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Friday, January 1, 2016

A Freelancing Foodie's Tips

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a medical authority, just a layperson interested in bolstering my health by holistic methods, someone who believes that good fats don't make you fat. Too much sugar (in its various forms) makes you fat. That it's not about calories. It's about good carbs, eating clean.

I almost entitled this post Foodie Friday. I'm not sure I have that much new to say on a weekly basis. I'll have to see how this works out. This year I'm working fewer hours (no more >230-hour months for me!) for better pay (after 2.5 years at the same rate, now more in line with industry standards for someone like me with 8.5 years' experience) and plan to have more blogging time. More "me" time too for my own writing. In other words, I get to do all that I love being: an author, a blogger, a copy editor. Of course I also love reading good books and watching great movies. More of that too please!

As a freelancer, my income is not a steady paycheck of a set repetitive amount coming like clockwork on the first and the fifteenth (or any two other random days of the month), as I am paid per project. So the fluctuating earnings make for lean and fat times monetarily. I would love to eat clean, only organic, but that ain't happening yet. So what to do in the interim?

First, if not a vegetarian, buy whole meats, like whole hams, whole beef or pork roasts, whole chickens, briskets, etc. Yes, the animals will probably still have been fed grain and GMO corn instead of grass and pumped up on chemical-based hormones, but at least you can avoid the added hormones and fillers. I look for meats at $0.89/lb. One exception is seafood, which I love but costs more per pound, yet you'd be amazed how some canned seafood is wild caught, which is the best kind.

Yesterday I bought a six-pound chicken that, with the veggies, wouldn't allow the lid on my slow cooker to seat properly. I used foil instead, until the potatoes, onions and carrots cooked down. Then I exchanged it for my lid. (Be sure to check the internal temp of your chicken and other meats.) This will be two meals for two as is, roast chicken and veggies. After that, it can be chicken spaghetti (to use up the dark meat, not my favorite), chicken and dressing, tortilla soup, quesadillas, even chicken salad sandwiches. I expect to get about ten to twelve individual servings from this bird.

And I buy most of my food at Aldi's, which is like a Sam's Club but without the annual fees. Love my Aldi's, which I find is even cheaper than my local Walmart (but I still shop there for various things). Also my Sprouts store is great and, if you watch the weekly sales, sometimes rivals Aldi's low prices.

Whether flush or in need, I still like to have a veggie-only meal at least once a week, usually a trio of cooked ones in the winter. And when summer returns, I love a good meatless taco salad, marinated cukes and onions, marinated three-bean salad, Caesar salads, wilted lettuce, even a meal of coleslaw, etc.

Second, certain foods show up on various "lists," whether you need more calcium in your diet or are fighting a family trait for Alzheimer's or want to prevent the three major diseases of cancer, heart attacks/strokes, diabetes. Some of these wondrous foods that come to mind are onions, garlic, avocados, coconut and olive oils, dark leafy greens (fresh or sauteed), berries, ginger, turmeric, honey, green tea, etc. Even on a restricted budget, I try to incorporate a handful of these each day.

One example would be skillet-frying onions in olive oil for breakfast instead of hash browns. Add some garlic at the end, then cook your scrambled eggs in the same skillet. Plate all these hot elements on top of fresh spinach to wilt it, with a side of sliced tomato and avocado, and a small serving of berries and ginger-flavored green tea with honey. Perfect. I've used everything but the turmeric listed above, and this is only breakfast. Not a bad start to a day. Granted, some days it's only eggs or buttered noodles around here and not just for one meal that day.

Third, sugar is fed to cancer cells in the lab to get them growing. Sugar has been proven to be addicting, even more so than cocaine (per Dr. Mark Hyman). So I'm trying to swap whole fruits for baked goodies. But, when I do have brownies, I make them at home, so at least I know what went into them (like no MSG, no HFCS, no GMO corn oil, etc.). Besides, 70% chocolate is good for us. Still do not go overboard on fruits as even they can affect diabetes (see Suzanne Somers's remarks regarding her hubby eating like ten pieces of fruit a day and having to cut way back).

Besides cutting down on eating sugar, watch out for drinking it. I love Dr. Pepper (I live in Texas after all), those flavored creams for my coffee, sweet tea (I'm from the Deep South), lemonade, etc. Thankfully I don't like the taste of alcohol, as it converts to sugar too from what I understand. But sugar is also hidden in most of our condiments.  I don't use ketchup, but check your label on your store-bought version. I'd suggest you make your own.

I even (unknowingly) bought salt with sugar in it. Come on! I have to check the ingredients list for SALT? When I complained to the store, they directed me to the manufacturer, which a representative said the sugar was "just corn" (GMO variety, I'd bet) and was a preservative. My salt, which is already a preservative, needs a sugar preservative? I wonder if these people ever stop to really listen to what they've been groomed to say. If I want sugar, I'll buy it and hope it is not tainted with whatever. I've been in a sugar cane field and have tasted that wonderful delight, standing on Louisiana soil in the sunlight, surrounded by stalks taller than me. What an experience. Would love to taste that pure sugar again.

I don't understand why we continue to have corn subsidies when there seems to be so much corn that it is mostly made into animal feed and HFCS, which is not healthy for man or beast from what I'm reading. I do indulge in my craving for "fresh" corn on the cob with butter and salt, but I limit that "treat" to about once a year. Until I can buy organic ears of corn, it's the best I can do to just avoid these problematic foods.

Fourth, eat food without an ingredients label (meat, veggies, fruits), found on the perimeter of your local grocery store. Old news but still valid good news. Also use a vinegar wash/soak to clean the outside of your produce/fruits. You can't wash/soak away what the plant absorbed through tainted soil, but you can at least reduce the toxins on the outside.

Fifth, watch those "white" carbs, anything made with white flours, white sugars, white potatoes, white rice, etc. I will confess that I resort to white bread, white rice, white potatoes, bagels, tortillas when I'm in my "starving artist" phases. You do what you gotta do.

Sixth, don't feel guilty about the detours you take. As mentioned above, I believe in the mind-body connection, where the holistic healing of one influences the other. So don't let worry taint your health too. Somewhere I read that the Bible links all the (thirty-nine?) diseases to various emotions. Interesting, right? I'll have to research that further and see if I can't share some studies on that with you here.

Seventh is think about substitutions. When I crave something salty, instead of chips (which I try not to buy), I eat mixed nuts or a sliced tomato (or avocado) with a sprinkle of sea salt or some black or green olives. If I want something sweet, I think about what fruit I have in the house and if it would satisfy my desire. Maybe I can get away with ginger tea sweetened with some honey and/or Stevia. Perhaps even a teaspoon of almond butter topped with honey will sate my taste buds.

So start your own substitutions list. I know when I fall off the wagon, invariably immediately thereafter I think of the better substitute I should have eaten. So I'm starting my own reminder list as well.

Eighth is to not eat three hours before bed. I find that hard to implement as I work all hours, all days (which is the nature of the freelancing career), so don't have a set bedtime. It's easier for me to do as Tim Ferriss states: eat two meals a day, although I'm not rigid on this.

Ninth, eat only when truly hungry. Drink some plain water first. Wait fifteen minutes. Try a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in more water. This helps with indigestion and heartburn. If still hungry, eat something but make wise choices.

That's it for now. Here's to a healthier life in 2016.

"If your vocation isn’t a vacation, then quit, leap, change careers."

Denise Barker, Author, Blogger, Copy Editor
Books that Build Character(s)

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. Ralph Waldo Emerson
When you give someone a book, you don’t give him just paper, ink, and glue.  You give him the possibility of a whole new life. Christopher Morley
The best inheritance you can leave your kids is an example of how to live a full and meaningful life. Dan Zadra

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