Archive for August, 2009

A subsitute for fake maple syrup

August 26th, 2009 No comments

I love pancakes and waffles. In the past I've drenched them in "Maple Syrup", meaning the fake maple syrup like "Log Cabin" or "Aunt Jemima", not real pure maple syrup.

Since I've been trying to eat healthier I don't eat the fake syrups anymore, they are nothing more than high fructose corn syrup, which it is becoming more evident that it plays a large part in the U.S. obesity crisis.

I've used real maple syrup and enjoy it's flavor, but I recently found another substitute that I like better: Agave Nectar. You can find it at Wal-Mart in the foreign foods area.

It's very sweet and a little goes a long way. I find myself using less of it than I would real maple syrup and I really like the flavor. It's fairly thin and absorbs easily into the waffles or pancakes.

Agave Nectar also has a low glycemic index, meaning that the sugar is not absorbed as quickly into your bloodstream. That in turn means it's less likely to cause an insulin spike.

Let me know if you enjoy this healthy alternative!

How to insert HTML with images into an Outlook 2007 email

August 25th, 2009 2 comments

I recently needed to take an HTML file that had an image and create an email with it. Since I use Outlook 2007 for work and this was a work email, I needed to be able to send it using Outlook. It seems funny to me that M$ would not make this stupid easy, but unless I'm missing something, you have to hack the HTML in.

Simply create your HTML file that you want to use. Now drag the file from explorer/desktop/wherever into your inbox. This will create a new email with your HTML as the content, but the images will be X'd out.

Now click on each X where an image should be and then right click and choose "Change Picture". Select the image from the hard drive that it is supposed to be. Now your email should be ready to send.

How to make a creamy smooth smoothie

August 8th, 2009 4 comments

I love smoothies. I first fell in love with the Smoothie King and Jamba Juice smoothies, but I couldn't justify paying $4 for a smoothie that had way too many empty calories, so I decided to start making my own healthier and cheaper smoothies.

My first smoothie recipe

The first smoothie recipes I tried all used ice as the thickening agent, but I felt that this created a watered down smoothie. I began using frozen fruit instead of fresh and that would thicken up the smoothie. That was a good first step.

To enhance the flavor of my smoothies I started adding a little bit of pineapple or orange juice. The acidity of the juice helped to bring out the flavors in whatever fruit I was using. So I stuck with the following recipe for awhile:

1 cup milk
1 cup frozen fruit
1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice

Depending on the fruit and type of milk you use, this smoothie is anywhere from 200-300 calories, much better than many of the store bought smoothies!

The discovery of silky and creamy smoothies

I ran out of orange juice one day and was searching for a substitute. I ran across the orange flavored Metamucil in the pantry and thought "Why not?". I don't know why Metamucil has such a negative reputation, it actually tastes pretty good and soluble fiber is really good for you.

Now anyone that has drank Metamucil knows that it will thicken quickly in water, so you need to drink it fast. I wasn't even thinking about that when I put a tablespoon in my smoothie, but what it did for the smoothie was amazing.

It not only provided the citrus I wanted in the smoothie, it also acted as a thickening agent and gave the smoothie a silky, creamy texture that was awesome! Some of you may think I'm crazy, but adding Metamucil (or offbrand, it's just Psyllium Husk) is the best thing you can do for your smoothie.

So now I simply replace the orange juice in my original recipe with a tablespoon of Metamucil and voila, a perfectly creamy smoothie!

Also, don't forget to get a good blender. I bought the Oster Professional Series Blender and it works great.

If you enjoy this recipe or have suggestions, please let me know!

Categories: Natural Health Tags: , ,

How to get rid of acid reflux without medications

August 5th, 2009 2 comments

I've had acid reflux (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, GERD) since my college days.  I can only assume that 3 years of weekend alcohol binges helped to create the issue, but I'm genetically predisposed to having stomach issues because my father has battled reflux and ulcers throughout his life.

In this post I will outline the few strategies I've used to become almost completely free of acid reflux:

  1. Quit taking medications for acid reflux
  2. Use chewing gum for temporary relief
  3. Eat smaller meals
  4. Eat more fiber

Low Acid

As I've gotten older (I'm 32 right now) I've tried to take less medicine and be more cognizant of how I treat my body.  After several years of chewing through Pepcid Complete's, I decided to find a better way.  I talked to a friend of mine and he suggested that I could have "Low Acid" and that Pepcid and other medication would simply exacerbate the issue.

I did some research and found that about a third of people who get reflux have "Low Acid".  What this means is that there is not enough acid in the stomach to digest the food and the food begins to putrify and cause reflux.  Too be honest, I'm not sure if I had "Low Acid" or not, but the revelation that such a thing existed pushed me to try and kick my Pepcid habit.

(UPDATE: I don't believe I had low acid. My family has a history of hyper-acidity and I believe that is the problem.)

Kick the antacid habit!

I went cold turkey and the first few days were rough.  I would try to eat small meals and if I started getting reflux I would drink a little water or eat a light snack.  I needed a better solution and that's when I had a revelation, chewing gum!  I don't chew a lot of gum, or at least I did not at that time, but I did recall that when I did chew gum it seemed to alleviate the acid reflux.

I did some research and actually found a research paper that studied the effects of chewing gum on acid reflux.  The findings were that chewing gum does reduce the symptoms of acid reflux.  Apparently your saliva has bicarbonate in it which neutralizes the acid in your esophagus.  This is your body's natural way of protecting your esophagus.  By chewing gum we greatly increase the amount of saliva going into the esophagus, which gives temporary relief from the reflux.

Smaller meals equals less reflux

I already knew that a sensible diet would help stop acid reflux, so I began eating smaller meals. Even though I was still eating out quite a bit, I simply did not eat as much, and this was a big help in limiting reflux.

Fiber in your diet

The change in my diet that really got rid of reflux for good was adding fiber. I was simply trying to eat better and began noticing that on days when I ate fruits and veggies (apples, pears, salads), my acid reflux did not appear at all. In fact, eating an apple will give you almost immediate relief from reflux and give you prolonged relief.

What are you waiting for?

I hate reflux. It dogged me for years and I feel so much better now that it is a thing of the past. Don't get me wrong, if I go out on a two day bender and eat terribly, I'm going to get reflux. But in my day to day life it is mostly gone and I can still enjoy eating out and a couple of beers and not worry about it.

As always, if you have thoughts or comments, I'd love to hear them.

Categories: Natural Health Tags: ,

P90X Portion Tracking Worksheet

August 2nd, 2009 No comments

After about a week of trying the P90X Meal Plan approach, Kim and I decided that the portion approach would definitely be better.  The meals laid out in the meal plan are often too elaborate and use some ingredients that we didn't really care for.  On top of that we found ourselves cooking more than exercising, which is definitely not the point of the program.

We switched over to the portion plan and everything is running much smoother.  One thing we did do is create a worksheet that allows us to track portions for each day.  We also made it so you can track calories as well.  The one for download below is based on phase 1, Level 2.  You can easily modify for your phase and level.

Download Portion Tracking Worksheet (Phase 1, Level 2)

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