Tag Archives: food

My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Travel

Flight

Flying long distances is never all that fun.  Our trip to Malmo Sweden took us to Reykjavik Iceland on the first leg, and then to Copenhagen Denmark on the last leg.  Iceland seems like a strange stopover location, but we flew on IcelandAir, so that’s their hub.

The photo above is Orlando at sunset right after we took off on our trip.  It was an overnight flight, which means that everyone is supposed to sleep during the flight.  Easier said than done for some people.

We were dead tired when we landed in Iceland.  Our layover was supposed to be an hour and a half.  But even before our plane left Orlando, we were told that our Iceland to Denmark flight was delayed several hours.  When we got to Iceland we were told that storms the previous day caused a backup of an entire’s day worth of flights and so our flight would get delayed 8 or 9 hours.

Here is what the radar looked like an hour after we landed in Reykjavik Iceland.  The storm from the previous day was still on the radar moving to the east.

We inquired about what there was to do in Reykjavik Iceland, and the only activity that was presented to us was a popular local hot spring called Blue Lagoon.  It looks pretty neat and really beautiful, but we didn’t really feel like doing a hot spring with all our luggage and without swim suits.

So after taking long naps on chairs in a quiet corner of the Iceland airport, we made ourselves comfortable for the day.  We found some nice lounge chairs that we could stretch out in and chill.  I watched a movie on my iPhone.

And my wife did some “teacher homework”.  Grading papers or filling out teacher paperwork or something of that nature.

Eventually we got on a plane for Copenhagen Denmark and arrived there close to 10pm local time rather than our planned noon arrival time.

Language

In Denmark they speak Danish and in Sweden they speak Swedish.  And I know nothing about either of these languages.  Luckily, most locals also speak fluent English.  Once they realize that you’re not from around there.  And luckily most signage that we encountered had English subtitles.

But there were a few times that I needed a quick real-time translator.  Google Translate mobile app to the rescue!  It’s an awesome app!  It uses augmented reality to show you the translated text over the top of the actual text using your phone’s live camera feed.

Here is a photo of a sign in Danish that was on the wall in the Copenhagen airport.

And here is a screen grab of what that sign looked like in the Google Translate mobile app.  It overlays the translated text over the original text in a similar font and color in order to replace the text in real time within your live camera feed.  It’s really cool.  Not perfect, but super cool!

Train

To get from Copenhagen Airport to Malmo Sweden, we had to buy a train ticket inside the airport and then wait for the train.   The signs were a little confusing because we needed to go to the Malmo Central train station, but the trains mostly showed their final destination.  So we nearly missed our train because Malmo was in very small print on the sign.  We noticed it just in time, though.  Thankfully.  It was cold waiting for the train, and I didn’t want to sit there for another 20 minutes waiting for the next train!

The train from Copenhagen to Malmo goes both over and under the strait thanks to the awesome Øresund Bridge.  It’s a pretty awesome trip, although we couldn’t see anything when we arrived since it was quite late in the evening.

Hotel

It was midnight before we actually got settled into our hotel.  Our hotel (Comfort Hotel) in Malmo Sweden was an interesting combination of classic 19th-century architecture and modern and trendy decor.  It was decorated with a rock and roll vibe.  Check out the stacks of amplifiers and speakers in the lobby!  (This photo was NOT taken at midnight when we arrived after our long trip to Malmo!)

I didn’t get a picture of it, but our room had a giant mural of lips singing into a giant microphone.  It covered one entire wall!  Very rock and roll!

Although I didn’t end up using it during our stay, the gym in the hotel was pretty awesome!

The equipment all looked brand new and the gym even had a boxing ring!

Our flights back home at the end of our stay were fairly uneventful.  This is a photo of Copenhagen Denmark right after we took off.

And this photo is also of Copenhagen a couple minutes later.

One thing that I did note on the flight back.  When we took off from Iceland on our second and final leg, the sun was just going down.  And since we were flying west for about the first half of that flight, it actually took about 3 or 4 hours for the sun to actually go down!  Pretty cool!

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Food

Swedish Fare

Last week while speaking at the Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden, my wife and I got to experience some pretty great food there in Malmo and also in nearby Copenhagen Denmark.  This post is all about the food we ate while we were in the area.

Our first day there, we found a small pub in Malmo Sweden near our hotel that was highly rated on Yelp.  It’s called Restaurang Två Krögare.  We both ordered the veal meatballs with whisky cream sauce, pickled cucumbers, lingonberries, and mashed potatoes.

The meatballs and sauce were excellent.  It didn’t look like a lot of food there on the plate, but it was quite filling.  The mashed potatoes were just like American mashed potatoes.

The lingonberries were new to us.  Turns out that they showed up a lot while we were in Sweden.  They are naturally a little tart, so some places made sure to sweeten them up.  While other places left them a bit tart.  Restaurang Två Krögare left them a little too tart for my tastes.

That evening, we attended a state dinner with the Mayor of Malmo and his wife along with the rest of the conference speakers.  It was a very fancy dinner held in Malmo’s Old City Hall building.  The first course was Jerusalem artichoke soup with apple and bacon.

We had never heard of Jerusalem Artichoke, but they are not from Jerusalem and they are not artichokes.  Worst name ever.  It is actually a root vegetable in the sunflower family.  The Swedes and Danes are very fond of their root vegetables!  Root vegetables were just about always a part of each meal.

Anyways, the soup was quite good.

The main course was filet of veal (or veal steak) with pepper sauce and root vegetable cake.  Did I mention how they like their root vegetables over there?

The filet of veal was melt-in-your-mouth wonderful!  The pepper sauce was quite mild.  I could barely even taste the pepper at all, which was fine by me.  The root vegetable cake was mostly made from potatoes with pieces of carrot and likely other rooty stuff in there.  It tasted mostly like a baked potato, but in cake form.

The dessert course was nice and light.  It was frozen cherry parfait with chocolate creme.  It had no crust, which I really liked.  It wasn’t heavy or too sweet.  It was the perfect way to finish off this wonderful meal.

I noticed that everything we had eaten so far in Sweden had been pretty mild.  Maybe we over do it with our spices here in America?

Hotel and Conference Food

The hotel we stayed at was located directly across the street from the conference that I was attending and speaking at.  Pretty convenient.  Also, the hotel had a pretty great breakfast buffet each morning that was included in the room cost.  The photo below shows my standard breakfast that I ate each morning.

I had apple juice and orange juice to drink.  They also had milk, but I was speaking so I avoided the milk.  I had scrambled eggs and bacon and little sausages for my main protein.  They also had hard boiled eggs.  The bacon was pretty soggy, which is not for everyone.  I didn’t have a problem with it, though.  I’m not super picky about my bacon.  We think they might have baked the bacon rather than pan fried it.  The scrambled eggs were also pretty soggy.  Almost like they were undercooked.  I actually liked it though.  They had 3 different yogurts to choose from and several fruit toppings. They also had dry cereals.

And then they had quite a selection of fresh breads, processed meats and cheese.  At first, I didn’t know what to do with all the processed meats at the breakfast bar.  Then I noticed quite a line of customers spreading butter on their bread and then piling it high with meats and cheeses and tomatoes and raw peppers and such.  Like an open faced lunch sandwich in America.  So the next day I tried it and it was really nice.  Even for breakfast.

So right next to the hard boiled eggs was this strange tube of something or another attached to a handy roller/dispenser apparatus.  Curiosity go the better of me, so I put just a small squirt on my plate and I tasted it.

Eww.

I did not like it.  To me it tasted like cat food out of a can.

No, I’ve never actually eaten cat food, but I know what it smells like.  And to me, this Kalles paste tastes like that smells.

Turns out it is caviar for the masses.  Kalles kaviar is very very popular in Sweden.  It’s very local.  From the west coast of Sweden.  It’s mostly salted Atlantic cod fish eggs.  It might be an acquired taste.

The lunch fare that was served at the software developer conference was quite good.  Pretty impressive as they were catering to nearly 1,200 hungry software geeks!  Here is a photo of one day’s lunch.  It was so good!  The beef was so tender and the brown sauce was so tangy!  Yum!

Here was another day’s lunch plate.  This was roasted chicken and brown rice.  The yellow stuff was a cold tropical fruit salad.  I think they were going for a Caribbean lunch that day.  Notice that they served us on these disposable wooden plates.  These were not just thick heavy duty paper plates.  They were actually made out of wood!  Crazy.

This photo gives you an idea of the feeding frenzy that took place during lunch at the conference.  They set up 3 of 4 of these food tables in the middle of the lobby area and we tried to go through the lines as orderly as possible.  This particular day was hamburger day.  An American theme.

The burger was very good.  Especially for a mass feeding like that.  I liked the variety of topping choices.  I especially liked the picked red onions.  And also the crunchy fried onions.  Yum!

Restaurants

One night we roamed around and stumbled across a small restaurant called Victors on the little square in Malmo.  Inside, the restaurant looked a little bit like a diner due to it’s modern and minimalist decor.  But the menu looked sort of fancy so we were excited to try some of the food.

I got the Swedish classic, Wallenbergare.  That’s breaded (ground) veal steak with mashed potatoes, peas, lingonberries and melted butter.  The Swedes do love their veal!

The ground veal steak was fine.  I wasn’t actually prepared for it to be ground meat, like a burger.  So I was surprised when I cut into it and it wasn’t actually a steak.  But it was fine.  These lingonberries were sweeter than the ones I had eaten a few days earlier, which was nice.  I’m not a big fan of peas, so I only tasted them.  They tasted just like I remember peas tasting.    🙂

Sam got the grilled Swedish sirloin steak with béarnaise sauce, root vegetables (carrots, we suspect), and french fries.

Now this was a really yummy steak!  I don’t know what was in the light brown sauce that was on top of the steak, but it was delicious!  We tried both the steak and the fries dipped into the béarnaise sauce, but the sauce was so mild that it didn’t really add anything.

I forgot to take a photo, but I got an organic ice cream dessert with a bit of warm fruit topping.  The ice cream was really good.  Way better than the stuff I’m used to eating.  And the portion was just right.  Three very small scoops.  In America they would have drowned the ice cream with the fruit topping.  But this was just the right amount.  A very light touch.

On another day we had lunch at an unassuming little restaurant called Mrs Brown.  It was so good!  This was pork loin with pickled mushrooms over mashed potatoes.

I’d never heard of pickled mushrooms before!  And I’m a huge mushroom fan!  They were so yummy!  Why are we not putting picked mushrooms in all our dishes?!?!?

The pork, the sauce, the mushrooms, the mashed potatoes!  Perfection!  It looks like a small portion by the photo, but we were too full to get any dessert afterwards!  A very satisfying meal, to be sure!

Fast Food

Speaking of dessert.  This photo was taken at a small bakery shopfront inside Malmo’s central train station.  Pretty nice, huh?  We didn’t actually try any of this stuff but it all looks too fancy to eat!  🙂

In Copenhagen, we stumbled across a food truck mall with lots of great choices of interesting and unique foods to try.  The below burger is actually ostrich meat with shredded cheese and smoked bacon.  It was really good.

This one is pulled duck.  Oh my!  It was really really yummy!  It gave me just a hint of Thanksgiving turkey, but it was so much more than that.  It wasn’t dry at all and it had some really great spices in there.  A week after eating this, my mouth is actually watering right now as I type this, just thinking about it.  So good.

There were some great dessert options there, but we went with these beautiful looking cheesecakes!

The slices were huge!  And they were served in these adorable little disposable wooden boats.

The weird part was eating them with a wooden spork.  Have you ever eaten with wooden tableware?  It’s not exactly easy.  Your tongue and lips actually stick to it.  And so does the food.  Also, there’s a sense that you might get a splinter.  Plus, it tastes like wood!  So I’d rather not eat with wooden tableware again if I can help it.

Misc

In Copenhagen we found a luxury chocolate shop called Hotel Chocolat.  It had an immense selection of unique and interesting chocolate goods.  It took us a while to find just the right items with so much selection to choose from.  But we did it.

In the above photo, you can see lots of different varieties of hand-made chocolate bars, so to speak.  This place is serious about their chocolate.  They sell 6 different levels of milk chocolate and 10 different levels of dark chocolate!  Yes, 10 different dark chocolates!  And several of those 10 are actually 100% dark chocolate made from cocoa beans from different parts of the world!

Now I actually like dark chocolate.  But I don’t know anything about the percentage of dark chocolate in my common everyday candy bars.  So I was intrigued by this shop’s varieties of 100% dark chocolates.  I bought one of the many 100% dark chocolates just for the experience.

Oh.

My.

Goodness.

It was terrible.  I hated it.  I do NOT like 100% dark chocolate.

Now I know.

It turns out that Hotel Chocolat is actually a British company.  We thought we were experiencing some local Scandinavian chocolate flair.  But we weren’t.  Oh well.

One night we were out late and needed to eat something before heading back to the hotel.  One of the squares in Malmo had this little fast food joint sticking out like a sore thumb.  Shawarma King Turkish fare.  I googled for a website and couldn’t find one.  It looks a lot like a middle eastern Burger King, but I think it may be a one-off joint.

The food was amazing, though.  It didn’t taste like fast food at all.  I ordered the shawarma rulle or wrap.  There were like 6 sauces to choose from and I didn’t know which was the most normal or standard, so I got the hot one.  Wow, it was so spicy and so good!

While we were shopping in a local grocery store, the selection of root vegetables stood out to me since this country loves them so much.  So I took a photo of them in the store cooler.  You’re welcome!

This photo is pretty random.  I just thought the Fanta logo and the bottle shape was unique and interesting.  For all I know, this funny bottle is also in America, though.

Notice the price tag near the 1.5 liter Coke.  30 Swedish Krona is about $3.50.  That’s 2 or 3 times what it would cost in America.  Most stuff in Sweden and Denmark seemed pretty expensive compared to America.

This water bottle was given out on the plane, which was IcelandAir.  I just thought it was cool.  The bottle shape looked like a glacier.  And the water inside came from an Iceland spring, which was pretty awesome.  It tasted pretty great too.

This is my last photo.  And I want to apologize in advance.  This is supposed to be a family website.  But this shocking and funny bubble gum was in the checkout line at the Copenhagen airport.  I totally did a double take.  Maybe even a triple take!  Those crazy Europeans!

Thanks for sticking through this long and detailed post about mostly nothing!  Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post to talk about the trip in general and our travel experience to and from Sweden.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

My Trip to Krakow, Poland: The Food

I just returned from a trip to Krakow, Poland last week where I was speaking at a software developer conference.  I posted details of that experience here.  I also posted details about my sightseeing experiences here.  This post, however, is dedicated to all the wonderful food that I ate while I was there.  The lighting was not great in most of these restaurants, so I will apologize in advance for the quality of these photos.

The food during the 2 conference days was catered and it was all very good, but I didn’t take notes nor take any photos of those particular meals.

The conference organizers took all the speakers out to dinner the evening before the conference started.  They took us to a bistro and restaurant called Kogel Mogel which was just a couple of short blocks from the central town square.

01-kogel_mogel

We stared with a wonderful sour rye soup (Zurek or zur) with mushrooms.  It also had some sausage in it and also some hard boiled egg.  I apologize for not getting a photo of it.  It was super tasty.  Different from anything I’ve ever had before.  It’s made with fermented or soured grains.  I liked it a lot.

Our main course was a chicken schnitzel with a mushroom sauce and mild peppercorns.  A schnitzel is a meat that’s thinned by pounding and is then coated with flour, egg, and bread crumbs and then fried.  We also had potato dumplings (kluski slaskie) which were pretty good.  Especially when dipped in the mushroom sauce from the chicken.

02-chicken_and_potato_dumplings

For dessert we had a creme brulee, which was to die for.  A week later, my mouth still waters when I think about it.

03-creme_brulee

The next morning, which was the first morning of the conference, I ate breakfast down in the hotel lobby.  I stayed at the Novotel Krakow Centrum hotel, which was just off the Vistula river, across from Wawel Castle.  It’s a very nice and modern hotel.  The breakfast buffet was quite impressive and it was included in the cost of the room.  I didn’t eat too much, though because I don’t eat heavy breakfasts and I didn’t want to be weighed down at the conference.

06-my_first_breakfast

I should have taken a photo of the entire spread, which was quite impressive.  I did get a photo of the meats and also of the cheeses, though.

05-breakfast_meats

04-breakfast_cheeses

That evening I found a great little authentic old country restaurant, also within a couple short blocks of the central town square.  This family friendly restaurant is called Morskie Oko and it is in the style of an old Highlander’s Inn.  While I was eating, live entertainment included singing and dancing Highlanders in full costumes, plus live musicians.

07-morskie_oko

07-morskie_oko_2

The food was really incredible here.  I started with an appetizer of baked prunes wrapped in bacon fat.  Now if you like your bacon cooked well done and crispy, this dish is NOT for you.  This bacon was very thick … probably hand carved … and it was very moist and greasy.  It was so yummy, though.  I could barely even taste the prunes through all that bacon fat.  Mmmmmmmmmm.

08-baked_prunes_wrapped_in_bacon_fat

Next I ordered the sauerkraut soup which had sauerkraut and potatoes and also a small rib in it.  I love sauerkraut, so this soup was delicious!  It’s sour, but it’s a different kind of sour than the fermented rye grain soup I’d had the previous night.

09-sauerkraut_soup_with_rib_and_potato

For my main dish, I had the boar loin in red pine mushroom sauce.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  This boar meat was quite tender.  Similar to a nice steak.  It had a wild taste but not too wild.  It was amazing.  It had grill marks on it, so it was cooked, at least partially, over an open flame.  And the red pine mushroom sauce was really great.  It tasted a lot like a red wine sauce, but I’m not sure whether that taste only came from the red pine mushrooms or not, since I’ve never had those before.

10-boar_loin_in_red_pine_mushroom_sauce

The portions were not too big, so I actually had some room left for dessert.  So I ordered a walnut ice cream sundae with hot fudge, whipped cream, and roasted hazelnuts.  I hadn’t planned on eating the entire thing, but it was so good.  I couldn’t help myself!

11-walnut_ice_cream_sundae_with_hot_fudge_and_roasted_hazelnuts

And here is my breakfast on my second morning in the hotel lobby.  Meat, cheese, and a bit of scrambled eggs.  The breakfast of champions!

12-my_second_breakfast

That evening I was tired from the conference, so I just stayed in and ordered room service.  This is just an appetizer of shrimp with garlic and chilli, but it was all I needed that evening.  It was very yummy.  We had snacks all day long at the conference, so I wasn’t exactly starving at dinner time.

I also got this warm soft brownie and ice cream dessert from room service.  So warm.  So soft.  So fudgy.  It was delicious.

The next day was Saturday, and the conference organizers took us speakers out for lunch at a nice restaurant called Miod Malina, which again, was only a couple short blocks from the central town square.

This is the Bruschetta, which was very simple and very good.

And I ordered the sour rye soup again, since I loved it so much a couple days earlier.  Many restaurants, including Miod Malina, serve it in a bread bowl.

Miod Malina put a lot more meat in this sour rye soup than did Kogel Mogel, but the Kogel Mogel version was more sour (sour being good).  Both were very good in their own way.

I finally got to dig into some good old fashioned Polish pierogis, also known as dumplings.  The ones I ordered were fried meat pierogis, but the restaurant also bakes them and also has a fruit version and a potato/onion version.  These meat pierogis had 3 different meats inside.  Some had pulled pork.  Some had beef.  And some had veal, I think.  They were really awesome!

This was not my plate … it was one of the other conference speakers … but I had to take a photo of it.  I had seen several people eating these while I was in Poland and it looks really good.  It’s veal knuckle, otherwise known as veal shank.

That same evening, I had my dinner at the Wesele Restaurant, which was directly in the town square.

This time I tried the sauerkraut and mushroom fried pierogis and they were so stinking good!  I could eat 4 or 5 plates of these things!

I had ribs with plum sauce which was pretty good, although I don’t think plums are really my thing.

And I also ordered fried cabbage as a side dish.  I’d never had this before and it was mild, but it was very good.  My pee smelled like sauerkraut for the next 2 days, and I think it might have been from this particular dish.  Although, I guess it could have been from other  dishes I’d had containing sauerkraut.

My last full day in Krakow was Sunday, and I had lots of sightseeing and shopping to do, so I went straight to the central town square and ate breakfast at this little handmade doughnut shop called Krakowskie Paczki, which means Krakow Packages.  It’s a popular little shop as there was quite a line of customers.

They also sold waffles.  So I got a jelly filled doughnut and a waffle with blackberry jam.  The filling in the doughnut was different than anything I’d ever tasted and maybe it’s an acquired taste, but the doughnut itself was spectacular.  And the waffle was quite good too.  And yes, I had Coke for breakfast.  Hey, I was on vacation!   🙂

This entire day went by pretty fast since I was trying to experience the entire central town square and also buy a bunch of souvenirs, so I didn’t actually eat lunch.  And when dinner time rolled around, I wasn’t exactly starving either.  So I decided to just get an appetizer.  I went to a fancy restaurant on the square called Szara.

I had heard a lot about Beef Tartare or Steak Tartare, and I had seen lots of people eating it here in Poland, so I decided to try it.  Even though it is raw ground beef and raw egg yolk.  It was actually pretty good.  I was not a fan of the smoked herring or whatever that fish is on the plate.  But when I mixed all the other ingredients together, it was an interesting and nice little treat.  Going around the plate, there was raw chopped onion, chopped tuna, I believe, chopped pickes, butter, and the sauce tasted like a mild honey mustard.

I finished my small dinner meal with an ice cream of sorts called Pistachio Semifreddo with caramel and chocolate sauce.  It’s very light, like a frozen mousse.  A pretty fancy dish.

Well, that about covers all the awesome food I ate while in Poland! Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post detailing the trip in general along with some of my random observations about Krakow, Poland.

Thanks for your interest!

Kurt

Down 14 pounds: There might actually be something to this whole “don’t eat wheat” fad

So I lost 14 pounds in 8 weeks recently.

That’s very close to 2 pounds each week, which is a good healthy amount of weight to lose, if that’s what you’re going for.

Here is my entire year’s worth of Monday morning weigh-ins.  Click to see the full resolution image.  You can see that I went down and then up and then down again this year.  I hope to be more stable than that in 2016.  And I think I might know how.

kurts-weight-2015

The yellow highlighted section is the 8 week time period where I lost those 14 pounds.  You can see that it was very nearly a straight diagonal line for the entire 8 weeks, as opposed to a whole bunch of water weight loss at the beginning with less loss at the end.

So what was my secret for this weight loss?

Well, at least part of it was due to me not eating anything with wheat in it.  And I also tried my hardest to avoid added or processed sugar.

Here is the whole story with some excruciating details if you have some time to kill.

Scale

Not a diet

Back in September, a person that I look up to told me about his “strange” eating habits and he also told me exactly why he took up those habits.  He said that if I tried these habits the fat would just melt off me.

He was not proposing a diet.  He was proposing a different manner of eating.  No calorie counting.  No exercising.  Just five simple rules.  Five things to avoid … avoid like the plague.

At the time I was skeptical.  But not anymore.  There really is something to this.

The rules

The rules are actually pretty simple to remember … but aren’t always super simple to practice in this day and age:

  • don’t eat wheat
  • don’t eat flour
  • don’t eat rice
  • don’t eat corn
  • don’t eat sugar unless it’s naturally occurring, like in fruits

rules

Wheat and other grains

So you may have noticed the huge popularity of the gluten free movement recently.  Most of the gluten free camp believes that genetically modified wheat is basically slowly poisoning us all.  They claim that our digestive system doesn’t fully process this wheat.  They claim that it is a pro-inflammatory agent to our body’s cells.  And they attribute all manner of diseases and sicknesses to the wheat and gluten in our supposedly natural and supposedly healthy diets.  Most wheat haters also dislike barley, oats, and rye for all the same reasons.

wheat

Flour

Most flours are made from wheat, but they contain very little nutritional value … even after being enriched with vitamins and minerals.  So the people who are against wheat are even more aggressive in their hatred of flour.

flour

Rice

Although rice is not claimed to be as bad for us as wheat and the other grains, it is suggested by all manner of nutritionists to try and minimize it in your diet.  Rice … especially white rice … has very little nutritional value so filling up on it is not really going to be very good for your overall nutritional well being.

rice

Corn

Most people think corn is a vegetable, but it’s actually a grain.  And yes, grains are bad for us as I explained earlier.  The corn we eat today is highly genetically modified, just like the wheat.  And our bodies aren’t super great at processing corn either.  And everybody already knows about the high starch and sugar issue with corn.

corn

Sugar

Well, sugar has always been the enemy, so that’s a no brainer.  Naturally occurring sugar is probably not going to hurt us too much.  But the problem is that we eat the non-naturally-occurring kind of sugar.  The processed crystals that we add to almost everything.  We eat a lot of processed sugar.

And we drink a lot of it too.  If you are addicted to sugary drinks, please please please try to wean yourself off of them.  It won’t be easy.  It won’t be quick.  It’s a full blown addiction.  You will get headaches.  You will crave them.  You will go into withdrawals.  But if you drink one 12 ounce soda each day, you are increasing your risk of diabetes by about 25%.  If you drink only one soda per week, I will not nag you about it.  But if you drink several or more per week, then you are very likely causing your body harm.

Many sugar haters go as far as to say that processed sugar either causes cancer or feeds it.  Whether that turns out to be the case or not, you have to agree that naturally occurring sugar is probably better for your body than artificially created and processed versions.  Right?

sugar

No, no, no?  So what CAN I actually eat?

Basically grain is the enemy.  Well, grain and sugar.  If you strictly cut off grains and added or processed sugar items from your menu, you will lose weight.  Even without exercise.

Fat is NOT the enemy, so don’t worry about fat free or low fat foods.  Calories are not even the enemy.  There is absolutely no need to count calories.  Just eat a reasonable portion and then eat again when you get hungry again.  Don’t eat just because it’s time to eat.  Eat because you are hungry.  That’s good advise for anyone.  Not just people who are trying to lose weight.

Eat all kinds of oils and fats without worry.  Eat all manner of meats (red, poultry, pork, fish, shellfish), eggs, vegetables (fresh or frozen), leafy greens, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, beans, legumes, oils (olive, coconut, avocado), butter, almond butter, honey, mushrooms, dairy, toppings, condiments, etc.

This plan is in the same vein as the “hunter/gatherer” diets that are popular, like the Paleo Diet, but not nearly as strict.  For example, there is no restriction on dairy like in the strict Paleo Diet.

hunter

Suggestions

I get it.  It’s hard to avoid breads and chips.  Those things are everywhere!

I ate a lot of meat and cheese and mushroom omelette and scrambled egg dishes for breakfast during the 8 weeks that I was being strict and trying to lose some weight.  But fruit smoothies are also a good idea or a nice change from the eggs.  Flour-free banana pancakes are difficult to make without burning them, but they are a super tasty treat.

Here are a handful of lunch and dinner ideas.  Taco salad without the chips.  Any type of salad with meat on top.  Avocados on top of just about anything … salad, meat and cheese, etc.  Baked or grilled fish fillet with spices or blackened.  Marinated chicken breast or pork chops or steak with toppings such as mushrooms, peppers, onions, avocados, cheese, sun dried tomato, etc.  Cook any meat in wine.  Add jerk or blackened spices to any meat.  Soups.  Dips without the chips.  Zucchini with lemon juice and spices.  Polish sausage or brats with sauerkraut.  Eat any manner of sandwich wraps and soft tacos, but eat them with a knife and fork and leave the tortilla shell behind.  If you want a juicy burger, load it up with toppings and condiments and eat it with a fork and knife and leave the bun behind.

Now what?

Since I lost the weight that I wanted to lose and I’m now at what I believe to be my ideal weight, I’m adding in occasional suger and occasional wheat and other grains.  But I will try to minimize my sugar intake and my wheat intake with the hope that I will maintain this weight over the long term.

I will provide an update to this post when the jury has reached a verdict on the long term viability of this plan.

Thanks for reading this article and thanks for your interest.

Kurt

How I lost 20 pounds in 7 weeks simply by making healthy choices

Ideas From The Crowd

crowdsourcing

A few months ago I came to the realization that I was 20 pounds overweight and needed to do something about it.  I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions and got some really good ideas:

  • P90X
  • Wii Gold’s Gym
  • Hollywood Fast
  • Hollywood Cookie Diet
  • Cut out all junk food & sugar
  • Replace simple carbs with complex carbs
  • Eat right & exercise (no fad diets)
  • Cut portions in half
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners
  • Avoid processed foods

… and I also received a few not so great ideas:

  • NASA high tech fat sucking machine (Thanks, Mick)
  • Get a tapeworm (Thanks, Joe)
  • Cocaine habit (Thanks, Norm)

I thought about these options and did some online research.  I wasn’t wanting to spend a lot of money and I really didn’t want another fad diet.  I wanted to change my unhealthy eating habits for good and I wanted to start exercising regularly again.  I found some online chatter about eating like a diabetic and that sounded interesting so I looked more into it.

Eat Like A Diabetic

balancedmeal

I had always thought that diabetics could not eat sugar at all.  But that’s not true.  Diabetics are really supposed to eat well balanced meals in order to keep their blood sugar levels balanced.  And portion sizes are pretty important too.  Most of us eat about twice the portion size that we really need to be healthy.

Many dietitians suggest the following for breakfast:

  • small portion of medium-fat protein
  • small portion of starch
  • small portion of fruit
  • small portion of low fat dairy
  • a little fat

… and for lunch:

  • small portion of lean protein
  • small portion of starch
  • small portion of fruit
  • small portion of vegetable
  • a little fat

… and for dinner:

  • larger portion of lean protein
  • small portion of starch
  • small portion of fruit
  • small portion of vegetable
  • small portion of low fat dairy
  • a little fat

… and one snack is also suggested:

  • small portion of starch
  • half portion of low fat dairy

Dietitians are recently suggesting that diabetics do not need a starch at every meal and they are also cutting out some of the dairy because it contains the hidden glucose of lactose.  Also, many dietitians believe that 5 smaller meals versus 3 larger ones equaling the same daily caloric intake keeps the body’s metabolism and blood sugar more level.

Major Points To Consider

dessert

A couple major points are in order.  Avoid junk food!  Avoid fried food!  Minimize sweets!  This healthy meal plan does not include soda … the two allowed drinks are water and low fat milk.  Most people should probably drink 8 glasses of water each day.  There are many reasons … it flushes out toxins … it carries nutrients to your cells … it maintains healthy tissue.

This healthy meal plan does not include big desserts.  Occasional small desserts are fine, though.  A certain amount of sugar is necessary for a balanced diet.  Naturally occurring sugar is suggested, though, like the sugars occurring in fruits.  Do not add sugar to your food!

If you want to occasionally have cookies in a meal, then you should skip any other carbohydrate content of that meal like a slice of bread and have the cookies instead. This is an even trade and the total amount of carbohydrate ingested during the meal will remain the same.  I wouldn’t suggest eating cookies at every meal, though.  Or even every day.  Maybe twice a week or so would be okay.  Give yourself an occasional treat for being good.  If you do it too often, though, then you’re not exactly being good!

This meal plan suggests foods that are low in cholesterol and low in salt and low in added sugar.  Restaurant food is often high in cholesterol and high in salt and high in sugar.  If you eat often in restaurants, you will likely not be able to lose weight unless you are very very very careful what you choose from the menu.

Now let’s talk about portions.  Portions are very important.  For a meat in your meal, many dietitians suggest 3 ounces which is about the same size as a deck of cards.  This doesn’t sound like a lot of food but by the time you finish a meal that includes a meat and a starch and a vegetable and a fruit and a milk, it all adds up to quite a filling meal.  And a balanced meal, which is very important.  The whole time I’ve been eating like this I’ve rarely ever noticed that I was hungry.

Real Food Examples

Here are some examples of actual foods that fit within this meal plan:

  • small portion of medium-fat protein
    • 1 ounce of pork sausage
    • or 2 strips of bacon
    • or 1 ounce of regular cheese
  • small portion of lean protein
    • 1 ounce of white fish, tuna, salmon, shellfish
    • or 1 ounce of chicken breast or turkey, no skin
    • or 1 ounce of ham, pork
    • or 1 ounce of low fat cheese
    • minimize red meats and eggs
  • larger portion of lean protein
    • same as above, but 3 ounces instead of 1 ounce
  • small portion of starch
    • one slice whole wheat bread
    • or 2 ounces of low fat granola
    • or 3 ounces of multigrain pasta
    • avoid white bread, white rice
  • small portion of fruit
    • 3 ounces of fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
    • or 3 ounces of mango
    • or 3 ounces of apple slices
    • or 1 measuring cup of 100% fruit juice
    • minimize citrus, bananas
    • fresh, not canned fruits
  • small portion of vegetable
    • 3 ounces of raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots with low fat ranch dressing
    • or 3 ounces of steamed broccoli with garlic powder and grilled onions
  • small portion of low fat dairy
    • 1 measuring cup of low fat milk
    • 3 ounces of nonfat yogurt (add 1 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1 tsp honey for flavor)

Don’t Forget To Exercise

exercise

Regular exercise is important to maintain a fit body that won’t fall apart as you get older.  And regular exercise can also help you drop unneeded fat weight.  Exercise doesn’t have to be a regimen that you force yourself to do and ends up giving you sore muscles for days afterward.  A simple daily brisk walk can do wonders.

For two months, I’ve been on a regular routine of three times a week walking very briskly … like over 4 mph … for about 3 miles.  The brisk walk isn’t all that hard, but it gets the heart pumping and gets the sweat flowing anyways.  The hardest part for me is the getting to bed an hour earlier than I’m used to and getting up an hour earlier than normal.

What I’ve Been Eating

I’ve been keeping track of what exactly I’ve been eating for two months, so here are some details that show exactly what I’ve been eating.  Now everyone’s body chemistry and metabolism is different, so don’t get mad at me if you don’t have the same results as I did.  The healthy eating meal plan I described above does not include counting calories.  It includes eating the right portions of a rounded set of healthy choices.  I only counted the calories for fun to see how many calories I was taking in each day on average.  This is not a calorie counting diet.  This is a new way of eating that will make you healthier and thinner in the long run.  I was using an iPhone app called MyFitnessPal to track my calories in case you were wondering where the calorie numbers came from.

myfitnesspal

WEEK 1

  • Monday August 9th
    • was not keeping track at first
  • Tuesday
    • was not keeping track at first
  • Wednesday
    • was not keeping track at first
  • Thursday (1,538 net calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola: 3 oz frozen mixed fruit, 3 oz nonfat yogurt, 1/3 cup low fat granola, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: half Sicilian shrimp appetizer, half Greek salad with meat, water with lemon (445 calories)
    • Dinner: 2 helpings of the following: 6 inch flour tortilla, 1/2 Tbsp salsa, 1/2 oz feta cheese, 1/2 cup romaine lettuce, quarter small tomato, 1.5 oz rotisserie chicken white meat, water (312 calories)
    • Snacks: fruit and nut trail mix, Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, herb roasted nut mix, tortilla chips and salsa (770 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Friday (1,031 net calories)
    • Exercise: Mowing lawn with push mower for 90 minutes (minus 636 calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola (300 calories)
    • Lunch: 2 helpings of the following: 6 inch flour tortilla, 1/2 Tbsp salsa, 1/2 oz feta cheese, 1/2 cup romaine lettuce, quarter small tomato, 1.5 oz rotisserie chicken white meat, water (312 calories)
    • Dinner: Denny’s Prime Rib and Blue salad, water with lemon (600 calories)
    • Snacks: gala apple, Planters South Beach nut mix, chocolate chip granola bar, low fat graham crackers (455 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Saturday (1,133 net calories)
    • Exercise: yard work for 1.5 hours (minus 636 calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: dip consisting of 2 Tbsp nonfat yogurt and 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise and a tsp yellow mustard and chili powder and Cayenne pepper and curry, raw broccoli dipped in the dip, 1 slice whole grain bread, 2/3 Starkist herb/garlic tuna pouch, 1 cup 100% apple juice  (373 calories)
    • Dinner: salad consisting of romaine lettuce, raw carrots, raw broccoli, tomato, and 3 oz grilled chicken breast, water (195 calories)
    • Snacks: Planters South Beach nut mix, unsweetened apple sauce snack pack, low fat graham crackers, 1/2 Naked Juice Green Machine smoothie, Walgreen’s small bag of yogurt pretzels (these things are terribly fattening and I would not suggest them! 4 servings and 600 calories in one small bag!), 1 oz BBQ potato chips (455 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Sunday (1,722 net calories)
    • Breakfast: low fat graham crackers, 1 cup low fat milk, 2 servings of pound cake, water (495 calories)
    • Lunch: dip from yesterday’s lunch, 3 oz grilled chicken breast in the dip, 1/2 cup fresh mango, 1/2 cup raw cauliflower in the dip, handful of low fat granola, water (400 calories)
    • Dinner: 2 helpings of the following: 6 inch flour tortilla, 1/2 Tbsp salsa, 1/2 oz feta cheese, 1/2 cup romaine lettuce, quarter small tomato, 1.5 oz rotisserie chicken white meat, 1/2 Naked Juice Green Machine smoothie (382 calories)
    • Snacks: chocolate chip granola bar, pineapple cake, vanilla bean ice cream (445 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)

Week 1 Complete … 5 pounds lost

bathroomscale

WEEK 2

  • Monday August 16th (1,856 net calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: Greek salad with no meat, low fat Italian dressing, water (390 calories)
    • Dinner: whole wheat wrap filled with grilled chicken breast, leaf lettuce, tomato, 1 slice Swiss cheese, onion, banana peppers, black olives, water (440 calories)
    • Snacks: herb roasted nut mix, egg salad sandwich, 8 oz apple juice, fruit and nut blend trail mix (this was extremely high in calories it turns out!) (1,015 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Tuesday (1,827 net calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: Greek salad with no meat, low fat Italian dressing, water (390 calories)
    • Dinner: 3 oz baked salmon, 1/2 cup fresh mango, tossed salad with carrots, tomato, low fat dressing, water (254 calories)
    • Snacks: fruit and nut blend trail mix (this was extremely high in calories it turns out!), low fat graham crackers, beef steak jerky (883 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Wednesday (1,474 net calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: whole wheat wrap filled with grilled chicken breast, leaf lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, dill spear, water (364 calories)
    • Dinner: oats & honey granola bar, 1/2 Naked Fruit Green Machine smoothie (260 calories)
    • Snacks: 2 oats & honey granola bar, herb roasted nut mix  (550 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Thursday (1,232 net calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: whole wheat wrap filled with grilled chicken breast, leaf lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, water (359 calories)
    • Dinner: 2 helpings of the following: 6 inch flour tortilla, 1/2 Tbsp salsa, 1/2 oz feta cheese, 1/2 cup romaine lettuce, quarter small tomato, 1.5 oz rotisserie chicken white meat, water (312 calories)
    • Snacks: 2 oats & honey granola bar, herb roasted nut mix  (550 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Friday (2,569 net calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: whole wheat wrap filled with grilled chicken breast, leaf lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, water (359 calories)
    • Dinner: 2 slices of Kelsey’s pepperoni pizza, garlic knot, water (760 calories)
    • Snacks: fruit and nut blend trail mix (this was extremely high in calories it turns out!), oats & honey granola bar, herb roasted nut mix, Dunkin Donuts chocolate frosted donut,   (1,150 calories) (I was eating about 3 snacks a day for the first 2 weeks)
  • Saturday (1,261 net calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: oats & honey granola bar, 1/2 Naked Fruit Green Machine smoothie (260 calories)
    • Dinner: fruit and nut blend trail mix (this was extremely high in calories it turns out!), 1/2 Naked Fruit Green Machine smoothie (630 calories)
    • Snacks: oats & honey granola bar, herb roasted nut mix (360 calories)
  • Sunday (1,520 net calories)
    • Breakfast: oats & honey granola bar, water (190 calories)
    • Lunch: salad with grilled chicken breast and low fat dressing, water (500 calories)
    • Dinner: salad with grilled chicken breast and low fat dressing, water (500 calories)
    • Snacks: oats & honey granola bar, low fat graham crackers (330 calories)

Week 2 complete …2 more pounds lost or 7 total pounds lost

bathroomscale

WEEK 3

  • Monday August 23rd (681 net calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: no sugar added applesauce with cinnamon, water (50 calories)
    • Lunch: Greek salad with no meat, low fat Italian dressing, water (390 calories)
    • Dinner: peanut butter crunchy granola bar, water (190 calories)
    • Snacks: herb roasted nut mix, twice (340 calories)
  • Tuesday (1,483 net calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: Greek salad with no meat, low fat Italian dressing, water (390 calories)
    • Dinner: 3 ounces roasted turkey breast, green beans, honey glazed carrots, 1 measuring cup milk (469 calories)
    • Snacks: Chips and salsa (324 calories)
  • Wednesday (1,176 net calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: Greek salad with no meat, low fat Italian dressing, water (390 calories)
    • Dinner: baked non-breaded catfish fillet, honey glazed carrots, green beans, 1 cup milk (395 calories)
    • Snacks: very thin slice of cheesecake, about one ounce (91 calories)
  • Thursday (1,633 net calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: oats & honey granola bar, Naked Fruit Green Machine smoothie (400 calories)
    • Lunch: whole wheat wrap filled with grilled chicken breast, leaf lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, 1/2 Naked Fruit Green Machine smoothie (499 calories)
    • Dinner: 3 ounces Cajun spiced non-breaded shrimp, green beans, raw blueberies, 1.5 cup milk (353 calories)
    • Snacks: vending machine chocolate chip cookies, vending machine apple juice, oats & honey granola bar (670 calories)
  • Friday (1,586 net calories)
    • Breakfast: Fruit/Yogurt/Granola, water (300 calories)
    • Lunch: green salad from salad bar with raw veggies and hot wing sauce as dressing, water (273 calories)
    • Dinner: salad with grilled chicken breast, tomato, raw broccoli, water (303 calories)
    • Snacks: oats & honey granola bar, Mrs. Smiths slice cherry pie, vanilla Blue Bell ice cream (710 calories)
  • Saturday (158 net calories)
    • Exercise: mowing yard with push mower for 90 minutes (minus 636 calories)
    • Exercise: Brisk (4 mph) walk for 3 miles or 45 minutes (minus 289 calories)
    • Breakfast: 1 slice whole wheat bread, 1 teaspoon seedless strawberry jam, Frigo low fat cheese stick (188 calories)
    • Lunch: 3 ounces turkey breast, water (285 calories)
    • Dinner: 2 helpings of the following: 6 inch flour tortilla, 1/2 Tbsp salsa, 1/2 oz feta cheese, 1/2 cup romaine lettuce, quarter small tomato, 1.5 oz rotisserie chicken white meat, water (312 calories)
    • Snacks: oats & honey granola bar, low fat graham crackers (330 calories)
  • Sunday (1,250 net calories)
    • Breakfast: oats & honey granola bar, water (190 calories)
    • Lunch: IHOP Spinach, mushroom, tomato omlette with fruit (400 calories)
    • Dinner: 4 ounce baked salmon filet, brown rice, cooked broccoli, milk (520 calories)
    • Snacks: low fat graham crackers (140 calories)

Week 3 complete … 4 more pounds lost or 11 total pounds lost

bathroomscale

WEEK 4

  • Monday August 30th (1,138 net calories)
  • Tuesday (1,526 net calories)
  • Wednesday (1,113 net calories)
  • Thursday (1,311 net calories)
  • Friday (1,748 net calories)
  • Saturday (1,058 net calories)
  • Sunday (1,606 net calories)

Week 4 complete … 4 more pounds lost or 15 total pounds lost

bathroomscale

WEEK 5

  • Monday September 6th (1,437 net calories)
  • Tuesday (1,624 net calories)
  • Wednesday (1,386 net calories)
  • Thursday (1,390 net calories)
  • Friday (2,439 net calories)
  • Saturday (1,526 net calories)
  • Sunday (2,343 net calories)

Week 5 complete … zero pounds lost or 15 total pounds lost

bathroomscale

WEEK 6

  • Monday September 13th (1,220 net calories)
  • Tuesday (1,073 net calories)
  • Wednesday (1,406 net calories)
  • Thursday (1,450 net calories)
  • Friday (1,305 net calories)
  • Saturday (1,256 net calories)
  • Sunday (1,474 net calories)

Week 6 complete … 3 more pounds lost or 18 total pounds lost

bathroomscale

WEEK 7

  • Monday September 20th (1,240 net calories)
  • Tuesday (1,430 net calories)
  • Wednesday (1,302 net calories)
  • Thursday (1,348 net calories)
  • Friday (2,245 net calories)
  • Saturday (2,713 net calories)
  • Sunday (1,232 net calories)

Week 7 complete … 2 more pounds lost or 20 total pounds lost

bathroomscale

Things I Learned

  • You don’t have to starve yourself to lose your fat stores
  • Small portions do not feel like small portions when you eat a well balanced and well rounded meal
  • Diabetics do not need to avoid sugar completely … they just need to be careful.  Diabetics need to eat balanced and well rounded meals.  Surprise, that’s good advise for everyone!
  • It’s completely possible to live comfortably on about 400 calories per meal, plus about 400 calories in snacks each day
  • Salads with meat added are a simple way to get the correct portion sizes of your protein while also getting your vegetables at the same time
  • Exercise does not have to be painful or hard in order to be beneficial
  • All vending machine snacks are super high in calories, no matter how healthy they look
  • Restaurant food is 2 to 3 times the calories and portions which is considered healthy by most standards
  • Salsa is not bad for you, but most tortilla chips are quite high in calories
  • I really like the Greek salad served by my cafeteria at work … and it’s not too bad for me either

References

My wife found this book Diabetes Cookbook for Dummies that she really likes.

diabetescookbook

Ezine Articles:  Diabetic Diets: What to eat and what to avoid