Thursday, March 29, 2007

Synthetic Plugs?

As most of you know, I love wine. I've tried my best to explore different grapes throughout the years and learn about how to truly savor and experience wine. I love the complexity and mystery of wine. I love the ritual of tasting. I love how it makes me focus, and even meditate, on my senses. I love the sense of class and sensuality that it brings to any occasion (unless it is White Zinfandel - lol).

One of my goals has been to attend a formal wine tasting. I've been to several informal ones, but I want to become an armchair sommelier of sorts, and reading a book or articles is not enough. So, in the meantime, I am going to make my first (very amateur) attempt at writing about wine. Now keep in mind that I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my...just playing. Hopefully this will allow me to keep track of good finds, share them with friends, and expand my knowledge on this subject.

Woop Woop 2005 Shiraz (Australia) $12.99 - This wine was recommended to me when I went to Bin 604 and requested a "...fruity red that was not sweet". This week I made spaghetti with a fire roasted tomato sauce, fake chicken, broccoli, and garlic. I knew a wine that was not bitter or sweet, but fruity and intense, would bring out the flavors of this dish.

I was so excited to taste the wine that I did not smell it until after the first sip, and I could not detect a distinct aroma. Now mind you, I broke my last wine glass earlier this week (now I know why people have china cabinets), so I am not drinking this out of a proper glass, nor did I give the wine time to aerate.

This wine is very rich and smooth with an earthy taste. Usually when I can classify a red as "earthy" there is usually a bitter (tannin) taste associated with it. However, this wine manages to balance its earthiness with a fruity flavor. There is a subtle sweetness that comes out while tasting it and a pomegranate aftertaste. I'm wondering if this is typical of a Shiraz? That will be something to look into. According to Business Week, Australian Shiraz's are a great buy if you want quality at a moderate price. Judging by this wine alone, I'd have to agree! It is hard to find a red, within a reasonable price range, that doesn't taste like watered down bitter grapes.

One thing I want to do, is have a fruit tasting of fruits typically used to describe wines: black currants, blackberries, pomegranates, apricot, etc. I don't typically eat these types of fruits and maybe if I familiarize myself with their tastes it will help me identify the flavors in wine.

Another interesting note is that the wine does not have a cork. I've noticed that some makers are moving away from the cork claiming that screw caps, or in this case a synthetic plug (wait...that doesn't sound right), are more convenient, prevent cork rot, and still preserve the integrity of the wine. R.H. Phillips is a favorite maker of mine and they have an explanation on their site as to why they opted for a screwcap.

As you can see, I have now successfully avoided writing about my weight. I haven't made much progress, but I haven't gained anything. Right now, I am EXHAUSTED! So more on my journey later!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Measurement of Success

I’ve realized that I really need to start measuring myself. I haven’t made much progress on the scale, but I feel slimmer. I know I should have been measuring myself all along, but my measurements are way scarier to me than my weight, lol. Last week, according to the scale at work, I gained two pounds. That increase didn’t bother me because weigh-in day fell on the first day of my cycle. That only added fuel to my futile campaign to have this contest structured as men vs. women. Maybe next year?

For the last two weeks I’ve followed the Abs Diet because I no longer have the time to record everything I eat in WW Online. My friend Rashad told me I should trust myself and stop counting and just focus on eating right. I am going to have to do that at some point. I must say that I’ve been a little liberal with my food choices because I haven’t been counting. The best thing about WW is that you have to choose – you have a set amount of points and you really have to make choices about the best way to use them. I never would have had a slice of birthday cake and or a cupcake this week (we have a lot of March birthdays in our office) if I were still counting. I am still hovering around 172, which is irritating.

I am also struggling to fit exercise in during the week. I am proud of the fact that I fit in a lot on the weekends, but I need more cardio in my life. I can’t do it in the morning because I get up at 5 a.m. and nothing in this world will make me rise earlier than that dreadful time. Mondays I teach Night School and Wednesdays I conduct Leadership Workshops in the evening. Tuesday I am exhausted from Monday (a 16+ hour day from the time I awake to the time I get home) and that leaves Thursday and Friday. Maybe I should just make it a goal to fit in one session this week.

I don’t know I should wait another week for TAD (The Abs Diet) to kick in or try WW again this week and see if I lose any weight. This is frustrating!! I can fit all of my clothes and 10’s are loose in the waist (not the thighs—but I am used to that). My stomach is DEFINITELY smaller than it was in December. I went shopping for work clothes this weekend and I fit, and looked great in, all of the pieces that I selected and that was a great feeling.

Any suggestions? I need a plan. I don’t want to lose my momentum – this 40 pounds by my birthday (5/27) is NOT looking feasible.

Sidenote: Any workout music selections? My favorite for cardio this week is T.I.'s Down Low. I also made a musical discovery this week - Owasu and Hannibal. Check them out - I'm really feeling them.

Le Fox

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I'm still alive

I cheated like a MOFO this week. Fortunately, I haven't gained a pound. But, I haven't lost much either. I apologize for neglecting this blog but I am incredibly busy and simply do not have time to write like I want to. The source of my cheating is that I did not cook last weekend and that is my key to success. When I get home during the week I am exhausted and do not always make the best dinner decisions. I went out to eat a couple of times this week and as we all know there aren't too many healthy options in restaurants these days.

So today I cooked three meals that should take me through the next week and a half. I made the following:

Tofu and Broccoli with Red Curry Sauce and Coconut Jasmine Rice

Slow Cooked Tomato Soup with Sun Dried Tomatoes

Turkey Chili with Eggplant and Carrots

If you want any of the recipes-- Holla!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I knew it was too good to be true...

On Tuesday I bought a package of Lays Light KC Masterpiece Potato Chips. I was excited because one serving = 75 calories / 1 point. That is way less than a serving of the baked variety. I detected no aftertaste, so I happily munched away that evening as I prepared a dish of Thai Curry with Tofu, Broccoli, and Red Peppers from my Cooking Light magazine. Boy were they tasty!!! What a find!!

Fast forward to Wednesday morning…

After visiting the bathroom three times in a 1 hour period, I decided to check out that bag of chips again. On the front it said “Made with Olestra”. Olestra? I thought…that...sounds...familiar. So I searched it on Wikipedia and found this:


I think I made a mistake :-(

Then I found this:


I lost 4 pounds that day.

Enough said…

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Raydiance and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday constituted my worst day at work so far. It started off well enough. Every Friday my coworkers bring in food for breakfast. I thought it was my week and brought in a Mexican Egg Bake that I threw together at the last minute the night before (recipe below). I also brought homemade guacamole and whole wheat cinnamon raisin english muffins.

Two other teachers thought it was their week and brought in food as well: doughnuts, bagels, french toast sticks, etc. I haven't been able to participate in the Friday breakfast for a while because the food they bring in is often very fattening, but since I brought in my own food I had a nice breakfast before school began. I did give in temptation and ate 1/2 of a glazed doughnut but I deserved a treat.

By the end of the day I was laying flowers at the alter of temptation and ate 2 glazed doughnuts and went drinking that evening. To my credit, I did make some positive decisions such as eating a turkey sandwich before I went to the bar. I drank diet coke and rum, and...well...that's about it folks. I'm not too upset about the doughnut situation. At first I was beating myself up for eating those doughnuts when I knew it was because I had a bad day. Now I am grateful that I was CONSCIOUS of why I ate the doughnuts. Before I realized I am an emotional eater, I would mindlessly turn to food and wonder why the dryer kept shrinking my pants and why every store decided to cut their size 12's smaller. When you are truly aware of your actions and their agent provocateurs, you have the power to change things.

That brings me to my Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In a stroke of genius I decided to hand out gradesheets to my special education co-taught class. This is the class that has such superstars as the Peacock kid.

The period started off with a confrontation with a newcomer, a black girl who has the most disgusting attitude I've ever encountered. After trying to recover from that (and by recover I mean resist the urge to kick her in the forehead with a six inch stiletto), my stride was off kilter. When you teach you get into a stride, a momentum, and that is what helps you get through the day. That stride comes from excessive planning and being mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared to teach. Teaching is a job where you have to be "on" at all times. So one kid asks me for a gradesheet and I say "Oh yeah" and pass them out even though that wasn't in my plans. But I wasn't "on" anymore, the girl got under my skin. This move was a monstrous mistake. I realized this as a maelstrom of moronic cretin's moved my way. They had awakened, suddenly realizing that they were failing. Since I was the messenger, they decided that it was my fault. I explained to the class that I would not use any class time to discuss grades and if they were really concerned they could talk to be before or after school.

Yea, I really thought that announcement would work with these kids. Had I been "on" I could have appreciated the panic in their face and chuckled while I imagined their possible punishments. These are the same students that I constantly have to wake up, that come to class under the influence of God knows what, that constantly talk or refuse to do work. I've been warning all of them for weeks now that they were failing. They are not failing because they received bad grades, they have no grades because they haven't turned a single item in.

As they continued to try to suck me in to their confusion by yelling and throwing temper tantrums, I moved on to the next assignment and they went back to sleep. However, my co-teacher exacerbated the situation by questioning me about the grades for kids in front of kids. She also told me that since it is special ed if a lot of kids are failing we could get in trouble or even get fired. You can imagine what this did to my psyche for the rest of the day. I wanted to go into the bathroom and cry because I was SO ANGRY. But I couldn't do that, I had to teach. That's what I miss about office jobs - you can go somewhere to gather yourself and return to work. That's nearly impossible in my profession.

As I sped away from the school at 2:45 p.m. I decided that these kids either (a) are playing a game with me and hope their behavior will provoke me to change my mind or (b) honestly do not see the consequences of their actions (well, inaction would be more appropriate). It's probably both. Then I had a eureka moment. When it came to eating, I fell into the "b" category. I was not conscious of the fact that I have to work on maintaining my weight every day. I was not conscious of how I abused food, alcohol, and my body. I was not conscious of how I let myself go. I had the nerve to be surprised and angry when, last year, I discovered the night before an interview that I couldn't fit into my old business suit.

From that perspective, I am just like some of these kids, except I don't have anybody to attack or blame but myself. I am my own teacher. When I look at the scale I really don't believe I lost 12 pounds. Sometimes I fear that this is just a phase and I will put the weight back on in a couple of months or that I won't reach my goal. I imagine what people will think when I get fat again after I've talked all of this self help bullshit in my blog. However, I remind myself that I have the key now: I am conscious. Hopefully that will be enough to prevent a prolonged relapse that will result in my gaining back all of the weight and more. No--that will be enough. Maybe this day wasn't so bad after all :-)

Recipes I thew together this week:

Mexican Egg Bake:

12 eggs
1 cup Vanilla soy milk
1/2 bag Frozen Stoplight Peppers (Trader Joe's)
Dave's Chipotle Hot Sauce
Sea Salt & Black Pepper (Please invest in quality versions of these spices and thank me later)
2% Kraft Mexican Cheese Blend

To taste:

Dash of Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Paste (Trader Joe's)
Cilantro (Gourmet Garden)

You can add move vegetables or meat, don't have to use soy milk, and experiment with the seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees in a 12x12 dish (or something close) for about 20 - 30 minutes. Be sure to watch it because I overcooked it but it was still good. Oh and make sure you spray the dish with a nonstick spray. I use a fat free butter flavor spray. Needless to say I got rave reviews. Two people told me that my guacamole was the best they've had in a long time (One said: "...and that's a shame because I'm Mexican.").


The other night I craved Chinese food so I took some frozen broccoli and nuked it. Then I sauteed it in sesame oil, rice vinegar, some hoisin sauce, sesame seeds, soy sauce (Bragg's), hot chili sauce, and salt and pepper. Now that I think about it ginger would have been really tasty in that mix. I threw all of that together and ate it with some brown rice and it was tasty and filling.