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Vegan Forever?

25 Jan

So.  Four weeks into the vegan thang.  The word that comes to mind most often in reference to this change?  Happy. Happy with how I feel, happy with increased energy, happy that a few pounds have come off, happy with the food.  Here are a couple of examples of the yummy, satisfying meals we’ve been enjoying:

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I really don’t have cravings for things I was so used to eating; surprising to me as I have been an omnivore for over 50 years.  I still have some non-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge.  Not sure what to do about that.  I feel like I should eat it rather than waste it, or freeze it for later. But when will later be?  Little bit by little bit, our fridge and pantry are becoming vegan along with us.

One of the biggest bonuses: not feeling punished.  Other diets I’ve tried (hello, South Beach) have made me feel that way.  This “diet” feels more like treating myself to something really nice.  It feels sustainable.  I’m loving trying new recipes and ingredients.  I love converting favorite recipes into favorite vegan recipes.  I think about food a lot, but not because I feel like I’m starving.  All my favorite comfort foods (potatoes, breads, cereals, ….) came with me for the ride this time around.  I’m not missing oils and fats at all–I added a bit of veggie broth and some tomatillo salsa to a baked sweet potato for lunch–NO need to add the butter I have traditionally had on any potato.

Yup.  Happy.  And still happily caffeinated.

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What is it About January?

6 Jan

It started snowing in December, and the snow is still on the ground.  Crunchy, glittery, fresh-looking.  Perfect for the holidays.  Foggy mornings leaving hoar-frosted boughs when the sun peeks out.

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But brrrrrrr!  It’s January and I’m over it.  I’m tired of being cold and  ready for a whole round of new.  What is it about January that creates the mind-set for newness?  Is it as simple as a pristine calendar, eagerly awaiting appointments and travel plans?  Is it how bare my house looks when Christmas decorations are finally stored in their boxes? (Hasn’t happened yet….maybe next weekend after Mr18 heads back to college.)  Is it ingrained in our society, the talk of New Year’s resolutions?  I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, because I’m so there.  Ready to open the door to new.  Ready to try on who I will be as a result of the new.  Committed to a new life-style change.

Michael and I have decided to go vegan.  And fat-free.  This is huge for people who love food as much as we do.  We’re not obese, but could stand to lose a pound or two or ten.  We’re not out of shape.  Not completely.  Well, we’re not marathon-ready anymore.  We eat reasonably healthy, but our cholesterol could be a lot lower.

Our neighbors have been on a diet based on Dr. Caldwell Esselsyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, for a year.  They have lost weight, they feel great and have more energy.  Michael has a history of heart disease in his family and wants to do anything he can to not be a heart attack waiting to happen.

I must confess to a fair amount of reluctance.  When I’ve gone for days cooking nothing but vegetables for dinner, Michael hasn’t been happy about it.  He’s not a big-time carnivore, but he loves chicken.  I was dreading cooking that way all the time AND not being able to add in cheese or dairy of any sort besides.  I was raised to make people happy with food.  I was also reluctant because I love eggs and dairy.  Waaaaaah.  I want an egg over-easy.  An omelette.  A baked brie.  Sour cream on my baked potato.

After my initial reluctance, and reading a kinder, gentler, less gloom-and-doom version of the diet (The Engine 2 Diet by Dr. Esselsyn’s son, Rip), I’m coming along for the ride.  My new challenge is to get the flavors and textures I love without some of my favorite ingredients.  How I love ham hocks in potato soup, sigh.  After just a few days, I’m liking it.  I get to have most of my carb-y friends, like potatoes, rice and bread.  Dinner isn’t dependent on what meat is thawed.  My fat-free version of potato soup is in the crock pot and smells promising, thanks to a new secret weapon–Hickory Grill Shaker.

Our new treadmill is assembled and waiting for me to go for a walk that will eventually be a run as I try on the new and improved me.  I’ll let you know how it goes; you can follow the vegan recipes on my food blog, Somethin’ Yummy.  Might be treating ourselves to a binge now and then as goals are met.  Not giving up coffee, though.

 

Busy-ness, Moonlight Hikes and Life

14 Aug

I’m retired.  Somehow, my idea of retirement and the reality are two very different things.  I had envisioned lazy days with an extra cup of coffee, watching birds at the feeders, reading books, blogging, puttering around the house and garden, cooking,….. 

The reality has in part, been altered by my decision to go with the “high deductable” insurance plan.  Usually healthy me had big adventures with kidney stones and now needs to work a bit to pay the deductable.  Sigh.

AND.  I’m a band mom.  On the board of our Band Parents organization.  It’s Marching Band season.  Don’t get me wrong–I absolutely ADORE marching band, but this is a super busy time of year, with band camp, meetings, fundraisers, marching competitions, half-time performances, more fundraising, more meetings….you get the idea.

AND.  The garden I love is loving me back.  A lot.  I nixed a trip to Denver this weekend because I needed to make pasta sauce from the tomatoes, do SOMETHING with at least some of the zucchini and make more hummus from green beans that were once again getting away from me.  This would be groovy if it weren’t for needing to work 2 days a week and keep up with the stuff I need to do for band.

Sigh.  So, last night I sat on the couch, freshly showered and working on a zucchini bread (how I decided to deal with the zucchini!) post for my other blog.  I keep Facebook running in the background (because I’m that kind of social, and I was monitoring the Band Parents page I administer) and noticed an open invite from a friend, suggesting a moonlight hike on the Colorado National Monument.  After checking to see how Michael might feel about that and a few back and forth comments,  I left the blog post unfinished, we got spontaneous and went for a hike! 

The weather was warm, but not like it is under the scorching sun.  Clouds wandered around and covered the full moon from time to time.  We found a section of slickrock between the trail switchbacks, laid on our backs and watched the stars and clouds, hoping for a glimpse of the International Space Station or a meteor from the Perseid shower.  We used cell phone apps to identify stars.  I found out that a cell phone camera does not capture what the eye can see in the dark, but a pretty image was captured, nonetheless.

 

 

The wind came up, covering us with grit, but we laughed and chatted and ended up drinking blueberry wine as a nightcap.  We could have spent the evening watching DVR-ed TV or Food Network or whatever, but look at the fun and relaxing time with friends we would have missed!  We are not spontaneous.  We are schedulers–partly due to being a bit over-scheduled with “stuff”, but somehow feel the need to have a plan no matter.  It was somehow rejuvenating being spontaneous! 

John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”   I’m glad I listened when Life gave me an opportunity last night.  I’m keeping and ear out from now on.

 

Gee Whiz Geocaching!

1 Mar

My good friend Carol is a geocaching fanatic.  She regularly takes off, day or night, with GPS and Android phone in hand in search of tiny camoflaged capsules.  Adventure abounds and breathtaking scenery awaits on these techy Easter egg hunts. 

Lovely spring-like weather and the promise of a great hike lured DH and I out to Bangs Canyon with Carol and her DH today.  Slickrock was tread, mud and snowfields were forged, and caches were found!  The caches ranged from little pill bottle-sized containers wrapped in camo duct tape found hanging in trees to a bolt cover that looked suspiciously lichen-like drilled into a rock, to an ammo container hid under rocks in an overhang that had to be scrambled to.  Great adventure, so much fun, amazing views.

We could see pretty much the entire Grand Valley.  San Juans to the south, The Grand Mesa to the East, the Bookcliffs and Roan Plateau to the Northeast.

Tiny pinon pines grow directly out of cracks in the lichen-spotted slickrock, where snow still lingers.

What an absolutely GLORIOUS day!  We plan to go caching again, this time with the added draw of a wine and cheese picnic.  Who knows, maybe Carol will get me sucked into caching on my own; although, a big part of the fun today was sharing the hike and the views with good friends.

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A Hike with Three Women of a Certain Age

22 Feb

My friends Carol and Adele and I went for a hike today in No Thoroughfare Canyon in the Colorado National Monument.  We are so lucky to have this gem of wild canyons and beautiful plateaus just minutes from town.  It was a beautiful clear late winter day and we heard the falls were running.

And they were running–behind the ice.  The air was warm in the sun, crisp in the shadows.  We took a crooked trail up the canyon, avoiding mud and pools of water, admiring the beautiful scenery.  It was just so great to be oudoors after being cooped up all winter.  All of this made a really lovely day. 

What made it spectacular was hiking with two other intelligent women, with similar political and philosophical views to mine, and the wisdom that comes from being in the prime of our lives.  How lovely to have spirited conversations ranging from cooking to the pros and cons of The Monument becoming a National Park.  How fun to be scrambling over rocks at my age!  I had to stop and laugh at some of the paths the three of us were forced to take by the trail conditions.  Here I am with plantar fasciitis, iliotibial band issues and the lessening balance that just happens as one ages.  But you know what?  I did just fine.  In fact I feel younger as a result of the hike, the conversation, and the laughter.  And then as if the day wasn’t already just perfect….Adele made a Chocolate Cardamom Fallen Souffle earlier in the day and brought us each a piece.  Uber-Perfect.

Here.  Hike along with us.  Photos taken by me(!), channeling my inner Carol, with my Blackberry Curve!

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