Thursday, December 15, 2011

The blur of the season

I apologize for such a long absence.  Between our trip to Tennessee, events at home, visitors, birthdays and work.  I've been out of sorts.  I haven't even been to my beloved Jazzercise on a regular schedule.  Work has really taken a lot out of my personal time.  I hope to get back to my regularly scheduled programming soon.  Until then, I will post again soon.  Promise!  See below some recent pics from recent events! 

Birthday boy!

Little man turned 4 recently.  I can't believe time has passed so quickly already.  He really got into it this year and had a double celebration.  His birthday weekend with us and Nanna and Nannu and then the following weekend a lovely visit from Grandpa, Grandma, Uncle Steve and Aunt Julia.
Stick em' up!  We had to copy (somewhat) from little guy in the movie Parenthood.  So cute.
Why it's Captain Jack Sparrow! 

Just Vogue

Kristjan woke from a nap with some crazy funky hair.  Almost look styled, like a fashion designer's hair style.
So...I taught him how to do "The Vogue".  You remember right?  Hint:  Madonna.

Somebody loves

Somebody loves her dog Max.  Very much so.  Every day she asks me if I like him, if I love him and if he is staying with us.  She reminds us everyday that she loves him.

Pretty Bellabean.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Goose bumps

I went to visit one of the lovely blogs I follow and upon reading her post, I thought I must share this as it's so very significant and true. She just had a little scare with one of her breasts, kind of like what I am going through and had a light of life window open up for her after her doctor's appointment.

I got the goose bumps on something she said:

Stop searching for the answer, you are living it!  The more you keep chasing something for the future, the less you’ll be present to what is in here – right beside your right breast.  Listen to your heart.  Tomorrow isn’t any better than today, just like today isn’t any more significant than yesterday.  But fretting about what you NEED to be doing is wasting precious time, the searching will never end, and today will always be lost amongst the sorrow of desire.  Embrace this and life will blossom, living each moment purposefully and dharma will reveal itself.”

To read the entire post from YogaVal, click here.

She is so super cool. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On top of the want list!

On the tip top of my want list would be a flat iron.  My friend from work brought hers in to do my hair for a wedding.  Loved it!  Who would have known?  I finally have an answer to that crazy hair of mine and Chris loved it too.  Can't wait until Christmas!  Maybe Santa Chris will get me one....hint hint.

So super cool!

It's not every day you get to meet one of your personal heroes in person!  Holy cow!  On our final meeting (graduation so to speak) of the 28 day challenge Rip Esselstyn himself came to speak, sign books and visit.  He was so inspirational, informative and gracious.  He took time speak with everyone one on one, took his time and listened.  There were even a few children there getting their books signed.  Very cute.

What a cool guy.  I'm still smiling.
Here Rip is speaking for the crowd.  I had seen his lectures before on television, but it was something else to hear and see him in person.  He was also very funny.
Another fella from the Forks Over Knives movie was present.  Joey Aucoin lives in Tampa and was featured in the movie.  Two years ago, he was a size 38, was on several medications for diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and was also taking shots and had to take Pepcid for his stomach.  He is now a size 33 and hasn't touched a signal bottle of medication since he started his plant strong diet.  Diabetes free, blood pressure good and cholesterol is down.  What an inspiration. 

Rip signed my book and also my little graduation certificate.  Super cool.

I am so happy I decided to join this challenge.  I felt bad that on Mondays I didn't get home until around 8:30pm, but I had the best time!   I made some friends, learned a ton and feel inspired to do more.  It was also an added plus to be able to mingle with the author himself!  

I also made some pals at Whole Foods.  Curtis; our instructor, was very passionate about his work and has been to an Immersion.  I hope they decide to have an Immersion here.  An Immersion is where you spend several days with them, eat their food and during the day attend lectures from some of the giants.  Dr. Caldwell Esselsytn (Rip's dad),  Collin Campbell, Joel Furhman, Jeff Novick, John McDougall, etc.  That would be kick ass!  He's going to have another challenge in January to continue on the learning and cooking classes.  I might just have to attend those too.  Why not!?  I've made some great connections and had a lot of fun.

You want to know something else?  It's not all about me. What I am about to tell you, is the real reason behind all of this: 

Chris has benefited greatly so far from this as well.  I stood up in front of the crowd (shaking and stuttering uncontrollably I'm sure) and told them of my experience and also gave them some news about Chris.  Just two weeks into this diet he had his blood work done and the results were in.  He had already had the appointment made before changing his way of eating and decided to keep it just out of curiosity to see if possibly any changes had happened.

Well!  In just two weeks Chris's total cholesterol went down 47 points and his LDL went down 40 points!  That's without drugs and just after two weeks. I wonder how much lower it is now?  Also, in the four weeks he has lost around ten pounds. That is wonderful!  None of the medications he tried before had those results.

I am going to get my blood work done next week.  I can't wait to see the results.  I also want to point out.  This is a lifestyle change, not a diet.  It's not a temporary thing.  It's for life.  For a better life.

Thanks Rip!  Again....I'm still smiling.

Swing time

I just love this time of year.  The kids love playing outside when it's a bit cooler and some of the bug population is gone.
 I just love this picture of Bella.
Goofy Weeman.  Escaped outside with his pajama top still on.  I figured....whatever.  They all get washed anyway.

Early Thanksgiving

This Sunday we had an early Thanksgiving over at Nanna and Nannu's.  Nannu made a delicious mushroom lasagna and focaccia bread with rosemary, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.  It was all was just wonderful!  Kristjan and Bella helped to make the pasta as well.
While the lasagne was baking we played outside for a while.  Time for a little football toss.  Bella has quite the arm.
Weeman has a good arm too!
Facing that sun makes it hard to see what's coming.
Even Chris had problems with the sun.  Bella always faces east.  She's a bright girl.

Thank you Nanna and Nannu for a wonderful dinner!  ;o)

Meet Max

We did it. It just happened so quickly.  Like everything fell into place.  Last Friday a co-worker of mine who had three dogs too many and two cats brought Tyson in to work for a spell.  We are able to bring in our dogs to the office every once in a while.  Everyone has a dog - it's a dog friendly joint.

I overheard him mention to my auditor (another reason I have not posted in a while - the lovely audit) that he was trying to find him a home.  He had the lowest seniority and they just could not handle all of the animals they had.  My ears perked up and I decided to ask some more questions just for fun.

He met all of our qualifications.  He was fixed, potty trained, crate trained, only 2 years old, didn't shed, liked kids, was a small breed and had a good history.  Oh, and he's a pure bred Yorkshire Terrier, for free.  Well, he was free.  The new crate we had to buy, food, toys, etc. were not.  But we won't complain.

His name is now Max.  This was a family decision as Tyson just wasn't sinking in for anyone.  Even for the dog.  Bella came up with the name, so we kept it.  At first the little dude would follow me everywhere.  Now that it's been over a week he is used to everyone, has a schedule and is very happy.
Cute little guy.  He loves to run and play and the kids do a good job of making sure he gets plenty of exercise.
Bella drew a picture to show how much she loved Max.  Every morning he jumps on her bed and wakes her.  Then he runs to the pantry and waits for her to open it up and give him his morning vitamin treats.  She really loves him.  I think we made the right decision.

Above we have Bella petting Max.  Below them starting from the right we have Kristjan wrapped in a blanket (he pretends to be a butterfly in a cocoon or a snail in the shell a lot), Max's brush, leash and collar, food and water.  On the couch she has me drinking my tea and dad flexing his muscles.  Too funny.

Welcome to the family Max. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween 2011

It wasn't what I was expecting.  It wasn't what Kristjan was expecting either.  Poor dude came down with strep and scarlet fever the weekend before and was way too ill on Halloween evening to venture out and Trick or Treat.

When he noticed Bella getting dressed he got up (he had been laying down - all day) and insisted he put on his costume.  He then grabbed his bag and came up to me and said "Trick or Treat mommy?".  Holy cow...I believe my heart fell out at that moment and turned to goo and I know I got teared up.  I felt so very bad for him.  It just wasn't a good idea to be out in the chilled air running around while he was in pain, had a temp and a rash.

We decided to carry him next door to Nanna and Nannu's house where he could at least Trick or Treat once and then he was happy to hang with daddy at home (still in his costume) and wait for Bella to return with her bounty to share with him.  It all worked out fine.  

He is feeling better now.  I am now overdosing on vitamin C, greens, garlic and onions as I can feel my body is trying to fight something.  Geez....can't wait for this crap to cycle its way out of my house, school and work.   
Here we have Bella the vampire, trying to look all dangerous.  Seriously, she bites.
Here's our little skeleton!  Little blonde skeleton.
Too damn cute!  With Bella having make up on.  I can see we are in big trouble in a few years...

So excited!!

Holy cow!  I can't tell you how excited I am about this!  On our last graduation meeting of the Engine2, 28 day challenge, Rip himself will be there in person to congratulate us and maybe even sign some books!  I actually get to meet one of my heroes in person!
Color me happy!    

It's carving time

Seems to be a tradition now.  Dad must carve the Jack-O-Lantern every year.  He did another great job. He also had help.  
Bella chose this year the Grim Reaper.  Creepy cool man!

Still going strong

Still going strong on the diet front.  Thought I would share a couple of things.  First, a small tossed sunflower sprout salad!  Home grown!
I made a really yummy dressing of nayonaise, lemon juice, Dijon mustard and agave.  
Some Macaroni and Not Cheese.  A recipe from the Engine2 diet that we tried on the last class I attended.  Here is the recipe:

1 onion, chopped
1 cup cashews
½ cup lemon juice
1 1/3 cups water
½ teaspoon sea salt
4-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
16 ounces whole grain elbow pasta, cooked

Preheat oven to 425°F. Sauté the onion over medium heat in a nonstick skillet for 5 minutes, until translucent. In a food processor, combine onion, cashews, lemon juice, water and salt. Gradually blend in the roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and onion powder. Thoroughly toss the sauce with the pasta. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown on top.

It was a hit at the house.  Seconds please!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

It can be done!

Usually when I make my pureed roasted sauce I toss the veg with olive oil, salt & pepper.  This time I created my roasted veg puree without the oil.  It worked.  I found it can be done!  
So I did the same as always.  In my baking dish I put a tub of cherry or grape tomatoes, 1 onion cut in large chunks, 2 red peppers cut in large chucks, about 8 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper.  Tossed them about and baked them at 475 degrees until a little charred on top.  Placed the roasted goodness in my processor and blended with some crushed red pepper, added a little veg broth and more salt & pepper as needed.

Seems the natural sugars and water in the vegetables prevent them from just turning into charcoal bits as I thought they would have without the oil.  After I had removed the roasted veg from my baking pan, I added some sliced Field Roast seitan frankfurters and baked them for a bit while my wheat pasta boiled.  When my pasta was done, I threw in some frozen chopped kale in with the pasta and water to heat it up.  I then strained the pasta with kale then put that back into the pot, added my puree and baked frankfurters and served topped with some toasted pine nuts.

Chris really loves seitan now.  I was told by my Engine2 instructor and coach last Monday that even vegan processed meats are a processed food. And to only eat them occasionally (mostly because of added salt, sugar and oil found in most processed foods).  Makes sense. A processed food no matter meat based or not, is still processed.  The goal is to eat a whole foods plant based diet.

We have been eating a certain way for some 40 years.  To change to something different takes work and time.  We still like the tastes and texture of what used to be meat in our diets.  These meat substitutes have the same texture like their animal counterparts and also (if you get the right thing) taste like them.  Adding them in dishes every now and then seem to help our cravings for that texture and taste.  What I need to do is make my own seitan.  Then I can make my own sausage.

I have to be happy with the progress we are making here.  I'm going to keep and open and reasonable mind about all of this.

My instructor also hit my heart where it would hurt the most and mentioned that agave nectar is considered a processed sugar.  Damn it man! Dude, you're killing me here!  I just can't handle that one.  I don't plan on omitting it from my tea.  I'll reduce my serving, but I won't give it up.  Sorry....

We have been plant based for six weeks now.  I myself feel awesome!  I mean, aside from my allergies, I feel so much lighter and cleaner.  I have more energy now and can even notice it at my workouts. Oh, and something else I have noticed.  My fingernails are thick and hard now.  They were always so thin and brittle before. Crazy cool.

To summarize:  You can roast vegetables without oil.  Eat processed meat substitutes only occasionally.  I love my agave nectar!  I have the nails of a vampire.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cute things little people say

A little Hokusai

Thought I would share some of Hokusai's artwork.  Chris especially likes his work.

Monday, October 24, 2011

More Eri Kamijo

Counting down!

24 days and counting! Yes, I am a complete nerd. Almost forty and giddy like a school girl over an upcoming teen movie. I really don't care. I love this saga. I've been re-reading all of the books (will be my fourth time I believe) so I'll be primed and ready! I'll be watching Breaking Dawn when up in Tennessee next month along side my fellow Twihard sister Caroline. I can't wait!

Nerd out.

Thanks Monique!

Part of the Engine2 diet and challenge is to omit all oils. I have to say, dropping the meat and dairy was a snap. Changing the way you cook without oil takes more work. The main problem is that eating out is even harder as oil or butter is used to prepare just about everything. Even ordering a salad is an issue unless you bring your own dressing. Luckily I don't eat out much; but when we do, we'll just have to deal with it or bring items - which seems meaningless since the whole purpose behind eating out is to experience new tastes and food combinations, not bringing your own foods. Might as well eat that salad at home!

Then again, the other reason to eat out is to be able to sit, be served and not do the dishes! I am reading several books at once (weird, I know) and one of them is a vegan book. They talk about BPO or Best Possible Option. Not to freak out if you fail or forget to prepare. Just go with the BPO at the time.

I'm not going to kill myself on this new way of life. I don't imagine that if I eat a salad while out on that rare occasion and there is oil in the dressing, the world will implode and on my birthday if I want to eat anything my little heart desires....I believe I will do so.

The whole point of this ramble (as I get carried away again...) is that I did find this awesome recipe called "No oil no fat crispy roast potatoes" thanks to my friend Monique who is participating with me on the Engine2 Challenge. She sent me this link and I gave them a try.
I had to share this! They totally rock! Thank you Monique for the link to this wonderful recipe. I've made these bad boys twice now and we all love them. They are super crunchy on the outside and nice and creamy light on the inside. Best of all, no oil or fat is used to make them and they don't stick to the baking sheet! You can pop as many of these babies into your mouth as you want. You are only eating potatoes, a little flour, salt and pepper. That's it.

I chuckled to myself when I put this picture up as it lacks any plating design. Looks very militant and boring. Here we have those rockin potatoes served with some steamed edamame and a Field Roast Italian seitan sausage. This sausage is made from wheat gluten (the protein portion of wheat) and all the herbs commonly associated with meat sausage but without the fat and cholesterol. They also have more PROTEIN than their animal based counterparts. Interesting...

I did put a squeeze of ketchup for my taters and some stone ground mustard for my sausage after the pic was taken.

Just a note. These Field Roast sausages are good..... So good Chris can never only eat one of them.

Doing what they do best

Playing of course! For us Floridians we love those cool dry days with low humidity. It's a must to open the windows and head outside. Summers are brutal, so any cold snaps are awesome.Back in his favorite spot. Bella blowing bubbles.
Kris chasing the bubbles.
More bubbles!
Now some posing from his pirate ship (actually the fort on the swing set).
I didn't tell him to do that pose. Watch out GQ magazine.

Mr. Green thumb

Our resident green thumb Chris picked up a sprout growing kit from the Vegfest the other weekend. We selected sunflower sprouts as we've eaten those before and loved them. I have a feeling he will be ordering more seed and kits because it was a fantastic success! You can grow wheat grass, bean sprouts, alfalfa sprouts etc. Without any fear of E-coli!
Look at these babies! It cost us $10 for a complete kit with seeds, soil and container. To buy a small bag of grown sprouts costs more than that! They are almost ready for clipping and it took no time at all!
Bella suggested we let a few mature so that we can gather more seeds from the flowers verses ordering more seed.
I made another miso soup. This time I added wakame seaweed and used udon noodles instead of soba noodles. It was so very good! Lukily a little dried wakame goes a long way.

Miso soup with wakame and udon noodles

1 package udon noodles
2 tablespoon dried wakame seaweed
1 package sliced mushrooms
2 carrots sliced diagonally
5 scallions sliced
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons tamari
8 cups water or veg broth
salt & pepper

In a bowl soak the seaweed in cold water until re hydrated. Will more than double in size. Then drain, set aside. In your stock pot, spray a tiny amount of Pam and saute' the carrots and mushrooms together. If they begin to stick, add a little broth and continue to cook. When carrots are soft, add the broth/water and tamari. Once the liquid comes to a boil add the seaweed and udon noodles. Use a little of the hot liquid in a small bowl and add miso paste and combine. Once the noodle are tender, remove from heat and add the miso liquid. Serve topped with scallions and season well with salt & pepper.