Just a reminder - This is a rough (very rough), quickly written, draft for a month long writing marathon called National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo.
Election Day, November 3
While my husband and I agree on who to vote for, we do not agree on what to eat. He is a true Midwestern man who loves roast and potatoes, fried chicken and potatoes, meat of any kind and potatoes. I am a California girl who loves beans and rice, whole grains and lots of vegetables. We’ve been married for over twenty-seven years now and I’ve steadily gained weight the whole time.
Beginning today I determined that I will cook two meals if I have to and perhaps he will see the advantage of eating my way. After all, actions speak louder than words. This morning I fixed him and our son Dan a breakfast of fried potatoes, scrambled eggs, and pumpkin spice English muffins. With them I ate a cutie. After they left I fixed myself a bowl of cracked wheat hot cereal with a tablespoon of raisins and one of wildflower honey, with a couple of tablespoons of milk (I didn’t measure). It tasted delicious.
My exercise for the day was raking leaves and loading them by the tarp full into the utility trailer. We have two almost century old maple trees in front that drop their gorgeous red, orange, yellow leaves onto the lawn every year. Most of our slaves, I mean children, are grown up and gone so we are having to relearn the work we used to delegate to them. The weather is particularly nice this year and it was a pleasant hour's work to make the front yard of one of our homes tidy. Raking is a good workout for the arms, shoulders and back. I can feel it now as I sit here typing.
After raking I came in and wanted something sweet, simply out of habit, or more likely an addiction. But I managed to satisfy the craving with three prunes and a glass of water. I showered and dressed to get to the polls, not sure if they closed early, at noon, or what. Surprise, surprise, they didn’t even open until noon today.
We are in the midst of a city mayoral and council member election. One of the mayoral candidates is a write-in, not sure why, but he is a neighbor of ours and has been supportive of our efforts to preserve our neighborhood from the ravages of the neighbors from hell. But that’s another story. One of the council candidates is also a friend of ours who as an incumbent wants to continue fighting against the status quo, and develop a master strategic plan for the city to ensure slow, steady growth without crushing indebtedness. We like his philosophy and want to see him make headway with the council. Like many small towns there are cliques here, and some families who seem to be related to everyone in the county. We are hopeful that after the candidate forum last week and letters to the editor, citizens will choose wisely and we can move forward sensibly.
We have some wonderful amenities here, one of which I use frequently. We have over twenty miles of paved walking, running and biking trail from our town south to the interstate, and on into the next county. I use the trail for walking when the weather is good. When the weather is not good, I use our treadmill. We have four parks with facilities for picnicking, two have playgrounds, the one in the middle of town has a pavilion for concerts, programs or dances and one had (no longer) a section landscaped with native prairie plants.
My husband and I like to walk from our house north to the square, around the square to the library, stop in for a good book to read, or a chat with the wonderful staff, maybe to pick up a movie, and then back down the street and home. One of the nicest part of living in such a small town (population 2,100) is that I can walk to all the places I need to go, ie. Post Office, hair salon, library, county court house, city utility office, police office, dentist, library, florist, bank, Mexican restaurant, hardware store, Chamber of Commerce, antique store, thrift store, movie rental, lawyer, realtor, did I leave anyone out? I can even walk to the grocery store, and have when I’ve need a walk and an item or two. I can walk to the high school where my husband teaches, and where our three younger boys attended. I walked over there for parent/teacher conferences, band concerts, basketball games, tennis matches, football games (not for the games, but for the marching band in which our two youngest sons played, James on trumpet, and Dan on bass drum), Veterans Day programs, and to deliver or pick up things as needed. Oh, and to vote!
Now, where was I. Okay, after I came back from not voting yet, I fixed myself some lunch. Our daughter, Liz, introduced us to all things Korean, so I prepared a Korean noodle bowl with some modifications.
Pursuant to my desire to increase my intake of vegetables I got out of the fridge a carrot, celery, broccoli, green onions, and from the freezer a bag of frozen sweet peas. I peeled and chopped the veggies, and measured a half cup of peas. Then I opened the noodle bowl, broke the noodles in half and discarded the smaller half (which technically would not be exactly half, but you know what I mean). I broke up the noodles, because I am not very fluent with chopsticks yet and prefer to eat soup with a spoon, added the packet of seasoning and dumped in the all the vegetables except the frozen peas, added water and microwaved it. After it finished I transferred it to a metal bowl, Korean style, stirred it up and added the peas, which act as a cooling agent making it possible to eat without scalding my throat, or overcooking the peas.
The bowl of soup certainly filled me up, but didn’t completely satisfy me; remember I am overcoming an addition to sugar. I ate another cutie. Then went to vote. When I got back I grabbed a half dozen walnut halves from the freezer, and found the last of a package of butterscotch chips, probably a couple of tablespoons full which I ate finally satisfying my sweet tooth. While I have been typing I have dipped into my container of prunes for a couple more treats.
My husband came home briefly after school to plug in before returning for parent teacher conferences. In the course of our conversation he mentioned that the cooking class made soup and cookies to serve to the teachers tonight. Yum! Soup, I can make some soup for my supper. I have onions, canned tomatoes, olive oil, and basil to make a delicious thick tomato soup. Wonderful idea! So I got out the ingredients and placed them on the counter to remind me of my plan. Remember, planning ahead is vital to making good choices.
I sat back down to check blogs or something. A few minutes later my husband came in announcing that today is National Sandwich Day and it was buy one get one free at Subway and here was my very own Veggie Lovers foot long sub sandwich. Oh, gee, honey, thank you. Well, I can save the tomato soup idea for my lunch tomorrow. I checked the sandwich and found he had not had any cheese put on it so I got out the small block of Pepper Jack cheese and sliced off some, added that to the sandwich and drizzled some Good Seasons, make it fresh, Italian salad dressing. And ate the whole thing! The bread was whole wheat, and it had spinach, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion and green bell pepper on it. Decently healthful.
I am safe tonight from temptation (I hope) because we are all out of cake, cookies, candy and ice cream. This is another area where my husband and I differ. I would like to have treats for holidays, not every day. The infrequency of having them is what makes them “treats”. Candy is no longer special if you have it every day. Dessert every night after supper takes away from the specialness of the pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving.
I have come to believe also that quality matters in desserts and treats. No longer will I buy cheap ice cream—it tastes nasty. I will purchase the good stuff and be satisfied by much less of it. This principle was brought home to me last year when I purchased some Cavendish and Harvey Pear and Blackberry candy drops over at the Cheese Shop in Kalona, Iowa. One of those candy drops tasted so delicious and satisfying (and only 19.4 calories) that I was able to make that tin of candy drops last for months. This year I want to get enough to last a whole year, since that is how frequently I shop over there as it is four hours away, but totally worth the trip.
Likewise, high quality chocolate is more satisfying than the cheap stuff. I think the reason we overeat candy is because we are trying to satisfy our tastes and emotions with what amounts to, pardon my language, crap.
Hopefully, my personal saboteur will not bring home any cheap treats tonight.
I miss living in a two-story house for the simple reason that going up and down stairs multiple times each day is a great workout without even thinking about it. Since living for the past two years in a one story house my quadriceps have atrophied to the point that when I do have to go up a flight of stairs they scream in pain and burn in indignation. We have a basement in our current house, but it is unfinished and used solely for storage. Occasionally, when the need arises and the main floor bathroom is occupied I will run downstairs to the toilet, but other than that I do not go down there. I have thought that I should use the stairs as an exercise, my own personal stair climber, but have not proceeded to do so. Add that to my list for November.
As I mentioned earlier, I walk around town to do my errands and when I drive to another city I park far away from entrances so I can get a bit of a walk in to counteract all the sitting while driving I am forced to endure.
There are benefits to doing tasks the old-fashioned hard way. For many years before I married I did not possess an electric mixer. I made all cakes, cookies, etc. by hand, or rather by arm power. I enjoy sweeping rather than vacuuming. Hand raking leaves rather than using a noisy, smelly blower. I keep resisting my husband’s desire to get a riding lawn mower. Everyone I see on those things is overweight! I would prefer to walk a mower around as part of a passive exercise regime.
I came home from parent teacher conferences to find another saboteur in the house. Our daughter, living with us in between service in the Air Force and attending college, was over (she lives in our other house next door) watching a favorite television show (The Librarians) with a plastic box of shortbread cookies. Arrrrghhhhhh!!!!! How dare she? I will resist. And eat a couple more prunes.
Just another little bit about stairs. I visited the above referenced daughter in Korea earlier this year. Actually we met in Tokyo to visit our exchange student and family. Anyway, we climbed up and down stairs to access the public transportation systems in both countries. When I first got there I thought I’d die climbing the stairs, especially when dragging two suitcases, fortunately on wheels, but nevertheless, up and down and around the train stations, then subway stations, where I got so turned around I was perpetually lost. I think I would have been able to figure out where I was and how to get to where I wanted to go, but my hosts knew where they were going and I just ran to keep up, without being able to study the maps and orient myself. Most of the time it felt as if we would travel in one direction, get off the train, climb up some stairs and down some other stairs and then get on another train which seemed to me to go in the exact direction we had just come from. It was a weird sensation. However, back to the stairs, by the time I had been there for two weeks I could climb the stairs without the burning thighs and huffing breaths. Consistent daily exercise is very beneficial.
Well, I think you can see that making plans requires flexibility and adaptation. When I make a menu plan I normally sit down with the calendar to see what is happening when, a list of suggestions for meals (one that I typed up some time ago and keep adding to as I find new ideas), and a piece of paper to make a shopping list, although I attempt to use my pantry as much as possible and use shopping to restock my pantry.
So I look at what activities are on each day, and determine who will be home that evening for supper or dinner, we use the terms interchangeably. Then I decide what kind of meal would suit the day best, sometimes I even look at the weather forecast as I like to match the meal to the mood induced by the weather. A pot of hot chili does not taste as good on a warm autumn evening as it does on a cold autumn evening. If I am uncertain about having a particular item needed in a meal or a recipe I get up and check the freezer, cupboard, pantry, etc. and if I need something it is added to the shopping list. I fill in the menu plan as completely as I can, meaning I write down a complete meal, main dish, sides, salads, etc. That way I can be sure of balancing the proteins, starches, and vegetables, as well as attempting to make meals colorful rather than monochromatic, which I am prone to do. For example I have served a meal of chicken breasts, brown rice and cauliflower. It all tasted good, but was not visually appealing. So I do my best to vary the colors among the foods. That is not always easy as I am the only one in the family who likes and eats tomatoes either alone or in dishes, and they add such a pretty color. I do substitute red bell peppers when I can, simply for the bright, contrasting color.
Did you know we are supposed to eat a rainbow every day? Yes, it is true. Let’s see how many different foods we can name by color.
Purple/blue: berries, grapes, (I would say eggplant except I always peel it so the skin never shows up in the meal), beets, red cabbage, plums, figs
green: spinach, broccoli, peas, apples, grapes, limes, kiwi, green beans, lettuce, cabbage, celery, cucumber, honeydew melon, pears
Yellow/Orange: carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, corn, yellow onion, lemons, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, pineapples, mangoes, papaya, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cantaloupe, eggplant (here because the flesh is yellow)
Red: tomato, radish, chili peppers, red bell peppers, apples, strawberries, cherries, grapes, berries, watermelon, pomegranate, cranberries,
White/Brown: (Not actually part of the rainbow, but nutritious none the less) cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic, potatoes, onions, parsnips, turnips, jicama, coconut, pears, white peaches, bananas, dates, ginger
There are many, many more available if you look for them. All of them have nutrients that are both beneficial and necessary for health. We cannot just take a pill and get all we need. The chemical makeup of fruits and vegetables is so complex that it simply cannot be duplicated in pill form. Plus we need all the fiber in the actual fruit or vegetable.
Unfortunately I live in a northern area where markets have limited selection of produce. I do the best I can with what is available. And that is all anyone can do.