Tag Archives: health

Earth Day Recycling Project

In honor of this lovely day, I offer a recipe which serves many purposes at the moment over here at Casa Reynolds:

  1. We are going camping this weekend, and I wanted to pack some granola for breakfasts, snacking and a possible impromptu berry crisp which may come together during an afternoon at the campsite.
  2. The granola at the stores are typically loaded with sugar and processed oils. They also tend to be stingy on the fruit and nuts, while costing a small fortune. Seriously! I have issues with paying $6.00 and up for rolled oats and additives.
  3. I cleaned out my pantry today, and found various bags of nuts, dried fruits and coconut used for previous baking adventures this year and wanted to get rid of recycle them into a new and improved product.
  4. I thought homemade granola would be another great endeavor for me to take on, since I always have so much free time before going on vacation.

*Insert dripping sarcasm here*

So without further ado, I offer you this:

Hug a Tree and Eat Some Granola on Earth Day Cereal

This recipe is very flexible, so use what you have on hand. If all you have are cashews (why anyone would have cashews laying around in their cupboards for longer than 2 days is beyond me, but whatev,) then use them. If you don’t have coconut, you can leave it out. And, the raisins can easily be dried blueberries, cherries, currants or any other dried fruit. Remember: one of the goals to this recipe is to reuse and recycle. Or, as I like to say, “consolidate and eliminate.” Now get cooking!

Save a tree. Clean out your pantry. Really.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup cashews, or other nuts (I had walnuts and pecans, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I used olive oil, because that’s all I had – you could use canola or any other vegetable oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins or any other dried fruit such as currants, dried blueberries, dried strawberries or dried cherries
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon mace (optional)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal (optional) Again, don’t go and buy this if you don’t already have it in house. Yes, I do have ground flax seed meal in my fridge all the time, I’m freaky like that.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl, combing the oats, nuts, coconut, brown sugar, dried fruit and flaxseed meal.*
  • In a measuring cup or small bowl, stir together maple syrup, oil, spices and salt. Pour over oat mixture and pour onto 1 large sheet pan, spreading evenly.
  • Bake in oven for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to achieve an even color, and to cook through.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.

The raisins were a bit dry, but nothing that bourbon, *I mean* milk on your cereal can't cure.

*Note to readers: After making this recipe, I would not add the dried fruit to the wet cereal mixture before baking. Rather, I would stir in the dried fruit once the cereal has baked in the oven for 30 minutes. The raisins seem a bit dried (duh, I know they are dry already, but they seemed to be even more dried and slightly burnt, due to the naturally high sugar content, I suppose.) Still, all in all; success.

Granola can be stored in a large (hopefully recycled) container in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry for 1 month. This made a huge amount of granola, I would say the equivalent of 2 ($7.00) boxes of cereal, for a fraction of the cost. And better ingredients.

Another Earth Day goal met and achieved!

A Normal Night

Today was a normal day. Dirk was out of the house/office, and I was home pretty much all day.

The rain came down hard and long, for the morning and early afternoon. I tried to placate Shadow from his normal morning run (and myself, honestly)!

Can I live here forever?

This is where we will be in a week.

It worked, until the rain subsided long enough to either get out for an hour, or lose that opportunity.

We grabbed the chance for an hour outside. And it was glorious! We were pretty much the only ones out on the Shoreline Path.

Coming home from our run at 1 pm vs. 10 am was odd, but we adapted. I made a quick lunch of carrots, celery and red bell pepper with roasted pepper hummus. A vegi burger on whole grain bread with tomato, lettuce and cheddar rounded out the meal.

Tonight’s dinner was a new(ish) recipe – roasted potatoes, shallots and garlic. Organic chicken breasts broiled with gruyere and smoked ham proved to be a fine meal indeed. Imagine a deconstructed Chicken Cordon Bleu, enhanced by a shwack of local watercress, tucked in for vegetable goodness, minus all the nasty breadcrumbs, butter and fat.

It worked.

The Sunset on the Pacific Coast

This is something I get to see all the time. I know, I am blessed.

Another break in the weather allowed me to hang out with Shadow for some catch and retrieve. He also got a good brushing, so he looks even more beautiful that usual.

Getting ready to hunker down inside with the furry one(s). Have a great night everyone!

Does This Burger Make Me Look Fat?

Another day of Twenty Ten down. Today went a bit better. And some not so.

Yin and Yang.

Auto stick german made pride

This is my joy. And um, not so joy.

Let’s deal with the worst first. My mechanic finally surfaced to let me know my 74 Volkswagen Beetle is actually a 73 engine, so the ever so easy install of an alternator is a no go. Must revert back to a generator/regulator repair. No problem, except the wiring has been messed with, and blah, blah, blah.

All I heard at this point was $$$$. And again, I’m without a car for going on two plus weeks. Not real thrilled about that. Once this beautiful little car is up and running, I may consider selling it. *sobbing silently now*.

Better moments – a good run in the morning. Got the chimney cleaned and sorted out for a burn year. Cost more than I would have liked, but it’s now all up to code and thanks to Mr. Chimney Sweep (also a Montecito Fire Fighter), I am certain I will not burn down the house or a neighbor’s. Should be good for karma.

Yesterday’s binge still reared its ugly head today. Ugh. Sluggish and fat I felt. Note to self:

Next craving for a burger will have to be met elsewhere.

The warm Pacific Ocean awaits

This is what I love. Sun. Surf. Sand.

Today I ate better. Oatmeal for breakfast, a small salmon sandwich for lunch with the usual vegetable plate and fruit. Dinner was oven baked chicken, spinach and rice. Light on the rice. Light on everything actually.

In case you don’t know, we are headed to Zihuatanejo Mexico in 11 days for a week of much needed R & R. Bathing suit season will rear its ugly head in January, so it’s every man (and woman) for themselves. I am as ready as I can be. It’s not perfect, but it is what it is.

Good health and fitness is always a work in progress, so I don’t beat myself up for my discretions too much. As long as I eat fairly well, move daily and sleep decent I am happy. Dog knows I’m not 18 any more, nor can I try to be.

The ever increasing gray sprouting on my head will attest to that.

But everyday I rise and shine, go for a run or a good walk with Shadow and complete the daily tasks and challenges facing me, make me a happy girl indeed.

And if I can have a glass or two of wine at the end of the day, so much the better.

Yin and yang people, yin and yang.

Here, piggy piggy…

A few years ago I hit my forties. They didn’t body slam me like I thought they would, but they definitely threw my frontal lobe for a loop. After some rational thought and loving words from my devoted husband, I recovered, and actually began to enjoy my journey into the 4th decade. Until a few things happened in quick succession:

  1. I quit smoking.
  2. I required surgery which included partial removal of my spine and a very, very long recovery. (FYI, I’m fine, fully recovered and right as rain, knock wood).
  3. Because of #2, I was unable to exercise, on any level for over one year. An occasional trip to the gym, slow walks and an occasional bike ride were happening, but my intense running and cardio sessions became nonexistent.

Results? Not good. Not good at all. Over the course of the last 2 years I gained 25 pounds. I am slightly vertically challenged, measuring just 5 foot 3 inches (almost!), so a 25 pound increase is a very big deal, and not pretty. Despite my honest embrace of getting older (it beats the alternative any day), my vanity is strong enough that this current event did not sit well with me.

I didn’t notice the weight gain at first. It was gradual, and spending the majority of my days in sweatpants and hoodies tended to mask the ever growing girth. And then my favorite jeans started to get a little bitty tight. I knew then I had put on a few.  But it wasn’t until I went to my doctor’s office for a check up, got on the scale and saw the three numbers that did NOT make my day. One Forty Three.

One Forty Three? As in 143? Me? Hello? Uh, this thing must be broken. I usually hover around 120. Ack! Jesus, Mary and Joseph, this was bad. Very, very bad.

I returned home and tried to figure out how I was going to lose 20+ pounds. Thank the angels, my health was returning, I was getting stronger, and more physical activity was possible. But I didn’t have a plan or dare I say it? Diet plan. God, I hate that word. Diet.

diet 1 |ˈdī-it|nounthe kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats : a vegetarian diet | a specialist in diet.a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons : I’m going on a diet.[as adj. ] (of food or drink) with reduced fat or sugar content : diet soft drinks.

As one who doesn’t eat to live, but lives to eat, this could prove difficult. I mean, I will sit down for breakfast and plan my menu for lunch and dinner, people. I love all that is pork. Fried pork is even better. Hell, let’s be honest. Fried anything is fabulous. I would probably even eat fried cardboard and love it. I’m not too big on sugar, but butter? I’d bathe in the stuff. Bread? Check. Cheese? Certainly. Foie gras? Oui. Carnitas? Por que no?

Luckily, I also love ‘good for you food’. Fruit, vegetables, salad and the like. But seriously, if I had a choice between hash browns and muesli, come on.

And yet. My ego was screaming in my ear louder than the thunderous demand for potato chips, so I began my next food journey. Eating less. Less pork. Less red meat. Less cheese. Less fat. No processed sugar. No refined carbs, which basically if it’s white, it’s a refined carb. Exceptions are cauliflower and root vegetables I think, but everything else white, I just avoided. I ate endless amounts of vegetables, fruits and salads, along with lean fish, chicken (no skin!), and lots of water. Oh, and whole grains, like lentils, beans, tempeh, sprouted bread and oatmeal became staples in my daily meals. Non of this “carbs are the devil” crap, I mean seriously! Oh, and I refused to give up wine too. I didn’t quit smoking so that I could live longer and be completely miserable folks, I just won’t do it.

I started moving more. I started sweating again. My nightly routine of snacking in bed while watching a movie with the DH came to a screeching halt. I know. I was in the zone. And because I have thankfully learned a thing or two over the years, I knew I wouldn’t lose the weight quickly or painlessly.  I also could not imagine my days consuming boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked in a non-stick skillet with PAM, and steamed, flavorless broccoli. Just shoot me now.

Thankfully, my knowledge of food and cooking has been my salvation. Herbs are good. The freshest produce and fish are highly flavorful with nothing more than some fresh herbs, good olive oil, sea salt and pepper, and a toss on the grill or a fiery pan (hold the butter).  A little goat cheese and some almonds tossed in a salad are a joy to behold. Oven roasted potatoes (skin ON), flavored with your favorite herbs and some olive oil are heavenly. And using fat free plain yogurt instead of mayo for the most part is sheer genius.

But, you don’t have to be a chef to eat well. I’ll be posting some of my favorite healthy recipes soon, and some good tips for any of you who might need a little help and cheering along. You can also shoot me an email at kat@zwarm.com with any questions, or recipe makeover help!

So far I’ve dropped almost 20 pounds, 2 sizes and inches all around. I feel better, I have more energy and honestly? I really don’t miss the bacon all that much. And occasionally I still splurged on a gorgeous piece of prosciutto or a chunk of country sausage. I just don’t go whole hog.