Sunday, February 28, 2010

Clean: Done and DONE.

DAY: 28

We are done with the CLEAN program. Finally. It was quite the month on this program. Here's the good, bad and ugly as well as some tips for those who wish to start the program - we're totally here for your moral support (Go Kelly!).

The Good

  • I feel much lighter, leaner and lost quite a bit of body fat. Plus I'm just 0.2 lbs from my goal.
  • My 'bear making' is much more regular and easier to pass.
  • Stomach bloating, gas and burping has reduced significantly.
  • I feel more energetic in general.
  • My hair and nails have been growing crazy fast which is always a sign that you're healthy.
  • My complexion is clear with no pimples this month.
  • Ernie has less snot in his nose, thankfully.
  • You'll have a much better understanding of what you're eating and what's good or bad. You'll be so conscious of what foods are going into your body that you will know what you should eat and some negative effects of bad foods.
  • You create an unlikely emotional connection and appreciation with your food because you've put so much TLC into prepping each meal and really thinking about everything that goes into your mouth.
The Bad
  • The diet is expensive. Totaling $396.90 for the month in grocery bills was quite excessive. On the flip side, we saved a LOT of money by not eating in restaurants and going out to bars on the weekends.
  • ---I spent about $65 at restaurants during the month of February.
  • ---For comparison, in 2009, my average monthly grocery bill was $123.94 and my average restaurant bill was $263.59. This amounts to $387.52 total for one month of food.
  • ---Food costs for the month was slightly up, however, we spent $0 on alcohol. Last year, my monthly average on 'bars/going out' was $156.73 (which includes cab fares also).
  • ---Net, overall the program saved me money during the month. ($147.35)
  • Your trash will smell. Because you're eating lots of fresh foods that take preparation and make scraps such as carrot peels, your trash can will start smelling like a compost pile.
  • Plan for a lot of preparation time. You'll be cooking much more than you're used to. You have to prep, cook and clean all of your meals - and plan ahead for grocery lists. It's a pretty big commitment when you start. It will become easier when you're on a routine.
  • Your hands will get really dry from all the hand-washing because you are heading to the bathroom so often from the amount of liquid you drink.

The Ugly
  • This really affects your ability to socialize. You don't realize how much socializing revolves around eating and drinking. Plus, people just think you are weird/crazy for drinking two of your meals per day.
  • The first three-four days are the toughest. You'll be irritable, hungry, get headaches and be so exhausted that you may not even want to hit the gym. Don't be deterred by this stage, it seems like a big task to get through this 3 week program, but you'll figure it out quickly and become accustomed to it.
Tips for Success
  • Have a partner in crime. It's easiest if it's someone you live with or are in a relationship with. This is the person you probably spend most of your meals with, so they'll have to be very understanding.
  • Plan a three week period where you know you have little to no social plans or work events.
  • Apples and almonds are great for mid-afternoon snacks because they are filling and get you through the afternoon.
  • Minimize your restaurant visits. It's tough to stick to the diet when you have the temptations of a whole menu of items, mostly which have 'bad for you foods'.
  • Explore and try new recipes from the CLEAN program. You might be surprised about the new ingredients.
  • Lead yourself into the diet by doing the Elimination Diet week. It won't be such a shock to your body when you stop drinking caffeine and eating other foods on the 'do not eat' list.
  • If you're in it to lose more weight - head to the gym and go for a full work-out as often as possible. Check out my "workout of the day" posts if you need some good suggestions.

One Year Anniversary

DAY: 27

Today is our one year anniversary.  Ernie made me a very sweet card :) he's great at making cards!

We celebrated by going to lunch with Dan and Liz at Dawali Kitchen. I think their falafel is so delicious!

Other stops of the day: Best Buy where Ernie bought the new XX CD; Barnes and Nobel where we looked at travel books for Iceland and Volunteer Tourism; Verizon where I was so close to buying the HTC Droid.

We closed the evening heading down to the James Hotel for Rebecca's 25th birthday party. It's quite a nice hotel but the drinks were outrageously priced.  At least we were still on the CLEAN program so we couldn't drink but still ended up spending $20 on four soda waters.  It was nice to catch up with some of the Wrigley people I don't often see at the office.

The night ended by watching The Hurt Locker.  What an amazing film!  I was actually surprised at the end to learn that it was directed by a woman. Not that I don't think a woman can direct a war movie, but it takes a lot of male insight to bring to life the anxiety and anguish of these very masculine war heros.  I'm not sure why no one went to see it in the theaters but I can definitely see why it's up for best picture along with Avatar.  These are two of the best movies I've seen in quite a long time.

Wolfman Review

We went to see Wolfman with Tony Friday night. One word review: TERRIBLE.

Don't waste your money.

Friday, February 26, 2010


DAY: 26

Avocado, Pineapple, Peach and Spinach Smoothie.
I was reminded again how I am sick of green smoothies. I don't know if its the avocado or the spinach.

Salad, Brown Rice and Red Curry Chicken from Thalia - I love their thai food!

Blueberries, Green Apple

We're eating brown rice and stir fried chicken and veggies.  Since we're meeting Tony for a movie tonight, we need more than a thin juice to get us through til after midnight when it's only 7:45pm.  I'll still be sure to have a 12 hour time span before breakfast tomorrow!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The foods I can't wait to eat...

DAY: 25

Pineapple, Spinach, Avocado, Green Apple Smoothie

This ended up being quite a large smoothie. I saved the other half for dinner.

Cabbage Savoy Salad
Stir Fried Chicken, which I actually ate 3 hours after the salad since the salad was so filling


The other half of my breakfast smoothie and one cup of chicken broth.

There's only 3 full days left of CLEAN.  Here's a snapshot of food I've been pining for:
  • Eggs.  I strangely miss eggs since I used to eat so many for breakfasts.
  • Sushi.  You can't eat raw fish or white rice on the diet but I really want some all you can eat sushi!
  • Swirlz Cupcake.  That banana nutella cupcake was delicious. I've been thinking about it for three weeks.
  • Fish tacos from Mayan Palace.  Hands down one of the best Mexican places in the city.
  • Penny's Thai Fried Rice with Pork.  This spicy dish has eggs, tomatos and pork - all things you can't eat on CLEAN.  It used to be a weekly staple food and I can see the little shop from my doorstep.
  • Aurelio's Gluten-Free Pizza.  Read my review of their pizza.

Pushing Through the Last 5 Days of CLEAN

DAY: 24

I chugged down a Pineapple, Avocado and Spinach smoothie on my way to work. The roads were terrible and I was stuck behind a salt truck during the entire drive.

Cabbage Savoy Salad, Brown Rice and stir-fried chicken.

Green Apple

Juice of 2 Green Apples, Pineapple and Cabbage

The Cabbage made the juice smell terrible :( Why would anyone want to drink juiced cabbage? Ernie said it smells like a bad hair salon.  Blech.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quick Update

DAY: 23

Sorry for the lack of commetary on this post - I had a whilrwind of posts yesterday with the Agave Nectar (still SO bummed), Workout of the Day, Prep for Jordan and feedback on my business plan.

Pineapple Spinach Shake

Brown Rice with Chicken and Veg stir fry

Green Apple

Chicken Broth with Shitake Mushrooms

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Workout of the Day

Warm Up: 10 min on the stair master to get your heart rate going and your muscles warm

Circuit A: 3 Sets
Inclined Bench Presses: 8 Reps (I used 55 lbs today)
Full body squats and shoulder press: 15 Reps (I used a 20 lb straight barbell holding it near my shoulders for the full squat and raised the barbell over my head as I stood from the squat all the way to my tippy toes.)
Shoulder Raise: 10 Reps (I used a 5 lb weight in each hand. From a resting position, keeping your arms straight, raise the weights out to your front. Return to rest. Raise the weights to your side so you are making a "T" with your body. The motions should be slow to build muscles - count to 3 during each movement up and 3 during each movement down.)

Circuit B: 3 Sets (I used 110 lbs today)
Hip Abductor: 12 reps
Hip Adductor: 12 reps

Circuit C: 3 Sets (I used 55 lbs today)
Hamstring Curl: 10 reps
Upright Leg Curl: 10 reps
Leg Extension: 10 reps

Circuit D: 3 Sets
Back Extensions: 10 reps with 2 kettlebells
Swiss Ball Crunch: 20 crunches

The theory behind Circuits B, C and D are to develop your muscles evenly on each side of your body. If one side of your body is weaker than the other, work up to equalize the strength in the muscle. Here's an example: you want your abs as strong as your back to assist with balance. If your abs are stronger than your back, you may appear hunched over since the ab muscles are much tighter than the loose back muscles which pulls your spine/trunk forward. This is common with people who work out their abs all the time and not the rest of their core stability muscles. It can also lead to lower back and/or hip pains.

For more on core workouts, check out this fantastic book: The Core Performance.

NOTE: I'm not a certified trainer in any way.  Use this program at your own risk. (but please use some common sense!)

Debunking the Blue Agave Myth

I received the following article from Randy (the trainer) and I'm avoiding agave nectar from here on out.  What a sham. Smart marketers triumping over science.  It makes me feel dirty working in marketing, like what I do is sell lies.  May be the perfect time for a career change after all. 

Agave Nectar is probably even worse for me because (1) I carry my fat around my waist (aka Michelin baby) and (2) my triglycerides are already higher than normal which in the article says can be early warning signs of diabetes. When I was younger, my mom took me to the doctor (she got pulled over by the cops for speeding on our way to the hospital) because I had blood in my urine and stool. They thought it was juvenile diabetes then, but the tests concluded it was not. We never quite figured out what was going on. I bet that was actually due to gluten. I had just started elementary school and I'm sure I was eating more cookies and pastas than when I was at home eating a traditional Chinese diet.

Debunking the Blue Agave Myth
by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS

Agave syrup (nectar) is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food.

Sorry. Don't kill the messenger.

It's easy to understand how agave syrup got its great reputation. Even the word "Agave" has a fine pedigree, coming from the Greek word for noble. The blue agave species- considered the best for the making agave nectar -- flourishes in rich volcanic soil. (It's also the only variety permitted to be used for the making of tequila.) And extracts from the agave plant have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Unfortunately there's zero evidence that any of those compounds are present in the commercially made syrup.

Agave nectar is an amber-colored liquid that pours more easily than honey and is considerably sweeter than sugar. The health-food crowd loves it because it is gluten-free and suitable for vegan diets, and, most especially, because it's low-glycemic (we'll get to that in a moment). Largely because of its very low glycemic impact, agave nectar is marketed as "diabetic friendly". What's not to like?

As it turns out, quite a lot.

Agave nectar has a low-glycemic index for one reason only: it's largely made of fructose, which although it has a low-glycemic index, is probably the single most damaging form of sugar when used as a sweetener. With the exception of pure liquid fructose, agave nectar has the highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener.

All sugar -- from table sugar to HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup) to honey -- contains some mixture of fructose and glucose. Table sugar is 50/50, HFCS is 55/45. Agave nectar is a whopping 90 percent fructose, almost -- but not quite -- twice as high as HFCS.

Fructose -- the sugar found naturally in fruit -- is perfectly fine when you get it from whole foods like apples (about 7 percent fructose) -- it comes with a host of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. But when it's commercially extracted from fruit, concentrated and made into a sweetener, it exacts a considerable metabolic price.

Research shows that it's the fructose part of sweeteners that's the most dangerous. Fructose causes insulin resistance and significantly raises triglycerides (a risk factor for heart disease). It also increases fat around the middle which in turn puts you at greater risk for diabetes, heart disease and Metabolic Syndrome (AKA pre-diabetes) .

And fructose has been linked to non-alcoholic, fatty-liver disease. Rats that were given high fructose diets developed a number of undesirable metabolic abnormalities including elevated triglycerides, weight gain and extra abdominal fat.

In the agave plant, most of the sweetness comes from a particular kind of fructose called inulin, which actually has some health benefits -- it's considered a fiber. But there's not much inulin left in the actual syrup. In the manufacturing process, enzymes are added to the inulin to break it down into digestible sugar (fructose), resulting in a syrup that has a fructose content that is, at best, 57 percent and -- much more commonly -- as high as 90 percent.

"Agave syrup is almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing," said Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition and an associate faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. "Fructose interferes with healthy metabolism when (consumed) at higher doses", she told me. "Many people have fructose intolerance like lactose intolerance. They get acne or worse diabetes symptoms even though their blood [sugar] is OK".

Agave nectar syrup is a triumph of marketing over science. True, it has a low-glycemic index, but so does gasoline -- that doesn't mean it's good for you.

If you simply must have some sweets, a small amount of agave nectar every once in a while isn't going to kill you. Just don't buy into the idea that it's any better for you than plain old sugar or HFCS.

In some ways, it may even be slightly worse.

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS is the author of the Poliquin Manual for Nutrition. He's a board certified nutritionist, a nationally known expert on weight loss, health and nutrition, and the best-selling author of 8 books including “The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth”. Visit him at

Prepping for our trip to Jordan!

We're going to Jordan in T-44 days. I know it's a bit far off, but I can't wait for a little warmth and a break from the everyday grind.

To prepare, I bought two travel books: Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.  I found the Rough Guide a bit better in the planning, however, both are outdated in their pricing which seems kind of ridic since they were published in Aug and Sept 2009.

We're all set to stay and visit with Mike, my friend from High School, for the first three nights. He lives in Iribid, near Amman.  Then we're off to the south for some adventure tours!  Here's what I'm looking forward to:
  • Jaresh & a reinactment of the old Roman Chariot Races
  • Floating in the Dead Sea
  • Dipping into the Ma'in Hot Springs
  • Seeing the mosaics at Mandaba
  • Exploring Petra by day and candlit by night
  • Sleeping in the starlit deserts of Wadi Rum
  • Snorkling in the Red Sea in Aqaba
  • Eating all the falafel possible
  • Catching up with Mike whom I haven't seen since before he left to study at INSEAD in France
I wanted to buy a flip video camera but the reviews on Amazon pursuaded me differently.  I plan on just buying an 8 GB memory card for my Cannon PowerShot for videos and some 4 GBs for my Cannon Rebel. 

Lastly, I'm bringing along a book recommended by Tracy: Shantaram: A Novel.  Let me know if you have any other book recommendations!

The Business Plan torn to shreds...

DAY: 22

I was reading in the CLEAN book that if you generally eat a clean diet (no wheat, dairy or red meat) that you may not experience as much weight loss as someone who eats much more of these high-allergen foods. Maybe this is the case since I am gluten-free, eat minimal dairy and rarely consume red meat. Either way, I really thought CLEAN could get me to my goal weight. I'll need to decrease my food portions and I worry that I might gain weight right back after CLEAN is over.

Pineapple, Spinach and Blueberry Smoothie

Spinach has been a staple because you can get your leafy greens, but it doesn't add much of a taste to any smoothies with strong flavored fruits.

Chicken stir fried with zucchini, carrots, shitake mushrooms, and scallions over brown rice. Plus a cabbage savoy salad made by Ernie.

Chocolate Almond Shake. I'm out of Agave syrup so this was actually pretty bitter. I'll need to make another Whole Foods Run


No one ever said this was a cheap diet!

Today in my business plan writing class, we had some experienced entrepreneurs come in to coach us through our business plan. We got torn apart by first the professor, then by a software serial entrepreneur then by a health care survey entrepreneur.  They told us our plan was incomplete, complicated and very ambitious.  Our team was SO grateful for all of their coaching and guidance.  This session really allowed us to be more focused on our plan and simplified our work tremendously.

Our plan is basically a non-invasive continuous glucose monitoring system for diabetics. Currently, there are two ways to monitor your blood glucose levels: (1) the finger prick method and (2) an invasive continuous monitoring device inserted into the fat of your abdomen. Our product offers a competitive advantage because the glucose is measured through the surface of your skin so it doesn’t have to break the surface of your skin like the existing two testing methods. Therefore there’s no pain, no scarring and no excuses to not measure your blood glucose levels. It’s important to monitor this because there are many health complications associated with diabetes including blindness, deafness, limb amputation and other degenerative illnesses. But diabetics currently don’t test as often as recommended because it’s painful, expensive and inconvenient.
Originally our business plan was written to encompass all the life stages of Product Idea, through development, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales. Thanks to our coaches, we are now just focusing on getting seed money to develop the product and get through clinical trials. Our exit strategy is to sell to a major diabetic care company such as Abbott, Bayer, Medtronic or LifeStyle.

I know you’re wondering how the heck we came up with this idea. Well, we started from a Men’s accessories company and as we continued to learn more information about smart fabric technology, we evolved our idea. So we landed on this idea because there is an enormous marketing opportunity with 36.4 Million Diabetic persons in the US, and growing at an alarming rate due to the aging boomer population and increasing obesity. The downside is that none of us really have any experience in this industry which will pose a challenge. My back ground as a biomedical engineer and my rotational program at Ethicon Endo Surgery (a minimally invasive surgical device company) is about the only experience in pharma/med devices that anyone in our five member team has. It will be a scary sight if we are relying on my experience to get us through…

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Wendy's Baby Shower

DAY: 21

I managed to gain almost a whole pound yesterday.  It was probably from the Indian food :(

Blueberry, Pineapple, Mango Smoothie

I drank breakfast on the drive out to Wendy's Baby Shower.  I asked the host of the shower about the menu so I knew I needed to eat prior to going.

The food spread was all from Whole Foods and looked delicious! Bagels, Muffins, Scones, quiches, cinnamon french bread casserol, a fruit plate and of course, delicious baked goods by Nancy who is known for her fantastic displays of cakes and cupcakes. For this occasion, she made a strawberry cake with a clothes line of baby clothes running across the top along with cupcakes adorned with mini cupcakes with baby faces and Cheerio pacifiers. 

I ate a platefull (or two!) of fresh fruits.  The hardest part of the CLEAN program is the social aspect.  It seems weird to not eat at social events that tend to evolve around eating.  You also don't want to feel rude that the food at the event isn't good enough for you - because it's not about that, it's just about sticking to your guns especially when you are this far in.  The program amplifies your eating restrictions and calls much more attention that you'd like.  However, you can do it!  Just remember that it takes a bit of endurance and a lot of self control. It always helps to have a partner in crime to do the program with you (thanks E!).

Ernie and I went over to Dawali Kitchen in Albany Park.  It was after 3pm and we were pretty starving.  Lentil Soup, Falafel, Lamb Shish Kabab, and Chicken Shawerma served on a plate of hummus.  All this for under $28.

The chicken shawerma was excellent, particularly on the hummus. The lentil soup was a bit lemony, a bit garlicky and just the right consistency to warm you in the cold winter days.  With large portions (and the enormous amount of food we ordered) we manged to only take home some left over hummus.  Falafel was fried to a crispy outside and warm in the center.  The food was yummy and we will definitely go back. 

We drank chocolate, almond and mint shakes while watching the US Hockey team beat Canada during the Winter Olympics!

A Hectic Day in the Life

DAY: 20

We spent this morning at an Entr conference hosted by Northwestern's Law School.  The topic was Social Enterprises and the discussions focused on getting a social enterprise off the ground. With the new "L3C" structure, this allows companies who have a primary mission of social causes and education to now also be profitable. An excellent example is Tom's Shoes.  Here's their mission:

One for One: TOMS Shoes was founded on a simple premise: With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. Using the purchasing power of individuals to benefit the greater good is what we're all about.

This gave me inspiration for a new venture idea that I have...I'll share more details once I have a better grasp of everything this new organization will offer.

Since we knew we probably couldn't eat the bananas and bagels popular at these events, we made a fruit shake to take along with us.

In case we got hungry (which we did) we had Chocolate Almond Shakes to keep us company!

Ernie and I went to Indian Garden with our friends Tejus and Soumya, and one of Soumya's friends.  We ate tandori chicken, salad, and fruit which proved to be very filling. It's still tough to go to Indian restaurants and not get my favorite, garlic naan.

After lunch, I went over to meet my friend Matt at the spacestationstudio where I helped with a video shoot for his job.  It was really fun but since I had to sign a CDA, I can't really post about it here... sorry!

It was a flury of errand running during the late afternoon. First stop was Akira where I wanted to return a shirt but apparently, the bucktown location isn't connected to the Diversey location so I had to go back to the store I originally purchased it from.  So we walked over to the Men's store (wow are the clothes overpriced, but they have awesome jeans for Ernie).  Off to REI where we purchased nice sized backpacks for our upcoming trip to Jordan.  I'm really going to downsize my usual packing, or refrain from purchasing so many souviners.  Then to Baby Gap to buy gifts for Wendy's baby shower tomorrow and lastly to the Diversey Akira to return the unwanted shirt which Ernie says looks "frumpy."

I had two cups of chicken broth heated up with a bit of Cajun Spice.

We caught up on this week's American Idol.  Then, we drove over to Matt and Aliy's new condo in Ukranian village for a little housewarming party. Their condo is beautiful, spacious and well laid out. I envy the quartz countertops and master bath with a steam shower, jacuzzi tub and double sinks.  The His/Her closet is a bonus!

It's kind of awkward that you can't eat/drink when you're out with all of your friends.  Aliy had even prepared Skyline dip which I miss so much! I wish I could just get a little teeny taste of that Skyline chili...

Only one more week for CLEAN.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hidden People in Iceland?!

I've been searching for family friendly travel destinations for my family's vacation this summer... Iceland came to the top of the list so I did some googling.

Did you know there's hidden people in Iceland?! The Icelandic people call these elves/little people Hulduf√≥lk. They say some Icelandic people built small churches to try to convert them to christianity. Why does everything have to revolve around religion and trying to get everyone to believe the same things you do?

These hidden people are just a myth as there are no pictures or truly confirmed places where these people live. There are speculations that they live in the caves.

Small people are fascinating. When I visited Panama last March, we went to the Kuna Yala Islands. It's here that they say the second shortest civilization lives (the first being somewhere in Africa). The Kuna are indigenous people that live on a collection of 400+ small white sand and coconut tree islands on the east coast of Panama.

The culture of the people is incredibly virgin – with virtually no influence of other cultures until recently. Tourism has increased, though if you travel there you truly need to immerse in the culture of the local people. When Samantha and I visited, we landed in the Carti airport and waited to be picked up by “Franck.” We waited almost two hours until someone named “Franklin” came to get us. I didn’t really understand what was going on – but everyone seemed confident that we should get in his banana boat. Having no other option, we handed over our luggage and jumped aboard. Some 2+ hours later, after island hopping and running errands with Franklin, we arrived to “Franklin’s Island.” He showed us to our hut and told us lunch was served at noon.

The island was about a quarter mile around, the whitest sand I had ever seen and covered in coconut trees. Our hut was built of sticks and straw with two simple mattresses. Hammocks hung between trees and that’s where we spent the majority of our time.

Franklin took us, along with a bunch of Israelis from the island, to the “main island” where he lived. We saw the native Kuna peoples donned in their decorative molas and beaded jewelry. The people are indeed short, as most of the men were quite a few inches shorter than me.

The albinism, due to inbreeding of the shrinking population, is apparent with many children running around with pale white skin though their facial features and body structure was exactly the same as other Kuna children. The adults don’t like you to take any pictures unless you ask them politely though most women will hide and shy away from cameras. The kids on the other hand love it and will ask to see the instant picture on your digital screen.

Our visit to Kuna Yala was totally peaceful and you certainly feel one with the earth, water and air. The rugged conditions and the toilet that is ‘directly connected to the ocean’ meant very primitive living. I wasn’t quite prepared for this type of traveling but loved it nonetheless. If you ever get the chance to visit, you won’t regret one moment of it! We all need to do our part to support the Kunas and help preserve their native culture.

Where did Spell Check go?

DAY: 19

Shoot!!! I'm up in weight AGAIN! This is not lookin good my friends.  On my morning commute, I decided to read the CLEAN book because clearly I'm doing something wrong.  I didn't discover much.  Dr. Junger says you shouldn't do a water diet because it can cause serious health issues and make you super tired.  He lobbies for raw soups, juices and shakes because its easier for your body to digest quickly. Cooked foods take longer for your detoxification process to occur because the heat breaks down enzymes naturally found in fruits and veggies.

I imagine this diet was much easier for Gwenyth Paltrow because someone else is preparing and buying all of her foods. Plus, she can afford to pay the $350/3 weeks of supplements to aid in the detoxification.  Most of us are not so fortunate.

Where did the spell check function go on blogger?  Now you'll have to read all my mis spellin's...

Juice of 2 green apples, 1 pear and 1 carrot.  This made about 16 oz of liquid and actually kept me rather full in the morning.

I had a lunch meeting. I ate the inside of a turkey avocado wrap and some hummus with celery and broccoli. I'm pretty sure my breath is stinky like broccoli. 

Maybe I'll go after that apple-butternut squash soup tonight. I just couldn't do it last night!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Biggest Loser Challenge

DAY: 18

OK. You got me. I’m frustrated that I haven’t lost any weight in 8 days. I’m sure the sweet potato from yesterday’s lunch did me no good.

Today kicked off Wrigley’s “Biggest Loser” competition. As you might know, Extra Gum sponsors the TV Show, the Biggest Loser. They say gum helps you get through those sweet cravings. In conjunction with the show, the Extra team posed a challenge to Wrigley associates to lose some weight too. The goal of the program is for Wrigley associates to lose a collective 500 lbs. For every pound we lose, money gets donated to a charity – up to a max of $10,000!  Winners for those that lose the largest percentage of their body weight have some nice prices.  I'm sure I won't be one of those people.

This challenge would have been awesome right before my diet, but since I’m ~4.5 lbs down from the beginning of this CLEAN program, I’m afraid I don’t have much more ‘easy’ weight to lose. Nevertheless, I weighed in today to join the challenge.

Call it cheating, call it what you like… but right before I weighed in, I ate breakfast, lunch, drank 2 liters of water and held off stopping in the restroom. It proved to be worth it: Clothes + Shoes + Food + 2 Liters Water +/- variations in my scale to the Doctor’s scale = 8 lbs. I contemplated stuffing my pockets full of change and wearing my winter jacket – but that would have been excessive. For every pound we lose $20 worth of sports equipment gets donated to underprivileged children. It’s a good cause, a good motivator and a good team bonding experience.

Let’s hope I get past my plateau and start to lose more weight.


Blueberry, Peach and Spinach Smoothie with Almond Milk. At this point, I’ve just decided to throw everything into the blender without measuring anything and see what I get. Sometimes the outcome is terrible and sometimes it’s fantastic. Today’s was watery, but had a mild sweet flavor. The ice melted by the time I could eat breakfast at 10am since I drank my last shake so late last night. This twelve hour thing between last meal of yesterday and first meal of today is really throwing off my schedule.

Quinoa Salad and 5 slices of chicken.

I made an Apple-Butternut Squash soup. But when I got home, I just didn't feel like eating it. Instead, I had some spinach, yellow squash and pickles.  Yum pickles.  Maybe I'll chug the soup tomorrow...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Plateau

DAY: 17

I started the day with a bottle of Perrier which has helped to keep me full and push off the start of my first meal without leaving me starving.

I had half a blueberry, pineapple and mango smoothie. The other half still sits on my desk as I type this.

We had a team outing to Prairie Fire Resturant. Read up on the review!

I'll need to keep dinner light tonight since I have been hovering at this 1 lb to go mark for the past 7 days.  The Clean Book says this is normal. You will lose weight for the first week then seem to hit a plateau after 7 to 10 days. Well, I've hit the plateau and I'm waiting for the next ridge!  Hopefully in the next day or so... but probably not since I had an enormous lunch and ate some sweet potato fries that I'm pretty sure aren't in the program.... stay tuned to see how the sweet potato affects my weight!

Prairie Fire

Our new products team (composed of 16 women plus poor Dennis) went to celebrate the holidays, Wendy's Birthday and a new director joining our group.

Prairie Fire is a new Chicago hotspot that several people wanted to try. So we hopped in cabs and went over at noon.

The decor is elegant, contemporary and upscale. We had the back room for our group where they set up one long table for our team to enjoy lunch and casual conversation.

Guac and chips were ordered for the table.  It was a nice surprise to see the guac served with celery, broccoli, carrots, green and red peppers as well!  Since chips aren't on the CLEAN diet, I had a bit of guac with celery and carrots.  The guac was fresh, had a little zing to it from jalapenos and served slightly chunky so you know they hand mashed the avocados.  It was full of flavor and I highly recommend ordering for a group of four.

It's too bad something is wrong with their website right now, otherwise I could describe what I ordered from the menu... so, instead, I'll do it from memory.

I had a pan seared whitefish dish with broccoli and mushrooms.  They were topped with capers which added a sour pop to the fish which complimented the tender fillets well.  I asked for a gluten-free dish and I can honestly say that I'm not sure it was actually gluten free. The two fillets had a crusty layer full of mild spices.  Usually when there's this type of layer, there is some flour or breading.  However, it's 4:30pm and my stomach isn't hurting so perhaps there was no gluten in the dish! 

The resturant was very glutoid-friendly. Even the burger is served without the bun - it comes on the menu that way!  There were many things to choose from for us glutoids and even several desserts including mousse, creme brule and ice cream.  I didn't taste any but they sure looked yummy!

Two side orders of sweet potato fries were also brought out for the table. Though I'm not sure if sweet potatos are ON the CLEAN diet, I'm sure they're not on the FOODS TO AVOID list. 

That's one major downside of the CLEAN diet that we've noticed.  You know about 20 things you CAN eat.  You know about 20 things you CAN'T eat.  What about the other million foods available?  Its the same for the pickles. They're not on either list but I know I can eat cucumbers, vinegar and all kinds of spices, so I assumed I could eat pickles. This may or may not be right - in either case I'm still eating pickles.

Prairie Fire
215 N. Clinton (by purple and green line L stops)
Chicago, IL

Forgotten Day

I forgot to post yesterday so here you are...

DAY: 16

I made half the recipe for the almond butter chocolate smoothie. This was a much better portion!

Quinoa Salad
Chicken and Pickles

Lunch didn't go together, I'll admit that. But it was actually a lot of food and I wasn't hungry for dinner!

I juiced 1 green apple, 1 pear and 2 carrots.

I finished one of my classes for the quarter last night... It hasn't hit me yet that all I need to do is complete one business plan and I'll have my MBA.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Day of Focus Groups

DAY: 15

I spent the day in focus groups, which usually means I need to pack all my foods for the day so I don't get caught up eating the peanut M&M's or other random candies laying around. I did, however, manage to chew 5 sticks of gum... and identify a core concept benefit for my new project.  I wish I had something more witty and exciting to say but I'm exhausted.  Maybe tomorrow if you're lucky.

BREAKFAST: Chocolate Almond Smoothie
2 cups Almond Milk
1/3 cup Almond Butter
1/2 cup Ice
1 tablespoon Agave Syrup
2 tablespoons Cacao Powder

Breakfast smoothie was so great and filling that I didn't eat lunch til 2pm!  You could probably make half this recipe and be sufficient for a breakfast drink.  It tasted like a chocolate shake, yum!

LUNCH: Lamb Patty with Cabbage Savoy Salad

Lamb Patties
1 lb ground lamb
3 garlic cloves
1/4 chopped parsley
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix ingredients in bowl and form patties with hands.  Cook patties in olive oil over medium heat to taste. We made ours medium-well where there wasn't any pink left and the patties were warm all the way through.
While I usually don't like lamb, this was great while hot (we made them last night) but left a little to be desired eating them the day after.  I can't stand the gamey smell of the lamb and after being refrigerated overnight, the smell must have intensified. On the whole, I would for sure eat this warm next time!

Cabbage Savoy Salad:
1/2 head of Cabbage Savoy (purple cabbage), shaved
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove of garlic, pressed
salt to taste

Combine ingredients for dressing in a bowl.  Mix veggies in a larger bowl and add dressing on top. We made this recipe up - it's not very challenging to prepare.

Cabbage savoy reminds me of a resturant we went to in Capetown back in 2008. Easily the best resturant of our 2 week Southern African trip and I've recommended it to many!  I loved southern Africa! Maybe I'll write a post about it later when Chris and Louisa head down!

DINNER: Pear and half a zucchino
I was pretty full from lunch and having eaten lunch so late, I wasn't really hungry by dinnertime. But it's 11:30pm now and I'm getting hungry. I better go off to bed!

What the heck happened to spell check on blogger?  This post must be chock full of spelling errors. Sorry about that!

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Workout of the Day

Sprints: 20 min
Warm up at your 5K pace for 2 minutes. 
Alternate Sprint/Rest for 20 minutes

Sprint for 1 minute: Increase the treadmill to a sprinting speed (for me, it's about speed 9 on a Lifetime Fitness Treadmill) The speed should get your heart rate up to 180 beats/minutes by the end of 1 minute.

Rest: Carefully jump off the mill. It's easiest if you hold on to the handbars and land your feet to the outside of the moving belt. Rest until your heart rate reaches 140 beats/minutes.

Circuit 1: 3 Sets
Bench Press: 10 reps (I did 50 lbs) * it's always good to have a spotter. However, we don't all have the luxury of working out with someone else. Just make sure there's enough other gym-goers around.  In case you get pinned, someone can help you out!

E-Z bar curl: 10 reps (30 lbs) see video here.

Skull Crushers: 10 reps (30 lbs) see video here. * these are easier with an "E-Z" bar, which is basically a straight barbell but in the middle of the bar is zig-zag for easier gripping.

Circuit 2: 3 Sets
Pull Ups: 10 reps (55 lb counter balance) * if you haven't worked up to unaided pull-ups, add a counterbalance weight enough so you still feel your muscles worked by the 3rd or 4th rep, and muscles are tired by the 8th rep.

Dips: 10 reps (55 lb counter balance) * same as the pull-ups, use a counterbalance if you need to.

Push Ups: 10 reps

NOTE: I'm not a certified Personal Trainer. Try all of these workouts at your own risk.

One Hit

DAY: 14

Whoops. My blog only got one hit yesterday which is kind of dissapointing.  Although, I didn't do my part and post my meals this weekend so how can I judge?

This weekend was full of schoolwork and vacation planning.  In my highly successful efforts to procrastinate homework on Friday night, I spent several hours combing through my The Rough Guide to Jordan (Rough Guide Jordan) and Jordan (Country Guide).  My sister, boyfriend and I are going to visit Mike - a bestie from high school.  I can't wait to go!  All of the pictures I've seen of Jordan are incredibly amazing!!

Saturday morning I had to wake up early to do my homework for class... we had class ALL day on Saturday, from 9am-4:30pm.  Actually, the class was awesome! We played a simulation about leading strategic change in a hypothetical organization called GlobalTech.  My team, "Change Agents Society" surprisingly won the simulation competition!!  I'm super competitive when it comes to things like this (which I told my team as we began), so it was pretty exciting to score the highest points in our class!

"Change Agents Society" is a throwback to "Dead Poets Society", a movie we watched a couple weeks ago for this course. It's about an all boy's prep school in the late 1950's with a radical new teacher (Robin Williams).  We spent an hour and half discussing how Williams's character failed to implement change, and the deadly consequences.  Quite a unique way to bring this concept to life.

BREAKFAST: Juiced 1 Green Apple and 2 Carrots (makes about 6 oz of juice)

LUNCH: FlatTop Grill
This is about the only place that you can pick everything that goes into your food. Perfect for our diet!  It was a little Valentines Day celebration to go along with the thoughtful card Ernie made.  We haven't been big on any gifts for birthdays nor holidays. I much prefer spending our money traveling anyway!

DINNER: Pineapple, Berry, Avocado and Peach Smoothie

Not too much commentary on the food today.  I was really busy with schoolwork (writing a business plan on non-invasive glucose monitoring), getting money orders for travel visas, checking out random stores on Belmont on the walk back from FlatTop (how is it possible that SO many people go into Uncle Fun?), grocery shopping and catching up with my sister on the phone.

One week down, two weeks to go... So far, my assessment of this detox diet is:
1) Expensive with all the organic veggies and everything
2) Time Consuming because you have to prepare everything
3) Helping me lose some weight

At the end of the three weeks, I'm going to contrast this diet to the Velocity Diet which is a four week liquid diet that I completed in 2008 after returning from Africa.  Note that I do not, and will never, look like the ridiculously muscular model on the home page of the Velocity Diet.

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Friday, February 12, 2010

Less than 1 lb to go!

DAY: 12

Less than 1 lb to go til I hit my goal for 2010!  I can't believe it... I've lost about 4.5 lbs in the past two weeks and I still have two weeks to go.

BREAKFAST: Peach, Mango, Pineapple Smoothie
Today I added some bovine protein which made the smell and after-taste of the smoothie unpleasant. I knew I needed the protein since I forgot to cook chicken for lunch today.

LUNCH: Lentil Salad
While not as tasty as the Quinoa Salad, Lentils are still a great tasting grain that leaves you full.

Microsoft spent the morning sharing with us their new technology... Unbelievable.  Truly Remarkable. Can't wait to blog about it when I have more time to digest all of the info. It's sure to be interesting!  They provided boxed lunches for us to take on the bus back to the office. I felt rude when I asked the attendant "are these all sandwiches?" to which he responded "yes." and I said "ok, thanks." while walking away.  He tried to sell me on the wraps but of course, we glutoids have to pass on all those sandwich-form foods.

SNACK: Nuts and a Green Apple
I was hungry around 4:30pm... Yesterday when I ate a chicken breast with the lentils, I was full basically the rest of the day. Today I'm pretty hungry and very tired so I decided I'm going to eat a real meal for dinner tonight.  It might set me back over the 1lb-to-go mark, but that's OK. Over the next two weeks, I'm sure it will shed off (hopefully my tummy area!)


Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Quinoa Salad

2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
1/4 cup currants
1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup scallions, cut thinly diagonally
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup lime
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients in a bowl, and toss together. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Modified from: Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Chicken with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

The recipe suggests cooking the chicken with skin on, but we don't like the skin. This seemed to work just fine on boneless, skinless chicken breasts as well.

2 Chicken Breasts
2 Cloves garlic, sliced thinly length wise
1 1/2 cups balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced rosemary
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Heat oven to 425 oF

2. In a small saucepan reduce the balsamic vinegar by simmering and stirring occasionally until it becomes the consistency of a light syrup.

3. Add garlic and rosemary and simmer for 2 more minutes. Set aside. Be careful here to not over-cook. When you set the mixture aside, more water will evaporate making the mixture very thick. Plan ahead for this to happen and remove from heat when the mixture is the right consistency.

4. Brush chicken breasts with olive oil and salt

5. Place on a baking tray and roast in oven for 10 minutes (lay down foil on tray for easier clean-up)

6. Brush with generous amounts of balsamic mixture

7. Turn oven down to 375 oF and roast for a further 10 min

8. Brush again with balsamic mixture and cook 2 more minutes

9. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, remove the skins and thinly slice

Modified from: Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lentil Salad Recipe

Prepare Lentils:
1 cup dried green lentils
Place lentils in 3 cups water and simmer covered for 30 minutes
When tender, remove fro heat and drain
Set aside to cool

1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
1 clove garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup pineapple, diced small
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Place all ingredients in a glass jar with lid and shake vigorously. Or place all ingredients except pineapple in a food processor and process until smooth. Add pineapple last so dressing is chunky.

Salad Assembly:
1 cup zucchini, diced
1 cup cucumber, diced
3/4 cup carrots, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, pulled off stems and chopped
1/4 cup scallions
2 cups salad greens, washed and dried

Mix lentils and all vegetables in a bowl
Add dressing, mix well and let sit for 5 minutes
Serve on top of greens and serve

Dad's Birthday!

DAY: 11

Today is a big birthday, including my dad, ex-boyfriend (and of course his twin brother), Mike's cat, and Dave my good friend from High School.

I had an all day digital marketing immersion. More on that in a separate post since I learned SO much!

BREAKFAST: Mango, Peach and Pineapple Smoothie with Almond Milk.
Yum. But it didn't keep me full so I had a snack...

SNACK: Apple, Carrot, Broccoli and Cabbage juice.
The juice tasted alright, mostly like apples. But I think my breath smelled from the broccoli so I tried to avoid talking to close to anyone.

LUNCH: Oven baked chicken and Lentil Salad.
They had lunch at the offsite meeting. However, knowing that I usually can't eat food brought in, I brought my own lunch. Good thing too because there was one lunch line for about 200 people to eat. Needless to say, it took over 45 minutes for everyone to even get food.

I was full all afternoon even til I got home. I grabbed a snack of fruit and nuts from the food bar at the meeting site.

DINNER: Had some nuts for a snack, then 1 apricot and 1 plum.

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How could you go wrong with that?

DAY: 10

This morning at 7:13am I got an email reminder about today's department awards. "There will be food and drink... it includes mini-burgers and cupcakes - how can you go wrong with that?!"

Yeah, how could you.

The food spread looked super delicious. Mini-burgers, mini-cupcakes, mini-fried fish and chips, mini-crabcakes, mini-quiches. At times like this, you REALLY wish you could eat all things mini.

It's a good thing I ate half a chicken breast before heading to the awards.

Warm-up run

3 Sets of:
  • Side shuffle: Face left while on the treadmill and shuffle sideways making sure to not cross over your legs. Helps engage the glut-meds. Face right and repeat
  • Backwards Run: Face backwards on the treadmill to run backwards. It will probably take a bit to get used to so start at a slow pace (2.2 on the mill) so you don't fall off! This also engages the glut-meds and helps develop muscles you don't use as much when running forward. The bonus is that this can contribute to a tighter bum!
Only had time for one circuit today since I have a million meetings.
  • Lat Pull Downs: 3 sets, 10 reps, 55 lbs
  • Low Row: 3 sets, 10 reps, 50 lbs
  • Tricep Pull Downs: 3 sets, 10 reps, 20 lbs

BREAKFAST: Peach, Mango, Blueberry Smoothie
Drank while I was on a conference call.

LUNCH: Quinoa Salad, Half a Chicken Breast
Ate during a meeting. It was pretty back to back today...

DINNER: Mango and Pineapple

Nothing exciting on the food front today. Just extremely tired and really itchy from the cold weather drying out my skin. The most exciting thing of the day is that my friend Stephanie was cast as the temporary Orbit girl!!! yeah! go Steph :) We met back in 2007 on the set of "The Dark Knight" and have had a permanent bond since then. I'm super excited for her!

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Blog has gone INTERNATIONAL!

I was checking out my google analytics today and guess what?!? I have readers from Jordan (I know that's you Mike), India, Vietnam and the UK!!

Super cool. Now only if I could get my cousins in Hong Kong and Switzerland to check in...

I was featured for a day on the 50 best health blogs. But, they probably bounced me from the list after my "peanut butter poop" post. That's ok, everybody poops!

Plus, the nice ladies from Swirlz cupcakes somehow came across my review of their fantastic banana chocolate cupcake - and offered to treat the next flavor! Exciting :) Now I know how Julie from Julie and Julia felt when people actually started reading her blog. The shout out does not endorse this movie, as I thought it was on the boring side and left me yearning for closure.


DAY: 9

I've been exhausted lately. Even though I'm able to log 7-8 hours of sleep a night, I still find myself groggy and extremely tired throughout the day. Last night, I could barely make it through class. We had a speaker come in and talk about Venture Capitol and share stories of his Entrepreneurial successes and failures. I was dozing off even though I really wanted to pay attention and learn. It was tough...

Take another example. Last Friday I was so tired I fell asleep on my couch at 6pm. Ernie came over at 7:30pm and I had planned to have dinner ready for us to eat. He came in to find me dead to the world, not even able to wake me up with prodding and nuzzling. It wasn't til 8:30pm that I woke up and was still able to fall asleep at midnight for a full ten hours.

The CLEAN program says that you will have tremendous energy, needing 6-7 hours of sleep to get you through the day. I can't wait for that to start happening.

I made a really weird concoction for breakfast today - carrots, squash, peaches, mango and pine nuts. I have to wait til 10am to drink it though, since I ate so late last night. Let's just hope it doesn't taste anything like the green smoothies. I'm not sure I'd be able to choke it down if it did.

The smoothie was OK, a nice change from the green smoothies. The downside is that it smelled like squash and had an aftertaste of pine nuts. The actual flavor was OK, mostly like carrots.

Katie and I went down to Motel Bar. Same Same, different day. Grilled chicken with a side salad.

Blueberry, Mango, Peach smoothie with almond milk. It kept me full all through class! I still had to have a little snack when I got back home which consisted of celery and half a pickle. I know you aren't supposed to eat solid foods so late at night. Honestly, these 14 hour days are brutal.

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Monday, February 8, 2010

CLEAN in full swing

DAY: 8

Today marks the CLEAN program in full swing. I finished Elimination Diet week rather unsuccessfully, as I had cheese on both Saturday and Sunday. This could be the reason my weight is up, maybe it was the fries, or wine, or the gluten-free cupcakes. Let's call a spade a spade and say that I spent the weekend eating things I knew I wouldn't taste for the next three weeks.

I knew Saturday would be tough since we celebrated a birthday. But that doesn't make for much of a consolation since in the next three weeks will include Valentines Day and our Anniversary. We'll have to either pick restaurants that can accommodate the CLEAN program, or make meals at home.

Well, whatever. Onward and upward!

WORK-OUT: Short and sweet workout this morning since I was running later than planned:
warm-up run: 0.5 mi, 9 min pace
bench presses: 3 sets, 10 reps, 45 lb bar
shoulder shrugs: 3 sets, 15 reps, 35 lb weights each
chest presses: 3 sets, 15 reps, two 15 lb weights
poliquin curls: 3 sets, 10 reps, two 7.5 lb weights
concentration curls: 3 sets, 10 reps, 15 lb weights each

I'm not as strong as last spring when I was pressing 75 lbs or squatting 105 lbs. But, I am making an effort to retain my muscle mass as I cleanse over the next three weeks. Maybe I can even increase my muscle mass with tougher lifting routines.

Breakfast: Mango, Peach and Blueberry Smoothie
I drank almost a liter of water during my work-out this morning so I wasn't very hungry for breakfast and didn't drink the smoothie until after 10am.

Lunch: Quinoa Salad
I was, however, hungry by the time lunch rolled around and scarfed down the Quinoa Salad that I brought to work. The serving size was approximately a cup and half. I'm feeling pretty full now.

Snack: Sunflower Seeds
I intended to eat almonds, but I left work and forgot them at my desk. Kellogg Kafe didn't have any almonds so I had to choose between sunflower and pistachio. Maybe I should have gone with the pistachio.

We tasted 9 gum samples back-to-back during a meeting today. If you've ever chewed 9 pieces of gum in a row, you know the turmoil my tummy is going through. Sugar-free gum and candy create an immense amount of gas in your digestive system. A true sign that sugar-free products are probably not good for your health. Hope I can make it through class!

Dinner: Avocado, Kale and Spinach Smoothie (with Pineapple to sweeten)
I couldn't even make it through half of this smoothie. I am just plain sick of green smoothies. Of course I was starving by the time I got home from class at 9:45pm. I made a little snack of zucchini and hummus. Then, I got the bright idea to mix cubed avocado, red onion, cilantro, celery and lime together for a make-shift salsa. It was actually pretty good! But since it was so late eating, I have to wait til 10am to eat breakfast because of the 12 hour 'fasting'!

GROCERIES: $276.21
This seems like a LOT to be spending on groceries for 1.4 people (sometimes Ernie eats with me), after all it's only been 2 weeks. On the flip-side, it's proving to be difficult to eat at restaurants so I'm hoping to reallocate what I'd normally spend on restaurants towards my grocery bill.

TIP: To make your greens last longer, wrap your veggies with 1 sheet of Bounty Paper Towels to keep the moisture from rotting the veggies. Still, leafy greens will only last you 1.5 to 2 weeks max.

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

The Fat Tax: Lower Tax Rate for Candy with Wheat

On Saturday, Ernie and I walked over to Windy City Sweets on Broadway to get birthday treats for his dad. It's an adorable old-style candy shop with ice cream and bakeries. The two associates in the store were extremely helpful in identifying gluten-free candies. They also told us of this new tax rate in IL that went into effect last September.

Get this - if a candy product has wheat in it, it's considered a "foodstuff" and is taxed at 2.5%, the grocery rate. Think: chocolate covered pretzels, s'mores, chocolate covered graham crackers, chocolate covered cookies.

For all other candy that has no wheat, it's taxed at a higher rate of 10.25%!! This includes gummy bears, hard boiled candy, chocolate covered nuts (what? nuts aren't a foodstuff? They have more protein than wheat!), etc. The hope is the taxes will contribute to the state's $31 Billion public works program. The upside to implementing this new tax rate is that we didn't get a 50% income tax hike.

I pulled the following info off this website:
High tax candy items are: chocolate bars; yogurt or chocolate covered fruit or nuts; honey coated nuts; caramel popcorn; lollipops; snack mixes containing yogurt or chocolate; breath mints; and gum.

Low tax candy items are: chocolate covered cookies; yogurt covered pretzels; "candy" that contains flour; plain dried fruits; and nuts with no added sweeteners.

While I get the intention to make money by taxing unhealthy foods, then shouldn't all of those items (except dried fruits and nuts) also fall into the high tax candy item list? It's been said that the "sin" tax on cigarettes was exceedingly effective in reducing the incidence of smoking. If this tax is supposed to get people to avoid bad-for-you foods, then chocolate covered cookies should also be added to the "high tax" list. Why not twinkies or ho-hos, little debbie treats - all are made with flour so avoid the high-tax rates; yet all are much worse for you than a handful of chocolate covered nuts.

Did you know that licorice is made with wheat? So for you non-gluten eating friends out there, you better back off the licorice too, even though it looks like its made of sugar and flavoring! Also, be careful of peanut butter cups. Sometimes manufacturers will add flour to the peanut butter filling. You can probably just check your receipt for the tax rate. If it's 2.5%, don't eat it.

A lot can be learned by talking to the friendly men in the candy shop!

Windy City Sweets
3308 North Broadway
Chicago, Illinois 60657

Free Celiac Blood Screening!

Sandra, whose sister suffers from Celiac, forwarded me this info on free Celiac Blood Screening! Can I mention FREE again? Here's the info so you can find out whether you've got Celiac:

Annual Free Celiac Blood Screening
Every fall we hold a free, celiac blood screening day to test people who are at risk for celiac disease. Each year we test nearly 500 participants, who come to the University of Chicago from all over the country. Many of the participants would not otherwise have had access to celiac disease testing, either because their doctors refused to carry out the tests, their insurance would not cover the cost or they were uninsured altogether.

You are eligible for the free blood screening if you are at risk for celiac disease. There is no need to fast before the test.

Pre-registration for the screening is essential. You may register by calling our office at (773) 702-7593. Registration opens on September 1, 2010. We will require a brief phone consultation before you register, to determine your eligibility.

The blood screening is held on the 4th Floor of the University of Chicago Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. The test performed is the tTG-IgA, or anti-tissue transglutaminase test. This test is the most sensitive screening test available for celiac disease.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lou Malnati's "gluten-free" option just makes you miss the crust

The "gluten-free" option at Lou Malnati's was a total bust. I read on Yelp and checked out the pizzeria's site which boasts: "Ask about our Crustless Deep Dish Pizza - A gluten free option! Lower-in-fat cheese available upon request."

Ernie called to inquire and they told him the pizza had no crust and the bottom was sausage rather than crust. Interesting, so we tried it...

What a waste. This was basically a slab of too-chewy, bland sausage topped with a layer of cheese and a dollop of sauce. The only thing this pizza was good for is making you wish you could eat the buttery original crust that makes Lou's pizza famous. I ended up only eating the layer of cheese and pepperoni spiced up with some crushed red pepper.

Bottom line: I wouldn't recommend wasting your time. You're better off with the rubbery, tasteless frozen gluten-free options at Whole Foods.


I took off "dieting" (but still eating gluten-free) yesterday to help celebrate Ernie's dad's birthday. We hosted his parents at my place with pre-dinner birthday treats, then headed down to Fulton Market to the Publican. I'd heard rave reviews from Christy who just took her boyfriend for his Birthday, Albert, and my co-worker April who says this is her favorite restaurant.

The seating style is like the German Beer Halls where there are communal tables in the center of the room. Along the wall are booths that seat four. They were similar to pig stalls with doors that shut you into the booth. Though unusual, it helps make the environment very intimate. The lighting is very decorative with rows and rows of large spheres hanging from the ceiling. I could pass on the large portraits of pigs on the walls.

The food style is intended for everyone to share, however, we each ordered our own dish with some side veggies. The food came out as it was prepared since they are supposed to be shared - though the portions didn't seem sized for sharing.

To start, Ernie and I had beats and pickles. The beats, recommended by April, were so tasty, very fresh and served with a big hunk of mild and soft goat cheese. The daily pickles were cauliflower, cucumber and carrots. I liked the taste of the cauliflower pickles best.

For dinner, I ordered scallops with maitake mushrooms and celery root. The serving was quite small though the rich creme made the dish rather filling. Ernie had the country chicken which was a pretty enormous serving - with summer sausage over a bed of fries. The fries soaked up flavor from the chicken making them very delicious. The chicken was perfectly prepared with just the right amount of herbs and spices.

Ernie's dad had the three ham platter. This was not what any of us expected. The ham was European Style thin sliced and served with peasant bread. The serving size was pretty small and probably intended for sharing rather than a personal meal. Ernie's mom ordered the halibut which looked very fresh but, again, the fillet was about half the portion of other restaurants.

On our way out, we checked out the bathroom which I was told was 'amazing' and 'extremely interesting.' The bathroom was what Ernie's dad calls "turn of the century old English style". The area was a 14' small square with 6 stalls: 3 for women and 3 for men. In the center of the square was a communal sink that looked more like a large stone bird bath with four spouts. To top off the experience, high-efficiency Dyson hand dryers were on either side of the square room. A juxtaposition of old and new.

Overall, the setting was unique with an old European influence and the food was flavorful , but be prepared to order several dishes to fit your appetite. The extensive drink list combined with the ambiance of the restaurant makes Publican also suitable for drinks and appetizers.

The Publican
837 W. Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607

Friday, February 5, 2010

Peanut Butter Poop

DAY: 5

The Clean book says healthy poop is supposed to be like peanut butter - in coloring and consistency. If this is TMI, you might want to stop reading now.

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself

Let's just throw it out there. My bears (a cute euphemism for 'stool' that I stole from Navin) are clearly not 'healthy'. The past few days, the bears have a shocking resemblance to the breakfast green smoothies. Plus, it's a wonder how there are so many bears! My caloric intake is pretty low, seeing as I'm mainly drinking two liquid meals and only one solid meal per day. Plus, I'm logging in admittedly somewhat average work-outs in the morning so you'd figure the food would be used for energy. Does the "elimination" in elimination diet really mean making lots of bears rather than removing foods from your diet?

Breakfast: Green Smoothie. OK, I'll admit I'm getting sick of these. And you're probably getting sick of reading about how easy and tasty these are. I need to find a new recipe for next week but I still have a lot of spinach left in my fridge. Maybe I can get Ernie to eat it :)

Lunch: I had a lunch meeting so we went down to Motel since it was cold outside and we only had an hour. I had a black bean burger (no bun) and a side salad. The black bean burger was pretty good, I'd never had one at Motel before.

Snack: I juiced a cucumber, 2 carrots, broccoli, and 1 green apple for snack. It's sweet and tastes mostly like apple, but you get your veggies too. The cucumber was really juicy!

Dinner: Ernie brought over some Thai Fried Rice from Penny's (we LOVE Penny's). We split one dish between the two of us and I made bok choy with garlic.

Clean: The Revolutionary Program to Restore the Body's Natural Ability to Heal Itself