The Keto Plate: Almost too Pretty

20170805_134737-1

Almost too pretty to eat, but no.  Almost too healthy to taste good, but again, no. It was delicious.

As part of my quest for better health for my husband and myself, we have been learning about the ketogenic diet, the Paleo diet, the Autoimmune Protocol, and food in general. We’ve been picking and choosing things that are easy to do, changes we can make gradually and, honestly, most of the changes are just common sense. It seems the less our food is tampered with, clean and unprocessed, the better it is for us.

The plates above held dinner for the husband and I one night. It is usually a light meal, eaten as early in the evening as we can manage, and is our last food for the day.  The greens, boiled egg and cauliflower are definite keto foods (on the “yes” list). The onion, bell pepper, tomato and cheese are on the “limit” list. A good dose of olive or avocado oil and a flavorful vinegar, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper, add to the preparation ritual.

We also have a gratitude ritual before our meal. We pray and thank God for providing such blessings. We know not everyone has access to even simple meals like this.

We relax as we eat. I remind myself to chew slowly and put my fork down between bites. I look at the colors and shapes. These onions are so amazing to look at. They’re purple!

I love to taste the blends of flavors and see how many I can isolate, identify.

The more I know about food and the way my body interacts with it, the more I am conscious of its protective and restorative qualities.  At the same time, being able to identify food that is not good for me, and knowing why it isn’t, helps me avoid it without feeling deprived.

Eating keto, is not only a lifestyle that focuses on unprocessed, low net carb foods and healthy sources of fat,  but it’s actually kind of an attitude of wanting to protect the only body you’ve been given.  I’m glad it’s becoming more mainstream as the evidence mounts showing its effectiveness against cancer and chronic disease.

Today I am thankful that food is colorful, imaginative in structure, varied in it’s composition and taste. Food can be art. Chefs can be artists, and sitting down to a beautiful meal can be as satisfying as strolling through an art gallery.

Food is medicine, and eating the best food you can, every time you can, is how you be your own best health advocate.

Do you have a favorite mealtime ritual or practice?

 

 

 

The Hard Work of Resting

August 5, 2017

20170805_093237-1I am technically resting, sitting in a comfortable chair, wondering what it really means to rest. It is Saturday, which always reminds me that there is a seventh day of the week, at least on the calendar we use. And on the seventh day of creation God rested. He looked at all his work and was satisfied, and then he rested, or stopped working. He didn’t stop because it was the seventh day. He stopped because he was done with a project. Resting is fun when you are done with a project, but what if you don’t feel done?

Of course, I am not God. I need to rest for other reasons like being tired and needing to refresh and recharge. I’m enough “in God’s image” to wish that I could look at my work and pronounce it good, finished to a satisfactory point, so I could rest. But I’m more like my human composition – I have to be commanded (kindly) to not work myself to death.

To rest must also have a deeper meaning than to do something that I consider fun. I pepper my time every day with fun. I knit, I do solitaire challenges, I sit and read, I ride my bike, I watch TV. I have a lot of fun, restful activity. In all of it my mind is engaged in something other than work. But none of that requires me to engage with God or my own mortality. What does that is aging. The longer I survive, the easier it becomes to think about God and what his plans might be.

I become more interested in looking back, trying to see a pattern, a progression. I become more interested in the clues in my environment that inform me of how God works. I become more impressed that he actually has a written word of instruction – one that has surpassed the effects that any of its scribes could have imagined.

This week we had a storm. It wasn’t a particularly bad one, but it cleaned a lot of dead wood out of the trees. I suppose that is God’s purpose in a storm, whether it be in the woods or in my life. Today, as I rest, I’m going to think about how it is that things become new, with dead stuff removed, and appearances changed.

 

Keto Plate – Today’s Breakfast “Win”

I was in a terrible food fog yesterday. A food fog is paralyzing. It means you have nothing to eat that really appeals to you, mixed with a bit of fear that there is something detrimental about every choice you might make. We have read so much lately about the AIP for autoimmune issues, the MMT for mitochondrial health, the Grain Brain whole life plan to ward off Alzheimers, the Paleo ”eat like your ancestors” diet, and the Ketogenic anti-cancer diet that we could almost give up on food altogether (if we were not so hungry). There are similarities between them all but they don’t intersect completely, and each one of them seems to do away with one of my favorite foods. Boo.

I realized that having to fix something for myself and the husband to eat was causing enough anxiety to become its own problem. I decided that since we were fearfully and wonderfully made (no lie) that I’d just give the problem to God. My prayer went something like this:

God, make us hungry for the things that are good for us, that are available and as unpolluted as possible, and let us not obsess about figuring it all out. Help us to be smart in our choices, but also trusting that you are smarter and will keep us healthy as long as you need us to be. Amen.

(I don’t know if it’s the Spirit’s leading or not but cupcakes are suddenly on my mind… probably not him.)

I’m feeling a bit better today. I replenished my supply of grass fed beef yesterday and did some cooking. I also had a breakfast “win” this morning. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in cookbooks so I’m going to share it here.

There’s been much said about using cauliflower as a substitute for mashed potatoes or rice – same color and general consistency when cooked and blenderized- but how about substituting it for grits? Being raised in northern climates I’ve never done a lot of cooking with grits but I’ve had some I really liked, so this is what I did:

20170725_130929-1
Nothing precise about measurements here. Steamed cauliflower keeps well in the fridg for several days.

Cauliflower florets, steamed and pureed in blender with

Cream or Half ‘n Half, just enough to keep the food moving in the blender

1 Tbs. of butter, added to blender to melt in

20170725_132450
This happens to be about 4 cups cauliflower and 1/3 cream.

 

1 egg, lightly cooked in butter, not hard

20170725_133327-1
Mmmmh… so good, and cauliflower “grits” left over for next time.

Put desired amount of cauliflower for one serving in a bowl, dot with another pat of butter and put the egg on top. A little pepper makes it pretty, and salt if you don’t have reason to avoid it. This was so good, so quick (because the cauliflower was left over and already prepared) and a very good nutrient profile for anyone following a ketogenic program (or not – good no matter what!)

How is your eating going today?

On Clothes

I have an opinion on almost everything. Not that it matters…

Clothes do not “make the man” as some like to think. You have to know who you are before you put them on or you are in trouble. This I have learned from experience.

Down here in the sauna of the United States, I change clothes, a lot. It would be exhausting and take up way too much time to have to worry about looking good in what I wear. I settle for acceptable in a modest and functional way.

I accept the fact that clothing is fickle. It can look pleasing from one angle and totally embarrassing from another. It can fit well on one wearing and then not fit at all after one of us changes sizes. It can look soooo good in the picture, on someone else, and then be a completely different garment on me. I don’t know how it happens but it does.

509fd-20130203_182205
I won’t say what I was planning to do in this outfit, but you see what I mean?

I was looking this morning for something to wear while riding my bike outside. I wanted sun exposure and to be cool temperature-wise so my choice of knit shorts and tank top was a practical one. I put my helmet on and looked in the mirror. There I was, just like in countless pictures of myself biking, hiking, kayaking, whatever – looking decidedly awkward, gangly and a bit on the nerdy side. A real fashion plate. I regret that this is the case, but as I said, I’m not letting clothes define me. Function and protection are some major strong points of clothing, and shoes also, which is why I have almost completely given up on high heeled shoes. They are health hazards in so many ways. I’ve seen those models on the runways, nearly killing themselves…

I’m not against looking good. I even give that a shot from time to time, and it’s a lot of fun when it happens. However, I’ve also learned that the illusion of looking good is a real thing. For instance, having a great time dancing at a friend’s wedding only lasts until I see pictures of said evening and me in my finery. Who is that woman?

It’s been interesting to see how my clothing philosophy rubs off on my daughters. Pretty much not at all. There are occasions when they ask me what I think about what they are planning to wear but I’m always way too confused to tell them, and they end up wearing what they want to anyway. My opinion has a very poor track record. I think that they both would admit to clothes presenting them with some degree of a problem in their life (Why do I have so many? Where do I store them all? Why is my dry cleaning bill so high? Etc…) and that is where my bottom line comes in. Clothing should not be making life any more difficult than it already is.

Clothes should not be a problem, unless, of course, you don’t have any. That’s a problem, but it’s solved fairly easily. Do you know that there is a glut of clothing in the world? Do you realize that most of the stuff we donate to Goodwill ends up in the landfill? It’s alarming, really. But if you have clothing, don’t stress out over it. Wear it, take care of it and keep it clean. Smile and be kind no matter what you’re wearing and hope that’s what people remember most about you. And you will occasionally look good – it happens to all of us. Just sayin’…

Side note: Does anyone want a nearly new pair of Lands End board shorts, size 16W, in black? I found them last night when we were walking along the street. I think they blew off someone’s boat. It’s really easy to find clothing around here.

I Took Pictures

It started as a quiet, overcast day that was perfect for nostalgia, contemplation and being content at home. I needed to rest my hands from yesterday’s outside work and was committed to doing less active tasks, like my “paring down” of photos.

My photos tell the progress of technology in “Kodak moments” starting with the ones I took with my box Brownie when I was a child. There aren’t very many of those because there were only 8 frames on a film and I was always lucky to get half that number of decent pictures. They were black and white.

20170718_222022-1
A black and white, old enough that it’s starting to look like a color photo.
20170718_222038-1
Kodachrome moment on Santa Catalina Island.

Kodachrome came next. They are square and all have a golden cast but they are in color. My wedding photos are in this category and they are a sorry collection of candid snapshots taken by one of my brothers. There are half a dozen 4×6’s and a couple 6×8’s. Today’s wedding photographers would have a good laugh, I’m sure, but they tell the story and my memory fills in the holes. I didn’t pay $1,000 for them and honestly, I’m not sorry about that.

We bought a good camera early in our marriage. It took good pictures and we about wore it out on our first child. Film was still the standard but now there were 36 frames on some of them. We mailed the rolls to far away companies to be developed and double prints were the marketing ploy. I am lightening the load by throwing most of the doubles away. I am not in many of these photos because I was behind the camera and there was no such thing as a “selfie” without going to a lot of trouble.

The second child came and there were still lots of photos, because the two of them were so cute together. Lots of those doubles come in handy as I am making photo books for each of them to remind them of how it was, who they were to me. When they started taking their own pictures, mine became somewhat fewer.

My brother was the first to get a digital camera. It seemed so expensive and complicated to me, but it wasn’t too long before we had one. We stopped getting our photos printed out, except on special occasions. My box of photos from the 1990’s was the last large collection.  Since then, very few events have warranted hard copy photos. The ones I have printed are either artistically worthy or for special projects.

20170718_215944
Only one of the horizontal surfaces covered with stacks of photos.

The day is done now. Every time I tackle this job, my room is littered with piles of pictures by categories, and the waste basket is full as well. I have stopped being chronological in my organization. When I look for a photo, I’m remembering a person or an event, not the year it took place. I have envelopes with the names of people, special places, memorable trips. It may sound morbid, but I’m only saving ones of myself that I would want shown at my funeral. Who, other than me, should get to choose how I’m remembered? Right.

20170718_215904
Here’s hoping this will help me find that one photo I’m looking for…

These days at this task always leave me flooded with memories, reliving the past and longing for the goodness of those times caught motionless on paper. It’s a strange feeling and not always comfortable because it has so much to say about the passage of time and mortality. I stop frequently and text a picture to my daughters, with my phone. Just sayin’… who would ever have thought it.

20170718_215959
I’m not going to say the cat helps. She doesn’t.

My time is your time.

A somewhat philosophical recount of a fairly common day.

Frankly, I do not want to be in charge of my schedule. I am often an idiot when it comes to knowing what is important to do, urgent to do, not needing to be done and all that. Knowing this, a long time ago  I made a deal with God for him to figure out what I should be doing and in return I would just do it and be okay with whatever. This works well for me, especially in all those out of control situations where I pretty much have to hope God has it figured out, because it makes no sense to me.

People say I’m always so calm, and that really is the secret.  This is always my message to myself as I sit gridlocked in traffic, as I wait for the husband to get ready for things when we’re already late, when I lose hours of writing to an errant computer.  I say, “my time is yours, use it, waste it, end it – I’m not in charge and thank you!”

But there are some days that are… tests, yes, tests. God wants to see if I mean it.

We are in the process of selling a condo that we’ve had since right before the real estate bust. Right before, meaning that we bought high and have been paying people to rent it ever since. Under water, they call it. Our realtor told us yesterday that the light in the kitchen was out and we had a showing coming up. I knew I needed to buy some buy some fluorescent bulbs and tend to that little chore, in case this buyer might just be the one to set us free.

I guess I left home in kind of a hurry, having not thought things through. I got to the hardware store and mentally pictured myself trying to change the light on an eight foot high ceiling.  I had forgotten a ladder. The apartment was empty – no chairs or anything to stand on. Going back home just seemed like such a waste of time when there was a store full of ladders right in front of me. So I bought bulbs, and a ladder.

Arriving at the condo and climbing the three flights of stairs (no elevator), with my ladder and bulbs, I felt pretty smart. This was not going to take long at all. I would be done well before the showing time.

So, I got the ladder open, climbed up and got the plastic lens off the 48 inch fixture. I thought it would just hang on the side while I took the bulbs out – the way the ones in our garage do.  A minute later as I wrestled with the stupid tubes the lens fell to the floor and got quite cracked up.  I did finally get the bulbs in and they did work. But the wrecked lens was a whole new problem.

I went first to the association office to see if perhaps they stocked things like that lens for common repairs. No luck though. They sent me to another hardware store that they had heard carried them. Crossing town, I arrived at the store, and started looking for replacement lenses. I had taken pictures of the fixture and thought I was picking out and purchasing a lens that fit. Maybe, I should have brought the broken lens to compare. That would have been a good idea.

It was the wrong one. That became apparent, after about five minutes on the ladder, struggling with the stupid fixture.

I spent another half hour going back to the store. There was one more possibility, and though it looked a bit small, it was the only one.  Pay again, drive again, climb stairs again, and finally on the ladder again, I ascertained that it was not the exact size either. I made it go on anyway. I just hope I never have to take it off.

I had only minutes to spare, so I folded the new ladder quickly and made my way down the stairs for the third time. The last thing on the agenda was waiting in the “returns” line at the first hardware store with the ladder. I really didn’t need another ladder.

It was almost like one of those jokes about how many blondes it takes to change a light bulb, except it was minutes (too many of them) and I have gray hair. I haven’t heard how the showing went, but I know they had light in the kitchen. I did my part.  And I remained calm, and accepting, maybe…

IMG_20160521_164632
Has nothing to do with the story but is a picture I like to look at to keep myself calm, because it’s really pretty. 

 

 

Health Advocacy: Today’s Ketogenic Plate

A ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat (healthy fats) way of eating. It is similar to a Paleo diet and also has some things in common with the AIP (autoimmune protocol). We are eating this way for weight loss reasons, but it is also a cancer fighting therapy. I’m always running short of ideas on what to make for dinner, so when I do come up with something good, I might as well share it. Right?

20170712_164532
We both had plenty for dinner and there were leftovers for the husband’s lunch tomorrow.

Today’s Ketogenic Plate

This meal starts with ½ of pasture fed ground beef. It’s left over from last night when the husband cooked dinner for me. This doesn’t happen a lot, but I had the procedure on my hand to deal with so he gave me a break. A quarter pound per person is plenty when it comes to red meat, especially if you are eating keto for cancer therapy.

The ground beef is really the only thing I had a measure for. The rest of the ingredients can be whatever you have on hand. My pan contains:

2 large Portobello caps, cut in chunks

1 medium onion, cut in chunks

2 stalks of celery, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, sliced

Broccoli, about 2 cups

And cherry tomatoes, for color appeal

Brown the ground beef. In a large pan, melt 2 Tbs. of butter and saute the mushroom pieces. When they started looking dry I put in some avocado oil, another healthy fat.  Add the onion garlic and celery and continue cooking on medium heat for 5 minutes. When the ground beef is browned, add it to the pan. I added the broccoli next and covered the pan to let it steam for another 5 minutes. At the very end I added the tomatoes because I like as many colors in our meal as possible.  Seasoning is to taste and done at the table in our house so each person knows what he’s eating.

20170712_164814
I love this salad and eat it last. It’s almost like dessert.

Add a salad with romaine, cucumber and kiwi for Wednesday’s ketogenic plate.

 

Our journey to eating “keto” has been helped by these resources: “The Grain Brain Whole Life Plan” by Dr. David Perlmutter, “Fat for Fuel” by Dr. Joseph Mercola, “The Paleo Approach” by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD and “The Ketogenic Kitchen” by Domini Kemp and Patricia Daly

 

 

Health Advocate: Regenexx Procedure

Being your own health advocate means searching and researching. I’m following this new trail hoping to keep my hands functional for a few more years. 

20170711_105428

Needles, pain. I was all prepared for it. July 11, 2017 I was scheduled for my Regennex procedure on my thumb joint, left hand. I felt a little like a guinea pig, but this whole area of the body healing itself really appeals to me. As I said, I was all prepared for an afternoon in the recliner, watching NCIS reruns through a narcotic induced aura.

I arrived ahead of time and did a few inches of knitting in the waiting room, followed by a few inches of knitting in the procedure room. Next, I was ushered out of the procedure room and did another inch or two in another room while an emergency fluoroscopy on someone else happened. Then I was taken back to the procedure room and “laid out” next to a tray of needles and syringes. I laid there listening to the sound track to “Sense and Sensibility” for close to an hour. I practiced my deep, slow breathing which I supposed would keep me calm.

And then in they came, two nurses and the doctor. I told them I was driving myself home, didn’t want a nerve block, and to go ahead and hurt me. When asked, Dr. L said he frequently did thumbs, so I relaxed and let them position my hand and start injecting. He was very good with the local anesthetic. Those tiny needle pricks were really the only “hurts” I felt. The rest of the injections were more about pressure as the platelet infused plasma filled the joint spaces. And then it was done.

I drove myself home. The local anesthetic wore off and it still hasn’t started hurting. I think I’m in the clear. Now to wait and see if healing takes place. The only thing that bothers me is that it was supposed to hurt… and what if “no pain” means “no gain”?  Just sayin’.

Great Smoky Mountain Adventure

20170708_064237
The sun rising in the east over our deluxe accomodations on the day of our hike… (I’ve stayed in worse, for sure.)

Time has gone by minute by minute, and our vacation is almost over – something to be looked back upon. As usual, it never seems right to be leaving part of my family anywhere, anytime. Julie and the dog had not yet left when we drove away from the motel.

Yesterday was by far the highlight day of our trip. Julie had to leave Tess the dog at the motel with Dennis the husband while we did our day hikes. Dogs are not allowed on most of the trails in the park. Husbands are allowed, but only if they want to go. Dennis is still not up to hiking and has had an uncertain time with his blood pressure and medicine side effects.

20170708_122729
This hike out and back was only about 2.5 miles but the falls was definitely at a higher elevation, lots of climbing. We didn’t see any llama pack strings.

We chose to go to Grotto Falls first, knowing that it would only get busier as the day progressed. It is a shorter hike and close to Gatlinburg so many people are taking it.  We did the 1.3 mile uphill climb, taking pictures along the way. The woods was beautiful, as was the river. The falls itself is known for the path that goes under the waterfall.  Being there, with that wall of rushing water between me and the world was quite cool, literally. Natural air conditioning courtesy of the turbulence of air and water and shade. It’s a unique and beautiful experience.  People of all ages were standing around on the rocks, nervously watching their children trying to get close to the water, taking pictures, drinking in the aura of the place.

20170708_111127
Does not make for a smooth trail, but very pretty to look at.

We took our own pictures, went a short way up the trail on the other side of the river and then headed back the way we had come. Mount LeConte was more than six miles away up the trail and not on our list for the day.

20170708_14451020170708_14412720170708_11573120170708_112759

The Roaring Fork Nature Trail is a one way motor loop up to Grotto Falls and was a great way to see the forest and several more creeks.  Going back down through the woods was fun but the best part was at the end, nearly into Gatlinsburg, when the line of cars we were in slowed and stopped.  People were out on the road taking pictures of something, which turned out to be a bear. A few seconds later another bear, on the other side of the road, came nearly up to our car. I think it was a mama and cub that got separated.  The mama looked a bit confused and didn’t want to cross with all of us in the way. I hope they got reunited.  WE SAW A BEAR! Unexpected bonus. I’m glad we were in the car.

Screenshot_2017-07-08-13-25-59-1
Our bear, on her way to check us out.

Our second hike was a loop starting with the Little River Trail, to the Cucumber Gap Trail and ending with the Jakes Creek Trail. We parked and headed upward along one of the most beautiful rivers I’ve had the privilege to see. It was full of rocks, some as big as a small house, and the rapids and pools were everywhere a wonder. This trail was a road in an earlier age when wealthy families from the cities came up to cool off in their summer lodges. The Park Service has since bought the properties and is taking the old buildings down, leaving only the chimneys and fireplaces that look like monuments along the road.

The Cucumber Gap Trail was smaller and more typical of Smoky Mountain hiking trails. It was on this stretch that we noticed the weather was changing. It was getting darker. Then it was thundering and lightning. And then, of course, it was raining.  At first the canopy kept us from getting too wet, but the trail was heading upward still. The canopy was thinning out and providing less shelter. I thought of all the places I wouldn’t want to be in a lightning storm. Sure enough, on top of a mountain with my feet in a puddle was one of them.

These trails are for people when they’re dry, and for water when it’s raining. They become little rivers with slick, muddy bottoms. At times we could walk on the bank above or below the trail (in the poison ivy) and other times there was no option but to get our boots soaked. I was so thankful for my new trekking pole. It was a lifesaver. We stopped taking pictures and wrapped our phones in plastic. You are being spared seeing us looking like drowned rats.

This was a near six mile hike and we decided to say that at least three of those miles were in the rain. We actually enjoyed it, realizing that it was an experience we might easily have missed, since we never would have started out in the rain. The wetness, the uncertainty of the storm, the added difficulty of the trail was just enough of a “rush” to make it memorable. I loved it. Towards the end, as we were searching for the parking lot and our car, we were getting a bit hypothermic. The temperature was down to 67 degrees and we had been wet for quite a while. Now I have a “hiking in the rain story” with each of my daughters. Thankfully this time it wasn’t 32 degrees, and we weren’t camping.

20170708_191132
They actually grind grain and make bread for the restaurant here. Very interesting historical place and the food (and service) was GREAT.

The day ended well with hot showers, dry clothes, and a top notch dining experience at the Old Mill Restaurant in Pigeon Forge.  What can I say? It has been a great trip, hotel expense courtesy of BlueGreen vacations.  I’m writing in the Knoxville Airport, where our flight on Allegiant has been delayed 3 hours. That’s about the only inconvenience we’ve had to endure. And no, we didn’t buy a timeshare, just sayin’…

Getting Away in Gatlinburg!

Tomorrow the husband and I are getting on an early flight to Knoxville for a short vacation. Never mind that we have never taken vacations before – we’ll learn how to do it. Never mind that we’re only doing this because it’s a time share sales pitch and we have to resist listen to a two hour hard sell.  We get three nights, four days in the Smoky Mountains! Sweet.

Our time away from home has always consisted of trips to see family, business trips, and solo trips where one of us stayed home. We have gone out to dinner a number of times, does that count? Part of our problem has been that it is hard work to plan and take a vacation. It is harder work than just staying home and going to work as usual. And it is costlier than staying home, for the most part. Watching TV away from home can easily costs $100 a night whereas at home, the same amount pays for a whole month! Enough of that, we’re going.

Our destination is close to Gatlinburg, the “gateway to the Smokies”, which sounds lovely to me. I want to wander the quaint streets with occasional glances at the nearby views of mountains and streams. I want to ride the cable tram over the valley.  I want to be a tourist!

One of the days I am promising myself a hike to a waterfall. I have looked at the maps and there are so many trails to choose from I’m going to have a hard time picking just one. Daughter Julia hopes to truck over from North Carolina to hike with me. My new trekking pole doesn’t quite fit in the suitcase we’re taking but the husband is going to find it “necessary” for his stability in the airport, so it’s going.

A late breakfast tomorrow in Gatlinburg. It will be wonderful! The only thing that could ruin it would be if we came back owning a time-share. Just sayin’ … (and prayin’…).

20170705_202336-1
Encouraged by the message on a flyer in the mail, she set off on a vacation.