A journal of my experiences with breast cancer to inform those who are interested and to help any one else who might have just been diagnosed.

“[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: What Is Working For Me

So, what does the changes I have made look like in the day-to-day?

1. You know your self and know what will and won't work for you. For example, I know that if you are dieting that a good, healthy breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, and you certainly are not supposed to skip it or you will be ravishingly hungry before lunch. Well, I know that my stomach doesn't even wake up until noon. I have tried to force myself to eat breakfast, and I have found that if it doesn't make me nauseous, then it jump starts my stomach and I become really hungry all day long. That dieting adage just doesn't work for me. Instead I don't eat anything until noon and make sure that I have planned a healthy lunch for then. It is harder to make good choices when you are hungry, so plan in advance.

2. I drink either unsweetened ice tea, ice water or seltzer water with lemon

3. For Lunch:
  • Protein: eggs, chicken strips, tuna, beans, tofu or 1 slice low-fat cheese and 2 slices of turkey, lean roast beef or ham.
  • Vegetables: a salad with the protein on it or a side salad with a sandwich with as many vegetables that I can stuff onto it. Celery stick and carrot sticks or bell pepper rings are good side vegetables to have as well. Sometimes I will have a Tablespoon of peanut butter with them.
  • Acidics and Good Oils: Vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing on a salad or on a sandwich (1 Tab. olive oil and 2 Tab. of lemon juice or vinegar is enough dressing for salads for both Steven and I.)  or about a Tablespoon of mustard 
  • Carbohydrates: If I have a sandwich, I will use 2 slices rye, sourdough or pumpernickel or 1 slice whole wheat bread, if I have a salad I will have 4-6 whole wheat crackers. In addition, I will have some piece of fruit such as 1/2 mango or a peach, 1 cup of grapes, apple.
3. For Afternoon Snack:  I make sure I plan for a good snack for between lunch and dinner. A snack might be:
  • Fruit: 1/2 apple or a small pear
  • Protein: 1 Tab. peanut butter or 1 oz. Swiss cheese or goat cheese drizzled with lemon juice
  • Carb: 3 or 4 whole wheat pretzels or 6 whole wheat crackers  OR,
    • protein/carb combos instead of the protein and carb.
      • 14 oz. low-fat mixed berry yogurt with 2 Tab. Kashi Go-Lean cereal. 
      • 1 cup of popcorn with 8 almonds and 1 Tab. dark chocolate chips.
4. For Dinner:
  • Carbs.:one or two servings of carbohydrates such as 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, potatoes or brown rice would be one serving, double that would be the two servings . No bread with dinner.
  • Vegetables: Fill my plate with non-starchy vegetables, even if I am already having a salad.  
  • Protein: I keep my meats as lean as possible: Lean beef, chicken, turkey, tofu, beans, fish, and shrimp.
5. Evening Snack: Here is where I have what most people would have for a healthy breakfast.
  • Carbs: One serving: a mini bagel, 3/4-1 cup cold cereal such as Kashi GoLean, Grape Nut Flakes or Raisin Bran, hot cereal such as oatmeal or oat bran. Add flaxseed.
  • Protein: Nuts and low-fat milk on the cereal, peanut butter, hard-boiled egg, nuts, plain low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese.
  • Fruit: oranges, berries (on the cereal), nectarine, apple.
  • Treat: A little indulgence in dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate covered almonds goes along way for me to resist other sweets I might see around the house. A little prevention is good protection. I skip this if I have eaten them with the popcorn.
Oh, and by the way, when I was last at my doctor's she went over routine tests with me and remarked that my cholesterol was very good -better than hers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Fish and a Recipe for Salmon-Wasabi Sandwiches

Baked Paleo Salmon
Baked Paleo Salmon from Original Eating

Fish, especially those high in Omega-3's cut the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer, lower the risk of heart disease and helps to stop inflammation in the body. The fish highest in Omega-3's are albacore tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines. Because salmon and other fatty fish tend to store environmental pollutants like mercury into their fatty tissue, it is best to choose wild Pacific salmon or farmed salmon from Chile. Canned salmon comes from wild varieties. I have been trying to add fish to my diet at least once or twice a week. If you are having fish as your main meal of the day, a serving can  be up to 6 ounces, or 3 ounces for a lunch.

Salmon-Wasabi Sandwiches

6 Tab. mayonnaise
2 Tab. rice wine vinegar
1 Tab. minced or grated ginger
1 1/2 tea. Wasabi powder or paste
1 tea. mirin
1 can (7.5 oz) salmon, drained and flaked
2 Tab. scallions, chopped
1 Tab. sesame seeds
8 slices pumpernickle bread
1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
1 cup watercress sprigs

Whisk 3 Tab. mayo, rice wine vinegar, ginger, Wasabi and mirin in a bowl. Add the salmon, scallions and sesame seeds. Mix well. Spread the remaining 3 Tab. mayo over one side of each bread slice. Divide the salmon mixture among 4 of the bread slices. Top with cucumber and watercress and lastly, the remaining bread slices. 

Serving size is one sandwich.
314 calories, 18g protein, 36g carbohydrates, 5g fiver, 12g fat

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Barley and a Recipe for Black Bean and Barley Salad

"Hulled barley (right in photo) is a whole grain, meaning the three parts of the seed—bran, germ and endosperm—are intact, providing optimum nutrition. Hulled barley, as its name suggests, has had its inedible, outermost layer—the hull—removed. (All grains grown for human consumption must have their hull removed, if they have one.) Pearled barley (left in photo) is not a whole grain, since it has been polished (aka "pearled"), processing that removes the nutritious bran layer" -The Delicious Truth

Because of its significant supply of solubble fiber, barley slows the stomach from emptying, keeping blood sugar stable and create a sensation of being full, which might help to control appetite. It can also possibly prevent colon and stomach cancers. A portion is 1/2 cup so it is good as a side dish or added to another dish, like this Black Bean and Barley Salad.

Black Bean and Barley Salad

1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tea. cumin
1 tea. oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tea. salt and pepper to taste
1 can (15-19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
2/3 cup scallions, chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
lime wedges

Combine the broth and the barley in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes, or until barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer barley to a bowl, fluff with a fork and let cool.
Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, orange juice, oil and spices into a small bowl and whisk to blend.
Add beans, peppers, scallions and cilantro to the barley. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat well. Garnish with lime slices. 
One serving is 3/4 cup.
230 calories, 7g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 11g fat

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Peanut Butter and a Recipe for Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Trail Bars

Enjoy Value-Packed Peanut Butter Year-Round
More peanut butter recipes at Peanut Butter Lovers.
Peanut butter is full of protein and has unsaturated fat. It helps tame cholesterol therefore lowering heart disease because of its fats (it is the same fat that is in olive oil) and sterols, which also fend off colon, prostate and breast cancers. Peanut butter is also a good source of resveratrol, the antioxidant that red wine is famous for. Peanut butter is also rich in vitamin E and is rich in the bone-building mineral boron.  It also have a gram of fiber in every tablespoon. All of these health benefits for about 20 cents or less a Tablespoon. Just watch to make sure they are not sweetened too much with corn syrup or sugar. Since it does contain almost 100 calories per tablespoon, you do still have to limit your portions, however, and use only 1-2 Tablespoons at a time. Here is a recipe for trail bars that are a bit more healthy than those you can buy in the store. Peanut butter stands in for the butter.

Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Trail Bars

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tea. cinnamon
1/2 tea. baking soda
1/8 tea. salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cu firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
2 egg whites
2 Tab. canola oil
2 tea. vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or almonds
1/2 cup bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350deg. F. and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with Pam. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat the peanut butter, sugar and honey in a bowl with an electric mixer until well blended. Blend egg and egg whites with a fork in a small bowl. Add eggs to peanut butter mixture, along with the oil and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix. Mix in oats, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. Scrape batter into baking dish in an even layer. Bake bars until browned and firm to the touch, 20-25 min. Let cool and then cut into 24 bars. 
One serving is one bar.
175 calories, 4g protein, 24g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 8g fat, 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Stone Fruits: Peaches, Plums, Apricots and Nectarines and a Recipe for Upside-Down Stone Fruit Muffins

Stone Fruits
Like apples, citrus fruits and berries, stone fruits are the next healthiest fruit for snacking and adding to recipes. Apricots, which are close cousins to peaches, are the richest in beta-carotene, linked with protection from heart disease and cancer. Plums have several antioxidants, and all of the stone fruits have compounds that help keep eyes free of cataracts and have cholesterol busting soluble fiber and do not send your blood sugar racing too high. A serving size is one peach, plum or nectarine or two apricots. They are easy to add to oatmeal, smoothies, top pancakes or waffles, cold cereal or dried to trail mix or rice. Or, here is a recipe for muffins featuring stone fruits.

Upside-Down Stone Fruit Muffins

2 Tab. packed brown sugar
1/4 cup walnuts
12 oz. nectarines (3 med.), plums or apricots pitted and cut into 1/4 inch wedges 

Coat muffin cups with cooking spray. Sprinkle about 1/2 tea. brown sugar into each muffin cup and put into an even layer. Sprinkle about 1 tea. walnuts into each cup. Arrange 3-4 nectarine slices, slightly overlapping, over walnuts and brown sugar. Cover and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining nectarines slices and set aside. You should have about 3/4 left.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2  tea. baking powder
1/2 tea. baking soda
1/4 tea. salt
1 1/2 tea. cinnamon
1/2 tea. nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup buttermilk
3 Tab. canola oil
1 tea. vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. 

In another bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened, then fold in the reserved nectarines. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 18-22 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned and the tops spring back when touched. Immediately loosen the edges and carefully turn the muffins out. Replace any stray nectarine slices and spoon any walnut pieces remaining in the muffin cups. Let cool.
One serving is 1 muffin.

202 calories, 5g protein, 32g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 6g fat

Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: What I Have Learned About Losing Weight, A Researcher's Perspective

Kale and Chickpea Salad

As I promised last week, I will tell you about all the things I have learned about dieting and weight loss as they have come together for me. I have decided not to diet. Not to count calories. Not to weigh myself but to just monitor through how I feel and my weight checks at doctor's appointments. Instead I am trying to change my attitudes about food and myself. One step at a time, like putting one foot in front of the other, I am learning to walk the healthy life, but it takes time and practice before I will be able to run. Every tiny step, however, is a step none the less, and all those tiny steps add up over time. Here are the things I am working on, from a researchers point of view.

  1. Make better carbohydrate choices, and limit the portions of the less good carbohydrates. This is a lot different than going low carb. It is much more a "just say less" approach than a "just say no" approach. I am trying to eat more whole grains, especially whole pumpernickel bread, oatmeal and bran cereal, lentils and dried beans and some fresh fruits rather than potatoes, white breads and pasta, white rice, sodas, dried fruit. Some foods are in the middle, so I eat less of them than the best carb sources, but more of them than the worst carb sources. I just have to be careful of my portion sizes of these carbs. Those are wheatberries, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bananas, sweet potatoes and whole wheat and sour dough breads. The basic rule of thumb is that I make three of my carb servings whole grains and get 45 to 55 percent of my calories from carbs every day.
  2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. I know that this is an obvious, but I am trying to make doing this more intentionally. One strategy is to eat a salad with each dinner with a little lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil. Another strategy is to mix just about any vegetable(s) with every carb dish. Adding tomatoes carrots and spinach to pasta or broccoli to rice or strawberries to cold cereal means that I will be eating a little less pasta, rice or cereal if I keep the portions of the dish the same. I snack on fruits such as peaches, plums or apples or some raw vegetables and low-fat dressing or a homemade bean dip. It is very important to pack some fruits and vegetables every time I leave the house for an activity with the kids so that I don't find myself surrounded by people snacking without a healthy alternative. I have found that there are some exceptions to the eat fruits and vegetables rule and they are potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, bananas, dried fruits and juices. I do eat these, but I limit them, whereas other vegetables I eat limitlessly.
  3. Eat protein at every meal. I try to eat about 20-30 percent of my calories from protein. Every time you mix protein with carbohydrates, it lowers the blood sugar reaction of the carbohydrate alone. It helps keep hunger at bay between meals. I should watch portion control with the proteins, however. Small amounts of protein with each meal is much better than one large serving with dinner alone. I try to make sure that most often the proteins are soy, fish or shellfish, poultry, nuts, seeds, low-fat cheese, low fat milk and yogurt, eggs, split peas, lentils and dry beans. I make sure to limit ground beef, beef with fat, sausage, bacon, high-fat lunchmeats such as bologna or salami, hot dogs, butter and cream.
  4. Choose fats carefully. First I cut back on sources of saturated fats. I cut back on fatty red meats, butter and margarine, cream, full-fat cheeses, whole milk, mayonnaise and ice cream. Ice cream is still my major weakness, but I have cut my portions in half. I use olive oil as my first choice and canola as my second choice of oils. I often substitute olive oil when I would have used butter before. I also get some fats from the nuts, seeds, fish and avocados I eat. I also eat flaxseeds. I eat more non-meat proteins than I used to. My husband is vegetarian, so I am more often eating with him, rather than what the kids are eating.
  5. Add lemons and vinegar as much as possible. As, I have said before, making foods more acidic slows the breakdown of starches into blood sugar, so the blood sugar rises at a slower and more steady rate. I use vinaigrettes rather than creamy salad dressings. I use vinegar-based marinades for meat and fish. I use mustard over mayonnaise. I eat pickles pr gardenia with my sandwich instead of chips.  I eat sauerkraut and sourdough bread. I sometimes cook with wine and sometimes drink a 4 oz. glass of wine with dinner. I squeeze limes and lemons on almost everything!
  6. Portion control. This is the piece that I am struggling with right now. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and sometimes I went hungry as a child. This has never left me. I have gotten much better about it over the years due to the loving care my husband has given me, but childhood traumas are slow to leave you and often leave traces that you don't know are there until they pop up suddenly. I 'used to panic whenever I felt hungry or even if we were getting low on groceries. I don't really have that any more. Making sure that I keep my blood sugar steady and making sure I get adequate proteins that can carry you through until the next meal help with this as well. I have started with looking at the recommended portion sizes on packages. For example, the serving size for peanut butter is two tablespoons, so I actually measure out two tablespoons when I use it. I am learning what appropriate serving sizes look like. Did you know that a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, but the serving size of fish is about the size of a fat checkbook? A serving of cheese is about the size of four dice. After looking at what a serving size is, I try to visualize something that is about that size so that I can remember it the next time. The only thing I do not control the portions of are fruits and vegetables (with a few exceptions of particularly starchy ones such as potatoes and bananas.) 
  7. If calories have to be counted, make sure they are high enough that you lose the weight slowly. I found a neat trick to determine how many calories one should strive for in a day. If you are trying for a modest, slow weight loss that won't trigger ketones, simply add a zero to your current weight. As you lose weight, your calorie intake should reflect that change as well.