What Not To Eat

How I Lowered My Cholesterol, Weight, and Blood Pressure All At Once

I thought that I would post something on a success at reducing my cholesterol since it was such a breakthrough for me.  About 10 years ago my physician said my overall cholesterol was 240 which was too high, and that I should begin taking a statin drug to lower it.  I resisted for three years and then in 2004 I gave in, fearing the risk of a heart attack or worse would befall me in the future.  However, always in the back of my mind I wanted to get off of those statin medicines that are bad for your liver, stomach, and muscles.

Well, in 2011, I got my wish, in the form of a combination of biking, change of diet, and otherwise different outlook on life.  I began riding the bike(s) again, up to an hour a day, regardless of the weather or how tired I was.  I began following a dietary plan that was influenced by what my co-worker had shown me to be healthy, and it has worked out to be very successful.  My weight dropped 30 pounds in less than a year, my blood pressure went down to 109 over 70, and my cholesterol dropped to 160 without taking any cholesterol lowering medicine.

Exercise is a big part of the plan, in that you have to want to get out and do some physical activity.   For me it always has been biking, since I was a small child.    Also, you have to get a high metabolism somehow, and I was blessed with one since birth.  Back to biking – I try to ride twice a day, if possible.  I do a road bike ride in the morning and then maybe another in the evening or switch to mountain bike.  I only bike outside, and never use an indoor exercise cycle; I prefer the view to be changing constantly or I would get bored.

So, here are my lists of what not to eat and what to eat!

What Not To Eat!

  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Fried Foods
  • White bread
  • White sugar
  • white rice (some is okay, but there’s no fiber in white rice!)
  • Donuts or other high fat pastries
  • Desserts with an excess of sugar, fat, eggs, etc.
  • Bacon
  • Real eggs
  • Shrimp and other shellfish
  • Anything cooked in excessive fat or oil
  • Indian food cooked in ghee ( that is also known as clarified butter )
  • Soups or other food with a high sodium content
  • Sweet tea ( or at least avoid a whole glass; dilute it with unsweet tea )

What To Eat!

  • High fiber cereals ( such as Fiber One – has 57% of daily fiber )
  • Double fiber wheat bread
  • Steel Cut Oats
  • High fiber wheat tortilla shells
  • Egg beaters ( has no yolk, but you can do the same thing with a real egg by removing the yolk, and cooking only the whites.  Cook the yolk and give it to your dog, he’ll love it!
  • Non-Fat Greek Yogurt ( read the labels and find the ones with the lowest sugar content )
  • Almonds ( only the natural, raw ones, with no salt added )
  • Bananas ( high in carbohydrates, but also high in potassium )
  • high fiber muffins ( blueberry, banana nut, etc. )
  • Peanut butter
  • Veggie Delite sandwiches from Subway ( with the veggie patty ! )
  • Fiber One Bars or Fiber Plus bars ( 35% of daily fiber )
  • Granola
  • Hummous
  • Tofu
  • Olive Oil – as a salad dressing and as a cooking oil
  • Olives
  • Fat Free feta cheese
  • Veggie Burgers
  • Portabello mushrooms
  • Grilled chicken sandwiches ( hold the mayo, and try to get a wheat bun )
  • Salmon
  • Nutritional shakes such as Ensure
  • Fresh fruits such as oranges, cherries, blueberries, strawberries
  • Sweet potato fries
  • High fiber beans such as garbanzos, Fava beans, black beans, etc.
  • Avocados – and the product made from them, guacamole
  • Baby spinach (fresh, as in a salad )
  • Salads, salads, salads!

If you think this diet would be difficult for you to adapt, then I can understand your point.  Most Americans are accustomed to the fast food regime that our culture thrusts upon us.  I have to be an observant shopper and a practicing cook to keep up this style of eating.

I could be a 100% vegetarian but that’s not necessary, and you need some protein every day.  Egg beaters, Chicken and fish offer plenty of protein, along with many vegetable products.  I read about MUFAs about five months ago, and that influenced me to focus on certain foods.  MUFA is an acronym for mono-unsaturated fats, and these are found in olives, olive oil, almonds, peanut butter, avocados, and other nuts.  Basically these are healthy fats.

The most healthy thing that I can make or buy is the ‘strawberry spinach salad’ which is available at Fresh Market.  Here’s what I put in it:

  • Fresh baby spinach
  • Cut up strawberries
  • Almonds
  • Fat-free feta cheese
  • Black olives
  • A raspberry vinagrette salad dressing that is non-fat

This salad has MUFAs in it and can really make me smile – I have made it dozens of times and it always pleases.

Find your eating plan, and stick with it – you’ll be better off!

Posted in A Foodie's Revenge | Leave a comment

The Levitt Shell

I went to see the movie ‘U2 – Rattle and Hum’ at Levitt Shell last night and it was just awesome – both the movie and the experience of watching it at the Shell.  What made it different this time is that I got there early and rode my bike around Overton Park at dusk to get the feeling of what Overton is like in the evenings.  I used my bike as a makeshift viewing platform and was able to watch the movie from angles all over the seating area.  Additionally I circled the Shell on my bike during a song or two and got a special effect of hearing Bono singing from afar, then nearer and nearer, as if I was approaching the live concert itself.

The Edge is fantastic guitarist and can really get a lot of distinctive sounds from his guitars.  I noticed that he played a variety of electric guitars, including a Fender Stratocaster, Rickenbacker, Gibson ES-330, as well as a few that I could not recognize since the movie was shot almost entirely in black and white.  For more info on the movie/documentary, see the Wiki Rattle and Hum entry.

I have now seen three of the Levitt summer concert movies and each one has been different but immensely enjoyable.   Next week it is the Concert for Bangladesh, which first I saw in 1971 as a young impressionable 15 year old at the Frayser 3 movie theater.

Get out there and see something at the Shell – it beats sitting at home!

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Happy Fifty-Fifth Birthday, Five Days In a Row!

Monday, July 11th was my 55th birthday – of course I celebrated in the usual way by going to work and putting in the day’s toil – however this birthday was a break, because I got to go to an Agile Boot Camp training course and listen to how my chosen profession is evolving into a more compassionate form.  Agile is not for everyone, but I think it’s going to take my company into a new wave of re-thinking how to deal with life-long problems of software development and deployment.  For further examples on how re-thinking the way people looked at things, I suggest you study the French Revolution, the Impressionistic Art Movement of the 1870’s, and of course, the Woodstock generation of hippies!

Birthday Flags Still Hang Over My Cubicle - even on July 15th!

Birthday Flags Still Hang Over My Cubicle – even on July 15th!

Oh well, but I digress -back to my birthday.   It is the tradition in my work area to hang a banner of flags over one’s cubicle on the day of their birthday.  Additionally a colorful banner that says ‘Happy Birthday’ also hangs in the chosen one’s cubicle.  See the photo below – and the mess that is my cubicle as well!.  The flags should have come down after a day, but they stayed up till the end of the week, so I got birthday greetings from co-workers every day.  It was kind of a nice gesture, but then I thought of the Bill Murray movie, ‘Groundhog Day’ and wondered was I aging a year more for each day that the flags were hung?  Would I be eligible for retirement by next Tuesday?

Well, it now is Saturday, the 16th, and I am happy to say that I am still 55 and not feeling that old yet.  I still have not applied for the senior citizen discount at any place like I said that I would do; instead I have been busy pursuing other fun stuff such as kayaking, riding a bike on the river, going to a 60’s concert movie at the Levitt Shell, and generally enjoying life.   Maybe I’ll get to see 56, 57, 58, and many more years, but I am going to try and have some fun where I am now – see ya!

Biking On The River Front - this should be required practice for every Memphian

Biking On The River Front - this should be required practice for every Memphian

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RUBY – The Quest For Something New


I am still on the search for the meaning of RUBY as it relates to me, a developer of 33 years, having experienced most of the whizz-bang computer technology of the past four decades. The concept of an open-source framework that is based neither on Java or C/C++/C# is like running for president as a third party candidate.  You may get a lot of attention and steal some votes from some dissatisfied party members, but ultimately you’re not going to win the election in November (ask Ross Perot ! ).

I already did most of the interpretive languages to the max, much more than my dyed-in-the-wool object oriented peers.  For example, in the 1985 I purchased the source to the FORTH Language from Mountain View Press for about $20, and keyed it into my DOS 3.1 computer, made weeks of corrections, and finally had my own customized working version of FORTH running on both my DOS computer and on a single board MC6803 single board computer.  I was ecstatic when the FORTH prompt appeared on my 25 x 80 black and white screen and I was able to key in my first simple FORTH program and it actually worked!   That experience led me on a three year journey of utilizing FORTH to build an even more powerful version that had a multi-tasking kernel, which by 1989 I had put into place to perform simultaneous polling of telephone PBX systems at the place where I was working in the late 80’s.  I also managed to embed a database in FORTH so that I could access ISAM tables for record level access to the PBX system status.  I did not realize it at the time but I had created a framework for development; I just had never heard it called a framework before.

Later on in the 2007-2009 time frame, I had a similar joyous experience with the LUA Language in leading a project to create a mobile development framework.  We used HTML as the presentation layer, LUA as the navigational and control logic, and C/C++ code to access system level functionality and database.   Again, another ecstatic experience as I was able to make this framework operate in the real world as we put it in use in the UK for a month in the hands of 20 mobile couriers.

Now I am wondering what I’ll do with RUBY and its practical implementation, Ruby on Rails.   Maybe there’s some project lurking out there; I am thinking of a mobile device application that will track GPS coordinates while I am riding my bike, or a website that keeps up with hardware movement within our labs.  Who knows?

RUBY itself is an interpretive language that supports classes and objects, that it is its advantage over FORTH and LUA.   Neither FORTH nor LUA could offer the true benefits of an O-O language, but RUBY can do it with ease.  While LUA offered dynamic typing of variables much like RUBY, it did not offer true object-oriented coding.  It was more designed along the lines of a C like syntax with functions being the way to accomplish the main work of expressing code.

A simple RUBY class is created as follows:

class MyClass

def new

print “This is the new method being called in the MyClass”



The above code shows a simple example of a class with one method.  You can probably Google the words Ruby Tutorial to get more.   There’s more to come; I’ll use my blog to help remind me of stuff I discovered that is useful in Ruby – stay tuned!

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My Lemongrass Tofu

Lemongrass Tofu – A Success In The Kitchen

I got the urge to make some lemongrass tofu on Saturday while kayaking at Mud Island, so I went after the task of getting it together as soon as I could get back on dry land.   I had a block of firm tofu in the fridge just waiting to get used for something really great, and I had Googled some recipes on Friday to get me prepared for the event.

My first challenge was to get some lemongrass, so I went to Viet Hoa market on Jefferson to buy the frozen variety, which is basically chopped lemongrass and chiles in a plastic container.  I have used this type of lemongrass for years with moderate success.  Of course it is more authentic to by a fresh stalk of lemongrass, but the quality of lemongrass here i Memphis is sometimes below par.  In any case, I procured the lemongrass at Viet Hoa with no problem plus I had fun looking at their fantastic selection of other Asian treats such as fresh seaweed, durian fruit, bitter melon, and of course their fish market featuring live fish!

Viet Hoa - a palace of Asian culinary delights

Viet Hoa - a palace of Asian culinary delights

my own lemon grass tofu!

my own lemon grass tofu!

After comparing the recipes of three different sites, I opted to create my own unique recipe.  Here’s what I came up with for a customized lemongrass tofu.

Step 1: I boiled some Vietnamese rice noodles and put them on a decorative plate as shown in the picture.

Step 2: I diced a red bell pepper and fried it in olive oil, flavored with some garlic ginger paste that I use for my Middle-Eastern/Indian cooking efforts.  I set this aside for later.

Step 3: I cut up some tofu into one inch cubes and fried them in some olive oil, again flavored with ginger-garlic paste.  While frying, I added these ingredients:

  • a tablespoon of soy sauce
  • a tablespoon of peanut butter
  • a pinch of tumeric powder
  • a teaspoon of chile flakes
  • two tablespoons of lemongrasa

Step 4: I rolled the tofu cubes around in this mixture while frying, and stopped when I saw that the tofu had darkened up a bit, and looked firm.  I then mixed in the red bell pepper pieces into with the tofu while still in the skillet.

Step 5: I poured the tofu and bell pepper mixture over the rice noodles but I did not mix them in – I just covered the rice noodles.

Step 6: I mixed in Planters Party Peanuts (low salt), diced green onions and some full sized cilantro leaves with the tofu.

Step 7: All done – I then sat down to enjoy what was a spicy but palatable version of lemongrass tofu.

I also made a side dish of fresh bean sprouts with almonds and cucumber slices mixed in; to give it flavor I sprinkled black sesame seeds and dotted it with Vietnamese hot sauce.  See the picture below for how that turned out.

Bean Sprout Salad using almonds, black sesame seeds, and hot sauce

Bean Sprout Salad using almonds, black sesame seeds, and hot sauce

I really enjoy this type of experimental cooking, because it’s so rewarding when things turn out well.  Try your own version of lemongrass tofu – it’s really not that difficult to make at home!

Posted in A Foodie's Revenge | Leave a comment


A New Release From ‘Yes’ Due Out Soon?

I saw this sign on Saturday while visiting Mud Island and just could not pass up the chance to snap a picture of it. The sign appears right before you enter a ’roundabout’, or circular driving area for accessing either Mud Island or Harbor Town.   Just a month ago, this area was all under water, and probably the water was halfway up this sign post, according to the gatekeeper at Mud Island.

Sign was last used at a Yes concert to announce the final encore number

Sign was last used at a Yes concert to announce the final encore number

I was just recently listening to Yes performing their classic 70’s hit, “Roundabout” online, and sharing it with a friend about how they were still sounding as good as ever.   I just had to laugh when I saw the sign because I thinking how appropriate the sign was, considering that I had just a few minutes earlier listened to Roundabout on my MP3 player.  So, I concluded that Yes could put out a new CD called YesSigns ( sort of a parody of the YesSongs album title of the 70’s ) and feature other signs with their classic hits imprinted on them.  How about ‘Close to the Edge’ for a sign warning one to say away from railing at the Grand Canyon?  Or ‘Long Distance Runaround’ for a sign at the DMV to warn you that it’s going to take some time to get your license renewed once you finish bouncing between various lines and clerks?

I like Yes tremendously; I used to wear out my eight track of their album ‘Fragile’ by playing it in my 1966 AMC Rambler Classic on the way to college and back each day, back in the mid seventies.  I feel really privileged to have lived so long as to be able to look back so far and get a laugh once in a while,  and to still enjoy the music of my youth.

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I am starting an effort to learn the Ruby programming language and some its spinoffs, such as Ruby On Rails.  I try to learn a new language or system every so often, to keep my technical skills fresh, plus it’s just good clean fun to stay up for hours debugging something!

I decided to call the project ‘KASHMIR’ after the famous Led Zeppelin song of the same name.  It seems that everytime I start working on Ruby, that song pops into my head.  I guess it’s the haunting melodies and lyrics of the 70’s coming back to me.

Stay with me on this one while I report my successes and failures in the wonderful world of Ruby!

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