I’ve spent most of my life working in various areas of the life insurance industry. Currently I am back where I started over 41 years ago as an underwriter specializing in mortality risk assessment. My job is to understand what kills people. Sounds simple but it’s not that simple. As a creative and destructive species people have figured out a myriad of ways to kill themselves. When someone applies for life insurance I figure out what is most likely to kill them and charge an appropriate rate for the risk. I really like what I do. Each and every day is another opportunity to learn and improve.
I also love to cook. The Boss has to declare a No Cook Night otherwise I will cook. This love started early watching my father cook supper every night. Dad was a great cook and I had a role model from the beginning. One day I asked him
“Why do you cook?”
“You’ve tasted your Mother’s cooking. Survival.”
Eat to live. Not live to eat. For me, this was a hard lesson learned. Before the age of 20 I weighed over 370 pounds. I’ve used 370 as my highest weight but it could have been higher. I stopped weighing myself because I really didn’t want to know how heavy I was. The story of how is for another time but suffice to say I managed to lose 200 pounds by the time I turned 21. As the years have passed my weight has slowly crept up. I’m proud to be near 190 pounds and approximately 180 pounds lighter than my personal peak. Eat to live, not the other way around. I’ve learned not only how to lose weight but how to keep the pounds off.
I’m a published writer. It’s been decades since I’ve published any of my writing but I’m still a published writer. I maintain two blogs and a journal. This short piece started in my journal and ended up public. This food blog got started to share family recipes. Over time it has changed to the point where I now describe this blog as a food memoir. Now I’m beginning to think the description should be changed again. There is a lot more space devoted to nutrition science which used to be posted on my other blog. For now though, food memoir still works.
One of the fascinating things about writing here is how the recipes are not the dishes I grew up with eating my Dad’s cooking. You also won’t find a lot of the recipes I made years ago for my own family. Some family favorites are here but not many Box Project recipes. For example I pulled one of my “favorites” from the box, handwritten on a white lined 3 x 5 index card. It’s an old James Beard chicken recipe that is delicious. When was the last time I made this dish? I can’t remember. I suspect that many of the recipes I considered to be family favorites I no longer make. What I’m learning is I don’t cook nor eat the same as I did when I was younger. As Dr. Wareham says you start with one good habit at a time. I say you also stop one bad habit at a time (but I did quit smoking, drinking Jack, and start running all at the same time).
The writing, research, and recipes that end up here are mostly where I am at now. And that’s fine. There’s a pot of Vegan Chili Beans on the stove as I’m writing. Defiinitely not a family favorite recipe from the past. But it might just become a family favorite for now and the future.
- 1 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 C sweet onion, diced
- 2 large carrots,peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, diced, skin on
- 1 medium green squash, diced
- 1 to 1 1/4 pound top blade roast
- 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
- 4 large white button mushrooms, thick dice
- 1/2 C frozen corn
- garlic powder, to taste
- pinch dried parsley
- pinch dried thyme
- 1 quart organic beef broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
Makes about four healthy servings.
- In a small stockpot heat olive oil until hot. Salt and pepper the roast. Brown the beef on both sides over medium high heat.
- Add the celery and onion. Reduce heat to medium and saute for several minutes.
- Add garlic powder and thyme. Add enough broth to almost but not completely cover the roast. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer.
- Simmer slowly for two hours.
- After two hours, remove the roast to a cutting board and allow to cool.
- Add the rest of the beef broth and tomatoes to the pot.
- Add the potatoes and carrots. Simmer for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes add the squash , mushrooms and corn. Simmer for another 30 minutes.
- When the roast is cooled, trim any excess fat, cube and add to the soup.
- Adjust your seasonings. Add parsley.
My meals since Friday evening have been soup, cereal, soup, soup, toast/banana, soup, and soup. The jeans are getting a little loose. I cannot remember a weekend of such healthy eating ever. Yes, The Boss is still sick. Friday I made chicken soup. Last night I made Vegetarian Vegetable Soup. Today I decided upon Beef Vegetable for a change in pace.
A high quality beef vegetable soup is the end result of the right cut of beef and some high quality broth. This recipe is semi-organic because most of the ingredients were organic but some were not. The beef broth was hand selected store bought prepared organic broth. I used top blade which IMO makes a big difference due to the cut and marbling.
I remembered the mushrooms. Use vegetables you have on hand. I also decided to leave out peas because peas are not one of my favorite vegetables. The corn adds a touch of sweetness. Note the roast is braised whole for several hours, cooled, cubed and returned to the soup. The beef stays tender this way. You won’t end up with tiny hockey pucks.
A salad on the side and crusty bread would make this a meal.
So would a three pound top blade roast. But with that much beef you might as well make Pot Roast.
Source: Plant-Based Diet Helps Native Americans Overcome Diabetes – Nutrition Studies
The chart above is reproduced from the source article and demonstrates prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the respective populations. Original source reference is also documented in the source article.
Stay as thin as you can as long as you can.
Your pancreas will thank you.
Mac and cheese, chili, eggs, hash browns, omelets, buffalo wings—probably not what you’re thinking of when you hear “burger toppings.” What happened to the good old days when a burger was a patty, a bun, and maybe some lettuce, tomato, and mayo?
Source: These restaurant burgers are over the top – Nutrition Action
I like the 2900 calorie platter!
Followed over time, vegetarian diets were associated with a substantially lower incidence of diabetes, indicating the potential of these diets to stem the current diabetes epidemic.
We see the same step-wise drop in rates of another leading killer, high blood pressure. The greater the proportion of plant foods, the lower the rates of hypertension, and the same with excess body fat. The only dietary group not on average overweight were those eating diets composed exclusively of plant foods, but again there was the same incremental drop with fewer and fewer animal products. This suggests that it’s not black and white, not all or nothing, any steps we can make along this spectrum of eating healthier may accrue significant benefits.
Source: What About Eating Just a Little Meat? | NutritionFacts.org
Source: PLOS ONE: Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG
Source: Millennials and A Plant-Based Diet. Better Food, Better Choices.
Each and every meal is a choice. Make good choices. In my 20’s I pursued a vegetarian lifestyle for about two years. Towards the end of that period I was eschewing dairy and eggs. Then I stopped my veggie ways. The reason? I missed pizza. The lessons learned however were not lost. I thoroughly enjoy meatless meals now but if I want a piece of dead cow, I’ll eat dead cow.
Try not to get caught up in right vs. wrong. Use your common sense. Do not become the woman who fed her 11 month old nuts and fruit. Just nuts and fruit!
Make wise, informed choices. Understand as I have your need for calories decrease with age. You have to eat less the older you are. Strive towards more plant based meals and you’ll be OK. Just don’t get too fruity or nutty about it all.
The good news: fewer hungry people around the world. The bad news: Increased consumption of processed foods is pushing up global rates of overweight and obesity.
Source: Across The Globe, Our Diets Are Making Us Sicker, Report Finds : The Salt : NPR
So fast food and sugary soda makes you fat? Seriously?
At my personal peak of adiposity I tipped the scale at 370 pounds. Over the years I’ve done the classic weight loss and gain yo-yo from a low of 163 after my initial weight loss to a current weight of 195. I taught myself how to lose weight and the diet strategies to keep the weight off.
I should write a book.