If you think barbacoa is a Spanish word for barbeque you are wrong.
If you told me a year ago, that I would not only eat, but cook for myself the cheek of a cow, I would have thought you crazy.
I confess, it's true. I truly enjoy this tender Mexican dish.
I have been working on a genealogy project for a client. Two books in the three volume set have already been printed, and we finished work on the third yesterday. Now we proof...and proof...and proof again.
My client and I work together 2-3 days a week. We usually start about 10:30, and she serves us lunch. Often it is fresh fruit or vegetables from her garden. Sometimes it is fresh eggs from the chickens who run wild in her yard. One day, she asked if I liked barbacoa and picadillo. I told her that I had eaten picadillo, but I wasn't familiar with barbacoa. She sent out for one taco of each, from a little taco stand near her home.
Picadillo is ground beef and potatoes, cooked with onion and spices. It is good.
I tasted the barbacoa and immediately loved it. It was a very flavorful, tender shredded beef served with raw onions and cilantro. My client waited until I had finished, then she told me that barbacoa is the meat from the cheek of the cow.
If I had known what I was going to eat that first time, I think I would have gagged. Cheek meat? Really? Yuk!
However I had already tried it and was hooked. From that point on, if she didn't have any specific lunch plans, she sent out for barbacoa.
She cooks her own barbacoa, and one day pulled a package of raw meat out of her freezer and told me it was a cow's cheek. She told me to cook it in my crockpot all day with onion and garlic. After it cooled she said to separate the meat from the fat with my hands. There is a lot of fat around the meat, but if you separate carefully, the meat itself is very lean.
It was so good, and since I was the only Type O in the house at the time, it lasted several days.
I've seen barbacoa recipes on the internet that call for tomatoes, chili powder, peppers and other spices. No, No, No. That's not how barbacoa is made in South Texas.
My client and I have talked a lot about food, including the Blood Type Diet. She is also Type O. I would say she is politely skeptical about this diet. Once in a while she tempts me with something that is avoid. Sometimes by accident, and sometimes she is testing me.
It amuses her to watch me eat the barbacoa and onions out of the tortilla with a fork. That's ok, because I'm smiling as I enjoy this unique cut of beef.
This morning my weight is within a half pound of what it was last December. This has been an unexpected struggle. I thought I would share what I have learned.
1. I know I run the risk of appearing hypocritical when I am happy that I have lost weight. After all, it was not many weeks ago that I wrote a blog called "Skinny Jeans Can Kill You." In a way that blog was a warning to myself not to let my desire to lose the weight I put on in January become an obsession with fashion fads or trying to change my body type. I walked through several years with DD as she fell victim to an exercise/eating disorder. It is dangerous territory both physically and spiritually. I stand by the Skinny Jeans blog. And you can hold me accountable if I ever express the hint of a desire to weigh less than 125 - a healthy weight for my height and body type.
2. For many years I have put on a few pounds in the winter. I remember one year when SS was running middle school track. I put on a pair of shorts on the first warm day of spring and took them off again. I mentally called this "winter weight gain." It was 3-5 pounds, and I didn't worry about it because it always seemed to melt away when the weather got warm.
3. This is not holiday weight gain. Because I'm focused on health, I don't overindulge in rich holiday foods. My weight going into January is normal. Then the scale starts to go up.
4. I think part of it is that I'm not doing as many outdoor activities in January and February. There's no yard work. I don't stop exercising, but my lifestyle is not as active. I work out at the neighborhood fitness center or with a video in my living room, but that's not the same as an outdoor excursion or a project in the yard that takes half a day.
5. I think it's also that I'm cold. Those of you who live north of Dallas, will laugh at me. South Texas doesn't really get cold, compared to most of the country. However it is colder than the rest of the year, and I think my metabolism slows down a little to compensate.
This year was different.
* I put on more than 3-5 pounds. At one point my weight was up nearly 10 pounds.
* Instead of storing weight in my legs and thighs, it went to my tummy. I have always had a small waist - a decent trade off for having "big leg genes." But this year I found myself identifying with belly fat commercials. Belly fat is dangerous and has serious consequences for long term health.
* The extra weight didn't disappear when the weather turned warm.
At Memorial Day I faced the fact that I was going to have to be proactive, if I wanted to fit in my summer clothes and look nice in my swimsuit.
I faced the fact that my exciting book publishing project has kept me at the computer more hours than I'm used to. I've been sitting much more than is good for me. Now, I try to make myself get up and do a household chore after an hour at the computer. I ought to get up right now, but I'm going to finish this blog first.
I faced the fact that I am almost 60, and hormone changes are going to force me to add exercise or cut back on food for the rest of my life. I really like to eat. But I made myself take a hard look at portion sizes and cut back a little on food. Then I upped my exercise.
I faced the fact that we were eating supper way too late at night. 8:30 was normal. 9:30 was not unusual. I'm now eating my supper between 6:00 and 6:30. HH does not like this schedule. I warm his dinner up in the microwave about 8:00. I'm hoping he will eventually join me for an earlier supper, but if not, I have to do what is healthiest for me.
I don't understand it, but some beneficial and neutral foods seem to add noticeable weight over night - almost like wheat does. I have practically eliminated nuts, except as a garnish. I've cut way back on ghee and mayonnaise as well. I really miss trail mix, nut butter & carrots, and chicken salad. I'm hoping that I can bring some of these foods back in a small way for the warm part of the year. I have faced the fact that I will not eat them during the winter months.
Mostly, I am facing the fact that my body is changing as I get older. This is not popular in our youth obsessed culture. But it is completely predictable according to my Biblical world view. I may as well embrace it, and make healthy adjustments where necessary. The other choices would be surrender to fat or take prescription medications. Neither of those sound good to me. So, I'll post this blog and get moving!
One day I looked down and there were bruises on my ankles. I didn't remember bumping my ankle. I felt around and they weren't tender. I suddenly recognized where I had seen that kind of blue mark before.
My father had read about benefits of Vitamin E and he began to take a supplement. He also read about the benefits of aspirin to prevent heart attacks. So he started taking a low dose enteric aspirin every day as well. Soon he began to have blue blotches on his arms. I remembered that Dr D does not recommend Vitamin E for Type Os. Our blood is already thin. It is the thick blooded Type As who benefit from blood thinning properties of Vitamin E and aspirin.
I challenged my Dad to take a break from Vitamin E and aspirin. The next time I saw him his arms were free of bruising.
I give my Type A husband a Vitamin E capsule every day, but I don't take it. I knew there was Vitamin E in my multiple. I thought it was a low dose. Wrong. It had 100 iu, more than 3 times the RDA. How did I let that slip by? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I stopped taking the multiple right away. I decided I probably needed to take Vitamins A and D, B complex, and zinc. I eat less processed food and more fresh food than most people I know. In a perfect world, I wouldn't need supplements. However, I know that by the time my food is harvested, stored and transported, I won't get the quality of nutrients from food that God intended.
I read the label on the B Complex that I had on my shelf. Everything looked in order except it only contained 15% of the RDA for Biotin. That seemed peculiar until I read that Biotin is the one B Vitamin that your body can make for itself - if you have eaten food that provides the right ingredients and if you are in good health.
Biotin is necessary for healthy hair and nails. That caught my attention because my nails have been chipping. When I had searched the Internet for chipped nails, there were a few specific things, none of which seemed to apply to me. However the most common answer was that chipping nails and thinning hair were normal parts of aging. What if, I asked myself, as people age they lose their ability to make Biotin? I'm interested in these kinds of questions since I will turn 60 this summer.
I stopped the multiple. I added several supplements including Biotin.
In a month the blood in my ankles has reabsorbed. Hurrah! The blue blotches are gone. I think I see an improvement in my nails, but it's too early to tell. I'll have to see what happens as they grow out.
A few years ago I did some research on muscle loss in menopausal women. There are a lot of variables. In some women, the muscle loss starts as early as 35; other women don't notice it until about 50. Studies show muscle loss as high as a pound a year, but other studies say it is more like a half pound a year. Studies show percentage of muscle loss between half of a percent and two percent.
Obviously not all women experience the same amount or the same rate of muscle loss, but they do lose muscle related to menopause.
This is a double whammy for women my age. First, unless we are diligent to exercise, we are losing the muscle that holds our joints in place and gives us strength. Without adequate muscle we will be vulnerable to the back, hip, and knee injuries that plague some of my friends. Without adequate muscle, we can't exercise effectively, and exercise consistently shows up as a key to an active and healthy life.
But that is only half of the story. Muscle is more "metabolically active" than fat tissue. Muscle at rest burns more calories than fat at rest. So, if you continue to eat exactly the same as you ate in younger days, since you are losing muscle, you will be adding fat. It's inevitable - unless you are pro active you will gain weight and add fat after menopause.
Because I know this I take exercise seriously. To a certain degree I have been successful. My hiking, tubing, weight lifting and line dancing friends and myself have better muscle tone and lead more active lives than the other women around us. However it's equally obvious that my muscle tone isn't what it was 10 years ago. Last winter I put on several pounds - all of it around my middle. Unheard of! My weight has always gone to my legs, not my waist. (I'm going to blog about those pounds another day. They were perplexing for several reasons).
One day in April, Tricia, my weight lifting partner, and I were at the fitness center. I said that I thought I was accustomed to my current bench press weight and I was going to increase. Everything started fine, but after a few reps there was a sharp pain in my right arm.
My arm was sore for several days then felt better. I tried bench presses again and it didn't feel good. So the next time I saw my Strong Son, I told him about the injury and said that I was trying not to be scared, but that several friends had been through rotator cuff surgery. He did three quick tests and assured me that it was not my rotator cuff. It is wonderful to have a physical therapist as a son.
My arm continued to hurt. We had lunch with SS last week, and he asked how my arm was. I described the continuing pain. He began a complete exam, right in the living room. After checking me from shoulder to fingertips, he told me that I had strained a nerve.
I didn't even know that nerves could be strained. But evidently nerve strains are not uncommon.
He gave me a nerve stretching exercise to do three times a day. I am amazed how quickly my arm has responded. I am not doing bench presses yet. But I am doing other upper body exercises without pain.
I realize this blog may seem like it's sending mixed messages, but think of it as two sides of a coin. If you are a woman my age, you have to take exercise seriously, but don't push to the point of pain. Be active, but be smart and be patient.
Today is my 10 year anniversary on the Blood Type Diet. Ten years ago today, the last of the test results came back which were supposed to tell me why I had stomach pain. I had been a health food advocate since I was 23 years old - more than 25 years. But what had started as mild GERD after I turned 40, got increasingly worse, becoming annoying and eventually becoming alarming to my doctor.
The tests were supposed give me answers, but every test came back normal. "Then why does my stomach hurt all the time," I asked the doctor's assistant. "Stress and diet," she answered. I said, "I eat healthier than anyone I know, and my only stress is this stomach pain." She had no reply.
After storming around the house, I felt God leading me to go back to a health food store where I had shopped for years. I was looking for something natural that I hadn't tried yet. I don’t know how the Blood Type Diet had slipped under my radar. I did a lot of reading about nutritional issues. Perhaps it was the word "diet". Since I wasn't unhappy with my weight, I wasn't looking for a diet in that sense of the word.
When I read that Type Os were the most likely to have stomach pain, and that wheat and dairy were the worst foods for Type O, I was intrigued. I bought the book and went on the BTD cold turkey June 13, 2003. In a week I was off of all medication. In two weeks I was pain free. I have never looked back, and never wavered from my enthusiasm for the BTD.
I've learned a lot in ten years.
The BTD is not about how food tastes. Lots of avoids are very appealing when they are in my mouth. But more often than not, I don't feel good after I eat avoids.
When I think back to when my children were toddlers, I can see now that they naturally gravitated to foods that were right for their type. People seem to lose that sensitivity to what makes them feel good as they get older.
At first glance the Type O diet, might appear to be grain free, but it is not. It is important that I get 1.5 servings of grain every day.
The BTD doesn't have to be expensive. I buy certain hard to find items at health food stores and on the internet, but I do most of my shopping at a regular grocery store.
I don't have to be neurotic about avoids. I am highly compliant at home. At restaurants I do the best I can without being a burden to my server, and at a friend's home I enjoy what has been prepared for me.
Having two blood types in my family makes things more complicated, but certainly not impossible, especially when everyone in the family saw their health improve on the BTD.