holidays diary – Day 4

Cannot believe it has been 4 days already – where does the time go?

Yesterday night I let myself to enjoy the quite and peaceful night, went to bed around 11pm, and got up at around 8 am this morning. Yuppie! It was not 5 or 6 am. It was 8 am. It felt good 🙂

Since I finished my house cleaning chore, and everywhere is closed, I decided to do some work today. It went well in the morning, kind of slow and reluctant at around noon, and then quite productive in the afternoon. This latter part was exciting -when I explore new things that increase my professional skills, I love it 🙂

I must say that today was a day of healthy diet. My breakfast/lunch consisted of sourdough, tomatoes, and coffee, and my dinner consisted of a cauliflower dish I love so much. I even drank two cups of green tea this afternoon. Healthy day indeed 🙂

I have work to do tomorrow, and then I must be at work Thursday and Friday. After that though, for 5 days I want to take a break and see some of my friends. I really would like this. I found that a way to ensure timely progress of work is giving short deadlines for myself; short deadlines, like 15 min, work wonders if I am stuck at something. So, let’s hope they will help me out this week.

With this good wished, I end today’s account.

Let’s remember that the new year is the year or Ease, Comfort, and Appreciation!

 

Sunday night musings

Lots of great things happened this weekend 🙂

First of all; I have not worked this weekend 🙂 A first in the last 6 months or so. I am still tired but my spirit is high, so all is well 🙂

Second of all; I baked my first corn bread and it was delicious – that is so exciting! I can bake it of my guest as well 🙂 I feel like my baking and cooking skills are significantly improved by this dish… I love this feeling 🙂

Third of all; I thrifted today after a long time. I spent hours going through everything with excitement. I tried on maybe 30 pieces and bought three; one blouse that I was hoping to find (I have its exact same copy, which I love, love, love! I was hoping that I could find a similar one so that I could wear it for a longer time. Today my dreams came true 🙂 ). I also bought two good-looking cardigans that i am sure I will wear with love. A very good day indeed 🙂 I plan to thrift next weekend too.

Fourth of all; I cooked multiple meals for me this weekend, which is awesome. I usually would refrain from cooking or cook one meal to last 2-3 days, but not this weekend. How lovely is this? 🙂

Fifth of all; I found a great deal on my favorite french press and ordered it 🙂 It is expected within a week or so and I could not be happier 🙂 I literally got it 75% off.. WOW! It is good that I have waited so long. Jack pot!

Sixth of all; I re-started push ups and back exercises to help ease my back problems and strengthen my arms, chest, and abs. My muscles are aching – that means my exercises are effective. I am happy with this!! 🙂

Seventh of all; yesterday I used loyalty points for a large amount of shopping (like a hundred bucks) to purchase personal care and cleaning products. I found all items I was looking for and I only bought things that I will use or need. So every point/dime was used for a good purpose and no waste! 🙂

Eighth of all; I am feeling good and lucky with all these positive experiences and this makes me relaxed and happier 🙂

I could not ask for a better weekend!

Have a great Sunday night everyone 🙂

 

 

 

 

start of the “work staycation”

I am taking the next week off to work. Am I funny or what?? 🙂 

I have a number of things to finish and I am looking forward to this break. I have another 1-2 weeks to take off before the end of August, which is a relief. Maybe I will stop for a couple of days and focus on myself a little bit.

My plans are as follows for the next 9 days:

Work:

3 documents to develop and/or finalize

2 speeches to finalize

Email correspondences and other emergency stuff that will occur within the week (that is correct; I wrote “will” rather than may” because the past years have taught me that emergencies are a normal part of our work Yuppi! More stress hormone! )

Work GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Personal life and home:

Two dinner parties with friends; meaning lots of shopping, cooking, and cleaning. We will see how this will go. Two dinners in a week seem too excessive for me. It is like a marathon! It is great that my friends are understanding. The worst we can do is to take out.

Cooking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Staining and painting the patio and the wooden parts of the outside doors and windows; I resent this task, but it must be done so that I can protect my property better.

Reading a book…… It has been almost 2 years that I have not read a full book, from start to end…. I have the Game of Thrones series at my hand, which are so interesting. yet, where is my book love? How did I lose it? How can I get it back?

Gilmore Girls GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Taking more pictures of the natural beauties. The photos I posted in the last few weeks, the photos of the plants and flowers in my yard made me realize what a great yard I actually have. Many of these appeared in the last year or two, and when I first purchased my home, the yard looked incredibly bad. I digged and almost leveled the back of the yard, planted a little maple tree, trimmed some unwanted ones, planted a number of seeds, some of which germinated (let’s see how they will survive), planted potato, onions, and garlic. The potato plants are doing great, onion has almost seeded, but the garlic does not seem to be producing anything (I checked one of them). I had heard about sterile garlics, which I seem to have planted. In the fall, I will plant again, potato as well, to see whether the time of planting makes a positive difference (they say these plants should be planted in fall before the frost).

Clara Terne GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I also plan to print some of the photos and hang them on my walls. This is a massive undertaking for me because I want to hang around 15-20 frames…. Since I cannot do this myself, that also means that I will hire someone to put the nails on the walls. Fun stuff…i repeat that we need a “handyman/woman” registry or company that can do this kind of little work for people like myself.

And, I must do some back/ab exercises to keep my back strong. I have neglected these exercises for some time now and I feel like I must prioritize them again. Since at home I sit mostly (rather than using my standing desk at the office), my chances of hurting my back increase. I do not need that type of “emergency” situations, do I? 🙂

Fail GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Have a great Friday night everyone!

Friday GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

———————————-

gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/books-book-smell-R8HesZtwvngQM;https://giphy.com/gifs/let-weekend-begin-b2GZmLzEvgcFO;https://giphy.com/gifs/3o6ZsZfk5ogLgPDSqA;https://giphy.com/gifs/fail-fitness-health-jTfMFLFD7qlOg;https://giphy.com/gifs/someone-work-bathroom-nzrgSRJ7mTNE4;https://giphy.com/gifs/cooking-PIJ0l1DaprUyI

 

 

Sunday morning musings

This Sunday morning too I am plain lazy on purpose and focused on lovely activities.

For example, my usual and long (3-4 cups long) rendezvous with coffee is going well and very enjoyable.

Coffee GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I have already walked around my small yard with my coffee mug in my hand to see how the seeds and flowers were coming out after the long rain yesterday (and they are all good).

I have had a light breakfast with the beet sourdough loaf I had baked last week and strained yogurt, which makes me feel quite light (not bloated).

Weather is great outside, warm and inviting and there is sunlight everywhere which opens my spirit and joy box.

And I am listening to some songs that I have not for years, which makes me nostalgic and wanting to do more of enjoyable things today and the days to come.

————————————-

I have little plans shaped for today. I think I will talk to my family first thing first and then go out for a walk and to buy some sewing stuff. I am really excited about this opportunity – hopefully what I need are all available in the stores that are open today (not too many choices, but we will see). As usual, I will bake my weekly sourdough loaf (with kefir – the first ever trial of mine – we all will see how that will turn out tonite). I will also cook a nice dish with minced beef and eggplant. It is great that summer is here and reminded me about this dish. I am guilty of not cooking great recipes that take time and require care, but yield the best taste ever. This one I am really looking forward to.

Cooking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

—————————–

Now let’s go find something to do that comes spontaneously and makes me feel like on top of the world! 🙂

Nature GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

———————————

gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/coffee-xajAOXg73jylG;https://giphy.com/gifs/walk-tightrope-gibbon-XvsozaG1qrISk;https://giphy.com/gifs/asian-women-kimiko-glenn-asianwomen-3o6ZsXzPwGpNiw5h1C

 

random thoughts

I keep waking up early and going to office by 8 am. Our administrative person at the office has joked today by asking whether I slept at the office 🙂 She said that I was there when she left yesterday and I was there this morning when she arrived 🙂 I told her that I think I am getting old – they say we sleep less as we age 🙂 (is that true, by the way??)

I also keep walking to the office, even though I find that my mind is quite occupied while walking. It is usually very quiet in the morning and there is not much of a traffic. I think I am really lucky to live so close to my work place. 

Cheezburger GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

—————————————————-

It was a very busy day at the office today. I was drained in the evening but I was also happy that things moved well today. Tomorrow I have a busy schedule, and possibly Thursday too. If I remember correctly I have a free schedule on Friday, which is awesome. I for some reason thought that I have had the next Monday off (the Victoria day). It turned out I was wrong. Nope – I gotta work that day. Argh… I was so looking forward to working in the yard this long weekend.. Everybody does… It is the Victoria Day! It is the beginning of Spring and gardening!

Flowers GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

————————————-

I will have two friends, a couple, over for a dinner on Sunday. I have a list of food to purchase and cook on Sunday. It is gonna be fun and lovely. Having the dinner on Sunday rather than Saturday was a good idea as it will be give me ample time to shop, clean the house, and cook without rushing. This will reduce my cooking stress :))))) I am budgeting 100 bucks for this dinner (including the drinks). I am positive that it will work out just fine. Thank goodness that these people are incredibly lovely and down to earth people. So it will not be a problem to feed them without having too much of fancy stuff on the table. Such people are always welcome in my home.

Cooking GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

————————————

I feel like my kefir grains are getting bigger. I will take pictures tomorrow, and then again at the weekend, to document the development in grains. I note that the milk is only lightly fermented in 24 hours even though the soury-kefir-y taste is recognizable at the end of this time period. I wonder whether the taste will get stronger over time. Maybe I need to use a larger container and more milk to ferment… Anyways; my grains are still young. I am sure I will know more about them in the future. For now, I am excited to be arriving home every day, and checking, drinking, and replacing my kefir 🙂

Beginners GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

——————————————-

This is it for now, friends. I hope you have had a great Tuesday and are having a wonderful evening!

 

gifs by:https://giphy.com/gifs/beginners-Ta2ARjUgmwCTS;https://giphy.com/gifs/perfectloops-chef-melons-demgpwJ6rs2DS;https://giphy.com/gifs/alice-in-wonderland-flowers-spring-1tOuimUZbIeS4;https://giphy.com/gifs/cheezburger-walking-bro-czXz2EONeI2NW

hoarding food

I cannot believe how much frozen and dried/canned food I have….

I have decided lately that it has been time to start consuming the food I already have at home.

A quick inventory showed that I have frozen beef, bones (for stock), chicken, cooked meals, green beans, mixed veggies, bread, bread crumbs, zucchini, carrots, and celery sticks, and another set of green beans, in addition to phyllo dough in my freezer. If I was to consume them, I believe they would be enough for two months or longer…..

Another inventory, this time of the pantry showed that I have a lot of rice, bulghur (cracked wheat), dry beans, dry eggplant, dry peppers, dry okra, dehydrated soup, pasta, other soup materials, lentils, many cans of beans (which I love), canned soup, tomato paste and others (not counting around 20 kg of flour). Another month or two’s food…..

I am making an effort to consume these before they expire or go bad. I must do that to limit my food consumption. I have stopped buying frozen food, beef-chicken, and dried food for now. My plan is to not buy any of these items till I consume the half of the stock….

I must admit it is boring to think that I must eat what I have.

Why is that?

I have been trying analyze this and I realized that I like to buy and stock up food. I guess it makes me feel good about myself. I think I feel safer that way. I should also mention that I like the pleasure of choosing, buying, and storing them. Was I subjected to famine in the past life? (just joking – I do not believe in past lives 🙂 ).

But when they are not consumed and hoarded like this, the entire fun starts to diminish…

There are important lessons that I have learnt along this process.

Some of these food, like chicken, is not something I regularly consume. I will never stock chicken again – when I want them I can purchase fresh ones and cook whatever I want. But no more hoarding.

Freezing veggies (by blanching) is a great idea and I enjoyed doing this. But I must make mental notes to eat them after that. I started blanching and freezing veggies to limit my food waste. It is sad to see that unless they are eaten, they are still wasted….

The same goes with the frozen meal. I have 4 containers of chicken soup… What was I thinking? Since i do not enjoy eating the same food more than twice a week, that means, it will take me a month to fully get rid of them…..

I want to have a practice of cooking at least one meal using the pantry/freezer treasures (a.k.a. hoarded food) every week. i started this last week and it is going well.

Honestly, while it is valuable and gives me a sense of security, the food I have is too much this time. I really gotta find a balance of a healthy level of stocking  food up and consuming them 🙂

 

 

spicy tofu and sour green beans

img_0235

I had heard somewhere about the spicy tofu and decided to give it a try today. It was well worth it; tofu had not ony a great texture but also a nutty falour. I improvised the sour green beans (sour because of the vinegar) and I am glad I have – they were interesting and surprisingly tasty 🙂

Enjoy!

——————————————

Recipe:

  1. slice up firm tofu (I used around 1 cup for this dish)
  2. coat them with the spice mix consisting of 1 part chili powder, 1 part turmeric, 1/5 part dry dill, and salt to taste
  3. fry both sides for 2-3 minutes in vegetable oil; set aside
  4. coarsely slice 1/2 onion and fry for 1-2 minutes in vegetable oil
  5. add 300 grms of green beans and add 1/2 cup of water – simmer for 5-10 min
  6. add 1/3 cup of vinegar and salt, simmer for an additional 2-3 min

Serve immediately

cauliflower dish

img_9826

Absolutely one of my favorites dishes:)

I was inspired by a recipe by my sister, which I modified for a healthier version. My sister’s recipe calls for frying the cauliflower covered with the batter. I instead opt for slightly boiling them on stove and then baking with the egg-flour-olive oil-water batter in the oven. I love fried version as well – give it a try if you wish)

 

Recipe:

  • Wash a head of cauliflower and cut florets
  • Boil for 5-6 min; it should not be too mushy. Then drain
  • Mix 3 eggs, 2 tbs of olive oil (or vegetable oil), 3 tbs of flour, 1 tbs of salt and 1/2 cup water
  • Pour the mixture on the florets and make sure they are covered all over
  • Bake at 350F for 45 min
  • Serve with chili pepper flakes, yogurt (add 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced, for a lovely kick) and greens of your choice (I have coarsely chopped parsley in the photo)

my baking adventures and excitement in life

I have written a couple of days ago; excitement is a lovely thing 🙂

I have been thinking since then that that is actually very true and I seem to like excitement (planning, thinking, reading or writing about future plans, whether it is my budget and savings, or currently, my baking adventures).

I like this kind of excitement because honestly I am too stressed to enjoy my life. My mood is pretty much dependent on how the work goes and what hurdles we face. This gotta change and I gotta find a balance in my life between work-related emotions and life-related emotions. Eventually I am hoping that they will balance and when one of them sinks, the other can still keep my mood at a healthy level. That is why it is important for me to find things that will excite me. Who knows what it will be next day, but nowadays it is baking. I

I am planning to bake yet another bread tomorrow with baking powder based on a recipe I found on the net. I hope that this time I can do this as I really am not interested in buying another store-baked bread.

While at the beginning of my baking saga, I was only interested in yeast and how it works, I later got determined to bake my own bread all the time, dwelled into other recipes (such as tea biscuits), and now I can see that I am actually getting interested in dishes where oven is involved.

Not sure why that is but I am kind of thinking;

First, my subconscious mind. For years I have been saying “I cannot cook. I do not like cooking.”. Now the term is different (baking) and I believe that is why I am not negatively reacting to it and I in fact am okay with preparing food by baking.

Second, the availability of all kinds of recipes on the internet makes it easy and convenient to select and try dishes/bread.

Third, I am really in love with yeast and how it works, even though I have failed brutally once I was trying to bake bread/baguette. Baking powder is also interesting for me – improvising with these two is an interesting adventure, with lots of learning and all.

Fourth, baking enables me. I can bake for myself and I can bake for others. This morning for example, instead of buying something to eat with my coffee, I opted to bring in my own biscuit and enjoy it with my coffee at the cafe. Yesterday, I baked for a social. These are new abilities in me and I like this feeling.

Fifty, there is an excitement in planning to bake, choose a recipe to try, shop for ingredients, and actually try it. Considering the fact that baking does not require anything expensive and can be done at the comfort of my home, I am extra excited.

Sixth, I am eating better. Well, maybe not the tea biscuits 🙂 but the bread I made and the zucchini dish I tried today are healthier than what I would otherwise eat. I will never try those store made breads full of who knows what. Less chemicals to consume and more confidence in what I am eating. And any veggie that stays in my fridge while relentlessly waiting me to cook, can now be included in an oven dish or a veggie bread. I can trick myself eating more veggies by baking – I am excited about this.

Seventh, making use of what I have and not wasting food/veggies.

Do I have to say more?

🙂

I wish you to have such excitements in your life that make you healthier, happier, learning, and excited about life.

thanking myself for my life style

Self-appreciation is something we do not even think about, but we all deserve big time.

I have many things to celebrate and appreciate about myself, work, character, life-experiences, and resilience. For this post, I will just focus on my life – style. Specifically, for its being simple and cost-effective.

here are the things I come up that makes me quite satisfied about my life-style:

1. Having no car: True that it may be restricting my mobility, but that does not apply to me. I have other means (walking, taking the bus, or flights) to go to places. I do not have to buy or lease one, I do not have to pay for the insurance, I do not have to apply for a parking permit to the city or pay for a parking spot at work, I do not need to look for and pay for parking space in the city, or I do not have to maintain or pay for repairs/replacements.

I am not arguing against having a car or two. Having a car is a necessity for many people, especially those who commute, or have kids to transport to schools or activities, or those who live away from their work places. I also know that it is a must for many where there is no public transport (like many cities I know in the USA).

My monthly transportation expenses, assuming that I take the bus or walk, are around $25.

Just by looking at that amount I now realize how easy it is for me to save…

2. Brewing my own coffee at the work days: I have been brewing my coffee at my office in the last 7 years. There were occasional buys from the cafeteria, but that is pretty much it. I am not sure how much I am saving by this habit, but considering I drink around 4 cups of (light) coffee per day, it must be quite so. A large can of coffee (~$10), 300 grms of coffee mate (~$3), and 200 grms of sugar (~$1) are enough to brew coffee for two weeks.

Can I guess how much I am saving compared to buying 2 cups of coffee/work day from Tims, for example? I think I can:

$3/per day x 5 work day = $15 per week. $60 per month. $120 per two months. Based on this calculation, I am saving around $50/month only from coffee…

3. Not eating out frequently: Since I started my budget last June, I limit it to maybe one or two times a month. Sounds pretty good to me. I used to eat out at least once or twice a week prior to that.

4. Having simple and low-cost pleasures:

   a) My weekends almost always include a morning coffee and bagels at a cafe. This is my signature pleasure – I must have them! 🙂 Honestly, I do not mind giving $6-10 per weekend to them.

   b) Over 90% of my books are second-hand books, purchased from second-hand book stores or the thrifty sores.

   c) I do not eat dessert or meat regularly, or buy food from convenience stores. The last one is mostly because there are 2 grocery stores within 10 min walking distance to my home – I am lucky.

   d) I live alone and I cook for only myself. And if you follow my blog, you know that I do not like to cook… For myself, I cook simple things and salads are my favorites in addition to soups. At the work days, I do not have breakfast and lunch is usually a canned fish or other snacks like trail mix. I am aware that this is not an healthy eating style. So please go ahead have your own delicious meals regularly as you need them, as you wish them. This is how it has been for me for decades and I guess that is what works for me.

   e) I am not interested in fashion and I often buy clothes and shoes when they are on sale. Holiday sales are my favorites. When I travel to other countries or cities, I shop there too, which are often much less expensive than where I am.

   f) Using internet for both entertainment and learning: I am very happy with my computer and internet connection. every evening and night, these give me a chance to read blogs and articles on the net, and watch TV series/movies. being content with these is something I must truly celebrate.

5. Exploring international stores and other small businesses: I can find many food, diverse food, at a reasonable cost in these stores. There is one close to my home where the spices, oriental sauces, pickles, canned beans, noodles, legumes, and olives are way cheaper than the stores. Many of these items I cannot even find in the big chain grocery stores. Plus, there is a pride and satisfaction coming out of supporting small business owners. Win-win situation in so many different ways.

6. Not hosting dinners at my home: Again, I am not arguing against this.. As a matter of fact, it is sad that I do not do that. Main reason is the fact that cooking for my lovely guests is an incredibly stressful event for me (only because I usually mess one or two dishes each time…). Maybe once a year or so, I will have my good friends over – but that is it. They understand and I am glad they do.

7. Not comparing myself with Jonases and giving up upon peer pressure: i do not do these. I do not need to have the latest computer or the TV, nor the cellular phone. I time to time get talks from friends about how I need to replace my old TV or replace my phone etc, but I do not give in. Give me a break. It is my life. I will replace my stuff when I need or want them. Not when the others suggest. I hope you do not have such toxic people in your life.

8. Vacations: I take one vacation per year and that is to visit my family. I do that every year and I am glad I do that and I am financially capable of doing that. My friends from other cities and countries invite me to their places, for which I am really happy and touched. If I had more vacation time or more funds at my disposal, I would love to do these visits – they are truly lovely and nice people. But I made a decision long time ago that my family had more priority over my friends. And I am glad I have done that, as now that my father passed away, I am glad I have seen him every year in the past decade or so, or before that whenever I could make it.

 

I am sure I have a longer list of experiences and choices to appreciate. Perhaps at another post.

I am sure you have many thing to appreciate about yourself. I would like to encourage you to find and appreciate those choices you have that enrich your life without breaking your bank account or psychology.

cheers 🙂

 

limiting food waste

If you have not done so, please check on the internet about how much food we do waste (example links here and here). The numbers are way too big.

It is so appalling that we do that…

Considering how many people would benefit from these food that are dumped into the garbage and then to the landfill..

Considering how much we would have saved by not purchasing them or by consuming them later.

Considering how much food would become affordable if we have not inflated the purchase chain unnecessarily.

I must admit I too wasted food; not in big amounts but I did. I bought green produce and then before I could cook, they have gone bad; That mostly happened to me with parsley and other herbs.

For some time now, I am taking control of my food waste. Here are some tips; hopefully they will be useful to you. If you have other strategies to limit waste, please drop a line in the comments area so that we all can benefit from them 🙂

1. Do not buy what you do not need: This is probably the best strategy to limit the food waste. if you are a fan of meal planning, then go ahead and continue with it; my understanding is that meal planners only purchase what they will use in their meals for the week. Not everyone is benefiting from this, like myself. In my case, grocery shopping as needed is the most effective way to limit food waste (my advantage is that the store is 5 min from my home – I understand that this may not be possible for many of you.)

2. Eat what you have: Prepare your meals around what you have in the fridge, prioritizing the products that are still fresh or about to go bad. Note that nutritionally, the fresh and minimally processed food is the best. Make sure you consume the food while still in great condition. If you do have produce that is about to lose its vitality or to pass its best before date, prioritize them for consumption.

3. Organize your fridge and pantry: Every time you shop, take a moment or two to place the previously purchased food at easier to see and reach shelves. Then place the new ones on a separate shelf or behind the previously purchased food. This way it is easier to consume the old produce first.

4. Freeze the extra food: Some people may have deep freezers that may be very useful, too. I do not have one, but I do use the freezer section of my fridge. Blanching is a good way to preserve veggies for later use. This is particularly good if you had catched sales and ended up with a larger amount. Pickling, preserving, and drying up the veggies/fruits are other alternatives. One of my friends dries up her unused herbs. Some others freeze them in ice-cube containers to be used later in soups or meals. I heard brewed coffee being preserved this way (to be used later as ice coffee – what a brilliant idea!).

5. Share it with others: Why not to share those extra items with your family, friends, neighbours, or poor people? This is always a delightful activity. Go ahead and share them, especially if you think that these people are in need, whether because of financial hardship, or death or sickness that can hit any of us anytime.

6. Choose the dried or canned alternative: This I find is most useful for me in the case of herbs. Do net get me wrong; the fresh herbs are great and I think they are more nutritious. But those like dill that I do not use frequently, or mint that I can hardly find fresh here are my dried herb queens. i am not in favor of using canned food too much, but canned tomatoes and other veggies may be a handy alternative, too.

7. Store your bits and use in vegetable stocks: It is not uncommon that only a small piece of a veggie or fruit will remain lingering in the fridge. What to do with these? keep a container in the fridge just for this purpose; collect all the bits before they go bad, and prepare a vegetable stock to be used in other dishes (soup, meat meals, rice and pasta etc.).

8. Store your bits and use as puree or dip: My favorite is to puree these bits; yep. Boil in water and then put through a blender to have a nutritious and rich paste; this can be used in other dishes. Amazing how well this feels; I am preparing one with leek leaves, lettuce, and green cabbage tomorrow to use in an eggplant dish. Try also as dips; yum!

9. Invest in freezer containers and bags, blender/processor, and other kitchen gadgets: Let them help you in this journey – they are worth it.

10. Take inventory every once a while and consume the food: Do not forget to eat those dried up, frozen, canned, or otherwise stored food!! I see myself doing this time to time. I guess I love preserving food, but hey, I gotta remember eating them, too. Remember, even frozen or canned food can go bad.

11. Make a mental note of not wasting food and be an advocate: All behavior is shaped by our thinking. Please take a moment, reflect on the benefits of not wasting food, and feel great about all the steps that can be taken to reduce this unnecessary waste. Reward yourself time to time, if that is going to positively enforce your behavior. Be a teacher and advocate and inform others about the negative consequences of food waste and the ways to limit it.

red lentil soup

IMG_8270

Here is a delicious soup just perfect for the chilly fall and winter days.

1. Wash 250 grms of red lentil under cold water

2. Cut out a medium size onion and cook in olive oil (or sunflower oil depending on your choice)

3. Add the red lentil and cold water, boil and cook for 10 min (or longer if desired) until the lentil becomes fluffy and soft. Add salt

4. In a blender, mix the lentil-onion-water mix generously till it is consistent, put back in the pot

5. In a pan, heat up olive oil and put a table spoon of chili powder and let it bubble for a very short time to make sure the chili does not burn; take it off the stove.

6. Pour down the chili mix on top of the lentil soup, cook for an additional 1 minute

Bon appetite! 🙂

this soup can be served with lemon juice. For variety and more nutritious soup, while boiling the lentil, also add cut potatoes or rice.

random thoughts

I have had a stressful day. Not by work but by cooking 🙂

I do not like cooking – there is always someone that complains about something. After spending that much time hearing people stating such criticism is not cool.

Luckily today all went well – I had great guests who never complained about my food; in contrast I think they actually liked it. The plates were full one minute and empty the next moment. I loved it! These people are always welcome at my place 🙂

The day was very stressful; some of the dishes I tried takes hours to prepare. Consider cooking 4 dishes all at the same time… Mess around the kitchen.. The sweat…. The stress of delivering a good dinner. The stress again… Oh boy 🙂

Eventually I made it! My guests were really nice and kind people. One of them even helped me do the salad and then the coffee. How nice of her 🙂

I must be happy that all went well and we all had great time together.

Company makes all the difference 🙂

healthy life – style journal, Sept 26, 2015

Not bad so far; I managed to cook for dinner (yay!) and had a nice lunch with friends 🙂

Breakfast: 1 hard-boiled egg, 1 cup of coffee with cream and sugar

Lunch: veggie omelet with fries (I know… I know…) and fruit, coffee with sugar and cream. This lunch was awesome. I was with friends, the view and the cafe were great, and the meal tasted really good. Finishing the lunch with fruits, to my surprise, was very nice. Great that I have eaten a variety of fruits today 🙂

dinner: I am cooking meatloaf with tomato, peppers, onions, and broccoli on the side. I placed everything in an oven dish and then boiled water with tomato paste and added it to the dish. As per broccoli, I do not think it is the best companion in an oven dish, but I tasted it (the meal is still cooking), and to my surprise it actually tasted well 🙂 I am glad I added it to this dish and did not just waste it.

late-night snack (added later): yogurt and 3 slices of 12 grain bread, 2 small apples

exercise: sporadic walking here and there. Nothing specific.

Supplements: Calcium and Vit D (x1) taken after the dinner.

random thoughts

I spent the evening with a couple of friends; can not think about a better activity to wind down after this long and busy week 🙂

I still have a lot to do, but the weekend is mine. I decided I can maybe work around 1 hr tomorrow and sunday, but no more than that. Putting limits to things that make me tired or stressed helps me to handle them better psychologically.

What are my plans for the weekend (remember that I love to plan?) 🙂

As usual, going to the cafe to enjoy my morning and coffee; cleaning the house, shopping for the stain to finish staining my deck, cooking meals for myself (some nice meals I will try this time like meat-loaf; not just simple stuff), getting together with my friends, and just taking it easy.

If I can find time, I also would like to try baking some home-made granola bars 🙂

sounds like a relaxing weekend to me – wishing you the same 🙂

lazy cauliflower recipe

Having on a healthy eating strategy makes me look for ways to create simple dishes (a little bit lazy in cooking here….).  I thought I would share the recipe for the cauliflower dish I am trying today (made it up big time 🙂 ).

1. Cut and wash the cauliflower florets.

2. Boil florets for 5 minutes (or longer depending on how mushy you like your dish)

3. In a bowl, mix 3 eggs, half a bunch of chopped coriander leaves (parsley suits well too), cheese of your choice (I cut them in little cubes), salt, chilly pepper, and 3 table spoon of olive oil. Mix well. Add 4 table spoon of whole wheat flour and 1 glass of boiled water (or 3/4 glasses if you would like a less moist version). Mix well, stand back, and enjoy the scenery :). The dance of the colors is amazing!

4. Immerse the softened florets in the mix and place in an oven cookware. Pour the remaining mix over the florets.

5. Cook in pre-heated oven for 45 min. I cover the cookware for the first 30 min and then remove it in the last 15 min. Broil for 2 min , take out of the oven, and sprinkle with chilly pepper before serving if desired.IMG_8035

Bon appetite! 🙂

healthy-life style journal – better eating plan – August 31, 2015

I have known my eating habits for a long time – I know that if I eat regular breakfast, lunch, and dinner and consume food that agrees with my body, I lose weight. I feel more energetic and overall better about myself. Now that I am mid-40s and a couple of years back my doctor had warned me about my high-blood sugar levels, I have no longer have the (silly) option to run away from eating and exercising better and losing weight. Plus, I really want to see myself thinner, like many years ago. It is a good feeling that subsidizes the feeling that comes with aging 🙂

The followings is my primary and abstract plan for eating better; I will adjust and detail it later as I move on with it.

1. Mental work: Yep, I would like to lose weight and it is not gonna happen unless I do something about it. I know the reasons that make me gain weight and overall under-nourish my body. I also understand the very negative consequences of my weight – metabolic syndrome that I possibly have; it can easily turn into diabetes. Who wants this disease? It makes you live less, encourages heart disease and other circulatory problems, kidney problems, and so on. Seriously, do I want to have such a disease? Do I want to have insulin rejections and checks every day and think about the possible consequences in future? NO, NO, NO! (that is pretty scary – perhaps I gotta read more about diabetes so that my mind can get conditioned to take the steps to reduce my diabetes risk…).

2. Shopping: I need to eat a variety of food and also more protein in my diet. Time to start buying different veggies and fruits each week. Also I need more veggies to use in cooking. I should be experimenting with beef and chicken dishes and hopefully cook tasty meals.

3. Cooking inspirations: The timing could not be better; I started sorting out my books to donate. I have a number of cookbooks that I can get inspired from. In addition, there are so many bloggers out there that provide recipes; why not to set time everyday and get ideas? I have already done this this evening; I tried lightly stir-fried kale with garlic, olive oil, and soya sauce. It was practical, tasty, healthy, and did not take more than 10 min to prepare. Way to go. I just need to be resourceful and trying different meals; I know myself if it gets too dry, uninteresting, or routine, I will not want to eat the meal. That is why it is important for me to start experimenting with not only different food and their combinations, but also with different spices, sauces, or cooking methods; re; cooking methods, I hardly use the oven to cook meal. Perhaps it is time for me to start using it. Variety this way will make it interesting for me.

4. Breakfast: This is going to be challenging for me, as I do not have an habit of having breakfast at home. But, this does not mean that I can not prepare breakfast food at home and bring to the office. My favorite items on the list will be hard-boiled eggs or chicken/meatball/cheese sandwiches. I think I can do this.

5. Lunch: I may either bring in sandwiches or buy soup at the cafeteria. Purchasing lunch may increase my weekly expenses, but I guess it is well worth it (saving from preparation time and the food).

6. Dinners: Protein based dinners look like the best for me; something that will not increase my blood sugar right away and keep me feel full longer than carb-based meals. raw salad should also be an integral part of it.

7. Snacks: Whenever needed during the day, nuts, dried fruits, apples and other low-GI fruits, cheese sticks, milk, or yogurt (wow – there are so many alternatives; that is pretty good. Looking promising).

8. So what to do when hunger or emotional eating hits? Drink tea, eat fruits or other snacks, go out for a walk, floss and brush your teeth (read that somewhere; obviously gives a mental break and helps with diminished effect of wanting to eat), work with the dumpbells first (1 set of 10 reps of biceps and triceps and see whether the need for hunger subsidized), do a light house chore (clean the dishes, fix the mats, pick up the garbage, replace the hand-soap or the toilet paper, declutter somewhere!!).

9. How to assess and record the efforts, food consumed, and weights lost (if ever)?: Keep up the “healthy-life style journal” running everyday. Record foods consumed, and the weight and the dimensions of waist and hips everyday.

So it all starts tomorrow. By writing these I know I am making myself accountable. Oh, I will rant along the way, eat unhealthy food probably, will not have time to shop or cook, or will eat just to forget everything. But I know that at least time to time I will keep up with it and if I see a drop in my weight, that will further motivate for me to continue.

So wish me luck 🙂

healthy-life style journal – analysis of the eating habits – August 31, 2015

The simple truth is that there are so many details that I need to be thinking all at the same time (work, house, my life-style and relationships) that my mind, whether I like it or not, prioritizes to work on specific issues and targets. And you can also relate, since I have a limited capacity of mental work, depth, or hours to focus on things during the day, these two reasons, as expected, factors in delayed tasks and unfixed issues.

Well, while there is nothing much I can do to increase my mental limits or the hours in a day, there is one thing I am capable of doing (at least time to time): it is to focus on one thing, examine and clarify the issue, reflect on ways to tackle it, design a strategy to take steps, and monitor the outcome after each steps. This “plan” is well implemented if it is clear, set, and remembered (sadly if I fail to remember my plan, it is usually one thing that sends all my efforts in to the garbage).

That is why I like to write, draw, flow-chart, or simply discuss with others my plans; it focuses me, helps me to reflect in more detail, clarifies my mind, and most importantly, makes me remember it.

You are probably aware of all of these based on your experience or education; I simply need to write them so that I focus, design, and remember my plan – so bear with me when I tell you the very well-known story of planning.

Anyways, now that I have the motivation to finally take care of the long-waiting issues, namely healthy-eating and exercise, I need not only a plan, but also something that reminds me about them each day. That is why I am opening the “healthy-life style journal” page, where I will record my daily efforts, accomplishments, weight loss (if ever – grrrr), or struggles and frustrations.

So, what is my plan for healthy eating? I have been thinking about the pattern of my diet that I think is useful in designing my new, healthier diet:

1. Canned food: I noticed that I eat too much canned food (canned beans, chickpeas, lentils, and fish). Too much of a something cannot be good (in this case the exposure and possible contamination of the food with the can chemicals). Second, since they present themselves as affordable and easy meals, I prefer them but that also keeps me away from making an effort to cook and eat a variety of foods. So from today on, I implement a shopping freeze for canned food.

2. Wheat-products: I know what does not agree with my body and makes me gain weight or accumulate water in my body: bread, bagel, or any other wheat products that are conveniently sold in cafes or stores. From today on, I eliminate bagels and others from my diet and limit my bread consumption to one bread/week.

3. Cheese: if consumed in small amounts over time, cheese is very likable. Yet, I happen to eat the entire block in two days if I can. Thus, from today on I limit cheese consumption to 50 grs/a day maximum.

4. White rice and pasta: Nope; they make me bloated and eat more and more. I hardly eat both of these, so I am in good track.

5. Sweets: I do not have a sweet-tooth; thus sweets are not a problem for me (the majority of the time).

6. Candy, chocolate, ice cream, soft drinks, chips etc: I am lucky in the sense that I only occasionally consume these.

7. Meat and chicken: I am not a big meat eater; yet I kind of think that the lack of adequate levels of protein food in my diet may be contributing to my weight gain. So, I decided to eat more of these.

8. Veggies and fruits: I usually consume a limited variety of veggies and more so of the fruits; I think I am malnutritioning and thus need to bring in diversity to the food I am having.

9. Eating pattern: I usually do not have breakfast (except the weekends), light or no lunch, and multiple dinners in the evening. It is not surprising that I am having multiple dinners; one of the dietitians had said long time ago that such an eating style would starve the body during the day and prompt the body to eat a lot later to compensate for all the calories that are missed earlier in the day. So, I gotta start having breakfast like any other person, prepare and pack (or buy) my lunch, and bring snacks to my office. I also need to cook at home nutritious meals.

Now, time to plan.

to be continued

random thoughts

A beautiful summer day – I hope everyone is having a similar weather.

I have done something out of my routine and went to visit a nearby museum. Admission was free today and it gave me a chance to see its contents and the view from the museum. It is famous with its view as it is on a hill and in the front is the green (nature), blue (ocean), and the colorful buildings all meshed up with each other. I congratulate myself for making this trip and enjoying not only the exhibitions but also the view 🙂

I am cooking at home today: yesterday I was so tired after the yard work that I bought myself a dinner in the evening. While the diner was not bad, the meal I tried yesterday was okay (do not get me wrong; I am thankful for the meal), but not overly tasty. I said to myself “you can cook better than that”, which was interesting because a) I do not like cooking that much, and b) eating out seems less appealing right now, which helps with my recent budgeting and saving efforts. So while I could not enjoy the meal I bought yesterday, I am grateful that it helped me to make better choices about myself.

I cut out a few lilacs from the trees today; I am not into hurting nature but I would like to dry these elegant flowers, and then frame and hang at home. I have seen somewhere yesterday some art-work including dried plants hung in the bathrooms; what a great idea! I will not only enjoy framing & displaying them, but I also hope to bring them with me wherever I will be in future, in case I sell my house.

One of the things that make me attached to my home is the yard and the trees in it. If you have a yard or a pot of plant/flower, or close to a park and other places of nature, I hope you are enjoying it right now 🙂

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: