Cottage Cheese + Egg Whites–A Winning Combination!

After seeing this recipe on Lori’s blog, I wanted to try the “Cauliflower Pizza Bites.”  I had no illusions that they would taste anything close to pizza or pizza crust.  But I was pretty sure with the base combo of cottage cheese and egg whites that they would be tasty.  And I was not disappointed!  I ate them for dinner two nights in a row.  But let’s re-name these little buggers.  How about Italian Cauliflower Cheesy Bites?  I followed the recipe, except I have an Italian spice combo that I like to use in this kind of recipe, and I use the garlic mash in the jar instead of powder.  I also think they would be good if you sub’d a bit of asiago or mozzarella cheese for some of the cottage cheese.  Very yummy.  But NOT pizza!

I think the first time I became aware of the yummy properties of the egg white/cottage cheese combo was with this classic recipe from Hungry Girl (peach and cottage cheese kugel–scroll down on page for recipe.)  I used to make this quite a bit when I first started losing weight.  I might have to make it again IF I EVER FIND SOME GOOD PEACHES around here?  Anybody else having trouble finding good peaches this summer?

Since then I have used that cottage cheese and egg white combo in a number of my recipes, and I still enjoy all of these:

So go ahead and try that cauliflower recipe.  Just don’t go into it thinking you’re gonna get pizza.  Then you won’t be disappointed!

Me and Exercise and THE KNEE

Ahh, in looking back, I see the computer went down just about the same time as I went to the doctor’s.  To make a long story short, at the end of our visit, I asked her what she thought it might be (wrong with my knee) and she looked at me and said “Its probably just arthritis.”  And then the X-ray added to that “significant moderate to severe osteoarthritis.”  There is an MRI ordered, and an ortho consult ordered.  But since I have to pay a part of my medical bills now, I am weighing that carefully.  I am going to get a bone scan done, and I actually think going to a rheumatologist might be better than the ortho consult.

In the meantime, with that provisional diagnosis, at first I was dismayed.  Because it seems there is very little that can actually be done for arthritis.  But then I thought, well, make the best of it.  And for whatever reason, I feel better than I have in a long time.

Here is what I am doing consistently:

  • Swimming  (at least 3 days a week, and for 30-70 minutes at a time)
  • Taking motrin every morning, and occasionally in the evening if needed
  • Taking my B12 every morning (don’t know if this helps, but my brother swears by it.)
  • Doing serious stretching (this was Vicky’s suggestion for the knee pain.)
  • Trying hard to NOT cross my legs. I know it puts pressure on my knees, but its a hard habit to stop.
  • Walking twice a day, but staying with the shorter distances, and trying to walk where its more level.

So I’m not sure what is working the best, but I’m gonna stick with this routine until it stops working!

I am loving my new swim toys.  I start out by using my water shoes to walk/jog 10 lengths (using my lap counter!)  Then I switch to the swim fins, and use a paddle board to work my legs one way for a while, then ditch the paddle board and do my usual side stroke with the fins on.  The fins do make me go faster, but they also provide more resistance, so I have to work harder.  Finally, I ditch the fins and swim side stroke to finish out the session.

And (drum roll please!) Monday I swam a mile!  I was not planning on doing it that day, but somewhere in the middle of the swim I realized I had gotten into that great place where you think you can swim forever.  It all seems effortless and timeless.  So now on to my next goal of swimming 2.4 miles.  I think the main barrier here will be time.  I am not a fast swimmer, so it will require me to stay in the pool for at lest 2 1/2 hours to complete this.  We’ll see how it goes.

Next project: get on the bike!  I got a bike rack for the back of the car, and yesterday I took the bike for a test drive–on the back of the car.  I ended up never taking it off the rack and riding it!  (don’t laugh, Lori!)  I was nervous about the rack, and then the chores got in the way and I just never got it done.  I am planning to ride it today.

A Very Good Idea

Had this idea the other day and had to share it with you.  My good friend is having some facial surgery (no, not the kind we all are thinking about.  She has a mass inside near her nose, and we are all praying that it is not cancer.)  So I was thinking about what I could fix her to eat that would be a treat, and I realized that she probably wouldn’t feel much like eating for at least a few days afterward.  And i came up with the idea of pre-made smoothies.

This idea started with my practice of making frozen banana cubes.  I know I’ve talked about these before, but I don’t think too many of you have taken me up on this idea.  So I thought maybe a picture essay might entice you.

You have to start with extra ripe bananas.  Sometimes they are on sale real cheap at the store, and sometimes I just buy the ripest ones and let them sit on the counter for a few days.  If they are really ripe, they will be the sweetest, of course.  Which is what we all want, right?  Really, in a lot of our healthy recipes, we are using bananas as a sweetening agent instead of sugar, so if they are not really sweet, they don’t work as well.

I start by peeling the bananas and putting big chunks in a bowl.  I use a potato masher from the dollar store (cost $1.00) and mash the living daylights out of them.  I don’t want too many chunks, and I like them nice and liquidy.  This is pretty easy to do IF THEY ARE REALLY RIPE.

Then I pour the liquid bananas into an ice cube tray and stick them in the freezer.

And voila!  Frozen banana cubes.  These are good for any number of things.  Ready to add to smoothies, or used as is to make ‘soft serve fake ice cream.’  (I really like them combined with a couple of spoonfuls of yogurt.  That really does taste like the “original tart” froyo that I love so much.)  They are good to add to recipes.  And probably my favorite way is to thaw one and a half cubes to use as a topping on my protein pancakes (that I make with walnuts in them–banana nut protein pancakes–yumm!)

Okay.  End of frozen banana cube commercial.  Now for the VERY GOOD IDEA!

I just made a variety of smoothies and put them in the ice cube trays, and then packed the frozen cubes in some disposable plastic boxes.  All my friend’s husband will have to do is to partially thaw some cubes and then throw them in the blender or food processor to provide a fresh delicious frosty smoothie for my friend.

I made her some “Apple Blackberry Sour Cream Pie Smoothies” and a “Pumpkin Pie Smoothie.”  (Those are two of her favorite pies!  And yes, I realize I am doing exactly what I criticize other people for–naming food items after things that they are not…)  Not pictured are the Strawberry Banana Smoothies and a mixed fruit/almond smoothie.  No green smoothies for her.  She said she’s not that adventurous yet.  Even though I don’t make smoothies that often for myself, I have most of the ingredients on hand.  I used flax seed meal, almond meal, vanilla protein powder, eggbeaters, almond milk, yogurt, leftover whey from my strained yogurt (I think this makes a delicious addition to any smoothie,) and of course a wide variety of fruits.  I had quite a smoothie production going on on Saturday morning!

I think this is a nice alternative to making meals for someone who is ill or post-op.  I am going to send a box of almond milk and some written instructions with the cubes.  They don’t need almond milk, but in case she wants to lighten them up, she can use almond milk or water, or maybe even some seltzer water.

Its also a good way to store extra or leftover smoothies.  Then you have something for a little treat when the mood strikes.

Lost in Space

Somewhere out there in the vast wasteland of the inter webs is a lot of silly useless information.  And along with it a lot of information that I am just beginning to realize that I really enjoyed having.  And I am grieving that loss just a bit this morning.  Things like all my bookmarks!  All my email addresses.  And thousands of photographs.  And just now I realized that the video of my dad speaking at a special event is gone.  Maybe my brother or sister has that somewhere…

Anyway, here I am with a brand new sparkly computer.  I should be a little happier I suppose.

It has been an adventure.  I got very familiar with my kindle fire!  And used it so much that it stopped connecting to the internet at the same time I brought this computer home!  Weird, huh?  I already got that problem solved with a ‘chat’ with an Amazon person.  I found out that I could watch movies on my kindle (just propped it up on my knee or the dogs while I knitted,) and there are some terrific things to watch on youtube now!  I think I’ll write more about that tomorrow.

Oh.  So what happened was that at first I just couldn’t connect to the internet on my old computer.  Other things were working more slowly, but I thought that was just because I used my computer for so much.  Long story short, after MANY MANY phone conversations with the Apple Care guys, I was told that the problem was my hard drive, and that I needed a new computer.

Off to the Apple store (which fortunately is located near a Pinkberry,) and I purchased a new iMac (that’s what I had before.)  I paid the extra $100 for their service plan, and they tried to salvage as much data as they could off of my “dying hard drive,”  but it wasn’t much.  I get free private classes for a year, so I do plan to take advantage of that and learn a little more about how to use this computer.

I tell you, this has been a stressful couple of weeks.  As well as trying to salvage my old computer, my pressure tank has not been working correctly, and has required multiple trips from my long-time plumber.  I always say I am thankful to have water.  But the pressure problems are enough to drive me nuts.  And the third issue was selling my dad’s house and finishing up the trust.

In one 24 hour period yesterday I had yet another unsuccessful visit from the plumber, I drove to Sacramento to pick up my Mac, drove back to Jackson to meet with the lawyer for an hour, and raced over to my job, where I was laid off.  Okay, that last one is funny.  I already knew that I was laid off–Vicky is really struggling financially with this new business, and yesterday was my last day, but all the work was done, so I was actually happy to be able to head home with my new computer.  Still, its a weird feeling to not have the structure of a little job.  On the way home I saw a dog grooming shop, and thought, “maybe you should do that again.”  And then I hit myself up side the head and came to my senses.

MIA

That’s right.  I’ve been missing, but I am still in action LOL.  So frustrating.  My computer wouldn’t load the internet AT ALL.  So I started calling the apple people.  It has gone from bad to worse.  Now my poor computer will not even turn on.  Fortunately, I do have a wireless router, and I have my little kindle, so I can stay in touch a bit.  But that thing’s hard to type on, so forgive my lack of comments.

In the meantime, it has been “detox week” around here at work (I’m staying after work to write this,) so I have worked a lot extra this week, mostly loading bags full of fresh food.  Standing and walking on cement for that long is really hard on my legs and feet, and I have jumped in the pool afterwards for just a few laps.  It is so refreshing!  I highly recommend it to everyone.

So, I decided to do the “detox diet” myself for 4 days.  Vicky is a master at making wonderful original fresh meals, and her detox plan always includes some raw meals, mostly vegetarian, some special teas, and lots of other goodies.  I wish I could share pictures with you of the wonderful foods.  The best part of it (for me) is following someone else’s rules for a few days.  It puts a very good perspective on how often I take a bit or this or that, or I eat for pleasure when I am not hungry at all.  I also am challenged to try new food items, and often I find something that I wouldn’t have tried willingly, and like it so much that it goes into my regular food rotation.  There was a savory quinoa dish served in lettuce cups that was FABULOUS.  And today a “not-tuna” salad, so yummy.  I’ll have to see what I can find out about that.  Oh, and yesterday she made a hemp energy bar that honestly rivaled the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.

Okay, enough about food.  Since I last blogged, I have been hitting the pool big-time. Loving doing the laps and using my new swim fins and the lap counter.  I am up to 56 lengths (66 is a mile.) I know I can do that easily, so I saw that the swim part of the iron man is 2.4 miles, and I thought, that will be my new goal.  JUST THE SWIMMING PART!!  Just want to be clear about that!!

Can’t remember if I told you about my progress in working towards a 100 pound bench press.  My brother recommended backing down to a lower weight and doing 8 sets of 3 reps each with shortened rest periods between sets.  I am up to 60 pounds doing that.

Well, honestly I should have a LOT more to say, but I am drawing a blank.  Just wanted to let you know I am still among the living!

I Grew A Tomato

Tonight I didn’t take a walk.  I watered my plants instead, hoping that Noah would get enough exercise running around the yard (sorry, Dog Whisperer, I know its no substitute for THE WALK.)  Anyway, look what was ripe on my little tomato plant!  I am such a proud mother.  I got some old planter boxes from my mom, and thought they might work like raised beds (because the bottoms of the boxes were rotting out,) so I got one tomato plant and one zucchini plant.  I laugh at myself every time I see them, because they were little plants when I got them, so I very nicely planted pink petunias in the corners of the boxes, thinking how pretty and decorative it would be while I was growing vegetables.  Poor petunias. They don’t see much sun these days.

Anyway, this is not a good picture of my tomato, but it is the funniest ever.  A good follow-up to last night’s photo op.

Along the lines of vegetables (we were talking about vegetables, weren’t we?,) as always, when I come home from a trip I am absolutely crazed for vegetables.  Seems I get enough fruit on trips, but veggies are hard to come by.  I know, salads.  But I like cooked vegetables a lot.  So I guess that’s my version of mindful eating.  I just really really want to eat a lot of vegetables.  Tomorrow I am going to make a pot of steel cut oats and push the envelope to see how much zucchini I can add and still enjoy it.  There’s a lot of zucchini in zucchini bread, so I think it will work well.  That makes me think that it would also work really well in baked oatmeal.  I will try that in the fall.

And at the same time (coincidentally, I think,) I have watched a couple of documentaries:    Food Matters and Dying to Have Known.  Both are along the same lines, about the great qualities of a vegetable based diet.  Dying to Have Known was all about the Gerson Diet/Therapy/Cure,   Dr. Gerson was a physician in the 1920′s who discovered that a plant  based diet could cure quite a few incurable diseases, including  cancer.  Even if you don’t believe all of the evidence that they provide, you can’t help but think that eating more fresh fruits and vegetables is a good thing.  I know I don’t get sick very often.  Dr. Gerson also believed in coffee enemas, which I used to think was REALLY weird.  But this time when I heard it, I thought about all the recent articles I’ve read about the “hundreds of helpful components” of coffee, and studies that show that coffee drinkers live longer (raises coffee  cup to Lori!) and I thought, why not?  If it works good in one end, why not the other?  Its not any weirder than some of the other things they use from that direction.  And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Here’s a couple of other random thoughts I’ve had about these documentaries (and others like them.)  One thing they never mention (on both the vegetable and the paleo side of the fence) when they talk about how much better people feel/lose weight/are cured/etc. is that  most of these people are going from a highly processed crap-food diet to a purely whole food diet. Whichever end of the whole food spectrum they are changing to, it has to be a wonderful shock to their body.

There is one thing I kinda disagree with the vegan documentary people about.  That is juicing.  They seem to think its necessary to juice to get enough vegetables in.  Is that because it would take too long to eat the vegetables the normal way?  Because in America we are in too much of a hurry and couldn’t spend that much time eating?  Or is it because your body wouldn’t allow you to eat that many vegetables?  They don’t address it.  It doesn’t seem right to me.  God didn’t put a Veg-A-Matic in the garden.  On the other hand, it sure seems like a good excuse to get one of those super VitaMix machines that I see at Costco.

Oh, and now that I’ve mentioned God, let me give you my opinion on the whole Paleo, eat like our ancestors did thing.  I kinda think that before the fall, when God first created everything, man  didn’t need to eat meat to have a perfect diet.  All those plants were plenty.  And I think there were grains in the Garden of Eden too.*

(*disclaimer:  I did not go to theology school or Bible college.  I haven’t even spent a lot of time reading Genesis for proof of my theory.  So take it with a grain of salt.  BUT NOT TOO MUCH SALT!!!)

Short and Sweet

I made a new recipe.  Actually its my version of Lori’s One Minute Muffin.  I kept thinking about how I like fruit inside my baked goods, and Lori likes her fruit on top (am I right, Lori?)  Anyway, I decided to try putting blueberries in the one minute muffin, and I’ve changed the recipe a bit (plus, mine take a lot more than one minute LOL,) so I’m going to share my version here.  I’m calling them Blueberry Flax Cakes, and this was DELICIOUS!!  I really like the moistness of this cake.  A different texture than most baked goods, but very satisfying.

Doesn’t that look delicious?  Here’s the recipe.

I also wanted to link to a relatively new blogger.  She is a long-term radical weight loss maintainer, and writes eloquently about the perils and pitfalls of maintenance and living in our food obsessed society (did I describe that right Sandy?)  I heartily recommend her blog to anyone interested in losing and especially maintaining a weight loss.  Check out these two posts to start:  I Have A Dream, and Dazed and Confused.  In fact, Sandy writes so well, I am not feeling the need to write any more tonight.

Here’s an actual moment in time in this doggie household.  Bess was posed so cute on the pillow that I picked up my camera VERY QUIETLY, and turned it on.  The minute it made that little whirring opening noise, Sophie came out of nowhere and positioned herself for the photo shoot!

Silly dogs!

Is this what they call the dog days of summer?  I couldn’t quite get myself motivated to work on any big project today.  So I finally gave all four dogs a bath!