Another Milestone

No recipe today – I simply have not had time to really cook (and I’m rather sick of eggs, to be perfectly honest).  Hopefully things will return somewhat to normal tomorrow, but in the meantime today we’re driving The Young One to Kent State and moving him into his dorm room.

We spent most of yesterday evening getting him packed up and all of the stuff deposited next to the front door (which we rarely use).  Today, I’ll print out the directions for lofting his dorm furniture, print his schedule for “Welcome Weekend,” program the GPS directions into my phone and try not to be an emotional mess.

I don’t know why I’m so nervous; my stomach is just all in knots.  All I can think of is how much I’m going to miss him and how worried I’m going to be.  Will he do well?  Will he make friends?  Will he party too much?  Too little?  Will he be homesick?  Will he not be homesick?  Will he live off of junk food?  Will he find his niche?

And to think, all of these years I’d been looking forward to the time they’d all be grown and on their own.

*sob*

Tomorrow

Last Friday I wrote about my decision to do another Whole30 this summer was motivated by my most recent bout of insomnia.  I’m glad to report that I’ve been sleeping more soundly since that post.  Not as soundly as I’d like, but it’s better – no anxiety attacks, which is always a good thing.  In fact, the anxiety attack was more worrisome to me than the insomnia; I used to suffer from anxiety quite a bit until we changed our diet.  It was the first attack in a very long time, and it was NOT welcome.

This morning, I’m suffering from menopausal brain fog, something else of which I’d like to see the end.  Why this has lingered when the irritability and mood swings have lessened in frequency and severity over the last year is beyond me, but I really, really hate it.  Hopefully clean eating for 30 days will help a bit with that, too.

Also, I’d like to apologize for the lack of blogging about optimal diet for menopause.  It hasn’t been because I don’t want to, but I simply have not had the time to do the kind of research and experimentation needed to do write with any sort of authority, and I’m not the type to go just throw junk out there because it sounds good.  It is one thing to advise that women of a certain age exercise and avoid alcohol (and plastic) as much as possible, or why it’s not a lack of estrogen that’s the problem but a lack of progesterone, but it’s something else all together to explain the science behind those claims.

Time is my problem and will continue to be, as our busy canning season is rushing towards us with the speed of light, I work to get The Young One settled in college and my workload at the office does nothing but increase.  I do plan, however, to give frequent reports about how I feel over the next 30 days, and what I believe are the causes, so there’s that.  I may also add a page to this site where I document what I eat every day – it will be interesting to see how what I eat affects how I feel (and vice versa).

Anyhoo, in anticipation of a month of grain-dairy-soy-sugar-free meals, here are some of my best Whole30 recipes.  I’ll be making them over the course of the month, and hope you do too.

Gluten-Free Crab Cakes

Gluten Free Crab Cakes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Green Tomatoes

Melon Salad

Melon Salad

Chili Dogs

Chili Dogs

Zucchini Fritters

Zucchini Fritters

Okra Stir-Fry

Okra Stir-Fry

Birria

Birria

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche. Gluten-free, dairy-free and low carb, this crustless quiche is unbelievably delicious.

Mushroom and Spinach Quiche

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak. Nothing compares to a perfectly grilled Flank Steak, especially when flavored with citrus and chili!

Citrus Marinated Flank Steak

Another Whole30

I had a recipe for you today but, well…you’ll get it next week.

I’m a bit wonky today.  If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time you know I suffer from periodic bouts of insomnia.  Most of the time it’s a night or two (occasionally three) where I have a hard time either falling asleep or staying asleep.  The staying asleep nights are usually sinus-related, and I can find some relief simply by sleeping semi-upright – either propped up on what Beloved refers to as “Mount Pillowmanjaro” or, more successfully, in my recliner.  If that’s not enough, then I have other strategies I employ, and I’m usually back to something resembling normal sleeping patterns in a day or two.

Three years ago, though, I went through a severe period of insomnia that lasted over six weeks.  Yes – SIX WEEKS.  It started out sinus-related and was so bad I began to have nightmares that I was choking, which brought on horrible anxiety attacks about sleeping in general and just made the whole thing worse.  I was a miserable zombie before it was all over, and have dreaded a repeat.

The last two nights?  Have not been good, and this morning I had to talk myself down from what was a potentially major anxiety attack.  Two nights and one bad anxiety attack was enough for me to decide to nip this right in the bud, and since I know my sinus problems are at least partly diet-related (things have been getting a little lax here at the Sushi Bar in regards to grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, etc), I am going to join the big Whole30 push this August.

I know I was disappointed in the results from last year’s Whole30, mainly because it did little to alleviate the worst of my menopause symptoms.  Over the course of the last year, those have abated somewhat; not from anything particular that I’m doing, I’m sure – I’m still over-worked, over-scheduled and over-stressed.  Perhaps I’m just getting to the point in this menopausal journey where the symptoms are, if not disappearing, just becoming naturally less severe (I know regular exercise is helping quite a bit).  Right now I’m looking for a way to nip this particularly nasty and tenacious insomnia in the bud, and I could also use an excuse to clean up my eating act somewhat (like not being able to sleep isn’t excuse enough).

So just get ready for another month of Whole30 recipes, beginning the first of the month.  My enthusiasm for blogging has also been waning lately; maybe this will help with that, too.

Have a great, restful weekend, y’all.

Menus, Milestones and Mayans

Well.

I just hit the ground running this morning and have not had a moment to breathe up until now, so I’m a tad late posting.  (We’ll ignore the fact that I might just have been slightly at a loss as to what to blog about.  That works for me, how about you?)  At any rate, since I’ve used up my self-imposed quota of recipes for the week, I thought I’d bore regale you with some end-of-the-year minutia.

As I’d mentioned a time or three, we are hosting our annual company holiday party this Saturday in our home.  You may think we’re bonkers for doing so – okay, we are, but that’s not the point.  The point is, our house would never truly get cleaned if we didn’t.  Why do we never truly look at our homes until we realize that others will be looking at it too?  I mean, it’s not as if we’re living hip deep in trash and clutter or anything, but we may have eventually been slowly suffocated under a blanket of ever-increasing dust and Scooter hair.  To say nothing of what we’d be walking on if we didn’t have our cream-colored carpets shampooed every year.

At any rate, every year I find myself stressing over what to serve at our party, and this year is no different.  We don’t serve a meal, but rather a bunch of nibbles and tidbits that our guests can pile on a plate and walk around with, while the dog sits on their feet and stares at them pitifully.  The last few years this has been even more difficult because of the wildly divergent diets we all eat – one of us is very low carb (out of necessity), a couple of us eat no grains or dairy, the spouse of one of our employees eats very little meat, and there’s a few that wonder where all the cookies and Chex Mix are.  It takes some planning, but I’ve managed to come up with something that I think will suit everyone.

Mixed Nuts

Shrimp Cocktail Platter

Meat and Cheese Platter.  I order this from the Honey Baked Ham people and buy small rolls/sandwich buns for the bread-eaters to make sandwiches out of.  I’ll put out an assortment of pickles I’ve canned myself – bread and butter, garlic dill, pickled beets and watermelon pickles – as well as condiments (mustard, mayonnaise, and ketchup)

Crudité Platter with Dairy Free Ranch Dressing for dipping

Fruit Platter with Creamy Poppyseed Dressing for dipping

Cocktail Meatballs – these are just my Barbecue Glazed Meatballs, only smaller

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms.  If these are any good, I’ll post the recipe next week.

Strawberry Cheese Ring.  This is a hold over from “the old days” but is always wildly popular.  As a concession – mostly to myself – I will serve these with gluten-free crackers.

Bacon-Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes.  These are good.  So good there are never any left at the end of the party.  I’m going to make two batches – one with cheese, and one without for us non-dairy folk.  If I tweak them a lot, I’ll repost the recipe.

Apple Pie.  I cannot have the party and not make this.  Our head programmer adores apple pie – MY apple pie.  So I make it every year, and he takes whatever is left home and eats it for breakfast every day, then returns my pie plate.  It’s become one of those holiday tradition things.

Chocolate Cupcakes.  Yes, the grain-free ones.  I may go buy one of those mini-muffin pans and make  them bite-sized, and add some peppermint extract to the buttercream.  Again, if I tweak the recipe much, I’ll repost the recipe.

And that’s what I’m serving.  If it seems like a lot of food for a dozen people, well…it is.  But, like Thanksgiving, means I won’t have to cook the next day, because I’m not above eating leftover cocktail nibbles for dinner if that’s what it takes to get rid of them.

As for the milestones, there will be two this year:  Saturday I turn 50, and Sunday marks the 5th anniversary of the day I quit smoking.  My mother, a lifelong heavy smoker and committed yo-yo dieter who loved junk food and carried all of her extra weight in her upper body, developed an aeortal aneurysm at 46 that went undiagnosed.  It burst and she had emergency surgery to repair it before she died of internal bleeding.  Five years later she died of a massive heart attack, just 2 months after her 51st birthday.

For the last 16 years, every doctor I’ve told that to has had an apoplectic fit.  And really, by the time I was 45 I could see myself heading down that same path.  It scared the bejesus out of me, and it should have.  So I quit smoking.  Two years later, I changed our diet.  Am I still overweight?  Yeah, I am.  But there have been no aeortal aneurysms, and I’m feeling fairly confident that I will live to see 52.  And hopefull 62, 72 and 82, and that I’ll remain in reasonably good health, unmedicated and with my wits intact, to the end of it all.

Which may very well be tomorrow, if you believe the nutjobs and fruitcakes picketing in downtown Podunk today, waving their signs declaring things like “The End Is Nigh” and “Prepare to Meet Your Maker.”

Oh, Mayans, you’ve given us so much amusement this year.

But, just in case I’m wrong and the end IS nigh, this is for everyone who hasn’t seen it yet:

The Chandelier Tree

The tree in our dining room.

That hangs from the ceiling.

What I Learned On Whole30, Again

I did a post similar to this after January’s Whole30, which I did not complete in its entirety.  This time I stuck it out for the entire 30 days – yay me! – and I have some things to say about it.

It was an interesting experiment – not at all what I expected.

Going without any kind of sweetener for 30 days was much easier than I expected.  Giving up alcohol completely was much easier than I expected.  Exercising daily was much easier than I expected.  Going completely without dairy of any kind, even goat and sheep, was not only easier than I expected, but turned out to be completely necessary (bye-bye, lingering sinus problems!).  Going without grains or legumes was a complete non-issue, since I don’t eat gluten-bearing grains at all and rarely eat rice, corn or beans of any sort.  Ditto soy.  Ditto industrial seed oils.

However, coming up with different, interesting recipes that fit within the guidelines of the diet was more difficult than I expected, especially towards the end.  Frankly, I got bored – not that that was a problem with the plan itself, but it happened.   I had other expectations, too, especially when it came to weight loss.  I thought that such a strict regimen of diet and exercise would surely bring significant weight loss.

I lost a grand total of 2 1/2 pounds for the entire 30 days.  To say that this is something of a disappointment is an understatement, especially when you consider I’ve lost that much in the 6 days since returning to my “normal” diet.  Frustrating doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I had expectations that I would have much more energy and more relief in regards to my hormonally-driven mood swings.  Again, to my great disappointment, neither happened.  In fact, that viciously edgy feeling – the one where you want to burst into tears at the drop of a hat and everyone and everything around you is a constant source of irritation  (I’m sure my perimenopausal readers are quite familiar with that one) – not only wasn’t relieved, but seemed to become worse.  Until I ate my first post-Whole30 white potato, that is, when it all just seemed to melt away (for awhile, anyway).  I’m not sure if that was physiological or psychological – it has occurred to me there was some subconscious resentment at not being able to eat whatever I wanted – but if anyone has an physical explanation for this, I’d love to hear it.  At first it seemed as if my dry skin was clearing up, especially on my elbows, but it came back with a vengeance the last days of the program, and I’m at a loss of how to explain this.

Now having said that, I don’t think any of this is necessarily the fault of the diet.  Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, the authors of the Whole30 program, are quite young and seem to have little, if any, experience with the problems of a woman going through menopause.  They simply don’t need that experience (yet).  Also, all of the information in their motivational emails, especially in regards of what to expect, seemed to be directed at people who had been eating the Standard American Diet before participating in the Whole30.

I imagine if you’re going to go from a diet replete with sugar-loaded refined grains and vegetable oils, the strict protocol demanded by the Whole30 will produce absolutely amazing results.  In fact, I KNOW it will, because I saw those amazing results myself over 2 years ago when we changed our diet.  What I’d hoped for was a measure of relief from the more troubling and persistent symptoms of menopause.  I didn’t see the results I’d expected, but again – I don’t think it’s the fault of the Whole30 program.  It’s just not what it was designed for.

I’m still hopeful that I’ll find find the relief I so desperately want without HRT; questions of safety aside, you’re going to have to ditch the hormones sooner or later anyway, so why not make it sooner?  I’d joked earlier that I want a I Just Want To Be Healthy and Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact Diet, but it sounds less and less like a joke every day, and if reader response – here, on my Facebook page and in private communications – is any indication, I am NOT alone.

As middle-aged women, we’re mostly ignored as a demographic, which is surprising since we’re the people with the buying power; we care for, clothe, feed and make most of the day-to-day money decisions not only ourselves and our partners, but often our adult children and aging parents as well – some of us are parenting our own grandchildren.  As a whole we’re over-worked, over-scheduled and over-stressed.  Instead of being encouraged to age gracefully and naturally, we’re constantly bombarded with ads for products that will “cure” our wrinkles, our grey hair, our flab, reinforcing the impression that we’re not desirable, vibrant women unless we’re young – or at least appear to be.  There are numerous drugs on the market for aging men suffering from loss of libido and/or sexual performance, but not ONE for women – it’s barely acknowledged as an issue.

Information on how to be healthy and get through menopause with your sanity intact is wildly varied and much of it sparse indeed, unless you’re willing to pay for it – and buy a bucketload of supplements in the bargain.  Many of us won’t see the full transition from perimenopause to postmenopause until our mid-50s; the average age for the end of your menses is 53, and it can take as long a ten years to make that transition.  Why is there not more information on how to get through all of this other than the standard “erp-a-derp – just cut out teh alcoholz, get more of teh exersize and buy teh lube”?  I mean, really.  Aaaaargh.

At any rate, I’ve been talking it over with Beloved and I’m dead serious:  research for the I Just Want To Be Healthy And Get Through Menopause With My Sanity Intact Diet And Lifestyle has begun.  If you’re interested, stick around.  If you’re not interested, stick around anyway because the recipes will keep coming and a good measure of them will still be Whole30 complaint, or easily  modified to make them so.

What say you, ladies?  Are you with me?