Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sugar-Free Experiment

I decided to try to cut back on sugar.  Significantly.

A friend of mine is doing a sugar-free dietary change, and she is inspecting lots of labels and making sure that no added sugar goes in her mouth.  She's found a list of ingredients that are often listed that are synonymous with sugar:

Source: About Health website: If the label says “no added sugars”, it should not contain any of the following, although the food could contain naturally-occurring sugars (such as lactose in milk):
Agave Nectar
Barley Malt Syrup

Beet Sugar
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown Sugar
Cane Crystals (or, even better, "cane juice crystals")
Cane Sugar
Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
Corn sweetener
Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
Dehydrated Cane Juice
Evaporated Cane Juice
Fruit juice concentrate
High-fructose corn syrup
Invert sugar
Malt syrup
Maple syrup
Palm Sugar
Raw sugar
Rice Syrup
Sorghum or sorghum syrup
Turbinado Sugar

The easiest thing to do is to make meals from whole foods--use fewer pre-packaged and pre-mixed foods and buy all the stuff that can be found around the edges of the store--milk, butter, fruit, veggies, and meat.  However, it's a daunting thought spending hundreds of hours in the kitchen making salsa, fresh bread, tortillas, soaking beans, mayonnaise, ketchup & other condiments, salad dressings, and much more.  Therefore, it's good to have a list of brands that make condiments that have no sugar.

A few brands that are good include:
Amy's Kitchen
Full Circle (Black Beans)
Que Pasa tortilla chips
Pace Picante sauce
Dole packaged fruit (in 100% juice)
Fred Meyer has organic peanut butter with no sugar, but everyone carries Adams.  I prefer the no-stir creamy variety, which I've been buying for years.
Better Oats Steel Cut Oat Revolution (oatmeal packets), or just a cylinder of Quaker quick oats
Saltine crackers
Lucerne cream cheese

I'll be checking labels and adding to this list as I go.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Long Weekend

Labor day has traditionally been a weekend for the big SCA event, this year being held in Canada, right over the border.  Kelly, on the other hand, had other ideas.  He said that we really needed to do something as a family for the last weekend of summer.  We discussed what things we should do, and there were a few things we decided on.

Friday:  Pizza.  Hey, it's our tradition.  No one has to cook and clean up is a snap.  Which meant that we had even more time for GAME NIGHT!  I didn't get any photos, but we played Monty Python FLUXX twice.  This is a great game that has rules that can change from moment to moment, and the object of the game can change as well.  Once you have met the obligation (Holy Relics:  the Holy Hand Grenade and the Holy Grail; or The Cartoon Peril Was No More:  the Beast of Aaaaarggh and the Animator cards), you are the winner and the game ends.  I won with the goal "Squashed From Above" which meant I had the Finger of God and the Foot cards on the table at the same time as the Goal Card.  Aside from the traditional and Monty Python versions, there are several other versions of the game, including Zombie Fluxx, Star (Wars) Fluxx, Oz Fluxx, Cthulhu Fluxx, and a set I'm going to get...Pirate Fluxx!  After that, we played a game of GLOOM.  This game has an object of killing off your characters in the most miserable way possible.  It was fast and fun!

Saturday:  We decided to skip the Sounders game (selling our tickets) and work on a few things during the day and have a family luau in the evening.

Kelly stayed home and worked on the deck and got all the boards laid out and screwed down.  While we didn't have the railings installed yet, I figured we could put up the 4 x 4s (which will be part of the pergola) and tie ropes around to keep people safely in, if necessary.  I sent out a general invitation, but no one took us up on the offer.

Cammie and I went out to a couple of different grocery stores looking for ingredients for our luau, which consisted mostly of ahi tuna, salmon, rice and pineapple.  I was going to make pineapple chicken skewers, but given that we still don't have the BBQ on the deck, I needed to do all the cooking by oven.  Unless we had a big group of people coming, I wasn't going to cook TOO much food.

Luckily, the ahi didn't need cooking--I made a soy sauce mix and let it marinate for a couple hours.  I broiled the salmon in the oven with some butter and garlic.  Simple and delicious!  The sad bit was one of the loaves of the Hawaiian bread I got from the Chinese market was MOLDY!  So sad.  I was going to drive it back and exchange it or get my money back, but figured it would cost as much in gas to get there and back as the loaf of bread, so I just pitched it.  I will not be doing any more shopping there, for sure.

Sunday:  TOURISM!  We decided to play tourist-at-home and went to downtown Seattle to have lunch at Pike Place Market, visit the Seattle Art Museum, ride the ferris wheel at the waterfront, walk through the market a bit, and then head home.  In order to prevent having to fight for parking spaces, along with all the attendees of PAX, Bumbershoot, and the Mariners fans, we took the bus.  There was a lot of people riding along with us, and the ride back was particularly crowded.  It was standing room only all the way home--at least for Kelly.  The kids and I were able to sit for the last few miles.

Some sights along the way:
At the SAM, they had a large display of glass art, and a bunch of art pieces from the 1400-1500.  Most of them were religious in nature and it was such a thrill to get to see them up close and personal.  I was able to get within inches of them to take detailed photos...in fact, several of them were unprotected (although they had roving security everywhere...just don't ask them where to find the restrooms--the one I asked was rather vague).

Quilted teapot...

Gorgeous blue and yellow vase from Italian Renaissance

Painted wooden box front...the gold was real shiny gold!

Italian pottery

Ceramic pond--the pieces fit together like a puzzle and were heavily glazed to look wet.  This was a favorite for us!

Madonna and child, 1490.

Detail from a Madonna and child painting--the gauzy sleeve of the baby's tunic and the buttons on her sleeve were just amazing.  This was from 1490.

16th century folding screens from Japan

Monet.  Nuff said.

One of the biggest problems I had was with the lighting on the art.  It was bright enough, but often left bright spots on the paintings like this.  You usually couldn't view it straight on.  This was from the bench provided by the museum for viewing this really large painting.

Or there was some reflection in the glass (no, I wasn't using a flash...that is usually against the rules):

Here's some sweet boots!

Afterwards, we wandered through Pike Place...

Rode the Ferris Wheel...

And then rode the bus home.  We watched a movie together:  Bears.  It was cute and just over an hour long.

Monday:  Bike ride!  Earlier this summer, we finally got Ben to try biking again, and he very quickly got the hang of balance and pedaling.  He then decided that he wanted to really spread his wings and go for a long bike ride somewhere.  We promised that we'd do that before the summer was done, and here we are...at the final week.  So, we drove down to the Centennial Trail that runs from Snohomish to Arlington...or maybe beyond in some city nearish to Mt. Vernon. (I don't know exactly where it ends, but we really had no intention of biking that far anyway--we read somewhere that it is about 30 miles in length).  In the end, I biked about 2 1/2 miles with them and I turned around there.  They continued on to the next trail head at Machias, about 4 1/2 miles from where we started, then turned back.  My muscles are all very sore now...ugh.  Took some Tylenol and cider, and may need to take a bath to fully relax the muscles.  I have a feeling I won't be able to climb stairs for the next couple of days.

When I returned from the bike ride, I took off my helmet only to discover that the rotting strap on the back tore completely away (the chin strap has a nylon strap and was perfectly fine--the broken bit hugs the back of the head to keep the helmet in place).  I had noticed that it was shedding black bits all over the place before we started out, but thought that since this is a designated walking/biking trail, I would have little chance of encountering vehicles and other dangers, and it was probably going to be low risk of having an accident that would require a helmet to protect me to that extent.  It looks like it'll be a pretty easy fix, though.  It appears that the straps have little velcro dots that attach the straps.  I'll pop by the bike shop later this week to see what they can do for me.

Ben also needs repairs on his helmet; one of the neighborhood kids tore all the padding out while he left the helmet sitting outside one day.  We have some new little guys in the neighborhood...lesson for Ben was not to leave his stuff out where others could get to it--always put your stuff away.  I'm not going to worry much about finding out the culprit.

Dinner was a simple affair--burgers and fries (home made).  The big kid starts school tomorrow; the little guys start next week.