The game is afoot.

  • I collect Magic Cards, but I haven’t really played since college.  Mostly I just put decks together.  I’ll buy a booster pack or holiday box or whatever and start seeing what cards go together.  I’m not even really up to speed on a lot of the new abilities–energy counters, etc.–that have been added in recent years.  I might try to sell a few decks at some point.  I really don’t need the two dozen or so decks I’m working on.  I mean, I might like to play a few of them (the Chandra one, the Elf Deck, the Vampire Deck, Red/White Angel Deck) but most of them are ones I don’t really need.
  • Going to start working on a series of Magic the Gathering drawings soon.  Already did a Chandra sketch card, planning to do some some of those.  Maybe something more complex.  Going to try to get back to page work in the near future.  Problem is I always want to do ten pages when I should do one.  And burn myself out.  I have no pacing whatsoever.  Working on that.
  • Officially done bulking.  Got up to 180 pounds.  Pretty pleased about that, although I did briefly hope to get up to 200 pounds.  Combination of factors got in the way, but 180 was the goal along.  My general plan is to cut down to 170 or so.  The biggest thing has just been trying to learn to work with my body, not against it.  The big issue is still sleep, but not much to be done about that for now.  Kind of a body and mind thing.
  • Tried a new pre-workout that somebody gave me a sample of.  Stuff called 5150.  I think I read that it has 8 different types of caffeine.  Very powerful stuff.  If anybody wants to try it, be warned: it is very intense.
  • Thinking about trying to make Meatballs or something different than I’ve been making.
  • I wrote the other day about my experiences growing up on the family farm and been pondering that a bit more.  Basically I’ve gained more insight into a lot of what unfolded regarded my family’s history in farming and it has given me some new avenues of thought.  I don’t deny those experiences did give me a more pessimistic view of farming–and also of opportunities I was presented with, but that’s a story for another year.  Trying not to get into what ifs, but I do believe there were opportunities I could have done a lot with.  And maybe new options will present themselves.  I’m always keeping an eye open.
  • I find myself pondering options and opportunities.  The average person will change careers seven times.  I have to wonder if in trying to create a stable workplace, do employers limit the ability of workers to find better options and opportunities.  I get paid $22 and some change an hour with good benefits where I work, but does that pay rate keep me from seriously considering a job where I might be happier?  Where I might have better opportunities for advancement and more flexibility to pursue other endeavors?  And does the effort to maintain a stable workplace keep employers from finding people who are potentially better fits?  Stability and comfort can be as much a hindrance as a help.
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Healthy Choices

May 21, 2016

I never buy or use ketchup.  I used it all the time when I was a kid, but over the years I have come to the conclusion that it just is not that good in any way.  When I started looking at the ingredients I realized that the stuff is more corn syrup than anything else.  Two of the first three ingredients are corn syrup.  So I tried an experiment to see if food tasted better with or without it.  In my mind, food tasted better.  You could actually taste it.  I recall hearing that ketchup does mask the taste of food years ago and I think that’s spot on.  You’re basically drowning your food in sugar, so not using it means your actually giving yourself an opportunity to taste the food.

Of course, like any sugary substance, it becomes addicting.  I need all the fingers and toes to count the number of people who cannot fathom eating without plastering their fries or baked beans in the stuff.  It shouldn’t be all that surprising that I have gotten a lot of odd looks over this issue.  I had a girlfriend who would be in near hysterics because I would never buy the stuff.  She ended up buying a family sized container of the stuff at some point just for herself.  Needless to say, I had much eye rolling.  It was always a challenge for me because I would look at her and think, “You’ve got this sugar and alcohol intolerance/allergy and you’re basically plastering your food in sugar?  Seriously?”  I didn’t really push that too hard because I know all the sugar they put into it makes an addiction–plus the social conditioning of having it on the table growing up, my dad also throws a fit if he doesn’t have ketchup with various things–and it can be difficult to break that.

Okay, now that I’m done with my little rant about ketchup, on to the meat and potatoes of today’s writing.  Healthy choices.  When you get down to it, we’re set up to make a lot unhealthy ones.

It is important to do little things.  I find I am healthier without ketchup.  Cutting out stuff that doesn’t do you any good is more valuable than anything.  That’s probably the most misleading element of a gluten free diet.  That usually involves cutting out alcohol and junk food.  Of course you’ll feel better initially.  However, something I’ve also read is that unless you actually have Celiacs, you should not go gluten free.  There a lot of glutens that are good for you, so cutting those out too can do some damage.

I’ve taken to mixing a couple of teaspoons of Apple Cider Vinegar with water and drink it–usually with a bit of maple syrup mixed in because the vinegar is potent.  Doing that is supposed to improve your digestion and I have observed quite an improvement in my general health as a result.  Have not gotten sick as often as I used to–when I do, I blame working nights and sleep depravation.  Even think it might have helped me to start making more progress at the gym.

I recently started mixing a teaspoon of Cocoa nibs with my breakfast yogurt.  Something I read about recently, where you get a lot of good cancer preventing things and it supposedly helps your mood.  It was one of five things they suggested for improving mood, the others being: kale, tea, kefir and mackerel.  Yeah, the mackerel thing does seem a bit weird, but not as weird as some things I’ve heard.  Has been good.  Mixes well with the yogurt, might look into some cooking with them.  One of the main things I’ve been concerned about over the last year is getting back to a healthy mentality and this is another little way to improve things.

Just wanted to share a handful of thoughts on healthy food and diet choices, some stuff that has worked or is working for me.

 

Meal Prep

March 18, 2016

Meal Preparations.  Kinda touched on this with the 80% of a plan post.  It’s bodybuilding thing where they make most of their meals in advance with carefully measured protein, caloric intake, carbs, and whatever else might be worth worrying about.  I occasionally try some of those recipes with varying levels of success.  Usually for cookies.  Tastes better than one might expect, although cooking with protein powder can be a bitch.  Also figuring sweeteners can be a pain in the ass.  Stevia is way too strong for my tastes.  Anyway, just wanted to go into a bit more detail about my food plan as I try to maximize my efforts in eating better.  Breakfast doesn’t change much.  Yogurt and Oatmeal, although I might try to diversify that a bit, incorporate more fruits.  Snacks obviously happen.

Lunches will probably remain pretty light, likely a smaller portion of dinner from the previous night.  Something like Cheese Steaks make sense.  Basically cut up the ingredients, toss them in a frying pan and go.  Chips or something on the side.

Today I made my usual standby of chicken parm with kale and a heap of garlic.  A bit of heavy thing to make, but I like it.  Pretty basic, most of the work is slicing or breaking up the chicken, garlic or kale.  Solid meal there.  I usually use a 1-1.5 pounds of chicken, a pound of pasta, a pound of pasta sauce–usually Newman’s Own of some variety–a package of mushrooms, a bundle of kale and an arbitrary amount of garlic.  Like I said, most of the work in cutting the chicken and garlic–might invest in a garlic press to make that a bit faster–and breaking up the kale.  Might take twenty minutes to a half hour–depending on organization and prep time–with most of it just stirring the frying pan.  Those amounts might make five to six largish portions, though I could potentially stretch it to seven or eight if I tried.  Would like to get this going with garlic bread as a side.

Hoping when my hours change I will be able to accomplish two things: get back to a more diverse meal plan where it is a bit more balanced and less frozen shit I just have to throw into the oven.  As much as I love my shrimp spring rolls, I’d rather keep those in reserve.  Or for lunches.  That might be a good quick lunch option.  Home cooked stuff usually lasts for more meals anyway.

Here are some ideas I have that I would like to start a rotation with the chicken parm.

Beef Stroganoff–This recipe was one of my standbys.  Usually I added the mushrooms.  Good for several hearty meals.  This one really is just an evening meal if only because it makes me want to pass out.  Very filling.  I always thought it had a good flavor.  Given that it included pasta, just added a veggie like green beans.  Planning to make this to celebrate getting off of nights.

Tacos–Another recipe I like, that I have used before.  This has a good flavor to it as well.  Tacos are versatile in that they can be a good salad type option.  The blue shells are good for some diversity and maybe healthier?  I have to look into that to be sure.  The various items you can add over the majority of the food spectrum, so I never worried too much about a side here.

Ranch Chicken–Fairly simple, another good one.  The flavor tends to bake in quite well.  Bit on the heavy side though.  Usually served with taters and a veggie–carrots or something.

Shepherd’s Pie–Who doesn’t love Shepherd’s Pie?  Everything in one dish.  Never really had a set recipe for it, but I had a bit of luck with it.

I would like to try this, this and this at some point.  Seafood stuff I am intrigued by.

That’s five so far that I’ve actually tried, another three that I haven’t.  I probably won’t be satisfied until I have ten to fifteen to work through.  My goal is to have a system where leftovers cover a certain number of meals.  I don’t like the idea of “Monday is this… Tuesday is that…” I would like to have a varying rotation.

One of my minimal effort options has been a box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese, with tuna or salmon added.  I had a bad experience with the recipe a few weeks ago, where the can of salmon I used had a complete set of vertebrae mixed in with the meat, so that’s one thing that can throw it off.  Needless to say, I’m not using that brand anymore.  Usually add some Cream of Mushroom Soup to thicken it up a bit.  Might try to get away from using a box of Annie’s too often anyways.  I like options that are not necessarily complicated, but complex.  There’s a short list of things I’m not going to make anymore.  Like I said I’m trying to get away from frozen stuff, but I’m always trying to minimize grilled cheese sandwiches or pigs-in-a-blanket or whatever I improvise in five minutes if only because they don’t have any real work to them.  Feeding yourself or someone else is serious business and should involve some effort.  There’s a spirituality and sensuality to cooking and abbreviating the process diminishes that or robs it completely.

I’m always on the look out for new recipes or ideas to try, expand the selection a bit.  May also try to like beans.  I have tried, but most times I’ve tried to like beans I struggle.  Baked beans seem alright, I will try them again.  For some reason beans in chili and tacos bother me more.  Not necessarily that there are beans there, but more the quantity.  That might be the point of chili, but I think too many beans dry out the taco meat too much.  Overrides everything and makes it an unbalanced meal.  Meals are supposed to be about balance.  Starches, Veggies and Proteins balanced out for nutrition.

Grilling is always a good option during the summer–and if during the winter if you got the stuff for it.  I like grilling a little too much.  This summer I intend to master grilling veggies and seafood.  Had some good luck shrimp and grilled up some halfway decent salmon in the past, would like to try some of the various other seafood.  I also really want to try grilling Turkey and Venison.  Just because I want to.

And I have over a thousand words talking about food.  I’m sure some people are going to hate me for this.  I didn’t intend to go that long.

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