Category Archives: Healthy Eating

Developing the Right Exercise Program For You

Muscle Training: At the beginning any heavy lifting with weights should be avoided. Small size weights (2-10 pounds) with small number of repetitions for each exercise offers a good place to start. You can join an exercise group, join a gym which will have professionals skilled at weight training and other forms of exercise, or you can develop your own program working from descriptions and photos or videos of workouts shown on various Internet sites that are not difficult to find. Gradually you will pick up the pace and develop a specific program emphasizing different muscle groups on different days of the week.

Try to do a 20 min workout with weights three times a week at the beginning. You can emphasize two muscle groups for each of the three sessions. For example, on day one you can emphasize arms and shoulders; day two, chest and back and on day three, core and leg muscles. Arms, shoulders, back and chest muscles can be done with dumb bells or bar bells. So can core and leg exercises, but with both core and leg muscles you have many more options. There are a substantial number of core exercises such as crunches, sit-ups, plank, side-bends and so-forth that can be done with and without weights. Many of these can be combined with a small of large heavy ball held in the hands. Read in othere Internet sites about the use of the “medicine ball” and the “Swiss ball.”

For legs, in addition to various resistance machines in gyms, you can use both dumb bells and bar bells as well. However, during our waking hours we use our leg muscles nearly all the time when we are walking about or running or cycling. When getting started as I noted in yesterday’s blog post a half mile to a one mile walk each morning or evening will harden up the leg muscles substantially over the first month of your new exercise routine. Gradually, you can add some running to the daily routine or you can ride a bike. Either of these strategies will increase your use of specific leg muscles that are used not quite as much in simple walking. It is not uncommon to develop cramps in specific leg muscles if your approach this phase of activity with greater zeal than you should at the outset. Once again, start slow and pick this up the pace as you become used to the workout.

Eventually, you can walk or run or run-walk or simple fast walk 4-5 miles a day. This may take about an hour or less. Humans walking at a fast pace will walk about 4 miles and hour. At a relatively leisurely pace 2.8-3.0 miles per hour is easily achieved.

If you want to monitor your walking independently various devices are available which will help you keep track of your steps, mileage and/or calories burned during the walk. The best of these in my view is a FitBit, that is worn on your wrist. It may linked to your computer, tablet or phone to keep tabs on the numbers of steps or miles walked as well as the numbers of calories burned each time you go our for a walk. You computer will keep track of everything, even the number of steps taken each time you go to the bathroom during the night.

Another alternative to keep track of the leg exercises is to use a treadmill. You can vary the speed and most treadmills will monitor heart rate and allow you to go at a “fat burn” pace which is 60 percent of your maximum age-adjusted heart rate or a little faster up to about 80 percent of maximal heart rate for briefer periods. In the latter case, slowly working up to an 80 percent rate after about 12-15 minutes and staying there for 3-5 minutes is an excellent invigorating exercise that will keep the heart muscles fit. Once you are in pretty good shape from a combination of weight loss and exercise you may want to try this (provided your heart is generally healthy and your physician agrees). I personally do this 2-3 times a week. In addition, these strategies on the treadmill represent an alternative to the other walking, running or other leg exercise routines noted above, and should not be done in addition. You may also wish to substitute some of the above leg weight training with cycling.

During all resistance training with weights as well as roadwork, drink plenty of water. A rule of thumb is 6-8 oz glasses of water for one who is at or near optimal weight. Initially though, if you are over weight then add an additional 8 oz glass of water for each 5 pounds you are overweight. Thus, if you are 20 pounds overweight and on an exercise program approximated by the above, you should drink about 10-8 oz glasses of water (or about 80 oz of water a day) Coffee and tea and all other liquids consumed during the day should not be counted as part of this total.

In general, you should eat sensibly consuming relatively more protein and fiber at the expense of carbohydrate and fat. Drink small amounts of coffee or tea and no caffeinated soft drinks if possible. Keep your consumption of alcohol down as well. We’ll come back to dietary issues in a subsequent blog post.


Getting Into Shape — Getting Started

We don’t really take our health as seriously as we should, and in the modern era we find ourselves in a dilemma. We tend to eat too much of the wrong kinds of food. We fall ill from nutritional deficiencies, we gain weight, often to excess, and we fall ill from one of a number of chronic diseases. Each of these evolves from imbalances created by our improper dietary habits. Modern humans are thus falling ill in increasing numbers from diabetes, heart disease and cancer and other maladies at a time when medicine has evolved effective treatments for them. Life expectancy even for serious cases of these disorders have increased, but many times people still die prematurely. All this notwithstanding, life expectancy for modern humans in most advanced countries, not still plagued by serious infectious disease, has increased substantially.

In America and in some of the countries of western Europe, serious efforts to adjust diets and to improve the activity profile of the populous may show us a way to reduce the incidence of such chronic diseases. Eating more fruits and vegetables, and increasing protein and fiber in the diet in relative terms, are approaches to decreasing the relative excess intake of carbohydrate. These dietary adjustments can have a major impact especially when combined with a sensible exercise program that evolves from modest to more intense efforts over time.

To get started just eat less and exercise more. If you are 30-50 or more pounds overweight and have sedentary habits, it won’t be easy. Start slow with both diet and exercise programs. Cut out the sweets and junk foods, especially those with high calorie density (more calories per bite). Increase chicken & fish at the expense of fatty red meats, and increase fiber (oatmeal, beans and other grains). Eat low blood-sugar-producing fruits and vegetables at the expense of starchy vegetables. Also, drink plenty of water. Reduce portion sizes from the outset and eat smaller amounts 5-6 times a day instead of larger amounts 1-3 times a day. If you want to count calories you can, but the most effective strategy is to weight in once a week or once a month and keep track of your weight reduction progress. You want to lose something like 5-6 pounds a month. Over time you’ll be losing less weight on a monthly basis until you reach your goal.

Exercise is exceptionally important. During weight loss without exercise you will naturally lose both fat and muscle. The exercise routine is intended to put your skeletal muscle back into shape and add more to it than is taken away by the weight loss process. You also need protein in the diet to help compensate for the protein lost during weight loss. Start slow by using small weights at first. Later, weight size will increase. The intent is to develop routines to exercise the arms, shoulders, back, chest and the abdominal region, both front and back (often called the core region) and finally the legs. Combine your weight exercise routine with walking or cycling to work the legs/lower body. You can also work on improving your flexibility with stretches or a yoga class. We’ll come back and look at the exercise program in much more detail in a later blog post.

Sausage Orzo Soup

This is a soup with a fantastic taste and it is easy to make.

First, dice the following ingredients into small pieces and sauté in a little olive oil:

5 large garlic cloves
3 stalks of celery
2 relatively large shallots
1/8 cup virgin olive oil

While the above are sautéed over a low to medium heat, add four large cut up hot chorizo sausages — a mixture of small and large cut fragments (not slices) is good. Add the sausage fragments to the above sautéed mixture and continue under medium heat stirring until everything is mixed. Add about a teaspoon of salt. After about 3-5 minutes reduce heat to simmer.

Cut 5-6 large tomatoes into quarters, deseed and peel off the skin. Cut the tomatoes further into smaller pieces and add to the sautéed-sausage mixture. Continue heating. Cut up a bunch of Swiss chard into small pieces after excising the red rib stems from the leaves and discarding. Add these to the soup mixture as well and stir everything together while continuing to heat on low-medium heat. Additional cut up vegetables can also sometimes be added at this stage (broccoli, asparagus and cut green beans are possibilities you can experiment with the second time you make the soup–for now just stick to the above noted ingredients). Add about 2-3 50 oz. cans of chicken stock (commercial or previously prepared by you from a chicken bone skeleton). Bring to a boil or and continue to stir. Add a little more salt, but not much. It will be hard to evaluate the taste at this phase so don’t bother to taste. The soup seem rather peppery due to the sausage.

Add at least two cups of tricolored orzo ànd bring everything to a rolling boil, keeping it there for about 20 minutes. Add a tablespoon each of dried parsley, dill and oregano. Reduce heat and stir in the spices. The orzo will continue to swell over the next 10-15 minutes and will soak up some of the excess pepper. The added spices will gradually blend in and after the orzo swells maximally. You can add a little more chicken stock if the soup is too thick.

It’s ready to eat about 20 minutes after the orzo has swelled.

Leek Noodle Soup

Made a great new soup tonight. Quick and easy.

Fill a large sauce pan with about 4-5 cups of chicken stock — previously prepared or purchased. The low salt with no MSG added kind is just fine. Add about two cups of previously prepared, frozen stewed tomatoes (see my blog from a few days ago if you want to prepare your own).

Cut a large leek or two into thin slices, then chop further and add to the developing soup. Add a large handful or two of baby kale, broccoli and cut up baby carrots. Also, add about 1/2 to 3/4 pounds of previously cooked and cut up chicken pieces. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook on low heat or simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Add several large handfuls enriched egg noodles, bring to a low rolling boil. Cook for seven minutes and turn off the heat. Add several teaspoons of dried basil and dried parsley, stir in these spices and add a little salt and pepper if necessary. Let the hot soup sit covered for about 10 minutes. Stir soup several times during that 10 minutes returning the cover each time. Stirring will help the spices and other ingredients blend together. This improves the flavor of the soup.

Serve and eat with several crusts of whole grain bread.

Chicken-Rice Soup With Leek


In preparing this soup I go to the Farmer’s Market and buy three large leeks, and a dozen or more medium to large size Roma tomatoes. Alternatively, it’s toward the end of the growing season and I have plenty of fresh leeks and Roma tomatoes coming out of the garden. I also need garlic, a small red onion, celery stalks, small carrots, the beans from at least two small packages of edamame (soy beans), and fresh or dried spices (tarragon, basil and parsley), and a tsp pf dry caraway seeds. Perhaps some of these ingredients will come fresh from the garden as well.

You will also need 3-4 cups of chicken stock and about a half pound or more of cut-up and previously cooked chicken. You can buy the stock and one or two chicken breasts and go from there. Alternatively, you can make the chicken stock and the chicken from scratch by buying and roasting a chicken. If you do that, buy a chicken from a local farmer or one at least that has not been factory-farm-raised with hormonal, antibiotic additives — one that tastes like chickens used to taste, and may yet taste that way again. I do that and have a good meal from the roasted chicken and then cut off the remaining meat and use the bones to make 3-4 cups of stock for the soup while saving some of the chicken for addition to the soup later:

Chicken Stock:

Add the chicken bones to 4-5 cups of water and boil slowly uncovered for about an hour. You can add about 8-10 peppercorns a stalk of celery and a few baby carrots, and later discard the bones and these additives after filtering or decanting the stock from them. Set aside the stock and prepare the stewed tomatoes from about a dozen fresh Roma tomatoes:

Stewed Tomatoes:

First, quarter a dozen Roma tomatoes. Remove the seeds and skins with a sharp knife and collect the tomatoes in a sauce pan. Add a tsp of salt, cover and heat slowly under low-medium heat. Separately, finely cut and dice a large celery stalk, five to six cloves of garlic (use more if cloves are small), and about a third of a large red onion. Mix these ingredients and saute them lightly in a little olive oil and add the mixture to the smoothly boiling tomatoes, stirring in the sauteed mixture initially and then occasionally stirring several times over the next half hour while continuing to cook the tomatoes.

The Soup:

Add a large handful of wild rice to the chicken stock and boil under low heat covered for about half an hour. Then, add about half of the stewed tomatoes to the chicken stock-rice mix and freeze the remaining half of the stewed tomatoes for use later with another dish.

To the soup add the following mixture of cut vegetables: the white, blanched ends of three large leeks cut into small slices; a dozen small carrots and 3-4 celery stalks both cut into small slices; and about a cup of freshly steamed edamame (soy) beans shucked from their pods. Boil the rice-stewed-tomatoes-vegetable mix for another 15-20 minutes to finish cooking the rice and added vegetables. About 5-10 minutes before the end add about 1/2 to 3/4 pound of cut-up, previously cooked chicken cut in small pieces but not finely chopped. Stop the boiling and add at least a tsp each of dried basil, parsley and tarragon. If these spices are fresh, cut them up finely and add but in larger amounts (about doubling). Add also a tsp of dry caraway seeds. Stop heating, cover and stir occasionally the let the spice/herb flavors blend into the soup.

Dish up, add salt and pepper to taste (minimal as the spices will carry the flavor, and some salt you will note has been added along the way). Serve with toasted whole grain bread.

What To Do Until The Collapse Comes

I’m imagining that we can move slowly toward a collapse the details of which may be impossible to define, but we can certainly foresee it in broad terms as I have tried to show in recent blog posts. We can see it coming to individuals and even to groups. They gradually lose jobs or are always moved down the scale to lower and lower paying jobs, but none of those jobs provide a way to stay out of poverty. Of course, we can think ourselves too smart and wake up one morning in the midst of the collapse we knew was coming, but failed to see it until it was upon us.

In view of the possibility that the forthcoming collapse may not be wide spread enough to include me for years yet, I decided to get ready for it — especially because I might be wrong and the collapse might be closer than I think. Also, I thinking it may start and then things will become more difficult gradually. I won’t wake up some morning having gone from comfortable to destitute overnight. It may be upon me over a period of months or more.

I’m assuming it will be hard to move around unless one has a bicycle or something that moves on battery power that I can charge using my own solar system. I don’t know much about solar, but it appears to can build your own systems for about 10 percent the cost of a commercial system. I’ve built my own solar oven, but I need to improve on the design, or learn to eat food that doesn’t need to be cooked. I’ll also need some good water filtration systems for water to drink or cook with. Of course, I’ll use natural gas until it becomes too expensive. I expect the price to go up 10-100 fold so I’ll have to use far less of it that I do currently.

In general, it doesn’t cost too much to either cool or warm the house. I’ve been insulating and buying a little extra warm clothing. I need enough solar to run things minimally. The house is well designed with the bedrooms on the far ends. They can be closed off on cold days, but it’s not as cold even in winter as it used to be.

Initially, the living quarters should be adequate. I’ll have to adjust if natural gas costs increase as much as I think they will. Also, hang drying washed clothes may become important.

In general, the living space will be adequate with diminished heating and cooling and electricity needs diminished appropriately.

To get around, I have a bike which I keep in good working order. It will be useful for going off to get provisions as needed — Ana as long as they are available.

I’ve been doing a lot of gardening in past years and I’ll need to increase that and get used to both freezing crops, storing in some in root cellar of canning. I suspect it will be mostly freezing and root cellar storage of crops from the expanded garden.

I’m increasing my tool supply, especially old time and some nice modern tools for building and repairing items with non-power tools. As some stage electricity needs won’t be able to handle critical needs if I have too many power tools.

Juices And Smoothies: Using What’s Left Over And Expanding Protein Intake

In general, I don’t plan things carefully. However, I usually use most of the fruit and vegetables take I buy. Waste and spoilage is expensive even when you are careful to buy what is in season and therefore much less expensive than it would be out of season. One has several options. As after several days in the refrigerator fruits and or vegetables will start to decay, it’s best to use them in a timely way. Often buying in quantity is far less expensive and so you are usually faced with more than you can eat in a timely way. For fruits, you can directly package and freeze many items and use most of those packages later in making smoothies or simpler fruit juices. Many can be directly converted into juices or smoothies, but freezing is quite useful for many fruits. The same is true for vegetables, that is, one can freeze many, but often not directly. Many vegetables can and should be lightly steamed and then frozen in convenient size bags. Some should be cooked before freezing — for example, squashes, or potatoes or zucchini converted into pancakes and then warmed up in the microwave for inclusion in meals. Tomatoes can be frozen directly after dark spots or blemishes removed. Later they can be heated briefly in obliging water, the skins removed then easily and the remaining tomatoes combined and converted into a tomato paste or sauce. Many spices and herbs that are used directly in sauces or for other cooking purposes may also be frozen directly and the added to the tomato or other sauce near the end of its preparation. Frozen tomatoes or spices/herbs may be added to directly to soups which are also useful as a place to collect left over aging vegetables sitting in the refrigerator rather than let them turn bad. I usually make separate plans for fruits as juices and smoothies while vegetables are used in preparing soups or sauces. Rarely are they combined, although sometimes carrots can be added to a fruit smoothie or apples to a vegetable juice.

In a fruit smoothie I add about 1/4 cup of plain low fat yogurt, a scoop of whey protein, a banana (even if has been frozen), a collection of berries and a handful of chipped ice. You can add a little water if it’s too thick after blending. You can also add pineapple, apple, pear or almost any fruit that is tasty and blend well with other fruits. This includes kiwi, papaya and mangoes. I tend not to add anything with seeds such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit or grapes — some of these have tough skins as well. Fruits with seeds or tough skins can be easily converted into juices.

These practices of converting both useful fruits and vegetables into edible or drinkable snacks that are ofter protein supplemented allows you to take advantage of the massive doses of vitamins and essential minerals they contain. You will also get plenty of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Don’t let any of it go to waste. You can add turkey, chicken or fish to some vegetable juices. Sweet tomatoes freshly picked from the garden, skinned and de-seeded can add just the right amount of sweet taste to a vegetable juice. Also, fresh herbs of the right mix and variety will help impart a fantastic taste as well. It’s never necessary to add salt or sugar to these drinks. But, if you find that some sweetness is called for use some raw honey.

Make just enough juice or smoothie to drink — saving some for later is fine, but don’t wait too long to drink it as taste will change and is likely to increase diarrhea an flatulence.

At lower speeds on your blender you can often make purees and dips for a variety of purposes — these should be used quickly as well as they will not last too long. Further, one should not make a constant habit of juices and smoothies. The low sodium content of most juices and vegetables may considerably lower overall salt intake below minimal required levels. If you are growing many of your own fruits and vegetables store some in a root cellar (see earlier post), or freeze them in various ways as recommended above. Remember to add protein when you can and remember that there is more to life that just juices, soups and smoothies.