Category Archives: Recipe challenge

Day 2 – Back to School

The definition of a food pattern is the quantities, proportions, variety or combinations of different foods and beverages in diets, and the frequency with which they are habitually consumed, according to the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.  This guideline was created primarily for nutrition and health professionals to help Americans make healthy choices to prevent chronic disease.  There are no secrets here, common sense and good choices is how it reads.  This is the eighth edition that has been published and is a road-map for 2015-2020.  This guideline is used to inform the USDA and HHS food programs like the National School Lunch Program.

Do you remember School House Rock type public service announcements?  These PSA’s were designed to provide a memorable, informative education while watching our favorite cartoons or after-school specials.  In the small amount of time the commercial would run, we learned how a bill becomes a law, what is a conjunction, and hankering for a hunk of cheese.  The food pyramid was easy to understand and we always knew to finish our vegetables before leaving the table.  I mean, how many times did you think, “when I grow up, I won’t have to eat all of my veggies while I run around with scissors!”

I was also thin, energetic, and a lot less cynical. I enjoyed a steak over a chicken breast and macaroni and cheese was manna from heaven.  I also played outside, rode a bicycle, and went on nature hikes.  As I got older, I made my children eat vegetables but not as many, especially not fresh.  Lots of canned green beans and corn were on our menu.  I have learned to cook many things over the years but did not start incorporating the fresh vegetables and fruits until recently.  I needed to go back to basics school.

To change a pattern, we have to use parts of our brain to grow new neurons to connect with existing ones forming new pathways.  Harvard psychologist, William James wrote in his 1890 book The Principles of Psychology, “In most of us, by the age of thirty, the character has set likconnection-647217_960_720e plaster and will never soften again.”  He believed a personality becomes fixed after a certain age because we use the same neural pathways again and again until they are stuck and deeply embedded.  Newer studies have shown that deliberate repetition and practice can create new connections but they are fragile.  Motivation, willpower, and self-control will need to be used to achieve the goal of a new pattern.  In an article from Fast Company, Tara Swart, a lecturer at MIT, states “Depending on the complexity of the activity, it could take up to four and a half months to create a new pattern”.

My challenge is to find ways of using more fresh vegetables and fruits to create a pattern of eating nutritional, tasty foods.  If a food pattern can be changed by making it connect with existing patterns, the best way I could think of doing it was by taking our common meals and substitute ingredients.

How can I add more fresh vegetables to my meals when I don’t even know what they are?  kohlrabi-783166__180The light green bulb with stalks and leaves in the picture was an interesting item that I could not identify, nor could the young man in the produce section.  Unidentified Fruits and Vegetables or UFV are starting to haunt me and has me questioning my culinary prowess. There are several places that sell these UFV’s but what are they?  What do they taste like?  Do they have any nutritional value?   By accident, flipping through a vegetable book, I was able to identify the UFV, it is a kohlrabi.  I am sure we will rename it to suit our needs.  As in any problem that needs to be solved, troubleshooting techniques should be applied.  I have listed below the standard troubleshooting tips for solving my culinary challenge.

  1. Identify and duplicate the problem – Diabetes Type 2, High Cholesterol, Overweight, etc. √
  2. Establish a theory of probable cause – A half century of bucking the food and exercise system √
  3. Test the theory to determine cause – Take blood sugar readings to determine what foods increase the numbers √
  4. Act – Initiate Lifestyle Change Plan √
  5. Test and Prevent – Start working the above step √
  6. Report – Document, document, document!

Step 4 required more than just announcing a change needed to be made.  The time and effort that I happily expend taking care of my soulmate requires focus and knowledge.  It is a good thing I am a foodie!  I have established the UFV School of Food Data Technology for my education.  At UFV, the never-ending thirst for knowledge is quenched by finding great ways of adding needed nutrition to our meals without raising the dreaded blood sugar readings.

Mr. Solberg started with an A1c of 11.5 in October of 2015.  His current result has him down to 5.7 as of June 2016.  With the help of prescribed medicine, diet, and exercise, he has lost over 40 lbs and feels great.  The consequences for not making a change are not readily apparent until it becomes a burden on the patient and their family.  This disease has become an epidemic in our country and I believe it will spiral out of control if left unchecked.

Food is fun and I love to cook.   I also enjoy discussing food and preparation techniques so I will share with you on our journey the successes and failures.  Please comment anytime!



Foodie, Heal Thyself – Day 1

What is the definition of being a foodie?  I have found several definitions from a gourmet, to the Urban Dictionary version “A dumbed-down term used by corporate marketing forces to infantilize and increase consumerism in an increasingly simple-minded American magazine reading audience.

I don’t pigeon hole myself in either category.  I have been known to discuss, at length, an impressive, to-die-for, crab bisque (see picture)

Crab bisque

Crab Bisque compliments to Jack Binion’s Steakhouse, Council Bluffs, IA

that took me 30 minutes to eat because I didn’t want the experience to end.  In the same conversation I can describe my love of Kraft Mac n Cheese paired with hot dogs.  When I think of gourmet, I think snob.  Being a foodie is a helpful sign that I wear (proudly) that says every conversation will contain some sort of food obsession story.  If I am talking to someone that has recently traveled, there is no doubt in my mind the question, “where did you eat?” and “what did you have?” will be discussed.

I am on a mission to maintain my obsession with food but adapt it for good instead of evil.  The days of celebrating CARB night are over!  But where to start?  Well, Day 1 of course.

Day 1

Denial is not just a river in Egypt, it is an inevitable truth.  You can tell yourself that because your significant other has a problem, you will not need to change.  Really?  I got over that before leaving the doctor’s office.  If Mr. Solberg must change his eating pattern because of his health, I must be involved too.  I am the foodie who does the planning, shopping, cooking, and obsessing.  I packed up the bags of chips, cookies, fresh and frozen potatoes, pasta, Pop Tarts, and bread and carted them over to a neighbor’s house.

I learned how to effectively read a food label and convert my favorite breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks into nutritious delicacies that even the most picky and snobbish foodie will appreciate.

Planning is difficult for me.  I am a practicing procrastinator who generally starts a project and changes my mind about it so many times that in the end I cannot remember the reason for the project.  I am working on it . . .

Grocery shopping is one of my passions.  I have attended grocery store openings in my area and in many cities where I have traveled.  I enjoy finding new products to test and old products to refresh.  The stores who provide samples know me by name and several meat and deli counter friends offer great suggestions and request my advice or opinion.

Lower carbohydrates is  not my only focus, I believe diabetes type 2 does not only rear it’s ugly head because we eat too many carbs.  Everything needs to be in balance to be healthy.  Fresh fruits and vegetables now get top billing and lean proteins like chicken and fish get a supporting role.

On Day 1 I grabbed my favorite list of recipes and started to convert.  I have already found a great spaghetti casserole conversion to give me an Italian treat (see my recipe).  I have also found instead of using tofu noodles, a great replacement is spaghetti squash!  I have decided to rename some of these vegetables to make them more palatable.  Squash has not been on my list because, well, it is squash.  As a child it was a punishment to eat squash and spinach.  I have renamed spaghetti squash to “squaghetti”.  I have created and tested 5 different recipes to use this new vegetable.  Look for their posts coming soon!

If you have converted a recipe of your own or would like to have an alternative to something you commonly eat, comment below and I would love to be involved!





The Kitchen Ninja's Dojo

Cook like a ninja

Shmaltz and Menudo

Finding My Voice in a Crowded Space

The Hungry Australian | Australian food & travel blog

The pursuit of a delicious life, Down Under style

%d bloggers like this: