Slique – 90 days

The Young Living Slique products have delivered as promised.  Of course, I had to maintain portion control, reduced daily calorie intake, exercise regimen, and all other common sense requirements of any weight loss plan.

It came out to about $1o.oo a day in costs.  Some of that was recouped in a much lower grocery bill – no more cookies, cereals, chips, etc etc etc.  Since one meal replacement was in the costs, essentially I am/was spending $10.00 a day on lunch.

My current plan is to keep to weight loss calorie intake until Mother’s Day, and then move to a maintenance calorie intake for … ever, I guess.

I no longer feel so depressed and desperate everytime a diet program or fat removal surgery ad comes on TV.  Yes, many of you remarked that I didn’t seem like I needed to lose weight.  You would be correct according to the Smart BMI calculator.  In the beginning of 2017, I felt like sludge, and even though I have not lost huge numbers of pounds, the difference I DO feel.  I don’t cringe at the thought of exercise, I am not stressing my bulging spinal disks as much in ordinary activity, and I feel more like … me.

Slique Tapas – Savory or Sweet Small Plates

Beating the bland blahs of my Slique diet program has made me into a creative tapas chef.  “Tapas” are from the Spanish cuisine which are small plates of delicious food that are eaten not as a meal, but as Pooh would say – “just in time for a little smackerel of something”.   Having very small bits of superb savory or sweet snacks keeps the taste buds happy, and that part of your brain that says “ahhhhhhh” when you eat something goooooood.

Important to remember – You can extend the psychological pleasure of eating if you 1) take smaller bites, and 2) chew them very slowly, and  3) concentrate on being in the moment and enjoying your eating.

Cranberry Delight-
put a leaf of butter lettuce or a small bed of lettuce bits on your plate.
Spoon 1/4 cup whole cranberry sauce or relish (no sugar added) on lettuce.
Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans on top.
Add 2 sections of tangerine, tangelo, or clementine.
YUM

Salsa Delight-
put out 3 small scoops type corn chips
spoon Black bean and corn salsa into chips
Put away chips and salsa into cabinet and go into another room to eat.
Yum.

New Orleans Rice
I make up a batch of Zaterains rice and portion it into small storage containers.  I am experimenting with what can go with it.

Rice Pudding
If I was really ambitious I would make a batch of HEALTHY rice pudding.  Failing that, I buy the pudding in individual cups from the market.
With a cup of rice pudding, I will add 2 or 3 cinnamon crisp crackers.

Getting Creative about the Downside of Dieting

I am past Day 30 of the Slique in 60 challenge.
I have had results- the actual weight loss number isn’t huge, but the change in body size is.  I am over 5 cm smaller in waist and hips.  There must be something to those capsules and oil blend.  So many weight loss programs produce weight loss but not much change in body size, and the weight comes back, as it wasn’t a true body change to begin with.

These are a few thoughts I’ve had on this process.

Cost:  The Young Living Slique products, especially the complete kit, have a pretty steep initial cash outlay.  However, the NutriSystem program costs about the same (or more) for a comparable 1 month of meals.  If you count the Slique products as 1 meal and snacks for the day, it comes to about $10.00 a day.  Not that expensive.  For me, it hasn’t been an “additional” cost, as I am spending much less at the grocery market.

The 60 day barrier:  Nutritional science has proven that it takes at least 60 days to reset your biological metabolism, to set a new norm for caloric maintenance.  This is why it is “Slique in 60” and not “10 days to the new you”.   The hard part is continuing to that 60 day mark and beyond, when you pass that 10 day or so mark and the newness has worn off, and the old habits want to reassert themselves.

The Bland Blahs:  After four weeks on the Slique program, I was getting a little crazy.  The YL Slique products are not the most flavorful in the world (no there isn’t a chocolate raspberry option for the Slique Shake).  I thought a bit on it.  I realized that eating food satisfies a lot of human needs besides providing calories for energy.  There are several psychological dimensions to eating – and one of these is FLAVOR.  I was craving all sorts of snacks, but I realized that in essence I was craving taste stimulation.  So I came up with an interesting solutions to keep my taste buds happy – but not upset the caloric apple cart.

The idea is borrowed from the tapas of Spanish cuisine.  These are what are now appearing in the US menus as “Small Plates”.  Small portions of very appetizing and interesting things to eat.  I have started creating my Slique Tapas to eat in conjunction with a Slique Shake or as a snack.  The two major criteria are that they are salivatingly good (suited to your taste buds) and strictly portioned to be under 200 calories.

In the week I’ve been on the Slique Tapas wagon, I have stopped dreading the Shake so much, as I have that lovely very small plate to go with it.

Still On Track

I have had two .75 mile walks that are not in my “plan”. Yay for me. No yoga tonight.  I’m not bored yet with the somewhat monotonous food intake- but then again I’m a person who will eat the same thing for lunch for days on end.

I am not going to weigh myself again until Feb. 10.  I’m not one to obsess over minute changes.  I used to make a point of taking two exercise or dance classes back to back before an audition, because I knew I could drop 3 lbs in water temporarily.  And I am knowledgeable in dietary and nutritional science to know that it takes more than 30 days for your body to “reset” your metabolic rate.

That is why true weight reduction is so difficult.  Any short term changes – like those promises of 1 inch off your waist in the first week – won’t have lasting effect until your body resets its metabolic rate and process, which can take 6 to 8 weeks (or more).  It is rare to show any tangible progress in a diet change for at least 4 weeks, and the human psyche is not geared to stick to anything without obvious reward.

When I had more severe hypoglycemia, it was easier to stay on a strict dietary path, not because I had more “will power”.  It was because the cause and effect relationship was so immediate.  Cupcake?  Twenty minutes later – PUNISHMENT with a near fainting spell.  I truly began to mentally consider sugary food as poison.   I can compare the difference between this Pavlovian conditioning and the mere mental knowledge that the lovely, luscious cupcake is not the best eating choice.   I can say that I don’t miss the severe hypoglycemia.  I also can say I know how hard it is not to taste the cupcake when the only mental barrier is the intellectual knowledge that it is more calories, and empty ones, than another choice would be.

None of the Slique horror stories seem to be true….

A prudent person takes a look around the internet for reviews and commentary before purchasing an unseen product online.  The comments on non-YL websites were not always complimentary about the Slique products.  The overall reputation for quality of the Young Living company is very high.  However, there were a number of folks out there who had things to say about the Slique shake mix that were not exactly encouraging.

I have used a lot of protein/meal replacement powder mixes in my time.  There were a some that were hard to manage, not individually portioned, hard to mix, etc etc.  All these issues were mentioned in online comments on the Slique mix.  All I have to say is:  It must have been a much earlier product they were talking about.  I had trepidation in mixing my first shake.  Was it going to be an ooogly-gooey mess trying to mix without at blender?  Was it going to taste icky?  Seem like drinking liquid chalk?  None of the negative comments I read were true.

  • It mixed up well, even in cold milk.  [sorry super-healthy folks, I am not into soy milk].  Just like the super UNnutritious Instant Breakfast of yore, it works much better if the powder is stirred in 1/3 at a time.
  • It tasted…. just fine.  And a huge plus in my book:  It was NOT chocolate.  I hate  crappy chocolate flavored anything.  Chocolate is the last flavor I want first thing in the day.  I am so happy I have a drink mix that is not blah-vanilla or crappy-chocolate.

The gum.  Ah the gum.  the gum is a wonder.  I am a chewer, easily half of what I snack on is to CHEW not to eat.  I can chew all day, almost as satisfying as Australian licorice, but definitely more lo (make that no) cal.

The tea.  Smells nice.  Tastes good enough.  I’m not clear what its purpose in the overall scheme of the program is, but it good.

 

Starting a Weight Management Challenge

I have been quite anxious to lose 25-30 pounds for several years now.  It is some part vanity, but it is due in large to the more one weighs, the more stress on joints.  My knees and back could use a lightened load.

SO.

Having started using Young Living products for pain management, I had looked at their weight management products and had considered trying one or two of them out.  Then, for 2017, the company announced a “Slique in 60” challenge.  SO.

The factors in my 60-day trial are to be:

  1.  Health and calorie conscious in eating choices.  Enter the Young Living Slique products.
  2. Exercise more regularly.  I am going to have to go this one on my own as my yoga group dissolved last summer.  Two components to exercise more regularly are going to be:
  • Fasting exercise.  Research has shown that exercise done in “fasting” state benefits more in using stored energy than doing the same amount of exercise done at another time of the day.  Of course, this means when one first gets up.
  • Yoga.  I am going to find yoga to watch on my big TV and go it alone at home.

3. Accountability.  After a fashion.  these organized challenges are primarily to build in social support and accountability to keep going.

SO.

The one factor I have in my favor is that I am a person who *can* eat the same thing for lunch every day and not go out of their mind.

I guess the last factor I haven’t solved is:

4.  Reward.  Of course, achieving the weight reduction goal is a reward in itself.  However, being human, one can be supremely motivated by some other (non-food) reward.  Let me think on this a bit.

Briarpatch Pie – Blue Ridge Cookery the L-C Way 2

since losing my original post when publishing this post from “Local Drafts” on my phone, I am redoing and finishing it up directly to published status. the other post seems permanently hung trying to publish from the WordPress app for iPhone

my dear friend Lleslie wanted the recipe for my Briarpatch Pie after seeing a pic or two on Facebook.

This recipe owes much to one of my fave recipes for Atlantic Beach pie, , itself a riff off Key Lime pie, this time with a Blue Ridge mountain berry patch spin. It also is a nod to the classic French fruit tart, delightful tasty bites of fruit on a yummy custard with tasty glaze. A great summer dessert recipe as it is best on the second day, served after being fully refrigerated. And BTW, this recipe is good for keeping in mind for using up all those egg yolks leftover from angel food cakes and meringues.

Every summer, the berry bushes proffer their bounty in copious amounts over an all-to-brief few weeks. There we are awash with more berries than one can possibly eat up. the fragile luscious juicy lovely fruits certainly don’t keep well, not even flash frozen. Ergo, one needs lots of recipes. Here is my contribution to the conservation of fresh berries for maximum consumption.

Blue Ridge Briarpatch Pie ( Tart )

quantities indicated will yield a smallish pie ( 7 or so inches)

Preparation
Set butter out to soften at room temperature. Put eggs out to acclimate to room temperature as well if you are making custard same day as crusts.
Preheat oven to 350 degF.

Cracker Crust
Forget that cutting shortening into flour, rolling with chilled pins, etc. Nice cracker crusts are perfect for summer pies and oh-so-easy. Also, quite the perfect task to enlist the assistance of young junior chefs to help. How much fun can be had crushing up crackers into bits?

Ingredients:
60 ct. saltine crackers
3 or so Tbsp sugar
organic sugar, turbinado sugar, or even good old white granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) + 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter
real artery clogging butter. none of that healthy almost butter stuff. and I don’t recommend organic butter- some of it won’t soften up properly

Directions:
1. Crush crackers into fine crumbs.
I am told this can be done with a food processor but that would mean giving up all that therapeutic time crushing things to bits with your bare hands.
2. Mix sugar in thoroughly.
3. Cream in 1/2 cup butter by hand mixing. Keep the remainder in reserve, to use if needed.
I throw the butter in a few large dollops at a time and just squish them into the crumb mixture until no more will stick. Keep on until 1/2 cup butter is thoroughly mixed in. if the mix is still a little crumbly, add dollops of remaining softened butter as needed. The “dough” should stick well together and be easy to smush around without being sticky or crumbly. And BTW, a food processor is likely to whip the butter up ( not needed ) and you will lose a lot of your mixture from clinging to sides and surfaces of the machine. Besides, you will feel so much more relaxed after you’ve smushed all that stuff together into a lovely squishy clump of gunk.
4. Prepare pan(s) to make a non stick surface.
Old schoolers will break out the Crisco. Some will enlist their friend PAM or one of her cousins and spray away. Some fortunate one will have marvelous non- stick bakeware. I’m getting very fond of cardboard bakeware and parchment paper. this step is insurance against some over baked bit of crust refusing to let go of the pan and crumbling the entire pie as a result.
5. Press mixture into pan (s) with backside of spoon.
Another great therapeutic step in cookery. I won’t mention what I imagine while pressing all that stuff into submission into even, regular surfaces. Also, another great task for the junior sous chefs. Their work can be tidied up a bit after if needed, or just baked as-is as long as there
are no bare spots. The custard always bakes up even on the topside! Who is going to compare its depths after baking?
6. Chill 15 minutes before baking. VERY IMPORTANT.
I’ve never tried baking the pie shell the next day but I imagine it could be done with a wee longer baking time.
7. Bake in oven until crust shell begins to get a little color.
15 minutes or so for small pie pan. Tart shells will take less as they are smaller. Mini-muffin pan size shells may only take 5 or so minutes. The pie is going to be baked again when filled, so over-browning crust now means scorched crust later.
7. Remove from oven. Cool at room temperature first. Pie shells can then be refrigerated ( or frozen ) for later use if needed.

Custard and Fruit Topping
This custard is not your simmer on the stove, stirring under an ever watchful eye, hyperventilating if something minutely lumpish threatens to appear. It is easy enough the junior sous chefs can be trusted with the task and be proud of the result. My chef hat’s off in a grand hurrah to whomever discovered this. Custard can be begun while cracker shells are cooling.

Ingredients:
14 oz. evaporated milk
4 egg yolks
This task is one the junior sous chef may need help with or close training and supervision. Room temperature eggs are easier to separate, but if you forgot, oh well. No biggie, cook on.
1/2 cup lime juice
the juice is for flavor. I’m going to try mango pineapple next. the flavor chosen should complement. the fruit to be used on topping.
2 cups or so fresh vine-ripened berries – blackberries are my favorite
Polaner All-Fruit jelly – same flavor as berries.
this is my secret ingredient for fruit pie glazes. I only trust Polaner brand. I might hazard a try with some good English jelly like Crosse & Blackwell, Wilkins & Son, or even Bonne Maman.

Directions:
1. Thoroughly wash, prep, and drain berries ( or other fruit)
2. Beat egg yolks into evaporated milk.
C’mon just get out a big spoon and beat it away. (cue up Michael Jackson for getting in the mood or rhythm if needed). If you have to break out the electric mixer, oh well, go ahead but don’t complain to me when you realize it will take 3x longer to clean up than you needed to spend mixing.
3. Add lime juice and beat in thoroughly.
That’s it for mixing up custard. Oh yeah- time for happy dance all around kitchen. Or a Moonwalk.
4. Fill up pie shell (s) but not over fill. custard does not rise.
5. Bake custard 10 minutes ( or two-thirds of total baking time for smaller tarts ). Custard is getting done when the shiny wet surface keeps shrinking smaller toward center and disappears. It only needs a few minutes after that. Custard is entering disaster zone of over baking if it bubbles like boiling or surface is drying out and browning. Sorry to say, this is the psychic part of baking custards- there is little visual evidence of the transition from the zone of slightly under baked and the zone of slightly over baked.
6. While custard is partially baking to set up bottom, microwave about 4 Tbsp fruit jelly until it softens into thick spoonable liquid. Key word is THICK. Thinning it it out by melting too much isn’t fatal error but will be runny instead of gooey when spooned over berries.
7. Keep pie (s) on rack in oven for next steps. Put berries in one closely packed layer on top of partly baked custard. Take some care- you don’t get do-overs in placing. Custard will clump if you try to nudge the berries around on top. It is partly baked so berries can sit up on top, rather than falling to bottom if put in when custard was a liquid when baking started.
8. Spoon softened jelly over, around, and in cracks between berries to glaze surface. My secret pie glaze- high quality jelly softened up to spoonable consistency. Forget that making sugar reductions with boiled fruit, straining and gosh knows what else requiring a half a dozen expensive chef tools. Use technology ( the microwave ) to reverse engineer the jelly to a softer state, aka fruit glaze. Major American brand jellies are too soft to start with. Stick with Polaner, or pony up a bit more for the jelly from those who invented high tea – England. ( cue music: Hail Brittania).
9. Bake 5 or so minutes more to finish for small pie. Tarts will take less time. Mini -tarts might only take 1 minute or so.
10. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly at room temperature.

Serving

I like this pie best after I’ve refrigerated it overnight and then served deliciously cold after a hot summer afternoon. For the most decadent luxuriation in berry heaven, I add whipped topping.

Whipped Topping
For those who still have a tolerable cholesterol count, go ahead and whip up some genuine whipping cream with a little sugar. This is the task the mini-bowl of your Cuisinart was meant for. For those who are already treading way over their dietary regulations with all that butter and egg yolks, use some other product. Just don’t tell me when you serve it and I may be none the wiser.

enjoy- Salud y pesetas- y tiempo para gozarlas.

Business Writing 101a – what those classes and self help books may have left out.

this applies to both email and snail mail communication.

Date

Business Header –

Dear So n So,

Paragraph 1 – Why I am bothering you with this.  Always start out with the quick overview of what this letter is about.  why should your boss/client/[fill in blank] bother to read further.  What-Why-When- and possiblyWho and Where.

Paragraph 2 – Something about you, even if you know them.  this is when you remind them of how great you are and how much they need you.  This can be short, but should be {reasonably} accurate.  It is to put the reader in positive frame of mind for what follows.

Paragraph 3-  Your proposal in some detail.  If this takes more than half a page, create an attachment document to put with this cover letter/email.  If you sell them on it in this communication, they will read the rest, or at least look it over and save it.  If you drown their interest in too much info, they will quit and go on to their next task.

Paragraph 4 – How you are going to work together with them/their staff/other stakeholders to make the project a huge success.  Who you have already touched base with about project.

Paragraph 5 – The closer.  The hardest one to write that it doesn’t sound directly cut-paste from some manual.  This is about how much you are looking forward to this new venture/project (even if only mildly true).  Thank them for their time.

Closing,
Your Name
Communication Info- ALL of it.

For the following letter, I could have written.

“Enough is enough.  I’m out as of {date}. Please advise of procedures to terminate my employment.”

BUT instead I, couched the sentiment in:

Why do I go on? and ON?

Was questioned recently by someone about why, considering my advancing senior age status, do I continue to go on – trying to learn and do and “find myself” as an artist given my near total lack of obvious fame, success, financial gain etc etc etc to date.

I was taken aback.  Why wouldn’t I? I had to pause and give it some thought over a few days.  Is it because I need to prove to myself that I can stamp out all the lemons of my life into vintage lemonade?  Some.  Maybe.  But there is a point that enough is enough, and I might be justified in just kicking back and enjoy a bit more.  Maybe.  Is it because that after 30+ years of Buddhist practice, I have become an embodiment of the Ho’nimyo spirit.  NOT.  Maybe a little.

As truth often strikes during the most mundane moment, I was walking through my quiet house seeking coffee when I paused to look at the print of a painting by Sylvester Urquhart, friend and talented artist.  It hangs directly at the end of my hall so I can’t miss it everyday.  Then there is the one by Gibby Perry in my bedroom.  It struck me that a large part of my art collection was done by dead friends.  I walked around.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Her too.

The HIV epidemic barreled through my life starting in my mid-twenties and before retrovirals the swath it cut through the creative community was wide, relentless, and greeted AT BEST by the non artistic community by puzzled indifference.  By the time I was thirty, if I listed the top ten persons I knew, or was inspired by as an artist, most by then were dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Him too.  One reason I didn’t return to Los Angeles was that most of the people I would have liked to touch base with were gone.  Gone gone gone.  (short apology to the few who are still here and want me to visit)  By the time I left LA in my early thirties, I was a practiced, if not professional, mourner.  It was like we had become artistic orphans, those of us young uns left.  Fewer opportunities to work along side, or follow, those who inspire.  Don’t get too close.  There has to be an untouched scrap of yourself to hold onto at the funeral.

I may have been more content to exist more to sidelines and admire and support, rather than do, had the HIV virus remained an animal-only disease.  I know a large part of my struggle is powered by my need to keep faith with those whom I have lost. I am reminded of the original story of Pyramus and Thisbee (Shakespeare’s inspiration for Romeo and Juliet).  What is rather forgotten about that story is the actual symbolic Metamorphosis of the mulberry bush.  It could be titled “How the Mulberry Got Its Color”.  It seems at one time the mulberry fruit was pure white.  After the two lovers talk through walls, etc, have the unfortunate encounter with the lion, bloody scarf, etc etc they sacrifice themselves, one before the other under the pure white mulberry bush.  The roots of the bush are so overwhelmed by their blood that it turns the dark mulberry red that we know today.  I, like many others for various tragic reasons, have been likewise transformed.  There is a part of the self that is indelibly marked by catastrophic loss.  The tricky trick is to learn to go forward as a red mulberry.

I also believe our society was marked by this anti-creative tsunami.  We just don’t realize it, as we continue living in a universe minus hundreds of former suns and are used to the dark. Some of our pale little stars may shine a little brighter now in comparison.   Perhaps.  I may not have “discovered myself”.  I may still be at sixty-plus years clueless as to what my “mission in life” may be.  But I still CAN go on.    I have to muddle on because they cannot. What  could I possibly say to them when we meet again if I did not?