** Amber's Belly Fat Cure Shopping List - Download or Print HERE **

Friday, March 30, 2012

Paleo Visual

I found a great visual guide about grain-free diets from The Greatist and have reposted it here with permission. It explains Paleo in a visual way. Jorge Cruise's Fast Track is nearly identical, except for a few differences. For example Paleo does not allow cheese or diary, other than butter.  On Jorge's Belly Fat Cure Fast Track we can only have very limited fruits, where as Paleo us much more generous with fruits. Otherwise, they are very similar.

More Health and Fitness News & Tips at Greatist.

I am super busy with volunteer activities, with my kids and with house guests, so I apologize for posting less! I'm really forward to my sister's monthly weigh-in too! She is still on track to lose 100 pounds this year.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Product Review: Flax Seed Crackers

Flackers w/ Tuna Salad and Shredded Cucumber
My new name for crackers is "Protein Delivery Device". That is really all their good for, but it helps if they taste good too. I wanted to share a few gluten and grain free cracker options with you all. My two favorite are Foods Alive Flax Crackers and Doctor in the Kitchen's Flackers, both available at Whole Foods.

Both of these brands are primarily pressed whole flax seeds with spices. I use them as bread and load them up with my favorite proteins: tuna or chicken salad, cream cheese and sliced cucumbers, cheese and lunch meat. Serve with a salad and it makes for a great little lunch that is loaded with fiber. 1 Serving of Flackers is 3 crackers that have 0 sugar, 8 carbohydates and 7 grams of fiber for an S/C Value of 0/1. Three doesn't sound like a lot, but you can have a few more and keep the S/C the same. But it is really about what you put in the cracker that makes you feel full, and three is usually enough for me.

I know a few other bloggers have homemade recipes for flax crackers. I really should try that too, because they are not inexpensive crackers. But so far I've been to lazy and will keep buying them. If you have a good recipe, leave a comment with a link back please!

I am not paid to review or endorse either of these products, but they are staples in my grain-free diet. I don't have them everyday, but they are great to have handy for meals where I miss the crunch or when we have friends over for wine and cheese.  Click to see more Crackers Allowed on the Belly Fat Cure, I have a pretty long list.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Running As Fast As I Can

I have found my running legs! Getting ready for the US Half in San Fransisco I loosely follow Hal Higdon's training method, which requires building up your miles over a few months. It is a tedious process and requires me to truly "make time for running".  But the end result is that you did all the hard work BEFORE the race, and then enjoy the race day. This half runs across the Golden Gate bridge and has some hills in it. I met up with few serious hill running ladies this week and they showed me how it was done! I took a photo of us before we headed up a brutal 400 foot 1 mile climb. In the rain. Once we got to the top of that hill, everything else seemed easy (even though we were a long way from home)! I am so thankful to have strong, beautiful encouraging women in my life.

So anyways, I've moved to the fun part of running and I'm very excited about it. I wish I could always be in this phase! This might surprise non-runners, but not I don't lose weight when I train for a half. However it does tighten me up nad I've probably lost an inch from both my waist and hips. I have tried for many years to "be a runner" and for years I thought I could lose my weight BY running. But it was not until I got to my goal weight and was much lighter on my feet that I could actually, truly run. Until then I just hiked a lot and ran the downhills.

Simplified Bug Juice
I am grain-free, legume-free, rice-free (Paleo, gluten-free, Wheat Belly, Fast Track whatever you want to call it) and training for a half. At first my body was getting very tired during running, like my muscles just had nothing left to give. The introduction of the minute muffin has been a big help. I often have it before a run, and I used always run on an empty stomach. I also have a Nuun electrolyte supplement before long runs, and will do both of these on race day. I am not limiting my carb intake from vegetables. If it's green and grows, I'm eating it.  I also make a daily Spinach Drink, calling it a Spinach Shake would be way to generous. It is just a humongous handful of organic fresh spinach, squirt of flax seed oil, 1tbsp soaked chia seeds, 10 organic blueberries then filled with water. It is just like my old Bug Juice, but simpler. I drink that whole blender full and love it! I have a ton more energy this week because of it (I think).

I will probably allow myself some simple carbs the day before and directly after the half marathon. I've read that it helps repair your muscles. I don't know for sure, but heck, who cares! We leave for Spring Break in Hawaii a few days after the race. I'm really excited that I'll be at in my best shape for a swimsuit vacation! W00t!

Judo Champs!
I also had to share that my boys both placed 2nd in their age groups at a Judo tournament recently. They started Judo when I started running for reals, we were all trying something new, different and scary. We all stepped outside our comfort zones. I am proud do say that we have all stuck to it over a year later! I usually prepare my kids for any competition by letting them know it's okay not to win, in fact it's not very likely, there will lots of kids there, so just do your best. But a total Tiger Mom girlfriend told me I should set their expectations higher. She gave me a real talking to about this, and I realized she had some good points. So I tried this for the first time before the tourney "Come on boys, you can do this! Remember all the training, use all your strength, be aggressive, don't be afraid to use the moves you learned. You can WIN this!". The husband and boys looked at me like I was some sort of alien, but I think it worked! (My oldest is very timid and needed this encouragement and permission to be aggressive and yes, my little guy is sporting a mohawk)

I want to encourage YOU to step outside your comfort zone and try something new and different. Something that sounds crazy and impossible. Something only a strong person could, something only the new and improved YOU could do!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Zucchini Noodles and a Casserole

I have been Grain-Free since October after reading Dr. Gary Davis's book Wheat Belly. I really, honestly at this stage do not miss the grains and I highly recommend this book if you are doing any low carb diet. They are NOT what makes you feel full and satisfied, protein and fat are what does that. I used to make lots of casseroles, back in the day. But without rice or noodles, how so you make a casserole? You have to get creative! Here is a "Zucchini Noodle" casserole I enjoy making.

It starts by using this little Julienne Veggie Slicer I picked up at my grocery store. You can use it on anything, but with zucchini it makes perfect spaghetti-like noodles. It is like a regular vegetable peeler, but has a serrated edge on one side that does the trick.

I combined my "noodles" with oven baked bacon, Alfredo sauce, shredded Parmesan and 1/2 a diced tomato, layering it just like you would a regular casserole. I baked at 400 until it was nice and bubbly (about 25  minutes), and starting to brown on top. You could use a number of different ingredients with yours, ricotta, chicken or ground beef. I'd love hear what you come up with for a grain-free casserole!

I just love this new little tool! It will work well on eggplant, potatoes and daikon and other veggies too. Previously I have used a regular peeler to make wider zucchini noodles and love those recipes too! (See my grain-free Fauxccini Alfredo HERE and lasagna HERE). If you are counting sugar and carbs, the S/C Value will depend on what all you put in your casserole, your specific sauce and amount of zucchini. Mine turned out to be 8/2 for the entire casserole, I ate half of it and it was my whole dinner.

Just a quick note: I have updated my blog roll Great BFC Blogs and moved it to my right column. These are all great blogs dedicated to Jorge Cruise's Belly Fat Cure and Fast Track, and a few good Paleo sites. It lists the 10 most recent posts, so be sure and check out these sites! If you have a BFC Blog that I don't have listed, please leave a comment and let me know, I'd be happy to add your's too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Few Changes in Maintenance

After a good (hard) run - but I'm still
smiling so it couldn't be that bad
I am in maintenance with my weight loss and I have committed to going grain-free for a year. Partially this is to support my sister in her 1 year, 100 lbs challenge, but I'd like to see what this will do to my body. The book Wheat Belly really spoke to me and I had originally committed to just 2 months of grain-free. Right at the two month mark I REALLY struggled greatly with cravings and then BOOM! they went away, along with any desire for grains. I maintain about above 5 lbs of my goal weight of 143, and I'd love to maintain AT my goal weight or maybe 5 lbs lower (is that so much to ask?)

Here are a few changes I've implemented to accomplish that:
  1. I am officially grain-free and am doing Jorge Cruise's Fast Track. No wheat, flour, legumes, corn or artificial sweeteners. 
  2. I gave up cream (and half/half)! A little cream in my many cups of coffee and tea throughout the day was adding up. So I just stopped buying it. My coffee was awful the first week, now it's good (but not great) again.
  3. I tried giving up Dark Chocolate - this didn't work and made me reach out to other less worthy snacks. I <3 Midnight Reverie (Dark Chocolate reviews)
  4. I tried having Chia Seed Pudding for a daily snack. I loved it, but it upset my stomach :(
  5. I have the minute muffin every weekday, as kind of a brunch. I guess I am skipping breakfast or having a very late breakfast. But I have to be very careful, since that triggers binge eating for me. (Minute Muffin recipe)
  6. I am running 3+ times a week in preparation for the US Half in San Francisco on Easter morning. I have not lost any weight, but my rear-end has much more muscle tone (yea!)
  7. I bought some really good, chemical free shampoo and gave up my No-Poo (no shampoo) experiment. The Husband is staying No-Poo, he loves it. My hair grew super fast during the 9 months I was shampoo free. BTW, everyone thinks I'm totally weird for this ;)
  8. I've been logging all my food in My Fitness Pal for several weeks. SO interesting to see what all my Carb, Sugar, Fiber and even Calorie and Fat intake is. I average about 45 carbs and 10 sugars. (How to use MFP on the Belly Fat Cure)
  9. My rings are so loose I have to get them resized or stop wearing them. One fell off in the sink washing my hands! This makes me nervous and sounds like such a permanent thing.
My beautiful trail run
Using My Fitness Pal has been a real eye opener and I totally recommend it. For example, who knew 1 Tbsp of Cinnamon had 5 grams of carbs and 4 grams of fiber? Both cauliflower and cabbage can add up on sugars too. All veggies have sugar and I've have always underestimated their S/C Value, until logging it in MFP. Interesting. In the Fast Track we don't actually count S/C Value, but I like to know where I stand in the scheme of things.

I have guests the next few weeks and need to prepare food for regular carb eating people. It's one thing to have friends over and serve a single meal that fits my diet, but they are here for awhile and have kids. So I need to make "regular people" food too. This will be difficult for me, I am spoiled with my family's acceptance of my diet. And I don't want my friends constantly checking out what I eat (or don't eat!). We will definitely be eating out more and having more alcohol. My plan is to make grain-free main dish/sides and then add in bread or rice on the side, instead of mixing it in.

That is what is up with me! How is everyone else doing with their 2012 goals?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Redux

I originally posted my Cauliflower Crust Pizza about 18 months ago. Since then I have experimented with it quite a bit and I think I have it perfected! The main difference is microwaving the cauliflower before pressing it into a crust. I make this every weekend, when my Husband whips up his awesome "regular pizza" for the kids. Their's looks and smells great, but I don't feel like I'm missing anything! So if you haven't tried Cauliflower Crust Pizza, give it a try! If you tried it before and didn't love it, give this recipe a chance. You get a plateful of Vitamin C and antioxidants with the Cauliflower, plus delicious toppings! It's worth another try.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza Redux Recipe
1/2 a Medium Head or 1/3 of a Large Head of Cauliflower
1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheeses
1 Egg

Most importantly choose a low sugar sauce like Seeds of Change, Trader Joe's Three Marinara or Pesto. This is where you can get creative and add whatever you like - my of the toppings are 'Belly Good".

Crust How To:
Shred the fresh/raw cauliflower with a cheese grater, including the stems. Mince the parts that you could not grate. Microwave for about 1:30 minutes. Press out any moisture with a clean hand towel. The less moisture, the crispier the crust will be. Add the egg and 1/2 mozzarella and mix really well. Cover your cookie sheet/pizza pan with parchment paper. Spread the cauliflower mixture on top of the parchment paper as thin as you can, without leaving any holes. I run a fork over the whole crust to make it flat and even. I also use a few paper towels to soak up any extra liquid but pressing it into the crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Before you bake the Cauliflower Crust
Remove from the oven and add your toppings. It should be browned and a little crispy around the edges. This is the fun part and you can add anything you want, pretty much. Just watch the sugar content on your sauce. Load it up with proteins, skinny fats and veggies and you won't miss the bread crust with all that flavor.
After baking it is browned and a little crusty
Old Standby - Plain ol' pepperoni with mozzarella and red sauce, I use Trader Joe's Three Cheese Marina
Mix it up - Fresh mozzerella (the kind stored in water), pesto and spicy sausage or hamburger (top photo)
Gourmet - Pesto, artichoke hearts and goat's cheese

Bake another 10 minutes at 400, until all the toppings are bubbly. If you did it just right, you can even hold it like a pizza slice, although I usually eat it with a fork. You can bake longer, spread the crust thinner or add more cheese or egg to the crust if it didn't turn out right. But this combo has been working great for me.

I am currently doing Jorge Cruise's Fast Track plan, which is completely grain-free. Cauliflower Crust Pizza is great on that plan and regular Belly Fat Cure and Paleo plans too. Enjoy! Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite toppings on your pizza!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ladies Love Their Wine

One lesson I have learned on this diet, the ladies love their wine. Most diets severely limit or completely eliminate alcohol during the losing phase.  But on the Belly Fat Cure we can have up to two glasses a day.

When I did my Q&A with Nicole she mentioned how a glass of wine killed her desire for a nightly snack. I know many other women who have a glass of wine regularly, and lost their weight. I personally just drink socially, and usually not at home. But I love that I have the freedom to do that.

Does alcohol count on the Belly Fat Cure and a low sugar diet? Yes, it counts (everything counts). I leave room in my carbohydrate count S/C Value for that meal or day when I have it. I will forgo the pasta, starch at a meal and have a glass of white wine when we eat out sometimes. Every wine is a little different and if you consistently drink one brand it is worth looking up its exact nutritional data. But in general here is a guide for 5 oz of different wines:

Something called Ice Wine is very popular here, but I had trouble finding nutritional information for it. It is a sweeter white.

My list can be downloaded or printed via Google Docs HERE. I'll continue to update it!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

1 Year 100 Pounds: Month 2 Weigh In

Misha - Month 2

Hey all!  As I hit the scales today with January and February behind me, I took a deep breath, looked to the heavens and looked down between my toes. 6.5 pounds down for February! That gives me a 2 month total of a nice, round 20 pounds!  So – yaaaayyy for me…<insert preferred victory dance>.
I’ve been a bit quieter this month, but frankly, I didn’t want to jinx it.  So with two months in my back pocket (my smaller back pocket), I’ve increased my self confidence.  I’ve been having lots of fun with my food plan on the Wheat Belly Diet. Once again, the less carbs you eat, the easier it is to stay on ANY program. Those constant hunger pangs no longer taunt me. It’s just about being vigilant and informed.
Successes I had in February? 
The last half, I entered all my food into MY FITNESS PAL. As Amber has shared, it’s a great website (and android/iphone app) for tracking all sorts of things. Although Wheat Belly doesn’t track any specific numbers, it kept me honest and informed. I plan on continuing this for March.

I also bought a long sought after VITAMIX blender. Had some fun the first few days flirting with smoothies that contained berries, but decided to back off those and leave them for the kids. It turned me into a soup queen. I made the best butternut squash, baby zucchini & tomato, and cauliflower soups and purees. I also made some oils with red, yellow and orange roasted bell peppers. I do love to cook and really had fun with this in February.

I made the flaxseed muffin that we’ve all been trying. I added about 8 or 9 pecan halves (that I smashed up) and it was superb! If you haven’t tried it; try it. You’ll be amazed.
I found a great chocolate (decaf) tea by STASH to cuddle up on the couch and sip in the evening. It’s like a weaker version of hot chocolate…and this one has a hint of mint that is really yummy and satisfying. My little Tea for One pot/cup makes me feel special, calms me and allows me to celebrate the end of another great day where I make ME my priority. And that’s what this year is about!
The big news is, - there’s really no big news. No drastic changes. No sacrifices. Just living and following my steps every day. Planning, reading, journaling and following through. I am 20 pounds down in my journey to lose 100 pounds this year. This is happening! March is going to be great month for me. Make it a great month for you, too!
Sister M