So, the concrete countertop in the kitchen is mostly done, just need to put on the backsplash. This post is to sum up what we did and what we used.

For the forms we used the Ogee edges from Z-CounterformsOgee Profile

The forms come in a pack that’s big enough to do 2 kitchens the size of ours (64 linear feet of front edge and 48 linear feet of back edge) – so we have enough to also do all our bathrooms, which means we could do a test before going all-in on the kitchen. This turned out to be a good thing and we got some valuable experience, learning things like: “put in the right amount of water” and “use a real mixer not a drill paddle”. Along with the edges we also bought the Sink form, the faucet knockouts, 3 different color samples (amber, wheat and ebony) of the concrete stain, and the AquaPoxy sealer. When we did the bathroom I first tried using Sakrete 5000 since it’s billed as being usable for counters…. if (I didn’t notice this until later) you add additional cement, plastisizers, reducers and fiberglass fibers to it. I could have bought pre-packaged stuff to do that but it was easier to get the Quickrete Countertop Mix that’s all ready to go. You have to special order it from Lowes over the phone but (here in Salt Lake at least) you can just go will-call it at the Quickrete plant if you’re in a hurry. I planned out what we would need rather well I think: 8.4 bags of concrete, two 4×8 sheets of OSB and three 3×5 sheets of cement board (those based on my Planning Drawing) – I got 10 bags just to be safe.

Anyhow, the first try for the bathroom counter (alpha test) I used the Sakrete 5000 without the right amount of water (too dry) and not mixed enough (drill paddle that bent). It was an absolute failure that I had to break apart and throw away before it set all the way. So we got the Quickrete a few days later and the beta test went much smoother once I got a real cement mixer – I made my drill start to smoke when I tried to mix it up using a new mixing paddle. My sister came and did the staining, we sealed it and it turned out great.

2014-03-21 10.22.14

 

We used up most of the wheat and amber concrete stain on the bathroom counter so we ordered the larger bottles for the kitchen. The next step was to demolish the old nasty tile countertop.

Demolition in progress

Demolition in progress

Once demolished we needed to build up the new counter (and replace the drywall I tore out when removing the old backsplash)

Unfortunately the time lapse stopped right when we started to assemble the OSB and cement board.

Assembling the counter

Assembling the counter

We originally planned to pour the cement that same day but it was way too late by then so we waited until a big group could come and help. I also got 2 additional bags since I used up 2 of the original 10 on the bathroom and my spreadsheet told me I needed 8.4 bags to finish. Ended up with 1.5 bags – spot on.

Concrete Poured

Concrete Poured

Starting to cure

Starting to cure

Mostly cured

Mostly cured

Staining in progress

Staining in progress

Stained

Stained

Sealed

Sealed

So there you go! It will look nicer once the backsplash is in place. As for costs: the forms were $200, the other stains and stuff we bought added another $100 or so. The cement was around $200 for the 12 bags. Had to get a compound miter saw and a few other tools. Random stuff at lowes plus $220 in travertine for the backsplash. $170 for the sink. $80 for the faucet. All in all it’s close to $1000 for everything (if labor is free =). A guy I was talking to said he was able to get this guy to do granite counters for around $2000  which is a lot less than the $5000 – 6000 we were quoted but I haven’t verified if the guy is even in business. I also enjoy building and doing stuff (because that’s what computer geeks do…. right? no? well, I’m breaking that mold!) and it leaves me with terribly useful skills: tile skills, drywall skills, plumbing skills, tetherball skills… Then there is the WAF (wife acceptance factor); she’s able to customize it within the realm of what we can afford and it’s uniquely hers.

So last week I had just ordered another 5 pound bottle of NOW foods Whey Protein Isolate. I started looking at the wildly variable price of the Choline bitartrate and was searching around for some that cost less when I found some by a company called Hard Rhino. It was less but wasn’t free shipping, they do a fixed shipping cost for all orders on Amazon. So I started looking at the other stuff they sold and discovered they had Whey Protein Isolate for crazy low prices. I found their web site and found larger sizes available *and* free shipping on orders over $100. The original prices turned out to be an error and they raised them, though they are still less than NOW and the additional smaller sizes give people who just want to try people-chow/soylent an opportunity to not spend as much money. I cancelled my 5lb NOW order and ordered 10 kg of Hard Rhino.  Continue Reading

So I’ve been eating (mostly) just soylent for a month. Unequivocally I’d say it’s been great. I’ve learned some things (don’t go calcium deficient, my original harbor freight scale stunk), lost some things (almost 1 “stone”), and likely saved a bunch of money though it’s hard to tell since I still have to buy food for the rest of the family. It’s excessively convenient to have all my food for the day in a ziploc bag that just needs water.

I’m losing weight again. I slowed quite a bit. It turns out if you bow to social pressure and eat muggle food (ok fine, it’s Asparagus season and there is Nacho Cheese) but also finish that day’s soylent because you don’t want to have fun with deficiencies again…. well you end up over the 2000 calorie mark. Crazy stuff. It wasn’t from being hungry, that only happens if I don’t drink my soylent.

Weight log - I started soylent on that last upward spike.

Weight log – I started soylent on Jan 14th (it’s when the line goes down).

This last week I switched to using Olive Oil and some vitamin K supplements instead of the Soybean Oil that’s part of the official People Chow recipe. This is due to several factors:

  1. The whole phytoestrogen thing in Soy has me skittish
  2. It’s likely the lights in the supermarket are breaking down the vitamin K anyway
  3. Olive Oil is something humans have been consuming happily for a long time (corn flour is too)

So there you have it. Now on to month 2 of soylent!

On Saturday I tried my hand at baking soylent. I attempted 2 recipes: cookies and muffins. The cookies are rather bland, the muffins are better but way too much work. I might make the cookies again but with some baking powder as suggested in the comments. Here’s how they turned out:

Soylent Muffins ready to bake

Soylent Muffins ready to bake

Soylent Cookies

Soylent Cookies

Cookies Baked

Cookies Baked

Close up of the soylent cookies

Close up of the soylent cookies

The cookies come off silicone baking sheets better than greased aluminum foil (if you have the baking sheets). I ran into a problem with the muffins: the recipe calls for x and y ingredients for *every cup* of soylent mix; yeah well, I missed that part and only put in .5 cups applesauce and 3/4 c milk *for an entire days worth* of soylent. It didn’t mix well. Double checked the recipe and found I needed 3X more of everything. After I had the *right* amount of stuff, it mixed up OK but took forever to cook thoroughly. I wasn’t overly excited by the taste and work required to make them. The cookies on the other hand were easy to make (still took forever to cook – 30 minutes!) and are just like a thick, dry, corn tortilla. I had cooked 2 days worth of soylent so I split it up into 8 bags and am substituting a “meal” of muffins and cookies for 1/4 of my soylent every day until it’s gone.

 

This has been an interesting week (health wise) to say the least.

To start off with, I was prescribed an oral steroid to help with some tendinitis I had in my Achilles tendon – and I’m not sure what that did to my overall health. It did make sleeping difficult which was further exacerbated by having to wear a boot that would keep my plantar fascia and Achilles tendon extended all night long. It’s also supposed to make me irritable or something.

Next we have a nice cold/flu/whatever that set in just before the weekend and continued up through yesterday. Being sick stinks. Being sick when you’ve started out a new diet and are skittish about what may or may not be going on with your health *really* stinks since I had nothing to compare it to. In addition to the normal stuffiness, I had the unpleasant side effect that my soylent all of a sudden tasted like chalky metal and only like chalky metal. It was exceedingly difficult to drink, especially Thursday – Saturday. Ultimately what got me through was doing something that Max had suggested quite some time ago: a little bit of stevia and some cinnamon. Suddenly soylent was (somewhat) palatable again and I’ve continued with adding those to my mixes. I discovered that if you are using pure stevia you need hardly any at all – like somewhere between 1 and 0.5 grains of rice size. I accidentally put in about 1/10 of a teaspoon into a blenderbottle of soylent and literally gagged when I tasted it; way too sweet! Being sick also put a halt to my workout routine which also stopped my weight loss. I’m currently sitting at negative 10 pounds since I started. Next week should be better.

I also encountered my first nutrient deficiency: Calcium (and likely potassium too). Since the formulation only gives me a little over 100% my RDI of calcium and potassium; if I skipped 1/4 of 1/2 of my daily soylent for more than a few days in a row due to eating “muggle” food and being full I was ending up severely deficient in calcium. This manifested its self initially as an ache in my calf, which then moved on to be an ache in my quads, then both legs plus a nasty headache that felt like dehydration. The next morning I was all set to go buy some “citrical” or something when I realized “duh, I have all the stuff for that here!” so I added extra cal/mag citrate and potassium citrate to that day’s soylent. Like magic I was fine. Since then I’ve been eating all of my daily soylent no matter what, which was a little hard after eating 7-layer dip during the superbowl and getting full on that. People in the community warned about not eating all of the soylent but did I listen? apparently not. I guess the moral of the story is: if you don’t plan on eating all the stuff every day then adjust your recipe down so you’re still getting the right nutrients.

So I’ve been on DIY “soylent” (People Chow 3.0.1) for 2 weeks now, let’s see how it’s going:

Weight Log January 2014

Weight Log January 2014

Not bad. So this last weekend I went on an outing with my wife and had normal food for dinner and breakfast, then some more muggle food on Sunday. I was starting to miss the plain simplicity of the soylent, so was my GI. It’s been quite a relief yesterday and today to go back to just the soylent. To say it’s grown on me would be a vast understatement. I think the only thing I think I would change would be to find a decent vitamin K source so I could switch the soybean oil for olive oil. Aside from eliminating the potential phytoestrogen (there’s still a lot of debate on that) issue there has also been lots of rumbling regarding “oxidative stress” as QuidNYC puts it in his DIY soylent formulation’s notes: “In the end, it’s your call. Maybe canola isn’t that bad. But personally, I’d rather consume something that has been demonstrated as safe — and even beneficial in terms of human health — over a period of thousands of years (i.e., extra-virgin olive oil).”

People Chow 301 Nutrition Label

People Chow 301 Nutrition Label

The official soylent recipe just got their final nutrition information done so they have a label. So just for kicks, using this generator, I made a nutrition information label for People Chow 3.0.1. Here is the PDF version. This is the ingredients list:

Ingredients: Selected Corn Treated With Lime, Microfiltered Whey Protein Isolate, Soybean Oil, Mega Man Sport [contains: Whey Protein Concentrate, Nonfat dry milk, natural and artificial vanilla cream flavor, DiArginine Malate, Sodium Citrate, Maltodextrin, Xanthan, Lecithin, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Caseinate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Caseinate, Dipotassium Phosphate, Tricalcium Phosphate, Mono & Diglycerides, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium], Calcium & Magnesium Citrate Powder with Vitamin D3, Potassium Citrate, Iodized Salt, Choline bitartrate, Soy Lecithin (< 1%).
Contains: Milk, Wheat, Soybeans

So I wanted to do a video of mixing up a few days batches of soylent – mostly because it’s the sort of thing that would have saved me a bunch of time and spilled powder when I was starting all this but also because I made the claim that “I’ve gotten to where I can mix up 3 days worth in about 6 minutes” and po2gdHaeKaYk called me out wanting to see it =)

So here it is. Turns out (at least in this video) that it takes me almost exactly 12 minutes from the time I start measuring the first ingredient (0:31) to the time I finish measuring the oil (12:34). So I was only off by half? I suspect mixing another days worth would only add an additional 3 minutes and so forth.

http://youtu.be/ir04Yv5Gj9w

http://youtu.be/ir04Yv5Gj9w

 

The biggest time saving tips (in my opinion)

  1. use a bowl large enough to hold your largest ingredient (in this formulation that’s 345 grams of corn flour)
  2. dump each ingredient into a container large enough to hold everything with an opening larger than your  bowl from tip #1
  3. measure each ingredient separately, don’t stack them up and “tare” or zero out the scale. In addition to it being hard to take out extra overage; many scales are less sensitive/accurate at higher weight loads
  4. I forgot to put this one the video: a new $0.05 nickel weighs exactly 5.000 grams – if your scale can be calibrated using a specific weight and you don’t have one to calibrate it with you can use a stack or two of nickels.

So I completed 1 week of drinking soylent all week, I did have some other food (a piece of pizza, a little soup, some biscuits and gravy) which combined are about 750 calories for the week. While not insubstantial, it was less than 5% of what I ate. I wanted to log my results so that others could benefit from my experiences. Rather like the “Stuff I’ve learned through sad and painful experience (you’re welcome)” section I put in a tech conference class I taught about Amazon Web Services.

So how do I feel about the soylent? I think the stuff is simply awesome. I’ve gotten to where I can mix up 3 days worth in about 6 minutes, preparing a meal involves dumping 2 half cups of powder into a blender bottle and adding water. I’m not having any of the heartburn issues that I had the first few days now that I’m adding the right amount of water and the almond meal was removed from the formulation. The recipe that I’m using right now (People Chow 3.0.1) is really good; superb, in fact. I suspect the only reason I would change anything is if Max (the creator) comes up with another tweak that makes it even better. The main complaint people have about the recipe (and just about all of the recipes) is the grittiness of the flour. Yes, it is a bit gritty; though far less so than the previous iteration. I find it very drinkable and usually just shake up my bottle, chug about a third of it, and then repeat again when I feel like it. Twice last week I only consumed 3/4 of my daily soylent, mostly because I wasn’t hungry, partly because of eating some “muggle” food. Still – I agree with most of the experiences I’ve read from others: no you aren’t hungry all the time. For that matter I’m *rarely* hungry and when I do feel hungry I drink some soylent and some water and I’m OK. On the topic of muggle/normal food: Earlier on I had some rather severe reactions to eating stuff besides soylent. I don’t know if that was because of the 2.3.0 version or what but the last two days what little I have eaten hasn’t caused me any discomfort or problems of any kind.

How is my body reacting to a week on soylent? Very well, thank you. My gastrointestinal tract seems to like it just fine. The microbes that release foul smelling gas after feasting upon the insoluble sugars in bean skins appear to be rather sad though – since they appear to not be doing much of anything right now (meaning I’m not having a problem with gas, rather a vacation from it!). I’ve not had any issue with not enough or too much fiber (constipation or the runs). I feel like I have more energy, I wake up easier, don’t feel slow and bogged down after eating dinner. I’ve also gone from eating (far) too many calories to eating as much or even less than the 2000 calorie recommendation, especially when I add 30 minutes of elliptical. I was a little freaked out by the vitamins tinting my urine a bright neon yellow – though I was dehydrated; but others had the same issue and it’s apparently a well known reaction with certain vitamin supplements. I’ve found it easier to not eat junky snacks when (a) I’m already full from the soylent I drank a few hours ago (b) I can just mix up some more and (c) seriously? do I *really* want to eat that? If I do it might sit heavy in my stomach and I don’t even really want to – I just think I do.

I started this whole endeavor as a way to lose weight. Thus far it’s working quite well. I know that’s not the aim of creating soylent but I have no problem using it for my own nefarious purposes. Until now I’ve posted a few graphs without a Y-axis label since I wanted to have more results before telling teh Intrawebs how much I weigh. Well, here is the graph for January 2014 using the tools from The Hackers Diet to account for variations in water and other factors. I’ve been using this since 2006 and have the process down fairly well: weigh at same time every day just before showering (plus removing other variables I won’t go in to).

January2014

Weight log – January 2014

Yeah, that’s a *VERY* good trend =) It will be fun to see how it continues to go down over the next few months. I suppose if I really wanted to amp it up I could play around with the formulation or even go Shangri-la Diet on it and down the oil with my nose plugged but I’m content with how it’s going so far. In about a month or so I plan on getting some blood work done, mostly because my health insurance will pay me $50 to do a health assessment each year (cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, etc…) but it will be good to see how I’m doing.

Anyhow – I expect I’ll be doing a few weekly updates from here on out, now that the “exciting” or unknown is behind me.

Nothing much to note, and that’s a very good thing – I think. I ate a little bit of normal food yesterday, but for the most part am happily subsisting almost entirely on People Chow DIY soylent.

OK, one thing to note is that yesterday and today I was sated enough drinking 1/4 of the stuff at my regular meals that I only imbibed 3/4 of my days worth of powder each of the days. It’s possible that my “set point” is already moving down thanks to the soylent and I’m becoming less hungry. It’s also possible that the biscuit and 4 table spoons of gravy I ended up eating during dinner helped too. Apparently that is my Achilles Heel. I expect to do a 1 week on soylent summary tomorrow.

Today's soylent, ready for water

Today’s soylent, ready for water

As I said in my earlier post: although Max says it tastes like tortillas, personally I think the new 3.0.1 formulation tastes like Tamales. I really like tamales (and tortilla chips). The texture of the corn flour as I drink it reminds me quite a lot of eating tamales too. Seriously: if you were to make a corn tamale without any meat filling and take a bite it would be really similar to 3.0.1. I thought that I was OK with 2.3 but the new flavor and texture without the almond meal is so much better it’s silly. I also was adding about 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla to 2.3 to make it taste better, I think I’m going to just consume 3.0.1 straight up – as God intended…. wait…

So a few things of note from today: My mouth hasn’t felt as dry all day which is different since I think I actually drank *less* water today. I also haven’t had the weird taste in my mouth, the “I chewed a flinstones vitamin 20 minutes ago and I think I need something to make it go down” taste. As for the plumbing: most decidedly a 5 on the Bristol scale if you are wondering.

This entire week on soylent I’ve woken to my 05:10 alarm clear headed and ready to go, it’s been rather remarkable. I have been less tired with more energy.

I’ve been helping one of my daughters with her 5th grade science project, we went to Sams-Club to get the ingredients to make ice-cream and it was sample day, I ate a few things. Turns out that my stomach is already starting to revolt against other foods “wait, what is *this* crap? I thought we stopped eating this!” At the rate this is going I’ll soon stop even wanting other food.

So I finally finished off the last of my pre-mixed 2.3.0 and can now move on to the new formulation. As I said earlier, the big change in the new formulation was the removal of the almond meal; along with a new corn flour and some tweaked amounts of the protein and other stuff. Allegedly the new mix tastes like tortilla chips since it’s made from the same flour you use for corn tortillas/tortilla chips. I haven’t had a chance to taste it (that will be tomorrow) but it certainly *smells* like tortilla chips!

I thought I would document mixing up a batch of 3 days worth. According to the time stamps on the photos this took around 30 minutes. I suspect I could do it in far less time (10-15 minutes) if I was using a better scale and containers that had larger openings… and I wasn’t taking photos or doing stuff with the kids the whole time. I don’t want to champion this being best practices, in fact I anxiously anticipate many from the DIY soylent community to say “why are you doing x when it’s so much easier to do y?” – I’ll likely do a followup or two with MOAR BETTER-ER methods.

Starting to measure

Starting to measure

So I use my harbor freight scale with quart bottles. I’m doing 3 days at a time so I can kinda do it like an assembly line.

  1. Put a bottle on the scale
  2. hit the “tare” button to zero the weight measurement
  3. dump ingredient into the bottle until I hit the desired weight
  4. swap bottle, goto step 1
Adding Protein

Adding Protein

For the bulky ingredients (the corn and whey protein isolate) this is super easy, aside from messing up and dumping powder over the side. This is why it would be nice to have a larger opening. If I put too much it’s *usually* easy to just spoon out the excess, though this gets tricky for some of the ingredients that are in smaller quantities (like 4 or 2 grams). With the smaller ones it becomes difficult to get *just* the one I want out without getting some of the last one, adding it in piles makes this a little easier. Also: get a good scale with 0.01 g resolution. Mine tends to stick at a particular weight. I’ll add a bunch of salt and it will hold at 1.2 g (or something) and then suddenly jump up to 5.3. Eventually it settles down and shows the right weight (I think) but it’s annoying and slows me down a lot.

Bottles Full

Bottles Full – so nice and stratified!

The old formulation had denser almond meal so this new one takes up more volume, almost exactly 1 US quart, aka 4 cups, aka 32 fluid ounces, aka 0.946353 liters (you can call it 1 liter if you like). The last one gave me 1/2 cup less – so this new one will fill 4 of the larger Blenderbottles with what appears to be a best practice: 1 cup/8 oz of powder mixed with water up to the top after shaking.

1 day ready to go

1 day ready to go

I suppose I could leave the powder in the quart jars and put lids on them but the zip-lock bags fit in the cupboard better. As of yet I haven’t figured out a decent way to mix the oil in with the powder that doesn’t just coat the inside of the bag with oil and have the powder stick to it. Maybe others have suggestions. For now I’m just adding the oil to the mixture after I add the water, usually right about the time I’ve been adding some vanilla. I’ll have to see what 3.0.1 tastes like without vanilla, I tried adding some taco seasoning to 2.3.0 and while it was actually quite good, it’s not the sort of thing I could handle more than a test shot glass of.

Anyhow that’s it! Tomorrow I’ll actually mix it up and see how the new formulation goes.