I’m just about done with week ten of my summer body fat loss contest. And I’m kind of ready for it to be over. But there’s about three weeks and a couple of days left. I had started to get kind of discouraged after hitting a plateau for several weeks, so I decided to make a few changes, just to shake things up a little.

First I decided to be a little more lenient on what I eat during the week. I started letting myself have some good chocolate a couple or even a few times a week. I stopped focusing so much on how many grams of fat and protein I was eating, and just looked at the over-all calories. (Since it’s become ingrained over the past couple of decades for me to eat lower fat and mostly non-processed foods, I just depended on that to keep the fat down, and I knew I was still getting more protein from the yogurt, cottage cheese, and lean meats that I continue to eat regularly).

For exercise, I was getting tired of my lower back being sore after a good cardio workout at the gym, so I decided to try switching to more intense ‘actual’ activities like more hiking and longer walks. As a result, my back has definitely appreciated not being subjected to repetitive movements on equipment that doesn’t seem well suited for my body mechanics. (Of course in the winter when it gets dark right after work, I’ll be back in the gym doing this, but it’s summer right now!)

Cragmoor-Hardscrabble Trail

Cragmoor-Hardscrabble Trail

After making these changes for a couple of weeks, I’m finding it’s a little easier to keep motivated about the contest (but I’m still ready for it to be over), and I’m a bit more pleased with my current results to date. If I can trust what my scale told me this morning, I’ve lost six pounds, and about three and a half percent body fat. I took my measurements and compared them against ones I took sometime early this year or late last year, and I am down 4+3/4 inches when I add what I’ve lost for bust/waist/hips. So THAT definitely makes me happy.

Fern Canyon

Fern Canyon

So three more weeks, and then I can get back to doing more of a food blog than a diet and exercise reporting blog. But I am planning to keep many changes I’ve made overall. So 22 more days! Look for a final body fat loss report after August 20th.

Fern Canyon to Bear Peak

Fern Canyon to Bear Peak

I’m at about week 8 in my summer body fat loss contest, and to be honest, have pretty much been on a plateau for the past month. (Actually my weight has kind of gone up and down by two pounds for a couple weeks, so that’s been more of a roller coaster – today it’s down about 4 lbs from the start. But my body fat loss seems to be staying at around 2.5%.) Definitely not as good I was hoping for. At all. But I’ve had some issues with recurring lower back pain for multiple days at a time, and may actually have been over-training (as improbable as that seems for what I’ve been doing compared to a lot of my fellow Boulderites!).

So at this point, I’m going for a bit more weight and body fat loss over the next five weeks, but am mainly focusing on how my clothes do feel a bit looser, my resting heart rate has lowered, and I discovered that I CAN actually still do the hikes that I did back when I was in college.

I do feel better eating more fruits and vegetables, and more lean protein like fish, chicken breast, fat-free cottage cheese, and fat-free Greek yogurt. I have several things that have become new staples, such my go-to dessert of a peach, fat-free Greek yogurt, and either All-Bran or Kashi Go Lean.

Peach, Yogurt and Kashi Go Lean Cinnamon Crisp

Peach, Yogurt, and Cinnamon Crisp Kashi Go Lean

I also frequently eat a modified Fattousch salad (romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, olive oil, red vinegar, sumac, parsley, mint, and aleppo pepper).

Modified Fattousch Salad

Modified Fattousch Salad

And nothing makes you feel healthier than building a salad with nothing but vegetables and no-oil balsamic dressing at Whole Foods. They say that the more colors represented in your salad, the healthier. When I was a kid my salads were all iceberg green-white and then brown and orange with croutons and cheese. These days I really do enjoy the vibrancy of a truly healthy salad.

Salad form Whole Foods

Salad form Whole Foods

I have become a bit more relaxed in my eating rules (in addition to my one meal splurge a week), so that once in a while I can have some sprouted flax-seed bread French Toast with blueberries.

Sprouted Flax Seed French Toast with Blueberries

Sprouted Flax Seed French Toast with Blueberries

And to finish the post, here are some pictures from those hikes I mentioned!

Mt. Sanitas

Hike on Mt. Sanitas

Hiking in Shanahan Ridge

Hiking Shanahan Ridge

Hiking Fern Canyon Trail

Hiking Fern Canyon Trail

At few weeks ago, I finally stopped and bought some whole wheat flour from Farmer John at the Farmers’ Market. Farmer John, of Butte Mill Flour Company, grows hard red winter what outside of Niwot, and stone grinds it himself. I’d been eyeing his flour for some time, but just haven’t done much yeast baking in the past few years, opting instead for the much more forgiving quick breads. But with my summer of ‘training’ for the body fat loss contest I’m doing, I’m avoiding refined flours in anything I eat at home. So the time was perfect to give his flour a try.

I decided to be really brave and just go with all whole wheat flour, something I normally wouldn’t even consider doing — there were too many whole wheat and rye flour bread attempts when I was younger that resulted in much unpleasantness. But I thought the mashed potato trick I discovered a while ago might help out, so I had a small bit of confidence in the experiment. I referenced a recipe on the King Arthur Flour site, and went from there. In addition to a mashed sweet potato, I decided to add a small bit of oat bran, flax seeds and wheat germ.

Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients

Whole Wheat Bread Ingredients (Apologies for the fogginess – pictures taken during an unplanned camera lens fingerprint phase.)

I made the first batch after a particularly tiring weight lifting workout, and had no intention of spending 15 minutes kneading bread. So I decided to see how the bread machine would do with it on the dough setting. (I planned to bake it in the oven.) The answer was, ‘interestingly’. At first the mixture was way, way too dry, so I added water during the first part of the mixing until the dough could actually move around. Then I decided that maybe it was too much water. But I decided I’d just let it run through the dough cycle and see what happened.

Totally not the right texture

Totally not the right texture

Well, it was a sticky, sticky mess. So I tried to knead some flour into it. (So much for giving my arms a rest). But I discovered that whole wheat isn’t really the best kneading flour. I couldn’t get past sticky even after adding another 3/4 cup of flour. Being stubborn and wanting to stick to my no unrefined flours rule, I decided to put it back into the bread machine for another dough cycle. I don’t know why, it just seemed like something to do. (I was totally winging it at this point, obviously). I let it go through most of the cycle, but took it out just a little early, and dumped the entirely wrong-textured dough into a couple of bread pans and put it in to bake.

Still not the right texture - oh, whatever!

Still not the right texture – oh, whatever!

Amazingly, when it was done, it had a pretty nice texture, and tasted quite good. It was robust – definitely not your soft ciabatta or French bread taste or texture, but my husband and I finished both loaves off in about six days, so clearly it was good enough to warrant a repeat.

Wholly Whole Wheat Bread

Wholly Whole Wheat Bread

I tried making a second batch the next weekend. I used slightly less flour and water, left the wheat germ out (I thought it tasted just a tiny bit too wheat germy the first time), and used butter instead of olive oil to give it a richer taste. Things went pretty much the same as the first time, except I just added the extra flour to the bread machine before the second dough cycle instead of even trying a kneading phase. I used my large loaf pan instead of making two loaves, so that I would hopefully have taller bread, but that turned out to be a mistake. It took a very long time for the bread to get anywhere close to completely baked because of its denseness. In fact, I actually ended up slicing the bread, laying the pieces on a baking sheet, and finishing it off at a lower temperature as if I were making biscotti. (Note to self – excellent Plan B for any future too-moist bread products.) I think making two shorter loaves was an unintentional wise move the first time around. But this one did taste really good.

I can’t really recommend this recipe to anyone, but should you wish to have a bit of a whole wheat adventure, here’s the amounts I used for both rounds:

Round 1:

3 c + 3/4 c stone ground whole wheat flour
11 oz sweet potato – cooked and mashed until smooth
1/4 c oat bran
2 Tbsp wheat germ
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil
1+1/2 c water
1 pkg yeast (mine was specially recommended for whole grains and had 25% more in the package
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Round 2:

2 c + 1/2 c stone ground whole wheat flour
11 oz sweet potato – cooked and mashed until smooth
1/3 cup oat bran
2 Tbsp flax seeds
2 Tbsp melted butter
1+1/2 c water
1 pkg yeast (mine was specially recommended for whole grains and had 25% more in the package
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in the bread pan and run through the bread cycle. Keep an eye on it, and add additional water and assist mixing with a spatula as needed. Add the additional flour, mix it in a bit with a spatula, then run through another bread cycle. Towards the end of the second bread cycle, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put dough in two bread pans brushed with olive oil, and bake about 35-40 minutes. The bread is done when it is firm and crusty on top (you can check the temperature with a thermometer as well – it should be 190 degrees).

This past Friday my husband and I had the pleasure of attending a farm dinner at Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette. Three Leaf Farm is owned by Lenny and Sara Martinelli, owners of Three Leaf Concepts, which is responsible for an array of great restaurants in Boulder County (Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, Aji Latin American Restaurant, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, Zucca Italian Ristorante, the Huckleberry, the Naropa Cafe, and now the Chautauqua Dining Hall). The farm was established to provide local produce to the Three Leaf Concept restaurants. But the farm doesn’t just grow produce — they have several goats which provide milk for cheese, a large number of chickens for eggs, several bee hives on the property, and even a newly built barn with farm-owned as well as boarded horses.

The same six goats in several pictures. Because I think goats are adorable!

The same six goats in several pictures. Because I think goats are adorable!

The farm tour is one of my favorite parts of farm dinners. I love hearing about the different tactics used to control weeds and pests without pesticides, and how Colorado farms deal with the dry climate. Farm manager Chase Morris shared a wealth of information as well as some pretty amusing anecdotes about the day-to-day operations at the farm. It’s always very cool to hear how passionate the farmers on smaller farms are about their product. And the chefs at each restaurant have really embraced the produce from the farm as well. I loved hearing about a day when there wasn’t enough time to harvest what the chef from Zucca wanted for that night, so he harvested it himself! And you truly can’t beat the opportunity to hold a pygmy goat! (The picture above is of one of the owners of the farm holding the goat. As soon as I got the goat into my arms, he took one look at my hair and said – hey! STRAW! – and began eating it, therefore not providing a good photographic opportunity.)

Gorgeous Appetizers

Gorgeous Appetizers

The chef for this farm dinner was Rachel Best, of Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant (one of our favorites in Boulder). The food began with some wonderful appetizers: Avalanche Lamborn Bloomers Cheese on Flax Crackers with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote, Raw Broccoli Shooters with Macademia Nut Cheese, and Raw Sweet Pea Hummus on Baby Red Romaine with Radish Sprouts. The cheese was unbelievably good and the broccoli shooters were fantastic as well.

View from my place at the table

My place at the table

After appetizers and the farm tour, we and our fellow diners moved to the table for dinner. The table was beautifully set, and there was even a trio playing live music throughout dinner. I’ve mentioned this before when reviewing various dinners we’ve gone to, but it’s always so fun to have dinner with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, to talk and laugh through dinner, and then find that three hours have gone by in what feels like half that time. The group where we sat covered a wide range of food topics, as well as the Midwest climate compared to Colorado, water rights, college majors and dining halls, and travel.

Looking down the table

Looking down the table

But on to the food! The first course was Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets. The entire dish was great, but I couldn’t get past how awesome the pickled beets were. Yes, they seem simple, but I really think they were the best ones I’ve ever had. Very, very thin, with the perfect vinegary taste.

Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets

Zucchini Fritters with Carrot-Hempseed Pesto and Pickled Golden Beets

The bread served was Gluten Free Teff Rolls with Colorado Honey Butter. The rolls were so good that I bought some teff flour the next day to see how easy it was to bake with (haven’t tried it yet, though). I’ve actually been amazed lately with the great quality of a lot of gluten-free products I’ve tried, and these rolls were great as well.

Gluten Free Teff Rolls

Gluten Free Teff Rolls

The salad course was Farm Greens with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion.

Farm Green Salad with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion

Farm Green Salad with Quinoa, Haystack Mountain Cracked Pepper Chevre with Basil Vinaigrette and Tempura Pearled Onion

For the main course we had Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sautéed Kale, and Rosemary Pistachios. I thought this course was especially attractive.

 Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sauteéd Kale and Rosemary Pistachios

Seared Trumpet Mushrooms, Turnip-Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Radishes, Sautéed Kale, and Rosemary Pistachios

By the time dessert arrived, it was so dark that I had pretty much no hope of getting a decent picture. So you’ll have to put some imagination into viewing the picture of the Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs.

Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs

Brandy Custard with Apricot Puree, Lemon Pound Cake, Toasted Almonds, and Cocoa Nibs

Three Leaf Farm has four additional dinners scheduled for this year. The price for the dinner we attended was $80, and included wine pairings for every course. This is considerably less than a lot of local farm dinners are lately, so was quite a great deal, in addition to being a wonderful time.

Today is the two year mark for my blog. I celebrated with some dog walking at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley (I volunteer weekly), a salmon burger and romaine salad, rowing at the gym, and then some blueberries, strawberries, and mango with yogurt and All Bran (which really was quite good). Here’s to another year!

birrthdayfour

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