Monday, January 31, 2011

Mental Burritos

When children are little they pronounce things in such a cute way, and often their interpretation becomes the way the whole family then says a particular word. That is how spaghetti became sketti at our house. As my children got older they would change the names of dishes not out of cuteness, but to express how they felt about a particular meal. That is how Lentil Burritos became Mental Burritos at our house. You just have to love teenage boys and their mode of expression.

Lentil Burritos

1 cup lentils
1 (14 ounce) can vegetable broth
Place in a sauce pan and simmer covered for 30 minutes.
In a skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add
1 medium chopped onion
1 medium chopped zucchini
Cook for 6 minutes and add
2 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
2 cups loosely packed chopped spinach
1 cup frozen corn, thawed and drained
cooked lentils

Serve on tortillas with salsa and sour cream.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bad Moon Rising

My absolute favorite episode of Everybody Loves Raymond was on television on Wednesday night. It is hysterically funny to watch Raymond try to convince Debra that her bad mood just might be PMS related. Any one who has experienced or been the victim PMS could surely relate. Frank calls it the enemy within, and Raymond thinks it is Hyde, if he were the bad one, taking over his wife each month. I know I hate my “ladies days” (as Marie refers to them), and anything that makes them more tolerable I gladly embrace. A couple years ago, I bought a little item that is not only environmentally friendly, but also a little improvement on “my ladies days”. So if there are any men reading this post, you just might find yourself blushing a little.

There is a whole isle in the grocery store devoted to feminine hygiene products, and yet we would all like to pretend that they are there for someone else. We can go to the store and buy just a loaf of bread or a single gallon of milk, but have you ever purchased just a box of tampons. If I am out, I will need to buy at least five other items that I don’t necessarily need so everyone doesn’t realize what time of the month it is for me. And then heaven forbid you run into a male neighbor with them glaring up from your cart. Now I still buy them on occasion, but if I am out I don’t need to run to the store. If you haven’t heard of a diva cup, you will need to check it out. The initial investment might seem a lot, but it paid for itself in less than a year. The best thing about it is that I can situate it in the morning and not worry about it again until evening. With this one product, I have definitely reduced my carbon footprint, and Al Gore would be proud.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I am done!

Before I started the cleanse, and even half-way through, I thought that I might make this a yearly commitment, but now I am not so sure. I like food. I like making my family food. I like baking. I like watching a movie with a bowl of popcorn. I like going to dinner. I like having family over for Sunday dinner. The cleansing part is only ten days, but I also did the three day ease in and am currently on the three day ease out. Sixteen days out of 365 doesn’t seem like that much, but when you have to put them all together it felt hard. I will have to see what the long term benefits will be before I determine if I will starve myself again. One of the short term benefits was the cute decorations my husband made to congratulate us on as he said, "Mastering the Cleanse."

With the help of my daughter who shared my days of cleansing, we wrote this poem.

 Elimination (My daughter didn’t agree with the title, but I thought it was funny.)

Planning and preparing to begin the cleanse,
Let’s get it started ‘cause I just want it to end.

Buying tons of lemons, maple syrup, and tea,
Plenty of wipes will also be something you need.

It sounds awfully long to go ten days without food.
I better warn my family that I might be in a bad mood.

Day one begins and the drink seems okay.
I think I can do it; it is just simply nine more days.

Eliminating, eliminating so much on day two.
Let’s just say it, “I am sick of going poo!”

Day three, day three, oh it's just day three,
At least I can be grateful for herbal tea.

The lemonade drink is getting old by day four.
Do I really need to drink sixty-three more?

I stretch and awake on day number five,
I simply wonder how am I still alive.

Half-way done by the morning of day six,
I’m a little concerned, my daughter looks like a stick.

Day seven and I wonder how much more I can take.
My health better improve for goodness sake.

The amazing discovery on morning of day eight,
In one week I can’t believe I have lost that much weight.

Day nine, day nine, oh blessed day nine,
I wonder how much more could I possibly whine?

I hear myself declare at the end of day ten,
“I will absolutely never do this again!”

Friday, January 21, 2011


On day number nine, I am tired of hearing myself whine. Nine days of the cleanse, nine pounds weight loss, and at least nine times per minute I think about food. On the same week that I lost nine pounds, amazingly both twins gained nine pounds on The Biggest Loser. I sometimes wonder if any of these people actually watch the shows that they would like to be on as a contestant.

I would suggest these nine tips for reality show contestants:

1. Learn to drive a stick shift before competing on The Amazing Race. And knowing how to row a boat just might be helpful.

2. If you go on Survivor, it might be a good idea to wear glasses and know how to start a fire with them. And then practice, practice, practice.

3. Before applying to be the next American Idol ask someone other than your mother if you can really sing. And don’t brag about your voice until the judges give you props.

4. Realize that Jillian will get in your face and yell at you until you cry. Cry early and share quickly as to why you emotionally eat, and then she just might move on to fix someone else.

5. Don’t be surprised when you don’t get much sleep or food on Survivor, but you get plenty wet.

6. Afraid of water, take swimming lessons. Afraid of heights, go bungee jumping. Afraid of bugs, learn to eat them.

7. When you have been sitting on the sofa most of your life, exercise just might be a little painful at first.

8. Don’t be shocked when someone lies to you, yields you, or votes you out.

9. Just suck it up and realize you will miss your family!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Take that Ashton Kutcher

Today for Meatless Monday I will be having lemon juice, maple syrup, and a little cayenne pepper in some water for dinner. I think that I am just a little crazy. After Christmas, my daughter and I were feeling slightly overfed and in need of a little cleaning of our systems. We crazily began making plans to do the master cleanse. It is something that has always intrigued me and thought that if I had a partner to commiserate with during my ten days of torture that I might actually give it a try. Each day gets a little easier I think simply because you get closer to the end. I didn’t realize how much of my life revolves around food. Even though I am not currently eating any thing that I can actually sink my teeth into, when the hunger pains hit, I still find myself planning what I should eat next. And then sadly I remember it is some more of that drink. At the end of the day, I will be halfway to a Kneaders Veggie Delite Sandwich. While doing a little schooling about the cleanse on the web, I discovered that Ashton Kutcher tweeted about his intentions to start the cleanse. Sadly for him, he didn’t bother to see if he could make it through day one before alerting the world of his plans. He only lasted 6 hours on the diet. I figured I could at the very least outlast his efforts.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I am a health snob

I go to church weekly. I try to live the golden rule. I give to charities. And I try to be honest in the things I do, but I am pretty sure that heaven is going to slam the doors when I try to sneak in. Most people will probably feign ignorance when rejected at the pearly gates. Not me. I know why I will be kept out. The one commandment that tells us not to judge is my definite down fall. I don’t judge every aspect of another person’s life just their health choices. For example, yesterday as I was grocery shopping on my day three of the master cleanse (which is a whole different post for another day) I was dismayed at all the unhealthy food options. And they are only available because that is what people buy, and then we wonder why we are such an overweight, unhealthy nation. After walking through the isles and shaking my head at the shopping carts full of soda, chips, and processed easy meals, I went to my car and passed two women smoking. I definitely need to go to church and repent today.

Well before I begin my new repentant attitude, I would like to recommend one thing before our nation goes to nationalized healthcare. I believe The Biggest Loser should be required watching for our nation. Just as television program is pre-empted for the President’s address, we could do the same for Bob and Jillian. It is quite amazing to watch the transformation of the contestants. As their diets improve so does their health, and as their weight decreases so does their physical issues and the amount of medicines they take. I know we might be putting some pharmaceutical reps out of a job, but maybe they could become personal fitness trainers instead. I think that would be a more rewarding career anyhow.

Friday, January 14, 2011

My apologies to Al Gore

Have you bought a new energy efficient appliance recently and wondered if it is actually costing you more money and using more energy? That is how I feel about my new washing machine. I no longer need to select a load size because it has a censor that determines the amount of water required, but if you open the lid after it begins filling, it will automatically add more water. It also is not very efficient in spinning out all the water it adds. I usually have to run the spin cycle again, or it would take all day to dry my clothes. I appreciate the manufactures attempt to green my machine, but energy efficient it is not. I made another purchase that is definitely green friendly. During the winter months, I am addicted to herbal tea. I used to just boil water in a saucepan, but this year I found this quaint little teapot on clearance. It sits so very cutely on my stove. I put my teapot to the test. To be fair, I put the same amount of water in my teapot and saucepan and placed both burners on high. At 2 minutes and 58 seconds, my tea kettle was whistling at me. It took the water in my not so esthetically pleasing saucepan an additional 2 minutes and 29 seconds to boil, and it doesn’t even ever whistle. So my friend Al, I guess it all evens out. The extra energy used by my washing machine is now saved by my teapot.
And just in case Mr. Gore is a tea drinker himself, I would like to recommend an earth friendly tea. Celestial Seasonings tea bags are made minus the individual packaging, string, and tag. It is just a small amount of paper, but as Al will tell you, it all adds up. And Al if you are having trouble sleeping alone try the Sleepytime Vanilla, it works like a charm.

And by the way, I have never thanked Mr. Gore for his invention of the internet. So thanks and happy surfing!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Rachel Ray meet Mr. McCartney

I love Rachel Ray. So many women in the spotlight catch the “I have to be skinnier than Kelly Ripa” disease, and I am just glad she looks like a real woman and not your typical Hollywood stick figure. We need more of her type on TV. You can tell that she actually eats the food she cooks. I think that is always an important quality for a chef to possess. One of her recipes that I tried at home was her 30 minute Chicken Noodle Soup. If it wasn’t Meatless Monday, I could probably share the recipe. Rachel adds parsnips and dill to the traditional recipe. Another recipe that looked delicious was a soup with chorizo, collard greens, and potatoes. My husband, however, does NOT eat pig. One day I picked up some veggie sausages at the store, and they worked great in the recipe. I am not sure that Rachel’s husband would approve because I get the impression he actually likes his meat from an animal and not a plant, but my husband loved the soup.

 Peasant-Style Potato and Collard Green Soup

4 Italian "sausages", browned and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
8 cups vegetable stock
8 potatoes, sliced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and root ends trimmed
1 bunch collard greens, washed, trimmed, and thinly sliced
salt and black pepper, to taste

In a heavy stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened. Add stock, potatoes, and garlic and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

With a slotted spoon transfer the potatoes and garlic to a bowl; lightly mash with a fork. Return to the soup and bring to a simmer. Stir in collard greens. Simmer 5 minutes, or until greens are tender. Stir in the sausages and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

How do you mend a broken heart?

The hardest thing about parenting is when your child decides that you don’t have all the answers, and they decide that they have to learn on their own. There are classes to prepare us for childbirth, changing diapers, and balanced nutrition, but not for broken hearts and dreams. No new parent holds their precious baby in their arms anticipating that one day that child will be the cause of their greatest heartache. No one dreams that their child will spend even one night in jail, purchase even one ounce of illegal drugs let alone become an addict, or believe their child would ever be capable of uttering the words “I hate you”. But it happens every day. Every day there is a parent mourning the loss of what could have been. There is no funeral. No well wishers bringing food to comfort the grieving parents. No notice in the paper. Just anguished parents left behind usually suffering in silence and going through the motions of life. They say that growing up is hard, but I think they mean it is tough on the parents.

If it eventually happens to all of us well-intentioned parents, how do we make it through? It usually helps to have had one child experience the it’s-all-about-me teenage years and come out on the other side okay. I also take comfort in my younger children recognizing how foolish their older siblings are being and commit to never making the same stupid mistakes. I have never taken full credit for the awesome choices my children make, and therefore choose not to take all the blame for their poor choices. That takes some of the guilt out of parenting. And most of all, I recognize that along with my greatest sorrows, my children have also given me my greatest joys.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Common Sense and the Greek Gods

Nightline reported this week that the diet industry is a $60 billion business and sadly only about five percent of the dieters are actually successful. I will share the secret to weight loss, and it won’t cost you one penny. Simply eat less and move more. Well, I guess the confusion comes in with what to eat.

I remember in the early 1990’s the low-fat diet was all the craze. People would forgo eating almonds, avocados, fish, and peanut butter because they were high in fat and instead eat a fat-free hostess cupcake and a Tab for lunch.

Then came the Atkins Diet. Meat and cheese. More meat and cheese. And then some cheese and meat. How could an apple or carrot be the hindrance to weight loss?

Then because some people had initial success with the Atkins Diet, low-carb became the in thing. Bread was shunned. People forgot that brown rice and whole grains are your friends not a Coke Zero.

The two popular trends today are forgoing all sugars and the vegan diet. I agree that we eat way too much sugar and animal products, but giving up one item and replacing it with an unhealthier choice defeats the purpose of a diet. Those who give up sugar will eat fries and a hamburger, while the vegans would abstain from the burger but could enjoy the fries, and a package of skittles, and a Mountain Dew. Both would have been better off with a slice of pumpkin pie. I think we have lost common sense in our diet choices.

I guess my advice would be move more, eat less sugar, processed foods, meat, and dairy and eat more whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.

And what does the Greek Gods have to do with this post you may ask. When choosing to eat dairy make a healthier choice. I like yogurt, and I used to think all yogurts were created equal, but I recently tried the Greek Gods brand, and realized they are not. Yoplait is a treat. Greek Gods with fresh fruit and granola is a breakfast.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

If I was in charge of reality

Tonight begins another season of The Biggest Loser. Changes are coming to the show, but not necessarily the changes that I would like to see. I was so tired last season of Elizabeth falling below the yellow line week after week and never being eliminated, and players who worked hard every week falling below only once and being voted out. I think there needs to be a rule that if you fall below three weeks in a row, then you are automatically the player sent home. That would prevent the week players making it all the way to the end.

American Idol will begin soon without the charming Simon Cowell. I can’t believe their world wide search to replace him ended with Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. If the show doesn’t self destruct, I have the best idea for two new judges. Adam Lambert and Kellie Pickler would be perfect. I am not a fan of Adam, but I really liked him when he was a mentor. I thought he gave excellent feedback. And Kellie would keep you watching just to see what she would say next. Oh, I miss Paula Abdul.

I am currently missing Jeff Probst. I was so happy to hear him announce that if you quit Survivor, then you may not be on the jury. I vote if you quit the show you can no longer be on any reality program. You just know that Na’Onka is not going away any time soon. A fun season for Survivor if they are in need of any ideas would be pitting Boston Rob against Russell. Wouldn’t that be fun if they got to pick their own teams and compete against each other?

And one little complaint against The Amazing Race, I hate challenges that require one team to completely finish before the next team can begin. That gives the first team there a significant advantage without the chance of the other teams catching up. It definitely shouldn’t happen on the last leg. I just really wanted Brooke and Claire to be the first all female team to win. Maybe they will be back next season for Second Chances. They were a lot of fun to watch.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


It is now officially time for people to exercise daily, give up sugar completely, quit smoking, lose 50 pounds in a month, and never ever say anything unkind about anyone ever again. See the problem with most New Year’s resolutions is that they are entirely unrealistic, and besides who really wants to totally give up sugar. Smoking and exercising are not a problem for me, and I wish that I never had said anything unkind about anyone, but I blew it in kindergarten when I met Jason Despain. Instead of New Year’s resolutions, a friend of mine sets a number of goals on her birthday consistent with how old she will be on her next birthday. My birthday isn’t until March, but I thought I might start compiling the list, and if I happen to accomplish one of my goals early, I think it will be okay because I can set the rules. It is my life after all. On my list will definitely have to be a marathon. It is just time to make it happen. I have always wanted to learn to swim with correct strokes. I finally allowed myself to get past the embarrassment and took an adult swim class last year, and so I would really like to do a triathlon this year. I printed out a bagel recipe last year with the intent of making my own bagels, and now that is officially on my to-do list. Two things I have never done despite attending a Christian church most of my life is read the entire Bible beginning to end, and tie a neck tie for my boys. Even though my boys are older now, it is probably a good skill to have and a simple goal to complete. Well, I have five items on my list with 42 more to go. Forty-two plus five makes me sound old.