Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day and the Day After

Since we had opened our presents late Christmas Eve early Christmas morning we started our day slowly. I was thrilled to have the scale give me a Christmas present too. Woo hoo the 4 pounds I gained over the past month are all gone plus an additional 0.4 pounds down. *Happy Dance!* LOL, can you tell I get far too excited about this? :-P I wanted the new year to start on the right foot and now I can breathe an enormous sigh of relief.

No surprise breakfast was a green smoothie made with kale, frozen banana, cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground flaxseeds, a few walnuts, some dried oatmeal and a pinch of stevia.

After breakfast it was time to get the meal with my family at 3pm started. I decided to roast the acorn squash halves first and get those out of the way since they are easily reheated. I popped them into the oven at about 1pm and they seemed to take a long time to cook though I wasn’t timing them. In fact I ended up finishing the squash halves in the microwave. Then I tossed in the lasagna and knew exactly how long that should take but when I pulled the pan from the oven the lasagna was only 120 degrees after 45 minutes. When I checked the oven with my laser thermometer it was only 150 degrees though the oven had been set on 375 for the prior two hours. Houston we have a problem! This meant a serious change in dinner plans on the fly and I am not the best at adapting quickly. ;-)

Since my stove is digital and not very old *rolls eyes* I was hoping that if I used the bake setting (instead of the convection setting I always use) that the oven would heat up and fortunately that worked. However it delayed dinner by quite a while which is never a good thing with my hungry family. I ended up abbreviating dinner since I lost a ton of time messing around with the oven. In the end it was fine since I still had leftovers. It did help remind me that I go completely overboard on food most holidays. ;-) Where does that come from? LOL

The funny thing is that normally this sort of problem would have made me nuts. However this year it was only a minor bump in the road. It was a bit frustrating but mostly it was just an annoyance. I was actually laughing about it before dinner. Isn’t it amazing how facing a real crisis (like cancer) has a way of putting other things into perspective?

For dinner we had the Neapolitan Lasagna which is one of Dan’s favorites so he was thrilled. Luckily for Dan my parents snacked before dinner so they only had a half piece of lasagna each meaning he has lasagna to take to work Monday for lunch. I made a couple of changes to the lasagna as a test. First I made the tofu filling in the Vitamix and it was much smoother which was good. Also I tried the filling without the flour and it was much softer and less dense. The filling is good without the flour but I still prefer the texture of version with flour. However I didn’t mention the change to Dan and he didn’t seem to notice so I think the difference may not be apparent to anyone but me. ;-)

I also baked acorn squash halves that I seasoned with white miso and apple cider and topped with black and white sesame seeds and dried ginger.

I also made a simple salad with shredded romaine, yellow bell pepper, artichokes, cucumber, grape tomatoes and sliced almonds. To top this I made a very fast dressing in my Vitamix that contained: marinara, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, dehydrated (or sun dried) tomatoes, raw garlic, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning and water. That turned out really well which means I need to make it again and measure it so I can share it with you. If you are wondering how I get those thin stripes of dressing I use a squirt bottle from the restaurant supply store. It makes a nice presentation and results in less total dressing which makes it a win-win to me.

After our 3pm meal with my parents we decided to take my library books back that had a 12/26/10 due date. Since the weather people were calling for snow (or unknown amount but possibly significant) we thought it was prudent to not need to drive anywhere on Sunday just in case.

While we were out I had to look at more Christmas lights because that is the kind of girl I am. I love the decorations at our neighborhood bagel place. Isn’t it cute? I think they did such a nice job. I would stop in for bagels just to the see the decorations if we still ate bagels. ;-)

Once we got home and settled in it was time to eat again. I swear it feels like all we did was eat the last few days *rolls eyes* Dinner was a very simple fruit salad. I wanted to make fruit salad more nutritious so I served it over shredded romaine. This salad contained: romaine, orange, banana, grapes and a creamy walnut dressing. The dressing is something else I whipped together in the Vitamix. I didn’t measure everything but it contained ¼ cup walnuts, ½ teaspoon white miso, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, a little lemon juice (maybe a tablespoon) and water enough to process (I added this slowly while the machine ran) until smooth and creamy. I used about half of this dressing on our salads. This combination actually worked out well. The fruit was sweet, the romaine crunchy and the dressing was creamy it all worked together. I love it when that happens. 

Book Review: Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes

After dinner I decided to finish reading “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”. I had originally purchased this for my mother who is diabetic. I thought it would be a good idea for me to read it, underline the important ideas, and then let her borrow it. What was I thinking? Talk about unrealistic expectations, LOL. When I mentioned it she told me she wasn’t the least bit interested so I dropped it. I have had the book for months and only got around to reading it this weekend.

Dr. Barnard does a great job of explaining how and why diabetes happens and how it can be reversed in most people. He also explains how this diet is the same diet that can reverse heart disease and prevent cancer. The diet he is proposing is the same one advocated by T. Colin Campbell, Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn. The interesting thing to me is that they all came to the same diet looking at different diseases.

The book is categorized as follows:

Part 1. The Breakthrough

1. The Basics Have Changed
2. Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
3. A Revolution in Type 1 Diabetes

Part 2. The Program

4. A Powerful New Menu
5. How to Get Started
6. Healthful Weight Control
7. How to Track Your Progress
8. A Perfect Diet in an Imperfect World
9. Troubleshooting
10. Which Supplements Should You Take
11. Exercise for the Rest of Us

Part 3. Complete Health

12. A Healthy Heart
13. Healthy Nerves, Eyes and Kidneys
14. Information for Clinicians

Menus and Recipes (from Bryanna Clark Grogan)

What I liked about this book is that I felt as though I understood the mechanics of what happens when you have diabetes and how it can be reversed from reading this book. I also had no idea about intramyocellular lipids and the impact this had on the cells ability to respond to insulin. (page 22) I thought this was fascinating information and a good reason to keep fat consumption to a minimum. I may have to reduce our nut and seed consumption a bit now. I haven’t decided yet but it is something I am considering.

I also loved the discussion about how and why bread (even whole wheat) is digested and the impact this has on the body. (page 55) Bread is something that has concerned me due to the glycemic index and this doctor agrees which was a bit of relief for me. The one thing that confused me about the book was that even though the doctor isn’t the biggest fan of baked goods (except rye and pumpernickel bread) the recipe section contained scones, cornbread, and cake which seemed like a disconnect to me. *scratches head*

Finally I was surprised by the saturated fat content of olive oil. I had no idea that olive oil was 13% saturated fat. (page 51) I will be doing a little research on saturated fat soon myself and putting that on the blog for everyone to see.

Overall if you are interested in health it was a good read. If you don’t have diabetes you may want to check it out from the library. However if you are a diabetic I would recommend buying the book. It is well written, easy to understand and would definitely be a program I would try if I had diabetes.

Christmas recap:

As usual Dan went overboard on Christmas for me. I love everything he bought but I also feel quite spoiled. I got a lot of jewelry which is all beautiful. Some of it is Venetian glass which I adore. We started our honeymoon in Venice so anything from there has special significance to me.

This is a picture of one of the bracelets. He bought me two pendants, two sets of earrings and this bracelet. I also got more jewelry (a pendant, two rings and cuff bracelet. I also got a new coat, more flavors of green and white tea, and a few cookbooks (which I will review for you soon) and a few other things. It was entirely too much, but all perfect for me.  Thank you sweetie! :-)

However the most fun present of the day has to be the TRX. Talk about an impressive this little item is very sturdy, well designed and I can tell it is going to be a blast. We got it out and set up on Sunday so you know I will be trying it out (for upper body at least) on Monday. I love a new exercise toy. After I have a chance to give it a few thorough workouts I will write up a review. Dan and I were both more impressed than we expected to be.

The Day After Christmas

We stayed up late Saturday night, which is our natural inclination, so we slept in on Sunday. Well we slept in for us which really wasn’t that late for a day off. I was up by 7am and Dan got up an hour later.

After getting on the scale, which we do each morning, we decided to have another green smoothie for breakfast. This time I reduced the nuts and added oatmeal. After reading the Dr. Barnard’s book (the one I reviewed above) I wanted to see if a smoothie with fewer nuts would be as satisfying and last as long. It was fine going down but I did seem to get hungry sooner. I am going to try this for at least a week and see how we feel. I will let you know what we decide.

For lunch with my parents I thought that a hot thick stew would be good with the snow and wind that was predicted. Dan loves my Moroccan Chickpea Stew but this time I wanted to add more veggies to the dish. I also thought it would be good to have a recipe that could be made from things most of have in our pantry. Here is what I did:

Pantry Friendly Winter Moroccan Chickpea and Veggie Stew
Serves 6


½ pound of chickpeas, cooked until tender
1 bay leaf
water to cover chickpeas by at least 1 inch
1 pint (2 cups) canned diced tomatoes (or substitute 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes no salt)
1 pint tomato sauce (or substitute 15 ounce can of tomato sauce no salt)
1 red onion, finely diced (once cut allow to stand 10 minutes before heating so the chemical reaction has time to take place)
8 cloves garlic, finely minced (once cut allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
½ cup golden raisins, or to taste
½ tablespoon cumin seeds (you can grind all or any of the seeds, I prefer the texture of leaving them whole)
½ tablespoon coriander seeds
½ tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon - ½ tablespoon ginger powder, to taste (to increase the nutrition)
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (I would have used more but my mother is not tolerant of spicy foods)
¼ - ½ teaspoon turmeric (not for flavor just to increase the nutrition)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (remember to be generous since it makes the turmeric more bioavailable)
2 large parsnips, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups frozen or marinated artichokes cut into 1/8ths
I red pepper, roasted or fresh, cut into bite sized pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup freshly cilantro, minced
cooked whole grain to serve as the base (I used quinoa) – not included in the nutritional stats


Combine the chickpeas, bay leaves and enough water to cover by at least an inch and simmer until the beans are soft. I cooked an entire pound of beans and put half of them in the refrigerator to use in salads early this week.

Once the beans are tender add the ingredients through the parsnip and let the dish simmer for at least an hour. You may need to add water to keep the stew from sticking. I cooked mine about 2 hours then added the artichokes, red pepper, sweet potato and cauliflower and cooked the stew until the veggies were tender, about 45 minutes. Just before you are ready to serve add the lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh cilantro.

I served this dish over quinoa. This is good topped with either sliced almonds or pine nuts also if you like.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 362.83
Calories From Fat (8%) - 29.18

Total Fat - 3.51g
Saturated Fat - 0.4g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 539.19mg
Potassium - 1672.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 76.07g
Fiber - 20.77g
Sugar - 23.58g
Protein - 14.51g


This dish was universally enjoyed by the omnivores and vegans in the extended family. Dan is looking forward to having another big bowl of this at lunch on Monday. In the past I would have made this with preserved lemon but I changed to fresh lemon to reduce the sodium and I don’t think it hurt the taste which actually surprised me. I also loved that this was a pantry friendly meal since the only fresh veggies in here were hearty winter veggies.

Dinner for us was quick salad. I noticed this evening that salad for dinner has become our new normal. I think this has happened for a number of reasons but predominantly because we eat late and aren’t very active after dinner. Having something light like a salad seems to be more in keeping with our actual evening caloric needs. This salad was very simple and contained: shredded romaine, sweet potato, cucumber, leftover quinoa, leftover chickpeas, grape tomatoes, almonds and the dressing I made yesterday. It was quick, filling and nutritious the perfect meal in my opinion. ;-)

After dinner I mentioned to Dan that my knee wasn’t “hurting too much” and I thought I could get back to exercising on Monday. He reminded me I said I needed to take at least two weeks off and that maybe I could do some upper body strength training and use the exercise bike but to stay off my knee. Good thing one of us has good sense around here isn’t it? LOL, sometimes I am too gung ho for my own good.

Happy Thoughts:

We had a wonderful holiday long weekend together. Here are my happy thoughts:

• I am very thankful to be married to my best friend. Dan knows me so well and always buys me the prefect presents. I love you baby!

• We didn’t get our Christmas day snow but we did get a few snow flurries. It retrospect it was nice to have clear roads when we went to the library Saturday evening. Also on snow on Sunday wasn’t the blizzard that much of the East coast experienced. By Monday morning we had little more than a dusting. It was terribly windy but the snow probably wasn’t more than 2 inches here.

• It was wonderful to be able to spend another Christmas with my husband and have both of us be happy and healthy. I never take that for granted now. I feel so good that we are becoming more focused on health the older we both become.

• The fur children were particularly cute this weekend. They love to get into everything we do and really do light up our lives. We are very fortunate to have three special little fur babies in our family to bring our home to life.

• At dinner on Christmas Eve we were discussing the topic of friends, not acquaintances but true friends. We defined friends as the person who that will drop everything and be there when you needed them. Dan and I are very fortunate to have that in our friend Louis. He has been there so many times when we needed him. Louis, if I haven’t told you recently I hope you know how much you mean to both of us. Lots of Love and Hugs!

• I feel very fortunate this weekend for my life. Other than cancer I really can’t imagine a more perfect life for me. Most of the time I am beyond happy and almost need to pinch myself to believe this really is my life and not a dream. Sometime I think that we are all too busy with everyday distractions to notice the wonderful little things that happy every day. I try to take it all in and to be grateful for what really matters in life. In my case that is having my husband, fur babies and my friend Louis in my life. I love you all!

Signing out:

It is amazing how quickly I got behind with one brief computer problem. Sorry this post was so long. I decided one long post was better than two shorter ones.

Dan has gone back to work this morning *boo hoo* which means I am back to my regular schedule. I need to get my exercise finished and do a ton of things around here. It never ceases to amaze me how much needs to be done at home. How did we ever get it all accomplished when I worked crazy hours like Dan? *shakes head*

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Talk to you again tomorrow. Stay warm!


  1. Dinner looks great. Glad it all came together despite the oven snafu. Gorgeous bracelet too! Sounds like you had a good Christmas. That soup sounds great too. I got a new crockpot and was thinking of a similar soup to make. Though, we're about to be out of town so it'll have to wait I suppose. Hope you're having a good Monday (and staying warm).

  2. Heather,

    I had to laugh that the oven decided to act up on Christmas. LOL at least it wasn't Thanksgiving which would have been worse. ;-)

    Christmas was wonderful. Dan was far too generous to me. I was playing with the TRX a little while ago. You would love this thing! Instead of pikes on a ball you can do them with your feet in the TRX and hands on the ground. Too much fun.

    Yay for a new crockpot! I can see that getting a lot of use this season.

    I hope you are having a good Monday too,

  3. Congratulations on your weight loss! You are going to roll into the New Year with a head start. :o)

    Wow...Dan did good...that is a beautiful bracelet that he got you! He has very good taste!

    Sounds and looks like you had a great Chirstmas...I'm so glad...all your food looks delish!

  4. Michelle,

    Thanks, I have been working to get those 4 pounds back off. I wanted them gone before the end of the year and now I can relax.

    Dan knows me very well and yes I love the bracelet too. He got me a lot of great things for Christmas this year.

    It sounded like you had a nice Christmas too. :-) I am looking forward to seeing what you cook from your new books.


  5. So much to look at! Girl, you and your kale smoothies :) Love it! I love love love green smoothies. They are my fav! I just made some carrot/kale juice tonight and my husband was NOT thrilled. Haha!

  6. That lasagna looks great. The same thing with the timing happened at our house - it seems we ate almost two and a half hours later than intended waiting for everyone to arrive, but everyone was talking and snacking and having a good time.
    The stews look great as always too. Happy Holidays!

  7. I'm glad to see someone else gets excited about about .4 lb, too!

    It's sooo frustrating when people we love won't TRY to make changes to their health. I feel this way about my mom regularly. (Like when she was having gall bladder problems and chose to just remove it, rather than change her diet.)

    Merry Christmas!

  8. So much great food! Sorry about the oven fiasco, but it sounds as if you handles it very well. :) And your bracelet is just beautiful--I love glasswork, too.


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