Friday, May 4, 2012

More Smiles and Some Food

Despite the stress of a bathroom remodel that is taking for freakin' EVER, I am still doing remarkably well, considering how awful I was just a few months back.  I am very grateful for the break from a lot of the pain I'd gotten used to just being there and changing every so often, just to keep reminding me that it's there.  If it wasn't for the fatigue part and some minor IBS issues that come and go, my persisting Delayed Pressure Hives on my damned feet, and the pains that just come on suddenly here and there, I'd almost consider this as some sort of "remission" from Fibro.  I'm not completely pain-free, but knowing how bad it can be, this is pretty easy to handle... and I'll take it.

I've been celebrating my feeling better with baking projects and more smiling.  I whipped up another pumpkin pie a few weeks back, from the last of our local farm's sweet little pie pumpkins.  

Benia's Pumpkin Pie
(We froze the pumpkin puree after cooking it in the oven.)  It's my fourth pie ever and I think I finally have it down, give or take some variability due to the moisture factor of the puree.  (I judge it by eye.)  If it's too watery, the pie just has a more pudding consistency to it in the middle.  It's still delicious and a fine way to end your day or start it.  Who knew vitamin A could be so tasty!  If you'd like the recipe I use, here it is.  I modified it slightly.  I don't bother removing the last egg's yolk, and I substituted the spices for 1.5 tsp. of a cheap, pre-packaged, pumpkin pie spice mix I picked up last fall that works great.  I just skipped the cloves.  (Bleh!)

After the pie was gone, I decided to make Oatmeal Craisin Cookies.  I have a big box of generic Quick Oats that I usually keep at my work desk for a quick lunch, in case I'm crunched for time and hungry.  I brought it home and made a batch of the cookies using the recipe on the box and substituting the raisins for dried cranberries (craisins) which we always keep for snacks or adding to breakfast.  They went fast and were tasty. 

Oatmeal Craisin Cookies... YUM!
This is the second time I've made the cookies and I notice that it's a bit messy to mix up all the thick ingredients.  On top of that, my largest mixing bowl is not a mixing bowl at all.  It's a cheap, plastic chip bowl from the dollar store and it's flimsy.  I used it for this batch, but I decided I needed to get myself a nice, durable, glass mixing bowl that is large enough for the job.  I noticed the chip bowl's capacity was still on the sticker on the bottom: 3.5 quarts, so I set out to find something either that size or larger, but made of durable, clear glass. 

I decided on glass because I don't like the possibility of plastic bits getting scraped into the food by the mixer blades, plus I wanted something nice that would last and could be microwaved if need be, and is dishwasher safe.  I prefer clear glass because it makes mixing easier when you can see where things are sticking to the sides and need scraping. 

I came upon a great little store designed for parents who want to avoid exposing their kids to toxins.  (Shouldn't that be everyone?)  It's called Mighty Nest.  They sell a lot of baby stuff and kid toys, but also kitchen and cooking items.  And this online store is where I'd finally found the perfect mixing bowl and another one just a bit smaller that matches it, too.  They are great!  They are just what I needed and are shaped to perfectly fit into my cupboards, too.  They are located in Evanston, IL, just a few towns away, too, so I didn't wait long for them to arrive.  Bonus!  I wonder what I'll whip up next.

Finally now that we've gone through all the sweet stuff, here's a little healthy stuff.  Remember Calorie Camp?  I'm still logging foods and tracking my calories and weight there.  The more I log, the more information I have to learn how to improve my nutrition and be healthier.  As I started looking at my analysis and seeing a pattern - too little fiber and protein, too much sugar.  So I got proactive about it.  On workdays, for lunch, I have been having big, healthy salads from the nearby Whole Foods Market.  Why not?  Making salad at home is nice, but takes a lot of effort (I still have trouble with the prep sometimes) and the food doesn't long.  The way Don and I shop, we'll have produce for a couple days, then nothing for two weeks or so until we go grocery shopping again.  It just wasn't working out. 

My big salad from Whole Foods Market.  I added a baby octopus to this one for fun and protein.  Isn't it cute?
So one day, I went to the salad bar at Whole Foods for lunch and picked out some great salad greens with spinach, bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, red quinoa, chickpeas, hard boiled egg, and a little Parmesan cheese, topped it off with balsamic vinaigrette, and enjoyed a POUND of food for under 500 calories.  If I want to go out and eat less healthy stuff for dinner,  at least I know I got my veggies and nutrients in for the day.  Now I go every day and am getting a more balanced diet more frequently.  It works out great and is worth the $7.99 per pound I'm paying to not have to go grocery shopping, chop stuff up, and pack it up for work every day.  I know the food is fresh, there's plenty of variety available, and I can decide how much of what I need at the moment, when I am feeling it.  Win-win-win! 

Oh and I bring my own reusable bag and keep a real (non-disposable) fork at work so I don't have to make so much trash.  The box is not reusable, but I like to bring the salad back to my desk and eat it most days, so I grab a paper box from the stack and use that.  At least it's compostable.  I also keep an old cloth napkin in my desk so I don't use so much paper.  I just swap it out and wash it now and then.  (It's not that hard to be green.  Every bit helps.)

So I'm doing okay, enjoying life and food and trying to stay positive about my world.  I'm hoping you are smiling.