Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Dollar A Day Challenge Ebook

Want to read my blog easily from start to finish?  I edited it and published it as an ebook on Amazon here: 



It's 178 pages with lots of photos and only $1.99 or free for Amazon Prime members.
Thank you and enjoy!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

July 1 - Challenge Recap

I made it! 

So here's a few stats from my challenge:

Weight lost in June:  7 pounds
Inches lost:
Bust - 2 inches
Waist -2 inches
Hips - 1 1/2 inches
Thighs - 1 1/2 inches

Total spent on food consumed:  $26.48 averaging 88 cents a day.
Total calories: 35,212 averaging 1174 calories a day.

Leftover food:  8 corn tortillas, 2 T Peanut Butter, 1 serving chicken soup, 3 oz of chicken breast, 1 serving red beans, 4 servings pinto beans, half a canister of oatmeal, and 12 oz soy milk.

I'm not sure why I have so much food left over.  I think it's because I couldn't eat the full serving sizes and also I had a lot more fruit available than expected.  I still have avocados, oranges and a few apples and loads of fresh vegetables.

So....

What did I eat TODAY?
(I was working a craft show today and I didn't pack any food to go.)

Dessert:  Chocolate Cake, Coconut Creme Pie and a Chocolate Caramel Apple

Breakfast:
McDonald's large decaf coffee
McDonald's Egg McMuffin with strawberry jam

Snack:
McDonald's large decaf coffee
McDonald's Apple Pie

Lunch:  (from my brother-in-law, THANKS!)
1/2 hamburger
1/2 order french fries
1/2 order onion rings

Snack:
Chocolate frozen soft serve ice cream

Dinner: (husband took me out to dinner)
Grilled Mahi Mahi and Kalua Pork
White rice
Macaroni Salad

Dessert:
1/2 Chocolate cake
1/2 Coconut cream pie
1/2 Chocolate caramel apple
Pot of decaf coffee

Okay, so my body might go into shock tonight.  But I will say this.  I feel stuffed.  Uncomfortably stuffed.  Things tasted good, but not as good as I thought they would.  When I think about how much these prepared items cost compared to my homemade items, I am appalled!  I prefer to have my homemade meals that cost pennies.  The slice of chocolate cake was $3.75, and my Orangesicle costs 5 cents.  I want my Orangesicle!

I told my husband that restaurant food costs too much and I am going back to my budget menus again TOMORROW.  And I am really happy about that.  Oh, and I will be cooking for both of us from now on.  He will eat what I eat.

So you see, I really did learn a good lesson.  More expensive food does not equate to better food.

I ate for a month on a dollar a day, and in the end,
I was a healthier person. 

Today, I came over the fence and tasted the conveinience of prepared foods, and tomorrow I choose to go back.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day 30 - The Last Day

Chips and Salsa


I have a smile on my face as I go through the day, knowing that tomorrow, I can choose to eat whatever I fancy.  Yet, as I was shopping today in World Market, which stocks all sorts of international food goodies, including chocolates, gourmet dry goods and snacks, I did not feel compelled to buy any of it.

Today they were having a Hawaiian event and customers were invited to come and sample the new products.   I sampled some coffee and some tidbits of snacks, but it was dissappointing.  I had visions of feasting on a free Hawaiian appetizer tray to celebrate the last day of my challenge, but it was not to be.

So instead, I came home and fixed myself a plate of chips and salsa.  I simply toasted 2 corn tortillas in the toaster oven and tore them into chips.  I served them with homemade pico de gallo and some avocado slices.  This appetizer plate costs 9 cents.

Tomorrow morning is my last weigh in and I will retake my measurements and expect good news. 

Day 30

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk and mulberries
Orange

Lunch:
Egg Salad Tacos

Snack:
Coffee
Tidbits of snacks at World Market
Tortilla chips and salsa
Orangesicle

Dinner:
Chicken Soup
Orangesicle

Calories: 1350
Cost: $1.05

Weight:  XXX - 7 pounds

Friday, June 29, 2012

Day 29 - Super SPLURGE!



I was looking forward to attending the grand opening of Crafted in San Pedro this morning because I knew they were serving coffee, but I didn't know they would also be serving these freakin' crazy, decadent, gourmet donuts!  Wholly Cow. 

I'm sorry, I just couldn't hold back, and I admit, I greedily ate two.  One had a peanut butter cup on top and the other one had blackberry jam.  So let me give these nice people at "Donut Snob" a plug for their generousity.




Lisa and I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony and had a blast visiting the new venue called CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles.  It is in San Pedro near the Los Angeles waterfront and is inside of a refurbished old warehouse. 




Being crafters ourselves, this is really exciting.  We hope this site will be a success although in this economy it can be a tough ride.  I'll admit, I was drooling at the idea of having a booth here, but realistically speaking, it is a big committment of time and money.


Since I splurged on the two donuts, I ate a light lunch and dinner.  Was it worth the splurge?  Those donuts are worth it anytime!


DAY 29

Breakfast:
Apple with peanut butter

Snack:
Coffee
2 gourmet donuts

Lunch:
Pinto beans with pico de gallo

Dinner:
Egg fried rice with green beans
Orange

Calories: 1328
Cost: 56 cents

Weight:  XXX - 6.5 pounds

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Day 28 - Lessons Learned

Egg Salad Tacos with Avocado,
red currant tomatoes and cucumber salad


I've been asked what I've learned from this experience and what I will continue and discontinue as I go forward.

  
On eating on a dollar a day:

It's doable if you have access to a lot of home grown food, you shop wisely and you are willing to cook.  The food you purchase must be the healthiest you can find for your money.  You may have to give up some of your comfort foods, but you can come up with a lot of new, great tasting favorites.

I've become a better cook through this experience.  I've had to think creatively and discover combinations of flavors which were new to me.  It's been a rewarding experience to know what I can do with limited ingredients.  These were my favorite discoveries:

  • Lemon Dressing - fresh lemon juice with a touch of olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.
  • Egg Avocado Sandwich - Mash egg with avocado instead of mayonaise. 
  • Crispy Roasted Green Bean Snack - Roast green beans with a touch of olive oil and garlic salt until crispy.
  • Orangesicles - Freeze blended oranges with vanilla soy milk and sugar.
  • Teppanyaki Dipping Sauce - Fresh lemon juice (usually I use rice vinegar) and soy sauce
  • Cold tofu and takuan - The combination of sweet and salty I didn't get tired of.

What I'll discontinue:
Oatmeal.  It's strange, but eating oatmeal makes my blood sugar drop and I get hungry.  Maybe it's the sugar in the vanilla soy milk.  Or maybe I need to eat more protein with it. 

What I'll add on to my list of unlimited foods:
Greek Yogurt
Fish
Sparkling Water

What I'll add on in limited quantities:
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Almonds
Decaf Coffee
Honey
Dark Chocolate

On losing weight:

  • I can eat all I want of healthy food choices and I will lose weight.
  • Meals should be simple and quick to prepare.
  • When you feel like a pick me up snack, take a nap instead if you can.
  • Don't eat too late at night.
  • Housework counts as exercise.

Day 28

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk, 1/4 banana and mulberries
Peach

Lunch:
Egg avocado tacos
Cucumber salad

Snack:
Small apple
Orange juice

Dinner:
Chicken stir fry with spaghetti noodles


Calories: 1135
Cost:  $1.01

Weight:  XXX - 6.5 pounds

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Day 27 - Easy Teppanyaki




Here's a meal I can eat everyday.  It can be made with whatever vegetables and meat or fish you like.  It's simple, tasty and economical, and it's very healthy.

Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cooking.  Maybe you've had it before if you've been to Benihana.  The meat and vegetables are cooked on a grill and served with rice and dipping sauces.  But you can make it at home very inexpensively. 

I haven't made this in awhile because I've forgotten about it, but I had a nice portion of chicken breast to cook up and some patty pan squash I harvested today.  I was going to stir fry them together and at the last second, I remembered teppanyaki.

All you have to do is grill the vegetables and meat in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  The green beans were boiled.  The dipping sauce is simply lemon juice and soy sauce.  It is unbelievably tasty and you can vary the combination to your liking.  This meal tonight cost 41 cents.  It includes the cost of the chicken, onion, brown rice, olive oil, and seasonings.  The patty pan squash and green beans are free from my garden.  The lemon came from a friend's tree.

A meal like this keeps me motivated to eat healthy, everyday, for a long time.

Day 27

Breakfast:
Small apple with peanut butter

Tennis:
Orange juice

Lunch:
Bean tacos with avocado and pico de gallo
Peach

Snack:
Chocolate Peanut Bars

Dinner:
Chicken and vegetable teppanyaki
Grapefruit

Calories: 1360 
Cost: 89 cents

Weight:  XXX - 7 pounds 







Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Day 26 - Fear of the Unknown

I'm winding down to the end of the challenge, and people are starting to encourage me to continue into next month.

Right.

It's not that I'm suffering or anything.  It's just that I'm looking forward to celebrating at the end.  You know, with a strawberry pie or something like that.

The thing that scares me is that on July 1, I'll revert back to my old self and gain all the weight back and probably more.  So people, if you are reading this, please don't all bring me a strawberry pie.

So what should I do?  Someone suggested I need a new challenge in July.  Like maybe a 75 cents a day challenge?  Of course, I can do it, but I need to get on with my life.  The thrill of the challenge is gone.

Over the next few days, I need to think about how to manage this in the future.  I am counting the days to the end now.  Time is slowing down.  I'm starting to think about the things I'll be able to eat.  And now, I'm pretty sure I won't be able to continue status quo into next month.

This is scary.  The floodgates will fall on July 1 and bad things can happen...

Day 26

Breakfast:
Egg Overeasy
2 corn tortillas
Peach (from friend's tree)

Snack:
Orangesicle

Lunch: 
Oatmeal with soy milk and mulberries

Snack:
2 chocolate peanut bars
Roasted green beans

Dinner:
Pinto Beans with pico de gallo
Peach
4 free hard candies

Calories:  838
Cost:  69 cents

Weight:  XXX - 7 pounds

Monday, June 25, 2012

Day 25 - I am a Chocoholic.


These chocolate peanut bars are not fancy, but they really hit the spot.

My chocolate habit is rearing it's head.  If you know me, I love chocolate.  Just last month, I ate 2 pounds of See's candy all by myself.  Last month I felt like I could eat all the chocolate I wanted since I was going to be without them in June.

Then, I found this bag of chocolate peanut bars at the supermarket.  They were marked down from $3.99 to $1.  So I bought them and decided to eat them in my dollar a day challenge when my chocolate craving came up.  I think they were marked down because they were close to the pull date, plus, they were melted in the package. 

The past few days, I've been eating these everyday.  Just two pieces are 120 calories.  I'm glad I'm able to stop after eating two, but I'm worried because I'm starting to eat them everyday.




For lunch, I had red beans on brown rice with pico de gallo and avocado slices.

I feel like I have more energy.  I'm able to concentrate and get a lot of physical work done.


Day 25

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk, apples and mulberries

Lunch:
Red Beans and rice with pico de gallo and avocado
Plums

Snack:
2 chocolate peanut bars

Dinner:
1/2 Chicken Soup
Plums

Calories: 1255
Cost: 80 cents

Weight:  XXX - 7 pounds


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Day 24 - Keep it Simple for Success

Today's breakfast: Peanut Butter and Fruit Tacos

Our lives are complicated.  So much more complicated than previous generations.  We have so many choices and more improvements are flashed in front of us each day by advertisers.  It's nice to have so many choices, but it can get so complicated and time consuming that it feels overwhelming. 

We just don't need it all.

Keep it simple.

That goes for eating too.  If it's fast and easy, you'll do it.  That's why I like fast food joints.  But they are not good for me and they make me fat.  They do make me happy, but they make me fat.

So, I've found this challenge pretty easy as long as I keep it simple.  That means I can get breakfast made in 2 minutes, lunch in 5 minutes and dinner in 15 minutes.

How?

Preparation.  And preparation doesn't take that long.  You can do it while you are eating, while you are watching TV, or while you're on the Internet.

This is what I did to be prepared:

In the beginning of the month, simmer a chicken to make chicken soup, put portions in the freezer.  Soak the dry beans over night and the next day, simmer them and put them in the freezer.

Each week, make a batch of oatmeal and brown rice and keep it in the refrigerator.

Every few days, boil a couple of hard boiled eggs,  roast some vegetables, boil up some pasta and make some salsa and keep it in the refrigerator.  Make some orangesicles. These things don't take long.

Each day, think about what you might eat the next few days and take it out of the freezer to thaw out.  It usually needs 2 days to thaw.  I freeze portions in 2 serving sizes, so when I prepare them the first day, I don't have to prepare it again the next.   For example, for dinner, I make enough to last 2 days, so I don't have to cook the following day, just heat it up.

Breakfast is easy.  Oatmeal in the microwave, add soy milk and fruit, toast and peanut butter or a fried egg on rice.  Two minutes.

Lunch.  Egg sandwich, tuna sandwich, grilled veggies, bean tacos...  I just need to mix a few things up and garnish.  Five minutes.

Dinner.  Soup or stir fry.  Get out the pan and saute some veggies, or add veggies to the soup.   Add pasta from the fridge.  Microwave the rice.  15 minutes.

Snacks.  Fruit.  0 minutes

Keep it simple.  It's not hard.  And, it only costs $1 a day.

Day 24

Breakfast:
Peanut Butter and Fruit Tacos

Snack:
Plums

Lunch:
Red Beans on Brown Rice with Pico de Gallo
Orangesicle

Snack:
Chocolate Peanut Bars

Dinner:
1/2 serving Chicken Soup

Calories: 1285
Cost: 90 cents

Weight:  XXX - 6 pounds


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 23 - Secret Fruit to Lose Weight

Ha, ha, ha!  I bet I got your attention with the title of this post.  But there is a fruit I'm wondering about.  I'm wondering if it's helping me lose weight because ever since I starting eating them...and I've been eating a lot of them, my weight is really starting to drop off.

That fruit is...the plum.

It's definitely mostly water, because when you bite into it, it's like biting into a water balloon.  After the first bite, you have to stuff the whole thing in your mouth before it pours out all over your hands.

My husband brought them home the other day.  They were a gift from someones backyard tree.  I love them because they are sweet and filling and they aren't affecting me like prunes.  So I'll keep eating them as much as I want until they are gone, which might be by today.

For lunch, I had some bean tacos topped with pico de gallo and avocado.  On the side, I had cucumber slices with a little olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. 
 


bean tacos and cucumber slices

I want to tell you how I make these taco shells.  I put them in the toaster oven on the toast setting for a few minutes to soften them up, then I fold them over and finish toasting them.  They come out chewy soft and a little crunchy on the ends just the way I like them.  And, there's no frying oil and no mess.


Day 23

Breakfast:
Milton's Squaw Bread and Peanut Butter

Lunch:
Bean Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Avocado
Sliced Cucumbers dressed with Olive Oil and Vinegar
3 Plums

Snack:
Orangesicle

Dinner:
Chicken Soup
3 Plums

Calories:  1180
Cost:  $1.02

Weight:  XXX - 5.5 pounds

Friday, June 22, 2012

Day 22 - Even with food, less is more

Before I started this challenge, I wrote down some expectations, and one of them was that I didn't think I'd be wasting any food.  I pictured myself with slim rations and that I'd be savoring each bite.

Not so.

I'm on day 22, with 8 days left and I have plenty of food left.  I still have 2 containers of soup, servings of red beans and rice, and lots of corn tortillas and pinto beans for bean tacos.  I've got cups of oatmeal, 1/4 of a jar of peanut butter and more eggs to eat. I've got more vegetables than I can eat, and lots and lots of fruit.  I even have about 10 more chocolate peanut bars.

So am I complaining?  No, of course not, but it occurred to me today, that if I only had 1/2 this amount, it might mean more to me.

It's like everything else in life.  When you have plenty, you take it for granted.  Unfortunately, some of this food will get wasted.

Now, this would not be the case if I was continuing this challenge past June, because then I would be motivated to preserve as much as I can knowing that during the winter, I'll be craving these fresh veggies and fruits.

I know it's wasteful, but we live with such abundance that it's easy to throw away the wilted broccoli when you can have a pizza instead. 

Our grandmothers would never let something like this happen.  But our generation does.  We have many conveniences and we are too busy to save every scrap of food.

That's just the way it is.  I feel guilty about it.  But, that's just the way it is.

Day 22

Breakfast:
1/2 banana with peanut butter

Tennis:
Orange juice
Small apple and 1/2 orange

Lunch:
Red beans with rice and pico de gallo
Plums
2 chocolate peanut bars

Dinner:
Oatmeal with soy milk and berries

Calories: 1390
Cost: $1.00

Weight:  XXX - 5 pounds



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 21 - If I had 5 more dollars

What would I buy if I had 5 more dollars to spend?  This is what I was contemplating as I was driving to Ikea today.  As I mentioned, I'm trying to organize my home while I'm doing this dollar a day thing.  And I have to say, it's killing me that I can't get the Ikea frozen yogurt cone that costs 99 cents.  I bought a new desk and storage shelves for my office.

Anyway, a month a go, I would have taken the $5 and bought 5 chili dogs for $5 at Der Weinerschinitzel, or 10 tacos for $5 at Jack in the Box.  Oh, and don't forget all the $5 boxes they have these days at the fast food joints, like the ones at Taco Bell and KFC.  (Technically, I couldn't buy those anyway because I couldn't afford the sales tax.)  I could also take 2 friends out to lunch to Costco and we could have polish dogs and a soda ($1.50 combo).

Seriously though, since I need to buy the most nutritious food for my money, I thought long and hard and came up with these:

Almonds
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Greek Yogurt
Fish

These are out of my budget on a dollar a day, but I might be able to squeeze in small portions of them with $5 more.  These 4 items could really expand my menu.  I should do this next month.  I really should.

On the way to Ikea, I stopped at my brother's house to pick a few more apples and I noticed he had two little Japanese eggplants.  I helped myself because they were past their prime and some other critters were chomping at them.  As soon as I got home, I cooked them in a little olive oil and soy sauce.



And remember the salsa I promised to make yesterday?  Here it is.  It's a very simple pico de gallo made with chopped tomatoes, Anaheim peppers and onion and I added fresh lime juice, a bit of olive oil and garlic salt.  That's it.  I ate it on top of my red beans and rice for dinner.




Day 21

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with Soy Milk and 1/4 sliced banana
3 plums

Lunch:
Egg Avocado Sandwich
Sauteed Japanese Eggplant
2 Chocolate Peanut Bars

Snack:
Plums

Dinner:
Red Beans and Rice
Pico de Gallo



Calories: 1280
Cost: $1.04

Weight:  XXX - 5.5 pounds 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 20 - It's Time to Salsa!

first tomatoes of the season

Okay, you've been very patient with me as I went on and on, day after day crying for tomatoes.  After all, it is day 20 and I still don't have any tomatoes.  Today on the way to the garden, I had resigned myself into picking the tomatoes green and making some Salsa Verde.

To my great glee, I spotted some red in my tomato patch this afternoon.  Well, more like orangey red.  If I wasn't in such a rush, I'd leave them a couple of days, but I want to make salsa today.

Here is my harvest today in garden #2. 



You know how I like roasted green beans, so I was happy to pick 2 1/2 pounds today from my little garden.  Also, Anaheim chili peppers were there waiting for me.  So, yes, I will make salsa tonight with them!

(An hour later...)

My husband comes home and brings me this:

plums and Japanese cucumber

"Can you eat these?", he asks.  "Were they grown in some one's backyard?", I ask. "Yes", he says.  "Heck yeah, I can eat them!".  And so I did. 


Day 20

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with Soy Milk and Berries
Orange

Lunch:
Hard Boiled Egg
Orange
1/2 Avocado with Lemon Juice
Small Apple

Dinner:
Tofu
Takuan
Steamed Green Beans
Cucumber
Plums

Calories:  980
Cost: 73 cents

Weight: XXX - 4 pounds



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 19 - Plain and Simple Tofu

When I was choosing foods for this challenge, I looked for the ones with the most nutrition for the dollar, and I also wanted to have some variety in my diet.  I included tofu because it can be cooked in many ways and I had planned on stir frying it with vegetables.

What I didn't plan on was that I'd end up eating it cold with some soy sauce with takuan, a Japanese pickled radish on the side.  I ate just these two for dinner, night after night and didn't get tired of it.  In fact, I looked forward to it.

Tonight, I added some brown rice to it.

cold tofu and takuan


The tofu is cold and salty from the soy sauce, and the takuan is cold and sweet and sour.  Also, the tofu is soft and the takuan is crunchy. It's refreshing and although it looks plain, it's a flavor explosion in your mouth. 

I still have one last tofu meal tomorrow night.  Can't wait.


Day 19

Breakfast:
Milton's Squaw Bread and Peanut Butter
Orange

Tennis:
Orange Juice

Lunch:
Egg Fried Rice with Zucchini and Broccoli
Orangesicle

Dinner:
Tofu, Takuan and Brown Rice
Apricot

Calories: 1223
Cost: 89 cents

Weight:  XXX - 4 pounds


Monday, June 18, 2012

Day 18 - Desserts!

Yes, you CAN have desserts on a dollar a day.  Especially if you have fruit available.  With limited ingredients, you have to be creative.  So here are some of my dessert experiments.

So far I've had Chocolate Peanut Butter Bananas:

I just roasted these bananas with 2 crushed chocolate peanut butter bars on top.  The cost for this serving was 16 cents.  It tasted a lot better than it looks...really.  I bought this bag of Chocolate Peanut Butter bars at Fresh and Easy Market.  It was marked down to $1, so 2 bars costs 6 cents.

Then, I had Oatmeal Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies:

This was leftover oatmeal with crushed chocolate peanut butter bars mixed in.  I baked them in the toaster oven.  It didn't crisp up without butter, but it was good enough for me and it used up the oatmeal.  Cost for this serving was 8 cents.

Next up, a cold dessert.  Orangesicles!

Made from oranges, some vanilla soy milk and sugar.  Cost is 5 cents a popsicle.

And today, I wanted to try to make an apple cobbler.  Since I don't have flour, I used oatmeal, and no butter, so I used peanut butter.

This is what it looked like before it went into the oven:

This is sliced apples splashed with lemon juice.  I mixed peanut butter, oats and sugar together into the apples and baked them at 350 for 30 minutes.  I added some water into the bottom of the muffin cup.

The result:

 Okay, it's not the prettiest dessert and it would taste better with some vanilla ice cream, but it wasn't too bad.  It was interesting with the oats and peanut butter.  The cost for this serving is 9 cents.

So, yes, you can eat on a dollar a day and still have dessert.


Day 18

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk and berries

Lunch:
Tuna Avocado Sandwich
Roasted Green Beans

Snack:
2 Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Toasted Oats

Dinner:
Chicken Pasta Stir Fry

Dessert:
Peanut Butter Apple Cobbler

Calories: 1320
Cost: $1.19

Weight:  XXX - 4 pounds



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 17 - P o i s o n e d :(

Ugh.  I feel nauseous.  I feel dizzy and nauseous.

I've been craving a cup of coffee, so when I was at Trader Joe's today I helped myself to two cups of coffee.  It was delicious.  I think it was Vanilla Chai coffee. 

But now I am paying the price.  You see, I stopped drinking caffeine a few years ago.  It was making me feel weird, lightheaded and my blood sugar was going wacky.

But every once in a while I'll have a cup of coffee and it's been okay.

But today, it's not okay.  I'm trying to drink a lot of water right now to flush it out of my system. 

I poisoned myself.

This was after I had such a nice lunch.  I had a tuna/avocado sandwich on squaw bread with oranges and mulberries on the side.


tuna avocado open faced sandwich


Day 17

Breakfast:
Brown Rice and egg over-easy
Orange

Lunch:
Tuna Avocado Sandwich
Orange and mulberries

Snack:
TJ's coffee
TJ's sample nacho chips and yogurt dip
Roasted Green Beans

Dinner:
Tofu
Takuan

Calories: 865
Cost: 84 cents

Weight: XXX - 4 pounds

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Day 16 - Mid Term

I've passed the halfway point of my challenge, so maybe it's a good time to reflect on the journey.  So here's some answers to questions you might have.

How am I doing?
Fine, thank you.

Am I hungry?
No, but I am starting to crave my old diet.  I'm starting to wish I could have the diet soda when I feel like a pick me up.

Do I have more energy?
I can't say I feel a lot different.  It's like 5% more or something small like that.  I might still be going through a detox.

Have I lost a lot of weight?
I think I'm slowly losing it.  I'm kind of surprised it's not coming off faster because I think I'm eating half the calories I was eating before and a lot less carbs and processed foods.  But maybe I'm losing it the healthy way.

Am I tired of the limited food choices?
No.  Surprisingly, no. There's a couple of food choices I haven't eaten yet.  Today was my first of 3 tuna sandwiches.

Am I running out of vegetables in the garden?
Nope.  There's more than I can eat.  But I really wish those darn tomatoes were ripe!

Do I have enough food to last through the end of the month?
Yes.

What's my favorite meal on this challenge?
The Egg Harvest Salad with the lemon dressing.  Also, I'm surprised how much I like brown rice.  And I really like the simple bean taco.  I've liked almost every meal I've had.

Favorite snack?
Roasted green beans!

Have I cheated?
NO!

What is the first thing I want to eat on July 1?
Hamburgers and fries
 
Am I going to continue this after June 30?
I should because it's so healthy, but realistically, I just hope I don't go back to what I was doing before.


Day 16

Breakfast:
Milton's Squaw Bread with Peanut Butter

Snack:
Orange

Lunch:
Tuna Avocado Sandwich on Squaw Bread
Small apple
Lollipop (free)

Snack:
Loquats
Toasted Oats

Dinner:
Tofu with Takuan
Steamed broccoli
Orangesicle

Calories: 1000
Cost: $1.01

Weight:  XXX - 3.5 pounds

Friday, June 15, 2012

Day 15 - Sweet Oranges


When I started this challenge I asked my mom for some oranges from her tree.  Last time I saw it, it was covered completely with orange globes so I knew she had plenty. 

We are downright spoiled here in Southern California.  I remember there used to be groves and groves of oranges on the drive over to Disneyland.  They aren't there anymore, but many people have orange and lemon trees with bounty's of fruit that never get picked.

They are taken for granted here. 

Long ago, my husband would come home and find me crying.  Oh, you must be watching "Little House on the Prairie" again.   I loved that show and I bring it up now because I remember for Christmas, Laura and Mary each got an orange and what a precious gift that was.  I remember that show whenever I see an orange.

So today I decided to try making a slaw out of oranges and zucchini.  I really thought of it mainly to use up the zucchini.  So I tossed some together with a little rice vinegar and sugar and it was nicely refreshing with my brown fried rice.

Orange/zucchini slaw with today's fried rice

Next, I wanted to try making some popsicles with the oranges.  I blended them up with a little vanilla soy milk and sugar.  It tastes like an Orange Julius.



A few hours later - Orangesicle


Day 15

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk and mulberries

Lunch:
Brown Fried Rice with Egg and Zucchini
Orange Zucchini Slaw

Snack:
Roasted oats
Orangesicle

Dinner:
3 oz tofu
takuan  (pickled Japanese radish)

Calories: 1003
Cost: 90 cents

Weight:  XXX - 3.5 pounds

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Day 14 - BINGE!

I can't believe I ate the whole thing.  I cannot show you a picture of it because it's all gone.

What was it?  Chocolate?  French fries?  A cherry pie?

No.

It was one pound of green beans.

I'm not kidding.  I just ate one pound of green beans.  In one sitting.  Do you remember the roasted green beans I made the other day?


Well, I had another good harvest of green beans so I roasted them this morning and this afternoon I munched on them until they were gone. 

That was after my friend Lisa took me to pick mulberries.  I don't know much about them except that they look like boysenberries, but grow on a tree.  They are fragile and juicy and leave purple stains.  This is what it looks like on the tree:

She tells me that these are the leaves that silk worms like to eat.  We were gleaning the tree at the tail end of the season so there wasn't much left to pick.  But I was glad to see up close and personal...a mulberry tree.


Day 14

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk and berries

Lunch:
Egg and Avocado sandwich

Snack:
Apricots (picked from a tree)
Roasted green beans

Dinner:
3 oz tofu
takuan (pickled Japanese radish)

Calories: 885
Cost: 83 cents

Weight:  XXX - 4 pounds

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Day 13 - Step Into My Garden



It might seem like growing your own vegetables takes a lot of time, and that may be true in the beginning when you are setting up your garden.  But, once you do that and have the basic tools you need, it will get easier and easier.

My garden is not even in my backyard.  I live in a town home complex with a small deck.   To grow vegetables, I need a small plot of land with plenty of sun.   Luckily, my city has a community garden and I can garden there.  It is convenient for me because I have to drive that way a few times a week anyway. 

I don't have the prettiest garden there.  Far from it.  In fact, I may only spend 15 minutes there at a time.  Just enough time to water, harvest and pull a weed or two.  There's plenty of work if I wanted to put the time into it and the time would be pure pleasure.  But I don't have the time for that right now.

So, although I have a request to see more photos of the garden, I hesitate to show my semi-neglected plot.  Even so, it provides more than enough vegetables for me and my husband.

the main gate

central walkway

There are about 125 plots in this community garden which sits in a small public park.  Walk through the main gate and down a wide and clean central walkway.  There are 2 rows of plots on either side of the walkway.



This is my plot, #33.  It is 20 x 20 feet.  My husband built the wind break in the front and the wooden planter boxes to my specifications.  In the corner near the plot number are water spigots and my storage box.  I also have a shade umbrella to rest under on super hot days.



I only have two zucchini plants, but they produce more than I can eat.


I have a tiered planter box for my strawberries which used to fill up these boxes.  Now I just have a few surviving plants that produce enough to top my oatmeal. 



And I have a few broccoli plants that will produce side shoots like these for a few more months.

There's also green beans, daikon, New Zealand spinach, and in a month or so, cucumbers, Japanese eggplant, honeydew melons and corn.

If you live in an apartment and want to grow your own vegetables, look to see where you might find your little plot.  It can be in a community garden, or a relative or friend's back yard.  Work a barter system where you grow the vegetables and pay the land owner with fresh organic vegetables right outside their door. 

Day 13

Breakfast:
Miltons' Squaw Bread and Peanut Butter

Tennis:
Orange Juice

Lunch:
Fried Brown Rice with Egg and Zucchini
Loquats
2 Chocolate Peanut Bars

Dinner:
Chicken Red Bean Soup
Orange

Calories: 1453
Cost: 97 cents

Weight:  XXX - 3.5 pounds

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Day 12 - Poor Man's Soup



Do you know the story about "Stone Soup"?   A poor beggar who is rebuffed by the villagers decides to make some soup.  In the middle of the village, with nothing but a pot of water and a large stone, he draws curiosity and persuades the villagers one by one to add something to the pot.  A carrot here, a potato, an onion, and in the end, a nourishing soup is shared by all.

I think of this story as I eat my poor man's soup. 

Soup is nourishing, warm and comforting.  It is as unique as the ingredients around it.  It can be made out of things that may people discard, the bones from meat, the odd ends of vegetables, the greens that are past their prime.  You can make use of all these things and make a wonderful healthy meal.

My soup, is definitely a poor man's soup.  In the beginning of the challenge, I simmered a chicken carcass and added some red beans and caramelized onions.  I froze it in portions so that I could make it stretch throughout the month.  Today I took out one of the portions and added broccoli, green beans, zucchini, spaghetti and little currant tomatoes.  This is what I have on hand today.

Fifteen minutes later, I serve up a steaming bowl of soup.  There's nothing fancy in this soup, and yet, I feel really happy and satisfied right now.




Day 12

Breakfast:
1/2 banana with peanut butter

Lunch:
Hard boiled egg
Orange Juice
Small apple

Snack:
Roasted green beans (they are gone now!)
Loquats
2 chocolate peanut bars

Dinner:
Chicken Soup


Calories:  1180
Cost: 88 cents

Weight:  XXX - 3.5 pounds

Monday, June 11, 2012

Day 11 - So Much Oatmeal

Oatmeal with soy milk and berries


This morning I made oatmeal for breakfast.  I have so much oatmeal that I can even give a bowl to my husband.  I'm making them in batches once a week and keeping it in the fridge.

I'm lucky to have a variety of fresh berries; little strawberries from my garden, blueberries from my brother's house, and mulberries gleaned from a tree.  I can also top my oatmeal this month with chopped apples or bananas.  Each serving ends up to be about 27 cents and that's mostly because of the cost of the soy milk.  I'm using a vanilla flavored soy milk and it gives this bowl a nice flavor.  And yes, I'm embarrassed to say that the earthenware bowl that it's in is from the 80's.

How do you like your oatmeal?  Please don't tell me you eat the ones out of a package.  Those have so much sugar it them and are expensive.  The serving size of the packages are small too.

My oatmeal box says that one serving size is 1/2 cup of dry oatmeal.  There is no way I can eat that much so I am ending up with leftovers.  What to do?  I thought I would try an experiment making them into cookies, so I chopped up a couple of chocolate peanut bars* and mixed them into the oatmeal.

Experimental oatmeal cookies before they were baked.


I baked them but without the fat and flour, they didn't crisp up.  However, I ate them and they were good enough for me.

I read that you can also fry leftover oatmeal on a griddle like a pancake.  I'd really like to make some kind of baked good with them to snack on though.  I'll have to think more about this. 

Yesterday, I had a good harvest of beans so I decided to roast them.  This is about a pound of different varieties.

They were trimmed, tossed with a little olive oil and garlic salt and baked on a cookie sheet for about 50 minutes.  Then, I decided to make them extra crispy, so I left them in the oven after I turned it off so that the beans would dry out more.


You can't tell by the picture, but the big bowl of beans reduced down to a small bowl of roasted beans and they are crispy snacks with lots of flavor.  They are now a savory snack.  I really like them and could eat this in one sitting if I'm not careful.

Day 11

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with soy milk and berries

Tennis:
Orange Juice

Lunch:
Egg & Avocado on Squaw Bread
Grilled zucchini
Loquats

Snack:
Oatmeal Choc Pnut Cookies

Dinner:
Bowl of pinto beans and 2 corn tortillas
Orange

Snack:
Roasted green beans

Calories: 1510
Cost: 87 cents

Weight:  XXX - 3.5 pounds

* The bag of Chocolate Peanut Bars were marked down to $1 and are in my budget.  2 bars cost 6 cents.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Day 10 - Lunch To Go

Lunch To Go

This afternoon I visited a craft fair with my friend Lisa.  We are both crafters and like to visit local fairs in our area.  Today we were at the Patchwork show in the old Helm's Bakery building. 

If there is one thing I like to buy at craft fairs, it's the indie made gourmet food.  It's always a treat to have something special made by a local artisan.  Even though I can't buy it for myself this month, I'm still game to buy it as a gift for someone, or I can save it for next month.  And as always, the vendors urge you to try their samples which are up for grabs in my challenge. 

Chocolates from C Salt Gourmet


Olives from Orgasmo de la Boca

So I indulged myself in a few samples of chocolate and nut brittle, a gourmet olive and a teeny bit of mudslide cupcake.  I enjoyed them all, but not enough to pull out the wallet this time.  Oh, also, on signing in to the show, they gave us a sample bottle of strawberry lemonade.

After enjoying the craft fair, we walked around the Helm's Bakery visiting some of the furniture stores.  Because I'm doing a reorg project in my home, I'm interested in some home office furniture.  I was craving a cup of coffee when we bumped into some free coffee at Room and Board.

Then it was lunch time, and I was able to share my "12 cent lunch to go" with my gluten free diet friend, Lisa.  I ate the hard boiled egg and orange juice, and she snacked on my little apples.  I'm learning that my dollar a day challenge meals are almost the same as her gluten free meals.  Well, not so much today though.


Day 10

Breakfast:
Milton's Squaw Bread and Peanut Butter

Lunch:
Strawberry Lemonade
Samples from vendors
Free coffee
Orange Juice
Hard Boiled Egg

Snack:
small apple

Dinner:
Egg Harvest Salad (Egg, Avocado, Orange, Apple on Romaine with Lemon dressing)


Calories:  1033
Cost:  61 cents

Weight:  XXX - 3.5 pounds



 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Day 9 - My Favorite Ingredient

Fried rice with egg and roasted vegetables

This month, I'm limited to the variety of ingredients I can use when making up meals.  To keep it interesting, instead of having the same dish day after day, I've been reinventing the way I'm preparing them.  I've completely gotten away from my original meal plan and have been cooking up what I feel like eating limited to what I have on hand.

My most favorite ingredient is the egg.  It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It cooks fast and has protein and fat to make you feel satisfied.  I can hard boil it and make sandwiches and salads or keep it whole in the refrigerator for a quick protein snack.  I can fry it alone or mix it in with rice or vegetables.

For lunch, I did just that.  I fried up brown rice with egg and leftover roasted vegetables.  It's fast and hot and tasty. 

I've found that it's really important for me to have some things prepared so that I can get a meal ready fast and easy.  This is what helps to keep me on track. 

It's day 9 and finally, I am starting to miss my old haunts.  After working in the garden or coming home from tennis, I usually hit a fast food place and get a burger fix.  The thing that keeps me on track right now is knowing if I get home I can make up lunch in a couple of minutes.  Tomorrow, I'd better have a snack on hand because I'll be out on the road. 

Also this afternoon, I really wanted a salty snack.  I settled for the zucchini chips and they tasted better today than yesterday.

If I'm still feeling hungry, the last resort is to lie down and take a nap.  Many times I'm eating just to feel alert and that's when I crave sugar, snacks and soda.  I've been taking naps and feel better.  Of course, I'm lucky I can do that!

Day 9

Breakfast:
Apple slices with peanut butter

Lunch:
Fried brown rice with egg and roasted vegetables
Avocado slices and red currant tomatoes

Snack:
Dried zucchini chips

Dinner:
Bowl of pinto beans
2 corn tortillas

Dessert:
1/2 roasted banana with 2 small chocolate pnut bars


Calories:  1198
Cost:  77 cents

Weight: XXX - 3 pounds

Friday, June 8, 2012

Day 8 - The Underrated Bean

Who knew?  Who knew I would like eating a plain bowl of pinto beans? 

How did I get to be this old and not know how easy, economical and versatile it is to cook up a pot of dry beans? 

I did the minimum.  I soaked a one pound bag of pinto beans in a bowl of water overnight.  In the morning, the beans had soaked up all the water.  My husband got mad at me because the cat found it and started pulling them out and playing with them. 

I rinsed them out, put them in a big pot and added water 2 inches above the level of the beans.  Then I let them boil for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or just about when I could smell them from upstairs. 

I went to the garden.

On the way home, I was hungry and decided to just eat the beans straight out of the pot.  So I scooped about 1/2 cup with some of the bean broth and ate it with 2 corn tortillas that I browned on the stove top. 

OMG.  It was good.  It was plain and good.  I meant to make refried beans with these, but why bother?  I put some beans in a corn tortilla and ate it like a taco.  I should have put some avocado in with it, but I didn't think about it until too late.  Also, when those darn tomatoes are ready, they'll be awesome in these bean tacos.  I was quite happy eating these plain, but decided to try a package of Taco Bell hot sauce packets that we have accumulated in the cupboard.  Yes, this is within my rules.  Anyway, it was super good on the bean taco and in the remaining bowl of beans.  I was quite happy with my simple and humble meal.

This was my second pot of beans, by the way.  On day one of this challenge, I made a pot of red beans that I put in my chicken soup.  I stored half of that pot in the freezer for later in the month, and I did the same with the pinto beans cooked today.

I had to make a Trader Joe's run for my husband so while there, I snagged a free cup of java and a sample of a lentil snack. 

This is what I bought for him:

$30 worth of snacks


This is what I bought for me:

38 cents worth of bananas


I have a patch of daikon (Japanese radish) in the garden so I decided to whip up a batch of easy takuan (pickled radish).   It's really just thin slices of daikon in a solution of sugar, salt and vinegar.  Most recipes say to add yellow food coloring which I don't bother with.  I will pack it in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator.  It's eaten like a condiment, so this is enough takuan to feed a small army.  In a few days I'll be eating tofu and brown rice and this takuan will really hit the spot.

    


Day 8

Breakfast:
Oatmeal with Soy Milk and Blueberries
Lunch:
Simmered Pinto Beans with corn tortillas
Orange

Snack:
Sample cup of TJ's coffee
Sample lentil snack from TJ's

Dinner:
Chicken Stir Fry with Pasta

Calories: 1115
Cost: 85 cents

Weight:  XXX - 3.0