Monday, May 31, 2010

Gluten ?Not Gluten ? And What not to wear

Yesterday was a day of dunning around for shopping, in a quest for clothes, computers and what nots. Fun, frustrating at times with Nick issues , and eventually it came to lunch time and a quandary. We were not close to any gluten free possibilities, hungry and in real need of a break( and something to drink), and so I decided to take a risk an just grab a burger with a bun. Not only would it eliminate a quest for someplace with a gluten free option, but it would confirm if I indeed have an actual problem with gluten or wheat. So we had a burger lunch( I got a side salad instead of fries), and I watched all day to see if I had any problems.

The result ? No problem at all. No digestive issues, no bloating, no itching, no respiratory problems - nothing. This is making me really wonder. Is it simply that I have to not eat wheat or gluten every day ? Will I be okay if I go wheat free at home and eat wheat when I go out ? Was it a fluke ? I really do not know, and I just plain do not understand what is happening to my body. Is it just the weirdness that comes with menopause, complicated with PCOS ? Or is it simply that my brain is speaking English while from the neck down it is speaking Fratalian ????

Speaking of the body, I found some clothes, but I give up on sleeveless anything. The options seem to be itty bitty spaghetti straps or things with additions on it that make me think someone got drunk and grabbed a glue gun and leftover beads and stuff. In the quest for the wedding outfit, I am still hunting. I refuse to buy anything that looks like it is missing half of the fabric or designed for the :"I Officially Give Up" line. If worst comes to worse I will buy a pattern and fabric and make an outfit ( I did that a lot in the past and I even made one of my sister's Wedding Dress of her dreams by combining 3 different patterns). I bought a few a couple of summer tops and two bras that fit my ribs and may fit in the cups if I coat my chest with honey and lay out on an ant hill and hope the swelling will fill me out ( bra rant- just because you are big does not mean you are a D cup....)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Decoration Day

Kind of a run and shop weekend here. Our family does not gather for Memorial Day BBQ's, but instead gather at the cemeteries to pay respects to those who have gone before us. Decoration Day, as my grandmother would call it. We would go out to the cemetery, spruce up the graves, place geraniums ( a white one and a pink for the ladies, red for the men) , and tell stories about them. It was not until years later I heard of the day called Memorial Day with the intention of honoring the fallen Vets. There was only one member of my family who served in the military ( desk job- never saw combat), so that aspect was not involved. It seems that after WW1 the practice of honoring Vets was started, and my grandmother did not want to leave anyone out and so the practice was started to honor the whole family. I will go tomorrow to pay my respects, and perhaps encounter a few of my living relations in the process.

Meanwhile it has been shopping, and some further adventures in gluten free. Last night for dinner I made something called Cottage Cheese and Spinach Pie, but substituted red swiss chard for the spinach

Cottage Cheese and Spinach Pie ( gluten free)

1 package frozen spinach (very well drained -- (10 oz.) water squeezed out)
1 cup low or non-fat cottage cheese
3 egg whites
1 small onion -- chopped any way you like
A handful of fresh basil -- chopped
Fresh garlic cloves to taste (I used 5 medium)
4 tbsp. Grated Cheese (I use Romano)

Combine all ingredients. Place into non-stick sprayed casserole, or 9-inch cast iron skillet. Bake at 350§ for about 45 minutes or until top is browned.

Verdict ? Swiss chard, when frozen , gets a very strong flavor. Next time I will use spinach ! The fact that this is a crustless pie makes it gluten free, low carb and lower in calories than a quiche. I served it with a salad of romaine, dandelion greens, watercress , berries and pepitas.

Today is going to be a shopping quest. I have to find an outfit for a wedding ( for both Nick and I) that happens in a couple of weeks. Problem with this one is that it is an outdoor wedding. While it is casual, it is still a wedding , so I don't think shorts and tee shirts will cut it. I am scratching my head as to what to wear for this one and hoping I will get inspiration once I see what is offered. Second objective is a new computer for me. Sharing a computer with Nick is simply not working out. We do most of his school on the computer ( and we are doing summer school this year) , I use it for household management, research, gathering of homeschool materials and more. While we have been able to share, it always winds up one of us is up into the wee hours of the morning trying to catch up with the tasks we could not accomplish during the day. So before we start getting sick from lack of sleep or becoming aggravated with each other, a another computer will enter out lives. I just need to find room to put it !

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Weigh in

Just a quick post

Weigh in for the week

Me DOWN 0.6
Nick UP 3.4
Bob DOWN 3.2

Enjoy the weekend !

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dancing in the Moonlight

WARNING- The following contains thoughts from an alternative spirituality path and may offend those who do not like hearing about any spirituality beyond Christianity

It's been a kind of blah week foodwise here because of the weather. Yesterday it was finally cool enough to turn off the AC, open the windows and turn the fan on. I love the comfort that an AC gives,but I hate the confined feeling. I made a roast veggie pizza for dinner on a flax meal crust. I had hoped to experiment with my new flours, but everything calls for the addition of tapioca starch and I have not made it to the healthfood store to buy a supply, so it was flax meal again. Not bad, but not anything new.

Yesterday was the Full Moon, and that is a special time in my spiritual path. For a long stretch now I have been slack about the observance of these because of schedule conflicts, focus on school and trying to keep us all on track with weight loss and just plain having my focus scattered. A few weeks ago I was kind of nudged in my daily spiritual practices that I would benefit from resuming the observance of these and I I blocked out time on my calendar. Then I was asked to participate in a community wide "rolling thunder" healing work for a leader in our community who is suffering with end stage colon cancer, and it gave me a definite reason to return. Participation in this was a powerful thing, and the collective energy being generated was palpable.

While doing this, I was reminded that before I am somebody's mom, somebody's wife, sister, daughter, lover , I am first and foremost myself. I have seemed to fall into the trap that many women do once children and husbands enter into our lives- I forget me. It's not a forced state of being, but rather a choice. Motherhood can become a model of the line in Star trek-"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one" - or something like that. I was not asked to put my own things aside, but decided to do this one item at a time in order to help the good of all. Every holy day rolls around and Bob asks me if I need some time to "do my thing" , and I almost always refuse in favor of something that needs or should be done for the good of the us. Last night I was reminded , rather powerfully, that I am also a part of another us , my spiritual community, and in order to be the best I can with that collective I must be the best that I can as an individual. A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link.

I think some of this has bled over into my weight loss journey. It gets tricky when I am doing this for my self as well as being an inspiration to Nick. Nick is a very kinestetic learner- printed words do not reach the part of his brain where learning occurs. Instead he has to learn by doing- touching- manipulating. For weight loss this comes down to do as I do , not as I say, and so mom has to be on program all the time. His program. It's tricky sometimes to keep his thing and my thing straight. I wonder if this might be the reason why the gluten problem has come to light for me at this time. Could it be the very cells in my own body trying to remind me that I am me first and formost and then all the other roles I fulfill ?

It gives me a lot to think about , and remember. Before I can be a good wife , good mom and good daughter, I have to carve out time to be that powerful woman who howls at the moon, is led by the vibrational forces of the very earth itself and is fed by the grasses, trees, rocks and soil that are the hair, bones skin and lungs of The Mother Herself.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An open letter to a retail chain

Dear Merchandise chain that uses a bullseye shape as part of it's logo-

I am a regular customer of your establishment, but after last night's visit I am wondering if you understand the concept of clothing , in particular for women. We come in all shapes and sizes- a fact that you seem to be aware of by your inclusion of regular, woman's and maternity departments. However i think you fail to understand that real women are not all in their teens and 20's, attempting to dress like something that could be found on down time on the set of Sex in The City. After a certain age ( chronologically or mentally), we are no longer hearing our biological clocks screaming and therefor dressing to impress the other half of the species. We are looking for clothing that is functional, wearable, washable, fireproof and not apt to be caught in elevator doors, escalator stairways and so forth. In short, a bright colored bra that looks like it was a pair of sanded down traffic cones topped with a thin enough to see that bra tee and an equally thin "let's make em look like they are hidden in a smokescreen" vest with something that looks like ruffles gone to seed is not something many women want.We have enough to explain to our children in life- why mommy is wearing a lime green bra that is broadcasting through the sort of kelly green tee shirt is not a necessary discussion.

And while we are on the subject, real women wear bras that extend well beyond size 40. And not every woman beyond size 36 is a D cup , and not every bra needs to look like you are wearing a temprapedic mattress on your chest. Looking at your offerings I am beginning to wonder if your design team is subconsciously worrying about global warming and the ice cap melt. That might explain why your offerings remind me of personal flotation devices.

I will continue to do business with your chain for a great many things, but you have lost my faith in your clothing line. I will do buisness with chains that understand that a woman's real worth comes from what she is and does in the world, and she wants clothing that allows her to do just that. Lime green bra/flotation device or not.

A woman who is simply looking for a sleeveless top

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mish Mash

Not a lot going on- it got hot enough to turn the AC on, and all meals became "whatever will not heat up the house" kind of fare. That meant veggies and hummus for lunch, cottage cheese for breakfast and salad with chicken grilled on the George Foreman for dinner. All gluten free, all good healthy stuff. It is good to have those slow , uninteredting days because it allows me to catch up on some things, like Blog awards from wonderful friends ! The first being

from Julie at

Here are the rules...
1. Get really excited that you got the coolest award EVER!
2. Choose ONE of the following options of accepting the OMB award:
(a) Get really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight, or for as long as you can focus.
(b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.
(c) Write a “Soundtrack of your childhood” post.
(d) Make your next blog a ‘vlog’/video blog. Basically, you’re talking to the camera about whatever.
e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning, before you do anything else (hair, makeup, etc) and post it.
3. Pass this award onto at least 3, but preferably more, awesome bloggers as yourself. Don’t forget to tell them.

1. OMG OMG !!! She likes me !!!! She really Likes me !!!!! ( picture Sally Field at the Academy Awards years back)

2.I chose option e because I belive there needs to be more things to scare small woodland creatures back to the woods where these scary humans are not found

3.I am wimping out- if you are on the list of the blogs I am following, consider yourself tagged !

And then

thanks to Julie at for the Sunshine award

"The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspires others in the blog world.
The rules for accepting this award are:

1. Put the logo on your blog or within your post.
2. Pass the award onto twelve bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within your post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to the person from whom you received this award."

I actually got this one a while back. I am hard pressed to pick blogs- if I have you on my list on the sidebar, you inspire me in some way and consider yourself tagged !

Did you catch Biggest Loser last night ? No spoilers- all I can say is YAY !!! I am finding it kind of weird that I will never again hear about O'Neil. He was not a finalist, but he was pretty inspiring.It's also weird to think that these people will now ride off into the sunset and you will rarely hear about them again. Kind of sad when you think about it.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

But can I eat out ????

Very hot and humid here yesterday, and once again I had the feeling of being nauseous until I started exercising.With the humidity however, the feeling passed even quicker, which would add even more credence that it is from detoxing from gluten. I mentioned the nausea to Bob and his reaction was "Are you pregnant ???" said in anticipation, glee and dread. Nope- I can pretty much guarantee that I am not pregnant. And strangely enough when I was that way in the past I never suffered from morning sickness. This I am pretty certain is from getting off of gluten , and just whispers to me I am on the right track and should keep on it.

Which suddenly presented a big problem with an unexpected bit of good fortune. Bob had a meeting with the company president and was given a bonus for the 10 years he has been employed with his company. While on first response the impulse with such things is to run amuck with toys or travel or so forth, for us this will prove to be the saving grace for the summer months. During the summer his Cantor schedual drops, income drops, electricity rates double ( no matter if you run an AC or not) and we are left with time but no money. This bonus will help us to be able to actually do something. However, Bob suggested we go out to dinner to celebrate, I said lets do, and then it hit me- where in the heck can you go out to eat that is gluten free, not an hours commute away and will not have a bill that makes me cringe ??

I told Nick about the good fortune, and he suddenly began telling me all the things we should do, the name of every video game being released, details of every video game he has ever played, where you can find old Nintendo 64 sites on line, every color that game cartridges come in and a million other game related things. Did I mention games ??? Meanwhile I am thinking , trying to search for gluten free restaurant options finding only bakeries in twoards the city and I started freaking out. My first thought was Outback , but then remembered the points value ( calorie , fat and fiber calculation used on Weight Watchers) for even a simple chicken breast and baked potato meal , and then things about the sodium content of most of their meats and realized this is NOT an option. I remembered that up till now our only acceptable restaurant options because of fat, calories, sodium and so froth was Sweet Tomatoes or the deli bar at our produce store, and now with the gluten factor Sweet Tomatoes was out ( gluten in most of the soups, the pasta and the breads). So I moaned about it on Facebook. and was offered some helpful advice from several friends and a site from a cousin in law that listed several restaurants in our immediate area with gluten free options. There are several, but it seems you have to order them in a very specific way. It is doable, but it can take a little pre- planning. I stopped freaking out and started thinking. Then I got 30 seconds chatter free and I thought some more. I realized that my problem may not be as severe as some. I do not have celiac disease, but I do have a problem with inflammation from wheat, so is it absolutely necessary to drag out the big guns ?

Then it dawned on me that for me another possibility would be a restaurant that we had gone to in the past but have never been able to go to for a while because of crowds- Golden Corral ! Many argue that buffets are a disaster, but if you drop the "all you can eat" mentality and see it as a great palate with which you can paint your own meal, it works beautifully. As long as I avoided anything with bread, breaded or in a sauce, I should be fine. So once Bob got home we headed out to Golden Corral for a celebratory dinner. It was a very good choice ! I was able to make a salad with baby greens, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach , fresh fruit and a sprinkling of sliced almonds ( skipped the dressing because they had nothing that sounded like a match, a roated chicken breast with a baked sweet potato, asparagus ( not disgustingly wimpy canned stuff) and corn on the cob. I splurged and got a squirt of chocolate ice cream and a rice crispy treat. Thank you rice crispies for being wonderfully gluten free and almost as common as water !!!

I think I did well. This morning the nauseous feeling is back, and I am off to work out !

Monday, May 24, 2010

supercenters and meatballs

Got in a nice walk yesterday , but not in the intended place ! The day was very warm and humid, and the humidity sent my level of arthritis pain through the roof. Gluten free is helping with the day to day pain and overall health, but I still have arthritis and there are still going to be days when arthritis is a factor no matter what- at least for a while. I do notice it is different though. Instead of this feeling of totally wiped and serious throbbing pain , now it is just serious throbbing pain, which I CAN push through. The last few mornings have also found me with a feeling of nausea until I start doing something physical. ( often happens when the body is detoxing from a substance). Anyway, I need, wanted and desired to walk , but on days like these I need something to hang on to because my knees do give way sometimes and falls can occur. Bet place to walk in these conditions is someplace with a cart. One of the best places to walk with a cart is a large store with wide isles and not so many people that you cannot get up speed. Number one choices in this area would be stores like Menards, Home Depot or Lowes. Wide isles because they handle cats filled with lumber, even on the busiest Saturday you can wander through and never find a traffic jam with other patrons, and they have a lot of stuff to inspire daydreams of future projects. So off to Menards we went, walked the store completely about 2 and a half times, worked up a sweat AND found a cart that should help to manage the video game mess better.

Dinner was a request from Nick, inspired by last weeks Biggest Loser. He was really excited that Mike made spaghetti and meatballs, and wanted us to try the same dish. So we went out on the internet and found his recipe through one of the Chicago newspapers online. Happily, they are gluten Free

Mike's Biggest Loser Turkey Meatballs and Pasta ( GF )

1 – 1.25 lb package ground turkey
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 cup garbanzo beans, pureed
1/2 cup egg substitute (such as Egg Beaters) nor 2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie tray or jelly roll pan lightly with non-stick cooking
spray.In a large bowl, mix by hand or with a spoon the ground turkey, parsley, pepper, pureed garbanzo beans, and egg substitute. Roll the ground turkey mixture into small meatballs and place on prepared pan.Bake meatballs in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes or till no longer pink inside. Meat should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

I served then with jarred sauce and a salad of romaine, blackberries and sliced peaches on corn pasta. The verdict ? They would be much better if the parsley was exchanged for italian seasoning or basil, because they are a little flat tasting. Very tender however, and it makes for a VERY filling meal ( I could only eat half of mine).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Nice Rice baby !

Yesterday was an adventure in flour buying - amongst other foods. While you can live gluten free with meat, vegetables, fruit, dairy, starchy things become a problem. Things like corn, potatoes , flax and rice will serve you for many things, but there will come occasions when you want to have an actual slice of sandwich bread or a roll or even a birthday cake. There are many commercially made mixes on the market today , but sometimes you just do not want to be trapped into what someone else decides that you should be limited to eating. Here is where the multitude of gluten free flour enter your life. From what I have discerned from several recipes on line, the tools (flours) of the trade are rice flour, potato starch, besan flour, corn flour, tapioca flour and xanthan gum, so it was my intention to get a supply of each and do some experimenting. Could not find the tapioca starch ( trip to Whole Foods later today will remedy this) and I was blown away by the price of xanthan gum ! A small bag costs nearly 20 dollars. I have no idea what the heck a xanthan is, let alone why it's gum is so darn expensive, but thankfully you use small amounts when you use it. I brought it home, found shelf space for it ( not an easy thing here) , and kissed my bag of brown rice , for being so versatile and so cheap ! I was especially thankful for one of the nummies it can create- rice pudding. We have a custom of having a treat on Saturday night, and lately it has been a thing from the bakery in a single serve portion. Mine used to be brownies, but the contain gluten( wheat flour, white flour, rye flour or barley flour) and are a no no. In anticipation of this dilemma, on Friday I made Brown Rice pudding in my crock pot

Rice Pudding GF (6 servings)

3 cups cooked brown rice
3 cups almond milk
1/2 cup splenda
2 chopped apples
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
3/4 teaspoon vanilla ( extreme sensitives should use gluten free vanilla powder)

Combine all in a crock pot and cook on low for 4 hrs.

The weather is supposed to be nice today, so we are off to play on a driving range today and hopefully get in a walk in the woods. There has been a lot of flooding in the area , and several trails have been underwater or a sea of mud, so hopefully we can find something clear to walk on !

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pork chop casserole and weigh in

Last week as I was planning the menu , I was searching for pork recipes to use with the planned purchase of a big pork loin, and suddenly one of the best food related childhood recipes came to mind- Mom's pork chop casserole ! Every time she made it, it was a special event it seems. No real reason why- we would eat pork chops and rice for many other occasions. In fact, for breakfast she often served rice with butter and sugar and milk ( try it sometime- it is yummy !). However , when she combined them in this casserole, it was something special

Mom's Pork Chop Casserole , updated

3 pork loin chops
2 cups brown rice, cooked according to directions
1 c green onions
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped celery
1 carrot, chopped
1 green pepper, cut in rings
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 large onion, cut in rings

In a skillet, brown the pork chops,remove from pan and set aside. Add 1/4 cup of water and saute the celery, carrot and mushroom 5 minutes.
Combine vegetables with cooked rice and green onions. Place in a casserole dish, sprayed with pam. Place pork chops on top of rice mixture
and top each pork chop with slices of tomato, onions and green peppers. Sprinkle with basil if desired. Cover with foil and place in a 350 degree oven for 1 hr.

I served it with roast broccoli and a salad of romaine, watercress, dandelion, grapes and sliced almonds

Weigh in this morning. It seems that gluten free is not doing a lot for my weight, but it is making some pretty unexpected changes in the rest of my body, and I will keep on this way of life. So weight specifics are

Me- DOWN 1.4
Bob- DOWN 0.4
Nick- unknown...still asleep !

Friday, May 21, 2010

Some non scale progress

Yesterday's food was nothing really interesting or different. Breakfast was hardboiled eggs and an apple, lunch was some roast chicken cubes , raw veggies and hummus and dinner was a pork stir fry over brown rice ( no sauce because I discovered my soup base that I always use for stir fry sauces has gluten in it). Exercise was a walk outside, with the amusement of watching several territorial robins battle each other. There have been some high winds, a lot oif broken branches and I suspect several nests were disturbed. Pretty run of the mill stuff. But I did notice two non scale type progress/victories that I can only attribute to going gluten free, and they are exciting to me !

First, I suddenly do not feel bloated- and I had no idea I felt that way in the first place ! As am adult female, feeling bloated happens with every cycle, but that bloating is kind of an all over bloated sort of feeling. There are days when even your hair feels bloated from that. This bloating however seems to have been strictly in my torso, from the breastbone down. I never knew I felt bloated until it simply stopped. I now have this sensation that I actually have a ribcage, spine, hipbones and they are lying under skin, muscle and fat. I have never felt this before in my life, and it feels definitely good !

Second is my feet. For a couple of years now I have had the absolutely worst, dry crusty feet on the planet !. Thick, cracking and flaking skin that would not respond to any moisturizer or lotion I tried.Over the last year my only strategy was to attack the worst of it with a pumice stone every couple of days or wind up scratching me or Bob in my sleep with these. I attributed it to going barefoot mot of the day. Yesterday I stepped on something , went to brush it off and noticed that my feet feel like actual feet ! still some dry calous skin, but tons and tons of real, actual human skin surrounding it ! Interestingly enough, extreme dry skin is also oine sign of a gluten intolerance. I thought that it would apply if your whole body had dry skin though ( I still have oily hair and skin)

So add these two to sleeping better and feeling a lot less pain in my joints. Not sure what it will do to or for my weight , as I have not stepped on the scale since Monday morning. It seems obvious that I do indeed have a problem with gluten, and no matter what the scale says tomorrow, I believe I am going to be gluten free for life.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pizza for the gluten intolerant

One thing is certain- getting off gluten is improving my arthritis enough to let me sleep. This week I have fallen into such a deep sleep that I not only dream actively, but oversleep ! I was in the middle of a dream about something called "American Roofing Idol" when Nick started poking me , saying "Mom. I made breakfast !". I rolled over and saw that it was 6:30 am- very late awakening for me !!!

So I will be brief. Last night the plan was pizza, and it became an opportunity to use some alternative things to make a crust. At this moment I do not have tapioca, rice or potato flours , but I do have ground flax. Flax can be used to make bread products, and the golden flax looks closer to wheat inj the final product. Regular ground flax resembles rye flour in taste and texture. Great for things like focaccia and pizza, but bad for things like cake ( almond flour works well for that). I found this crust recipe at some time back , and we enjoyed it. I decided to top it with a mix of roast vegetables ( fennel, asparagus, mushrooms, red pepper and green onions ) to try to make it even better ! I defy anyone to eat more than two slices- it is incredibly filling !

Flax Meal pizza Crust

1 and 1/2 C flax seed meal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano
Sweetener to equal about 1 Tablespoon of sugar
3 Tablespoons of oil
3 eggs
1/2 C water

Preheat oven to 425 F.
1. Mix dry ingredients together.
2. Add wet ingredients, and mix very well.
3. Let sit for about 5 minutes to thicken.
4. Spread on pan (I put it on a silicon mat or greased parchment paper).
5. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cooked through, then add toppings and cook until they are done.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gluten- what is it ?

About six years ago , I learned about the positive affects a gluten free and casein free diet has had on many autistic children , but did not attempt to implement it myself for a lot of reasons. About 4 years later, after some real breakthroughs through supplements, I gave it a try , but it had minimal impact on Nick and so I dropped it. At the time I was not suspecting any connection with me, did not really notice any affects on me so moved on. I did, however, keep a lot of the information on gluten in my notes and files for future reference. Main reason I did so is because the whole idea of gluten is something that a lot of people do not understand.

What exactly is gluten ? Is gluten a starch ? No. Gluten is a protein, or a combination of two proteins called gliadin and glutenon. They combine with starches and consist of about 80 percent of the protein in wheat.You notice the affect of gluten in yeast breads when you bake because it is the substance that becomes elastic and allows the gases from the yeast to make the dough rise. Starch is a different substance, and it converts to sugar in the digestive process to provide energy to whatever ate it, plant or animal . Foods containing starch, an being gluten free is something that we just happened to be discussing at the moment in our homeschool, and a lab was in order. The presence of starch in a food can easily be identified with iodine- if the iodine turns blue, the food contains starch. The presence of gluten is not as easy to detect however. We did a simple lab experiment yesterday to uncover this starch presence. While it is no surprise that wheat crackers contain starch, it was very surprising to find the amount contained in plain, nonfat yogurt ! Milk however does contain starch because it is the result of a living organism processing sugars to create something else.

From the bottom , clockwise plain nonfat yogurt, wheat cracker, potato, apple slice,mushroom and banana

A prime example of starches and gluten being separate things would be beans, corn ,potatoes, rice and oats. All of these are free from gluten but contain starch. All are incomplete proteins as well, which is why vegetarians must take extra care to include different forms of non animal protein sources in order to get a complete balance. Oats become a problem for many because they are grown close to wheat, often in a crop rotation with wheat , harvested and produced on equipment that is also used for wheat, so unless you are using oats that are certified to be gluten free( or have a lower sensitivity to gluten) , they should be avoided.

Food wise yesterday it was another gluten free day with hardboiled eggs and an apple for breakfast, bean soup , veggies and hummus for lunch and hall walking for exercise . My flair had gone down enough that I could walk them safely , without falling. Yay for improvement ! Dinner was pictured above- pork chop( actually pork loin cut into a chop), roast green beans with sesame seeds and sliced almonds and a salad with romaine, dandelion, grapes and walnuts. I made an accidental discovery- if you start cooking quinoa according to the package directions , turn the heat too high, walk away and return to find the pan almost dry and add additional water to prevent it from burning, quinoa swells HUGE ! Could be a handy trick for really hungry days !

Standard quinoa grains are gluten free, but quinoa flour and flakes may not be. They are often produced on a line that produces wheat products and cross contamination can result. If your sensitivity level is high, it is best to limit your intake to standard quinoa grains alone.Quinoa is an amazing grain that is a complete protein, unlike wheat, rice or beans which are incomplete.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Burgers and fries for dinner

I had a better day yesterday in regards to the arthritis pain. Like weight loss, I am not expecting an overnight cure with this , but there should be a gradual improvement of my symptoms as my body becomes less exposed to the offending substances and is allowed to heal and repair, so little gains are a good sign.

Somewhere in the course of the morning I glanced at the menu, created before I made the second discovery about gluten,to see what was on tap for dinner. Spinach turkey burgers, sweet potato fries and salad. Warning Will Robinson...wheaty buns would be involved ! Need to change this for myself. Time to pay a visit to the low carb community for some good bread alternatives ! Meanwhile it was school and a session with the Wii Walk it out, which I have figured out how to use so that we move the large muscles and not stomp on the floor to annoy our neighbors ( sit on a chair, tuck the numchuck in the ankle of a pair of sweat pants , hold your legs out and move to the beat). It's not perfect, but it is movement that is arthritis friendly and apartment approved- some days it is the best we can do. Mid day we broke for a gluten free lunch- Garbanzo guacamole with veggies and some sliced up deli ham

Garbanzo Guacamole

Makes 2 cups

1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 small avocado, peeled and chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Place garbanzo beans in a food processor or blender. Add lemon juice and garlic. Process briefly,
until garbanzos are slightly chopped. Add onion and avocado. Process again until the mixture is
chunky. Place the mixture in a bowl and add tomato, green onions. Mix well. Cover and
chill before serving.

Avocado is high in fat, but it is a healthy fat that does your body good. You NEED fat in order to absorb Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. Vitamin D in particular has been found to be crucial to the functions of the immune system, so if you are suffering from any disorder of the immune system, including good fats in your diet is crucial, or you will feel worse and worse.Avocados in particular have show some surprising promise in the management of arthritis."Avocado/soybean unsaponifiables are one of the most promising arthritis remedies. Four high-quality clinical trials suggest that avocado/soybean unsaponifiables, an extract made from avocado and soybean oils, can improve the pain and stiffness of knee and hip osteoarthritis and reduce the need for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It appears to have decrease inflammation and stimulate cartilage repair." The compounds used are larger than that which you can get by simply eating a lot of avocados, but it does point to the inclusion of healthy fats, such as avocados in the diet for overall health.Avocados are high in fat, but interestingly enough avocados can reduce serum cholesterol as well as bring about a reduction in autoimmune flairs.

Not long ago I was trying to do a low carb approach , and I came across three bread recipes that worked well. Just for the record, I am going gluten free and not low carb here at this time. One of the easiest to make was the original Atkins Revolution Rolls. They turn out like big browm meurainges, and if you place them in a zip lock bag after the cool, they become like great big soft pillows. A very acceptable gluten free bread substitute !

The Original Basic Diet Revolution Rolls Makes 6 rolls

Pam spray
3 eggs separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3 tablespoons cottage cheese
1 t Splenda

1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Separate eggs very carefully (make sure that none of the yolk gets into the whites.)
3. Spray Pam on a Teflon cookie sheet.**
4. Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until whites are stiff but not dry.
5. Fold in yolks, cottage cheese and Sugar Twin*** (Be extremely careful not to break down the egg whites. Mix for no more than 1 minute.)
6. Place the mixture carefully on the Teflon cookie sheet, gently putting one tablespoon full on top of another until each “roll” is about 2 inches high. Repeat this until you have 6 piles.
7. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about 1 hour.

I served this with sweet potato fries and a salad of romaine, dandelion, watercress and mandarine oranges. Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, based on for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Plus they just plain taste good !

Monday, May 17, 2010

I will no longer be feeling my Wheaties

I think I was given a whole new reason to believe that I may indeed be gluten intolerant or sensitive - arthritis.

Let me explain. Arthritis is one of many ways the bodies immune system can go crazy. What arthritis basically is ,is the body attacking itself because it sees it's own cells as an invaider. The way the body protects cells from invadiers is to isolate the problem, attack it and then dispose of it ( "allright youse- da boys is gonna take ya out back, rough ya up and then send yas ta swim wit da fishes!") In a normal immune system this happens only with bacteria, viruses, splinters and so forth. When the immune system becomes overloaded because of a constant bombardment from a substance that does not agree with that individual body chemetry, it clicks into overdrive and basically panic ensues. At one point it becomes classified as an allergic response , a sensitivity or an intolerance. The immune sytem produces an inflammetory response, which is the way that it isolates things like bacteria. It surrounds the substance with fluids to isolate it and protect the body. The body in turn becomes inflamed ( this is a really basic explanation of what happens ). Arthritis is an inflammetory response to an invader gone wrong. PCOS is another, and there are many others. Atherosclerosis is another at a most basic level. I have had arthritis since I was 19, brought on from an injury. Or so I thought.

Yesterday afternoon we had the opportunity to get out and do some wild plant hunting. I am in search of nettles, and they can often be found in waste sort of places that are close to water. They can be picked with care and once dried or cooked they lose their sting and you are left with a very nutritious thing. I was feeling stiff in the morning , but thought nothing about it and made plans to go in the afternoon. We went, dry and sunny day ( which should be a pain free day with arthritis), but I was finding it not only painful to walk but HARD to walk. My knee was so affected that it was not bending right. As we got out into the open spaces, it was getting worse. My friend water hemlock is still in full bloom, and I am having a hard time adjusting to him this year. Walking was painful, I could not find any young nettles, so we went back home. The pain was getting really bad in my knees, and by the time we got back in out apartment and I went to take off my shoes, I fell. Putting pressure on the bad knee with the swelling was just too much for it. I only injured my pride , but it jolted something loose in my brain.

One of the articles I was reading mentioned that a gluten insensitivity can also cause an arthritic response. In the past 2 days I ate wheat at 3 meals. Perhaps this is the reason why I was having such a bad flare this day. The gluten intolerance may be responsible for my arthritis getting worse instead of better with movement, bringing about the sensitivity to the water hemlock that I have never had before as well as the PCOS. Thinking back on different life events and remembering different foods and responses, it makes sense. Gluten intolerance could have been responsible for my nonstop ear infections, tonsil problems, respiratory problems , PCOS and so much more. It just encourages me to give gluten free a try.

Still stiff this morning. I think with flares based on gluten it takes my body a day to begin showing the reaction and three days to rid it. All I can do is try tis way and see if it works. And just for the heck of it I stepped on the scale this morning to see what that had to say. Down 0.8 from Saturday. I am optimistic

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The bread, the scale and other things

So how is it going for weight loss, you may ask ? We have been following a nutrient dense diet with doing a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise in some form 6 days a week. Lots of fresh fruits, veggies, lean meats, whole grains, fat free or low fat dairy and healthy oils. Other than fruits, sugars are limited to no more than 13 grams per serving and sodium is in the very low range. Sounds like a formula for success- so how is it manifesting? Nick finally broke the plateau he was stalled at, Bob has begun to lose again but my body is reading things very different. Loss stalled to about a pound or less, then gain, then stall, and gain some more. It seems that I am still losing and gaining the same 5 lbs. This has been going on for 2 years now, mainly because I keep ignoring the needs of my own body type. I drop the vigilance about starch servings and I can literally gain weight eating lettuce. I think I need to have the starch serving recommendations tattooed on my forehead !

Last week I lost 0.2 lbs and this week I gained 1.6 lbs - not a huge amount but I am taking it to be a heads up that I need to change what I am doing. While I am eating very healthy foods, I am eating too many starches for my body. This week I am going to try to drop most of these in favor of other foods. Fruits are good, veggies are good, meat and fats are good, but the starch group leads me into problems. I am not going as drastic as, say Atkins, but I do need to keep the starch servings down to less than 3 per day, and better if it can be kept to 2 and all of those must be whole grains.

It got me to wondering if there has been any serious thought about the connection between PCOS and these starch carbs. What exactly does it? So I hit Google to investigate, and was rewarded with a boatload of pages. It seems the most recent thinking is that PCOS may be a result of underlying gluten intolerance. Wow! It would make perfect sense from my experience. Perhaps if I adopt a gluten free approach to weight loss it might work. I don’t know if it would involve the hidden sources of gluten (such as that in sauces), but rather an elimination of the bigger sources would be enough? It seems that with PCOS eating whole grain, low GI (glycemic index- which means how it impacts your body as a sugar) grains and fruits with fat and protein works best (oatmeal with cottage cheese or nuts, whole grain crackers and nuts and so forth). Fruits should be eaten with protein as well- apples and peanut butter, strawberries and almonds and so forth. For many, the avoidance of fruits high on the GI index such as melons have proven to be helpful, but I don’t believe that has been a factor with me. It does merit testing out if simply cutting back grain serving does not help.

So my current menu is going to look something like this: Breakfast will be cottage cheese and fruit with a serving of granola (made with oatmeal, nuts, healthy oil and honey) or eggs with vegetables. Lunch will be a soup made with beans, meat and vegetables or a salad with meat and beans, and dinner will be meat or beans and vegetables and a starch serving of brown rice, bulgur or one of the healthier pastas. Snacks will be nonfat yogurt and fruit with granola or hardboiled egg and fruit or lunch meat with a veggie. It’s not radically different, but allows me some mental reminders for the nights when the guys really want something more carby for dinner.

So with this knowledge in hand we went grocery shopping and I added butchering to my Mount Chop Me weekly task. Big pork loins, slab of beef and assorted chicken and sausage things were converted into chops, roasts, stir fries and components for soups or casseroles. This week we got a late start due to Bob being called to sing for a funeral Saturday morning. As much as one would like to, you cannot schedule death, but rather life has to be arranged to accommodate it. We did not finish shopping till about 3 pm and once we got home I went into chopping mode. The guys helped put things away, sort through other things and we worked as a team. All the while the clock was ticking, and suddenly it was after 7 ( we normally eat at 5), chopping was not done and dinner was still about an hour off in preparation. We were all starving, so we consented to ordering one of those big round carby cheesy things with tomato sauce, sausage and veggies. It was good and necessary in this case, but I am kind of cringing at how it may affect me at next week’s weigh in. Rather than be upset by it, I am counting my blessings. We have a roof over our heads to store all this good stuff in, we have money and secure employment to finance it with (as a matter of fact Bob just got a raise and a Promotion at his 9-5 pay the bills and insurance job), we all understand why the big round thing was necessary and we have a place that makes a darned good one. I also have a whole week to follow the guidelines my own body has, so it will be a good week !

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Celebration Pizza

I crawled back in bed yesterday morning because I got chilled sitting at my computer in the early morning hours. No better way to warm up than to cuddle up next to a warm fuzzy husband under the soft , fuzzy covers. He rolled over, kissed me and said
“16 years ago, my life was changed forever.”
Now many people make jokes about men forgetting anniversaries, but it seems to be an unspeakable horror when a woman does such. I momentarily wracked my computer brain, wondering what in the heck it was that I was supposed to remember. 10 seconds later it clicked and I said
“ I could have you commemorate the event by laying face down in the hallway and I spread the bills around you “

Bob and his fellow Deacon candidates in a gesture of obedience to God
He laughed. What was this momentous occasion you ask ? 16 years ago he was ordained as a Roman Catholic Deacon. 8 years of formation training lead to the point where he formally pledged obedience to the church through our local Bishop. A vow that was sealed with the laying on of hands, the anointing with Holy Oils and would be binding for life.

The actual moment he became a deacon- a fun reflection over his head
I often joke that it was the day I formally accepted his mistress. It is not meant as a sacrilegious statement, but simply a formal acknowledgment that he is as much property of the Roman Catholic Church and God as he is of me. While I am not of his faith path, I understand, respect and support his commitment.

Daddy as a Deacon
And such an anniversary deserves a celebration. Somewhere in the back of my mind I always remember that May 14 th is a special occasion, but rarely can I remember why without prodding in some sort. This nagging detail led me to plan a dinner that was somewhat special- fiddly pizza topped with roast veggies !

What is fiddly pizza ? It is made with a mix of 2 fermented dough mixtures and then additional ingredients to finish it off. I had attempted rolls using a similar technique last week, but found this particular pizza dough recipe on Kath Eats Real food, posted by her husband Matt. I topped it with spinach and roast mushrooms, onions and red peppers , and it was the most delightful feeling dough I have ever worked with and the taste was the best I have ever eaten. Well worth the effort !

Whole wheat Pizza crust ala Matt

* 150g whole wheat flour (3/4 cup)
* 115g water ( 1/2 cup)
* 5g salt (<1 tsp)

* 75g whole wheat flour(1/3 cup)
* 60g water (1/4 cup)
* 1.5g instant yeast (<½ tsp)
* The Rest
* 25g whole wheat flour ( 2 T)
* 25g honey or molasses (1 tbsp.)
* 12.5g olive oil (1 tbsp.)

1. Stir all ingredients for biga and cover.
2. Stir all ingredients for preferment and cover. (If using active dry yeast, add a full ½
tsp yeast to the water, warmed, and let sit for 15 minutes before adding flour.)
3. Let sit, at room temperature, for 1-12 hours.
4. In a stand mixer outfitted with a dough hook, add the preferment and then the biga on top,
in chunks.
5. Add the honey and olive oil, and then the extra flour.
6. Stir on speed 1 until just combined, about one minute, and then on speed 3-4 for about 3 minutes.
7. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead by hand for a few minutes.
8. Cover the dough and either place in the fridge for at least six hours or let it rise for at
least one hour.
9. If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for 1-2 hours before baking.
10. Preheat your oven to 500*.
11. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a thin circle.
12. Add toppings and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crust has lightly browned.

It’s important to celebrate life’s events. It makes for memories, family bonds and helps the people in your life know that they are special. Celebrations fuel the soul. Nutrient dense foods fuel the body, and can help you make the most of this thing called life. Weight loss may not happen because of eating them, but they will provide you with the proper nutrition to withstand many diseases that are a part of our modern world. The better we are fueled, the better we feel and perform during all those things that we must do in our worlds. Pizza made with white flour, a ton of cheese and tomato sauce as the only veggie is not such a good fuel. One made with whole grains, less cheese and many vegetables is a better one. Pizza seems to say “hooray ! let’s kick back and enjoy life a little”. If it’s made with healthy ingredients, you know that your body will most likely agree with your attitude.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A weighty history

Warning- this will be long !
I want to share with you today my own weight story- or the reason Why I weigh what I do in spite of following the advice that has brought so many others to weight loss. I include pictures from my life to illustrate what I am talking about here.
Something hit me yesterday as I was reading blogs of those also struggling with weight. While the vast majority of folks on this road were at one time thin and became obese for a variety of reasons, I have never been a thin person. Not even for a minute.

I was born at 8 lbs and by the time I was a month old ( pictured above) I had chubby arms and legs and dimpled knees. I spent my early childhood in very active pursuits, eating normal amounts and varieties, but weighing infinitely more than I should. My sister who was 18 months younger than me would eat pounds of cookies, cakes, sugar and she was a very thin to normal sized kid.People would often tell me that if I would follow her example, I too would be thin. My sister and I would both laugh, because we knew the truth. Appearances can be very deceptive. Here we are at ages 4 and 2

I began school in the first grade (skipped kindergarten for some reason) weighing a whopping 200 lbs. My grandmother said it was because I had concrete bones, because while I was heavy, I did not look like I had 200 lbs on my frame.( I think scales have hated me all my life and operate differently once I step on them) This is what a 200 lb first grader looks like.

I spent my childhood running, playing with all the other children , and for summer vacations as a family we would camp and do wilderness backpacking. As I grew older we began taking canoe trips into the wilderness that boarders Minnesota and Canada. I ate normal, was very active, but still my weight krept up for no apparent reason. Here I am at 9, and puberty is begining to take hold

I went through high school as an overweight person, walking 5-10 miles a night with my friends just for fun, swimming with the park district swim team and my weight continued to creep up. My mom would put me on various diets ( Stillman, calorie counting , Aydes reducing plan, exercise classes) and nothing worked. I did manage to become severely dehydrated once and wound up in the hospital emergency room needing tests to check for kidney failure, but I never lost any weight. Here I am as a Sophomore with the same sister who was now a Freshman after a concert we sang in

When I was 18 I began to develop facial hair- not a light mustache, but a full on beard that required daily shaving.( I still have it) My periods stopped for a year. The medical communities answer to this was “lose weight and all will be fine”. I attempted Weight Watchers for the first time , lost 20 lbs and then the weight loss stopped in spite of following the program to the letter. The weight came back and never left. Here I am at 21 with Bob. It is the earliest picture of us together

When I was 22 I married my soul mate , and we intended to have children right away. He came from a family of 6, I came from one of 5 and both had branches of our extended families that had 10 or more children. It seemed all you had to do was have a man shake out his pants in your vicinity and pregnancy would result. Here I am on our wedding day with some of my best friends at the time.

Our first year passed, and no baby and once again a full year without a period, so I went to consult my Doctors to see if there was a problem. The answer was Clomid,a fertility drug, with the express warning that if I conceived while on this drug I would have to abort . ( excuse me, but WHAT ??? Why in the heck am I taking this and how can it be a fertility drug if I would have to abort because of it ???)Made absolutely no sense to me, and the single month of Clomid made me completely insane. I decided to pursue other avenues instead of going through that torture again.( Incidentally, they have changed their minds about babies conceived on Clomid, and I believe The Gosslin sextuplets are a result of that drug) The Clomid did produce one affect though- weight gain ! I blossomed to 290 with it’s aid. My younger sisters all began to have children, and at least if I could not be a mom I got to be a great Auntie ! Here I am with my oldest niece, close to 300 lbs

I was also told at that time that I must go in for stomach stapling to lose weight or I would be dead by age 30. Not based on a measure of blood pressure, cholesterol or anything beyond the number on the scale, which before Clomid was 260. (Incidentally I said no to the surgery, and at age 51 and 240 lbs, I am very much alive, thank you). This picture was from sometime during those infertile years

Years passed, no baby, no hope till one day I stumbled upon a Naturopath who seemed to have a radical idea. Excess weight is not only a result of what you eat and how you move, but a metabolic reaction that is caused by a malfunction in the ovaries. Normally a woman produces an egg every month of her adult fertile life. Through a complex hormone sequence, beginning in the pituitary gland, hormones are released that send messages to the thyroid, adrenal glands, liver and ovaries, and when the proper blend is released, a follicle in the ovary ripens and an egg is produced. If the egg is not fertilized it will be sloughed off with her monthly bleeding( along with the lining to the uterus which has been building up in preparation for an embryo to implant). In this malfunction, the ovary produces follicle after follicle, which fail to release an egg, but turn into multiple cysts. This in turn sends a further chemical reaction to the entire body, basically saying produce more of this hormone, less of that "and from here on out we will interpret _ as _". This malfunction is called Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS for short. For reasons not totally understood, the root cause may lie in the metabolic process of the body, and a diet increasing fats and proteins but decreasing starches can help bring the body weight down, ease the hormonal cycle and bring the body to a sense of normal function. PCOS can cause infertility, hirtsuism( excessive hair growth), severe acne, elevated androgen levels( makes your body look more male than female), Metabolic syndrome, increased risk of miscarriage, heart disease, diabetes and ovarian cancer amongst other things. Weight loss will not cure PCOS, for there is no cure. It can, however, make conception and a healthier metabolic make up possible.

I followed this advice without an official diagnosis, lost 110 pounds, at long last conceived and after a stillbirth had a healthy son,( who is in the above picture at 4 months old in a baby backpack that I loved to carry him in while we went walking). PCOS was not done with me, for after that pregnancy I went on to conceive and miscarry 4 more times , and with each pregnancy my metabolic situation has gotten harder and harder to budge. After my last miscarriage a very compassionate GP discovered that I have an elevated androgen level and an ultrasound revealed that I did indeed have PCOS. It was not news to me, but I appreciated having formal confirmation at last. Weight loss is something I keep striving for because if I never try, I have indeed failed, but if I keep trying I am at least still in the fight. I also do it to be a mentor to my son, who gained a massive amount of weight due to food texture issues that manifested through Autism. We are dealing with a whole different faucet of childhood obesity. PCOS is still a factor in my life , and is making the transition into menopause interesting to say the least.

I read blogs about those who were thin, gained and they express the shame and disappointment they felt in themselves for gaining weight. I have never had that feeling , and often wonder what these people would do if they were blessed with this body condition ?. My body, for whatever weird reason, has made me larger than life for the entire time I have been on this planet. It was not laziness, bad habits, emotional eating, binging or any other thing outside of two small almond sized organs residing in my lower abdomen that caused my weight. On the upside, without them I would have never been gifted with my son, so it’s not all bad. People have made comments and judged me in the past because of my weight, but I never let it bother me. Long ago I seemed to have learned a truth that Wayne Dyer speaks of, and that is that your opinion of me is none of my business. This means I am genuinely happy within my skin, and that I am so much more than what the outside state of me would indicate. It does not mean I do not try to change that picture , because I genuinely love a challenge. I love to tackle things that people say are impossible or that simply cannot be done. Bring it on !

Thursday, May 13, 2010


The rain and gray continues here. Rumor has it a few have begun to gather lumber and supplies of Purina what not chow.... :-) . Yesterday after dinner I announced that I was completely stir crazy and Bob suggested we go for a ride. Anywhere- just to "blow the stink off", and so we did. Objective was to investigate the water hemlock growth to the north of our home, look for teasel and listen to the Sirius radio station offerings in our car ( a temporary free service that we just might pay for).

Radio may not seem like such a big thing in today's world, but it was radio that helped bring our relationship from that of friends into something much more. Back when we first met, WLS in Chicago was playing rock and roll and the only place on TV where you saw music acts was American Bandstand and The Midnight Special . If you wanted to catch rhythm and blues there was Don Cornelius's Soul Train. You bought 45's or LP's on vinyl or the new fangled 8 track tapes or even cassettes. Bob and his friends would make radio shows on cassettes to share with each other. When I met him on a September afternoon in 1976 he was sorting through stacks of albums , looking for material to create a show for a friend. One day a bit later he made me a radio show where he made some comment about Carly Simon and a debate between us was created. Our friendship grew and music was sort of the connecting thread at first. I got the first indication that he might possibly be interested in taking things to the next level one night when we were at a restaurant with others and he sang me a Frank Sinatra tune that was being broadcast on the music system. Fast forward a few years, and we were in our first apartment, days away from our wedding. The news was still talking about the Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana, and this new experiment called MTV was being launched.Seemed like a novel idea, but would it last ? Fast forward even more to today. Riding in our car, listening to the Hollies sing "stop, stop, stop all the dancing, give me time to breathe..." Discussing the announcement that the Blockbuster Video chain was folding, and remembering the excitement of renting our very first video to watch at home , and getting excited over the prospect of perhaps taping a show we were going to miss because of a previous commitment. Remembering all the confusion with setting the time on those units and being reminded to "rewind or be fined". The conversation flowing and including things that you never imagined that you would be discussing so casually with each other back in the days when you first got together.

I mentioned to him that I feel like I am in a rut of late and I am not sure why. Was it perhaps doing this weight loss thing for so long now that I am getting burned out ? He told me that he thought I was putting a lot of effort into it for the three of us and perhaps this was so but it was worth it. He also told me he thought I could not do any more or any better than I am, and shared with me that he suspects that my hormones are coming into play with a lot of this again because of my moods and so on. He is probably right . I will be 52 in a couple of weeks and "Mr Toads semi monthly if it feels like it"visits are probably moving closer to being done and my body is in a world of confusion. We also talked about some potential outings in the near future.

We came back home and he headed out to choir rehearsal and I made a batch of oatmeal bars because we were out of them. Meanwhile Nick got on the computer and played Osu- a sort of computerized version of Dance Dance revolution that you play with your fingers. He started playing to Cherry Pie by Warrent, and I was once gain reminded of those early days of MTV and our struggles to conceive. I remember the disappointment I felt month after month of learning there would be no baby, but more importantly I remember how he has never once said anything but words of encouragement to me , no matter what was happening. Any time I feel low, he is there to pick me up and help me to find my feet again. Weight has never been an issue, and if it was not for the fact that it kept me from conceiving I would never have attempted weight loss in the first place. It worked to bring me to my goal, but now the goal is much different. I want to reach a healthy weight so I have a better chance of living another 50 years with this person who is the second half of my soul , in a different body.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dreams and life beyond the keyboard

It's another foggy , damp morning here. I think this has got to be the wettest, coolest spring in a long time ! I am beginning to wonder if the sun actually exists beyond the clouds. Nick is still sick , my lungs are still rattling around crud and so sessions of being 9 (exercise) have been limited to inside. I seriously entertained the idea of sliding down the banisters for a time, but my almost 52 yr old frame told me this might be a really bad idea- so I skipped it. I could only imagine the conversation the paramedics might have had it they had been called to rescue me from injury on this one !

The congestion in my lungs is making me bark like a seal when I first go to bed and then fall into a deep comma like sleep where I am entertained by the weirdest dreams. My dreams have always been entertaining , but of late they seem to point to mental puzzles. In one I was dusting a shelf in my bedroom that contains a vial with a small portion of my father's ashes. In the dream I picked it up to dust and he materialized behind me, tapping on my shoulders , telling me to give him back his legs. In another my middle sister died and the biggest dilemma was how to get her coffin into the crawl space of my parent's home. They were not scary, but weirdly amusing. Dreams happen in deep sleep, and the fact that I am dreaming indicates that I am getting some deep, restful sleep. It is one of the important factors in weight loss, and perhaps I have been living on too little sleep for too long. What can I say- I'm a mom and quiet hours are often the only time you can think and do things without interruption !

We are trying to see if Nick and I can share a computer instead of buying another one for me in a month. I really feel bad about all of us having our own computers here, as it can lead to evenings of everyone being in the same room but no words are exchanged. Do three people REALLY need to be that connected to the WWW ? I think not. However, the downside to this is that I do not get as much time to comment, chat on facebook and so forth. Once again that is not really a bad thing. I can live without the knowledge that my nieces are looking for farmville cows or that my son's Kiss of the Day is his uncle ( he set that one up wrong and so it is a constant joke to us). This encourages me to go forth and do things old school- like reading books, puttering around the house and allowing my 9 year old to play often. It's a good thing !

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

To be 9 again

Yesterday, as I sat trying to explain to Nick exactly what it means to lose your voice, it occurred to me that somehow along the way I have lost my words. Not those that you vocalize, but rather those that you write. Somehow I seem to lean towards posting food pictures, recipes and food things, but very little about my thoughts! I think this may be contributing to my feelings of having food rule my world of late. I have never had a closet eating or emotional eating problem. My weight is the result of untreated and undiagnosed PCOS, and my son’s weight the result of severe texture issues from Autism. Food has never really held an extra special place in my life- it simply is. What you buy and eat is more a move of economics than emotion. Lately it is beginning to feel like I am either prepping food, cooking food, cleaning up after food, shopping for food writing about food, taking pictures of food or planning for food- with homeschooling taking up any free time left between those tasks ! Can we say rut in the making ?? ( and it seems Nick is still sick this morning , so it is going to be a long week.)

While these thought were running in my head, I had this serious urge to be 9 years old once again. That wonderful time in a girl’s life before hormones take over and fill our heads with thoughts of boys- how to get one and how to keep one- as well as worries about appearance, status and all that jazz. It is a time when you have passed the needfulness of infancy, have a certain degree of life smarts and all you want to do is play. A good day meant running with friends, playing on the swings, catching fireflies (it was summer) and so on. Life was movement, simply for the joy of movement. No thoughts about calories burned or heart rate or beating any time records. You moved because it felt good and you stopped when you go tired. Bliss ! Things are perhaps different now, but when I was a kid we were on the go from sunrise till sunset almost. You got up, ate breakfast, dashed off to school, played at recess, came home for a quick snack and then you were out running till the street lights came on. Then home for dinner, homework, bath and bed. Then you get older, responsibilities enter, time becomes short and people start telling you about things like calorie burn, heart rate and other such joy killers. Moving because you loved life becomes a mathematically judged event. Unless it is involving an increase in your personal finances, numbers have rarely been linked to joy.

There is something powerful in this attitude. Instead of moving because you need to reach a number, why not move for joy ? Instead of telling yourself you must exercise for ++ minutes, why not say " I get to be 9 years old for the next 30 minutes"? During that time, move in any way that gives you joy . Because of the pollen count outside I decided to do exactly this indoors, and it was fun ! I started by doing wall push ups- asking myself how many of them could I do before I got tired( turns out 53 is the current number) and several waist twists, silly dancing and other such things. Being 9 for 30 minutes sounds a lot more fun than exercise. It all comes down to a matter of attitude after all.

I am going to gift myself with a half hour of being 9 every day this week. I don't care what it does or does not do to the scale. I am focusing on just reclaming the joy that youth held. Want to join me ? TAG...your IT !!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Low key , quiet sort of day yesterday. Highlights seemed to be sick boy, haircut, attack of pollen and gathering of supplies. It was Mothers Day, and the guys made/finished breakfast off for me

Overnight oats are so easy anyone can to them in the morning. Start the night before by boiling 4 cups of water with a bit of tried fruit, stir in 1 cup steel cut oats, remove from the heat and cover overnight.In the morning add whatever additions you wish ( this time it was chopped apple) and heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Quick, healthy and delicious !

Bob had two masses and I spent the morning making lists for the science store, rethinking curriculum, checking on Nick the sick and tinkering with making some Cream of whatever Soup for lunch.

Seen here with an open faced grilled cheese hummus sandwich and banana. To make the soup take 2 cups of medicinal grade homemade chicken and herb stock, 3 chopped onions, 3 diced carrots and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 15 minutes and add 1 cup frozen broccoli and 1/2 cup frozen peas. Cover and cook another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and take an immersion blender and puree ( or let cook and process in a blender). Season to taste- I mixed in a spoon of peanut butter because it just seemed to be what was needed. Any veggies you have could be substituted for the ones mentioned.

After lunch we headed out for necessary errands, and other fancy stuff. Once we came back home, The Family of Man embarked on a hair cutting project. Daddy makes haircuts fun it seems through doing silly things to the hair in the process. Like this :

Haircuts for Nick are a major thing( Because of Autism haircuts are a bombardment of sensations has him hysterical most times and often I am the one who has to do it). Bob giving him a haircut and Nick smiling through it was a better Mothers Day Present than anything that could be sold in stores.

Dinner was spaghetti with Italian sausage and a simple salad of greens, sliced tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Not glamorous but quick, easy and using items from my pantry and freezer.

Not sure how things will go today- Nick has been coughing and last night began to sound like he was losing his voice and complaining that it really hurt. I spent the evening sneezing and having my voice cut out due to the ride out in the lovely pollen yesterday. It seems that everything is blooming about a month early here, the blossoms are lasting longer due to the cooler temps and as a result this cold is hitting me harder than usual. There is improvement , but it disapears the minute I set foot outside right now. Local honey better work quicker !!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Saturday , and people seems to be sick

Yesterday was the weekly shop and chop day, made more interesting with time constrictions. Bob had to sing 4 pm mass, meaning he had to leave by 3 pm so all errands had to happen early again. We grabbed some oatmeal fro breakfast, during which Nick announced his throat hurt- never a good sign. I got him to let me look in his throat and his tonsils are swollen. It seems that most years he goes through this at this time of the year, so it meant time to make a batch of sinus herbal soup . Good thing I was heading to the store for supplies!

We finsished shopping and headed home for lunch - ham salad ( run a handful of cooked ham in the food processor to chop fne, do the same with a handful of green onions and 2 stalks of celery, mix in a bowl and moisten with a mix of mayonnaise, plain yogurt and lemony salad dressing) on the multigrain buns with a banana, 5 sugar free cookies that were hiding in the cabinet and refrigerator coleslaw.

Refrigerator cole slaw 2

10 cups chopped cabbage ( green or combo green and red)
2 golden beets- peeled and chopped fine
1 red pepper, chopped

2 c splenda ( can use sugar)
1 t salt
1 c apple cider vinegar
1/8 t white pepper
1 t celery seed

Place all veggies in a container. Place dressing ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
Pour dressing over veggies. Store in tightly covered container in the refrigerator. Will
keep for several months

Then it was on to chopping and getting some medicinal chicken soup going. For this I took 2 chicken legs and tossed them in a crock pot, added 5 slices of astragalus ( a Chinese herb), a bunch of fresh thyme, a head of garlic( peels and all), the cut off portions from 2 bunches of celery, the tops of about 20 carrots, 2 inches of whole ginger, 4 parsnips, 3 whole onions, 1 bunch of parsley , 2 leeks sliced and a bunch of green onions chopped. Add water to the top , cover and cook on low 12 hrs. In the morning strain out the bits and you are left with incredibly rich, hearty stock to make a variety of soups with that will help deal with colds.

I also made some chop salad for the week's lunch packing. What is a chop salad ? Simply vegetables chopped with a simple vinegar dressing. The vinegar helps to prevent deterioration ( think pickles)

Chop salad

1 c chopped celery
1 c chopped red pepper
1 c sliced green onion bottoms
2 diced tomatoes
2 skinned, seeded and chopped cucumners
chopped parsley
3 T fig infused vinegar
1 T honey
1/2 t salt
dash white pepper

combine and store in covered container

As the afternoon progressed Nick started developing a cough and sneezes, which is usually an indication of a sleepless night for him ( and me). He may be 18, but when he is sick he is still my little boy who comes to tell mom about every weird thing happening with his body and wanting me to fix it. I treat him with herbs and reiki, which he loves the feel of when he is sick. He caught a nap and so did I in preparation for what may well come.

Dinner was a cabinet experiment. I discovered a pack of pesto mix that I found at Aldi's a couple of months back and rationalized that it was basically basil, garlic powder and other things, and it would probably go great on chicken. Hence, pesto chicken was born. I sprinkled the powder on chicken thighs, baked them at 375 for an hour. On the side was Ronzoni pasta with basil and garlic , steamed asparagus and a salad of greens, tomatoes, mushrooms and sunflower seeds. Yummy ! Saturday nights here mean a treat, and we have been picking up single bakery items of everyone's choice( mine has been a brownie). This week, to keep expenses down, I made a batch of black bean brownies from scratch.

Black Bean Brownies 2

½ cup dark cocoa powder
2 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 can salt-free black beans (drain liquid) -- (15 oz.)
1 large handful sunflower seeds or 1 T. ground flaxseed
1 ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 cups pitted dates (chopped)
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Put the first six ingredients in a food processor. Turn it on and then gradually add the
2 cups of chopped dates, a few at a time until blended. Add the flour and continue to mix
until everything is well blended. Turn off the machine, remove the blade, and stir in the nuts.
Place in muffin tins. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

This morning Nick is coughing but so far his tonsils have not gotten worse. No fever, no aches, but tired with interrupted sleep. Both he and I were up at least 5 times last night. He made me a card on the sneak, which is always sweet ! He and Bob made breakfast because I was in a dead sleep but thankfully did not try to bring it to me in bed. I HATE eating in bed for the record.But it is always nice when someone cooks for you ! Not sure how the day will go- a sick Nick is a real wild card around here.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mom's gone wild !!!!

You ever wonder what mom's do when they have time alone ? First they call in to the Society of Childhood Misery where they learn new ways to get children to pick up their rooms, brush their teeth, stop talking in that smarty tone. All mom's a legally required to check in at least once a year. We are given a tracking implant when we give birth, and if you do not check in.....

Just kidding. This mom, when she has a free day, spends it cooking. A day without interruptions means you get to be productive...just so you don't think about how much you are actually missing the 10,000 questions asked, the million times you have to say things like don't sit too close to the tv, don't yell, can you please pick up... and so forth.

The guys were home for breakfast, so it was something quick and filling- The Breakfast Sundae ! Take 1 c plain nonfat yogurt, top with 1 cup frozen blueberries and 1/3 cup granola. Sprinkle with sugar or splenda if desired. It works as an ice cream sort of desert as well. Here we use my homemade granola, which I make in my crock pot. Here is another recipe I use :

Crock pot Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (can be a mix of rolled oats and barley flakes)
1/2 cup honey ( I used the locally produced honey)
1/4 cup walnut oil ( better for you than olive oil)
1 cup dried fruit (raisin and dried cranberries in this batch)
1 c coconut flakes

Set crockpot to low heat.
Combine all ingredients until oatmeal is evenly coated.
Cook in crockpot for 3 hours with lid slightly off.
Stir every half hour or so.
(I leave the wooden spoon in the crockpot with the handle sticking out. This way I don't forget to
leave the lid a bit open or to mix it.) Add coconut, cool and store in a container at room temp.
serving size 1/3 of a cup

Wait- isn't coconut bad for you ?
Coconut is considered to be a divine plant in the Vedic tradition, with good reason.Coconuts are
rich in lauric acid, which is known for being antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal, and boosts
the immune system. Coconuts are high in fat, but it is good , but saturated fat. The fat in coconut milk is healthy fat. The fatty acids in coconut milk are of the medium chain triacylglycerol or MCT type. The distinguishing feature of MCTs so important to coconut nutrition is that they are burned faster than other types of fatty acids. They are especially beneficial for providing energy for the lymph nodes, liver, and fat cells themselves. Modest amounts of coconut can stimulate the thyroid, helping the body in the process of weight loss.Coconut can also be helpful in the prevention of acne because of it's amount of lauric acid.

After the guys left I got down to business. I made some red pepper hummus for next week, cole slaw, ham salad for Saturday's lunch and tried my hand at making bread with a whole new to me technique.

Multigrain buns
Night before starter:
• 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
• 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
• 3/4 cup warm water
• 1/2 cup steel cut oats
• 1/2 cup toasted cracked wheat
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 cup buttermilk
Day of:
• 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
• 1/4 cup oat bran
• 2 T vital Gluten
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon instant yeast
• 3 tablespoon honey
• 1 tablespoon walnut oil
The night before you make the bread you will need to make the starter and the soaker. In a med bowl mix together the starter ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and leave for 12-16 hours. In a separate bowl combine the soaker ingredients, cover with plastic wrap and leave for 12-16 hours. The next morning in a large bowl combine the starter, soaker, oil and honey. Mix together with your hand. Add in the oat bran, salt and instant yeast. Continue to mix till well blended. Allow the mixture to sit uncovered for 15 minutes. Add vital gluten and whole wheat flour ¼ cup at a time till you have a smooth, elastic, non sticky dough. Place oil in a bowl form the dough into a ball and place in bowl, covered in a warm place till it rises double in bulk.Punch down, knead and let rise again. Punch down, roll out and divide into 8 equal sections. Form into buns, place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 and bake for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

The results came out EXCELLENT ! This method uses less flour , has soaked/fermented grains, a slight sourdough taste and has a great texture. I stole one to go with my lunch

Romaine , dandelion and watercress topped with a half cup of tabouli salad. One of these buns fresh with a smear of Smart Beat made a really satisfying lunch. Who would not love anything that includes a fresh roll with the meal ?

After lunch it was back to the kitchen. I promised the guys I would make a batch of black bean brownies for Saturday night and I wanted to try my hand at making granola bars acceptable enough to break our habit of buying Fiber One Bars. I don't eat them but Bob does every day and Nick grabs for them if we are out of more desired snacks ( cherry tomatoes) I came across this recipe on Kath's blog. I have tried a few of her recipes before and really liked them , so I thought to give these a whirl . I got 12 bars out of this , because the pan I used has a curved bottom and it gets harder to divide things equally in smaller portions than this. Next time I will bake these in a jelly roll pan. I doubled the recipe and used a 9x13 pan for this batch.

Baked Oatmeal Snack Bars - from Kath eats real food

1.5 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts ( I used almonds and pecans)
3/4 cup dried fruit
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1.25 cups skim milk
1 egg or egg substitute
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients.Mix wet ingredients.
Pour wet into dry. Stir to combine.Pour into a 9×9 baking dish either coated in cooking spray or
lined with parchment.Bake for 40 minutes.

After I finished all that I cleaned up the kitchen and started doing lesson plans, menu plans, shopping lists and my stomach started rumbling. I saved leftovers from last nights dinner and heated them up. The I got to reading our planned chemistry lessons for the rest of the year and I started questioning the safety of this. Chemicals, if not mixed in the proper ratio and sequence, can become dangerous. Labels fall off or become deteriorated, things become unstable as they break down, accidents can happen, and in our Post 9 11 world the simple purchase of certain things can land you on a terrorist watch list. I think I need to re-tool this course of study big time !