Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (5/2 – 5/8)

This past week here could have been called “Leftover Overload.” Other than the mini pizzas, every dinner I fixed created leftovers, and we ended up with way more than usual. The tikka masala leftovers were frozen, but otherwise it took some creative effort on both Brett’s and my part to make sure everything got finished. An entire Costco bag of avocados ripening at the same time as well (7 of them!) didn’t help either. They usually ripen a day or two apart, but not this time! It would have made sense for us to eat leftovers one evening for our dinner, and we will be doing that in the future if we ever get in this same situation again, but in the end we did get through everything, and by the end of the week things had returned to a normal level, and the refrigerator once again had some wiggle room.

The biggest challenge for me with so many leftovers was making sure I did not go overboard on calories, something that’s easy to do. Portion sizes sometimes had to be cut back to balance everything each day. I’ve been doing a daily calorie intake count for almost a year now, and while some of it is now second nature, it still can be easy to overdo it, even with something as simple as having one extra breakfast sausage or grabbing a few peanuts for a quick snack. After years of experience trying every other diet and food plan, I am a firm believer in the “calories in<energy out” school of weight loss and maintenance, at least for me. Although I don’t restrict any foods, the only way I lose weight and maintain it is to track my calories and get enough exercise. The minute I let up and get lazy, back comes the excess weight. Counting calories is often pain to do, but it’s become a habit now and I intend to stick with it.

The photos of our dinners always look like we’re eating large portions, to me anyway, but they’re really not and all under 400 calories. For example, that’s only a half-cup of tikka masala and a quarter cup of rice. There’s only half of an Italian sausage in the sandwich, a half cup of pasta with a quarter cup of sauce, a cup of fried rice, three-quarters cup risotto, and so forth. Brett’s servings are a little larger, but not much. We’re mostly satisfied with smaller portions these days, and hope getting the set will keep us from gaining once again when we start traveling.

Sunday: Italian sausage sandwiches with sautéed peppers and onions

Monday: Chicken tikka masala; steamed jasmine rice honeydew melon

Tuesday: Pasta with marinara sauce; Italian sausages; roasted zucchini

Wednesday: Ham fried rice

Thursday: Sausage & pepper mini pizza

Friday: Pork chops with sauerkraut, apples, & bacon; green beans

Saturday: Chicken-rosemary risotto; steamed artichoke

Below is what’s on the menu for dinner next week. Brett made the tortellini for my Mother’s Day dinner last night and served it along with our last artichoke.

  • Cheese tortellini with marinara
  • Grilled fish tacos
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Grilled Polish sausages with sauerkraut
  • Mini pizzas
  • Mystery meal (a frozen container of some leftover is sitting in our freezer, and we can’t remember what it is)
  • Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy

Our dessert all this week will be lemon cake with lemon buttercream.

We had an okay week for exercise. We took a planned day off on Sunday, and then it rained all day Wednesday to keep us at home. On Thursday we only got in two Pavilion laps (1.6 miles) before the rain came rolling in and sent us home. Otherwise, we walked over four miles each day, and got a turn out on the golf course perimeter on Saturday. Every time we start out to do this, a woman yells at us from the clubhouse, “there are still golfers on the course!” We check the course very carefully as we walk up to the clubhouse because we only walk the perimeter of the course around holes 1-4. On Saturday, the only golfers still playing that afternoon were on holes 7 and above. Plus, even though it was well past the last tee time, we checked with the guy who takes care of the golf carts and asked when the last person had tee’d off (an hour earlier!). He told us to go on. It’s frustrating though to have this woman always trying to stop us, and even more frustrating to then see other walkers strolling across the course with their kids and dogs while we’re so careful to stick to the edge. I told Brett I think she just doesn’t recognize or remember us and thinks each time that we’re tourists, rather than locals who have been walking up at the park for over a year.

However, a couple of unplanned events this week brought about some positive changes. First, I randomly changed the type of OTC pain relief I’ve been taking from ibuprofen to naproxen one day and that brought about a noticeable difference in pain relief. Second, a consistent part of our walks at the park has been climbing the hill up to the clubhouse and then back down to walk the Pavilion loop. The climb up and down is 1.6 miles, as measured by GPS. This past Tuesday, because of the weather, we skipped the hill climb and instead walked four Pavilion loops. The loops are flat, with two loops equaling the hill climb. I had absolutely no hip pain during or after that walk. Hmmm. We tried another couple of days of skipping the hill climb with the same result, so climbing up and down seems to be part of what’s been causing the pain in my hips to flare. Actually, we climbed up the hill on Saturday and that didn’t cause any pain either, so maybe it’s downhill that causes the problem? I don’t want to give up walking the hill completely as it’s a good workout, but we’ve decided not to make it an everyday part of our walks, and do more Pavilion loops and golf course walking for the time being.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (4/25-5/2)

Brewing mugicha in a half-gallon jar.

The arrival of warmer weather means it’s time again to start brewing mugicha, or roasted barley tea (麦mugi = barley, 茶cha = tea). Last year I ran out of the tea bags we had brought with us from Japan, and when I asked our daughter-in-law if she would send me some more she sent packages enough to keep me in mugicha until we leave in 2023! I brew a half gallon every other day, and have been enjoying two big glassfuls every day.

So refreshing!

I first tasted mugicha when I was 18, and thought it was absolutely awful (I actually gagged). How could anyone drink, let alone enjoy, this bitter beverage? Although it’s definitely an acquired taste for Western palates, over the years I have come to enjoy and appreciate how refreshing mugicha is, and it’s now my favorite hot weather beverage, much more than iced tea which I also love. Besides refreshment, mugicha has many beneficial properties, including being rich in minerals and antioxidants, and it’s a natural source of melatonin, benefitting sleep (it’s also naturally caffeine free). It is also believed to improve blood circulation and help prevent cancer among other healthful properties.

A 22-oz bottle of the most popular commercial mugicha costs around 50 cents in Japan. It’s the one place I don’t mind buying a plastic bottle as I know it will be recycled.

We had some great meals last week, helped by our big shopping trip last week and picking up a couple of things at the farmers market. Artichokes take me to a happy place and they were a good deal at Costco with four giant globe artichokes for only $6.99. They’re each big enough that one is almost too much for both Brett and me to finish. Steamed is my favorite way to enjoy an artichoke along with some sort of dipping sauce, preferably with lemon in it.

Sunday: Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches; roasted red pepper & tomato soup

Monday: Pasta with Thai peanut sauce; spicy coleslaw

Tuesday: Breakfast for dinner (bacon and scrambled eggs with green onions); steamed artichoke

Wednesday: CookDo mabo nasu; steamed rice; cucumber spears

Thursday: Grilled chicken & apple sausages; sautéed green beans; artichoke

Friday: Thai chicken mini pizzas

Saturday: Pork & rice burritos; honeydew melon

We repeated last week’s Thai chicken pizzas as there was spicy peanut sauce to be used up (and they’re delicious!), and the planned chicken tikka masala was bumped to this week after we bought some beautiful eggplant at the farm stand and used it for mabo nasu. Here’s what’s planned for next week’s dinners:

  • Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers and onions
  • Chicken-rosemary risotto
  • Chicken tikka masala (bumped from last week)
  • InstantPot pork chops with sauerkraut and apples
  • Mini pizzas
  • Pasta with marinara and Italian sausages
  • Ham fried rice

Out and about in the park last Thursday. I always get a kick out of seeing what appears to be a schefflera tree growing out of the palm tree.

Walking was somewhat hit or miss this week, because the weather was so unreliable. Last Sunday was beautiful, so we decided to take advantage of it instead of taking a day off like we usually do. Monday we stayed home because of rain, and the only walking we did was the over two miles we accomplished during our trips to Costco and Walmart. Wednesday brought more bad weather, but then Thursday and Friday were gorgeous, with blue skies and cool breezes, and we got in two days of walking over five miles. Saturday we went to the beach for the afternoon instead of walking, and then stayed home on Sunday to get our regular day off and a no-drive day. This coming week doesn’t look much better as far as weather is concerned, but I always make my daily eating plan and calorie allotment based on not getting to walk

My hips have been bothering me lately, more consistently than in the past. There’s nothing excruciatingly painful going on, but I have become aware of a dull ache that’s there more often than it’s not. I don’t think it’s arthritis (I hope it’s not arthritis!) as the ache is more on the outer side of my hips, and believe it’s more related to my bursitis. But who knows? The interesting thing for me is that I usually don’t feel any pain when I’m walking, or at least not until the end of the walk, but more when I’m not walking. For now, over-the-counter pain medication helps, but I guess it’s something I need to ask my doctor about next time I see him. I may also check with our upstairs neighbor, a semi-retired orthopedic surgeon, and see what he has to say. Maybe it’s time to mix things up a bit when it comes to exercise?

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (4/11-4/17)

While I think we eat a good variety of dishes at lunch at dinner, I feel like I’m in a real rut these days when it comes to breakfast. I pretty much stick to four breakfast meals: yogurt with either blueberries or fresh papaya and a sprinkle of locally-made granola; avocado toast, often with a poached egg; pancakes with jam or lilikoi curd; or a poached egg on toast, maybe with a slice of bacon or a breakfast sausage. Occasionally I’ll eat leftovers (I ate chicken soup for breakfast one day this past week), but those are usually saved for lunch. I like all of my standard breakfasts, they’re all filling, but lately I’ve been craving something different and new.

I’d love to hear what you eat for breakfast and need some new ideas! Carbohydrates are OK, including fruit, but I do require some protein. If not, I seem to get hungry in a couple of hours and then have a long wait until lunch (pancakes are filling though). I have time to cook in the mornings, but don’t want to make a lot because Brett typically wants oatmeal for his breakfast. Calories do count, but nothing is off the table as for what can be eaten for breakfast as far as I’m concerned.

Here’s what we ate for dinner this past week:

Sunday: Chicken & vegetable soup with rice

Monday: Egg roll in a bowl

Tuesday: Barbecue pulled pork mini pizzas with red pepper and onions

Wednesday: Zucchini frittata and chicken & apple sausages

Thursday: Mississippi pot roast, mashed potatoes, and broccoli

Friday: Spaghetti with meat sauce; green beans

Saturday: French dip sandwiches; 3-bean salad

Our dessert all last week was devil’s food cake with orange buttercream frosting, but I’ve made a hot milk cake that we’ll start tonight.

Here’s next week’s menu plan:

  • Ham with roasted butternut squash
  • Meatloaf and mashed potatoes (2 nights)
  • Mini pizzas
  • Grilled teriyaki chicken with zaru soba
  • Cheeseburgers
  • Grilled ham & cheese sandwiches with roasted red pepper & tomato soup
When we walk the golf course perimeter we have to climb down in and then back out of this hole that we call “The Crater.” The walls are quite steep but it fortunately doesn’t take too long.

Brett is back up to full speed and it was great to be walking together once again this past week. The good weather at the beginning of the week made for some great walking, and for two days in a row we were able to walk the golf course perimeter. We tried for a third day, but were stopped because the manager had let an older, slower couple tee off after closing time. We got rained out after a couple of laps on Thursday, and skipped Friday because of sketchy weather, but Saturday was lovely. We’re looking forward to walking on the eastside beach path this week and maybe on the path at Barking Sands as well.

Built in 1924, the Pavilion sits at end of elevated point in the park. We walk out and around the Pavilion at least twice every day (one trip around and back is .8 miles). There’s almost always something going on there on the weekends: weddings, birthday parties, showers, or other celebrations.
The view from the Pavilion.

Although walking this past year has provided mostly benefits, there have been some negatives, although those have diminished since I got my new shoes. Over the past year I’ve built up new calluses, bruised one of my big toes, and developed more than a few blisters. Leukotape has become my very good friend! My feet are in much better shape than they were before the bunion surgeries I had done in 2013 (and I doubt I would be able to walk as much if I hadn’t had the surgeries done), but I’m long overdue for a good pedicure. I haven’t had one in over a year, although I have done the best I could on my own to keep my feet in good shape. One additional benefit I never saw coming from all the walking has been the improved circulation in my legs, and residual swelling left over from a fall in Auckland in February of 2019 has almost completely disappeared.

I can’t remember the last time I lost any weight, but I’m not gaining either so I am just going to hang in there. One of these days I’ll get those last six pounds off!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (4/4 – 4/10)

If you eat a croissant or pastry for breakfast every morning it doesn’t matter how much you walk: you will gain weight.

I read this somewhere before we visited France in September of 2018. It was written with tongue in cheek, but turned out to be more than prescient, and in retrospect the author should have also mentioned that it would apply equally to eating two scoops of yummy gelato every day in Italy, pastel de nata (egg tarts) in Portugal; TimTams of every flavor in Australia and New Zealand, KitKats and other treats in Japan, scones with clotted cream and jam (or ginger nuts and shortbread) in the UK, and so on. Brett and I walked miles every day during our travels but really didn’t give a thought to what we were eating or how much, and we both ended up gaining A LOT of weight. Getting rid of that extra weight has been our main effort this past year and we still have more to go.

Portion control is king here these days. Everything we eat these days gets measured, from rice to pasta to sauces, dressings, pot roast, sausages, or a piece of cake for dessert. The food scale, Weight Watchers ladles, and measuring cups and spoons are used every day. The only things that aren’t measured are vegetables. I’ve been recording and tracking my meals and snacks for nearly a year usingMyFitnessPal, which has the most extensive food lists I can find, and it was initially shocking to see how much I had been overeating before. Brett doesn’t track his food, but has me monitor his portion sizes most of the time. He is also eating far, far less these days.

There is no food off the table for us, but if we want to have something it has to fit into our daily calorie allotment. Although the photos below might make it look like our portions are large, they’ve all been carefully measured and weighed and are probably smaller than imagined. We love having dessert each evening, but these days that means a tiny two-inch square piece of cake versus the bigger pieces we used to serve ourselves, or just 1/2 cup of ice cream instead of a big bowl. For a while we were enjoying a gin & tonic four nights a week until we decided we’d rather apply the calories to something more nutritious, so these days we’re back to drinks on Friday and Saturday evenings only. There are no more assumptions or guessing, and there’s no more mindless eating either – we know each day what we’ll be having on the next so that we’re not tempted to overdo it.

I’ve lost over thirty pounds over the last year and Brett’s lost over eighteen. We were both miserable carrying around the extra pounds, and have accepted that to remain healthy going forward, even as we travel, we need to stay vigilant, not just about what we eat but especially of how much. We don’t want to go back down the path we were on before, so while we’ll continue to allow ourselves to eat everything and anything, moderation will remain our guiding force.

Here’s what we ate for dinner this past week:

Sunday: Turkey club sandwiches with avocado

Monday: Spinach quiche with chèvre and gruyere; roasted zucchini

Tuesday: Guadalajara quesadillas made with spinach

Wednesday: Zaru soba with dipping sauce; hayayako (chilled tofu); cucumber spears

Thursday: Barbecue turkey & bacon mini pizzas

Friday: California roll salad

Saturday: Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches; coleslaw

Desserts this past week were tapioca pudding for three days followed by devil’s food cake with orange buttercream. The cake will be our dessert all next week as well which makes me happy because the combination of chocolate and orange is so good.

Here’s the plan for dinners next week (in no particular order):

  • Chicken and vegetable soup
  • Mississippi pot roast
  • French dip sandwiches
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Zucchini frittata
  • Mini pizzas
  • Egg roll in a bowl

xxx

Perched on top of a hill, Kukuiolono Park provides lots of beautiful views, but this one looking east to Hau’upa and down at Poipu and Koloa is always my favorite.

Somewhat surprisingly, it turned out to be a good week for walking even if the weather has sketchy at times. We both walked last Sunday, and then took Monday off (surgery day). I walked on my own on Tuesday and Wednesday (3.5 miles each day), and Brett felt good enough to walk again beginning Thursday, albeit at a slower pace, so we walked separately that day and on Friday, with him getting in a little over two miles, while I continued to do 3.5 miles. On Saturday we walked together for most of the time, but I ended up doing an extra lap while he rested in the car. We enjoyed absolutely gorgeous weather on Thursday and Friday, with lovely breezes to keep things cool. However, we were able to imagine those days how it’s going to feel again in the coming months when the breezes die down and the heat and humidity crank back up again. We’re already thinking we’ll start later in the afternoon than we are now when that happens, hopefully because temperatures will be coming down as the evening sets in, but also because we can walk out on the golf course more often. The last time to tee off is 4:30 p.m. and by 5:30 most are done or on their last holes, and where we like to walk is near the first four holes.

Brett rested in the park’s Japanese garden while I walked this past week.

We’re coming on a year of walking at Kukuiolono Golf Course and Park. I distinctly remember the first day we went there, and climbing the hill up to the clubhouse as I thought I was going to pass out, but these days I can climb that hill easily and even do it twice in a row without breathing hard. We are still discovering new walking routes there, and love that all it takes is changing up the order of the sections we walk to make our walks fresh again. We have become friends with other walkers there and often stop to chat and catch up with each other. We feel very blessed to have found the park for a walking venue – it has yet to get boring.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/28 – 4/3)

Much if not most of our eating is centered around leftovers, mainly because I typically cook something different for dinner every evening and we’re eating smaller portions these days. Leftovers provide our lunches and even breakfasts most days. I know the calories and other nutritional information of the dishes I’ve made which makes it easier to track. Finally, managing leftovers is key to keeping our food budget in line, and making sure nothing gets wasted.

Usually we have no problem getting the leftovers eaten in a timely manner, but this last week it became something of a chore for two reasons: We ate no meals (leftovers or otherwise) at home on Monday, and the amount of leftovers we produced was larger than usual. For example, we had several meals worth of tortellini left over from the week before and it took more than a day or two to finish all of that. Same for the egg foo young and egg drop soup leftovers – the recipes I used made a lot of food. The only two days we didn’t produce leftovers were Monday – we ate all of our restaurant and takeout food – and Friday, when we had mini pizzas (they did use up leftovers though!). For several days it seemed that our refrigerator would burst from all the containers filled with leftover food.

Brett is the king of leftovers. He can put an interesting meal together with just about anything, and finds ways to incorporate even the smallest amounts of things. I tend to stick to leftovers that just need to be reheated. My leftover meals this week consisted of a tortellini with red pepper sauce, a grilled Polish sausage in a bun, two days of egg foo young and egg drop soup (one breakfast and one lunch), two days of pad Thai, and leftover chicken adobo with bok choy. Between the two of us the refrigerator is looking less full now – the only leftovers on hand now is a little bit of chicken adobo, some pork & pepper stir fry, and a little rice.

We do our food shopping with leftovers in mind; I guess you could say our leftovers are premeditated (from a delightful blog that I’ve been reading since 2010, by the way). We always ask ourselves when making our list if something we’re thinking of buying will produce leftovers as well as how many ways can we use something so that we finish it completely? Like Alton Brown, who advises not to invest in any single-use kitchen appliance (except for maybe a coffee maker), we try not to buy or make anything that can’t be used in more than one meal, leftovers or otherwise.

Here’s what we had for dinner last week (and pretty much for lunch as well!):

Sunday: Grilled beef Polish sausages in a bun; coleslaw

Monday: Tacos al pastor

Tuesday: Chicken pad thai

Wednesday: Egg foo yung; egg drop soup; rice; cucumber spears

Thursday: Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy

Friday: Mini pizzas with roasted peppers and leftover breakfast sausage

Saturday: CookDo pork & pepper stir fry

Here’s what’s on the menu for next week, in no particular order other than softer foods will be eaten earlier in the week just in case Brett is sore from his surgery:

  • Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches
  • Guadalajara quesadillas
  • Spinach quiche with goat cheese and gruyere
  • Zaru soba & hayayako (chilled tofu)
  • Mini pizzas
  • Turkey club sandwiches
  • California roll salad

This has been another off-and-on again week for walking. Sunday was our regular day off, but Monday it rained most of the day. Tuesday we did our food shopping, and I always get in a couple of miles (seriously!) pushing our carts around Costco and Walmart, although it’s not really a good cardio workout. I was grateful for it this past week though because when I was putting things away at home I hurt my back and was unable to stand up. Brett ended up walking without me. On Wednesday my back was in decent shape again, the weather was beautiful, and we got in a long walk up at the park. Thursday was supposed to be nice, but rain arrived in the morning. For awhile it didn’t seem as if it was going to leave, but by late afternoon it had cleared out and we once again had near-perfect weather for walking. Thursday was gloomy all day, but we managed a short 2.5 mile walk before rain arrived with the same on Friday. Saturday was nicer and we got in a nice, long walk again.

We walked a total of 93 miles in March, with an average pace of 4.3 mph – not bad, considering all the rain there was!

I’ve discovered that one downside of losing weight at my age is that my skin no longer shrinks back like it did when I was younger, or at least not as quickly as it used to. While having loose skin on my arms and legs is proof that I have gotten smaller, it’s frankly not all that attractive. I’d rather have the weight gone though so am learning to live with flabby skin in places.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/21 – 3/27)

We currently budget $400/month for food shopping (it was a little over $500 when YaYu was with us). That’s for everything though, including paper products (except for toilet paper, which we buy separately from Amazon by the case), once-a-week farmers’ market visits, and health-related items outside of prescriptions. $400 is not very much when you’re living on Kaua’i, but we’ve worked out a twice-a-month shopping system and have so far managed to stay just under that amount every month. We use shopping hacks learned when we lived here before, and stagger purchases of proteins and bulk items from Costco. When we arrived back in 2014, our food budget started at $1000/month (!!!) as we figured things out, but it didn’t take long to get that down to under $600/month for four of us, and it stayed there as long as the girls were with us. Although prices are going up every week it seems, $400/month works now for just the two of us. We also budget extra at the beginning of the year to stock up on items like toothpaste, deodorant, and other toiletries so we don’t have to include them in our monthly shopping, at least not for several months.

Creating varied, healthy meals on a tight budget has been a long-time effort for me, especially when I was trying to feed a family of five. It remains a challenge now to create meals for Brett and myself that don’t break our monthly food budget but are nutritious and not loaded with calories. We’re committed to this budget as less spent on food each month means more for our travel fund and other things. It’s a constant balancing act though between wants and needs.

We shop at five different stores on the island:

  1. Costco: We spend the most of our budget at Costco, where we buy items we use frequently. We also buy the majority of our protein there, usually two or three different items every two weeks. While Costco prices are slightly higher here than they are on the mainland, we would not be able to maintain our budget if Costco wasn’t here. Buying a few high-frequency products in bulk means we always have a variety of food on hand to create meals. Once of the biggest constraints on our Costco shopping is that we don’t have the space in our apartment to store much, but we stagger our purchases so that there’s usually a good variety of items on hand.
  2. Walmart: I had never set foot in a Walmart until we moved here, but it’s become a big part of keeping our food costs down. Walmart is where we get the items we don’t need or want in bulk, like rice, flour or sugar, or things like sauces or canned vegetables and some dairy. The prices at Walmart are very low compared to any place else on the island. They have an awesome Asian food section, Hawaii-grown vegetables (like green peppers or onions, which can be hard to find at the farmers’ market), and it’s a great place to find niche ingredients at a lower price. I also prefer some of their store brands over name-brand because they don’t contain things like high fructose corn syrup, thickeners, or other additives. Who knew? Although I have nothing to compare it with, I’ve been told more than once that the vibe at our Walmart is very different from any on the mainland.
  3. Local grocery store: Big Save, Times, and Safeway are our go-to markets, although we prefer the first two (both locally owned by the same company). We shop at these markets for milk (1/2 gallon every other week), a few produce items now and again that we can’t get at the farmers’ market or Walmart, and for the very few items we can’t find at Costco or Walmart, like arborio rice for example.
  4. Farmers’ market: We are blessed to have such great markets operating year round, and with the produce so affordably priced. We budget $15/week at the market, and can bring home quite a bit for that.
  5. Amazon: I bought a lot more through Amazon when we lived here before, but the only three items we buy now are toilet paper, Pacific Foods roasted pepper and tomato soup, and Thai Kitchen pad Thai kits. The toilet paper and soup are delivered by subscription, and I only buy the pad Thai mix when I can’t locate it here.

Before we shop I go through our pantry, fridge, and freezer to see what we have on hand, and then make a menu before I make the shopping list. We always take something off the list before we shop, and then try to figure one or two things we don’t need or can do without while we’re shopping. So far it’s all working to keep us on track with our budget.

Here’s what we ate for dinner this past week:

We had everything on hand to make this dish for less than $5.00.

Sunday: Tom Colicchio’s one pan pasta with ham and broccoli; pumpkin cake

Store bought but still delicious.

Monday: Spinach and cheddar quiche; pumpkin cake

My fried rice doesn’t hold a candle to YaYu’s.

Tuesday: Ham fried rice; pumpkin cake

We weren’t sure if the salad and sausages would go well together, but it was a very good meal!

Wednesday: Grilled chicken & apple sausages; guacamole salad; rum cake

Lots of green onions contrasted nicely with the sort of-sweet chicken sausage – it was a very good pizza!

Thursday: Mini pizzas with leftover chicken sausage and green onions; rum cake

A very satisfying meal, and no need (or room for) for dessert!

Friday: Breakfast for dinner (pancakes with lilikoi curd, sausages, and papaya)

The red pepper sauce was low cost and super easy to prepare – we will be having this again!

Saturday: Cheese tortellini with creamy red pepper sauce; green beans; rum cake

Here’s what’s planned for next week, in no particular order:

  • Chicken pad thai
  • Egg foo yung with bean sprouts; egg drop soup
  • Grilled Polish sausages in a bun; coleslaw
  • CookDo pork & pepper stir fry
  • Chicken adobo with bok choy
  • Mini pizzas with roasted peppers and sausage
  • Anniversary dining out

Rum cake will be our dessert all week.

Last week was a great one for walking. After so much rain, wind, and generally lousy weather for the past few weeks, this past one gave us two absolutely gorgeous days on Monday and Tuesday, with bright blue skies, soft breezes, and low humidity. We did our regular walk on Sunday although it was sketchy the entire time, but on Monday we went up to the park later than usual and were able to walk the perimeter of the golf course for a nice change of pace. We had debated not going because Monday way our day off but because the weather was so nice we couldn’t resist. On Tuesday the weather was if anything even better, and since it had been dry for a couple of days we headed back onto the trails through the woods, something we’d been missing. Both day’s walks were nearly five miles. Rain was predicted for Wednesday, but never showed up. However, my hay fever did show up and made me miserable, so I ended up taking the day off while Brett walked on his own. Thursday was once again gloomy, but we got in a shorter walk between showers, and Friday and Saturday were both lovely again and cool, and we did long walks each day.

We had hoped to be able to add another half mile or so to our distance this month, but it became pretty obvious toward the end of the month that was not going to happen. With all the weather-related interruptions there have been we feel grateful we didn’t lose ground, and were able to maintain our current pace and distance.

According to TikTok, because I can put my palms on my shoulders I am either intensely flexible or a freak of nature.

The doctor was very pleased with my weight the other day – 32 pounds gone since I was weighed at the doctors’ office last June. He said the walking is helping to combat osteoporosis in my hips as are the strength training exercises for my upper body. Maybe those upper body strength exercises are providing more benefits than I realized though because I have no trouble putting my palms up on my shoulders. I am pretty flexible overall (can bend over and put my palms on the floor without bending my knees, for example) but the shoulder one surprised me.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/14 – 3/20)

“I get up in the morning because there will be coffee” is a guiding principle in my life.

As this week is our one-year anniversary of returning to Kaua’i, I’ve been reflecting on all the positive changes I’ve made this past year for my health. I exercise more, I eat less, I’ve given up Diet Coke (still miss it now and again though), and changed my coffee drinking habits. 

I love coffee. I’ve been drinking it since I was around five years old. My grandmother took a coffee break almost every afternoon, and when I was over at her house she would make me my own little pot of coffee (with more milk and sugar than coffee), and we would sit in her breakfast room and chat while we sipped from our cups. My mom also drank heavily sugared coffee with lots of milk, and was notorious for leaving half-finished cups around the house – I would also take sips from those whenever I could. As I grew older I ditched the sugar, and then the milk, and by the time I finished high school I was drinking my coffee black which is how I prefer it now. I am hooked – I can think of a hundred things that would be easier for me to give up than coffee.

A year ago I was drinking four or more cups of coffee per day, mostly half-caffeinated. Last year my new doctor here suggested I cut back to just one cup a day, and I did . . . for a while. A few months ago I added back a second cup in the morning and am finding that’s the perfect amount for the day although I occasionally also have a cup of fully decaffeinated coffee in the afternoon. One cup a day was just not enough for this girl but I don’t need four cups any more.

Hawaiian comfort food

Sunday: Loco moco; cucumber spears; pumpkin cake with whipped coconut cream

A half-cup of pasta, half cup of sauce; and some grated Parmesan = perfect.

Monday: Spaghetti with meat sauce; pumpkin cake with whipped coconut cream

The rosemary in this dish comes from our yard!

Tuesday: Chicken risotto; roasted vegetables; pumpkin cake with whipped coconut cream

A perfect meal on an evening when I didn’t feel like cooking.

Wednesday: Roasted red pepper & tomato soup; ham sandwich; pumpkin cake 

Mabo nasu is mabo tofu with eggplant instead of tofu.

Thursday: CookDo mabo nasu with steamed rice; pumpkin cake

No pineapple allowed.

Friday: Ham & green pepper mini pizzas; pumpkin cake

The “Mexican” coleslaw was dressed with olive oil, lime juice, pepper, salt, and chili powder.

Saturday: Chili pork burritos; coleslaw; pumpkin cake

On the menu for next week’s dinners are:

  • Guacamole salad and grilled chicken sausages
  • Cheese tortellini with roasted red pepper sauce
  • Broccoli quiche
  • Ham fried rice
  • Tom Colicchio’s one-pan pasta with ham and broccoli
  • Breakfast for dinner (sausages, pancakes, and fruit)
  • Mini pizzas

Mid-week I’ll be making a Bacardi rum cake for our dessert.

It’s been another very irregular, and at times difficult week for walking. We took our regular day off last Monday (the weather was sketchy anyway), Tuesday was literally a washout, but Wednesday was lovely and cool and we walked nearly five miles. Thursday we were back to blustery and wet throughout the day, but things cleared up enough in the afternoon for us to walk nearly five miles again. The wind was ferocious though – at times it felt like we were either being pushed down the path or were walking in place and getting nowhere depending on which direction we were headed. Friday looked OK, but rain started shortly after we arrived and forced us to stop after walking only around a mile. Saturday was very windy again, but otherwise seemed OK until the rain started 10 minutes before the end of a nearly five-mile walk – we were pretty wet by the time we made it back to the car. Yesterday was beautiful again and we got in one more long walk for the week. To say we are looking forward to some consistent good weather at this point would be an understatement! 

There were rainbows almost every day this past week.

One of the benefits of the current awful weather we’ve been having though is that there’s been a rainbow almost every day, either over by our house or up at the park. I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing rainbows, especially not the big, beautiful full arches that appear here. They never fail to take my breath away.

My upper right arm was quite sore from the vaccine for a couple of days, but I did my strength training without the weights and got through it, and was able to use the weights on Thursday. I have a much better idea now of which muscles are being worked on with each exercise!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (3/7-3/13)

Our shopping list goes through many changes as I work through a menu plan for around two weeks. The first week’s menu is set when I shop; the second one not so much but will get pulled together later. At least two more items will be removed from the list before we shop.

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t menu plan. I have gone through periods when I planned menus for a whole month, but I’ve usually planned a week at a time. I even menu planned and shopped accordingly during our travels. I remember a co-worked being astonished that I planned our weekly meals; I was equally astonished that she didn’t. 

I admit however to not always being very good at it. In the past, I would plan, create a shopping list, and then still find myself stopping off at the store because I had forgotten to purchase a needed ingredient or supply. Of course those stops often meant I was also picking up other things that I really didn’t need. These days I am much, much better at planning. I check for proteins that we’ve got in the freezer, then go through my pantry and refrigerator to figure out what I can create from what we have on hand. The only thing that gets filled in between shopping trips are fruits and vegetables from our weekly visit to the farmers’ market. The goal is to create a menu that incorporates a variety of healthy, tasty, and satisfying meals including one without meat.

 
Sunday pot roast

Sunday: Mississippi Pot Roast; mashed potatoes; steamed green beans; olive oil orange cake

I added bok choy this time – it was delicious!

Monday: Chicken soup with vegetables and brown rice; olive oil orange cake

One of my top three sandwiches!

Tuesday: French dip sandwiches; mashed potatoes; coleslaw; olive oil orange cake

Subuta, served with rice, is gluten free. On its own it’s fairly low calorie too.

Wednesday: Subuta (sweet & sour pork) with steamed rice; olive oil orange cake

Cheeseburger in paradise.

Thursday: Cheeseburgers; olive oil orange cake

The roasted vegetables were red pepper, zucchini, and onion.

Friday: Roasted vegetable mini pizzas with pesto; pumpkin cake

Just four ingredients: grilled fresh fish, shredded cabbage, corn tortillas, and mango-peach salsa. Easy to put together, and very satisfying.

Saturday: Grilled fish tacos with peach-mango salsa; pumpkin cake

Next week’s menu, in no particular order:

  • Chili pork burritos
  • Mabo nasu
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Chicken risotto
  • Loco moco
  • Red pepper & tomato soup with ham sandwiches
  • Mini pizzas
Storm after storm after storm have rolled across the island this week.

Last week was a difficult one for walking. We did our regular walk last Sunday, then took our day off on Monday. On Tuesday we headed up to the park even though it was very overcast, and got in around a mile and a half before having to quit. Wednesday was stormy all day with high winds, thunder and lightening, and rain, rain, and more rain. It was still raining on Thursday morning, but the sun came out in the afternoon and it was actually somewhat hot and humid when it was time for our walk, a taste of the weather we’ll start to experience in only a few weeks. Friday’s weather was absolutely NUTS – I’ve never seen more rain fall in my life. Saturday was also miserable: wet, windy, and cold, but we caught a break late Sunday afternoon and were able to get in a 50 minute walk before the rain started up again. We knew to avoid the forest paths at the park because of the mud, but there was still plenty of mud out on some of the paths, and our route was a mess in many places. We’ve always known we’d probably get a week or more of rain this spring, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that this especially nasty round of weather doesn’t last much longer.

The sunshine that showed up this past Thursday was a real treat. We wish it had lasted longer.

I’ve still managed to lose another two pounds in the past weeks, so I think that’s four pounds gone out of the ten I want to lose this year. It was very motivating to go through my cold weather clothes last week and find that so many pieces of my former too-tight clothing now fit as they should. I still see a big girl when I look in the mirror, but the way my clothing fits now tells me that’s not true any more. Brett is also losing weight and finding his clothes growing loose. When he met with the surgeon last week he was weighed and we knew from the result that our home scale is very accurate – nice to know!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (2/28 – 3/6)

A tiny piece of cake at the end of the day is a little bit of wonderful . . . and enough.

Before we left on our big travel adventure in 2018, I told Brett that I didn’t want to cook any more. I was tired of menu planning and the time spent in the kitchen, and decided that going forward we would be eating more prepared foods like casseroles, soups, sandwiches, and so forth.

Well, here it is 2021 and I’m menu planning every week, in the kitchen preparing meals almost every day, and we rarely if ever eat prepared meals or have soup and sandwiches. What the heck happened?

What happened was several things. Brett and I want to eat healthy meals at an affordable cost. Prepared foods cost more, and are often high fat and low fiber and with a few exceptions are as enticing as I thought they would be. These days I’m cooking for someone who makes no complaints about the menu, the ingredients, or how I season things – his one request has been that I steam green beans occasionally versus sautéing them. It’s a big change from the years I cooked for a bunch of (lovable) critics. They ate whatever I prepared, had favorite dishes they still ask for, but there were always comments or complaints or mutterings behind the scenes from someone about what I fixed or how I made something. It was exhausting. I cook now for an appreciative audience of one, and that has made all the difference. While I no longer have to plan and cook big meals, or worry who will be at the table on any evening I still enjoy the challenge of coming up with and preparing a healthy, varied diet for the two of us while staying within or below our budget. Finally, Brett takes care of all the evening clean-up these days, washing the dishes and making sure the kitchen is spotless and ready for the next day. That also makes being back in the kitchen these days a more pleasant experience.

Last week’s dinners are pictured below. We finished up our gingerbread mid-week and are now enjoying a small piece olive oil orange cake topped with a little Monkeypod Jam chocolate-orange sauce for dessert each evening. And, leftovers made sure we had tasty lunches all week:

All that was missing was some sweet relish but we had forgotten to buy it.

Sunday: Grilled beef Polish sausages in Hawaiian sweet bread rolls; cucumber spears

InstantPot risotto is so easy and so very, very good.

Monday: Kabocha squash risotto; sautéed green beans

Simple beef tacos were as good as I remembered.

Tuesday: Ground beef soft tacos

There are different levels of spice in mabo tofu; we go with medium hot.

Wednesday: CookDo mabo tofu with steamed rice; cucumber spears

A perfect meal for a cold and stormy Kaua’i evening.

Thursday: InstantPot pork chops with sauerkraut, bacon, and apples

Brett fixed the bacon, I made the omelets and sliced the tomatoes – easy peasy (and good!).

Friday: Breakfast for dinner: cheese omelets, bacon, and sliced tomatoes

Saturday: Mini pizzas with pesto, roasted kabocha, and diced onion

Next week’s menu plan in no particular order

  • Mississippi pot roast with mashed potatoes
  • French dip sandwiches
  • Chicken soup with rice and vegetables
  • Grilled fish tacos
  • Hamburgers
  • Mini pizzas with vegetables
  • Subuta (Japanese sweet & sour pork)
I wonder how long it will take for the red dirt stains to start showing up?

My new walking shoes are great, and make such a difference. If I have to complain about anything it’s that there’s not as much cushioning as there was originally with my old pair, but otherwise the fit is perfect and they’re lightweight and comfortable. What I really need though is new socks, something with a bit more cushioning. Brett needs some as well, so they will go on our shopping list for next month. Anyway, I tried the shoes out for the first time on four-mile walk on the east side beach path this past week and had no issues. I love the blue color as well, a welcome change from gray.

There were big waves and loud surf on the east side of the island from the winds last week. I can’t remember seeing so much seafoam.
One of the benefits of lots of rain: lots of rainbows! It began pouring less than 15 minutes after this picture was taken.

We only got in four walks this past week because of the weather, and got rained out on a couple of days before we had completed our walks. It’s to be expected this time of year, and I adjusted my portion sizes down on the days we couldn’t walk.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (2/28 – 3/6)

Pancakes made with a little leftover pumpkin puree I found in the freezer, and topped with the last of the cranberry-orange sauce from Monkeypod Jam

Breakfasts here at Chez Aloha are simple, healthy, and satisfying. Brett and I typically don’t eat breakfast at the same time – he usually wakes up ahead of me and eats about an hour earlier than I do, almost always having a bowl of oatmeal with with a banana, no added sugar and only occasionally some dairy. My go-to breakfast is a cup of fruit, either blueberries or papaya, with a half cup of non-fat vanilla yogurt and topped with two tablespoons of Kaua’i-made Anahola granola. I break things up a couple of times a week, usually with a slice of whole grain toast and a poached egg, Every other week I make pancakes for the two of us. We’ve both talking about waffles lately, but we no longer have a waffle maker and don’t intend to buy one. Instead, I have put a cute little waffle maker on my birthday/Mother’s Day wish list this year. I’d love to make a big batch of mini waffles and freeze them so we can pop one in the toaster whenever the desire hits.

The Dash mini waffle maker is only $10.

We had some great dinners this past week, with leftovers consumed for lunch throughout the week. We had gingerbread with lemon curd for our dessert every day, but later this week I’ll be making a Bacardi rum cake again:

We picked up this stir-fry kit (vegetables, sauce, and coconut chips – we added our own chicken) at Costco and will happily buy it again!

Sunday: Thai coconut curry vegetable and chicken stir fry; steamed rice.

The pasta and sauce were a complete meal for us.

Monday: Spaghetti with meat sauce

I add sliced Chinese snow peas and mung bean noodles to kick things up a bit.

Tuesday: Egg Roll In a Bowl

I’m not sure where or when we learned about adding coleslaw to a pulled pork sandwich, but we love it this way.

Wednesday: Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw; cucumber spears

Bacon was a great addition to this recipe.

Thursday: Tom Colleccio’s one-pot pasta with bacon

These pizzas would have been even better with a little bit of fresh cilantro, but sadly we didn’t have any on hand this week.

Friday: Leftover barbecue pulled pork mini pizzas

Lessons learned: start with good, vine-ripened tomatoes (which are very had to come by here), and check the broiler frequently. These tomatoes ended up being just OK. The frittata was delicious though.

Saturday: Zucchini frittata; Ruth’s Chris broiled tomatoes

And here’s the menu plan for this week:

  • Beef tacos
  • Polish sausages in a bun
  • Pork chops with sauerkraut & apples
  • Breakfast for dinner (omelets, bacon, and fruit)
  • Mabo dofu with steamed rice
  • Roasted kabocha squash risotto
  • Mini pizzas with roasted squash, onion, and pesto

My new walking shoes will get their first tryout today. I am very ready for something new and more comfortable on my feet, but as Marie Kondo advises I will say a deep thank you to my old shoes before I toss them, for taking me through so many wonderful miles and getting me this far along my path to wellness and good health. I will keeping them around for a few more days until I’m sure the new shoes are going to be OK.

I took my last walk in my old shoes on Saturday. They were a great purchase but it’s time for something new. The whole inside back of the shoe is worn through.

We had two no-walk days last week, one our regular day off and another cancelled because of the weather. We were also rained out of another walk on Thursday. And, when I say rained out I mean soaked to the skin. There was a dark cloud we had been watching but thought it was moving in a different direction. Instead, the heavens opened, we were stuck out in the open, and ended up having get back to the car and going home. And the wind! A nice breeze makes walking a pleasure; strong winds can make it a challenge and some days were a challenge. Still, we persevered and got in good walks on most days. We have given ourselves a goal of getting our distance at the park up to six miles a day at least a few days a week by the end of the month – this next week we will be adding the longer distance on one day, then two the following week, and so on.

After reading an article about the importance taking regular breaks when doing strength training I have cut back to doing my sessions to a recommended three days a week. The daily sessions were honestly not getting any easier, and now I know they may have been doing more damage than good because my muscles weren’t getting enough rest in between.