Why Cheating Really Isn’t Worth It.

stuffed animals from childhood, nostalgia

Here are two of my favorite stuffed animals from my childhood.  People who know me really well know that I’ve never outgrown my deep affinity for stuffed toys, and my closest inner circle (and now all of you) knows that sometimes, I still make sure they’re sitting upright and don’t get buried under things lest they smother or feel like I don’t care about them anymore.

I read one of those “tug-at-your-heartstrings” stories this week, imagining Calvin and Hobbes as old men, and I haven’t been able to get over how sad it’s made me. People laugh or roll their eyes when I tell them that I refuse to see chick flicks, or sappy/sad movies, but the problem is that, for most people, they can watch the movie and have a good cathartic cry and then move on.  For me, I’ll be sad about it for weeks and will internalize it into getting sadder and sadder about something that’s going on in my own life. Naturally, I’m a little pissed at myself for reading the story, but the damage has been done, and now I’m struggling with the aftermath.

Here’s the other thing; when I took control of my health last May, I discovered through process of elimination that gluten affects my mental health in a negative way.  During my first foray with gluten-free eating, my depression/anxiety cleared up drastically within the first week, and I continued to feel fantastic until I started to slack off and allow myself some “cheats.”  I know that some people think that cheating on a food lifestyle here and there is okay, and for the most part, I’d agree.  However, here’s why it just doesn’t work for me:

  1. It’s never just “one” cheat.  If I was able to just have some gluten on the *very* rare occasion, then I’d probably be okay, but my problem is that ONE special occasion then brings out my all-or-nothing mentality (well, you’ve already cheated once today…might as well take the rest of the day/weekend/month off and pick back up again afterward).
  2. The payout is rarely worth it.  Now, I’m not talking about some once-in-a-lifetime trip or something like that.  I’m talking about the “plate-of-spaghetti because it’s Valentine’s Day” or the “big hunk of birthday cake because you’re are a party” type of cheats.  Is it really worth it to feel bad the next day over something that wasn’t really a dynamic experience?
  3. You’re only cheating on yourself.  I thought about this the other day when I was getting ready for bed and really didn’t want to floss my teeth (I know…lazy me).  I was going to let it go for the night, and then it hit me that the only one who’s going to suffer the consequences of that decision is me.  I’m the one who may end up with a cavity, and it would be a result of my decision.  Why is it that we mostly worry about how our decisions will impact others, but never seem to really consider how they will affect us?

My dad is a diabetic with heart problems; he can’t afford to “cheat” on his food lifestyle.  A “cheat” will result in atherosclerosis, kidney problems, diabetic neuropathy, and worse.  And he lives with that reality.  If I have too much gluten, I get anxious and sad and life becomes (even more) overwhelming and daunting.  That’s a reality I have to live with.  It’s not even about weight (although losing weight has been an excellent result of cutting the gluten/most grains); it’s about deciding whether a food is worth compromising my mental health.

The answer to that question, friends, is “usually not.”

I’m not trying to tell you to restrict your diet or engage in unhealthy food behavior; on the contrary: I’m suggesting that you think more deeply about the ramifications (both short and long-term) of your choices (food and otherwise).

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Chocolate Protein Pancakes!!

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I’ve been craving sweets lately (which sucks when you’re avoiding carbs, since everything sweet is carb-laden). Liquid stevia has become my best friend; we get it at Trader Joe’s, and one bottle will last both of us a couple of months.

I’m also prone to “food tantrums” (where nothing sounds good or what does sound good is an irresponsible choice). They used to be terrible and resulted in plenty of fights between Joey and me. I’m much better now (probably from a combination of being older and wiser and having some great medication), but I’m still prone to getting frustrated when I don’t know what I want or want something I can’t have.

Anyway, this morning, I was in desperate need of some pancakes. We’d already tried protein pancakes a few days ago, but Joey wanted to try making a chocolate version.  I looked over a few recipes out in the blogosphere, but I didn’t follow anything close enough to reference, so this is mostly a result of trial-and-error.

Makes 6 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2.5 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 scoop of Protein powder (We used MHP Paleo Protein in Vanilla Almond flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5-7 drops liquid stevia
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (start with a quarter cup and increase as needed)
  • butter (to grease the pan)

Directions:

  1. Heat a non-stick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat
  2. Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  3. Whisk until thoroughly blended and lump-free
  4. Use butter to grease non-stick skillet or griddle
  5. Pour batter onto skillet (we cooked them three at a time based on our skillet size)
  6. Cook on first side until you begin to see the bubbles on the surface of the pancake pop without re-forming.
  7. Flip and cook until done throughout

This recipe makes six pancakes that are about 3″ in diameter.

We had ours topped with peanut butter. They’re also good with freshly whipped heavy cream and/or sugar free syrup! To make them without the chocolate flavor, just omit the cocoa powder and increase the coconut flour by 1/2 tbsp.

Enjoy. Today, we’ve conquered the bedroom closet.  Another two garbage bags full of clothes off to Goodwill, and we were able to whittle the contents of a very large closet down to this:

clothesTonight, we’ve got a huge bag of our socks to match up and put away (or toss).  We’re getting there, little by little.

Conquering the “Stuff”

junk pile

I know.  I’m ashamed of it.  But it’s mostly gone now.  This was on my dresser.  Then it became “on my bed,” which was fortuitous because it forced me to go through it, lest I relegate myself (and the husband.  and the cat) onto the couch for the night.  This huge pile birthed two trash bags full of Goodwill donations, one of actual trash, and one of clothes to keep.  I may have also located three grocery bags worth of yarn (with many half-completed projects).  I wish I could show you a clean dresser, but we’re not quite there yet.  Maybe tomorrow.  We’ll see.

I had two things that I wanted to accomplish yesterday, and I managed both of them.  The first, pictured above, and the second was to make soup.  Joey ended up taking my instruction and making the soup himself while I sat on my bed and alternated between crying and tearing my hair out by the roots.  The soup, alas, was a fail; it’s a passable broccoli cheese soup, but desperately needs some meat and something else that I haven’t figured out yet.  It also looks a little like baby vomit, so I’ll spare you a photo.

Tonight, however, was an incredible dinner win!  I found this recipe for Carne Asada on Pinterest a few days ago, and skirt steak was on sale at Aldi Sunday, so we went ahead and grabbed the rest of the ingredients and set up the crock pot this morning.

flank steak

It’s beautiful, right?  The paste on top is a mix of garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro.  In retrospect, I would’ve added the juice and zest of one lime; it needed a little tang.  Either way, it will definitely be joining the Weaver dinner rotation.  The finished product:

cooked asada

We added some steamed broccoli and ate it off my super-fancy Corelle dishes which made me feel a tiny bit like I may be succeeding at being a functional adult.

I get overwhelmed easily these days, so I’m trying to break this de-cluttering process into very small, manageable chunks. And to be entirely honest, I thought the dresser would only take one night, so I was disappointed in myself when I came to the realization after three hours that, even though the big items were handled, I’ve got tons of “little things” to still go through: cds, ear buds, lip gloss, jewelry, a thousand hair clips, pens, buttons; you know, the usual little things that most people eventually throw away.  Except I didn’t.  For, like, three years.  I used to see a therapist, and I told her many times that I just wanted to conquer the dresser.

I’m not done yet, but yesterday, I conquered the dresser.

Grillin’ Out and Walking This Way…

I was thinking of the Aerosmith song and not Monty Python. I was also thinking that we have a really long hike to the bathroom in our new office digs. I used my pedometer yesterday and it’s a 0.07 mile round trip, so I could get an entire mile in if I make fourteen bathroom trips in a day. Unfortunately, that would both impair my efficiency and make people think I have a serious problem, so I think I’ll have to take the loss on that one.

I’ve gotten a couple of requests from friends who are interested in my weight loss/general health success to know what I’m eating, so I’m going to document tomorrow and post everything Thursday. I would today, but we’re low on groceries, so today isn’t very pretty. I’m working on a larger post about the gluten free thing, but I will go ahead and tell you that I’ve lost TWENTY POUNDS. I’ve experienced a host of other improvements, but I want to devote an entire post to that topic, so suffice it to say that gluten free is definitely for me!

We’ve been cooking outside a good bit lately…our air conditioner is on its last legs, so we’re trying to avoid heating the house any more than necessary. Plus, we can keep Indy outside and wear her out some so she’s not quite such a terrorist in the house. Last week, we did some pretty righteous burgers and grilled corn…

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We used the Udi’s gluten free buns…they were extremely dense. It was nice to have something that resembled a traditional cheeseburger, but I’m not sure it was worth it, so I don’t know that we’ll bother with buns when it’s just us eating at home.

Yesterday, we made sausage with cabbage and onions (German food!)…no specific recipe. We bought some turkey sausage links at Aldi, so we sauteed those with onions in butter and then added a bag of shredded cabbage and cooked it all down until the cabbage was tender. We used a half cup or so of chicken stock to deglaze the pan and enjoyed it al fresco while watching the puppy get stuck in the bushes and pee in the yard.

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It ain’t pretty, but it was good. The after-effects? Not quite as good.

Also, yesterday was Shelli’s seventh adoptiversary. I can’t believe it’s been seven years. I still love her so much that it hurts. She’ll always be my first child. Joey got her a pressed catnip cigar, and she totally cracked out on it for half an hour or so until she decided that Indy’s toys were more interesting.

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I’ve started getting the itch to knit again…I’m lusting over yarn and project photos on my favorite knitting blogs. It’s time to pull something out to work on. I have a scarf that I started in March…I think I’ll finish that up and (finally) learn how to block. I’m also slowly working myself up to being brave enough to try socks.

I know. I’m a rebel.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Thai Peanut Sauce

I’ve gotten a few requests for the recipe for those spring rolls we made a couple of days ago, and to be honest, I didn’t really use a proper recipe. I will, however, give you some basic guidelines…the rest is up to you.

Vietnamese Spring Rolls

* 2 cups, cooked protein of choice (we shredded some leftover pork roast that we made using this recipe)
* 2 cups thin rice noodles, prepared via package instructions
* 1 baby bok choy, julienned
* 3 scallions, thinly diced
* 2 carrots, peeled and grated
* 12 sheets rice paper spring roll wrappers
* one large, shallow-bottomed baking dish (9×13 will work)
* warm water (in said dish)
*plates and wet paper towels (to keep the prepared rolls moist)

1. In a large mixing bowl, thoroughly mix first five ingredients. Run a knife through the mixture a few times to break the noodles into small pieces.
2. Fill baking dish with 1-2 inches of warm water. You may want to go ahead and set up an assembly line this point. Start with the stack of rice papers and the pan of water. Have a clean work space next and the bowl of filling, followed by a plate covered with wet paper towels.
3. Take one rice paper and gently lay into the water, fully submerging for ten seconds. Carefully remove the paper and lay on a clean work surface. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling about one third of the way down the paper. Fold down the top, keeping the filling together. Fold in the sides and roll until filling is completely sealed.
4. Place on plate and cover with wet paper towel until ready to serve.

This made twelve rolls. Keep in mind that these are served cold, so there’s no need to heat anything.

Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

* 1/2 cup peanut butter
* 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
* 1/4 cup soy sauce (tamari to be gluten free)
* 2 tsp molasses

Heat peanut butter in microwave. When easy to stir, add other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Let cool and serve alongside spring rolls.

Most of these ingredients are pretty easy to find; I did have to go the local Asian market to procure the rice papers.

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Enjoy!