Cheesy scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs with cheese has been a long-standing staple for our Saturday morning breakfasts. Here is my recipe for cheesy scrambled eggs as it looked about 2 years ago:

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 c 1% milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 slices American cheese

Assuming 8 servings, this recipe yields about 145 calories per serving, 100 of which come from fat. If I apply concepts of volumetrics to the recipe, I calculate approximately 1.8 cal / g. That’s not terrible, but I decided to experiment a bit to see if I could improve on this without noticeably sacrificing flavor.

Here’s how my cheesy scrambled eggs recipe looks today:

  • 7 egg whites
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp butter seasoning
  • 3 slices fat-free American cheese
  • 1 slice 2% milk American cheese

To cook this, mix all ingredients except the cheese in a bowl with a whisk. Cook in a frying pan on low-to-medium heat, stirring occasionally until the eggs are solid. Then turn the burner down to low and mix in the cheese.

According to my calculations, still assuming 8 servings, this yields 95 calories per serving, 15 calories from fat, and a calorie density of 0.7 cal / g.

Quite the marked improvement, and yet it still tastes great. I make a double-batch (18 eggs) almost every Saturday morning as a part of our breakfast, and there’s rarely anything left after the family leaves the table.

– danBhentschel

How I met Marlene

About one-third [of our undergraduates] are women…

1994-1995 Undergraduate Bulletin, Rochester Institute of Technology (pg. 5)

I didn’t go to RIT with the intention of finding a wife. In fact, I fully expected to be without a girlfriend for the full 4 years that I was there. I certainly wasn’t looking to hook up with anyone. Still, one-third of 8,000 students means more than 2,500  female undergraduates. I might not have been seriously shopping, but I definitely enjoyed window browsing.

My first year at school, 1994 – 1995, most of my classes were presented in large lecture halls, servicing many dozens of students per session. For these classes, my standard modus operandi was to sit in the very back of the hall. From this vantage point, I could survey the whole room and watch my fellow classmates when the presentation got a bit dry.

For several of my classes in that first year, my favorite subject to watch was a girl who always sat at the front of the room, close to the ASL interpreter. She had a fair complexion, striking blue eyes, and long, straight, honey-blond hair, held in a single, large barrette at the back of her head. I frequently dreamed of ways to introduce myself to her, though I had no expectation of ever following through.

Marlene in 1994
Marlene in 1994

At times, I was almost motivated to try, but one insurmountable roadblock always  doused my hopes. My dream girl was deaf, and I knew no sign language. I remember very vividly one day, when I was walking to one of my classes, I saw Deaf Girl strolling along the path towards me, chatting in sign language with a couple of her friends. I tried to make eye contact with her, and gave a sort of half-wave, but she didn’t even notice and walked past without even glancing at me. And so, I contented myself with watching and dreaming.

In the fall of 1995, while working part-time in one of the school’s computer labs, I met a man named Ron Dufort. While chatting with Ron, he informed me that he was the president of a club called the RIT Student Music Association (RITSMA). I had always been heavily involved with the music program in my high school, and when Ron found out that I, like him, was a trombone player, he encouraged me to go to one of the RITSMA meetings.

RITSMA 1998 Toronto trip
RITSMA 1998 Toronto trip

I liked Ron, and decided to give his club a try, so a couple of nights later, I found my way to the RIT music room, poked my head in the door, and … there she was. Deaf Girl was sitting in the front row of the music room, watching the ASL interpreter. This time, we wouldn’t be in a lecture hall with dozens of other students. There were only about a dozen students total at the meeting, and they all knew each other.

I was the new guy, and everyone introduced themselves to me, including Deaf Girl, who: 1) had a name, Marlene, and 2) was able to speak intelligibly and mostly understand me when I spoke to her. Fascinating. Exhilarating. Confusing. We were never supposed to meet, and yet we did.

A few weeks later was Halloween. My new group of friends were having a party, and I was invited. I didn’t have a costume, so I wore a bright-red, long, shaggy wig that covered most of my face, and I hung a flashing pumpkin light around my neck. I don’t remember much of the party. There was music, of course, and there was bobbing for apples, and there was Marlene. That party was the beginning of something wonderful.

We spent a lot of time together after that. I became friends with her deaf friends. We all ate meals together. A group of us went to church together. I started to learn sign language. Each day, after we retired to our separate dorms, Marlene and I would find one another on the computer and “chat” on-line, late into the night.

In January of 1996, the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus was released in the movie theaters. What a great opportunity, I thought. It’s a movie about music and deaf people! I decided to test the waters. One night, while chatting on the computer, I asked Marlene, “Do you ever go to the movie theater?” I honestly didn’t even know if that was a possibility for deaf people. Marlene instantly came back with “I’d love to go see a movie with you!”

I don’t remember why, but we didn’t end up going to see Mr. Holland’s Opus. We didn’t see it until months later, when it was released on video. Instead, we went bowling. One year later, we were engaged, and we were married in June of 1998.

My parents and sister at the wedding
My parents and sister at the wedding

Serendipity? No. I say it’s a miracle. I am always amazed and humbled whenever I think of the wonderful gift that He has given to me.

 – danBhentschel

On losing weight (Part 5 – Calorie counting)

How much is too much?

Determining a limit

In volume 3 of this series, I talked about the cell phone app that I use, called Noom. Based on the information you give to Noom, it calculates a daily caloric intake goal for you. You don’t need to use an app to do this. It’s pretty easy to calculate the number of calories you should eat daily. Here is just one of many sites that will help you with this:

Calorie calculator

If I enter my information into this calculator, then it tells me that I need to take in about 2500 calories per day to maintain my current weight. If I want to lose 1 lb a week, then I need to eat about 2000 calories worth of food per day. To lose 2 lbs a week, I should step it down to about 1500 calories per day. This information matches up pretty closely with what Noom tells me.

NOTE: Keep in mind that 3600 calories is roughly equivalent to one pound of weight loss / gain.

What about exercise?

Let’s just lay it out there. If your goal is to lose weight, focus on your diet. Exercise is a secondary consideration. See:

Article from Real Simple magazine

This is a fairly well documented fact, yet many people don’t seem to know it. When people ask me what I did to lose so much weight, one of the most prevalent theories that they will postulate is that I have increased my exercise. I have not done so, and in fact I have somewhat reduced my exercise in the past year. That being said, exercise is still an important part of weight loss planning.

Noom increases your calorie goal dynamically as you record exercise. You tell Noom the type of exercise done, the duration of the exercise, and the intensity. It has a pretty big selection of exercises ranging from standards like “walking” and “running” to more practical things like “house cleaning” and “yard work”, and even includes some pretty eclectic selections like “hula hoop” and “snowshoeing”. Noom calculates how many calories you burned during your activity and increases your caloric intake goal for the day by half of the calories that you burned doing the exercise. Why half? Two reasons:

  • To make sure that you see a noticeable benefit from your exercise. If you were to increase your caloric intake enough to exactly balance the energy expended by exercise, then exercise would not be noticeably beneficial, and you run the risk of becoming disheartened.
  • Number of calories burned by a given exercise is not at all an exact science. When calculating your benefit from a given exercise, Noom plays it safe and errs on the low side.

So how much can I eat?

Noom can also help with determining what to eat in order to meet your caloric goal. You tell Noom, meal-by-meal, exactly what you ate today and it gives you a running tally of how many calories you have consumed throughout the day. It also categorizes the foods you eat as red, yellow, or green, as mentioned in my post on volumetrics.

Logging what I eat is a pain!

Yes, but Noom makes it relatively painless. Their food database remembers things that you eat frequently, and presents you with a list of your favorite foods for each meal. Do you commonly have yogurt for breakfast? When you are logging your breakfast food, Noom will probably have your yogurt at the top of the list. Noom also has a barcode scanner, so you can scan your food and Noom will (sometimes) just pop up the selection on the screen.

If these two fail you, then you can search for your food. This used to be a bit dodgy, but as their food database is maturing, the process gets easier. Last resort is to enter custom information. You can tell Noom the color (red, yellow, green) of the food you ate, the portion size, and the number of calories.

As the application learns your foods and your eating habits, and as you learn your way around the interface, it actually becomes quite easy. I found this to be my most valuable learning experience from the application. When I first started logging what I ate, I was quite surprised. I knew that I didn’t eat very well, but I didn’t realize how poor my eating habits were. Careful logging of your food combined with weight tracking can give you a valuable tool to evaluate the impact of your diet on your weight and adjust accordingly.

Budget your meals

Let’s say you determine that you should eat about 1800 calories per day, and you have been logging your meals for a little while, so you have an approximate idea of what you are eating. It’s time to make a budget. Consider the following questions:

  • At which meal(s) do you ingest the most calories?
  • At which meal(s) do you have the most control over what you eat?
  • At which meal(s) are you most likely to overeat?
  • For which meal(s) are you willing to experiment with lower calorie foods?

I have the most control over my weekday breakfasts. I’m usually at the mercy of whatever Marlene decides to prepare for dinner, and I frequently go out to eat with a friend or coworker for lunch, but breakfast is entirely my own affair. I tend to eat the most during dinner, not because I eat large portions but just because I don’t tend to plan those meals myself. So here is the approximate budget I have come up with for myself:

  • Weekdays
    • Breakfast: 200 – 400 calories
    • Lunch: 400 – 600 calories
    • Dinner: 800 – 1200 calories
  • Weekends
    • Breakfast: 500 – 700 calories
    • Lunch: 500 – 700 calories
    • Dinner: 800 – 1200 calories

Notice that on the weekends I am likely to go over my 1800 calorie limit. I have conceded that I am likely to overeat on the weekends, and consequently my weight will likely go up slightly. Since I tend to usually be closer to the lower end of my budget on weekdays, it all works out just fine in the end. If it didn’t, then I would need to adjust something.

Throughout the day, I try to be conscious of approximately where I am compared to my budget. Did I have a slightly large breakfast? Then I’m on the high side of my budget and try to compensate a bit at lunch. Still high at dinner? Then I try again to eat a bit less to bring my overall daily total within my 1800 budget. If I fail, then I don’t try to compensate the next day. The meter is reset each morning. Each day is a new opportunity for me to do my best.

 – danBhentschel