Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

As 2010 draws to a close my heart and mind are kinda confused. In retrospect 2010 was the most difficult life changing year of my life thus far and I suspect it will always wear that title. This is saying a lot since 2007 was pretty tough what with me almost checking out due to a freak illness, having to relearn how to walk again, speak clearly and well, all kinds of other craziness. 2007 comes in a very close second to winning that title but 2010 has it beat by several lengths. It is the triple crown winner. In 2010 I watched my 41 year old husband dying and had to make the decision to let him go naturally or keep him on life support. I let life happen as it was meant to be and chose not to have life support. We had discussed this in case it ever came up. I never thought it would but thank god we had that talk. A piece of me was ripped away that morning without warning. I have spent the last 6 months tending that gaping wound. So, I am ready for a clean slate but putting 2010 behind me seems almost sacrilege. My slate is cleaner than I want it to be in that I am now a widow. I wear my wedding rings, his too, I had them made into one ring but I go to sleep alone every night and wake up with only my cats next to me in the morning. I have moved and am looking forward to a new career, new friends, new opportunities but how do I leave the me behind that was an extremely happily married woman...maybe I don't. She is a part of who I am and who I will always be. It is not always about leaving behind but instead about letting go. I am not leaving my husband in the past. That is not possible. He is a part of my present in that he is a part of me. Paul helped shape my life and he continues to do so. I let go of the pain, sadness, sleepless nights and suffering and open to the joy, feeling good, restful nights and divine love and guidance of the man I chose to spend my life with.
The next few days I will be giving myself this pep talk numerous times. It is time for the new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Keri's Portobello "steak" sandwhich

Tonight I experimented with making my own portobello mushroom sandwhich and it was good.

Preheat oven to 300 and place 3 large Bollo rolls or other heavy rolls on a cookie sheet . Drizzle with a small amount of Olive Oil and let rolls warm to desired heat.
Clean the portobello musshrom caps and drizzle the veiny side with Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar to taste. Heat enough grapeseed oil in a pan to coat it. Start with the veiny side up in the pan for about 3 minutes and flip them over for another 3 minutes. The oil & vinegar will fall out which is what you want. It will now cook into the other side of the mushroom cap. Add cracked black pepper to taste. Place the mushroom "steaks" on the rolls and top with Daiya cheese or real cheese if you choose, artichokes and spinach leaves. Enjoy this fast and easy meal. There are many options to this recipe like rubbing the rolls with garlic, making a pesto to spread on the bread or using a veganaise spread, adding other veggies like tomatoes, etc.

Friday, December 24, 2010

a first

So tonight I decided I needed some Keri Christmas time which basically meant time alone. It has been a roller coaster month. I have had great happiness and peace as well as painful sadness. Most people do not know and would not expect that my husband loved this time of the year. He got excited to go pick out our Christmas tree every year. He even went and cut one down once when we were pretty broke and did not think we were going to be able to afford one. It came complete with an empty bird's nest. There are certain ornaments that were/are his and he loved hanging them and picking out wrapping paper. I will always cherish the huge smile on his face when he would hand me the gift he had for me. He always seemed so happy to see me open it and waited for my reaction. It is so extremely hard to realize that we can't do these things together any more but I am so extremely grateful that we did get the opportunity to share these moments with each other and that they are a part of who I am. They give me peace, comfort and strength. The best Christmas gift is love. Sharing that with someone, giving it and receiving it is something that makes life worth living and it does not have a monetary price tag. There are no crowds of shoppers to contend with. This gift settles into our hearts and souls and lasts beyond our physical bodies. I am so in love with my husband and thank him everyday for being a part of my life and allowing me to be a part of his. This is my first Christmas without him physically and I am going to do my best to open that everlasting gift of love tomorrow and have a joyful day. I wish the same for you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A wonderful day

Today I am feeling all kinds of inspired. I made it up to Mt. Tabor on my walk this afternoon. Mt. Tabor park is 28 blocks up hill and I did it! I was ready to stop at 20 blocks but a little voice that sounded just like Paul came to me and said if I could do it with cancer in my body than your healthy body can do it. And I did! Two years ago we took this walk with Jordan from their house, my new home, to Mt. Tabor. I had to sit down on a bench that overlooks the lower reservoir when I got there and I felt such peace and amazing chi energy...probably from all of the tall, old evergreens. I just felt wrapped up in positive chi and love. I shed a few tears but these tears were tears of happiness for both Paul and myself. I am also proud that I can say that. Breathing in I felt alive and I was keenly aware of Paul's new role in my life. He is in the air I breath and in my heart. It was beautiful. It kinda feels like I turned a new corner today. It is now my goal to do that walk at least twice per week. Twenty eight blocks up hill and twenty eight blocks back plus a trail while in the park. It just feels good!
This leads me into another topic. Last night I took a very interesting class from a Naturopathic doctor on longevity insights from the "blue zones" and Naturopathic medicine. The "blue zones" are places in the world where the average lifespan is 11 years longer than in the US. The average lifespan of a man in the US is 78 and a woman is 82. In "blue zones" 1/3 or more of the population reach 90 to 100 and are 10 times more likely to reach 100. These people are still having sex in thier 90's and appear to be much happier..maybe those two things are related??
The known "blue zones" are Loma Linda, CA. , Nicoya, Costa Rica, Okinawa, Japan, Sardina, Italy & Ikaria, Greece. Vegetables are an important part of the diets in these places as is moderate daily exercise (the activities of daily living not going to the gym), having ways of dealing with stress, enjoying a (one) glass of red wine in a few of these zones, staying social, finding a purpose in life, having an active spiritual life (whatever that might be for an individual), having a close connection with family, community, and/or friends.
A few ways to implement these things in our lives is as follows: Mindful Eating is one of them and it has two meanings for me. As a Buddhist this idea is practiced in being grateful for the food, acknowledging it's health benefits (only taking in foods that are healthy) and the fact that hard work went into producing it for us. We savor our food and are mindful of the taste, smell, texture, etc. and from a Naturopathic point of view in general this means eating until we feel about 80% full not 100% stuffed. The power of a plant based diet is important. The focus should be on the freshest and most colorful fruits and veggies possible. Eat the rainbow! Also include legumes like peas, lentils, beans and whole grains like oat groats and brown rice. Meat is not thrown out but is should only be 100% pasture raised and fed.
I mentioned the red wine and one glass is the suggested limit. More than this puts stress on the liver and pancreas and it does need to be red. Resveritol is found in red wine. Now if you have a serious health issue like cancer than usually you are advised against all alcohols and this doctor supports that. From past nutrition classes if you want the benefits of resveritol then you eat the red grapes. Although I am considering breaking my almost 4 years of no alcohol with a glass of red wine tonight. Staying social by volunteering, joining any number of groups or clubs and staying close to family and friends helps us to remember and experience that it is truly better to give than receive because givers get in the end. "life is a gift and our moments alive are few and precious...treasure them." Another important way to stay social and belong is by practicing your belief systems. People with belief systems and rituals find peace and comfort when stressed or challenged. I can attest to this personally. It gives one an important source of purpose. Married people tend to live longer. I hope being widowed does not throw me out of this group. Children tend to extend family connections and encourage us to invest in the present and the future. Daily exercise like walking is beneficial. The daily activities of life can be the best exercise. If you can run errands on foot do it. Leave the car parked as much as possible. People living in cities tend to have less cardiovascular disease than those living in the suburbs because people in the cities walk more places. Walking promotes lymph gland drainage, reduces blood pressure,improves circulation, tones muscles, etc. Gardening was found to be a daily activity in all "blue zones". Think about it you have a purpose in it, you are producing your own fresh, hopefully organic, food and it is a physical activity. Stopping smoking was big on this doctors list for obvious reasons. Just give these things a try and if you get the chance try to learn more about the lifestyles in these "blue zones". It really is pretty interesting.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Tonight I took a class on an Anti-inflammatory diet with a Nutritionist. I have attended a class on this before in Kansas City with a dietitian. It is always good to relearn and refresh this information. There is some level of inflammation at the heart of every disease. Acute inflammation is not a bad thing. It is our bodies way of healing. It brings blood flow and white blood cells to damaged tissue but chronic inflammation is not a good thing and it is a growing problem. Anything that ends in "itis" is an inflammatory issue like arthritis or sinusitis. There are certain major contributors to inflammation such as stressful lifestyle, diets high in grains and other allergenic foods, diets high in sugars and carbohydrates, diets high in processed foods, increased exposure to Nsaids, antibiotics, environmental toxins like pesticides, medications, lack of or inappropriate exercise, genetic predisposition and a decrease in nutrient rich protective foods. The gastrointestinal tract is crucial for nutrient absorption. Keeping it well maintained is essential. It is important to remove foods that one knows they are allergic or sensitive too. Probiotics are important. They help keep our gut microflora balanced. In every nutrition class I have taken the issue of gut health being the critical piece of the puzzle for a healthy body has been taught. Our immune systems begin there and our nutrients are absorbed there.
One of the things our teacher expressed several times is that you will get out of this what you are willing to put into it. We all make the choice what to do or not do. It is not a "fun" diet but you can be creative. She recommends trying to avoid the proinflammatory foods for 4 to 6 weeks and over a period of 4 days add back in the eliminated foods one by one to determine if that particular food is a problem for you. Proinflamatory foods include all vegetable oils, spreads and margarines containing soy,corn, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, grape seed and canola oils because they are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, fried foods because frying oxidizes oils making them toxic, fast foods, foods made with partially hydrogenated oils/trans fats, grains including those from the wheat family, conventionally raised meats, foods with a high sugar or carbohydrate content, processed and refined foods, common food allergens like soy,peanuts, corn, dairy, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes,potatoes, eggplant,bell peppers,hot peppers,paprika) foods high in lectins which are proteins that bind to certain cell membranes in the intestine disrupting their function. Foods with lectin are cereal grains, beans and legumes. Soaking and sprouting these things helps to unlock the natural enzyme inhibitors that act as a preservative in these foods. Avoid animal milk/cheese and commercial eggs (free roaming are ok), industrial farmed poultry and grain fed meat as well as farmed salmon, peanut and corn products, citrus fruits with the exception of lemon, bottled juices, dried fruits (because they are reduced to a big piece of sugar and often have sugars added to them) Foods that are ok in some of these categories are all vegetables except the nightshades, amaranth, teff, millet, oatmeal, quinoa, rice (brown,wild,black not white),
buckwheat, one or two pieces of fruit (because of the sugar content and not citrus except for lemon), 100% pure maple syrup, raw honey, rice syrup or stevia, split peas, kidney or pinto beans, lentils, adzuki, mung and garbanzo beans (all soaked for 24 hours or sprouted). Deep sea, wild fish, cage free or wild chicken and turkey, free range pasture fed meats. Organic butter, ghee, olive oil (not heated), coconut oil. Sprouted breads are a good option and are available in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. Caffeine and alcohol are also proinflamatory.
There is much more to learn about this topic but in my opinion it is worth the time and effort. The dietary changes may seem daunting but there are great choices available in health food stores that allow us to be creative with our food and healthy. We can do a lot on our own too like sprouting, soaking and making our own fresh juices at home. It all takes effort but aren't you and your family worth it? Convenience has its' place but not in our diets as the mounting health problems in our country and in the world will testify too. Nature gives us the resources we need to be healthy. Real, whole food is one of those resources. One of the reasons industrial, conventional ,farmed meats and fish are bad is because they are fed unnatural diets to fatten them and loads of medications. That gets passed on up the food chain. Gluten is such a problem now because wheat as we know it is extremely hybridized creating excess gluten.
Non organic foods are laden with toxic chemicals and once it is sprayed on it soaks in with few exceptions. Things that have a very thick skin like avocado is one of them. These things are making us sick and for what? money! It is crazy and we all need to take a stand for ourselves and each other.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I usually make extra brown rice to use in another meal when I make it. Lately I have not been getting it used up before I have to throw it out. I do not like to waste food. This morning I was inspired by a story my mother told me and decided to try the leftover brown rice like a cereal. It was really good. I just warmed up a bowl of it and added rice milk, pure maple syrup, cinnamon and almond slivers to taste. It hit the spot just like oatmeal. I think this would be a great way for parents to save some time in the morning. Make some brown rice for dinner and make enough for cereal the next morning. Just store it in the fridge. If we want to do this balanced and nutritionally proper a protein should probably be eaten along with this meal of carbs. So, don't leave out the almonds they are a protein source and offer numerous other nutritional benefits.
Walnuts would be great too.

Monday, December 6, 2010

a new begining

I am settling into my new home city very well. Some days I have to remind myself that I am not on vacation and it doesn't all have to be done or seen right now. It feels so good not to wake up alone in the house that my husband and I shared. Now I wake up to a house full of people, the joy of children's laughter and the neighbors coming over for dinner meaning several cooks in the kitchen. It is woonderful. Living with my best friends is treating me well and I feel safe in saying that it is working out for all of us. I am still awed by their openness and generosity. Actually, no I am not. This is the kind of people they are. We are this situation we did get to choose. Paul and I chose well. We have always known that about Dana and Jordan. The people I have met so far have been very friendly and welcoming. It occurred to me a few weeks ago after a party that the nice people that I just met do not know Paul only me and that made me sad. It brought about the reality that any new people I met will not know the man I was married to and shared my life with for 18 years. He was and is such a huge part of my life which makes the thought of this is painful. I do not really know how to deal with it. A friend of mine who is going through the same life situation told me she just makes sure to talk about her partner to new people she meets. I can definitely do that. In fact, I might talk too much. It is a weird situation to be in but I am not going to dwell on it. Everything will work out. I believe that. Tomorrow marks 5 months since Paul's passing. Unbelievable!! I miss him so much everyday but I know he is taking care of me and that he is proud that I am trying to make the most of the life I have left.