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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Winter - I am ready for Spring

Boy has it been a cold winter, we had a very brief reprieve from the arctic blast and then it returned for another week. It is supposed to warm up a bit over the next few days and I can't wait.

New Year resolutions are going really well, all kept so far!

Our youngest daughter, Emily, became a certified EMT this month when she passed her state exam. Next Monday she starts work as an EMT, she is really excited about her new job, and we are really proud of her. Next step is to get certified as an advanced EMT, while she continues to go to college to train as a paramedic.

Trying on her EMT jacket for her new job
Tomorrow our oldest son, Matt, turns 34. It is really strange to think about 34 years passing since we had our first child, the memories are so fresh in my mind, yet 34 years have passed. Time is a strange thing, it can really drag when you are stuck at a red light, but it seems to just slip through my fingers and it is hard to comprehend a 34 year span of time where so much as happened but all my memories are so vivid it seems as if they couldn't have happened so long ago.


This week I am working on cleaning out the freezers, It is surprising how many things just kind of accumulate. So for the next few weeks I am basing all family meals on what is in the freezer, tonight I am making everyone ham and potato soup with cornbread. Me, I will have my usual bowl of vegan goodness, or as my mom calls it my bowl of weeds :)

Vegan bowl of goodness!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday, Odds and Ends

Good morning,

Well I am doing well with my New Year resolutions, I should say we are doing well, as Dave and I are both doing dry January, and it is going very, very well.

It has been a strange winter so far, it started snowing on Christmas Eve, then arctic air descended on Indiana and for two weeks it was sub-zero, including one morning where we awoke to a low of -13, that day the high reached about 2 degrees, BRRRR. On Sunday the weather started to change, we have had more normal highs of upper twenties to low thirties, today we are going to reach the mid forties, and tomorrow the mid fifties. As they say in Indiana, if you don't like the weather stick around a day or two as it will change!

This morning I went onto Facebook and saw an event advertised, The Indianapolis Veg Fest, it is FREE (bonus) and on Saturday, March 31, I asked Dave if he wanted to go and he said he would go with me, he is definitely not vegan :) he is a good guy and always supportive of me.

Yesterday on YouTube I found a great song by the poet Benjamin Zephaniah, it should be the vegan anthen: . If you have never read any Benjamin Zephaniah poetry, well you should, it is excellent, I have listened to a few interviews on BBC radio with BZ, he is an interesting man, very salt of the earth.

At the moment I am knitting a couple of sweaters for my two granddaughters, I am using a very bright variegated yarn and am enjoying the way the yarn knits up.

I am reading a book by Ken Follett, Fall of Giants, an almost 1000 page novel, but such a page turner, I just started it a few days ago and am already half way through. A epic saga about WW1, a mix of romance, family upheaval, and historical fact about how WW1 began and all of the behind the scene political maneuvering that ultimately pushed everyone into the war, it is very interesting. My big take away so far is here we are one hundred years later and NOTHING has changed. Those at the top make decisions that keep them at the top and wealthy, the rest of us are to a large extent simply pulled to and fro by the decisions of the elite. Well that is depressing, sorry about that.

No caption required! HAH!!

Well not too much else going on this week.

Peace be with you,


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Happy New Year - 2018

Happy New Year - may everyone be blessed with good health and contentment in 2018.

Do you make new year resolutions?

I do and here are my goals for this year!

1. Buy nothing

Well obviously I will have to buy some things, food, basic household items, pet food and probably a few other things, think 9 grandchildren with birthdays. But, my goal is to not purchase items, new or used, unless absolutely necessary. I don't need any clothing, in fact I plan to have a pretty good clear out of my closet and dresser, there are items in there that I just never wear. 
Exceptions to my rule will be replacing items that break, but only after careful evaluation. For example our hot water heater is possibly on its last legs, it will be replaced and that requires making a purchase of something new, but it is a necessity, so when the time comes we will have to make a purchase.  Other items can be evaluated, if my coffee maker breaks down, I have two stove top percolators in the basement, I would go back to using them. You get the idea.

2. Enjoy a glass of wine once in a while, not daily

My husband has always been a beer drinker, and he enjoys a couple of glasses of wine, but we both feel we drink too much, it is an expensive habit, and it is NOT good for your health. So to start we are doing a dry January, and then, as Dave pointed out Lent begins shortly after (February 14), so we may continue on to Easter. I will still enjoy a glass wine outside of January and Lent, but I want it to be something enjoyed once in a while, not every day. Because one glass becomes two, and sometimes more, and that is not good.  

3. Really make the most of our garden this year

Last year we put our garden in late, we had a cool wet summer, and between deer eating our tomato plants and a somewhat neglectful attitude, the whole project was a bit of a bomb. We enjoyed cucumbers, peppers, cantaloupe melons and acorn squash, but we had nothing to can. The year before our garden simply suffered from neglect, watching 8 grandchildren two of whom were babies that summer, I did not have the time or the energy to keep up on the garden.
This year I am determined that we will have a fabulous garden as we did in previous years. I eat a lot of tomatoes so want to can many, many jars of them, I eat a lot of kale and collard greens, they are both easy to grow. I eat turnips and brussel sprouts every day, and both are easy to grow, and of course cucumbers, radishes and green peppers. I eat a lot of lentils, I don't know if I can grow them in Indiana, but I am going to research and see if I can grow some. 

4. Continue on as a Vegan, and keep daily exercise a priority in my life

This is my easiest resolution, it is how I live, so nothing to add here, just keep on keeping on. Oh, and be more disciplined in posting to my blog :)

I would love to hear your plans and goals for 2018.

Peace be with you,


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,