Monday, April 21, 2014

I have joined Young Living Essential Oils!

I first learned about essential oils, and Young Living Essential Oils, years and years ago. I'm not sure if my son was even born yet--he's 13. But after learning about them, I got busy with other stuff and haven't paid too much attention to them. I still have a bottle of YL lavender that gets used periodically and some samples that I use now and then. Yes, they are still good after all this time.

My mother-in-law recently signed up with them due to friends or acquaintances or something of hers. She specifically wanted to try out the NingXia Red drink for a while to see if it made a difference in her health or overall well-being and being signed up means she gets a discount. She only just got the shipment in, so I can't report on that at all, but she renewed my interest in using essential oils and seeing all the things available with Young Living now, I decided to sign up today. (I also got to experience the Home Diffuser she got and I really liked it!) Will I do the business much? Not sure. Main reason I signed up was because it was cheaper to purchase what I wanted that way! lol. (Main drawback as a Canadian: there are all kinds of YL products that we can't get here! :( ) That said, if you have questions about YL, let me know! I'm definitely interested in learning all I can and answering people's questions or supporting them as their sponsor.

I also decided to check today into the use of essential oils a bit and starting making use of what I have here. I can't believe I didn't think to use the lavender oil last week when I burned myself. I was cooking chicken in a bit of oil, but when I tried to slide the chicken into the pan, it fell in and the hot oil splashed me.

Can you see the mark? I know, sucky photo. We're getting a new camera soon! Woot!

I did what they say to not do and used ice for quite sometime once the pain had kicked in. (Why? Because I used ice years ago on a blistering burn, rubbed it for probably a good 20-30 minutes because it kept hurting like the dickens when I would stop and I couldn't have water running for 30 minutes and the next morning, there was only a discoloration in the skin: no pain, no blistering. I post this disclaimer now: I am not a health professional and am not liable for anything you do because I've shared it works for me!) Then I had to keep it covered a couple of days. It would have likely healed much faster had I used the lavender oil. I put some on today, just to see if it will help with the healing of the discoloured skin, but also thought to use some of the peppermint oil on certain spots to help with sinus pain I've been having. I find peppermint oil, or at least Young Living's peppermint oil, works wonderfully for headaches/sinus pain and today was no exception. Put a tiny amount on some sinus pressure points on my face and woo-wee, did it get those areas tingling!

In wanting a -free life, that includes being free from all kinds of chemicals. Essential oils aren't chemicals. Well, from a chemistry point of view, sure, but they aren't what we mean by "chemicals" in everyday language. So, in addition to dairy-free and other -free things on here, you can now expect to see me sharing information about using essential oils in our everyday lives. :)

EDIT: I suppose I should give you my Young Living number in case you would like to order or sign up! 1772120.

Losing Weight (Almost) Effortlessly

Going to Hawaii at the end of June has definitely helped with my motivation in terms of fitness and losing the extra pounds. I'm not a dieter, though, and know I never could be as I resist major changes so much, so I had no choice but to figure out easy lifestyle changes that I could make that would help me lose the weight.

So far, I have noticed a pattern that is almost 100% consistent: if I don't eat late evening, my weight is likely to be lower in the morning. What I mean by that is this: When I was eating snacks every night, my weight wasn't budging and I would sometimes even weigh more in the morning. I've had more and more evenings of not snacking after... not sure what time... 7? 8 at the latest... and my weight seems to go down or stay on the lower end when I do that. I ate a ton of food yesterday, including two (small) pieces of cake after supper (but probably before 7:30) and was certain my weight would be up this morning, but it was actually the lowest it's been in ages. I used to eat supper and often wait until late evening to have that extra little something, but I've been having the extra little something earlier and it seems to be making a difference.

My theory is that my body retains water more easily if I'm snacking later in the evening. I don't know if it's the particular foods I'm snacking on or just that my body gets more time to deal with the food before I go to sleep, but I honestly don't think I've lost 6-8 lbs of fat in the past few weeks (yes! I've lost that much!) and certainly didn't lose a pound of fat in a day, and in a day where I ate lots of Easter food. But another clue to it being water and my eating late night having something to do with water retention in my system is that I did not drink a whole lot yesterday, which might normally have gotten me feeling dehydrated and puffy, but I did not feel puffy at all this morning.

Omitting the late-evening snacking hasn't been the only thing I've done, though, and since what I've done might work for someone else, too, I thought I would share.

First thing is I've cut back on portion sizes a bit. I realized I was eating the amount I was eating out of habit and not out of hunger. Just cutting back a little bit on cereal in the morning, or not finishing the last bites of something (you know, the "I don't want it to go to waste so I might as well finish it"--well, it's either going to go to waste in the garbage or on your body!) I'm sure have helped. Not only that, but it's been a few weeks of that and I've hit a point where I'm much more sensitive to needing to stop eating, of not crossing that line between being satisfied and feeling full or overfull. I will often have some cereal left (need to cut back a little more, apparently!) and am not as bothered by throwing out stuff from my plate anymore. I didn't realize just how much I would finish stuff off just because it was there or I figured I "should." Any amount of food that is beyond what we need is going to get stored. (Yes, if you tell your kids to finish off the food on their plates, you might reconsider and have them figure out if they have had enough to eat. No good developping a habit of eating more than we need just to finish off the plate!)

A very simple thing I've done for cutting back is on treats. Take something like Oreos: I'll still have some, but instead of taking 2, I'll just take 1. At first, I had the rule that I would just start with one and if I really wanted the second one, I could go back and get it. I rarely did go back for the second because it was a hassle (the rule involves closing the package and putting it fully away before eating the first) and if I savoured the one treat, I was fine and didn't feel any need for the second. Now, I'm satisfied with just one and have even gotten to a point of not wanting them as much. Which is why we still have packages of Oreos in the house after more than a month. I'm well aware that I am typically their primary consumer in our house. This could fit in with the idea of cutting back on portion sizes, I suppose!

I'm not counting calories, but I am being much more aware of the junk calories. I wanted something to eat as a snack the other night and was going to go for PopTarts. I normally like to eat 2 of them. I then read the label: 200 calories per blueberry PopTart. Well, yikes. Good deterrant to the junk. I can't remember what I ended up actually eating, if it was something healthy or another junk item with fewer calories, but let's just say that I'm no longer going through PopTarts the way I used to.

And I also try at times to crowd out the less healthy stuff by first eating healthy stuff: melon cubes in the morning before eating something else, a salad at lunch before eating something else... Fill myself up at times with healthy, nutrient-dense stuff so that I don't have as much room for the other stuff.

Does this seem ridiculously simple? It is. I didn't make all of these changes at the same time (remember: I don't do well with major changes!), but in a nutshell:
  1. Cut back on portion sizes. Not going to extremes, just a bit at first and keep cutting back as needed to truly satisfy the appetite and not the habit.
  2. Think about the calories when you do want that extra little something and see if you can opt for something lower calorie--or healthier.
  3. No late-evening snacking. Not only will this help cut back on calories.
  4. Think healthy first--doesn't have to be only healthy, but get the healthy foods in first.
Do I always cut back? Never eat extra treats? No. Just mostly. My desire to see my body change is greater  (most of the time) than my desire to give into certain habits. And since they say that most weight loss is 80% due to diet... I'm paying attention to what I can almost effortlessly change.

Are you going to try these out? If you do and see results, come back and share! :D Do you have other easy tips for readers that have worked for you?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This Week's Supper Plan

I'm taking it fairly easy today as I nurse a cold that has hit me hard. Other than taking a nap and drinking tea, I thought it would still be nice to actually get something done. I had thought about posting on my vacation site, but realized that the info I need to access it is on a disconnected, damaged hard drive at the moment. I have a back up... somewhere... lol. I'm in no mood for searching for it, so I decided I would look through some cookbooks today and come up with some supper ideas for the week.

ALL of my menu ideas on this blog are automatically dairy-free or easily adaptable between dairy and dairy-free. I don't consume any dairy at all--except for movie theatre popcorn butter which is clarified butter that doesn't have any of the protein that bugs me. So, if you are dairy-free or wanting to go dairy-free, EVERYTHING I post on this blog is safe!

The first book I've got beside me is How It All Vegan!: Irresistible Recipes for an Animal-Free Diet by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer.

*I already know that I want to make the Holy Moly Hummus on page 95. This is the most delicious hummus I have ever eaten! It is great as a veggie dip but also with tortilla chips, especially the Tostitos round chips. I was actually going to make some yesterday and discovered that not only was my tahini several months past the best before date, but that I didn't even have half of what the recipe called for, so I need to get to the store before I can make this. I actually change the recipe slightly and don't put in the parsley and have never tried it with the jalapeno. This recipe is actually so good, and I think I'm allowed to share a small number of recipes from books, that I'm going to share it here now for you:

1 small onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
splash of olive oil
2.5 cooked or canned chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans)
3/4 cup of tahini
1.5 tbsp Braggs (or soy sauce; I use Braggs)
1/2 cup lemon juice (or you can use 1/4 cup water + 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar; I use lemon juice, mmmmm mmmm)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (haven't ever tried it with the parsley)
1/4 cup chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt

It's very easy to put together: You sauté the chopped onion and garlic in the splash of olive oil on medium heat until the onions are translucent. In a blender or food processor (if you use a blender, it had better be a large one!), put the onion, garlic and all the rest of the ingredients. Blend until it's the consistency you want. It makes about 2 cups of hummus. You can freeze whatever you won't eat in the next few days!

But that's for snacking and dipping. How about the supper ideas?

I asked my kids what they would make for supper this week. My 13-year old son said he wanted to make spaghetti and my 16-year old daughter had been wanting to make spaghetti, largely so she could make a meatball recipe we all love that she got from her foods science (aka home ec.) class. They are going to work together to make supper one night this week with my son making the sauce (family recipe) and his sister making the meatballs. Just got to figure out other nights they can help with. :D

Tonight, we are having pizza. I use a mix of Daiya cheddar and mozzarella on my pizza (well, my half of the pizza). I find that the mozza can easily be overdone but the cheddar doesn't bother me at all, so my pizzas usually have more Daiya cheddar than mozza on them! I'll be using my breadmaker to make the crust. Well, the dough for the crust.

We have some fish I'll serve with rice and veggies and salad one night.

I've got some turkey sausages I can make with potatoes another night. (Yes, and add in veggies, but we usually eat our veggies raw at supper so it doesn't really require any specific planning!) I'm pretty sure the sausages are gluten-free, so that will make a dairy- AND gluten-free meal.

I think I'll try the Chicken, Broccoli, and Carrot Stir-Fry on p. 122 of Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen: Everyday Foods the Whole Family Will Love.

We've really liked everything we've tried so far from this book and we love stir fry meals, so it should be good. :)

How many meals does that bring me up to? Five. Including tonight's. That'll bring me to Thursday. Okay, we'll have chili one night. There. Brings us to Friday. Good enough for now. lol

So, quick recap for a dairy-free menu plan for the week (er, part of the week):

*homemade pizza made with Daiya cheese (could use the pizza crust recipe from the above-mentioned Cooking for Your Gluten-Free Teen for a gluten-free option; the crust is really good)
*spaghetti and meatballs (could easily be gluten-free by using gluten-free pasta and gluten-free bread crumbs)
*crispy fish and rice
*turkey sausages with potatoes (gluten-free!)
*chicken, broccoli and carrot stir fry with rice (gluten-free!)
*chili (gluten-free!)

Clearly, I am not focusing on meatless meals this week, but I will be looking at vegan and raw vegan things during the day, like Ani Phyo's  Coconut Breakfast Cakes (I finally found golden ground flax seed!) and some other things. I also got a free Actifry recently and have only so far used it to make French fries. It would be nice to explore other recipe options, for any meal.

Do you plan dairy-free meals? Do you have a plan for this week you'd like to share? Or are you looking for more dairy-free supper ideas--or perhaps specific recipes? Let me know!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Random Stuff

I've been reading more the past couple of months from a variety of books. (Book list shared below!) One of the things I read recently in a John Demartini book was something along the lines that whenever we master one challenge and think we've got everything down pat, something is bound to happen to upset any ensuing calm/peace because we need to have constant challenges to grow.

That has, I can say, been my reality the past couple of months.

But I have no complaints: there is so much good that has come out of these challenges, like having me spend more time each day connecting spiritually, growing spiritually. Like turning to books which have provided me with some amazing ideas I was ready for.

Recently, while considering how I've been dealing with the challenges, I've found part of me thinking I don't lead a balanced life. At the same time, I'm starting to wonder if I'm supposed to. If any of us are supposed to. I think we are supposed to learn to connect to our inner guidance (whatever you might call it) and act from inspiration. Inspiration isn't always balanced--but it doesn't leave us feeling unbalanced. We can go and go and go when we are inspired, never tiring.

Where am I going with tihs? Not sure. That's why it's a random stuff post. :D

Other random stuff:
We are booked for Hawaii! Woot! Which means I only have a few months to work on my fitness level and to get my weight down to where I would like it. Even just another 5 pounds down would be nice! I started using this video set by Tracy Anderson

I am discovering that while I can walk for hours, the fairly simple routine really gets to the core of certain muscles that are clearly weak! Probably not suitable for people who have been working out for sometime, but for those of us who are sporadic with our exercise and haven't done much challenging, it's a very nice start. She does have other videos of various levels, which I hope to start moving up through soon.

That will hopefully help with the fitness level I would like so that we can do all the activities we want and I will be able to keep up! Food-wise, I've already started making changes (not for Hawaii, just for my own benefit) and have lost a few pounds already. I do still have a hankering to have more raw vegan foods as part of my daily life and even tried out Ani Phyo's Blueberry Smoothie recipe from her book Ani's Raw Food Kitchen: Easy, Delectable Living Foods Recipes. I'm hoping to make Mimi Kirk's raw Caesar salad this week. (Mmmm, do I ever love that salad!)

Okay, my (partial) reading list the past while. If you want more information, click on the pictures (or ask me questions in the comments box!). And, um, no, I don't usually read one book before moving onto another. Most of these are still being worked on!

This is one book that really gets me thinking, seeing things differently. I'm not 100% in agreement with everything he says but am open to the possibility that he may, in fact, be on the right track. He talks a lot about how we are to learn to come from a centre of love and that as we act out of balance (elated vs unhappy, for example), we can see that there is something else going on to balance it. (Yes, this appears to go against what I said above about balance, but I'm talking more about the balance in activities, like household stuff and kids and exercise...) He has helped me to lose anxiety I had about some on-going issues and instead appreciate what benefits are coming out of the challenges. Haven't finished this book yet. I seem to need to read a chapter or two and then let them digest.

This is all about Ho'oponopono. It is fascinating, intriguing, something I question and yet have been attempting to implement. It has definitely helped me find greater peace and a deeper spiritual connection. I admit to modifying how they present it to connect it more with my religious beliefs.

This is quite different from typical "law of attraction" stuff out there. I seem to be taking quite a long time to get through it, not because it's not interesting or potentially useful (actually, it may very well have helped me bring a car into my life--but that will have to be a separate post. The story is almost unbelievable!) I guess part of me isn't quite sure what I think of her whole approach, although I have been using the "one command" idea but more as a sort of affirmation/reminder than doing the steps she says.

Gotta have a novel in there, no? lol. I have actually been working on this for months. I am not finding it as captivating as the first two, which I reread immediately before starting this one, but it is still interesting and I definitely want to finish it (although I accidentally saw a spoiler online :( ). We saw the movie for Divergent last Friday and while it was good, it was not nearly as amazing as the film version of The Hunger Games. (Yes, another random thing thrown in there. Sorry.)

Last one on my partial list:

Okay, this isn't really to read, but I'm working on it, so I'm including it!

I don't draw. I can't really draw. Even my students recognize it and I'm quite open and playful about it. So when I saw this book, I initially thought, hm, I can't do that. But when I looked more into it, I started thinking that it was something I could potentially do. Have I been doing one a day? No. I'm not even using the materials they say to use (if I had to wait to start until I had the materials, I would never start!). But I am finding that while some designs they show are a bit of a challenge for me and I may simply never really "get" them, most are quite enjoyable and things I can do! If you aren't very artistic but love the idea of being able to do something artistic, look into zentangle. It may just help you feel like you aren't a total artistic loss.

Okay, is that enough random for you today? :D What is going on in your life? What are you reading? What is inspiring and helping and motivating you?