Recycle your yogurt!

Quick post-and-run at lunch, but I wanted to make you aware of two awesome recycling programs for your yogurt lids and containers.

Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point made me aware of the first one: if you mail in four Stonyfield Farm foil yogurt lids before the end of December, you’ll not only receive a bunch of Stonyfield coupons but you’ll also receive a free reusable 8oz. yogurt cup from Preserve, a company that makes household products out of recycled #5 polypropylene plastic (like yogurt containers!).  You’ll also receive a coupon from Preserve to buy their cool stuff!

Mail your foil lids to:

Stonyfield Farm; Reusable Cup Offer

PO Box 4840

Manchester, NH 03108-4840

Did you know that you can also recycle your yogurt cups and other #5 containers?  Preserve makes all of their products using #5 containers collected from individuals (as well as donations from companies such as Stonyfield), and they have two options for #5 container donation: you can drop off your washed containers at your local drop-off site (see here for locations by state), or you can mail them here:

Preserve Gimme 5
823 NYS Rte 13
Cortland, NY 13045

If you are mailing containers, Preserve asks you to make sure to include your return address so they can thank you…I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds good! 😉  I’ll send in my containers and let you know what happens!

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Vegan FAIL.

As I mentioned yesterday, today was Katy and Michelle’s Vegan 4 A Day challenge, and I decided I was up for the challenge.

I was a successful vegan for about 18 hours.  Whoops.

When the clock struck midnight last night, I developed an insatiable craving for a giant bacon cheeseburger.  And an omelet.  And coffee with skim milk.  Basically, I wanted absolutely everything I couldn’t have because I was going vegan for the day.  It was more than a little frustrating.  I wound up having a great vegan breakfast (pics to come later) — old-fashioned oats cooked in water with some brown sugar — and started the day feeling good, but by lunchtime I was hungry and a little bit angry.

As someone with plenty of experience dieting, I know that one of the ways to guarantee weight loss failure is to eliminate certain foods from your diet.  Especially foods that you love.  For me, deprivation always leads to intense cravings (which are FAR worse than any normal craving you had for the food when you were “allowed” to eat it!), then a binge, then guilt, then deprivation again.  It’s an endless negative feedback loop.

On the other hand, I think it is beneficial to not bring certain foods into your home that you know you will likely binge on, so long as you still give yourself permission to have the food sometimes.  For me, cookies are a HUGE trigger food for a binge, so I do my best not to buy any when I’m at the grocery store.  I’ll happily have a cookie or two for dessert at a restaurant or a party, though, and I will do my best to savor it, not hoover it down — everything in moderation.

So, anyway, back to vegan for a day.  I was pretty frustrated after lunch; not only was my meal not that tasty or filling, but I really, really wanted something non-vegan to eat, and no amount of snacking on fruits or veggies was going to cut it.  It was totally the diet deprivation frustration talking, but I couldn’t hear anything else.

On my walk home I needed to stop at the grocery store for a few things, and had an epic internal battle on the 5-block walk there (note: non-italic Kara is the voice of reason and yes, I do talk to myself a lot — I’m an only child):

Man, I really want some meat for dinner.  Actually, I want a giant plate of ribs and sweet potato fries and ice cream and all sorts of goodness.  Ooh — there’s the pizza place!  Now I want pizza!

But Kara, is your self-control really that terrible that you can’t avoid animal products for 24 hours?  Come on!  Also, you know you want to binge just because you feel deprived.

Well, that’s true, but ribs and fries and ice cream are awesome!

Sure, but do you need them all at once?  Is there anything that would satisfy your cravings without going totally overboard?

Well, maybe, but shouldn’t I really go whole hog (ooh, good pun!) if I decide to abandon the Vegan 4 A Day challenge?

Why?  Why not just have what you want for dinner, vegan-friendly or not?  Not finishing the challenge doesn’t make you a failure.

Hmmm…

I wound up getting a rotisserie chicken — a Free Bird, which looks pretty good, ethical eating-wise — and some peanut butter Lindt truffles at the supermarket, among a few other things.  All in all, not the best trip and not the worst.  More on my non-vegan dinner later, once I actually make it!

I’m pretty sure that the vegan lifestyle isn’t for me, but I might give it the old college try some other time.  I think my best strategy for going temporarily vegan will be to remove things from my diet gradually; start out going vegetarian for a few days, then phase out cheese, eggs, milk and other animal products over the course of a few days.  I think the gradual approach will leave me feeling less deprived and less like I’m on a diet.

Going vegan cold turkey (or “cold tofurkey”, as it were) did not work out as well as I hoped, but I’m happy I gave it a try.  I’m actually extra-motivated to try something drastic: going vegetarian for Thanksgiving Day!  Think I can do it? 🙂

Reading Rainbow and hodgepodge.

Good evening!  Hope everyone had a lovely day.  My stomach was acting funny again today, but I sucked it up and actually went to the gym after work, which felt really good.  I ran 3.16 miles in 36 minutes — not bad for Captain Slowpoke! 🙂

Breakfast was a 7-grain bagel with egg whites and a slice of cheese.  I didn’t take a picture of it, but here’s what it looked like when I had it last week:

Mmmmm!  The bagel was perfectly fresh and doughy, and the protein from the egg white and cheese kept me full all morning.  I don’t think I could ever live outside of New York; I’d miss the bagels (and pizza, and delis) too much!

Lunch was another great meal: a small soup and veggie-tastic salad from Hale and Hearty.  Their soup of the month happens to be my favorite, cream of tomato with chicken and orzo:

Look at how thick that soup is!!  And, surprisingly, the nutritionals aren’t too bad for a cream-based soup: 230 calories, 12g fat and 3g fiber for an 8oz. serving.  The soup and salad filled me up really well for the rest of the day.

My salad had all the old favorites: broccoli, tomato, red onion, roasted red pepper, cucumbers, carrots and cheese:

I think the red pepper might be the thing causing my tummy issues; I LOVE peppers, but apparently they don’t love me back so much.  Anyone else have a similar experience?

I snacked on a pineapple cup while I was still at work, and ate half of an iced gingerbread Clif bar (one of the seasonal flavors) on my walk to the gym — man, that was good!  I was inspired by Monica’s midday post and picked one up at the health food store when I got some ingredients for Vegan 4 A Day tomorrow…but more on that later! 🙂

After my aforementioned run, I walked home from the gym and surprisingly, Matt beat me home!  99 percent of the time I’m home HOURS before he walks in the door; oh, the life of a Ph.D. candidate!

We actually had a pretty domestic night at home and cooked dinner together!  We made whole wheat couscous with lamb chops and last night’s green beans and garlic:

Yum!  I had about a cup of couscous, a 3oz. chop and about 1/2 a cup of green beans.  Dinner was a little light on the veggies, but I think my veggie-heavy lunch made up for it!

Also, in the interests of ethical eating (hi, Erin!), I have to mention that the pork chops we ate were from Heritage Acres.  Heritage Acres meat is from small family farms where the animals are raised humanely, eat a natural grain diet and are antibiotic-free.  Yay for avoiding the factory farming system!

I had the other half of my iced gingerbread Clif bar while catching up on blogs.  I’m so happy I ordered a box of those bars!  I also ordered a box of the pumpkin spice seasonal bars; I’ll review those the second they come in the mail 🙂

On my way home from the gym I stopped at Barnes and Noble.  Now, I think I’ve mentioned my love of shopping before, but it goes to a whole ‘nother level when I’m at a bookstore!  My bookshelves are currently bursting at the seams, but I still can’t walk out of a B&N empty handed.  Today was no exception:

Hooray for health magazines!  I can’t wait to dive in to them during my bath tonight 🙂

Here’s a bit of Kara trivia for you: when I was growing up, the main reason I got in trouble was because I stayed up late reading!  I perfected the art of reading laying on my back, with my head under the covers and a flashlight on my shoulder.  When I was awake I couldn’t stop reading either; I’d plow through any book I could get my hands on, and as a result I was reading at a 6th grade level when I was only 6 or 7.  Any babysitter who offered to read me a book before bed would be met with a STACK of books about as tall as I was! 🙂  It makes me happy to know Matt was the same way growing up — we’re nerd soul mates!

Anyway, onto the hodgepodge!

– I saw this article in the Times’ Well Blog today, and thought I’d share: Why Exercise Makes You Less Anxious.  As someone who struggles with anxiety on a regular basis (I tend to overthink everything, stress about unnecessary things and have had a few panic attacks over the years), I thought it was a really interesting read.  It was also a great motivator on a day where I really needed to get to the gym!

– Tomorrow is Vegan 4 A Day, and I’m really excited/nervous about it.  I’ve gone vegetarian before, and I’m totally cool with that — I’m actually planning an all-veggie month sometime in the near future — but vegan is a bit of a different story.  As you can tell from my blog entries so far, I love cheese!  And eggs!  I’m going to give it the old college try, though; I even bought some vegan brown rice pasta to make for dinner tomorrow night 🙂

– I think I’m going to finally watch Food, Inc. tomorrow — Netflix sent it to me earlier this week, and I feel like a bad food blogger for not watching and reviewing it yet!

Alright, that’s all from me — have a great night!!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

…in our apartment, at least!  I fell in love with almost everything in this year’s Crate and Barrel holiday catalogue, and decided to take a trip there today after work.  A few hours later a few dollars later, I came home with two very full bags of Christmas decorating goodness! 😀

I absolutely love Christmas decorations; when I was a kid, it wasn’t really the holidays until we put up the tree and brought out all of the ornaments and decorations.  I think my favorite thing about holiday decorating is all the history associated with Christmas ornaments.  No one ever buys a complete set of ornaments that they use every year; ornaments are accumulated like memories over the course of a lifetime, and each one has its own unique story behind it.

Helping my dad decorate the tree was one of my favorite chores growing up, and over the years I got to hear the stories behind all of the ornaments in my mom and dad’s collection (aside from the ones lost in the great garbage bag debacle of the ’70s — I’m sure you can imagine what happened).  I always loved the fact that they had ornaments older than I was!

Since we can’t have a tree in our current place (fire hazard and Barkley hazard!), Matt and I don’t have much of an ornament collection yet.  Hopefully we’ll accumulate an impressive one over the next few years 🙂

Now, let’s talk food!!  Breakfast was instant Irish oatmeal with a bit of brown sugar:

I added a little bit less water to get a thicker oatmeal, but it still doesn’t have the awesome oaty consistency the Starbucks oatmeal has.  Maybe I should try making overnight oats or slow cooker oatmeal with the non-instant stuff?  What do you find has the best consistency?

My unpictured lunch was pretty boring, but tasty — an Amy’s organic mac and cheese.  Have I mentioned how much I love Amy’s?  All of their products are vegetarian and made with whole foods, aka the stuff you can recognize and pronounce!  They are also trans-fat free and Kosher.

I snacked on a bunch of fruit at work: two unpictured mandarin orange cups, an orange (my first of the fall/winter — delicious!) and some raspberries:

I think I’m getting a little better at food photography!  Maybe I just had really delicious-looking subjects 😉

Dinner was something I had been craving for a while: a Chipotle steak salad with fajita veggies, mild salsa, corn salsa and cheese.  I also got some tortilla chips on the side.  All in all, the PERFECT meal:

So darn tasty!  Even better is Chipotle’s commitment to “Food With Integrity“.  As they explain on their site:

It’s a philosophy that we can always do better in terms of the food we buy. And when we say better, we mean better in every sense of the word- better tasting, coming from better sources, better for the environment, better for the animals, and better for the farmers who raise the animals and grow the produce.

The hallmarks of Food With Integrity include things like unprocessed, seasonal, family-farmed, sustainable, nutritious, naturally raised, added hormone free, organic, and artisanal. And, since embracing this philosophy, it’s had tremendous impact on how we run our restaurants and our business. It’s led us to serve more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant in the country, to push for more sustainable practices in produce farming, and to work with dairy suppliers to eliminate the use of added hormones from their operations.

Now, who can’t get behind that? 😀

Silly confession

So, that pumpkin bread I made yesterday.  I STILL haven’t touched it.  24 hours later!  The problem: I’m terrified that if I try it, I’ll love it, and then I won’t stop eating it until it’s all gone.  Stupid, I know, but it comes with the territory if you have a history of overeating.  That’s why I didn’t open my jar of White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter (which is even more wonderful than it sounds, if you can believe it) for weeks after I bought it!  It was gone the day after I finally took off the lid… :-/

I try not to deprive myself of things I truly love — that tends to trigger a binge more than anything else — but the fact of the matter is I’m still working on my self-control when it comes to certain foods.  So, for now, I don’t buy White Chocolate Wonderful, and the pumpkin loaf remains intact.

Now, to dinner! I snacked on my pomegranate arils with a smidge of sugar while waiting for the husband to come home.  I still haven’t decided if I like pomegranate or not; the arils seemed overly tart to me (and I like tart!), even with some sugar.  Maybe I just got a bad fruit?  How can you tell which pomegranates are ripe?

The husband was kind enough to make ground beef tacos, and they were delish!

IMG_0750

…not so photogenic, however.  Mine had medium salsa and a smidge of cheese on whole grain tortillas (I think they had 5g of fiber each?).  Good work, sweetie!

FYI, the ground beef we used was Organic Prairie.  We’re doing our best to eat ethically these days (hi, Erin!) and really pay attention to the source of our food and the way it was grown/raised, with a focus on local, seasonal produce and humanely raised meat.  Not only is our conscience clearer as a result, but there’s a marked increase in quality without much of a change in price.

Alright, that’s all from me for now.  Good night, and happy Friday!!