Cafeteria

I pretty much never eat in our work cafeteria. I figure I can better control what and how much I eat if I pack my own lunch every day. But for a while there, I was actually buying my breakfast at work. Every day I would get a bowl of oatmeal, with a spoonful of brown sugar, some cinnamon, and some raisins or other fruit. It was a yummy, healthy breakfast… and convenient.

But the cafeteria couldn’t figure out how much to charge me. First it was $1.65. Then they decided oatmeal warranted the healthy food discount, which made sense, so they changed the price to $1.33. Woo hoo!  And then a week later, they said they were no longer giving the healthy discount on oatmeal (really???) and went back to charging me $1.65. Since I always took exact change to use up the coins in my purse, this annoyed me and I stopped getting the oatmeal. It was principle after all! (I mean, who doesn’t consider oatmeal healthy???)

In stopping the oatmeal, I stopped eating in the cafeteria altogether.

But today was a special day. The 25th anniversary of our company’s location in Scranton. There were speeches, games, contests, a deejay, and lots of fun activities. And… we had free food. They were great about having vegetarian options, so I had some eggplant parm, a little pasta and a “scoop” of roasted vegetables. I use the word “scoop” loosely, since I ended up with exactly three pieces of vegetables on my plate.  I suspect that they were roasted with lots of oil, so probably just as well.

I made an attempt to eat the parm and pasta. The pasta was white and mushy, so not so much there.  The eggplant was palatable, but very very salty. (As a salt-aholic, this is saying something!) Ah, the joys of processed foods. Within an hour, I was completely parched from the excess salt and I felt totally bloated. It reminded me of how I used to feel… when I ate processed crap all the time.

I don’t mean to sound unappreciative. It was a great day at work, with lots of laughs and celebrating. But it most certainly reminded me of why I don’t (and shouldn’t ever) eat in the cafeteria!  Or anywhere that is all processed foods.

I do use salt on my foods (see aforementioned reference to “salt-aholic”), but a lesson I learned from Dr. McDougall is to not cook with salt. Your taste buds will be happier with a little salt on top of the food, and you will use less. I do add salt to some foods, but rarely.

*****

A few new recipes…

Forks Over Knives’ Spicoli Burgers. These were different and very good. I would definitely make them again and they reminded me of certain crab cakes, without the crab. One odd ingredient: Hemp seeds. (Really.) I found these at Wegman’s and I imagine any health food store would carry. They weren’t with the other seeds and nuts; I actually found them in the section with the protein mixes.  David and Ethan both enjoyed these and the batch made enough for leftovers for lunch. Oh, one other “odd” ingredient for newbies: tamari. I found this near the soy sauces.

Vegan Zucchini “Mozzarella” Sticks – These were really easy to make and were tasty. I think I should have baked them just a little longer for more crispness, but they were enjoyable.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse – made with avocados, cocoa powder, agave, and vanilla, the recipe I have is pretty simple. Throw the ingredients into the food processor, blend and refrigerate. I couldn’t find the exact recipe I have on-line, but here’s one from MindBodyGreen, and one from Giada.

*****

Just a follow up on the sinus stuff… I went for a sinus CT scan last week and I’ll see the doctor again on the 28th. In the meantime, I started taking “Silver Shield” which seems to be helping…

*****

IMDb: Cafeteria (2006)

 

The Birthday

Today was another tough “first”. My mother’s birthday. The first without her. It brought tears, but also a time to reflect and remember. I have shared so many great pictures of her in my blog, but I hope you will indulge me in a few more, as I remember her.

Here’s one of my in high school. I always loved pictures of my mom when she was younger. We rarely think of our mothers as young, beautiful, sexy… but she was!

 

Mom 1

 

Her second favorite role? Mother.  This is one is from my brother Joe’s First Communion. So I guess this is about 1968? Funny that, after all these years, I’m back to the hair style that my mother always insisted that I have! :)

Mom and Joe and Michele

 

I said Motherhood was “second” and that’s because Grandmother-hood took over the first spot with the birth of Katherine in 1990. There were so many grandmother pictures to choose from, but here’s two cute ones of Mom with Ethan. He totally adored her. She was my best friend, but I think it’s easy to say she was Ethan’s best friend as well.

 

 

 

 

Mom and Ethan 2003Mom and EThan 2005

Miss you, Mom. Love you lots!

RIPMom0-207x300

IMDb: The Birthday (2004)

 

Lady, Play Your Mandolin!

Just a quick post before I’m on the road for work.  Off to New Jersey for a conference tomorrow.

This weekend I tried out baked French fries. No oil… just cut into fries, place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, season and bake.  400 degrees.  Mine took about 30 minutes to get to the right crispness for my tastes. These were delicious and guilt-free! Ethan devoured them (always a good sign).

To get the fries cut, I dug out an old mandolin that I bought at the Englishtown NJ flea market in the late 1980s! (I don’t even think I knew it was called a mandolin until recently!) There was a vendor doing a display at the time, and it looked pretty cool. I have to say, up until my plant-based diet, I only used it for scalloped potatoes. It’s still in great working order, even though made mostly of plastic, and I’m getting more use out of it now.

I had my fries cut in short order, and did some reminiscing while I was at it. My mom, my cousin, Stephanie, my friend, Theresa, and I used to do an annual trip to Englishtown. It was typically this time of the year and we would leave bright and early on a Saturday morning. We’d shop until early afternoon and then stop for a late lunch on the way home. It was always a great girls’ day out! Unfortunately, I don’t even think they are open any more.

*****

With the fries Friday night I tried Wild Mushroom Croquettes with Horseradish Sauce from Crazy, Sexy Kitchen. Ethan and I thought these were tasty; David thought they were a little bland. We put them on pitas and assembled like a gyro. Croquettes, fresh spinach leaves, and the horseradish sauce. The cooking time seemed wrong to me, since they were getting heated, but not firm/crisp.  So I upped the temp from 275 to 375 and cooked them a little longer.

Again, Ethan is always a good tester, and he ate two of them, so that was good. That said, even though they are not terribly difficult to make, it was still a lot more soaking (almonds and walnuts) and chopping than I like. I’m not sure I would make them again.  I did make CSK’s “Save the Tuna Salad”, which we like very much, earlier in the week.

*****

I also made roasted a spaghetti squash this weekend. So easy!  Cut in half, scoop out seeds, place cut side down on a cookie sheet, bake 30-45 minutes. I ate the squash with a bit of diced tomatoes and salt.

I’m hoping my conference has some healthy choices tomorrow.  In case they don’t, I packed myself an apple and some brown rice crisps!

*****

I got the following message from a co-worker this week.  It truly made my day!! It’s what keeps me blogging and sharing!  “Have I told you lately how much I truly love your outlook on food and life….you are truly an inspiration and I thought you needed to know this!”

*****

IMDb: Lady, Play Your Mandolin! (1931)

Animal Farm

Growing up, I was never much of an animal person. We had “outside dogs” but pets never had pets in the house. So I never really had the opportunity to get close to a pet, and I never really desired it. Those of you who know me well, know that a German shepherd came as part of the package when David and I married. I wasn’t happy about it, and still regret the scratched floors and unending fur balls in the corners of every room.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love our dog. She’s very sweet, loyal and protective. But, as I like to say, sometimes I just wish she lived somewhere else.  :)

There are many people who follow a plant-based diet because they are huge animal lovers. That wasn’t me. I did it for health reasons, and helping animals was just a side benefit. It’s difficult, however, to read up on plant-based diets without exposure to articles on animal cruelty. And the more I read, the more horrified I am by the treatment of farm animals. Why is it that we fight to protect our precious dogs and cats, and all other animals are at the mercy of those who would gain financially from the cheapest form of death they can inflict.

I’m presently reading “Meatonomics” by attorney David Simon. I got to hear him speak back in February and he told a compelling story. It’s amazing (but not surprising) how Big Ag has influenced law to the point that they are super protected from litigation. And they are allowed to get away with more and more appalling actions under the guise of “customary farming practices”. Basically, as long as other farmer are doing it, it’s ok. So as soon as one farmer finds a cheaper method, even if it’s cruel and unusual, once the others adopt it, it’s “customary”. It’s just insane.

I actually made a donation to a farm sanctuary this morning. I was talking to a co-worker about it and she was sharing information about the FarmSanctuary.org. I just felt compelled to support it. You might want to check it out, or some other local organization.

Off soap box. (Although I’m sure there’s more to come as I read those eye-opening book.)

*****

The update on my hubby… the surgeon put it in our court as to how soon (and if) to have the hernia surgery. David is weighing his options… get it done now while it’s super easy, but potentially have unnecessary surgery. Or play the odds that it will never get as bad as it is now. I felt we had some time to make the decision (he doesn’t want it to interfere with our December Disney trip…) but the decision is weighing heavy on him. I told him that, sort of like my decision around not taking Femara, it needs to be his decision. I don’t want to influence one way or the other. We all have to make decisions that are the best for ourselves. So I’ve provided some perspective and will now wait for his decision.

*****

My mother-in-law is also home and doing well after several days in the ICU. Unidentified internal bleeding that stopped on its own. We were really worried for a few days there but are glad she’s doing better. Never a dull moment.

*****

IMDb: Animal Farm (1954)

 

 

The Ribbon

Happy October!  Or, as we breast cancer survivors like to call it: “Pinktober”.

Yes, it is breast cancer awareness month. (Could we be any more aware?) And yes, you will see pink ribbons everywhere.

I, for one, am not a fan of the pink ribbons. And I’m sure this is shocking to some people.

While I know that all of the gifts given to me the past two years were done so with the very best of intentions and love, I thought I would scream if I got one more item with a pink ribbon on it. I didn’t want to be defined by my cancer and those little pink ribbons seemed to mock me.

Let me just say that there are many great organizations that truly support women with breast cancer, and promote research and prevention. In fact, one of my favorite charities is Ladies in Pink. Their annual event has more pink than you can possibly imagine, and a fair number of ribbons. However, they do a fabulous job of educating (through the guest speakers at their events) and supporting (through their donations to women fighting breast cancer). And I have the highest confidence in their integrity and generosity. In October, a group of my friends will don pink shirts and will attend this amazing event, and I can’t wait!

That said, the more I’ve learned over the past few years, the more I realize that all is not as “rosy” in the larger world of pink ribbons. I find that so much is about profit for these companies (surprised?), and we’ve seen little progress for all the time and money spent. The race for the cure started in 1982 and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars. And yet, we still subject women to poison and radiation as a treatment. While the quintessential pink ribbon organization indicates their mission is about “the cure”, only about 20% goes to researching said a cure.

And my biggest gripe is that there is so little attention paid to prevention. Yes, we need to look for a cure, but shouldn’t we spend at least as much effort in making sure women don’t get the disease in the first place? Have you ever seen prevention covered in any of this “awareness”?

My friend, Jennifer, shared the following link on Facebook today, and it very eloquently explains the issues many people have with the pink ribbons (including those who conceptually should benefit) that will be everywhere this month. It explains things better than I can (or have). From hypocrisy to exploitation, this article covers it all:

Think Before You Pink

The one item that really struck me in the article was the part about “obscuring the harsh realities”. As if those who die every year didn’t fight hard, or “fight like a girl”. The reality is that no matter how hard you fight, you might still die. And the cute pink ribbons seems to fly in the face of that reality.

I’m not saying don’t contribute. I’m not saying don’t race. Just know where your money is going before you do. And if you know anyone with breast cancer, please don’t buy her anything with a pink ribbon. Chances are she already has more than she needs. :)

IMDb: The Ribbon (1987)

Whoosh!

Whoosh!

That’s the sound of September flying by.

I know they say time flies when you are having fun (am I having fun?!?!) or times go faster as you get older (ok, that one is a little more plausible!), but 2014 continues to zip by at warp speed. September has been no exception. I haven’t posted since September 9th, and it actually seems further away than that.

First let me thank all of you who reached out to me during the past week or so. It was nice to be missed… I’m so glad you noticed. It made me feel great, and gave me an even greater desire to get back to writing on a more regular basis.

So, let’s see… what’s actually been happening since I last wrote…?

From a health perspective, there’s nothing exciting to report. (Thankfully. We do not like exciting.) I’ve had no appointments in September (for a change) and I’m feeling pretty good. Except for the continuing nagging pain in the roof of my mouth (sinuses?), all is well. As for that pain, I am planning to go see an ENT and assume it’s a benign issue. That doesn’t mean I don’t panic on the inside… this is life as a cancer survivor. Your irrational brain makes everything a cancer issue until proven otherwise.

We’ve been quite busy with back to school, Meet the Teachers, band practice, a flute gig, and some travel for work, which is its own level of crazy busy. Ethan is doing well with 8th grade, and Dad is still healing from his Moh’s surgery earlier in the month. My hubby is off to see a surgeon tomorrow about a hernia and is distraught that he won’t be able to work out for 6-8 weeks post-surgery. Perhaps this is a much needed rest for his body, as I am of the opinion he works out too hard and too much.

We started a weight loss challenge at work and are currently on week 3. Personally, I’m only at a 1.79% loss so far, but I’m determined. And, a loss is a loss. I’d love to lose 10 pounds during this 10 week challenge. It’s doable, but I need to remain focused. I’m eating all great foods, but still need to watch oils and (yes) cheese… which is still a big temptation for me. I don’t eat a lot of it, but I really need to eat “none” of it!

We tried some new recipes in September…

Vegan Taco Soup – This link is not the exact recipe I used, but it’s pretty close. This was pretty easy to make, everything in one pot, and I served it over brown rice.

Tuscan Bean with Basil Pesto and Mushrooms – I found this recipe in the Wegman’s magazine. It was one of the few recipes I thought I would make. I did eliminate the oil (saute’ in broth or water instead). I really enjoyed this one and it was only 150 calories per serving!

Forks Over Knives Lentil Soup with Cauliflower, Potatoes and Spinach – We liked but didn’t love this one. I can always tell by whether or not a) there are leftovers and b) how long those leftovers last. These sat in the fridge for a few days, so no one was rushing to finish it up.  Including me.

There are a few more new ones coming up this week (if I can get to Wegman’s to get some of the odd ingredients I need). Stay tuned!

IMDb: Whoosh! (short – 2009)