Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Muscle Man

Kristjan thought it would be fun to stuff his shirt with stuffed toys and pretend to be a muscle man. He kept running up to me saying "Look at my big muscles mommy!". It was the cutest thing.

Update on the health front. I went to the gastroenterologist yesterday for my follow up from October. He was impressed with my weight loss and all of my health dietary changes. I had mentioned that after having more than a couple of drinks (namely New Year's) I experienced pain and discomfort again. He reminded me that my pancreas may not be completely healed and could take up to a year to do so.

I was assured that a glass of wine on the weekend with a good meal would be OK and would not harm me or the progression of healing. He also reminded me that any over use of alcohol or repetitive bouts of drinking could harm it, then me. Warning signs being pain, fever, vomiting etc. He gave me another look of warning. That grave "or else" look. I knew what he was saying and believe me, I won't let that happen.

He will perform an endoscopy on me next week just to have a look see for my peace of mind and for thoroughness on his part.

I'm cool with a glass of wine or home brew on the weekend. I told him I was cool with stopping completely. He assured me I didn't have to. My days of "living it up" are over I suppose and I'm not beat up and crushed about it. Didn't get me very far anyway. Just kept me over weight and hurt my pancreas. I can find plenty of other ways to pass the time.

Like reading, cooking, blogging, family, and maybe if I can get off my ass... Exercising again!

New from the old

Well, not that old. Last night was all about using up leftovers in the frig but being creative about it. These are pasta fritters cooking up in some olive oil.
For these I combined in a bowl some leftover cacio e pepe (peppered pasta), half of a orange bell pepper - chopped, half of a onion - chopped, 1/2 cup flour, 2 eggs, 1 bunch chopped cilantro and 1 baked sweet potato chopped. By the time I was done mixing, the sweet potato had mashed up within all of the mix. They were awesome! Next time I do this I will have to make sure I add a baked sweet potato or butternut squash to it again.
This one was simple and used all fresh ingredients. I just wanted have more asparagus and thought it would be a good combo. Scrambled eggs with asparagus and goat cheese.
This was an easy side too. Leftover mushroom gravy heated up with some fresh spinach. I think this may have been my last bunch of that spinach from the market. They may still have it next week, but I'm not sure. I am going to look for it regardless.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cookie club

The weekend before last I made a batch of chocolate chip, macadamia nut cookies. They were evil in all ways and totally devoured. Kristjan ate more than Bella did. Chris ate more than I did. The extra macadamia nuts got mixed in with our weekly nut mix. Funny how those are the first eaten out of the bag I send with me to work. I eat my nuts in order. Macadamias first, then the cashews, then the almonds, then the pistachios. A snack bag full lasts me all week. By Friday all I have left in the bag are pistachios.

This Sunday I made Martha's Chocolate Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. They are chock full of goodness. This time, Bella is eating more than Kristjan. He doesn't seem to like the raisins I guess. These are very hard to stay away from. I am enjoying one after dinner. Sometimes I sneak in a second....

I think I'll make a new batch of cookies every other week or so. Weekly would be too much I think. I have gathered a list of new ones to try. I can't wait. I also joined the cookie of the day club were I get a new recipe sent to my phone daily. Dangerous. I may become a true cookie monster.

I picked up some fresh beets with their greens at the produce market and wanted to make sure to eat them before they became wilted. I cut off the beets to save for juicing and then I browned a little more of my "happy" bacon then tossed in some Swiss chard, the beet greens, garlic and some water chestnuts. It was hearty and delicious! Last night I made one of my favorites. I've posted this bad boy before and it couldn't be any easier! I roasted in the oven (all coarsely chopped), an eggplant, two red bell peppers and an onion along with about 7 whole garlic cloves and a tub of cherry tomatoes. I did the eggplant on it's own as I didn't want to crowd the roasting pan. Poured all of the roasted goodness in my food processor along with some salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and pureed. I poured the roasted puree in my sauce pan.

While my veg was roasting I boiled my pasta. When the pasta was almost done, I threw in some chopped asparagus right in the water and let cook a bit (don't over cook your veg - crunch is good!), then drained them right along with the pasta. Place the drained pasta in the pan with the roasted puree and toss over med heat for a couple of minutes. Top with roasted pine nuts and freshly shaved Parmesan cheese. Yummo!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Blowing by

That seems to be the the case for this month. Already it's the 20th with Valentine's Day fast approaching. For my work, January has always been the busiest month of the year. This year is no exception. Here I am again on the couch as all the peeps are fast asleep, trying to update my poor little blog. I do enjoy the bit of quiet I get now and then when I stay up and read or write. I always regret it later when Chris is tugging at my feet to get up at quarter past five in the morning. It really doesn't matter when I go to sleep....I always hate getting up so early.
Little man always says "cheese" when I go to take a picture. He moves so fast though that I either catch him right before, or after he says it. I think for this one, I just missed the "cheese".
The kids received a kit for Christmas for making animals with balloons. I came home from work Monday (Martin Luther King day was a holiday for everyone else in the house) to find Chris in the kitchen taking requests for animal balloons. He was having more fun than the kids I think. They asked for a dog, he looked in the book and viola! A dog. He also made a hat for Bella and two octopuses. I think Chris has found a new little hobby to tinker with and the kids love their new creatures to play with.
Tonight I made an awesome yellow split pea soup for dinner. It was hard to watch my portion size with this one because I didn't want it to end. Good thing is it was easier than pie and kind to the pocket book.

I first browned a little bacon (about a half a cup, chopped) in my pan then added two diced red onions. I used the Maverick nitrate free enviro "happy" bacon which had little fat. I actually had to add some olive oil in order to cook the onions without it burning. Once the onions were translucent I added a bag of rinsed yellow split peas, 6 cups broth, couple of cups of water, some salt and black pepper. I let this simmer until the split peas were soft. About 25 to 30 minutes. I then added about a cup of chopped cilantro then used my immersion blender and pureed the soup until creamier, but still with chunks.

It had a nice rich flavor and was very satisfying. I served it with some arugula tossed with balsamic dressing.

My cooking has changed a bit. I'm getting more and more into vegetables and less into meats. I usually use meat as a flavoring accent, hardly ever the main attraction and we have reserved to only eat organic, grass fed and humane meat. This can get expensive, so we try and eat mostly vegetables. My package of happy bacon should last me a while as I have enough left to aide in a couple more dishes. Besides, when you eat beans, pasta and lentils you don't feel like you are missing anything. I also use a lot of mushrooms which give a nice flavor to a dish.

The kids don't seem to mind. Kristjan won't really eat any meat, never has. He sometimes will eat breaded chicken, but that's it. For now. I remember Bella being just as picky at first, only eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and turkey sticks. I can't get her to eat pb&j now. Now she loves many foods and is more open to taste new things.

Well, my legs are baking from my laptop and I just remembered I have carrots to prep. I don't know if I mentioned, but another new habit of mine (it's about 4 months old now) is to juice every morning for breakfast. I usually juice a few carrots and two apples, a full pint worth. Sometimes I mix in a whole beet, some kale, spinach or ginger (settles the stomach). Once I mixed a bunch of whatever I had leftover. It was carrots, blueberries, an apple and some basil. Wasn't pretty but tasted pretty good. Just that blueberries make a mess of the juicer. Won't do that again. I bought some wheat grass once. I spent 6 bucks and got a shot worth of liquid. So, it's much better economically when I spend 1.99 for double shot at the juice joint than to do it myself. Go figure.

Anyway...got rambling again. Tomorrow I plan a full veg deluxe dinner as my frig is filled with veg that needs to be cooked and I refuse to let food go to waste. I am thinking a roasted veg pasta toss. I'll post that tomorrow. Nighty night! ;o)

Monday, January 10, 2011

It starts again and mind over matter

Another clean slate, so everyone says. We always use the new year as a good time to start fresh and new. I am part of that party too. It's the perfect time, just as "I'll start on Monday" to put new things in place and make positive change happen.

It's also the perfect time to reflect back on the previous year for all that was learned, experienced, remembered and appreciated.

I'm eleven days behind on this, but late is better than never right?

Here a a few things I would like to put on my list of personal improvement for the new year:

1. Be better at being mindful and thankful. Be present in the moment, if it's good, relish in it. If it's bad, deal with it and move on. Never rehash or rewind bad thoughts or experiences. They are done and gone - move on. Be thankful for all I have, the love of my family, our health and our happiness. No material possession or dream of grandeur matters more. Being alive and healthy and enjoying my children is what I should be mindful of.

2. Continue on the path to a healthier me that started in October. I can't stop now and it feels good to feel healthier and look better. My body gave me a warning and I am listening. Without health, there is only pain and death. It really is the most important aspect you have for yourself, for life. I want to continue down this path and never go back to those dark feelings of insecurity. I also don't want to hurt again or hurt my body again.

3. Continue learning and exploring more foods and techniques. My goal is to learn as much as I can about the benefits of a variety of whole foods. I don't always make my bread, pasta or mac n' cheese from scratch. It's a working mom's time management issue to try and fit it all in, but I will continue to do my best to disconnect from the manufactured world of processed food and eat as healthfully as I can.

4. Putting more of my mind over matter discovery into place. I have not yet discussed this, but I have found I can do just about anything if I convince myself I can. I am in control here, not the voice in my mind that tells me I can't. I finally learned to hush that voice when I want to and I want to apply this knowledge to more of my life.

5. Oh, and I want to read as many books as I can get my hands on!

So now for my mind over matter mini discovery. Sorry if this sounds so cliche' but that statement is complete truth to me now. I probably should have already known this since giving birth to two children. For labor, you must convince the mind to relax and trust the body to do its work. To trust that your body knows what to do. First though, you must hush the voice that tells you that you can't.

So with this change that I had to make abstaining from all alcohol, I decided to clean up some other areas in my life as well. I quit all carbonated beverages, all dairy (except one cheese in particular in very small amounts), no processed food, no fast food and very little meat. The most important component was portion control.

I found that with portions, I had to challenge my mind. Control of that voice in my mind telling me I couldn't stop, but had to finish my plate or get seconds. I had lots of practice during my pancreatitis when I could only consume broth for food. So I worked on giving myself portions about the size of my balled up fist, or making sure to only have a cup of pasta verses my usual pasta bowl of 4 cups. I then would tell myself to eat until satisfied or no longer hungry. I had to learn to slow down, savour the flavors and give my stomach the time to register being full or satisfied before attempting to get up for seconds.

After a while I decided it would be fun to challenge myself. I actually was amusing myself on all of the different things I could tell my mind I didn't need to do or have. It hasn't always been easy, but I learned how strong I can be if I really want to. I learned that I can say no. I learned that not having all of these things was not torture or punishment. Everyone feels sorry for me that I don't eat French fries, soda or cheese pizza. I don't feel like I am missing anything. I know what goes into fast food French fries and commercial cheese pizza and I would rather not eat fake food. Actually I crave sauteed spinach with garlic, carrot and apple juice, roasted beets, dark chocolate and good tea with agave. I'm not missing a thing. I don't feel deprived at all. I'm eating what I like and I don't have to worry about what's in it or where it came from (because I know).

To end this long post, I'll just say that I want to continue with that mind over matter thing. I would like to go as far as having the strength to leave the office world and pursue something else. I am still searching for what that will be. I'm trying to talk Chris into starting a brewery, but haven't convinced him yet...

Once I find it, I must hush the mind that I can't, but instead know that I can and it will all be ok.

Tennessee

I am still rewinding here. Here are some pictures of the children while we were up in beautiful Tennessee for Thanksgiving.
Bella and Emily at the Christmas tree farm. They are so cute together. Bella misses her desperately. I wish we were closer so they could grow up together.
Little Cate, so very cute and bright. She is a helpful little girl, always offering to help you. She is very independent and strong. She will grow up to be someone very special.


Getting ready for the hay ride!

Four little munchkins.
A barely awake Kristjan exploring his gift from Santa Christmas morning. We had to wake him up, and it took a while. He's a night owl, not an early bird. Maybe next year he will be up with Bella at the crack of dawn for Christmas.
Merry Christmas! Bella gave this Santa several hugs. This was the first year she approached him willingly. Kristjan wouldn't go near and I'm not the type of parent that forces her kids to sit and scream on Santa's lap if they don't want to. When they are ready, they will go to him.

I have more pictures to post and more stories to tell. I'll do my best to stay on top of things. It is a new year with many new experiences to face and much learning to gain.

Catching up to do

Where do I begin here? We left off right after Halloween didn't we? At work, things got busy. We had a move Thanksgiving weekend, business picked up and a lot of changes occurred. I was a busy bee. With me going to Tennessee for Thanksgiving - during the office move, it made it even that much more fun.

I prepped all month for the trip as well as Kristjan's birthday being right after. We had a wonderful visit from Grandpa and Grandma for his birthday where we visited the aquarium and Bella got to see a ship set out to sea.

I also got sucked into the teen vampire world that I never in my wildest dreams thought I would even consider. I have since read all four Twilight saga books at least twice, the movies, you name it. Sad, I know. Thirty eight years old and crazy for a vampire named Edward.

Good thing that came out of all that nonsense is that I have been reading like a bandit. I did more reading than writing, obviously. Since then, I have conquered several books. Awesome really. I have found such a love for reading. As long as I'm reading something I'm into, it's hard to get me to stop.

Here is Kristjan opening one of his birthday gifts with adorable excitement. He still loves all animals, especially dinosaurs. Our house is a virtual dino sanctuary. It's nuts. They are literally everywhere. My car, the bathrooms, I find them in my kitchen cupboards, under the furniture, in the yard...you name it, there is a T-Rex or Triceratops staring you down somewhere in my house.
Three years old! Can you believe it? My little man is in fact growing up to be a little man. Still as happy and fearless as ever. I finally have another chocolate lover in the house. He loves good dark chocolate, like his mommy.
I had a small bag of seeds with arugula and other assorted greens that I just sprinkled in my basil and tomato pots from the summer and they grew so happily with the best tasting arugula we have had yet. Just cut it along the top and it grows back. Love it!
Here are some beets I planted from seed. The greens became very large and so I pulled them out. My beets were the size of little acorns, but we still ate all of it!
Here I am. Thirty-three pounds lighter since my journey to a healthier me began. I am almost to my goal. Just a few pounds more and I'll be able to fit in those jeans I have been holding on to in my closet for almost twenty years. Thank goodness I kept all of my clothes as I "grew" because I have been fitting back into them verses having to go shopping.

This sobriety has brought me clarity. It has brought me patience, more energy and better health. I have also been more productive, yet still not able to catch up (obviously - by the state of my blog). It has brought me more options. I picked up reading.

My poor little pancreas quit bothering me and my stomach got better. I had my blood checked and everything was fine, even my cholesterol went down thirty points.

I wasn't some kind of drunk always hitting the bottle, but apparently even that glass of wine with dinner every night was enough to drag me down. I thought I needed that glass to take the edge off a hard day at work, or the stress I felt from time to time. It does relax me, but I don't have to have it. I would rather enjoy a good glass with a good meal on a special occasion.

I've since had my wine on New Year's. I was with Chris and some friends of mine. I waited like a loyal soldier just as my doctor said, for New Year's to have anything to drink. I also made sure I had food in my stomach. I then stayed away all week until this past Saturday, where I had a couple of glasses of home brew that Chris had saved for me. All this time, he has still been brewing away. He was nice and saved different varieties just for me before they were all gone.

So now I must balance. I am still a skeptic. I don't want to hurt again, be ill again or gain back the weight. So I resolve to wait until the next weekend, or next special occasion. I might just wait until I see the doctor again to get his formal instructions. If I have to stop completely, I will. If I can have that drink on a Saturday, that's fine too.