A Chocolate Eclair About as Big as Your Head

At the beginning of this year, after spending nearly all of 2017 immobilized, I tore off my cumbrous fracture boot, went back to normal footwear, and vowed to kick off our plan to eat healthier and workout more, which had been delayed because my body broke mid-March of last year. My foot was still damaged, but when I put the boot on one morning and saw a spider scurry across the top of my foot, that was the end of that. I am not scared of spiders, but that doesn’t mean I enjoy them crawling on me.

After months of wearing a boot that completely restricts foot and ankle movements, I found walking difficult. I wasn’t able to properly bend my foot, so my gait was stiff and flat. I encountered the same issue a few weeks later when I attempted to use the elliptical. Without my foot bending, I couldn’t properly cycle through the motions. Afraid of potentially hurting yet another part of my body, I decided to wait on exercising. However, nothing was stopping me from changing my diet.

We had, prior to my injuries, always eaten fairly well. We didn’t consume many highly-processed foods, we made a lot of our own things, and we only had takeout once a week. After my legs were hurt, that all changed. Brian was responsible for everything and with work, shopping, the dogs, and cleaning up around the house, he didn’t really have time to make dinner as well. There was a lot of bad food consumed, which my body began to reject. For instance, I can no longer tolerate the smell of fries; actually, I cannot consume any significant amount of potatoes at all. Other than chicken and seafood, I couldn’t stomach a lot of meat; in fact, even the word or a picture of bacon made me queasy for a long time.

There’s really no other motivational kick in the pants like involuntarily vomiting your dinners. That’s where my focus has been. Not only have we switched back to healthy foods, we’ve increased our fruit and raw vegetable intake, reduced the number of cooked meals, and significantly reduced our portion sizes. I keep meaning to do a “What I Eat in a Day” post, but I’m constantly forgetting to photograph my food. Sore-ee. In the spirit of that though, here’s a written version of an average day.

Note: Links included here are not sponsored products or even affiliate links, I’m simply sharing in case you’d like to look them up or try something specific yourself. Items that aren’t linked are likely local bulk items or items that don’t have an obvious brand, such as cantaloupes or grapes.

Breakfast: …is often Cascadian Farm Organic cereal (my favorite is Ancient Grains Granola) or Kashi’s Whole Wheat Biscuits in Organic Autumn Wheat. There is also a banana and/or strawberries and/or blueberries and/or whatever other fruit I feel like grabbing. There are times when it’s just fruit as well.

Lunch: …is usually a yogurt bowl: Noosa (my favorites are honey, coconut, and lemon), Wallaby (in Vanilla Bean) or, recently, Smári (no particular favorite just yet), with more fruit, sometimes fresh, sometimes dried, sometimes both, the type varies depending on the flavor of yogurt, and Back to Nature granola in Classic. One of my favorite combinations recently has been lemon Noosa, sunflower seeds, dried blueberries, and granola. If I’m not in the mood for yogurt, I will sometimes have fresh fruit and a piece of Franz bread, though I love Rudi’s too, it’s just not available around here anymore, topped with a smear of Dubliner cheese and Crofter’s fruit spread (currently on hand: Superfruit and Seedless Raspberry).

Dinner: …will vary. Regardless of whatever we’re having, salad usually accompanies the main dish. If we’re eating on a plate, about half the plate will be covered with a salad, leaving very little room for whatever else is being served, helping to keep the portion sizes of anything “bad” to a minimum. An example of a dinner item would be smoked fish, grilled chicken (thighs), zucchini lasagna, tofu curry, or crawfish/alligator/shrimp jambalaya (on the menu for this week, actually). Our salads also vary. Our go-tos are organic girl baby spring mix with Farm Hand Organic Simply Beets, pecans, sunflower seeds, Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts, and a parmesan vinaigrette whose brand escapes me, or a more standard salad of organic girl romaine heart leaves with English cucumbers, sweet peppers, baby heirloom tomatoes, spicy alfalfa-radish sprouts, sugar snap peas, and naturSource Organic Salad Topper Smart Life, topped with whatever dressing is in the refrigerator. We’ve also started making our own dressing using tahini, coconut aminos, garlic powder, black pepper, honey, and ginger, which is fantastic.

These are not rigid menu plans. I can’t stand eating the same thing over and over again, but it gives you a basic idea.

Soon after buying the Vitamix, our smoothie consumption skyrocketed, though you’ll notice there wasn’t one listed in my average day. While I still enjoy a smoothie once every three months or so, I find I prefer distinct flavors rather than amalgamations. I also pointed out, back when we first started making smoothies, that I liked mine a little on the runnier side. With that in mind, I’ve been toying with the idea of a juicer. While it would still often be a combination of ingredients, I wouldn’t be stuffing powders (spirulina, carob, wheatgrass, barley grass, etc.) into the concrete-esque mixture. I’m especially interested in recreating some of the Kauai Juice Co. flavors, specifically the Mintacolada, which I’ve made using the Vitamix, but not by proper cold-pressed means.

Abrupt ending? Check.

The crummy iPhone picture up there was tonight’s dinner: NUCO coconut wraps, grilled chicken (definitely could have used more), Thai Kitchen red curry paste, carrots, sweet peppers, white onions, and English cucumbers. I would have put sprouts or lettuce, but I forgot the lettuce, and we’re out of sprouts. Out of view is a bowl of black grapes.

Title From:
It’s Better Than That
by Lou & Peter Berryman

Papaya, Papaya, Paya

This is an iPhone photo, taken very late at night to ensure maximum graininess.

I am sincerely nervous about showing the inside of our refrigerator. I really have no idea why, it’s not like there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just…private? I’m telling you, I possess some weirdness.

Moving on…

I am not a big snacker. I have never felt a desire to eat much between meals. However, I’m trying to remember to snack more, as a method of helping to keep my portion sizes down. The problem is, I’m lazy. I love strawberries, but if I’m feeling a little hungry after lunch, the idea of preparing them will often keep me from grabbing any. Preparing them means washing them, popping the leaves off, and all that strenuous effort that would require I take a nap afterward. So, I decided to order some of these adorable ceramic berry baskets, to organize our refrigerator a bit more, and make grabbing a handful of fruit a little easier.

Those perfectly over-exposed orbs in the white baskets are grapes, by the way. Also in the baskets are cherries, strawberries, and grape tomatoes. It’s been really nice to open the door, grab a handful of something healthy, and have it already washed and ready to eat. We even bought a set of grapefruit spoons, because peeling grapefruits makes me sticky and the only thing I hate more than being sticky is being stickier. It’s all about making the fruits more convenient, which is why we’ve shoved the dried fruits waaaaay in the back, where you can reach in and knock all the berries and grapes out of their baskets, as you drag the bulky bags over top. Can I interrupt myself to say how annoying I find the position of that one apricot? Speaking of apricots, I do not like them. I love them dried, but we’ve had two fresh varieties now, and both taste like nothing at all.

Even though we eat homemade meals six out of every seven days of the week, and almost all our stuff is organic, non-GMO, and fairly healthy, I feel like I could do better. I’m leaning toward going one week mostly raw vegetarian. I can’t do vegan, or completely raw, because I like milk. Could you tell? I don’t want to do it as a cleanse or a lifestyle change, I just think it might be interesting to see the effects a raw diet would have on my body.

We’ll see. The last time we tried to eliminate meat from our diet, it lasted one long, disappointing, grumpy day. I’m not sure no meat or heat is going to go much better.

Note: I did not turn the brand name side away on purpose and now that I see they’re almost all like that, I’m going to have to go rearrange things. More weirdness.

Title From:
The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane*
by Dean Martin

* I do not know if the ladies actually say “papaya,” but that’s what I hear when I listen to the song.

It’s Only Just a Bitter Form of Rain

A few weeks ago I ordered two herbal apothecary books. Of course, you can’t concoct anything without herbals, so I ordered some of those too. Now I’m completely out of room to store anything.

I mentioned before that our kitchen table is an old pianoforte, converted into a desk/table. One of these days I’ll take a picture. (Update: I found a terrible photo from the day we brought it home. You’ve probably already seen it, since it’s at the top of the post, unless you like to close your eyes and scroll down immediately when opening a webpage, which I do too, don’t feel weird.) Anyway, the innards of the pianoforte were removed and the front was sealed up, making one big open storage area, perfect for cookbooks, dish rags, extra mason jars, and tea. I’m a little bit addicted to tea. It’s the only thing I regularly drink other than milk, water, seltzer water, and mineral water. Why didn’t I just leave it at water? It’s all water.

Today I counted at least twenty boxes and tins. I say “at least,” as though twenty is too many for me to count properly, because it is. Actually, Phyllis and her seventy pound pot are housed on the back half of the table, so only the front half opens. It’s possible there are a couple boxes that have made it to the dark side. In addition to the twenty or so boxes in the table, the herbs I purchased for my first attempt at herbal treatments are for, can you guess it? That’s right! Unless you said something other than tea…then that’s not right. Specifically, it’s a tea to treat the obnoxious heartburn that tomatoes and onions seem to now bring on. It’s a blend of chamomile flowers, marshmallow root, licorice root, slippery elm bark, and ginger root. If you’re interested, it works, but more as a preventative.

I need to figure out where to put new things coming in, because next up is a tea for headaches, and that’s a whole new set of herbals.

Title From:
The Beer Song Medley
by Darby O’Gill

Tomatoes on the Vine and Onions

I’ve been experiencing a growing desire to live a more environmentally conscious, self-reliant, healthier lifestyle. We cut processed foods from our diets a few years ago. There is still the occasional craving for Hot Pockets, I’m not going to lie, but for the most part we eat wholesome, local, organic, non-GMO foods. It’s not cheap. I don’t even want to tell you that our grocery bills run around $350 per week, but I will, because they do. My first apartment was only $450 a month. Good grief.

To help offset some of that, we’re planning to grow a lot of our own produce this year. We have plans for rutabagas, four or five different types of peppers, potatoes, carrots, onions, radishes, parsnips, cucumbers, watermelons, and a full potted herb garden. We will also be converting the goat barn without goats, sometimes referred to as The Shed, into a chicken coop, so we can stop spending $5 for a dozen eggs.

It’s going to be so much work and I’m genuinely excited.

Title From:
I Love
by Tom T. Hall

Only Ripe Vegetables, Fresh Fruit, and Whole Wheat

There have been a few times in my life when I’ve weighed more than I liked. Once, I tried my aunt’s collagen drink, which was touted as an extremely healthy way to shed weight. I don’t know if it was or wasn’t but I can tell you that the product I tried was vile and I knew, if that’s what it was going to take to lose a little weight, I’d rather work out. So that’s what I did; I cut my calories and increased my exercise. There are a lot of “secrets” to dieting but burning more calories than you intake seems to be a no-brainer strategy and it’s always worked for me.

Brian and I have been trying to get back into the shape we were in a few years ago. With all the moving and stress (from Louisiana to Iowa to Connecticut to homeless in Wyoming to Montana in four years), we’ve let things fall by the wayside a bit. We’ve always tried to use fresh, healthy ingredients when cooking so there hasn’t been much of a change in what we’re using but rather a re-balancing of ratios.

We’ve also started to include smoothies. Last night we made a modified version of this kale smoothie. The flavor was amazing and for the first 1/3 of the glass the texture was tolerable. I even enjoyed the bits of kale that cut the sweetness of the berries. But! As I got closer to the bottom of the drink, the settling of the raspberry and blackberry seeds, along with the tiny bits of kale, made it rather unpleasant and I honestly worried that if I didn’t stop to chew it, I’d choke. I don’t want to chew my drinks.

Until I can find a way to mince the kale a little finer, I think I’ll stick with fruit smoothies (sans seedy berries) like the one pictured here. This was made with bananas, pineapples, strawberries, pomegranate juice, and water. Because Brian likes his smoothies a little thicker than I do, I’ve blended a large serving of the fruit and pomegranate juice mixture with a tiny bit of water, stored it in a large mason jar, and mix most of the water into individual pint servings so both of us can have the consistency we prefer.

It’s a great way to start the day and it saves me having to go through all the work of getting a bowl, pouring cereal, pouring milk, and grabbing a spoon. Obviously the increasing my exercise portion of this healthy kick is a little delayed.

Title From:
Be Healthy
by Dead Prez