Cold Weather Batch Cookin’

I spent all day in the kitchen trying to get ahead on some meals and try out a few new recipes.

I made two batches of spaghetti sauce, 2 batches of wheatballs, a pot of chili, quinoa cornbread, and banana bread.

I added my leftover wild rice to the chili once it was done and I think it turned out great. I can’t get enough of that Brand New Vegan Chili.

The spaghetti sauce and the wheatballs are another staple at our house. When we heat the sauce we often add kale or spinach and sliced mushrooms to it.

The quinoa cornbread and banana bread were new recipes I tried today. The little nibbles I’ve had so far of the cornbread were very good. The banana bread seems like a flop. After baking it for an hour it’s still very mushy and gummy. The recipe did call for whole wheat flour but I was out so I used my unbleached all purpose flour. I’m not sure if that was the problem or not. M made pancakes yesterday that also called for whole wheat flour and we subbed the all purpose flour as well and we had a similar issue. They browned nice and were the right thickness but gummy on the inside as well. I’m hoping that’s what caused the issues but I’ve never been a natural baker and I rarely accomplish any kind of baking feat successfully. Now I have to decide if I should try both these recipes again using the right type of flour or if it would make a difference. Anyone know about such things? Tell me in the comments!

This weekend we had soy curl bulgogi again. I used a different marinade recipe which was epically good! This meal is in both of our top 5 meals.

Another cooking first for me was my first Indian style dish. I made a vegetable potato curry style dish. It called for curry powder but I only had garam masala on hand. Again I’m not sure how different this would make the dish. I’ll have to make it again using the curry powder. The version I made I had a lot of heat but also felt bland to me. M on the other hand totally loved it and had enough for two lunches worth which he loved just as much as the first time. Next time I also want to try lite coconut milk instead of the full fat.

Took a break from all the cooking lately to snap this lovely sunrise across the street.

Left over rice and spinach with Maggi’s chili sauce is a quick easy meal for me.

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Fridays In The Great North

I thought that was a fun title for a stressful topic! It’s the middle of winter here in the upper Midwest which means actual air temperatures and wind chills are often heavy into the negative side. For school aged children that means indoor recess and many schools aren’t lucky enough for that to mean indoor gym recess. For most it means indoor classroom recess cooped up with the same kids in the same room that would normally be spent running full tilt outdoors with some mild screaming. That’s a lot of pent up energy especially in the younger grades. Now multiply that pent up energy by five days inside in a row and you have my day in a nutshell. Twenty 6 year olds that are grouchy, fidgety, loud, and sick of each other. I’m in the same classroom all next week so I am looking forward to milder weather or I’m going to call in sick on Valentines Day!

I was much too stressed and tired to cook in my messy kitchen tonight. M brought home burrito bowls which we had instead. Tomorrow will be back to a fully compliant McDougall day and getting the house straightened up. I trying to figure out another use for the wild rice I cooked up for burgers this week. Hmmm I’ll have to keep thinking on that tonight.

On a positive note all the compliant McDougall days and the inositols have been paying off. My cycle looks amazing so far this month!

And on a personal note we said goodbye to Bear last week. He is now off at Patriot Assistance Dogs becoming a service dog for veterans. We miss him like crazy but are comforted by the fact that he is going to help someone in need. And our cats have gone back to being themselves. After Anna and Bear this fall/winter I didn’t realize how much they had changed until I came home yesterday to Snickers cuddled up with Jackson for the first time in months. They deserve a fostering break for a while.

Jackson and I were stranded at my sisters house in Minneapolis this past weekend for four days because the truck wouldn’t start. I tell you we’ve had a bad run of car trouble lately. I crashed the Malibu in a deer accident, then the replacement car brakes went out, then we go to Minneapolis to buy the new car, and when we get there the other car breaks down! I’m over it! The silver lining in missing school and being stuck down there was all the extra snuggles I got in with the girls. Especially the littlest darling whose birthday we celebrated early just the two of us at Toys R Us.

And lastly here are some snaps of the food we’ve been having. Random shout out of the day, “I love green beans!”

Why I Don’t Cheat

I recently read an article online (which you can access here) all about the “100 percent rule.” It really resonated with me and is exactly how I feel when people ask why don’t I just cheat a little? The article talks about how giving 99% is really hard to do but 100% is a breeze. If I were to consider cheating (eating meat or dairy) “just a bit” my life would be hell for me. I would constantly have to think when is it appropriate to cheat? Super bowl Sunday? Valentine’s Day? Family birthdays? Christmas? Thanksgiving? Easter? Vacation? Girls night out? My thoughts would always be swirling around when to cheat and how much or how little to cheat. Then I’m sure there would be guilt over it afterwards too. There is so much brain power and energy going into 99 percent. But with 100 percent commitment all of that burden is lifted. There is no blurred line. I don’t have to spend my time thinking about when or how much to bed the rule. I just don’t. Sure, maybe it was hard at first getting used to what I could and couldn’t eat. There was a learning curve as with most things.

Now of course the article did mention the fact that not everything in your life needs a 100 percent commitment. But there has got to be that one or two somethings that do. Imagine how much easier it would be to accomplish something with true, total, commitment.

I am not fully committed to the McDougall way of eating yet. I would like to be at some point soon. I know I’d see much better weight loss results if I did. I’m just not there yet. I’m still learning recipes that are delicious and still learning how to make life revolve less around food as celebrations and comfort. Then I think committing 100 percent will possible for me. But I think once I’m ready I’ll be able to do it especially with this new idea of 99% vs. 100%. Food for thought on this lovely February morning.

Treat Yo’ Self

Thank God the two week wait is over!! For some women seeing that BFN (big fat negative pregnancy test) or getting their period is a very disheartening moment. Their balloon has popped so to speak and they feel let down in so many ways. For me it’s relief but not in the way that you might think. I am not a person who likes limbo and unknowns. I can be flexible and I can go with the flow (even though my husband says I’m a control freak or as I call it passionately detailed) in many areas in life. But when it comes to big moments I can’t hang. There have been a handful of times in my life where the fear of the unknown was so much worse than the truth. For example when my parents decided to get divorced they didn’t tell anyone else including me their 22 year old daughter who lived at home with them at the time. I could tell something had happened one morning and for the next few days my parents were alternately angry, sad, and upset. I was left trying to guess what had happened. “Was someone really really sick? Why are they mad at me, I didn’t do anything wrong? Did I? Were we bankrupt? Were they divorcing? Why can’t they tell me?” It was torturous for me. Finally when I forced my mom to come clean and I found out it was a divorce I wasn’t even upset at that time. I was just so relieved to finally have an answer, any answer even if it wasn’t an answer I was happy about.

And that’s how I feel about a two week wait. Especially this two week wait in particular since I had two very different ovulation dates given between OvuSense and Fertility Friend. Both had good reasons for their predicted dates. So was I 10dpo or 3dpo?? Was the temperature dip an implantation dip or AF dip? Was the pressure and cramps I’d been having ovulation, pregnancy, period, or cyst related? And of course Google both confirms and rejects each theory. My concentration and focus have been horrible if it didn’t have something to do with reproduction. But today, thankfully, I can move on. I got my period and while I’m of course wishing I was pregnant I’m also so relieved to know the answers. I’m sticking with OvuSense’s ovulation day which means I just made the cut off for a long enough luteal phase. It’s crazy that was my third complete cycle with OvuSense and not one of them is like the other! Come on body!

Now that period day has come around again I give myself a treat day. I have some “period popcorn” which means I order an oily popped popcorn either from the Target deli or from the movie theater and munch gleefully on the stuff I’m not supposed to have anymore. I will have a glass or two of wine or a La Croix vodka drink. I will also do an at home spa day to feel good on the outside. The next day is back to the grind with inositol supplements, spearmint teas, leafy greens, and the other health promoting foods. But I think it’s ok to have a relax day. A day to be sad if I want to be, a day to do things that make me happy, a day to treat myself.

All in all though I am still very hopeful. I kind of figured that I wasn’t pregnant because our timing was off with our trip out of town. Lesson learned until OvuSense confirms ovulation we stay at home every night haha. Also I know that we’ve been trying to conceive for over three years but to me it feels like this was the first time we’ve been trying. It was the first time we had an actual educated chance of conception. To me it felt like cycle one of trying to conceive. I still feel really confident that good things are to come soon. So for today I will enjoy my treats and relax and enjoy the positives of a period. This period tells me I ovulated once again, it tells me that my food choices are paying off, it tells me that a fresh start is right around the corner, it tells me I don’t have to baby dance or wear OvuSense for the next few days, and it tells me I can eat popcorn! Silver linings people!

In the mean time I have been cooking up some more deliciousness in the kitchen. I tried a Korean spin off of bulgogi lettuce wraps with soy curls and my Korean loving husband loved them. I did too even though they lost their way from the authentic “right” way; to us we loved them and that’s what matters. Find foods you love!

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The shadow from my camera didn’t help but I was hungry lol. These were simple but we honestly can’t wait to have them again. M called it kitchen food since you stand there, eat your lettuce wrap, and immediately make another one. There really isn’t a need for plates in this case.
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White mac and cheeze one with steamed veggies one without.

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From Kristina’s Kitchen

I have enjoyed making some of my favorite omni dishes veganized. I feel I have successfully made pecan pie, jello pretzel salad, wild rice soup and many more other favorites. Some of these were my own vegan or McDougall witch craft and many were recipes found online.

One of my newest attempts was the Forks Over Knives Tuno Salad Sandwiches! I can’t believe I’ve waited so long to try it out, it’s so easy and delicious.

I topped mine with tomatoes, romaine, and avocado. It is wonderful to have a sandwich that is McDougall compliant.

I also tried soy curls for the first time. I made them in place of the beef on my beef and broccoli recipe. I also added some mixed greens to the dish at the end. I really liked the extra crispness and freshness it brought to the meal.

We both enjoyed the soy curls especially M who liked the extra oomph which gave him a more full and satisfied feeling and also like he wasn’t missing out on anything.

For our Christmas Eve Asian inspired meal I made some homemade green beans pan fried up in a lot of peanut oil. They were excellent and I happen to love green beans. But I knew I need to try to make something a little bit more McDougall friendly. I skipped the oil and water sautéed them but used the same recipe for the glaze.

I added some sliced almonds to them just to use them up. The beans had a great flavor and I didn’t miss the oil like I thought I would. The only issue I ran into was making 2 bags (24oz. total) of beans at once. This was too many for the water sauté method as some were quite crisp and some were slightly over done. I ate them all over two days anyways because like I said I’m a big green bean fan but next time will batch cook them first before adding the sauce.

It has been a while since I’ve made the quinoa and kale taco mix. For a while I loved the mushroom walnut taco mixture from Brand New Vegan and partly because it isn’t M’s favorite. However I decided to make a batch this weekend and forgot how good they are! Even without a shell I gobbled them up in bowl form.

This time I drizzled it with some sour cream and it elevated the dish even more!

I’ve tried some new cheese sauce recipes just to see if something new can be used for potatoes or pasta.

I made this one with some jarred roasted red peppers and oats and was pretty pleased. However I’m starting to regret not buying the Ninja blender when it was on sale at Costco. My current blender is a good blender fo regular blender items but to really pulverize and purée perfectly I need something with a taller faster blade. As you can see in the picture it’s not as smooth as I think it should be. Hopefully another sale will come around the corner.

I’m still trying hard to remember to eat my leafy greens as much as possible. I admit shamefully that I rarely complete a bag or container before it goes bad. That is why I am now trying to add them not just as a salad (because I don’t always want a salad everyday especially in winter) but to the main dish itself like the soy curls and broccoli bowls from above. I’m hoping this new method will cut down on my food waste and increase my intake of those power packed greens.

The Daily Temp Brain Bender

I have not been able to focus on anything lately. My temperatures with OvuSense have been toying with me so much that I don’t know what is up and what is down. My emotions have similarly been all over the map just like my temps. It’s been a long cycle of trying to plan correct BD around my guesses of ovulation. At one point I had a very positive opk which was so exciting as I hadn’t ever had one. I waited excitedly each day for that rise and 5 days later it still hadn’t jumped. I’d had some very gradual lifts in temp but nothing that would indicate ovulation. Then 6 days after that positive opk I had a big jump in temp. I was super excited because it would have been my first real chance of conception as we had done what we could before that temp spike. Clearly that opk was off with a prediction of 12-36 hours impending ovulation but I didn’t care anymore as I trust OvuSense way more especially with PCOS. I had another rise the next day and my ovulation window popped up on OvuSense! All good things! I felt the hard part was over. We had BD when we could of course I’m sure we all wish it was every single day the week leading up to it but realistically that wasn’t possible for us. Still I was happy with what we were able to do. I was sure I’d get a confirmation in the next day or two and for the first time in 3 years I’d start my first real two week wait. I was so excited about the possibilities I found it hard to focus at our family Christmas celebrations. And it was so nice to know after 34 days of timing intercourse that we could take a break and relax.

But then the next morning my heart sank as my temps took a massive drop. Was this another attempt from my body to ovulate but it couldn’t quite make it? Was it a corpus luteum dip? If I hadn’t ovulated how soon would we be able to get home to BD? My mind was abuzz and I could focus even less than before because now I felt like I was back at square one. All I wanted to do was go to bed so I could use OvuSense and get the next reading. This time not in an excited way but in an impatient desperate way. The next day I woke up, downloaded the data, and was confused to see yet another temperature drop. My ovulation prediction window disappeared and I was fairly certain I hadn’t ovulated. I told M that he wasn’t off the hook anymore and it was back to planning our schedules around BD. I was frustrated but still figured I would ovulate in the next week or two like I did in the previous cycle when my body almost ovulated but didn’t quite get there a few times before actual ovulation.

We came back home on Monday and I was resigned to keep going. Tuesday morning I woke up, download my temp, and lo and behold I had a huge spike in my temperature. What!? At this point I’m massively confused. So was this me ovulating for real this time? If so that’s so frustrating as we were gone three days sleeping on an air mattress in a bedroom without a door…no BD. Or did it mean that my previous rises were ovulation and those dips were just weird flukes? The wheels are spinning one hundred miles an hour but still I’m left with more questions than answers. All I want is to go to bed. Distraction isn’t working. I can’t find any answers online. I just want to go to bed. The day is long and drawn out but finally I can go to sleep. Of course sleep is challenging when you are so focused on waking up to see what the answer is. I tossed and turned and kept waking up throughout the night. Then in the morning I stay in bed because now I’m too nervous to see the answer. Will it confirm ovulation? Will it be another drop? I put it off until the last minute when I finally download the data. Another jump up! But no ovulation window appears. What the F is happening! Have I ovulated?? Am I in the two week wait? Should I still be BD? More data yes, but still no questions answered. Now I’m on a mission to figure this shit out. I email support at OvuSense and am given a prompt reply but basically they said as there is no confirmation they were reluctant to guess if I had ovulated. So basically they said nothing helpful one way or the other. I am going bananas in the mean time so I decide to re-download the Fertility Friend app (I had deleted it as it isn’t as accurate as OvuSense). I am well aware that FF uses an algorithm designed for basal body temperatures and not core temperatures like OvuSense. But I just wanted to see what it would say if I inputted my data. After all OvuSense and FF in the previous two cycles had been on the same day or off by one for ovulation. I did the thing and what resulted was something that made it potentially worse. It confirmed ovulation for the first set of rises the week prior. According to their methods I was already 7 days post ovulation! Now the wheels start turning even more. Were those two drops in temp a very early implantation dip? It’s possible, they were both above the cover line on Fertility Friend. I had also been having cramps; were these pregnancy cramps the likes of which Fertility Friend was guessing or were they ovulation cramps like OvuSense might be predicting? I was panicked, excited, doubtful….and then I decided to settle down and think of worst case scenario so that I could set my expectations properly. And then it hit me: worst case scenario is my body not being able to ovulate at all this cycle. What if these cramps are period cramps (because that’s what they felt like). All that work on both our parts to then be sent back to step zero. Ugh that was an upsetting thought.

Every night I go to bed sure that the next day will bring me answers and every morning I’m left feeling more confused than the day before. This morning I woke up with a slight drop in temp. I decided to email Kate the fertility nurse with OvuSense. She also sent a prompt reply and one that finally gave me some sense of calm. She said it looked like I had ovulated and that tomorrow morning I should get a confirmation. Ok! That means we can stop the BD. I can relax in knowing that my body achieved ovulation. I should be in a real two week wait time now. Her email has tempered my curiosity to a better level but until OvuSense gives me that confirmation (still no clue on which set of rises it will do it for) I won’t be able to fully relax. For all these reasons I now know that opks and FF seemed to generate more questions than answers and I know neither are good predictors with my PCOS diagnoses and the fact that I use core temps not basal. Of course I’m human and have a need to get those questions answered even if they are wrong for now because some answer is better than no answer.

Anyone catch that super intense Vikings game on Sunday!? 🤯🤢😭🤩😇😂

Anyone catch that super intense Vikings game on Sunday!? 🤯🤢😭🤩😇😂

The Period Periodical

We are now starting to settle into the new year of 2018. Time as ever, moves quickly and silently and those moments when we stop to reflect on the year(s) past only lasts for a minute before we move on to the current orders of the day. For me I have been reflecting on a few things. One being how grateful I am to have all of my siblings and parents mostly healthy and happy. Many friends of mine lost their parents to cancer this year and siblings to suicide. As they share their grief and their story I am reminded of the bigger picture and that I’m thankful to have my family and friends doing well. I try not to take them or moments with them for granted.

Now, let’s talk about periods.

Another thing I’ve been looking back on is how I am doing with my goals. I did a check back on how many periods I used to have compared how many I had this past year. In 2014 and 2016 (I couldn’t find my data for 2015) I had a total of 5 periods in each year. Women without PCOS often have 12-13 periods a year. Therefore my 5 periods are clearly less than half (40%) the amount I should be having. It’s also important to note that many of those periods lasted for 10-30 days and were often very heavy with many large clots. Well I went to look back and count my periods for 2017 and was pleasantly surprised to find an almost doubling of that number. I had 9 periods in 2017 or 72% of the amount that is considered normal. None of them lasted more than 7 days and I no longer have clots. I am very happy with that progress and I attribute that to a plant based diet and weight loss.

For the sake of argument let’s say that I ovulated every cycle that I have had (even though I don’t think I always have especially when I was at my heaviest). I would have only had 5 chances to get pregnant in 2016 and no idea when those fertile days would take place. We could say there are 4-5 days each cycle where you are fertile enough for conception to happen with just one loving act (catch my innuendo there?). That would mean I had 22 days out of 365 to accurately hit that mark. That’s a less than 7% chance of us getting pregnant. Wow! Of course the science behind conception is much more complicated and mathematically accurate than my amateur generalizations, but for my small unmathematical brain we will just go with it shall we? If I hadn’t made any changes we’d still be at that sad number. Now thanks in a huge part to OvuSense and my dietary changes I feel like for the first time we have a fair shot of making this baby.

OvuSense has shown me that since using it I have ovulated every cycle. It has shown me what to expect temperature wise for my follicular phase. It has also shown me that I don’t need medicine to make me ovulate since my body can clearly do it on its own. To me that is huge because it has been my goal to heal my body enough so that I can become pregnant with a healthy body rather than force my body chemically to do something it couldn’t. And that is a completely personal choice because I knew in my heart that I had let PCOS get the upper hand with my poor lifestyle choices (like eating meats and dairy that clearly affect my hormones, using products without thinking it through like many plastic products made with infertility boosting chemicals, and consuming alcohol whenever I wanted to, etc.) There are some women who are already living a very healthy lifestyle and their bodies still won’t work properly and in that case I’d be the first in line at the clinic trying to figure out how medicine could help. But like I said for me personally I wanted to make sure it was my lifestyle choices affecting my infertility and not something out of my control; and that is when I started to get serious about all this back in January of 2016. I think I have an answer to that question now. I would say for me, it’s about 70% lifestyle choices affecting my infertility and 30% medical things beyond my control. Which I consider great news. That means I have the power to change what needs to be changed in order for me to create a healthy and fertile body.

Periods are also such a good indicator of health I believe. I have learned this from my own experience these last two years. And my current cycle is telling me information again. My last cycle was much longer than usual and this cycle is going much of the same way again (I’m on CD 32 and haven’t ovulated yet). This mirrors my diet choices which have been poor these last couple of months. Vegan has been more and more the meals we’ve been eating instead of the healthful whole food plant based meals we should be eating. M has noticed a difference too in his own body. We need to take these signs as a yellow light and think about our choices. Time to back up and find the proper course of whole grains and not processed grains, home cooking and not meals out, oil/butter free food instead of vegan oils/butters. I love cooking I really do but I hate cooking prep and cleanup as much as I love creating the dish. My struggle is: ok I want pasta for dinner tonight. I can go home and boil the noodles and I could make a whole food plant based mac and cheeze sauce or a whole food plant based spaghetti sauce both of which require more time and effort and mess. Or I could go home, boil some noodles, and open a jar of processed oily store bought spaghetti sauce or just toss it in some oil with a few spices and be done. The lazy me has been winning those battles a lot but now I’m paying the consequences. I have to make that decision to do what is best for me in the long run, not just what is easiest today. Wants versus needs ya’ll.

Time to ditch the oil again! Now if I could just figure out a replacement for my quick and easy pasta bowls like this. (100% whole wheat penne, lightly steamed asparagus, spices, garlic, and oil) Perhaps aquafaba or corn butter? 🤷‍♀️ Hopefully I’ll find something because this is a quick and favorite meal of mine.