Thursday, April 10, 2014

Kidney Patient 101

I was very fortunate to have someone to talk to after I was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD).  PKD is inherited so I was somewhat familiar with what it was and since my mom also had it, she knew a lot of the answers to the questions I had.

Even so, I often felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants.  I was overwhelmed with lack of insurance and I was also overwhelmed with insurance after I had it.  There were questions about medications and types of dialysis and diet and protein and blood tests...and the list went on and on.

Now I am on the other side of dialysis and transplant and sometimes I am still not short on questions.  It can be a difficult road to navigate but having a place to go to get answers will help tremendously.  No, I'm not claiming I have all the answers.  I have some of the answers but not all of them, but now I have a better answer to where to go and who to talk to and what to read to find those answers.

I am tentatively starting this new series on my blog, Kidney Patient 101, in hopes that it might be a help to someone out there.  You may not be a kidney patient yourself but a loved one is and  you just want to ask a question - please feel free.  Want to know what it's like being on dialysis, I can answer that - the typethat I was on, anyway.

So, if you have questions (kidney patient or not), please send them my way.  You can leave a comment below or click on the contact button at the top of this blog.  Don't be shy, ask away!

*Taps On Window* Remember Me?

Hey guys - you haven't forgotten me, have you?  I am sorry for being missing in action without so much as a how do you do!

An excuse?  Well, I sort of have one.  I fractured my foot in February and it still giving me trouble but as far as excuses go, it's not a great one since I've been off my foot and on the computer.  A lot.

I suppose I haven't had much inspiration to post plant-based recipes since I haven't been preparing as many meals.  However, I think I am finally on the mend and am ready to start blogging again.

What have you been cooking?  Things that make you feel healthy and strong and energetic?

So, good things are coming in April - more blogs, a birthday and a giveaway on the 23rd.  I'll be back again soon - I promise!!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

52 Weeks of @HappyHerbivore Recipes {Week Six}


Hey guys, I am so sorry that I am a day late! Commit to a weekly blog post and you will watch time go by so quickly. I actually thought about this post yesterday but somehow thought I had one more whole day to write it!

This week I did not try any new Happy Herbivore but, of course, made some of my tried and trued favorites. My guys asked some guys over to watch the big game on Sunday So I made a few goodies for them. Here are my recipes from this past week:

The granola was especially yummy and my guys asked me to make more and double or triple the batch!

Granola - HHLL, page 30

Classic Cornbread - HHLL, page 55

Add captionSpice Cake Surprise - HHLL, page 223

Roasted Chickpeas - HHLL, page 213

I'll see you back here next week with more yummy Happy Herbivore recipes!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

52 Weeks of @HappyHerbivore Recipes {Week Five}


Coming at you with week five!  Let's jump right in with the pictures:

Spaghetti and Meatless Balls — HHC, page 165

This is my hubby loves spaghetti and meatballs.  When we went meatless at home, we discovered some meatless meatballs at Publix that he liked quite a bit but they were mega expensive and not low in fat at all.  He suggested we try making our own so I pulled out my handy Master Table of Contents of Happy Herbivore cookbooks (she has this available on her website) and found our recipe.  We've not tried any other recipes - these are the best.

Chocolate-Zucchini Muffins — HHC, page 45

 I just realized that this is the second recipe that does not have a picture of the finished product.  That's because often we can't wait to dig in and I forget to snap a shot!  These muffins are super moist and so chocolatey!

Pumpkin Chili - HHLL, page 118
I usually avoid savory recipes that include pumpkin as an ingredient but since beginning a plant-based diet I have decided that if I want to make changes then I have to change my way of thinking and at least try recipes that seem odd to me.  I am so glad that I tried this chili - it's just enough for a lunch serving and I didn't have to share with anyone!

Pumpkin Muffin - HHLL, page 50

This was a recipe for an individual serving and I divided it between two muffin cups.  I'm really the only pumpkin lover in the house so it is the perfect recipe for just one.  Open a can of pumpkin and once you've made these yummies, just put the leftover in a storage container to use again.

Skinny Mac n’ Cheese - HHLL, page 150
The boys wanted some mac n cheese for lunch one day and I wanted to give this one a try.  This recipes called for greens but since I didn't have any I went ahead and made it without.  The boys loved it and I am looking forward to making it again with some spinach.

Tonight I am making Tamale Casserole, Spanish Rice and I am also hoping to make the Granola from Happy Herbivore Light and Lean.  I will let you know how those turn out next week.  In the meantime, you need to grab this:

http://www.amazon.com/Happy-Herbivore-Light-Lean-Low-Calorie/dp/1937856976

Monday, January 27, 2014

No Eating Out in January Challenge - The Results

Yes, I know we are not at then end of the month yet but since we are going out of town tomorrow and will most definitely eat out, I thought today would be a good time to update you with our progress and results.

I admit that I had an ulterior motive to challenging the family to not eat out in January and it wasn't just to save money (but we have definitely done that).  I knew not eating out meant eating all our meals at home and a lot more cooking on my part.  Eating at home meant that, for the most part, I controlled what everyone ate and would assure that I personally would stick to my goal of eating only a plant-based diet (without splurging).

I also felt that if my family went a whole month of eating only plant-based foods, that the rich foods (and meat) they had when eating out would become less-satisfying to them - and I was exactly right.  We ordered pizza (vegetarian but with cheese) twice and both times different members expressed not feeling as good or feeling as satisfied. 

We also went out to eat on Friday night after one son's youth meeting and the other son's basketball game. A local barbeque place that sells huge loaded potatoes has been a favorite place of ours for a long time and that's where we went.  My youngest decided to stay plant-based and ordered a large salad.  I ordered a plain baked potato and a side salad and, I will admit, I used regular ranch dressing on my salad.  My husband and older son both chose loaded potatoes.  They both expressed (even my husband) that there was just not something right about them and that they didn't satisfy like they used to.

So, even though we didn't go an entire 30 days without eating out, I would definitely call this challenge a success because of the important lessons that were learned (I may have even dropped a pound or eight). The money savings were pretty incredible as well - we were able to take care of some items that needed doing that were usually reserved for the day after payday, such as changing the oil.

Closing Thoughts

I believe any time we find ourselves slipping into old habits, this challenge would be an excellent way to get us back on track.  We don't have to challenge ourselves to save money or eat plant-based - just to not eat out!  I have become more organized about menu planning and more diligent about preparing things ahead of time to ensure that meal times run more smoothy and that we are not caught at home without anything to eat.  I can see us doing this challenge, or something similar to it, again.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Finding Your Plant-Based Style

I've been trying to transition to a plant-based diet for a long time and the meal-planning has been a bit of a struggle for me.  I dove into all the popular websites and bookmarked a boatload of recipes and I stressed over keeping up with them all.

I was often put off with the ingredients I was unfamiliar with and the lengthy time it would take to prepare many of the recipes.  I just wanted to be able to cook simple food that my family would actually eat and be able to get it on the table in the least amount possible.  There's nothing wrong with more complicated recipes but my lifestyle doesn't allow for it.

Now here is where I break into a Happy Herbivore commercial!  I found what I needed in her low-fat, vegan, quick and simple recipes (not to mention her 7 week meal plans).  It is what works for my family and I prepare her food on a regular basis.  I find that I do not spend large amounts of time looking for new recipes to prepare.  I bought all four of her books and several of her meal plans and when it is time for me to make my own menu, they're my go-to sources.

My point is this:  if you are new to plant-based eating and are overwhelmed with all the options, try zeroing in on one source that interests you and get familiar with their methods, ingredients and style.   See if you can see yourself adopting this for your own lifestyle.  If you can, drop the big recipe search for awhile.  I became more confident in my skills and the things I had learned - such as, nutritional yeast wasn't a weird ingredient after all and my family enjoyed the food I prepared with it and cookies made with beans were actually good!  Now I occasionally come across a recipe that looks interesting and I will give it a try to see if I want to add it to my rotation - otherwise, I stick with a combination of Happy Herbivore recipes and a list of other family favorites I have accumulated over the years.

What's your plant-based style?

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

52 Weeks of @HappyHerbivore Recipes {Week Four}

Gosh the weeks are flying by!  Our "No Eating Our in January" challenge continues and my family is amazed that we have been able to go 21 days without eating out.  In the interest of full disclosure you should know that one night we did order a veggie pizza.  As we figured, we are saving money and are eating healthier than we ever have before.  My blood sugars are more in control and there may have even been a pound or two lost.  Let me share with you the Happy Herbivore recipes I've prepared in the past week.
Over the weekend I made two of her smoothies: the Cinnamon Bun Smoothie and (my favorite) Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie. I plan to share new recipes that I have prepared but we definitely have our favorites and this week I made another batch of Mealoaf Bites - they are delicous!

Before popping them into the oven.




Meatloaf Bites topped with ketchup, Mashed Potatoes with
HH Mushroom Gravy and Steamed Cabbage.

This was my first time to make the Mushroom Gravy.  I am not a big mushroom lover but my hubby most definitely is - he loved it!  I ate some of the mushrooms but mostly pushed them aside and ate the gravy which was fantastic - double batch next time!!  I took the picture below right before I served it up - there is so much steam that you can barely see the gravy!

So good and ABSOLUTELY no oil!

My husband has fallen in love with the Pinquito Beans and out of all of Happy Herbivore's recipes, I have probably made it the most often.

Pinquito Beans

I have mixed feelings about the Lentil Taco Meat and that's because of my mistake - I didn't cook the lentils long enough.  I had already decided that I was going to just pulse the lentils instead of pureeing them so they didn't seem like refried beans.  When I saw they were undercooked, I pulsed them more, which helped but they weren't the consistency I was going for.  The verdict is:  the flavor is awesome but you must make sure the lentils are cooked!  :)

Lentil Taco "Meat"

Taco's with homemade shells
See you next week!