Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 13/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR one more good day.

Wow.What a busy day! I was telling a consular corps colleague that I felt I needed roller skates but then revised my comment to needing wings. He said I needed no wings. I am already an angel. How nice! 

I had to be at the downtown campus for 8:30 and left there at 9:15 to get back to the main campus for a 10:00 am - 12:00 pm meeting. Then I scarfed down some lunch so I could squeeze in a 20 minute walk before heading off to a 1:30pm meeting. That lasted till 2:15; then back to my office for a few minutes before heading to the Legislative Building for a protocol briefing for all Consular Corps officers and reception with the Premier at 5:30pm. 

There were some ministers also present and a surprise visitor - Former Quebec Premier Jean Charest. 

Now, how did I handle eating on a busy day of back to back meetings? I started out with a good breakfast and had 2 cups of tea between breakfast and lunch. I had a good lunch and between the afternoon meeting and going to the legislature, I had a few grape tomatoes with slivers of cheese. At the legislature, there was coffee and cookies but I had only half a cup of coffee with milk. No cookies. At the reception, there was: 
  • Red and white wine. Rejected. 
  • Sliders with meat and white bread. Rejected. 
  • Small containers of tiramisu. Rejected. 
  • White bread pizza pieces with cream cheese and veggies. Rejected. 
  • San Pelegrino water. I had a glass. 
  • Loonie sized chicken pieces and dip. I had two with no dip. 
  • Shooters of shepherd's pie. made with small amounts of meat topped with potato. I had two of those. 
  • Olives and pickles. I had one olive. 
As you can see, sometimes it's hard to go out for social events without consuming all the sugar or sugar mimics. I am learning and I am glad for that. Now to go and complete 3,000 more steps for today's goal. 

This is the end of my 4 days of removing sugar mimics from my diet. Tomorrow I can eat some fruit and I thought I would be looking forward to it much more than I actually am. Maybe tomorrow I may feel differently. I have already made my oatmeal breakfast and I've already made my lunch so I may not be wanting the fruit. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day 12/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR - another success

Day 12 and the going is not easy but it is definitely not getting any harder. My cousin Eddy tried to tempt me with some metegee yesterday but I was not feeling the love. I am not sure What I saw was a picture full of sugar mimics - yams, cassava and dumplings. Those are all the things I like to eat but I am getting a lesson in rethinking just what I eat when it's not refined sugar.

I realize that although I think I eat very healthy, I overload on sugar mimics - that's my new phrase to describe the type of carbs that I like to eat - the kinds that spike your blood sugar. I did not coin the phrase. I am borrowing it from the book I am reading about being sugar smart. I am having quite a time educating myself about sugars and sugar mimics. This is much like I did many years ago to cut back drastically on salt and I managed to do that. Now it's time to clean up the sugar. 

I told my doctor that I will be back at the end of March for a blood test that will indicate a lower AIC number and if it does not, then I will have to consider myself a diabetic statistic and start taking meds to lower my blood glucose. But I will know it was not because I did not try to do it with my diet. I can't change my genetics of two diabetic parents but I don't have to succumb without effort. 

Today was another crazy day and after work, it was a meeting that lasted most of the afternoon. Then I came home to brand new hardwood floor in the living and dining rooms but alas, I had to get on my hands and knees and damp wipe the floor followed by dry wiping. It looks great but not that you can tell. Here's what it looks like: 

We are getting new carpets in the rest of the house so underlay and carpet is sitting in the living room and furniture and boxes are stacked in living and dining rooms - making for a giant mess. This is not a good time for such a mess because I spent most of the evening working on computer related stuff for Sunday's Interfaith event. 

Tomorrow is another day and just before going for my shower I realized that I have not completed my steps for today. There will be a tomorrow but that will for sure be a challenge because I have back to back meetings and engagements from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Day 11/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR at work or home

Hanging in on Day 2 of cutting some sugar mimics - fruit, rice, sweet veggies and bread. I had a dull headache yesterday and today was more of the same.

Why am I doing this? I keep asking myself this question periodically throughout the day and the answer I give myself is: You are not doing this forever because it would not possibly be a sustainable way to eat every day. You are doing it to retrain your palette to appreciate what sweet things taste like. So there. 

I had a healthy breakfast of turkey sausage, sauteed with mushrooms and onions and eaten over quinoa with a bit of finely chopped bell pepper. At lunch I had a Tex-Mex dish with fresh cilantro and for dinner some turkey sausage and veggies served over a bulgur and quinoa blend. 

I had a pile of work to do after dinner for Sunday's event but managed to complete my goal of 11,500 steps. I did over 12,000. I will celebrate completing 11 days of no added sugar plus my steps for today. That's what I am celebrating. 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Day 10/31: Made it so far of NO-ADDED-SUGAR but hard today

I am trying an experiment for the next 3 days of going without sugar (not carbs) from a book I've been reading called Sugar Smart. That means no fruits, rice, pasta, flour and no veggies with higher amounts of sugar, which include pumpkin, squash, beets, and a host of other veggies. 

The list of things to eat is long on spices and somewhat long on veggies but I am not inclined to eat a lot of them so it's bell peppers, mushrooms, cukes, tomatoes, asparagus, onions, spinach, collard greens, broccoli, and cauliflower. Breakfast was oatmeal cooked in milk with a dollop of strained kefir and about 10 cashew nuts. There was no sweetener - natural or artificial. I like oatmeal but eating a cup of thick oatmeal was not that pleasing to the palate.  

The mushrooms below is for my dinner tomorrow and the dish below with the cream cheese of for Robin. 
Sauteed mushrooms and onions

With a bit of low fat cream cheese, broth, chives and cheese
Why am I doing this with the "no-sugar" food? Because I want to wean myself of the taste of sugary food. I had a dull headache today but manged to get through the day. I chaired a meeting from 1-4:45 pm for the Interfaith Service and Reception that we are having next week. It's in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Guyana's Independence. It was tough concentrating and taking accurate notes. I got through it. 

We were offered a complimentary lunch from Fareez, the general manager of the hotel where we'll be having the gala dinner in May and if you have ever been to a brunch buffet at the Canad Inn, Polo Park on a Sunday, you'll know there are about 60 or more items there. I was so good today. I took some meat, a slice of cheese some spinach, cukes, and a few cherry tomatoes. That was it. I looked at every dessert there and there must have been about 15 of them - looking too sugary for me any day but today especially so. I looked at bowls of several varieties of fruit. I looked at bowls of salads including potato, pasta and rice. I looked at the hot food and there was more of the same. Salad dressings for every palate but I was so good. I had a lemon juice/oil blend on the side. 

I was glad when the meeting ended because I was feeling a fatigued and felt like I needed to relax. But not so. Fareez gave us some complimentary tickets to Celebrations Dinner Theatre at the Canad Inn, Fort Garry and after calling Robin to see if he wanted to go, we did that. 

That was another challenging meal as it is a set menu. I skipped the rolls and soup and crackers. I don't drink wine so it was easy to say no to a glass. I had a small salad. Dinner was chicken, shrimp, beef or pasta as the main course with mashed potatoes and carrots. No carrots, no potatoes, Only meat and some horseradish on the side. No dessert of pecan pie, chocolate cake or fruit platter. Three cups of black tea. That was it for today. 

No sugar. No fruit. No starchy veggies. No dessert. Did I have a good day? A bit head-achy and now tired. Work tomorrow. More of the same. Not feeling the love right now. 

It's my health so it has to be worth the effort.   

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Day 9/31: a Cold NO-ADDED-SUGAR day

It is mighty cold today! Minus 41C. Is it really that cold? Yes it is. It's Winnipeg after all. 

I thought back to yesterday and wondered why I was so hungry in the afternoon. I concluded that I did not have sufficient breakfast to start the day and throughout the day, I did not drink enough fluids. I usually have a cup of coffee at breakfast and if I have another one, it's about 10:00 am. 

I think it was more thirst rather than hunger I was feeling in the afternoon, and instead of drinking a large cup of tea or water, I had a cup of coffee instead (a bit of a a diuretic) and didn't even drink all of it. I came home and had a piece of cheese but again, nothing to drink. The slight saltiness of the cheese may have contributed to my thirst too. Finally, after making an avocado and almond milk shake, I felt full. This bit of reflection on yesterday is hopefully going to make me recognize thirst and not confuse it with hunger. 

This morning, I decided that I would spend the day reading but of course I decided to bake.This time some mini quiches but with no crust. It turned out wonderfully and of  I am collecting almond meal from the almond milk I am making so I dry and make almond flour with it. I have to find creative ways to use it. Hence the crustless quiches. This one had a small amount of smoked turkey, spinach, onion, feta cheese, almond meal, garlic chives, cheddar cheese and of course eggs seasoned with salt, pepper, parsley and powdered chives. I made the powdered chives from dehydrating a whole lot of chives from my garden this fall and it provides a nice hit of mild onion flavour in dishes without the chunks of onions.   

Mini quiche with almond meal

With feta cheese

A bit of cheddar

Yummy baked crustless mini quiche 

Ready to eat. Yum! 
I watched my usual cooking shows on PBS while enjoying a real fire in my fireplace. I read another recipe book about sugar-free cooking and baking. This was a bit of a waste of time because the substitutes they use have equal amounts of fructose as regular sugar. Naturally occurring sugar in dried fruit is still a large amount of sugar and because it's called honey or maple syrup does not mean it's not sugar. I also spent some time reviewing accreditation documents in preparation for my visit to Jamaica in two weeks.  All in all, it was a good day despite the cold weather. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

Day 8/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR but I was hungry

No added sugar today but I was hungry in the afternoon. Not sure why. I tried drinking more water but that didn't seem to help. I got up and walked and I walked a few extra hallways at lunchtime but that didn't help either. Made an extra cup of coffee in the afternoon but neither did that. I came home and had some chickpeas and a small piece of cheese. Somewhat satiated but I should have more water or a cup of tea. 

I had a later than usual breakfast. Usually I have breakfast before I go to work but today I didn't feel like it so I took it to work, boiled eggs and a 1/2 of a thin bun. I had that about 9:00 am and should have had my half of avocado but I didn't feel like eating that so it came back home. Healthy fat is probably what I needed since this morning. 

For lunch I had chicken and broccoli and some of my chia parfait with some cantaloupe. I walked about 7500 steps so that may have accounted for the bit of hunger. Plus I did not drink enough water and sometimes thirst can feel like hunger. 

I came home and drained my batch of kefir I started last night. I use a lot of it as it is an excellent probiotic. I usually drain it a bit more so that it is the consistency of Greek yogurt and mentioned in a previous post that I have a new concoction of mixing part drained kefir and part feta cheese with some herbs and spices for a veggie dip. Cuts down on the salt of the feta and gives the kefir a boost of flavour. 

Untrained kefir

Drained kefir

I did my 4,000 steps after dinner of butter chicken and rice with some roasted sweet potatoes. Before dinner though, I blended my half avocado with some almond milk and had a drink to tide me over. It looked like a liquidy version of a green smoothie but it was a more minty colour. Should have taken a picture. Next time. That felt so good that I had less supper than I was feeling like about half hour before. 

It's cold tonight so I brought in some firewood, lit a fire and had a cosy rest while reading a few books I borrowed from the library on sugar-free cooking. I browsed through the first one and it was a dud - lots of recipes with dried fruits or large quantities of sugar substitutes and other forms of sugar like maple syrup, honey and agave syrup. That's not helpful if one is trying to cut down on sugar. Calling it by another name or using large quantities of substitutes is definitely not the way to go.

Okay, that was my rant. Maybe I need to publish some of my recipes that use less sweetener of any kind. That's a great idea Sandra....

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Day 7/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR day 7 completed

It was a busy day today with meetings and more meetings. A bit better than yesterday which was 3 hours of meetings in the morning and another 3 hours in the afternoon. I suppose it keeps me distracted enough but it sure makes for a long day when I have to sit that long. 

I have aVaridesk Proplus 36 which allows me to sit or stand and work. I have an app that I programmed to remind me to stand for 40 minutes and sit for 20 minutes of every hour. It works really well and makes my day seem to go much quicker. 

With meetings most of the day, I did manage to take some time to get more than half of my steps in. By the time I got home, I had done about 7,500 so it was only another 4,000 after dinner. It's 8:30 and I've done 12,000. 

I've been sharing my journey on Facebook and I am getting encouragement from my friends which helps keep the motivation high. Another huge bonus was getting my Fitbit badge for completing climbing 14,000 floors!!! It's actually 14,015 floors as of tonight. a floor is about 13 stairs but I have noticed that the Fitbit doesn't count the stairs if you have not done 13 in a row - meaning that some of the sets don't get counted if there are only 10 or 11 in the set. Not to worry. If I've done that many even without counting many sets, I feel I am still getting the health benefits. 

Now that total sounds unrealistic but I accumulated that number over almost exactly 3 years. My total mileage is 2,760. That's 4,471 kilometres! I am thoroughly impressed with myself but I know I can do better so I am working toward that. 

If you have a Fitbit, you'll know how excited you get when you receive a badge. The only thing is that the longer you have it, the harder it is to earn the badges. I have my 2,500 mile badge (earned in October) but the next one is 2,983 and I am about 200 miles away from earning that one. If I do 4 miles a day, I'll earn it in another 50 days which would take me till almost the end of February. That's too long. If I do 5 miles a day, I can earn it in 40 days. That will take me to about Feb 18 when I am basking in the sun in Mexico. 

Maybe that's too long of a goal. I'll try for 100 miles which I should do while I am in Jamaica in the last week of January. This one is not a vacation. It's work - kind of. I was invited by a quality assurance agency of the Jamaican government to do an accreditation visit to an educational institution in Kingston. It should take 3 days so I am not sure how much free time I'll have to walk and how or where I'll do the walking. I am sure I'll have some of that information soon. 

Now for my sugar-free progress: I had another successful day and no cravings. I did feel hungry when I came home but I had a piece of cheese (no crackers which I would do) and a few cashew nuts and I was fine. 

I made another set of almond milk this evening but I used a 1:5 ratio instead of the 1:4 that Vitamix recommends because it tasted a bit rich or maybe it's because I soak the chia seeds in it the night before and the mixture is thickened by the time I eat it the next day. 

I've gotten used to the taste of it which is quite surprising because I am such a milk lover. I would drink gallons of full-fat milk if I had the chance but only restrain myself because I have bought into the "fat is bad" message. Well, I made it through another day and realize that I am doing okay because I am not spending oodles of time planning what to eat and when to eat it, 

What's helping a great deal is menu planning (this is not new), packing a healthy lunch (neither is this) and not mindlessly snacking when I get home from work (not doing this is a new strategy). Tomorrow it's butter chicken for dinner. Looking forward to that. 

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Day 6/31: NO-ADDED-SUGAR day completed

Now that I am doing my 31 days of no-added-sugar, I am hearing a lot about the impact of sugar in our diets. I am not sure if this is 2016 version of the "Low fat" craze of the 90s or the "lower your salt intake" of the early 2000s. I was not a big salt eater but I did lower my salt intake about 10 years ago and now I really can't eat salty foods or even foods with too much salt. 

Today I was listening to the news on CBC and the journalist referenced a study in the UK 
Linking between sugary drinks and obesity and how the government is planning to tax soft drinks. He also noted that the AVERAGE CANADIAN CHILD CONSUMES ABOUT 33 TEASPOONS OF SUGAR EACH DAY FROM JUICE AND SOFT DRINKS!   It is hard to believe. 33 teaspoons. That's about 3/4 of a cup of sugar - each day!  

I used to subscribe to a newsletter called Nutrition Action (Canadian version). It was one of the best health newsletters I ever subscribed to. They take no government or private funding  so they are completely independent and give the best information. They are also great advocates for healthy eating in every form. Unfortunately the Canadian version is no longer viable (as of last month) but if you can subscribe to the US version which is not the same but would likely be helpful generally. Check out some of the archived articles anyway - which are free. 

Now for my report of my day today. I had a great breakfast of sardines and toast. Yes. Sardines. For. Breakfast. And I make sure I brushed my teeth again before leaving for work. So no sardine breath at work. 

It was a busy day of back to back meetings but I did manage to go for my lunch time walk with my colleagues. If I aim to complete 6,000 steps at work each day, I'll only have to do another 5,500 when I get home. So that's going to be my goal each day. Not always successful - especially with all day meetings but I am going to make every effort to do that. 

For lunch, I had some black bean pasta and chicken stirfry and my chia parfait with raspberries and black berries. For a mid afternoon snack, I had some cut up carrots and feta/kefir dip and half a clementine (similar to tangerine). Not mandarin oranges. Don't like those. I love the Moroccan clementines best but they are hard to source. The California ones are a reasonable substitute. 

On my way home, I was feeling a bit peckish so I opened a bag of crunch peas (from Costco and only 100 calories per pack) and nibbled on those. For dinner, I had curried chicken and roti. Preferred that over rice. As I said, I am doing no added sugar but that is not the same as no carbs, although I eat whole grain carbs when I do. I am trying to eat more veggies - at least for this month. If I am successful, I'll continue next month. 

It's 9:30 PM and no sugar was added. As an added pat on the back, I've reached my 11,507 steps and will likely do another 500 before I go into bed. 

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Day 5/31: Another NO-ADDED-SUGAR day

I went to bed late last night and woke up early knowing that I would feel tired from insufficient sleep but it was not a bad day at all.

How did I start my day? Feeling like my skirt this morning was a tad bit looser than it regularly fits. One of the side benefits of no added sugar may be a looser waistband at the end of this month and I hope to carry it on for another two months.

I had boiled eggs and half of a toasted ciabatta bun for breakfast and while there was a half a Bartlett pear, I decided to take it to work for a mid morning snack with my chai and almond kefir parfait. Yes you read that right. I made kefir with some of my almond milk. It turned out fine but it's a bit too much to be doing with also making regular milk kefir.

For lunch I had a stirfry with black bean pasta and lots of cruciferous veggies - broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and some bell peppers. I used some of my homemade pesto and it smelled delish when I was heating it up.

For an afternoon snack, I had some carrots and snap peas with a dip I made from half feta cheese and have Greek-style kefir (meaning I strained the kefir overnight through a coffee filter until it was thick and spreadable like mascarpone cheese).  This is something I usually make but had not mixed it with feta which I love but is somewhat too salty for me.

A very long overdue (by about 3 weeks) visit to my chiropractor this afternoon had me in quite a bit of discomfort at supper so that meal as very light - eggplant with shrimp and potatoes. Oh, and two Aleve pills for the pain and inflammation that was built up for more than a month. Oouch.  

Early bed for me tonight but first I have to get my 3,000 additional steps  to meet my 11,500 step goal. 

Monday, January 04, 2016

Day 4/31: Successful NO-ADDED-SUGAR day

This was my first day back to work after a two week break. I usually start my day with a full breakfast. I plan a weekly menu to help take the guess work out of meals. I tray to standardize breakfast so that twice a week I have eggs,  toast, a piece of fruit and a coffee with milk; twice a week I have a bowl of oatmeal, a piece of fruit, a cup of coffee and if I am am still feeling hungry, a piece of cheese, and a slice of home-made loaf (or I sometimes take this for a mid-morning snack). Once a week I have fish - sardines or salmon and toast. I know you might think having sardines for breakfast is weird but I love sardines anytime of day and since I can't really take it to work, and it is not really food for dinner, I have it for breakfast. Same with salmon. Mine is canned salmon with sauteed onions and some hot pepper but some of you probably have lox, cream cheese and bagels for breakfast. Similar except for the salt. 

Today it was steel-cut oatmeal and I took some mini zucchini muffins for my mid-morning snack. I plan lunches too and today it was some black bean pasta (made entirely from black beans and available from Costco), a piece of turkey, a small amount of my chia parfait with extra ground flax. I had some veggies with kefir dip for a mid afternoon snack. 

Take note that there was not a single thing with added sugar. So far, I am doing well. I did a little over 6,000 steps at work so when I came home I watched Young and Restless and did another 4,000 so I've reached my goal for today of 10,000. By the time I go to bed, I'll probably do an extra 1,200 which will take me to 8 km today. I changed my goal today from 10,000 steps per day to 11,300 which is exactly 8 km. If I accomplish that, I'll be pleased. 

For dinner, I had turkey divan, baked sweet potatoes and squash and a small piece of sourdough garlic toast. Yum! 

I spent some time tonight cleaning up some computer files and uninstalling some useless programs and then I packed up my china cabinet to get ready for installation of hardwood flooring next Monday. Those things kept me distracted enough not to want anything sweet to eat tonight. Another successful No-sugar-Added day plus 11,500 steps. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Day 3/31: Successful NO ADDED SUGAR day

My day started a bit slowly as I could not think of what to do first. This is the last day of my holiday break and I've not given any thought to preparing for work tomorrow. That's a good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed my two weeks off and spending the time cooking and playing with my grandkids. 

I felt a sense of accomplishment that yesterday was not as hard as I thought it might be. I was not confident this morning that I could get through today with no added sugar. My strategy was to focus on one meal or snack at a time rather than trying to visualize the entire day. That seemed to be a good strategy as it is now 8:00 PM and I have not had a sugar craving all day. 

For breakfast, I had my chia/oatmeal/almond milk parfait with raspberries and I took my time tasting the fresh berries. At this time of year, imported berries are not so great but these are excellent. I also had a cup of coffee with my almond milk. 

My cousin Eddie thought the chia mix looked like sago and it does in some small way. I grew up drinking sago and loved it but the grains these days are too small and get mushy before they are cooked. Cooked sago is quite similar to bubble tea but sago comes from the sago palm and bubble tea is made from tapioca which is made from cassava. 

Later in the morning, I made some more almond milk and I have no idea what I did differently from the first batch, but I had a whole lot more almond meal that I did with the first set. I dehydrated it in the oven and stored for later use. 

For lunch, I had sauteed chicken livers and a mini-flax muffin that I made (no flour; entirely from ground flax). The liver was from a large chicken that I cut up for curry. I made some mini zucchini fritters using some of my almond meal. They'll be good for breakfast during the week. 

For dinner we had curried chicken and half a roti I am trying to keep the carbs to small amounts but I am not really abstaining. Refined sugar for sure but not all carbs.

I have to complete my 10,000 steps for today so I will treat myself to some Downton Abbey while I complete my steps and have my cup of green tea. 

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Day 2/31: NO ADDED SUGAR month

I was very proud of my accomplishment yesterday of eating no added sugars (no white sugar, no cane sugar, no honey, no maple syrup) so that gave me the motivation to do it again today. It sounds like an easy thing to do - removing added sugar from your diet but it is harder than it sounds. I am a huge baker so it has the added complication of not doing something I love to do. 

Today I had a parfait of chia seeds and oatmeal soaked in almond milk (prepared ahead of time last night). The seeds and oatmeal soaked up quite a bit of the almond milk and had a nice creamy consistency. 

I used half of the mixture and layered it with my homemade kefir and frozen blueberries which I thawed. It almost looks like something in a food magazine. I just had to take a picture. 

From what I have read, if you are cutting added sugar from your diet in a sudden kind of way, you'll often get headaches because your body is craving it. So far, I have not had any cravings or headaches but I've also been cutting back drastically since Christmas Eve.  

With no lunchtime craving and needing to eat something before my 1:00 pm massage appointment, I had a tuna melt with the rest of the tuna I had from last night. I had a very relaxing massage and came home to a nice hot cup of green tea and a slice of Balderson's Old Cheddar. I love Bothwell Cheddar as well but I wanted something different. Bothwell Cheese is truly Manitoban and one of the best cheeses you can eat. It is rich and creamy and tastes like a piece of heaven. 

Since I've been off for the Christmas break, I am finding every little occasion to cook. Today it was bora (long beans) with potatoes, tomatoes and coconut milk. Then it was eggplant with salted cod, shrimp and tomatoes. I had a feast at dinner with roti and some left over spinach I cooked a couple days ago. 

Oh yes, I also made some turkey divan with turkey breast I froze from Christmas dinner. I will have that for lunch or dinner tomorrow. I love the tart taste of the cheese sauce which was made with my homemade chicken stock and my homemade kefir which I thickened to Greek yogourt consistency by straining through a coffee filter. The original recipe from 30+ years ago calls for yogourt but since I make my own kefir, it made sense to use it. Besides, it's taking over my home because I have so much. 

It's now 8:00 PM and I made it through Day 2 with no sugar craving AND NO ADDED SUGAR! 
Off for another 3000 steps on the trampoline before calling it a night. I am treating myself to 23 minutes of a PVRd segment of America's Test Kitchen which should complete my additional steps. 

Friday, January 01, 2016

Day 1/31: NO ADDED SUGAR for me

First of all, Happy New Year to you! 

Now, here is my plan for the next 31 days. Why 31? Welllll, it's exactly 31 days till my birthday on February 1. So that gives me a real goal to work toward. And if I can do it, it'll only be another 29 till the end of the leap year month. And if I can do that, it'll only by 31 days till my baby Subhadra's birthday on March 31. 

I have been thinking about this for a few weeks but the important thing that gave me a kick in the rear was my doctor calling me to discuss the results of my annual blood work. She gave me the good news first - my bad cholesterol is low (a good thing); my good cholesterol is high (a great thing); my cholesterol ratio is excellent; my hemoglobin and all the other markers are excellent. So far, so good. Then the not-so-good news: my A1C levels are creeping up - that is, my blood sugar is going up and with a genetic disposition from both parents and almost every extended family, she suggested that I should consider starting metformin. That was a definite NO! as in NO WAY. I told her that I was not as faithful to my diet and exercise routine over the last few months so I pledged to clean up my act. 

This was the day before Christmas Eve which was timely because it meant that I either indulged in Christmas baking and start watching my sugar intake starting today or start on December 23 and work my way into a full-fledged "No Sugar Added" month. So here I am on New Year's day, and I am now at the end of a successful Day 1. 

Now, can I tell you what a challenge it was? I started the year off at midnight with a plate of good at the New Year's Eve party we went to. There were two salads, peas and rice, chicken, Guyanese fruit cake and Guyanese sponge cake. I took a small amount of salad, a piece of chicken and some rice. That was it. I drank water with a piece of lime all evening. I felt I could indulge because I was dancing during the night. No fruit cake. No sponge cake. 

When I woke up, I had a serving of almond milk which I made yesterday (no reason for that except that I heard it was good but I did not love the first glass). I mixed a tablespoon of chia seeds and let it sit for 30 minutes. I added a splash of vanilla and some ground cinnamon and had that at 10:30am It was better today but I am getting used to it. It's great in coffee though. The picture below is actually my concoction for tomorrow's breakfast with some oatmeal added. It still has to swell so I'll see what it looks and tastes like tomorrow. 

Then it was off to Government House for the Annual New Year's Levee. There were a variety of finger sandwiches including salmon, eggs, meat and veggie. There was also shortbread and fruitcake. I had a couple of sandwiches which was less than a regular whole sandwich but I had no shortbread nor cake. There was fruit punch, coffee, tea, and wine but I had some Perrier water with a twist of lime. Everyone around me was saying how good the cake and shortbread was but I don't like fruitcake and the shortbread was dipped in chocolate (don't like that either) so it was rather easy not to eat it.

Not feeling like a regular dinner tonight, I had some hummus and plantain chips, and an open-faced tuna melt on a half of a ciabatta bun with grilled mozzarella cheese on top. A nice cup of matcha tea was all I needed later. 

Day 1 was successful. There's only another 30 days and I now have a buddy - Beatrice - accompanying me on this journey. 

I told my doctor I will be back to see her in exactly three months by which time my A1C levels will be within an acceptable range. If it is not, it WILL NOT be because I did not do all I could with my diet. It will be the part I cannot control - my genetics. 

A little more about A1C. You can have normal fasting blood glucose levels when you wake up but that doesn't mean that your blood glucose is normal. The A1C test gives you the blood glucose readings over the last 2-3 months and it does not depend on fasting blood glucose but throughout the day. So I may be doing fine in the mornings but not doing so well during the day. If I am not exercising as much as I normally do and if I don't pay attention to my diet, then the levels will rise. Now that I am super vigilant, I am finding that there are many healthy things that are high sugar - like some fruits. I eat an apple a day and often grapes too but they are highest in fructose which is the bad kind of sugar as are cherries which I love to eat in the summer. Fortunately, I like berries and they are the best fruits to eat that are lower in fructose. Ah man! Here I thought I was eating pretty healthy with lots of fruits, veggies, fish and low to no red meats but this no-sugar-added month is making me work hard at figuring things out. 

Join me on Day 2 and I am sure the journey will be easier.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Guyana's 50th anniversary celebrations starting in Januray

As the Honorary Consul of Guyana to Manitoba, I am chairing a committee that is planning a series of events to celebrate Guyana's Golden Jubilee of its independence. We have at least one event planned for each month of 2016 and they include this Interfaith Service and these others: 
  • Reception, 
  • Valentine's Dance (Feb.) 
  • Cultural potluck (Feb.), 
  • Senior's information session (Feb.), 
  • Health forum (March), 
  • Spring Tea (April), 
  • Gala banquet (May), 
  • Golf tournament (June)
  • Picnic (July),  
  • Fishing trip (August), 
  • Bus trip (August)
  • Youth forum (Sept)
  • Children's Christmas party (Dec.) 
  • Adult Christmas party (Dec.)
  • Old Year's Night/New Year's Eve dinner/dance (Dec.). 

If you are in Winnipeg on January 17, we would love to see you. If you cannot be here but know any Guyanese who live in Winnipeg who may like to attend, please forward this information to them. 

Check back here for more information to future events. 


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015 with the family

Christmas this year was a blessing for the whole family. First off, my nephew Shaun and his wife Corina had a baby girl last week Sunday. She is strong and healthy and doing quite well. 

Then it was Christmas at our house. Sunita, Mike, Belle and Ronin came for the holidays but the only one of the family missing was Sub because she had to work and if she wasn't two hours away by plane, she'd probably be here for lunch or dinner. 

The Christmas tree was overflowing with presents and by the time Sharm and Trent and the girls came over and Sophie and Darwin a bit later, it was a full house and a full tree. 

Belle and Ronin wrote their notes to Santa and laid out the cookies and eggnog. Santa had quite a selection to choose from. We baked the cookies and Ronin made the peppermint bark at school and brought it all the way from Edmonton for Nani and Grandpa and Santa of course. 


Even though Belle did not write Santa early, he still seemed to know what she wanted... 

...including a nice bright ring! 

Grandpa got a wine kit to make one of his favourite wines. 

Since we had our tradition of having Christmas lunch for the last 35 years (at least), I put in the 21 pound stuffed turkey into the oven at 11:00 last night and it cooked perfectly by this morning at 8:00am. This year, I made an dry herb rub of parsley, Guyanese thyme, celery,  Newfoundland savory, my Sandra S seasoned salt, pepper and melted butter. I rubbed it under the skin, brushed the skin with some more herbed butter and it was perfect. Waking up to the smell of baked turkey is what I look forward to on Christmas day each year. 

My family of 13 assembled at two dining tables and we had a feast.  

Then it was karaoke for some of us and cards for others. 

It was a busy house today!

And of course, the best gift this Christmas was having my four grandbabies together. 

Very heartwarming day. Now I can go to bed and use my new gel pillow which I got from my three daughters. Happy sleeping for me after a great day. 


Saturday, November 07, 2015

Finally some sunshine and the smell of fresh bread

Yesterday was 11 straight days of cloudy weather for us. That's unusual because what ever we can say about Manitoba, we are generally sunny - both in weather and in disposition. Although I didn't notice that it was that many days (I was just glad to see the sunrise each morning on my way to work now that the clock has turned back), for some people, it was depressing. 

I decided last night that whatever the weather today, I was going to do some baking. The smell of baking on a dull Fall day always makes me feel better. This morning it was bread. If you are a carbophobe (is that even a word?), too bad for you. I decided to bake wholewheat parkerhouse rolls so I made a batch. I love the smell of yeast as it sits in sugar water waiting to spring to life again. Instant yeast is so easy to work with that I simply skip the first proofing and shape the buns right away. 

This recipe is similar to a challah bread so it yields softer, less dense buns. If you bake bread with a bread machine, throw it out (the machine) and make the bread the old fashioned way. It tastes better and is good for the psyche (you get the satisfaction of turning out something beautiful made with your own hands.  

Parkerhouse rolls
 As the bread was proofing, I decided that one set of rolls was not enough. I modified the same recipe by decreasing the sugar, adding extra butter and chives (which I grew in my garden this summer and dehydrated last month) and made cloverleaf rolls. Oh my goodness, the smell of chives when it hits the heat of the oven makes me want to eat even when I am full. 

Cloverleaf rolls

I waited just long enough to take a picture of the rolls and broke open one, added a pat of butter and sat down with a cup of coffee - freshly ground and brewed - to enjoy it. Warm from the oven rolls. As close to heaven as you'll get and is a good substitute for sunshine which we are also getting plenty of today. Is there a better way to start my weekend? Double treat. No better way. 


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Successful Caribbean Canada Heart Health Gala Evening

I am very happy to say that our first Caribbean Canada Heart Health Gala evening on October 21 was a huge success. A great team of volunteers from several Caribbean countries came together and worked really hard to plan and execute the event. 

Considering that we only started planning the gala evening in early summer, it was a lot of work in a very short time to accomplish what we did. The community ought to be commended for supporting the initiative. 

We were also fortunate to have a world renowned keynote speaker -  Dr. Grant Pierce from Winnipeg's St Boniface Research Centre's Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences. He talked about his research on the benefits of flax on lowering blood pressure. It was quite astonishing how much evidence there is on the benefits. I got to thank him for his presentation and told him that Robin has been on a flax kick for close to 10 years so we use it quite frequently and have now started using the oil as well. I am not sure if I can attribute my good blood pressure reading to taking flax but a visit to my doctor this week for my annual check-up was very good.

Although it was a Caribbean initiative, there was a group of international students attending a culinary program at Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology - taught by Louis, an instructor from the Caribbean - who helped to cook and serve the delicious East/West fusion of food at the buffet. Why East/West? The function was held at the Punjab Centre which is owned by a family from India who also contributed to the success of the event by sponsoring the wine, ornaments and offering a reduced cost for the meal and facility. 

I am quite proud to be a part of this community and I am looking forward to doing more for our community in Manitoba as well as in the Caribbean in promoting heart health. 


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Back in Miami

Last night we didn't get a towel animal. We got a towel heart so we saved it for this morning because it was cute. 

We had one last breakfast in the dining room away from the crowded Lido deck and we were off the ship by 9:00am. Very organized exit off and through Customs and Immigration.  

We hung out at the airport for several hours and within 10 minutes of being on the plane from Miami to Minneapolis, Ronin settled in for a good sleep.

Then it was another long wait in Minnie. Good thing for iPods. We didn't let the kids use them too much on the ship because there was lots to do but waiting for hours at the airport can get tiring and boring after so much activity on the ship.

Another little nap on the plane from Minni to Winnipeg; through Customs and Immigration (nothing to declare) and it was home at midnight.

The end of one of the best vacations.