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An Inspirational Letter

West CoastAbout ten years ago (my God), one of the most influential Guidance Counselors I’ve ever had handed me an envelope with a note and $100 in it. On the face of the envelope were doodles of a road lined with Redwood Trees, the Oregon shoreline, the Seattle Space Needle, and other prominent features of the West Coast. (The $100 was a loan which she never allowed me to pay back.) She told me to take time during our three week break and travel, because she knew that’s what I needed.

It was a phenomenal trip. I drove from Los Angeles to Whistler, Canada which is a town right above Vancouver. On the way I also stopped by San Francisco and Sacramento, drove through the Redwood Forest, visited Portland and Seattle, and even drove up Mount Saint Helens.

My pictures don’t do it justice because at the time I was experimenting with just taking video, and using still frames from it as pictures, so the quality is not that good. But recently I discovered a roll of film, tucked away in my draw for over 10 years, that I never had developed. The film contains some pretty bad pictures. Some are just horribly taken, and others may have just degraded over time, but one stood out to me though:

Drive Thru Tree

This is the Chandelier Tree, named for its distinctive limbs at the top that bear resemblance to a chandelier. Found in the town of Leggett, Northern California, it’s a 315 foot tall Redwood tree so large that you can drive a car through it. The base measures 21ft in diameter and has a 6 foot wide by 6 foot 9 inch hole at the base that allows cars to drive through it.

The trip was my second major solo adventure of significant length, but the one that spurred many more to come, and I have to thank my former guidance counselor for that.

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Real Food Pledge – Day 10 of 10

Well, this is it! Day 10! I made it. Kay was awesome enough to make a strip steak for dinner, with a simple but good marinade. I’m pretty beat so I’ll write a more elaborate overview of my 10 day experience later. Goodnight.

DAY 10

Breakfast:
Smoothie : 330 calories

Morning Snack:
Almonds : 139 calories

Lunch:
Ham and Cheese Sandwhich : 450 calories

Afternoon Snack :
Larabar : 220 calories

Dinner:
Strip Steak : 400 calories
Quinoa Side : 340 calories

Calories Eaten :  1879
Calories Burned: 2195

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Real Food Pledge – Day 9 of 10

Today I tried a really strange recipe for dinner: Nacho Cheese Chicken Soup. Because one of the ingredients was “nacho cheese soup” from a can, which is against the rules, I tried melting cheese and throwing it in the crockpot anyway. Didn’t work too well. I did take the soup out, place it in a bowl, and slice up Colby Jack Cheese and throw it over the chicken. It melted right onto the chicken and tasted decent. Overall I probably wouldn’t try this again though. Only one more day left!

DAY 9

Breakfast:
Smoothie : 330 calories

Lunch:
Pasta : 271 calories

Afternoon Snack :
Dried Apple : 96 calories

Dinner:
Cheese Chicken Soup : 1,122 calories

Calories Eaten : 1819
Calories Burned: 2232

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Real Food Pledge – Day 8 of 10

Nothing exciting here. Reheated a burger for lunch and made some pasta for dinner.

Oh, scratch that. Exciting news: The pickles came out REALLY good!! I made a few batches:

Batch 1 : With red pepper flakes and peppercorn.
Batch 2 : Only with red pepper flakes.
Batch 3 : Only with peppercorn.
Batch 4 : With neither

Batch 1 came out with a kick. I think I actually like Batch 4 the best while Kay likes Batch 3. Considering this recipe took less than 10 minutes to make and is done after 24 hours, I think I’ll definitely do this more often. It was incredibly simple and they came out really good! You can find the recipe here.

DAY 8

Breakfast:
Smoothie : 330 calories
Banana : 90 calories

Morning Snack :
Larabar : 200 calories

Lunch:
Burger : 377 calories
Fries : 308 calories

Afternoon Snack :
larabar: 200 calories
larabar: 210 calories

Dinner:
Pasta (2 servings) : 271 calories

Calories Eaten :  1846
Calories Burned: 2245

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Real Food Pledge – Day 7 of 10

Today I had off and Kay didn’t. As punishment for that I had to cook dinner, to which Kay chose Home-Made Burgers, Home-Made Pickles, Home-Made Cheese Fries, and worst of all Home-Made Buns. That was a challenge. It wasn’t the act of doing it that was the problem, it was the constant Do-This-Then-Wait that was annoying. The buns came out pretty good though, you can find the recipe here. I’m really excited to try the pickles.

I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture of the whole meal, but here’s a shot of my buns in the oven (no pun intended ;).

Buns

DAY 7

Breakfast:
Nothing. :(

Lunch:
Beef Stew : 575 calories
Larabar: 220 calories

Dinner:
Buns : 178 calories
Ground Beef : 259 calories
Cheese Fries: 616 calories

Calories Eaten = 1848
Calories Burned = 2337

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Real Food Pledge – Day 6 of 10

Today was pretty bad. I woke up late, basically had no breakfast, and I just reheated my stew up for lunch. Kay came over and we had a Filet Mignon for dinner. She made a really good Butternut Squash though!

DAY 6

Breakfast:
Nothing? :(

Lunch:
Beef Stew : 575 calories

Dinner:
Filet Mignon : 450 calories
Butternut Squash : 176 calories
String Beans: 77 calories
Wine : 256 calories

Calories Eaten : 1534
Calories Burned: 2320

Steak and Squash

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Real Food Pledge – Day 5 of 10

Pizza PrepDay Five was pretty fun. My partner in crime and I decided to shake things up a bit and make some home-made pizza. (I gotta give her all the credit though, it was her idea.) She found this great website on how to create “clean” Whole Wheat Pizza, including dough. It wasn’t that tough, and since it made two nice size pies we each got to choose our own toppings. It actually came out really delicious. She made one topped with tomatoes, spinach, and garlic, whereas I did all ham with half including the spinach and garlic as well. Since we also made wings, we each only ate a quarter of the pie. It tasted just as great for lunch the next day though!

 

DAY 5

Breakfast:
Egg Sandwich : 488 calories

Lunch:
Beef Stew : 575 calories

Dinner:
Home made Pizzas : 2113 calories per pie (528 per quarter)
Flaxseed : 120 calories
Dry Active Yeast: 295 calories
Mozzarella : 1920 calories
Marinera Sauce : 350 calories
Whole Wheat Flower: 1200 calories
Spinach : 20 calories
Ham : 65 calories
Garlic: 16 calories
Olive Oil : 240 calories

Amaretto Drink : 350 calories
Wings : 740 calories

Calories Eaten : 2681
Calories Burned: 2585

Her Pizza

His Pizza

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Real Food Pledge – Day 4 of 10

StewToday I woke up feeling fine. By 9:30 I was starving though, a big change from a year ago where I could make it to work at 10:30 and just then feel hungry. My clients are mostly in California so I catch a later train and get to Manhattan around 10. I used to wait to eat breakfast till I got to the office but now I think I’d like to start on the train somehow. I’m sure my body would appreciate that.

 

DAY 4

Breakfast:
Fruit in Smoothie = 70 calories
Flax Seed = 60 calories
Greek Yogurt = 200 calories

Snack:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich = 480 calories

Lunch:
Salad = 123 calories
Wings = 370 calories

Afternoon Snack:
Larabar: 190 calories

Dinner:
Beef Stew : 1237 calories
Wine : 256 calories

Calories Eaten : 2986
Calories Burned: 2096

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Real Food Pledge – Day 3 of 10

Day 3 of the Real Food Challenge was a little easier. Kay went shopping and got us a bunch of “clean” ingredients and snacks for the next few days. She made me a delicious Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie for breakfast and marinated a steak for dinner. She’s the best.

Lunch was hard though. My coworkers wanted to go out, so I was really limited in what I could eat. I had a Chopped Salad with no dressing. I was nervous about what might be in there. The “Real Food” website recommends extra virgin olive oil, and other websites suggest only one or two other healthy oils. Everything else, like Cottonseed and Sunflower Oils, probably had pesticides sprayed on the plants. Anyway, when the Chips and Guacamole came out I couldn’t resist though. The chips were probably not “clean”. Ugh….

For dinner we had a marinated Flank Steak, side of corn, and salad. These past two days have been a first in terms of going over budget on my calorie intake, which is probably a good thing because I need to gain weight. What I should be doing is eating and burning anywhere from 2000 to 2300 calories though, instead of my typical 1800, as well as making sure they come from healthier sources of food with protein and fiber. Anyway, I feel much better than I did on Day 2.

DAY 3

Breakfast:
Kay Smoothie = 300 calories
Banana = 90 calories

Lunch:
Chopped Salad = 563 calories
Pomegranate Margarita = 290 calories
Guacamole = 146 calories
Chips = 148 calories

Afternoon Snack:
Dried Apple Snack = 126 calories

Dinner:
Flank Steak = 720 calories
Salad = 123 calories
Corn = 306 calories

Calories Eaten = 2812
Calories Burned = 2218

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Real Food Pledge – Day 2 of 10

Today I woke up with a really bad stomach ache. I was pretty hungry. And because Kay and I went to a wedding Sunday afternoon before going to the supermarket, we didn’t do a great job food shopping so I wasn’t prepared for lunch or dinner today. For lunch I grabbed soup and salad from the grocery store near my job, and for dinner I threw a ton of wings in the crockpot. (Those never really come out good.) It was extremely tough finding “clean” wing sauce without any food additives, chemicals, or preservatives. There was only one brand out of over a dozen, but luckily they had three different choices.

Lunch really didn’t hold up well though, and I was hungry all day. It sucked!

Kay’s running to the grocery store again (she’s amazing) to grab more food to get us to the weekend. We shoulda been better prepared for this… Oops!

DAY 2

Breakfast:
Fruit in Smoothie = 70 calories
Flax Seed = 60 calories
Greek Yogurt = 200
Apple = 80

Lunch:
Amy’s Vegetable Soup = 120
Fruit Salad = 98
Banana = 90

Dinner:
Wings = 1440
Sauce = 40
Orange Juice = 110

Calories Eaten : 2251
Calories Burned: 2286

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