Drink your Beet Juice Day

Drink your beet juice day doesn’t seem like a fun made up holiday.  When I think of holidays I think of cake.  But I suppose it would not be very mature of me to advocate a whole month of cake.  One needs balance in life so let’s start the month off on a healthy note so we can have our cake later, guilt free!

I have to confess I wasn’t sure if beet juice really existed. Sounds made up to me. Or like something you would see on a juice bar menu in California that hasn’t reached the rest of the country yet.  But I was drinking a vegetable juice blend one day and saw beet juice on the ingredients list. Turns out beet juice is pretty healthy. And if you drink enough your pee will turn pink, how cool is that?

So just for today add something healthy to your diet, something you would never think of trying, like Beet Juice!

Oranges

I was thrilled when we moved into our house six 1/2 years ago to find we had both a lemon and an orange tree that bear an abundance of pretty tasty fruit.  There is only one teensy problem.  While I like oranges I seldom eat them.  I have always preferred clementines (or tangerines as they were called for most of my life).  I finally realized it isn’t the taste but how hard oranges are to peel.

Yesterday I had an epiphany, why not eat oranges like grapefruit?  For an after school snack I cut an orange in half and segmented it like a grapefruit.  Easy-peasy.  My son ate half and I ate half and then we went and picked another orange and shared that one too.  And we shared another one with breakfast this morning.

So much quicker and less messy than trying to peel our thick rinded oranges.  Is this one of those secret tips that everyone knew about but me?

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Now I love the idea of going out to the yard and picking a piece of fruit to eat right then!

 

Whole 30 – Day 15

I was making zero progress on losing five pounds or eliminating grains and dairy to see if that helped with the joint pain. My snacking was completely out of control. As in I would eat breakfast and then grab a cookie for dessert. I was eating junk food all day long. Pathetic.

I had to make a decision: give up or do the Whole30 again, sigh.  Bowling is starting and that really hurts my hands.  And I decided I was too young to just go ahead and let the weight creep up.  So Whole30 it was.

Then I dithered about the start date.  And then my husband announced they were doing the Whole30 again at work starting right after Labor Day.  Wait, that would overlap my 50th birthday and there was no way I wasn’t eating cake on the big day!  Looking at the calendar I realized I needed to start right away to be done before starting my next year of life.

With no real planning or grocery shopping I jumped in.  Having done the Whole30 before I knew what to expect. I needed to survive the first seven to ten days. I didn’t worry about how many yams or sweet potatoes I ate. And I didn’t sweat the snacking.  As long as I only ate compliant foods I was going to consider the first week a success. I would deal with snacking the second week.

I  also made a vow to be very kind to myself.  My biggest side effect the first week was fatigue.  I slept more and several afternoons found me on the couch watching a movie.  I kept my to do lists short.  I didn’t even attempt to tackle anything I knew would be frustrating.

Here are my non-food rewards for that difficult first week:

Flowers from Trader Joe’s.  (Instead of the dark chocolate covered almonds I really wanted.)

A new bottle of nailpolish. Revlon’s ‘Dreamer’, a pretty sky blue,  completely new shade for me.

Rereading the book “Rebecca”.  Scariest non-scary book ever!  Mrs. Danvers gives me the heebie jeebies.  I feel bad for my fellow introvert, the second Mrs. De Winter who I have decided is named Jane.  What do you think her first name is?

Watching my favorite summer movie: “Rear Window”.  Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly, Thelma Ritter and Alfred Hitchcock, the best combo ever!  Plus I like to be reminded that other places get hot in the summer too, and poor Jimmy not only doesn’t have a pool or a/c but a cast on his leg. Talk about summer misery!

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Non-food Whole30 rewards!

So I survived the first fifteen days.  Of course it is easy to be cavalier about it with it now in the rear view mirror. I am keeping my eye on the goal now, not so much the weight but eliminating snacking and seeing how my hands feel after bowling this week. I am pretty sure the joint pain is caused by a lack of estrogen from going into menopause so I don’t know if diet can help in anyway but either way it will be good to know.

Snacking hasn’t been too bad.  The first week I twice ate a mid-morning banana before running errands that I knew would end close to lunchtime.  Most days I ate an after school snack with my son:  celery w/cashew butter, an Rx Bar, a few olives.  I munched a few celery sticks while preparing dinner if I am starving.  Nothing too horrendous.  But the last few days I haven’t snacked at all. Yeah!

And now I am halfway done. I am already thinking about the reintroduction phase which I have failed so miserably in the past.  I am hoping the fact that my birthday is Day 31 won’t completely derail my reintroduction. After my birthday eating Whole30 between reintroduction days won’t be that big a deal as my husband wants to stay Whole30 until his doctor’s appointment the first week of October anyway.

Hopefully what will be a big deal is how good I feel!

The Perfect Storm

The last few days I have been miserably unhappy. The “I want to move to Canada and live in a one room cabin with my books and needlepoint, grow a garden and raise chickens and never see another living soul again” type of unhappy.

So last night I watched “The Hours” so I could spend some time with others who felt miserable and then I considered my situation. What exactly was the problem?  Food reactions?  Hormonal? Thyroid?  Motherhood burnout? Some combination thereof?  A quadruple whammy would explain my recent spate of  extreme overreactions.  Here’s a somewhat vague summary of what has been going on:

  1.  I feel grumpy, bored, frustrated and angry all at the same time.  Motherhood seemed the stupidest thing I had ever done closely followed by living in the desert. I have zero patience for any type of stupidity. Quite the problem with a small male child in the house.
  2. My seasonal allergies which were improving are once again worsening.  My insomnia has returned and being awake at 0400 is so not a good thing.
  3. I am convinced my 8 year old is trying to drive me crazy.  After say,  ten days walking past his shoes on the stairs he cannot believe it when I have a meltdown about the damn shoes.  And seriously how many years does one have to remind a person to brush their teeth before they get it? In my mind five years is enough.  The list goes on and on and on.
  4. Plus my check engine light kept going off and on and I needed to get my emissions test done.

 

So I did what every person does when they fear they are losing their mind:  I trolled the internet for information and ideas.  Here is what I learned.

 

1/2.  My post Whole30 reintroduction plan came to a screeching halt on Mother’s Day.  Plus I was really only concerned with grains, possible just wheat.  I learned I need to see if dairy is making me crazy, angry, unhappy, depressed and generally miserable too.  I am not going to do the Whole30 again but for the next week I am going to avoid all grains and dairy.  If there is a problem I should feel better after a few days.  Then I will have to slowly and painstakingly rule out (or in) foods one at a time.  The good news is I can make fruit juice popsicles and eat potato chips.  I thought I could eat dark chocolate too but all the stuff I have on hand has the potential to have some sort of milk product in it.  This could be a real problem.

As for living in the desert I am no longer going to be the martyr trying to save money by keeping the a/c set at 78°.   So right now the a/c is set at a very comfortable, (almost chilly!)  72°.  The electric bill be damned!  I also bought new curtains for my south facing bedroom and added a dark blue liner to really block the sun.  (Actually it was a little too dark during the day so I took the liner off one of the panels this morning and I will see how I like that tonight and tomorrow morning.)

 

3.  Turns out lots of eight year olds are driving their parents crazy.  Many have no interest in hygiene.  This phase typically lasts four to six years.  Okay.  So this means I have years ahead of me saying every single day “brush your teeth, use soap, wash your hair.”  See, this is what makes Canada look good.  But apparently it also drives most parents crazy so I am not alone, not that this knowledge is particularly helpful. But it is good to know my reaction is normal.

Also seems around this age boys get a little hormone spurt of testosterone that makes them stupid.  It is utterly useless to expect any type of common sense to prevail.  They have zero awareness of pretty much everything right now.  But this too will pass and at some point they become caring, reasonable human beings again, complete with an awareness of their surroundings.  Since I know my son has a good heart and an acceptable level of  intelligence I will l just have to wait out this phase as best I can.

To help with the waiting I got some tips from Zen Habits on patience and letting go of expectations.  I wrote them down on a piece of paper and I keep it with me at all times.  When I sense I am turning into the Nagging Ogre (think Incredible Hulk!) I pull the list out and read it.  If nothing else it  gives my son a chance to escape.

 

4.  I bought a new gas cap.  My car passed emissions and the check engine light has not come back on (yet).  Hopefully if it does come back on it will be after I have a grip on my reactions once again.

 

Seriously, I could write a book about everything going on in my head and heart right now, as well as probable causes and solutions.  I feel like I am entering a survival mode parenting period.  And that is okay.  Everybody has them, they don’t last forever, and everyone will survive.  Letting him watch more tv, play more video games and eat an apple for dinner is not the end of the world.  I actual think it will do us both good if I become less responsible for a while, take a break from being such a strict grown up.  Summer is coming and it is time to ease up and enjoy life.  Even if I can’t enjoy ice cream:(

But just in case, if you don’t see an update next week you will know I am living in Canada chasing chickens and doing needlepoint by the fire.  Wish me luck with the dairy and grain purge.  I really hope it brings some relief.

W is for Whole30

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From Mother’s Day 2014

 

As I write this I am on day 21 and doing incredibly well. (I’ll be on day 24 when you read this!) This is my fifth or sixth try at the Whole30 and while I have never really completed one I don’t think of them as failures. Each time I have learned something and incorporated a few new foods and better eating habits for the long term into my life.

This time around I really tried to set myself up to succeed. I picked a 30 day span when we had no holidays or camping trips to make it as easy as possible for me. Bought some marinades and sauces from Tessemae’s and placed an order with Wellness Meats.  In addition to planning dinners a week at a time I planned breakfast and lunch too.  All this has really helped.

The most important thing though has been having the right attitude and specific goals.  I am not cheating at all.  I don’t even think about cheating but vowed to simply follow the rules. No “I am going to eat butter instead of ghee after the 30 days so what difference does it make now” sort of thinking.    My main goals are to see how sugar and grains affect my joint pain and moods.  So once I am done I will resume eating cheese and real butter.  But grains and sugar will be done in small amounts with close attention paid as to how I feel. At least that is the plan.

As for how it is going right now,  all my cravings are gone.  My mood does seem more stable and some days I do think the joint pain is less. Sleeping is still an issue but I believe that is due to bad seasonal allergies and perimenopause.  I guess hoping eating a clean diet would make everything better was an unrealistic expectation.  🙂

Another surprise was how well my last two dental checkups went.  I had my semi-annual cleaning two weeks ago and the hygienist again commented on how clean my teeth were.  I have always been good about brushing and flossing but she pointed out my gums aren’t inflamed anymore either.  She only found a little soft plaque along the gum line.  The only thing that has changed is my eating habits. Looks like avoiding grains and sugars is really good for your teeth!

The biggest change is now I only eat because I am hungry.  The pleasure of food has disappeared which is kinda sad.  I make nice meals and keep up the variety of foods but something has changed.  I am not looking forward to eating, it has become a chore. Hopefully this feeling is only temporary.  I am glad that I no longer snack and I really hope that habit sticks.  And while I  am okay with eating only when hungry I really want to look forward to meals again.

I am also feeling a bit disappointed that I am not feeling any “Tiger Blood”.  Could be due to the bad allergies or it could be that my eating habits really aren’t that bad or that what foods I eat don’t negatively affect me.  If that is true then I am happy I can eat everything but sad that I can’t improve any of my ailments via diet.

But I can’t lie, I am looking forward to Mother’s Day and making pancakes with my son for breakfast and having dessert with dinner.  I have one last homemade peach crisp in the freezer that sounds perfect for a warm, sunny Sunday in May!

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Henry and Mudge and the Funny Lunch”  By Cynthia Rylant  was our inspiration.

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Our fruit family is Whole30 Compliant!

 

 

 

Habits and “T Time”

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Random flower photo from my collection taken in the White Mountains (summer 2013)

Everything I read said it was best to incorporate one new habit at a time.  Your brain and willpower can only do so much at once.  I think it is a good concept and one I was planning to adhere to this year.  But here’s the thing, without any conscious effort some other habits on my list are being adopted during T Time.  It is so cool!

I have found that sitting in my quiet office  working on a needlepoint project is actually a form of meditation.  My breathing is slow and regular, my mind is blank, focus is on how many stitches of this color I need to do for this row.  It is very calming.  Unlike when I actually try and do meditation there is no wondering about how many minutes I have left or guiltily jerking my mind back from wandering and trying to concentrate on my breathing or some mantra.  The meditation just happens.  My brain enjoys the quiet rest.

The other positive thing is I have resumed walking on my treadmill while using my computer.  No pedometer keeping track of my steps, no goal of so much time.  Just a simple stroll while writing or reading blogs.

Officially for February I am concentrating on healthy eating.   I am tracking my sugar intake and once again avoiding wheat.  I have found the joint pain in my hands and shoulder has returned. The plan is to abstain from wheat for a week or two and if my hands feel better, then I will know for sure the culprit is wheat. I am pretty sure I have made this plan before and I am pretty sure wheat is the bad guy.  I guess I was hoping organic wheat would make a difference.  I don’t even want to think about giving up baked goods and bread forever.  For now I will just focus on the next two weeks.

But I am not going to complain about meditation and 10k steps a day sneaking their way into my routine.  It’s all good!

 

A Whole 30 Superbowl

broncos

 

I am very happy that my team has once again made it to the Superbowl and we have a merry menu planned.
While not officially doing the Whole30 anymore we are still eating a lot of Whole30 compliant meals. Much of our menu for the Superbowl is Whole30 compliant the exceptions being the dessert items added at the end.

Crockpot Buffalo chicken
coleslaw
deviled eggs
salsa and guacamole with plantain chips
pineapple chunks

The best part of this meal is it all can be done well before kickoff.

For the chicken I put boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot with some chicken broth and cook on low all day. About an hour before we want to eat I take the chicken out and shred it (with two forks, like for pulled pork) and put it back in the crockpot.  Depending on how much broth is in the pot I may take some of it out and then I mix in Frank’s hot sauce (NOT wing sauce! The wing sauce is much spicier and not Whole30.)  I just eyeball  the amount.  Then everything warms up in the crockpot and you can eat it when you want.  I put my coleslaw right on the chicken and eat them together.  I also leave some of the chicken plain for my son.
And since we aren’t on the Whole30 I decided to add a few dessert items.

 

Cutout chocolate chip cookies

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The Denver defense is called “the orange crush” hence the orange soda. My son and I decorated the cookies, I think we need to take a class or buy better icing.

 

Go Broncos!!!!!

Habit Number One

When I made my list of habits to acquire for 2016 I thought I would start with meditation. Not too time consuming, no special equipment needed and I hoped becoming a “Zen master” would help tackle all those other habits.

Instead we decided to do the Whole30. My husband had a lot of co-workers doing it so I said okay. It made sense for me as I had been feeling really bad of late, like my thyroid meds aren’t working very well. I was disappointed to realize that just two weeks (or was it three?) of bad eating had such an extreme impact on my body.

So habit number one is healthy eating.  Whole30 turned out to be more of a Whole15, at least for me.  I am still eating mostly Whole30 meals but I am not strictly following the rules.  Having done the Whole30 before I have already learned many things about what I can and cannot eat.

For February the habit focus will continue to be healthy eating with an extra focus on sugar.  I finally realized I had no idea how much sugar was too much and after some research I am going with a limit of 25 grams a day.  That is ‘added sugar’ so things like the natural sugar in an apple do not count.

I have also had the crazy idea that I can actually eat anything I want as long as I make it myself from scratch.  So if I want a donut or a bagel I can have one as long as I make it myself, from scratch.  I have started buying organic flour and I made bread using just the organic flour, water, salt and yeast.  I only ate a small slice but I didn’t seem to suffer any ill effects so I will continue baking and sampling different items over the coming months and see how they make me feel. I know I need to keep my intake of any baked goods small but I think I will do okay with having a tiny portion of a treat once in awhile.  I would not be okay with never having any baked goods at all.

I am rather excited about eliminating all the chemicals from the food we eat, or at least a reasonable amount.  I am hopeful about staying at a decent weight, desperate to keep my thyroid in check and optimistic that a fairly clean diet will lead to a healthy old age.  Here’s to 30 more days of wholesome nutritious eating leading to a lifetime of good eating habits.

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Our harvest of oranges before the predicted hard freeze.

Whole 30 Camping

I wasn’t planning on writing any specific blog posts about the Whole30.  This time of year tons of people are writing about their Whole30 experience.  But over the long MLK weekend while the east coast was bracing for a nor’easter, a hurricane churned away near the Azores, feet of lake effect snow fell and the west coast was pummeled by El Nino rains here in southern Arizona we had decent camping weather (highs in the 60’s, lows in the 30’s).  So we decided to go camping.  While doing the Whole30.  Not impossible, it just takes planning and prep work and a huge fight with yourself about how sitting around a campfire does not require marshmallows, graham crackers or chocolate. Oh my.

I always think of Ma Ingalls when I camp cooking.  I picture myself building a fire to cook over as I light our three burner propane stove.  Ma Ingalls would have loved that stove!

Anyway I thought I would share my camping menu in case anyone needed some inspiration. Our meals were pretty simple with as much cooking done at home as possible.  We have a trailer (23′, the perfect size for three people plus a dog!) and we had electrical hook ups so we had use of the microwave which we used to heat up a few things but everything could also easily be cooked or heated on a camp stove. Our camper has a small refrigerator but somehow everything always fits. I think because we don’t have any drinks in it.  For this trip we just drank water and hot tea.

Meal one: (dinner Friday night)  Chicken vegetable soup and a green salad with tuna, pineapple for dessert.   The soup was homemade from a frozen chicken stock with lots of chicken meat and I threw in some frozen veggies and italian seasoning.

Meal two: (breakfast Saturday)  mashed yams and ground sausage (both cooked ahead of time and just reheated)

Meal three: (lunch Saturday) egg salad with romaine leaves, homemade tomato soup, cantaloup and blueberries

Meal four: (dinner Saturday) beef stew (homemade, pulled from the freezer at home)

Meal five: (breakfast Sunday) bacon, scrambled eggs and fried yams.  We {meaning my husband} cooked the bacon outside on the camp stove so we didn’t stink up the trailer.

Meal six: (lunch Sunday)  We roasted (heated)  fully cooked chicken apple sausages over a fire and had homemade coleslaw and veggie chips.  (Yes, the veggie chips are technically compliant and yet frowned upon. So frown away and skip the chips if you wish.)

Meal seven: (dinner Sunday) We grilled burgers, topped them with salsa and avocado, and finished off the salad and coleslaw and had carrots and cucumber slices.

Meal eight:  (breakfast Monday)  More yams (I had precooked three large yams total for the trip) and the last of the sausage and hard boiled eggs.

For snacks throughout the weekend we had bananas with cashew butter, raisins, pecans, carrots, oranges and grapes.

Hopefully this helps anyone uncertain about camping while doing the Whole30.

 

The Holiday Creep

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Finished my latest project at the perfect time.

No, not the weird guy who runs around and around our loop, though I do find that a little creepy. I am talking about the  holiday weight creep. I heard on the radio the average person gains seven pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years. What!? I thought it was four to five.

The week after Thanksgiving I stepped on the scale. I was still in my five pound window but perilously close to the top end. My first inclination was to ignore it. I am not going to stress over every cookie and eating out for the next four weeks.  But I wasn’t sleeping well either and feeling rather crabby.  I had stopped curtailing my wheat and grain intake and I was feeling it.

I looked at the calendar.  It really isn’t that close to Christmas yet. Really I have two more weeks where I should, could and will eat in my normal non-holiday fashion.  This week I have resumed using romaine leaves instead of bread, spaghetti squash instead of pasta and making simple meals like grilled salmon and salad for dinner.  I will remember to be moderate in my tasting while baking treats for the neighbors.  The oranges on our tree are ripe so when I need a snack I have been going outside and picking one to eat right then.  What a luxury!

I do not know how successful I will be in not gaining weight the next two weeks, but I already feel better just for trying.