There’s a word for that

I’m all about making up words – SNOL, furgirls, PANK… but evidently, there’s already a word for “kinda’ vegetarian when it suits me.”

Flexitarian – According to About.com,  “Flexitarian” is a term recently coined to describe those who eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. Many people who call themselves “flexitarian” or “semi-vegetarian” have given up red meat for health reasons while others, for environmental reasons, only eat free-range or organic animals and animal products.

Now… this girl isn’t giving up squat, but I was a pescatarian (didn’t eat land animal flesh) for a while many years ago, until I sincerely dreamed about a nice, rare filet mignon night after night and finally realized that I just couldn’t do it.  And I have followed a pescatarian when convenient diet ever since… right up until Marjie shattered my world with the announcement that shrimp is high in cholesterol.

Pescatarians on the hunt – not by choice… as long as you don’t count the prescription rabbit kibble era.

You have to understand…  I am the product of farmers.  My mother’s people, on both sides, farm and have farmed since the beginning of time, as near as I can tell.  My father’s grandfather was a gentleman farmer back when it wasn’t cool and trendy to play in compost on your days off, and while I lack that gene for spending hours on the tractor or nurturing little seeds into edible goodness, I got a double-dose of the pass me some fresh produce, straight from the chicken coop eggs, and by all means, I’m okay with looking my protein sources in the eyes.  (My apologies to those who aren’t…  Good for you.  My once-removed cousin with the chicken houses DID assure that I am incapable of enjoying chicken without worrying about growth hormones and free range, etc.)

Of course, I credit my farmer-relations with my ability to enjoy tofu too.  My uncle by choice (or by marriage… but as he put it years ago, marrying my mother’s sister made us kin, but we’d choose to claim each other even without that legal union) was farming soybeans long before I’d found Tofutti in my grocer’s freezer.

But don’t look for me to begin haughtily announcing I’m a flexitarian;  I still have enough trouble explaining that Episcopalian isn’t a medical condition.   No, I think that as much as I love silly words, I’ll stick with just dodging red meat most of the time, because I was also raised to feel it’s rude not to eat what’s put in front of me, or to ask non-life threatening questions about my food.  (I’m allergic to scallops, so there is a time and a place for said inquiries, and I can issue a “NO – LEAVE IT!” with such authority that even a food-driven basset draws back.)

I shared the mango-edamame salsa recipe a few posts back, but now, I’m in search of a … four-bean? salad?  Garbanzo, red, black and green, with some red onion, cilantro and …  I ate it all, so I have only my fond food memories to help me.  It seemed pretty similar to the traditional three-bean salad, but … better.  If anyone can help a gal trying to flex more and meat less, it would be awesome!

And in other almost healthy food news, did you know that gluten-free (homemade) chocolate chip cookies are basically ALWAYS chewy, not crispy?  My friend used Alton Brown’s Chewy Gluten Free recipe, and since dogs can’t have chocolate anyway, there’s no need to substitute around the corn starch for Sissy.  They aren’t close to low cholesterol, but as long as I don’t eat shrimp with them, I’m going to say it’s fine.

Don’t hate me, but with no other changes to my routine (well, add in extra stress, but evidently, only Sissy’s eye problems and my mother’s death are stressful enough to stop the eating), I’ve dropped nearly three pounds in two weeks.  I’m pretty sure I’d heard somewhere before that high fat diets aren’t healthy…  hem.

Saturday Scramble

Oh, the things we’ll do to avoid doing the taxes…

And yes, I realize I’ve put them off about as long as I dare.  Just as soon as I finish this post, I’ll go update the software, walk the dogs and then buckle down.  The taxes are just a symbol of how life is going right now.  If it isn’t on fire or otherwise an emergency, it isn’t getting my attention.

 The girls are peering up under the bridge across the little creek, and that’s a good image for how it goes in the woods of late.  I ran hurdles in high school track, and that’s how I’m managing things right now.  Eyes forward, leap while the brain is calculating when the next leap has to happen…

I do have a few things to report though, and for another photo of the girls in the water and an update on them, click here.

Firstly, coconut milk “creamer” doesn’t cut it.  I can do plain cream and an artificial sweetener or flavored syrup, but the vegan “creams” don’t come close.  I’d rather just do 2% milk and sweetener, to give you some idea?  I am drinking less coffee and more green tea though, so I figure my reduced consumption of “fake creamer” that way is perhaps win enough.

Relay Foods is my new friend.   There’s a pick-up location nearly every weekday that is close enough to on my way home that going to the grocery store is a thing of the past.  See above; I need time-savers and stress reducers, and I find the Knight’s turn down every aisle at strolling speed version of grocery shopping just about the most stressful thing EVER.

Do you Relay?  If so, please share your favorite finds.  Locally, they partner with Whole Foods, so I have a good idea of what’s available, but they also partner with local small businesses – like the tea source I didn’t have a clue about that I walk past regularly when I’m downtown.

1948054_10152302295495792_1403944811_nNext…  I’m pondering a return to nearly natural hair coloring.  I thought I wanted to go blonde instead of grey, but the most recent photos of me are too brassy, and I have a great colorist, use filtered water and quality hair products to wash…

Granted, I know I look awful in black and the lighting is horrible in this photo, but you get the idea.   Am I tilting at windmills?  Should I just use one of those cover the grey temporary colors that’s closer to my natural, medium-to-dark brown?

(And that cutie was Kids in the Kitchen vice chair.  She really is so petite that I am a few inches taller!  I’m looking forward to watching her develop as a JLC leader.  She’s smart, direct and a very hard worker… and always has that big smile on her face.)

Okay.  This isn’t taking care of the taxes or the dog walk.  How goes it in your part of the world?

 

 

Lean, Not Mean

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The gene pool, 1970s version

That’s my new dietary motto.  I learned last week that my cholesterol is high.  Not drastically so, but (hem, hem) nearly double what it was last time I had a physical (more coughing… over 2 years ago).  Given that both parents likely died of heart attacks (father, definitely; mother, presumed), I need to take this seriously.

Ironically, an Arbonne friend invited me to join her on a detox that will start tomorrow.  I opted out, in part because I’m not good at extremes, I know my limits, and my brother inlaw sells Avocare and it seemed silly to pony up for a program when another company’s products are waiting for me to pay attention to them.   Just the same, I know I need to start paying close attention to what goes into my body.

Trying looking up “cholesterol-lowering foods” or something similar.  You won’t find any concise answers.  Of course, even if you did, you might want to visit Marjie’s post about a healthy heart diet by trusted sources.  The fact is, even the experts don’t agree.  I’m a huge advocate for personal management of one’s own healthcare anyway, but this is ridiculous.

Oh, my doctor-friend and I had a good laugh…  I hate chicken and neither of us cook fish in our homes because of the lingering odor.  I’m already on a high-protein, high-fiber diet, because of pre-existing health issues, so eliminating … fat? cholesterol? more stuff makes this quite the circle-jerk.

I was all set to simply say farewell to butter (except in my baking) and consider cheese a delicacy, and I already live on seafood, white pork, and the rare (pun intended) beef indulgence.  I thought I had a plan… until Marjie gently broke the news that shrimp is ridiculously high in cholesterol.  Now, see above… the experts can’t agree on that either, but I’ve decided that shrimp can no longer be my go-to “meat.”

I don’t know what’s ahead… other than due diligence and finding some healthier options.  Anyone do a plant-protein milk replacement in her coffee?  On her cereal?  I only eat cereal on the weekends, and to humor the pundits, we had oatmeal this morning.

What about tofu?  I don’t mind it in curries or some soups.  I certainly can’t dislike it much more than I do rubbery, dry chicken, but save the ground turkey advice.  Been there, done that and … no one got anything positive out of the experience, much less a tee shirt.

I did a no-animal-flesh version of vegan a few years ago and didn’t mind at all… until I began dreaming about the perfectly grilled, rare filet of beef.  I don’t eat pork too much either.  I love smoked bacon and good Carolina barbecue, but living on a pig farm that had a barn fire… well… let’s just say there’s a reason I kinda’ backed into not eating meat for a good while.

Eggs?  I won’t miss them much at all.  As with butter, I want them for baking, but I can wipe them off my personal consumption list with relative ease.  Sure, an egg sammie is awesome now and then, but I’ll be just fine with an egg substitute “mug” with some veggies tossed in.  Frankly, eggs without cheese have little meaning for me.

Photo courtesy of The Bit Block

Photo courtesy of The Bit Block

The post title?  I get mean (insert a female dog synonym) when I don’t get enough protein in my diet.  I thought doing high fiber AND high protein was a juggling act.  This is like the Wii Fit juggling game where you’re balancing on a ball while juggling…

Pledge to eat healthier

If you’ve been here more than once, you’ve likely read something about the Junior League.  Yes, I’m a two-term President here in podunk, but I’m also very proud of what we do as an international association. 

KITKcolorLogoOne of our most visible partners at the Association (AJLI) level is Kashi.  This is not an advertisement for their products, although I do like some quite well.  Please don’t leave comments about their brand or products; this post is just about Kashi’s latest effort to support AJLI’s Kids in the Kitchen programs. 

For every pledge to eat healthier, Kashi will donate $2 to Kids in the Kitchen.  Will you consider taking the pledge?  Each of the three options is easy enough to do.  I believe the funds donated go directly to the AJLI Kashi Awards, given to individual leagues doing great things with their Kids in the Kitchen programs.  I am hopeful the JLC will be recognized… but we have to apply first!

Thorsday Double-post

Happy Thorsday, little friday and Thankful Thursday!  Please forgive the double-post, but some things are worth repeating…  You can get a little more information on the fur-girls’ blog, but please consider supporting BROOD – Basset Rescue of the Old Dominion – and saving 25% off at Macy’s on Saturday.  (Good for online purchases too…)

As for the thankful part, I’m grateful for my friends, especially a couple of you who are seemingly more mindful of my pre-existing health issues than I am.  My very first allergy – as an infant – was to sulfa drugs.  According to Wikipedia, sulfite “sensitivities”  are in the top nine food allergies.   Unfortunately, the symptoms are basically the same for an allergy to tannins

Given that tea and raisins don’t seem to be a problem for me, the sulfites make more sense.  That opens a whole new can of worms though, because sulfites are virutally everywhere.  The good news is that with the possible exception of wine, I can control my exposure by simply avoiding foods with long shelf lives, which is probably a good idea anyway. 

Anyone out there with a sulfite “sensitivity”?  I guess I’m going to have to keep a food journal and see what causes the problems…

Chanformation

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Gretchen’s cute when she looks back…

I’m really not up for a traditional look back.  2011 wasn’t a bad year, but there were some really tough spots that I’d have to acknowledge if I look back, month by month so I’m not doing that.  You’re free to look back if you don’t remember the highs and lows…

Instead, I’m going to finally do that “Chanformation” post I’ve been toying with since I heard the phrase in September.  When I bit the bullet and signed up for Weight Watchers Online last December, I didn’t have a goal weight, but I had a host of support and knew it was time to reclaim the fit form that had always been so much a part of my life… except for the roadblocks and hurdles illness and injuries that changed everything.

“Chanformation” sounds ridiculously pretentious when I use it, but one of my dear friends coined it, a mutual friend loved it and shared it with me, and… it fits.

DSC_0644To get the full effect, we have to go back to September 2010.  This photo was an eye-opener for me.  Yeah.  I’m on the right, front.  Yes… for the sake of this post, I picked the LEAST flattering of the photos from that day, but it is important to be a little raw and honest here.

I was out of shape and overweight.  I lost a few pounds in 2010, even before WW, but given my stressful January, the weight slid right off.  No, I’m not going to talk pounds.  I will tell you that I’m now wearing sizes that are at least half of what I was wearing in that photo.  I have always weighed more than people might think, in part because I have what I hear is a coveted hourglass figure, a fairly large frame, and thanks to a very active youth, more muscle mass than a lady should mention!

182223_527163608368_62700009_31009426_3115506_nBecause I wasn’t happy with the gal in the mirror, there are no more photos of me until February.   Again, not the best photo from all that I have of that night, but it is a rare full-frontal view of me.

Note a couple of differences not totally related to weight/shape…  Granted, I had a fairy godmother who loaned me a dress she knew would flatter me, but regardless of how I fell into it, above you see me in drab colors that don’t necessarily do much for my own coloring.  This blue dress was good for me and to me, so while I wasn’t having a great hair night, it’s better than the flat, uninspired cut in the first photo.  I’d started to think about style again.

200458_832121060576_1503827_46043887_5921390_nFlash forward about five weeks, and you can see me really emerging, or the real me pushing her way into the world.  I should note that the creator of the word “Chanformation” is the tall beauty on the far right in this photo, and on my immediate right in photo #2.

Did I mention that a fabulous support system sustained me throughout this process?  There’s a reason you rarely see me pictured alone.  I have some of the best girlfriends this world has ever known.  I also have to note too that while they supported me when I decided to focus on my health and weight loss, they were quick to stop me and say kind things if I did wallow in self-pity in the months, even years, before I was ready to take charge of my … situation.

November 2011 004We have to shoot straight forward to November to get a photo of me at my goal weight/size/shape/fitness level.  I hit my goal weight over the summer and have maintained it – plus or minus two pounds – ever since.  The highlights arrived in late June and are here to stay.   New glasses – two different pairs – showed up before that too.

The “Chanformation” still isn’t complete.  I’m much more active and fit again, and heck, I have to confess that I no longer hate shopping.  But there’s always room for improvement.  I had to replace basically my entire wardrobe, from undergarments to outerwear, and some pieces still need to be upgraded, altered or replaced with something other than a stop-gap bargain.

Even my feet shrank a half size.

photo.JPGSissy is an uncompromising personal trainer, and I thank her for that, but I still need to find balance and get more yoga time in on a regular basis.  I also need to figure out how to get a good night’s sleep more than a couple of nights a week.

The next step I know I need to take is with cosmetics.  I’ve used one brand pretty much exclusively for about 15 years, but it’s time to change.  I’m not much on “war paint” as my father used to call heavy daytime makeup, but I do need more help re-creating the even skin tone I never quite took for granted but am losing anyway, and I need SPF, moisture and anti-aging protection in absolutely everything!

As usual, I have a question for you.  Are you loyal to one brand of makeup and/or skin care?  Or do you mix and dabble and try the hottest new products?  See…  I was a Mary Kay consultant briefly in another life, and they taught that one risked rather cynergistic results if she mixed and matched from different brands…  I have mildly sensitive skin to begin with, so I don’t need chemical reactions happening on my face.

Do you know The Cosmetic Cop?  It’s a great resource for all things beauty-related.

On that note, we’ll call this post, this year, DONE.  May 2013  2012 bring you peace, love and joy.

(I really am excited about the promise of the NEW year.  I didn’t mean to wish 2012 away!)

Picnic Game

Who doesn’t love a picnic?!  Louise at Months of Edible Celebrations is hosting the picnic game, which I must confess, I don’t recall playing as a child.   I do remember seeing other girls sitting in large circles, clapping and reciting and laughing, but I don’t remember participating.  I was probably playing soccer or lacrosse with the boys…

At any rate, what started as me being silly led to this post and our offering for the picnic.  I don’t have a go-to picnic recipe.  I’m known as the baker in my family and with my inlaws, but there’s no one thing I’m routinely asked to bring to our summer gatherings.  So, I joked with Louise that Sissy would want me to bring dog biscuits, and being a fan of my silly mutts, Louise jumped right on it!

Without further delay, here’s my first (to the best of my recollection!) attempt at the picnic game!

I’m going on a picnic and I’m bringing:

A:  Apricot Cobbler from Mae

B: Banana Cream Pie from Marjie

C:  Cherries in a Jar from Barbara

D: DIVA Doggy Bites

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Of course, when Sissy demands special treats, they must be CUSTOM creations, partly because she has food allergies, but mostly because she is a DIVA and it really is all about her more often than not in our little house in the woods.

Since I’m guessing many of you are visitors not well-versed in my special-needs dog’s world, she is highly allergic to corn and chicken, and corn starch is a popular dog treat ingredient.  She’s also sensitive to pork, beef and basically any animal flesh except rabbit. 

This is where I confess that life got in the way, so last night, I flew by the seat of my pants.  I’m delighted to report that what we created is perfect, according to the DIVA and the wee one.

DIVIA Doggy Bites

2 cups Bisquick

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup cottage cheese

1 medium to large ripe banana

1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a food processor (or blender).  Mix until smooth.   Spread WET dough evenly on a greased jelly roll pan (I used a Pampered Chef large bar pan).  Bake 20 minutes.  Turn oven off, but leave pan in until the dough is as brown as you desire.

Cool 5 minutes in pan, on a cooling rack, then slice into whatever your dog(s) consider bite-sized pieces.  Remove to rack for continued cooling, then package in air-tight containers or freeze.

photoOf course, they’re DIVA approved.  I couldn’t use her title without her blessing.  And if you must know, they are BITES because the normally gentle gal did jam one tooth into my finger last night while I was trying to take photos, because she felt I was teasing her and she was trying to grab her yum and run!!

Yes, it’s an odd flavor pairing, but they are two of the fur-girls favorites, and they seem to find it an irresistible combination.  I held a treat in my mouth while I took more photos this morning, and it wasn’t vile.  Everything is human grade, so you could eat them if you desired.

photoGretchen likes them too, in case you were wondering.   Look for future versions with pumpkin and pear, peanut butter and more!

Do your dogs like “vegetarian” treats?  If so, what flavors?

Thanks Louise for inviting ALL of us to the picnic.  Gretchen is happy to share HER treats with any of the other dogs present. 

Do you have a go-to, often-requested picnic recipe?  Would you share it with me, even if you’re not playing the picnic game with us?

Oh – and do let us know if you and your dogs try the recipe.  Feedback is always appreciated!