Weekly Meal Plan-Experimenting With Food And Feelings

This week for me has been an experiment of how what I eat affects my body. I have not shared much about what I have been struggling with this past month but part of what I am trying to do to deal with it all is eat less inflammatory foods. You know, things like extra sugar, flour, processed food, potatoes, fried food, white rice, etc. And after looking at this weeks meals and seeing if what I have been avoiding this past month is helping my situation, I can assure myself I am on the right track.

First, I did not regulate my meals this week. I simply made what was easy and fast and we even threw in an extra night out(Monday) which is totally unusual for us. And then we did Chinese besides which is one of the worst cuisines to go out for ever.  Add in too many potatoes, too much pasta, and all this left me with all over pain and agony by Wednesday. However, I am happy to know that eating whole grains like farro instead of rice for instance is working for my body. Next week I plan to get back on track even though I fully intended to go off track this week to see what would happen. I also wanted to see how long it would take for my body to get rid of all this inflammatory food after eating it for a week. It was a good experiment and I am happy I did it. Just knowing that what I am doing by putting a bit more effort into what I prepare every week for our health and well being is so worth the pain I suffered through this week. So with that being said I will leave you with a look at what our meal plan was this past week.

Saturday: nachos

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Sunday: chicken and sundried tomato casserole

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Monday: grilled chicken brats, roasted carrots and potatoes

we went out for Chinese instead….because its Monday,because it was a bad day for both my hubby and son, because…..well, just because!

Tuesday: lemon shrimp with capers and spinach over pasta

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Wednesday: meatloaf burgers, corn and mashed potatoes (I had mine on farro since my pain level was enough by this time of the week)

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Thursday: leek, bacon, and eggs skillet (recipe coming soon)

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Friday: out

I am not by any means “cheffy” so to say, but I do pride myself on feeding my body only what it needs and likes. There is not much I eat without knowledge of what it can do for my insides. Food is medicine and for many of us its life, so why not feed our bodies the best we can.

 

 

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A Hearty Soup Recipe To Warm Your Soul

I love soup! I love an easy soup recipe even more and this is what I plan to share with you all today.

Soups at our house usually end up being anything I can find when the moment strikes to make soup. However, this one I have made numerous times now and finally wrote it down to share with all of you. Numerous friends and family have tried it and have asked for the recipe so here it is.

The star of this soup is Bob’s Red Mill Vegi Soup Mix. One cup of this mixture added to some extra veggies and no one will even miss the meat that is not in this dish. I promise.

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Ingredients:

1 cup  vegi soup mixture (as pictured above)

2 tbsp olive oil

5 tsp chicken bouillon

5-6 cups of water

1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 tsp of oregano

1/4 head cabbage- chopped

3 carrots- diced

2 celery stalks-diced

1/2 medium onion-diced

1 box of kale-roughly chopped

1 sweet potato- peeled and diced

1 small zucchini- diced

2 garlic cloves-finely chopped

salt to taste

1/2-3/4 cup half and half cream(optional)

Cooking time may vary I suppose, but if your like me, I made mine in a cast iron dutch oven and cooking time took about and hour total. I know there seems to be a lot of veggies in this soup, but if you clean, peel, and pre chop everything prior to starting the soup it all comes together pretty quickly.

To prepare:

Preheat your dutch oven and add the olive oil.

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When your oil is hot, add the carrots,sweet potato, celery, and onion. Cook these for about 7 minutes over medium heat.

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Next, add the dry soup mix, can of tomatoes, bouillon, oregano, garlic, and water. Mix well and cover to leave this cook for 7-10 minutes.

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After 10 minutes, add the cabbage and zucchini. Again, give this a good stir and cover and leave this cook for at least 30 minutes stirring occasionally. You may need to add a bit of extra water so keep an eye on it.

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After this cooking time give it a test and see if the dry peas, lentils, and such are softened to your liking. If not, cover again and leave it cook for longer and continue to test it until you are happy with the results. If so, add the chopped kale and stir.This will wilt down quickly.

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Now, remove it from the heat and slowly add in the half and half cream, mixing this in completely.

***This step is optional but I will tell you it does add so much to the soup itself that you may want to give it a try.

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This is one very hearty soup with tons of healthy additives in both the soup mix and what I have added as well. Children seem to love it, meat lovers don’t seem to miss the meat(my husbands approves of this soup) and I simply cannot get enough myself. Give it a try with your family and see if you get the same results.

Enjoy….

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An Offer I Could Not Pass Up

****Disclaimer: I was offered free product for an honest review of my thoughts on this company. All opinions are honest and in my own words.

After a horrible week of chaos before leaving for our Virginia hiking trip I must say life is getting back to a new normal. Is it normal for everything to break, for work to be super stressful, and for plans to change all in the week prior to vacation? Well, this is exactly what all happened here…there was even a point two days prior to leaving I wanted to just forget the entire trip. Thankfully, we did not and we had the best time with nothing….not one single thing going wrong. How wonderful is that?

Anyhow, about two weeks prior to leaving for this trip I was given a diagnosis of something I had a feeling was coming but was avoiding for quite some time. Well, now its time to face the facts and move on. Its nothing life threatening but will be life changing for me for sure. Then, ironically, a week after this I received an email from Swanson Health asking if I would like to take advantage of $50 in free product from their website to try. I took a quick look and noticed a few things that they offer that was on the list of things to try from my doctor. How is that for perfect timing?  So I decided why not give them a try and I placed my order.

That being said, I have been trying to take my doctors advise and learn how to meditate. No laughing now…..because if you know me personally, sitting and clearing my jam packed mind is a funny thought in itself for sure. So far I am not sure if its working or not but I am truly giving it my best shot. I bought some essential oil room/yoga mist and have been trying some sound therapy to help get me to “this place” where I should not be thinking of anything. Again…..trying not to think of anything…..really trying;-) I have also been doing yoga daily to help with joint and muscle pain I have daily which was also suggested. Happily, I am seeing improvement and the days where I forget to do it I find myself reminded by evening with my body talking back. Thankfully 10-15 minutes of yoga is easy and can be done literally anywhere. Along with massage (thanks to my husband) and daily exercise I have been feeling pretty good once again. This mist I bought is pretty nice in all honesty. I am not a big fake scent person so I really love that its an essential oil mist and can be used anywhere. There are many scents available and a little goes a long way for a small price.

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Around our house we have been preparing for winter. Like it or not I feel it coming and its never a good feeling but I am not dreading it quite as bad as other years yet. Our fall chore list is long but we are getting there. I can only dream of owning a home where the summer season stays around all year long and you never have to pack away patio tables, grills, close up windows to the frigid cold breeze, and swap out lawnmowers for snow blowers. I tell ya….its a big dream!!!! With winter always comes cold which means dry air and then comes dry skin and hair. For me, I have been using the same facial moisturizer for a few years and love it so much I purchased another container from this company when I found they offered it much cheaper than I buy it here on the store shelf.

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Speaking of joint health, I never really jumped on the cherry juice bandwagon since its so darn expensive but when I saw that they had a concentrated bottle and the reviews were really great, I gave it a try. So far we have used it in smoothies, taken it straight from a spoon, my son has flavored his homemade kombucha with it, and drizzled it over greek yogurt to add flavor. It’s pretty good but as for any joint health improvement, I can’t say I notice anything yet. Although, I am not sure how much or how long you need to consume it to be able to notice joint health relief either. So be what it may, its not bad used the way I have tried and I may possibly order more here and there.

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The last thing I ordered was something my husband swears by and something I have been taking for years also….Tumeric. I know everyone is talking about tumeric tea online lately but personally I can’t even imagine drinking this spice this way. We have tried a few different brands of capsules(our preferred method) and if you do not eat a bit of food with them you will surly taste tumeric shortly after ingesting it…and sometimes even puff orange powder like puff the magic dragon. Oh, so not tasty!!!! Anyhow, capsules are our way of reaping the benefits of this wonderful spice for inflammation relief and when I saw that Swanson Health offered this also at a better price than we normally purchase it from another company, I immediately knew I had to order some. Plus, at the time of my order they had a special going of buy one get one free. Bonus!!!

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All in all, I was thrilled with this company for a few reasons. Typically, I place and order for our tumeric and it could take anywhere from one to three weeks to arrive. Grrrrr, its never ever been on time. And like I said, even two days without this product and my husband can barely move his fingers since he has such bad arthritis from years of working with power tools for his profession. I also love that they really have reasonable prices and things did not seem be be sold out when I was shopping around the website. Again, an issue with our current vitamin/supplement company. Everything I ordered from Swanson Health showed up in 4 days, with exactly what I ordered, and in tacked. I was very happy and would highly recommend if you are shopping around for a healthy living company you may want to give them a try. Look around their website….they offer many, many different items for the health conscious consumer.

 

Time To Catch Up

Warning: Long post ahead:-)

Life has been so crazy that I have been struggling to find time to blog. However, that does not mean I don’t have a ton of stuff to share with you all. So let’s briefly catch up a bit today.

I mentioned back a few weeks that we were headed out to waterfall hike. Well, I have 6 waterfall hikes that need to be written and posted on the hiking trails page and hopefully I will get to them before the snow flies but if not, winter is LONG and that will be something to blog about then. For now, I will tell you we had a magnificent time and while my husband and I ventured off alone leaving the photographers do their thing…we came across one of my favorite reptiles ever. I love turtles…even ones that bite!!!!!

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We also had another monthly dinner out with my brother recently and it was his pick on the restaurant so we ended up trying Green Bay’s newest sushi restaurant….Sushi Lover.

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Oh my….I could eat sushi every day…..it was so darn tasty. I loved this place. Everything was made fresh, you can order as many times as you wish, and it is one flat price. My husband and brother can sure pack away their share of sushi…..and I had fun watching them fill themselves to complete fullness from about that half way point of our meal.

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Then we had our first camping trip of the fall season. This time it was only the two of us and it was so relaxing.

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He was in charge of keeping the fire going so I could stay warm.

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I was in charge of meals for the weekend.

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My only request for the weekend was to relax, go out for our favorite pizza at the new location of our favorite restaurant in the Door County area which is Wild Tomato now open also in Sister Bay, and to go out just once for ice cream before the end of summer. All of which we made happen.

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We used to go out for ice cream all the time….heck, we used to go out for anything all the time…but since going artificial sweetener free for his stomach issues we can’t without causing problems. Although, since getting this all under control, it has gotten easier to go out here and there and he only gets a little stomach upset if we go overboard. Some foods and restaurants we have found are fairly safe for him to eat at…like sushi…..this causes little to no problems at all.

While camping we also got in a small two mile hike which was the highlight of the weekend. I love hiking and it makes me sad to know that very soon the ground will be rock hard and frozen solid for months.

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Then I had a mid week day off of work which I packed way to much stuff into. I had three appointments to attend and a date with my son for lunch at a new restaurant in Green Bay near his work.

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That evening my husband and I walked my favorite nearby trail to discuss the results of one of these appointments in a place I feel peaceful.

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There is nothing like a beautiful sunset to reset my mind and make me come to terms with news I don’t like hearing. Although, as with all things, we will move on and deal with what comes our way.

In the food category the fall menu has arrived here in our house. Soups are being made, the last of the fresh veggies are being enjoyed everyday and I am even sneaking in veggies where my husband and son would least expect them. So far no one has complained and they have even asked for more. From salads, to veggies added to pasta sauces for the entire family instead of just myself, and even carrot muffins…..eating clean and healthy is getting to be so much easier.

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And lastly, this past weekend I spent with a friend attending a harvest festival in Door County. I was not sure I could pull off another weekend away but when travel plans were set back a bit for my husband I went for it. We had the best time chatting, shopping, and of course eating.

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That should catch me up to date I believe. Eventually I will get to the details of those beautiful waterfalls but for now I will leave you all with the reminder to get out and enjoy life while it’s still nice. Go hike, enjoy the beautiful fall colors that are starting to appear, and breathe the fresh air……see ya!

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In Search Of Activity Based Friend Time

Life has changed! These past 5 years have really opened my eyes to how much they have changed. Our son graduated high school, my husband has moved up to at least an 80% desk job from being on his feet all day for well over 20 years, and I have found freedom from being a full time parent. You would think all this sounds wonderful but I can assure you it’s been a challenge at best.

Let me explain. I have a small group of friends I talk to on a fairly regular basis. Although, after dedicating my whole life to work and raising our son by being a stay at home working mom I have found it really hard to venture back out in the world and meet active people. Key word here is ACTIVE!!! I have gone to active seminars, met people on trails, and seen people in camping areas with groups of active friends all out enjoying life on the trail, waterways or just simply working out in the gym together. Where these individuals find active friends is beyond me since I have searched and searched long and hard. Plus, I have found living in WI is of no help what so ever. WI is not a very active state and that saddens me to no end.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being with my husband doing the outdoor activities we love to do. However, there are times when either he is busy or I find I just need some friend time instead of husband time. And regardless of what is offered and where it is, my small group of friends are either busy, tired, too hot, too cold, have too much to do, want to but think they can’t, are sick, are scared to try new things etc.. You name it, I have heard every excuse in the book.  Although, they never seem too “enter excuse here”  to want to go out for a meal instead of doing something active. This is nice but not always what I am looking for. It’s as if they have given up on life and I just can’t go there yet. I am not ready to sit, get old, and die. I guess maybe I am not done living yet.

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All this is what led me to join a Meetup group in our area. I will admit, I am amazed by this new active outdoor meetup group that I found and I still have my doubts this will work. I suppose the only way to find out is to give it a chance and see what happens. So now I wait and hope for fun adventures to be invited to and the possibility of meeting new people that aren’t afraid of sweating, getting dirty or just having fun while not sitting on our rear ends.

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I scares me to think that some people are content with life with no adventure. What makes them want to get up every morning if every day looks just like the last. I understand the midwest is not all that great and there are much better areas to live adventurous. However, I live here and I do my best to make the best of a not so great situation….and when I can’t I plan a vacation to a better place. HAHA!

Anyhow, I guess you could say I have given up on asking for company to get out and enjoy life. Now I will just wait for the asking to come to me. Hopefully I will meet new people and have fun all at the same time.

Have you been a member of any Meetup group?

Did you meet like minded people who you enjoy being with?

Do you have two sets of friends…active and inactive?

The Unofficial End Of Summer Is Here

The unofficial end of summer is upon us with this being the Labor Day weekend. I am sad but excited all at the same time. We have a FULL fall season right around the corner.

Recapping this week….basically a mess. Strange happenings all week, numerous appointments we needed to attend to, great weather for outside play during the daytime hours, and a surprise two days off for our son means I heard,” hey mom…..plan something quick!” Which I did and can’t wait to share with you all. HINT: It involves hiking boots and waterfalls:-)

So without more jibber jabber….here is what I did fit in this week for exercise and let’s all go enjoy the last big weekend of summer!!!!!

Saturday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and stretching

Sunday:gym: 30 minute elliptical and stretching

Monday: 2.5 mile rail trail walk

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Tuesday: home gym: 30 minute recumbent bike

Wednesday: home gym: 30 minute recumbent bike and legs workout with weights

Thursday: rest

Friday: rest

Have a safe, fun, and exciting weekend.

Crazy….Maybe….Worth It….Totally!!!!

Training for our hiking trip is going quite well. I am finally starting to feel better in the pain department which I am so thankful for. With that in mind, time is always our biggest issue when we need to step things up in the exercise area for vacations but we get in what we can during the week and I typically give it a good go on the weekends. My husband tags along when he can during the week and weekends we typically do something active one day and one day we spend separate since this trip is more my destination than his. Well, maybe they are all more my destination than his but so far he has not been disappointed so I just go with it.

Here is what my week was like:

Saturday: 6.5 mile trail hike with my husband

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Sunday: gym: 30 minute elliptical and total body weights on the Cybex machines

****This is the first weights I have lifted since injuring myself July 4. I have decided to start on the machines which are not my favorite but I feel are more forgiving if my form is off in any way.

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Monday: home gym: 30 minutes recumbent bike

commercial gym: 30 minutes elliptical and leg lifting on the Cybex machines, along with a ton of stretching

Tuesday: 3 mile rail trail walk

Wednesday: home gym: 25 minutes recumbent bike, floor mat exercises with very light weights

evening rail trail walk for 3 miles

Thursday: rest

Friday: rest

I am really feeling the effects of age, life, summer….I am not quite sure exactly so call it what you wish. Workouts at the gym are a struggle at best during the week but I have to remember I NEVER used to visit the gym in the summer months two years ago. My job is active and chasing kids all day in the summer heat (pure heaven for me) is a lot of work. However, we have trained for far worse trips in the summer heat…like when we did ooodles of stairs for our trip to Sedona, AZ. These were killers but I was so happy we did them when we arrived and started hiking the area.

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As usual I am putting off friends, family, and events to get in what I can in my free time to prepare for this adventure. Some clearly believe this is crazy…..and some few understand its what I love to do. Reaching a destination you think is impossible is the best feeling in the world. And for me, the higher up this destination is the better the feeling of accomplishment is when I reach it.

There is nothing better for me than arriving at the trailhead and seeing this sight… my boys looking up and thinking…..is my mom/wife out of her mind???? And then we begin our hike and eventually reach the top! Priceless and and worth every step I took to get here.

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That’s it for me…our weekend is a bit unorganized at the moment so we’ll all see what plays out when it actually happens. As usual the chore list is always something we could do…..scrub carpets, laundry, cut the lawn and so on, plus I know we have to make a quick trip down to our nearest Trader Joe’s for backpacking food which is no quick trip being its two hours from us. And of course, while we are down there we may just have to make a quick stop in at REI to see what’s on sale. Plus, we have not decided on buying a bear canister yet or winging it and going without. I have been watching the trail condition updates and they are all talking about numerous sighting of bears which is exciting and scary all at the same time. I would love to see one on the trail BUT not searching for food in my backpack!

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As usual time will tell and we’ll see what gets done and what we end up doing all in good time.

Anyone have a bear canister to recommend?