Potato Hack – Day 7

Weight: 179.4 lbs.

Exercise:

Breakfast: Three pieces of Dave’s Killer Bread (Blues Bread)

AM Snack: Bowl of oatmeal with brown sugar (as my honey seems to have gone bad at work). Two piece of whole wheat French bread with avocado.

Lunch: Two reheated sweet potatoes topped withcheese sauce #2 and salsa roja (from Plant Purity). Big bowl of mixed greens with cabbage topped with Chef AJ’s Husband’s Favorite No-Oil Dressing.

PM Snack: Corn chips, hot out of the oven.

Dinner: Dreena’s No-Fu Love Loaf and Cheezy Scalloped Potatoes courtesy of Julie-Marie’s, Plant Purity.

Midnight Snack: Bowl of Nutty Nuggets with almond milk.

Synopsis: A lack of preparation on my part left me very little to grab and go with as I woke late this morning for work. I didn’t purchase any almond milk at the supermarket for my Nutty Nuggets, so I grabbed some bread. Again, not ideal but given my “flexible” guidelines for my potato hack I will accept this. Once I got to work I had to wait 2 hours to make my oatmeal, so I filled the hunger urge with copious amount of caffeine free green tea.

Our manager brought in a vegetarian spread for Easter that included apples a cranberry/walnut bread, a big load of whole wheat French bread, avocados, almonds and a good looking cheese platter. I sampled the breads with some avocado and munched on a few almonds, but did not partake in the cheese. I can’t say the breads were oil free, but they were very tasty.

When I got home I knew what I wanted to cook, as I had been reading up on some comments regarding the cheezy scalloped potatoes. I thought those would go good with the lentil loaf that Dreena Burton makes. It also sounded like it would make a nice Easter dinner, just add a salad. Well, it didn’t go quite as I expected.

I started by baking corn tortilla chips in the oven, while I prepped the scalloped potatoes. I was able to get through a few batches of chips before I finished the potatoes and put them in the oven for 60 minutes. As the potatoes neared their finishing time, I started on the lentil loaf. Unfortunately my attention must have been elsewhere because I forgot the tamari and skipped adding the tahini. I quickly mixed the the ketchup topping coating the loaf in a bread pan and popped it in the oven.

The lentil loaf was a bit too dry because of what I left out, still good flavor. I also didn’t pulse it in the food processor as I had done in the past. The potatoes had cooled enough that I dished up a plate of food and dug in. The potatoes were wonderful! A hot, dripping “cheeze” in between layers of potatoes, which made for a very filling dish. My wife, didn’t partake of either dish. Not being a big fan of nutritional yeast made the dish a real turn off, she opted for cold pizza.

I had hoped to get through the even unscathed after dinner, but I needed something to eat, as I had the munchies. I had picked up some Nutty Nuggets (Raley’s brand) that were still Isolated Soy Protein free, so I dished up a bowl as I sat down to watch my HBO miniseries (John Adams, if you are curious) and ate. It was filling and since not eating every day, tasted like a treat.

Overall, potatoes still are dominating every meal, which is a plus. I am eating less, but staying satiated through out the day thanks to the starch. With the absence of beer, I have been drinking liters of Crystal Geyser still. Thankfully a 2 liter bottle is still just $1 at Raley’s. I need to stock up. Looking back, the first week was a solid foundation on which to build. I will try to make a few changes this upcoming week by trying to stay away from the bread. I will still give myself Nutty Nuggets (probably only 2 bowls remaining), but still try and steer clear of the fatty plant foods for another 2 weeks.

Potato Hack – Day 6

Weight: 179.0 lbs.

Exercise: Managed my son’s baseball team, pitching to their team for 4 innings.

Breakfast: Last bowl of Grape Nuts with almond milk.

AM Snack: Half a sweet potato topped with cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja (from Plant Purity).

Lunch: Reheated Aloo Palak (original recipe was Aloo Gobi from Happy Herbivore Abroad).

PM Snack: Two corn tortillas with cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja.

Dinner: Four sweet potato and black bean burritos (in corn tortillas) with cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja.

Synopsis: The report on Grape Nuts “new formula” is discouraging, but after checking Raley’s I noticed their formula had not changed and was void of Isolated Soy Protein. Hopefully this remains unchanged, as Raley’s had only 1 box of Nutty Nuggets, which I bought. Planning on transitioning back to oatmeal for my morning breakfast when I get to work.

Overall it was a good day eating, then again every day has been good since making the decision to stop eating meat, dairy and added oil in October, 2011. Meal planning the last few days hasn’t been too impressive, still eating reheated sweet potatoes. I didn’t have much time getting home from work to prepare dinner before having to leave for baseball. I did make some more cheese sauce #2. The great thing about this sauce is that it’s base is made with white beans and not nuts, while removes the fat! This cheese sauce also used roasted red bell pepper and nutritional yeast. Probably the best tasting non-nut sauce I have made yet. I also made a double batch of Julie Marie’s salsa roja. I did add a jalapeno pepper to the food processor and it kicked up the spice a notch.

I have seen a few comments on Facebook regarding “hacks” in order to lose weight. As I mentioned prior to starting this, weight loss was not my main goal. For others and their hack it might be, but I have been very happy weighing in at 178 pounds (+/- 2 lbs.) daily. With that said, my weight has been fairly consistent the past few days hovering around 179 lbs. If I were eating dinner earlier instead of later followed by going to bed I might see more weight loss.

For me this is more about resetting myself mentally. I had been too caught up in fancy recipes requiring those fatty plant foods that we are told to limit if we are at our desired weight or remove if we are trying to lose weight. I wanted to head back to the kitchen eating recipes without those fatty plant foods, of which nuts were probably the biggest culprit. This doesn’t mean I will be cutting out indefinitely, but for the remaining 14 days I will continue to focus on eating those non-fat plant foods and trying similar recipes.

I am coming up on my second week of not giving in to the desire to purchase beer. This is probably a better more health wise than eating the nuts and other fatty plant foods. During my last 3 blood tests in 2012, I continued to struggle with my triglyceride number, a number that I originally thought was because of the weight loss I was experience. When that weight loss slowed after 10 months, the number only dropped an addition 2 points in 4 months, which lead me to further investigation. In the end I fingered all the beer I drank as the reason why the triglycerides remained high. As a test, I stopped drinking my tall, cold ones about 30 days prior to my upcoming blood test and saw a drop of 40+ points on my triglycerides. I returned to my habit but limited myself to 1 beer on my days off (what do they say about moderation?), but that eventually led to more beer being consumed on all days of the week. Most of this I am responsible for, but will finger my wife’s health issues as a contributing factor, as the stress of the ongoing recovery and further health issues were unresolved and frustrating.

With 3 days off coming up I will be delving into cookbooks and searching plant-based web sites for some meals I can prepare. I have a strong start to my 20 day potato hack and believe it will only get better the longer I go towards my goal.

Ah Nuts!

It seems protein is the new buzz word these days when consumers go to the stop. Many are misled from the beginning believing that protein comes predominately from red meat. That could not be further from the truth, but who am I to try and convince you? As I relearned nutrition I realized there was more to protein than eating meat and that I could get my source of protein not only from legumes and grains but from vegetables. The leafy greens vegetables are the best place to start with spinach and kale, but we can’t leave out broccoli, cauliflower and mushrooms, just to name a few. All of these foods have a higher percentage of protein than beef, chicken of eggs (source).

Leave it to Post to jump on the profits being made from protein and change their Grape Nuts formula, “Now with 8g protein” This change unfortunately involves the use of isolated soy protein, which is something to be avoided as it can promote cancer. Then again, what doesn’t potentially promote cancer these days? Both Jeff Novick, MS, RD and Dr. John McDougall say to avoid it (read Dr. McDougall’s April 2005 Newsletter).

When Post was contacted by the changes by an individual on the McDougall Discussion Boards, their answer for the change, “because people want more protein and it keeps you full longer.” It’s not protein that keeps you feeling full, it’s the carbohydrates that provide that satiated feeling. More protein, in new packaging will equate to potentially more sales for Post. It’s “a label that says protein has what researchers call a “health halo effect” that goes beyond just the promise of protein. When people see the word, they also believe the product will make them feel more full or give them energy.

It looks as if I am back to oatmeal for breakfast, as I will no longer support Post Grape Nuts because of the addition of the isolated soy protein. With any luck the Raley’s generic, Nutty Nuggets will remain unchanged, but for all I know it’s the same cereal repackaged for Raley’s at a cheaper price. As always read the labels, understand what you are reading before you fall for gimmicks and labels that make wild claims. Better yet, stick to real food and you have nothing to worry about.

Potato Hack – Day 5

Weight: 179.1 lbs.

Exercise: 20 minute walk to Chinatown in Oakland.

Breakfast: Bowl of Nutty Nuggets (aka Grape Nuts) with almond milk.

AM Snack:  Leftover hash brown potatoes (with Mexican seasoning for potacos recipe) topped with cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja (from Plant Purity).

AM Snack #2: Sweet potato topped with cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja (from Plant Purity).

Lunch: Northern bean w/ veggie soup, sauteed green bean, daikon, carrot and sea vegetable, wild grain brown rice blend, kidney bean w/ onion & garlic, mixed salad w/ basil, carrot, celery & agave dressing, finally collard green w/ shiitake mushroom leek sauce.

PM Snack: Vegan chocolate chips, doughnut batter and icing while baking donuts.

Dinner: Aloo Gobi that turned into Aloo Palak since I had no cauliflower.

Synopsis: When I got to work I was frustrated to find out that my morning “go to ” breakfast had changed their formula and now included isolated soy protein in the ingredients. I read about Post changing the Grape Nuts formula reading, “NOW WITH 8 G OF PROTEIN!” on the box, but failed to read the new ingredients. Not sure if Raley’s generic brand, Nutty Nuggets will be changed but I will no longer eat Grape Nuts after Saturday (finishing up box).

When I went on break at work, I finished up the remaining Mexican spiced potatoes I had topped with a bit of my cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja. Can’t get enough of that salsa, especially a day or two after I made it. The flavors are amazing! I plan on making more today and adding some jalapeno to it. After eating I took a 20 minute walk around Chinatown in search of a sweet, red chili sauce. I was successful and plan on using this in a Thai curry recipe from Happy Herbivore. When I returned I decided to reheat my sweet potato, topped with, you guessed it, cheese sauce #2 and salsa roja.

A co-worker and I had made plans to grab take out for lunch. The restaurant is called Shangri-La Vegan, located in Oakland. I heard about this place last week, as a group of McDougallers when for lunch and raved about it. My co-worker did the same thing after eating there on Wednesday. Little did I know this place offered a no oil, no salt option (simple meal) but I did not know that. It only took a few bites and I could tell much of the meal was cooked with oil, as it continued to pool in the to go container I was eating out of. With that said, the meal was wonderful! The flavors were amazing and I was satiated when I finished my meal in record time! If I decide to eat there again, I will make sure it’s the no oil, no salt option. This was also not potato based, but I made an exception, as we had planned to go there earlier in the week. I am still glad I had the chance to sample their cuisine.

I got home a bit later than anticipated after making 5 stops on the way home at various grocers and Bed, Bath & Beyond to buy my doughnut pan. After talking about cooking at work, I decided to try my hand at making Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts from Happy Herbivore Abroad. I was not sure I was going to eat dinner as lunch was still sitting heavy in my stomach. I can only assume it a run in with “McDougall’s Revenge” because of oil used in the cooking. Still about 15 minutes into making doughnuts I figured I would try the Aloo Gobi from HHA.

After mixing the doughnut batter I started dicing onions and got some saute going on as I waited for the timer to go off. Even with the non-stick surface of the doughnut pan I had some troubles removing the them from the pan, even after they cooled. I probably should have waited a bit longer before attempting to pop them out. I was somewhat turned off by the thickness of the batter, which made it difficult to spoon into the doughnut mold. I added some extra soy milk in hopes of thinning out the batter, but that didn’t help.

Once the first doughnuts were cool to the touch, I twirled them in the icing and let them set up. There was no way I was going to make doughnuts and NOT try them. Thankfully I had difficulty in getting one out and it broke. Guess it had a bit of help, but I topped it with icing and consumed it. For baked, no fat doughnuts I was highly impressed. I did learn a few things and might change how I do these next time. My wife, the critic, which is a good thing said they thought they could have been cooked a bit longer. I do agree with that. Not sure she was too upset to see me take them to work though.

With the doughnuts out of the way I was on my way to finishing my Aloo Palak. Instead of using 1 potato, I used hash brown that were already cubed, it was a huge time saver. I knew I had no cauliflower, but had half a bag of baby spinach, which I substituted in the recipe. I also added a full 16 ounce can of tomato sauce with a bit more spice than what the recipe required. Still, the end product was very tasty with a good spice. Instead of serving this over brown rice, I just spooned it into a bowl, topped with chopped cilantro and ate it. A very filling dinner with enough leftover for lunch tomorrow.

Obviously based on lunch with the oil and baking vegan doughnuts this was the worst day of the week. Still I believe I have done a good job during the week focusing mainly on eating potatoes. The recipes have started to get a bit more complex, but I have been able to keep them pretty close to fat free, while skipping the use of ingredients like whole wheat and grains to supplement my meals. The one big exception this week, the chocolate glazed doughnuts.

Unfortunately I haven’t been real motivated to go to the gym, but looking to start my 16-week running program on Saturday to supplement my weight lifting, which should get back on track on Monday. Mark my word. Let’s see how I navigate the weekend in regards to food and more importantly, beer (on Sunday) if we go over to friend’s house for Easter dinner. Bring on the weekend!

Potato Hack – Day 4

Weight: 178.7 lbs.

Exercise: Spent 2 hours managing my son’s baseball team and pitching to our team.

Breakfast: Bowl of Nutty Nuggets (aka Grape Nuts) with almond milk.

Snack: Reheated hash brown potatoes with onion, garlic, red and green onion topped ketchup.

Lunch: Reheated baked potato with ketchup.

Snack: Mixed greens, cabbage and spinach salad with Chef AJ’s Husband’s Favorite No-Oil Balsamic Vinegar Dressing (2 servings!)

Dinner: Two potacos made from yesterday’s leftovers topped with cheese sauce #2, salsa verde or salsa roja (both courtesy of Plant Purity)

Synopsis: It helped I had leftovers to fall back on, which is normally when happens when I cook since I am usually the one eating a majority of what I make. I weighed in a bit lower than Day 3, which is to be expected considering the temporary changes I have made for my potato hack.

A bigger improvement has come in the snacking department, as I have either cut it out, cut back or grabbed something better to eat. Case in point, I bought baby carrots to munch on when hungry on Monday and 2 big servings of salad today. Yesterday, as I mentioned I did grab a piece of bread, but more importantly I haven’t bought any beer. I know many think drinking beer leads to snacking, but for me beer leads to more beer, as I am usually in the yard or garage working. I have fallen back on drinking at least 2 liters of Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water a day. So I have taken steps in the right direction again to curb my one vice…again.

I also notice if I bring enough food to work for a snack and lunch, I don’t walk to Chinatown (downtown Oakland) for rice. This was happening too often leading up to my challenge and I fault no one but myself. I have the ingredients at home to make brown rice, beans and all sorts of meals I can bring to work, so eating out, even if it’s rice needs to be cut back.

As for breakfast I did fall back to an old habit, more out of convenience, eating a bowl of Nutty Nuggets on the way to work. Much like some people unable to give up their oatmeal, eating about 15 minutes after I wake up allows my appetite to be satiated until my first break at work, between 9-10AM. Add to that, I had hash brown potatoes cooked up but had intended on that as my morning snack. Preparation is the key when it comes to sticking to your plan.

Lunch was quick and easy, as I reheated a baked potato and added ketchup to it. This happen long before the noon time hour, which left me a bit hungry when I got home from work at 2PM. I had been searching for another quick (and non tofu based) salad dressing to make. Last week I had put straight Balsamic vinegar on my salad and wasn’t too impressed. This week I took Chef AJ’s recipe and thought it was very well done. It was very good, as well as being quick and easy to make. I didn’t intend on 2 big bowls of salad, but I ate them prior to my son and I leaving for a 530PM baseball game.

Getting home about 730PM I debated about eating, as I had to wake up at 100AM to be to work by 200AM. So much for adhering to eating 3 hours before you go to bed, but the alternative was to wait until I woke up. Since I am not trying to lose weight, I reheated two potacos before heading to bed. The salsa roja was awesome today! A day to let the flavors come together, I think I’ve found a new, favorite salsa!

So Day 4 is in the books and so far I have maintained my potato hack very well. The breakfast still has me in a quandary, do I stop eating Grape Nuts in the morning as my breakfast, opting for hash brown potatoes when I get to work or stick with them? If that is the only decision I need to make over the next 2 weeks, then I won’t worry about continuing to grab my nuts before rushing off to work. I don’t believe those to be a culprit in how my way of eating had turned more towards fat plant foods recently than what I had eaten to get me to a point I was happy.

I’ll have to watch this weekend and my days off. This weekend being the holiday, we are invited to our friend’s house. Thankfully she cooks plant-based, in fact she just threw out all her oil and salt after I loaned her Chef AJ’s book, Unprocessed. Chances are it will be a barbeque, as the many of the other people attending are not plant strong. I will need to watch the beer intake, if possibly avoiding it altogether, as that would be a big step in the right direction, but given it is a family get together, this could qualify as a “special occasion.” Then again, now I am trying to “justify” my having a beer.

We will see how it goes. On to Day 5!