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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Vegan On A Budget

A vegan diet can be an expensive option if  you choose to eat many vegan processed foods, and vegan "fake" meats. But if you stick to the basics it is an extremely economical dietary choice.

I am not a vegan who eats "fake" meats, and looks to recreate vegan forms of traditional foods such as macaroni and cheese, chicken and noodles, etc. I like to eat a whole food, plant based diet and avoid processed foods for the most part.

My weekly staples, and pretty much my shopping list:

ground flax seed
almond milk
nutritional yeast
diced canned tomatoes
collard greens
napa cabbage
brussel sprouts
ezeqiel bread

I sometimes add, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini squash, and occasionally apples and bananas, and once in while some frozen blueberries. I eat canned beans, pinto, black, or chick, occasionally, and a few times a week some quinoa.

It seems like a small group of foods, but each day I easily hit my protein goal, calcium and iron goals, close to my potassium goal, and average around 50 plus grams of fiber daily. I do take a multi-vitamin each day, B-12 supplement, D3 supplement, and Tumeric Curcumin.

I enjoy my meals, lunch and dinner are always lentils, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, and napa cabbage. I generally eat two servings of kale at lunch time, and two servings of collard greens at dinner time, to this I add some other veggies. I steam my veggies. To save time I cook up a bunch of lentils and  keep them in the fridge, they are always ready to go.

I do not use oil, dressings, vegan spreads, dips etc. as I try to limit my exposure to fat. I do eat a little peanut butter and occasionally some nuts, and I get omega 3's from 2 T flax see I eat with my morning oatmeal.

I have never tried vegan cheese and don't see why I ever will as I simply do not miss it at all, and I was once a cheese addict :)

Meal prep is easy and my meals are filling, satisfying, and nutritious.

I like to drink herbal tea, making sure I have some green tea every day too.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Vegan - It's going mainstream baby!

It seems that many people are at least willing to try a vegetarian or vegan diet, and wow that is a great thing, it is a good and ethical way to live.

I eat, for the most part, a very healthy diet, plenty of vegetables, some fruit, healthy grains and beans, and I feel fabulous. My younger son, Ben, decided to go vegan, he literally went vegan overnight after watching a short video, The Secret Reason We Eat Meat by Dr. Melanie Joy, on YouTube. Ben's reason for going vegan are almost entirely ethical, but he also benefits from eating a very healthy diet. Funnily he was my the pickiest eater of all four of my children, now he is eating oatmeal, brown rice, lots of stir fried vegetables, taking some supplements, running most days, and he is feeling good.

My daughter in law is wandering into vegetarian territory, my older son Matt, her husband, doesn't mind some meat free days through the week, but still likes meat sometimes, but as a family they eat a whole lot less meat then they used to.

My older daughter Amber, and her husband decided to go vegetarian for a month with their five boys, they made it about two weeks, but now have several meat free days each week.

My husband, when Dave was a younger man he was a strictly meat and potatoes guy, it wasn't a meal if there wasn't meat. My husband is going on 60, and we generally think that the older a person gets the more resistant they are to change, I applaud my husband, he still likes his meat and potato type meals, and I still cook them for him, but he has several meat free days each week, and most of those meat free days are vegan. He has tried quinoa, various vegan "meats", enjoying Boca Burgers and Italian Sausage (vegetarian). Vegan veggie pizza, no cheese, and you know what pizza is still very delicious without any cheese. Dave no longer eats processed lunch meats, he takes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread some days, tomato sandwiches, or salad sandwiches on other days, all better options than lunch meat and processed cheese.

People in general are much more receptive to eating less meat, or no meat, and many can see a life as a vegetarian, the main struggle people have with a vegan diet is giving up dairy.  And personally, dairy is probably the biggest culprit causing ill health in most people who consume a lot of it. Dairy aggravates the body, it can trigger rosacea, it is thought to be a trigger for eczema, it causes inflammation in the body, it is full of fat that is not good for you, it causes digestive issues, interferes with gut bacteria, it is best avoided. There are plenty of other ways to get adequate calcium in much healthier ways, eat green leafy vegetables, almonds, citrus, endame, tofu, broccoli, white beans, just to name a few. And in addition to getting your calcium eating these foods, you get excellent fiber, vitamins A and C, and many other nutritious benefits, and none of the negative side effects of dairy.

A whole foods plant based diet, WFPB, is gaining in popularity because it delivers all of the health benefits it promises, and thanks to a number of popular documentaries, vloggers, websites, and articles it is easy to get educated and see the benefits and know that you are doing something that is good for you and good for the earth.  Recommended videos, Forks Over Knives, an excellent documentary available on Netflix, What the Health, another documentary available on Netflix. On YouTube I love to watch the vegan vloggers Happy Healthy Vegans, they are great and have tons and tons of videos. Mic (pronounced Mike) the Vegan has lots of intense fact filled YouTube videos, and So I'm  Dating a Vegan follows a New York couple, he is vegan, and she is well on her way to becoming vegan, and they challenge their friend Theo to a one month vegan challenge.

I challenge you to have a vegan day or two each week, try some almond milk in place of dairy milk if you feel you can't live without milk. Make your meals based around fresh veggies, a little fruit and a base of rice, quinoa, lentils, mixed with some beans. Man, you will get a good boost of fiber, excellent nutrition, and you will feel full and satisfied. Steam your veggies until just soft, snack on raw veggies and fruit, have a few nuts (preferably raw). Avoid adding salt and fat, learn to enjoy the good flavors of the food in it's natural state. Once you stop adding oily dressings to foods, and using oil to cook with, you will lose your taste for oil, in fact you will find after a while that foods cooked with even a little bit of oil just taste overwhelmingly of oil and nothing else.

A thought on oil, we are the only creatures on earth who eat pure oil, no other creature squeezes all of the oil out of a nut, olive, or seed and then just consumes the oil, it is really a very unnatural food, and it is not healthy for you. How many olives would you have to eat to get the equivalent of one tablespoon of oil, around forty small ripe black olives, or twenty medium mission olives. Most people do not eat those quantities of olives at one sitting. Banish oil from you kitchen, your heart will thank you. You can saute veggies in a little bit of vegetable broth, or water, and when you have made your meal you will taste the wonderful range of veggie flavors, instead of oil.

So in closing, take some baby steps towards a healthy diet, you will feel better, find it is easier as meals take about fifteen minutes to prepare and are so enjoyable, and you will feel good!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vegan -

As you know if you have read previous posts, I started a weight loss journey three years ago. I lost 110lbs over the course of a year. Along with the obvious physical changes with weight loss, there are also mental changes. The way I look at food today, compared to three years ago, is a total turn around. I have gone from a lover of sweets and baked goods and overeating to a whole food, plant based, vegan diet. I once would take leisurely walks for exercise, now I get out and run for forty plus minutes four times a week. I still enjoy a good walk, but now prefer running (good grief, at one point in my life I would never have imagined my future self writing that!)

Anyway, over the year of weight loss my diet changed, not all at once, but week in and week out it just kept changing, it evolved into a healthy way of eating. I use an app, Myfitnesspal to track my calories, I have logged in daily now for 1,028 days, it is like my conscience when it comes to food choices. I was quite shocked at how many calories were in a number of my favorite foods, that was the first eye opener, no wonder I got so overweight, I simply ate over large portions, often times refilled my plate, and I ate food that was high in fat, sodium, sugar, and all of it over processed and high calorie and the result was obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic pain.

As time progressed, I would say six months into my weight loss, my diet was very healthy, lots of vegetables, some fruit, oats everyday, salmon, chicken, tuna, and greek yogurt. I got to 130 lbs, and have maintained my weight for two years now. My relationship with food changed, the foods I eat are satisfying, taste good, are filling, blood pressure and cholesterol are excellent, I exercise and feel fit and now have a BMI of 18.5.

For most of my adult life I have suffered from Rosacea, I found on my weight loss journey that a number of foods aggravate it, I think because I tend to eat the same things it is easy to find the culprit if problems arise. For example, for a number of months I ate a spinach salad for lunch almost every day of the week, it had four handfuls of spinach, a tablespoon of blue cheese, blackberries, and usually a boiled egg, or salmons, or chicken. My Rosacea became wildly enflamed during this time, I started googling to find out if foods triggered flare ups, well it turns out some foods are high histamine, spinach is one of them. Blackberries and blue cheese are also trigger foods for flare ups. I stopped the salad and at that point, two plus years ago, gave up cheese and spinach. My Rosacea improved, a number of months later I added spinach back to my daily diet (I really like it), within two weeks I had a massive flare up. Bye Bye Spinach. Fast forward another year, at that time I was months into a love affair with Chobani plain greek yogurt, I ate two pots a day everyday. One week at the grocery store I thought, this is ridiculous, I am spending $15/week on yogurt so I didn't buy any. After a few weeks my Rosacea was for the most part completely gone. The yogurt was the only dairy product I consumed regularly. I decided to stay off the yogurt, but after a few months I bought seven pots, I thought I would just have one a day and see what would happen, by the end of the week I had a Rosacea flare up. So, after all of these years of suffering (a bit of a strong word, but you are very conscious of Rosacea and people ask why your face is so red etc.), I found the culprit for me is an allergy to dairy.

By the spring of this year, I had given up chicken and tuna, and only regularly consumed Salmon, otherwise I was for all intent and purpose a vegan. I was having more and more concerns about the level of heavy metals in the fish, plus I ate way more than the recommend amounts as I ate fish every day. I gave up Salmon, and at that point became vegan.  I would never have imagined on the day I decided to change my life and start to lose weight that I would end up being a vegan runner, life is crazy like that sometimes. I feel good, have a great sense of wellbeing, I am glad nothing has to die to feed me, and I feel in the best shape of my life and I am in my early fifties.

And that folks is how I became vegan.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Once A Month Grocery Shopping - Mental Adjustment Required

Wow, not shopping is very weird! I used to go to the store several times per week, once for our main grocery shop for the week, and one or two quick trips to pick up a needed item and usually an impulse purchase or two would be included, and then maybe a few trips out for other things I wanted, a book, a pair of shoes, gifts, you get the drift. Suddenly I have a lot more time on my hands, and it is entirely due to NOT going shopping. It is unbelievable, I never realized how much time all those "quick" trips out were using, not to mention adding mileage to our vehicle and burning up gas. This is icing on the cake, the cake being the money we are now not spending and are truly saving.

So, the above all sounds good? What's not to like? Saving money like crazy, having lots of extra free time, both are nice perks of being frugal.

Now, the odd side, I won't say down side, because it is early days and I think I am in the process of a mental adjustment :). The odd side is the extreme withdrawal from going to the store, it has taken me by surprise, completely by surprise. It is shocking how many times a day I think about going to the store, and all day long items keep coming to mind; we need this, we need that, maybe just go and pick up two items that isn't really shopping, well you get the drift.  The thing is, these thoughts are beginning to drive me nutty, I never considered myself a shopper, a person whose hobby is literally shopping, after all my shopping was necessary, mainly groceries or things we "needed", oh, boy it is so easy to justify our behaviors.  I have to assume that shopping for me was way beyond the hobby stage, in hindsight it must have been my lifestyle, and that is a truly bizarre revelation to me. This seems the most rational explanation for my extreme withdrawal.

I am absolutely positive I will pass through the withdrawal stage just fine, a mantra I like is, "train to refrain...", I just add whatever negative thing is going on at that moment to the end.  For example when I run, for some reason, always around the beginning of mile four my body wants to stop, so in my head I start staying, "train to refrain from quitting", and I say it over and over and suddenly realize I am now into mile five and doing just fine.  Losing weight, it is difficult to stay in control, sometimes I am very tempted, but when I feel tempted I say, "train to refrain from over eating", and now I am saying, "train to refrain from shopping". Quitting the shopping habit is a lot like doing a long distance run, or losing a lot of weight and then maintaining the weight loss, you MUST stay focused on the end result.

It is November 14, I have made one shopping trip for groceries since October 21, and if I am careful with our supplies I will not need to grocery shop again until December arrives. I have gone into a store three times this month, once to pick up a birthday gift ordered online and if I did in-store pick up I did not have to pay shipping. Once to purchase another birthday gift, and once to grocery shop. The time between grocery shopping on October 21 and my next trip on November 10 is the longest  time I believe I have EVER gone in my adult life between food shop trips. And, I live to tell the tale, we did not starve and ate nutritious meals. I plan to go three weeks this time and hopefully at least that the following time. December will have some shopping as I have Christmas gifts to purchase for grand children and will have a few additional treats on the grocery list for Christmas day dinner. Our checking and saving accounts are much healthier after one month, and I am excited to see where we will be in three months, six months, the rewards have been so immediate it is highly motivating.

I am glad we decided to make this change, it is challenging in a good way. I think about what food supplies we have, what meals I can make, what will make good left overs, what is the most economical way to cook something to make it stretch yet still be nutritious and enjoyable. I way underestimated the number of eggs we use, but seem to have estimated everything else fairly well.  I find myself making lots of little decisions throughout the day about food preparation tempered with the reality that I am not going to grocery shop until December 1 at the earliest. I want to add that the idea with shopping once per month is to drastically reduce the amount of money we spend on food, and staying out of the store eliminates temptation and impulse buying.  We used to spend about $110/week on food, add to that non-food items such as pet food, toilet paper, personal hygiene, dish detergent, and impulse purchase the $110 could quickly become $150 or more. So far this month I have spent $164.44, this includes all food for the rest of the month including some extras for Thanksgiving, like the turkey, and pet food. We are pretty well set on personal hygiene items and toilet paper. I spent $19 on the additional birthday gift. Right off the bat we will not have spent the usual $500 or so we usually spend on groceries/household, but instead about $165, that is an  additional $340 or so dollars staying in the bank, not to mention the elimination of other shopping trips that increase that $340 this month. Will each month be this good, I think they will get better, because along with the savings we have made, we have become more disciplined with regular savings this year, and we will pay off a medical bill this month, which will then allow us to focus on paying off the money we borrowed to do our roof this past spring. Because we have freed up money from shopping we have more to apply to payments and the roof will be paid in full in a few more months and then we will have no debt. An additional boost to money save, we decided to drop our DISH tv, saving $106/month, we have had cable for most of our married life, we will celebrate our 33rd anniversary next month. The decision was easy, we realized we never watched DISH, we watch one local channel some evenings, and otherwise watch Netflix or YouTube, we decided we were ready to cancel and so we did.

The main challenge is not getting bored, there are plenty of free things to do, but it can still feel limited at times. I have done a lot of things around the house, and outside, but sometimes feel restless. I get out and walk or run for an hour each day, I stay busy knitting or sewing, doing chores around the house, but sometimes I just want to go do something, anything. I can go run or walk at a park, go to the library, go for a drive, go to church. But it seems to me the primary entertainment available to us all and one that we all partake in is shopping and going out to eat. Although we rarely go out to eat, it is something to do, and it is enjoyable. So some of the challenge is finding other ways to occupy ourselves that do not involve spending money.

So in summary, although a significant mental adjustment is required to change shopping habits and careless spending, it is possible, and the benefits are very rewarding.

Blessings to you,


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Being Frugal and a Few Other Things

Frugal Living

We were pretty frugal people, but since our babies flew the nest, and it is just Dave and I we became less disciplined about our spending. I stopped making laundry soap and started to buy laundry detergent and fabric softener every few weeks, I purchased a lot of convenience snacks for the grand children, I started buying bread, and just became lazy about the garden. Well after a while I got tired of spending money on laundry detergent, it is expensive even when buying the bargain brand, and it always seems that more needs to be purchased. So, I went back to making laundry soap, I spent $6 and have enough ingredients to make detergent for a year!  And, a batch of homemade laundry soap lasts almost a month for us, I can live with spending fifty cents a month for laundry soap and taking fifteen minutes once a month to make it.
I don't even know why we sort of stopped making bread, I guess convenience, and when I have seven grand children here for lunch we go through a lot of bread, and they love toast for a snack. But the cheap white bread from the store is pretty dreadful, nothing at all like homemade. So, I am back to baking all of our bread, ten loaves every two weeks doesn't take much time, and I can make it for so much less than a cheap loaf of store bought. And once a month I bake a large batch of cookies, bag them up and pop them into the freezer and dole them out to grandchildren as needed, much less expensive than buying a bunch of overpriced snacks and having tons of packaging to throw away.
Hanging laundry out to dry, why not, I just got lazy, and with only two of us we really don't do many loads a week so I got into the habit of using the dryer again.
Going to the store WAY too frequently, my goal now is to grocery shop twice a month, rather than average two trips per week to the store. The last time I purchased groceries was October 28, I will need to go this weekend as we are running quite low on supplies.
Gardening, last summer I did not have time, this summer I had more time but the garden was not a priority. Today I went out and gleaned the last of the produce, I have several nice green peppers, a few dozen beets, a few heads of broccoli, and the chickens have a lot of greens to enjoy.
Not quite Old Mother Hubbard's cupboard, but the emptiest the pantry has been in years!
I am good at finding deals at the store, and I will only buy meat/poultry that is reduced for quick sale, BUT only if it is something we will actually eat.  On Monday I roasted a whole chicken, it was just shy of six pounds and I purchased it on mark down for $4.31. The roasted chicken, along with some mashed potato, stuffing, corn, and gravy, fed 7 children, and three adults on Monday evening, the left overs Dave ate for dinner on Tuesday. I boiled the chicken remains and made two quarts of broth. The broth will be lovely for making gravy for future meals, or a base for soup, etc. etc. The total cost of the meal prepared was around $8.50, which is a very good deal for all of the people it fed.

Latest Project

In my last post I mentioned deciding what to do for my next project. I have decided to knit up bunch of yarn that is taking up space in my sewing room. I am knitting blocks and will sew them together to make a cozy throw blanket.

Latest Read

I am reading a book by Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys, so far so good. Earlier this year I read another Neil Gaiman book for book club, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, it was excellent, I highly recommend it. Neil Gaiman books are a bit other worldly, magical, yet set in a real enough world to make you believe, I like that it is so easy to disappear into the story, pure escapism.

Well I think that is all for now. We are still enjoying a most beautiful November. I put all of the garden furniture away today, and brought in my geraniums for the winter. Now downstairs for lunch, a soft boiled egg and toast soldiers, and a nice mug of tea and then out for brisk walk.

Blessings to you,


Sunday, November 6, 2016

A Beautiful Day

We live in northeast Indiana, it is November, and it is sixty outside, sun shining brightly, a light breeze, the drone of lawn mover, it is a spectacularly beautiful day. It does not feel at all like November. And, we have an extra hour today, due to the time change.

This morning we had a bit of a sleep in, then went to Mass. When we returned home we had a quick tidy up, then Dave headed out to finish the mowing, and I went off for a walk. I am glad we both had an opportunity to get outside for a good while and enjoy the beautiful day.

Yesterday I finished a little blue cardigan for our soon to be born grandson. The knitting pattern was easy to follow and I am pleased with the finished product.

In my last post I mentioned reading some books by Martina Cole, I read a ways into the first book and then decided I didn't want to go further. The book is well written, but the storyline just isn't my cup of tea. I read to escape and stories with a lot of violence, mobster type activity, I can't get into. I would rate the author quite highly, because the writing is good, the plot and character development is good, I am just not into the genre.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am keeping busy with lots of little projects to keep myself sane! Right now I have finished a project, the little blue cardigan, and I need to figure out quickly what my next project should be.  I like my projects to have a purpose, such as making a baby quilt for a gift, knitting something for myself or a grandchild, sewing a shirt for my husband, I don't like to work on something just to work on something.
I have a couple of ideas, I want to make a quilted wall hanging, and in my mind I am picturing something kind of Dr. Who-ish, for sure a tardis, and possibly a darlek, and striped border reminiscent of the long scarf Tom Baker wore when he played the Dr. in the early 1970's. But, I am not sure I am ready to start this project, it is in the "swirling in my mind" phase, I sort of see what I want, but the idea is not yet clear enough.
Another project I have is one I started years ago, and then set it to one side and forgot about until I came across it when I was having a bit of a sort out.  The project is an English pieced quilt made by hand stitching together hexagons. This style of quilt is a good way to use up lots of left over bits of material, and it is a very portable project as it is entirely done by hand.
So, I need to decide if I am going to do one of  the above mentioned projects or come up with something entirely different. It is important to me to keep the cost of my projects as low as absolutely possible, I always try to work with what I already have, and I save all my scrap material for future projects, and at times I have been quite creative to avoid having to put more money into a project.

Well I am off now to enjoy the beautiful day.

Peace be with you,


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting for the Rain to Stop

I am ready to go out for a run, but it is raining, it is windy, and it is only in the mid forties outside, so I am waiting for the rain to stop before heading out.

I like rainy days, the house seems cozy and warm, I spent a good part of the morning reading Caravan by Dorothy Gilman, a book loaned to me by a fellow book club member. So far it is an enjoyable read.

Over the weekend I finished reading, Our Lady of the Lost and Found, a book by Diane Schoerperlen, I selected this book for our book club to read this month. I read Our Lady of the Lost and Found about ten years ago and recently had a hankering to read it again. I enjoyed the book the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time and I think it will provoke good discussion when our club meets again on November 4. The book is a mixture of fiction, a single middle aged woman author who has an unexpected house guest, Mary, arrive to stay for a week one April. But mainly the book is about Mary and the many times Our Lady has appeared to people throughout the ages. There are stories of saints, of miracles, and of sustaining faith. It is a thought provoking book, and interesting book, and well worth taking the time to read.

Last week I read a book by Fay Weldon, it was okay, a quick read, it really is a book done in the Downton Abbey style, meaning a soap opera set around 1900. It was really a quick read, none of the characters likable, and everyone of them simply used each other to their own advantage. The book is the first of three, I can't be bothered to read the next two, the first was more than enough.

I recently read about Martina Cole, a British crime/mystery writer, and how popular her books are, I borrowed a couple from the library, I read the introduction to one of the books and it caught my interest, so as soon as I have finished Caravan I will start Close.

I just recently read The Making of Henry by Howard Jacobsen, I enjoyed this book a lot, but it was a hard slog to read, parts of it were laugh out loud funny, other parts very sad, and some parts so inside the mind of Henry and his deepest thoughts that it was difficult to follow, yet the book was very satisfying, here is a link to a review of the book:

Here is a good quote, I just read it in Caravan earlier today, it is from Shakespeare:

"What fates impose, that men must needs abide; It boosts not to resist both wind and tide"

Basically roll with the punches, don't fight what life brings you just go with the flow. I think that is sound advice :)

Well, it appears the rain has stopped, so I am going to pop out and get my run done for the day.

Peace be with you,