Monday, October 15, 2018

Day 15 - Write 31 - Downtown Art Walk and Lunch in the Park

Downtown streets are deserted on a Sunday morning.

Sunday morning was clear and cool so we decided to head downtown for a walk. The streets were quiet with none of the hustle of workers going from their designated parking spots to the high rise office buildings. Everything is closed up on a Sunday morning so we had much of the town to ourselves.

Many of the buildings in downtown Jacksonville are covered with colorful murals. It's delightful to see them peaking out from between buildings and around the corners. I captured a few of them on our walk.

After a four mile stroll around downtown we headed over the bridge for a picnic beside the river. It was easy to pick up a plant-based sandwich at the local deli and enjoy it on a bench in the shade.

A simple sub with lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, banana peppers and onions. Eating plant-based doesn't have to be complicated. 

A writing challenge every October every day

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Day 13 - Write 31 - Time to Check In and Take a Four Mile Hike

Today is check-in day. 

Every Saturday I step on the scale, take my blood pressure and a dose of Vitamin B-12. 

I used to dread this ritual. Not being sure of what the numbers would show. Now? It's no big deal. I don't count calories, points or even keep a log of the food I eat. 

I just eat. Yep, potatoes, rice, corn, veggies, fruit, legumes...Until I'm satisfied. 

And my weight stays within my goal weight by 2 or 3 pounds up or down and my BP is always well within the normal range. 

I take a dose of B-12 because it's the only thing missing in a plant-based diet. But don't use that as a reason to not go plant-based. Most meat eaters are lacking in this vitamin as well but that's for another post. 

After the check in we packed up some water and a snack and headed out for a short hike. 

Fernandina Beach is home to a beautiful beach on the Atlantic Ocean. There's also a protected area that runs north and south along Egans Creek. Over 300 acres alive with deer, alligators, birds, and snakes.

We took a one mile walk on the beach and three miles along the creek. 

All powered by plants!

Lots of shells washed up on shore

This was just one of the gators we spotted. Most of them keep pretty hidden.

Lace up your shoes and get outside and take a hike!

A writing challenge every October every day

Friday, October 12, 2018

Day 12 - Write 31 - Took a Walk This Morning

Went for a walk this morning. Only one mile but what a glorious walk!

It was actually cool.

Sixty-seven degrees and it's only October. 

That's life in Florida. We don't have Fall or much of a Winter. Spring is pretty nice but Summer is relentless...

What a difference a drop in temperature makes. I almost returned home to get a long sleeve shirt but I didn't. I decided to just enjoy the cooler temp. 

Everything looked happier. There were dozens of tiny birds - Finches maybe - flitting from tree to tree. I heard the Mocking birds singing away as they taunted the little birds. High in the pine trees I could hear the Red Shouldered Hawk cawing for its mate. The squirrels were racing each other along the telephone lines. The trees even looked happier to not have the oppressive heat bearing down on their leaves. 

And I was happier.

 Even though I've walked this road more times than I can remember this morning it seemed like a brand new experience. Enjoyable and not just getting another mile in for the walking chart. 

What does this have to do with plant-based eating?

Nothing really. 

Or everything. 

It feels good to know that I can nourish my body with good food and no animals are harmed in the process. (Not that I would eat a Finch or Hawk and never a squirrel but you get the drift.) 

So I took a walk this morning and God's world is glorious!

A writing challenge every October every day

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Day 7 - Write 31 - Out of the Kitchen - Tips for Eating Out

Getting Out of the Kitchen

If you're trying to improve your health by changing your diet then cooking at home is the best option. In your own kitchen you control what goes in to a dish and how it is prepared. However there are those times when you just want someone else to do the cooking and the clean-up! 

So off to a restaurant we go.

Remember just because a dish doesn't contain meat or dairy doesn't necessarily make it healthy. Take french fries for example. No matter what type of oil they are fried in they are still deep fried. Not a 'health' food, 

Let's take a look a couple of common type restaurants found in most cities and see what's good to eat.


Best bets:
Steamed rice
Steamed veggies such as broccoli and snowpeas 
Veggie stir fry (ask if they can use a small amount of oil)
Veggie Lo Mein (ask if the noodles are made with eggs)
Tofu dishes

Veggie Lo Mein

Beware: Typical Chinese restaurant food may be high in sodium and oil. Always ask that the dish be prepared using veggie broth and no fish or oyster sauce. 


Best bet:

Pasta and marinara sauce 
Pizza with veggies, sauce and no cheese
Our favorite Italian place will make eggplant Parmesan or cauliflower Parmesan without cheese but not the veggie lasagna. You can always ask.

Pizza is from Blaze Pizza - they have restaurants all around the country. Completely Vegan including the crust. They even have a Vegan cheese.

Simple pasta with a light marinara sauce.

Beware: Most Italian places love their cheese.

Might not be as healthy (of as cheap) as you can make it at home but with a little planning and thought you can find plant-based foods when you eat out.

Happy Eating!

A writing challenge every October every day



Friday, October 5, 2018

Day 5 Write 31 - A Little Food for Thought

A Little Food for Thought

Do you ever think about the food you eat. Where it comes from or how it's raise? I had never given it much thought. You go to the store and pick it up, pay for it, bring it home and enjoy. Even though we started this plant-based journey for our health the more I read and research I find I've learned more about how animals are treated than I really want to know. 

I did some rough calculations and figure that I've bought at least 2000 gallons of milk in the last 25 years. I wish I'd known back then what I know now. 

A cow must give birth in order to produce milk. In most commercial dairies the calves are taken away from the mother shortly after birth.  I've seen videos of this happening and the mother can be heard crying for her baby. Some of these babies end up as veal. 

In a natural setting a mother cow would produce about one gallon of milk a day to feed her baby. In order for the cow to produce larger quantities of milk they are often give growth hormones. The commercial dairy cow can then produce up to seven gallons of milk a day. 

On our walk through the Cotwolds in the UK we got caught between the fence and the cows being driven back to the barn. I was slightly terrified because they are huge! My husband said we didn't have anything to worry about because the cows knew we were friendly and didn't drink their milk so they wouldn't bother us! And they didn't.

At least these cows were allowed to graze in the pasture for part of the day...

A writing challenge every October every day

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Day 4 - Write 31 - All It Takes is a Little Planning - Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Surprise! It's Time to Eat (again)

It happens at least three times a day. Breakfast, lunch and dinner everyday. OK not everyone eats breakfast but you get the idea. We get hungry we need to eat. So why does 6 p.m. roll around and we stand staring into the fridge like it's a big surprise that it's time to eat again?

I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey. He speaks of this in regards to Christmas. "Christmas is not an emergency. It happens every year. Don't use it as an excuse to overspend and buy things you can't afford." 

It's the same with meal time. Meal time is not an emergency. It happens multiple times a day. We get hungry on a pretty regular basis and yet we allow it to sneak up and because we're unprepared we end up ordering pizza or hitting the local drive through for a #1 combo.

How Can We Avoid the Big Surprise? 

You've Got to Plan Ahead

My meal planning approach is pretty simple. 

Check the Calendar

On Thursday I sit down with the calendar and make notes about the coming week. This was much more complicated when I had a house full of children. It's a lot easier now there's only two of us. But still it's important to take in to consideration what's on the calendar. 

For example I'm taking a class on Thursday night so I need to plan a quick meal so we can get out the door on time. Working late, company coming over, birthdays and holidays or weekend trips all need to be considered. 

Take Stock

Once I have our schedule down the next step is to check the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what needs to be used. This also cuts down on the weekly expenses and food waste. No reason to buy something when I have it sitting on the pantry shelf. 

Meals to Plan

Breakfast is usually oatmeal, rice or potatoes served with some type of fruit. I just keep the ingredients on hand for these dishes.
Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before or a veggie sandwich or wrap. As long as I have bread, peanut butter and jelly things are good.
Dinner is the only meal we eat together and we rely on leftovers for lunches so it's the one that takes the most planning.

Meal Plan Theme

To make life easier I plan my meals around a theme. You could come up with different themes but these are mine for now:

  • Chinese
  • Middle Eastern/Indian 
  • Mexican
  • Italian
  • All-American 
  • Down Home Southern 
Since we might go out to eat or we may have lots of leftovers I only plan out six dinners a week. 

Within each theme I have a running list of meal ideas that can I switch up each week. For example under Italian we may eat spaghetti with marinara sauce one week and then veggie lasagna the next. Truth be told we don't need a lot of variety in our eating so we really don't mind eating spaghetti every week. But it's good to have some options just in case. 

BTW it's a blessing to have a husband that's not a picky eater!

Write it Down

I write down what meals I have planned for the week for those times I have a brain freeze and can't remember what I've planned. 
However I don't assign a particular meal to a particular night unless it's really necessary. I do like to know ahead of time what's for dinner on Thursday so I can be sure to have it ready on time. 
The joy of eating plant-based is you don't have to worry about defrosting meat. Although you do have to be sure to soak the dried beans but canned is always a quick option. 

Stick to the Plan But Be Flexible

The key is to stick to your plan but be flexible enough to go with the flow. If you plan on eating taco salad for dinner and you find someone has eaten all the Frito corn chips don't throw the plan out the window. Change it up and serve the taco 'meat' (also know as lentils) over rice or a baked potato and have salad on the side. 

Making a major change in diet does take a lot of research and planning. Going plant-based has so many advantages it's well worth the effort. 

No recipe needed!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Simply open a can of black beans and a can of corn. 
Rinse and drain the beans, drain the corn. 
Mix in a little of your favorite salsa. Add some chopped onion and peppers if you want. 
Toss it all together and heat it up.
Serve over a baked potato. 
Add a salad on the side, some oven baked corn chips and extra salsa. 

Dinners on the table!

A writing challenge every October every day

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Day 3 - Write 31 - A Plant Powered Life - A Walking Holiday

"Now shall I walk or shall I ride?'Ride' Pleasure said, 'Walk', Joy replied."

This is probably one of my favorite quotes. Over the last few years that we've been actively walking together I've come to realize that it's only on foot that you can find the little nooks and crannies of an area. If you want to cover a lot of ground going by auto, plane, or train is the way to go. But to see what's around you up close and personal nothing beats a good walk.

Riding might be easier but the miles and the scenery will fly by and you very seldom get off the main road. By walking through an area you'll go places and see things that you'd never see in a car.  You might even get to talk to the locals and meet people along the way finding joy in the journey. We spend way to much time closed up in our cars and home. Get out and take a walk!

When we travel we like to avoid the big cities and typical tourist traps. Recently we took a vacation to England and decided to act like the locals and go on ramble through the country-side. Over a ten day period during our walking holiday we covered a little over one hundred miles on foot. We got off the beaten path and away from the tourist areas and saw places that most visitors miss.

And it was all powered by our plant-based diet!

We started our walk for the day in Oxford. Walking along the Oxford Towpath and Canal we walked 15.5 miles to Woodstock. 

Our walk took us past a lot of colorful canal boats. 

Beautiful horses along the trail. 

Walking past the ruins of the Godstow Abbey a medieval nunnery. The mistress of Henry II is buried here. You won't see this from a car!

We packed our lunch and had a picnic along the canal. Lettuce, tomatoes, and cukes along with a few banana peppers and hummus. Fuel for the walk.

You need energy to get up and get moving. A plant-based diet can do that for you!

A writing challenge every October every day