Thursday, September 13, 2012

8 months

Normally, I would associate hearing the term 8 months to having children or the school year being almost completed.  However, as I write this I realize it's been 8 months since my heart attack.  Eight months to the day.  Eight months since life as I knew it was turned upside down.  Eight months since I had to rework the framework of who I was and what I want to do with my time left now that I've been given a second chance.

That might sound overly dramatic, however, I was faced with my mortality again yesterday when I got a second opinion on my heart and the cause of it all.  In very blunt terms the cardiologist told me I should be dead.  He said I got lucky.  I said I like to attribute it to God but he can choose whatever he wants.  We both laughed and then talked specifics.

Rather than dwelling on the negative...I want to dwell on what I've done and what others can do to make life healthier.  I've lost 20 pounds now and am in the smallest pants I've ever been in.  I had to go shopping to find clothes that fit.  The great thing is...most of it is from our diet.  Yes, I'm still working out 4 to 5 days a week for an hour at a time.  But diet is the big one.  But for everything we've taken out there needs to be a substitution.  So here are my tips for some easy and cheap substitutions.
Eggs scrambled with onions, thyme, broccoli, bell pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, and then topped with basil and tomatoes.  Ground turkey sausage made from scratch with apples, onion, salt, pepper, thyme, olive oil, and sage (way cheaper than buying sausage and you don't have the preservatives!)


Eggs and sausage from above with a frozen fruit smoothie and coffee
For lettuce wraps.  For toast, skip it and have eggs!  I fry ours in olive oil and crack them in a green pepper ring.  The green pepper holds the egg in one place and then I chop up some green onion and slice a tomato thinly to set on top.  Or scramble them with whatever veggeis (fresh or frozen) you have on hand.  We also have amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, or buckwheat for breakfast.  To make it more of a morning meal we use unsweetened almond milk, fruit (fresh or frozen), cinnamon, and sprinkle it with chopped walnuts and flax seed for omega 3's (good for the heart).

Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and rosemary chicken
Since I'm gluten intolerant and our one son is as well this wasn't as hard on us as it may be for others.  It may sound strange but you can use brown rice, seasoned with broths, and spices to go with your pasta sauce.  It's WAY cheaper than pasta and so much better for you.  Other substitutes are quinoa (in bulk at Costco), amaranth, and buckwheat.  Or we use spaghetti squash (like in the picture above).  Yesterday, when Superhero #1 was served spaghetti squash with my homemade sauce, he said "Mom! Why do you give me all this weird food that I don't even like."  I replied, "How do you know?  Try it."  He did and he loved it and said so.  Today when given the leftovers he didn't complain...he emptied his bowl.  One secret mommy method is I make sure there's been a good space between snack and mealtime so he's so hungry.  Then, he's more likely to dig in and less likely to resist.  

I admit...I let the boys still eat their tuna on Nut Thin crackers.  They're a little more pricey but less processed than the other stuff and they're gluten free.  I eat my tuna on a lettuce wrap with hummus and veggies.  For my salty/crunchy fix...I turn to veggies and hummus, veggies with guacamole, nuts (especially almonds, cashews, walnuts, and pistachios...avoid peanuts if you can).

I am a carb addict so this one was tough for me.  I still love baking but the sugar high and emotional crash that follows for all of us in the house is NOT worth it.  I found a yummy carrot cake recipe that didn't pull us off our unprocessed diet at the following link from The Food Lover's Kitchen.  We used that for a recent birthday and it was a hit with everyone.  This also saves because we're not reaching for junk all the time and having to restock it.

We haven't regularly bought juice for a couple years now.  Pop is just for birthdays and will probably stay that way for the kids.  I had a pack of Mike and Ike's last week and it set me into such an emotional tailspin I scared myself so I'm sure it's not worth it.  I've gotten off the roller coaster and this type of "food" is expensive and doesn't leave you satisfied.  It's horrible for you in so many ways.  Avoid it.  Have fruit.  Vary it from week to week or make smoothies with frozen fruit so you can avoidably have some variety.  Pack in some berry smoothies so you get those important cancer/free-radical fighting antioxidants.   If you barely cover the fruit with water the fruit is sweet enough and you can sneak some veggies and flax seed in for good measure.  Frozen fruit is picked at the peak of freshness and frozen immediately.  As a result it can be better than the stuff you get in the fresh produce section and it can be significantly cheaper!

Meat can be expensive so I stretch our dollar with canned beans.  Make sure they don't have sugar added and rinse them before using so you don't get as much salt.  You can also buy dried beans but they're more work.  I add them to chili, curry, sauces, etc.  We eat bean salads for lunch and skip meat for that meal and use them for making hummus.  Beans are good!  Even my Superheroes eat them!

I hope some of these tips help.  I'm learning as I go just like you.  But the journey has been successful thus far so I plan on sticking with it.  I hope you do too.

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