Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (6/6-6/12)

This is a food shopping week, and the #1 item on our shopping list this time is beans! Brett got a 10% off coupon on any grocery purchase at Safeway when he got his shingles vaccination done last week, so we’re going to stock up there as they have the best selection on the island. Hopefully we will find a good variety at Safeway (I’m looking for cannellini beans in particular) and some organic varieties. I can cook dry beans in our InstantPot, and will start doing that once we get all the meat out of the freezer, but for now canned makes more sense.

Filling out our shopping list these days is a very different experience as our meals become less dependent on meat. Besides beans, produce tops our shopping list, as well as other ingredients to complete meatless meals, things like tofu, grains, or vegetable broth. We no longer buying eggs, but still put cheese on the list, although in more limited quantities than. Coming up with meals to use up our meat supply is no longer as fun as it was for me before, but we still have ground beef, ground pork, pork chops, shredded roast chicken breast, chicken thighs, a package of Italian sausages, and a bag of chicken curry to use up. It’s going to take a few more weeks for us to finish all of it, but I’m finding I want to cook and eat meat less and less as we progress.

We had four meatless meals last week, although three of the four meals contained cheese. We’re hoping we can do better going forward, although all two of three meatless meals next week again contain cheese. We enjoy eating cheese though (it’s always been my favorite section of the store) and we have no intention of removing it completely from our diet. However, I need to find and focus more on dishes that don’t include it.

Below are the dinners we enjoyed last week. Last week was basically a huge effort to use up what’s was on hand so there’s room for what we buy tomorrow. Bulgur Mexicana is a favorite vegetarian dish that we haven’t enjoyed in a long while but that fits our new style of eating well, basically a spicy wheat pilar topped with a variety of vegetables and salsa.

Sunday: Chicken & pasta soup with vegetables

Monday: Mabo tofu; steamed rice; sliced cucumber

Tuesday: Cheese mini pizzas, broiled Parmesan tomatoes; steamed artichoke

Wednesday: Roasted red pepper & tomato soup; toasted cheese sandwiches; coleslaw

Thursday: Chili pork burrito sauce over sweet potato; steamed artichoke

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Bulgur Mexicana

Dessert this week has been carrot cake baked oatmeal with s’mores on a couple of nights (we figured out that 10 seconds in the microwave makes the marshmallows melt perfectly for a s’more).

Below is next week’s menu.

  • Japanese food at Japanese Grandma’s Cafe
  • Chicken curry
  • Cheesy white bean tomato bake
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Italian sausage sandwiches with sautéed peppers and onions
  • Mezze platter (hummus, baba ganoush, tabouli salad)

We discovered this past week that a beach visit and too much sun will kill any desire to walk later in the day. On Friday we were on the beach for a couple of hours, and kept telling ourselves we’d be fine for a walk later up at Kukukiolono. However, when it was time to set out for our walk both of us had to admit we felt absolutely drained and incapable of walking, and ended up staying home. Lesson learned! We otherwise got in five perimeter walks around the golf course this week, a new record for us (and found two golf balls each day for our collection except for Saturday when there were none). The weather has been windy and cool all week, but absolutely perfect for walking. We wish the current weather would last for the rest of the summer, but we know that’s not going to happen. Thankfully much of the perimeter walk is in the shade in the late afternoon.

A beautiful, sunny day at the beach zapped the energy right out of us.

I have always loved walking and am grateful these days for the almost daily opportunities to get outside to exercise. I am not built for running with my short, heavy legs, but walking is low impact, and I am able to walk at a pace that provides real benefits. In my younger days I would be thin as a rail by now from all the walking we do, but these days it remains an effort to further slim down. However, both Brett’s and my BMI is now in the optimal range for our gender and age, so I am trying to be satisfied with my current weight. How much I weigh though is always going to be an issue for me, as I was well-trained throughout my life by family and the media to always, always see the fat girl in the mirror.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (5/30-6/5)

Our meat supply is slowly dwindling, but not quickly enough for me, honestly. We have been enjoying our meatless meals but quite a bit of meat protein still remains to be used. I’ve added some more ingredients to our pantry for future meatless meals: cashew butter, tahini, falafel mix, and bulgur wheat and am looking forward to creating meals with those in the future (the cashew butter though is for me to have on toast for breakfast). Amazon is the most cost effective place for us to find natural pantry items for the most part – local stores’ prices other than Costco or Walmart are usually way too expensive. Walmart, we’ve discovered, for as small as its grocery section is has a surprising amount of natural and organic options at very reasonable prices.

The first vegetarian cookbook I reserved at the library, Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian, came off of hold and I’ve been going through it, although it sadly appears not to be a good fit with a Kindle. It takes a while to maneuver through the book and find different recipes. It’s maybe a book I’ll have to buy (or suggest for a Christmas present). The America’s Test Kitchen vegetarian book has also come off of hold, but I haven’t been able to go through it yet. I hope it will work better with the Kindle. My best source for vegetarian/vegan recipes continues to be the Internet, and I’m just getting started looking on Pinterest.

Below are what we ate for dinner this past week. There were four meals that included meat, three without. The carrot salad on Wednesday was the biggest hit of the week – I will post the recipe for it soon. Both Brett and I could have eaten the entire bowl of it in one sitting and I cannot wait to make it again. The leftovers were great on the roasted marinated artichoke sandwiches we had a couple of days later – very yummy!.

Sunday: Grilled Italian sausages; pasta with marinara; roasted zucchini

Monday: Hamburgers; 3-bean salad

Tuesday: Grilled teriyaki chicken; zaru soba; cucumber slices

Wednesday: Italian sausage & artichoke mini pizzas

Thursday: Chicken-less nuggets; steamed artichoke; carrot & cilantro salad

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Roasted artichoke sandwiches; 3-bean salad

We’re enjoying the baked oatmeal for our desserts. We started off the week with a blueberry-banana version, and finished the week with a strawberry-banana one. They’ve been much more satisfying than a regular piece of cake or ice cream, and healthier too!

Below is what’s planned for dinner next week. I almost can’t believe that in this warm weather we’re having soup not once but twice, but it is what it is. Depending on what kind of mini pizzas get made we could be having four meatless meals versus three:

  • Chili pork sauce with baked sweet potato
  • Red pepper & tomato soup with toasted cheese sandwiches
  • Mabo dofu
  • Chicken & pasta soup with vegetables
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Bulgur Mexicana

Our week of walking started out well, and other than one day spoiled by rain we got in good walks every day. We took our usual Sunday off, and then did a long walk at the park on Memorial Day, around the perimeter. On Tuesday we walked two miles on the Waiokapua Trail at Barking Sands, and on Wednesday we walked three and a half miles on the eastside beach path after my hair appointment. It was hot, hot, hot at both those places but there was also a breeze both times that helped made the temperature bearable. Rain kept us home on Thursday, but Friday and Saturday we did perimeter walks at the park again. We love going later in the day when things have cooled down a bit and we get shade almost the entire way on the perimeter walk. There are also fewer people at the park, almost like we have the place to ourselves.

All is well with our health otherwise. I’m getting labs done this week for my annual cholesterol check, and all lab work for Brett looks good following his surgery. Hopefully we’ll have our teeth back in shape soon as well. Coming back to Kaua’i has been very good for our health overall – we’re stronger, we’re eating better, we’ve lost weight. Noho’ana hau’ole: life is good.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (5/23-5/29)

(Posting a day later than usual because of yesterday’s holiday).

I’ve been having a good time searching for new vegetarian recipes. For now, my research has all been online, but I’ve got three all-purpose cookbooks on hold at the library, to see if I like them and feel they would be worth purchasing. One is How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. His original How to Cook Everything has been our most-used cookbook for many years, and we’re eager to see what the vegetarian version holds. Two other books we’re waiting on are from America’s Test Kitchen: The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook and Vegan for Everyone. I’d also like to find a vegetarian cookbook for the InstantPot, but our library doesn’t have the one I’d like to start with so I’m still looking. I’d love any suggestions you may have for vegetarian cookbooks!

Big changes are coming this week to our breakfasts and desserts. I am going to be giving up yogurt and instead will be having cereals with oat milk instead. I love shredded wheat so that’s what I’m starting with, but there are other good cereals out there are well. Cereal with oat milk has more calories than my usual yogurt breakfast, so I am going to have to be careful about everything else when I menu plan. And, we are giving up ice cream and cakes for dessert (sob!). We’ve decided to eat something healthier instead, and our first treat will be a dish traditionally eaten at breakfast: baked oatmeal! There are so many yummy, healthy versions out there so we can mix things up and still feel like we’re getting something special. We’re also going to try and have more fruit for dessert, easier now as summer fruits, both tropical and otherwise, become more available. It didn’t help that Costco didn’t have any melons last weekend, but we did get strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. Peaches will be appearing soon as well.

We managed to have three vegetarian meals this past week – the spicy black bean bake was both easy and tasty and I’m already looking forward to having it again (although I want to use pepper jack cheese instead of the cheddar next time and leave the red pepper flakes out of the beans). We could have eaten more vegetarian meals but our goal right now is to use up the meat in the freezer (without going crazy). Here’s what was eaten for dinner last week:

Sunday: Pork & apple stir fry; green beans

Monday: Spicy black bean bake; Fritos; wilted cucumber salad

Tuesday: Pasta with meat sauce; roasted zucchini

Wednesday: Burritos with rice, beans, chicken, and cabbage; honeydew melon

Thursday: Tofu & sweet potato curry; honeydew melon

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Italian sausage & roasted squash mini pizzas

We head into June this week, so according to our plan there will be three vegetarian meals on the menu this week: a cheese board, chicken-less nuggets, and roasted artichoke sandwiches. Our once-a-week cheeseboard and mini pizza dinners continue, but the chicken-less nuggets are something we found at Costco and want to try. The mini pizzas this week will be topped with leftover Italian sausage and probably roasted squash for a second week. We’ll have the teriyaki chicken with zaru soba.

  • Grilled teriyaki chicken
  • Pasta with marinara; Italian sausages
  • Hamburgers
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas
  • Chicken-less nuggets
  • Roasted artichoke sandwiches

Last week was a great week for walking. Sunday was our regular day off and on Monday we visited Waimea Canyon and got in over a mile of walking there, and could have done more except for the weather. Tuesday through Friday though we walked the golf course perimeter every day (3.6 miles) – great workouts – and Saturday we did our Costco and Walmart shopping trip, walking over two miles. That trip is also a good workout, for me anyway, because I’m also pushing a cart the entire time, and then we also have to carry all we bought up two flights of stairs to our apartment. We always finish our shopping trips feeling more tired than we do after walking up at the park!

It’s amazing how quickly we can walk a couple of miles in Costco, but the store is HUGE. They’re always moving things around as well so we have to walk practically the entire store at times to find what we’re looking for.

We walked our shortest total distance this past month though, only 67.1 miles. We had seven days where we walked less than a mile, almost always because of the weather. In April we walked a total of 78.5 miles.

An additional “benefit” we’ve discovered of the perimeter walks around the golf course is that we almost always find golf balls, at least one a day but sometimes two or three. We walk in the out-of-bounds area and guess some golfers just don’t bother to look if they hit their ball out of bounds. We’ve got quite a collection of balls now, both white and colors, and should have a couple of bags of them to sell when we get ready to leave the island!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (5/16-5/22)

This past week there was a lot of discussion between Brett and me about whether it was maybe time for us to become vegetarians or vegans or whether there was another path we could or should take. The end result was that there are changes coming, but they will be gradual. We currently have a freezer full of meat, but we’ve decided to stop buying meat going forward and gradually stop eating it, segueing into a vegetarian diet. We like meat, we don’t eat a lot of it, but it will be healthier for us to learn to do without it. It will also be a more frugal way for us to eat.

Our plan is to finish this month with two vegetarian meals included in each week, then move to three days per week in June, until all the meat in the freezer is finished. We may have enough on hand to get all the way through June, and if so will go to four days/week of meatless meals in July, but I honestly don’t think we have that much in the freezer. A gradual change will give us time to revamp our pantry, do more research, find recipes, etc. I’ve put several vegetarian/vegan books on hold at the library, to see if we like them or at the least find some new recipes. If yes, we’ll buy the Kindle version so they can be used on my Kindle, or on Brett’s iPad or my laptop while we travel.

We’ve set a few ground rules to get ourselves started. Limited dairy will be OK going forward (I cannot live without cheese – I’ve tried – and we like ice cream in small amounts), but we won’t be buying any more cow’s milk. Same for eggs. Brett has firmly stated he does not want to become a full-time vegan, and as long as we live on Kaua’i he would still like to eat fish once in a while. I’m OK with those two things. However, goals for both of us are to move to a more plant-based diet. Our son has been a vegan for the past two years and has seen dramatic positive changes in his health, and we think moving in the same direction will be beneficial to us as well and also help maintain our current weights.

Anyway, stay tuned as our menus begin to change!

Here’s what we ate for dinner last week though. We had two meatless meals:

Sunday: CookDo chili shrimp; steamed rice; wilted cucumber salad

Monday: Mississippi pot roast; mashed potatoes; green beans

Tuesday: CookDo pork & pepper stir fry; steamed rice; fresh pineapple & strawberries

Wednesday: Leftover stuffed peppers; green bean & parmesan salad

Thursday: French dip sandwiches; roasted mixed vegetables

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Roasted vegetable mini pizza

Ice cream is our dessert of choice these days: two flavors, 1/3 cup of each. This week we’ve been enjoying mint chocolate chip and mocha almond fudge.

Besides having mini pizzas each week, I’ve also decided to add a cheese board to our menu each week. It will help us end up with three meatless meals next week as we get started, maybe four if we go meatless on the pizzas. Here’s what’s planned for dinners next week:

  • Tofu & sweet potato curry
  • Cheese board
  • Black bean bake
  • Pork & apple stir fry
  • Mini pizzas
  • Pasta with meat sauce
  • Chicken, bean, & rice burritos

Our walking was very inconsistent last week thanks to the very inconsistent weather. We got in a good two miles worth of walking on Sunday as we shopped through Costco and Walmart (pushing a cart around also helps with the calorie burn). We stayed home on Monday because of rain, and then Tuesday did a perimeter walk at the golf course. Wednesday we got in only two laps around the Pavilion before the rain started, but managed three loops on Thursday. Friday we went to the beach. We had planned to walk after we got home but the heat that day left us feeling completely drained so that didn’t happen. Saturday we were able to get in three laps again although it was sprinkling by the time we got back to the car. Fingers are crossed on both hands that we have better weather and a more consistent amount of walking this coming week.

Storm coming across the golf course on Saturday.

I’ve decided I’m not going to worry any more about whether I’m losing more weight or at a plateau or if this is the weight I’m supposed to be at or whatever. Enough!! I am happy with how I look, and I am going to work on building muscle, getting in even better shape, and eating better – that is all. Strength training will continue, walking will continue, and with the planned changes to our eating I plan to end the year in great shape!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (5/9-5/15)

I mainly like the way Brett and I eat now. We’re eating what we like, and I’m enjoying menu planning and cooking because nothing is off the menu and we’re not following any special type of diet. Brett has never been a picky eater – I don’t think there is anything I have fixed ever that he has said he hasn’t liked, although the first time I served him an artichoke he couldn’t figure out what the big deal was (he loves them now). He has no allergies or intolerances either, so anything is fair game as far as he’s concerned. The only things that could said to be missing from our meals are lettuce and potatoes. I can’t eat lettuce, and although we can eat potatoes, they’re not a favorite for either of us other than the occasional serving of buttery mashed potatoes (yum).

If I had to pick my biggest challenge when doing meal planning it would be variety. It was easy when I was cooking for the family to fall into a rut and cook the same dishes over and over again, but for the two of us I like to mix things up a bit more. The same items do show up again and again, but I try to put a few weeks’ distance between when they’re served. I also limit my menu planning to using what’s on hand, and as we’re on a budget there are certain types of protein that I either avoid or don’t buy very often.

However, we’re talking about decreasing the amount of meat we eat. We’re not ready to go full-on vegetarian or vegan, but we want to add more plant-based meals to our menus. A few years ago I went full vegan, or tried to, but it was very difficult as Brett, YaYu, and WenYu still wanted to eat meat. Brett has said he’s ready now though to cut back or eliminate meat, so it’s something we’re going to look into and segue into gradually as we still have quite a bit of meat in the freezer. We don’t eat a lot of meat, only three ounces or less per serving, and a little goes a long way for us, but it’s something we can let go of.

Below is what we ate for dinner this past week:

Sunday: Cheese tortellini with marinara sauce; steamed artichoke

Monday: Grilled fish (ono) tacos; honeydew melon

Tuesday: Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy; steamed rice

Wednesday: Grilled beef Polish sausages with sauerkraut; wilted cucumber salad

Thursday: Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches (the mystery meal from the freezer); coleslaw

Friday: Barbecue pulled pork mini pizzas

Saturday: Stuffed peppers; roasted zucchini

Here’s what planned for next week. I’m especially excited about the charcuterie board – we’ll probably have that on Friday and enjoy a glass of wine with it:

  • CookDo chili shrimp
  • CookDo pork & pepper stir fry
  • Mississippi pot roast
  • French dip sandwiches
  • Leftover stuffed peppers
  • Mini pizzas
  • Charcuterie board

Last week was a great week for walking, and we walked the golf course perimeter three days: Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday as we figured out how to get out there without getting called back or yelled at. First, we went up to the park later than usual, and timed our course so we would arrive at the club house a full hour after the last tee time (making it hard to rationalize that there are golfers on holes 1-4). As an added precaution we also cut down and around the corner of the miniature golf course, a shortcut that took us out to the main course without having to walk by the clubhouse. These two changes made all the difference.

Rain chased us out of the park on Wednesday after one loop around the pavilion, and on Thursday we walked the Waiokapua Trail at Barking Sands. It was much nicer than our last time there as was a breeze was blowing and it wasn’t as hot as it was before. Kukuiolono was great almost every other day and the perimeter walks gave us a good workout, reminding us of our walks through the fields in England. Friday’s weather was unpredictable so we stuck to the Pavilion loop and walked nearly four miles there; our golf course walks were three and a half miles each.

Views from the golf course perimeter walk

I think my body must like what it weighs now because I’ve been stuck at the same place for a long time now. I’m starting to think I may not lose any more this year. I’m hoping though that it’s only a plateau and things will start moving again someday. However, I’m very happy with how much weight I’ve lost (32 pounds) in the past year, and how strong I’ve gotten, so if this is what I’m meant to weigh, so be it.

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.