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

Overhaul Coming

With looking after my nieces and nephew, along with my 2 kids, and all the summer activity involved with that, I have not been paying good attention to what I have been eating the past while. With only a week left of summer care before school starts, I figure I ought to start working out now some menu ideas for when school does start. I can, by all means, start before that, but I want to make sure to start at the latest September 4th!

My 14yo daughter is on board with me and healthier eating and trying wheat-free/gluten-free (celiac runs in my husband's family) and vegan, or mainly vegan (she keeps coming up with things she doesn't want to give up, but I figure if we can just focus on eating as vegan as possible, she might come to find she'll just indulge now and then or give them up entirely). My 11yo son... A little harder to work with, but being they're both homeschooled and it'll just be us most of the week once school starts, I am confident I can guide him to some positive changes, even if he doesn't go quite as all out as my daughter and I.

But how all out will I go? All depends on my planning and preparation. Part of my problem is I would so often rather not have to eat that if I have to eat, it had better be yummy. lol. Doing a huge overhaul of the diet with untested recipes is not just hard, but frightening. I have reached a point where I feel I do need to do an overhaul. Maybe a one-day overhaul, then a whatever day, then back to the overhaul, at least at first. But I am seeing that I'm not able to do the transitional thing very well: it's taking a lot of time and I'm realizing that if my ultimate goal is vegan, wheat-free meals, and if most of the planned menu items are new, it is going to work better for me to plan on wheat-free vegan meals right from the get-go. Some would say, "Oh, just go vegan and there worry about the wheat later" or vice versa. This just isn't working for me. And part of it is because I know that I'm going to have to phase out a whole bunch of yet-to-be-tried recipes. It may seem perfectionist or something of me, but I don't see the point in trying out a, say, a pasta recipe if it's going to have to be gotten rid of eventually to be replaced by something else because none of us enjoy the wheat-free pastas very much.

Which leaves me with the next week of searching online, working through cookbooks and putting together a collection of recipes I can try out. I have a goal of having the first week of school have 3 "ideal" days: no sugar, no wheat, vegan, lots of fruits and veggies and greens, whole foods... I guess I should really define what it is that I'm aiming for, first! I guess I have an unspoken/unwritten sense of what is acceptable or not, but if I can really define what I'm looking for, it will certainly help!

Friday, August 24, 2012

100 Days of Yoga!

Last fall, to get back into exercise, I gave myself a challenge: Do yoga every day. I think it was for a month. Then it extended to two months. Then I got sick and didn't feel up to it and/or was sleeping too late in the morning (I thought) to do it.

After months of no consistent physical activity since then other than going up and down the stairs throughout the day in my 4-level split (thank God for that!), with my back and knees getting worse and worse, I have finally decided I've had enough and I want to be free of the limitations. So, I gave myself a challenge: 100 days straight of yoga. Even if it's just 10 minutes, I need to do yoga every day.

I am on Day 11 today (haven't done any yet today) [correction added: Today is Day 12. I'd better keep track of this or I'll never hit 100. ;)]. My back is already getting better and I have weak muscles (like glutes) getting worked. (Don't ever, ever think that yoga is just stretching! It definitely works your muscles!) I can't say my knees are feeling much better yet, but I haven't been doing the IT band sequence very consistently.

Would you care to join me in the challenge? Maybe 100 days seems like too much; how about just a week? It can help to keep us going when we know others are doing it with us!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Super Simple Veg Supper

We went on a field trip today, then spent some time outdoors and by the time we came back in and I did this and that and realized it was getting late and I didn't have any supper plans... I didn't know what to make for supper. I looked in the cupboards and came up with something super, super simple. And as veg as you want it:

*cook and drain spaghetti (or your choice of noodles)
*dump in casserole dish and mix with Classico Tomato and Basil pasta sauce
*sprinkle some Daiya mozzarella cheese over top (or, if you live in my household, split it up so that there is one casserole with regular mozza and then a little casserole for yourself with the Daiya)
*put in oven on 375 for however long you need (sorry, it's still cooking, so I don't know. :P 20-30 minutes?)

Serve with a salad and maybe some garlic bread (well, we do garlic toast: toast some regular bread, put dairy-free margarine on it and sprinkle with garlic powder).

Veg meals don't have to be complicated! :D (Yes, I'm reminding myself of that! lol)

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Jiffy Cinnamon Rolls

The kids have been asking me for cinnamon rolls for at least a couple of weeks. I had found a gluten-free recipe that I wanted to try, but when I sat down to prepare it today, I discovered I'm missing a key ingredient for the gluten-free flour component. So, I said I would maybe make the old standby.

The old standby is a recipe I got from my mother-in-law, but modified so that it is dairy-free, which actually makes the recipe vegan, as well. It's similar to some other Jiffy Cinnamon Rolls recipes I looked up online, but not exactly the same, so I think it's okay for me to go ahead and call it that and to share my version:

Lightly grease or spray a 13" x 9" baking pan.

4 cups flour (I used unbleached all-purpose)
4 tbsp sugar
8 tsp baking powder (or if you have the 10mL dessert spoon, you could do 4 of those, or 2 tbsp + 2 tsp of baking powder)
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan "butter" (I used Becel Vegan tonight; I've never tried it with Earth Balance. I have made them with Fleischmann's, but that would make it dairy-free and not vegan; Fleischmann's has vitamin D3 in it, which is from an animal source, and Becel Vegan uses D2.)
2 cups non-dairy milk (if using rice milk, use a little less; this evening, I used vanilla rice milk because the store was all out of the regular when I went! it didn't affect the taste at all)

Another 1/2-2/3 cup of "butter" for the topping
1.5 cups brown sugar
Cinnamon (no specific amount given)

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Make a well in the centre and pour the milk into the well. Stir it all to form a soft dough.

Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (you may need some extra flour, especially if you used rice milk). Knead 8-10 times. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/3" thick. [I'm not sure I've ever gotten the thickness right, but they've always turned out delicious! I think it actually works better to have it a bit thicker, more like 1/2" or even thicker: the filling becomes that much thicker and yummier.]

Melt the butter. While you are doing that, sprinkle/spread the brown sugar onto the rolled dough. [I tend to not go all the way to the edges, but I should!] Pour the butter over the brown sugar. Sprinkle cinnamon all over the brown sugar. [I would like to be able to give you an idea of roughly how much, but I can't. Mine don't always taste like cinnamon rolls. They still taste delicious, but perhaps more of a caramel roll than a cinnamon roll. I have sprinkled what I thought was a lot, over all the brown sugar, and apparently, that's not enough. I guess I'm saying: it's kind of hard to have too much! lol]

Roll the dough while you are facing it horizontally (so, longest part is left to right). Cut the roll into 12 slices and place in the greased pan. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool 5-10+ minutes and enjoy!

Just Do It

I started following Flylady years ago. Back when her list was very simple and the bulk of it was sending reminders instead of the bulk of it seeming to now be testimonials, especially about products. But I digress.

One thing she is very focused on is creating routines. I know when I let my life slip into a lack of strong routines, things don't work as well: I don't get as much done, I feel somewhat discombobulated half the time... So, I decided, along with some list buddies, to work on a new habit this month, something that would become routine.

Well, gosh darn it, it's really hard to do, especially when your life isn't routine! My new habit was to add to my already existing before-bed routine to lay out my clothes for the next day and spend 2 minutes on "hot spots" (FlyLady lingo for flat surfaces which collect needless items). This worked great for two days. And then I was out 3 evenings in a row, late, and getting home, doing the new routine was the last thing on my mind. Then I wasn't feeling well Tuesday evening, then didn't get upstairs to bed until late last night... Part of me is seeking excuses: "How am I supposed to establish a routine when my life is so non-routine?"

Another part of me finally answered back this morning:

"You do it anyhow."

Oy, is that not the truth? If we want change, we need to do what it takes, regardless of what is going on around us. I did pull out my clothes last night, but decided it was "too late" to do the 2-minute hot spot clearing. Because, you know, getting to bed a whole 2 minutes later is going to be a problem, right? Well, it seemed rational last night when I was tired. lol.

I don't know if Nike still uses this motto, but I grew up with it and it's going to be my motto for the next while. No more excuses about why some simple thing isn't getting done!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Have No Business Eating Meat, So Why Do I?

I went to the farmer's market today. As always, busy, busy, full of people and all kinds of neat things to look at. And as always, I saw the packages of meat. And I physically and emotionally reacted. I don't know why it doesn't always affect me that way in the store, or when I'm cooking meat, but at the farmer's market, each and every time, I can feel my facial expression change and my stomach churn. It's even worse when I go by the booth where they put pictures of the animals up to show the different kind of meat they have. There is absolutely no possible way I could buy meat from there for that expressed reason! "Oh, hey, want some elk? Look how lovely they are when they are alive!"

I have no business eating meat. I know this. I somehow put little blinders on and keep doing what I've almost always done, but maybe I need to go to the farmer's market more often to remind myself that I have no business eating meat.

Now, this has nothing to do with the general ethics of eating meat. This is not, "We have no business eating meat." It really is I have no business eating meat. Frankly, I'm just not the kind of person to go around trying to convince others of why they should stop eating meat. It's not my place. And I frankly don't care. lol. That sounds mean, but it's really a matter of I'm not going to spend my time deciding how others should eat. It's got nothing to do with me. Except what my children eat. And I won't even expect them to become vegetarian just because I want them to.

I have wanted to be meat-free since I was 16. That's a long time, given I'm in my late 30s. I keep talking about it in here; anybody reading is probably tired of hearing me go on and on about wanting to be vegetarian and not doing it. I don't know what's stopping me, so that's why I keep talking about it. And the more I connect with the part of me that wants to stop eating animals, the better chance I have of succeeding!

Can you bear with me a bit? I have no business eating meat, I know that in my deepest self. It saddens me, bothers me when I think about it, so why do I eat meat? No, let me be completely truthful to myself here: Why do I keep eating dead animals? There is absolutely no way that I would ever pick up some dead chicken or cow, watch it be prepped for eating, then cook it and eat it. I am clearly mentally disconnected with what I'm cooking and what's going into my mouth and the reality of the situation. It's almost like because I can't figure out what I can eat instead, I'm just going to blindly continue what I've been doing. Bah.

That said, I have made progress around here: more veg suppers are being served, I'm more likely to choose veg options when we go out. I guess part of me would like to be able to just say, "Fine, I'm done!" and that'll be the end of it. Maybe I'm just being unrealistic and keep flip-flopping from one end to the other instead of finding a middle ground. I suppose on thing that's different now than in the past is that I know I will eventually be vegetarian. Before, it was all-or-nothing. Now, no, I'm on a path towards vegetarianism. It'll happen. Someday. But I'll still have this nagging little voice in me asking, "I have no business eating meat, so why do I?"

Did you struggle with a switch to veg*ism? Please share your story in the comments section!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Keep Moving Forward

I was given a book recently by my pseudo-niece and fellow food sensitive woman:

There is some great information in the book, but I'm finding myself wondering if I can actually follow the author's program. What is her program? Well, part of it involves 8 weeks on a type of elimination diet. 8 weeks. That's all I can think of: 8 weeks. And this is after 2 weeks of gradually working up to the full elimination part. I'm not managing any wheat-free days lately, or even junk-free days... How in the world can I handle 8 weeks without:

*artificial anything (well, that would be good to eliminate entirely)
*sugar (that could be VERY hard for me; I think a lot of what I eat has sugar in it, esp. since the list includes: brown sugar, cane juice, cane sugar, fructose, glucose, lactose (pretty much all allergy pills and many prescription drugs have lactose), malt, maltose, mannitol, raw sugar, high-fructose corn syrup...
*alcohol (easy; I don't drink anyhow :D)
*pop (I almost never drink pop anyhow; soda, for you American readers)
*commercially smoked and cured meats
*foods with white vinegar
*processed oil products
*coffee and regular black tea
*dairy (already gone)
*gluten grains
*nightshade family vegetable (eggplants, peppers, potatoes, tobacco, tomatilloes and tomatoes, goji berries)
*processed soy products (fermented soy is okay, supposedly)
*oranges and bananas (This will be hard: I so far don't like any green smoothie that doesn't have a banana added.)

After the 8 weeks, you start introducing certain things back to see what sort of things are actually a problem for you. In addition to all of the above, I clearly shouldn't have anything I already react to, like raw apples, raw peaches, raw plums, raw nectarines, raw pears... While some of the list is stuff that we should all do away with, some of it is definitely harder to think of eliminating

I find myself at the same time thinking 8 weeks mustn't be enough or not enough is being removed. I've read accounts of people going 100% raw (that somehow doesn't seem as daunting! lol) and eventually getting over certain allergies. I'm not sure what sort of time frame it was.

As I write this all out, I feel kind of silly: How long have I been thinking about going raw, even 100% raw for a while? And how much different is the list above of excluded foods different from what is not in a 100% raw diet? Not much. So, why am I finding the idea of 8 weeks so hard? Probably because I haven't managed a single day yet without all the things listed above.

I find myself thinking that while I may not be prepared to change things for 8 weeks, I can certainly take her guidelines to prep up to that. I have to sometime just bite the bullet and go for it. I've been getting more vegan meals done around here for suppers, but I'm such a creature of habit, change is so slow going. What's it going to do to change things more suddenly? (Make me go crazy? lol)

There are many, many recipes in the book and even a vegan menu suggestion (I think for after the 8 weeks, but I'm not sure). On top of that, each recipe has symbols indicating if it's wheat-free, dairy-free, raw, etc. It's a fantastic book to help me on my journey. As I finish this post, I'm watching the end of Meet the Robinsons with my nieces. The motto of the movie: Keep moving forward. That's what I'll do. Whether I can stick rigidly with the 8 weeks or not, I'm going to keep moving forward.