Sunday, September 28, 2008

Canning final tally; and How about some Chia, pet?

Raspberry jam: 25 jars. Grape jelly: 14 jars. There would have been a lot more grape jelly but this year I again dumped perfectly good grapes since I was bored of pulling them off the clusters.

Here are a couple of the baskets I'm donating to our department's raffle draws for charity. There are four (three include one grape and one raspberry, and one, for the Christmas draw, has 3 different ones including a strawberry jam that I traded for with another editor who lives in the country). I got the tea towels at a dollar store (4/$1), the little spreaders in Chinatown (4/$1), and the baskets at Value Village. I'm claiming that these are "a $20 value!" because 250-ml jars at farmers' markets cost about 5-6 bucks each. Totally organic, too, because I don't weed, water, or fertilize (too freakin' lazy).

Chia seed: I have been reading about chia seed on several websites and newsletters and it sounded quite appealing as a source of nutrients. Salba(R) is the most expensive, of course, but there are a number of other sites where it costs much less. Its properties include high fiber (filling, helps with BG control), calcium, and antioxidants (which increase shelf life); more digestable than flax; low fat and sodium. It appears to be a good substitute for gluten in baking as well. For a long time now for my weekday breakfast I've been eating General Mills Fiber1 (fibre?) cereal (14g fiber for a half-cup serving), with whatever berries or other fresh or frozen fruit I have on hand, about 2/3 cup plain yogurt (Astro BioBest), a handful of walnuts (healthy fats, good fiber, nice texture). Now I'm adding 2 tablespoons of ground chia seed. One thing they don't really mention is the---not to be too delicate or anything---additional bowel movements after a few days of eating it. Good ones, though...(ahem). And apparently it is sold in the basement of St. Lawrence Market. I haven't baked in a long time, so I'll give it a whack.

Teff flour: I am looking for recipes that use alternatives to wheat flour, such as soy and teff. I have been able to find teff grains only once here in Toronto, and ended up ordering from Bob's Red Mill (I think in Oregon). Pricey, but it's another powerhouse. And my local independent bulk store sells teff flour, which is also a nutritional powerhouse.

Which leads to the CT colonography results: negative. Meaning positive results --- no polyps or anything. It only took three tries. I think my favourite (!) was the colonoscopy for which I was fully anaesthetized. I don't have to do it again for five years.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rowing machine finally in one piece

Last night I put the rowing machine together (Zeller's, 149.99 CAD) that I bought LAST weekend. I missed a whole week of interesting exercise. My neighbours have a machine on their porch that I've been looking at as I go by. Was it a Pilates machine or a rower?? I was browsing for rowers and saw their ad---it IS a rower, and they want nearly $800 for it ($2000 new). And it's still on sale after a month. Mine has a little problem---if I increase the tension and pull strength, the end of it comes up off the floor a little. Wiggling a little bit on the seat and moving my feet on the rests helps somewhat, but I will need to find a way to weigh it down when I get more vigorous.

Results: BG before putting the machine together (which was exercise in itself) and using it for 10 minutes at second tension (out of 5)---16.4 mmol/dl (multiply by 18 for US gallons). After exercise and before dinner---15.7. Light dinner (natural PB [2 g net carbs] on high-fiber multigrain bread, a bit of cheese, a peach, and 1 c unsweetened soy milk [2 g net carbs]). Before bed I reduced my NPH insulin shot to 16 (from 18). Fasting BG this morning: 10.2. That's progress. Of a sort. I did work up a sweat and got my pulse rate up. I also need to put the machine someplace where I won't bang my elbows on the doorframe, and have something to look at---rowing across the guest bedroom is pretty boring.

Diet: I've been eating a lot of fruit this summer. Peaches and apples, blueberries, etc. But I eat way too much in the evenings, especially starches, and nowhere near enough vegetables, which is a continuing (mostly psychological) problem I haven't been able to figure out. Baby carrots tend to spike my blood sugar, as do bananas. I need to buy something low-carb to munch on, like cabbage or cellophane or something.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sky-high blood sugar

I stopped by my friendly neighbourhood bistro for one beer late Wednesday afternoon, and was sorely tempted by their daily salad special (baby spinach drizzled with pomegranate vinaigrette, with pink grapefruit pieces, feta cheese, and walnuts). Then I chose to indulge in their home-made focaccia (equivalent to 3-4 servings of bread), with olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. THEN I treated myself to their excellent coffee and, fatally, a slice of flourless polenta chocolate cake (with a caramel topping). They do provide a few gluten-free menu items. Well, the cake was chocolatey; a different "mouthfeel" due to the cornmeal; definitely rich; tasty, but took a bit of getting used to (I ate it all, of course).

I tested my BG before bed, and it was too high for the meter to read (>33.3 mmol/dl or 600 in US gallons). I'm sure it's been that high before, but the thing was I had no familiar symptoms of high blood sugar (sticky eyes, reeling sensation). I took one extra unit of NPH insulin and 4 mg of Gluconorm, and downed 3 cups of Chinese blood-sugar-reducing tea, all of which drove down the BG to 19+ about 2 hours later. I shoulda stuck to the salad. But it was a beautiful meal!

I don't blame the chocolate so much as I blame the bread---too much, too white, and too delish! I'm going back tomorrow for brunch and will try to make better choices.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Is it jelly yet?

Well, this morning I mashed and boiled the grapes and set the juice in the jelly bag. Got home and found I had a little less juice than expected. Prepared 9 jars, boiled the juice, added Certo low-sugar pectin (needed 4.5 cups of sugar), boiled it up. I only got 6 jars of grape jelly. They look pretty, though, and it tastes quite good.
I am getting enough raspberries (> 1 lb every 2 days) to make another batch of jam. And I still haven't picked all the grapes (the raccoons are helping with that) so I might be able to get a few more jars of jelly.
I like Bernardin's instructions better than Certo's (Bernardin: never sterilize jars in oven. Certo: sterilize jars in oven; Bernardin: use water-bath canning method. Certo: seal sterlized jars).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It must be jelly coz jam don't shake like that

Jelly and Jam: I painstakingly picked and froze my giant raspberries for about a month to get enough berries for jam. I was able to make a batch and half (12 jars). It looks and tastes lovely. Cost: berries $0, jars and pectin $0 (last year's), sugar $1.79. So the post title is out of sequence: I made jam first. I am in the process of preparing the Concord grapes from the garden; it's a lot more fiddly work than jam. Last night I broke one jar and let the fruit boil over, which is a warning to those who might wish to look upon the wine while it is red; helps pass the time, though.

I have a couple of packages of no-sugar pectin (but I need to add 1 cup unsweetened fruit juice and a sugar substitute; I think Splenda will do). I'll make regular grape jelly with sugar and regular pectin with half the grapes and try out the no-sugar stuff on the remainder. Does this look like enough?

September 14 update: I only used about half of these grapes, since I got so bored with pulling the good ones off. Not as bad as last year, when I composted about 8 gallons.

I use the water-bath canning method, which is much safer, botulism-wise, than simply boiling the fruit and packing it in hot jars. I got the giant pot at Value Village for about 1o bucks a few years ago (a new one costs a few dollars more and usually isn't much rusted). Work-wise, it saves the cost and mess of using paraffin wax, which needs to be melted and poured carefully over the just-poured fruit. I have the grabber-out-of-boiling-water too, but I can't find the magnetic wand that pulls the sealing lids out of the hot water.

Colon Diaries: no word of results yet. It's been two weeks.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The cats are in boxhab

This is my new rowing machine. It was half-price at Zellers. It's not quite a real ergometer like you find in fitness clubs (except the one I belong to, which seems to focus on butt-reducing machines), but it's the closest I've seen for a reasonable (meaning cheap) price. It was, in fact, half-price (149.99 CAD). I got help loading it into the car but I needed to drag it into the house myself. (Zeller's personnel motto: "If it's not in the flyer it's not on sale.")

I am over 50 and need a low/no impact workout, for 1) getting regular exercise and regaining lost fitness and muscle mass, which 2) really helps with blood sugar control, 3) helping to increase energy, 4) maybe put on a bit of weight so I actually have to undo my pants before pulling them off (not really, but WTF), and 5) low-impact exercise will keep me away from the physiotherapist, though he's a cute guy and helped a lot earlier this year when I got a stress injury in my right knee from walking 30 minutes a day (!).

So it came in a really big box: gross wt. 37 kg or 82 lbs, about 4' x 2' x 1'. I unpacked it (haven't assembled it yet) and 3 of the 4 cats are already addicted. The cardboard is too thick for Handsome Stranger to really get his tiny teeth into but he's giving it his best shot. Only Bwai (who needs a step stool to get up on a chair) hasn't climbed in. I should fill it with the last of the catnip and let them go wild. I do believe this is Fiasco T. Peabrain after a 'nip session.

I have about 5 lbs of raspberries ready for the jam jars; well, not exactly ready. I need to make the jam first. I use a water-bath canning method, which tends to keep down the botulism.