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Tofu the Vegan Zombie in Zombie Dearest

Just to get things started: a reminder.  Given the “lights cancer action” theme of my blog, every blog title is an actual movie term or title.  So, yes, this is actually a movie.  🙂

And, as you can guess, our topic is tofu!

I have indicated several times in the past that I have completely avoided soy since forever, but even more so since my diagnosis. There was so much debate as to whether tofu was healthy for a breast cancer survivor of an estrogen positive tumor, it wasn’t worth the risk. I changed my mind after reading Dr. Greger’s “How Not To Die”. The chapter on breast cancer, and his supporting research, convinced me that soy is actual beneficial.

I read that book months and months ago, but, despite giving myself the green light, I remained intimidated by tofu.  That is until this week!  I finally braved purchasing and cooking with it.

I have my Scranton Beets group to thank for getting me over my hurdle.  I tried this yummy dessert two weekends ago and loved it SO much that I made it for a party I attended this past weekend.

Pina Colada Banana Coupe’

1 pound can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
2 T. of a sweetener (I used brown rice syrup; other options: honey, agave, etc.)
1/2 cup silken tofu
1-2 small, ripe bananas

Put all ingredients (except the bananas) in your food processor and blend until very smooth.  Layer the banana slices with the pudding and chill it before serving.  (For a bigger group, double the recipe.)

Inquiring minds might want to know: It’s called a coupe’ because the original recipe instructions suggested that this dessert be served in stemmed wineglasses or some other individual serving cup.  I had to Google coupe’, which means “a shallow glass or glass dish, typically with a stem, in which desserts or champagne are served.”

The dessert was a hit at the party for vegans and non-vegans alike!

After this, I was feeling quite brave and moved on to a dish with firm tofu. Purchasing the tofu wasn’t as overwhelming as I thought it would be. It was in a refrigerator in the health food section and was clearly labeled “silken” and “firm”.  🙂

Tonight’s recipe was, again, from my go-to book “Isa Does It”: Shroomy Hot & Sour Soup. It was pretty easy to make and was absolutely delicious!  The fact that my 15-year-old ate FOUR bowls will give you some indication of just how good it was.  The tofu was tasty and the texture didn’t freak me out.

I plan to continue experimenting with more tofu recipes and, in fact, will be attending a “tofu 101” class offered by our Scranton Beets leader, Jean Hayes.  If any local peeps are interested in attending, you can check out the Scranton Beets Facebook page and sign up for Tofu Demystified on Sunday, February 26th, 2-4:00 pm.

Hope to see you there!

IMDb: Tofu the Vegan Zombie in Zombie Dearest (2007)

Last Goodbye

It’s been about two months since I last posted. I think of writing all the time and just haven’t had any opportunity. It’s been a crazy two months and a bit of an emotional roller coaster.

As you all know, my Dad went into a nursing home in June and was under the care of hospice. He had been declining steadily, becoming mostly non-verbal in the final few months, and he passed away on November 14th. I am grateful that I got to be with him in his final moments, thanks to the awesome nursing staff that called at 2:30 a.m. and said “come now”. His death was peaceful and gentle, and I am glad that he never appeared to be suffering.

To give you insight into who my Dad was, I share below my older brother’s Facebook post from that day. I couldn’t say what he said so perfectly.

It’s with a heavy heart I say goodbye to my Dad, who lost his fight with cancer early this morning. As my brother so correctly stated, Gus taught us everything we needed to know about life and treating others right, all before we left home, though I didn’t realize it until I was in my 40’s and didn’t thank him until I was in my 50s. Never one to say much, he would do anything for anyone, stranger or friend. Looking back, so much of who I am was due to his silent lead. Gus, I raise a can of Gibbons in toast and quote part of a poem I stumbled upon ages ago; 

Only a dad, neither rich nor proud,
Merely one of the surging crowd,
Toiling, striving from day to day,
Facing whatever may come his way,
Silent whenever the harsh condemn,
And bearing it all for the love of them.

Only a dad but he gives his all,
To smooth the way for his children small,
Doing with courage stern and grim
The deeds that his father did for him.
This is the line that for him I pen:
Only a dad, but the best of men

Nazdrowie Dad.

He truly was a kind, generous, hardworking man and he is greatly missed.

*******

Since I last posted, the original sale of the family homestead fell through. This was very disappointing, as I very much wanted this woman to live in my parents’ home. I was very upset with the whole process and worried about now having to maintain the house over the winter, with the likelihood of a sale slim to none.

And then on November 30th, I got a call that we had an offer — cash deal, no inspections, no fuss… title search and close. Thank you, Lord!  And so, today, I closed on the sale. I am dealing with so many different emotions right. I’m glad to have this responsibility off my shoulders, to not have to maintain and heat the house over the winter, and to be able to finalize my Dad’s estate. But  it’s hard knowing that I will likely never set foot in my childhood home ever again.

I walked through the empty house one final time last night, said my last goodbye, and cried — sad for the people who are now gone from my life, scared for the realization that “we” are now the adults in the room, nostalgic for all the wonderful memories, and grateful for all the blessings bestowed on my life.

The holiday season has been bittersweet so far, with many wonderful times coupled with bouts of tears. I am missing my Mom all the more with Dad also now gone, and in some ways the world seems a bit lonelier.

I know I carry the memories in my heart and mind, so I can say those last goodbyes with peace and a few final tears.

IMDb: Last Goodbye (2004)

Staying Alive

I’m reblogging a post from my dear friend, Lisa. It’s not just anyone I re-blog… but Lisa and I are part of the sisterhood that is breast cancer and we have had very similar journeys. Lisa is the one who educated me about Estriol and she also got me using essential oils — both a great benefit to my health. She will be holding a Facebook class on Monday night, “Essential Oils That Have Let Me Thrive in Recovery”. If you’ve had any interest in essential oils, I Hope you will check out her class. You can see the details in her post.

P.S. Lisa, nice job on the post name! 🙂

NOWHERE TO RUN

john travolta staying alive

It’s been many, many moons since I wrote a post. But when I had someone reach out with a personal e-mail asking for advice and hoping I was still doing well, I knew I had to get back to writing regularly. It’s nice to have folks care about how I’m doing after all this time.

Last weekend marked 3 years since I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. The day came and went without much fanfare, until I sat down that night and realized what a huge milestone that actually is. I know that 5 years is the magical number for survival odds to greatly increase, but hey, I’m on the downward slope now and I can see the prize.

I guess you could say I’m doing fantastically well, which is part of the reason for my long blogging hiatus. There hasn’t been much to report other than the…

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

In the Mouth of Madness

Time for a quick medical update…

Last week I had my semi-annual check up with my radiologist.  All was great there. The nurse was happy with my 5 pound (intentional) weight loss since last visit, as well as my outstanding blood pressure (100/60). As always, the doc and I had a great conversation about food and natural healing. He totally supports my seeing a naturalist and he even had his son to Aimee years ago.  I spoke to him about my mouth pain and he suggested my husband watch me while I sleep — to see if perhaps I am clenching. (He hasn’t done that yet, but maybe one of these nights.) Anyway, doc said he was confident that I would figure it out and he wanted me to let him know once I solved the mystery.

Speaking of the mystery, today was my follow up at the ENT regarding the mouth pain. He showed me my CT scan which yielded… absolutely nothing!  So a big “yea” on that (yep, in the deep dark recesses of my brain I needed to know it wasn’t cancer), but we are no closer to resolving. I have tried the neti pot, antibiotics, steroids, dental exam, Mucinex, Claritan, and now a CT scan. Nothing worked, although Motrin did lessen the pain.

Next step? Psychiatrist, perhaps? Anyway, the ENT said I should call if it gets worse and he will send me for a brain MRI to see if the “trigeminal nerve” is causing radiated pain on the roof of my mouth. (In case you were wondering, the trigeminal nerve connects your face to your brain.  Trigeminal neuralgia can cause face pain if something is putting pressure on the nerve.)

Not rushing off to the MRI… Hoping it goes away as fast as it came!  Stay tuned…

IMDb: In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

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)