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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

 

Wishes For a Happy Father’s Day

 

Happy Father’s Day to my husband!!!

And to everyone that takes on the role in someone’s life.

Back From An Unexpected Hiatus

I didn’t plan on taking a break. So what have I been up to during my break? Hmmm, lets see, I left my job, decided to go back to school and hope to eventually find another job. Sounds like a lot right? And it was.

So lets start with the job. It hasn’t been a secret that I have not been happy with my job. I love the patients, and they will be what I miss the most, but what I won’t miss is the stress and lack of advancement opportunities. For me, the decision to leave my job was not one that was made easily or quickly. In fact, I realize that I stayed much longer than I should have, but that is on me. It is hard to walk away from a job that I helped to create and develop for my department. But when your husband tells you in a very frank and honest conversation that your job is making you a B@t&h, well you have to really take notice. And I did. And he was right.

What my husband saw was that I would begin withdrawing on Sunday evening. He said that it was like I was putting on my gear to go into battle and from Monday to Friday, I was withdrawn, sad and would come home and just curl up on the couch. He said the only time I would smile was on the weekends. But most of all, he said that he wanted his wife back. So when that conversation happens, you have to take notice and believe me I did.

The question then became what did I want to do? Did I want to stay in my job and hope things will change? Well, honestly, I have been hoping for that for more than two years and it still hasn’t happened. Or did I leave? And what did I want to do when I leave? More conversations with my husband and more conversations with myself led me to the decision to go back to school. And that is rather scary, but now is the time to make it happen. I resigned. Worked my final two weeks and left for career progression. And it felt absolutely wonderful!!!

Now if only I can decide what I want to be when I grow up.

Planning a Vegetable Garden

For years my husband and I have talked about planting a garden. We often talked about what we would plant, but we never got around to planting a garden for a lot of reasons. In the beginning, we lived in either an apartment, rented a house or lived in military housing. None of those made it easy to have a garden. When we bought our house in Kansas, we talked about clearing a section of the yard for a garden, but we never seemed to get around to it. Our current neighbors have an extensive garden that runs along the side of our fence. In the past they have shared some of their veggies with us, which were mainly the ones that happened to come over the fence onto our side. This year we have decided that we will have a garden of our own.

We are going to try our hand at container gardening. We have researched the types of vegetables that grow in our zone and when we can start planting them. Since winter has lingered way to long, we are waiting for the last frost of the season, which in this area is usually around May 1st. My husband is the one that has designed the garden and knows where everything will go and how things should be planted. My role has been helping decide what vegetables we want to plant. They currently run to those that I will actually eat. My husband is the one with the green thumb, so if he tells me when to water the plants and how much, I don’t think I will mess them up too much.

Trips to the home improvement store now include stops to see what seeds have come in and look at the gloves and pretty tools needed for gardening. Of course my husband steers me away from those, assuring me that he already has gloves for me and I really don’t need purple clippers. This past weekend we headed out early and picked up organic soil for the containers. Each one is now filled and waiting for when we can get started with the actual planting. Once we see how things go this year, we might look at expanding the garden next year and possibly clearing a space in the yard. Or, we might continue with the containers. So, wish us luck and I’ll be sure to keep you posted as to what we find in our garden.

 

Photo © Lenalee

Spring Might Really Be Coming

Although it is a beautiful day, it is rather cold and the weather people still have a chance of snow in the forecast for this week. The temperatures are slowly moving upwards and it is supposed to actually reach the 60’s later this week and into next weekend. Around the house, my husband has a long list of things that needs to be done to ready the house and yard for spring.

Last weekend we made the first trek to the home improvement store for mulch and organic soil. The mulch is to spruce up the flower beds around the house and the soil is to start the prep for our garden that we will be planting. This weekend was the second trip for the rest of the mulch and to also start looking at brick landscape pavers. We would like to take out the stones that are in the front, which sort of blend into the scenery and replace them with something that goes more with house. That will be on the list for next spring. As for this year, the mulch is now finished so that is one item that my husband can mark off of his spring list. Our pug is happy because he has fresh mulch to frolic in and kick out of the flower beds, so tidying up the mulch will be on the list all summer long.

This morning, even though the temperature is only 38 degrees, my husband is currently prepping the lawn mower, as all of the weed and feed that he put on the lawn to help it grow is doing its job.  The weeds are growing very nicely and the grass is too. It will need to be cut soon, so that will be on the list for next weekend.

So has spring finally arrived where you are?

 

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.

Crochet Update

So one of my wishes for the 2017 New Year was to teach myself how to crochet. Being left-handed, I continually frustrated my mother and grandmother when they attempted to teach me. I can crochet a simple single crochet stitch, but anything more than that and I am at a loss. So my search for crochet tutorials led me to tons of websites and YouTube. Yes, YouTube is now my friend. One of the first videos that I watched was Bella Coco from the UK. Shout out to Sarah Jayne!!! You rock in teaching someone how to crochet. She has a lot of videos showing left handed crochet. Yea!!! She also has a website, which you can find here.

I dug through my sewing box and pulled out the crochet hooks that I already had and then hit up the local craft store. My hubby is always my biggest supporter, so while I took in the yarn aisles searching for yarn for my first attempt at crocheting, he was picking out some yarn for me to make him a scarf. I thought it would probably be finished in time for next winter, but I bought the yarn and several others, as well as a few more hooks. The first stitch I learned from Bella Coco was the left-handed waffle stitch. I took notes, bookmarked the video and wrote down specific times when she transitioned from one row to another and I was off.

The first scarf took about 4 days. It was done to match my winter coat. Once I realized that it looked normal and not misshapen, I started the one for my husband. I kept checking the length and told him to tell me when it was the length that he wanted. His took about a week. Of course it was finished and the temps were in the 50’s and 60’s. The temps finally dropped and he was able to wear it for the long walk from the parking lot to his office building. His report was “it was warm and toasty and people asked where I got it from.” Mine will have to wait until next winter to be worn. I park in a parking garage and walk about 30 feet into the building.

Next up was several cowl’s to wear with some of my sweaters at work. They were my response to the no v-neck sweater policy at work, so this helps me cover up the “V” while wearing something I made. I did those in a light weight yarn and learned another new stitch. I have also learned the basket weave stitch from her site as well. I picked up two pillow forms and plan to use them on the couch. I completed the bolster pillow, which was done in the waffle stitch pattern, and I used the basket weave stitch to cover the second pillow. For my first attempts at making pillows, they came out better than I thought they would.

I then started working on an afghan to keep warm on the cold winter nights. The only issue was that winter turned into spring and by summer the yarn was too warm to work with so I put it aside to finish in the fall. I did attempt to make a pair of baby booties for one of my coworkers who was expecting and I have to say, they turned out pretty good for my first attempt.

When the weather turned cool, I started working on the afghan again and realized I was only three rows from the end. I could have finished it a lot sooner. My husband requested one for when he and the pug sit in the recliner at night, so I started working on his. I have six more skeins of yarn to go and we are only 3 weeks into the official winter season, so I am hopeful it will be done in time for him to actually use it. The photo shows the afghan and the two pillows that I made. Now I just have to figure out what I want to make next.

That’s a Wrap For Fall

With fall officially set to depart on Thursday this week, I have to say that fall this year has truly been one of the more beautiful ones that I can remember. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a rather mild summer. Oh sure, we had a short period of time when the temperatures were in the 90’s, but for the most part, the summer stayed in the 80’s and when fall came, it actually was cool.  That might have had something to do with the amazing show that Mother Nature put on in our region. Driving to work, the bright oranges and reds of the trees with the early morning sky showing pink and orange in the background made for a beautiful drive.

And all those wonderful colors on display made for a lot of weekend road trips for my husband and myself. We did a lot of leaf peeping in the region, making several trips to Pennsylvania, including a fall foliage train ride and a tour of covered bridges. We also visited the Great Falls National Park on both the Maryland and Virginia side and discovered a tasty little barbecue place along the way. Can I just say that Mookie’s BBQ in Great Falls, VA serves the most amazing loaded fries, which comes complete with burnt ends, pulled pork, cheddar cheese and onions? Yum! They are worth a stop if you are in the area.

Here are a few photos of some of the places that we visited…

Rocks State Park, Maryland

Great Falls National Park, Virginia / Maryland

Bucks County, PA view from Bowman’s Tower

One of the Buck’s County, PA covered Bridges

All photos © lenalee

 

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