Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Highlights

I thought I would end 2012 with a look back at progress I made toward my healthier living goals this year. I may not have managed to hit the ideal I wanted, but, dang, I did make progress and I'm proud of it! :D

Not in any particular order and not necessarily all-inclusive:

*fresh garlic is a regular staple around here; a few years ago, I'd never used fresh garlic in my life
*I've tried so many new recipes compared to previous years
*kale is a fairly frequent visitor in our house now
*Swiss chard has appeared a few times
*have managed to do a week and a half straight of gluten-free eating--and don't want the bread back
*did yoga each day for over 100 days in a row
*had lots of days with raw mornings
*started working on strengthening my poor atrophied muscles
*haven't gained weight beyond a certain point that I seem to hit each year at some point
*fewer pre-packaged items have been used for supper than previous years; a couple years ago, Hamburger Helper, Rice-a-Roni, pre-packaged rices, frozen chicken nuggets and such were all regular meals around here
*typically eating more fruits and veggies
*more vegetarian suppers served to my family this year compared to previous years

These are all great steps for me! It's motivating to see all the little steps I've taken even though the final product may not be at the level I wanted. But, so what? :D I wonder what I will accomplish in 2013?

What accomplishments are you proud of--health-wise or other--for 2012?

Happy New Year's Eve to you all and wishing you a happy and healthy 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

A New Flab-Free Challenge

LOL. (Yes, laughing at myself at my choice of titles.)

All right, it's not even 2013, but I stopped by the library and a book on display has become my next fitness challenge guide:

Clicking will bring you to the Amazon US listing.

I had a look at it and it looks like it's easy to do and is based on how much a person can push themselves, which means for things that may aggravate my IT-band, I just do what I can and leave it at that. It's designed to be for everybody, including those of us who haven't properly exercised in ages. My kind of book! lol. It has a devotional component which suits me just fine, but someone who wasn't interested in the spiritual fitness aspect of the book could ignore it. I won't be following the food options since I'll be working on my own individualized food goals and with food allergies/sensitivities and strong dislikes, there's too much I just wouldn't eat. The book also goes into an additional 28 days, so it's really kind of a 56-day program, if someone decided to do it all, which I will if the first 28 days make a difference. :)

One thing they say to do is to journal: write down each day how many of the exercises you did, how long it took and all that. I haven't decided if I will post that all here or on the forum they have on their website It doesn't seem used much, which means if I post there, I don't know that I'll have the kind of accountability that could be useful. If I post here, you all might get pretty bored. We'll see.

I see no reason to wait until January 1st, when I'll be tired from having stayed up late and less motivated to get it done and the waiting will just encourage procrastination, so I started today! Today's exercise, after a 3-minute walking warm-up, was just to provide a baseline, and here's mine:

Inclined push-ups: 10 (so sad... lol. I have a decent amount of strength to lift things, but my shoulders aren't very strong, apparently!)
Crunches: 27 (not horrid...)
Time: 1 minute 47 seconds

The way the program is set up is that there are 4 mandatory workout days each week. These are the exercises for this week, if I've previewed properly. That's it. The goal: Beat each previous day's number of reps and/or time.

Are you waiting to start some fitness goals? What are they?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Yummy Shake'N Bake Gluten-Free Supper

At the grocery store last week, my 15-year old was looking at a Shake 'N Bake BBQ Chicken Glaze package. No wheat, no gluten. She asked if we could have it. Sure! Why not? That makes for a supper that's both gluten-free and dairy-free.

There was a recipe on the back for the glazed chicken to cook on top of slices of peppers and purple onions. I don't have purple onions in the house, but I did have the peppers. We served it on rice (white rice, unfortunately, but not instant rice) with some fresh veggies. I remembered to take a picture after I'd eaten some. (Woops.)

While it did have a barbecue taste to it, it was a lot like fajitas, to be honest. Which makes it a wheat-free "fajita" option for my daughter. This has got me thinking about finding a spice recipe for fajitas and using it to make something similar, but only veggies, no chicken, for a vegan option. Regardless, it was very tasty and everyone was happy--which is a difficult feat in this house with new meals. lol.

There is a version of the recipe here, but that's not what's on my box. You know what? Why don't I just type out the recipe that's on the box since it doesn't seem to exist elsewhere:

SHAKE'N BAKE Quick Oven "Stir-Fry"
Prep: 10 min | Total: 30 min | Preheat oven to 375F | Makes 4 servings

Preheat oven to 375F.
Spread 3 cups assorted pepper strips (green, red and yellow) and 1 sliced red onion onto bottom of shallow foil-lined baking pan.
Coat 1 lb (450g) boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips with 1 pouch SHAKE'N BAKE BBQ Chicken Glaze Coating Mix; place over vegetables. Sprinkle with any remaining coating mix.
Bake 20 min. or until chicken is cooked though.
Meanwhile, cook 2 cups instant brown rice as directed on package; spoon onto serving plate. Top with chicken mixture.
Best of season: Prepare using your choice of fresh vegetables, such as sliced mushrooms, celery slices, zucchini slices and/or broccoli florets.

If you know of a homemade fajita-type seasoning that could be used, or maybe a tried-and-true veggie fajita recipe, please share!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Gluten-Free Trial

As I mentioned in previous posts, my 15-year old daughter decided to finally try going gluten-free. She was starting to have daily stomach complaints, pain, bloating and we'd suspected at least wheat before, and she was desperate for some relief, so she went for it. First evening, pain ended up worse than before, but within a few days, she had no pain, her stomach was flattest its been in ages and she was feeling good.

We lasted about a week and a half gluten-free before holiday celebrations hit and she decided to indulge here and there. And so did I. ;) But to backtrack, the first day of going gluten-free was okay, the next two days were very hard to make the switch. After that, it didn't seem like a huge deal. Yes, I had my evenings where I was going, "Oh my gosh, what are we going to eat?" but I figured things out. With the internet, you can find just about any recipe you want by listing ingredients you have on hand that you think would go well together! I managed to find this one evening:

I slightly modified it (didn't have tomato paste, for example) but it was definitely a keeper recipe!  And if you use vegetable stock (Campbell's vegetable broth is gluten-free; the chicken broth isn't), the recipe is not only gluten-free, but vegan, as well.

Since being back on wheat, I'm feeling blah again. But since so many of the wheat things around here are junk (German lebkuchen, for example, and stollen) with sugar, hard to know how much of it is wheat and how much of it is sugar. I don't have any desire for bread though. Nor the baked goods I had intended to make and haven't. I'm eager to get back to the wheat-free/gluten-free eating we were doing. I have this aversion now, which I should probably pay attention to!

My mother tried to tell me that it wasn't healthy to be on a gluten-free diet if you didn't need to be on it. My mother's an intelligent woman, but she doesn't seem to realize that what she said makes no sense. She's just going off of something she read somewhere. If celiacs can be healthy on a gluten-free diet, there's no reason others can't be. This isn't like the recommended diabetic diet where it's playing around with your blood sugars; it's just a matter of having gluten in your system or not. Since I definitely felt better being wheat/gluten-free (I hardly eat other gluten than wheat, so hard to know if it's wheat or gluten), then, by golly, I'm going to aim to pretty much eliminate wheat from my diet regardless of what certain experts may say (other experts say none of us should be eating gluten)! I'm thinking about convincing--or forcing--my 12-year old son to try, too. He has absolutely horrid dry skin on his hands every winter. We tried eliminating dairy last winter or the winter before and it had no effect. Something in his system is causing this! It's so bad that if I don't make sure he gets hand cream on his hands, they end up cracking and bleeding. And, yes, I have to make sure cream gets on him because he doesn't seem to pay any attention to it until it does start cracking and bleeding.

There has been some good things so far about going gluten-free:

  1. Improved health.
  2. Increased knowledge about using things such as digestive enzymes. Definitely helps my daughter and I've taken some a couple of times and I find my intestinal area seems flatter than usual--less inflammation?
  3. Increased experimentation with recipes. Rather than eating the same old, same old, I've been forced to go beyond, find new recipes, try different things. Things I had wanted to do in the past but it took my daughter's health to really push me through the comfort zone barrier.
  4. Seeing how we did reasonably easily manage to make the switch--yes, we still had our moments of going "Arrrrrrgh!"--it has me thinking more about my switching to a vegan (or beegan--using honey) diet and at least 50% raw. It can be done; it'd be nice if it didn't take a health crisis to finally do it.

I'll leave you today with just some of my finds during my gluten-free search:

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Challenge Is Done--Merry Christmas!

One of many Christmas cards made--and I'm not done! I copied from All stamps and paper are Stampin' Up!

Okay, so Christmas isn't until tomorrow, but it's Christmas Eve, which is when Christmas starts for me. I'm not sure how it came to be a tradition in my grandfather's family, but they always opened gifts on Christmas Eve. (Family was from Prussia; might have had something to do with it.) My grandmother (who had grandparents from Prussia) went along with it, which means my mom grew up with it and I have grown up with it. With my mom living nearby and my in-laws out of the country for winter (snowbirds!), my husband, our kids and I open Christmas gifts with her and my step-dad Christmas Eve at their place (but we reserve some for home Christmas morning!).

In any case, the challenge is done. I completely dropped the ball yesterday on it, so I guess I stopped on Saturday. And how do I feel today? Crummy. I feel puffy and my nose is running--but not like a cold--and I'm thirsty and my IT band is burning on both sides (didn't even do yoga yesterday).

Given it's the end, time for a bit of self-assessment:

How'd I do?
Not bad. I have a few rough days, but overall, food consumption was much better, fruit and veggie consumption is up and muscles have been strengthened.

What could I have done better?
Planning would have helped make sure raw consumption and overall fruit and veggie consumption was where I would have liked it to be. For the exercise aspect... I really did do as I had aimed to do, except for missing a day here and there. I think my next challenge has to include doing the Egoscue exercises to help get my body in balance. I think a lot of the walking around in my winter boots is why my IT band is acting more, more so than too many reps. The Egoscue exercise ought to help!

What's next?
Well, it's Christmas, so a bit of a break until my next challenge. But... I haven't yet done any of the baking I was planning on doing and now I'm kind of rethinking it. Once I start on something sugary, especially after a short break, I seem to go overboard, especially when I'm lacking sleep, which I severely am these past few days. I had way too many candies, for example, yesterday. I'm sure that's got to do with how blech I feel today, but the wheat might have something to do with it, too. But my tired mind is rambling: I was wanting to make the Better than Butter Tarts from "How It All Vegan" and some gluten-free Rice Krispie squares and some dairy-free shortbread (and raw vegan Nanaimo bars, but they're awfully complicated and I don't have the ingredients that I need), but I'm now rethinking it. Maybe just pick one? (Butter tarts! :D) After Christmas, I will settle on another goal. Gluten/wheat-free is definitely a part of it, at least for the bulk of the time. Trying even more raw recipes--including as part of meals for families--is another part. I've already started putting together a raw veggie plate that gets set out on the table before all the other food and it's getting all eaten up. Salad--that would be a good starting goal to have with each supper.

Enough of this Christmas Eve ramble. Have a very Merry Christmas! And if you were doing your own challenge, why not share how you did? :D

Friday, December 21, 2012

Day 28--Yes, I'm Still Alive! lol

Still alive, just having a ridiculously busy week. My regular weeks, which are already busy, plus a fancy birthday party last Sunday and Christmas shopping and running two gift-making classes... The supper on Sunday was fantastic: the restaurant even had a special menu for special diets. There was even a raw menu. This is practically unheard of where I live, unless you go to some vegetarian restaurant, which this was not. This is among the high-end restaurants in town! I didn't eat from the raw menu, but did take from the vegan menu and was so excited to be able to actually have dessert. lol.

As an update to my progress: Some days have lacked in raw due to lack of groceries, and then when we got groceries, because I live in winter wonderland, the fruit wasn't yet raw (EDIT: RIPE. lol). It looked promising yesterday that it would be ready today. Yesterday actually lacked raw in part because of my being so busy. A girl in my Monday afternoon class brought me -free banana bread (gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free...) and there was still some left and it was an easy breakfast. Rest of the morning, I was in class. Lunch time was busy again with cleaning stuff up from that class and getting ready for the second class. I did make sure to get a salad with supper, so that's all good.

As far as I know, I've been gluten-free--except for the sausage that first day--ever since my daughter decided to go gluten-free. She did "cheat" on Sunday, then had nothing again until yesterday. Tuesday or Wednesday she declared herself really feeling completely well for the first time in a long time. And that the wheat-based foods she used to love weren't as appealing to her anymore. We went to the grocery store and all the foods she used to go, "Mmmmm" were just a kind of "Meh." "Except cookies," she said. ;) In any case (excuse my brain this morning), she did have gluten yesterday and no immediate stomach ache or anything. We'll see if she has any symptoms today.

In terms of what gluten-free has done for me, I'm not entirely sure. At first, I thought it was nothing. But I did have a bit of a skin breakout, more of a rash pattern than true acne, which could have been related. And my weight is staying 4 lbs down from where I started, even though I'm having some days without much in terms of fruits and vegetables. That is different. Normally, that causes my weight to bounce up a couple of pounds. I'm kind of worried now about eating gluten again. lol. I've got plans for "butter" tarts (no, I am NOT making a gluten-free crust ;)) and when we'll be at my mom's, I'll probably have to eat gluten or starve. I'm thinking I need to bring something to add to the Christmas meal--I won't be able to eat the turkey because she always uses butter for the basting, she did make me butter-free stuffing last time, she messed up on the potatoes last time and I couldn't eat those and the only other thing she serves--other than brussel sprouts, which I can't stand--is cranberry sauce. Which I don't even really like, but I can make myself eat. (Can't make myself eat the brussel sprouts.) I think I need to figure out something to bring, just in case! Heck, even a small platter of cut fresh veggies would be great.

My exercise component of my challenge: I actually had to stop a couple of days, but have been doing the yoga (missed one day this week, I think). The reason I had to stop was I started causing a flare up of the IT band: burning sensation, tightness (which I could feel just laying in bed) and knee pain. I did do some exercises last night, not as many as I had been, and my IT band is telling me this morning I should have done only the yoga. I had upped the number of repetitions and while it felt fine doing them, it was apparently too much.

All right, I've actually got to get going here. Raw morning it will be though! :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Day 21!

It is Day 21! And I'm finding today to be a huge challenge!

Actually, yesterday, I did not do my exercises. By the time I got myself to bed--at 9:27 pm, so we're not talking late here--I was so exhausted, I gave myself permission to skip for just yesterday. My husband got home from a school play between 9:30 and 9:45 and I was completely out already! I normally take at least a few minutes to fall asleep, but I'm pretty sure it was less than a minute last night.

Today, I do need to make sure to get those exercises and yoga in! But there's so much else on my mind today, like:

  • What is my daughter going to eat for lunch?
  • What will she eat for supper?
  • Am I going to stick with gluten-free, too?
  • How long will the line at the post office be since today's the last recommended day to get cards send to the US in time for Christmas?
  • My cards aren't even done. Am I going to be able to finish them today?
  • I have run out of fruit to make a green smoothie. What will I eat? The little clementine I ate is not nearly enough. And when am I going to have time to pick up some groceries? We don't have anymore potatoes either, just one carrot... 
That's my mind this morning. Goodness.

I need food right now. And to finish Christmas cards. I suppose if worse comes to worst, my 15-year old can use her new gluten-free bread to make a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch or supper and then... um... not sure what the other meal could be. (I don't even have Daiya cheese to make my own gluten-free grilled cheese...)

A little update on my 15-year old: Yesterday was her second full gluten-free day. She felt great all day, was in a great mood all day, no stomach issues, well rested... I'm amazed at how quickly things have changed for her! She's still in bed, so we'll have to see later if she's just as rested today as yesterday. We will test at some point, most likely, if it's gluten or just wheat, but for now, focusing on gluten-free as much as possible.

But seriously, what are we going to eat today? lol

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sausage can equal wheat

I didn't even look at the ingredients in my sausage other than when I bought it, to make sure it didn't have milk.

While I threw that pack away, a similar pack--same company, just with cheese--has wheat flour in it.

Good thing I looked. My 15yo has decided to not eat them now, even though she's pretty much the only one who wanted them.

She is, by the way, doing better this morning. She seems happy and well rested for a change. Her stomach, she says, it flatter than it's been in a very, very long time. She is very contentedly munching on an Udi's Cinnamon Roll this morning and feeling great.

Day 20 and a Mix of Things

Yes, today's Day 20 of my pre-Christmas challenge. I've been doing better this week with the smoothies, have kept up the exercises, did skip the yoga Tuesday night (bad move! was very stiff yesterday) and yesterday, even managed to have a grain-free day*! Life is crazy right now so that's quite an accomplishment! lol

And this brings me to the "Mix of Things" portion of this post. My 15yo has shown signs of potential wheat/gluten issues for years. She is still very small, rather undeveloped (looks like a beginning-to-develop 11yo, to be honest), but my mother was the same, so I never thought too much of it, other than my daughter would have stomach issues here and there after eating things like a Subway sandwich or certain pizzas.

Last week, her stomach started permanently bothering her and got bloated. She calls it "puffy." Just where the stomach is (rather than the whole abdomen) actually sticks out. She finally decided she was going to go for it and try gluten-free. For most of the day yesterday, she was feeling much better. But after supper... Stomach hurt worse than it's hurt all week. :(

I looked things up and apparently, it does happen that symptoms can get worse when you start a gluten-free diet. One theory is that there is a toxin build up and when you stop the gluten, the toxins start releasing and make things worse. Kind of like people who go from a horrific diet to a 100% raw food diet overnight and have detox symptoms, I suppose. A friend recommended, even before we started the gluten-free, to get some activated charcoal. Looking things up, it seems activated charcoal is a common remedy for those on gluten-free diets for when they have slipped up or inadvertently consumed some gluten. I will be getting her some as soon as I can, possibly tonight or at the very latest tomorrow.

Now I have a crazy day ahead of me, complete with intensive cleaning this morning, teaching a 2-hour class this morning and another one this afternoon and all kinds of other things to get done. Time to get cracking!

(*What I ate for the grain-free day: Green smoothie during the morning, a sausage smokie--I know, horrible for me--for lunch, with ketchup, a Larabar as a snack, chicken, potatoes, broccoli and salad for supper and a banana with some peanut butter for an after-supper snack/dessert!)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 18 Pre-Christmas Challenge--2 Weeks to Go!

There are only 2 weeks left before Christmas starts for me (we start on Dec. 24th)!

Two weeks doesn't seem like a very long time. My mind is saying, "Not a lot can be done in 2 weeks." Well, pooh on you negativity! I've just finished 2 weeks and reported on some of my progress yesterday. Is it a lot? Maybe not. But it's something. And with another 2 weeks, I can hopefully at least double that something.

I know this is going to require more focus on my part. I really need to get those fruits and veggies in. I just have to if I want to feel better, enjoy better health and, yes, lose the extra weight, be it fat or water. Doing more exercise would be helpful, too--without going overboard.

So, you know what? It's only 6:40 am here as I type this. I'm up earlier than usual, so why not take advantage of it? I think I will go walk on the treadmill for 10-15 minutes. What's something you can do today? Some extra thing to help you reach your ultimate health or fitness goal?

See you later. ;)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Day 17: Pre-Christmas Challenge--Progress

Already at Day 17! Yikes!

Borrowed from

It's a little past the mid-point, but I figure it's a good time to assess. Have I made progress? Have my goals helped?

I can't say my raw morning focus has made much of a difference. Well, no, at first, I was feeling better, "cleaner". But I was eating more fruits and greens at that point. Aha! My raw morning yesterday consisted of a tiny clementine and my standby of Ani Phyo's Coconut Breakfast Cakes, topped with blueberries and maple syrup. That's been a pretty consistent breakfast this past while, so low fruit intake and little variety! I had said before that I needed to eat more fruits and veggies. It's very clear today that I do!

For the exercise portion, while I didn't see a difference when I put on my bathing suit the other day (;0), when I first started doing the exercises, I could barely do 10 repetitions of some of them. I made my way up to a set of 15 of each and just last night, started with two sets of 10. Definite progress, even if it's not exactly visible. This is very good on my part: I have had a tendency in the past to go too quickly, exacerbating the IT band and knees further, which set me back and forced me to stop. No need to stop! I do think continuing to do yoga after the exercises definitely helps, too.

No, not my suit, but it's cute, isn't it?

Yes, the bathing suit. Do you know, I think a bathing suit can have two potential effects with a goal: convince you that you might as well give up or spur you into a more dedicated action!

My kids and I went to a recreation centre on Friday where we spent some time in the pool and some time in the gymnasium. My IT band ended up having some burning here and there. I'm not sure if it was because of overuse or because it was being released. In any case, put my bathing suit on before we left and had a good look in the mirror. I have to be honest with myself: my challenge's overall goal was to improve habits but I know deeper down, I would really, really like to be in better shape much more quickly! Am I prepared to dedicate myself to that at this point? I'm not so sure. I am really trying to be more careful about what I eat, be more aware. The food diary kind of helped, but just paying more attention during the day, not grabbing something out of habit is more helpful. I took a couple of Christmas cookies after lunch the other day and five minutes later thought, "What did I eat those for?" It wasn't intentional, it was "they're there on the counter, mmm, they'd taste good" and I ate them. Bah. I was tired and craving something sweet last night but did not give in. Within about 5 minutes, the desire had passed. But exercise... With Christmas nearly here, my busyness is crazy. I haven't even been keeping up my novel writing. This may have to be an after Christmas challenge.

What is this Sunday morning babble about? I hope it's about something. About progress, about not giving up, about seeing things for what they are and taking the next step.

Only fifteen days left until Christmas Eve! Just over two weeks to take another step and make even more progress. I can do it--and so can you. :)

Friday, December 7, 2012

Which is more important: goals or well-being?

Today is Day 15 of my challenge. I have a confession to make:

I did not follow the challenge yesterday for Day 14.

Yesterday was the third day in a row of huge tonsils. No throat pain, just huge tonsils, making it hard to swallow and I could very often feel their pressure. I was also easily tired and had a bit of a snuffly nose. I ran two classes yesterday nonetheless, but by evening, I was spent: headache, exhausted, freezing even though I was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, sweater, slippers and wrapped in a thick blanket. I can't remember if I ate only raw in the morning, although I know I had a banana first thing. The rest of the day wasn't great in terms of food choices. But I do know I gave myself permission to not do the exercises and yoga.

My routine has been to do them at night once everything else is done. It's a good routine. Because it's routine, I don't even really have to think about it. "Oh, it's 9! Time to do my exercises." Last night, every time I unwrapped myself, I shivered, sometimes violently.

Some might say to suck it up and just go ahead. After all, I don't have to spend many minutes, just get the exercises done. I assessed the situation. I didn't want to not do the exercises just because I didn't feel like them, but really assessing the situation, I had to face facts:

*Being cold can make illness worse.
*I was only warm, despite layers of clothes, when wrapped up in a blanket.
*Doing the exercises I would be doing while wrapped in a blanket just doesn't work.
*Pushing yourself when you shouldn't doesn't make any sense. A goal shouldn't come before your well-being.

Goals are great, but sometimes, you do need to give yourself permission to take a day off. The trick is to see it as "This is just for today." It's an exception. It's not because you don't feel like it or because you have some excuse, it's because for that day, it really does seem like the better option.

I can report today that my tonsils are finally going down. And I have every intention of following the challenge today! Only 17 days left! And only 8 days until a fancy supper. Just a couple of pounds down can make that dress of mine look even better. ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Day 12 of the Pre-Christmas Challenge!

Life has been a challenge these past few days! Oh my! Very busy, too much going on, weather issues, getting sick--again. But, I'm still sticking with my bare minimum of as much green smoothie/raw as I can in the morning (no green smoothie for me, so far, this morning, just clementines; smoothie doesn't sound appealing at all, but that could be the swollen glands talking), glute exercises to help my IT band and keep up with the yoga. I still haven't missed a day for those things!

Doing that extra little bit has been hard. I had decided the other day to track what I've been eating. Have I done it yet? Nope! But I did find a little notebook last night I can use. I will write in my food today!

Despite feeling like my neck/throat may implode, I'm still in good spirits. I'm glad I set myself the small goals that I could still keep up with even while I'm not feeling great. I'm glad Christmas is getting closer and closer, even though that means I need to get cracking on making Christmas cards and buying presents and getting the house in order. I'm glad I work from home so I can laze around for the most part today. :P

So, if you are doing your own challenge and the "sick season" is affecting you, or you're just tired and there's too much to do, do make sure part of your challenge is simple enough that you can still do it during these busy pre-Christmas days! And if you haven't started your own challenge but would like to, why not start today? Three weeks left until Christmas! So much can be accomplished!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Day 9 Pre-Christmas Challenge--Christmas is Coming!

"Where did day 8 go?" you might be asking. Well, here's a brief recap of my day 8:
  • Woke up with a fever and headache and had a runny nose on and off all day
  • I had 5000+ words to finish for NaNoWriMo (yes, I managed to finish! woot!)
  • I was looking after my nieces and nephew yesterday (they had a day off school), which involved my 5-year old niece showing me magic tricks she created, making cupcakes, seeing my son come upstairs with a Nerf gun and sunglasses on and oh, so much more
  • I still did school work with my daughter in the morning, and she had dance class in the evening, which I drive her to and stay in the waiting room
  • Had a Christmas card design to work on

Any wonder I didn't write? :) I did eat raw in the morning. Actually, I have a picture. Know what's better than Ani Phyo's Coconut Breakfast Cakes? Let's have a peek at before and after pics:

lol. Coconut Breakfast Cakes with blueberries! Soooo amazingly good! We've got a very low supply of fruit, so I was kind of stuck with what to eat that would be raw and fill me. Technically, the blueberries are frozen, which means they probably aren't raw, but I'm not going to be a stickler with this. It's fruit. No sugar added or anything. It's all good.

And yes, I did my exercises and yoga!

Now we are on Day 9 (I wish I could write it the way that sounded in my head):

It may be Day 9, but it is also December 1st! Nothing like hitting December 1st to really feel like Christmas is coming. I weighed myself this morning, as I did a couple other mornings, and let's say that it's prompted me to up the ante on this challenge. I had lost three pounds right off the bat when I was eating lots of fruits and veggies; when my appetite started dwindling in the morning and I have not been getting a whole lot of fruits and veggies, the weight's gone up a pound or so. Those fruits and veggies are so crucial to our well being, but especially my water retention issues!

Trying to convert what's going on in my head to something measurable to challenge myself with is, well, a challenge. I know I need more fruits and veggies; I know I need fewer grains. I know I need to keep up the water. Maybe for right now, that's just what it is: Trying each day to improve my fruit and veggie consumption beyond the previous. Well there, that's given me an idea: I will track my food the next few days and see just what is it that I'm eating, how much, where can I really tweak things to improve. With busy days, it's easy to just eat out of habit rather than consciously!

There are 23/24 days until Christmas. Lots of time to start up your own challenge! What will you do today?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 7 - Pre-Christmas Challenge - End of the First Week


Already at Day 7!

The focus of this challenge for me has been, "What's a step I can take toward healthier living?" I had already been doing yoga sequences for over 100 days (still keeping it up! last night was 108) and felt the need for something new. I decided on a small food goal (eat raw in the mornings) and a small exercise goal (work on getting my glutes stronger to help my IT band). Right off the bat, it didn't really feel challenging enough and now that I'm on day 7, I have to say: it isn't.

One thing has been that the past few days, I have not been very hungry in the morning, which is unusual for me. Yesterday morning, I ate a banana. That was it. The morning before? I drank a glass of orange juice and ate half a banana. Having raw mornings has therefore been very easy BUT it's not actually helping me improve my intake of fruits and veggies because once the morning is done, I don't necessarily eat much in terms of fruits and veggies. The exercise part, I'm feeling the effects so that's all good, but the food...

This is my challenge today: Figure out a wording, a limit, something. Do I aim to just eat as much fruits and veggies as I can all day long? Do I say that I need to start every "eating session" with a fruit or veggie? Today's a super busy day for me, so figuring this out will be a challenge! As might actually remembering to do my exercises: had I not checked in last night and seen that my challenge wasn't just the raw food but also the exercises, I think I would have forgotten. lol

If you'd like to have your own challenge but didn't start the same day I did, that's totally fine--why don't you join me today? What's just one thing you could do each day to help you be healthier and/or fitter by Christmas?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 6 - Pre-Christmas Challenge

I'm still meeting my basic goals and did eat salad--twice--yesterday to meet yesterday's specific goal. If you haven't tried Mimi Kirk's raw caesar salad, I highly recommend it!!! Did end up drinking some pop while we were out. Ah well.

We are now at

I think I could use an espresso today. ;) I had a rough sleep. I'm trying to think of a challenge for the day and honestly, just making it through this day and making sure I eat raw this morning, do my exercises and yoga in the evening could be challenging enough. I am literally sitting here with a completely blank mind when I try to think of something extra to with which to challenge myself.

Actually, something's just come to mind: Don't give into temptations! When I'm tired like this, I'm most prone to turning to the chocolate chips or making other junk comfort foods. Oh, and white bread. While I've already had a no junk challenge day this week, I think today has to be another one for me. I can turn to green tea to wake me up a bit! But I am tired, so I need to try to plan ahead what I will eat or what we have in the house that I can eat for snack items: green smoothie, bananas, raisins, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, grapes, frozen blueberries (mmm, you just let them melt a little bit and eat them still somewhat frozen), salad, carrots, broccoli (my tired self goes, "Ugh, it's not washed and cut, too much work")... A lot of foods I can choose! Whether I remember this later on or not is another matter. Water. Water's another important one--it's easy to forget to drink enough when you're tired and getting enough water can even wake you up a bit. All right, hopefully I've pre-thought enough to avoid giving into temptations.

Do you turn to foods you shouldn't when you're tired? What do you do when getting more sleep just isn't an option?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pay Attention to Labels

I was doing just fine this morning with orange juice, 1/2 of a banana, lots of water (I really wasn't hungry this morning), then had the Caesar salad I mentioned in my previous post. Felt great. I decided to have a gluten-free blueberry muffin I bought from Superstore yesterday. I had had one last night and noticed it was quite sweet. Tasted more like cake than a muffin. I still had one after my lunch today. It's a muffin, right?

It didn't take long for my energy levels to drop. I would really like a nap right now, to be honest, and yet I felt fine not more than 20 minutes ago. Before I had the so-called muffin. I had looked at the label at the store but only to see if there was any milk in it. I looked at the label today after my sugar low to see just what's in this stuff. First ingredient? Sugar. GAH. And now I have the all-too-familiar "sugar headache" starting up. I don't recall having had one last night, but my food intake this morning, being "purer", if you will than what I had for supper last night, the sugar content went straight to me. Time for more water to help flush it out.

Scanning labels for forbidden ingredients isn't enough! Must pay attention to all ingredients!

Do you have a story of a time you bought something without properly reading a label?

Day 5 -- Pre-Christmas Challenge: Eat a Salad!

Already at

So far so good here. I've been meeting all my general challenge goals (raw mornings, exercises to help strengthen glutes to help with IT band problems, still keeping up the yoga) including the daily extra challenge. I got 8 cups of water yesterday, but it doesn't seem to have been enough. When I got several days without enough and get dehydrated, rehydration seems to require more. I am soooo thirsty this morning, it's just crazy. I'm not even hungry, I just want water and am probably on my third cup already (it's only 8:30 am here).

I did stay away from junk yesterday, too, to carry over the previous day challenge. That made three days in a row because I didn't have any junk on Saturday, even though it wasn't set up as a challenge then. I am already feeling somehow better than I've felt in sometime, even though my neck glands are super swollen today. Hard to know if it's my system clearing out due to the improved food consumption, the fact that it's that time of year where illness about and 5 of my 11 students yesterday did not show up due to illness, or a combination thereof. I don't have a desire at the moment to say okay to junk. Why would I want to mess it up by succumbing to sweets that give me headaches or junk that just makes me feel gross? Although, really, corn Tostitos and Daiya cheese don't make me feel blah, but dang, the salt and fat content can't be good for me as a regular part of my diet! I keep toying with the idea of cutting out junk completely, to thinking that I'm not against the occasional treat--and a treat that doesn't make me feel worse (Sarma's truffles don't affect me negatively at all, for example)--just against the idea of having bad treats every single day, which is what I had slipped into. I suppose raw treats would be the thing to really allow myself.

In any case, enough of that rambling!

Are you following along? Did you do the water challenge yesterday?

What to do for Day 5? I was thinking last night today is a good day to do something extra for physical activity. But then I caused a minor back spasm before going to bed and this morning, my one knee is not cooperating. My back isn't in spasm anymore, but I massaged my lower back this morning just to see and the whole area is super tender. So, pushing myself more physically is out of the question today!  It's already a challenge to go up and down the stairs. lol. I figured another food choice could be good. And salad sounds delicious, probably because it's been (shamefully) days since I had one. My challenge today, therefore, is to eat a salad! Our bodies will thank us! I'll be taking the time to make Mimi Kirk's Raw Caesar Salad. It is sooooo good and very worth the effort! I know I've shared it before but dang, it really is that good!

Written recipe: I use Bragg's instead of Tamari and it works just fine!

See you tomorrow!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 4 - Pre-Christmas Challenge: Water!

Like all other flowers (lol), I need water. Every so often, actually, fairly often, I don't make sure to get enough water. When I don't, like other flowers, I wilt. And I sometimes set up problems with my sinuses and get nasty headaches, too.

Today being Monday, let me look ahead at a typical Monday and my water consumption: Monday afternoons, I teach a French class to a group of homeschooled children. With preparation and busyness in the morning, my attention on the class for the full two hours of the class in the afternoon, and then I rush off to pick up my nieces and nephew from school, a process that takes about an hour, I have a tendency to not drink enough water on Mondays.

Not getting enough water is a common problem, it seems. How many health resources out there say, "Drink your water!" It's important for so many reasons:

  • your skin (especially with winter hitting us here in the northern hemisphere and dare I say, very clearly here in the north-central Canadian prairies)
  • your brain's ability to think
  • your digestion
  • your kidneys and liver
  • inflammatory conditions (sinusitis, arthritis, etc.) become worse when you get even a little bit dehydrated
  • many cite it as important for weight loss
  • so much more... 

It's important to drink your water! Maybe you can't have filtered water or bottled water or whatever. Getting enough water is important regardless of the quality. (Says the person who's issues yesterday came from days of not getting enough!) So this is my challenge to you today: Drink at least 8 glasses of water! Fill a pitcher with the amount you are going to drink during the day, keep tally somewhere, do something to make sure it happens. I find I tend to do even better when I drink more than that, but it does depend on what I've eaten during the day.

Doing this a little differently, I'll end this post with my Day 3 recap:

I posted early morning (early morning for here) yesterday, but I already had a sinus headache causing me problems. Part of this issue seems to be tied to my neck muscles, which I tried to work on with my yoga the night before, but clearly all kinds of different factors mixed together and left me almost incapacitated. It's not the level of pain in my right sinus but somehow just how the pain was, if that makes any sense. I had at times pressure and pain going in behind my eye, into my ears, no balance at all if I was standing and my eyes were closed... I thought about my self-imposed challenge and how would I be able to do the exercise if I was in that state?  I tried alternate-nostril breathing (a yoga technique) which helped clear some things out a bit, but didn't do enough. I tried to find trigger points and massage them. I tried massaging my head, which felt fantastic, but only went so far. I tried taking two Advil; it might have helped take the edge off a bit. Typical OTC sinus medications are not an option for me (ended up in emergency last time with severe heart palpitations!) A few people have told me a neti pot is the way to go when it flares up like this, but I don't have one. I finally ended up with a heated magic bag on my neck and base of my head, propped up in a specific way on the couch where it still hurt a bit, but I could function, at least function as much as I needed to laying on a sofa with a laptop. Sitting in a normal position meant me constantly massaging my head and around my eyes and cheekbone. It wasn't fun. And the sad thing is that it was the second time this past week. The other time? Thursday evening, after a day of 4 hours of French classes and getting even less water than usual.

You see where my recommended challenge is coming from today? Do not do as I have done! Especially if you have sinus issues!

I was hungry and decided I had to eat. This was before trying everything to ease up the pressure. I had some of Ani Phyo's coconut breakfast cake batter left, so I plopped it on a plate, put some maple syrup and... could barely eat any. Made me feel sick to my stomach. After easing up the sinus issues, I was able to finish it but still didn't have much of a desire to eat, even though my stomach was saying it wanted food. It did, however, make it easy to be raw for the morning. (I know maple syrup isn't raw, but that's a nitpicky thing I don't count. Just like the pasteurized orange juice that goes into my green smoothies.)

The avoiding junk was hard. Because I was feeling blah and tired, I really wanted junk. I saw frozen tart shells in the deep freezer. "Mmmm, 'butter' tarts would be delicious." Then I thought about making chocolate chip cookies. Neither times did it hit me they would be considered 'junk'. When it did hit me and I was still craving something, I thought about making Sarma Melngailis's chocolate coconut truffles and was so close to making them when a little voice said, "Wouldn't that count as junk, too?" Does it? I don't know. I decided it wasn't the healthiest way to satisfy the craving, so I didn't make them. But boy, was it difficult to stand against it! I eventually made myself a little trail mix with raw pumpkin seeds, raw sunflower seeds and some raisins.

Late afternoon, my headache and sinus pain had eased enough that I could do some other things, but not too much. In retrospect, a day with the laptop helped me read blogs I haven't read in a while, blog, and write something like 4800 words for NaNoWriMo. The things I can get done when I'm not busy with everything else!

It hit me that I had still to do my exercises. I finally managed to get to them. I decided to still focus on my glutes, but I kind of created my own sequence from different exercises. I just think it's important to not do the exact same thing every single day. I also did some yoga.

Despite most of the day being very rough, I still managed to accomplish everything I set out to do--including avoiding the junk! A little voice is saying to me, "Avoid it today, too!" I might as well. But the main focus will be the raw food in the morning (I don't even know what I have in the house, eek!), get the exercises in and water.

Are you going to make sure you hydrate yourself enough today?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 3 - Pre-Christmas Challenge: Avoid the junk!

I made it through Day 2 successfully! After finishing my post yesterday morning, I was thinking I hadn't really challenged myself enough. It was just too easy. Well, apparently, Day 1 was the honeymoon period for me!

By the time I finally got around to having breakfast, I was so hungry, I was just going to go with cereal or toast. When I remembered I wanted to start my day off with as much raw as I could handle, my insides did the whole childish, whiny, "Ugh." Good grief.  I did make myself a green smoothie and had a few bites of some leftover flaxseed coconut "cakes" (Ani Phyo's version of pancake) before heading out. Got home, had some more smoothie and that took me until lunch.

My smoothie was baby spinach, orange juice, water (not yet added in above picture), a banana, frozen blueberries and frozen raspberries. I also sprinkled some hemp seeds in it. With the raspberries, it was quite tart, so I added in some agave and saw the coconut oil there on the shelf, so added some of that in, too.

That part of the challenge taken care of, I kept reminding myself about the exercise: I needed to do it before we left for a family birthday party. I had a nap, got up, did not warm up at all (silly me) and went straight to the sequence I did on Day 1. That was a challenge. I feel like such a weakling. :( I could barely even do one set of 10 for the one exercise. (No wonder my IT band is messed up!) But I stuck with it and did a set of 10 for each one, trying to pay attention to form. I was feeling a little stiff yesterday from the previous session, despite having done yoga stretching right afterwards. I am even stiffer today! But that's good: it means it's working. lol. I know some say to take a day off between target muscle sessions, but I've also read the opposite: it can be better for women to not push quite as hard and to do some every day. Something to do with our muscle structure, it's just better for us, as well as helps keep the muscles leaner looking. I'll try to see if I can find something online about it and share it here. I read the article years ago!

Part two of the challenge was therefore taken care of! I wasn't feeling anymore like I wasn't challenging myself enough. Part three is yoga, which gotten taken care of after we got back from the party and before bed.

So, despite deciding that maybe I have given myself at least a bit of a challenge with my goals, I've decided to take each day to add a challenge that's just for that day. I do, after all, want to ideally lose 10 lbs (even 5 lbs would be fantastic) which isn't going to happen just with the goals I've set for myself. The day's challenge can carry over, but it doesn't have to. Today's challenge, and I invite you to join me on it, is to avoid the junk. My junk lately has been leftover Halloween candy, chocolate chips, these yummy cookies we bought, corn Tostitos with Daiya cheese... None of that today! Oy!

What's your junk of late? You think you can manage to avoid it for a day?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 2 of the Pre-Christmas Challenge

Did you join me in starting a pre-Christmas challenge? What did you decide to do?

Recall that my goals were:

1) Start the day off with raw food (trying to have nothing but raw all morning).
2) Do some exercises for my ITBS issues/tone my glutes.
3) Maintain the yoga habit I already have

How'd I do for day 1?

*I drank green smoothie--orange juice, water, banana, baby spinach and frozen blueberries--all morning, so that goal was achieved!

*I did some searching for ITBS exercises. Some people swear by them, others don't. I eventually just picked a routine I found in an October 2011 issue of Fitness magazine. There is an online version here: 

Because my glutes are so out of shape, I did only one set of each exercise and only 10 reps per set. I know my glutes are going to feel it!

*Followed up with some yoga.

Friday's fitness and food goals achieved! That is not to say that I ate super well later on... I'll have to be careful or I'll sabotage the good I do in the morning. At the same time, I know from past experience that once I get into a habit of morning being pretty much only raw, I turn to the crud less. In any case, it was very easy to achieve. Perhaps too easy, but if I can stick with this easy stuff, it's still a step better than what I've been doing for ages.

One thing I did look up was Egoscue itbs and Pilates itbs. Both methods can apparently help with ITBS. Egoscue is usually best done first thing in the morning. I'm thinking I might use my Pilates book and start doing that, especially the legs sequence, before yoga. If I do a Pilates sequence would then not be getting just a legs/butt routine, but a whole body workout. Sounds good to me! Of course, I can mix it up between the Pilates and the Egoscue and the butt-shaping exercises above.

Now onto:

Day 2

It's Saturday today, which means, for me, there's no real routine. Every Saturday is different for some reason. I have NaNoWriMo to fit in today, I have to go to the library, stop at the grocery store, avoid all the other stores during the newly founded Canadian "Black Friday weekend sales", get laundry done, all the usual. We have a family birthday party tonight, which means we likely won't be home until late. Fitting in 5-10 minutes of yoga before jumping in bed is doable; adding on actual exercise might not be. I think I need to consider doing Pilates or the sequence shared above during the day rather than in the evening, at least for today. Of course, I also need to make sure to get as much raw as I can this morning!

But right now, I'm going to indulge in a little me-time and play Sims 3. :)

Btw, it's never too late to join me! Why don't you set yourself a pre-Christmas goal and share?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pre-Christmas Challenge

The other day, I celebrated my 100th day in a row of daily yoga! I had set a goal, was determined to reach it and did. No, I still haven't dropped the yoga: yesterday was day 102.

I feel the need for another goal, something other than the NaNoWriMo I'm also currently working on and whose writing habit I would like to keep up when it's done. Something physical. Christmas is in 31/32 days (we start on the 24th in my family) and that seems like a decent amount of time to make some sort of physical progress. But what do I want to do? That's what I'm here to babble about.

My yoga goal worked because, for whatever reason, there was this determination to do it. I knew yoga was something that would help me a lot with my ITBS (iliotibial band syndrome), even if it was for nothing more than 5 minutes some days. And it has helped tremendously. I'm now scared to stop doing yoga each day because of how much it has helped. But that determination was there and I'm not sure how to create that sort of determination, kwim?

I think we often set ourselves goals that sound good or are things we think we should do, but because we're not properly connected, properly determined, we don't do what we need to do to accomplish that goal. I had such strong determination to accomplish that goal that there were a few times we'd gotten home late, I'd gotten into bed and realized I hadn't done my yoga that day. Well, it was either start over or pull myself out of bed and get it done. I did the latter. That's the kind of determination I want on my next goal!

So, with that in mind, I'm thinking it's got to be about something I do rather than something I don't do. For example, "No more junk food." Well, I know myself. Maybe you're like me: You set that goal and you're busy or distracted and take something out of habit and before you realize what you're doing or remember your goal,  it's too late--that bite is in your mouth and down into your stomach.

One thought I had in the shower this morning was a weekly progression. Have it all written out, maybe with reminders in iCal or even my cell phone. It could be a food thing, which is something I do want to improve on because it's not been fantastic lately and I've been getting illness after illness. (Flu and pink eye at the same time a few weeks ago! :( ) It shows up in my one thumbnail. I tried to take a picture, but I can't get it to show up right. Whenever I get sick, it's like my thumbnail doesn't form quite right under the cuticle and as it grows out, there are these lines. They kind of look like Beau's lines, but aren't quite the same. It's like a form of splitting horizontally on the surface. Sometimes it's just a little thing a couple millimetres long; other times the line covers over half the width of the nail. When it gets to the point of being almost grown out, I always have to cut the nail short because it's just a mess. I had gone for sometime that I had only one little mark on that nail. I have signs of 4 periods of illness on that nail now. And for someone whose nails grow quickly, that's not good.

Excuse my Friday morning babbling. Back to what I was saying: I had the thought in the shower of having some sort of progression rather than 31 days of the same goal. So, week 1 would have a food and exercise goal (other than yoga); week 2 would bump it up a bit; and so on. I'm not sure it's wise to have a food and exercise goal, but at the same time, I'm thinking, "Hey, I managed to do 100 (102) days of yoga; surely I can manage two simple, yet progressive, goals?" And I know it all comes down to my determination. Am I determined to do this? Maybe once I figure out the goal I will be able to answer that question. ;)

Food goal ideas: raw mornings (at least, as much as I can handle), progressing to raw mornings and lunches, progressing to... Hm.

Exercise goals: My mind's all over the place with this one. I know there are some exercises that would very much benefit my ITBS. Part of my problem is my glutes are not up to snuff, which is kind of sad since I did figure skating years ago and pre-pregnancies, kind of liked my derrière. (lol. Did I just admit that?) With pregnancies, posture shifted, those muscles--gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus and gluteus medius--did not get properly used. I could see a simple first week goal of having an exercise sequence that I do before yoga.

Maybe that's as far as I should go for now? My first week? Get through the first week and keep that as the minimum I do? It might not seem like it would do much, such small goals like that for 30 days, but building the habit will help me much more than creating a more challenging goal that I can't stick to. I can have a minimum requirement--and then desired "add-ons", like 10 minutes on the treadmill or a strength training sequence I've found or 5 minutes of skipping rope... I just need to take the next step(s) right now. Especially with the craziness of Christmas preparation ahead!

What would my ideal be? Well... :D I would love to be 10 lbs down from where I am now by Christmas. I know at least 5 of those lbs are water that are the result of my food choices/sensitivities. So, really, I have at most 5 lbs of fat to lose. (And really, it could be I have 10 lbs of water retention to lose...) I would love for my glutes to be toned. There is no tone to them right now, let me be honest about this. I would love to just feel healthy and stronger.

Now to the important question: Am I determined to make this next step? Am I determined to start each day eating raw? Am I determined to do those glutes exercises each and every day for improvement with my ITBS and a more tone? *pause* Yes. Yes, I am. Let me get started right away! Let this be Day 1. Day 31 will be Dec. 23. I'm thinking I ought to share daily my progress--it would be a great way to make sure that I stick with this and keep thinking about it. I used my FB account for my yoga challenge; I don't feel much like sharing this challenge in FB. But I know that having the accountability in FB helped me stick with the yoga during the first month: I didn't want to have to admit to them that I'd missed a day and had to start over! This blog will be my accountability for this pre-Christmas challenge of mine. And if you would like to join me with your own challenge, please do--and share in the comments! :D

Monday, October 29, 2012

Vegan--and Gluten-Free--Halloween Party Ideas

We are having a homeschool Halloween party this Wednesday. It is a potluck, so people are bringing food and I have not specified that it should be vegan. That's not my goal nor desire with a party where we're supposed to be hanging out together and having fun!

BUT I did decide that I want to serve some vegan fare. My daughter picked non-vegan fare in terms of Tombstone Sandwiches You could absolutely veganise them, but we're not at that point yet with sentimental sandwiches. ;)

Some other things that we will be making:

*Gluten-free vegan mini cakes--the recipe comes from "Eat Your Cake and Vegan Too" and the pans are Wilton Singles (only available through ebay and such now as Wilton no longer sells them).

*Pumpkin-Shaped Veggie Platter that I saw on Dreena Burton's Facebook Page
For the dips, I'll be making Holy Moly Hummus from "How It All Vegan" and then using one or two of the Epicure veggie dip mixes. I'll be buying some vegan sour cream or yoghurt and some Veganaise. Although if they don't have any Veganaise (they are sometimes out), I will unvegan it and use real mayo. The remaining hummus will go in a dish with some round corn tortilla chips (they're delicious with the multigrain, but I want to try to have options available for our gluten-free guest!)

*Blood Punch with a Frozen Hand--it's just juice mixed with some club soda (or other clear, fizzy beverage). You buy some rubber gloves, fill them with water, tie them up well with rubber bands and freeze them overnight. When you need one, cut away the glove and voilà!

So, there you go, some vegan--and gluten-free--ideas for a fun Halloween party!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Make Things Simpler?

I'm starting to think my life--when it comes to food I eat, as well as what I serve to my family--would be much simpler if I just really made the effort to go raw, or at least high raw. And, to be honest, the idea of going high raw feels incredibly complicated and difficult!

My 14yo has been showing some signs of wheat intolerance, possibly celiac. She also wants to be vegetarian, at least most of the time. And she knows she doesn't eat enough fruits and vegetables, but just picking a plain fruit or veggie is rather boring. And now there's an issue with how much rice you can eat each week (have you heard about that? high arsenic levels found) and food recalls here in Canada (beef, popcorn, Mini Wheats...) this and that and the other. Then there is me, with a known dairy intolerance/allergy and signs of soy sensitivity. It really hit me today that if we could find a number of raw recipes that we love, it would solve a lot of problems: grain-free, junk-free, meat-free, egg-free, high fruits and veggies...

Of course, I just got a pressure cooker for an early Christmas present, but I suppose I can still make use of it even if we end up high raw--and for the transitional period. I do have to find some recipes to try, which could be a whole other issue. I found this one book at the library and it seemed to have a lot of strange recipes, a lot of them with lamb and I can't remember what else. Turns out it's from Australia. I guess they have different staple foods in their diet than here in North America!

Where am I going with this? Not sure. It's Friday night and almost time for bed. I don't think my brain is fully functioning. :) But I suppose with all this in mind, I need to throw a question out there: Would going high raw vegan be simpler than going vegan with trying to avoid gluten, soy and I can't think of what else? Anybody been there, done that?

Friday, October 5, 2012


Life is interesting, isn't it? You can be going along, building momentum, feeling great about your progress (or the progress you are about to begin) then BAM! Everything comes tumbling down!

Since my last post, a lot of life has happened, including being sick for 3 weeks (nope, not kidding; still not over it), a gazillion activities, problems with school... It's really got me thinking about, "Am I just moving along through life and whatever comes my way or am I really thinking about what's most important and making sure to get it done?"

I feel like I want to do too much. And not just want, I set up plans and try to do too much. (Isn't there a book or something about women who do too much?) Or I set up the plan and feel guilty for not moving forward with it for whatever reason. I am beginning to wonder how many of my plans should not have been made in the first place! Would I still be sick if I stuck with the things that were most important? Possibly. But trying to do too much doesn't help.

And life continues on regardless. I guess I'm just hitting a point where I really want to feel like I'm making the most of my life not in quantity of things I get done, but in terms of the important-to-me quality of things I get done. Time to do a little soul searching. :)

On the up side of things, I finally tried Mimi Kirk's Raw Caesar Salad.

So good!!! Definitely a keep and one I will want to make often. Does it taste quite like Caesar salad? I don't know, it's been so long since I've had it. But I don't care: it's that good. It makes quite a lot of dressing so if you are the only one eating, you can store the rest in a container in the fridge. It will be gooey, but put a dollop on the size of salad you want, toss, add the cashew parmesan and you're good to go.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Hopping Back On Board

Well, baby-hopping my way back on board!

Today is the first day of school here which is a good time for new beginnings. Somehow, it's just easier to push ourselves through with something new on a day that seems "new" anyhow.

I have decided it's time to hop back on board and baby step my way over the next week or two. I was feeling so good when my mornings were almost entirely raw, lunches were raw or mostly raw and then supper was cooked but high veggies and often a salad. It's been weeks since I've eaten like that and the results are clear: low energy, headaches and sinus problems are back, skin's a mess, my ears constantly feel slightly plugged, allergies are through the roof... I hate this. I keep getting mentally stuck on the "perfect" (sic) way to eat and some part of my mind broke through and finally said,

"Just do something each day that's better."

I can do something, can't I? Of course I can.That something for me is starting off my day with fresh fruit or a green smoothie. I actually did so yesterday, but that was just a "bonus day" of sorts. Today is the beginning of the actual commitment to do this. I know I'm going to feel so much better!

At the same time, my daughter and I have plans to have a gluten-free day this week. Clearly it's not today. Tomorrow's probably too soon and Friday probably wouldn't work, so I guess Thursday will be the day. I'll see what I can come up with for simple meal suggestions and we can even buy necessary items if we need to tomorrow. She is very used to eating wheat of some sort at lunch and often breakfast, so it could be particularly hard for her. I think people in general tend to get into ruts with what they eat and to pull themselves out and try something different doesn't always feel satisfying!

Btw, I'm still doing my 100-day yoga challenge. Yesterday was the 22nd day in a row. It's never too late to create your own challenge and to join me in either yoga or healthier eating!

Monday, September 3, 2012

My first ever vegan lasagna!

Yesterday was my mom's birthday. She specifically requested that I make the family recipe lasagna; for whatever reason, she doesn't make it for herself anymore, so it's usually requested for special occasions, like her birthday and Mother's Day.

But that lasagna has regular cottage cheese and mozzarella in it, which I'm allergic to, so I can't eat it. What I've done the past couple of times is simply take some of the tomato-meat sauce and create a mini lasagna on the side with some noodles, the sauce and Daiya cheese. It's not quite the same.

This time, I decided I would go a step further and make myself a small vegan and soy-free lasagna. I looked around online and didn't find a recipe I actually wanted to do, but it gave me an idea of how to make a little lasagna for myself. I bought some mushrooms (which I forgot to put in), zucchini and baby spinach. I had wanted to try gluten-free, but couldn't find gf lasagna noodles at the store I was at. I made the lasagna just like the regular recipe, but put veggies in the layers and had far less cheese. Here's an initial look:

I forgot to take more pictures after that, so unfortunately, that's all I can show you! Sauce got added on top, then some Daiya, then another layer of noodles and so on. The sauce is just Classico Tomato and Basil and then I added in some rosemary. I think next time I'll simmer myself some of my recipe's traditional sauce of tomato sauce and rosemary and get that flavour in it instead.

Well, my supper last night was delicious! At one point, I slightly panicked because with the Daiya mozzarella shreds and just eating the lasagna, I thought for a second I'd made a mistake and had had dairy cheese. (Oy, would that have made me sick!)

All right, I guess I should try to write up a recipe, eh?

Simple Soy-Free Vegan Lasagna
*a jar of your choice of tomato sauce OR simmer a large can of tomato sauce with 1/2 tsp of rosemary for 45 minutes (use less if making a "mini lasagna")
*6 cooked lasagna noodles (or 9, if you want more layers) for a full-sized lasagna; 3 for a "mini lasagna" like in the photo
*baby spinach
*slices of zucchini
*sliced mushrooms (or leave them out since I did by accident)
*Daiya mozzarella shreds

1. Spoon a layer of sauce on the bottom of the pan.
2. Arrange a layer of lasagna noodles. (In the photo, it is one noodle cut in half.)
3. Layer zucchini, spinach and mushrooms. How much all depends on how you like it! You can see I didn't put too much for my first attempt.
4. Spoon sauce over top.
5. Sprinkle some Daiya cheese over top of that. Be careful: You won't need anywhere near the amount of cheese you might put in a "regular" lasagna!
6. Place another layer of noodles.
7. Place layers of vegetables.
8. Spoon sauce over top.
9. At this point, my traditional recipe would have cheese put over top. I however, put another layer of noodles and more sauce before adding the cheese.

Bake in oven at 350 for about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Flour Giveaway!

No, not from me, but from Janae Wise. If you have been wanting to try gluten-free, or just need to go gluten-free, or maybe you are gluten-free, this giveaway is for you!

You can get all the details here:

Good luck!

100% Responsibility = Freedom

I started listening to "The Success Principles" by Jack Canfield yesterday. (The link will take you to the book. The audiobook is here.) Other than finding it interesting that my almost 12yo son and his 12yo cousin ended up sitting down at the table where I was stamping and listening to the audiobook--I think they were taken by what Jack had to say--there is a great deal to think about in the book. I almost feel like I have to listen to it again, chew around the ideas and digest to really have things sink in properly.

I made it through the first five principles, but my mind is still stuck on the first one:

Take 100% responsibility for your life.

This can seem shocking at first. 100% responsibility? "Surely this person and that thing and this event are part of the problem?" Jack really got into how we are responsible for so much: We don't speak up when it would be good to do so. We keep people in our lives we maybe shouldn't. We eat that cookie. ("But they're so yummy!" part of my brain screams out.)

I was really mulling this whole idea over early morning, thinking that it was a very heavy thing to do, to take full responsibility for our lives. I am responsible for the disorder in my house. I am responsible for my allergic reactions (to a certain degree--I am not responsible for the genes that created the allergies, but I am responsible for the foods I eat that cause me to be more reactive, I am responsible for keeping the cat--but that's okay, he's too wonderful to let go...). I am responsible for my finances. I am responsible for having had that messed up friendship. I am responsible for... Different things came to mind and I simply took responsibility in my mind for them.

And you know what? It was absolutely FREEING.

It seems contradictory, doesn't it? Responsibility tends to mean that we have to take care of more things. And in a way, I do: I have to take care to eat better, I have to take care to put the allergy stuff on the cat, I have to take care to figure out a budget and clean up the den... But the flip side of that coin is that it means I can do something about all of it. I'm not stuck. I'm not a victim. I have freedom from these outside things "doing" anything to me. All these things that weigh down my life are things I am responsible for allowing to be there and I can therefore choose to act differently. Not that I ever thought heavily about it all, other than a vague acknowledgement of certain things. I know the basement's a mess, for example, but it's easily ignored. *grin* Taking 100% responsibility for its current state, not blaming the kids (after all, who let the kids?), knowing I can do something about it, is freeing. Yes, I've got some work ahead of me to fix all the little things I don't like that I have allowed, but that's okay. I feel freer. :)

How about you? What is your reaction to the idea of taking 100% responsibility for your life?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why Honesty Is Ultimately the Best Policy--from Karen Knowler

I could relate to this so much, except I haven't made it back into the food that makes me feel good! /D.

August 24, 2012