Posts Tagged ‘sushi’

On Acting My Age … Whatever it Is

Friday, January 16th, 2015

By Bob Gaydos

"New" me, at 73.

“New” me, at 73.

I’m 73 years old. That’s a fact and unless I go to work for Fox News, I am not free to change it to suit my mood. Truth is, I don’t obsess about my age the way some do. Most of the time, I don’t think about it unless someone mentions it.

For example, last summer my partner and I were standing on line at a fix-your-own frozen yogurt establishment called Hoopla! The line of customers extended to the door and it was close to closing time. As I surveyed the offerings, my partner turned to me and said, “Did you notice we’re always the oldest ones in here?” I took a quick look around and told her that, no, I hadn’t and, furthermore, while I thought she certainly didn’t qualify, I was definitely the oldest person in the place.

And I wondered, “How come?” Don’t septuagenarians like frozen yogurt? Look at all the great flavors. And there are all the toppings — pretty much anything you can think of from fruit to nuts to Gummy Bears to complement the delicious frozen treat.

Maybe it’s the do-it-yourself bit, I thought. Or the standing in line. Maybe a lot of older folks don’t like standing in line. It could be the possibility of some messiness. Or maybe it’s just the whole idea of experiencing something new.

It’s my observation, which is open to challenge, that a lot of people of a certain age are not thrilled with trying something new. It’s as if they feel they have lived long enough and done enough. No need to learn anything else. Fixing your own dessert? Way too much trouble.

So, they have flip phones. They don’t text or Google. They barely e-mail. Kindle, schmindle; give ‘em a real book. And not a Facebook. That’s just too confusing … or something. And it’s not just frozen yogurt that they won’t eat: Kale, quinoa and coconut water will never cross their lips. Change is for the young.

I don’t get it. My feeling is, since I have just a limited time here, why not experience as much as I can for as long as I can? I know how easy it can be to slip into a rut of comfortability, even if things in life aren’t so great, even if I’m not in the best of shape. I’ve been there. It’s easy to say, hey, this is OK. I can handle it. I don’t have to worry about learning something new. School’s over. Time to relax. Ain’t retirement grand?

Actually, yes, retirement has been pretty grand. But it’s also not the end of the line.

I shaved my beard and mustache off a few months ago. In the space of a month, only six people noticed. I counted.

One of them was my son, Max, who had a full beard himself at the time. My other son, Zack, noticed that I had also gotten a haircut, which was a typical observation. Other comments ranged from, “You look really tan, Bob” to “Nice haircut,” to “You look good; are you working out?” to “Did you lose weight?”

To which I replied, varyingly, “Thanks.” “Yes.” And, “Hello, I shaved my beard off.”

The beard is now back, although trimmed fairly neatly, and the hair on top is cut short. Also neat. But more importantly for this whole getting older thing, were the other comments about working out and losing weight. They were correct. People noticed and, to be honest, it was nice to hear. The working out regularly, combined with eating a much more healthful diet, coincided with meeting my partner two-and-a-half years ago. More than ever, I don’t believe in coincidences. The result has been a significant weight loss for me and my feeling and looking better — healthier at any rate — at 73 than, dare I say, at 53. So, yeah, retirement is great.

Anyway, as I said, a few people did notice the beard was gone and their comments may be even more telling than the ones I didn’t get:

— “There’s Bob, looking all neat and reputable.”

— “You look so neat and clean.”

— “Now you’re not hiding behind anything.”

Or from anything either. The physical changes have been accompanied by subtle psychological changes, a greater willingness to try new things.

The point of this exercise in vanity, I suppose, is that numerical age doesn’t matter nearly as much as attitude does. That’s nothing new, I know. I just needed to acknowledge it publicly for myself. Just don’t tell me to act my age, because I don’t know what that means.

I am 73. I have a phone that is at least 10 times smarter than I am. I wrote this column on a laptop. I love WiFI. I have a Kindle and have actually read one book on it so far. (Confession: I still prefer the real thing.) I Google and text constantly. I eat yogurt and falafel and sushi and lots of fruits and vegetables. No red meat. I exercise with a growing degree of regularity. All my annual checkup numbers are in the positive range. My doctor says I’m the textbook example of what can happen when you actually follow your doctor’s advice. I kinda liked hearing that, too.

Now, if someone would just explain to me how 3-D printing works …

 

A Tofurkey Thanksgiving? Excellent

Thursday, December 5th, 2013
Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner

By Bob Gaydos

The decision to celebrate a Tofurkey Thanksgiving was driven in large part by the price of salmon. With the traditional turkey-and-all-the-trimmings (and calories) extravaganza already off the table in my more health-conscious life style, fresh salmon sounded like a tempting alternative — and one that was probably more in keeping with the original get-togethers. But at $9.99 a pound, fresh salmon quickly lost its appeal.

Hence, Tofurkey. Knock off the smirking out there. I see you. This is the real deal.

The no-meat Thanksgiving-with-all-the-trimmings turned out to be delicious, more than filling, and incredibly healthful. And it was nothing like the “Everybody Loves Raymond” TV episode that grabbed laughs at the expense of a mother trying to improve her family’s health by serving a bunch of tofu shaped like a turkey.

For one thing, the Tofurkey roast is not shaped like a turkey. It’s shaped like a roast. It’s also stuffed with wild rice and bread crumbs and the recipe tells you to add apple slices to it. It comes with its own soy-based gravy. No animal fat. The whole roast cost just a buck more than a pound of salmon.

Of course, the secret to serving a successfully scrumptious Thanksgiving meal is what surrounds the “main” dish. Ours had lots of vegetables, all roasted in special sauces garnished with rosemary, sage and thyme and and topped with gravy. Two large baking potatoes, two large sweet potatoes and a butternut squash, all cut into big chunks, went in the pan with the roast. A second roasting pan accommodated a bunch of carrots, a bunch of broccoli and a red cabbage. We also had traditional cranberry sauce and cranberry/apple cider to finish it all off. You can check with Google to find out how nourishing all that was.

Everything came out of the oven looking and smelling great. So far, so good. On to the next step.

Trust me, it was with trepidation that I assumed the role of carver. I’ve done this plenty of times in the past, with electric and regular carving knives, and usually managed to slice up a lot of turkey relatively neatly. But would the tofu let me carve it, or would it crumble under the influence of a large, serrated knife?

Success! Following directions to make quarter-inch slices, the roast carved easily and neatly. The stuffing held up, too. The rest was easy. Spoon a bunch of vegetables — that were mouth-wateringly good — on the plate, top everything with meatless gravy (enhanced with some maple syrup and honey) and enjoy.

There was easily enough to serve four people, which means, in keeping with Thanksgiving tradition, there were plenty of leftovers. Indeed, the feast provided two more satisfying meals, one enhanced with plenty of brown rice.

I write about this not to toot my own horn. Rather, because I think there is still an attitude of condescension in this country about people who want to do something as foolish as to eat food that is not only good tasting, but good for them. As if it is somehow elitist to want to not fill one’s body with known killers such as salt, sugar and fat or dumb to want to live as long as possible in the best health possible.

I’m no food snob and I don’t think I’m dumb. I haven’t sworn off red meat for life and I haven’t said I’ll never eat another potato chip. Right now, though, I’ve found plenty of tasty alternatives that, along with a workout regimen, have helped me to lower my blood pressure, reduce my sugar and cholesterol numbers as well as my weight, all while enabling me to improve my energy, strength and endurance. I am becoming fit, not fat. Smirk all you want, but that sounds pretty good to a guy collecting Social Security.

Actually, I know that I’m not alone in this renewed interest in eating more healthful foods. Social media is awash in groups dedicated to more healthful eating. And supermarkets suddenly are offering dozens of varieties of chips and and other snack foods that are not just potatoes laced with salt. There are growing sections of organic, gluten-free and low-fat, low-salt, low-sugar products. Change is happening.

Of course, price remains a problem for some, which is not an accident. The chemical companies that control the world’s food supply are not interested in having consumers switch from the addictive, salt, sugar, fat and chemical-filled products they advertise widely and sell cheaply in large quantities. In fact, they don’t even want consumers to know what’s in their products, or else why would they spend so much money fighting efforts to make them honestly label their goods, including whether they contain genetically modified ingredients? Healthy consumers are not good for the companies’ bottom lines.

Yes, it can be a challenge reading labels these days to make sure what’s being promised on the package is what’s really inside. But like anything else regarding a significant change in how we live, a little bit of effort can bring big rewards.

I do not claim to be anything special with regard to this change in life style. If anything, this is a selfish decision on my part. I don’t deny myself the joys of eating good food. I love pizza (just not as often as before and without pepperoni). I am a huge fan of frozen yogurt. Salsa and chips (no salt or low-salt) is still one of my favorites. Guacamole is a new one. Chicken, turkey (yes, I’ll still accept a drumstick), seafood, sushi, beans, rice, yogurt and lots of greens, fruits and vegetables keep the menu from getting boring and keep me looking forward to many more years of healthy living.

So that’s where I am today. And yes, Tofurkey will be on the menu again.

bob@zestoforange.com

 

 

 

 

Turns Out, You Really Are What You Eat

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

By Bob Gaydos

I don’t eat salt and sugar anymore. Well, I try not to, as much as is possible in America. Also no red meat, French fries or soda. I know, downright un-American.

As I write this, I‘m sitting in Dunkin’ Donuts alone, eating my oatmeal with fruit (fair) and veggie egg white (pretty good) breakfast. Medium coffee, no sugar. Ketchup Bob, who usually joins me, had a previous engagement. We’ll have to talk about that ketchup some other time.

The low-salt/sugar diet started about four months ago, the result of a long-delayed physical checkup and a decision that I wasn‘t ready for the slow-but-steady surrender to couch potato oblivion. Not by a long shot, it turns out to my pleasant surprise.

The doctor said I was too heavy and my blood pressure was too high. Vitamin D was too low. A couple of pills, some exercise and a new diet were prescribed. The pills have the blood pressure down to my former well-within-acceptable range and I have lost about 30 pounds (more to come). I am also walking two-to-three miles per week and have started what I call an exercise regimen, but my coach calls a reclamation project. I say it’s just semantics, but we’re working on it.

It turns out, the diet switch wasn’t nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. There’s a lot of salad in my diet now, more fruit and veggies and a lot of chicken. Also sea food. I have ventured into the previously mysterious world (to me) of vegan cuisine and have eaten sushi for the first time. More to the point, I’m prepared to go back for seconds. I have also relearned the art of using chopsticks (brown rice, please).

I am also happy to report that there are mighty tasty organic cookies (double chocolate) and that chocolate itself, if it’s mostly chocolate, is still good as well as good for you. And there are plenty of healthful salsa and chip varieties to satisfy that other craving. And Greek yogurt with fruit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not nearly settled in to this new diet. Not even sure what it will eventually turn out to be. I may splurge on an occasional steak or ice cream cone. Fanaticism is not one of my shortcomings. The doctor asked me to read “Wheat Belly,” a best-seller that launched the no-gluten craze. I’m not even sure I had a wheat belly, but I’m reading the book and I’ll have to get back to you on that. At the very least, I know that too much bread isn’t good for me.

The exercise regimen, on the other hand, has turned out to be more challenging. Even walking a half mile was exhausting initially.

Weight training (dumbbells, not barbells) was, to be honest, humbling at first. My male ego had to wrestle with seeing the fairer sex easily do repetitions I could not finish. Pushups? Forget it. The only exercise I managed to feel OK doing at first was crunches. (And by the way, they’re paying off.) I’m also doing a lot of stretching and believe me my body needed it and I feel it.

I am happy to report that I am now doing a two-mile walk each week, with a one-mile stroll tossed in most weeks as well. There are also sessions on a stationary bike (soon to be increased, coach) and a general heightened awareness of how I walk (also tossed in for the coach).

So what? you say. Why should you care about what I eat or do with my body? Well, honestly, you don’t have to care. I’m doing this diary entry as a sort of selfish exercise in self-discipline, to remind myself that what I’m doing is working. I feel much healthier, look much healthier and even think in a healthier way than I did before I began this radical change. That’s win-win-win. I’ve had to buy new jeans and they are already too big.

It has always been my belief that it is never too late to do something if you really want to do it. Motivation is key, of course. As well as self-discipline and support and encouragement. Making this change a matter of public record also has the effect of making me stick to it as much as possible because I won’t like being asked whatever happened to your diet, chubby?

And, who knows, maybe it will influence someone else who is slipping into coach potato oblivion to resist and pull him or herself out of the cushions. Life is too short to fritter away. I have a long way to go, but the joy, they say, is in the journey. So I’m going to try to have fun as I go along. (More stretches? Really coach?) I’ll keep you filled in on the details.

Next week, Bob, the ketchup talk.

bob@zestoforange.com