Sunday, December 25, 2011

Relaxing Christmas

Nicco says Merry Christmas! Hard to believe has a warning on his medical record at the vet isn’t it? He is 6 pounds of danger kitty that little one. LOL

This is Luca and Massimo that I shot with my new lens. They aren’t thrilled but were more cooperative than normal which was a nice Christmas present for mommy (me).

People often ask us what Christmas is like at our house without little ones. What, fur children don’t count? (just kidding, sort of) This morning I woke up to one of the fur children bouncing in the bed as though they were excited about Christmas. Whose cats act like this? Oh yeah … mine do. LOL

After my “daughter cat” decided to do the tango on my bladder decided it was time to get out of bed and have some quiet time before Dan was awake and moving about. I like to get up first so that I can have a little alone time. Early mornings are my time to enjoy the colors of the sunset, read a little (specifically the daily passage from “The Book of Awakenings) and get my mind in the right frame for a good day. Christmas shouldn’t be any different now should it?

Since the surgeon gave the all clear for exercise we have been starting our day with a quick three miles to get the blood pumping and set the right healthy tone for the day. Today being Christmas that didn’t give us a pass on our healthy habits. However since it was 39 degrees in the morning we did opt to wait until after breakfast to head outside. We didn’t get a white Christmas as you can see, but the neighborhood is still looking festive even without the snow I think.  :-)

Christmas breakfast was a bowl of steel cut oats, topped with homemade almond milk, a little homemade no-sugar and no-oil added granola, and a few dried cherries to our breakfast for nutrition as well as intense flavor.

Our current favorite hot tea is a combination of green and white tea (a double mug) with the juice of 1/8th of the grapefruit squeezed in and a pinch of cinnamon. Both Dan and I really like this combination. I came up with it one morning while considering making us baked grapefruit with cinnamon which turned into tea instead.

I received a few “blog presents” this year for Christmas. The first was a new portrait lens for my camera since I take a lot of close ups of food as you know. I am not sure if you can see the difference but the photo of breakfast was taken with the new lens and I think it worked well. ;-)  Now I have no excuse to use my cell phone camera to take pictures for the blog. Let’s see how long that lasts.

My sweet husband also bought me Dragon Professional to give me more time. Woo hoo I am excited that there will be a lot less typing in my future. You have no idea how happy that makes me. My typing skills are not the best so less typing means more output. LOL

Every year the hubby and I buy each other at least one new Christmas ornament for the tree. This year I got a beautiful crystal train. I always wanted a train set as a child but never got one, now I have my train and it is beautiful and sparkly.

I bought Dan a crystal angel ornament because he is my angel. Sorry, I know we can be a bit much to take for a lot of people. But we really are like this all the time. ;-)  As crazy as it sounds I really do love my husband more today than I did 25 years ago when we met.

In keeping with my obsession with health Dan also bought me a book on anatomy which you know I will be pouring over. I also received jewelry (in addition to the three-stone ring I told you about yesterday), cookbooks, books on health, Dr. Greger’s latest DVD, and Dr. Fuhrman’s Immersion Excursion boxed set of 10 disks. There was also a lovely Shun santoku knife under the tree. It is my first Shun knife so I am thrilled to have it. I received some glassware for taking blog worthy photos, a new tea pot just like they use are our favorite Asian restaurant, green and white tea, scented candles, a calendar based on the Tao, 4 new sweaters, and a few other things. Are you starting to see that there are definite themes to my life? ;-) I guess you would say I am fairly single-minded. LOL

Lunch for us was a big salad which I am sure is no surprise to anyone. This one contained cooked red beans, arugula, salsa, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichokes, and raw pumpkin seeds.

Later I made Dan a double smoothie for dinner. I wasn’t hungry but Dan needed the calories. As usual he requested his recent favorite smoothie which includes: frozen banana, frozen cherries, kale, walnuts, cinnamon, cocoa powder, ground flaxseeds, water and a little stevia to taste. This actually tastes like a chocolate cherry shake, no wonder he likes it.

We had stayed up so late Christmas Eve that neither of us got enough rest the yesterday. Instead of trying to push ourselves today we opted to take it easy and turn in early. This really is one of the benefits of being on our own.

Making Dietary Changes:

You will probably not be surprised to hear that this is a frequent topic of conversation between Dan and me. Most of the time I initiate this conversation but Dan is more than willing to discuss it since it has had such a profound impact on his life too.

Going out to dinner is always eye-opening for me. I realize that our diet is different from most Americans but I am always a little surprised when I see how absolutely unhealthy people eat in this country. I tend to look around when we go out to eat because I am always trying to learn how people approach food. My thoughts are the more I know the better my chances are to help people. One person caught my eye last night and really made me think.

When we started on this “crazy whole food plant-based diet” (which is how I referred to it back then) we were just “trying it on for size”. Like many of you who are currently omnivores I really didn’t believe that this diet was sustainable for us. Sure other people could do it, but they didn’t love food the way we did, nor did they have a chef friend who made them delicious and decedent food anytime. How could we possibly keep this up long term? Yes I really did believe that less than a decade ago. However I also knew that things were out of control for us in terms of health and that we needed to try every possible approach. The notion of “moderation” had very obviously not worked. Dan was on medication for his high blood pressure and his doctor was worried about his cholesterol and we both needed to lose weight. We were just going try this “healthy vegan approach” for a little while to see what happened. Secretly I was hoping it would be a bust so I could get back to life as usual.

Okay fast forward to the first week and I have no idea why my husband didn’t kill me. Seriously I was a miserable human being and I wasn’t quiet about my unhappiness. I had no idea what to cook, I missed my traditional foods, I felt horrible and I just wanted to experiment to fail so I could be back to life as I knew it.

By the second week I was starting to figure out what to cook and eat so while I was still unhappy at least I wasn’t floundering around trying to decide what to do. Life was still not great but at least it was getting easier.

However by the end of the first month things had really taken a turn for the positive. Once we had both lost our desire for unhealthy food this “crazy lifestyle” was actually becoming easy. I still wasn’t “in love” with the food but we had both lost weight, Dan’s cholesterol and blood pressure were dramatically down (below normal in fact and he was off medication) and my seasonal allergies had literally disappeared.

It took a few more months before we both lost all cravings for our favorite unhealthy fare but they did ultimately disappear. Thank goodness!

Why am I telling you this? I know that many of you who read my blog are omnivores who want to improve your health based on the email that I receive. It hasn’t been that long since I was one of you. I very plainly remember what it was like to be in your shoes. My addicted brain was convinced that I could not give up meat, cheese, olive oil, sugar, etc. I was absolutely positive that those items had to be “available” or I could not survive. Yes, I really can be that dramatic some time.

Today one of my good friends is flirting with the idea of trying out a vegan diet. However she is worried that she can’t do because she will miss her “favorite foods.” While I realize that this is her addiction talking she doesn’t though hopefully she will eventually. I am not sure how to explain to her that these foods are not her friends and that they are ruining her health and most likely shortening her life. I want to assure any of you who are considering a dramatic dietary change that while it is difficult in the beginning it does get much easier and in the end it will become your new normal but you won’t want to go back to your old way of eating.

This evening Dan and I were talking about people asking him if he missed steak or prime rib and that they seem to be bewildered when he says that he doesn’t. Can you tell these are questions from men? I have to say that I don’t miss animal based food either. The foods that we used to eat just aren’t appealing to either us any longer. We enjoyed them when we used to eat them, but neither of us would eat them now. I never thought I would be someone who could say that and mean it but now I am which I hope shows you what is possible for you too. This lifestyle will become easier and you will feel so incredible that just a few short months that going back to the SAD (standard American diet) won’t be any option.

For those of you who are worried about getting together with friends please don’t be. Dan and I go out to eat probably more often than we should. There is almost always something on the menu that we can eat as is. When there isn’t there is always something that I can see is easy to modify for us. Whenever either of us has asked for a modified menu item (even from chefs that we didn’t know) the kitchen has always been more than happy to accommodate us. Please know that changing your diet doesn’t have to mean that you are stuck at home with no social life. Granted what you make at home will be much healthier for you, but I think we all need social interaction in order to have a healthy, happy and full life.  Man can't live by food alone.

If any of you have also made the change to a diet similar to ours I would love to hear from you. What prompted you to change your diet? Did you jump right in or ease into it? What are some tips or tricks you can share with others to make the transition easier for them. Let’s work together to help others make the change to a health promoting diet.

Happy Thoughts:

It has been a very nice but also a laid back Christmas. This is the first time in the last 30 years (other than when my mother-in-law passed) that I didn’t make a big dinner. I am very surprised by how nice it was to be able to relax on Christmas. If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it. This might become a new family tradition.

• Dan and I had a nice day together just the two of us (plus the fur children). We watched “A Christmas Story”, talked a lot, got some exercise and fresh air, and just generally goofed out. Overall it was a great day!

• Tomorrow is our last day of 24/7 togetherness and I am already feeling a little sad. I love spending time with my sweetie. Too bad he has to work for living. ;-) On the bright side that will be give more time to get back to my usual routine. My first order of business is to figure out how to use Dragon to facilitate the writing process. I am really looking forward to that. If you know how bad of typist I am you would understand why. LOL

• Both Dan and I are pretty much in love with our current hot tea with pink grapefruit juice and cinnamon. If you aren’t on any medications that interact with grapefruit juice please give it a try. It is very tasty if I do say so myself. Don’t forget that the citrus increases your absorption of the EGCG in the tea, and the cinnamon contains antioxidants. Not only is this delicious but it is good for you too. Love that!  :-)

• So far I am really enjoying the new lens that my sweetie got me for my camera. Considering that I am the photographer in the family he did a wonderful job. I will need to find out which camera store he went to so that I start frequenting the shop. They clearly pointed Dan in the right direction.

Signing out:

Given the inadequate amount of sleep we both got last night we are trying to turn it much earlier tonight. Depending on what we get it into tomorrow you may see a post from or my next one may be Tuesday. However I am trying to get back on a regular schedule with my posts.

I hope you had a fabulous holiday. Talk with you again very soon. I am very curious to hear from those of you who have made the transition to a diet like ours.


  1. YAY you are back!!! I was getting worried! Merry Christmas! As always, love the blog :-)

  2. Merry Christmas Dr. Cat,

    Thanks it is good to be back. I was a little worried myself. But things have settled down now thank goodness.

    I hope you had a wonderful holiday! :-)

  3. So happy to see new posts again!! Happy Holidays!! Fiance and I are getting ready to do our next 30 day vegan challenge in January and we are just finishing up our year free of fast food. It's been eye opening and your posts are always great inspiration :)

  4. Merry Christmas Alissa!

    Yay for doing the 30 day vegan challenge again. You go! :-) A year without fast food is huge too. I hope you are appropriately proud of your accomplishments.

    Thanks for your kind words. It is good to be back.


  5. Merry Christmas to you! Sounds like a wonderful Christmas! One of my cats had a warning thing on his crate when he was in quarantine so I know the feeling:) with the oats you ate, did you add no sweetener? I wish I could be better with sweets. They are my downfall. I haven't eaten almost any in the last two days though because my midwife said not to :)

  6. Merry Christmas Carissa!

    I hope you had a wonderful holiday. :-) Sorry to hear about your kitty. I hope it is nothing serious.

    No I didn't use any sweetener in my oatmeal, but I did add a pinch of stevia to Dan's bowl. I have been off of sugar for so long that the fruit added enough sweetness for me. Did your midwife say why she doesn't want you to eat sweets? I hope your pregnancy has been easy.


  7. Ali, it's so great to see you popping back in now and then. I know life is so hectic. Merry Xmas! It will be time for a thorough holiday detox...very soon : )

  8. Happy Holidays Steph,

    Life here has been very hectic, and that is downplaying things. I hope life is more laid back at your place.

    Yes, a post holiday detox does sound appealing right about now. Hospital food is certainly not good for anyone of us. ;-) Oh the irony of that. *shakes head*

    talk with you soon I hope,

  9. Lovely pictures and adorable cats! ^^ Reminds me of my own. Merry Christmas!

  10. Merry Christmas Aiko Venus,

    Thanks, those are my precious fur children; Nicco, Luca Belle and Massimo. They are very loved and equally spoiled. Are your cats also Turkish Angoras?

    Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. :-)


  11. Your Luca and my Manolo must be related.... Beside a similar face, the same long white whiskers!

  12. Ali, It's great to "have" you back! I'm glad you're recovering well.

    I've noticed since becoming vegan that I heal much more quickly than my friends (not that I've gotten to test that out with surgery, but I certainly get over colds much more quickly, and I actually "catch" them less often).

    When I decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle, I cut out all nonvegan foods. For me, it was an experiment that I wanted to try. I had just finished reading Marilu Henner's "Total Health Makeover" & decided to adopt her eating principles. After a week, I felt so good that I decided to do it for another week. And another week. That was nine years ago.

  13. Skinny Jeans Food,

    Luca could be related to Manolo. She is 10 years and I got her in a little town in PA which I can look up if that is where Manolo is from. Is your Manolo a Turkish Angora too? We have had 4 Turks because we love their personalities so much. They are such smart little fur children. :-)

    I hope you had a great holiday,

  14. Happy Holidays Jackie,

    Thanks, it is good to be back. :-)

    I agree with you about this way of eating making me more resilient to colds though that is just an observation on my part. However I haven't had a cold in well over 4 years and I used to get more than one every winter when I was an omnivore.

    I also read that book by Marilu Henner. If my memory is clear it was a library book and I was very impressed with her depth of knowledge regarding nutrition. I can understand why you decided to try her approach after reading the book. :-) Congratulation on 9 years, that is quite an accomplishment! I wish I knew exactly when we went vegan but I don't. However I can say that neither of us have ever felt better than we do now at our age. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing why you adopted this lifestyle. I am always trying to understand what motivates people to make healthy decisions.

    enjoy the rest of your evening,

  15. Merry Christmas Ali and many universal blessings in the new year!

  16. Possum (Nadine),

    Thanks so much, all blessings are greatly appreciated! :-) Merry Christmas to you too! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday.

    talk with you again soon I hope,


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