Thursday, June 30, 2011

DAY181 -- Last Bites Mulligan Stew

I just ate a delicious meal, and I cannot share the recipe... there isn't one.  I call it "Last Bites Mulligan Stew."

First, let me provide my definition of Mulligan Stew: a combination of whatever is on hand, stirred into one dish.  For scout campouts, my husband used to have his scout troop bring a can of whatever they wanted to throw in the soup pot.  One never knew what would show up...  mushroom soup,  pork and beans, corn.  Whatever they brought, it was put in the kettle and cooked together.  It always tasted good, no matter how bizarre it seemed.

So...I have my own little version of Mulligan Stew...Last Bites Mulligan Stew. For me, and my personality, this works.  You see, I was raised in a "clean your plate" atmosphere.  "Don't let perfectly good food go to waste!"  This is a major downfall for me trying to stop when no longer hungry at mealtimes.  My "full" meter might go off when there are only 2 or 4 bites left.  It's a real struggle at times to stop eating.  After all... will a couple more bites make a difference?  Too often, I give in to that reasoning and clean my plate.  But when I remember that I can make a mulligan stew out of it, then I don't feel wasteful and I stop eating.

I keep a container in the freezer--the right size for a meal for me--and when I have a few bites of food left (not enough to have for another meal), I put it in the container in the freezer.  It might be a couple bites of spaghetti one night, and a few bites of stir-fried rice another night, and a little bit of dilled chicken fricassee, a portion of toast torn into bits, etc.  When the container is full, I take it out and defrost it, mix the layers all together, heat it completely through, and wool-ah...Last Bites Mulligan Stew.

I know it probably sounds absolutely disgusting to some people, but I have never had a bad Mulligan yet.  Ever.  Serious.  I have, however, had Last Bites Mulligan Stew so delicious I wished I could duplicate it!

The downside: If I get full when eating the defrosted meal, and there's only a few bites left, I cannot re-freeze it (not safe to refreeze), so I am back to square one...toss it, or eat it?  

♩It's like the song that never ends... ♬

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

DAY 180 -- Homemade salad dressings.

I enjoy vinegar and olive oil on my salad, and that's what I mainly use, but now and then I get a hankering for blue cheese dressing.  So, I've experimented with some recipes and recently made a cooked salad dressing that is real close to "Miracle Whip" and then used that homemade salad dressing in a recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing.  

The "Miracle Whip" type dressing was a big hit with my husband.  He misses having Miracle Whip since we switched to healthier, more natural foods.  The ingredients on the Miracle Whip jar revealed corn syrup AND sugar, as well as chemicals or ingredients that we had no idea how to pronounce.  By making my own, I know what's in there!  He thought the homemade stuff tastes great and looks forward to trying it on sandwiches.  He even said it tastes good enough to just have on a salad by itself.

But I continued my quest for Blue Cheese Dressing.  Awhile back I tried a recipe for blue cheese dressing and it was "okay" but not great, a little on the bland side.  The latest recipe I used (incorporating the homemade "Miracle Whip") turned out a bit more successful.  We like it better than the previous attempt, but it's still not quite what we want.

Does anyone have a good recipe for Blue Cheese Dressing?  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

DAY 179 -- A flop of a meal!

Sometimes I share successful meals, so it's only fair that I share a flop.  Tonight's meal was most definitely a flop.  I made chicken and dumplings using a recipe I've prepared many times.  However.  Tonight I tried to make the dumplings with whole wheat flour.  Big mistake.  The dumplings were heavy with a grainy texture.  Then came the major disaster...the whole wheat dumplings thickened the "soup" part of the meal, which in turn burned (and I mean black charcoal burned!) on the bottom of my pan.  I'm hoping I can salvage it -- salvage the pan, not the meal.

My husband, though, insists that it tastes "okay," and ate it anyway and said he'll have some for lunch tomorrow.  Gross.  I don't know whether to question his sanity or give him a kiss.  Maybe both.  (And I better make a run to the store for some Pepto Bismol...after I finish scrubbing the pan...and airing out the house.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

DAY 178 -- Herb mill.

I mentioned in a previous post that I am growing some of my own herbs.  I have three plants that I bought from Sunflower Market, and they seem to be thriving even after I re-potted them. They are sage, oregano, and parsley.  Then I recently planted some seeds for dill, and for basil.  It's too soon to tell if they will survive my lack of horticulture skills.

To help use my fresh herbs, I purchased a really nifty herb mill.  I used it for the first time yesterday, adding my homegrown oregano to our pasta dish.  It worked great!!  Earlier in the week I added fresh parsley to a recipe, but had to use scissors to cut it up since my mill had not arrived.  (Of course, it came in the mail later that same day.  Oh well!)  What a difference using the mill compared to the scissors!

(Image used by permission)
Here's a link for the Microplane Herb Mill.  (This is not an advertisement for them, I just like their product and wanted to tell about it.)

I learned that the finer chopped the herbs the stronger the flavor since the flavor is released from the exposed cut area.  

With my mill instructions it suggests,  "To learn more about how each herb tastes, try mixing one with margarine or butter and let it sit for at least an hour.  Then spread on a plain cracker."   That sounds so good, I'm going to go try that now!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DAY 177 -- Nursing Home Food.

On Sundays, my husband and I volunteer at a local nursing home and physical rehab center.  (There is a group of us that hold church meetings at the care center.)  Sometimes when we arrive early to set up, the staff is still clearing breakfast foods from the dining room where we hold our meetings.  I see pancakes with sugary syrup, or French toast made with white bread served with...sugary syrup, or white bread toast. I also notice the foods on their trays at other times during the week when I stop by to visit.  White bread, white rolls, cookies, gelatin, pudding, cakes, pie.

I told one of my nieces that if I end up in a nursing home, it will be the food that kills me faster than anything else.  My body would not be used to sugar, white flour, and processed foods!  She assured me that she will never allow me to go into a nursing home.  I hope she means it!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

DAY 176 -- Funny quote about Italian food.

This quote gave me a good chuckle, especially since I recently wrote a series of posts about Italian food.

"The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you're hungry again."  ~George Miller

Friday, June 24, 2011

DAY 175 -- My Own Worst Enemy

I have a cross-stitch I started years ago and never finished.  The image is a dragon  holding his poor smoldering tail.  The phrase reads: Sometimes I am my own worst enemy.

That's me.  I get in my own way.  I have so many dreams and goals, which can be a good thing, but sometimes I feel like I am running a race and then sticking my own foot out to trip myself.

I started reading a book titled We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Conrol in an Age of Excess, by Daniel Akst, and so far what I've read rattled me.  He writes that in our country, dangerous habits (such as eating the wrong things, overeating, smoking, drinking...) account for more than a million fatalities each year.  "To put those million early deaths in perspective: no armed conflict, present or past, accounts for as much carnage as our losing war with ourselves..." [YIKES!]

The author tells how puzzling it became as he investigated the problem of self-control.  "Is willpower something you inherit, or can it be taught?  Do people with anorexia or obsessive-compulsive disorder have too little self-control or too much?  ... And if I fail to control myself, then to whom or what have I abdicated the job?"

He lists many more questions, and I want the answers!  I look forward to reading the rest of the book, and hope I can learn how to get out of my own way.

I want to reach a point where my cross-stitch should read: Sometimes I am my own best friend.

DAY 174 -- Juggling

Sometimes I feel like a juggler with too many balls in the air -- trying to keep track of too many things at once -- (which reminds me...I need to take care of the roast I'm defrosting...I'll be right back).

Okay.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, trying to keep track of what I'm doing.

I saw a juggler on America's Got Talent (auditioning) that juggled high voltage tasers...while standing in a pool of water.  Thankfully, the things I "juggle" are not usually life threatening because I almost always drop something.

Yesterday I was doing my typical juggling tricks with too many projects going on at once and too many ideas for other projects racing through my head, and I dropped one of my juggling balls... I dropped my blog.  I thought I had written yesterday, but I did not.

Oops.  Sorry.  I'm okay though.  It didn't "tase" me.  Hopefully it didn't "tase" you either.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

DAY 173 -- Leftover Wednesday

It seemed we had a leftover theme going on today.  First, for lunch, we had the leftover Groundnut Stew.  Then tonight we had pizza made from leftovers.  I took leftover chicken, sauteed it with leftover steamed spinach (along with some garlic and spices), then put it on a whole wheat crust smeared with some leftover tomato paste.  We also added some leftover artichoke hearts.

Turned out fabulous!  And we even have a couple slices... left over!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DAY 172 -- Trying a bizarre recipe.

I like trying new recipes and for tonight's meal I prepared "Groundnut Stew" (slow-cooker recipe) that had a rather bizarre combination of ingredients...

  • green pepper
  • onion
  • tomato paste
  • peanut butter (I used all natural PB with no sugar)
  • chicken broth
  • salt 
  • chili powder
  • nutmeg
  • chicken
Served over rice.

Then, topped with any of the following:  (or all, I assume, if one is really daring)

  • coconut (I used unsweetened)
  • peanuts
  • raisins
  • hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • bananas, chopped
  • oranges, cut up
  • eggplant, chopped
  • apples, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • carrots, shredded
  • green pepper, chopped
  • onion, chopped
  • pineapple, crushed

When I saw the recipe, it reminded me of Hawaiian Haystacks, which I love, so I thought I would give it a try.  The toppings I selected for my serving were unsweetened coconut, peanuts, raisins, orange segments, tomatoes, and carrots.

The verdict: Deee-lish-e-ush!  My husband and I both liked it enough to dub the recipe a "must have again!"  We have leftovers for tomorrow and I might select different toppings this time to see how it compares to the selections I had tonight.

Here's the recipe if you would like to try it yourself!  Groundnut Stew

Monday, June 20, 2011

DAY 171 -- Slowness

I've been reading the book In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honore.  The chapter I am currently reading happens to be about food--Slow Food--and discusses the setbacks of a "fast food" world.

I thought I would share some sections.

..."Instead of sitting down with family or friends, we often eat solo, on the move or while doing something else--working, driving, reading the newspaper, surfing the Net. Nearly half of Britons now eat their evening meal in front of the TV, and the average British family spends more time together in the car than they do around the table.  When families do eat together, it is often at fast-food joints like McDonald's where the average meal lasts eleven minutes" (p. 55).
"Americans devote less time than anyone else--about an hour a day--to eating, and are more likely to buy processed food and to dine alone.  Britons and Canadians are not much better" (p. 57).

Remember in yesterday's post when I said I wanted to take more time to eat and savor my food?  I really do need to make more effort to pay attention to meal time.  I do okay when eating with my husband (breakfast, and most evening meals) but during the meals when he is gone, I tend to wolf down my food and get back on tasks, or wolf while working.  I'm not consuming "fast food" at restaurants, but I inhale my food at home.

I need to s-l-o-w down!  

(For more information about the Slow Food movement, click here.)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

DAY 170 -- Inspired by Italian ways.

So, after living in Italy for five weeks (see previous three posts), I came home very excited about their healthy ways of eating.  I was convinced, more than ever, that typical diets (counting calories, watching carbs, measuring portions) was not the answer for me.  I have incorporated many of the Italian ways of eating into my own healthy eating plan.
  • I make spaghetti without sauce
  • I make pizza without sauce
  • I use fresh foods as much as possible
  • I use fresh herbs when I have them, and started growing some herbs too
  • I try to eat fruits and vegetables in season
  • I cut back on the amount of meat I used to eat
  • I use olive oil for almost every meal (Hooray for Tony Caputos in downtown Salt Lake City.  I love their selection of olive oils, and they let me sample before buying.)
  • I eat healthier cheeses, that are not as processed as the American cheese
Some Italian habits that still elude me:
  • I need to take more time to eat, and savor my food.  Meals need to be more of a celebration.
  • I don't go to the market daily, due to distance and only having one car.  So I go about twice a week to get the produce I need for upcoming meals.
An Italian eating habit I won't be adding to my life:
  • I won't be having a breakfast of sweets like they do.  In fact while in Italy, I ate breakfast at our apartment because the little cafes usually did not serve anything I could eat.  Even their plain breakfast croissants were glazed with sugar.  In one cafe, I requested a roll with meat and cheese for breakfast and they looked at me like I was a kook.  I went with some of the interns to a cafe called "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and I gotta tell ya... I have never seen such beautiful pastries in all my life.  Little delicate pieces of culinary art. Thankfully, they had some bread and cheese for the kook.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

DAY 169 -- Healthy Italian Ways

As promised in my previous post, today I will list my observations of the healthy ways of Italian eating.

Fresh Foods.  Just like Lynn commented yesterday, I think fresh foods is a major key to the slim factor for Italians.  Most go to the market each day for fresh foods, then prepare just enough for what they need for that meal.  Their refrigerators are quite small, because they do not stock up on groceries, nor do they keep leftovers.  I stayed with an Italian couple for about 3 days and had them all to myself to sample their cooking and pester Daniella with questions.  Food tasted wonderful to me and I asked at every meal, "What did you put in this?"  She assured me that I was just tasting how delicious fresh foods are.  She prepared a pasta dish that had fresh sage.  When I saw her put the torn up sage leaves in the meal, I held my tongue.  I really don't like a strong sage flavor...and had never tasted fresh sage before.  The meal was delightful!   

Foods in Season.  Because they purchase their foods fresh, they use fruits and vegetables in season.  Daniella told me she just varies her recipes according to what is sold at the market.  She replaces the vegetable she normally uses for whatever veggie is in season at the time.

Very little meat.  I don't eat large servings of meat, but while in Italy, their servings of meat were much smaller than I was used to.  They maybe served meat once a day... and then it was a small amount served in a pasta dish.  Sometimes us interns craved more meat, and oddly, it hit us around the same time.  "What should we eat tonight?"  "I don't know but I really need some MEAT!"  That only happened about twice during our four weeks there, and one of those times we ended up at McDonald's.  Which brings me to...

Slow Food.   There is very little "fast food" in Italy.  That McDonald's I mentioned was the only one in an entire city.  They have pizzerias, where we could buy pizza by the slice and that's about as "fast" as it gets.  Everything else is fresh cooked, and served in a slow, calm, pace.  Going to a restaurant there was heavenly... no waiters scurrying about trying to rush us out of there.  When you go out to dine, you have that table for the remainder of the evening.  The meal usually took two hours, as they brought it course by course, each one prepared fresh.   

Rarely Snack.  From what I understand, in talking with Daniella, they don't snack very much.  If they get hungry, they just wait until the next meal, or have a little snack to hold them over.  They do love Gelato in Italy, but even that is far healthier than our ice cream in the U.S., because good gelato is made with fresh fruit, and has half the sugar that ice cream does.

Healthy Fats.  I never cared for olive oil until I went to Italy and tasted how wonderful it was when you get quality oil.  (I was mistakenly thinking the "expensive" bottle I bought from Wal-Mart was quality.)  Besides olive oil, and olives (some of the best I've ever tasted!), they also have delicious cheeses.  Salad "dressing" was vinegar and olive oil.  That's it.  I don't know where the idea of "Italian" dressing comes from that we see in the stores here. 

Limited Processed Foods.  The grocery stores there are quite small.  Even the largest grocery store I went to there was about 1/3 the size of our grocery store here.  They don't carry a lot of processed foods, and what they do carry, they stock in limited choices.  Instead of the entire aisle devoted to cold cereal, for instance, they have a few selections of cereals in one little section on one side of an aisle.  The larger selections of foods are found in the produce, cheese, bakery, and deli sections.

Hold the Sauce.  The areas we visited in Italy, used very little, if any, sauces.  Their pizza did not have sauce.  Their spaghetti did not have sauce.  Spaghetti, in every town I visited, consisted of pasta, with sauteed fresh veggies, and olive oil.  Delicious!   

Exercise.  Parking was a premium, so when we visited cities, we parked the car and walked everywhere... as many Italians do.  And they ride bicycles.  They get a lot of exercise in their form of "transportation."  

Friday, June 17, 2011

DAY 168 -- So called "diet tips" compared to Italian way.

As I mentioned yesterday (click here), I want to discuss so called "diet tips" compared to the Italian way of eating.  I don't necessarily have any "answers" as to why Italians are trim when they seem to break many "diet rules" but I find it fascinating.  I wish someone would pay me a huge sum of money to go live in Italy and research the differences.

Keep in mind, I am using diet rules I have heard about.  They are not diet tips I follow for My Healthy Eating Challenge.

Supposed Diet Rule: Eat breakfast fit for a king, lunch fit for a queen, and supper fit for a pauper.  In other words, eat a hearty size breakfast, a medium size lunch, and a small supper.  Most diet experts tell us that the stomach does not have time to digest a large meal at the end of the day.
  • Italian Way:  They eat a very small breakfast, a medium size lunch, and huge supper.
Supposed Diet Rule: Beware of carbs, especially pasta and bread.  Many diets restrict carb intake and especially warn about eating pasta and bread.
  • Italian Way:  Pasta and bread are staples at meal time.  And their breakfast consists of pastries and cookies...high in carbs.
  • (My thoughts:  They rarely eat processed pasta or bread though, most of it is homemade or from a bakery, so maybe that is a key?)
Supposed Diet Rule:  Don't eat after 7 or 8 p.m.  Again, with the belief that the body cannot digest food properly later in the day.  I've personally known people who religiously adhere to the "Don't eat after 7 p.m." rule, even when their stomach was growling.

  • Italian Way:  They generally do not eat supper until 8:00 p.m.  In fact, many restaurants don't even open until that hour.  And then the meal lasts about 2 hours, so they eat from 8:00 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Supposed Diet RuleEat six small meals per day.  Most diet experts tell us not to let our bodies feel hungry, and to keep blood sugars level, it is better to eat small meals throughout the day.
  • Italian Way: They eat three meals a day, (breakfast at 7 or 8 a.m., lunch at 12 or 1 p.m., and supper at 8 p.m.) with maybe one small snack (at least from what I observed).
Supposed Diet Rule: Control portions and/or calories.
  • Italian Way:  I saw thin Italians packing away large quantities of food.  The meals we were served in restaurants were large.  One evening I went to dinner with the other interns.  The meal was served family style and the owner got upset with us when we did not completely finish one of the courses.  We were full.  But she didn't care.  She left the plate there for us to divvy up and eat anyway.
It boggles my mind, the difference in their way of eating.  I have a friend who lives in Belgium and from what she told me, it sounds like they eat in a similar fashion.  I am curious if other European countries also eat that way.

I have no clue how they can break these "rules" and still stay trim.  Tomorrow I will post observations about Italian eating that do seem to follow the "rules."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DAY 167 -- Fit Italians

Last year about this time, I spent five weeks in Italy.  The first week was a whirlwind trip with my husband where we scurried about trying to take in as much of the country as we could.  We traveled from Rome to Venice, then down to Naples, Pompeii, Positano, then back to Rome.  All in a week's time!  At the Rome airport, we kissed good-bye at a point where he went one direction to catch his flight back home, and I went another direction to meet-up with a group of interns (I was one of them).  I had signed on to learn about documentary filmmaking, and to help film a doc to be titled, "I Should Have Been Italian."

During that four week internship, we traveled extensively throughout Umbria and Tuscany, scouting locations, interviewing locals, filming and photographing people and places of interest.  I fell in love with Italy, and yearn to return.  There is hardly a day that goes by that I don't think about Italy.

What does this have to do with My Healthy Eating Challenge?  Because over the next few days I want to discuss the eating habits and Italian culture regarding food.  During my five weeks of exploring their country, I rarely saw an obese Italian.  I only remember seeing one Italian who we might consider morbidly obese, and saw only a few who might be categorized as "overweight."  I venture to guess that over 90% of the Italian people I saw were trim.  Very trim.  

I was mesmerized by their fitness while I lived there.  Where were all the stereotypical Italian women who do nothing but cook and tell their daughters to "Eat!  You're too skinny!"  Perhaps they live in areas I did not some tucked away far corner of Italy.  The Producer I worked with has traveled all over Italy, and told me he has seen some obese Italians, but they truly are a minority.

Observing their eating habits, I found myself scratching my head over how Italians can be so lean when they seemed to break nearly every "diet" rule I've ever heard of.  In my next few blog posts, I plan to discuss some of the observations I made.

Buon appetito!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

DAY 166 -- Contract for goals.

I came across an awesome website for setting goals, with a contract.  And it's free!

You can set the time frame for long term goals, or even make commitments for short term projects like cleaning out a closet, or some chore you are putting off.

You can put money at stake (if you choose to do so) where money will go to a charity if you don't succeed that week, or it can go to a charity you hate (anti-charity), or it can go to a friend or foe.  But as I said, there is the option not to put any money at stake.

I'm really excited about the website and set up a commitment for my work goals, exercise, and even for eating healthy.  And next time I find myself procrastinating a project, I think I will do a commitment for that too.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

DAY 165 -- Excess baggage.

This evening I was going out with my husband and wanted to take a smaller purse than my normal bag.  As I took out only the things I absolutely needed (wallet, keys, sunglasses) I pondered on the stuff I normally tote around "just in case" that I rarely--if ever--need (extra pens, eye drops, two pair of reading glasses).  I have a tendency to do that...carry too much baggage.  Is it possible that the extra weight I carry on my body is something I keep "just in case?"


Monday, June 13, 2011

DAY 164 -- Weight training.

Over the years I have remained fairly consistent with aerobic exercise.  I especially love aerobic dance.  But weight training, and sometimes even toning exercises, are not very enjoyable to me.  I know they are important for good health, energy, and even for weight loss, but I fall into a pattern whenever I try to incorporate weight training into my workouts on a regular basis... I do okay for a little while, but I always reach a point where the exercising is no longer something to look forward to, and since I don't enjoy that type of workout,  I stop.

I'm hoping someone can recommend a way to make weight training or toning exercises fun or enjoyable.  Any suggestions?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DAY 163 -- Feeding a Hungry Heart

It's been a struggle today and the lyrics to K.T. Oslin's song Feeding a Hungry Heart keep coming to my mind....

She would be so pretty 
If she’d only lose that weight 
Women can’t be thin enough, you know 
Instead of eating take-out 
She should be out on a date 
Not dining with a demon that she can’t control 
So misunderstood 
She’d stop it if she could 
Heaven knows the hell she feels inside 
Cause she’s feeding a hungry heart 
Trying to fill the empty part 
She’s starving 
From a hungry heart

I don't want to go to bed with that song on my mind, so I want to remember these lyrics instead:

My Shepherd will supply my need:
Jehovah is His Name;
In pastures fresh He makes me feed,
Beside the living stream.
He brings my wandering spirit back
When I forsake His ways,
And leads me, for His mercy's sake,
In paths of truth and grace. 

When I walk through the shades of death,
Thy presence is my stay;
A word of Thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head. 

The sure provisions of my God
Attend me all my days;
O may Thy house be my abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
While others go and come;
No more a stranger, nor a guest,
But like a child at home.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

DAY 162 -- Another full day.

It felt great to get up and exercise this morning after traveling all day yesterday.  I needed to get that blood circulating again!  I usually work out to DVDs at home, but this morning I felt like using the stationary bike and the weight machine at the clubhouse.

We went to a wedding this afternoon, followed by a reception this evening.  Not knowing if they were serving a meal at the reception, and since we had not eaten lunch, we went out to eat between events. Then we got to the reception and they were serving vegetables, fruit, and croissants with meat and cheese.  I had some veggies and some fruit and glass of ice water.

During the latter part of the reception, they had dancing on the rooftop of the reception hall.  What a wonderful way to end our day...dancing under a clear cool sky, surrounded by friends and flowers.

DAY 161 -- Home again.

I didn't have a chance to write yesterday.  We packed up after our vacation at Lake Tahoe, and hit the road.    Our original plan was to drive part of the way yesterday and then stop for the night, since our daughter didn't think the little ones would handle a long day of riding in the van.  So I figured I would write in my blog when we stopped for the night.  However, when we reached the town where we planned to stop, the kids were still doing great and it was still early in the evening, so we decided to keep on going.  It was only another 3 1/2 hours to drive anyway.

Got home around 9 p.m., unloaded the van, put stuff away.  Earlier in the day, when we thought we would be at a hotel, we promised our granddaughter she could swim... so to keep that promise, the kids spent the night here so they could take the little ones to the pool at our condo complex, which doesn't close until 10 p.m.

By the time my head hit the pillow last night, I realized I didn't write, but was too exhausted to do anything about it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DAY 160 -- Tuckered out.

It's been a long fun day and I'm worn out.  The highlight of the day was para-sailing with the family. What a blast!

This evening our son-in-law made grilled pizza.  I've never had pizza cooked on a grill before.  Delicious!

DAY 159 -- Horseback riding.

I went horseback riding today for the first time since I was in high school.  Memories of that ride made me a bit nervous when I swung up into the saddle.  The last time I rode, I was riding behind a friend of mine on her horse.  We stopped on a cement slab and she dismounted to take care of something, leaving me on the back of the horse, with the reins in my hands.  The horse got jittery and started dancing around on the cement...I pulled back on the reins trying to get the horse to stop but it reared up on its hind legs, scaring the tar out of me.  To this day I am not sure how I remained on the horse (since I was not in a saddle) and did not hit the cement, all I know is that I never got on a horse again until today.  

We went as a family today, and had a guide taking us.  When we entered the corral area, I looked around at the various horses and wondered which one they would select for me.  I spotted one that was speckled with gray and somehow knew that was the one I would ride.  I was right.  Her name was Dixie, and she had a slight rebellious streak in her.  

She wanted to snack any chance she got and it seemed like I spent the first half of the ride yanking her head away from the grass and bushes.  She got stubborn so I had to kick to make her go.  The guide told me to kick harder, so I did, and off we went at a fast trot.  Got her to slow down, but she was miffed.  We were on a narrow mountainous trail, so I think that kept her from taking off all together...she had to stay on the trail and couldn't pass the others.  The horse in front of us was not moving at a pace to please Dixie, so she kept getting as close as she could and biting him on the rear end!  I tried to get her to slow, and tried to keep her back at a safe distance, but she still managed to catch up and bite numerous times.  Thankfully the other horse was super mellow and did not bolt when bitten.

Dixie liked to eat, was impatient, and wanted to bite another's rear end.  A perfect match for me! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

DAY 158 -- Sneaky labels.

Tonight my husband made a food run to the store to pick up a few more things we need for our vacation meals, and brought back a surprise for me... canned mandarin oranges.  He was excited because written across the label in bold letters it read: No Sugar Added.  I was excited because I love mandarin oranges, but for some reason it's one of the canned fruits that I can never find canned in its own juice.  It always has corn syrup or sweetener added.  I thought maybe California had a product I can't find at home and maybe I should get a case of it!  But I was also skeptical.  Really?  No sugar added?  Then we saw the sweet culprit.  Splenda. 

"No sugar added" should really read, "Artificially sweetened."  Or for me and my system (the way my body handles artificial sweeteners) the label needs, "BEWARE: POISON!"

Sadly, the canned mandarin oranges will make a return trip to the store.  But my husband still gets points for being sweet!

Monday, June 6, 2011

DAY 157 -- Travel

As I write this, I am traveling in the van with our grandchildren, reflecting on how times have changed.  I remember when I was a child we didn’t have to wear seatbelts and traveled crammed together in the back of a station wagon.  We played travel games and whined most of the trip.  Now, each child has a special car seat, and a little DVD player in front of them to watch Disney movies.  It’s been a pleasant journey!

Stopping for lunch (when I was a young) meant pulling over to a roadside picnic table and making sandwiches.  Today, we stopped for sandwiches…at Subway!  The little ones got yogurt.  I’m pleased that some fast food places offer healthy choices such as yogurt, apple slices, and raisins, for a side dish rather than just chips or fries.

So many conveniences nowadays, but I miss my mom’s sandwiches, wrapped up in wax paper.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

DAY 156 -- Vacation!

It's vacation time!  We leave in a little while, but I thought I would hurry and post something to let you know that I will try my hardest to get something written every day, and will hopefully post again later today, but in case we have glitches with Internet connection, just keep checking, I'll post as soon as I can.

Tonight we will spend the night with friends that recently moved to Nevada.  We knew them when we lived in Tennessee and haven't seen them for a couple years.  Very excited to see them!!!  Then we continue our trip to Lake Tahoe, where we will stay (on the California side) for a few days.  Our son, his girlfriend, and his two dogs, will join us there on Tuesday.

I've got healthy snacks packed for us.  We will travel with our daughter, her husband, and their two little ones.  Should make for interesting experiences.  It's been years since I traveled with toddlers.  We will ride in their new-to-them van.  When they showed us their van for the first time, our granddaughter kept excitedly telling us, "Look at our new car seat!  Our new car seat!"  She was referring to the entire van, but calls it their car seat.  Cute!  If my daughter is okay with me posting pictures of the kids, I will do so later.  :)

Hopefully this vacation will be a success.  We haven't vacationed together as a family since our kids still lived at home, so this will be a first with all of us vacationing with "in-laws" and grandkids.  

Saturday, June 4, 2011

DAY 155 -- "True" vs. Truth.

Last night I struggled with body image.  Drat that stupid task of trying on swimsuits!!   I truly have unattractive legs, and there's no way to cover them without resorting to the old fashioned, below-the-knee, suits.  I fell into Satan's trap of discouragement, but thankfully had enough sense to cry out for help.  

The answer... I was looking at what is "true," rather than looking at Eternal Truth.

These things are true: my legs are unattractive... I have saggy skin (from weight loss)... I would need surgery to ever have decent looking legs... (need I go on?)  All of those things are "true." 

But if I want the real
truth, I need to look to my Heavenly Father.  

God's truth about my body:  I am created in His image... my body is a temple... I am beautiful... I am doing my best to be healthy and fit, therefore, I am fine the way I am.  

DAY 154 -- Staying strong.

(I'm not sure what happened... I thought I posted this last night, June 3, but I logged on and found it still sitting here.)

I went to a graduation party for one of my nieces...a great-niece actually.  How did I get old enough to have great nieces and nephews graduating from high school?

They served pizza, breadsticks, salad, and watermelon (oh, and dessert, but that's not a temptation to me).  First, I circled the serving counter, checking on the choices.  Then I selected a small portion of pizza, ignored the breadsticks, dished up a bunch of salad, and had some watermelon.

Watermelon is a bit dangerous for me, since I could eat a ton of that sweet, juicy, fruit if I let myself.  Even though I eat fruit, I have to keep it to small portions in order to avoid triggering cravings.

The pizza gave me the most problem.  I love pizza.  I wanted so badly to keep eat, eat, eating pizza.  It called out to me repeatedly, and I nearly answered that call several times.  I was already full, but found myself by the counter, reaching for another slice, and even staring at the breadsticks thinking maybe I should eat some of those too, but I walked away.  Whew!  That was close!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

DAY 153 -- I feel renewed.

Ever since my recent posts, I have felt renewed and recommitted.  The month of May was full of emotional eating, feeding my heart instead of my stomach.  I stepped on the scale this morning and learned that I gained a pound since I weighed last (May 2, a month ago).  I'm not surprised I gained, but pleased that it was only one pound.  That seems incredible.

Thankfully I feel such a burden lifted, and have been strong again in recognizing hunger and fulness yesterday and today.  I think the turmoil I was feeling about the inconsistencies mentioned in my post ("Who am I?) triggered the difficulties I had in recognizing true hunger last month.   I have high hopes for June, since I'm feeling stronger... and liberated.

Now... I have a question.  I'm wondering if the pictures I posted on my "At the Start" page are confusing since the first picture shown is actually a "before" picture representing "before" I stopped eating sugar.  The "before" picture for My Healthy Eating Challenge is shown last.  Is this confusing?  I'm wondering if I should set up a separate page for the "before and after" concerning sugar, keeping it separate from the challenge I started in January.  I'd really appreciate feedback on this, thanks!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

DAY 152 -- Tweaking pages.

Hi, my name is Trudy!  I've been using my middle name (Lynn) when responding to comments, and when posting comments on blogs I follow from this one.  But, as I mentioned in yesterday's post, I want to drop the "pen name" and share more details in the day to day happenings.

I don't have much to share today concerning My Healthy Eating Challenge.  I've spent my time trying to round up photos to share on the page titled At the Start.  And I updated my profile ("About Me") on the home page.

Check it out!