In This Edition of HeatCageKitchen
Intermittent fasting–have you heard of it? If you’re curious or interested in trying it, I’ll attempt to break it down here. It’s not “just another diet.”
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Yes, it’s still 2020. I’m sorry, nothing I’ve tried can fix that.
No, we haven’t tried the Apple Jack Daniels. But it’s not yet 2021, is it?
Got a couple of things to tell you about. And, it was my birthday!
The Birthday Cake, Again
So nearly every year since 2002 or 2003, I’ve made this delicious cake from Suzanne Somers’ Desserts book. Of course, I have to fiddle with it, because there is no more Somersweet and I have to use Swerve Sweetener instead.
Unfortunately, mine never comes out quite as neat as the picture:
This year’s cake came out better than last year’s, the second time I made the cake part. I only make it once a year, so I don’t practice a lot. The buttercream and the ganache are pretty standard, but the cake is a bit fussy.
The only ingredients are:
- Baking Soda (just a pinch)
- Vanilla Extract
Whip the eggs into a frenzy:
That’s pretty much it–no “gluten-free” ingredients, and yet it is truly gluten-free. Of course, once I was done, there was some cleaning to do.
BF decided he’d rather have the brownies I made him from scratch a week or so ago, and they are definitely not gluten-free. He was also given some of these:
I cut my cake up into 16 slices, so I’ll have it for a while.
I stopped making the delicious cheesecake when I was ill recently. Just like that, I stopped making it. I’ll make it again soon.
Also made it to Starbucks for my free drink: a Venti Iced Decaf Cafe Americano with a heavy splash of cream and some sugar-free Vanilla syrup.
Later that night, we stopped at the local JC Penney for a trip into Sephora for my birthday gift:
Last year, a storm passed through, and JC Penney was closed after a massive power outage, so I never got my gift. Turns out you can go anytime during the month of your birthday. I’ll remember that.
All in all, it was a nice day, but no cold front this year.
Farewell, Sweet Tomatoes
You’ve probably heard that one of my favorite places in Houston, Sweet Tomatoes, has closed all their locations nationwide. They were also called “Souplantation” in some parts of the US. It’s just one of the many side effects of the “pandemic” that has cost billions in lost. . .everything.
Note: these pictures from Sweet Tomatoes were all sourced from a Google search.
On a side note, gourmet kitchen stuff store Sur la Table has closed up about half of their stores, which includes the one in Baton Rouge. It was part of a “restructuring” thing, but of course, I can always order online. Pier 1 Imports is now online-only, like Wayfair and Overstock.
I’ve written about Sweet Tomatoes before, and I just loved all the variety of things they had.
Their website has been taken down, and all the buildings are now just empty. Their pantries and perishable ingredients were cleared out months ago. I hope the workers were able to take home everything instead of throwing them away.
I loved going there when I was in The Woodlands, especially before or after visiting Dr. Davis at Woodlands Wellness or when I was attending a concert. Wish I could have taken BF there–he would have enjoyed it, consuming less salad and more of the “other stuff.” I love salad, so it was just the best place for me.
Last week we had dinner at the local La Carretta with BF’s family, and I mentioned it to his sister. I asked, “If I say, ‘Joan’s Broccoli Madness,’ do you know what I’m talking about?” Indeed she did–BF’s sister and brother-in-law went to Sweet Tomatoes many times in Atlanta and were also sad to see it go.
We tried explaining it to BF, but he just didn’t get it. He went on to tell his sister that I was still trying to do him in by making him eat quinoa.
It was, if I remember correctly, about $15 for the all-you-can-eat nature of the place. Of course, my thing was THE SALAD.
Joan’s Broccoli Madness
If you never had the pleasure of going, I’ll give you a visual.
When you walked in, a very long salad bar greeted you, with some specialty salads like Joan’s Broccoli Madness at the front.
As I mentioned in my previous post (without pictures, unfortunately) I never forgot the salad with cherries in it. It was one of the most memorable visits, all by myself, before a concert.
After the prepared salads, there were fresh greens, other vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, proteins like egg and chicken, then salad dressings followed by toppings of all kinds. You could choose from cheeses, bacon bits, dressings, nuts (ranch dressing with sunflower seeds are still my favorites) raisins, dried cranberries, chow mein noodles, and other crunchy things. I loved it all.
Get to a table, put down your salad, and go over to the prepared food area where you could choose from:
- Soup Bar (including a turkey chili I loved)
- Potato Bar
- Pasta Bar
- Pizza Bar
- Bakery Bar
Many of their baked items were square, from the cornbread to the blueberry muffins and brownies. It was one of those little things that made Sweet Tomatoes unique.
Even the interior was comfortable, with a very interesting tomato-pattern carpet:
I was thinking about Joan’s Broccoli Madness the other day, and guess what? There are recipes online for this deliciousness from:
They’re pretty much the same recipe, and I hope to make it soon, possibly for Thanksgiving.
Louisiana’s Answer: The Salad Station
OK, I’m not going to lie–The Salad Station isn’t exactly like Sweet Tomatoes, they don’t have a carpeted dining area, nor do they serve Joan’s Broccoli Madness, and that’s OK. But when my birthday was looming this year, I asked BF where he was taking me. “I don’t know yet” was his answer.
I have long wanted to try The Salad Station–especially since there’s no chance of ever going to Sweet Tomatoes ever again. Every time I brought it up, he said, “but there’s nothing for me to eat.” He was wrong, of course, and had bacon and ham on his salad, while I chose boiled shrimp. Because I don’t have to mess with them.
We’re not talking about flying to Beverly Hills–or even Houston–for an exclusive restaurant. It’s just a ride to Hammond, although we could have gone to Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, or any other location. I talked BF into it, and he said, “whatever makes you happy.” Awww.
Salad Station does have many of the same qualities as Sweet Tomatoes, but they are smaller. Like Central Market and a few other places, you buy your salad by weight–it’s not “all you can eat for one price.” That’s OK too. However, BF was surprised when my salad was weighed–it was twice the size of his. But as you can see, BF has a markedly different definition of “salad.”
Their salad bar is wide open as it was before, and they require you to wear your mask while you’re there. (Everyone in Louisiana does.) They also have thin plastic gloves you’re required to wear while choosing ingredients. Not a problem, and we took them off when we sat down to eat.
Yes, this does segway into the main topic of the blog post.
You’re probably thinking, “get to the point of the blog, will you?” I am.
I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting for a few weeks now. I started right before my “breathing emergency” last month but had to quit while I was on Prednisone. A couple of days after I took the last pill, I went back to IF, and have been doing fine since.
Amy’s Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or other type of healthcare practitioner. I’m a blogger who writes about different topics, occasionally diet, health, and wellness. I’m by no means an expert on these things. Should you choose to pursue IF or any other thing I’ve written about, please do some additional research before you start, or speak with a health care provider who can guide you.
Additional disclaimer: I’m not an MLM representative, and not trying to sell anything with this post. There’s no sponsorship to this post, no products to buy. I’m just passing along information. You can buy a book or two, and there are Amazon links here, as there are in many of my blogs. But should you choose to begin intermittent fasting, you don’t need to spend any additional money on it. Books are available at your public library, including online, for free, if you choose.
How To Eat On IF
Intermittent Fasting isn’t really a “diet,” and doesn’t require any special foods, supplements, shakes, or other financial outlays. You can find plenty of info online, particularly on Pinterest. Like any subject, there is “good” information and “bad” information, equally accessible. (I’m a copywriter, ask me, I know!)
Fasting has its roots in many religions, including Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. (That “fish on Friday” thing is Catholicism, but I think that’s been made optional.) There is “wet fasting,” where you drink water and maybe a few liquids as well as “dry fasting,” where you consume nothing, including water. If you decide to do any kind of fasting, I highly recommend doing some reading first, either from the library or from online searching. Just don’t assume you can stop eating and drinking and figure you’ll detox and lose every excess pound you have. NO–hydration is important, the body needs water for its many processes. I’m not a fan of “dry fasting,” and do not recommend it.
Intermittent Fasting’s basic premise is that you “wet fast” for a specific window of time during your day, generally overnight, or whenever you get to bed. Easy, right? Then you enjoy food during your “eating window,” which is also a specific period of time.
What period of time is that? YOU figure that out for yourself. If you work evening or night shifts, then, of course, your eating window will be when you’re awake, and the fasting window is when you’re asleep.
Easy, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that.
Getting Started With IF
I have these books on the subject:
- Intermittent Fasting For Beginners, Amanda Swaine
- Intermittent Fasting For Women, Lori Russell
- The 21-Day Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Plan, Andy De Santis, and Michelle Anderson
No, I haven’t read them yet.
I got started when cookbook guru Stephanie O’Dea published her new e-book, 2,4,6, Eat: Intermittent Fasting Simplified. I have read this one.
The first three books were gifted from Callisto, some of the last physical copies before they went digital. Stephanie, on the other hand, wrote four e-books during the lockdown, this being one of them. When they were published, she mentioned them in her regular weekly emails, and they were 99 cents each at that point. I bought all four. Her book on IF is the one I read first–in less than an hour if I remember correctly. Much like her cookbooks, Stephanie lays it out as if you were sitting with her in Starbucks and talking about it.
You can do IF with your CrockPot, too.
So how did Stephanie do with it? In a nutshell, she’s lost the last few pounds she was trying to shed, and she looks great. I mean, she already looked great, but now she looks even better.
I also joined a Facebook group called Intermittent Fasting For Women, which is not affiliated with Stephanie’s own Facebook group (I’m also in that, link in her blog.) There are over 360,000 members around the world focused on one thing: fasting intermittently to lose weight that won’t come off any other way. Very encouraging, and if you ask a question in this big group, you’ll get many different answers to it.
Many of these women show pictures of their results, but I’m not posting any pictures in my underwear on Facebook. Some have small amounts of losses, but they’re visible–all depends on how they’re doing IF, how long, and how much exercise they get. Some show considerable results, like the ladies who are quite large and have shrunk down to a tiny size 6 (or less.) Many become absolute bombshells after losing weight. In fact, sometimes when I see these pictures, I comment, “bombshell alert!” One lady who posted is about 63, and she looks fantastic. Another lady who is 72 is no longer using her “Bumblebee” chair to get around (although she is using a cane.)
I’m not there yet.
What To Eat On Intermittent Fasting
Well, that’s the $64K question, isn’t it?
Of course, it’s best to eat as healthy as you can. Many people find that keto is a good thing for them, and as I always say that I eat “keto, mostly,” since BF likes to make jambalaya or red beans and rice occasionally. But some folks may decide to eat paleo, low-carb, or simply eat what they’ve always eaten, just changing the times of day they eat.
Then there are those who eat the same foods that they ate before but at different times and maybe different amounts. They lose too. They may eat a few Oreos or a candy bar along with salads and grilled chicken during their eating window, but ONLY during the eating window, and maybe decrease the amounts, or increase your fasting window during a “treat day.”
Everyone has an idea and offers advice. But the most prevalent thing I’ve seen is, “You do you, and what works for you.” If having a little sugar-laden French vanilla coffee creamer isn’t stopping your weight loss, go for it, in moderation.
Drinking water is encouraged since you need it. Not the excessive soft drinks BF chugs down on a daily basis. In my case, I’m still drinking the lime water all the time, along with coffee, occasionally tea, with pink sweetener and cream in the last two.
Here’s the thing: there aren’t any “special foods” you need to eat on IF. Do you like keto, paleo, or low carb? Go for it. Want more gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free foods? That can work, too. You can count calories–but I don’t, and neither do a number of other IF devotees. And if it doesn’t, try something else, add exercise, increase your fasting window, or whatever you want to, and wait for the results.
Unlike the popularly advertised diet plans on TV, you don’t need to buy any brand, type, or style of food. It’s great that so many celebrities have lost weight with the diet plan thing, but that’s not what IF is about.
The key is: You do you.
My Current IF Results
I’ll be perfectly honest here–I haven’t dropped what feels like 915 pounds in a matter of days. That’s not happening any more than riding my bike for 30 minutes once and being in top shape for the Texas MS 150 tomorrow. I did the hCG diet for about a year and a half–I lost weight, but even the hCG diet doesn’t work like that either. But in my case, my current results are:
- The scale hasn’t yet gone down, but remember–there’s water weight, and “weight” fluctuates anyway, particularly in women. I don’t get on the scale often because it can be discouraging.
- I’ve noticed some “shrinkage” here and there, but I’ve not yet gone down to smaller clothes yet.
- Although I did fill up the bowl at The Salad Station just like I did at Sweet Tomatoes, I didn’t finish it like I used to. I credit that to Intermittent Fasting. I took about half of it home for the next day, then had a sliver of cake when we got home an hour later, then my “fasting window” began.
My current exercise consists of the occasional walking tours of Walmart, along with regular use of the Thighmaster set, and slinging around a kettlebell weight, the latest of which is 20 pounds. I’m trying to get to the point where I can get a half-hour of yoga, HIIT (“High-Intensity Interval Training“), or bicycling in place in my day.
While in Academy after dinner, I did check out the availability of heavier kettlebells. (They seem to be difficult to find in some places.) Right now I’m lifting a 20-pound (padded) Bionic Ball kettlebell, but I want to eventually lift more. I told BF that if I start swinging around a 40-pound kettlebell like a roll of paper towels, he’d better be on guard.
Nah–I’m not going to swing it at him. I just like poking him in the ribs now and again. Trust me, it works both ways.
Honestly, IF is not terribly difficult once you get into a rhythm. You just have to remember not to have a nibble of something before bed, or you’ll break the fast and it won’t work. And Stephanie’s book is HIGHLY recommended. It’s not a long or difficult read and is very informative.
And The Cat
I loved my felines, Catmandu and Kismet, who have long been gone for many years. Our current apex predator, Tab E. Cat, is all about BF, and couldn’t care less what else is going on as long as he can curl up with him. He only likes me when I have food.
Until one day.
I did try to do IF while on Prednisone, but it wasn’t happening, so I quit for the duration of the medicine. One of the drug’s side effects is that you can become very hungry. I did, and just didn’t bother with IF for a couple of weeks, but sticking closely with keto as much as I could.
One night, about 11:00 pm, my stomach was letting me know it wanted something–fast. I went into the fridge and found some sliced roast beef that BF was using for sandwiches. (Notice I said “was.”)
Taking out a couple of slices, I went to talk to BF, who was now curled up in bed with the cat. The beast was nestled under his left armpit. Upon seeing and smelling the roast beef slices, Tab E. Cat looked up at me, opened his eyes, walked OVER BF’s chest, and up to me, completely ignoring him. He meowed, giving me that wide-eyed cat look that said, “oh, that looks delicious, I’d love to have some!” I gave him a small bit to avoid getting clawed. BF was shocked, and said, “great, now I’m chopped liver.”
Only when there’s food involved, Honey.
Until Next Time
Whether you’re looking to lose for the holidays or get a jump on next summer’s bathing suit season, Intermittent Fasting may be just what you need to start shedding extra pounds you didn’t intend to have. It just takes a little information, understanding, and planning to get started–and not a lot of money. Will it work for you? Try it, on your schedule, just don’t expect an overnight transformation.
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