Monday Mumblings

Hello there!  Did you enjoy your weekend?  Spring is definitely upon us in the Pacific Northwest.  This is the time of year when it is nice and warm for a few days, people get a little too comfortable with sunny days, they start planting the garden and then BAM! the rain and cold return.  It happens every year.  I had a good weekend.  It was busy, and I’ll tell you about that in a minute.  First, I have to share with you, as promised, what a great boss I have.

I am appreciated:

Last Wednesday was Administrative Professional’s Day.  I hope all of you who are in management or have people working for you, did something special for them to let them know how much you appreciate their work.  My boss often does that, even when it’s not designated on the calendar as a Hallmark moment.  Many times throughout the year, she lets me know that I’m a valued employee.  This past week, though, she went over the top, marking each day with a special gift and a card pointing out traits of a fine administrative professional.  The gift, of course, went with the letter of the day.  We sort of joked about “This day is brought to you by the letter P.  P is for punctuality and professionalism… and plant.”  The gift for that day was a plant (it was also Earth Day).  We had so much fun throughout the week.  Message sent and received — I am forever destined to work where I do.  Forget about a warmer climate, shorter workdays, or retirement!  I’m in it for the long haul.

I will share with you a little collage of the things my co-worker & I each received.

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Busy Weekend:

And now for the weekend… I attended a conference for my professional organization.  You know, the all-day Saturday event that you drag yourself to, all the time thinking of all the productive things you could be doing like mowing the lawn or cleaning the tub?  You sit with someone you recognize in hopes of striking up conversation so you can grumble the entire day away (or slip out early and head to the mall).  You are there because you need continuing education credits and you know the speaker is just going to be a flop but you waited until you were desperate for your credits and time is ticking away and you’ve got to go now or you lose your certifications?  Yeah.  That’s what I did on Saturday.  Well, not really.  I hadn’t even pre-registered for the conference with the idea that if I woke up on Saturday and it was sunny I would skip it and wait for the next opportunity in the fall.  I’m glad I didn’t sleep in Saturday.  The conference was GREAT, the speaker dynamic & entertaining.  I actually learned a few things and stayed til the bitter end.  Oh, and I did stop at the mall on my way home!  🙂  In the end, the day was productive.

The most difficult part of attending a conference or lunch-hour meeting is the food.  Yeah, don’t think I was going to blog and not talk about food!  The menu was pasta and salad with cookies and brownies for dessert.  I brought my own lunch which consisted of kale salad, strawberries, orange slices and peach “nice cream”.  Okay, okay.  I confess… I ate a brownie too.  Unfortunately, I regretted it not soon after.  It tasted good (a little sweet) but it did not agree with me.  Why do I keep doing things like that?  The desire to satisfy the brain is much greater than the knowledge of the aftermath.  That’s why.  It’s all a brain thing.  That’s why at work I have a list of foods for me to avoid that are incredibly tempting.  That list is on a little, tiny Post-It note and it’s stuck to my computer to remind me not to eat them.  The old note had a description of symptoms that I would get if I were to eat that particular food.  Now it’s just a list.  I used to have a similar list at home, too, of foods that were off limits there, but I’ve thrown it away because the temptation at home isn’t as great.

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It’s weird how this list that I created keeps me accountable to no one but myself.  Do you have a technique to keep you on track and accountable?  If so, I’d love to hear it.

I’m gonna call it a wrap today.  Check back on Wednesday.  I am going to attempt yet another “burger” option.  I will let you know how it goes.  I will also tell you about a new Healthy Vegan Challenge starting next week.  Stay tuned…

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Friday Fun Facts

Ahhh, we made it through another week!  I am so excited for spring.  I think it’s actually here.  We had a stretch of  nice weather and I took full advantage of it with getting outside for walks in the evenings.  Now I just need to remember to get my walking shoes to work so I can get out at lunch.  It feels so much better to stretch a bit during lunch rather than staying in and working.  Maybe next week it will happen.

How Vegans Get Their Protein:

I have heard the question many times when I tell people I eat a plant-based diet, “How do you get your protein?”  I usually tell them beans, nuts and seeds.  I also go on to explain how 100 calories of broccoli actually has more protein than 100 calories of beef.  Of course, I assure them that you get to eat a lot more broccoli than beef to get 100 calories.   It’s about three cups of raw, chopped broccoli compared to 1 ounce of beef.  And you’re going to have a feeling of being full much longer with the broccoli.  There’s 11 grams of protein in 100 calories of broccoli compared to beef at just 6 to 8 grams.  Plus with beef you get all the fat and cholesterol.  Kale (my favorite) and Romaine lettuces are also great sources of protein and, like broccoli, they are loaded with many other important vitamins and nutrients.  These are not the only vegetables that contain protein.  My point is to use them as an example.

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Another great way to get protein is by consuming raw nuts and seeds.  If you like a stronger flavor, it is suggested that you eat them lightly toasted rather than roasted.  I find it very easy to put the needed amount of nuts or seeds in a skillet and toast them in the pan on the stovetop just until they become fragrant.  Nuts should be eaten with fruit or vegetables rather than as a snack to avoid over-consumption.  Though they are a healthy, clean source of fat, you don’t want to have more than one to two ounces a day. I use nuts — usually cashews — in my salad dressings to make them creamy.  Nuts are a wonderful addition to my morning fruit or oatmeal too!  Sometimes when I’m having a really sweet craving I’ll stuff an almond in each end of a pitted date and pop it in my mouth.  Of course, see a few lines above where I talk about over-consumption.  It’s easy to line up about five of those and consume way too many calories.  But at least they’re healthy calories.  🙂

This salad is loaded with all kinds of nutrients.  Full of leafy greens, legumes, nuts & fruit, I served it recently at a party at my house and also took it to a gathering with a friend.  It has no salad dressing on it so it stores well made up in the refrigerator for a few days.  Enjoy!

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More Plant Proteins:

Beans and legumes are very high in protein.  They also pack a few more calories than green vegetables, but do not despair.  A lot of the calories in beans and other legumes like lentils are dietary fiber.  That means that after we suck the nutrients from the beans, the calories are not absorbed by our bodies and pass right on through.  So eat up!  Enjoy at least a cup of beans a day and get your needed protein & dietary fiber.  You’ll be happy you did.  If you have a problem with beans causing discomfort and you’re new to eating them, try just a couple of tablespoons at a time.  After a week or so of doing it this way, gradually add more to your meal, remembering to chew them very well.  You might just be surprised.  Some people have less problems with lentil as opposed to the “big beans” like kidney or pinto.  One of my favorite recipes using lentils is Chef AJ’s lentil tacos.  Oh, yum!  Another one I tried this past weekend was a terrific stew that friend and fellow blogger Carrie posted on her blog.  It was absolutely fantastic.  I forgot, though, to open the vent on my pressure / slow cooker, so it cooked much quicker.  It was still very good.  And I will definitely make her Indian Stew again.  Here’s what mine looked like when it was finished.  Hers looked much less mushy, but I think it was due to my mistake with the cooker.

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WrapUp:

Well, it’s been a good week.  It was Administrative Professional’s Day this week and my boss decided to celebrate the entire week with a gift each day.  She knows what a nut I am about my food so she gifted both me and my co-worker with mostly non-food gifts.  I will share my entire week’s bounty on Monday!  Enjoy your healthy, happy weekend!

Midweek Update

Good morning!   I hope you are enjoying your week.  Here in the Northwest we are having wonderful weather.  It sure does make it easier to get up in the morning and get moving when the weather is bright and sunny.  It really pumps up the energy level just a bit.  The temperature swing is about 30 degrees though, so the mornings are brrr cold!  Yesterday it was a whopping 32 but got up to about 65 in the afternoon.  Each day my healthy hubby and I have taken walks when I get home from work and before dinner.  It’s so nice to connect and spend a little time decompressing before I hit the kitchen.  I do have to admit, though, since Alex has been gone, I haven’t felt quite so stressed about dinner; not that he was home that much, but I felt compelled to make sure a full meal was on the table each night.  Now it’s okay to have leftovers or clean-out-the-refrigerator night a couple of days a week.  It’s weird, I know.  And it’s not that he is more worthy of a good meal than anyone else is.  Perhaps I had to set a good example.  Boy, would he be shocked!

An Unexpected Call:

Speaking of Alex… he called me yesterday!  It was totally unexpected and I was completely giddy!  We only had about 90 seconds to talk, so the conversation was quick and to the point.  He just wanted to let us know he was moving out of “reception” and the hard stuff was about to begin.  He also indicated he didn’t know when we’d talk again, but he had lots of letters to send home for us to give to his girlfriend.  So the conversation lasted about as long as it takes for you to read this paragraph!  I felt so blessed to hear his voice.  I think that will be enough to carry me through until the next time.

Healthy Earth:

Monday, Earth Day, I told you I’d share with you some things that I do to help the Earth.  We don’t drive a Prius nor do we have solar panels on our rooftop (hello, we live in Western Washington!) but we do small things to help keep unneeded trash out of the landfills and I am trying to minimize my carbon footprint.  So here goes:

  • I carpool to work — I used to take the bus, but I now have the BEST carpool buddy everrrrr!
  • We make sure to have full loads of dishes and laundry before running those machines
  • Turn off the lights and electronics that we aren’t using when we exit a room
  • Reuse things that we can — like packing peanuts and bubble wrap
  • Compost organic materials such as our kitchen scraps (not animal protein).
  • Recycle all products that we can
  • Buy products in minimal packaging when possible
  • Use re-usable water bottles
  • Use re-usable bags at the grocery store

We have been doing some of the above things before it was “in” to do.  Both of our parents were “green” when green was only a color.  We each had compost piles growing up and always had garbage buckets at the kitchen sink.  I do have to say I have the Rachael Ray Garbage Bowl — I can’t believe I paid money for a garbage bowl, but it’s cool & I like it.  All of my stuff in the garbage bowl goes in our curbside yardwaste bin.  I think our garbage / yard waste man believes we have the world’s largest garden!  Some areas even let you put take-out containers in your bin, but we are not so lucky — not that we have take-out containers in our house very often anymore.

bowlCheck out these produce bags.  I love them.  I get at least one comment about them each week when I go to the store.  If you think about being a plant-based dieter and how many of those plastic produce bags we use, I’d end up with a collection to reach to the moon.  I was so happy to find these washable re-usable bags at my local Fred Meyer.  They are cheaper there than any other place I’ve seen them.  They run about $2 for three bags.

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I’ve been either taking the bus to work or carpooling for years.  It started back when gas prices were so high that it was more of a financial motivator than it was to take care of the Earth, but now there’s many reasons.  There’s not really a better way to leave work behind than hopping in the car with a happy girlfriend and laughing all the way home.  We’ve become quite good friends and have shared “mothering tips” as we have kids about the same age.

Sweet Potato Crepe Update:

I also told you last week that I was going to give a shot at savory sweet potato crepes.  I have to say they were a bust.  The consistency was nice and they fluffed up nicely.  It was just the flavor that was icky.  I’m not sure if I was looking for something sweet since crepes, in my mind, are usually associated with fruit and sugar, but I think I will try it again.  I like the idea and I really see them as having potential as a breakfast crepe.  I might even try them again as a savory crepe, and if I do, I will leave out the garam masala seasoning.  It has its place, and for me, it’s not in a crepe! 🙂

Well, my apologies for the length of this post.  If you made it this far, you must not have been tooooo bored.  I felt like I had a lot of promises that I’d made that I had to fulfill.

Please come back on Friday and see what’s new.

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day, all!

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I think the Earth looks so cool from outer space.  Only thing is, there should be no clouds over my world this week.  The weatherman is forecasting sun & warm weather this week.  We shall not be fooled, however, as summer doesn’t begin in the Pacific Northwest until July 5th.

Are you doing anything to celebrate Earth Day?  I had a funny thought this morning.  Here I am 99% vegan, eating a plant-based diet and I’m thinking about how we need to protect the Earth.  We can’t possibly deplete the Earth of all of its green.  So I say, “Save the Earth: Eat a cow.”  Of course, I’m kidding.  I know how much of a strain it is on our world to grow the feed, raise and slaughter the cow, process the meat and start the process all over again, let alone what the consumption of animal products does to our body.  My comment is made in jest, so please don’t get all excited about my hypocritical thoughts.  I will keep on eating a diet very heavy in the fruit and veggie department, knowing that my diet is much more sustainable and good for me!  I feel like every day that I eat this way is a celebration of the Earth.  We’ve only got one & I think we should take good care of it.

Today I have a recipe for you that I think will make you feel good about yourself; about having dessert.  Check it out.  I love something a little sweet after my meals and sometimes just plain ol’ fruit doesn’t cut it for me.

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Apparently, I’m on an apple kick, what with my post last week with the Apple Oat Breakfast that I shared.  Apples are so good for you.  At just about 65 calories each, they provide much-needed Vitamin C, lots of fiber and contain Omega-6 fatty acids.  Because they have so much fiber, you feel full longer.  Try out this very tasty dessert & I think you’ll agree this apple crumble is easier to prepare than a pie or a crisp.  Because this is “raw,” you might want to let it sit on the counter for a bit to reach room temperature before serving.  You can top it with a dollop of cashew or macadamia nut cream if you prefer.  We ate ours “as-is.”  Enjoy!

I hope you had a good weekend, are rested for your week — and, if you live in the Northwest, you are getting excited about our sunny weather that’s on the way.  I know I sure am.  I’m starting to get spring fever and beginning to think about the veggie pots I’ll be planting soon.  It’s about time for salad greens and cooler vegetables like spinach and, my fave, KALE!  I might try growing some this year.  I can’t wait!

Check back here on Wednesday.  I’ll share with you a couple of things that I do to lighten my carbon footprint!

A breakfast idea for you

TGIF to you!  Do you have any weekend plans?  I don’t have anything exciting going on, maybe spending some time in the kitchen.  I really want to create a good asparagus soup.  Even though winter is gone, we are still having chilly, rainy & windy weather — the type of weather that screams out for soup!  Also on my to-do list is to make savory sweet potato crepes.  I have a recipe that I’ve been wanting to try out, so perhaps I’ll try those for Sunday and let you know how things go.

For today, though, I am going to share with you my latest love.  Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day.  You’ve heard it a million times, but it’s true.  Whether you rise early to exercise in the morning or drag yourself out of bed and roll bleary-eyed into work, we should all eat a healthy breakfast.  I’ve been known to eat everything from green smoothies to salad and even stir-fry for the first meal of the day.  Right now, though, my favorite thing to get me going is raw oats with fruit.  Earlier this week I had a tropical fruit salad left over from Alex’s party so I put a few scoops in a bowl, added some old fashioned oats & unsweetened coconut.  I closed my eyes and dreamed I was on a tropical island (but when I opened them, I was still at work).  I think my all-time favorite topping for my raw oats, though, is diced apple.

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You can click here for the yummy recipe for what I’m calling Raw Apple Oat Breakfast.  Not a very creative name, is it?  Oatmeal is such a wonderful grain.  Eaten in its whole form, it has incredible satiety — meaning it keeps you full for a long time.  It is a complex carbohydrate and has a good amount of protein.  Mixed with nuts and seeds (flax), it makes for a perfect plant-based breakfast.

Doug and I are about to complete our first week of 20 without Alex.  When I think of it in those count-down terms, it doesn’t sound all that bad.  He had quite an adventure getting to Basic Training.  I will share that story next week.  Until Monday, have a great weekend & make it healthy!

Spring is Here?

It’s a super-de-duper day!  The sun is shining here in the Northwest.  I love this time of year as the flowers bloom and the trees bud.  Such a wonderful time of new life.  It’s the perfect time of year to create a new life of fitness and health, too, if you’re trying to jump start a new routine.  Though the calendar says spring and so do the flowers, it’s been a bit chilly in the morning… like 34 degrees!  The afternoons have been nice and sunny, so I’m a happy camper.

Speaking of fitness and health, this week I upped my HIIT, or High Intensity Interval Training, a little bit by having shorter rest/walk periods and oh, boy, do I feel it.  It’s a good thing, though.  Today when I was working out I decided that if Alex can run with a rucksack on his back or crawl under barbed wire through the mud, I can work out in the comfort of a climate-controlled gym!  I’m committed to the best exercise routine I can do for the next five months & we’ll see who is in better shape.  I actually already know who is going to win that contest, but it gives me a goal.

A Gift Arrived:

Yesterday a box arrived for Doug & me.  Alex was planning before he left.  He sent us our Mother’s Day & Father’s Day gifts.   Along with the box came a phone call to open the box (just a wee bit early).  Inside was a wonderful travel mug for each of us.  Now I have a cup in which I can enjoy my twice-weekly latte and my Teeccino.  Check it out!

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White Bean Hummus Recipe:

I have a recipe for you today, but it’s not a soup.  Instead, I’ll share with you a new hummus recipe that I’ve been enjoying.  I like store-bought hummus best more because I can’t seem to replicate a good oil-free one at home that is the right consistency.  So sometimes instead of trying to get the exact thing through substitutions it’s better to go totally different.  Kind of like I told someone who wanted to know how to make a pecan pie healthy for the holidays.  Can’t do it, I say.  Make something different that has pecans in it rather than substituting something for the ooey-gooey pecan filling.  So here’s a white bean hummus recipe for you.  I hope you like it as much as I do.

Well, it’s a short post today as there’s not too much going on.  I will “see” you Friday with a new breakfast recipe idea!

Tee-Chia Review & My New Club Status

Ugh!  Happy Monday morning to you.  I hope you had a good weekend.  The weather was sure crazy here in the Pacific Northwest the last few days.  Today, though, as expected, when I go back to work after a week off, the sun was shining brightly.  It never fails.  I am so looking forward to some warmer weather.  Haven’t I been saying that for about the last four months?!

TEE-CHIA Review:

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Here’s a photo of my haul from Teeccino.  I love their products.  If you haven’t read any of my other reviews, Teeccino is an herbal coffee alternative.  It’s got the bold taste of roasted chicory and carob, the sweetness of dates and figs, and the flavor of nuts all wrapped into one great drink!  There isn’t a flavor that I’ve tried that I didn’t like… from Southern Pecan to Chocolate Mint to Java, I like them all.

Raw oats with fruit is one of my all-time favorite breakfasts, so when I placed my most recent order from Teeccino, I took advantage of their sale & got a couple of packs of TeeChia.  I gotta say the stuff is pretty good.  One-third of a cup is all you need to satisfy your morning hunger & get your day off to a healthy start.  Everything you need is contained in one serving.  Full of antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids, TeeChia keeps you full all morning long, is great for exercise recovery, and has a ton of fiber (so you know what that means).  I especially like the fact that this cereal is sweetened with dates, dried fruit and has my daily serving of nuts and seeds.  It’s so quick and easy too, taking only a minute to prepare.  I love my TeeChia for my breakfasts on the go!

New Club Status:

I thought I would share with you that Alex took his final oath this morning, so that makes me an official member of the Army Mom’s Club!  I am so excited for Alex and his new adventure.  It was hard to say goodbye to him, but I know that what awaits him will be nothing he cannot conquer.  He is an amazing kid & I look forward to hearing his stories in September when we see him again.  Hopefully he will have an opportunity to call home a few times between now and then.  In our day of technology everywhere, I think that my toughest challenge will be not having contact of some sort for a long time.  I know he is looking forward to his new adventure so I am excited for him.  GO ARMY!

I am also looking forward to a new chapter in my own life and that with Hubby.  Hopefully we won’t end up staring at each other from across the table with nothing to talk about.  I’d better come up with some new meals for him to critique, eh?  I’ve got some things in mind that I’d like to try, but I figured we should stick with what we know for a week or so.

Well, I’ll wrap up today’s post.  Today I’m focusing on reminding myself that I am what I eat.  So I’m determined to eat healthfully!