Monday, July 26, 2010

The Endocrinologist

Tomorrow, I will be visiting an endocrinologist for the first time in my life.  I am happy, yet a little nervous about this.

Prior to late December of last year, I had never heard of endocrinology, despite having problems with my thyroid for almost 10 years.  You see, I have hypothyrodism and am dependent on medication.  It runs in my family.

Dear Mom,


Your Daughter

Well, for many a year I had it completely controlled.  I rarely suffered symptoms and was able to more easily loose weight (the epic battle of my life).  From September 2006 until February 2008, I lost 40 pounds--five pounds away from my goal weight.  Then, I met my husband, became deliriously happy, began drinking wine and eating good food.  I slowly started putting on weight--that is until my thyroid got out of whack.  It went nuts and I have gained back a ton of weight in a very short amount of time.  I thought I got it under control again, but this only lasted a few months.  My levels went up again.  And again.  Eventually I had to get a thyroid ultrasound and see an ENT.  Everything was normal and my levels stabilized.  But the symptoms have not gone away.  They still exist and dominate my life.  So, I'm seeing an endocrinologist.  Something is off and I'm tired of not knowing what is going on in my body.  Yes, my numbers look normal right now, but my body is screaming to take a closer look.

I am a little OCD about being prepared for things.  I have three pages of questions/documentations, plus a chart listing all of my thyroid levels since my doctor starting checking it.  I think my biggest concern is that he will tell me its all in my head.  I don't like it when people don't listen to me.  What do I do?  What do I say?  What else may this be?  And WHY CAN I LOSE NO WEIGHT, ONLY GAIN, WHILE WORKING OUT AND EATING HEALTHY?!?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Musings of a Dog, by Whatley

A post, by Whatley, the Dog.  Here chronicles his year in married life; not him, silly--his people!

Where are we going, Mommy??

Why do I have to sit back here?!?  I want to DRIVE!!
This doesn't seem like a very good idea to me...
Hmmm...which toy is best RIGHT NOW???  How is a dog to decide...
What more could you ever want than ME!
Whatley, Alabama loves me so much, they named themselves after me! 
OCD?  NOT ME... ... ...
Time to go, Mommy--hurry up!!

The End.  Time for Beauty Sleep.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Another Week, Another Meal, Another Smile

It seems as though all my posts revolved around food--I guess you can see what is on my mind and what I enjoy!

One full week of vegetarian month left!  It is hard to believe it has flown by so quickly.  I've enjoyed it thus far and plan to continue cooking vegetarian most nights a week.  I'm still not willing to give up meat for good, but I do think I'll be buying so little of it that I can afford the "good" (i.e. grass fed, cage free, etc etc) stuff.

16: Dinner was fried polenta, steamed butternut squash, and caramelized green peppers and red onions
17: Almond-Vanilla-Cherry Oatmeal, Lentil Soup (first time having lentils--quite tasty!), foccacia
18: Fruit smoothie; pizza out for lunch with friends, leftovers
19: Tomato Basil Soup and Salad for lunch; Mediterranean Night!  Saganaki, Falafel (woo hoo!  It worked this time), Kafta (only tried a taste as hubby made it), hummus, tzaziki with way too much garlic, cumin brown basmati rice, and pita; lime squares for dessert.
20: leftover greek for lunch; Whole Wheat Grilled Pizza with EVOO, spinach, fresh mozzarella, feta, caramelized onions,  balsamic glaze and sea salt
21: Salad at Earth Fare for lunch; Egg, Veggie, and Black Bean burritos
22: Nothing but Noodles for lunch; Rice and Black Bean Burritos (do you see a theme?) with fresh guacamole
23: leftovers for lunch and Veggie Curry from Surin for dinner.  Yum!

Fresh Hummus
An Original

2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 scant cup dried chick peas (rinsed and cooked on low heat for 8-10 hours) or 1 can chickpeas, 16 oz
1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, or to taste
3 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1/2 teaspoon Ground red pepper, to taste
1 1/2-2 teaspoons Cumin, to taste
Warm pita bread

If using dried chickpeas, rinse, cover with water, and boil on low for 6-8 hours, or until done.  Drain whatever chickpeas you are using, reserving liquid; rinse.  On a cutting board, mince and mash the garlic with the salt.

In a food processor, puree all ingredients and ½ cup chickpea liquid, scraping down the sides.  Add more olive oil and/or chickpea liquid until desired consistency is reached.

Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with pine nuts, if desired.

Serve with warm pita bread.

What are you lookin' at?!?  Eating all that food makes me sleepy!

Any brilliant ideas for the final week of July?!?  Bonus points for being seasonal-veggie filled and fragrant with spices!

I leave you for now with a beautiful sunset and a calm good-night.
Sunset over Lake Michigan (Traverse City, Michigan)

Friday, July 16, 2010

I could get used to this vegetarian thing...

Oh. My. Goodness.

Last night's dinner was amazing!  So fresh, so flavorful, so simple.  Also, I made Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies.  The recipe was originally vegan, but I was out of a few ingredients, so this version is not.  Oh well.  It is still very tasty. 

Granted, I'd change a little bit, like chopping the roasted tomatoes up a little more, using more spinach, or perhaps putting the spinach on top of the polenta.

Without further ado,

Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic on a Bed of Spinach
Adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Polenta (recipe below)
tomatos--I used three from my MIL's garden
Garlic--I didn't have any, so I sprinkled garlic powder
olive oil
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Parmesan Cheese

Make polenta, pour into a greased cookie sheet, casserole dish, or other dish (depending on how thick you want it).  Cool.

Wash, core, and quarter tomatoes.  Sprinkle with garlic (or garlic powder), salt, pepper, and drizzle in olive oil.  Roast in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes.  Cool until easy to handle.  Peel and chop tomatos (I forgot to chop them--it would have been easier to eat chopped.

Decrease the oven to 350F.  Cut polenta into squares or use a cookie cutter of your desired shape.  Place on a baking sheet (with a lip) and top each piece with tomatoes, garlic (if used), and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.  Drizzle a little oil from the tomatoes over the top.  Bake polenta and tomatoes for 5-10 minutes.

Meanwhile, wilt the spinach in a pan with olive oil and garlic (I used crushed jarred garlic).

Place the spinach on a plate and cover with a slice of the polenta and tomatoes. 

I think you could also either put the wilted spinach on top of the polenta, then add the tomatoes or place raw spinach on top of the polenta, then top with the tomatos and bake as directed.

Anyway you make it, mmmmmm, mmmmmm, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Well, let's go over vegetarian month days 7-16:

7: catered mexican lunch at Space Camp (it was easy to avoid the meat); dinner was a speedy margharita pizza with fresh basil from the garden (the zucchini casserole didn't turn out faulously because of the beans I added).
8: organic boxed mac and cheese with spinach
9: salad for lunch (followed by a dead car--again); Dylan got home from travel and we immediately headed to B'ham for the weekend.  Dinner was at the Olive Branch and was a falafel pita sandwich
10:  oatmeal and fried eggs; banana bread, and dinner at a really nice resaurant (small piece of quail and Shrimp & Grits); yes, I cheated here--I didn't have any other option.
11:  baked oatmeal, peanut butter and banana sandwich (ehh); Black Bean Quesadillas with quick quacamole (this was really good, but my body rebelled; I think something was bad)
12:  catered lunch at a BOD meeting, so 1/2 ham sandwich--no other option; grilled zucchini and squash with barley for dinner
13:  jason's salad bar for lunch; memorial dinner for a friend that recently died--one bite of chicken, the rest was veggies and fruit
14:  black bean soup and ceasar salad for lunch; aloo palak and naan for dinner at an Indian restaurant with friends
15:  Falafel Wrap; Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach
16:  farewell pizza for lunch; dinner will be leftover polenta and something to do with homegrown butternut squash and green bell peppers

I've been eating LOTS of fresh fruit and breakfast most days is plain yogurt and berries.  I'm really enjoying this and I think I'm down a few pounds (yay!!!).  I haven't worked out this week b/c we've been sharing a car as mine is in the shop.  Until yesterday, we thought we were going to have to replace it.  God's grace has rained down on us though; my car is fixable and the dealership isn't charging us a penny!!  Thank you, FATHER!!

Wow.  This is long.  Sorry about that. Ciao for now.  :0)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Vegetarian Month: Days 1-6-ish

Hope you had a great 4th of July!  Ours was very relaxing.  What did you do?

Vegetarian month is in full swing! So far, so good! It is day 6 and I’ve not had a single meat craving. Granted, we had meat at a cook out we were invited to on Saturday, but we already knew that in a situation like that, we would partake. We also bought a grill this week. Thus far, we’ve made grilled corn using it.

Here are my meals since the beginning:

July 1—Strawberry-Peach Smoothie | Pasta Salad | Spinach and Feta Quesadilla
July 2—Strawberry-Peach Smoothie | Pasta Salad | Chaysu Ramen (from Mikawa)
July 3—Egg whites with sautéed onions and peppers and cinnamon raisin toast | tahini nut cookie (from Earth
             Fare | cookout—burger, chips with salsa and guacamole, baked beans, a deviled egg, and
             strawberry pizza
July 4—No Breakfast (late for church) | Cashew Nut Stir Fry with Mixed Veggies (from Surin) | Falafel,
             Hummus, Tzatziki Sauce, Pita, Spinach, Tomato, Red Onion
July 5—Pecan Oatmeal Pancakes with fresh blackberries | Fresh Peaches | Grilled Corn and leftover Falafel
             and Greek fixings

Thus far today, I’ve had fresh homemade yogurt with berries. I’m having leftover cashew nut stir fry for lunch and making zucchini casserole, along with various leftover veggies, for dinner.
Here is a recipe of the day for you…these were really tasty and filling! You could certainly play around with the types of cheese to get a different flavor.  Any other recipes peak your interest?

Spinach and Feta Quesadillas (Weight Watchers)
Cooking spray
1 medium large shallot, minced
1 3 cloves garlic, minced
10 12 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
¼ ½ cup Reduced Fat Feta Cheese, crumbled
½ cup Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons half-and-half
¼ ½ cup cannellini Great Northern beans, drained, rinsed, and mashed
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
4 medium flour tortillas, 6-inch

Coat a 10-inch skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and sauté 1 minute; stir in spinach. Cook until spinach is hot and liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes; remove from heat.  Add feta, parmesan cheese, half-and-half, beans, pepper, and lemon juice to skillet; stir until well-combined.

Spread ¼ of the mixture onto half of each of the tortillas. Fold over and press closed, ensuring filling does not leak out the sides.

Recoat skillet with cooking spray. Place 2 folded tortillas in skillet and brown over medium heat, about 2-3 minutes per side; set aside and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining tortillas.  Cut each tortilla in half to form quarters.

Yields 2 quarters per serving.