Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday: What I Ate Today

Happy Tuesday, everybody. 

And like every Tuesday, it's weigh-in day.  And I'm happy.  You may be confused by this - especially since I am about to tell you that I am actually up a pound, back at 299.

But I'm happy.  About a few things, even.  I'm happy that it's not in the 300s.  I'm happy that I'm on this journey.  And I'm happy that I feel like I'm hitting my stride again.

I know - I know.  Heidi, you are up a pound.  How are you hitting your stride?

Well, I had a few challenges this weekend... mostly having to do with feeling lonely, and the ensuing depression, and as a result, eating a few larger-than-they-needed-to-be meals that I didn't cook myself.  Since Tom's now on 14-hour days, plus 9 hours each weekend day, I'm on my own a lot.  And if there's no one in my immediate vicinity to check in with, I have a harder time keeping those meals in check. 

Since Tom started working away at his current gig, I'd also been cooking a batch of food at the beginning of the week that I would dole out for lunches.  Tom is - in my opinion - the more gifted cook between us (though I'm getting better!) and when we were both working from home, he handled all of our lunches and dinners (other than my own protein, since he doesn't eat it.)  The trouble is that I get easily bored.  And lunches all year were our "special" meal - we usually made them larger and with more variety. 

But, yes - I have hit my stride again.  I did this in a few different ways:

  • When I sat down to plan my food for the week, I decided I'd try to cook a different breakfast, lunch and dinner,  from Monday to Friday.  
  • Putting a solid schedule together with time set aside for cooking has helped me put some structure back into my day, which was increasingly getting away from me.  
  • Since I struggled with my accountability last week, I decided I'd also photograph each meal this week, and share them here.  (I'll even post brief photo entries on Saturday and Sunday to keep up my momentum.)
  • My core problem - loneliness - isn't fixed by hermit-like behavior.  The more I skulk around in my own shell, the more depressed I become.  So I've been making an effort to be more social this week.  My dad and I are doing daily check-in caalls to discuss our food.  I went to a crafting day on Sunday, I had a Skype date with Rena on Monday, a picnic date with Audra today, and there's a Thursday lady-date with Patty and Alexa.  Plus three separate social occasions this upcoming weekend. 
  • A byproduct of shell-skulking is negative self-talk.  It has been my natural state for a long time, and even when I feel like I've mastered it, it happens again before I can even realize I'm doing it.  I'm back to acknowledging myself when I catch negative self-talk, and curbing it as soon as I do.  Man, it helps.
  • And, a never-fail pick-me-up: exercise.  I did well last week (5 workouts) and I'm planning to beat that this week.

I'm feeling happier, I'm taking more action, and I'm taking better care of me. 

Here's what I ate on Monday:

1 slice whole-grain toast, 1 tb fat-free ricotta mixed with a splash of sugar-free almond Torani, sliced nectarine.

Boiled egg.

6 oz skim milk, vitamins & meds.

Light tortilla with 4 oz grilled turkey burger with 1 Laughing Cow wedge and pickles.
1 turnip, baked - with ketchup.  1 plum.  Water.

1 small baked potato with 1 tsp Earth Balance and 2 tb TJ's fat free sour cream. (Best 15 calories ever.)

2 cups of steamed broccoli with lemon.

Not pictured: 64 oz water, 1 Sobe LifeWater Zero, 1 donut.  (Yes. Sue me.)

Calorie total for the day: 1340. With donut.


OK.  I'm on track.  How are you?  Anything we can talk about, to help you get there?  To help you take care of you?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Multimedia Monday: It's time to start the music...

Today I'm introducing a brand new "day" theme: Multimedia Monday!  Each Monday, I will be reflecting on creativity in a variety of ways, including sharing my TV/film/art/music/literature recommendations, as well as - when I'm able - my own creative work.

Finishing the Hat started out as a way for me to communicate about - and share - my creative endeavors.  When I began my weight loss journey, so much of those creative endeavors began to focus on my fitness and my food, so the blog took a sharp turn in that direction.  Don't worry - I'm definitely going to continue my journey, and writing about it every day.  It'll even play into my Multimedia Mondays.

I still have a long journey ahead of me, but part of me has felt a little disconnected here at Finishing the Hat.  So much of my passion stems from watching (and creating! and also, in previous work, selling) film and television.  Actually, any creative endeavor makes my heart sing.  So each Monday, I'll singing my heart out here about it, here.

I'll start each MM post with "Short Cuts," a quick list of my thoughts and recommendations for the week.

  • The fall TV season has begun!  Tom's been working 7 days a week for the past few weeks, so he and I have been struggling to keep up with the new shows (and the new episodes of our old shows.)  We finally killed the last new ones on our DVR last night, and we think we've honed in on one new show to follow, so far: The New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel.  It's charming without being twee, it has bite without being too cynical or ironic, and - this is a big one - it actually made us laugh.  
  • I always feel happy when I make a good recommendation for someone else.  I had suggested to my father that he go see The Help, and though he was hesitant to see a "chick flick," he gave it a glowing review after seeing it.  If you haven't seen it yet, it's worth a look.
  •  As a former market-eer, I take close notice of film and TV campaigns. Though I haven't seen the film, I'm impressed with the tagline (which is the slogan typically on posters and in ads) for 50/50, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen.  A good tagline says it all in one punchy phrase, and the 50/50 tagline definitely does. "It takes a pair to beat the odds."  From that little sentence (and the accompanying photo of Rogen as he watches Gordon-Levitt shave his head) we can gather that this is both a cancer movie (his odds are 50/50; "a pair" = nads) and this is a buddy movie ("a pair" = Rogen + Gordon-Levitt.)  Ingenius!
  • Over the weekend, we happened to see a trailer for a film I saw in early preview this spring.  I can't tell you anything about it.  I won't even tell you the name of it.  But I will tell you two things.  One, I loved the movie thoroughly.  THOROUGHLY.  And two, the trailer goes WAY out of its way not to tell you what the movie is really about.  I hate when that happens!  (As a former market-eer, I understand why it happens.  But I still hate it.)

 And on to today's topic.  I saw someone describe these beloved characters as "heartfelt, by hearts made of felt," and I can't help but agree.  I love me some Muppets.

My parents were fond of telling the story about how I used to dance to The Muppet Show before I could even walk.  Apparently, I would squeal as soon as I would see that spinning-top ITC Production Logo. 

My fondness for the Muppets certainly didn't end when I became an adult.  In fact, I may be crazier about them now than I was back then.  (I squeal less, though.)  Luckily for me, there's been a big revival of the Muppet franchise, and if you haven't noticed the resurgence of Kermit and the gang, you're bound to see it before the new film opens November 23.

I'm looking forward to it.  Besides my beloved felt-hearted frog and his friends, it includes the talents of Jason Segel (who is starring as well as screenwriting), Amy Adams (who I've followed gleefully since her Oscar-nominated performance in the wonderful Junebug), and music by Bret McKenzie from Flight of the Conchords.

They're building buzz around the film with a variety of different interesting projects.

For one thing, a cover album of Muppet greats - The Green Album - came out last month.  It's a surprising collection of Muppet classics as performed by a variety of popular and indie artists.  I knew I'd love the already-amazing "It's Not Easy Bein' Green," and the haunting-even-when-sung-by-Gonzo "I'm Going To Go Back There Someday," but I didn't realize how brilliantly clever (and kind of painful) the lyrics to "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" really were until I heard it performed by Matt Nathanson.  Big thumbs-up.

For another thing... I'm not a frequent purchaser of nail polish, but I can't wait to buy my own bottle of O.P.I.'s "Rainbow Connection."

Or "Fresh Frog of Bel-Air." Or "Excuse Moi."  Those two pictured above.

Oh, for that Excuse Moi polish a few Octobers ago, when Tom and I went as my favorite fuzzy duo for Halloween.

My favorite duo costume. Ever.  We don't fit 'em anymore, though!

As fun and playful as the Muppets are, there's such a deeper side to them.   Sometimes deeply sad.  Sometimes deeply inspiring.  I got the idea for this blog topic yesterday, when I stumbled upon a video that Henson Studios posted in honor of the 75th anniversary of Jim Henson's birth.

It's the finale from the television tribute special, after Jim's death.  I won't lie.  It made me cry. 

I was so inspired by the video that I started doodling... and it became another Art Journal entry.

Thank you, Jim, for the beautiful legacy you left to all of us.  Your creativity inspires me every day.

As far as my weight loss journey... it has been a bit of a challenge in the last week, and I'll write about it more tomorrow in my Weigh-In update.  This may be a hard path to travel on, but as I doodled, I realized that having all of you in my life - believing in me - has helped me to believe in me.

I believe in you, too.

Take care of you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Yesterday I was full of fear.

Afraid that the addiction would overcome me, instead of the other way around.
Afraid that I'd gain what I lost.
Afraid I would lose what I gained.
That I wouldn't listen to myself.
That there were people listening to me.
That if I struggled, and shared that struggle, people would judge me.
That if I didn't share my struggle, I would be dishonest with others - and with myself.
That I would end up in a jail of my own creation.
That I don't have what I takes.
To beat addiction.
To stay focused.
To create beautiful things.
To build a career.
To maintain my strength.
To maintain my health, in tandem with any of those other things that I was afraid I couldn't do.

Yesterday I was full of fear.

Today I am breathing.

The big picture is terrifying.  But I need not look directly at it, searing my eyes like the sun.  I have to remember that each small step draws me closer.  All I need to do is keep my eyes on each small step.  And breathe.

Share your truth and keep breathing.
Be mindful and keep breathing.
Gather yourself and keep breathing.
Put pen to paper and keep breathing.
Get active and keep breathing.
Be still and keep breathing.
Forgive yourself and keep breathing.

I just tried art journaling for the first time.  I'm not an artist, but I am a recovering perfectionist.  I remind myself that it does not have to be perfect.  It just has to be true.

Food log, Tuesday September 20
Breakfast - Slice of whole grain bread with 1/2 peach and 2 tb fat free ricotta mixed with 1/4 tsp sugar-free almond syrup.  1 boiled egg.
Morning snack - 16 oz pressed vegetable juice.
Late lunch - at a combination restaurant/movie theater.  3 mini roasted portobello sliders with about a cup of chips.  Ginger chicken fresh spring roll in rice paper.  Peanut butter mousse.
Dinner - I didn't eat it.
Beverages - 64 oz water.

Food log, Wednesday September 21
Breakfast - at a buffet restaurant. Egg Beaters omelet with mushrooms and cheese. 1/2 slice french toast with tsp syrup. 1 chicken sausage. 1/2 cup hash browns. 1/2 cup apple salad.  Two pieces of pineapple.  Mini bagel with 2 oz salmon, 2 tomato slices, and tsp cream cheese.
Lunch - at a restaurant.  Seared ahi tuna chopped salad with cabbage and champagne vinaigrette.  Side order of corn bread with tb maple butter.
Snack - I bought a very large box of coconut candy.  I ate two pieces, and, disgusted with myself, threw the rest away.
Dinner - at a mini golf course. Small turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
Beverages - 4 ounces coconut water with pomegranate and acai, 8 ounces skim milk, 64 ounces water

It's not perfect, but it's true.

Take care of you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday... in the balance

I weighed in this morning with a flat line between last week and this week.  Nothing gained, nothing lost.  Better than something gained, for sure, but not what I hoped for.

Last week had its challenges, and chief among them was my energy level.  I helped Dad with painting every day last week.  I'm not sure exactly why it sapped my energy, but it definitely did. I didn't get my butt to the gym as often as I usually do, so this week I've decided to return to the schedule that helps me best: alternating higher-impact aerobics (at Slimmons) with lower-impact exercise (like swimming and yoga.) I'm aiming for 60 minutes or more, 6 days a week.  I'm determined to have a balanced exercise schedule.

 In fact, I'm determined to find balance in all things.  I know that it's not generally possible, but I like to aim for center (perhaps, as my friend Lisa says, waving at it as I swing past.)

The biggest thing that brought balance to my food habits is actually Richard Simmons' Food Mover system.  When I visited Slimmons for the first time, Richard recommended it to me, and his long-time student Felise taught us the ropes.

This is the FoodMover package, which - if you're inclined - you can order here.
(Just for integrity's sake, I wanted to disclose that I have not been paid to review this.)

Basically, there's a little plastic device with sliding windows, and interchangeable cards.  If you're eating, say, 1400 calories a day, you'd slide in the "1400" card and it would tell you exactly how to balance your diet between servings of carbs/protein/veggies/etc.  As you eat each allotted serving, you close a window.  (When I have a serving of fruit, I close one of the little "apple" windows.)  It comes with a booklet that defines the servings sizes, and after about a week or two of working with it, we had most of our favorites memorized.  

It was surprising just how well-balanced our diets became as we were paying close attention to portion sizes and balance.  Before we started, it wasn't unusual for us to share a half-box of pasta or more.  We expected that if we ate less pasta, we'd be much hungrier.  Thanks to Food Mover, we learned that we never had to feel hungry if we ate all of the rest of the defined servings in a day.  Turns out that if you close all your little "portion windows," not only have you eaten exactly what you set out to eat, you are surprisingly satiated.

FoodMover is an excellent guideline, but I'll admit that the more comfortable I've been with healthy eating, the less attention I've paid.  To help with my general balance, this week I've decided to return to daily FoodMovin', and I'll be sharing my food log in the process for the next 7 days.  I'll explain the "windows" I've closed for each meal.

Here's my FoodMover after lunch & afternoon snack, and before dinner (and lots of afternoon water.)
I'd eaten all of my allotted starch, and had 2 fruit, 3 protein, 1 fat, 3 veg, 1 dairy and 6 water remaining.

And here's my log for Monday:
Breakfast - 1 whole-wheat bagel (2 starch windows), 1 tb lox spread (1 fat window), 2 tomato slices (negligible calories.)
Lunch - 1 low-cal tortilla (1 starch) with 4 oz lean grilled ground turkey (2 protein), 1 tsp light vegenaise and 1 tb low-cal blue cheese aioli (1 fat), baked yam fries (2 starch),
Snack - A bottle of Trader Joe's red veggie juice (2 veg, 1 fruit)
Dinner - Personal frittata with 2 eggs (2 protein), swiss chard & leek (2 veg), and 1 oz goat cheese (1 dairy), 1 baked apple with tsp cinnamon/sugar (2 fruit)
Beverage -  12 oz of zero calorie Steaz (1 extra), 8 oz skim milk (1 dairy), 64 oz water (8 water)

Per Richard's suggestion, I usually eat my carbs earlier in the day - though sometimes I spread them out a little more.  All the better balance the blood sugar, my dear.

I have one other goal for my balance this week - I would like to precede my workday with a period of meditation, prayer and centering.  It really helps me, all-around.

What are you doing to find balance in your life this week?  Whatever it is, I hope it helps you to take care of you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Friend Interviewin' Monday, plus a painting preview!

Happy Monday!  A new week has begun, and I am feeling rejuvenated and ready to forge ahead with my various projects. (Particularly my main one, which - as Richard puts it - is "Project Me.")

Lots of ground to cover today!

Weekend Recap
I was an editor's widow this weekend, as Tom was working on a side project - a short documentary - most of the time. I was able to keep busy with a ton of activities, including:

  • A Friday night trip shopping trip with my dad, where I managed to style him in the vein of Steve Carrell as styled by Ryan Gosling in Crazy Stupid Love.  Brilliantly, I managed not to take a photo of him in his dapper zip-up cardigan and his fedora.
  • One last outing with Dad before delivering him to the airport.  We went to my favorite Indian restaurant - Akbar - in Pasadena.  They make some seriously good naan, and Dad & I each ordered our own.  After we finished, we agreed that in the future, we'd only need to order one naan to share.  It's the latest food observation to add to my list of things to remember.
  • A birthday party for my friend Ann's two adorable kidlets. 
  • A birthday party for my adorable friend Joe.  They played a game that I am MOST DEFINITELY including in an upcoming Supper Club, and I cannot wait to share it.
  • A planning session for an upcoming event - which I'm collaborating on with a few other friends who are also bloggers.
  • A scoche of cat-sitting for two darling orange cats, Teddy and Peeta.  They were very cuddly.
  • An outing to the farmer's market.  Holy cow, it is most definitely harvest season.  I bought some apples, some peaches, some heirloom tomatoes, some swiss chard (to practice recipes for aforementioned upcoming event) and some dinosaur pluots.
  • A dinner with friends of ours who are also creative colleagues.

Painting Preview
Several of you (especially my sister) have nudged me for photos of all of the painting my dad and I did while he was visiting.  The room isn't completely ready for prime-time, because the weather has been unseasonably muggy, and the shelves and drawers aren't dry enough to be filled.  So instead, I'm going to post some sneak peek close-ups of a few things, and once all the books and clothes are tucked away in their proper places, I'll do another post with a better view of the room at large.

The wall behind our bed, plus our wrought-iron candle sconce.
It isn't quite this vivid - it's hard to capture perfect colors, even with a nice camera.


One of the bookshelves, with our starburst clock.


Part of our dresser.  This aqua is the same color as our wall - I think it's better captured here.

Friend-Interviewin' Monday
For those of you craving more Supper Club 600, the excellent Alyssa at Double-Chin Diary has posted her own recap of the event, plus an interview with me.  (My first interview! Heh.)  Alyssa is a bright, skilled blogger and I highly recommend you check out some of her entries, especially my personal favorite, "Chunky."  I relate completely to her story of sudden self-awareness brought on by a grandparent's comment.  Head on over and show her some support!

All right, you lovely people.  This is going to be a beautiful week, and I hope that you'll spend it doing good things for yourselves.  I plan to take very good care of me, and I want you to do the same!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fashion Friday... hostess edition

I blinked and looked away after writing this entry's title.  And when I looked back, I thought it read "hotness edition."  Well, I guess.  I felt kind of hot in my new dress, an uber-sale score from Lane Bryant. 

Dress by Lane Bryant is - whoa - a size 18/20
Cardigan by Lane Bryant many years ago
Wooden necklace by a local cheap-ass accessory shop

I wore it to Supper Club 600 Italy, with a sweater that is far too baggy.  I have discovered that I am now without black cardigans.  I used to have five.  Now, nary fits me.  I guess I know what my next purchase will need to be.

Since we've been painting and undergoing other home improvement ventures this week, I didn't put together a single outfit since Supper Club.  I have felt extremely schlubby.  So this morning, seeing the distant twinkle of tunnel's end, I put together an outfit that makes me feel great.  It'll arrive on a Fashion Friday sometime soon.

Isn't it interesting how much a change of clothes can equal a change of mood? 

Take, for instance, a fancy affair.  When you put on your dressy duds, your thoughts and actions might become a touch more sophisticated.  (I know mine do.  Tea dress + teacup = subconsciously raised pinkie.)  Or when you come home from a long work day, and throw off your clothes and snuggle up in something cozy and loose?  Don't you immediately feel more relaxed?  Or, like me today, when you put together something that is thoughtful and artful, does your mind feel more put-together? 

It may seem like a superficial change, but if you're feeling down for any reason, consider dressing up.  Sometimes change can work by osmosis - from the outside, in.

I'm off to enjoy the last of my time with Dad before he flies back to Michigan tomorrow.  Have a beautiful weekend, and while you do, don't forget to take care of you!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mangia! Italian Recipes from Supper Club 600

Following up on yesterday's Adventure blog, today I'm sharing some of the recipes from our Italian edition of Supper Club 600.

This supper club was the first one that, during the full preparation time, I was home solo.  Tom used to be our primary (who am I kidding - our SOLE) cook, and the testing - outside of baking - was his turf.  Now that he has a very busy work week, it was up to me to come up with the majority of our recipes, except for Tom's favorite...

Spaghetti Aglio Olio

  • 1 ounce spaghetti
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp good quality olive oil
  • red pepper flakes (to taste)

Warm the olive oil, and then saute the garlic until browned and fragrant.  Boil the spaghetti until just al dente (which means "to the tooth," or just biteable.)   Drain the pasta, and then add to the pan.  Toss with a touch or red pepper, and you're ready to go!  Tom cooks this for himself, occasionally, for breakfast.  And it never fails - when I wake up and come downstairs, I ask him what he's been cooking because it smells delicious.  The answer is always Aglio Olio.

Now, on to some of my own recipes!

Roasted Vegetable Salad

Red bell peppers (30-40 minutes at 400)
Cherry tomatoes (15-20 minutes at 400)
Zucchini (15-20 minutes at 450)
Sweet onion (30-45 minutes at 400)
Garlic (30-40 minutes at 400)
Olive oil spray (like Pam)
Balsamic Vinegar

Spray the bottom of a few different baking pans (I recommend pyrex a few inches deep.)  I tend to pair like veggies together, because they take different times to cook.  Then prepare the veggies: cherry matoes are good as-is, peppers need to be halved and de-seeded, zucchini sliced into spears, and onion into wedges.  You can just slice the top off a head of garlic and roast all together.

Once you lay the veggies in their pans, give them another quick spritz of olive oil spray, and then pop them in the oven, time and temperature listed with each ingredient above.

When all are finished roasting, combine tomatoes, zucchini and onion in a bowl.  Place the peppers while still warm (but not hot) in a plastic zipper bag, to steam the skins.  They'll be ready for you to peel after a half-hour.  Then squeeze the roasted garlic (through the sliced top of the head) into the bowl with the rest of the veggies.  Toss with a tablespoon of vinegar, and you're all set!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

Authentic carbonara was my favorite dish in Rome.  I had no idea that all of America made it so improperly.  I had always thought it was a cream-based dish.  In fact, the glory of carbonara is that there is no cream, only egg - and that's what makes the spaghetti strands stick together!

Real carbonara is very caloric - pancetta, lots of egg, lots of cheese, and lots of pasta.  I lightened up the recipe by reducing egg/cheese, swapping turkey bacon for panchetta, and swapping spaghetti squash for pasta.  It's surprisingly delicious for the calories.

1 spaghetti squash
3 egg yolks
3 slices of lean turkey bacon
2 tb good-quality parmesan cheese, grated.
2 shallots, minced
Olive oil spray (like Pam)

Halve the squash and bake it rind-up 30 to 40 minutes at 375 degrees.  Cool slightly, and then separate the "spaghetti" strands by lightly scraping with a fork from stem to stern.  This can be done slightly ahead of time, as the squash will be rewarmed later.

Saute the shallots in olive oil spray, with the turkey bacon, until all are browned. Whisk the yolks together with the grated cheese.  Add the squash to the bacon pan, and pour the eggs in.  Toss the squash quickly and continually until the eggs are cooked and the cheese is melted.  Serve immediately.


I am insanely proud of this recipe.  We knew, as soon as we decided to have the Italian theme, that we'd want tiramisu for dessert.  And little did I realize that tiramisu is crazy caloric per serving.  If you've eaten even a small serving of regular tiramisu, it was probably light and fluffy, and you probably didn't realize how calorie-dense it was.  A typical small serving is around 350 calories, and goes up from there.  Though - I have to apologize, this is actually 55 calories, not 50 calories.  (Still, that's a big reduction.)

But I love a challenge, so I went hunting for ingredients to combine and swap to lower that calorie count.  And swap, I did.

Swap #1: Lady Fingers.  They're not the worst thing in the world, but they're dense and rich, and in tandem with the creamy filling, they add to the overall pudginess of tiramisu.

So instead, I used individual angel food bundt cakes that I purchased at Ralph's. (Also known as Kroger's, for all of you who grew up in or around Midland.)

Swap #2: Mascarpone cheese. This little bugger crams 120 calories into a single tablespoon.  But it has a particular taste and texture that is hard to recreate, so I wasn't sure I could do it... that is, until I met Quark.

Quark is a German cream-style cheese that is kind of similar to mascarpone, but is slightly more sour... and comes in a fat-free variety!  To adjust texture and flavor, I folded in fat-free (5-calorie) Reddi Wip after the usual tiramisu ingredients.  It may be challenging to find Quark, but I was able to locate it in a specialty grocery store (Gelson's) so you may be able to locate it at one near you.

Here's the final recipe.

  • 1/4 cup Quark
  • 1/4 cup fat free Reddi Wip
  • 1 tb sugar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 mini angel food bundt cake
  • 2 shots of good-quality espresso
  • scant 1/4 tsp unsweetened cocoa (or less - you don't need much.)

With a mixer, blend Quark, sugar and vanilla.  Once smooth, fold in Reddi Wip.

There should be 12 ridges in each bundt. Slice between each ridge, and use four ridges for one serving. 

Soak one side of a ridge in espresso for 2-3 seconds, then flip and soak the other side.  Repeat, and place both ridges at the bottom of the serving cup.  Then layer a tablespoon of the Quark mixture on top of the cake, sealing it in the bottom.  Repeat the soaking process for the other two ridges, and lay them on top of the Quark mixture in the cup.  Layer one last tablespoon of Quark, making sure to seal in the rest of the cake.  Sprinkle a touch of cocoa on top, and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


There are other recipes we used from that day, but if I gave all of them to you... why would you buy the cow when you get the milk for free?  Just kidding.  If you want one of the other recipes from the menu I shared yesterday, let me know and I'll pass it along to you.  Everybody needs a good recipe - it's a great way to take care of you (which I hope you're doing today!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Supper Club 600: Italian Edition

Before I kick off this Supper Club recap, a quick note to all of you who responded to me yesterday, and within the survey - especially the person who responded with the concern about sugar.

Thank you, all of you, for your support.  The process of weight loss is a very individual and personal one.  Much like clothing, it is not one-size-fits-all. One person's method may seem strange or even unhealthy to someone else.  My personal choices are under the advisement of my doctors, my therapist, and my favorite fitness guru.

Communication is at the core of my success.  My honesty here, and with everyone on my health team, has everything to do with my 68 pounds lost.  Being open to honest questions is part of that communication, as is giving honest answers.  Because I have an addiction to food that I can't - and will never be able to - ignore, it's my responsibility to continue to assess my needs and successes and challenges.  Which I'm doing.  And which currently dictates that my intake of sugar has been in moderation - and helps me to avoid an excess of it.  Nevertheless, it should always be under watch.  Thanks for watching.  I'm watching, too.  But I'm not not going to eat it. That wouldn't help my journey of moderation.   And I'm not not going to write about it.  That wouldn't help my honesty.


Right on the heels of last month's BBQ comes the latest edition of...

Supper Club 600, a celebration of healthy food in moderation, is a dinner party we host every other month, each with a different theme and menu.  And every time, we present our guests with a delicious, filling dinner - entree, sides, dessert, beverage - that is less than 600 calories, focused on healthy & natural ingredients.

And this month's theme... is Italian!

Our friend Laura, and her very droll husband Jake, offered up their home for the occasion.  (It was rolling double-party, actually... a new round of people arrived later in the day for Laura's annual pie-tasting party, before she submits the best to KCRW's Good Food pie contest next weekend!  I tried a bite of each, and they were scrumptious.)  A big thanks to Laura and Jake for their hospitality.

Alas, in the rush of hosting in someone else's kitchen, I managed to forget my camera!  All photos in today's blog are courtesy of Rochelle.  (Thanks, Ro!)

One photo I wished I'd gotten, but missed, was a photo of Tom and I, with his mom Jean, and my dad Bruce.  The two of them were an incredible help in the preparation for the party.  My dad even flew in from Michigan with his espresso machine, which we used to make tiramisu the day before, and which he brought (along with his considerable barista skills) to the party, where he served a variety of hot and cold low-calorie (or no-calorie) coffee drinks.

Rochelle sampling Dad's iced mocha handiwork.

When Tom and I put this menu together, our dishes kept adding up to nowhere near 600, so we kept adding dishes!  We must be getting good at the reduction of calories, because it took a lot of dishes to hit closer to the mark.  (We could've increased portion sizes, but we wanted to keep them moderate and increase variety, which is good nutritive practice anyway.)

And when we designed the menu, we wanted to give it a little authentic Italian language.  Cue my brother, who lived in Milan for three years, and who speaks Italian fluently.  Italy doesn't have the concept of a "supper club," per se, but he suggested translating "supper club 600" as "little dinner between friends," which we thought was charming.

Here's the beautiful spread...

(Clockwise from the left) broccoli with lemon and capers; bruschetta; chicken marsala, roasted vegetables;
cannellini with sage; pasta with oil and garlic, and spaghetti squash carbonara

...and here are a few of the beautiful people who attended!

Carrie, Rochelle & Alexa


Keith & Marc

Joe & Sunny, looking dapper.

Many others joined us for the occasion, too. Our guests ranged from the human toddler variety (hi, Theo!) to the elder canine variety (good girl, Emily!)

Emily, the Wonder-Dog.

If you'll join me again tomorrow, I'll share the secrets behind some of the recipes, and the inspiration for each dish.  (And, yes, I'll share that recipe for 50-calorie tiramisu.  You won't believe how simple and light it is, especially compared to its 350-calorie counterpart.)

Supper Club is a great way to remind ourselves (and our guests) that taking care of yourself in the kitchen can really be fun and adventurous.  What will you do today, along those lines?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday, and thoughts on empty calories

I'll get right to the point this morning: this week, I'm down another pound and a half. 298!  The farther I get from 300, the more confident I feel about staying away from it forever.

Last week's therapy session was very insightful.  My therapist always helps me see things more clearly, even if they're things I've just said out loud.  It's funny how saying things out loud doesn't necessarily mean that it sinks in.  I was telling her how strangely terrifying it is to not know how you look at a lower weight.  The last time I was less than 300, it was in college.  I was 12 years younger (and those 12 years are kind of a big deal; faces change a lot from 20 to 32.)  From here on, as I lose weight, I'm going to start not recognizing myself.  My therapist connected that fear with my plateau (and with the binge after weigh-in that I wrote about last week.)  My subconscious is having trouble dealing with the fact that there's a lot of change going on with my body.  So I'm doing some visualization exercises, and hopefully we'll shake that subconscious into acceptance.

The survey I posted yesterday (which is still open if you'd like to participate) has been very helpful.  It's sometimes hard to peg what kinds of blog entries (or themes) are most compelling to my readers, and it's very helpful to hear what works and what doesn't. 

I did get one answer about improving the blog that made me stop and think. And think. And think. And if there's that much thinking, it must be something important.  This reader - a friend or family member who knows me from Facebook - would change this about my blog:

"Less about sweet things-- reading about sugar and other empty calories makes me anxious."

I was surprised by the answer, and my knee-jerk response was: "What empty calories?"  I work very hard on keeping all things in moderation.  It's true that if I eat emotionally, it's primarily sugar that I'm craving.  But even those times when I eat an unplanned food, I'm not eating a lot of it. For instance, last week's binge, which was an ice cream cone.  It's not the amount of food that makes it a binge.  It's the reasoning behind my eating.  It's the unplanned and not-mindful way I am eating.  Which, as a food addict, does happen occasionally.  And I'm working very hard to minimize it in my life.

Do I come across as eating a lot of empty calories?  I'm kind of surprised about that, because for the first time in my life, this year has seen the complete elimination of all fast food (it's been 9 months since I've so much as stepped inside one, let alone eaten at one.) 

We cook, on average, 20 out of 21 meals each week, and that one meal out is most likely at Tender Greens, where I've ordered my usual 3 ounces of seared albacore, a cup of mixed greens and either roasted veggies or a half-cup of mashed potatoes (550 or 650 calories total.)  We buy 48 servings of fresh fruit and 72 servings of fresh vegetables every week, and they're gone by the end of the week.  (that's 3 servings of fruit daily for me, and 5+ servings of vegetables.) 

With rare exception, I eat around 1400 calories daily. Yesterday's, for example, was a pretty standard day.

1 slice whole grain toast (70 calories)
Sliced nectarine
2 tb fat free ricotta (mixed with a sprinkle of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar-free almond syrup) (25 calories)
1/4 tsp honey (6 calories)
1 boiled egg (70 calories)

4 ounces of grilled ground turkey (160 calories)
2 slices of light whole wheat (80 calories)
1 tsp lowfat vegenaise (15 calories)
1 laughing cow cheese wedge (30 calories)
3 pickle slices (negligible calories) 
1 cup of baked yam (177 calories)
1 tb of homemade blue cheese aioli (30 calories)

Afternoon snack:
1 plum (30 calories)

1 cup baked spaghetti squash with 1/2 slice turkey bacon, tsp Parmesan, and 1/4 of an egg (94 calories)
1 cup roasted veggies with tsp balsamic & a spritz of Pam (110 calories)
1/2 cup white beans with sage and garlic & a 1/2 tsp olive oil (134 calories)

64 ounces of water (0 calories)
8 ounces of stevia-sweetened Virgil's (0 calories)
8 ounces of skim milk (70 calories)

Where do the empty calories fit in?  You could say the cheese is "empty," but it fits into my scheduled fats, and I'm still getting the majority of my necessary fat intake from unsaturated sources (olive oil, vegenaise.)  And honestly, regular small servings of things like cheese keep me from seeking large servings of things like cheese.

Nevertheless, the survey answer stung.  So it must be touching a nerve.  I went back to my recipes, to catalogue them, to see if I posted a lot of recipes for sweet things.  Here's the most recent two pages of recipes, going back to late June:

Rosemary Quinoa
Curried Chickpea Salad
Broccoli Slaw
Blue Cheese Aioli
Southwestern Popcorn
Roasted Zucchini
Heirloom Tomato & Egg Sandwich
Ginger Noodle Stir-Fry
Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Cinnamon-Sugar Popcorn
Zucchini-Blueberry Mini Muffins
Figs with Goat Cheese
Key Lime Mini Tarts
Diet Butterbeer
Whole Wheat Pancakes with Fruit Compote

So, yeah.  OK.  They're right.  There are several sweet recipes.  Though most are low-calorie, and most are sweetened with fruit.  Still, it proves that I do include a bunch of sweet recipes.  Too much for one of my readers.  How about you?  Would you prefer to see less sweet?  Are you worried about my empty calories?  Would you prefer, for instance, when I post the recipes for the most recent Supper Club 600, that I skip the 50-calorie tiramisu recipe?

I'm torn.  Part of me wants to listen and take heed.  There were times in the past where I didn't want to hear people's thoughts on my dietary intake, and it wasn't for the best.  But part of me... knows exactly what I eat, why I eat, and how hard I'm working on what I eat.  And that part of me just wants to say, "FORGET YOU*, I'm taking care of me, and you don't get a say in how that's done."

Because it is being done. 

Take care of you today.  You're the only one who gets to do it.

*Cee-Lo Green radio-edited for politeness.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Friend Replyin' Monday

Hello!  It's Monday following a beautiful weekend, and I'm happy to be back and blogging today.

My father is visiting from Michigan this week.  He arrived Friday morning, and I promptly dragged him out with me to finish shopping for Saturday's Supper Club 600.  Such a good sport!  Along with Tom's mom, he helped us to get all the food ready for the party, which was great fun (and which will be the subject of this week's Adventure Wednesday, In the Kitchen, and Fashion Friday posts.)

We also took Dad to Slimmons, where he met Richard for the first time.  Richard was dressed up as King Tut's Tomb, and we are still picking the gold glitter off of our arms and cheeks.  Richard pulled us into the middle of the circle to dance with him, and you can see us boogie together below, at exactly 4 minutes in.

Dad's a skilled handy-man, and he volunteered to help me fix up the bedroom (which I wrote about in July.)  This morning we went paint-shopping and proceeded with wall-spackling.  We'll be painting the wall, the shelves, and the dresser before he leaves on Saturday.  I hope to have some great "after" photos for you soon!

On the blogging front, I just want to thank all of you for your support.  Every time I hear from one of you, it helps me remember why I'm writing this blog in the first place: to remind myself to take care of me... and to remind you to take care of you. 

One thing I dislike about Blogger (which is the online software I use for blogging) is that I can't easily respond directly to you when you comment, and I'm not sure that you see my response when I post it.  So lately, I just haven't posted it.  And I don't like that!  I want you all to know how much your words mean to me.  I'm looking at hosting my own blog so that I can add that functionality, but in the meanwhile, I want to respond to some of the weight loss bloggers who've responded to me recently.  I'm doing that in today's post, and thank you for being with me on my journey! (And hopefully, to link to you so that others can see yours, too.)


Hello, Miss April!  Thank you for your support... and you have mine on your 30 Before 30 journey, too!

Sarah, I've been reading OnMyWeightToHappiness - you should be so proud of your success! CONGRATULATIONS on your crossing that big BMI milestone! I hope to follow in your footsteps by next year.

Suzi, thank you for reading!  I noticed that you recently did a Richard Simmons DVD, and I have to say, if ever you're in my neck of the woods, you have to come work out with the man himself (and me, too.)

KT, I appreciate your support! And, wow, your Christmas Dress for the Countdown is darling.  Can't wait to see how you accessorize it (because I know you're going to make it!)

Hi, Dom.  Your blog name makes me laugh every time I read it.  You kick so much ass, and I'm really glad to be following your blog as well.  Did you end up buying the compression tank we both like so much?  (I am still drooling over it.)

Bella my beautiful, I want you to stop working out in those baggy workout clothes you wrote about in your comment.  I know it feels... I dunno, to me, it feels safer in the baggy stuff.  Covered.  But the truth is that we're not really hiding anything but how much we're changing and strengthening our bodies.  Targed does indeed have some plus-sized stuff.  I'm usually wearing a 3X these days, but the Champion workout leggings in XXL (in the active section) fit me just fine.  Target also sells these "long and lean" tank tops in the plus section that work really well for me.  (I'm wearing one in the video above.)

Hilary, thank you!  I have been working on the positive attitude thing for a long time - through therapy, and watching others in my life.  Congrats on making your first goal, by the way!

Denise, don't be jealous of my Slimmons workouts, just take a vacation to Southern California and come join us!

Elisha, how is your Board of Directors handling everything lately?  Thinking about you.

Tammy, thank you so much for reading!  And also... that outfit you wore on Monday is drop-dead FABULOUS.

PJ Geek... have I told you lately how much I like you?  I like you.  Muchly.

SKM, I have been using your brush-and-floss trick, and it does help!  Thank you for the recommendation.

Ann, thank you for being a new reader!  I love new readers.  And finding new blogs to follow.  You're dead-on about the tooth-aching photos of cake and frosting blobs.  They're not so bad in moderation, but damn, I am glad that I only serve them in moderation, heh!

Jenny O... I don't know if you're a weight loss blogger, but if you are, you must let me know the link!  You reply so frequently and it's so nice to know that you're out there.  Thank you for your support!

Stephanie... you're not a blogger, but I love you and I really need to see some of the outfits you've worn for your races!

Chris M, I always appreciate hearing from you!  Your comments make my heart feel warm and fuzzy. I'm also enjoying the company of your youngest daughter, so although she's not near you, she gets plenty of hugs from us when we see her.  Love to you! 

Sara H. L., you're a Facebook reader, not a blogger.  But I can't tell you how happy I am to hear that you have been taking "take care of you" to heart. Please keep up with that - because you matter. (To me,and to your guys - big and little!)

And last, but very much not least... Erica.  Erica, I don't think I can even contemplate how full up you are.  Of so much.  You've been on my mind every day, and I hardly even know how to say how proud I am of your strength, and how much goodness I want for you and for J.  My heart is with you both.


If you're a reader but you don't comment... boy howdy, do I understand.  I'm a lurker on almost all of the blogs I read, but I'm trying to break myself from that habit.  Maybe if you're less prone to comment, you'd be more open to answering a survey?  I just created one for my readers, and I'm hoping to get your feedback, whether or not you comment here.  You can take it at Zoomerang, or you can take it in the version embedded below.  And thank you, in advance, for your feedback!

OK.  I'm off to paint the town red.  (Or... my bedroom aqua.)  I'll be back tomorrow with a weigh-in and a new breakfast recipe I've been trying.  Until then... you know the drill.  TAKE CARE OF YOU!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I'm full.

This week has been a little bit taxing for me.

For one thing, the weather has been gross in Los Angeles.  Right at this moment, it is 93 degrees.  Tuesday the high was 98.  Yesterday, 96.  Thank heavens it's going to cool off next week, because I don't think I can handle another heat wave this year.  It makes Slimmons feel like a sauna, and I get nauseous after working out.  It makes our air conditioner cry.  Literally. The condensation is dripping all over our bathroom floor. (Yes, that's where our central AC unit is.  No, I don't know why they put it there!)  It makes me weary and cranky.

I am full up on weather.

For another thing, I seem to have lost my mojo.  I usually have such fire and passion for whatever I'm working on.  This week, I got nothin'.  I managed to clean and launder in preparation for Dad's visit, and surely, that is an undertaking when the weather is gross and your laundry is backlogged and your cat has been having accidents.  But Supper Club is two days away, and I am way behind on preparation... and yet, I can't seem to light that fire under my rump.  (It probably doesn't help that it's roasting.)  Since I'm a freelancer, I am solely responsible for my fiery rump.  Nobody else is going to light it for me.

But I'm full up on self-motivation.

Last, but not least, I am full up on food.  I don't know what it was... whether my dip below 300 pounds is somehow threatening to my subconscious status-quo... whether I was feeling drained because of the heat, and thus more emotional... or whether it was just my addiction rearing up.  But twice this week, I overate.  And I somehow did it both knowingly and unthinkingly. 

This summer, Tom and I discovered (and fell in love with) Louis CK's show, Louie, on FX.  It's not for everybody, but it's definitely for us.  After we streamed the first season on Netflix, we wanted to catch up on his various stand-up specials.  So last night we watched part of Chewed Up.

Louis is overweight, and he tells stories about his experience that are honest and side-splittingly funny.  And if you have behavioral eating problems, those stories are also painful and very, very familiar.

I'm going to embed audio of the special below... but it's definitely Not Safe For Work, and also Not Safe For Delicate Ears.  If your ears are tender, you should probably skip listening.

The line that really pierced me was:

"And [my doctor] is trying to get a handle on my eating habits. He's like, 'Dude, OK, look. How soon into a meal do you typically feel full and stop eating?'  I'm like, 'I don't stop eating when I'm full. The meal is not over when I'm full.  The meal is over when I hate myself.  That's when I stop.'"

Yep.  I've been there.  I was there not once, but twice this week.  That, my friends, is not taking care of myself.  That is leaning on my addiction as a way to punish myself.

And I am full up on punishing myself.

So how do I stop it?  I have been very good about mindful eating, and stopping at 'full' all year, so I have a pretty good routine established.  I wake up and follow that routine, and it's usually not a problem.  I'll never be a perfect.. anything.  Let alone a perfect eater.  But I want to be sure that taking care of me is always the priority.

It's been a few days since that last binge, and I haven't made a misstep since.  There's another misstep waiting in my future, but my goal is to talk it out as soon as I feel it coming on.  Calling Tom or another one of my supportive loved ones always helps me to sort out whatever emotion I'm trying to numb.  And if I'm not successful? Well, I'll be honest about it with all of you, and I'll do my best to remember not only that every day is a new day, but that every moment is a new moment.  No need to wait for tomorrow if you make one mistake today.

So I'll take care of me... and you take care of you... and we'll keep doing the best we can.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weigh-in Tuesday... goodbye to 3!

Happy Tuesday!  I took Monday off for Labor Day, and am buckled in this morning for a good week of blogging, and a busy week of life as well - preparing for my dad's arrival on Friday, and the  Supper Club I'm throwing for him on Saturday.  I can't wait!

I'm going to cut to the chase because I'm excited about my weigh-in this morning.  I'm down one pound.


Yes, that's right, I'm out of the 300s.  And I'm determined that there will be no gains in the future that will put me back there.  I am saying goodbye to 300, and everything got me there.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm going to remember everything that got me there.  And I'm going to remember everything that got me out, and will keep me on the path to good health.  After all... I am now over two-thirds of the way to my first goal (which is to lose 100 pounds) and I'd like to meet it before the year ends. 

An old theater friend of mine commented on my previous post - saying that I looked good but that I always did.  And I'd like to clarify that I love me at 366 every bit as much as I love me at 299.  That me was the very first me to make the same decision I now try to make every day - to take care of me.

I found this image via pinterest, and it made me smile.
I *am* both.

How are you taking care of you this week?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fashion Friday... at the Gym?

It's a beautiful September morning, and I am feeling good after another hard workout at Slimmons last night.  I'm not sure what was different, but I actually felt much stronger yesterday.  Maybe the 8-pound free weights I've been building up to are having an effect on my body... or maybe I ate just the right nutritive balance... or maybe my body was happy after all of the water I drank yesterday.

Or maybe it was the fact that four separate people told me last night that I was looking great.  It's been happening a lot more often lately.  At the beginning of my journey, the relatively quick pace of weight loss (and having been a social hermit for the first few months of it) meant that I got a lot of comments all at once.  Over time, as people have gotten used to my weight loss (plus seeing friends more often, and the loss happening more slowly) there have been few mentions of it in person.  Lately, though - especially when I'm in my workout clothes - people have really mentioned it.

I know my proportions have shifted a lot, even while the weight itself is slower-moving than it used to be... but I think some of it must be the way I'm dressing.

Some of you probably read the title of this entry and rolled your eyes.  "The gym is for working out.  The gym is not for looking cute."  And you're right.  I sweat like crazy and look ridiculous when I'm done.  But a few months ago, I used to do it wearing sloppy shirts and wide, wide-legged palazzo pants.

In this photo with Rena, Alexa, Richard & Tom, I'm wearing some of the baggy pants in question.

Richard, style maverick that he is, teased me relentlessly about my baggy clothes.  And thanks to some work for both Tom and myself, I finally had the budget for a few new pieces. I headed out to Target and grabbed a couple of new fitted tank tops and leggings.  (Just in time, too. I wore one of the old baggy pieces last night and I spent the whole night trying to keep them from falling off.)  Once I started wearing the fitted pieces, I started getting a lot more comments about how different I look.

In leggier leggings, with Rochelle

So, yes. The right clothes are important for the gym, too.  They wick away sweat, and they support your body.  They can even look - yes - cute.

With my ladies, Patty & Alexa (plus Patty's little lady Holly), after a very sweaty workout.

Lately to add to the cuteness factor, I've been accessorizing with vintage scarves worn as bandannas.  They're a really cheap and chic way to keep hair and sweat out of your eyes.  I recommend snagging a few at an estate sale or a vintage shop, or even at eBay or Etsy.  They sometimes sell them together as lots, like this one currently running - 47 of them, currently at $9.99.

I'm still a bit scant in the workout clothes department, so today's imaginary outfit is what I'd buy to fill it out a little more.

Vintage scarf via eBay
Sports bra by Champion via Target
Compression leggings by Old Navy
Compression Tank by Marika Miracles for Cacique
My actual shoes - which are terrific - New Balance 993

Woo-hoo! My post is up on the right day, and posted in the morning, even!  I'm off to do some work, followed by preparation for all the home improvements we're doing over the weekend.  I hope that those of you in the States enjoy your long weekend, and I hope that all of you will take care of you!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

In the Kitchen with Rosemary Quinoa

Have you tried quinoa?

You've probably seen it in magazines or on lists of healthy foods, but perhaps you don't even know how to pronounce it.  (Or maybe that was just me, a few years ago.  For the record, it sounds like keen-wah.)

It's in those magazines and on those lists for good reason. It's a rare plant source with the full set of amino acids: a complete protein.  It's even gluten-free, if that's your bag!  Plus, it's been around for a long time - it was first domesticated in South America over 3000 years ago.  It's not part of the grass family, so it's not a cereal or a grain.  (It's called a pseudocereal, as is buckwheat.)  All of that aside, it's very filling, and I really like it with veggies as a salad.

A friend of mine recently told me she has disliked quinoa every time she tried it.  I promised to attempt a quinoa salad that she'd actually enjoy, and this post chronicles that attempt.  (Audra, I'll have to make it for you soon and see if it works!)

Here are today's ingredients.

First thing's first - you MUST rinse the quinoa first.  Otherwise it'll taste yucky after it's cooked.

Chop all of the veggies into medium-sized pieces.


In the meanwhile, follow the directions on the quinoa box. I cook 1/2 cup dry, and split it into 5 servings.
(This is a great dish to take to lunch during the work week.)


You'll know it's done when the little kernels are translucent, and you can see the little "tail" curl.


Spritz a large saute pan with spray oil (like Pam) and start the rosemary on low for a few minutes.


Then add the onions, and cook them low and slow.  (Limbo-style, I always say.)


After about 10 minutes, if the onions are starting to look translucent, add the eggplant chunks.


Steaming helps to speed the eggplant along - I recommend using a round pizza pan if you don't have a lid!


When the eggplant is soft enough, it'll turn a darker brown.


And... wha-la!  Combine the quinoa with the veggies, and a single teaspoon of olive oil.
Add some sliced tomatoes for garnish, and split one ounce of crumbled goat cheese between the 5 servings.


I hope this inspires you to try quinoa... even if you haven't had a great experience with it in the past, combining it with flavors that work so well together (and rinsing it in advance) can combat that weird off taste it sometimes has.  Good luck... and take care of you!