Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday Resulted in an Unusual and Tasty Salad

Ahhh, I love the weekend! Other than being on vacation in Italy I can’t think of anything better than the weekend. ;-) I love this picture that I took in Capri.  Looking at this pic makes me smile and I thought it might do the same for you.

Today Dan and I had completely different things for breakfast again. Dan had a green smoothie that contained: kale, banana, wheat germ, freshly ground golden flaxseeds, cinnamon, powdered ginger, water and stevia. I know this sounds crazy to people that don’t add kale to their smoothies but it is very good and you start to crave it after a while.

Since there were only two bananas in the freezer and those both went into Dan’s smoothie I made myself something else. I decided to have a salad and this one contained: mesclun greens, pinto beans (from Friday), salsa, cucumber, and white chia seeds.

Dan and I both sipped a blend of green, white and herbal tea after breakfast while we watched a few things we had recorded (“Top Gear” for Dan) and talked about what I was going to make for the meal with my parents. It was a lovely and restful Sunday morning and early afternoon at our place.

Here is a picture of her highness the princess Luca Belle. Can you see that look on her face that says “leave me alone can’t you see I am reclining”? She is such a little prima donna.

Keeping a safe distance from his crabby sister is my little angel Massimo. Masi is a precious little lamb. Can you tell how much I love that little fuzzy? Masi is mommy’s little baby.


For lunch we decided to make something simple. I wanted to make summer rolls (raw spring rolls) but found out that I didn’t have enough rice paper so I changed the dish into a salad instead. The salad contained: mesclun, red cabbage, julienned carrot, thinly sliced cucumber and cilantro.

I topped the salad with a quick dressing that I made with homemade reduced-fat peanut butter, lime zest, lime juice, water to achieve the texture I was looking for and stevia to taste. I would have added something hot to this like hot crushed peppers (wet hots) or sriracha if my mother weren’t eating this but I thought it was good without the spicy background just not perfect. ;-)

As the main dish I made was something I came up with Sunday morning while chatting with Dan. His reaction was “That sounds really good how do you come up with things like this?” I have to say I have no idea but I am glad that I did. I didn’t measure everything but here are the components. I cooked ½ cup of French lentils until they there just tender. Meanwhile I roasted some (about a pound) small fingerling potatoes (red, white and purple) until they were just cooked. I made a simple dressing of 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon and 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. I tossed the potatoes and lentils into the dressing while they were still warm so that they would absorb some of the dressing. I quickly steamed about 3 cups of frozen French green beans and added them to the dressing and other veggies. Next I diced celery hearts finely (about ½ cup) and added that to salad. I tasted the salad for seasoning and add dried thyme and black pepper to taste. When I served the salad I added roughly chopped walnuts. This turned out really well. I don’t think the measurements matter as much as the components. I hope you like it as much as we did.

A Few Errands before Dinner:

A quick trip to the library, Wegman’s and Whole Foods took place between lunch and dinner. We started at the library where I had 15 minutes to grab a few things before the library closed. I came out with two exercise DVD’s and three books on CD. Do any of you borrow exercise DVD’s from the library before buying them? A girlfriend suggested that ages ago and it has saved me quite a few times from buying tapes that I wouldn’t have used again.

Two of the books on CD that I picked up I am very excited about. One of them was “The Shadow Effect” and the other was “The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics”. Have any of you read/listened to either of these?

Next we stopped by Wegman’s because I was dangerously low on rice paper wrappers. Who let that happen? Oh yeah, that was me. Well we won’t run out for a while because I picked up two packages. I was also low on green cardamom pods and coriander seeds which needed to replenished. I guess I make more Asian food than I realized. ;-)

I also picked up some black quinoa for the pantry. Now I have white, red and black quinoa at home.

While we were in the checkout line I grabbed the most recent issue of Oxygen magazine. I have no idea why I don’t just get myself a subscription because I love that magazine and pick up every time I see it.

Our last stop was Whole Foods since it was on our way home. We only needed organic kale from there and were happy that they had it. I know Dan was missing his green smoothies and now he can have them again. Isn’t it wonderful when something you love is also good for you?


After we got home I need to run to our local grocery store for Ibuprofen. The weather was so nice I walked there in my running pants and T-shirt no coat. Isn’t it wonderful that the weather is starting to change for the better? Come on spring!

For dinner we had a simple salad of the leftovers from lunch with the addition of fresh orange. The citrus was a nice addition to the salad so I may add those to the next summer rolls I make.

Needless to say this wasn’t enough food for Dan so I made him a batch of strawberry and banana soft serve for dessert and I had two spoons myself.

Life Isn’t Going to be Perfect and that is Okay:

This is something that I should have written long ago. It is more for me than anyone else but I hope something rings true for you.

For the majority of my life I chased perfection because that is what my father expected. I tried to be the: perfect daughter, star student athlete and scholar, best employee, world’s best wife, perfect housekeeper, and a gourmet cook. No pressure right? Needless to say I wasn’t able to do any of them to their fullest because I was spread too thin. However then a friend recommended “The Power of Now” which I have now read at least half a dozen times. I slowly realized that I always spent my life living for some other moment, either the past or the future but almost never the present. That book changed my life. If you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. It isn’t intuitive if you are high stress but if you read and reread it I am sure you find that it makes sense.

Now I live in the moment and enjoy every second of my life. Is my life perfect? Goodness no it isn’t even close to perfect. I have more than I could complain about than I care to think about actually. But right now in this moment my little family is happy and healthy and that is all that matters to me. The dust bunnies don’t bother me, neither does my clutter, much too long to-do list or any looming health concerns I focus on what is right in this very moment. If you haven’t tried it I highly suggest it. My view of the world has done a 180 and I couldn’t be happier.

Random Pictures:

To live with me is to put up with a lot of pictures. I have always loved photography and now that I have a phone with a lot of megapixels I am always snapping pictures. My poor husband is probably sorry that he chose these phones. LOL

Here is a picture I took from the car and we came home from our errands. I thought this turned out amazingly well considering that I took it from a car that was going 60mph.

This is another one I took when we got home. I am shooting up through the oak tree into an almost dark sky. Isn’t it a little creepy?

Happy Thoughts:

What a great weekend and a not so bad Monday. Here are my happy thoughts:

• What a good Monday! Yes it has been gray and rainy but that hasn’t dampened my spirit. In spite of not sleeping well last night I had a very nice morning which started with the scale giving me good news to start my day.

• Also a wet gray day meant I was staying inside and had time to read which always makes me happy. ;-) Today I was being indulgent and just read for pleasure. I picked up a decorating book at the library and had a good time looking at pictures and getting ideas.

• Everything was fine with my mother today which is also a very good thing.

• Being stuck in the house most of the day I found time to run three loads of laundry, not my favorite task but it makes me happy when the laundry basket is completely empty. Too bad that will change by the end of today. Doesn’t it just seem like there is always laundry to be done? LOL

• I made a very simple grapefruit juice with kale today that was inspired by a comment Laura made on yesterday’s post. I will share the details with you tomorrow. Anytime I find a new way to use raw kale I am a happy girl.

• I realized today that I am a confirmed health nut and that made me very happy. For some reason I turned on the Barefoot Contessa this afternoon. She had Daniel Boulud on and I find “real chefs” to be quite interesting. However watching Ina salivate over merguez sausage fat sinking into spinach and chickpea was sickening. That woman needs an intervention something terrible. *shakes head* It is such a shame that no one close to her hasn’t tried to tell her that she is killing herself with food. *sigh* There was nothing on that show today that I found remotely palatable from a health perspective. Thank goodness I can watch shows like this and see them for what they are unhealthy food porn especially since that hasn’t always been the case.  ;-)

• I am happy that my housework is done for today. Is my house clean? Heaven’s no, in fact not even close. But the items I put on my to-do list are done and that means so is my housework. Instead of scurrying around like a crazy women to get everything cleaned I stop when I have finished my to-do list. The other items can wait for another day. That way I had tea to sip and savor my books. This is part of my life isn’t going to be perfect approach. ;-)

Signing out:

It is time for me to spend a little time in the kitchen and make something for dinner this evening. Otherwise there won’t be any leftovers to put in Dan’s lunch tomorrow. I hope Monday treated you well. Talk to you again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, Pasta and What is Good about Grapefruit

True to form we slept in Saturday morning to start our weekend off on the proper relaxing note. We started our weekend with a slow and relaxing mug of tea. Dan needed to watch a little “Top Gear” and then we had breakfast. Dan had a big bowl of fruit and nut oatmeal that included: oatmeal, water, cinnamon, powdered ginger, stevia, wheat germ, freshly ground flaxseeds, frozen wild blueberries and walnuts. I wasn’t in the mood for oatmeal so I made myself something else.

This morning I decided to have a bowl of fruit for breakfast. My fruit bowl contained: a grapefruit, blackberries and apple topped with a little reduced-fat coconut and a few white chia seeds. You will notice that I didn’t supreme the grapefruit and that was done for nutritional reasons. I will discuss the benefits of grapefruit later in the post.

Like always not long after breakfast we started thinking about what to make for the mid-day meal with my parents. This is always much more difficult than just cooking for Dan and myself. Since we hadn’t had pasta in over 6 months I thought that might be nice to have, I am part Italian after all. I made whole wheat pasta (cooked al dente to reduce the GI), topped with spaghetti squash, red sauce (that I made on Friday), mushrooms and finished parsley. It was a huge plate of food and very filling. Good thing I decided not to make salad with this meal.

For dinner Dan and I had split pea soup with a little  homemade seitan sausage (from the freezer) topped with fresh parsley. I served this over a little quinoa.

This was followed by a salad of mesclun, pinto beans (from Friday), salsa, cucumber, mushrooms and peppers. I added quinoa to Dan’s salad for extra protein.

We ended our evening with Dan and Binky watching “Fringe” and me on the computer. I don’t understand his love of sci-fi but if it makes him happy than I like it too. ;-)


Since quite a few of you said you are interested in the pros and cons of different foods I decided to start today with grapefruit. I wanted to explain what I like about grapefruit, its health benefits and potential problems.

I particularly enjoy the flavor of grapefruit. However if you are on any prescription medications you should double check that it doesn’t magnify the effects of the drug you are taking. I have read the naringin in grapefruit turns off an enzyme in the small intestine that helps to metabolize many drugs. By turning off the enzyme the metabolism of the drug is slowed down increasing the amount of the drug in your body. However naringin also has its upside as it has been shown to stop the growth of some types of breast cancer cells.

When I buy grapefruit I opt for one of the red varieties for the lycopene they contain. I added some type of nut or seed to the meal since lycopene is fat soluble. If you don’t want to remember what nutrients are in which food just do what I do and have a few nuts or seeds with each meal. Lycopene is an antioxidant which means it is good at reducing free radical damage which is something we all need.

Grapefruit also contains limonoids which have anti-cancer properties. Additionally is a decent source of vitamin C. We all need vitamin C to build collagen, for wound healing, to reduce histamine. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant which I can’t get enough of. ;-) However vitamin C is damaged by heat so it is best to consume most of your citrus raw.

Grapefruit is also a decent source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that helps to lower cholesterol. The sticker here is that the pectin is found in higher levels in the thin white layer beneath the peel. By supreming your grapefruit you are leaving more than 50% of the pectin behind. The pectin itself appears to suppress the growth of some types of cancer. Now you know why I no longer supreme my citrus fruit.

Happy Thoughts:

I am sorry to see the weekend coming to an end. But I can’t complain since Dan and I had a good weekend together. Here are my happy thoughts:

• As silly as this sounds I am thankful for pasta. I know that seems odd but when you haven’t had it in as long as I have you really appreciate it when you get it.

• This trip to Whole Foods not only did we buy 4 bunches of organic kale but it was on sale. You know who will be having a green smoothie tomorrow for breakfast. I am thankful that Dan loves kale and banana smoothies since raw kale is so good for him. *happy dance*

• I got very lucky at the trip to the library on Sunday and found “The Shadow Effect” on CD. I have wanted to read something by Debbie Ford and this was also written by Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson. I can’t wait to get into this. ;-)

• We had lovely weather today with temps in the upper 50s. I was able to walk to the grocery store this evening in a T-shirt and wasn’t cold. I can almost feel spring now. Since spring is my favorite season I am looking forward to its arrival.

• I made a very interesting salad on Sunday with potatoes, puy lentils, green beans and walnuts that was a big hit. Don’t you just love when an idea works out? I know I do.

• My father has a few errands to run this week that will have him out of the house. I am thankful that I have time to look in on my mom while he is out.

• I am also looking forward to getting back to the gym Monday morning. Now if I could just learn to like going to bed early we would be all set. LOL

Signing out:

Since I need to get up at 5am it is time for me to start winding down. I hope you had a great weekend. Spring is almost here. Soon we will all be out cleaning up the garden and getting ready for the return of blossoms. ;-) Talk to you again tomorrow. Good Night!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday I Went Back into the Kitchen

Guess who was back at the gym early Friday morning? Surprisingly it was us, LOL. Since we were out later than we normally would be given a 5am wake up I wasn’t sure we would make it but we did. We had a cold rain overnight that was still coming down pretty good when we left the house. Isn’t this picture creepy of the trees in the morning through the rain?

This is what it looked like when we left the gym with the sun trying to come up. However the clouds were thick and the rain was still falling so it just looked grey outside.

When we got home I was craving savory oatmeal and this time made it with nutritional yeast. Dan had fruit and nut oatmeal and a green tea to wash it down before he left for work.

My lunch was the end of the soup I made on Monday with white beans and artichokes and Sicilian spices.  I topped it with two slices olives because I was craving a little saly. Dan had a training mid-day where they where they were having Chinese brought in. He had steamed mixed veggies with a spicy brown sauce that he topped with cashews. Chinese restaurants are almost always a great source of healthy vegan food since they have a lot of veggies and will steam them for you and then if you get the sauce on the side you can keep your sodium consumption down. We also love that most (although not all) Chinese places offer brown rice now in addition to white.

After lunch I headed into the kitchen to make items to have on hand for the next few days. The items I made included: red sauce, pinto beans, walnut parmesan, quinoa and green split pea soup. I used the pressure cooker for the pinto beans and made the red sauce and split pea in large enameled cast iron pans since they are great for long slow cooking.

Our dinner was a quick meal of quinoa topped with veggies from the freezer (broccoli, green beans, corn, carrots, and peas), red sauce and finished with walnuts (Dan doesn’t love nutritional yeast). I love having intentional leftovers in the refrigerator since it allows me to pull dinner together quickly because it leaves me more time to spend with Dan.

After dinner we watched two episodes of Criminal Minds and went to bed later than we should have. Since we have started to get up at 5am by 10:30 last night I was falling asleep sitting up.  Darn it is tough getting old. LOL

Blogger ABCs:

I saw this over at LJ’s blog and since I enjoyed reading her answers I thought I would join in.

A. Age: 47 until May

B. Bed size: Queen

C. Chore you hate: This is tough because I dislike most chores but laundry is my least favorite.  ;-)

D. Dogs: I grew up with a wire-haired terrier, red cocker spaniel, calico cat, white rabbit and turtles. The wire-haired terrier had a wonderful personality. We have 3 much loved Turkish Angora cats now or I would have another terrier becasue he was a wonderful dog.

E. Essential start to your day: Exercise and green tea. Then I need to have either oatmeal (preferably savory) or a green smoothie.

F. Favorite color: Royal purple or blue it depends on the day

G. Gold or silver: White gold or silver. I prefer white metal now.

H. Height: 5'3” if I stand up really tall, okay more like 5’2 ½” but I can dream.

I. Instruments you play: Not a single one. I have no musical talent though I wish that I did.

J. Job title: Retired, woo hoo! I was a hospital controller for many years before I bailed out of the working world.

K. Kids: Dan and I don’t have any children together. He has adult children from his first marriage.

L. Live: Baltimore, Maryland

M. Mom’s name: Ina LaRue though she goes my LaRue. All the women in my family have uncommon names and I have no idea where that came from.

N. Nicknames: Ali, Li, Lish, and the list goes on but you get the idea. Since my given name is Alicia you would think that would be short enough for most people but it gets shortened often. I basically answer to anything remotely close but Ali is the nickname that gets used the most.

O. Overnight hospital stays: When I was working too many hours in the hospital this happened more than it should have so I have no idea. ;-)

P. Pet peeve: Selfish people that will do anything to “better themselves” stepping on others trying to get ahead. I don’t understand why people need to inflict pain on others but it irritates the "you know what" out of me.

Q. Quote from a movie: "I’ll have what she is having" from When Harry Met Sally. That is my favorite movie of all time. I have seen it so many times I know most of the dialog by heart.

R. Right or left handed: Right.

S. Siblings: None, just me.  The world wasn't ready for more than one is what my father used to say when I was little.  He may have been on to something.  ;-)

T. Time you wake up: Approximately 5am when we are going to the gym or farmers’ market. On Saturday we turn the alarm back to 10am and get up whenever we have had enough rest.

U. Underwear: Yes doesn’t everyone wear them? LOL! My only requirement is that they don’t leave lines.

V. Vegetables you dislike: Okra is not my favorite I don’t like the gelatinous nature of it. However in stews or gumbo even okra is fine. Other than that I like all veggies which is amazing since I was a veggie avoider more of my life than I care to admit.

W. What makes you run late: Only my husband otherwise I am always early because I hate being late.

X. X-Rays you’ve had: Teeth, full body bone scan, mammogram, head, and chest x-ray. 

Y. Yummy food you make: That is a tough question since I make many things I consider yummy.  ;-)

Z. Zoo- favorite animal: I haven’t been to a zoo in well over a decade, but I like the big cats like lions and tigers.

If you liked reading this please share your answers on your blog or tell me a couple of things about you in the comment section.

Happy thoughts:

Lately I have had so many happy thoughts that it has been tough to keep this section manageable. I am fairly certain that focusing on the good things in my day has had caused me to be even more upbeat which I think is wonderful. If you haven’t tried it you should I think you will get a lot out of it. Here are a few of my happy thoughts today:

• I love Saturday since it is my chance to hang out with Dan and relax. Today we slept in and got a slow start to the morning. What a perfect way to start the weekend!  *happy dance*

• As I was writing this post I took time to stop and what Jose Andres on PBS. I adore his passion for food and love to hear him talk about it. If you haven’t been to any of his restaurants I highly recommend them. When Jose was on 60 Minutes and called vegetables "sexy" I knew I was in love. ;-) I have a total chef crush on Jose. Are there any chefs that you adore?

• It is wonderful that the weather is starting to warm up again. Saturday it was 45 and Sunday it is supposed to reach 60. *happy dance* I am also thankful for the rain we had on Friday that washed away the majority of the snow we had on the ground. Spring time is coming soon. The farmers’ market will be open again on April 1. Life is good!

• The two courses that I ordered from “The Great Courses “ have arrived. I am excited to start watching them and hopefully learn more about health and nutrition. :-) Who knows maybe I will be able to get Dan to watch the DVDs with me. That is my plan but we will see if Dan has other ideas.

• As I am typing this there is a beautiful red/orange sunset happening. I love looking at the beauty of nature especially when she is putting on a show.

Signing out:

Today has been extremely relaxing and rejuvenating. I love having time to recuperate each weekend. Tomorrow our plans are still up in the air. We are thinking of heading to the library, Whole Foods and the Asian market is we get moving early enough. Other than that we are going to play things by ear. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend. Talk to you again tomorrow.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thursday and Eating Out Again

By some miracle we made it to the gym very early in the morning. I think I see a pattern developing …. maybe. *fingers crossed* ;-) The picture above was the sun coming up when we left the gym.

I look this picture of the moon when we were heading to the car because it made me smile. Looking at things bigger than humanity, like nature, always has a way of putting things into perspective for me.

When we came home from the gym I made Dan a big bowl of his favorite fruit and nut oatmeal which contained: oats, water, wheat germ, freshly ground flaxseed, cinnamon, powdered ginger, stevia, wild blueberries and walnuts.

Dan decided to wash this down with a cup of hot tea. This time I combined: sencha green, tulsi, dandelion root, chamomile and orange peel. Since it contained green tea I brewed it for 10 minutes (to extract the maximum EGCG) and finished by adding a little powdered ascorbate C (to enhance the absorption of the EGCG in the tea).

Once Dan was off to work I made myself a bowl of savory oatmeal for breakfast. This time I omitted the nutritional yeast to see how that would change the flavor. After my experiment I can safely say savory oatmeal is much better with the cheezy flavor of nutritional yeast than it is without out. This time my oatmeal contained: oats, water, cumin, no salt seasoning, wheat germ, freshly ground golden flaxseeds, frozen broccoli that I chopped, salsa, marinated sliced mushroom, roasted red peppers, and raw pumpkin seeds.

One of the things I like about savory oatmeal for breakfast is how filling it is. This bowl of oatmeal kept me satiated for hours. I love that it is low in calories, high in vegetables, and packed with nutrition. What more could you really want in a winter breakfast? What is your favorite healthy breakfast?

Knowing that we were going to go out dinner I had a simple snack for lunch of an orange and 2 Brazil nuts. I didn’t photograph it today because you have seen this many times. It looked like the photo above. ;-)

Our friend Phil is in town from Missouri for work. We had not seen him since September so I was really looking forward to dinner. Dan picked Phil up from the airport and then stopped for me and we dropped Phil at the hotel and went to the restaurant to chat with everyone while Phil checked his email and called the office.

Since it was Thursday it was wine tasting at the restaurant where we used to be regulars until we gave up drinking for health reasons. *sigh* While Dan was parking the car I said hello and talked for a few minutes and needed to hug a few people. Next I had to check in with Corey and hear all about his trip to San Francisco. He didn’t make it to Millennium but did have a great time. I loved hearing about his trip especially the food. He told me about a vegan flourless cake he had with cayenne and candied ginger that he thought was amazing. Needless to say I will be finding a way to make something with the same flavors that is also healthy. Corey kindly volunteered to be a taste tester. ;-)

When Dan arrived we chatted with Jen and got her caught on everything that had happened since we saw her last Saturday, LOL. Then we got to down to the business of food. Dan and I ordered a pot of green tea mixed with a strawberry, pear and hibiscus herbal blend. Phil had his usual Dewar’s on the rocks. Clearly there is consistency in the universe.

The guys had planned a few dishes for us so we started with the appetizer which included: roasted red peppers, orange and fennel salad, spicy chickpea salad, olives, marinated artichokes and cucumber slices. We had this with whole wheat flat bread and it was quite a treat since olive oil is verboten at our house. Phil had a similar appetizer plate but his also included house-made pickles, buffalo mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma.

Our next plate was another one of those dishes I would not have thought of on my own. This one was sautéed shitakes, criminis and leeks dressed with soy, mirin, rice wine, ginger and garlic. It was served on top of crispy flat bread and topped with baby arugula, red pepper and granny smith apple. The mushroom dish was very good; Phil had a taste and also enjoyed it. The mushrooms were chewy and meaty and the sauce wasn’t over powering. The green apple was a nice touch and added just the right amount of tartness to the dish.

Both Dan and I were full after sharing those two plates. We talked about getting a third one but decided that we would be stuffed if we did so we stopped eating. Besides we need to get up early Friday morning for the gym which meant we didn’t need to be overfull if you know what I mean.

Ian stopped by to chat before heading out for the evening. He is taking the weekend off to head to Philadelphia for a gymnastics meet with his little girl. Wasn’t it sweet of him to let us know he wouldn’t be around this weekend? Are we spoiled or what? LOL

Phil was slowing down fast and decided headed to the hotel before we were ready to leave which is to be expected given our restaurant staying power. Phil left Portland, Oregon this morning and stopped in Dallas before landing in Maryland. I am sure I would have been tired with that schedule too.

Here is a picture from our table as the evening was winding down. Ian had a good crowd tonight with the majority of the tables filled most of the night.

Making Dietary Changes Part 3:

I thought it was time to get back to the Dietary Changes section of the blog particularly since this one is about a week overdue. It was my intention to suggest two changes per month and I am a little behind schedule. Oops. ;-)

The first dietary change I proposed was eating breakfast. The second one was to reduce your intake of processed foods. Today I want to talk about drinking more water. I can almost hear the collective groans as I type this. I know what you are thinking water is bland, it is boring and you would rather have a diet soda right? The problem with diet soda is that it is nothing but a chemical concoction of nastiness. Have you ever read the ingredients in soda? Talk about nasty, bleh! :-P

Here is the ingredient panel from one brand of popular diet soda:

Carbonated water, caramel color, aspartame, phosphoric acid, potassium benzoate, natural flavors, citric acid and caffeine.

Doesn’t that just sound delicious? Obviously I am being sarcastic. Please ask yourself do you know what most of that even is or what it is doing in your body. At the very least I am confident you will agree that this doesn’t sound like food. Right?

When you put unnatural things full of chemicals into your body your liver and kidneys have to eliminate it before it causes trouble. My approach to health is to not put things like this into my body so that it has more time to focus on taking care of things that I can’t control like air pollution and free radicals. To me it makes no sense to ingest things like this that are nothing but nasty chemicals.

The reason that I recommend water is that most Americans are chronically dehydrated and this included me until not long ago. When I started adding more water to my diet I found many things improved for me. My skin was less dry, my eliminations were more predictable, my hunger seemed depressed, and I had more energy. It is amazing that something this simple and inexpensive can make a big difference but it did.

Why is water important? Your body is mostly water and your cells need water to function properly. Your cells use water to dissolve and transport vitamins, minerals, sugar and other phytochemicals. The average person loses 2% of their body weight every day through respiration, perspiration, urine, etc. If you are larger person, are physically active, are sick, over 55, drink a lot of caffeinated beverages or alcohol then you need more water than others. Additionally you can’t rely on your body to tell you it is thirsty because that mechanism doesn’t work as well as we age. Not drinking enough water can lead to kidney stones, constipation and fatigue. Water is critical for survival.

How much water do you need? That is an interesting question and one that there are many different opinions on. Some people say you need 64 ounces. Others say you should take you body weight divide it by 2 and drink that many ounces of water. The calculation would go like this: if you weight 150 pounds that divided by 2 is 75 which would be the number of ounces of water you should drink per day. I think how much water you need is much easier to determine. If the color of your urine is a very pale yellow almost clear then you have enough water. I use that gauge since it is easy to determine and you have constant reminders of how you are doing if you know what I mean. ;-)

If you don’t like the taste of plain water I have a few suggestions. Try adding slices of citrus or cucumber. Alternately you can add a splash of fruit juice (pomegranate would be my choice for health reasons). Another idea is make herbal tea since that isn’t a diuretic but does have more taste than plain water. I also like adding a few frozen blueberries that I muddle and a little fresh lemon juice. Fresh mint and lemon is also good in water. Once you start thinking about it there are many options for items you can add to make your water more flavorful. Do you have any favorite additions to make water more palatable for you? I would love to hear your suggestions as I am sure everyone else would as well.

Happy Thoughts:

It was been a hectic week but a good one. Here are my happy thoughts:

• Dan and I made it to the gym together Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning before he left for work. I have really enjoyed getting my exercise knocked out early in the morning. I hope we are back on track for making it to the gym every weekday morning. *fingers crossed*

• I have had a very busy week but I also got a lot accomplished and that is always something to be thankful for. All those years when I did nothing but work, eat and sleep are still very fresh in my mind. I realize how fortunate I am to have time to do things that most people can only do on the weekend.

• It was wonderful to see our friend Phil Thursday night for dinner. It is such a shame that he lives so far away. I always love talking to Phil. We spend some time last night talking about health, cancer, and nutrition. He has a cousin that he is going to get me into contact with that works in holistic nutrition. Sounds right up my alley does it? ;-)

• I loved hearing about the restaurant experiences Corey had in San Francisco. It is fascinating how he views things differently that I would since he has a background in the industry. I did get a few recipe ideas from Corey that I will be working on soon. I am such a food geek I love talking about food, can you tell?

• As crazy as this will sound I am thankful for my night guard that I picked up at the dentist earlier this week. The dentist told me I needed it because I was grinding my teeth at night and had worn them down a lot doing that. Since I don’t have TMJ I wasn’t sure I was grinding my teeth currently but if they were worn down I thought I would go ahead and get the night guard. Much to my surprise it wasn’t uncomfortable to wear and my jaw as very relaxed in the first two mornings after wearing it. I guess I have to say the dentist was right about the night guard. Since I was prepared to hate it I am very happy that things worked out better than I expected.

• Friday I had a chance to stop at my parents for my usual check in. It is nice to have time to look in on them and to make sure that they eat at least two healthy meals a week (Saturday and Sunday with us). I would love to convince them to eat more veggies and less meat but that isn’t going to happen. I have learned to be grateful for the small victories.

Signing out:

Friday has been a busy one for me but it was good. I found time to make a pot of marinara to have on hand for more pizza veggies. I also took time to pressure cook a pound of pinto beans to use of the never few days. While I was in the kitchen I made more walnut parmesan to use this week. I need to make a pot of soup but I haven’t decided what I am in the mood for yet. I would like to have that finished before Dan gets home so that we can relax this evening. Am I the only one that likes to spend the weekend relaxing and recharging my battery?

It is time for me to get a few more things done around here before my sweetie gets home from work. I am looking forward to spending the weekend with my hubby. Talk to you again tomorrow. Who knows I might even get inspired to make something interesting in the kitchen later today. I hope you are having a great Friday.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday Lunch with Dan Downtown and Some City Pics

Somehow, don’t ask me how it happened, we made it back to the gym very early Wednesday morning. *happy dance* While I hate getting up at 5am I do like going to the gym early in the morning. However what I didn’t like was how darn cold it was when we got to the car. You know it is cold when your car doors are frozen shut. Yes, that was that cold and that is not normal around here.

Since we had to go in the back door of the car (since they weren’t frozen shut) we quickly realized that we had messed up when carrying groceries into the house Tuesday night. We accidentally left 15 pounds of bananas and 10 avocados in the car overnight. Given that it was 27 degrees in the morning I almost threw them away but decided to see what happened when they got warm. More on that later when I find out if things actually survived but so far everything looks good.

This is the view as we were leaving the gym. It is nice to have the sun rising a little earlier in the morning.

Savory oatmeal was my breakfast of choice when we got home from the gym. This bowl included: oats, water, nutritional yeast, cumin, freshly ground black pepper, no-salt seasoning, freshly ground flaxseed, wheat germ, baby spinach, cooked cannellini beans (yay intentional leftovers), and salsa on top. Dan had his favorite fruit and nut oats (oats, water, wheat germ, freshly ground flaxseeds, cinnamon, powdered ginger, stevia, frozen wild blueberries and walnuts).

Next it was time to rush around like a lunatic to get ready to leave the house with Dan. Somehow I managed to pull it off but it was touch and go for a while. ;-) How did I ever make it to work on time? That is just one of the great mysteries of the universe.

I had to show you this adore picture of Masi burrowed under the top blanket so he could get closer to the electric blanket. I may be a little biased but I think he is adorable.

Here is the walk from the garage to the dentist. For the locals this is part of Hopkins plaza.

I had to stop at the dentist to pick up my night guard and let the dentist check the fit. When he said I would only be there 5 minutes he wasn’t kidding. Since I had promised Dan we would have lunch together I had hours to waste until lunch. Dan’s office (and the dentist’s) is only a couple blocks from the Inner Harbor so I headed there to find something to get into.

Walking to the Inner Harbor for some exercise sounded like a great idea and I was happy that I did it. The sun was bright and the weather was fairly nice, a little cold but not windy at least.

Here is a picture I took of the dragon boats in the foreground with the National Aquarium in the background.

This is Baltimore’s World Trade Center. I took this picture looking from the bookstore.

Here is the city to the north of the World Trade Center.

This is the Barnes and Noble where I spent a little while. You probably aren’t too surprised since you know how much I love to read.

I wanted to stop at the book store for a few reasons. First it was a nice walk from the dentist’s office and I love to look at the water. Second I thought maybe I would find a book that I wanted to read. Well …. 8 books later I was ready to leave. Seriously I have book issues. There is no wonder there are so many books in my house. ;-)

Before someone asks I tend to avoid buying vegan cookbooks because they rely too heavily on processed food that we don't eat.  Since I find it easy to veganize recipes I tend to buy books that have beautiful food presenations and interesting food combinations. I find those types of books much more useful.

On the walk back to the car I snapped these pictures of the National Aquarium and the addition.

This is another picture of the city looking north.

After I hiked back from Barnes and Noble with the books I stopped at the car and dropped off the books since they were getting heavy. I grabbed one of the books and headed to Caribou to read and drink a green tea.

Conveniently Caribou is located across the street from Dan’s office so it was easy for him to stop by and get me for lunch. By the way it is not smart to buy 8 books that you need to carry for many blocks. I could have planned that better. Oh well, it was extra exercise right? LOL

I sat at Caribou and drank tea for about 45 minutes and read my book while I waited for Dan to take a break for lunch. It is funny how easy it is for me to lose myself in a book. When Dan arrived for lunch I had only drank about 1/3 of my tea. I really love to read. ;-)

Dan and I decided to stop at Suzie’s Soba for lunch. This is the building where the restaurant is located which is also just a few blocks from Dan’s office.

We ordered Edamame, Curried Tofu, and Yaki Soba to share.

Dan wanted me to drive the car home but I opted to ride the bus instead. Seriously that was a huge mistake I darn near froze to death waiting for the bus to arrive, 20 minutes late I might add. It was darn cold standing outside at the bus stop. I wouldn’t like to do this very often.

I got home from downtown about 4pm and immediately made myself a big mug of hot green tea to warm myself up. It felt like I was frozen to the bone. Knowing that dinner would be a few hours away I made myself a quick snack that consisted of prunes topped with homemade reduced fat peanut butter. This is a good combination I hope you give it a try.

Dinner was another big salad since I got home late and was half frozen I didn’t spend any time in the kitchen. I wanted something simple and healthy.  This salad contained:  baby spinach, cucumbers, carrots, yellow pepper, grape tomatoes, cannellini beans, salsa, mushrooms and roasted red peppers. While our lunch out was reasonably healthy it could have been more healthy. I thought salad was a good alternative to add veggies and nutrition to our day.

Happy Thoughts:

It was a good Wednesday and Thursday for me and here are my happy thoughts:

• Wednesday was a great day but a long one. I was such a treat to have lunch with Dan since we don’t get to do that very often. I really love the curried tofu dish and will be working on my own version of that sometime soon.

• We made it to the gym two mornings in a row. Woo hoo! I am very proud of us for this. I wonder if we can make it three early mornings in a row. We will see. LOL

• I had a great morning chatting to a girlfriend on the phone for hours. Sometimes you just need to chat to someone that understands you. Believe me the understanding part isn’t easy. LOL

• We are having dinner with our friend Phil from Missouri tonight. Since I haven’t seen him since Dan’s birthday in September I am really looking forward to tonight.

• I am also happy that the scale was my friend this morning. Whenever we go out to eat I always expect an uptick on the scale but that didn’t happen. It must have been the salad we had for dinner (totally kidding). I have no idea why it happened but I was happy about it.

• The weather is a little milder today and expected to reach 60 tomorrow. Come on spring!

Signing Out:

I hope all of you are having a good week and that the snow didn’t mess things up for you. If you did get snow I hope the warmer temps that are headed this way also make it to your place.

It is time for me to start getting ready for dinner. Talk to you again tomorrow.
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