Thursday, November 22, 2012

Additional challenges...

I took advantage of my day off today to take my dog for a walk - we both desperately needed it... Although I immediately regretting it afterwards... My RA does NOT like the cold and by the time I got back home, my joints were stiff and my whole body felt like it had been put through the ringer... I know it is because it was around 25 degrees today... Movement is supposed to help the stiffness, not cause it!

With my additional life changes, and these new challenges that seem to affect my mobility, I have some difficult choices to make in the months ahead.

I am planning on moving out of Juneau and back to the "lower-48" by the end of summer... This goal gives me some time to take care of things here and save up some money for the move...

But, after today, I'm wondering if I should change my plans to someplace that stays warmer during the winter... I know that this change will make it so that I am practically dying in the summer (I don't handle heat well either), but I need to be able to move... If a warmer climate will help me to be more active during any time of the year, I'm willing to try it...

As luck would have it, I have a friend that may be moving to the Dallas area. I'm contemplating living with or near her, as she is currently pregnant with her first child and her husband is in the aviation industry (which means he won't be home a lot to help with the kid)... If I move to Dallas with them, I can help her with the baby and be able to keep my expenses down at the same time...

But, I know next to nothing about Dallas... I do know that Aaron and I tried to live in Texas twice (and both attempts failed miserably)... But, that was west Texas... Not Dallas... hmmm....

Other areas up for consideration are Denver and Salt Lake City... SLC is warmer, but it can still have some really cold winters... Denver too...

Maybe I should move back to Hawaii? I know that I didn't feel the RA pain as bad when I was there... I could probably put up with the constant summer if I am not experiencing constant pain...

Maybe I should look for something overseas? In another tropical area? I'm just not sure.. I'm just tired of being in pain all the time..

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Getting back on my feet...

Since my last blog post, life has turned upside-down... My husband and I have seperated and are in the process of getting a divorce. As you can imagine, I haven't really been focused on "me" or "my health" for a while as I deal with this new adjustment...

I am getting settled into my new place (I rent a room from a nice lady) and am getting myself familiar with her kitchen. Last night, I was inspired to actually cook a meal (as opposed to just boiling a pot of water for pasta and adding jarred sauce to it)... It was very tasty and quite healthy, using quinoa and spinach. I posted the full process on my food blog that I share with my good friend, Jessie. It is an easy recipe and I recommend that everyone try it.

Today, I am focused on staying warm and fulfilled... It has been snowing here for 3 days now, so I decided to make soup at my office. It's another recipe I found online that I made a few tweaks to. I hope it is good (it is cooking right now)... Since it makes a LARGE crock pot full of soup, I decided to share it with my co-workers. Look for the recipe for the soup on the food blog. I will post it tonight or tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day #2

To be completely honest, I didn't do THAT great yesterday... After my morning calorie binge, I was doing pretty well until dinner. I made an awesome GF chicken stew and decided to splurge and get some decadent croissants for dipping... I know, the croissants are not GF, but I had a craving. I had every intention of only having one, but after that one, I really wanted a second. And after the second, I really wanted a third (and ate Aaron's second roll)... I really need to work on my self control! The stew was a little over 200 calories for a bowl, but the 3 croissants were over 700 calories!

Today has been a good day. Had some oatmeal and peaches for breakfast, turkey and cantelope for my mid-morning snack, and a tuna and spinach salad for lunch. I wasn't really craving my rice (and I found a package of Vanilla Oreos in my desk) so I decided to change up my "carb" for lunch. I know, vanilla oreos are not the BEST carb to be eating, but I was proud of myself for only having one appropriate serving (3 cookies). Calorie-wise, I'm doing great! Nutrition-wise, not so much...

My afternoon snack was a GF snack. I had some more sugar snap peas and I made little peanut butter sandwiches out of Schar Crispbread. I used only 2 crisps and about a tablespoon of PB, so it was fairly low calorie as well and a tasty snack.

Dinner will be left over stew. I plan on getting some more croissants, but I think I'm only going to get 2 for now (1 for me, 1 for my hubby). That way, I won't be tempted to eat nothing but bread!

If I'm able to control myself at dinner, I'll be able to splurge on dessert - 1 serving of either blueberry frozen greek yogurt or 1 serving of peach sorbet... The yogurt has about 10 more calories than the sorbet. I'll make up my mind later. But that will be a nice way to cap the day.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Getting back on track...

My birthday is this month.... I will be 32... I am tired of putting my health on hold while other things take priority in my life (school/work/etc). I am also tired of weighing around the 180 mark (my weight has been fluctuating about 5 lbs in either direction for a while now). Going by body mass index, I am clinically obese. Anyway...

When rooting around the back of my closet for something over the weekend, I came across a small, black binder. I had completely forgotten about a "diet" program that I purchased off the TV back in 2002 (when I was only about 30 lbs overweight). It is the original (or 2nd version, I think) of the 6-Week Body Makeover... Now, I'm not suggesting that my goal is to lose weight in 6 weeks ('cuz I know that's not healthy), but I am going to use my little black binder as a guideline of sorts. I need to get better at tracking what I eat and sticking to portion sizes and such. I also need to get better at not eating gluten (which is banned in the book anyway). The biggest change that I need to make is to NOT eat eggs. Egg whites are one of the primary proteins allowed in the book, but since I'm allergic to eggs, I won't be eating them. Tuna, turkey, and chicken are going to get very boring after a while (I predict).

The book also comes with an exercise plan that is twice a week using a resistance band... I remember not having problems with the exercises and my arthritis years ago, so I shouldn't have too much of a problem this time around.

In addition, I'll take advantage of my company's new lunch schedule where we get an hour and a half lunch 3 times a week. Today, I plan on swinging home and getting the dogs to do a quick walk over by the airport. By taking the dogs for walks at least 3 days a week, and doing the strengthening exercises 2 times a week, I'll already be better way off than I am now.

What is the first thing that I'm cutting out of my diet? Large Starbuck's Vanilla Frappuccinos... I didn't realize it until I plugged it into my calorie counter, but one bottle is 340 calories, which is more than my oatmeal and fruit (combined) that I also had for breakfast. Tomorrow, I'll have my mint green tea with breakfast. It's getting too cold to drink cold coffee anyway.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

End of May

So, it's the end of May... I didn't exactly meet my budget goal, but didn't completely blow it up either.

In my quest for good food, I have started trying different gluten-free brands. So far, the one I like the most is Glutino. It all started with a package of Lemon Wafer Cookies that my mother-in-law sent me... The package was gone within hours... I have zero will power against the Lemon Wafer Cookies... I have to ration them, or I will eat so many I will make myself sick... again... (they are really really good)

I have tried other items from the Glutino brand and have been pleasantly surprised. They have a pretty good pretzel, good bagel chips that double as croutons for me, and they make a fake-oreo like no one else... Although, I prefer the vanilla oreo-type cookie, the chocolate oreo-type cookie is really good too. I didn't really care for the chocolate covered vanilla wafer cookies, but Aaron loved them. I have some chocolate covered chocolate wafer cookies still to try.

I'm still loving my quinoa pasta, but I found another good grain-blend pasta that comes in more "normal" pasta shapes, like penne. I forget the brand, but I think it is european. It is a rice/corn blend that has the taste and texture of a "normal" pasta and not the rice pasta... I made a half-way decent penne spinach bake with it the other night. I have some tweaking of the recipe to do before I post it here, but it wasn't bad.

Still loving the benefits of going gluten-free, although I do still get depressed some about the food I can't eat anymore... We've had pollen like you wouldn't believe here in Juneau (so bad you can see swirls of it on the water and you can see the layer of it on your car) but I haven't had any bad allergic reactions to the pollen like I normally do. House cleaning still gives me some allergies, especially if I use the carpet deodorizer before vacuuming my floors. The carpet deodorizer makes my house not smell like dog, but it sure does make me react. I've tried using just Baking Soda to deodorize my carpets, but it doesn't work as well as the other stuff.

Another benefit is that everyone tells me that they can tell I've lost weight... While this is AWESOME, I am still afraid to get on the scale to see how much I've lost... My clothes are not as tight as they used to be, but I'm not down a size.. I'm guessing that I haven't lost more than 10 lbs. Probably less... But, that's just me being pessimistic.

The weather hasn't really been cooperating with me so I can exercise outside with my dogs. I know that taking Lijha for a bike ride or a long walk will benefit us both, but it doesn't seem to work that way. When it is nice outside, I am usually so bogged down with school work that I don't have time to go out. When I have the time, it's usually raining sideways and neither of us want to go out in it... I guess this is what I get when I live in Alaska instead of Hawaii... At least in Hawaii, the weather was pretty predictable.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Goal for the Month of May

The goal for the month of May is to get my grocery budget for the whole month under $400 while eating Gluten-Free. It will most definitely be a challenge. I spent almost double that for the month of April, but I had to stock up ingredients for my pantry and fill my freezer with meat.

I have been scouring websites to duplicate Gluten-Free Bisquick... There are so many recipes for pancake mix out there that my head is spinning. Most people recommend buying a certain brand rather than making the mix yourself... The only problem with that is the mix is over $20 at my grocery store... I think I'm going to have to hit the bulk bins at the health food store.

Bread that I can eat is easily $4 to $5 a loaf (and the loaves are very small). So I'll have to figure out just what I need and portion it out throughout the month. It seems that I can't get out of the store for less than $40 anymore!

The additional part of the challenge is that I have to include my husband's tastes in my shopping list. He eats GF main meals when he is with me at home, but he does love his chips and ice-cream and soda. I don't get paid again for another week, so I'll be planning out my menu this week and will be scouring the Internet for coupons on the stuff I like to buy.

I think I'm going to try my hand at growing herbs in the house again... I didn't have much luck last time, but I think Noni got into the plants. This requires a lot more investment of my time but after the plants are established, will save me money. I sent Aaron to the store to get some flat-leaf parsley and he came back with limp curly parsley... I was very disappointed... I just have to figure out where they will live in the house. We don't have the best light, so I'll have to have a grow light for the plants...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Challenges and Progress

My gluten-free diet has presented some challenges, but it has given me some progress. I have noticed that I am slowly losing weight now that my body can metabolize my food properly. My allergies are down to about 15-25% of what they were. I'm sneaking dairy in here and there, and my doctor feels that could be why my allergies haven't reduced even further... I guess I'll be weaning myself off cheese, since that is what I have been sneaking.

We are planning on going to the Reno Air Races this September and we already have our hotel booked. It didn't hit me until today that I need to research gluten-free restaurant options in Reno. First thing tomorrow, I need to call the hotel and see if they have gluten-free options available. I really hate having to bring my own food on vacation, but I will if I have to. It might get challenging (and boring) because the hotel where we are staying won't have a kitchenette. If I can't find a gluten-free restaurant, I'll need to find a store that sells gluten-free food. I'll need to plan ahead and bring my insulated lunch box to pack snacks for the air races anyway. I doubt that the vendors at the races will have gluten-free options for food.

Another thought just hit me... My favorite thing at air shows is funnel cake.... sad.... apple slices probably won't be nearly as satisfying, but they will be healthier... Maybe I'll lose some more weight by then and will get to reward myself by hitting the malls and doing some shopping! That just might make up for not getting to eat funnel cake...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gluten-Free Pasta

In my attempt to be as gluten-free as possible (with a few slip ups for Pizza in the last month or so... I'm so not perfect), I have been trying different kinds of pasta that are wheat free... They are few and far between, my friend. Most recipes for gluten-free pasta dishes call for a rice pasta... Um, yeah... Not liking the rice pasta...

First, the texture is SO DIFFERENT from regular pasta. Normal tricks to keep pasta from gumming together don't work with rice pasta (as I learned when I tried to make rice-angel hair pasta to go with my gluten-free version of Chicken Marsala). I tried drizzling the pasta with a little EVOO to keep it from lumping together, but it just gave me an olive oil flavored lump of rice pasta... sigh... The flavor of the rice pasta was nice in my Chicken Marsala dish - so much so that I actually ate all my mushrooms instead of passing them over to my husband (I don't usually care for mushrooms, but combined with my rice blob, they were quite nice).

Other than my somewhat pleasant experience with Chicken Marsala, rice pasta is awful... just horrible. I love pasta and I would be a very depressed person if I had to eat rice pasta on a regular basis.

I did try another grain variety of pasta. I tried a quinoa/corn blend. Texture-wise, it was closer to regular pasta and it was way more flavorful than the rice pasta. I had it the other night paired with regular marinara sauce (from a jar) and it was nice. It would also go well with pesto. Not sure about alfredo sauce, but I can't eat that anymore anyway, so why punish myself? I'm going to try a recipe for mac & cheese that uses the quinoa pasta.

Another variety I need to try is spelt pasta. I have yet to find any at my local grocery store (which has a surprisingly good selection of gluten-free products). The next time I go downtown, I'll check and see if the "health food store" has it in stock. If not, I'm not going to worry about it too much. I've got my quinoa version.

Another plus? My husband actually LIKED the quinoa pasta. That means that I don't have to buy two different kinds of pasta and cook two different batches each time we eat spagetti. Nice, huh?

Saturday, February 25, 2012


I've been on a wheat-free/dairy-free diet for the month of February so far (at least, mostly wheat-free/dairy-free). I have noticed significant differences in my health. I am no longer hyper-allergic to things. I still sneeze now and then, but I haven't had one of my major allergy attacks at all this month. Not even when Aaron and I were cleaning the house last weekend in preparations for his parents to come visit us. Awesome!

Another change I've noticed is that I am not so bloated in the mid-section as I was before.

I have found additional bread that I can eat. The local baker makes a lovely sourdough spelt bread with sunflower seeds on it... Yummy! I foresee myself making more trips downtown to his shop to get a loaf...

I have also learned what I can and cannot eat at most of the restaurants in Juneau. There is a lot of variety out there for me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ezekiel Bread

So, I'm not doing so great on my no wheat/no dairy diet... I have been craving cheese pizza like nobody's business... I just keep reminding myself that my body is going through withdrawals and it will get easier (I speak from personal experience... I FINALLY stopped craving eggs a few months ago).

I've been trying to be good, but I think I took it a little too far yesterday... I ate only protein and veggies (no starch - primarily because I forgot to add brown rice to my chicken vegetable soup the other day). I went to bed with a headache last night and woke up with one this morning... Not fun.

So, today, I took myself to the grocery store for lunch and restocked up on Honey Nut Chex (gluten free!) and I picked up a loaf of Ezekiel bread. I have been a little wary of Ezekiel bread, expecting it to be a little too hippy-dippy-trippy for my tastes (kind of like my experience with freezer waffles). But, I have been longing for toast for so long now that I just had to try the one product that the doctor said I could eat... So, I dipped my toe into the Ezekiel bread world by buying the Cinnamon-Raisin variety, hoping that the sweetness from the raisins and cinnamon would ease me in to the hippy-dippy-trippy world.

I made a slice of toast with butter (I'm not giving up on my butter, just cutting back... I don't want to eat chemically engineered "butter" just because it's non-dairy)... It was so tasty! But, that could be because I haven't had bread in over a week... I'm still going to eat it! A slice with some peanut butter might be nice... Or I still have some apple-pear butter from Christmas that would be nice as well...

I guess what I'm saying here is to not be afraid of Ezekiel Bread... It is lower in glycemic index than regular bread and it is made with sprouted grain - not flour (according to the info on the packaging) - which makes it easier to digest than regular bread. I'm not sure if Aaron will go for it, or if he is going to stick with his buttermilk-white bread that he likes. Either way, I will have Ezekial bread on-hand in the future!

Monday, February 6, 2012

The weekend....

I thought I was doing very well this weekend... My office had a party at my favorite pizza place and I didn't eat the pizza, only salad. It was kind of depressing, though. The salad was good (it always is), but without the pizza skins (basically breadsticks), it wasn't very satisfying. Oh well... I also consumed the rest of my pop tarts (purchased before the Dr put me on the new diet and I wanted to remove the temptation as early as possible... I know, my logic kind of sucks right now) and some poorly baked sourdough bread... But that was it for the "wheat" products. The only other grains I consumed were either rice or oatmeal.

For today:

  • Coffee w/ sugar
  • 2 Jimmy Dean Turkey Sausage patties
AM Snack:
  • 1 Braeburn Apple
  • a handful of raw almonds
  • Garden salad with Tuna and peas, no dressing (Tuna was expired when I tried to eat it... so no tuna today)
PM Snack:
  • Vanilla yogurt
  • Lentil soup
  • probably not going to have dessert...

Friday, February 3, 2012

On the menu for today:

  • Honey-Nut Chex (Gluten Free)
  • Almond Milk
AM Snack:
  • Fruit Salad with Low-fat Vanilla Yogurt
  • (I know I said "No-Dairy" this month, but yogurt doesn't count. It is easier to digest than other dairies and has beneficial bacteria in it. So it's the only dairy on my list right now)
  • Garden Salad with Chicken, Almonds, and Leftover Rice
  • Apple
PM Snack:
  • Wheat-free Granola Bar w/ Peanuts
  • Lentil Soup (Lentils, Mixed Veggies)
  • Not sure yet... probably some fruit w/ yogurt...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


So, life has smacked me upside the head and my health has taken a back seat. I started feeling like crap and feeling extremely fatigued. Like, I felt the constant need to rest my head on my desk at work... Not really good for a productive work day... I was also having frequent migraines, several times a week... Not fun...

I decided that I needed to take a little break from school so that I could get to the bottom of my fatigue, especially since the overwhelming fatigue usually made it difficult to keep up with my school work. I still want to work towards my degree, so I just took a leave of absence for about a month.

I made an appointment with my doctor to get to the bottom of things... Where she promptly smacked me upside the head for overlooking my health due to the increasing stress in my life... Initially, she discussed the winter blues (SAD) and recommended that I get a SAD light (kind of expensive, though, so it might be a little while before I get one). She also put me on a medication to help combat my fibromyalgia and fatigue... It has also helped with my insomnia. I was told to reduce stress as much as possible and rest as much as possible (which means I need to go to bed at a decent hour and aim for 8-10 hours of sleep at night).

I saw my doctor today for a follow up to see how the meds are treating me. In addition to increasing my dosage, she wants me on a wheat-free/dairy-free diet for at least a month... She feels that my diet of pretty much nothing but carbs is making my allergies to other things (dust, mold, dogs, etc) worse than they should be. She also feels that the migraines are exacerbated by my diet (or lack thereof of a "healthy" diet).

So, armed with my new directions, I will be eating no wheat, dairy, or eggs (already a known allergen). She recommended that I follow the "Eating Right for your (Blood) Type" and stick to the foods listed for my blood type (and avoid the bad foods like the plague). Amazon has a Kindle version of the book, which has been purchased and loaded on my reading device. I'm ready to learn and prepared to focus on myself as much as possible this month... We'll see how it goes!