A Way Over Due Brain Dump….

It’s been over a month since I have been here to chat and I apologize. Sorry!

I thought of naming this post a “coffee date” but in all honesty, I need a nice tall, cold glass of something much stronger than coffee to take away all that has happened in the past month. So let’s just have a good old brain dump of sorts.

First, our 80/20 eating plan of meat/fish/chicken only twice a week and plants the remainder of the week is going fabulous. If you wish to read why this all came about click on Scared Healthy. Actually, there are many weeks we eat meat only once a week. I don’t miss it at all and surprisingly my husband does not either. In fact, the other day he said he would really like to have sloppy joes for dinner and I simply looked at him and said really, ground meat sloppy joes or what? And he said, can you make it any other way….I mentioned maybe lentil sloppy joes and he shook his head and said sure why not, let’s try it. MY HUSBAND…I can’t believe this to this day, ate lentil sloppy joes and said he liked them and they could be added to the make again cookbook. IMG_1688

Another big hit recently was my remake of mushroom reuben sandwiches. I had went with a friend of mine to lunch one day and this was on the menu. I love reubens so I had to give this version a try. I was blown away….it was fantastic and I told her right away I think this would be great to try on my husband. Sure enough, the next weekend I prepared these for him and I was right, he gave them a thumbs up in the first bite.

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Speaking of scared healthy, the family member that started this transition for my husband to finally eat more plants did not win his fight against heart disease. Sadly, we attended his funeral a month after fighting for his life. And if that was not enough, his wife also passed away 3 weeks later of what most say was also heart disease, but in my opinion it was more of a broken heart.

Training for our up coming mountain hiking trip has been difficult to say the least. Hills have not happened in two weeks due to non stop rain. I have never seen so much rain here in WI. And distance hiking on the weekends has been about all we have been able to accomplish. Plus, I have been going to the gym in the wee hours of the morning on a pretty regular schedule. So exercise is getting fit in just not according to the original plan.

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Another big change in the past month has been that we decided that I needed to cut back on working. I have done childcare in my home for well over 20 years and with my husbands new position and added travel I just could not find enough time to keep up with everything plus all his responsibilities if he was on the road for an extended period pf time. So ultimately, something had to change and this was the logical thing to change. I have dropped the number of children I care for per day and I have lessened the number of days per week I offer care. Which, in the long run, should give me one whole day extra to do life things, home chores, and maybe even get back to finding time to have some me time once again. It sure was hard to make this decision and I had to say good bye to some of my little loves, but I know when things settle down once again I should be in a better spot.

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And last but not least, and by far the biggest change in the past month has been our big shade tree…..

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now looks like this. 20180927_134318

This, for me, is an experience I NEVER want to relive as long as I live. It was the scariest, most horrifying job anyone could get up and go do every single day. We hired a climbing professional to remove our tree limb for limb. It was in a very tight spot, could have easily taken out three homes….ours being one of them, we were not allowed in our home during this process, and I am so thankful it’s down and no one got hurt. Damage wise, well, the very last branch from the very top did fall on the back corner of our home but left very little damage considering what could have been. Another branch did damage our fence but all in all it went well. All the repairs have been made and soon we will have a nice green area once again. I will leave you with some pictures and hope that soon I will get back to a normal blogging schedule once again. I just need life to settle back into a new normal and then all shall return to normal here on Natural Red. On that note, the removal our our huge shade tree went a bit like this.

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Weekly Meal Recap: Plant Based Meal Ideas…Plus This Weeks Training Schedule

As promised here is our first documented week of 80% plant based meals. If you missed why this lifestyle change was made you can read about it by clicking here.

Once again this week I was solo from Monday morning on. So some meals were thrown together quickly with very little prep time involved since it was just me.

Saturday: veggie lo mein

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Sunday: farro shrimp with lemon, dill, zucchini, and peas

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Monday: sun dried tomato and spinach casserole with artichokes

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Tuesday: leftover casserole from the night before

Wednesday: braised cauliflower and spinach

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Thursday: leftover braised cauliflower and spinach from the night before

Friday: take out

I am amazed how much easier it is to cook without meat. I never have to worry about trying to remember to take out anything to unthaw and plus not having to cook meat saves so much time in the cooking process. It’s a win win for me in time and health.

And for those of you who are watching my workout schedule for our upcoming hiking trip here is what this week was like.

Monday: rest…..we were up way to early for my husband to catch his flight, so just getting through the day was a workout in itself

Tuesday: morning gym session: 30 minute elliptical and weights

***hills were scheduled also for the evening hours but we had major thunderstorms all night…so we cancelled them

Wednesday:  20 hill laps

Thursday: morning gym session: 30 minutes elliptical and stretching

Friday: rest

Saturday: lawn cutting and chores

Sunday: 3.5 mile hike IMG_8435

All in all a good week. I am keeping up with home life and fitting in workouts the best I can when solo.We have a lot of things being scheduled in our lives right now, so my workouts are the one thing that keep me level headed in all the chaos. This I am thankful for.

 

My Husband Has Been Scared Healthy….And Now We Are Eating Plant Based Meals Almost Exclusively

Yes, you have read that correctly. WE, as in both of us, are now eating plant based meals 80% of the time. And the best part is, it was my husbands request. I still can’t believe it but I am not going to dare question it. It’s a dream come true for this girl!

Let’s begin back about three weeks ago when we got a call that a family member was having some health issues. OK we thought, nothing we all have not been through before…right? Well, those health issues turned major very quickly and then other things happened and wow, it just all went south from there. So needless to say, we have spent way to much time in this waiting room praying with cousins, aunts, and friends the last few weeks. As of today we all continue to keep praying and hoping for the best outcome.IMG_2868

All this along with a few other things made my husband really look at the big picture. This is now two people in his family that have went through the same big surgery and one survived and is doing ok and one if fighting for his life as we speak. Seeing a loved one in this condition is heartbreaking. You feel helpless, angry, and lost all at the same time. After two visits and numerous setbacks, I could see it was hitting home with my husband. Maybe everything I have been begging to change in our diets is worth trying. Maybe I am not just over exaggerating everything I have researched and have studied to keep us as healthy and active as possible as we age. Although, I said nothing…he had enough going through his head at this time. So when I got an email a few days later from him stating he wants to try going more plant based with our meals and also, when possible, cut out dairy, I was ALL IN!!! I did, however, ask what this meant to him and he simply stated, lets try eating meat/fish/chicken only twice a week and the remaining meals he wants all plant based. I knew right then, this was my chance to run with this. He was scared once two years ago with his own father in this same hospital unit, but this time he has been scared healthy.

So, where has this lead us? Well, its only been two weeks since we have begun and I must say I am loving it all so far. However, its been a challenge at times. The first week was great. We were home and I prepared dinner every night with success and no complaints. Here is a picture of my homemade ramen noodle veggie bowls. OMG, it was fabulous and oh, so filling. It was homemade broth with Thai curry and a ton of veggies over plain ramen noodles. YUMMMM!!!!

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The second week was tougher since he was away the entire week for work and was on his own for meals. Although, I did what I always do and made him a care package of meals for the road that he can use either for his lunches or snacks when time is tight or he just gets hungry. The difference this time was his care package was all plant based meals/snacks.

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I am still experimenting with a lot of recipes and ideas and hope to start mealtime blogging once again. I am still meal prepping which I am a firm believer it saves so much time during the week for me. This week, for instance, I prepped peppers/carrots for hummus dipping, zucchini, leek, and bok choy for a veggie lo mein I am making. and fresh fruit and eggs whites for breakfast.

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Right now flying solo at home, working, and training for our upcoming hiking trip leaves me very little time to blog. I will say, I am hopeful this way of eating sticks since I hope to never have to live the pain and agony we are living right now watching our loved one fight for his life. I will do my best to start taking pictures of meal time and share them with you whenever I have a moment.

I truly believe you are what you eat and food is medicine.

 

My New Kitchen Tool

I finally bought it! I have been debating this kitchen tool for over a year now and finally pulled the trigger. It’s nothing fancy, nothing new to the market, and not a fad like the Instapot craze…..it’s a simple toaster oven.

I know, I know, they have been around forever. My husband actually grew up having one in his childhood home his entire life. Although, I did not and never found the need to have one since I always found myself cooking for a family. However, now I will admit….I love it!!! Since becoming empty nesters and often times finding my husband gone for work and only myself to cook for, this is so much faster, easier, and cooler in the summer months.

So far I have made a small casserole for myself and the daycare children for lunchtime.

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I have also made fish,

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chicken and cheese tortilla melts,

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stuffed zucchini boats, IMG_1449

along with sweet potato fries, nachos, black bean burgers, and pizza melts.

I love that it takes minutes to preheat, minutes to cook, and does not heat up my entire kitchen to prepare one/two serving dishes.

Little by little I am learning how to revamp my/our life to be a family of one or two and occasionally three when our son stops back in to eat at home. I am loving trying new veggie packed recipes that I could never get away with in the past. And believe it or not, being empty nesters is working out pretty well for us all. I am happy, dad is happy and spends more quality time with our son than before, and our son seems pretty happy himself being on his own. Now I just have to figure out what to do with all my 9×13 casserole dishes since I don’t see a lot of usage for them anymore.

So tell me all you other empty nest parents out there…..what was the biggest change when your kids moved out on their own? Was it cooking, cleaning, living a childless lifestyle, reconnecting with your spouse, etc?

 

August Already??? How Can That Be?

Where has summer gone? It’s August already I am not ready for summer to be almost over! Although, our August calendar is full and September is filling up quickly so maybe the best of summer is yet to come.

Alright, I know its been a while but life got a bit hectic once again. I flew solo this past week since my husband was once again on the road for work. Which meant we did all we could to get everything done that needed to be done and also spend a day together before he left. We decided to float the river once again since its relaxing and we both needed a few hours to relax.

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It was a floating trip that paid off since he found a very nice fishing lure stuck in the bottom of the river. IMG_1398

Then the week happened and it was busy! Hence why there was no postings last week. I simply did not have time to sit and type.

Friday then rolled around and as he was on his way home making his way through airports, I was packing and preparing for our weekend. We had a day planned at a friends cabin that was sure to include water, sun, and campfires! I threw together a quick broccoli salad and grabbed the beach towels and sunscreen. IMG_1425

We left a bit early since I had my heart set on stopping at the farmers market near where we were headed. I bought a bunch of fresh veggies for the week ahead.

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We then arrived at the cabin to find sunshine and warmth. This is not always the case here since it’s often cooler by the lake, but I was happy today was not one of those days. We boated, stopped at the beach, and prepared dinner on the open fire.

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It was a great day. Weather was perfect, company was fun, and the water was warm. What more could we ask for?

Sunday was then catch up on chores day. We typically have one day of play and one day of work every weekend. I prepared baby food, veggie dip, and pre chopped veggies for the week ahead. My husband did oil changes and other things on his “Honey Do” list like normal. This week is jam packed with stuff. Our annual date event we go to is this week, we also have plans to visit somewhere we have never been. And believe me, we have been almost everywhere in WI….and surrounding states. So I am excited to explore more of what our area has to offer. Hopefully the weather cooperates and I will have something fun to share with you all real soon.

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Have a great week!

Recent Meals….Still Learning To Cook For Two

I have been so busy that remembering to take a picture at meal time has been forgotten quite often. Although, don’t fret, I have been cooking as usual but gosh have things changed when it comes to cooking and grocery shopping.

Here are a few meals we have enjoyed recently. My husband has always wanted to take a steak, chop it up, and make a hamburger patty out of it to see what the difference is from ground beef. Well, this finally happened and surprisingly it was pretty darn good. I am not a big beef fan so I was hesitant to try it. However, I must admit, I believe we may have it again since it was so good. IMG_1363

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One evening we had sweet chili chicken, couscous salad, and zucchini.

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Another evening was lemon shrimp with capers and spinach over pasta.IMG_6939

And last I want to tell you about this fabulous sauce I picked up on my last trip to Trader Joes. Gyoza dipping sauce has become a new favorite around here. One night I prepared this chicken veggie stirfry and another night I finished the bottle by tossing together a chicken and leek skillet meal that we simply loved. Each took about half the bottle…so two meals out of one jar. Like usual, I wish I would have bought more but you never know when something new comes out if you will like it or not. However, I am already researching how to make my own Gyoza sauce….and it looks pretty darn simple. IMG_1384

Let’s touch on grocery shopping here quickly. In all honesty, I am still adjusting to buying and feeding two people at meal time. I even have found myself able to use a small cart at the store instead of the jumbo grocery carts. IMG_1362

It takes me less time to put groceries away once I arrive home. And I never use all my reusable grocery bags anymore like I once did before. And the bill at checkout time is a shocker…but I am loving it. So little by little I am adjusting to the new way of meal planning and shopping. Now if only they would make hamburger/hotdog/ and bread loaves in half sizes….I would be very thankful!

Mother And Son Day Out….We Had One Of The Best Burgers Ever!

Saturday my son and I spent the majority of the day together and it was quite nice. I never in a million years would think he would ask to join me in my plans for the day but surprises happen and this was a surprise. I had planned to travel about 45 minutes from home to a local community for a city wide garage sale event. And since our son recently moved out, he has a few things on his list that he still needs and asked to join me.

We left bright and early Saturday to arrive in Algoma, WI by 8a.m.. Needless to say my husband had no interest in joining us….he had a “honey do” list a mile long anyhow. We toured the town and shopped until my son had $3 left in his pocket and then we called it quits. My SUV was full, our pockets were empty, and by the end of the morning so were our stomachs. We needed to fix this last problem so we had been hearing about a fairly new hamburger restaurant that is operated by a very successful high end dining establishment also in the same city. Skaliwags 2…..or Skaliwags Burger Co. is right around the corner from the original Skaliwags and this one only sells burgers. Located on the main drag in this small city….604 4th St., you can easily locate it and have one of the best burgers I have ever had in my life!!!!

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This place is tiny, very clean, restaurant staff was very friendly, and the food was worth the small wait. IMG_1387

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They have a number of sides you can choose from. Burgers are prepared to your liking. And many are chef inspired creations that you must try.

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Our day was completed after this meal…you can only imagine why. We were exhausted from garage shopping all morning and then having one of the best burgers ever. If your in the Algoma, WI area, I would highly recommend a brief stop at Skaliwags 2.