Sometimes…

Sometimes…

Sometimes, even us disciplined and regular runners fall off our diehard pedestals. I am that girl that will say, “…let’s just run up the hill and then go back…” However, for the better part of 2019, I was trying to overcome a few running injuries. Knee pain, hamstring pain and achilles pain kept me from my regular runs. The decreased activity contributed to my 5 lb weight gain. I had a Thyroid Lobectomy in my 20’s and still take a small dose of Synthroid 0.1 mg. So keeping my weight in check has been a life long pain in the behind.

But as I gets older, so does my metabolism. I was struggling with losing just a few pounds. In the past, it would have taken me only a few weeks to lose this weight. Also, my motivation was shot from the pain I felt from running and biking. My activity level was very low along with my mood and energy.

Apple Watch Nike Version

In February, I was gifted an Apple Watch. This watch helped me lose the weight. I never needed motivation to run or bike in the past but my various injuries really ruined my regular exercise routine. The watch has the “Move”, “Exercise” and “Stand” features that show Activity level. It was eye opening to see how little I was moving on the days I didn’t run or bike. I have my “Move” goal set to 510 calories. Working in front of a computer all day, driving to and from carpool and doing housework contributes very little to this goal!

Move, Exercise and Stand Goals

Just seeing that my “Move” goal was not being met on those days motivated me to move! It was like my conscience reminding me that I had work to do. Walking on off days helped me reach my Move goal and lose the weight. I really like the watch’s cellular features. I won’t go into all the features that are cool about the watch. But being able to stream music through wireless headphones and leaving my iPhone at home on my trail runs is great when it is 90+ degrees outside. I feel guilty when my “Move” goal is not met. The Apple Watch is keeping me in check.

Meeting My Move Goals
The Three R’s

The Three R’s

Happy Earth Day! NASA just declared 2018 the fourth hottest year on record.  The top ten can be found here: Hottest Years on Record 

The earth warming even by 2 degrees means more frequent extreme weather, drought conditions that jeopardize drinking water, more diseases, more pollution, more wildlife extinction, and the list goes on…

It is all worrisome, scary and overwhelming! You have to start somewhere right?  I started thinking of ways to make my carbon footprint smaller and came up with the following list.  Keep in mind, this is just the start of my green journey. I have a big list below and it will probably change and get larger. Now, I can’t achieve everything on this list all at once. But for right now, I am going to start off doing some easy ones. 

My List So Far:

  • Take a shorter shower.
  • Don’t keep the refrigerator door or the oven open for too long.
  • Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw.
  • Use a reusable produce/shopping bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your own reusable produce/shopping bag and be sure to wash them often!
  • Give up gum. Gum is made of a synthetic rubber, aka plastic.
  • Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
  • Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill a reusable bag or container. You save money and unnecessary packaging.
  • Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
  • Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop.
  • Bring your own container for take-out or your restaurant doggy-bag since many restaurants use styrofoam.
  • Make your own cleaning products that will be less toxic and eliminate the need for multiple plastic bottles of cleaner.
  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers and bags. Also, opt for fresh fruits and veggies and bulk items instead of products that come in single serving cups.
  • Use a razor with replaceable blades instead of a disposable razor.
  • Turn off lights and electrical appliances when they are not in use is another one of the simple ways to conserve energy at home. This may seem obvious but most people tend to neglect this.

My List is in no way a comprehensive list! It is a work-in-progess for sure. I am sure that I have missed many areas. So, if you have some good ideas that you would like to share, please do so in the comment section!

Read more:

Microplastic found in Human Poop

Plastic in Chewing Gum

Recycle your Brita Filters

all-recycling-facts.com/ways-to-conserve-energy.html#ixzz5eyDtraHB

Maybe When You’re Older

Maybe When You’re Older

I recently started drawing Custom Pet Portraits.  I had forgotten how much people and families love their pets.  Their pets are like family members.  Dogs and cats provide companionship, comfort and a lot of fun.  Growing up, our family had two dogs and my sisters and my husband had cats in college.  Unfortunately, the two dogs and one of the cats met an untimely demise.  Trigger, our golden retriever simply went missing one day.  Hermie, our miniature schnauzer suffered an accidental death.  Piggy the cat never woke up.  Sooza and LiLi developed cancer and had to be put down.  My husband’s cat Saby just left the house and never came back.  I was traumatized by these events.  I haven’t gotten over the pain of losing them.  Even though I love animals, I haven’t been able to get another dog.

My kids are always asking for a dog and I keep telling them “maybe when you are older…”  However, they do play with their friends’ pets all the time.  It is sort of like having fun without the responsibility.

The pets I have illustrated are all so cute.  You can find them below and at my Etsy shop.  Doodleplix Custom Pet Portraits

IMG_2527

IMG_2528

IMG_2556

Three’s Company

Three’s Company

My thirteen year old son and my ten year old daughter get along well.  They have different likes and interests and don’t fight a lot.  Their biggest squabbles are what movies to watch on family movie nights and who ate the last ice cream bar.  While I think this is great, I can’t help but think of my own childhood that was sort of like “Hunger Games” in comparison.

IMG_1886
Three Sisters

Looking back at my childhood, I have many fond memories.  Having two younger sisters was a lot of fun.  If I got into a fight with one sister, there was another one to take her place.  As the oldest sibling, I ruled the roost and made the laws.  I am two years senior to my middle sister P and almost 6 years older than J, the youngest.  For years, I was physically larger and taller than both of them.  Growing up with two younger sisters and two crazy parents can really sharpen a girl’s sense of humor and survival skills.  We fought about all kinds of things…not just movies or ice cream.  I don’t know when we started to joke about each other mercilessly or play pranks on each other…but it hasn’t stopped.

As a teenager, my room was covered with 80’s celebrities…JFK Jr., Duran Duran, the Soloflex guy.  I subscribed to Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine and watched Elsa Klench on Style.  I was just sooo cool.  One day I came to my room to find that there were mustaches on several of my posters.  That was call for extreme action.  I marched to J’s room and beat up Mingy, her favorite pillow.

fullsizeoutput_221d
Her name is not Rio.

For some strange reason, we were obsessed with lip balm in the 80’s.  Blistex in those round canisters was all the rage.  Keeping interlopers from my Blistex was practically a full time job.  I used my Blistex in a uniform and clockwise fashion, it was always clean and of course perfect.  My sister J’s Blistex had an upside cone design.  My sister P’s container always had fuzz, random bits of mystery flakes and looked like it was stabbed with a toothpick.  If I didn’t hide my Blistex, I would find that one of them had dug a nail into the middle of the canister!

IMG_1882
Three’s a charm.

 

 

Secret video taping was also a constant danger in my house.  My sister J would place a cam corder on top of the fridge just to tape us with morning face and bed heads.  And forget about sleeping happily on tour buses while on vacation.  She made sure to take multiple shots of me dozing with my mouth open and my head in an angle that gave me two chins.

My sisters also had a collection of fake bugs.  I remember pulling back my comforter and finding a line of fake ants on my pillow.  I also let out a blood curdling scream when I found a large plastic spider in my dresser drawer.

Before you feel too sorry for me, I was not so innocent growing up.  I loved imitating my sisters, making up terrible nicknames and shaming them just for fun.  Luckily, as adults, the pranks have died down.  However, my sister J sent me a picture that my son had texted her.  It was a picture of me asleep on the sofa with mouth wide open and my head at an angle that allowed my chin to double!

IMG_1881
Three’s Company

Only on the weekends

Only on the weekends

My kids told me the that their Dad makes better grilled cheese and better chocolate milk than I do.  How can that be possible?  Well, he adds extra cheese and butter on the sandwich and extra chocolate in the milk of course!  As a family, our diet is mostly healthy and we eat out only once or twice a week.  However, I often find Oreos, Doritos, premixed chocolate milk, yogurt with candy pieces and ice cream of all varieties when my husband B. goes shopping.  I can’t even go on about the secret weekend donut/dessert runs.  These take place early in the morning on weekends when I am still asleep or out for a run.

I have told B. that taste is acquired for healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits.  While sugar is readily accepted by kids.  Kids have more taste buds and their taste buds are more sensitive.  Taste involves not just physical signals but sensory ones too. (Accounting for Taste)  We find food to be tastier if it is plated nicely on pretty dish or a fancy spoon.  Food appears attractive when it it is presented with garnishes.  We are already bombarded with images of unhealthy foods that are loaded in fat, calories and sugar.  And those images are not of fresh, whole foods that are unprocessed fruits, vegetables or grains.

With each meal, I try to include a fresh fruit or vegetable.  I would like my kids to be exposed to these tastes everyday.  Taste can be changed.  For example, people with health issues that are forced to cut back or sugar or salt, find the foods they used to eat previously taste too salty or too sugary after a few months.  The more we eat certain foods, the more we get used to the taste.

While I can’t stop B. from buying junk food, I do have solace in the fact that taste changes with age.  (Taste changes with age)  As we get older, the number of taste buds adults have decreases.  Adults have around 10,000 taste buds and kids have 30,000.  And, we are more inclined as adults to try new foods and new tastes.  Grown ups look at food not only from a taste perspective, but a health perspective also.  I am confident that my kids will eat better as they get older.  Both of them now eat tomatoes, lettuce, onions, olives, broccoli and green beans which was unheard of just a few years ago.

I can assure you that I am not the food police in our house.  With a Dietetics and Nutrition background and I know how to counter the unhealthy food.  I let them eat the unhealthy food, but in limited quantities.  Big desserts in our house are for the weekends only.  I adopted this rule from one of my daughter’s classmates who was lamenting how horrible her life was without weekday desserts.  Before you think I am a mean and awful Mom…during the weekdays, my kids drink chocolate milk for breakfast and lunch.  I pack a little something sweet in their lunch like a small cookie or chocolate.  And they eat a PB&J for lunch everyday at school (their favorite).  I know they will remember the “dessert on weekends only” with great fondness…hardship makes us stronger…right?!

The following recipe is a vegan Hot Artichoke Dip that even my kids love.  It is low in calories and big on taste.  I hope you like it.

 

Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip

2 cans of quartered Artichoke Hearts (14 oz cans)

2 T Vegan Mayonnaise (I use “Follow Your Heart” Veganaise)

2 T Nutritional Yeast

1 t Garlic Powder

1 t Salt

Drain the artichokes and add them to a food processor.  Add the Veganaise, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and blend until smooth.  If your dip is too thick, try adding a tablespoon of water or several as needed.  Empty into a serving bowl and microwave for one minute or empty into a pan and heat until hot.  I like to eat mine with veggies, toasted baguette slices or toasted pita/chapati/naan.

 

IMG_1233
Hot Vegan Artichoke Dip with Veggie & Baguette slices

Not Organic?

Not Organic?

A friend of mine assumed that I only consume organic food made from scratch. That is very far from the truth.  Unless you grow your own food, you are eating processed food.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are minimally processed and meat substitutes and nut milks are heavily processed.  Most of us don’t have the means or the knowledge to grow our own food.  Although I eat a lot of fruit, vegetables and whole grains,  I certainly do consume my fair share of seitan, pea protein, nut cheese and some soy based products.  I just don’t have to time to make my own.  With an active family and schedule, I don’t feel bad about that.

IMG_0528.JPG
Grilled Eggplant, Red Pepper & Red Onions

Fruits and vegetables do not have to be organic.  I used to follow the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) Dirty 15 rule  because it ranked produce with a percentage of pesticides found after harvesting.  But, according to the Journal of Toxicology (article), some pesticides are more toxic than others and they are not all equal.  So, I try to buy organic when possible.  But, sometimes stores are low in organic inventory or the non-organic produce looks fresher than the organic.  A good washing of non-organic fruits and veggies removes most pesticides.  Simply eating more fruits and vegetables is beneficial along with a balanced diet.

IMG_1069.JPG
Orgain Vanilla Almond Milk

My husband and my kids are not vegan.  They consume mostly organic eggs, milk, chicken and fish at home.  But, the kids get fast food when they are out with friends and we go to restaurants that do not serve organic meat and dairy.

According to the Washington Post, there are two main differences between organic and conventional animal products.  One is what the animals are eating and the other is the level of Omega 3’s.  I do care what the animals are eating and not so much about the Omega 3 levels.  (article)

Organic milk, eggs and meat come from cows that are pasture raised and grass fed and free range chickens that are not fed animal or poultry by-prodcuts.  I just feel better buying organic animal products, but when we go out…

IMG_1129.JPG
Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burger Salad.  See below for recipe.

As long as you are eating a diet that includes plenty of vegetables, fruit and grains with some protein (animal or plant based), you are on the right track.  If that diet includes organic foods, even better!  I would love to be the perfect, puritanical, organic, and unprocessed vegan but I’m not and I’m okay with that!

Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burger Salad

1 package Morningstar Farms Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burgers (4 patties)

2 C Mushrooms, washed

2 Medium Tomatoes, washed

1 Medium Yellow or Red Pepper, washed and deseeded

2 T Garden Gourmet Basil Paste (or fresh basil if available)

2 T Olive Oil

1/2 t garlic powder

Salt to taste

Cook burgers according to the package.  While they are cooking, add olive oil, basil paste, garlic powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and mix well.  Chop mushrooms, peppers and tomato into one inch pieces.  When burgers are done cooking, cut them into one inch pieces and add them and the veggies to the mixture in the bowl.  Mix well so the dressing coats all the pieces and serve. This recipe serves two.

As Requested

As Requested

A lot of you have asked for my easy Veggie Chili recipe.  I have been making this Chili for years.  When I became a vegan three years ago, I switched to vegan meat crumbles.  The Morningstar crumbles contain egg whites and are not vegan.  I have also done a variation of this chili with onions too.  Saute the onions first before following the recipe.  This recipe is very simple and very delicious.  I hope you like it!

Veggie Chili

1 package Morningstar “Meat” Crumbles or Beyond Meat Vegan Crumbles

1 red or orange red pepper diced

1 can red bean kidney beans (washed and drained)

1 can tomato sauce

1 large tomato cut into half-inch pieces

1 tsp garlic powder

1tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin

Juice of half a lime

Red chili flakes to garnish

Salt to taste

Spray a medium pan with oil spray.  Add meat crumbles to the pan, on medium heat, saute the crumbles until soft and slightly browner, about 5-6 minutes.  Add diced peppers to the pan, let peppers cook with crumbles for about two minutes.  Add the tomato sauce, tomato, garlic, chili, cumin, lime juice and salt.  Stir the chili well.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for about ten minutes.  Garnish with red pepper flakes  and serve with tortilla chips or warm tortillas.  If you are vegetarian, add some grated sharp cheddar or monetery jack cheese.  If you are vegan, add grated Chao vegan cheddar cheese.

 

IMG_1033.JPG