Shopping with a new purpose

After posting yesterday, we ventured off to the supermarket to pick up a few items for tonight’s dinner and for the week. The trip was a little different for me than usual, in the sense that I was trying to be more aware of what I purchased. We went to a typical supermarket- not a Whole Foods or specialty market and it is abundantly clear that I will need to shop for some products outside of this supermarket in order to meet my new-found needs.

First, the produce selection. It is pretty diverse and there are a good amount of different veggie options, however very few items are tagged as ‘locally grown’ or ‘organic’. Some items may be, but they are not labeled as such. Michael Pollan discusses in his book that it is preferable to purchase items locally (less travel time) and items that have been grown in nutrient rich soil (typically organic, but not ALL organic produce is grown in such soil), yet this store did not seem to carry much of that. I really want to go to a farmer’s market soon!

The second thing I noticed was the lack of seafood options. This market always seems to carry the same seafood options- tilapia, salmon, and perch. Some times they have tuna and yesterday they had flounder- nothing too exciting in my book. We  already have some shrimp at home and none of the seafood was inspiring or on sale so we decided to hold off until later in the week. I love eating seafood but I get tired of the same old options at this store.

The next item of business for me was  the meat section. I could not find any grass fed meat options or even ‘free range’ meats. I think I will need to really search for these in my community, although I got an inside tip that Trader Joes carries grass-fed products. I may try to check that out this week.

Next, the eggs and dairy section. Very few choices here too! The best I could find were organic free range eggs or coup-free eggs. I like the idea of that of course, but I really want to find grass-fed chicken eggs if possible. I held off on buying any eggs and will continue to search. Then I completely spaced and just grabbed the store brand half-n-half and forgot to look for organic or any type of ‘better’ dairy for my coffee. I guess I was a little worn out by this point. Woops! Also, same with the shredded cheddar cheese- we just grabbed the store brand and were on our way. I will need to do some more research on the availability of dairy products from grass fed cows in my area as I doubt there were many options on that front at my local grocery store anyway.

So, the shopping trip was very interesting. All in all, I think we did pretty well. We picked up two heads of romaine lettuce, a bag of spinach, a cucumber, organic (yes, this was labeled!) green onion, 4 green bell peppers, 4 jalepenos, 2 bags of yellow onions, a bag of lemons, half a head of purple cabbage, a whole head of green cabbage, bananas, and tomatoes. We bought a tray of chicken breasts and some ground veal (I know, bad). A bag of shredded cheddar and some half n half. I bought some Siggi’s icelandic yogurt to try this week, which is all natural (INGREDIENTS: Skim Milk, Agave Nectar, Candied Ginger Orange Extract, Live Active Cultures, Vegetable Rennet). Also, some cashews for snacking. All in all, a good trip and I learned that I really need to pay attention to everything I put in that cart!

Anyway, on to dinner. My husband made the crab cakes and he did an excellent job. They contained crab meat, organic green onion, fresh cilantro, jalepeno, lemon juice, mustard-dry and wet, an egg, mayonnaise, and bread crumbs. He fried them in a little canola oil. I made an Asian-style slaw, using purple and green cabbage, carrots, organic green onion, cilantro, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds. It came out great! It tasted so fresh and light and accompanied the crab cakes perfectly. (please see starving kitten for the recipes!)

After dinner I made myself an espresso with half and half.

I knew we were going to be going out and doing something social so I needed a pick-me-up. While we were out I had two vodka sodas, with Stoli vodka, club soda, and lime. All in all, a good day!


Saturday’s start

This morning we got up after sleeping for almost 11 hours- ahh, so needed! I was starving and decided a good way to get in some veggies right off the bat would be to make an omelet. The husband wanted sausage and he made some extra for me, which I also put in the omelet along with some sauteed mushrooms and spinach, red onion, and feta cheese. I used two whole eggs and egg whites from a third egg.

Unfortunately, these eggs were not “pastured” or even free range (which, doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the chickens were grass fed). They were bought by the husband and prior to me making these changes, but I hope to get pastured eggs on the next shopping trip I take.

I also had some coffee (Jamaican Blue Mountain, yum!) with half and half and a packet of stevia.

After breakfast I surprised myself and went for a run. I had absolutely no intention of doing this today, but it was nice and sunny out. Right after mile 4 my ipod battery (and thus my nike+) died. I kept going though and probably ran about 4.75 miles today, sweet!

After re-hydrating and taking a shower, I indulged in some of my favorite chocolate. Mint dark chocolate made by Divine, which is ‘fair trade certified’ and freakin’ delicious! I swear the nutrition facts lie.

Anyway here are the ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, peppermint crisp  5% (sugar, peppermint oil), emulsifier: soy lecithin (non GM), peppermint oil, vanilla. Crap! Soy lecithin. I need to do some more research on this ingredient- it is in everything!

As I am writing this I am also snacking on some more nuts 🙂 Cashews, almonds and macadamia mix again. Love them!

Signing off for now,


Friday’s finish

When I got home yesterday afternoon I was pretty hungry (as I always am when I get home!). I had a few nuts to hold me over until dinner.

I would be very happy as a squirrel eating nuts all the time, I love them so much. These particular ones happen to be a mix of cashews, almonds and macadamia nuts. I also munched on a few dry roasted peanuts too (not pictured). The hubby and I then turned our attention onto dinner and I quickly remembered another reason why it is harder to stay on track with healthy eating over the weekend- we tend to go out to eat on weekends, especially Friday nights. I searched around the internet trying to think of a good place to go that would meet my needs and his as well. We settled on going to an Indian restaurant, which ended up being fantastic! They had a great buffet, with several vegetable options and meat options. It was perfect! Here is a picture of my first plate:

From left to right, starting with the ramekin of yogurt sauce: cabbage slaw (really light and vinegar-y), broccoli in yogurt sauce, curry chicken, stuffed cabbage (center), vegetables in cream sauce, zucchini, and saag paneer (spinach and chickpeas). For my second plate I went for a round of favorites, even though I was already stuffed! I had some more of the stuffed cabbage , vegetables in cream sauce, and saag paneer along with some more chicken. I wouldn’t go as far as to say my plate was totally “healthy” due to the loads of cream sauce, but I stayed mostly on track here with my effort to eat mostly vegetables so I was quite pleased. Note the omission of any white rice or naan, which I didn’t miss too much all things considered.

When we got home we opened a bottle of vino- a pink merlot and I had two glasses. For the first day, I would say it went pretty well. We’ll see how Saturday goes!

It begins! Already hitting speedbumps…

I find it to be very interesting that I started blogging/photo documenting my new healthy eating habits on a Friday. Of all days, Fridays lead into the weekend and are where I tend to make some pretty poor dietary choices, especially compared to Monday-Thursday. I tend to make ok choices throughout the day on Friday, but by the evening I am more open to the idea of eating “poorly”. I’m not sure why that is, if it’s because I just need a break from the normal routine or if it’s an excuse to cut loose a bit. Also, I tend to drink alcohol on Friday and Saturday nights, more than any other nights in the week, so maybe it’s the idea of throwing all caution to the wind. So, to see how well I handle this weekend will be an interesting experiment at just the onset of this project.

This morning it was nice and cool outside, somewhere in the upper 50’s lower 60’s I am guessing. For the past few days the temps have been much higher in the morning and I’ve been struggling to complete my 5 miles. I also just returned from a week-long vacation, but it’s been tough for me out there the past few mornings. Well, today I am happy to say, went much better. I got in a full 5 miles, running at a 9:40 pace, not bad. My running shoes are killing my feet now all the sudden and I have some nice war wounds as a result.

For breakfast I made a green monster with 1 cup of chocolate unsweetened almond milk, a frozen banana, and one cup of spinach. I  added a stevia packet to the smoothie to give it some sweetness.  I also had coffee with stevia and half and half. I felt pretty full as I headed out the door to work.

On Fridays at work, I always start the day out with meetings. Meetings can be really draining and I think that got the best of me this morning. A co-worker brought out a bag of tootsie rolls and everyone went to town on them, including me. Doh!

Let’s take a look at the ingredients in a tootsie roll. The ingredients of a chocolate Tootsie Roll are sugar, corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, condensed milk, cocoa, whey, soy lecithin, orange extract, and artificial and condensed flavors (wikipedia). Not too too bad, but I definitely don’t know what soy lecithin is and corn syrup and partially hydrogenated soybean oil are definitely products I am trying to avoid and also, what the hell are condensed flavors?

Yeah. So needless to say, project busted! Well, as I said before, this is going to be tough. There are so many temptations out there. I did better on my lunch choices. I owe this to careful planning. Yesterday I went to Roots Market and picked up a few things and made sure to get something for today’s lunch.  I bought organic egg salad and kale salad with bragg liquid aminos.

Ingredients for the egg salad: organic eggs, organic green onion, organic parsley, organic extra virgin olive oil, oranic lemon juice, organic dijon mustard, organic safflower oil, sea salt, black pepper.

Ingredients for the kale salad: organic kale, organic yellow onion, organic carrot, organic olive oil, brag liquid aminos.

I had no idea what ‘liquid aminos’ where, but found out here. Essentially, it was the salad ‘dressing’ and are “made from health-giving, NON-GMO soybeans and purified water. They are an excellent, healthy, gourmet replacement for Tamari and Soy Sauce. Not fermented or heated and Gluten-Free”. Interesting. I found it to be very salty, and I ate less of the kale salad than I probably normally would have.

For dessert I ate a few pieces of Vivani dark chocolate with espresso.

Ingredients: cocoa liquor, raw can sugar, cocoa butter, espresso cafe, cocoa solids. This chocolate is 100% organic. I like it, but I don’t LOVE it. Chocolate is so good though and I really can’t live without at this point!

The beginning.

Hi! My name is Eileen and recently I started another blog, my first ever blog, starvingkitten, just a couple of months ago. That blog is a forum in which my husband and I share some of our recipes and culinary creations.  We started it because we love to cook (and eat) and do so quite often and we wanted to share our recipes with the world. So, why then am I starting a whole other blog within months of that one? Good question. Although starving kitten has been a great source of fun in the past couple of months (and I will continue to update it regularly, no worries), I find that I don’t particularly read blogs like mine very often. Instead, I prefer to use my google reader to peruse healthy lifestyle blogs that focus on healthy eating and exercise. I particularly care for blogs in which the writer focuses on balancing these healthy ideals with the reality that such lifestyles can be difficult to maintain 24/7, because that is what I too struggle with. Recently, I read one of Michael Pollan’s books, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and I became even more inspired to really take a look at my ‘healthy lifestyle’, particularly, my eating and the foods I purchase and therefore consume. I want to use this blog as place for me to explore some of the ideas he discusses in the book, such as eating more vegetables, particularly ‘leaves’ (and animal products of animals that also eat leaves vs. grains) and avoiding foods with unrecognizable ingredients, which are mostly processed and refined foods.

I named this blog Healthy Burgher to reflect several of the ideas floating around in my head. The name itself is an oxymoron in several capacities and ‘burgher’ by the way, is an homage to my soon-to-be new home city of Pittsburgh. Although I do not currently live in Pittsburgh and therefore am not an official “burgher” yet, I will be by the end of the summer and I’m married to a true, bonafide pitts-burgher and we got married in Pittsburgh, so basically I qualify already as I see it 🙂 Pittsburgh may not have a  reputation for being a healthy city, but I hope to prove that is not the case! I hope to showcase how one can maintain such a lifestyle once I move there. The second reason I chose this name was to make a commentary on my food philosophy. The (ham)burger  has always been one of those off-limits foods to the healthy eater as far back as I can remember. In fact, it was downright banished from any self-proclaimed healthy person’s diet. Is beef really the devil’s spawn? As Michael Pollan points out in his book, the reason behind Americas fear of meat, particularly red meat, and fat was partly due to the government’s attempt to reduce heart disease by lowering one of the only things that related to heart disease at the time, and could be measured at the time, cholesterol.  Animal products, particularly red meat and eggs contain cholesterol so naturally it made sense to suggest that reducing one’s consumption of these products,  would also reduce his or her cholesterol levels. It was the first time the government became ‘concerned’ with what Americans were eating and the response was to create dietary guidelines, hence the food pyramid, which recommended eating meat and fats sparingly, and supplanting the diet with carbohydrates, which are very low in cholesterol. Now, decades after those recommendations were handed down and followed by most western dieters, many more people are suffering from a variety of health problems, including heart disease (!), diabetes, and obesity, to name a few. It turns out that not eating cholesterol didn’t even lower cholesterol that much and it didn’t have an impact on heart disease either. Woops. What this diet did though was create a whole other slew of health problems (and a health-crazed country that will eat up anything ‘low fat’ no matter what it’s made of (think: margarine) and who are eating all the wrong things. So can we possibly start to think differently? Could a burger possibly be healthy? Well, I think Michael Pollan would agree with me that hamburgers are not all together unhealthy food, netither are they healthy per se, in their classic form (huge white bun on either side), but that’s the kind of thinking that I want to focus on in this project. For me, it’s about creating healthy versions of foods and my attempt to (somewhat) follow the criteria below when choosing foods and eating foods. For me, its also about balancing the desire I have to eat anything and everything  (especially those oh so good, but oh so bad, foods) and balancing health and nutrition with those realistic desires.

Here are some of the general guidelines from the book that I’d like to follow, ideally.

1. Eat foods that your great grandmother would recognize as food (avoid go-gurt for example).

2. Eat vegetables – mostly leaves.

3. Eat less meat, using meat as a side dish to vegetables.

4. Eat meat (and their by products ie: milk, cheese) of animals who also eat leaves (grass fed).

5. Eat more fish (omega 3-s).

6. Don’t eat anything with an ingredient that you can’t pronounce (ie: soy lecithin, sorbitol, maltodextrin).

7. Drink alcohol, mainly red wine (what? Yes, there are health benefits in alcohol! I just read an article in Cooking Light that suggested any alcohol, not just red wine, has benefits. Score.)

So, what does this mean for me? I am going to try to make some changes in what I buy and what I eat. I will be visiting farmer’s markets on a search for grass fed meat. Most likely, I will be spending more money at the grocery store. I will be struggling to diversify my vegetable intake and keep things interesting. I will try to eat less meat. I will eat pastured eggs. I will try to eliminate foods with ingredients I do not recognize (eek!). I will try to eat more fish.

I anticipate that this journey is going to be difficult. I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s and so processed foods are some of my favorites! Processed foods are cheaper, more readily available, and taste really good. I want to share that aspect of my struggle here as well as I know it will certainly be one for me. I understand that it may take a bigger commitment than I first realize now, but I am open to that and am up for the challenge.

Thanks for reading this, I know it was long.