Category Archives: Food

Winding Down from Crazy

Well, I’m back from the Trek and this week has been crazy!

First I’ll start with the Trek. It was AWESOME!

As I posted earlier, I was undecided about signing up again. But I have. How can I not? It’s just so damn fun!

Me and my friend Jen, her first Trek.

The weather was pretty good this year, too. Hot Friday, cloudy Saturday, and sunny, breezy Sunday.

With a small team this year, I ended up riding a fair bit by myself. We just ride at our own pace and no necessarily with our teammates so I just did my own ride. Typically we’d all catch up at the rest stops.

I had a friend that lent me a helmet camera for the Trek.

Helmet cam. I am a geek.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to test it out before leaving. Without a computer to download the footage it was so hard to know where the camera was pointing so I had to hope for the best. I’m happy to say that I got some really great footage of the pavement between Bethel and Belfast. I wonder if the Maine Department of Transportation can use any of it?

Since I returned it’s been a crazy week. Crazy at work and also busy after work with social commitments. One of those commitments was attending a fundraiser for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine at Flatbread Pizza. I had heard they had a decent gluten free crust and after checking out the ingredients, finding that they were satisfactory, I ordered a pizza. That was a highlight of me week – real pizza that I haven’t had in a very long time!

Now the week is winding down and the weather a little dreary. No matter. I’m just enjoying a little downtime with my husband before things get crazy again. They always do.

At the finish in Belfast, Maine.

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I Scream, You Scream

We all scream for ice cream!

Recently my husband bought a gelato maker and it’s awesome!

We don’t eat a ton of ice cream but this time of year we eat a bit more than normal. It’s hard to find ice cream that’s reasonably priced with good ingredients, meaning that it’s corn syrup free. We’ve been happy with Bryer’s All Natural and Turkey Hill All Natural, the latter we haven’t been able to find in the stores lately.

So now we are making our own. It’s great because we can make it with soy milk or with cream and we can control the ingredients – a true benefit of making it yourself.

So far we’ve made blueberry, banana and chocolate mint. All have tasted incredible but I think the banana might be my favorite so far.

We’ve bought some frozen fruits like peaches and cherries to use in our future ice cream experiments. I look forward to being creative and making some interesting flavors. One in particular will be lemon – that should be the best.

Counting Calories

I’m on a mission to lose some weight. During my vacation at the first of September I put on 5 pounds from eating and drinking out all the time. Then somehow I managed to put on 5 more pounds between then and the new year.

Now it’s time to get rid of some of this unwanted weight. My first task is to take off the 10 pounds I put on in the last 4 months of the year. My second task will be to shed a few more pounds after that.

Of course one method of losing weight will be through exercise. Another important method is to count calories.

I’ve used the “Lose It” application on my iPhone to track what I’ve been eating and calories. Although this is a good way to count calories I found it a little frustrating because there were a lot of items not listed in food categories.

Recently a friend told me about Livestrong‘s “My Plate” food diary. This is an  free online service where you can log your consumption and expenditure of calories.Of course they have an upgraded paid service as well that offers more reports, features, and saves your information for a much longer time, if not forever.

I thought I’d check it out. Turns out, it’s a great tool! The food listings are quite extensive and easy to modify if you make a mistake. I use this religiously throughout the day to log my food and estimate how much I can eat for dinner without overeating. (This also lets me know if I can splurge on a piece or two of chocolate after dinner.)

You start out by inputting your age, weight, height and how many pounds you want to lose within a certain time frame. Then you start logging your food and workouts. If you weigh yourself on a regular basis then you can update your weight as frequently as daily to track your progress.

After using this site for almost a week I”m happy to report I’ve lost 3 1/2 pounds. That’s pretty significant. Of course I know that it’s always much easier to lose those first few pounds that it is to lose the last few.

The important thing to remember is this helps to keep me motivated. So much so that I almost dread having dinner with friends Friday night. It will be harder to track the calories I take in by eating something I haven’t prepared myself. That’s a great reason for eating at home as opposed to eating out, which is what got me to this point in the first place! Still, I enjoy eating out and it will be a social event with friends we haven’t seen in a while. I’ll just have to be smart about my food options throughout the day and leave a little room for a bit more consumption, just in case there are some hidden calories in my restaurant food.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out MyPlate and are in the market to count some calories, I recommend giving it a try. And for those of you with iPhones, yes, there is an app for that!

More on Bananas

I recently received this as one of those forwarded emails. I can’t verify all these health benefits to eating bananas but it’s definitely food for thought!

Banana

Bananas Contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber, a banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world’s leading athletes. But energy isn’t the only way a banana can help us keep fit.  It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and  conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.

Depression:

According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after  eating a banana. This is because bananas contain
tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you  relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel better.

PMS:

Forget the pills — eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anemia
:
High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.

Blood Pressure:

This unique tropical fruit is extremely high in potassium yet low in salt, making it the perfect way to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food  and Drug Administration has just allowed the banana industry  to  make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.

Brain Power:

200 students at a Twickenham (Middlesex  England
) school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break, and lunch in a bid to boost their brain power. Research has shown that the potassium-packed fruit can assist  learning by making pupils more alert.

Constipation:

High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Hangovers:

One of the quickest ways of curing a hangover is to  make a banana milkshake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels,  while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Heartburn:

Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body, so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Morning Sickness:

Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Mosquito bites:

Before  reaching for the insect bite cream, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin.  Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

Nerves:

Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Overweight and at work?

Studies at the Institute of Psychology in Austria found pressure at work leads to gorging on comfort food like chocolate and chips. Looking at  5,000 hospital patients, researchers found the most obese were more likely to be in high-pressure jobs.  The  report concluded that, to avoid panic-induced food cravings, we need to control our blood  sugar levels by snacking on high carbohydrate foods every two hours to keep levels steady.

Ulcers:

The banana is used as the dietary food against intestinal disorders because of its soft texture and smoothness.  It is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in over-chronicler cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Temperature control:

Many other cultures see  bananas as a ‘cooling’ fruit that can lower both the physical and emotional temperature of expectant mothers. In Thailand ,  for example, pregnant women eat bananas to ensure their baby is born with a cool temperature.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):

Bananas can help SAD sufferers because they contain the  natural mood enhancer tryptophan.

Smoking:

Bananas can  also  help people trying to give up smoking.  The B6 and B12 they contain, as well as the potassium and magnesium found in them, help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress:

Potassium is a vital mineral which helps normalize the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates your body’s water balance.  When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels.  These can be rebalanced with the help of a high-potassium banana snack.

Strokes:

According to research in ‘The New  England Journal of Medicine,’ eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death from strokes  by as much as 40%!

So, a banana really is a natural remedy for many ills.  When you compare it to an apple, it has four times the protein, twice the carbohydrates, three times the phosphorus, five times the vitamin A and iron, and twice the other vitamins and minerals. It is also rich in potassium and is one of the best value foods  around.  So maybe it’s time to change that well-known  phrase  so that we say, ‘A banana a day keeps the doctor away!’

Footnote:
If your roses are covered with Aphids, drape banana skins over the branches,  It’s amazing, but in a day or less, they are GONE!

Lesson Learned

I’ve posted before about my issue with cramping. I’ve tried electrolytes such as Nuun Tabs and Accelerade. Sometimes I don’t cramp with these products and sometimes I do.

Recently I’ve gotten so I digest a Cliff Shot Gel or Cliff Shot Bloks prior to a ride. That habit has served me well to give me the boost of energy I need for the ride. And surprisingly I haven’t had an issue with cramps.

Tonight I went out on a local group ride with no gel or bloks. Upon the first significant climb I started cramping. First it was in my right calf, then the left. Sheesh! Then I realized I missed taking in a gel before the ride because I was rushing to make the ride, which is starting earlier these days due to fading daylight.

It’s funny that I haven’t given much thought to my cramping issue lately because it hasn’t happened. However, tonight when it did happen, I could almost pinpoint the reason. Or at least what I think is the reason. Next time I’ll take the time to grab a gel before I leave for the ride.

Finally, I Had a Long Ride!

Yippee, not only did I have time for a long ride today, but I have time to blog about it!

First let me start by saying that we’ve had company this week. Our friend, Joel, is visiting from Atlanta. You’ll remember him from my postings about the Tour de Georgia – we stayed with him in Atlanta and he was kind enough to shuttle us around the entire week.

So it was our time to return the favor. We spent most of the week running around playing tour guide. And I think we also ate our way across Maine. Which maked me think I’d be a miserable foodie on The Food Network because I’m feeling like a bloated pig right about now. I’ll post more about our adventures later.

Today, of course, was the Friday Morning Coffee Ride, which is a casual ride to a favorite coffee spot and back. Round trip is about 25 miles and the pace is usually around 17mph. My husband knows how much I love this ride so it was a no brainer – regardless of what they did today, I would be on the coffee ride. Seems everyone else had the same idea because we had a pretty large crowd of about 25 of us.

Now there is a side story here as well that I must tell you. Joel’s friend, Frank, flew up from Atlanta last night. It’s a two-fold purpose. One being that he’ll keep Joel company on the return drive back to Atlanta. The other purpose was so that Frank, who is German, could go to Manchester, Maine to visit a man who was in Germany at the beginning of WWII. At the start of the war this young man was unable to get out and return to the United States so Frank’s Grandmother harbored him in her basement for three years. Cool story, huh??

Okay, now back to my ride. After the coffee ride I swung by the house to make a few minor adjustments to my bike because it was slipping gears a bit and set off for another ride. I decided to do the popular Prout’s Neck loop because 1.) it’s relatively flat and I haven’t done 50 miles since the Trek Across Maine 2 1/2 months ago and 2.) I haven’t done that loop in a long while.

It was such a beautiful day for a ride. I had a pretty high average mile per hour the first half. I think I probably had a tail wind. Then the second half I slowed it down a bit and just enjoyed being on the bike.

I also managed to stop and take a few photos.

The view from the Prout’s Neck Yacht Club:

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The view from the turnaround at Prout’s Neck:

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Overlooking Old Orchard Beach:

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I felt good after a total ove 50+ miles for the day. It had been a long time since I spent so much time on the bike and thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

The remainder of the day was mine to rest and relax while Don, Joel and Frank were visiting the man I mentioned above. Now it’s off to, what else, dinner. We’ll start with drinks at Gritty’s then dinner at DiMillo’s.

Grace

Last night my husband and I joined out MeetUp group for dinner at Grace, a new restaurant in Portland. This restaurant is located in the former Methodist Church on Chestnut Street.

There has been some press on the renovations of this restaurant, which has created a lot of buzz about it. Soon after it opened it was time to give it a try.

I had read a review by a local blogger about their experience before going. It wasn’t too terribly favorable, but wasn’t a horrible review either. They had also gone early in the opening so I was hopeful for a good experience.

We went early to grab a drink at the bar, which is the focal point of the restaurant. I ordered, what else, an apple martini. It certainly wasn’t the best I had had but I know that every bartender has their own style of making drinks such as these so I didn’t hold it against them.

I had checked out the menu online before going so I’d know what I was in for in terms of selections. I was really hoping for a couple specials that might be announced at the table but there were none. Unfortunately the when I had asked for a rice type substitution for the potato on some of the dishes I was told the chef does not like to make substitutions. Hmmm, that wasn’t a good sign for me. So I ordered the hanger steak anyway, with the potato, and passed the potato to my husband.

I won’t say we had a horrible experience. It was quite pleasant and all the dishes that came out looked very appetizing.

I’m sure we will go back again. My preference would be to go and have a drink at the bar with friends. If they change up the menu a bit I’d be inclined to go back for dinner again. However, with so many really outstanding restaurants in the Greater Portland area, this isn’t my favorite, save for the wonderful atmosphere.

The main bar as seen from upstairs:

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The upstairs bar:

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The kitchen from my upstairs view:

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Some of our dinner crew:

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