Friday, March 11, 2011
Thursday Meant Relaxing and Recharging
I adore this little fuzz ball. Don’t tell Nicco (Binky) but Masi has me wrapped around his fuzzy little cat toe. ;-) I can’t think of anything much cuter than a cat sticking his tongue out because I woke him up from his nap with the clicking of my camera. LOL
I was moving so very slowly this morning. After two days of inadequate sleep I am not good for anything. I can’t burn the candle at both ends like I did when I was younger that is for certain. Obviously since we got home from DC after midnight we didn’t even try to get up at 5am to head to the gym.
It was somewhat cool again so I prepared Dan a big bowl of oatmeal for breakfast which I made with water and then added: cinnamon, powdered ginger, stevia (for Mr. Sweet Tooth), wheat germ, freshly ground flaxseed, wild blueberries and walnuts.
After I finished my first mug of double matcha I made myself a giant salad for breakfast. This one contained: previously cooked quinoa and black beans, artichokes, salsa, mesclun, red bell pepper and white chia seeds. I have been trying to use up the white chia seeds since they have been in my refrigerator for a while. They make a decent crunchy salad topping and provide omega 3 fatty acids as well. I also like to put hulled hemp seeds or ground flaxseeds on my salads to provide omega 3’s. If you haven’t tried hemp seeds those are my personal favorite. They have a flavor and texture that reminds me of pine nuts which appeals to my Italian side.
Lunch was a bowl of the soup that I made Wednesday night. I finished the soup with smoked paprika for an extra pop of flavor. This soup would not be the same without the lemon and paprika. I think those two items make a huge difference in the final product.
Speaking of adding flavor another item that I use all the time now is no-salt seasoning. I buy mine at Costco but suspect most brands are similar. The one I use is organic and contains the following: onion, garlic, carrot, black pepper, bell pepper, tomato, orange peel, parsley, bay leaves, thyme, basil, celery, lemon peel, oregano, savory, mustard seed, cumin, marjoram, coriander, cayenne, citric acid and rosemary. I now reach for this the same way I would have grabbed sea salt or kosher salt in the past. It adds a lot of flavor to food. You can use it in your cooking (which I do), or sprinkle it on top of cooked food (which we also do).
Giving up salt was tough for us initially. In the past I had many different varieties of salt in the house at all times. I loved black salt, red salt, smoked salt, lemon salt, chardonnay salt, etc. …. you get the idea. The idea of giving up salt was not the least bit appealing to me and took a long time to happen. Once I actually understood the problems of too much sodium the added salt had to go. *sgh* Finding a good no-salt seasoning will help you to reduce and hopefully eliminate added salt in your food too.
In addition to no salt seasoning there are other things you can use to help yourself not miss the salt. Finishing dishes with acid (fresh lemon or lime juice, balsamic vinegar, etc.) brightens the flavor of food in the same way that salt does. If you haven’t tried that please do it makes a big difference in flavor.
There is also a product called Dulse Granules that is very salty tasting but is low in sodium. I have suggested this to a few friends with “salt addictions” and they all thought it was a good option. It helped me to transition to a low sodium diet.
Why should we all be consuming less sodium that was the question that I wanted answered before I had any intention of cutting back on my sodium. Telling me that sodium increased blood pressure didn’t make any difference since my blood pressure is naturally low (88/48 the last time I checked it at home right after I got up). Clearly I don’t have to worry about lowering my blood pressure. Why is too much sodium a bad thing for someone like me?
Sodium is an electrolyte like potassium, chloride and magnesium. These mineral salts conduct electricity when dissolved in water. If you get too much sodium it disrupts the balance of the electrolytes in your blood. I have read that we should all be consuming a diet with a potassium to sodium ratio of approximately 4:1. However most American’s consume a diet that has potassium to sodium ratio of 1:2 which has been linked to both high blood pressure and cancer. Cancer … now they have my attention!
What I wanted to know is how they determined the 4:1 ratio which I could never figure out. Instead I looked at the potassium to sodium ratio of a few whole plant based foods to see what was found in nature. I used only whole foods and the list below is the first seven vegetable of various quantities (because that was quickest and I was focusing on the ratio not the absolute amounts) I randomly selected (the numbers are given as potassium:sodium in milligrams):
Peas, Green: 354:7
Pepper, Bell: 163:3
Clearly in nature the overall potassium to sodium ratio averages much higher than 4:1. But what about sea vegetables which are known to be salty foods what does the potassium to sodium look like:
If you used them sea vegetables like the Japanese as a flavoring agent for dishes they aren’t going to take the ratio of the overall dish below 4:1. Also if you choose your seaweed carefully you can select ones that have a better ratio which I didn’t realize was possible until I did a little research.
I don’t know about you but it appears to me that natural foods and dishes made with them are going to have ratios of potassium to sodium that are much higher than 4:1. How can the average American be eating a diet with a potassium to sodium ratio closer to 1:2? Sadly it is because they eat a lot of processed food and that is pumped full of sodium and very low in potassium. I hope this gives you something to think about.
Between lunch and dinner I spent many hours on Tuesday pouring through photographs and trying to decide which ones to post yesterday. No OCD here! ;-)
I lost so much time playing with photos from yesterday that I didn’t plan dinner. Oops! Since I lost track of time I needed to make a meal in a hurry. When this happens I usually turn to quinoa since that is a quick cooking grain. I made a simple dish of Sicilian artichokes to place over the quinoa. I made a tomato base with diced tomatoes, dried tomatoes, onions and garlic and to that I added golden raisins, hot crushed peppers (wet hots), fennel seeds, and Italian seasoning. Finally I added artichoke quarters and finished the dish with sliced almonds and fresh minced parsley. If you are fond of the Sicilian concept of agro dolce you will like this combination.
Sometimes you need a day to be lazy and that was my Thursday. Here are my happy thoughts now:
• Thankfully the felines have forgiven us for leaving them alone most of Wednesday. They were a little bent out of shape to have us gone but have now returned to their usual loving little selves.
• I was very happy with a few of my pictures from Wednesday in DC. These would not have been possible if it weren’t for the camera Dan bought me for Christmas in 2009. I am thankful for my very generous husband and my cousin Mary Ellen who taught me to love photography more than 30 years ago.
• Having a refrigerator and pantry full of food was wonderful yesterday. I was so busy that I had very little time to cook or shop. Yesterday was one of those days that I was very grateful for intentional leftovers.
• A few packages arrived in the mail on Thursday and Friday. It was a little like Christmas in March. I will give you more details on these very soon.
• I have been spending a lot of time lately reading/watching and learning more about nutrition and health. I love that I have finally discovered my passion in life. It is good to know what moves you. Now I just need to figure out what I am going to do with this knowledge. I am thankful to have to time to figure that out.
• Friday I had the chance to meet a new friend. I love having people in my life you are as interested in health as I am. Healthy friends help to keep me focused and pushing forward to learn and do more for our health.
• I was approached by a book publisher about writing vegan cookbook reviews which was very nice. However before I commit I wanted to get your opinion. How do you feel about my writing cookbook reviews on books I receive from a publisher? It is my intention to have giveaways with many of the books. Please let me know what you think.
• It’s Friday and you know what that means …. time to celebrate. I love knowing that I get to spend two days with my sweetie. *happy dance*
• We are slowly but surely getting back to our 5am wake up time so that we can get back to early morning exercising. As much as I dislike mornings I am looking forward to that.
I love Friday, it is definitely my favorite day of the week. As much as I love Friday it is also a hectic day for me. I have a few things to do before I can start enjoying the weekend with Dan. Talk to you tomorrow.