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Archive for the ‘Food-joy vs evil’ Category

During my adult lifetime, I have been everything from a size 6 to a size 22.  After years of up and down and not liking crowded closets, I have settled on having rubbermaids labeled 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and I used to have 18, but I got rid of it last year.  For ever!!!

While I have not gotten back to my weight lifting and aerobic exercise routine I had before my heart problems came up, I am serious about how I eat.  After open heart surgery, I found out I was one of the 26.9 % of people who develop Type II diabetes.  During 2009, I laid off of sweets, to a large degree, and went even lower on salt than I already was.  I cut out red meat, for the most part.  My doctor told me that it will not kill me to eat a piece of cake for my birthday and I have occasionally done so.  Did I mention that I have three official birthdays a year?

Salad for breakfast

In the beginning vegan diet, there was salad to eat. I was hungry 24/7 and now salad is but one part of my diet

Then, I found out that my heart surgery had failed and I had 70% blockage in a vein at the entry point to my heart. I am no longer a candidate for further open heart surgery, so I decided to go vegan.

First, let me say, in no way has this been an easy battle.  The first two months of a plant based diet seemed to be the magical formula.  I lost two pounds a week, but was continually hungry and never satisfied.  It’s the same plant based, no oil diet that President Clinton went on after his heart problem.  Only thing is, I do not have a chef to make the food taste good and the creator of the diet has the wierdest taste buds on earth.  He puts sweet potatoes or sweet squash in everything, along with about 26 more ingrediants) and frankly only sweet and sour chicken is a sweet/sour mix I like.

I am now eating Vegetarian and hoping to work my way back to Vegan.  With the help of three cholesterol busters (medications) and my no meat diet (and there is the very, very occasional hamburger out) I have reduced my clogging from 70% to 50%. You can do that.

Now, if I can just get my body back on the treadmill and weight bench, I can maybe get some of those rubbermaids emptied out to Good Will.

Bon Appetite!

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Here’s the deal.  Things are tough for a lot of people and we happen to fall in that category.

Disabled husband hasn’t had a raise in social security for the twenty-two years he has been considered permanently disabled.  Raises in Medicare or our personal insurance have always eaten them up.

He smoked for one month, as a teen, but his lungs (and apparently several people in his family have problems) are shot.  He has COPD; with emphysema and chronic bronchitis.  His body also produces way too many histamines, so he has reactions to many things everything.

We had put off going to the food bank as long as we could, but with Thanksgiving this month, it was time.

What I didn’t expect was my reaction to going to the food bank.

I read the article in the paper wrong, first.  So, we went during the two hours they were closed.  The doors were open so I thought I could get the paperwork to fill out at home and come back.

So, instead of thirty-five people going through a line of “take one from shelf A, two from shelf B, etc. the woman had me sign a paper that our
income fit the Federal criteria, which it definitely does, and then she handed us a bag for food.  Then, a box and some more bags as we threaded through the food shelf maze.

I was fine until she handed me a frozen turkey, I just broke out in tears.  A grown woman, crying over a frozen turkey.

I don’t know why?  I guess relief that we would be able to have a normal Thanksgiving for our boys, but, then I also cry at all of CNN’s reports of people who make a difference.

Things I have learned about food banks:

1.    The people who work at them really care.  Sometimes, it is hard to believe that anyone  cares, but they do.

2.    They are making the best of the world that they can.  They run around and gather canned goods and  whatever else local businesses will spare.   They are so grateful for the donation of a freezer, they want our 19 year old to be sure and have a Christmas gift.   They care that we have warm coats and chairs to sit on.

3.    But, if I ever get wealthy, I’m making some specific donations that are along the line of if you teach a man to fish, only this is  if you give him food to cook, he can serve more meals at home.

4.    Things you don’t see at the food bank are staples of cooking:

a.    Flour
b.    Sugar
c.    Butter/margarine
d.   Spices
e.    Cheese: although we did get an industrial sized jalapeno cheese that has our nineteen year old eating nothing but tortilla chips and cheese this week. And, I do know that cheese is not generally considered a staple.
f.    Ground Turkey would be a good alternative for meat.
g.    Eggs
h.   Oats

But, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for these wonderful people who go out of their way for others.

P.S. I am still working on my vegan diet. I have some wheat flour left and picked up some black beans for black bean burgers, and I’m searching for new recipes for all the other beans I have collected.

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I usually have pretty good instincts. It’s when I ignore that little voice that I get into trouble.

Andy Rooney said something like,

I wish there was something you could take to stop you from doing stupid things.

Well, I wish I could have taken it on Friday because I did that “stupid thing.” As with a lot of you out there, our money is really tight. We’ve even taken to getting meals and some groceries from a local food bank.

I got out my tin of pennies and decided to turn them in. We have a car to pay Indiana’s ridiculous license plate fees on this month. The bank with the coin counter is about twenty miles up a road we rarely go up. There is the price of gas to consider there. I was not going to buy coin sleeves. I don’t think the bank gives them away but I did not ask. I decided to use the Coinstar machine at Walmart.

When you pour your pennies in, and it goes up to $22.16, the machine says, “My, you have a lot of coins.” It did not add, “And, I’ve got a way to scam you so I get all of them, instead of the $2. 16 fee. We rarely eat out anymore. When we do it is the $4.00 meal at Steak N Shake or the $1.00 menu at McDonald’s. If Jacob is playing at Muddy Boots, sometimes we sit with water and once in a while we split a meal.

So, when the evil change machine offered me double my money by giving me restaurant coupons.  I did debate it. Outside of Walmarts was a Steak N Shake, White Castle, something else and a steak house. Surely with over 600,000 restaurants, there was something I could afford.

With a great deal of trepidation, that I ignored like an idiot, I pushed the Restaurant Certificate button.

DO NOT PUSH THE RESTAURANT CERTIFICATE BUTTON.

Just go ahead and pay the $2.16 fee. When you push the Restaurant certificate button, you go home with a slip that says NOT VALID FOR CASH, and that’s all you go home with.

In my search on their http://coinstar.Restaurant.com site, you can search alphabetically or by mileage. Within 15 miles of my home, was 1 restaurant. Opps! Have to buy a $45 dinner to use the certificate. Now, I think that would mean only paying $20, with a $25 certificate. It was for an East Indian restaurant. Could be doable.

Let’s try 30 miles, since they gave me Indianapolis restaurants, closer to 45 miles away. I guess that’s it. Under A’s one restaurant was listed 4 times and there was a second restaurant. So, two A’s. It went like that through the alphabet, other than letters like Q, X, Y, Z which had none. Many meals are pay $75 before using your coupon. Definitely NOT doable.

I had not heard of one of these but I did see a spot that said,

“What do you do if you have your certificate and the restaurant is closed?”

Enough said.

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When I was in High School, we had a drive-in on the corner, where we could go and eat nutritious lunches of french fries and candy bars.  At least, they were an identifiable food, unlike the cafeteria.  I basically grew up on potatoes.

My mother once took me to the doctor and said, “All I can get her to eat are potatoes.”  He pointed out that I was extremely active, basically healthy and in good shape so stop worrying mom.  I should have kept eating potatoes.

There was one thing I was addicted to, besides potatoes and it was a version of a peanut butter cup.  I think made by the same company.  The difference was that the covering was a harder form of peanut butter over the softer peanut butter inside.

Smoothie Peanut Butter cup

Memory alert:  I was remembering this allllll wrong.  The Smoothie peanut butter cup is what I must have eaten and it is butterscotch, with junks of peanuts, covering the peanut butter center.  It was soooooo good.

Read more about it here:  http://candyaddict.com/blog/2007/07/19/retro-candy-review-boyer-smoothie-peanut-butter-cups/

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I have always had a problem with following the crowd.  Where other teens would wear the “in” styles, I fought to do my own thing.  My love for the Beatles did not develop until well past the time all the other girls were screaming at them.  I liked Elvis until he got popular.  So, while I have had a blank mind lately for posts, and I find myself checking out the Daily Post at WordPress, I am loath to use their ideas.

It seems to be less loathsome to scroll back a few days and use those ideas.  Like eating.  Which is always on my mind, lately.  So, here I go again. 

What food would I eat if I could have anything I wanted?

lobster tail dripping with butter

Photo from konocook.blogspot.com

I am not sure how much of this craving is the melted butter but I have not had lobster tail in over twenty years.  I do not like shrimp at all, but I have loved lobster tail.

My second choice would be prime rib but I have to tell you that the longer I am on the Vegan diet the less appealing a slice of medium rare prime rib is to me. 

Who would I eat it with?  That’s is just too easy.  I would like to say the Dahlai Lama.

A happy fellow

He looks like a jolly fellow,  but I think that I would be tongue tied around him.  It would be a quiet meal.  So, my choice:

Viggo Mortensen from the Observer

Now, that was just too easy to pass up.

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I’ve been plant based,  no-oil, eating since November 14th.  The first two weeks were hell, but it gets easier.  One thing is to find things that are familiar to you, yet within the constraints of the diet.  Take potato chips.  But, do so carefully as I may bite your hand.

I have not added salt to food, minimally in cooking, for years now, yet I reached a point in this diet where I would have killed for a potato chip.  I would stick to plant based eating all day, then the lights would go down and I would eat two bowls of oatmeal, just to fill up.  We have a box of small bags of chips, for the boys.  They love taking some downstairs when they watch movies and destroy things on the computer.  But, those little bags of potato chips were like a siren song to me, as I lay down.  And, before I knew it, I was in rapturous joy over a 100 calorie bag of chips. 

I finally found out that I can minimize that craving by slicing potatoes very thin and frying them in a skillet.  I love pepper and I have done it since I started this diet, but when I added pepper, I was able to reject the chips.

Then there is the matter of pizza.  I now realize the men in this house eat pizza about 60% of their meals.  Do you have any idea how good melted cheese smells?  So, I got out my trusty cookbook and decided to make a plant based pizza.

Polenta Pizza

This  is Polenta pizza.  Looks good right?  How can anything look that good and taste that bad?  Now, to be fair, maybe I did it with the oregano I added to the tomato sauce.   I don’t always have the right ingrediants.  I would also like to mention that there must be some trick to making polenta firm up.  It did finally.  The crust wasn’t that bad but put it all together and blech!

breakfast

On the other hand, this was great.  I was tired of eating oatmeal for breakfast and just wanted something hot and delicious.  I have gotten in the habit of spraying pam in my cast iron skillet and then seeing what I have to throw in.  For breakfast, it was potatoes, a bit of no-meat sausage (yes, I read, it has oil.  You can’t trust husband to read labels.  The other day he mailed the electric bill without a stamp on it.  I had told him two days in a row that he had to buy stamps first, but—-), onions, garlic, tomatoes, mushrooms, and my spicy hummus.  It was soooooo good! 

So, there are ups and downs.  I may have to buy a slicer to make my potatoes thinner, but this is working.  It is hard to measure the affect on my heart but I have lost seven pounds and I do feel better.  My body just seems to work better on plants.  Gee, bumper sticker anyone?

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Hope you all had a tremendous food fest, that is called Thanksgiving, here in the U.S. 

TV is on and I just HAVE to say this.  Just how sick is Bridalplasty.  The whole idea makes me sick.  What a sad state this country is getting itself in.  Enough digression.

My fond memories of Thanksgiving are from my childhood, when we traveled to my grandmother/aunt’s house and I spent the day being hugged and kissed by comfy aunts and spent time with my sister (she lived with my grandmother). 

My grandmother was a quiet woman.  I really wish I could remember her voice, but I don’t.  I do remember her whispery reading (something my dad did also) and her piano playing.  I also remember that, if she knew you had a favorite dish that was just a bit different from norm, say the lemon filling in lemon cream pie but without crust (Now who in the world would want to do without homemade pie crust?).  I’m just saying, that if that was what you liked, Grandma had it there waiting for you.

Grandma’s house was full of people and conversation and laughter; especially when the ladies went out to do the dishes while the men slept on the couch.  They were mostly laughing about the men, I think, but they were sure having a good time.

Then, came the time when dinner was at mom’s house and I was one of them helping  with cleanup (when mom would allow anyone to help) and laughing.  It was always extra good when unexpected relatives arrived to crowd the table.

This year, Thanksgiving was particularly quiet.  It was just five of us and we catered it from Cracker Barrel.  After two weeks on my Vegan heart diet, I decided to join in and eat just regular food.  The best was the pizza and chips we had for lunch.  But, they weren’t quite as good as I remembered.  Everyone enjoys Cracker Barrel’s cooking, but I was actually wishing I was still eating Vegan.

Surprised me!  Something about this diet makes me feel lighter inside and like all my insides are working properly.  I know that isn’t a very scientific way to put it, but I’m glad to be back on my diet. 

STATS:  By Wednesday (that’s actually a week and a half) I have now lost five pounds.  Thursday’s meal put it to four.  Since I cannot see inside my arteries, I cannot tell you but I imagine little blocks of them floating downstream.    I made a great three bean soup and adjusted the War Cake recipe (follows).  It is one of the most moist cakes you can make.  It is from World War I and has no eggs, milk, nor butter in it.

This recipe is from a Dear Heloise column, when someone asked for the “eggless, milkless, butterless cake her mother made around 1918.  It is dark and heavy but ohhhh so good.

Mix 2 cups brown sugar
2 cups hot water
 and 2 teaspoons shortening (I used 2 teaspoons of apple sauce) in medium saucepan.

Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup raisins (I used chopped up dates). 

Add 1 teaspoon each of salt, cinnamon and cloves.  I RARELY add salt and did not for this cake.

Boil the above for five minutes after it first bubbles.  Remove from the stove and let it cool.  Let it cool completely.

After it is cool, add 3 cups of flour (I used 1 cup whole wheat but was then out of whole wheat so had to use 2 cups of white.  I would normally at least do 50/50 on that but am now going heavier on the whole wheat.

And, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water.

Mix well

Pour into greased bundt pan

Bake 1 hour at 350 to 375

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Never mind that I have only cooked on holidays during the last twenty years.  Never mind the fact that I do not have a dishwasher.  I am cooking and have found a dish that will be a staple.   Excuse the storage container.  I could have made it much more appealing in a regular dish but then I would have had to wash one more dish, by hand.  Forget that!

This is Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili.  Anything I tried to do with these winter squashes has been sweet, when I was going for regular meal food.  But, in this recipe, the Butternut Squash took on the chili flavor, like tofu does.  I took one bite and felt so satisfied. 

I found the recipe by googling for winter squash and, sorry to say, did not keep the link.  I did not have all the ingrediants they wanted, so I will post the altered recipe here.  I am also cutting every recipe in half now so that I am not throwing out as much food when I don’t like it. 

So, here is my version of Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili for VEGAN NO OIL

1 medium onion diced and sauted with
1 clove garlic
1/2 cubed butternut squash
When browned and soft, add:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 T chili powder
Vegetable broth to thickness you want
pepper to taste
Simmer 15 minutes.

You can even serve this in a mini pumpkin.  That would have made a great picture.
What I did not have was cumin or smoked paprika. 
They used 2 cups vegetable broth, but I like thick chili and used maybe 3/4 cup.

I am happy too that eating this way has resolved a gnawing feeling that I often have, at night, in my stomach.  Day one and two were agonizing and by day three, it seemed relatively easy.  Anyone have a dishwasher for sale, cheap?

Here, also, is my “Simple No-Tahini Hummus.”  It’s not as spreadable as it should be, but grandson said it tasted good.  I just have to figure out what to do with it.

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Start Simple

Numerous times, during my absence here, I have started posts for this blog, but nothing seemed funny to me or worthy of blogging.  Not that this has ever stopped me before.  I considered using my Vegan challenge to blog and I rather wished I had from day one, but a week in is not too late.  Is it?

I became a Vegan (without oil) — okay, that’s going to be irritating.  I have to find a name for this.  Vegannoil?  Gotta be something better than that.  I don’t mean to belabor the ‘no oil’ part but it is a big part.  There are substitutes for sugar, and eggs, and people are used to Vegans not eating meat, eggs, etc, but where do you find a substitute for butter?  Don’t get me started on mayonnaise.   But, since I am doing this for my heart, there’s no oil.

The book I ordered , Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Amazon.com: Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure (9781583333006): Jr., M.D., Caldwell B. Esselstyn: Books., was in the mailbox on Sunday, when we actually got the mail.  So, Monday was a good day to start and I immediately looked for recipes that I already had ingredients for.  The first two days were traumatic to say the least.  I made meals using food I had, I gagged it down, I threw big pots of food out.  Mostly because I found out that I did not like sweet winter squash all that much, but there was a bean fiasco too. Not such a great start.  And, I was freakin hungry.  

Tuesday night, I went to the fridge and pulled out two homemade biscuits and looked at them and said to myself, ‘I will never eat biscuits and gravy again.’  That is definitely not the right attitude and I set the biscuits back for someone else to eat.  I found that I was committed.  I was also freakin hungry. 

The diet is no meat, no chicken, no fish, no dairy (How would I live without milk?), no eggs, (not even egg whites), no oil (not even virgin olive, canola or anything with oil in it), and because of that, no nuts, no avocado, no coconut. And, I was still freakin hungry.

I needed to focus on what I could eat:  You do eat whole-grain products (which I love), fruits and vegetables.   

I had skimmed the book when it arrived and marked recipes I thought I might like.  Tuesday night, after I threw out the second large pot of food,  I read it more carefully and found out that they repeatedly state, “start simple.”   Simple, for me:  A piece of whole wheat bread toasted on the stove with Pam,  grapes, bananas,  protein shake made of frozen fruits and Soy milk.  Oatmeal (the bad part was that I like it with butter and pepper on it.)  Amazingly, pepper and soy milk isn’t too bad on it.   Then, I found the Burrito recipe, which I totally overcooked the water out of it, so I salvaged it with Salsa.  Salsa fixes everything.  It worked and I had a food I liked.  It was even better when I found a corn based tortilla with no oil at the store.

I had snacks, breakfasts and now a lunch/dinner.  I was a happy camper.  I had also spent more time in the kitchen than I had in twenty years.  I’m a wee bit rusty.

My end of week one status:   I lost two pounds, my doctor is happy with my decision,  I’m still getting hungry every two hours but now I know how to find something quick to fill it (AND, as a side note, I am filling up more quickly than I ever have.)  I’m not really craving milk.  This is amazing as I generally drank probably 32 oz a day.  And, we don’t want to talk about what this does to your — well, let’s just say, “you will never be constipated again.”

On that note, I’m off to find out if I have finally found recipes for the three winter squashes I have. 

Let me say that I am not getting paid by Mr. Esselstyn to mention his book, or for any other product I have mentioned.  Should I find a way to be paid for this blog, believe me, I will.

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In 2007, I faced mortality when I had emergency heart surgery and stayed in intensive care for six days.  This post is about a woman learning to be a vegan, and not for altruistic reasons either.  I wish I was that altruistic. A little back story is in order here.

I have this theory:  Two people with intense medical histories should not procreate.  I am the product of a family with cancer and a family with cancer and heart disease:  A double whammy.  I have been fortunate, through the intervention of the medical establishment who has managed to remove just about every non-essential or redundant organ in my body, to have dodged the cancer bullet.   

My brother died at age 46 from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  He did not believe in going to the doctor and waited for three months after he found a lump.  That, and five direct ancestors and three not-direct-line relatives, and an HMO, took his life.

In 2005, I watched as my mother deteriorated from heart disease.  She survived breast cancer but had/has congestive heart failure and all of her heart valves were/are leaking.  I said, “not me” and began a program of alternating aerobics and weight lifting.  Me, whose mother told me “ladies don’t sweat,” who was always picked last for any sport in gym, who was winded from walking up the library stairs, I was now loving weight lifting.

In 2005 and for nine months, I watched my diet and exercised.  I lost two dress sizes and not a single bleeding pound.  Yes, muscle does weigh more than fat, apparently.  I could now run up the library stairs without a thought though.  I beat it.  I would not suffer what my mother was.  I would be in great health.  Then, I woke up one morning exhausted. 

It progressed for two years until the aforementioned heart surgery.  Sorry, guess it was a lot of back story, but here we are.  Fast forward to early 2010.  I am eating good enough that I have lost thirty pounds, and am eating a fairly low fat diet.  I’ve never been much of a beef eater, although the rare Prime Rib is appealing.  I like turkey burgers, chicken and fish.  I’m happy.  Then, I go to the doctor.

My G.P. is concerned that I am tired again (that seems to be a main symptom of many women’s heart problems.  Cardiologist does another Cardiac Catherization, as the stress test does not show a problem on me.  My blockage is still there.  The bi-pass failed.  The surgery did seem to take care of the spasm that was putting me in danger, though I am also on medication for that.  But, now I am one vein short, if I ever need one.

I am told that I am not a candidate for further heart surgery.  The blockage is at the heart, where a stint will not work.  Since it has not gotten worse in four years, I should just keep doing what I am doing.  WHAT?  Keep my fingers crossed???  That’s not me.

I had recently seen an interview with President Bill Clinton, who decided to do something about his heart blockage.  He went on a vegan, oil free diet.  It is based on a diet you can read about in  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. 

See more here:  http://www.heartattackproof.com/     and here, a modified version from his fireman son:  http://engine2diet.com/28-day-tools/

So, I started eating what I imagined this diet was, but every night dinner was whatever husband fixed for he and the boys because I was just so hungry.  Then, the book came and the fun began.  Stay tuned.

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