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Sparkling Water or Plain…Which Do You Prefer?

One of the things that I kept coming across in my search for clean eating plans was the inclusion of sparkling water. Now I understand the need to stay hydrated. Water is essential for our bodies to function correctly. Because we are told that soda is bad for us flavored waters have flooded the market. When you start reading their labels, you will find that many flavored waters contain sugar substitutes and those are to be avoided on when trying to eat clean.

The clean eating movement has embraced sparkling water and we are being inundated with flavored sparkling water in every flavor you can think of and many more that you wouldn’t have come up with if it was up to you to do so. Even the soda companies, such as Pepsi and Coke are in the sparkling water business now. One of the reasons that people are drinking it is because the bubbles make you feel full and you don’t feel hungry if you are watching your calories. Others say that it is a replacement for soda and anything that moves you away from high calorie high sugar soda is a good thing.

My son has been a fan of sparkling water for the last year. He tried a few before settling on one that is grapefruit flavored. If you were to give him and actual grapefruit, he would not eat it, but water is different. We have purchased different brands of grapefruit flavored sparkling water, but he always says that he prefers the first brand. We have also purchased a variety of sparkling water in different flavors thinking that my husband and I would try them out to see if they would be something that we could drink. We have tried the following:

Grapefruit–My son’s choice (pictured)

Coconut sparkling water—Ugh no!

Plain sparkling water—No

Berry sparkling water—No

Tangerine Pomegranate sparkling water—No

Strawberry sparkling water—No

Watermelon sparkling water—No—and why does it taste like the green rind and not the sweet melon?

Orange Vanilla sparkling water—No

Cherry Lime sparkling water—No

The one thing that I just can’t get past is the amount of carbonation in the sparkling water. My son actually asked me why I was having such an issue with the carbonation since I do drink soda once in a while. I explained that usually a can of soda is rather flat when you open it, so there isn’t a lot of carbonation. Actually, the soda industry should look into why the sparkling waters are able to retain their carbonation while their sodas don’t. My husband has declared an end to the sparkling water experiment. My son will continue with the grapefruit flavor and I will continue with my plain water.

What do you think about the sparkling water trend?

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Moving to Clean Eating

I wrote earlier that my husband and I were trying to eat healthier and one of the things we were looking at was clean eating. When I began searching for healthy recipes, I would read about how many of the foods we eat today are the causes behind many of the medical issues that people have been experiencing. For example, some people get red, itchy rashes after eating, but have no idea what food may have caused the rash. It can take days for your body to show a rash or another symptom because your immune system may be able to fight it off for a few days before the symptoms finally appear. So how do you know what actually caused the rash? I also read that some foods can cause inflammation and pain in your joints or cause your arthritis to become more painful. The more I read, the more I wanted to learn what I could do to find out if a food or seasoning was causing the problems I was having. Did you know that some seasonings that we cook with can actually make inflammation of your joints worse? I didn’t know that. I thought that a seasoning sprinkled on food while cooking would be harmless. This is because when we think of food we tend to think of calories and most seasonings are zero calorie, so it would be harmless.

When searching for recipes I kept coming across articles about Paleo and Whole30, which are based on the idea of clean eating. Now I am going to simplify things here. For a Paleo eating plan, the idea is to eat foods that are in season and eliminate processed food. Paleo ideology is that we should eat a diet that represents what our ancestors ate thousands of years ago. Basically this would be meat and whatever vegetables and fruits are in season. So, no chips or candy or anything processed.

Whole30 takes the idea of Paleo and expands on it. With Whole30, you are asked to eliminate foods that are known to cause issues for 30 days to see if they are foods that should be taken out of your diet forever. During the 30 days you may see that some of your symptoms have eased or gone away. Once you complete your Whole30, you will be able to reintroduce foods one at a time in order to see if your body reacts to it. If it does, that food needs to be gone for good. If you don’t have a reaction, you can choose to keep that food in your diet. Some foods, such as sugar and sugar substitutes, known to cause Leaky Gut, should be eliminated for good. Many people describe the Whole30 process as hard at first, but they say they feel better and sleep better as their body gets used to eating healthier.

During my research, I came across several websites where the person describes the severe medical issues that they were experiencing, how they saw numerous doctors, had multiple tests done and were not diagnosed correctly or the treatment plan just didn’t help at all. Two blogs that discussed how food helped them heal are The Castaway Kitchen and Whole Daily Life. Both of the bloggers discuss how they tried for years to figure out what was wrong with them, tried all types of treatment and it wasn’t until they began researching on their own to learn about healing themselves through food that they were able to manage their medical symptoms.

While I may not have the serious health issues that those women have, I can’t help but wonder if food is causing some of the issues that I do have. Is the arthritis that I have being made worse because I eat food that causes more inflammation? Is that why some days I can barely walk when I first wake up? Is that why my fingers or knees are swollen? I usually think that I must have taken in too much salt or walked too far the day before, but the reality is that food could be part of the issue.

So, I have started making changes to what I cook, usually meat, vegetables and a salad. We are trying not to purchase processed food and I am reading the labels more to look for hidden sugars and other unhealthy ingredients. Am I ready to do a Whole30? Not yet. I am not sure that I want to go for total elimination yet. I am more aware of what I eat and if I have a reaction. So far, I have discovered that chocolate may be an issue for me and I may have problems with more nuts than I first thought. Right now, I am having fun searching out recipes that I think my husband and I might like. This Egg Roll in a Bowl recipe by The Real Food Dietitians was a winner. I promise to update you as we go.

To learn more, click on the links below or do a search on your own.

Paleo

Whole30

The Castaway Kitchen

Whole Daily Life

The Real Food Dietitians

 

How Does the Garden Grow

It grows slowly…very slowly. Much slower than I originally thought it would. We have had a lot of rain since we first planted. As a matter of fact, it seemed as if it rained the whole month of May. We thought that the rain may have caused the plants to start to die off as they were beginning to turn yellow and weren’t really growing much. My husband decided to go to the home improvement store and get a different type of soil to see if that might be the problem. He also purchased a few new plants (tomato, zucchini and a raspberry bush) to plant in the new soil. While at the store, one of the workers commented that the rain might not be the problem and it could be the soil. He said when plants yellow it usually means that there is too much acid in the soil. So, the organic soil that we used might be too acidic for the plants.

We have continued to have more rain than normal for this time of year. Of the original plants the tomato plants have a couple small tomatoes, most are still green, but there is one cherry tomato that is starting to go from yellow to red. The onions are doing well and the spinach doesn’t seem to be doing anything at all. It actually seems to be shrinking. We thought the lettuce might be lost for good, but they have slowly bounced back and are starting to grow. The plants in the new soil aren’t yellow and also seem to be growing. The raspberry bush has produced about 10 raspberries, so that is good. This was to be a learning experience, so we might learn that we shouldn’t use the type of soil again. The weather is going to be heating up next week, so we will see if that helps the plants. It should help the tomatoes as they usually like it warm and steamy outside.

The one thing that does seem to be thriving in all of the rain are the flowers. They seem much brighter than usual. Here is one of the Lily that we have growing.

Photo © lenalee

 

Time Flies

I was reminded by JP that I haven’t posted in a while. Truth is, while I’ve started many posts, life seems to move by too quickly at time. My office came down with the flu bug despite everyone getting a flu shot. Truth is people began getting respiratory infections around Thanksgiving and just kept spreading them throughout the office. It took until about mid-January before it was my time. I am glad that my flu shot worked, but the severe cold wasn’t fun. I’m waiting for my time to come again as most of the original people who were sick previously are now getting sick again. It seems to be working on a 5 week cycle, so I have a feeling it is just a matter of time.

Work has also been the main cause for my disappearance. The job has continued to be an issue. The turmoil continues despite changes that at first seemed for the better, but have once again deteriorated. I am now at the point of trying to decide if I want to start taking college classes again to better my chances of moving up. My husband wants me to look at school. He asked if I wanted to work on my Master’s while he works on his. It will mean moving out of my current job and into something that is part time or PRN (as needed). I know that I would not be able to do school and work full time. I just don’t have the energy for that.

Add to that I am trying to get to eat healthier. I have been researching clean eating and reading up on different programs. (I will write more about the reasons behind this soon.) I am all for cooking with fresh ingredients as long as I can get them to taste good. I have purchased more seasonings than I have ever used in the past and so far, it hasn’t been too bad. I have made two recipes that were actually yummy and my husband thought so too. He said I can make them again, so that is a good thing.

As for now, I am convinced that the biggest struggle that I will have is not having coffee with flavored creamers. As someone who was never a coffee person, I am not sure about drinking coffee without creamers. I have tried several “healthier” creamers and so far it is a no-go as to taste. So that will go into the work in progress folder. My husband is on board with whatever I do, but he doesn’t add anything to his coffee, so he will be fine.

New Year Wishes

As another year closes, I can see the remnants of our latest snow event. I noticed how the weather forecasters have stopped referring to them as snow storms. This year they are events. We have had 4 events so far with snow totals close to 10 inches. We have spent most of the week with temperatures below freezing and that is expected to continue for another week before we might get above freezing again. Tonight is supposed to be the coldest of the season, so it will be an evening in with a fire and something warm and yummy to drink.

Looking back at my 2017 New Years Wish List, I think there were some successes. Some that are still a work in progress and one or two that I didn’t achieve. I have completed several crochet projects over the past year, including making an afghan, two pillows for the couch and several cowl like scarves to wear with sweaters. I am currently working on another afghan which will be for my husband. I just hope to finish it while it is still winter. I admit that I stopped crocheting in the summer, so this year I will look for projects that I can do during the summer. It really is relaxing. So crocheting would be a success.

I wished to be healthier. This is definitely a work in progress. I feel that I have made big improvements in cooking healthy meals. I have cooked more and we have eaten out less. It’s been easier in a way since two restaurants that we enjoyed going to closed during the past year, so fewer options mean less dining out and more home cooked meals. I am always searching for healthy meals that are also something we would eat, quick to put together and doesn’t take a professional chef to cook. Not every meal would pass the healthy test for some, but I would say we have had more healthy meals than non-healthy this year.

In terms of drinking more lemon water…I’ve failed. I just can’t do it. Neither warm or cold. I just can’t.

As for my wish to say no to Dunkin…well this was successful for a while. Then my husband discovered their Vanilla Bean Coolata for a yummy, summer treat and of course, I had to find something for me. That was their Butter Pecan Iced Coffee. Mmmm so good. Of course summer is gone and so is the butter pecan flavoring, but did I mention they now have a Winter White Chocolate? So Dunkin is in the failure category.

My wish for a new job didn’t happen in 2017. And things at work haven’t gotten better. I have applied for several internal jobs, but we are required to tell our manager that we are applying for other jobs, and it appears that we are being blocked in our attempt to move to another position. Management wants to keep us where we are. I am trying to decide how much longer I will stay. My husband wants me to quit and says I’m not the same person I was when I started. He’s right. I don’t like the person I have to be at work.

For 2018, I wish to keep working on trying to get healthier. I want to find things that motivate me to keep trying and not give up as easily as I have in the past. And I want to end each day with something positive.

For all of you who stop in here, I wish you and your loved ones have a year of love, laughter and good health!!

 

Crock Pot, Meal Prep, Sheet Pan…Oh My

So my hours at work changed and I am getting home later. This means that it is later when I put together dinner. One of the great things about cooler weather is that I am one step closer to pulling out the crock pot to cook soup and stews for dinner. It also means that I have been looking for meals that would allow me to save time cooking, but are also healthy and yummy too. One of the things I came across was a number of websites that were encouraging the idea of meal prep. The idea is that you get ingredients for several meals, usually 4-6, and cook them one day on the weekend, storing the meals into containers to be frozen to eat later or kept in the fridge to eat that week. Sounds good right? Hmmm, hold that thought.

I found a website that allowed you to sign up for a meal prep challenge. The blogger would put together meals, send out the shopping list of ingredients needed and even include how many containers and what types were needed to store each meal in. Sounds even better, right? It did until I received the email with the list of meals that were to be prepped. There was not one meal that we would eat as listed. Most contained exotic vegetables or seasonings that would be extremely hard to get in my local stores. Or they contained items that were just not something that we would eat (hello brussel sprouts). As someone who only recently discovered the yumminess of roasted sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts are not in my immediate plans.

So to prep meals in advance, I would have to substitute a lot of things, which would mean guessing at the amounts to buy. One of the nice ideas about meal prepping is that you are told how much of each item you need. To replace those meant I would now risk getting to much or too little and the prep would fail. I then came across several blogs where they discuss the idea that meal prep takes nutrients away from the food, so if you are trying to eat healthier like we are, losing nutrients would not be something that we want to do.

I then came across the idea of sheet pan meals. The concept here is that you cook the entire meal at once on a sheet pan from start to finish in 45 minutes or less. Take a protein, such as chicken, and add vegetables. Season or marinade the chicken and roast the vegetables.at the same time. There were even sheet pan ideas for breakfast and dessert. I have several recipes bookmarked and I tried my first sheet pan meal last week and it worked out great. I made Asiago chicken and roasted vegetables at the same time. We added a salad and the whole thing took about 40 minutes from start to finish. Not bad for a week night meal. And of course you can make it as healthy as you want.

Now I just have to figure out what to try next? Any ideas?

Wishes For This Year

wish-lstI am not one for New Year resolutions. I feel that resolutions are things that I never complete. The intention is there, but they always seem to fall by the wayside and then I feel like a failure. Instead, I have put together my Wishes for the New Year. After all, wishes can come true.

I Wish to Find a Healthier Me

I have tried to adopt a healthier way of eating. This year I want to continue making better choices and maybe reach a point of doing it without having to think about it. Vegetables are still my biggest struggle, so I will continue to try to find ways to prepare them and hopefully they will get easier to eat.

I Wish to Say No to Dunkin

Okay, I love Dunkin Donut’s coffee. The only problem is that it is hard to stop at ordering just a coffee when you are presented with all the delicious donuts that just go so good with the coffee. So, I have decided to stop visiting Dunkin. I will take my coffee from home and just keep on driving. It’s the only way I’m going to do this.

I Wish to Drink Less Coffee and More Tea

It is hard to believe that I didn’t used to like coffee. That changed when my husband would leave for work. He would fill up his thermos and take a travel mug with him, but there was always enough coffee left in the pot for a cup. So I began to drink coffee. Unfortunately, I have never been able to drink coffee without sweetening it and adding yummy, flavored creamers to it. I have decided that I need to find more flavored teas and replace my second or third daily cup of coffee with the teas. So far, I haven’t been doing too bad. I found a tea by Stash called Christmas in Paris and it smells like Andes Candies Mint Chocolate and it tastes good too. It is a special edition for the holidays, but I am going to try other brands and hopefully will find others that I like as well. I don’t have to add all of the added sugar and flavored creamers, so I am saving calories, which is a good thing. And is should be pretty easy to do if I succeed at the one above, stop going to Dunkin :).

I Wish I Can Drink More Lemon Water

I recently read an article where it said that drinking lemon water has many health benefits. The first was that it works to ease inflammation. If it can ease the pain in my joints that I have it will be worth it. It is also supposed to help with digestion and keep you hydrated. More positives in my opinion.

I Wish I Can Find Exercises That Don’t Hurt

Two years ago I fractured my hip. Don’t ask me how. Neither I or the many doctors that I saw could tell me how or why. Some said I could have sneezed or coughed too hard. Another said I could have bumped it several years ago. Regardless of how I did it, the goal is not to do it again. So I have had to limit the way I exercise, which means not doing anything that can cause a break again. I want to find something that allows me to exercise without a big impact on my bones and joints. It is a work in progress.

I Wish to Learn How to Crochet Left-Handed

I have always wanted to learn how to crochet. My mom and grandma tried to teach me, but as they were right-handed and I was left-handed, they always became frustrated that I couldn’t learn from them. I have done simple crocheting in the past, but I want to learn how to do more complex patterns and maybe make something. I found a website that teaches how to crochet left-handed, so I am going to find time to watch and learn. First, I have to see if I still have my crochet hooks and then pick out yarn. I’m looking forward to that.

I Wish I Can Find a New Job

I have decided that it is time to look for another job. I had hopes that things at my current job would get better, but they have not, so it is time to find something else. I want to be happy at work and that is something I am not any longer. I will write about what has happened recently and then I will not write about work until I have something new to tell.

I Wish my Family and Friends Continued Good Health and Happiness

Stuffy, Tissues and Soup

So I caught a winter cold from work. One person has been sick going on three weeks. I am entering week two and my husband is still in week one. It is mainly a sinus and head cold. Not much coughing or sneezing. Just stuffed up and not sleeping well. At first I thought it was just due to the fact that we had been outside the day before raking and bagging the leaves. While I love looking at leaves, I tend to get stuffy when I actually play with them, so I hoped that it was just too much time outside, but I wasn’t so lucky. By the next morning, I felt horrible.

mrs_grass_noodle_soup_mix_smBefore I made him sick, my husband asked what I wanted and I said I wanted Mrs. Grass chicken soup. It was what we were given whenever we were sick growing up and I even now I always want a bowl when I’m sick. There is nothing quite like being curled up on the couch in your pajamas with a warm blanket and a mug of Mrs. Grass’ soup. Unfortunately we didn’t have any in the pantry so my wonderful husband went to three stores until he found it. 🙂

He started to make it and I told him to make sure the golden nugget was dissolved all the way. He said there wasn’t a golden nugget. I thought he was joking. Mrs. Grass is all about the golden nugget. It’s what makes the soup taste so yummy good. And makes you feel better. He brought me the box and showed me there wasn’t a golden nugget anymore. The picture above shows the golden nugget, but my new box didn’t have it. I immediately Googled it and learned the company got rid of the golden nugget earlier this year. What the h#%l were they thinking??? Put the golden nugget back…..really. I’m sick and now this.

Of course the company wants you to know that it tastes the same. That might be a good way to spin it, but it didn’t taste the same. It just tasted like box soup. Not yummy. 😦 And I am sure that is why my cold has lingered. The little golden nugget would have made me all better by now.

Are You Still Using Your Fitness Tracker?

Last year it seemed like everyone I know had some sort of fitness tracker attached to their wrist. At work, it started with one of our overly fit co-workers and quickly spread throughout the office. For me, I will never be able to run or exercise like I used to when I was younger. My job is one that I am sitting behind a desk for most of the day which is not a good thing. Everything I read said that you should get up and walk every hour, which I do, but I wanted to know how many steps I take at work. I also wanted to track my daily food, so I joined the tracker wagon and began tracking.

At first, I think you are successful because you are conscious of this thing on your wrist. My tracker has a feature where it beeps at you if you have been sitting too long and a red bar appears, increasing every 15 minutes until it is solid. To get it to go away, you have to walk a certain number of steps, so it sort of motivates you to move. The tracker was also supposed to sync up with my food tracker app. The more steps I took, the more calories I burned, so they were supposed to transfer over to my food tracker. I would enter or scan the food that I ate and it would send those results to my fitness tracker. The idea was good and it worked. Or I should say it mostly worked. I noticed that my fitness tracker would always add one more step and my calories would be one less than what was on my food tracker. Okay, I could live with being 1 step and 1 calorie off.

What happened next was harder to live with. In December, I noticed that my fitness and food trackers were no longer syncing. While some steps were sent to my food tracker, it was usually way off, sometimes by more than 1000 steps. In addition, none of my food calories transferred to my fitness tracker, so it always shows me as not having eaten at all. I tried everything to get them to sync again and nothing worked. The only way to enter the data was to do so manually, which took away the ease of automatic syncing. Troubleshooting online showed me that the problem seemed to be happening to people with every type of fitness tracker, not just mine. It also appeared to have happened after an update with the software for the food tracker. Some tried to blame the phone, but it didn’t matter if you had an Android or iPhone or any other type of phone. It also didn’t work when I tried to sync it from my computer, which told me that there was a bigger issue going on. I later read that my food tracker had launched a fitness tracker. So I think I found the bigger issue. What better way to get people to buy your tracker than convincing them there is something wrong with their current one?

So, the question for me was what was more important, tracking my steps or tracking my food. And since I will never be the athlete that needs to monitor every aspect of their body for maximum athletic knowledge…makes me laugh just typing that…I have decided that I will track my food. So I have taken off my fitness tracker and put it away. If I want to count steps again, I will go back to the old-fashioned pedometer. After all, my hi-tech one didn’t track when I waved my hand, which I noticed happened with my other one. And since I tend to speak with my hands a lot, my total steps for the day were increased from that alone, so I really wasn’t getting an accurate count anyway. I noticed that a few of my co-workers have stopped wearing their trackers as well. They all have a variety of reasons as to why, but the one thing I’ve observed is that we are all still trying to get fit. It just doesn’t seem as if the tracker is the right thing to help us along the way.

Bring Your Own Lunch

LunchOnce a month we have a mandatory staff meeting that takes place during lunch because that is when it will have the least impact on patient care. It is for all staff, but usually there are people who will pretend they didn’t know it was happening and miss it. During the meeting we celebrate those with birthdays for the month and if no one has a birthday, which happened this month, there is still cake. In the early days, we would have a potluck with everyone who wanted to take part bringing something to contribute to the lunch. Gradually, people started to get tired of having to lug a huge crock pot filled with food all the way from the employee parking lot, so the potlucks sort of dwindled down to very few people bringing a dish and the majority of us bringing our own lunch to the meeting.

This past week we had the February all staff meeting and the discussion the week prior was that the manager would order a sub sandwich platter from a local shop that delivered and staff would bring their own sides, chips, veggies, pasta salad, etc. I am trying to eat better, so I avoid the offerings at the luncheons and bring something for myself. It’s safer that way. So when we arrived at the meeting there were 10 large pizzas for 20 people. Two are allergic to gluten and others are eating healthy, so that made 10 pizzas for about 12 people. Needless to say we had lots of leftovers and a boss that didn’t understand why her staff didn’t eat the pizza. Of course, as usual, it had to be discussed endlessly even if you had no desire to do so. The following is my interrogation (or conversation) as I was leaving for the day:

Boss: “You didn’t eat any pizza at the meeting.”
Me: “No, I didn’t.”
Boss: “Why not? You’re Italian.”
Me: “Well, fifty percent of me is.”
Boss: “So why didn’t you eat pizza?”
Me: “I’m trying to eat healthier.”
Boss; “Who isn’t?”
Me: “The people who did eat the pizza.”
Boss: “So why didn’t you eat any?”
Me: “I like thin crust pizza.”
Boss: “The pizza had thin crust.”
Me: “The crust was two inches thick. It wasn’t thin crust.”
Boss: “There was vegetarian pizza. That’s healthy.”
Me: “My Italian grandma never put broccoli or jalapeno on a pizza.”
Boss: “There was cheese pizza.”
Me: “That’s a bread stick. Not pizza.”
Boss: “I expected everyone to eat the pizza. Well, except for the two that are allergic to gluten. They didn’t even eat the salads I ordered special for them.”
Me: “That’s because they weren’t gluten free.”
Boss: “It was a salad with chicken.”
Me: “It had croutons and shredded cheese. Both have gluten. I don’t think they wanted to get sick.”
Boss: “Do they even make gluten-free salads?”
Me: “The cafeteria does. You just have to order it.”
Boss: “I still don’t understand why the pizza wasn’t a hit.”
Me: “Maybe next time you can order a tray of subs from the sub shop.”
Boss: “I’ll try to remember that for next month.”

And that’s why I’ll continue to bring my own lunch to those meetings.

 

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