Just Look At The Thyme…and Chives, and Parsley, and Sage

Herb Gardening

My herb garden is a tad overrun. Tomorrow I will be out there trimming and scaling back much of what has become an overgrown mess. My winter kale is pretty much spent and my mint (not pictured) has taken over any bare spot it could find.

Today I bought fresh herbs to add in with what I already have growing. Soon there will be more sage, Italian Flat-leaf parsley, and chives growing alongside my established rosemary, tarragon, Greek oregano, thyme, and [overgrown] mint. When it becomes available, I’ll add my favorite summer herb: Genovese basil – perfect for Caprese salads, as an addition to Gin and Tonics…and of course for making pesto. Summer is right around the corner!!

Are Tomatoes In My Future?

I threw caution to the wind and even added a tomato plant in with the new herbs. Once again I will attempt to grow that most elusive of plants [for me] in search of that all-delicious, mouth-watering summer tomato. My success rate to date is zero. But I’m feeling lucky this year!! How great would it be to have home grown tomatoes to pair with that Genovese Basil? Or how about a tomato sandwich? [drool] Yes, it’s definitely worth the attempt. And if it fails? Well, there’s always the farmer’s markets…

 

Breaking [from] Bread: Going Against The Grain

Gluten-Free…For Me?

Question: “What do you call a fake noodle?”Answer: “An impasta!” Ha!

Ok. Let’s talk gluten. No, let’s talk gluten-free. Gluten. Free. I gotta admit, those are two words I never thought I’d ever associate with me. Yet, in January I received blood work results which , while returning negative for Celiac Disease, showed a possible issue with gluten. Rather than undergo further [and expensive] testing, I decided to just eliminate it and see what happened. Would I notice a difference? It certainly couldn’t hurt to get rid of some excess carbs. Diabetes runs in my family, so reducing anything that turns into excess sugar couldn’t be that bad.

The main reason I sought help in the first place was to try to reduce my migraines. I am tired of being overly cautious about what I eat and drink, when I eat and drink, and how I eat and drink. Granted, my migraines have lessened in severity in the past couple of years,  so I am now often able to function through them rather than having to slip into a quiet room to close my eyes for hours – or even days – on end. However, they have also become more frequent. Instead of 1-2 migraines per month I now may have 5-6 less severe ones. Neither way is any way to live. I was hoping to find a way to further minimize them. Blood work was the first step.

Long story short, at the end of January I cut the cord on gluten after receiving my results. I must say, it was not as difficult as I had imagined. We eat a lot of brown rice and quinoa with our meals anyway, so it was not too hard to leave bread and pasta off of the menu. Okay, I lied a little. The pasta part was harder, and I struggled more with that one. But I was surprised about the bread. I experimented with gluten-free breads and found one that’s not so bad to use for toast or bread crumbs, but I have not found any that I’m in love with for a basic dinner roll. The gluten-free ones are just not the same. Not yet anyway. I welcome any suggestions…

The Results Are In…

The big question: Did I notice any results? I was surprised, but YES! Where I noticed those results was even more surprising than the fact that I noticed anything at all. Within three days of eliminating gluten I began to have the best sleep since I was in my 20s. Seriously. Three days was all it took. Now, I go to bed, fall asleep, and STAY asleep. To be honest, I can’t remember ever sleeping so well. And I dream now. I suppose I have always dreamed, but only rarely did I ever remember anything I dreamt about. I have vivid dreams now. Again – Amazing!

The other thing I’ve noticed is that my skin is so much less itchy. I had been to a dermatologist a few years ago and she told me it was something that often happened to women as they aged (thank you Age Gods!). She said she could prescribe a steroid-based cream, but other than that there wasn’t much she could do to help. I passed on the cream and have just dealt with it. Until now.

Honestly, I had not noticed that change until I accidentally had a bite of something with gluten at a dinner about three weeks into my experiment. It was only one bite, but that night I slept poorly. The next day my skin was super itchy, which is when I realized how much of my skin issue had cleared after giving up gluten. Have I used the word “amazing” yet? A-mazing!

Right before Easter, which was about 2 months in on my GF trial, I decided to add a little gluten back into my life and see what would happen. I had not noticed any digestive issues with or without the gluten, so I figured I could eat a bit of my traditional Easter Coconut Cake, knowing I could expect sleep/skin issues for a little bit after. To my surprise, I did not have any sleep issues, though my skin did react some.

This past week we went to an Italian restaurant for dinner and I ordered a pasta dish for my main meal. I had been craving pasta for weeks. Seriously, I even dreamed about it one night (now that I am dreaming!). I ordered it and savored every bite. Every. Single. Bite. And I still slept that night, though admittedly not quite as well. Perhaps an entire meal of pasta (hence: gluten) is not the best idea, especially nearing bedtime. But it certainly sated my urge for some serious carbs. That is a trade-off I was willing to make.

My plan for now is to occasionally indulge. Most of the time I will eat gluten-free, enjoying the blissful nights of sleep and nicer skin. But every once in a while I’ll give in to temptation. Just a tad…

 

Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day Is TODAY!!

I scream. You Scream. We all scream for Ice-Cream!

Yes, you read that correctly. Ben and Jerry’s is having their annual Free Cone Day…TODAY! Every year they have a day to celebrate their customers, and today is the day. They will be giving away free ice-cream from 12:00PM to 8:00PM today only (April 10, 2018). If you click on the link below you can find your closest Ben and Jerry’s.

Here is a link for more information: https://www.benjerry.com/scoop-shops/free-cone-day

Oh, and you’re welcome…Enjoy!

Spring Has Sprung – At Last!

Looking forward to fresh offerings like this from my local farmer’s markets soon!

We finally had Spring temps today! The sun shone, the sky was a shade of blue I had almost forgotten it could be, and the birthday lunch I attended this afternoon was able to held outside. I even fit a walk in this afternoon. Beautiful!

Seeing all of the budding trees and rainbow of flowers makes me eager to get working in my yard. It will soon be time to plant flowers and herbs, basil being my personal favorite. Mmmm, pesto and Caprese salads…my mouth is already watering! I also look forward to the seasonal offerings at the farmer’s markets and the inspiration they will provide for future meals.

It’s getting late here, so I’m off to bed to dream of colorful gardens…Good Night, Y’all!

 

Spring in My Steps

Healthy eating! Tonight’s dinner: Branzino, broccoli, brown rice and mixed green salad.

Spring Is in the Air – Isn’t It?

Last night’s chili dinner was the perfect end to this dreary, stretched-out wintery season. I know, I know. It’s Spring. But I think someone forgot to tell that to Mr. Snow Miser (remember “The Year Without a Santa Claus”)? At any rate, I am hopeful that Spring is making its way back to us. Hope springs eternal, eh?

Speaking of Spring…my husband and I are “springing” into action to lose some weight. Our three-year stint in St. Thomas left me with an extra 20 pounds, only five of which I’ve managed to take off and keep off in the two years since we’ve been back. That leaves me with fifteen still to go. Ugh! I don’t need to make a ton of changes in my diet, a few tweaks here and there maybe, but nothing huge. I do, however, need to be more diligent with my workouts. I used to do Nia classes 4-5 times a week before St. Thomas. I started back again this past Fall, ending up with what I suspect is plantar fasciitis, so I eventually stopped. It’s finally clearing up with some stretching and exercises. I’m not sure if I’ll head back to Nia anytime soon, but I recently resumed power walking. I may add stationary cycling to change things up, too.

The Universe Knows All!

I also began yoga for increased flexibility. I started after mentioning to a friend that yoga just wasn’t for me, that I’d never taken a class that clicked with me…told her that I had thrown in the towel on ever being able to do yoga. I swear The Universe works in mysterious ways…that very night —that. very. night. I received a text from a different friend inviting me to join her at yoga the next morning. I read the text and thought, “She must be crazy!” But she had a free pass for me to use and persisted in asking. I found myself answering “yes” that night, and then I found myself in the most serene yoga class the next morning. It was a combination of meditation and flexibility exercises, with a touch of strength training thrown in. Low impact…just what I needed as my feet healed. So I signed up for more.

That Universe! She sure knows how to give you what you need if you just quiet yourself enough to listen.

Filling in the Holes

That still left a hole in my regimen. I get minimal strength training with the yoga, at least in the classes I attend. So just today I added band work to my mix. I’m not looking for bulky muscles. I only need to tone up and keep my bones dense to prevent osteoporosis.  Add in some ab work and back exercises, and I feel I’ve got a well-rounded routine.

My eating probably won’t change much. I have a thing for crystallized ginger that probably isn’t working for me. I’m addicted to the stuff. Once I have one piece, I find myself going back for more…and more. That is something I will not buy so often now. By the way, if YOU have a thing for it, Whole Foods has the best. But I digress…

This is not going to happen overnight, but I also don’t need to do everything all at once. I’ve been eating well for some time. Now it’s time to add in workouts. Power-walking kicked it off, followed by yoga. The next step is strength training. Maybe some cycling.

“Baby steps” That’s my motto…