Diet · Health · Sugar · Wellness

Don’t Start Too Sweet

In a nutrition class I took this spring, Dr. Erlandsen taught us that, for optimal long-term health, adults should consume no more than about 25g of added sugar daily. There are about 12g of sugar in a tablespoon! By added sugar, he excluded naturally occurring sugars such as fructose in your fruit and lactose in your milk. Added sugar includes any that’s added to prepared products such as breads and commercial juices. Keep in mind that prepared products can be store bought or home-made.

I aim to consume less sugar daily, and certainly less added sugar. While sugar is necessary for sustaining life, the impact of high amounts of it on our bodies is deleterious and the majority of us are a far cry from have sugar deficiencies. In observing my habits, one of my sugar culprits is  creamer in my coffee. I love me a steaming cup of that creamy wake-up-and-love-life goodness. I drink 2 cups a day and add 2-3 tablespoons per cup.

When taste-testing, I used to add the sweet stuff till it tasted just like I wanted. By the end of the cup, the drink was so sweet it was distasteful. So I trained myself to start with it less sweet than I think I want. You can inure or habituate yourself to consume less sugar (or other offenders like salt) this way. Just a few sips into the drink, it tasted just right and continued to be so to the last drop.

You can also do this with your other senses such as hearing. Start a TV show off at a lower volume than normal. Your hearing will habituate to it, as long as the volume within a reasonable threshold. The same thing goes for smells, especially with things like perfumes.

A majority of recipes call for ridiculous amounts of sugar. Think for yourself, promote mindfulness and don’t do things just because a recipe called for it. Get in the habit of using about half of the amount of sugar called for in recipes when you make them yourself. The difference is astounding: it does’t taste that much less sweet and you can actually taste other ingredients like spices or flavorings better when your sweet receptors aren’t overwhelmed with syrupy taste.

Another area where being mindful  pays off is with portion sizes. You don’t have to accept or eat a portion of dessert just because it’s pre-cut and served to you, e.g. at a birthday part. Ask for less. Or take what you are given and eat just part of it.

Soda and fruit juices have got to be the worst offenders when it comes to sugar consumption. They have zero to minimal benefit and horrific consequences. Don’t fall victim to clever marketing and thinking that you need to consume them. Cutting regular consumption of those will give your body – and your wallet – significant relief.

Be more aware of habits that impact your health and take small steps towards wellness. You’ll start to notice that things you thought tasted normal soon taste too sweet. Be drastic when it comes to children or when you are diagnosed with a lifestyle related disease. Sugar is a real killer.

Creativity · Inspiration · Musings · Seasons

Glad to be Back

 

firepl

It seems that try as I might, I am incapable of writing in the summer. I have had a million ideas but even the revisiting of my idea notes is a senseless effort in frustration. So I gave it up. Summer creativity took the form of painting, photography, gardening, and cooking. I loved it. We’ve had a hot hot summer and not a lick of rain here in Oregon. It was fabulous.

The clock hits a frenzied tick-tocks in my head in the summer. I enter hummingbird mode. Every minute is prized and must be scrupulously spent – I wait nine months for this! I literally have to spend all summer ignoring that it is slipping away and, instead, appreciating its decadent wonder.

But now the kids are back to school, all too soon, and I find myself in my comfy chair, laptop on lap, determined not to lament the passing of my favorite season. I home-school my son and one of our favorite places to sit for his classes is in our rustic living room with its majestic ceiling-high fireplace pictured above. It’s a superb place to spend my Fall, Winter, and Spring with my son.

coffwarmer

I am learning that one of my mental associations for writing is the candle warmer in the photo’s foreground. I use it as my coffee warmer because I love coffee and enjoy it hot to the last drop. Mid-summer I relish my coffee in a to-go cup as I only sit around for the quickest minute, and, bored as a bee, I buzz from one pleasure to another. But come the school year, I gear way down as my comfy chair holds me close and long.

School started this week and the thought of writing started as a tiny trickle on the first day. Today is day 3 and it is a little brook, bubbling briskly by, dancing around perfect polished rocks and ferrying pretty fallen leaves downstream.

What got the stream going? The little red light reflected on my coffee cup. What a great revelation – coffee warmer on, writing-brain on! So now that I’ve figured that out I can hold up the fantastic gift that is Summer and offer it back to the Giver in deep thanks.  I can trust that He who enriched us with it has many other wonderful gifts to bestow. I will not shun them by clinging tenaciously to what is passing. Moreover, He is a supremely more wonderful gift than the best Summer, no matter the Falls, Winters, and Springs of our lives.

season

Ecclesiastes image from https://slideplayer.com/slide/6394320/  on 9/4/2018

Gluten-Free · Musings · Recipes

Sweet Potato Cake

This magnificent creation is simple, healthy, easy to make gluten-free, and absolutely delectable.

1 lb Sweet Potatoes (or use potatoes)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour if you need to)

1 stick butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup granulated or brown sugar

4 large eggs, separated

1 tsp lemon zest or lemon extract

1 tsp almond extract

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup pine nuts

3 Tbsp confectioners sugar to sprinkle

  1. Peel, dice, boil, and mash the sweet potaotes
  2. Mix in the flour
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  4. Butter a 9″ cake pan and line with parchment paper
  5. Beat the butter and sugar on high till creamy
  6. With mixer at medium, add egg yolks one at a time until just blended after each
  7. With mixer on low, beat in potato/flour mixture, lemon zest or extract, nutmeg, and almond extract
  8. Add raisins and pine nuts.
  9. In a very clean bowl, beat egg whites till stiff peaks form
  10. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter with a spatula
  11. Scoop it into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until golden brown and I toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  12. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes then turn it onto a rack
  13. Let it cool completely
  14. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving
  15. Refrigerate and enjoy within 3 days

Serves 10

 

Autobiography · Cats · Insomnia · Musings · Oops! · Short story

Broom, Meet Cat!

cat

I haven’t slept well in months.

This contributes to a mild case of constant underlying rage, curbed only by the gorgeous spring days we are having and the resulting pleasure of playing in my flower gardens.

Rose, our regal (to hear her tell it) cat, occasionally slips into the house at night to cuddle with the boys. This drives the Rancher crazy. She used to be an indoor cat till she had 5 kittens and the whole rambunctious (jumping, climbing, tearing, playing, running, tipping, pooping in planters, flea-inviting, etc.) bunch was banished by said Rancher to the great outdoors. She has raised them all now and they are contributing members of cat society. She thinks things should revert to the way they were before the brats came along, and she should enter and exit as she pleases.

Endless family conversations have happened about whether she is an indoor cat, or an indoor-outdoor cat.  He wants her to be an outdoor only cat. This sends the boys into convulsive fits of lamentation. He wants my support so he looks to me for agreement during these conversations. He doesn’t understand that her superb cuddling abilities surpass his, and that I too relish her snuggles. So I slowly avert my eyes, take a long draft on my delicious coffee, and return to typing my blog, oblivious to hullabaloo.

At 2.17am last night, the queen scratched on my bedroom door to inform her minion that she wished to exit the house and go a-prowling. I got up, eyes closed to deter a full awakening, and, muttering about how she really needed to be an outdoor only cat, walked to the front door. She bounded past me in the opposite direction and headed to the side door. I sighed in annoyance and, with one eye open at half mast, plodded my tired self to the side door where she waited patiently. I slid the heavy glass door open and inhaled the wonderful night air.

She paused a second and deciphered the myriads of smells that came at her as she normally does before she darts out. She didn’t move. “Go,” I said, my irritation mounting when she didn’t exit after a few seconds. I opened the eye fully to make out her dark form and put my foot gently behind her to help her out.

The vixen turned her venomous fangs at me and hissed like a cobra ready to strike. I hesitated to grab her and throw her out – given the aforementioned fangs and general sore attitude. She was not getting away with this ridiculous behavior!

“Oh no you don’t!” I hissed back, my eyes now both fully opened. I threw on the lights,  stomped a few feet to the kitchen, and grabbed a broom, ready to launch her out the door and clear into tomorrow. I stomped back into the room, noisily pulled away the chair she was now hiding under and, like a champion golf player, poised the broom to tee and snarled, “I’ll show you who’s queen in this house!”

With angry, sleepy, light-assaulted eyes narrowed, I glanced at the exit to ascertain my 300 yard aim when, to my dismay, realized the screen door was shut!

I’d shut it earlier to enjoy the spring breeze and whoever shut the door didn’t slide it open. I was appalled at myself and heartbroken!

“You can be queen, Rose,” I apologized as I slid the screen door. “And you can be an indoor cat too!” I turned off the lights and shuffled with eyes closed to my bed next to the snoring Rancher. Boy am I glad he doesn’t read my blog. He’ll never hear about this.

Acceptance · Autobiography · Curly hair · Humor · Musings · Parenting · Short story

Stubborn Curls

curls

When my Paul was about 3, he dreaded walking into new situations, especially where there were crowds. The Rancher who fathered him is rather bashful so I intelligently attributed it to that genetic frailty (I can say this stuff because he doesn’t read my blogs.)  I had to reassure Paul we would have a great time where we were going. I’d remind him of previous positive experiences. This is my child, who, without fail, would finally warm up and have a marvelous time –  ten minutes before it was time to leave!

As we pulled into a parking lot, his anxiety would reach a frenzied pitch and he’d make the declaration that he wasn’t going in, excogitating excuse after excuse. He clung tenaciously to his car seat when it was time to get out of the car. I’d finally had it up to here with  calmly reasoning, and pleading, and cajoling, and bribing, and he knew it. “What is wrong with you??!!” I would ask.

Like a whipped goat, he would finally bleat, “They’re going to touch my hair.”

The child donned a massive afro with the most darling boisterous curls.

“You get out of his car right now,” I would state rather clearly with teeth clenched and eyes narrowed. “Right now! No one is interested in touching your hair. You didn’t even comb it. I just need to cut it.”

“Nooooo…” he would howl anew.

“Then get in there! And you will look people in the eye and say halo.”

“Noooooooo…!”

I’d finally march to the building and he’d come hobbling behind me, whimpering all the way with sagging shoulders, Thomas the Tank Engine in hand. He only came because Thomas told him it was probably a good idea. At the door, I’d sigh and recombobulate my frazzled self, and whisper a thank you to Thomas.

I couldn’t believe it! In the building, like eager moths to a fire, female hands – young and old alike – would come at him squealing lustfully, “Look at that hair!” They would moooaaan as they ran their fingers through it and I would watch my child give me the death glare, his little arms crossed in fury. A particular little girl loved to fondle his curls and suck her finger.

At that moment, it always struck me as funny how a shy child would relish donning a crowd pleaser like a massive afro, then dread the attention it brought!

Gluten-Free · Muffins · Musings · Recipes

Doppelgänger Muffin

Gluten-Free Coconut Almond Chia Muffins

I’m learning to cook gluten-free and frequently end up with dry baked goods. I’m not generally crazy about the flavor either, compared to gluten alternatives, this beauty is moist and flavorful! It is packed with protein, healthy oils, and fiber.

muffin

1/2 cup Coconut flour *

1/2 cut Almond flour *

1 tsp baking soda

4 Tbs Chia Seeds

1/2 cup honey

1 cup coconut, or other, milk

6 eggs

4 Tbs coconut oil or butter, melted

3 tsp vanilla extract

(* you can use a whole cup of Coconut flour or a whole cup of  Almond flour instead of half of each)

  1. Preheat oven to  350 degrees F
  2. Sift the flours and baking powder in a bowl. Mix in Chia seeds
  3. In a separate bowl or blender, whisk honey, milk, eggs, oil/butter, and vanilla
  4. Gently stir wet ingredients into dry
  5. Pour into greased or lined muffin tins, filling 3/4 full
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
  7. Remove from tin and cool on rack
  8. Enjoy as is or with a dollop of yogurt or with ice-cream and/or fruit of choice!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/doppelganger/

Musings

Don’t Rush the Mush

mush

I’ve cared for a 100 year old lady for over 2 years and she’s had “mush” – cream of wheat – every morning. She always says “Don’t rush the mush.” Here’s our morning routine – guilt free…

Hush…

I’m snuggled in my comfy plush

Basking in my coffee flush

When you’re a hundred there’s no rush

Sleeping till noon won’t make me blush.

Take your time, help someone else first

One more snooze then I’ll wash & brush.

 

 

I know it’s my favorite dish of the day,

Topped with brown sugar and luscious cream,

But please my dear, no rush on the mush!

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/guilty/

Acceptance · Aging · Body image · Caregiving · Dementia · Elderly · Humor · Musings · Scripture · True Story

My Body is a Sagging Tent

odometer

A dear friend, 6 significant years younger than I,  contacted me feeling woebegone.

She’s about to turn forty and she feels lousy. Her eye-sight is suddenly failing, her metabolism is on strike, and her children – all under the age of 8 – think they are smarter than her despite her doctorate degree. She’d envisioned running a research department at a prestigious university by this age, but now she sits in a dingy diner trying to make out the blurry menu and not kick her rugrat crawling around under the table who just said, “those last people had weally good Fwench Fwies.” Sigh.

Since I’m about to turn forty five, I laughed my head off at her. I bought myself the sign above at a fun store in Rockaway Beach. Poor baby. She has no idea that she’s living the best times and that it’s downhill, fast, from there. See dear, we are now officially middle aged! That’s a true fact. Read it again.

It’s funny to me how 60 year-olds think they’re middle aged. Anyone that thinks we are not middle aged, is actually old and in denial about their status unless they think they will live to be 120.  Which is not going to happen. Please scoot your walker forward, you’re knocking on geriatric. If you don’t own a walker yet, you can get one at the local senior center for a $5 donation. Go get it. I said, (a little louder, and with hand motions) go get it. You can thank me later. The only exception is my 100 year old resident who frequently observes, with disdain, other residents who are much younger than she, and says, “I hope I don’t act like that when I’m old.” Ha!

Our conversation called to mind these superb words from Ecclesiastes 12.

Remember your Creator
    in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
    and the years approach when you will say,
    “I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
    and the moon and the stars grow dark,
    and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
    and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
    and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
    and the sound of grinding fades;
when people rise up at the sound of birds,
    but all their songs grow faint;
when people are afraid of heights
    and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
    and the grasshopper drags itself along
    and desire no longer is stirred.
Then people go to their eternal home
    and mourners go about the streets.

Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
    and the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
    and the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
    and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

The “keepers of the house” must be our muscles, “the strong men” our bones. The “grinders” are our teeth. By “fear of heights” the inspired writer means the curb. Be grateful that you can hop right up or down from it today, my dear. A time will come when you will pray that a Boy Scout (who might be a girl- don’t try to understand that) is walking by so it takes you 5 instead of 30 minutes to maneuver getting up or down that curb.

Is the silver cord our hair that will all have fallen off or is it our spinal cord whose reflexes will be calcified. Is the golden bowl our once brilliant PhD brain which will lead us to crawl under the table eating the previous occupants Fwench Fwies? Can you picture carrying a full pitcher and a walker, with shaky hands and a stooped back? Forget about it!

The “wheel… broken at the well” tells you there may be water down there but you ain’t getting it. Just about all you do takes too much effort and creates problems of its own. Or is the spilling, broken pitcher at the spring addressing the deficiencies of our bowel  and bladder functions? Maybe that refers to the female process while the wheel with its defunct rope refers to the male. How annoying to have a bladder full of liquid, move heaven and earth to get to the bathroom, then dribble three drops of urine and be done? That is until you get back to your power recliner and you gotta go, NOW!

But don’t feel bad about this prognosis. There are numerous upsides to the aging process as your youth disappears, the best of which is you can say whatever you darn well please. I can’t remember the rest. But I do remember a brilliant quip some senior citizen came up with that goes something like:

“I can’t walk, I can barely talk, I can’t screw, I can’t poo, I can’t see, and I can’t hear. Good thing I still have my driver’s license!”

So my advice to you is from Ecclesiastes 11.

Light is sweet,
    and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.
However many years anyone may live,
    let them enjoy them all.
But let them remember the days of darkness,
    for there will be many.
    Everything to come is meaningless.

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
    and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
    and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
    God will bring you into judgment.
10 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
    and cast off the troubles of your body,
    for youth and vigor are meaningless.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/disappear/

Scripture reference from the New International Version

Autobiography · Brothers · Humor · Memories · Musings · Routines · Short story · We've All Done It

Don’t Make me Bathe!

tub

I passionately despised baths as a little kid. It was the worst thing ever. I went as many days as I could without one and considered each day a great personal victory.

Inevitably, it would fall on my brother Michael to get me into the bathtub.  He would start the day off by saying, “Today you’re taking a bath whether you like it or not.” I would squawk and howl, wounded at the affront, and tear off running. In the course of the day, he would trick or corner me, and frog march me to the tub kicking and screaming. The brouhaha left me mad as a hornet and him, well scratched up.

Yet magically, within a few minutes of being in the nice warm water, I would inevitably think, “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle, I don’t ever want to get out of this bathtub.”

After a few minutes, Mick would repeatedly come to the door, on the assumption that I was done, and say, “You need to get out now.”

It would take another hour of haranguing to match my monkey business and get me out. “Not yet. I’m almost done,” I would say, lunging back and forth and making high waves in the tub, and then return to some really bad singing at the top of my lungs.

Mick would finally say, “I’m not coming back to get you!”

“I’m almost done,” I’d say, a little panicked.

Of course the water would unavoidably get cold and I would sit there shivering, my teeth clattering against each other but still not wanting to get out of the tub. I was confident it was freezing out there. As though that wasn’t bad enough, he unfailingly left my towel clear across the room, at least five feet away and traversing that span would be sure to cause certain death. What to do? I listened expectantly for his approaching footsteps. Nothing.

“Mick?”

Was that him breathing on the other side of the door? “Miiiiiiiiick!” I would holler  after I was done with the next song. No answer.

“Maybe I can just sleep in here…” I reasoned looking around resourcefully.

Then I’d start to get grossed out by the ring of dirt around the tub and any accompanying floaties. I’d try flicking them away while ducking from the ones creeping up behind me. I’d swear I’d never let it get this bad again and that not only would I bathe everyday, but from now on I would be in there for no more than ten minutes. I’d also make a mental note not to drench the towel with all the water I splashed out of the tub.

To my consternation, three days later Mick would be saying to me, “You’re taking a bath today whether you like it or not.”

“Nooooooo…!”

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/assumption/

 

Musings · Nature · Painting · Watercolors

Favorites

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Tulips are my favorite flower. I especially like them dark, enigmatic, orphic.  Though often gorgeous in delicate tones, as I painted this particular arrangement, it materialized in these amazing colors that speak to the bold side of the spirit of the tulip.