Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Yoga Sequence for the IT Band

I have not been formally "diagnosed," but everything I've read would indicate that I have iliotibial band syndrome, aka IT band problems, ITBS...

There is no real consensus on how to fix IT band problems, but stretching is one of the necessary components. Below is my favourite sequence, provided by Runners World, and when I did my 100-day challenge, I did this far more often than the recommended twice a week! It helps so much!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Brief Update!

I missed -Free Recipe Friday.

I don't have a menu plan for this week.

Way too much going on lately. This next week isn't really any better and has more added in, really.

On a positive note, nothing heard back from the doctor, which means my daughter is not celiac, didn't test positive for whatever gluten sensitivity it is they test for and there are no issues with her thyroid.

On the flip side, not having to avoid wheat means she's been eating a lot of wheat. And more stomach complaints have popped up. And I can tell I'm not feeling as well as I did when we were gluten-free. I have no idea how this will play out this week, but I am doing what I can to at least see about a gluten-free food option before I eat something else.

I haven't been exercising, but I need to start again. At least my evening yoga--my neck and back and knees/IT band are not happy with me! In a few weeks, I have a parent duty day at a homeschool co-op in a church with 3 stories and a whole lot of stairs to go up and down. No, we're not allowed to use the elevator. My knees and IT band are going to need me to be in better shape! And I'll have to do some serious yoga afterward.

Where am I going with this? No clue. I had the kind of weekend where I need another weekend to recover. :P

Monday, January 21, 2013

Make-a-Menu Monday

Last week's menu plan was such a great thing for me to have done! It was just nice to have that part decided ahead of time. I didn't have to figure anything out during the week, other than just a quick check to make sure I had everything I needed.

Thursday's plan didn't end up being followed, unfortunately. That story's long and uninteresting, but a lesson was learned: I can't just plan a simple supper, I must make sure I actually have all the ingredients (um, yeah, was missing a key item) and that the alternate simple supper isn't going to take forever to make since I can't start supper until about 4:30-4:45 on Thursdays.

We still haven't heard back from the doctor about my 15yo's tests for gluten intolerance/allergy (celiac), which I'm hoping means is good news. I still like the idea of working toward wheat-free/gluten-free meals (or meals that are easily made gluten-free), but I'm not so focused on it this week.

What I've been doing when making my meal plan is keeping in mind what's going on this week: are there time constraints? do I need to pick up specific items? is there a time during the day I can stop at the grocery store if I need something else? (At the same time, this process makes me really wish we were on holidays still as the busyness is feeling a bit overwhelming!)

With that in mind, my meal plan:

Monday: chili

Tuesday: stir fry with rice; I bought a bag of stir fry veggies mix today and a bottle of VH stir fry sauce

Wednesday: something with the Swedish meatballs we have in the freezer downstairs. Made it with rice last time; might find a recipe to make with potatoes this time.

Thursday: super simple night--maybe just grilled cheese sandwiches and soup. Maybe I'll make it the evening that my son makes supper. ;D

Friday: I'd like to make a crockpot recipe. Or maybe a pressure cooker recipe. Either way, I'm going to have to figure something out, but didn't manage to before posting this! Deadline: Wednesday morning. That way I can purchase any ingredients I might need while my daughter is in her dance class at lunch time.

Yes, I'm stopping there yet again. I do need to start figuring out the whole week, I know, but right now, this is a good start. ;)

Care to share your menu plan for the week?

Friday, January 18, 2013

-Free Recipe Friday - Jan. 18, 2013

I had in my mind for much of the day that I had to figure out what I was going to share for -Free Recipe Friday tomorrow. It hit me at about 2:30 that Friday wasn't tomorrow, but today. Oh. Shoot. What was I going to share?

Since I had on my menu plan to make minestrone, I decided I would just share whatever I ended up finding. Well, I wasn't happy with what I found so... I looked at a couple of recipes and came up with my own minestrone recipe! And you know what? I thought it was DELICIOUS! My son thought otherwise, but he never likes tomato-based soups. *sigh* My daughter didn't say anything but did eat a decent amount and my husband's not yet home, so I don't know. (Oh, before I got the chance to post this, he got home, ate and only said it would make a good lunch for tomorrow. lol)

In any case, here's the recipe!

Marvellous Minestrone
vegan (dairy-free, meat-free, egg-free), soy-free and potentially gluten-free
I remembered the picture this time! ;) Of course, I'd already finished eating...

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small/medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced
2 chopped garlic cloves

2 cups vegetable broth or stock
1 796 mL (28 oz) can tomatoes, blended
2 cups water

1/2 zucchini, chopped
a handful of baby spinach, chopped into largish pieces (could have even had two handfuls)
1 tsp dried oregano (could even have a bit more)
2 tsp basil (could even have a bit more)
1 tsp salt
ground pepper (however much you want)
1 can of red kidney beans, drained

(1 cup chopped green beans, which I didn't put this time because I didn't have them, but they'd be good)

1.5 cups baby shells pasta (this makes it VERY heavy on the pasta! you might want to put less, maybee 3/4 to 1 cup only); I used regular pasta, but one of the recipes I was looking at used gluten-free pasta, so that would definitely work.

In large pot, put oil, onion, carrots, garlic on med to med-low heat. Once heated, cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes and water. Stir. Bring to a boil.

Add zucchini, spinach, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and kidney beans. Simmer covered 30+ minutes. (The longer you simmer, the more flavourful it will be.)

Add green beans, if using, and pasta.

Cook 6-10 minutes, depending on the pasta being used. Let it be ever so slightly not cooked if it's going to be sitting for even 10 minutes. The pasta really absorbs the liquid!

Makes about 8 servings.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Make-a-Menu Monday

I have a thing with titles. It just kind of gets my attention, helps me stay focused or committed. I'm on a "FlyBud" list (people using FlyLady's approach in one form or another in their homes) where we've done things like post our list for the day, but the subject line is "Marvelous Monday"--just to play around with our minds and not let ourselves get thinking, "Ugh, another Monday!"

"Make-a-Menu Monday" tells me I need a menu plan for the week by Monday. I keep procrastinating starting a menu planning habit, even though I know that once I get into it, it will make things a lot easier around here. If you're thinking a menu plan would be good for you, too, please join me!

Here is the supper menu I've come up for this week, well, at least for Monday through Friday. I did keep them all to things that could be easily made gluten-free and thought about my son's desire to return to a higher number of vegetarian suppers. Given the craziness of last week and potential craziness this week, I also stuck to the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Silly), focusing on things we've had fairly often, rather than venturing really into adding in a lot of raw or vegan:

MONDAY: Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, fresh veggies

TUESDAY: Chicken fajitas with peppers

WEDNESDAYMexican rice and bean recipe and fresh veggies (vegan version)

THURSDAY: Chicken and potatoes (probably dairy-free mashed) with cooked broccoli and/or carrots and a salad

FRIDAY: Minestrone (I need to find the recipe I wanted to do! vegan)

There! It feels nice to have that part all decided.Of course, now I have to make sure I have everything I need to make it all... ;)

Do you make a meal plan for the week? What's yours this week?

Friday, January 11, 2013

-Free Recipe Friday--Jan. 11, 2013

Today's -Free Recipe is not one that I made this week, but did make it over the holidays. Remember my thoughts of baking and I wasn't, in the end, going to do it? Well, we were asked to bring dessert to a family get-together on Jan. 1st and instead of making one big dessert, I made single batches of all the different things I had wanted to make: dairy-free Rice Krispie squares, vegan shortbread cookies, vegan lemon squares and, my favourite, vegan butter tarts. I love these things so much! If you aren't in Canada and have never heard of butter tarts, oh, these are so worth trying! And that is why they are my -Free Recipe Friday choice this week:

Better than Butter Tarts
dairy-free, egg-free, optionally nut-free (I never make them with nuts), potentially gluten-free, if you replace the pastry tart shells with a gluten-free version (cooking times might have to be altered in that case)
by Tanya Barnard and Sarah Kramer

1 cup raisins
1 tbsp vegan margarine
3/4 sugar
2 tbsp ground flax seeds
3 tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 unbaked pre-made pastry tart shells (3 inch) OR home-made pastry dough
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Put raisins into a medium bowl and cover with very hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Drain hot water off of raisins and add margarine, sugar, flax seeds, water and vanilla. Stir together well. Spoon 1 tbsp of mixture evenly into each tart shell. Sprinkle each tart with finely chopped walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes and serve at room temperature. Makes 12 tarts.


My note: It is very easy for people to eat 2 of these at a time. Just something to keep in mind if you are making for a crowd of people!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

(Mis)Adventures in Cooking

Adventures in Cooking aka What Happens When You Rush While Cooking

It was just after 4 pm and I decided to make the scalloped potatoes recipe I shared last Friday. I looked in my printed off recipes and couldn't find it, so I had to find it on my blog. 1.5 hours it was going to take. Perfect: it will be ready for 5:30, my tired brain said. Except, of course, it was now even more after 4 pm and there was still all the prep to do.

No problem! I would be speedy! I grabbed 5 potatoes and an onion from the basement, came back upstairs and got started on the sauce. Trying to measure 1/4 cup of Veganaise, half of it ends up on the counter. Is the counter clean? I think so. Scooped some of it into the measuring cup and continued.

Oh, yes, the sauce requires constant whisking. Can't prep the rest while it cooks. I decided to try anyhow, whisking very quickly in between grabbing a potato and starting to slice. I made a mess of the stove top with my whisking. At least it's a glass top and can be easily cleaned later. I end up going between whisking and slicing, making sure to use the hand protector thingy after the first potato since my finger got awfully close to being sliced.

Back and forth I went, deciding finally on only 4 potatoes since I was trying to be speedy AND my family tends to love saucy. On the last potato, I didn't use the hand protector thing. Felt the blade against my finger at one point, but it didn't really hurt, so all's well, right? Finally, the sauce is done and it can sit on the stove top while I cut the onion. Should I cut the whole onion or just put in half? I started slicing it and felt my finger--the one that touched the mandoline blade earlier--stinging a bit. I looked: I was missing some skin. Not enough to bleed, but enough to wonder if somebody's going to end up eating it tonight. Would that mean I'm turning them into cannibals?

I got a bandage and went back to slicing the onion. It didn't take long--I'd barely cut anything--before my eyes started stinging. And watering. Severely. So badly, as a matter of fact, I could barely see what I was doing and am not even sure I really cut them up well. I decided at that point that 1/2 the onion is plenty. I saw at one point a kind of pinky part below one of the onions. Oh no! my onion-and-speed-induced irrationality said, did I bleed onto an onion? Of course, I hadn't bled at all, so it was a really stupid thought. But I was still trying to quickly get this onion done. I didn't care if there were long pieces still hiding in between the chopped onion, I put it all in anyhow. Sauce got poured over top, paprika sprinkled on top of that and into the oven.

I checked the time: 4:34. Oy. Won't be ready until 6. At least we don't need to head out tonight, so it's okay if supper's later than usual. Of course, there is still the rest of the supper to cook in a little bit--who knows what more could happen? :p

Mish-Mash Day

It's already Wednesday, isn't it? I forget just how crazy things are when not on holidays. I have to admit to having dropped the ball with my PrayFit--I am so exhausted these past few days, I just have not seemed to care in the morning and by evening, I'm sooo tired. The change to a busy routine makes me long for the days in the past when things were so much slower!  Or maybe it's just where I live. I love watching House Hunters International on HGTV and very often, there is mention of how someone moving from one area to another notices the difference in activity levels. I live in such a high-paced, almost frenetic society; I'm sure I would do much better with a slower-paced life. (Mind you, wouldn't we all? A chaos-free life would be super nice!) Even some period flicks, like Little Women, are showing me the kind of slower-paced life I would love to have.

This Wednesday morning [woops, it was morning when I started this] babble is leading somewhere, I promise. :) Today, my 15-year old has an appointment for blood work. We saw the doctor last Friday and she is going ahead with celiac testing, thyroid testing and some other things. I can't wait until we have things confirmed about the wheat/gluten because for now, she's supposed to keep eating gluten items so that all the tests reflect how she is on gluten. But she's definitely like how she was before her week and a half of gluten-free eating and has been like this over the entire holiday: sluggish, tired, more emotional, stomach complaints here and there... We may have to wait two weeks before we hear back about the blood work. If she has to do a biopsy to confirm celiac... it could be quite a while. And she's supposed to be on gluten before the biopsy because they are looking for damage--and if she goes off, things could heal up and diagnosis will not be accurate. I have learned a lot about potential celiac this past month! "Why do the testing?" That's what I was asking. I'll answer that question in another post soon.

My mind's on all that but also on tomorrow. As of tomorrow, my Thursdays are going to be crazy: one student will be showing up at 8:30 for French class (which I haven't yet planned and prepped), I'll get going with her (and hopefully my daughter; we'll see if she can get herself up and dressed by then), at 9 am the other student will arrive, I'll teach the three girls until about 10:15 am, then drive them about 20 minutes away (I think) for a homeschool program they are all attending, drive back home, eat lunch, have an afternoon French class from 1-3, leave right after that to pick up my nieces and nephew from school, but my nephew doesn't get to my nieces' school until about 3:45, at which point I then need to drive to the homeschool program (an estimated 30-40 minutes away from that location and at that time of day) to pick up my daughter--who is supposed to be done at 4:10. By the time I actually get there, it could be closer to 4:20, then we have to get back home during high traffic, which means it could very well be 4:45 or later by the time we actually get home. And then I'm supposed to start supper. Oy. One of my intentions (not resolution) for this year is to develop a weekly meal-planning habit. I haven't started. Not sure what stopped me on the weekend, but it didn't happen. I do need to decide now what we'll eat tomorrow. I'm trying to get us off completely from all the super fast, processed foods and may resort to it for tomorrow but I don't want it to become a regular habit again! I have a crockpot and a pressure cooker... I will have to do some recipe hunting! And I still want to keep some gluten-free meals in the mix so when we do go back to at least wheat-free for my daughter (and probably me; I feel better when I'm not eating wheat), it won't be a big deal. Maybe Janae over at http://bring-joy.com/ will have a recipe idea for me for tomorrow evening!

This "talk" of wheat-free has reminded me about going soy-free. I know I consume various products with soy in them, but when I eat full out soy, like in my best.ice cream.ever post, I react. Sometimes it's skin issues. This time, clear that the estrogen-like things in soy definitely affect me and not in a positive way! As delicious as that ice cream was, I have finished the tiny carton and won't be getting more. :( (However, if you are not soy-sensitive and love ice cream like I do, definitely try it! :D)

And other than that, I've been exploring different ways to make a reasonable income at home through online options. I really want next year to be a French class-free school year. I'm loving teaching the kids, but the amount of time it takes from my week to plan and prep and then how it affects our homeschooling, how it takes away from a simpler, slower pace... My two Thursday morning girls are heading to school next year anyhow, so I'm definitely going to be losing students. I had looked into doing online tutoring and real time classes, but that ends up controlling my schedule, too, which isn't what I'm yearning for. If you are making money from home through some sort of online means, being boss-free and controlling your time, I'd love to hear about it! (You can email me if you'd prefer to not post about it here.)

Is that enough for today? lol

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best. Ice Cream. Ever.

I decided to treat myself this past weekend and bought a container of

It does have soy, but it's vegan, which makes it dairy-free. This particular amazing kind is Turtle Trails. It has some caramel swirls in the ice cream itself and the chocolate balls (you can sort of see a couple) have crunchy caramel/toffee inside.

Don't let anybody tell you that soy ice cream can't be as good as "the real thing": this is, I believe, the best ice cream I have ever eaten. It is a really good thing that it comes in small containers and is so expensive because I'd possibly be eating tons of this stuff otherwise.

On another note, I have been doing the PrayFit, but not really journalling or anything. I did end up skipping yesterday--on purpose. There is always a lesson to be learned and mine this time around:

If you are prone to a tight neck and upper back,
stretch, stretch, stretch after doing 
as many
push-ups as you can!

I started having issues with extremely tight neck and shoulders and pain, and did begin stretching and had two non-exercise days as part of the program where I stretched on those days, but I apparently didn't stretch enough or the right thing. After stretching yesterday, it's starting to feel like it's all "okay". Tight, but okay. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Free Recipe Friday

I had the thought that a good way for me to build up a collection of recipes I like is to have a regular day where I post recipes I've tried and liked. Every Friday, I will try to post a "Free" recipe: not only do you not have to pay for it ;), but it will be free of something, like gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan/animal-product-free, soy-free...

Today's recipe: My daughter had started asking for scalloped potatoes. I've never, ever made them myself. Ate them as a kid and liked them so-so, then developped my dairy allergy as an adult and have not been able to eat them when served by others. Found the following recipe and it was absolutely delicious! I don't remember liking scalloped potatoes as much as a kid. There wasn't even any cheese--not even Daiya cheese--on it but it tasted so creamy and good!

Scalloped Potatoes
vegan, so: dairy-free, meat-free, animal-product-free; could be modified potentially to gluten-free

photo forgotten! :(

Original recipe here. My modified recipe below:

3 tablespoons vegan margarine
1/4 cup flour (I'm thinking that a gluten-free baking starch could potentially be used or a gluten-free flour blend to make this recipe gluten-free as well)
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup Veganaise
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
5 large potatoes
1 onion, chopped

1. Cook the margarine, flour, broth, Veganaise, salt and pepper on medium heat, whisking constantly until thick and bubbly.

2. Slice the potatoes 1/8" thick or so. A mandoline slicer with adjustable thicknesses works well for this!

3. Mix the potatoes and onions and place in a deep casserole dish.

4. Pour the sauce over the potatoes.

5. Sprinkle with paprika.

6. Bake at 350F for 1.5 hours.