perusing Facebook or Twitter, I ran across a video from Japan about being selfless. I watched it twice and the message, an important one, seemed to provide a strong message that had me thinking about the sort of man I had been, from husband to father, friend to co-worker.

As I mentioned in 2016, I have much to work on to be a better man. I have done things in the past that have called into question being truthfully and trustworthy. No worse feeling knowing you can’t be relied upon as a friend. Seeing this as unacceptable, it was time to look back in order to improve moving forward.

While 2017 was a step in the right direction, 2018 needs to see notable changes. Even at 48 years old, there is room for improvement in order to be the sort man I should have been years ago. It’s more than just volunteering my time, it’s about making a conscious change and seeing those improvements in every facet of life.

We have all heard the adage, “actions speak louder than words.” This rings true in the act of being selfless as applied in daily life. “People say things and make promises they have no intention of keeping on a daily basis…Words are cheap…until they are acted upon.” An article found at Elite Daily seemed to echo many of the characteristics I need to practice more as we start the new year.

One of those “actions,” not following through with a task I promised to accomplish. It can be something as simple as forgetting to pick up something at the store or not communicating with my wife on an upcoming event.” While these seemingly harmless events have bearing, especially the more I forgot to follow through something that would benefit someone else.

At the end of the day, whatever your actions may be will show what you are trying to prove. If you are simply talking, nothing is happening, but when actions take place, you are actually engaging in this behavior. Actions prove who someone really is while words only show what someone wants to be.”

This quote sums things up nicely and when successful will help lead me to be more selfless, thinking about others in my life. Today hopefully starts that journey and will hopefully allow me to reflect and grow over the course of the year. American writer, poet, philospher, Suzy Kaseem has three valuable words to make me the individual I want to be.

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