Some people say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but I've also heard 28 days. Since I'm stubborn and a slow learner, I'm giving myself a month to establish a new habit. This blog will document each month's habits. Please join me!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Food Journaling Habit -- Month in review

So I was totally lame about blogging in October even thought I did great at journaling my food intake.  The end result of honestly writing down 99% of what I ate?  Seven pounds lost!  That's nothing compared to what they achieve on Biggest Loser in a week, but heck, I am living the rest of my life while doing this and I don't have hundreds of pounds to lose.  And my personal trainer is a dog...literally. We've been walking like crazy, although I give her a bye when it's raining hard.  I did 8 miles yesterday and tomorrow is 13-14.  Training for a half-marathon is incredibly good motivation for me. 

Since I kind of dropped the ball in October, my November habit is going to be blogging some healthy recipes.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Food Journaling Habit -- The stats are revealing

Although I've been lax in posting on my blog, I've definitely been journaling my food this month.  There have been days when I've really really not wanted to write something down, but those are the days that need it the most. Although I didn't like writing down Saturday's tortilla chips or Sunday's brownie, it did motivate me to stop before things got totally out of hand...or from hand to mouth to hips. 

Being the data junkie that I am, I have a spreadsheet where I log everything.  This is what I did last week in terms of macro nutrients, food points plus and activity points.   It's not 100% true to Weight Watchers Points Plus program because I logged all my fruits and vegetables too, and they're counted in the data.  So, I allow myself a couple extra points a day for those items.   This week I ended up with only a couple points to spare. The scale says I broke even from last Monday to today, although mid-week I was lower.

fat carb Fiber Grams protein Food  Pts+ Activity Points Total (goal is 26-31)
mon 21.9 140.5 15.7 75.3 26.5 4.2 22.3
tues 26.5 179.7 19.1 86.4 32.7 0 32.7
wed 36.2 272.6 38 71.2 42.4 11.4 31
thu 32.6 186.2 19.1 76.6 34.1 4 30.1
fri 54 233.3 30.3 60.2 42.3 1.6 40.7
sat 57.7 198.7 17.1 66 41.1 2.5 38.6
sun 49.9 237.5 22.4 67.8 43.0 7.3 35.7

This data is pretty revealing. The weekend was a higher intake than the rest of the week.  I think the fat consumption was a bit high Friday - Sunday. I need further research to figure out what an acceptable range is.  The other thing that really jumps out at me is that I'm not eating nearly as much fiber as I thought I was. It's definitely below the 25 grams/day that is recommended for women.   I eat a a lot of fruits and veges, eat brown rice instead of white and generally eat whole grain breads.  But, I need to do better especially with my sluggish digestive system.  We all know the benefits of fiber: helps us stay regular, decreases risk of digestive cancers, makes us feel full longer, etc.  So, what's a girl to do?

One approach I don't want to take is to eat the fiber infused stuff that tastes like cardboard.  There's a specific tortilla that I'm thinking of.  Blech! I put that in the fake food category.  My options?

Well, there's a big clue for you at the top of this post.  You guessed it:  more popcorn is at the top of my list.  I am a popcorn junkie and it's really high in fiber. When I was in high school, one Christmas I got an air popper and a 50 pound bag of popcorn.  Did I say I was a popcorn addict?  Can you tell which day I had some last week?  Yup, Wednesday. Air popped popcorn has 3.5 grams of fiber for every 3 cups.  Unfortunately, plain air popped popcorn takes like styrofoam so it needs to be seasoned.  Generally I'm opposed to fake food, but I am willing to put on a few squirts of spray "butter" rather than the real thing for the sake of a couple hundred calories.  My quest should be to find alternate, real-food ways of getting seasonings to stick.

Check back the next couple of days to see what else I'm doing to increase my fiber and what else I've figured out about the proper range of these macronutrients. 


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Food Journaling Habit -- Smashing Pumpkins

On of the best things about Fall is the pumpkins and all the delicious pumpkin dishes -- pie (of course), pancakes, muffins, scones -- anyone else reminded of Forrest Gump yet?  Anyway, we got a pumpkin in our CSA last week so the pumpkin creations have started.  Isn't it pretty?  This kind of pumpkin is called a Cinderella pumpkin due to its shape.  It looks like Cinderella's coach. 

The first step of dealing with one of these big guys is attempting to cut it open to bake it.  After nearly chopping my fingers off in the past, I've finally come up with an injury free method of opening it up. I take it out to the sidewalk and drop it a few times.  Seriously, it works and I don't get hurt. The inspiration for this came from all the smashed pumpkins in the neighborhood after Halloween.  It's kind of pathetic that I'm inspired by vandals, but there it is.

After cleaning out the seeds, always with the intention of baking them and then never doing it, bake the pieces at 350 for an hour or so.  Once it's done and cooled enough to not scorch you, scoop it out and put it in the food processor or blender and whir away.  I froze 14 cups of pumpkin and put the other 8 cups in the fridge to use.

So how does all of this fit into this month's goal?  Well, I got to "journal" two pieces of pumpkin pie.  Although very tasty, at 8 Points Plus or 265 calories, it's just not a good idea to have pie every day.  Enter, the internet search for low calorie pumpkin recipes.  There are a lot, and this one on Snack Girl's site looked pretty good.   


Microwave Pumpkin Custard

(Makes 1 serving)
½ cup pumpkin puree
1 whole egg
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 packet stevia or 1 tbsp brown sugar (add 1 pt for brown sugar)

1. Combine all ingredients well in a small bowl.
2. Pour into a small mug or ramekin, sprayed with cooking spray.
3. Microwave for 2 ½ to 3 minutes until firm.
4. Top with yogurt, low calorie, whipped cream, nuts, or a touch of honey.

If using stevia:  Calories: 111.7 calories, 5.3 g of fat, 9.6 g carbohydrates, 3.6 g fiber, 7.5 g protein WW Points+: 2 points+, 3 points+ if you count the pumpkin

I used brown sugar because baked stevia doesn't taste right to me.  Verdict:  It's a tasty, healthy dessert that's easy to make.  Next time I'm going to try maple syrup and will add a touch more spice. I'll also zap it for 2:20 instead of 2:30 because it was a bit rubbery. 

UPDATE: I made this again, nuking it for 2:20,  with a tad more pumpkin pie spice and instead of brown sugar I mixed 2 tsp maple syrup into the pumpkin concoction and drizzled 1 tsp in the bottom of the ramekin before pouring the concoction in.  These adjustments made an already tasty dessert even better.  The spice was just right, the texture was firm yet creamy and it was sweet enough.  In fact, for me, it was a bit too sweet, so next time I'll add 1 tsp to the mixture and 1 tsp in the bottom of the ramekin.   BTW, if you want to decrease the calorie count, you can substitute 2 egg whites for the single egg.  It cuts the calories by 40ish and eliminates all the fat. 

Snack Girl has a bunch of other pumpkin recipes that I'm eager to try.    

Monday, October 8, 2012

Food Journaling Habit -- First Week

Wow, writing down everything you eat is a little too enlightening!  With the magic of the internet, you can even find out how much damage you did eating in a restaurant. For those of you who are wondering, it's safe to say that consuming 1500 calories in one meal is a tad over my daily budget.  And, I felt gross later that night and the next day. Note to self: plan your order before going to the restaurant.  If you can't do that, as in this case which  was a spur of the moment meal, ask for the nutritional information or look it up online on your phone if you can. 

In spite of my major back-sliding Saturday night, I was down a pound for the week.  Early in the week I was actually down almost 3 pounds, so I'm hopeful that this week will be more. 

It's been interesting comparing Lose It! to Weight Watchers.  If you actually join WW and go to the meetings, you get all the education and support, which you don't get with a phone app.  Going to meetings isn't really not my thing, and I'm cheap, so everything I know about the current WW plan is what I've found online.  Overall, I've found that the amount I eat based on the Weight Watchers Points Plus plan and the Lose It! app are pretty much the same.  There may be a few calories or points differences in my daily goals, but overall, the end result is the same.  I think the key is being conscious  about what you're eating. 

Check back later for some low cal/low points, but pretty filling meals and snacks. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

October Personal Challenge -- Food Journaling

Now that I've gotten into a great exercise routine, the next step is to really make sure I'm conscious about what I'm putting into my body.  My plan is to record my food intake through both the Lose It app and Weight Watchers Points Plus.  After trying to squeeze into a couple pairs of pants recently, it's time to drop 15 pounds.  My goal is to have it gone by Christmas.

About 10 years ago I used the Winning Points system and it worked really well.  Unfortunately, I stopped counting my points and eventually my weight started creeping back up.  I don't go to WW meetings so don't have the official Points Plus information, but there's so much available online, that I think I'll be pretty close.

With the  Lose It! app you record your daily food and exercise and it lets you know how you're doing in relation to your goals.  It interfaces nicely with the Fitbit, so it's really handy. 

I won't bore you with what I eat every day, but will share some of the best low cal/low points meals that I create.  My biggest challenge is trying to eat within a low calorie range while my teenage athletes need to eat 4-5000+ calories per day. 


Daily Exercise Habit -- Month in Review

After exercising almost every day last month, the dog and I are in much better shape!  Exercise became a habit and the two days that I didn't exercise, I didn't feel right.  My energy level was much improved, which is a huge bonus.  Although exercise does take a chunk of time, I  think that the time I spent exercising is off-set by my increased productivity the rest of the day.

We've been blessed with a dry and pretty sunny September which made getting out and walking much easier.  The true challenge will be when the lousy weather hits, probably very soon.  I'll keep yo posted.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Daily Exercise Habit -- Days 12-20 -- Consistency and Commitment

Much to my surprise, I've exercised EVERY SINGLE DAY in September so far.  There were a couple of times when I didn't want to, but was glad that I did.  It's definitely becoming a habit.  In fact, one day I was going to skip it, but by 7:30 pm, I just didn't feel right and had to take a walk.  So, here's what I've done.

Day 12 -- Core work and light upper body weights -- I hurt for 3 days after that. Must need to do more.

Day 13 -- Walked the dog for an hour at a moderately brisk pace.  We covered more than 3 miles.

Day 14 -- Walked the dog at "sniffing pace" for 25 minutes.

Day 15-- Walked almost 2 hours and almost 7 miles!  According to my half-marathon training plan, it was supposed to be 5-6 miles but we got a bit carried away.  For a brief moment I was worried about whether this was good for the dog.  Then I realized that if a 48 year old human can do it, a 3 1/2 year old dog can.  Silly me. 

Day 16 -- A brief 15 minute walk.  This was the one that I felt compelled to go on, in spite of myself. 

Day 17 -- 40 minute dog walk

Day 18 -- Walk dog for an hour doing interval work.  Fitbit said it was 7226 steps and about 3.5 miles. 

Day 19 --  Walked my dog and a friend's dog for 40ish minutes.  The other dog had been stuck at home for a couple weeks following his owner's surgery.  He was eager to sniff and explore. 

Day 20 --   Walk dog 4 miles in 70 minutes.  I tried a slow jog for about 100 yards to see if my knee thought it would be ok.  It felt tight later in the day, so it's not in the cards for now.

Today is day 21 and I haven't done anything yet.  Can't break the routine though. 

  • I want to do some additional core and weight work. Walking is great, but not enough.
  • Setting the goal of walking a half-marathon is a fantastic motivator. 
  • Still feeling good energy levels throughout the day if I've exercised in the morning. 
  • The biggest success has been my son telling me that he's impressed with my consistency and commitment.  Even if there were no other benefits to my daily exercise habit, that comment made it all worthwhile. 

I also decided to start counting my Weight Watchers food and activity points. Exercise alone just doesn't do it considering a 3 mile walk is about the equivalent of two chocolate chip cookies.   I'm only a couple days into it, but looking forward to my clothes fitting more comfortably.  Check back for more info about that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daily Exercise Habit -- Days 10 & 11 -- Exercise is Good for your Brain

We've all heard that exercise can help manage diabetes, decrease blood pressure, and decrease your cancer risk.  But, it's also good for your brain.  After cruising around the internet on the Google-mobile, I found some pretty interesting benefits:

Improves Memory  A recent Dartmouth study concluded that regular exercise can improve memory. One piece of this research that was particularly interesting was that the group who had been regular exercisers and then exercised right before the memory test out performed the group of regular exercisers who didn't exercise right before the test.  My personal conclusion is that if you're studying for a test or have something you are trying to memorize, take a few minutes and exercise first.

Strengthen Brain Cells  If you spent too much of your youth killing off brain cells, you might want to see if you can strengthen or even regenerate some of them. In this study they found that mice who had been exercising regularly had more active growth in their brain cells than the sedentary group.  Cool, huh?  An article in Smart Brains says, "Through increased blood flow to the brain, phys­i­cal exer­cise trig­gers bio­chem­i­cal changes that spur neu­ro­plas­tic­ity – the pro­duc­tion of new con­nec­tions between neu­rons and even of neu­rons them­selves. Brain exer­cise then pro­tects these fledg­ling neu­rons by bathing them in a nerve growth fac­tor and form­ing func­tional con­nec­tions with neigh­bor­ing neu­rons. Dr. Gage’s work of the Salk Insti­tute for Bio­log­i­cal Stud­ies, have shown that exer­cise helps gen­er­ate new brain cells, even in the aging brain."

Improves Mood  Exercise makes you feel better.  In fact, it's been found to be a reasonable substitute for antidepressants for some patients. One theory is that exercise increases the production of  neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and seretonin.   I tend to get seasonal depression during the Fall and Winter months.  It'll be a good test to see if my mood is better this year with regular exercise.  If I can avoid those days of just wanting to hibernate, it'll be fantastic!

There are a bazillion other benefits of exercise, but these are a pretty good reason in and of themselves.

Anyway, let's talk more about me and what I've been up to.

Day 10 -- Pilates workout on TV for 15 minutes.  Ehh, it was ok.  I definitely need to work on my core strength.

Day 11 -- Walk the dog for almost an hour.  Based on the half-marathon training plan that I downloaded, I used today as an interval training day.  Basically, I'd choose a landmark that was one to two blocks ahead and walk at a much quicker pace to that point.  I did this probably 10 times during the walk.  I've done this route a lot over the last 15 years and it was a bit quicker today. Yay for intervals.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Daily Exercise Habit -- Days 8-9 -- Goin' to the Dogs

OK, really I was just walking the dog. She's a 3 1/2 year-old hyper black lab.  Yesterday, which was Saturday, we walked 4.66 miles and according to my Fitbit, I burned 600 calories.  Today we walked 5.5 miles most of which was the same route as yesterday with a little extra thrown in.  The floor counter on my Fitbit wasn't working right today and it said I'd only done 10 floors, which was way wrong.  Yesterday it said I did 35.  Nevertheless, I walked and walked and it felt like a great accomplishment. 

The added bonus was that the dog slept in two, count 'em two! additional hours this morning.  That didn't seem to slow her down on today's walk, though.  Our vet says that labs can go forever and that's definitely the case with Java.

This got me wondering about whether there were any weight loss programs based on dog walking. Although I didn't find any specific programs, there was an interesting study where people who walked a dog lost an average of 14 lbs in a year.  "The dog-walkers in the study started by walking 10 minutes per day three times per week and eventually walked up to 20 minutes per day 5 days per week. One group walked for 50 weeks while another walked for only 26 weeks."  You'll be shocked to learn that ultimately, the group that walked for 50 weeks lost more than those in the 26 week program.  Oops, my sarcastic tone might have come through there. 

The endorphins started getting a little overactive by the end of today's walk and I started thinking about walking a half-marathon in a couple months.  I ran this same half-marathon 9 years ago.  Am I willing to put in the hours of training to walk it?  It takes a lot longer to walk 13.1 miles than it does to run it.  Oy!


Friday, September 7, 2012

Daily Exercise Habit -- Days 5 -7 -- Getting into the groove

Wa-hoo, I was down 1 lb on the scale.  I'm crossing my fingers that this isn't a fluke.  The thing about the exercise habit is that it has side effects like wanting to eat healthier and drinking more water.  Plus, my energy level has been a little higher, so I've been more active in general.  Maybe it's a coincidence, but I sure hope not!

Day 5 -- Did a workout through On Demand on Comcast.  I know these aren't really free because we're paying for cable, but it still feels like a free exercise video.  I love that you can choose from beginner to advanced, the length of the workout, and what type of activity you want.  I don't love that I notice how dirty my carpet is when I'm doing crunches on the carpet.  I swear I vacuum regularly.  Wow, four sentences beginning with "I" and multiple other uses of the word.   What a narcissist.

Day 6 -- Walked the dog after dinner.  We went 35 minutes which was about 4000 steps  and burned >200 calories.  Unfortunately, it got a little dark, so I need to walk her earlier.  It did cause me to pick up the pace through the heavily wooded area.

Day 7 -- Another TV workout.  It was 24 minutes, and they claim that it's the equivalent of a 2 mile walk.  Unlike a walk, it's got upper body moves  so it feels like a better workout.  The dog got nuthin' out of this though. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Daily Exercise Habit -- Days 2-4

Woo-hoo, I've been meeting my goal of exercising each day.  I know it's only the 4th day, but if I hadn't set the goal, I guarantee you I would have skipped a couple of days.  So, here's the scoop...

Day 2 -- This was garage sale day, so after setting everything up, I mostly sat on my tush.  Because of the daily exercise goal, I walked to pick up the signs that we posted in the neighborhood.  Without the goal, I'm sure I would have driven.  Pathetic, I know.

Day 3--  I dusted off the medicine ball and did about 20 minutes with it:  Russian twists, chops, lunges, etc.  It wasn't a ton, but I seriously feel it in my glutes today.  The good news is that my knee is fine.  It was giving me trouble a couple years ago and lunges would have killed it.  I'll still take it slowly, but am happy that it didn't object.

Day 4 -- Walked the dog for almost an hour.  According to the Fitbit, it was about 6,000 steps, 300 calories and 35 floors climbed.  As you can tell, I live in a hilly neighborhood. 

Wednesday, tomorrow, is weigh-in day and I'll report the news.  Keeping my fingers crossed.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Daily Exercise Habit -- Day 1

Today's the first day of my daily exercise habit.  With a busy weekend schedule, I wasn't sure how to work exercise into my day, but got creative.  We're having a yard sale tomorrow, so rather than driving, I walked around the neighborhood to put up signs.  According to my Fitbit, it ended up being about 8,000 steps which was 3.4 miles, and the hills equated to 38 flights of stairs. 

I like the Fitbit because it helps me track my activity level, calories burned, flights of stairs and number of steps.   No, I'm not being paid to say this.  One of the other cool things about it is that it tracks everything online for you.  You can even enter in your food consumption so you can track calories in vs. calories out. 

After my walk, I felt a bit more centered and calm.  I forget how exercise does that for me.  I'd been quite cranky earlier.  Note to self: when feeling cranky, if at all possible, get some exercise!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Month in review

One last smoothie recipe for the month.  This is adapted from Nourishing Meals.  
Minty Ginger Peach Smoothie

2 peaches
1 nectarine
1 cucumber
3 mint sprigs
1 cup chopped kale
2 T. flax seeds
1/2" piece of ginger
1 cup water

The mint and ginger made this a refreshing smoothie. 

This is the last day of my Green Smoothie habit. although I certainly didn't have a smoothie every day, my green smoothie consumption was much greater than it had been prior, so I'd say it was a success in that respect.  Because of the high water content, the timing of the consumption was kind of tricky sometimes, if you know what I mean.

I was hoping for some noticeable changes in energy levels or weight, but no luck. I didn't change my eating habits other than adding the smoothies, and I already ate  pretty healthy, so that may be the reason.  As mentioned in an earlier post, when I had my smoothie as an afternoon snack, it seemed to cut down on my evening snacking, so maybe if I'd done that more consistently, I would have seen some weight loss.  I'll keep experimenting.  

Bottom line: I'll definitely continue with green smoothies. Psychologically, I feel better when I have one, knowing that I'm filling my body with all kinds of nutrients.  Plus, a lot of them taste really good.  I am thrilled to have discovered savory smoothies with their lower sugar content and ability to conquer salt cravings. 

Join  next month for daily exercise. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Day 25

I woke up yesterday and decided to make it an 80% raw food day.  Kind of like a mini-cleanse.   After a bit of poking around on the internet, I found some sites that actually had one-day cleanses such as Wicked Good Travel and Kimberly Snyder.   I didn't follow these completely, but still managed 80% raw food for the day.

The day started with my usual latte which has 1 cup of 1% milk.   Then I had 16 oz of kombucha tea followed by my green smoothie.  BTW, if anyone needs a kombucha scoby, let me know.  Mine is huge and needs to be separated.

Breakfast Green Smoothie 

1 cup water
2 peaches
1 very ripe banana
2 T. flax seeds
a few dashes of cinnamon
1 medjool date
1 cup chopped kale

I rarely put kale in a smoothie, but the cinnamon and date made it palatable.  Before adding the flax seeds, I poured half the smoothie into a pint jar to save for later.  I wasn't sure what the flax seeds would do and didn't want to have to choke down a gelatinous glob.  Unlike previous times when I had a smoothie as my only breakfast, this one stuck with me.  Maybe it was the flax seeds?   Anyway, this served as my breakfast and lunch.

Snack was an apple and 2 big naturally fermented dill pickles. 

For dinner I made a salad with one big cucumber, one big tomato, 1/4 avocado, chopped basil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt.  It was good, but I should have used 1/2 an avocado instead.  I got hungry pretty quickly.  So, I had some raw pumpkin seeds and air popped popcorn.

I entered all of this in my Lose It ap and this is the nutritional breakdown of my day.

Calorie 1113
Fat 22.6 g (17%)
Carbs 217.3 (72%)
Fiber 41.3 g
Sugars 104g
Protein 34.8 g (11%)

I was surprised how much protein there was in addition to the 8 g from the milk.

I felt pretty good all day and woke up with energy ready to tackle the day today.  Sleeping in an extra couple hours didn't hurt either.

I'm seriously considering going 80% raw for the rest of the month.  It would be a good way to super charge my system as we get ready for a new school year.  I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

September Habit -- Daily Exercise

Next month's habit is daily exercise and I would LOVE to have others join me for motivation, inspiration and maybe even friendly competition.  Who's in?

For me, the parameters are:
  • Minimum 15 minutes/day
  • Exercise can be anywhere from walking the dog, to using the elliptical, working out with a DVD or On Demand show, weights, etc.  In other words, it doesn't matter what it is, as long as it happens.  
  • It must be dedicated exercise.  Going to Costco and pushing the massively heavy cart all over the store doesn't count. Yes, it burns calories, but that kind of rationalization is a slippery slope for my creative excuse making. 
  • No excuses! Rain, shine, sore muscles, too busy, don't "feel like it" are not valid. 

BTW, I will not be posting pictures of myself in exercise clothes. 

Green Smoothie Habit -- Day 22 -- Making it a meal

Today's green smoothie was my breakfast and I wanted it to stick with me for a while.  I'm sipping it now, so we'll see how it goes. This recipe is adapted from The Yummy Life. 

Green Berry Blast Breakfast Smoothie

1 cup raspberries
1/2 cup strawberries
1 peach
1 1/2 c. chopped beet greens (thus the red colored "green" smoothie)
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 vanilla whole milk yogurt
2 T. ground flax seeds
1 1/2 c. water
1 medjool date

This is a fiber and nutrient packed smoothie with more than 10 g. fiber, over 100% DV for Vitamin C and K, 50% of Vitamin A and lots of calcium.  It's a little short on protein, but with my morning latte (hey, I'm in the Northwest so I'm required by law to have fancy coffee drinks) I get more protein. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Days 20 & 21 -- Sweet and Savory

The last two green smoothies have been home runs.  Maybe it was the simplicity of the ingredients.  Maybe it was because I was listening to my body and what it wanted at the moment.  Who knows. 
 Anyway, yesterday's was a savory smoothie which I made using the leftover stuff that was in my blender after making pesto and then adding a couple of tomatoes and chard.

Day 20 -- Pesto Smoothie

The recipe for the pesto was:
3 cups basil
slice of lemon
2 cloves garlic
handful of almonds
1/2 Tbsp salt
enough olive oil to mix it up

After scooping the pesto out of the blender jar, to the stuff that was left in the jar I added
2 tomatoes
3 chard leaves

It was good!  I was having a salt craving and this helped satisfy it. 

You'll notice that there's no Parmesan or any other cheese in my pesto.  Hubbie is allergic to most cheeses, so I found a vegan recipe that we all like.  Normally I use walnuts for their omega-3 power, but was out, so substituted almonds. 

Day 21 -- Watermelon Peach Green Smoothie

This one was easy and very good.

1-2 cups watermelon chunks
1 peach
several leaves of butter lettuce

That was it.  Nothing else.  It made one glassful of deliciousness and took the edge off my sweet craving.  Granted, these are both very sweet fruits, but this comes in at under 150 calories, zero fat and assorted nutrients.  A classic chocolate candy bar from Pennsylvania is over 200 calories and 13 grams of fat.  This is not to say that a smoothie will always take care of a chocolate craving, but it's a good start.

I'm not losing any weight and my energy level isn't improved, but a couple of things have been interesting.

Night time snacking is less frequent when I have a smoothie in the afternoon.  My dinner portions are smaller too.  I'll continue with afternoon smoothies, which may lead to a couple pounds of weight loss.

Monthly symptoms  OK, maybe this was coincidence, but I didn't get the usual headache that I get around "that time" of the month.  I also didn't notice as many PMS symptoms.  There is some evidence indicating that Vitamin K helps alleviate PMS, etc. 

This makes me wonder if green smoothies have individualized benefits based on what's lacking in a person's diet.  Since I already ate reasonably well and had a couple green smoothies a week prior to this month, maybe  the overall effect on my is less.  On someone who rarely ate fruits and vegetables, the results may be totally different. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Day 19 -- Too many beets

Today I doubled the beets in my green smoothie.  Umm, there's definitely such a thing as too many beets for my taste.  Fortunately, I was able to mask the flavor with more fruit.
I started with 1 cup of kombucha, about 1/3 papaya, 1/2 beet, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 2 sorrel leaves and 3 chard leaves.  Much too beety for me.  So, this is the final recipe which was pretty good.

1 cup kombucha
1 cup coconut milk
1/3 papaya
1 peach
1/2 beet
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 sorrel leaves
2 chard leaves
a few shakes of cinnamon
2 dates

Made 4 cups.

As you can see, it's a vibrant non-green color :-)  There really are greens in it, but the beets stole the show. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Beets are ok

I don't like beets but we keep getting them in our CSA.    They're really good for you and have detoxing abilities, if a bunch of websites are to be believed..  So, now that I am able to use my kitchen and don't have the excuse of cream  colored, easily stained tile in the bathroom, I had to use some of them.  A couple nights ago I made a raw beet salad that was pretty good and yesterday I added a 1/4 of a beet to my smoothie and I couldn't taste it. 

Day 16 -- Beetiful green smoothie

1 cup coconut milk
handful fresh raspberries
3 big chard leaves
1/4 beet
1 cup frozen mixed berries
2 dates
dash of cardamom

I'm beginning to think that the dates and a little spice are the secret to successful smoothies.  They offset a lot of the "green" flavor.  If you have any other techniques for yummifying green smoothies, please post them in the comments.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Middle of the month

Wow, things have been busy around here and I haven't posted.  I've managed my green smoothies most days, but there were a couple of smoothie-less days.  It's probably not a coincidence that I ate a lot more junk those days.

Today's smoothie was really good.  It included

very ripe banana
1/2 bag frozen pineapple
about a cup of vanilla yogurt
several chard leaves

I'm not noticing many changes  in energy or sleeping or weight.  Oh well.  It's still really good for me.

I'll try and be more consistent in my posts from here on out.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Days 8 & 9 -- Pulling out the stopwatch

Confession time:  I'm a total geek.  Not necessarily in the traditional sense, but I do weird things like time how long it takes to do daily chores.  Mostly I do that so I can convince myself that folding that $%@*&^ basket of laundry really won't take that long.  I hate folding laundry. I don't mind washing it but resist folding it...but I digress. 

Anyway, I timed how long it took me to make my smoothie today.  This is from the time I opened the refrigerator to the time I took my first sip. It was a whopping 7 minutes 55 seconds.  That includes going to the garage refrigerator to get some ingredients that were buried under other stuff and responding to a text from my husband.  Peeling the papaya took the majority of the time.

But, before I tell you about today's smoothie, let's look at yesterday's.    It was another savory one.

Day 8  Green Smoothie Habit
1 cup kombucha tea
2 tomatoes
1 small zucchini
1/2 bunch bok choi
1 celery top
spoonful of chia seeds

It was quite acidic between the tomatoes and kombucha, which was good because I had it as an afternoon snack and had been craving something salty. 

Day 9 Tropical Green Smoothie

1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 papaya
1 banana
3 leaves chard

Today's smoothie was a fruit one based on  The Raw Family's 15 Green Smoothies in 3 Minutes video

I'm more than a week into my new habit and overall it's going well.  I feel like I'm waking up more easily  and my energy level seems pretty good.  I keep forgetting to weigh myself, but I don't think there's much change which is a bummer.   Of course that might be because of the blackberry cobbler a couple nights ago and the brownies last night. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Days 6-7

One reason I'm blogging about my green smoothie habit is that it keeps me motivated.  With house guests and remodel issues, I could easily have skipped a day or two.  The external accountability clearly works to keep me going.

Day 6 -- Savory Cilantro smoothie

1 cup kombucha tea
2 tomatoes
2 big handfuls cilantro
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 leaves chard
big handul of spring greens
dash of salt
a couple drops of chipotle hot sauce
1/2 cup cottage cheese

This was surprisingly good.  I'd gotten a lot of cilantro and tomatoes in our CSA box and had been wanting to try a savory smoothie.  This tasted kind of like blended salsa and because of the cottage cheese, it stuck with me for several hours.

Day 7 -- Mixed fruit smoothie

2 oranges
2 nectarines
3 plums
1 banana
2 big handfuls of beet greens
bag of frozen strawberries

This made a very thick smoothie, which others in my family like.  We had this with our dinner and it was pretty good.  My husband said there were too many beet greens and had a weird after taste. I didn't notice it, but I'm more accustomed to greens in smoothies. 

I haven't made today's smoothie yet.  We're out of fruit, so it'll probably be another savory one.  

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit --Day 4 & 5

It's been a busy couple of days with extra kiddos in the house and lots of fun activities.  These two recipes were ones we shared for dinner, so I didn't get my usual dosage, but it was still better than nothing.

Day 4 -- Sorrel Green Smoothie
1 cup plain yogurt
plums -- several little Italian ones
frozen pineapple
frozen strawberries
big handful of sorrel
approx 1 TBSP of honey to off-set the tartness of the plain yogurt and sorrel

We got sorrel in our CSA box, and this was a fun way to use it.  It also makes delicious pesto. Just substitute sorrel for basil and it's a quick topping for fish or chicken. 

Day 5 -- Produce Drawer Green Smoothie

This was empty out the produce drawer day.

1 orange
1 apple
plums (we got 7 pints in our CSA box)
entire bag of frozen mixed berries
lots and lots of beet greens -- turned the smoothie dark purple.  One little guest had a lovely purple mustache. 

Everyone loved this smoothie, so I think my underhanded attempt to get extra leafy goodness into them worked. 


Friday, August 3, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Day 3 -- Green Smoothie Nutrition

One of the primary reasons that I'm getting into the green smoothie habit is that they are packed with nutrients.  The Harvard School of Public Health recommends 5 to 13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.  That comes out to at least 2 cups of fruit and  2 1/2 cups of vegetables.  The caveat is that 2 cups of raw greens counts as one cup of veges. 

So if my smoothie has at least 1-2 servings of fruit and at least 2 servings of vegetables, it's a pretty easy way to meet my daily requirements.  And it tastes good too -- at least most of the time. 

According to the USDA, one cup of raw greens such as spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or beet greens contains
  • less than 10 calories
  • more than 1 gram of fiber -- good for feeling full and helping the whole digestive process
  • more than 40% of your RDA for Vitamin A -- antioxidant, immune boosting, fantastic for pregnant and nursing mothers, and a whole lot more
  • Vitamin C -- immune system, cardiovascular and maybe even wrinkle reduction
  • A TON  of Vitamin K -- almost 200% of your RDA  -- in addition to helping blood clot and strengthening bones, there's some information that claims it helps reduce PMS.  I don't know if this is true, but wouldn't that be great!?
  • Calcium -- some claim it's more easily absorbed than the calcium in milk.  I have no idea what's accurate, but it doesn't hurt to make sure
  • and a multitude of other vitamins and minerals

Today's Mojito Green Smoothie

Mojitos are one of my favorite cocktails and this was a pretty good rendition of one.

1-2 cups water
2 Fuji apples
juice of one lime -- approx 3 TBSP
Sprig of mint which had approx 8 leaves on it
4 large leaves of Swiss Chard -- 3-4 cups packed
2 dates

This works out to about six servings of fruits and vegetables.  

Energy level is pretty good today.  Now I have to leave my house because the final coat of the kitchen floor finish is being applied.  Stinky!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Green Smoothie Habit -- Day 2 -- Peachs & Cream Pie

Oh my goodness, today's smoothie was outstanding!  It tasted like dessert in a glass and was a fabulous start to an otherwise frustrating morning (Sears' appliance installation department is a disaster!).  In fact, this is one of the best smoothies I've ever made.  I added a container of Greek yogurt in hopes that it would stick with me longer than yesterday's did.

Today's  Peaches & Cream Pie "green" smoothie

1 1/2 cup water
6 oz container of greek yogurt -- Trader Joe's
2 nectarines
two big handfuls of beet greens
2 medjool dates
dash of cinnamon

 I blended it and this is the "green" smoothie that emerged.

There was enough red in the beet greens so that it doesn't look green at all.  This is a good way to sneak greens into smoothies without anyone knowing they're there.

Dates are a natural sweetener  to offset tart fruit or yogurt.  It's about the same amount of carbs as sugar or honey, but has fiber which is always good. The cinnamon was a nice touch and added some depth of flavor.  The Trader Joe's Honey Greek Yogurt has 14 g of protein, 13 g of sugar and 120 calories. If I'd used my Vanilla Spirutein powder, it would have been 14 g of protein, 8 g of sugar and 99 calories.  In spite of a few more calories, I prefer the yogurt's healthy bacteria and I believe it's closer to its original form that protein powder is.  Plus, there's no gritty texture. 

If the rest of this month's smoothies are even close to this tasty, I'm going to be one happy gal!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Month of Green Smoothies -- Day 1

If you've never heard of or tried a green smoothie, you should.   It's just like any other smoothie with the addition of leafy greens such as spinach, chard, kale, etc.  Milder greens such as spinach and chard don't alter the flavor much at all although kale and other stronger greens can be a more difficult flavor adjustment. 

Daily green smoothies are my first Monthly Habit because they're tasty (usually) and extremely nutritious.  I've been drinking them sporadically for a few years, and want to make them a part of my daily routine.  Drinking coffee every morning is a super easy, so why not drink a smoothie each day.

During this month I'll be tracking my weight, energy level and assessing any other physical changes.  

The basic green smoothie recipe that I'll be following is 
  • 1-2 cups liquid -- water, juice, watery fruit, coconut water, kombucha tea, etc. -- if you prefer a thicker consistency, use ice cubes in place of some or all of the liquid. You can also use way less liquid.  I just happen to like it almost watery. 
  • a couple pieces or cups of fruit -- some or all can be frozen if you want it colder and/or thicker
  • a couple big handfuls of greens -- probably 2-4 cups

Today's green smoothie
This habit will start with a very basic recipe.  I'll make them more interesting as we go along.

2 c water -- should have used less since I had the orange
1 orange
2 bananas -- started with one but the smoothie was too bland
4 gigantic chard leaves

Put everything in the blender.  I generally start with the fruit with the highest water content and top it off with the greens because it seems to blend best for me this way.  If I'm using frozen fruit, that goes on top of everything.

Push go and blend it all up.  Honestly, it was a bit bland and I should have used less water.  This batch made about 4 cups of green smoothie.  Drinking a quart of liquid in one sitting isn't my thing, so I spread it out over a couple of hours. 

My vital stats:
Weight -- Ha! Did you think I was going to post my weight on the internet for the whole world to see?  Not a chance!  I'm at a pretty healthy weight, but would like to be 10 lbs lighter so I'll post any changes I see.

Energy -- I feel great.  But, today I'm excited about my new venture, so it's probably not a valid assessment.

UPDATE:  A lot of people say that their green smoothies make them feel full for hours.  I was hungry within a couple of hours.  I'll try adding something else to tomorrow's smoothie.

One thing you should know is that I don't have a kitchen right now.  It's in the process of being remodeled (an amazingly loooong process, I might add) so my refrigerator is in the dining room and my food prep area is in the spare bathroom.  So, it's not as convenient as being able grab stuff from the fridge, put it in the sink to wash and then cut and blend it up.  My point?  These are so easy to make, other than a loss of power, there's no excuse not to make them.

Come on back tomorrow and I'll show you a new green smoothie creation. 

Please note that I'm not a nutritionist, physician or any other kind of professional who is trained in nutrition and I'm not providing nutritional advice.   This is just my experience and something I want to try. So, take my experience for what it's worth.  Since your body is different from mine, you may have different results. 

If you want to join me in this green smoothie experiment, leave a comment below.  Even if you're reading this post later this month, year, decade, if I'm still maintaining this blog, I'd love to support you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Welcome to My Monthly Habit.  On this blog I will document my life-improvement efforts which will hopefully 1) give me extra motivation to actually follow through, and 2) give others a bit of support in their journeys as well.

This all came about during a bout of insomnia when I was thinking about all the ways I should improve myself.  If I can establish one new habit a month, a year from now I’ll have a dozen new, healthy habits.  Cool beans!  I’ve got a long list of habits that I want to establish which range from health to education to finances and beyond.  I’m very excited about this and hope that there will be others who will join me in these habits.  The more the merrier.

The habit for August 2012 is to have a green smoothie every day.  I’ll post more about that tomorrow.  See you then!