Sunday, 17 October 2010

Lightbulb moments - don't you love them!

Try as I may, I haven't been able to write down a menu plan that I am happy with - or that I can stick to! It's been driving me bonkers and I was almost ready to throw in the towel and declare 'I cannot do this!' when God pushed aside my frustration and popped a very simple answer into my mind.
Let me backtrack just a bit.
All my life I have loved lists, plans, strategies, instructions...when I was 8 I had every article of my clothing itemised on a list inside my wardrobe door and a schedule next to it with what I'd be wearing on each day for the next week.
When I was 9 I organised my own library - cataloging all my books in alphabetical and subject order, adding a library card to the inside sleeve (remember when all libraries did that? Before the techno age?), and making myself a library card book where I would 'make record' of the books I loaned myself each week. I loved the structure of planning, and implementing those plans!
Back to my menu planning. 
Most of my adult life has revolved around a plan of some sort. As a homeschooling parent who gathered together her own curriculum I was daily making plans for each subject for each child, with an overall scope & sequence for each term. Oh, how wonderful that was! I was in my element. :-) 
Added to this I had a 6 week rotating menu plan that kept me on track with meals and shopping, plus a house cleaning planner that had each room attended to on a certain day of the week, with a 'deep' clean list once every school holiday break. 
When the kids finished homeschooling and my design work 'took off', after we'd moved cross country yet 'again', after menopause hit with a vengeance - well, all those plans just dwindled away and my daily menu/cleaning/planning systems all fell apart. 
To be honest, this has its good points as well as the obvious bad ones. The good point is that I am more open to the unexpected and to change...I wake each day wondering 'what today, Lord?', and that makes my time more accessible to Him.
So the other day as I was agonising over a good menu plan, He spoke into my thoughts with this idea.
Instead of making a menu plan as I had done in years past, I should give each day a 'core ingredient' based on who will be having dinner at home that night.
For example, my 17yo has 'pizza and movies' every Tursday night with his best mate. This son doesn't like tuna, but the rest of us do, so Tuesday is now Tuna Night! I have made a list of tuna based meals, and each Tuesday night I choose one of them to cook for the rest of the family. Easy!
Monday is pasta night, so I have a *long* list of pasta meals we all enjoy and I choose one of them to make. 
And so my week continues with 'Rice', 'Potatoes', 'Seafood', and 'Vegetarian' nights. I have one night free - Saturday. That's because my husband has, after 19 years of marriage, decided to learn to cook. We go shopping together on Saturday morning and choose a main ingredient, then we go home and look through all my cook books until we find a simple recipe we can make together. I am loving this!!

Yesterday we chose to purchase green prawns. It was just $7 for 1/2 kilo, and we made a truly delicious dinner from one of my Jamie Oliver cookbooks, plus a carrot and orange salad from another of J.O.'s books.
Marinate the green prawns (hubby peeled them for me) in lime zest, sunflower oil, and grated ginger for a few minutes...
...then stir fry quickly for just 2 minutes. Put aside for 30 seconds to cool a bit.
In a bowl add lime juice, chopped fresh chilli, and freshly chopped coriander leaves.
 Pour this over the prawns and serve with the carrot salad!
Carrot Salad: Grate carrots, add a good lug of olive oil, 1/2 cup orange juice, and a dash of red wine vinegar. Delish!
In the coming weeks I'm going to make myself a good menu folder with 'core' food sheets for ideas and recipes. If you like I'll share them with you. :-)
Now to enjoy some morning tea with my family - Sultana & Orange Muffins.
Healthy Hugs

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Life Expectancy

I've been 4 weeks without caffeine now. 
The first week was torture, but after that I changed my focus from 'desperately missing' my cappuccino to rejoicing in how much better I felt. I was falling asleep easily each night (and staying asleep), my brain wasn't racing on overdrive all day, and the pains in my chest disappeared.
We've had some major stress issues the last month and I am very aware that I handled them with greater peace of mind simply because I had no caffeine in my body. Even though I wasn't eating as healthily as I had been previously, that one simple thing of tossing away the coffee and tea helped me cope.
My hot beverage these days is Dandelion Tea, which is a wonderful liver tonic first thing in the morning...
...and once a day I make myself a Red Clover Tea because it's so helpful in aleviating my menopausal hot flushes.
Cow's milk has also been avoided as much as possible. I changed to soy milk (also to help with the hot flushes) and had a hard time adjusting at first, but now I am hooked. As long as I have one glass morning and night I can keep the flushes down to 5-8 per day - a huge improvement on the 20-30 I had been having previously.
Lots of green salads are back on the daily menu...
...and a fresh vegetable juice is my morning tea. 
In 2006 I spent the entire year as a vegetarian. I can honestly say that was the healthiest I had ever felt, so guess what? I'm going to retrace my vegetarian journey and get this 51 year old body back in good shape again. I also think the vegetable juices are having a definite effect on reducing the flushes. 

I just did a 'biological age' test HERE at Blue Zones. Being that I do not drink, smoke, or have any diseases, walk a fair bit, and normally eat a very healthy diet, the test results gave my biological age as 46 (yay! 5 years younger that my actual age!), and my life expectancy as 90!
My disease free life expectancy was 82. I have to tell you that these results have certainly inspired me to stay the course of a healthy life, but there were some negative issues the test brought to light - my BMI is high, and (usually) I tend to feel anxious or stressed for at least half the month.
For years I have had an ongoing battle to remove the Cortisol Hump at the base of my neck. A friend of mine is a wonderful masseuse and she completely removed the hump in 2007 with a 2 hour 'hot rock' massage just over the neck and shoulder area, but since then it has returned. A Cortisol Hump is caused by too much cortisol in the body which equals too much stress. That same over abundance of stress induced cortisol causes excess tummy fat as well. 
If you cut way down on animal proteins and fats you can reduce cortisol production, so another 'tick' in my plan to go veggie once more.

I just bought a Tai Chi DVD to help with slow movement, stretching, and calming my mind. Prayer is my greatest mental calmer, but I still feel 'stress' in my muscles and neck most of the time, and my mind can wander a lot to 'what ifs'.
I also need to work on the weight loss to lower my BMI. I have about 13 kilos to lose, and once lost that would put me in the upper percentage of 'healthy' weight for my height and age.

Why don't you do the Blue Zones biological age test, too? Sometimes we just need to see where we are with our health to inspire us to change our direction or keep on a healthly path.

Healthy hugs

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Wow - I really did miss September!!

I can't believe its been so many weeks since I last posted here, but then again, life sure was full of so many things in the background - all those things that just don't get shared on your blog. ;-)
I'm going to make a confession. I am an emotional eater.
When life's boat is tossing wildly on the ocean of my world I tend to turn to food as I ponder the answers that will rescue my mind from it's incessant search for *the* answer to make all things right once more.
Scotch Finger biscuits put their hand up as my September food addiction and after losing 3 kilos in August, I painfully welcomed most of them right back in September!

Fortunately these times of high intensity need do not last forever.
Over-filling my roles of mother, mentor, comforter and encourager last month took a lot of time, prayer, and face-to-face hours. I ached for those who were hurting, and found my love of healthy living just didn't seem to be as important at the time. I think we all have times in life when some things, some people in particular, need so much of us that order diminishes and we just want to *be* there for them. Everything else can wait.
Bit by bit, day by day, my loved ones are healing. They are not there yet, but they are in a better place than they were a month ago. 
Now I am noticing that our bodies are starving for nutrients we've been avoiding - it's time to throw that last Scotch Finger Biscuit wrapper in the bin, clean out the fridge and pantry, and go shopping in the fresh food aisle once more.
Hmmm...a menu plan will be needed too. I'll do that this afternoon. 
See you soon with a replenished arsenal of God's lovely fresh pleasures,
PS: If you've fallen off the wagon like me, let me know and we can help each other shake off that extra weight added on by unhealthy eating, and embrace fresh, life-giving goodness once more.