Buttercup Squash Soup

Hey guys,

So I’ve not posted here in a while but I have been busy. I was, sadly, laid off from my job a month ago, but have been using my time wisely. I’ve been heading to the gym a few days every week, working out at home, making lots of healthier meals, and possibly getting a contract that may allow me to start my own business.

I’ve done enough work with the gym and such that I’ve been able to lose 1 inch off my waist and 3/4 of an inch off my bust… it’s not much but it’s a step in the right direction.

I’ve been watching The Last 10 Pounds Bootcamp episodes too for inspiration and exercize ideas. This show is super inspirational to me and I really get the urge to exercize after watching it.

Today I was in the grocery store and I was trying to think of something to make for quick grab lunches, since I’m usually cleaning the house or gardening around lunchtime and don’t really want to stop and make anything big. I’m also very picky, I don’t really like sandwiches, and I need to be in the right mood for a salad.

Then I saw the Buttercup squash. I’ve had Butternut squash before, but not Buttercup, so I figured I’d pick it up and make a soup out of it. I found a simple recipe online and went from there. I added in some extra spices, and some red lentils, and goodness this is SO good!

It’s not vegan because of the cream cheese, but all things considered, I don’t think you’d necessarily need it. Next time I may just leave it out. I don’t have a picture yet, but I’ll add one tomorrow when I have my lunch.

Buttercup Squash Soup

-6 T onions chopped
-2 cloves garlic diced
-2 T olive oil
-6 Cups Buttercup Squash peeled and chopped
-1 1/2 Cups red lentils rinsed and sorted
-4 Cups vegetable broth
-1 tsp marjoram
-1/4 tsp seasoning salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1 T curry powder
-4 oz cream cheese

Saute onions and garlic with oil until softened. Add squash, lentils, broth and spices. Bring to boil and continue to cook 25 minutes, or until squash has softened, stirring occasionally. Place in blender, in batches, and puree with cream cheese until smooth. Place back in pot and heat through, do NOT boil.

Serves 10

I was able to figure out the nutritional info:

I need to figure out how to properly peel and cut up a squash because it took me about an hour just to do that… which could also be because I have pretty bad knives. The next time I make this I’ll probably leave out the cream cheese as stated before, and also use only 2 cups of broth and 2 cups of water to cut down on the sodium.

I ate a serving of this with a Tablespoon of sunflower seeds mixed in and it was heavenly.

I may have a new vice…


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Shayloss is going again

So since this blog is based on Shawshank Redemption and the Shayloss youtube channel, Shay has started another bet with a group of guys. Their plan is to race to see who can lose 50 pounds. Now I’m not that much over weight, in fact, I’m pretty happy with where my weight is, what I”m more concerned about is my body fat percentage.

Back in November, I got my body fat percentage checked, I was told I should be at about 20% for my age and height. I was at 37.5%. This is not good. I checked it back in February and it was down to 35%, so it’s heading in the right direction.

My goal right now is to try and lose another 4% off of the 35% by September. I don’t know how quick body fat percentage can be burned off, I don’t think it’s like losing pounds. I just got to keep working, swiming, walking, whatever I can do to try and bring that number down.

In this case it’s not so much eating, it’s moving.

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Living with Allergies

“Oh it can’t be that bad.”

“It’s all in your head.”

“You won’t even notice it’s there.”

“You just don’t like it.”

All things that have been said to me by family, friends, and even restaurants when I’ve expressed that I have an allergy to Pork and Grapes.

I have very odd allergies, and to make matters worse, my husband is allergic to Mustard, and my roomie is allergic to Shellfish. This makes not only eating out difficult, but grocery shopping a chore.

We constantly have to check ingredients. We used to use Miracle Whip because it was the only Mayo we could get that was safe, with no mustard, but they recently changed their recipe, so now all we can get is Helmans, which we don’t like as much in some of our recipes.

While the Shellfish and Mustard allergies are pretty bad, they are pretty easily avoidable (as much as I love shrimp, I’m perfectly fine keeping it out of my house to ensure that Roomie lives to the next day). The big issue is my Grape allergy. Grapes are hidden in all sorts of foods, even in things you wouldn’t think Grapes would be.

Like Country Harvest Omega 3 bread. I love Country Harvest, it’s the kind my Grandma always got and it’s the kind I always ate, but now I have to check the ingredients on EVERY package because some of them use Raisin paste as a sweetener.

It’s amazing how many things have Grape in it or are made from Grapes. Here’s a small list:

Balsamic Vinagrette
Raspberry Vinagrette
A1 Sauce
Pretty much any juice blend
Country harvest bread
Cream sauces for pasta
Grapeseed Oil
Razors/lotions that use Grapeseed Oil

Yes, I even have to look at the ingredients on my RAZORS! I grabbed one package of high end razors a number of years ago (I actually can’t remember the brand) and used them once… I had a rash that looked like I was getting Measles due to the fact that their moisturizing strip used Grapeseed Oil.

When my allergy started when I was a child, it was minor. I ate a pack of raisins, or grapes and I would cry that they were hot or spicy in my mouth. Then I started getting hives from them. Then two weeks ago, I was at an Aloette party, and I tried a bit of lotion on my arm. Within 5 seconds of putting it on, my arm was red, swollen, and itchy. I washed it off immediately, but it was too late. about 5-10 minutes later, my chest and throat were getting tight. I took a Benadryl and rushed to the hospital. Luckily the Benadryl worked, but it was still very scary.

I rate restaurants on how well their service is in regards to my allergies. There have been a couple where they’ve shrugged off the issue, and I’ve noticed Pork in my dinner, or could smell the Wine in the sauce. Then there have been restaurants that were so wonderful that the waitstaff alerted the manager to my questions, he came out and went over the entire menu with me, then personally supervised my meal being made to ensure that I could enjoy it without fear.

There was a time in highschool that I thought people’s reactions to peanut butter was being taken too seriously (I mean, not being able to eat peanut butter for 3 days before a child goes to preschool seemed a little over the top), but as someone who has very severe reactions to foods, I can understand a little bit more now.

These allergies have necessitated me making my own food at home a lot, just to ensure that everyone in the house can eat safely. We don’t buy premade frozen Shepherd’s Pie or Lasagna, because there’s too much chance that Mustard could be used to spice something. We are very careful to check all ingredients now, even if it means our grocery shopping trips take twice as long, and this helps a bit with eating healthier, and meal planning.

When you take an hour and a half shopping just to make sure your food is safe to eat, you tend to plan meals so that you don’t go shopping as often.

Unfortunately for us, there isn’t much that can be done to “cure” allergies, it’s something we just have to live with. At least in this day and age it’s more acknowledged, and restaurants are more able to accomodate these requests.

I just ask, as a person who has lived with allergies for the bulk of her life, please, don’t ever try to tell a person that they just don’t like a food or it’s all in their head, and please, for the love of EVERYTHING, don’t hide what they’re allergic to in whatever you’re cooking for them, just to prove the allergy isn’t there. That’s a perfect way to having your friend/relative in the hospital, and VERY upset at you.

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The good and bad of experimenting

So, I’ve mentioned before that I am a very picky eater.  I like my food to taste a certain way, have certain textures, and not be parsnips!!! This means that I like the food I grew up with. Unfortunately, I can’t EAT the food I grew up with and not gain weight.

So I’ve started experimenting.

Earlier this week I made a quick oatmeal dish to last me for breakfasts by cooking up the oatmeal, throwing in some frozen berries, some maple syrup, and some chia and pumpkin seeds. It’s pretty good, but I don’t like the pumpkin seeds in there. Too much crunch when I just want to enjoy my oatmeal. So next time I’ll leave those out.

I also made a Quinoa dish, using whatever I could find in the house, terrified it would be a flop and that it was all I would have for lunches.

I cooked up the quinoa, tossed in some frozen turkey from Easter, grabbed some homemade pesto that I’d tossed into the freezer last summer, tossed in some cajun spice to give it a bit more of a kick, and at the last minute decided to throw in some peas to give it a bit of veg.

All told it actually ended up quite delicious! I think next time I try this I’ll see if I can’t make fresh pesto, I think it lost some of it’s flavour in the freezer, and cut back on the cajun… I… may have dumped too much in…

I never said I was a good cook!

So this was a good as far as experimenting went, however, there have been bads.

Like the time I tried to cut back on the sugar in my chocolate chip cookies and ended up with basically just chocolate chip bread… wasn’t that good. Or when I really mess up my spices and the dish is inedible…

This is why I use recipes, someone has done the experimenting for me, I know they’re likely to work (unless there’s parsnips in it) and I hope for the best as I work my way through.

The other issue is though, every person in my house has allergies. I’m allergic to Grapes (and anything made with/of) and pork, Hubby’s allergic to mustard, Roomie is allergic to Shellfish, and Roomie’s fiancé, who’s over enough that she counts, doesn’t eat gluten (she’s not allergic, but she’s not eaten it for about 2 years now).

This means that with almost any recipe I need at least a little bit of experimentation. Now I’ve managed to find substitutes for almost anything with grapes or pork, but mustard and shellfish, you just kind of have to leave out. There’s no alternate.

Gluten is touch and go too. I try using spelt flour (she can eat that), but it doesn’t behave the same as wheat flour so I’m never sure about proper substitution with it or how to fiddle with measurements…

It’s a lot of learning, I’m enjoying some parts of it, but I’d like to know that when I have company over, everyone can eat, and no one has to worry about getting sick.

Tomorrow I may write about the difficulties of living with allergies, I’m constantly amazed by how little tolerance there is for allergies even today, and I’ve got a bunch to say about it.

Now to go try to make something delicious… wish me luck.

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Who am I?

Last night I was at a class that I’m taking called Financial Peace, which is all about learning how to care for your money and get out of debt. Yesterday’s class was about income. Getting a job that pays well, a job you love, a job that fulfills your need because it’s doing what you were put on the Earth to do. This brought on a lot of difficult thinking and looking at myself.

Looking back, I’ve not had one job that I LOVED… I’ve had jobs I’ve enjoyed, jobs I’ve liked, people who were great to work with, teams that I miss desperately… but the work I was doing has never felt right. I started off with the usual part time jobs, babysitting, Tim Horton’s, McDonald’s, waitressing… then I came to the time I needed to decide what I was going to do with my life. What college I wanted to attend, what career path I was going to take…. and nothing, I had NO clue.

I know now! And I’ll get to that later, I know what I wish I had done, where I wish I had gone, but at the time, I was lost. So when my Mother came to me with the job option she thought was the right one for me (the one that would pay well, that only took  1 year of college and would definitely have job availability) I took the option… I didn’t have another. I never thought about waiting, doing another year, thinking it through and not wasting my money (or rather, that of my mom and dad), as I barely made it 2 months before I dropped out of the program that was COMPLETELY not right for me.

I then went back to high school for a semester, and floundered around a bit. I love theatre, I love working in theater, and I love making costumes. I tried to go to an arts school for costume design, but my average wasn’t high enough. As sad as I was when it happened, it was a blessing in disguise. While I love theatre, love working in theatre and love making costumes, I love all these things as a HOBBY, and had I attempted to make it my job, I would have lost the love of them, what with deadlines, pressure, and working on things that just weren’t in my interest range.

I then got a full time job. It was not a great job, it was hard manual labour, hard hours, and lots of stress. It paid… ok, but it wasn’t great. It was in a building with no climate control, so I froze all winter and cooked all summer, and it was a job where I was standing for 10+ hours at a time. While I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, I knew what I DIDN’T want to do, and so, when I decided that I was going to go back to college, I didn’t look at what would make me happy, what would fulfill my life’s calling, or what I really wanted to do, I gave myself a list of critera.

1. It needed to be a job where I could sit down.
2. It needed to be a job that had climate control.
3. It needed to be a job that was engaging and interesting.
4. It needed to be a job that I felt comfortable and capable of doing.
5. It needed to be a job that had benefits.

And it was pretty much based on that order, with benefits being the least of my concerns, but a nice perk if it was available. So with that I sat down with my local community college’s book of classes and chose Administrative Assistant. It was a 2 year course, and it met all my criteria.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I LOVED my course, but this is where things start to move into the, what I want to do, and what I chose to do. I LOVED my course because while I was taking it, I not only understood what I was learning, but I was assisting others in learning the topics as well. The act of learning something, taking it in, and then giving it to someone else as I taught them was so very fulfilling that it made me realize that ine of the main things I feel very led to is teaching… which… I’m not currently doing, so there’s one direction I missed. I didn’t listen to the urges, and I didn’t realize at the time what I was enjoying, it wasn’t until years later that I realized that I enjoyed the teaching, rather than the Admin work.

So I got a few different Admin positions over the last few years, and I’ve enjoyed the position (for the most part) at all of them. They all had their pluses and their minuses, but I’ve come to realize that this isn’t my ultimate goal. Eventually I will move on from this position, but right now, it’s working for me.

That direction that I know now, that if I could go back in time and talk to my 18 year old self as to what to go into… it would be languages. I love to learn languages, ever since I was in Grade 1 and my Mom put me into French Immersion. Right now, on my own, I’m teaching myself Japanese, but looking back and thinking about if I’d started this 10 years ago, I could have had my French back up to snuff and been able to do my N2 Japanese Literacy Proficiency Test by now.

I realize that that’s in the past, and I need to look forward, so I’m working on speaking French with my friend from Quebec, and I’m working towards my N5 JLPT.

As far as teaching goes, I’m looking towards taking my Microsoft Certification exams which would allow me to train others in the programs, that would take me towards the teaching aspect of me… and add my languages to that, maybe do some training internationally…

While I may not know what my career will fully look like in 5 or 10 years, right now I have a better look at what I look like now, and what I might look like then.

I really think the big question for people with careers, students looking to go into college, and kids growing up is more “Who am I” and not “What do I want to be”.

I think I’ve found who I am, now let’s see what I can do with it.

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More Pressure Needed

This weekend was my first anniversary. It got me thinking a lot. Last year at this time I was sitting in Hawaii, relieved because I didn’t need to worry about my weight any more. My dress fit (mostly) and I could stop restricting my diet in hopes of dropping those last few pounds.

To put it bluntly, I was an unhealthy dieter, as so many women are.

I decided that my best way to lose weight was to just eat subway subs, following the subway diet, I mean, it worked wonders for others, it would work for me. I watched Biggest Loser, I read diet books… but I didn’t use my head.

All things considered, I am not fat, I’m 160 lbs and 5’6″, I’m bigger than what “beautiful” is right now, but I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m proud of who I am, and I’m sick of feeling like I need to adhere to society’s ideal. Every woman is different and I’m trying to keep that in mind as I go through my day.

That being said, I have some issues that need to be dealt with.

My husband and I went away for the weekend. We pointed our car North and kept driving until we got to where we thought was good (it eneded up being 10 hours of driving each way). I have to say, the side view mirrors in cars are VERY unflattering. In any other mirror I don’t mind my face, but in those mirrors I have the double chin to end all double chins!

I took some stock of my life, where I am now compared to where I was a year ago. I haven’t gone up in weight, however I still have way too high of a body fat percentage.

I’m supposed to be at 20%, I’m sitting at around 35%, which is down from the 37.5% that I was at in November, which means I’m making some good steps forward, but I have to keep going.

Taking stock of my life I realize that I eat WAY too much fried foods, rich foods, snacky foods. I need to make better choices, and in order to do that I need to educate myself. I need to learn about good foods that I can snack on that don’t involve gallons of vegetable oil and pounds of salt.

I need to add more green, and maybe some orange and yellow to my diet. I was doing good at this last summer, but over the winter it dropped off. Now that the nice weather is back, I can start walking down to the grocery store and stocking my desk up with fruits and healthy snacks.

I’m also trying to work on my exercize. I used to think that in order to make my body look more the way I want to I needed to strength train. I’ve been educating myself here too, and I’ve realized that for the most part I’m pretty strong already (need to work on my upper body but it’ll come). What I really need to do is cardio, I need to work off this layer of fat that I’ve got and help it slim up.

I don’t want to become skinny though, I’m happy with the shape of my body, however I’m concerned with my health. My family history has a frighteningly long list of health issues, and a lot of them stem from weight. The majority of my family, including both parents, have weight issues, and I’m trying to break the mold with this.

I’m trying to go jogging, or for walks at least, on my lunch. I’m making a point of heading to the gym on Saturday mornings at least, with the reward of going knitting afterwards. I figure I’ll work on my cardio as I have time throughout the week, and I’ll work on my strength training, with some cardio, on Saturdays.

I’ve also started up my SparkPeople account again. I’m tracking my food and I’m going to be reading a bunch of the articles on there to learn about healthier options for foods. I know about dried fruits and things like that, but I want to delve deeper and start making a good life change.

For starters, I need to eat more than just Cheerios and Milk for breakfast, add some cheese… a banana and apple, it might be a good breakfast… I just need to balance out my meals.

Oh… and I definitely need to skip the snack machine.

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Finally Spring!

So, we had an INCREDIBLY long winter here up in Canada, this morning, we woke up to it being nearly freezing temperature.

This has been a big set back for me. See, I’m hoping to work more cardio into my workouts, and for me that’s mainly running or dancing. Now I’ve been working on dancing a bit (I love Japanese Pop music, and they have some fairly difficult dances to their songs, so I’m practicing those and dancing along.. maybe I’ll eventually get the courage to take video of me doing it… but not right now), but the running is hard.

I get bored easily, and I really dislike running on treadmills. I’ve managed to do some over the winter by going to the gym and watching tv while I run, but it’s just not my thing.

Now, however, the weather is getting nice enough for me to run outside and enjoy… or.. not.

My issue is that while I’m not “Fat”, I am VERY out of shape. I used to dance 4 hours per week, and 3 of those hours were consecutive on one day. I was able to keep going and dance all I wanted, and now I’m lucky to be able to jog for 5 minutes without feeling that I’m going to die.

So I really have to push myself with my running.

Anyway, today I knew it was going to be beautiful out so I brought a change of clothes, and decided I was going for a jog on my lunch break. Just before I went out I checked my route to see how long it was, and to make sure it was safe.

I was going to start off slow, a simple 1.5 km approx jog, and see how I felt.

5 years ago this would have been easy as pie. Well… this is how it turned out for me today:

Jog for 700 m – I felt good just before I started out, but 10 steps into my jog, my ankles were complaining, so I stopped for a few seconds to rotate them and loosen them up. I’d done some quick stretching prior to heading out, but clearly not enough. I then started jogging again and thought “wow, this isn’t so bad”… I didn’t realize that I was on a small hill and that was helping me. Once the hill evened out it became a lot harder, and for the last 100 m or so I was chanting in my head, “just to the corner, just to the corner”. I was going to let myself walk and catch my breath for a bit because I felt like my chest was going to explode all Alien style in a second.

Walk for 270 m  – so I was going to walk from one corner to the next, and I did… sort of. I felt like a beached whale or something. I couldn’t catch my breath, my throat was killing me, and my chest hurt. I kept coughing because apparently when I exercize my body goes into “Mucous production mode” and tries to smother me in order to get me to stop. About 20 m from where I’d decided to jog again I started feeling better, but still sore in the chest.

Jog for 350 m – Now here’s where my route plan went awry. See… that lovely little hill I jogged DOWN at the beginning, I now had to jog UP, only at this part of the run, the little slope was a cliff… or at least that’s what it felt like to me, but I was determined to jog it, or at least the majority of it. So I started up the hill, and about half way up my chest was ready to explode again. I told myself that I was going to make it up the hill or I was going to die… no alternative. About 80% of the way up I decided I was going to walk the last bit of the hill and then jog back to work.

Walk for 65 m – Trying desperately to grab my breath again, I wasn’t going to let myself go that easily! I was only letting myself walk to where the hill flattened out, so… I walked slower, to give my body more time to recouperate. By the time I hit my start up point again I was not happy, but I was determined.

Jog for 270 m – This was my home stretch and I was fighting myself all the way. My body wanted to throw a 3 year old tantrum and my brain had to turn all Mommy on it. I came up to my last corner, and there’s a car lot on it. I spent a good minute and a half lecturing myself mentally as to why I was not allowed to cut the corner and had to continue to jog until I hit my work parking lot. When I could see the parking lot, I tried to imagine a finish line rope across it… it didn’t work much, but it helped a bit.

To add insult to injury, all the pictures of joggers and such that I’ve seen have these beautiful people who look like gazelles as they run their races or through the woods. All are smiling, all are strong. I felt like an elephant with a broken leg, gallomping along my path, huffing and puffing. There was no smile, I was just concentrating on ensuring I had oxygen getting in my lungs.

I would just quit right now, figuring that running and I are just not meant to be.

But I know myself.

And that’s why before I even started, I gave myself a goal… then TOLD people about it.

I’m intending on running an 8 km race in July, it’s called the Dirty Dash, and it raises money for local charities. (It also has a 4 km race, but I’m pushing for the 8 because I can always downgrade).

I know that if I don’t run it, or just give up I’ll look pretty stupid to all the people I’ve talked about it.

Right now though, it’s been an hour and a half since I finished my run and I still feel kinda light headed and like my chest is tight. Oh well, it’s something that I need to do in order to change from a broken legged elephant to a graceful gazelle….

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