Posts Tagged ‘hypoglycemia

18
Jan
11

my good friend protein

Chris Sturr, with whom I’ve shared many a fondue pot (so you know this is not too serious), recently suggested through J-P that I try the Zone Diet concept to make sure I get enough protein to prevent the cranky shakes. Basically, you think of foods as “blocks,” with 7 grams of protein equaling a block of protein, 9 grams (not counting dietary fiber) for a block of carbs, and 3 grams for a block of fats. You try to keep those blocks in a 1:1:1 ratio, and eat totals that bring you up to daily intakes recommended based on your lean body mass and activity level. Fair enough.

My biggest beef is not with the pseudoscience crufted around the basic idea (unavoidable in nutrition writing), but with the books’ inherent bias toward meat eating. To make it easy for you–so that you don’t have to “gram it out”–the books call certain amounts of meat or dairy “protein blocks,” with all greens and all beans except soy classed as “carb blocks.” What about spinach? It’s 1 protein to 0.4 carbs. Or broccoli and cauliflower, each about 1:1 (slightly in favor of carbs). Lentils and split peas, the same. And the rest of the beans aren’t so bad: 1:1.3 for black beans, 1:1.75 for chickpeas. Not that I’m going to go hippie, but Dr. Sears would have me eat three quarters of a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast each day–and I’m not about to do that, either.

Speaking of skinless: I also routinely go way over my daily allotment of fat. But my cholesterol is fine, and my estimated body fat percentage is a couple of points below their “ideal woman.” It doesn’t seem to be hurting me.

Complaints aside, I will keep a food diary for a little while, to see what tweaks I can make, and whether coming closer to 1:1:1 has any noticeable effects. If I find anything interesting, I’ll let you know.

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23
Jul
10

food for bike camping

adjusting the flame
More pictures through the link.

Favorite new toy: Our Jet Boil camp stove. It looks like an oversized insulated coffee cup; that’s the cooking vessel. Packed inside are fuel, stove with igniter, plastic cup, and French press attachment. Efficient and terribly clever.

Lesson learned: Beans, especially in the form of instant bean soups, really foam. Turn off the heat before you add them to the water, lest you have to reach through a boiling cascade to turn it off after. J-P is very brave.

Comparative instant dinners: Casbah’s lemon & spinach couscous is merely all right. Definitely enhanced by the addition of real lemon juice, salt, and chorizo. The instant black bean soup from the Rainbow bulk bin, on the other hand, is delicious. Salt and chorizo still didn’t hurt.

Unexpected standout: Concentrated Concord grape juice. We spiked two bike bottles with it while preparing post-hike dinner the second night. They were the best possible thing right then.

Lifesaver: Foil packet of peanut butter with honey, consumed somewhere on the Wolf Ridge Trail, when chickpeas just weren’t delivering the goods fast enough anymore. (Wildlife bonus: a hummingbird settled onto a nearby branch while I had my hummingbird moment. Spirit animal much?)

Admission: Especially in the chilly damp, I did miss the eggs, bacon, and potatoes of my family’s car camping days. Just a little. Luckily, we have friends who will go car camping with us. In the short term, we had brunch at Boogaloos when we got back to SF.

19
Jul
10

we’re going camping

So I am preparing chickpeas and hard-cooked eggs. (It’s less tragic if the eggs crack once they’re cooked.) We’re also taking pre-packaged lemon-spinach couscous (if there ever were a time for flavored convenience foods, this seems to be it), instant black bean soup, Spanish chorizo, saltines, granola, dried fruit, nuts, food bars, chocolate-covered coconut, blueberries, foil packets of nut butters, grape juice concentrate, some apples, a lemon, some salt, and ground coffee. I insisted that corn tortillas and nopales would be great additions to our stash, but saltines won out over the tortillas for some reason, and J-P inexplicably naysaid the nopales. (They’re flat, lightweight…) We’re only out for two nights, and we’ll be near Sausalito, but we’re still being very careful to cater to my tendency toward metabolic collapse.

This will be the first time we’ve camped since Labor Day weekend 2003, when we went to a star party in the Berkshires, where a bunch of astronomers had gathered to view Mars at perigee. It’s Labor Day weekend, we thought. How cold can it get? The answer was 34 degrees Farenheit. We had a tent but no sleeping bags, just blankets. By nightfall we were wearing every scrap of clothing we’d taken with us, and the Boy Scouts made a lot of money selling us hot chocolate and coffee all night long. When we finally decided to try sleeping, we kept each other half awake with our attempts to burrow under the other for warmth. At daylight, we emerged from the tent to run up and down the hill we were on in the sunshine.

We swore never to do that again until we were properly prepared for it, and now is the time. A little over a week ago, we went to REI for sleeping bags, a bigger tent, headlamps, and a camp stove (Jet Boil, a technological marvel with a French press attachment). This weekend, we explored Rainbow Grocery’s selection of dehydrated and instant foods. This afternoon, we bike to Bicentennial Campground in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area.

04
Jul
10

comparative breakfast

In Helsinki, the Klaus K laid out a very satisfying breakfast for its guests. I gorged on salmon, trout salad, cheese, ham, brown bread with salty butter, mixed fruit, and coffee. Besides that, pullas and other sweet breads, fresh fruit juices, soft-boiled eggs, roast beef, muesli, yogurt, oatmeal, and tea were available. I ate what seemed like a lot, especially compared to the daily bagel that J-P and I have at home, but it wasn’t just gluttony; it was an experiment. The results? With a brick of protein sitting in my stomach, the need for second breakfast doesn’t overwhelm me at 10, and lunch by 11:30 isn’t a necessity. In fact, I didn’t have much appetite for lunch, at least not compared to normal. I was prepared to skip it the first day, although Patty caught me up in her search for a midday meal around 2:30. The second day, despite a late-morning run, I was content at nearly 1 with small helpings of stewed reindeer (psst: it tastes like venison), mashed potatoes, green salad, and stuffed cabbage leaf.

On the day we returned to England, I breakfasted on a so-called protein shake, a banana, and a pastry. The sugar crash returned with a vengeance. I found myself sweating and shaking in a byway between Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and its bus terminal, letting J-P choose a vending machine snack for me while I chugged desperately at a Coca-Cola. It was more or less empty calories all the way to dinner on the Isle of Wight, and I felt more gluttonous than I ever did in Helsinki. So I imagine the two approaches at least balance out, calorie-wise, and certainly the big-breakfast approach feels better all around.

The Isle of Wight also did well by breakfast. There was a buffet (meager by comparison) of cereals, yogurt, fruit, pastries, and juices, and guests could also order a hot meal with toast and caffeine. I particularly enjoyed the English breakfast plate with beans, a sausage, two slices of bacon, an egg, a grilled tomato half, and a grilled portobello.

Of course, eating half my weight in salmon or pork every morning is by no means sustainable, no matter how much I might enjoy it. But the smoked trout that Klaus K offered is better, at least for now, and so are sardines.

Further experimentation so far supports my hypothesis that my stomach can handle soft-cooked farm-fresh eggs with little complaint. Beans are also an option, whether English/Boston-style or Guatemalan/Mexican-style. And an inadvertent experiment at Ginny’s hands seems to show that whole-wheat pancakes, accompanied by maple syrup and a little yogurt, are worlds less disruptive to my metabolism than white-flour ones. (She fluffs them up by beating the egg whites frothy, and they’re great.) Mark Bittman also has suggestions for hearty but meat-light breakfasts, and I might have to try my hand at kedgeree, a fish-and-rice breakfast popular in Victorian England.

Speaking of Victorian England, my vacation reading (The Smell of the Continent: The British Discover Europe) informed me that differences in expected meal times and content were a point of contention between traveling Brits and their Continental hosts as modern tourism developed during the long nineteenth century. Tour organizers, travel agents, and eventually large hotels were sure to advertise “meat breakfasts,” but even late in the century, satisfying the British desire for a large early meal could be still difficult once off the beaten path. In southeastern France, one traveler complained, “A bowl of black coffee and a piece of bread is the only breakfast that one can expect in a rural auberge. To ask for butter would be looked upon as a sign of eccentric gluttony, but to demand bacon and eggs at seven in the morning would be to openly confess oneself capable of any crime.”