The A1C Project

A recent blood test showed that my hemoglobin A1C level had crept upward from 5.4 to 5.9. What a wakeup call! Time to get to work. Here are the changes over the past 6 weeks.

1. Re-read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s The End of Diabetes.

2. Cut out every bit of processed flour — ramen noodles (the comfort go-to), breads, chips, bagels and all the other tempting fanfare available at the office.

3. Started my first food journal ever, noting not portion sizes but the quality of the food.

4. Started writing down the time that I stop eating for the day, aiming for 5:00 pm; writing it down helps to stay on track and get away from night snacks. The eventual goal is earlier dinner, and 15 hours between dinner one day and breakfast the next. Exception: after an evening workout at the gym, I need a little protein and healthy fat. Tonight it was two handfuls of almonds in coconut cream.

5. Started writing down exercises done every day. That added motivation to go on stair-running breaks every hour or two at work.

6. Switched from Trader Joe’s dark-&-milk chocolate almonds, to their all-dark chocolate almonds, then to Trader Joe’s bittersweet chocolate with almonds. That comes in a brick slightly over one pound. I bought one a week ago and shared it with my co-workers; we chipped off little pieces, which is the whole idea — it takes considerably longer to eat a brick of chocolate than the equivalent amount of chocolate almonds. I had about four squares of that a day all week with high-fiber raw vegetable meals, and was careful to not bring it home at night. Today I ate the last two squares, didn’t buy more, and at snack time substituted two dates instead. We’ll see how that goes.

7. Set a goal to have a new A1C test in 3 to 6 months. I’ll give the results and the food journal to my new primary care provider.

8. Started a new pep squad silent cheer. This week at the office generous folks shared frosted donuts, pastry, peppermint Jo-Jo cookies, pfeffernusse cookies, a huge cream cake, chocolates, and more frosted donuts. Every time, I consoled myself with my new cheer: “A1C! A1C! Every bite counts in my A1C!” That’s let me steer around all the treats so far.

8. Set a goal to be very very careful about social interactions and events (and their refreshments) that leave me feeling lonelier than ever. That is the most vulnerable time of all for bingeing out. Christmas will definitely be a no-party no-potluck zone for this year at least.

9. Worked up some new recipes. This one is a high-fiber dessert.

One jumbo carrot, finely grated
Beet, small leftover piece, finely grated
Two apples
Handful raw cranberries
Handful blueberries
Two tbsp fine silky celery pulp (strained from making celery juice)
Two tbsp old-fashioned rolled oats
Tbsp chia seeds
Ceylon cinnamon
Ginger juice
Dash of rice milk

Blend it all in a food processor. Stir, so chia seeds & oats soften up overnight. Add carrots on top for fiber and prettiness.

Next time instead of the oats I’ll add coconut and/or almond meal, and more celery pulp. Probably easier to digest that way…

Tonight at the gym my weight was 176, down from 179. Onward!

Fruit Granola

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The Dental Diet, by Dr. Steven Lin

The Dental Diet is like a little glass-bottom boat ride through the sensitive living connections between food, oral health, and the industrious teeming microbiome that lines our digestive tract.

The author’s own story was interesting to read: Super-motivated young dentist repairing decayed teeth feels drawn to researching why so many people suffer with decayed teeth to begin with; despite meticulous self-care, he develops tooth hypersensitivity, joint pain, and signs of systemic inflammation; and takes a European hiking sabbatical to ponder it all. At a hostel in Sultanahmet, Turkey, he finds a copy of Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by dentist Weston Price. Price’s research on dental health and diet (including fat-soluble vitamins from healthy animals, plus traditionally sprouted and fermented foods) changes the author’s perspective on his own mission as a dentist. After experimenting with diet, he develops a Dental Diet prevention program for his patients.

The book is full of practical whole-lifestyle tips and exercises for overall health, and for diversifying the digestive microbiome so that fast-acting refined-carb-eating bacteria stay in balance instead of overrunning the many other beneficial bacteria types. There are plenty of recipes in keeping with the Nourishing Tradition philosophy of Sally Fallon Morell: fats and proteins from diverse grass-fed, full-fat animal sources, and instructions for fermented foods such as kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir.

The gluten-free Nut Bread recipe calls for a variety of ground nuts and seeds, eggs, olive salt, and salt, baked in a pan and sliced.
I tossed together a small test batch today.

eggs, well beaten
Ceylon cinnamon
shredded coconut
almond meal stirred in, enough to make a pourable but thick batter
coconut oil, enough to grease a small skillet

This cooked with the lid on at low heat until it puffed up and smelled wonderful. It sliced up nicely, with a fluffy but substantial texture.
This could be good rations when you need a portable slice of something light but very filling, perhaps after a workout at the gym.

My batch needed some sparking up. Next time I’ll throw in one or more of the following:

Lemon oil
juice of an orange
crushed berries
ground up sweet corn
finely shredded carrots
extra cinnamon and/or a few grains of ground cloves
ginger juice

I’ll make it again for the office this week, and will work out the measurements then. Here’s the photo.

nut bread 9.1.2018

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12/30/17 Eggplant

The local Dad & Son vegetable store closed for the holidays, giving away produce including 2 eggplant. The Joel Fuhrman cooking method would be to bake the eggplant and peel it. But my baking attempts result in a dried hunk of eggplant with an abrasive taste. So this time I went along with the other internet recipes: peeled and sliced thinly, then pressed with salt. I used two earthenware bowls placed on the kitchen floor with a cast iron frying pan weighing them down overnight. Then rinsed out the salt, and pressed them again — this time turning the two bowls upside down on a plate to press out the water, and setting the cast-iron pan on top. Then I heated up the cast-iron pan, added a touch of coconut oil, and cooked the eggplant.

This dish is the eggplant slices with lentils. The topping is mustard greens, chopped up and simmered with water. Then I pressed out the water to drink with a dash of lime juice, and mixed the greens with turmeric spice paste.

Eggplant Lentils

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8/12: Emmer Farro

To prepare farro I soak it for 24 hours in the fridge, then rinse and simmer with lots of water until soft. The first time, I served it with almond milk, slivered almonds, and raisins. I thought it tasted fine, and brought it to Russian church supper as a soft-cooked super-chewy vegan no-sugar porridge meant to resemble kutiyá, a porridge made with wheat berries. But wheat kutiyá is simmered down in lots of milk, and served with generous portions of butter and honey, so at church my version didn’t really ring the right chimes of familiarity.

Here’s another try, this time preparing the farro as a savory dish. While the farro cooked, I sauteed lots of sliced mushrooms with a slice of Walla Walla sweet onion, and also steamed slices of white potato. Then I mixed a sauce of Bragg’s aminos, melted coconut oil, and pinches of powdered ginger and sage, and mixed all ingredients while the farro was steaming hot. We’ll see how this version goes over tomorrow.

Nowadays I cook a different type of whole grain every day, and eat a big serving for main meal with beans and green vegetables. Farro is a new option for variety, mild enough to go with all kinds of flavorings. It’s certainly substantial and hearty.

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8/5 Garden Gathering

Out in the cool of the morning, planted a late batch of arugula, cilantro, scallions, and lettuce. Then watered everything, and cut back the flowers and tops on the bolting vegetables, herbs, and weeds: Russian kale, Tuscan kale, kale flowers, Swiss chard, purslane, dandelion, new tender shoots of lambs’ quarters, two kinds of mint, arugula, celery flowers, basil, scallions, curly parsley, and oregano. Those big kale leaves needed a little steaming. Then they all went in the food processor. What an aroma and flavor! It tasted like straight mid-summer vitality, all those tough resilient little plants that have stood up so well to a record-breaking hot dry spell. Chock full of fiber, too. To round out that intense texture and taste I ground the salad up with apple slices, tomato paste, homemade turmeric paste, sesame seeds, and a handful of raisins. This made for an eye-opening intensely flavored breakfast, served with a side dish of my home-fermented mild sweet kimchi and a side dish of emmer farro porridge.

Breakfast 8.5.17

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4/23/2017: Lentil Patties

Just saw a food chart stating that the highest carbon-footprint food, the one that uses up the most water, is lamb (followed closely by beef). The most eco-friendly food was lentils. To celebrate I soaked some lentils overnight, and made these patties.

Lentils, about 2 1/2 cups, cooked in vegetable stock w fennel seeds, mashed

Rolled Oats, blended to flour consistency, about 1/2 cup
Celery, 2 stalks with leaves
Mushrooms, chopped, 1 cup
Garlic, one clove
Tomato paste, one wee can, 6 ounces
Pumpkin & sesame seeds mixed, 1/2 cup total

Seasonings, powdered, a little dash of each to your taste:
Sage leaf, rubbed
Nutritional yeast
Bragg’s vinegar

Lined a roasting pan with parchment paper.

Mushrooms: started sauteeing in a dash of Bragg amino’s, in a cast-iron skillet brushed w olive oil.
In Cuisinart, blended celery, garlic, oats, and pumpkin/sesame seeds.
After mushrooms were cooked in their own liquid, added the oat mixture to skillet to let the celery & garlic cook some, and oats heat up for a few minutes as a binder.

Mixed tomato paste with the seasonings, and stirred well.
Mixed tomato paste & seasonings with the lentils, and mashed together.
Mixed the mushroom-oat mixture with lentils, tomato paste, and seasonings. Kneaded the mixture.

This was too damp and battery to roll into balls, so I dropped it by spoonfuls on to the parchment paper in the baking pan.
Baked at 325 under a pan of buckwheat bread (that’s another story) for a good half hour. Then took out the baking pan, picked up each patty, molded it into a more compact shape, and turned them over to dry on the other side. Back in the oven.

Even after a good hour in the oven they were still too damp on the inside. Hopefully when I buy a dehydrator that will help with future batches. But they are nice and chewy and crusty on the outside, with a very good taste. It reminded me of turkey stuffing at Thanksgiving, which I have no business eating but still miss. Good for the lunch box this week.

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12/24: Christmas Eve Dinner

Baby greens salad, brown rice slow-cooked in vegetable stock, steamed baby potatoes.


Good for recovering nerves from Secular Winter Festivity with all its fanfare and treats. This month I fell right back into the sugar again; the office closing for the long weekend left me sitting dazed in my dark cubicle, eating the last of the party cookies.

Fortunately, my friend Ann skyped with me the night before, offering all sorts of encouragement from her own health research as she was winding down for & from Secular Winter too.

Sitting at my desk, I thought back on her suggestions. That inspired me to head out to the empty gym for a nice swim and some stair machine. Then home for Slavonic prayers and an Akathist to the Holy Virgin, and a long sleep.

This dinner was just the right help.
Now the rain has stopped and the sun is out. A good chance for a quiet grateful walk before Church tonight.

Merry Christmas!



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