Thursday, December 15, 2005

1893 Holiday weight gain

That's an expression where it is accurate to use the word "holiday" instead of "Christmas," at least in my house and on my hips. Beginning with the last week of October (Halloween and cooler weather), through two November birthdays, Thanksgiving, various seasonal invites and dinners, Christmas and then New Years, it is easy to add the conventional six pounds and only lose two each year. So this year, I'm "watching out" and "telling why" in journaling with an e-mail buddy who also needs to lose weight. It's my usual ELMM plan--Eat less move more--with an occasional Slim Fast if a party falls within 12 hours.

Last night I made the most wonderful scalloped potatoes, and had two helpings. I realize a lot of people avoid potatoes when watching calories--and I often do. But potatoes are a wonderful, miraculous gift from God. I used Half 'n Half and cheddar cheese--but it is a delicious, wholesome dish made with low fat milk. I just happened to have those ingredients.

Somewhere when I was working as an agricultural bibliographer (fancy name for a librarian) I read that when combined with milk it is a near perfect food (it lacks calcium). Potatoes are high in vitamin C, have no cholesterol, are fat-free, have many vitamins and minerals and are cheap and easy to store. It's the gravy, sour cream and sides that give it a bad name for weight watchers. The introduction of the potato to Ireland in the 17th century caused a huge population growth among the peasants because it so improved their nutrition.

"The potato, a name derived from the native American Indian word "batata", was first cultivated by the Inca Indians in Peru over 4,000 years ago. The mountainous terrain of the Andes, fluctuating temperatures, poor soil conditions and elevations over 10,000 feet proved to be the ideal settings for the Symara Indians to develop over two hundred varieties of potatoes. The potato is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) along with peppers, eggplant and tomatoes. The growth and quality of potatoes is greatly influenced by cool temperatures, moisture, light, soil content and nutrients. Ideal conditions for best yields are daytime average temperatures around 70 degrees F and cool night temperatures as these affect the accumulation of carbohydrates and dry matters in the tubers.

In 1536, Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, became aware of the potato and carried them back to Spain. In 1586, the potato was introduced in Britain by Sir Francis Drake. In 1770, a French pharmacist named Antoine Parmentier, saw the potato as a solution to the recurring famine problem in France and helped King Louis XIV popularize it by creating a feast with only potato dishes. In 1774, Frederick the Great sent free potatoes to the starving peasants after the famine of 1774, but they refused to touch them until soldiers were sent in to persuade them. During his presidency (1801-1809), Thomas Jefferson served "French Fries" in the White House as an introduction in the US. In the mid-19th century, the British introduced potatoes to Nepal and they soon became a staple crop. The potato is now a very common food item worldwide, grown in about 125 countries and all 50 states in the US." Potatoes

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