An Informal Scorecard

So at a pot-luck dinner Friday night (I brought the CL-Asparagus Salmon Orzo dish), my friend Cindy said she was enjoying my blog but if I was still eating Phish Food ice cream every night, didn’t that mean I was failing?


Luckily, much wonderful wine was available (thank you Jill), so I was able to avoid thinking about that.  Until today.

Here’s the thing – I am hoping that the many other choices I am making will result in lower cholesterol.  That I can still have my cake ice-cream and eat it too.

But I now feel the need to grade myself – to review my lo-co plan and what I’ve done to date.  (Mostly to check if I’m delusional).  Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

  • New Breakfast Regime.  Grade: A.  Instead of a 1/2 bagel with lox every morning, I now eat steel-cut oatmeal with a 1/2 apple & handful of almonds & wheat germ (all cholesterol-lowering ingredients) every morning.  I miss my bagel and lox something fierce, but this has STUCK.
  • Metamucil Daily.  Grade: A.  Have only missed a few days of this – and now know to chug it before it turns to sludge.
  • Lunch that’s not mayo/cheese-based.  Grade: C.  I like to make a tuna-melt-on-a-tortilla panini for lunch.  Total withdrawal was making me sad, so I’ve added it back in once or twice a week.
  • Dinners that are low-fat/lean-meat/bean-based. Grade: C.  I have relied on Cooking Light recipes for years, and found some great new dishes.  But I have yet to find any great beans or lentils recipes.  And planning dinners remains the bane of my existence – as witnessed by several trips to Five Guys Burger & Fries when the clock struck 6pm and a lo-co dinner had not magically appeared.
  • Exercise Daily. Grade: F.  As posted, I have to fix this but just don’t know how.  Well, I know how, it’s just not yet happening.  (Wow, look at all that passive voice?!)
  • Snacks/Ice Cream.  Grade: F.   In addition this week to my daily Phish Food treat, I actually made Onion Dip.  And though I made it with low-fat sour cream, eaten with Low Fat Ruffles (which actually, all 3 of us prefer), STILL, this was ridiculous.
    Oh, and new discovery:  Double Stuff Oreos are OK: I can limit myself to 3 per day.  But Keebler Fudge Sticks are no longer allowed in my house.  Ever.  Sorry, Eric.

The real test will be next week:  I have an appointment for a cholesterol blood test. Given my mixed informal report card, it seems clear I’m going to have to do more…be more rigorous about my lo-co diet and exercise plan.

Fingers crossed there’s SOME improvement… and that maybe, just maybe, I can lick this cholesterol thing without having to totally forgo Phish Food.


A hearty dinner salad-Grilled Pork and Nectarines

Salad for dinner is not usually my thing, but it’s so lo-co so I’m trying. Last night I made Spinach Salad with Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Nectarines, and it was a big hit with entire family. Well, minus the spinach for my son (his plate had pork, nectarines, potatoes and broccoli).  Such a treat to make one main dish all 3 of us declared delicious.

And big bonus: this was fantastic (and easy) to reassemble for lunch the next day. Here’s the review I posted about this dish on Cooking Light:

“Even in the dead of winter, it was worth firing up the grill. I don’t even like nectarines, and this was delicious. And our picky teenager liked the grilled pork and nectarines – though he passed on the spinach. I used Low-Fat Feta but other than that, recipe perfect as is. Delicious and easy – and GREAT assembled again for lunch next day.”

I used Trader Joe’s Low-Fat Feta and TJ’s Balsalmic Vinaigrette bottled dressing.  You can find this recipe on Cooking Light: Spinach Salad with Grilled Pork Tenderloin and Nectarines.  Or if you prefer, click here for the recipe PDF.

PS.  Full disclosure – my husband was the one who withstood freezing temps on our deck to grill the pork and nectarines.  Yes, it’s very annoying that he exercises every day without fail while I can’t get motivated to do the same, he’s also a great guy… Thanks, M.


The Cholesterol Roller-Coaster Ride

A reporter from The Charlotte Observer, Karen Garloch, wrote an article about her ‘cholesterol roller-coaster ride’ and how difficult it is to figure out what to do and whether it will work.

Sound familiar?  It sure did to me.  In fact, her third paragraph really hit home:

“In the end, I realized that the “high” cholesterol levels I started out with in December may not really have been so alarming, given my own healthy diet and lifestyle.”

That is what I’m hoping happens for me – that even though my cholesterol is high and thus a statin is ‘recommended’ that I can lower it without Rx drugs.  Or that I really don’t need to lower it all that much – that just because it’s high doesn’t mean it has to be treated if I’m not at risk for heart issues.

In her article, Ms. Garloch takes the reader along on her bumpy ride and explains what she learned – and it’s a great deal of useful info.  Check it out, from the 8/31/10 issue of The Charlotte Observer, at “My Cholesterol Roller-Coaster Ride.”

Her updated information about Red Yeast Rice was especially compelling to me.  Several friends have told me about Red Yeast Rice, and my doctor mentioned it too – but she also then cautioned that any herbal supplement that acts like a statin (like Red Yeast Rice) means you should check liver enzymes too.

But Ms. Garloch cites a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that shows Red Yeast Rice doesn’t cause liver issues.  And…BONUS… Red Yeast Rice does NOT cause the muscle issues many people have with statins like Lipitor.

That is some potentially very big news!  I’ll do a little research on Red Yeast Rice, and get back to you.

PS – a shout out to my sister Kathy who emailed me this article. Thanks!


Delightfully Easy and Delicious – Salmon Asparagus Orzo “Salad”

With my eating habits in the doldrums, I needed inspiration…and found it in the March issue of Cooking Light.  After spending a half-hour paging then surfing, I stumbled upon this recipe – then headed right to the store.  Turns out, it was so good that my son actually ASKED to try some!

Even though I don’t really like cooked salmon, I found this recipe delicious as well as low-fat & low cholesterol.  Plus, it’s easy & a nice change from the ‘heavy’ one-pot recipes I’ve been trying (not posted because I haven’t liked a lot of them!)  In truth, this recipe is probably more suited to summer, but I found the lemon-freshness and roasting/baking involved with this dish – along with its lemon dressing – a great pick-me-up in this frigid CT weather.

You can find the original recipe on Cooking Light’s site.

But I made a few adjustments for how I like to cook.  You can download a PDF of the recipe the changes I made here:  SalmonAsparagusOrzoSaladLemonDillVinaigrette-Modified.  What’d I do?  Well…

  • Since I detest boiled asparagus I roasted the asparagus instead.  So much better.  Plus I just used one ‘bunch’ and have no idea if that was close to the ‘1 lb’ called for in the recipe.
  • As well,  I don’t broil, EVER… it freaks me out. So I baked the salmon instead of broiling, following the same instructions as in the Maple Glazed Arctic Char recipe.
  • I also used far less salmon than called for – mostly because I hadn’t written down the amount of fish needed when I went shopping.  Also because I really don’t like cooked salmon, but figured I should not try another fish until I tried it this way!
  • As well, my salmon fillet had skin on one side – but no problem, just bake it skin-side down, then when it’s done, the skin slides right off.

So give this one a try – I will definitely be making it again (and it was GREAT for lunch!)


The 7 Week Itch

It’s been seven weeks since I began my going lo-co journey, and I’ve hit a wall. The first couple of weeks were a welcome challenge: searching for new recipes and learning about lowering cholesterol was interesting.  But that was sadly short-lived.

Fast forward to week seven and I’m sad to report that my desire to transform to a lo-co lifestyle desire has simply vanished.  Everything about trying to lower cholesterol without meds now feels like a chore, rather than a challenge.  Or punishment, if I’m being honest.

Not surprisingly, both my exercise and meal consumption have taken a turn for the worse.  I’ve had to do some hard thinking while sitting on the sofa, eating Phish Food after another so-not-low-cholesterol-dinner.   Here is what I decided.

… Changing habits is hard.
… Learning to cook differently and planning lo-co meals is exceedingly hard.
… Trying not to feel sorry for myself for having to do all this to lower my cholesterol?  Let’s just say it would be priceless if I could manage it.  (And this past week, not so much).

However, the March issue of Cooking Light just arrived – and with it a quote that really hit home for me:

“All I have to do is cook on the weekend…yet I still find excuses not to.”

Somehow, just seeing that others are facing the same struggle I am really helped.  So I sucked it up, hopped online and checked out the Cooking Light’s 12 Healthy Habits Program. After ignoring the feature about adding cardio (I just can’t deal with upping my exercise right now so am giving myself a ‘guilt-free-exit-pass’ for a bit), I immediately found several recipes I am inspired to try.

Well, inspired might be too strong a word.  But I’m going to do it.

Onward to a shopping list.  Check back for recipe results…