Thursday, November 21, 2013


Sorry everyone!  I forgot an important piece of information regarding The Plan.  As you have probably noticed, we’re ramping up on good-for-you fats – seeds, nuts and avocado.  We’re also using olive oil in a number of applications, such as what follows.
The benefits of citrus oils have long been recognized.  In fact, for generations Latin Americans have recommended squeezing the juice from citrus with your hands rather than using reams or other  mechanical devices, as they believe it allows more of the citrus zest oils to fall into the extracted juices and thus, into the foods to be consumed.  Some research has found that consuming just a tablespoon of citrus zest (which contains the all-important oils) can decrease the chance of getting skin cancer by 50%.  That is HUGE, in my opinion!!  So I’ve started adding zest of any sort to a good portion of my recipes.  It really enhances flavor, and by using a rasp zester, it’s easy to do.  So, as a flavor enhancer to the steamed broccoli and salads, drizzle on some citrus oil.  
Remove strips of zest from an orange or lemon and allow to soak in 1 cup of olive oil for a couple of days…  I just leave the zest in as I use the oil which gets the “best” of the zest into the olive oil while you’re using it.  Drizzle as needed.  I often squeeze in a bit of the corresponding juice for more flavor.  I should have included this bit of information in my last post to allow for its use on Day 1.  

Following is my diary of what I consume on The Plan.
Day 1 has been exceptional, where timing is concerned, since on many days I don’t get a chance to fit in Lunch, much less a snack. This day I managed to fit in lunch, but no snack.  The timing of my meals depends a great deal on the schedules of others…  I have care staff visiting me.  I do, however, encourage you to attempt to eat the menus as listed, so as to give yourself the best chance for success possible!
My Plan Diary, continued…
Day 1 – Start weight 178.0 lbs
Breakfast: 1 cup flax granola, Silk almond-flavored beverage over the granola, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, ground flax seed, vanilla, sliced strawberries, small handful of raspberries. 2 large glasses lemon water
Lunch: 1 lg. Mug Carrot-ginger soup, sprinkled with small handful pumpkin seeds
2 Lg glasses water.  1 cup Dandelion Tea
Supper: Sautéed Kale with Vegetables, with a couple of tablespoons Spicy Coco sauce

Day 2 – 178.6 lbs
OK, day two, disaster strikes for me…  I’ve become ill and have no energy and no appetite.  So, I make do the best I can.  My analysis of my overnight weight gain is not enough water on day one.  Although 0,6 lbs is not huge, it's enough to signal something's not quite right, and if you compound that each day, suddenly you have weight gain that you don't notice so much and don't know where it came from, hence, the scale becomes your data-gathering tool.  I detest being sick, everything gets thrown off kilter.  I’m not able to eat breakfast or lunch (Ms Recitas stresses on this plan, it is absolutely necessary to eat according to the menu plan with little, or no variation.  But, I’ve decided to do my best with what I’ve learned from my first time on The Plan.
So, I have ½ an apple for an afternoon snack and Carrot-Ginger soup, sprinkled with sunflower seeds for supper and up my intake of water and dandelion Tea.
Darned if I’m not hungry in the evening!  I’m no longer accustomed to eating in the evening, I ditched that bad habit years ago.  I indulge in a toasted cheese sandwich with butter!!  That did the trick, but leaves me dreading the morning’s weigh-in, and vowing, if I feel better, to plug in Day 2 Menu and continue on.

Day 3 dawns with me feeling no better,
Weight --    176.6 lbs (surprise!!!)  Down two pounds!!
I skip breakfast, against my better judgment and plan to follow yesterday’s route, the best I can.  Having no appetite again, I load up on water and Dandelion Tea, but, eat no lunch and have ½ an apple and a small handful of almonds for an afternoon snack.  If I’m feeling better tomorrow I’ll plug in day 2’s menu.  But, here’s the Menus and recipes for Days 3 & 4.

Day 3 is the last on the detox portion of The Plan, and Day 4 we will test cheese, chocolate and wine.  Since you’ve cleansed your body of unwanted toxins, your system will more readily “sensitize” to unfriendly foods.  If chocolate and wine were part of your everyday life before this test and you were suspicious of them causing weight gain and feelings of unwellness, this test will “tell the tale”.  But, remember, you won’t have to cut them out of your life completely!
Breakfast: 1 cup flax granola topped with Silk or other acceptable beverage, 1 cup blueberries and other suggested toppings. You can also replace the blueberries with1/2 diced pear (men can use a full pear)
Lunch: chopped baby Romaine (often referred to as Little Gem) topped with pumpkin seeds, ¼ avocado and shredded or jullienned carrots. Drizzle with citrus oil
Snack: (for women) 10-12 raw almonds (only if you weren’t reactive to them in Day 2) OR use ½ pear or apple

Day 4
Continue your morning routine as on the cleanse, so you can be alerted to changes in your body.
Breakfast: Same as previous day
Lunch:  leftover Roasted Italian winter vegetables
Snack: carrot sticks with up to 6 Tablespoons made Hummus

1 orange
dried Italian herbs
2 portions boneless, skinless chicken breast (one portion is 4-6 oz for women and 6-8 oz for men)
          Wash the orange thoroughly and zest, try not to get any of the white pith, as it is quite bitter. You should have about 2 Tablespoons. Sprinkle chicken breasts liberally with Italian herb seasoning and then orange zest. Bake in350 F oven 20 to 30 minutes, depending of thickness of the breasts.
Makes 2 servings

If you’ve never roasted veggies before, I’m sure you’re going to appreciate the flavor and simplicity. This recipe is similar to one I make regularly, that I’ve credited to Pete Luckett, from his first cookbook.  So, you see, this Plan isn’t so far removed from the everyday!!  You can introduce this recipe to your family feeling like a chef, and add another yummy side dish to your repertoire. These veggies are a perfect complement to any roast meat dinner. Try to cut the vegetables into similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly. According to Ms Recitas, “there is something about the combination of these vegetables that offsets the potential problems (weight gain) and Brussels sprouts (higher reactivity and gas).”  The roasting concentrates the natural sugars in the vegetables, resulting in an incomparable sweetness!
3 lg. Carrots, peeled and chopped into large pieces
1 lg. (but, not over-sized) zucchini
1 med. Onion
4-5 fresh garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Italian herbs (I use the same dried Italian herb Seasoning used in the above chicken recipe).
While oven preheats to 375F, toss with herbs and olive oil and let stand 30 minutes.  Roast for 30 minutes.  I let them stand a bit and serve while still warm. You’ll need to save some for Day 4 lunch (Good Luck with that!).
Makes 4 yummy servings

2 cups drained, well-cooked or low sodium or canned chickpeas, liquid reserved
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon ground cumin, or to taste, plus more for garnish
juice of 1 lemon
chopped fresh parsley, plus a sprinkling for garnish
Put everything, except parsley in a food processor and begin to process, adding chickpea liquid as needed to produce a smooth purée.
Taste and adjust seasonings (you may want to add more lemon juice).  Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with more cumin and some chopped parsley.
Makes 8 to 10 servings

Stay healthy and safe!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


          Before we start I would like to correct Ms Recitas’s name. It is Lyn-Genet Recitas. I apologize to you and Ms Recitas for my error.
          This would be a good time to tell you that Ms Recitas recommends you suspend ANY exercise routine you’re on, at least until after the 3-day detox. It is her belief that while you’re ridding your body of all the unwanted toxins from your body (all that “stuff” from processed foods you’ve been consuming) that you allow your liver and entire body sufficient time to heal. This you can achieve by totally resting your body. Through testing her patients, she has determined that most people will reap minimal benefits from exercising while on the detox portion of this eating plan. For some, it may seem next to impossible to give up exercising while “dieting”. Just keep in mind that this isn’t a diet in the same terms you’ve come to define that word. Just go with it, you’ll see the benefits without the “huffing and puffing”!
Here we go, on what might just be the most exciting re-vamped eating adventure of your life, and what could be the eating plan you’ve been looking for your entire life to help you lose weight and feel great!. I can tell you, it’s made a tremendous change in my life. Finally, I have a true list of foods I can indulge in, knowing they won’t sabotage any of my previous efforts, but will in fact, cause weight loss as soon as I start eating them. If, all of this sounds impossible, it would be using traditional weight-loss methods. It really isn’t! I’ve lost weight, especially around my middle, which is a most dangerous place, health-wise, to be carrying extra pounds. My constant headaches are somewhat under control. If this were my only side effect from The Plan, it would be more than enough!
          It’s time we get down to the heart of The Plan. Along with our other duties on The Plan, we will each keep a food diary of what we consume daily. Yes, I will be giving you your daily menu, but it’s much better if each of us has a separate log of what we’re eating. You’ll have a better idea of what foods are involved specifically with you, if you show reactivity. First, I will give you the menu and recipes for Day 1, the first day of the detox section of your new way of eating. I will keep you at least one day ahead to allow you to check your pantry stores, and to cook what’s needed. You can move along at your own pace after that. If you choose to go more slowly, okay, you’ll have the tools you need to follow along. Remember to drink the recommended amount of water each day that will have a marked effect on your progress, or lack thereof.
          You also need to remember to be satisfied with the quantity of food you’re eating at each sitting We will be eating enough of the given menu foods to feel full, but still comfortable. We will NOT be over-stuffing ourselves! For me, at least some meals felt like I was stuffed to the brim… the difference, I guess, between eating the right and wrong foods for our individual chemistries. You will soon get into the swing of things on The Plan.

Breakfast: 1 cup flax granola, topped with 1CUP blueberries (and as I said before, I use sliced strawberries, as well as blueberries, a generous shake of cinnamon and a tsp, or so, of vanilla, as well as 2 small soup spoons of ground flax, almond- or vanilla-flavored Silk beverage, more than the coconut flavor. Obviously, if you already suffer from a soy or dairy allergy, you need to find a more suitable beverage. You could use Rice Dream beverage. Due to sporadic availability, locally, of the Silk beverage, I’ve started using Blue Diamond almond milk, which is, for me, a friendly food. Ms Recitas’s research has found both white rice and almond milk as 50% reactive, so, they’re good for most people.
Lunch: Carrot-Ginger Soup, sprinkled with chia   or sunflower seeds
Sautéed or steamed broccoli (you can cook enough to have some for tomorrow’s lunch) I cook what I need, when I need it, as I prefer veggies to be freshly prepared.
Snack:1 med-sized apple
Dinner: 1 recipe Sautéed kale with, with Vegetables topped with Spicy Coco Sauce (Ms Recitas makes great flavor claims about this sauce in her book, and believe me, they’re all absolutely true. Once you taste it, you’ll find yourself looking for other ways to use it. You can make enough sautéed kale and vegetables to have enough for tomorrow’s dinner. Again, I do only what I need, if your schedule is time-crunched, you’ll prefer cooking ahead. Except that which I need for my writing projects, Time is all I have!
If the spicy Coco Sauce initially sounds unappetizing, you’ll discover otherwise!

Remember, this is a detox period, so, if you find yourself getting unusually tired, it is perfectly normal. It’s simply your body’s way of telling you it is downloading the chemicals, sodium and other unhealthy things you’ve been putting in your body until now. You’ll find your energy picking up in a few days, so, give your body the rest it is screaming it needs! I’ve noted my changes to this recipe, by stating what I use/do, or with (*)
You might be tempted to add soy sauce or some other condiment while cooking this, but, you won’t need it, when you top it with the Coco Sauce. The parsley and cilantro will give great flavor.

Cilantro is the most used herb in the world, loved by many global cuisines. It is definitely one you either love or hate. I happen to love it. And I also use chopped curly parsley and cilantro in the salads used in The Plan. Nothing like a little cilantro to give Romaine lettuce a kick!
5 TO 6 cups chopped kale
4 shitake mushrooms, chopped (I use button or Cremini, ripped apart (about an 8-ounce package)
¼ med yellow onion, sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
Herbs of your choice (I use about ½ a bunch each of curly parsley and cilantro)
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced*
Heat oil in large frying pan or Wok, Add garlic, mushrooms and onions, stirring until onions are opaque. Toss in kale and herbs Sautee until greens are wilted.

Before starting the following recipe, I open the can of coconut milk. Taking care not to shake the can, and then separate the cream that has risen to the top from the milk. (I can see my Caribbean friends cringing at this!!). I prefer sautéing the veggies in this cream, instead of oil, then mixing the milk in afterwards.
1 large onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, turmeric, and cumin
1generous pinch ground cayenne
1 can coconut milk
Use the Coconut cream separated from the milk earlier, Use it to sauté the onions and garlic over medium heat. Once the onions are opaque, add in all the spices. Stirring constantly, taking care not to burn the garlic or cream. Stir in the milk. Cook for a few minutes. You will start to smell the spices giving off their curry-like aroma. Remove to a blender or use your immersion blender to blend to your desired sauce-like consistency. You can refrigerate in an airtight container or use right away* Makes about 4 ¼ cup servings.

This cereal may just become your everyday cereal. It also makes a great take-along snack The healthy fats it contains are touted to improve brain health… it’s a little messy for kids in the car, but nothing a vacuum cleaner can’t fix!!
Soak 1 CUP WHOLE FLAX SEEDS in ½ cup water. Stir in a shake or two of cinnamon and a few grates of whole nutmeg along with a little vanilla. The mixture will become very gummy. It is here you will think you’ve made some horrendous error. But, you haven’t. This is perfectly normal. Now spread in a thin layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake in preheated 275F oven for 50 minutes, turning and breaking up frequently. At end of 50 minutes, sprinkle with dried fruit, nuts and seeds (small handful of each). Bake 10 minutes longer. Cool, breaking up any large pieces. Transfer to airtight container until needed. Your granola is now ready to enjoy!

Breakfast: 1 cup flax granola with toppings as in Day 1.
Lunch: ginger-carrot soup topped with chia or sunflower seeds
Mixed greens with ½ diced apple and ¼ avocado; leftover broccoli from Day 1
Snack: (for women) ½ pear with small handful almonds (Being in the middle of “apple country”, I’ve made my daily snack ½ apple with almonds).
          (For men) 1 pear and small handful almonds
Dinner :( for women) leftover sautéed Kale with vegetables with 1cup brown rice and a sprinkle of sunflower or pumpkin seeds
          (For men) leftover sautéed Kale with Vegetables and 1 ½ cups brown rice and a sprinkle of sunflower or pumpkin seeds

Stay healthy and safe!


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

THE PLAN, FOLLOW-ALONG...The beginning of your weight loss and health renewal experience

          As promised on my Facebook page, I am resuming my most recent eating plan adventure, on which I’ve lost over 25 pounds and from which I’m feeling healthy and vibrant.  This time, I’m going to blog it in “follow-along” style. So, I’ll provide all the info and list the food supplies you’ll need to follow along with me each day.
          The main premise of The Plan, by Lyn-Genet Recitas, a more than 30-year veteran of Holistic Medicine, is that every food reacts specifically with the chemistry of every individual, therefore, what is “healthy” and weight-loss-friendly for me, might not be for each and every one of you. “The Plan” sets you up to find those foods “friendly to your individual chemistry”, which can be counted upon to assist in weight loss and general well-being. Another point Ms Recitas makes quite clear is that several of the foods we’ve been conditioned to think of as “healthy foods”, including salmon, Greek yogurt and oatmeal, have been found, in her many tests, to react poorly with many individuals.
          All recipes I will give you are credited to Ms Recitas and the quotes and information come directly from her book “The Plan”. There are only a very few minor tweaks I made as I went along, mainly associated with what’s available here in my local area.
          Good Luck and better health to all of you and as my dear friend, Helen, always said to me: ‘stick with me kid”.
          OK! Let’s get started!
          As a bit of background, we’ll detox our bodies during the first three days…Ms Recitas stresses that the detox brings your body to neutral position, where you can determine your body’s reaction to individual foods, thus singling out your “friendly” foods as separate from your “unfriendly” foods – the ones that will work with your body from the ones that won’t. Having already been on The Plan, I have found two unfriendly items. The first is salt, as much for its water-retention evils as poor chemistry with my body, Then, here’s acetaminophen, which I had been consuming in relatively large quantities for my constant headaches, both before and after the stroke.
Ms Recitas’ contention is that since many of the foods we consume on a daily basis are filled with salt and sodium derivatives, along with many other chemicals, our bodies tend to be in a constant state of inflammation, hence a platform for the myriad of diseases our current society is experiencing.
          To follow along, you will weigh each morning, using the scale simply as a statistical interpreter – a gain of 0.2 pounds is considered “reactivity” to a given food item.  For me, getting into the mindset of the scale being “just” a data-gathering machine was particularly difficult. Although I knew she was right, it was still hard for me to own. I did, though.
          Reactivity, contends Ms Recitas, is tied closely to an internal inflammatory state, which in turn sets the stage for various unhealthy conditions, such as excess weight gain and diseases, including cancer and diabetes. My take on this theory is that it makes sense, so is worth a try.
          It is worth noting here, that just because you find out particular foods are “unfriendly”, are inflammatory to your system and could be responsible for your weight gain and unhealthy feeling, you don’t have to give them up entirely. Once your “unfriendly” foods are found, you can then weave the “unfriendly” ones back into your diet, knowing all the while, you can go back to your “friendly” foods to start the weight loss again (and start feeling better too)!!
          During the 3-day detox, you will also start taking care of your liver. Ms Recitas encourages taking a liver Detox Supplement OR indulging in Dandelion Tea. As I already take too many pills, prescribed after my stroke, I chose the tea, and it’s become a regular part of my everyday diet.  Those of you who know me will undoubtedly roll your eyes and nod knowingly, “yeah, she likes all that weird stuff”… and I do! I’m drawn to the unconventional like moths to a flame. I’ve tried all manner of foods unfamiliar to our North American culture. Pip’s tail is, in fact, delicious (cue rolling eyes!)
          So, to start off… Each morning, upon awakening, you’re to weigh, drink two glasses of as pure water as you can get with lemon (I use pure lemon juice from the bottle, as fresh lemons can be costly), then take your liver detox supplement or dandelion tea.  Then it’s breakfast, which, I’ll deal with in a moment. Ms Recitas also delves into Thyroid function by asking that we take our temperature with a Basal body temperature thermometer immediately upon awakening. You’re looking for 36 degrees Celsius. According to Ms Recitas, that is the awakening body temp of a properly working Thyroid.
          One of the first things you will notice is that The Plan cuts your sodium intake back quite substantially, and this, according to Ms Recitas, will substantially lower your cravings for sugar. So, are the two partners in crime? Well, I guess so… who knew ? Now we know why either is so difficult to quit on its own. Such secrets being withheld from us for so very long. Conspiracy! I say.  But not from where we think. Hmmmm. So many things make more sense.  Now, think about it for a minute, Why do chocolate bars and potato chips taste so good when consumed together. My early life in two words. Salt and sugar. We will now start to taste the real food… for good or bad!
          From the very beginning, you will do your very best to cut coffee out of your diet completely.  I know! I can hear you all now!!  To take your mind off it breakfast is relatively simple. You’ll make flax seed granola ahead of time and dish it out a cup at a time, add some Silk brand beverage (those of you in the Annapolis Royal area can get it at Save-Easy), a sprinkle of cinnamon, some ground flax, since to be totally effective flax seeds need to be ground .  Cinnamon and ground flax are my additions  A $30 coffee/spice grinder does the job quite nicely and you’ll find lots of other uses for it, too! Using the ground flax seed means you’re getting maximum benefit from the seed.  Cinnamon is really good for you. It helps keep blood sugar regulated and it tastes great, too!  
The Plan calls for just blueberries on your granola, but, I use sliced strawberries, as well. Ms Recitas rates blueberries as 90% or less reactive and strawberries 30 % reactive. Numbers she’s derived from her many years of experience and testing with her patients. I have determined both to be “friendly” foods for myself. If they prove not to be for you, you can sub in raspberries (90% or less reactive). As an integral part of The Plan, we will be drinking lots of water… about the equivalent in ounces of one-half your body weight, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll aim for 75 ounces of water.  If it sounds like a lot, that’s because it is.  Oh! And we’ll be drinking it before 7:30 pm, so, we’re not  up all night. Sound impossible?  I assure you it isn’t!  Tough, maybe, but, not impossible. To paraphrase Brittany Hamilton, during her rehabilitation after losing an arm to a shark, I didn’t ask for easy, I want possible!  (I used that phrase throughout my entire recovery… still do, for that matter!!)
          While I do profess to have wide knowledge of nutrition and food, I AM NOT a doctor or health care professional, so for more information about this aspect of The Plan and Ms Recitas’s Thyroid findings, please refer to her book , "The Plan”.
          To wrap up what we’re doing so far:
*Try to take your temperature immediately upon awakening. If you wait too long before doing it, your body will warm up, thus affecting your results.
*Then, weigh.  A gain of 0.2 pounds or more indicates reactivity to a given food.            
         After the detox, your body will be at neutral position with regard to internal inflammation, so, each new food you introduce will “react” strong enough for you to have no doubt. We also will have an inflammation-reducing carrot ginger soup to help keep things “neutral”.
          I should tell you, at this point, that the entire plan takes 21 days to complete. The first time I did it, was several days following the detox, enough time to generate a good, rounded list of  “friendly foods”, enough to keep me on an even keel, so to speak.
          So, you’ve got the basics – start with the 3-day detox. Day 5 starts the testing phase, where we will begin introducing foods individually. This is where you’ll really start building your list of “friendly” foods.  I will be doing it right along with you, as if I'd never been on it.  It won't take long before you start knowing there is hope that this might be the one plan that has finally worked to shed those unwanted pounds and start really feeling better!!
          To be ready for my next post – recipes to get us started and Day 1 of The Plan (Detox Day 1), you’ll need:
3 cups whole flax seeds - stored in the refrigerator or freezer as the oils they contain can go rancid
about 2 cups dried cranberries or other dried fruit
2 or so cups each of sliced almonds; chopped walnuts; raw, unseasoned pumpkin seeds; raw, shelled unseasoned sunflower seeds -  stored in the refrigerator or freezer 
apples for snacking - I like firmer, less-sweet apples, and Cortlands are good this year
A few shakes of ground nutmeg
Fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries
2 fresh limes or lemons
1 cup or more of olive oil 
4 large (not Spanish ) onions
1 small zucchini
1 bag romaine hearts
assorted salad ingredients
1 bulb fresh garlic
1” fresh ginger
1 teaspoon each ground cumin, turmeric
1 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp smoked chipotle powder
½ cup apricot jam
1 can coconut milk (please don’t use low fat)
           Don’t worry, these ingredients are not all for one recipe!  We’ll make a few of the basics first, to get started with The Plan.  And there will be time enough to acquire any other ingredients.  You might find yourself, as I have, using the granola for your "everyday" breakfast cereal, and for snacking.  The seeds also make for great snacking. Until next week...

         Stay healthy and safe!


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sharing Lessons from Our Past

While we’re on the subject of healthy, happy living, why not take some time to think back through our lives about things we learned in the past… Not ALL information we are currently being exposed to is absolute. There are bits and bobs of  stuff we learned or experienced as children, or young adults that can certainly help us now.
        I will give you as an example I have been staying with my sister for a little while and she recently bought a small pack of red raspberries… We’ve all been told berries are a key to health and that, so far, is still correct, however, my point is: in tasting one it took me straight back to our childhood,  picking wild raspberries on the road to our summer cottage.  We didn’t know, then all the relatively new-fangled “stuff” about antioxidants being vital to our well-being… All we knew then was that they tasted great and tasted like more, So off we’d go looking for more of the wild stuff and we found them, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries. We’d pick and devour as fast as we could. We were given good knowledge early on, about these little wild gems of all description and many other tidbits of wisdom, as we’d learned from our father, whom I’ve introduced in other posts.. He was brought up at a British –sponsored Boys’ Farm School in a once-relatively remote area of Vancouver island, and had the chance to forage wilderness and experience first-hand the joys of discovering many of these wild gems, and he passed these experiences on to us. So, we weren’t filling our faces with them because some doctor or scientist hammered us with the “good” these treasures contain. We knew about them simply from our father’s experience AND because we seemed to know instinctively that since they tasted so darned good, they MUST be good for us!
        While I certainly don’t discount the findings of some of our scientific geniuses, and I do research and apply many of their findings, I also scan back to some of what I’ve learned as a child.
        AND I encourage everyone else to hearken back to things from days past and how those memories could be applied today. Did we learn more than we thought? I don’t mind saying that my childhood and teen years were spent in the 60’s &70’s (since I shared my 50th birthday thoughts in an earlier  post, I guess you all can do the math, so it’s no great secret). My point being that some of the information being researched in those decades has been found to be a bit dodgy, at the very least, likely what we learned from our parents’ experiences may not have had scientific backing, at least not then.
Stay healthy and safe!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

More on healthy, happy living

        As some who’ve known me for a while will attest, I’m always on some new diet or eating plan, mostly on the quest of losing weight, sometimes, as now, on a quest of feeling better.
        I have always suffered from severe headaches, and have never found any relief… painkillers don’t work (and present their own multitude of problems, some requiring hospital care).You can see right away how that IS NOT conducive to happy living, neither osteopathy, nor chiropractic care produced positive results. Acupuncture, was equally ineffective I even tried botox injections, on the suggestion of my neurologist, to decrease what is called spasticity in the occipital nerve area of the neck and base of the spine . Works for some, others not so  much… I was in that latter group!
        And, although Kent was slightly skeptical of some of  the treatments. Particularly the Botox, at $900 for one treatment (and the need to transport it , on ice, to the doctor who was administering it), I remained positive and hopeful that, maybe, this latest suggestion would work. Anyone who suffers from any chronic pain (not including teenage kids!!), knows the desperation and persistently hopeful feelings I’m talking about.
        Now, let’s eat something that’s generally considered healthy and good for you… if you like, and can eat fish and seafood… a recipe I promised, and adapted from Chef Michael Smith.
I used one frozen basa filet instead of the halibut and a 6-oz Atlantic salmon fillet in place of the haddock.  I made these substitutions because they were what I had on hand. Basa is a member of the catfish family, fished in the waters off the coasts f Thailand and on the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.  It is also sometimes used in Mediterranean cooking.
And, I always find salmon gives any seafood dish that extra depth of flavour, so I use it here, too! That, too, is the case with anchovies. I use paste, as it’s the easiest way to disguise its use from Kent, who might not view this as I do ( but, he can’t tell it’s in there and loves this dish!!).   A tin of anchovies is much more difficult to hide than a tube of paste… Either way, you really don’t want to leave it out (I also use anchovy paste in my “Mafia meatballs” (Kent doesn’t know it’s there, but I detect a deeper flavour than if it were omitted).  A friend of mine detests saffron, and WILL leave it out, but her version will be just as good… I don’t use it, as it’s a bit expensive for my budget!! 

MEDITERRANEAN SEAFOOOD STEW serves 2 with lots of leftovers

1 fennel bulb, cored halved, lengthwise and sliced, tops saved for garnish
2 onions, halved lengthwise and sliced
3-4 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups white wine, preferably Riesling
2 tbsp fennel seeds
½ tsp hot pepper flakes, I use a generous 1/2 tsp
2 pinches saffron threads, omit, if desired
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
4 cups fish or chicken stock
zest and juice of one lemon
12 ounces halibut, cut into large chunks (I use 1 small basa fillet)
12 ounces haddock, cut into large chunks (I used 1 6-oz salmon fillet)
½ baguette loaf sliced into diagonal  ///////////* slices
1 can anchovies, or 1 tbsp anchovy paste (please don’t omit!!)
1 cup butter, softened (stir in at end), seems like a lot, but you need it for the velvety texture essential to a broth, and please use the real thing, it DOES make a difference
¼ cup parsley, chopped (stir in at end)
2 big handfuls frozen organic edamame, loose or in shells and chopped roughly
juice and zest of one lemon
10 large zipper-back shrimp (shelled and tails removed)

Rather than transcribe the original instructions, I will describe how I put these ingredients together and the adaptations I made.  Thank you, Chef Michael for a beautiful inspiration.
Sauté onion, fennel and garlic in olive oil until soft.  Stir in fennel seeds, hot pepper flakes.  Add tomatoes and saffron, if using. Stir in wine, tomatoes, bay leaves and stock. 
Use your judgement on timing the addition of the fish, as you don’t want to overcook it and want it to remain in chunks. Throw in the edamame right before the fish, bit leave the shrimp until the end, so it cooks to just pink, and doesn’t become tough. I personally,  l love  the flavour and texture that edamame adds to this stew. I find myself using it over and over again in various dishes, and apart from their high protein value, I love the flavour and texture! Soy often gets a bad rep because it is often overly processed, and is often genetically modified and falls victim to many pesticides. To avoid this, use frozen organic edamame. As with other frozen products, it is picked and frozen at the height of ripeness and perfection. I toss edamame into pastas, rice and stir-fries.
The lemon juice and zest bring a nice brightness to the stew, please, don’t omit it!!
Just after stirring in the lemon juice, lemon zest and parsley, lay out the  baguette slices in a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and toast  at 350F ( I always use a timer for 5 min… OR have Kent watch the oven… so I don’t forget the bread). 5 minutes won’t likely be long enough, depending on your oven, but the timer will jog your memory, so you don’t end up with charcoal!!
 Serve in large soup bowls, sprinkle with chopped fennel tops and serve with baguette toasts.

Stay healthy and safe!


Sunday, June 2, 2013



I originally started formulating this post as let’s get healthy, with healthy eating tips, when I remembered some things I have been learning lately – nutrition things – the first and foremost being that healthy food for some, just isn’t healthy for each and everyone of us. Remember, we’re all individuals with individual and very different bodies, taste and chemistry! Let’s take tomatoes as one food example, They are loaded with Lycopene, a well-known antioxidant that is touted to fight various types of cancer. EAT LOTS we all think, and I do, in all their forms – fresh, sun-dried, canned and paste in whatever form I can get them!  Until I eat too many. The seeds are my enemy.
They taste good to me, eating them makes me feel good.  But for others, tomatoes can cause a myriad of problems –from digestion problems to acid reactivity on the skin and in other bodily tissues. And, the same can be said for many other foods…  I’ve been learning that, along with other interesting information, in Lyn-Genet Recitas’ book, The Plan, an eating plan I am trying - and having great results.  I will detail more of my experiences with this plan in another post, along with one of my favourite tomato recipes, I have mentioned previously, “Mediterranean Seafood Stew” So, I’ve learned, healthy eating can be a bit challenging at the best of times, figuring out fact from fiction… and one person’s absolutes from what will work in each of our very different bodies!
          However, healthy living is relatively universal.  Once we discover the “healthy foods” that work for us, as individuals, the rest should come fairly easily. Live in a way that makes us happy, partaking in activities we enjoy, spend as much quality time with friends and family and friends as we can and here’s one thing I, personally, do almost ad infitum … DREAM!  
Dream of where you’d like to be, where you’d like your life to be, physically, professionally, and mentally. Then, once you have that locked down, try to come up with more details, like HOW you may be able to achieve that dream (I like to call it a goal or goals). It may take more dreaming to complete the job, but, WHATEVER!
           Another thing that’s important to healthy living, no matter who you are or where you’re from or what your dream is, and, that is to not dwell on the negative.  So, you’re not rich, nor do you live in a mansion.  So, you’re not Ryan Reynolds, Cindy Crawford. Nor do you have the career of Sidney Crosby or Usher.  And you’ve yet to be named on anybody’s “best” or “most” list!! You’re YOU.  And, what’s more, there’s not one single body or being on this planet like you!!  You’re unique as you are. One unto yourself and should be on your, own “best and “most” list!!
       One other thing I’ve learned from my own personal setbacks, tragedies and triumphs, and which you’ve likely noticed, too, on your own journey.  Those who you thought were your friends, often are NOT!  Yet, I know now not to be discouraged by that, because it is those same people who will come through at the last second and show their true feelings, often saving you from a deep, dark spot.
       One of the most important things I think I’ve learned as a key to healthy living is… be your own best friend and be a great best friend to someone else.  Also, enjoy spending time with YOU!
          I’m at risk here of nattering on and on, but, really enjoy yourself,  and enjoy your own company and surround yourself with like-minded people and positive-thinking people, don’t get dragged down by other people’s S#$%&!
          This next suggestion you may find a bit tedious.  I adopted it recently after analyzing how I got through what seemed the endless days at hospital and rehab.  There, I tried to methodically go over and over the things I had to be thankful for, and in doing that, I was forced to admit and accept what was happening to me… remember, I found I couldn’t read, so magazines and books were out of the question! Visits from family and friends were wonderful little windows of pure joy!  I was, in effect, compiling a gratitude journal, which is what I do now, physically, in an actual journal and include three reasons for each WHY I’m grateful. That brings a new dimension to the exercise.  For those who haven’t, please, give it a try, you’ll be surprised how great you’ll immediately begin to feel. For those who do it already, you know what I’m saying.
          And, it, seems, true happiness leads directly to healthiness… I know it’s not just me!!  As this happens, you’ll feel the effects inside and see it happening on the outside. 
Stay healthy and safe!

Sunday, May 26, 2013


              Okay it’s a weighty subject, I know!  'Course, I guess I really don’t know if I want to magnify it too much.
            Mine is a fairly basic existence, usually with a whole lot of fun mixed in for variety       Mostly my days revolve around how best to work at recovery from this stroke thing!! Some Wii Fit, some walking, some T-Tapp routines, which I indulged in plenty before the stroke. On days I feel energetic, I get some cooking in.
            One day last week, I set out to make a favourite of mine and Kent’s – Pastitsio – a sort of Greek Lasagna, but, we were out of shredded Parmesan and didn’t have quite enough Mozarella, if I wanted our usual homemade Pizza on Friday; ‘No problem’,  you say?  Just hop on the car and get some… uh huh… somebody has decided I can’t have a driver’s license as yet, Well, I did what I do everyday, every time I hit a bit of a stumbling block, I improvise, We had Macaroni bake  with  Pastitsio sauce. It was good, but, could have used a generous dose of feta stirred in, but, then again, we were out of that, too.  Guess who’s not grocery shopping anymore?  No problem, if you didn’t know it was missing you’d probably never have known!
            I’m on a big Mediterranean” kick these days … referred to by one yogurt company as “the Mediterranean Art of living”—time for family and friends enjoying each others’ company around a table with good food ( my definition is good-for-you food, so another day recently I made a Mediterranean seafood stew complete with Basa filets…  No, not Haddock!! (any white fish would work, that was just the white fish I had on hand), Salmon and Jumbo Shrimp with plenty of tomatoes, onions and Fennel) It was also very delish
            Hmmmmmm, I’m feeling a Lamb dinner in the making, maybe on the barbecue… Just gotta get some lamb.
            But for now, it’s Friday night Pizza night… Kent’s homemade pizza is in the oven and smellin’ gooood. For dessert, I’ve made Mom’s gingerbread with my “added extra”—Fresh Pineapple Vanilla Sauce and whipped cream
            So here’s the “whole lot of fun”  part for today’s ordinary existence… my treasured 1938 Hamilton Beach stainless steel stand mixer has started to break down, electrical burning smell coming from it!   AND my Kitchen Aid stand mixer was havin’ trouble today, too – Kent was quick to remind me that the Hamilton Beach IS, after all, 75 years old!  I don’t think number of years should matter.  Well, at any rate, Kent has a project on his hands for the weekend.
            Of course, I’m no different than most people, Just tryin’ to get by the best I can under not-the-best circumstances Some days are better than others, but overall, I love life and am thankful for what I DO have. My husband my family . Then, there’s all of you, who take the time out of your day to read my musings. I want to thank you all. You’ all played  a large part in this traveling show called my life and have done much for my recovery by allowing me into your lives – Thank you all so much!!
Stay healthy and safe!