Monday, November 24, 2014

Low-Carb Cooking: Flax Meal Muffins with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've been doing low-carb for a long time and one of the things that I crave is desserts and pastries. I'm not a big bread person but who doesn't love a cupcake? One recipe that I see a lot are low-carb flax meal muffins made in a cup in the microwave and they've always been a little... flaxy. I decided to play with the recipe a little and try and make it a dessert.

I started with the recipe linked to above and modified it. I used cinnamon in it, about half a tea-spoon and added 4 Tablespoons of Stevia and nuked it for about a minute 40. It rises up really tall, but don't panic, it calms down and gets back down in the cup where it belongs.

While it was cooking I stirred a little over an ounce of cream cheese, some of Penzey's double strength vanilla, just a splash, and a splash of almond milk along with 3 Tablespoons of Stevia. It stirred up pretty thinly, not thick like a frosting but more like a glaze like you'd find on a cinnamon roll.

As soon as the cup was out of the microwave I dumped it onto a paper plate and let it cool for a bit before scraping the frosting onto it. When I cut it with the fork and ate it it was light and not packy and the cinnamon and frosting helped to tone down the nuttiness of the flax meal that typically bugs me with things made with flax meal. I think this would be really good with a banana and walnuts chopped into it. Maybe some banana extract in the frosting instead of vanilla.

I'm a fan of low-carb because I feel good when I'm on it and my bloodwork from the doctor's point of view is consistently good and better than before I was on Atkins. I'm happy when I find something good enough to share.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Review: The Kid Dies by Haji Outlaw

The Kid Dies by Haji Outlaw was free for the kindle edition and I grabbed it. The book's description looked interesting, from amazon, "This superb work of dark fiction, in the vein of Chuck Palahniuk and Cormac McCarthy, finds a female assassin with five kills remaining in order to exit her life of murder." Wooo... I liked Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. It's one of my top five favorite movies of all time. I even bought an autographed copy of the book because I loved it. And while I didn't LOVE The Road by Cormac McCarthy he's got a name like a Scottish barbarian so he's probably better than I think... his book's just too depressing though. If I want bleak I'll look out the window. Iowa winter's aren't known for their unbleakness (which is, evidently, not a real word).

On my kindle the book shows how far along I am in the book in percentages. I was late back from break. I was almost late back from lunch. I got an app for my phone so I could read later into the night without it hurting my eyes so I could read this book late. Great book for 96% of the book.

It had two amazing characters who could have whole series' written about them. A smart, talented, capable, attractive female assassin named Freya Simone. I loved her. She's like an anti-James Bond. So, great. Really liked her bits.

In the other story line was an 8 year old um... he's imprisoned in a prison for psychopathic criminals or something along those lines. He's described as completely without empathy, killed his own mother while he was being born; kills a fellow inmate/patient while the staff talks about how bad he is. Evidently he's also got psychic powers and they're really well written, well done. I liked it a lot. I liked HIM a lot as a bad guy though. He's not a bad guy we'd normally expect. 8 year old kid? Not your typical baddie. Cool twist. Sociopathic 8 year old with unstoppable mental powers? Muahahaha... bad news.

Then there was 2% of transition where I was um... not sure where things were going with the book and then the final 2% of the book happened and I realized the author had accidentally ended the wrong book. The whole book had built to something and it happened then there was an epilogue part of the book, a part like in the movie The Piano after the piano is pushed into the lake, stop watching there!!! Or Pay it Forward, you'll know where to end it. Don't keep watching! It's stupid! Well, this is the same way. After the scorpion goes down to the sand to do what scorpions do... STOP READING. Everything that comes after that goes back in time and retroactively wrecked the book for me because the story was retconned and warped and turned into a Bob Newhart "it's all a dream" kind of thing, no, it's not all a dream... it's just the ending was such a complete non-sequitur. Stop at the scorpion doing what scorpions do, seriously. Up to that part it's a GREAT book... after that... well, if you keep going don't blame me... seriously, he ended it weirdly... and it didn't add to the story or the book or the characters. It subtracted from all of those things.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Weight Loss & Me

Achievement Unlocked: Goal Weight Reached!

I used to cook a lot for me and my other half and we ate well and it was delicious (except the time I made tomato soup with soy milk, that was simply awful, I can't recommend it at all.) But, my meals were making us both bigger, a lot bigger than we wanted to be. So, I learned a new way to eat that is healthier for me and has gotten me from 205 lbs (93kg) down to what you see here in the fuzzy picture, 165lbs (75kg).

When I was at my biggest the doctor told me during my annual exam that I was what's it called? Pre-diabetic. Well, that's no good at all. So, taking a page from my Mom's playbook based on the assumption that I've got a 50% chance of having a metabolism similar to hers, I went on the Atkins diet and tried to make sure I walked 10k steps a day. There was a stint in there when I ran pretty regularly, but that's mostly over right now due to a knee injury I did to myself out of stupidity. Nothing permanent. It's better now but I lost the momentum and haven't gotten it back.

So, now when I tell people I don't eat something because it's "not on my diet" what I really mean is it's not good for me and I'm trying to not do things that are bad for me. But what they say is "You're not fat." Nope, I'm not. But I was and I don't want to be again! So, instead of trying to foist the garbage onto me as a kindness it'd make me SUPER happy if you'd smile and say, "Well, congrats. It's working," instead of "You don't need to be. Here eat this." You're not all jewish mothers from 80's sit-coms trying to fatten me up, so stop playing the role. It's rude and irritates me. I'm not telling you to eat like I do so please, PLEASE stop telling me to eat like you do.

I'm a huge fan of MyFitnessPal as a way of tracking what I eat and keeping me on target. I mostly know what I can eat, but sometimes I go on an "enter it all because you need to pay attention dummy!" phase and when I do, MyFitnessPal is there with a great site and a great app for the android phone. I'm a huge fan. Another tool I used was a fitbit flex (affiliate link - buy it and I'll get a nickle or two) I got back in the day when I had money. They're not cheap but they're great activity trackers and the website dashboard is the best I've seen out there. It really is fantastic. Love mine.

In there I had a BIG job change where my income was cut by a LOT and money was tight, like really tight for a while, like seriously... I lived in a shack and was broke as hell. They're better now, but that was the hardest time to lose weight because carbs are cheap and protein isn't. Fresh vegetables aren't. It was a lot harder to eat healthy while broke but it's possible. It involved a LOT of chicken and eggs (when they were on sale) and frozen vegetables instead of fresh like I preferred. If I could get fish on sale I'd add that as often as possible because that's helpful with the good cholesterol.

That bout of near-poverty did help me see something I'd not paid attention to before (the last time I was poor I hadn't cared what I ate and would eat anything.) cheap food is factory food. I could get more bags of frozen dinners and pot pies and frozen pizzas than I could of real food for the same amount of money. But those things are all loaded with carbs, empty calories, salt, and God knows what other chemicals to give them the months long shelf-life that real food just shouldn't have. So, when I look around and see the obesity epidemic I understand it better now. Real food isn't as cheap as factory-food, or as convenient. Those bags of frozen chicken parts aren't something I could just throw in the microwave and eat... they required a time investment to turn them from ingredients to food.

So, now what? I've reached my goal weight. Well, it hasn't been about weight for a while now. I am a healthy weight for my height and age and I look pretty okay I think. I'm happy with my weight and have been for a while. Next though, because there's always a next, is getting in a little better shape. I'm not planning on lifting trucks or things, but I'm at an age where evidently muscle starts to go away. Well, that's no good. I don't need a lot of them, but I need enough to get me to the coffee pot and back for a lot of years yet! So, I've started using some Runtastic Apps on my phone to do some fitness type things. I'm not to a point where I'm lifting weights because seriously, picking things up bores me, but some exercises, bodyweight exercises, can't hurt: crunches, push-ups, planks, and squats so far.

How about you? What're you doing to get healthier? Take it from me, an inveterate pizza, Mountain Dew, and donut junkie, it's possible and without feeling like you're going to die. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

CBS Radio Mystery Theater

CBS Radio Mystery Theater Logo

It's halloween, or at least the season of halloween. The stores have candy corn which I can't stand but buy once a year around this time and eat a handful of before I throw it all away as disgustingly sweet. I'm able to eat more of it if I mix the candy corn with dry roasted peanuts. It's really really good that way.

Halloween means trick or treating. It means being scared of the dark. It means scary stories as the leaves change colors and the nights cool off. Covers pulled up under the chin and snuggling down into blankets. That's what halloween means.

When I think of scary stories I think of creaking doors, hinges that need oiling and that always brings to mind the old time radio series CBS Radio Mystery Theater. When I was a kid I never got to listen to it at home but when I'd stay with my gramma at my cousins' house or one time, and this is a vivid memory, at the house in the beach at the bay. I'm not sure whose house it was but I had a feeling we were sleeping on the floor in blankets listening to CBS Radio Mystery Theater with that creepy hinge noise.

If you want to hear some CBS Radio Mystery Theater you can get it here at or subscribe to a podcast using iTunes if you're one of those apple people.

I just grabbed a few hours worth of them for a road trip. I grabbed some newer made stuff by Decoder Ring Theater. Radio dramas are making a comeback with the popularity of podcasts and these guys do some of the best stuff out there. I really recommend Black Jack Justice and that's what I've linked to here. It's not really scary, but it's good stuff and if I'm driving at night... sometimes the scary stuff gets to be a bit much and something lighter is better you know?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America was on TV tonight and I watched it while eating dinner and it got me thinking about what it is I like about hero movies (and superhero movies).

I like heroes because they're, well, because they're heroes. They stand for something bigger than themselves. They ACT on their beliefs and they're good guys. I believe most people themselves are good people. I think heroes are important not for their actions only, but to serve as examples for the rest of us that even if the odds are terribly against us that's no reason to let something go that we think is wrong.

Captain America is that kind of do-gooder hero and I like it. I also like that in the originals his bad guys he fought were the Nazis. One of the things about today's world is bad guys are often harder to tell from ambivalent guys, or people just trying to get by. Nazis... those were easy. They were bad. Today's world of terrorists is harder, more complicated. Not everybody in a turban is a bad guy. Everybody in an SS officer uniform was though. So, what do we do now? We have vague enemies, and tortured heroes are popular, broken people like Batman who is haunted, tortured, by the death of his parents and bent on justice that has a suspiciously vindictive quality to it. His simmering anger always just beneath the surface isn't someone I can look up to. He's someone I would fear if he were in our town. Captain America isn't somebody I'd fear at all. I'd LIKE having him in town.

I also like that the Captain uses a gun. He's killing bad guys remember? Batman doesn't kill anybody and doesn't use a gun and what happens? Gotham falls victim to the same bad guys over and over again. Which of them is a better hero? Batman thinks he is because he won't kill but I think sometimes killing is necessary. The Joker has killed a LOT of people over, and over, and over again and still, Batman won't put him down. Captain America would and that would stop a LOT of suffering and that's something I think is part of a hero's job description. It's something that should be part of ALL of our job description. We should ALL leave the world better than we find it every day. I think that's a real thing.