Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (9/19 – 9/25)

I hit a wall this week when it came to cooking. I had a vegan peanut stew on the menu this week but I just could not get myself motivated to make it. When we get home from walking in the late afternoon I just don’t feel like standing in the kitchen. The stew was instead switched over to yesterday when I felt relaxed and ready to slice, chop, measure and stir, and going forward new recipes will be reserved for our day off on Sunday. Otherwise we’re sticking to sandwiches and other easy but healthy dishes that don’t require a lot of effort. I’m feeling very grateful right now for the vegan entrees that we’ve picked up and stashed in the freezer.

I’ve also found myself “over-snacking” this past week. Everything has been healthy: nuts, whole grain fig bars, low salt/low fat chips, but when I’m eating too much of anything or having all three in a day then it’s not healthy any more. I had the most trouble with the chips – although they’re low calorie they are also just salty and crispy enough that I would finish a serving and be craving more and often ended up having two servings. No, no, no. Anyway, I am working on being more conscious of when and how much I snack now. I won’t buy the chips again – too tempting, and will instead stick with a small dish of nuts or a fig bar in the afternoon.

The chili dogs we ate last week were delicious and a fun treat, and we enjoyed our afternoon appetizer and wine along with some good conversation with Bob and Betty on Tuesday. Everything else was easy and satisfying as well, so I’m going to stick with easy-to-fix dishes during the week, and then do my “cooking” on Sundays.

Sunday: Vegan chili dogs; coleslaw

Monday: Roasted red pepper & tomato soup; toasted cheese sandwiches; cucumber pickles

Tuesday: Potstickers, California roll sushi, and a glass of pinot grigio (me) or beer (Brett)

Wednesday: Spicy black bean quesadillas; steamed broccoli

Thursday: Pesto, onion, and feta cheese mini pizzas

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Spaghetti with meatless meatballs; leftover vegetable odds & ends

We’ve enjoyed a matcha Swiss roll and small slices of two delicious pies (blueberry Pina colada and likikoi cheesecake this past week. The pies came from a nearby local pie shop and were very good, but also high-priced so it’s unlikely we’ll get any more from them.

I’m not making anything new next week as we want to use what we have in our freezer before we Big Shop again in October. Everything on next week’s menu is something easy to fix when we get home from our walk as well (as long as I remember to start the rice for the tofu & broccoli stir fry).

  • Grilled vegan burgers (Better than Burgers)
  • Vegan peanut stew
  • Chili shrimp
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas
  • Broccoli & tofu in spicy peanut sauce
  • Zaru soba and chilled tofu (hiyayakko)

The weather was again against us for much of the week, but we did get in six walks. We usually take Sunday off, but walked last Sunday afternoon because we knew we wouldn’t be able to go on Tuesday. It rained most of the day though and whether the walk would happen was touch and go for most of the day, but it thankfully stopped in the late afternoon and off we went. We figured there would be no golf ball finds that day, but they were everywhere! People had apparently been playing before the rain and then abandoned balls out on the fairways when it started getting wet. The rain also caused several balls to roll out of hiding places. We ended our Sunday walk with 13 balls, most in very good condition. It was the same for most of the rest of the week: sketchy weather in the morning but clear enough in the afternoon that we could walk, although Saturday’s walk was cut shortened when it the rain started coming down in buckets about halfway through. Our ball total for the week was 97, tying our previous best week for lost ball finds.

There are more feral pigs on Kaua’i than there are people, and they can be pests. They live in the forests by the golf course but rarely come out in the open.

We did have a scary moment on Thursday: as we came around the edge of the forest on the perimeter of the course I heard the distinctive snort of a feral pig, and not a small one either, from just inside the trees. Brett wasn’t as close as I was and he heard it too. The pig continued to follow us along the edge, and although we couldn’t see it we could hear it and see the trees and brush moving as it traveled. This was just too close for comfort for us so after a few seconds we made a quick right turn and cut across the fairway to the other side of the course and watched the pig trample through the trees on the other side. We know better than get anywhere near a feral pig here!

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (9/12 – 9/18)

Our freezer is stuffed once again, but other than a package of Italian sausages we’re saving for when the girls are here in December, all the meat we started out with a few months ago is gone. We used the last of the meat sauce on our mini pizzas and then cut up a remaining small pork chop for a pork and pepper stir fry. I’m pretty sure Brett and I will eat meat again while the girls are here, but for now we are meat free! So what’s in our freezer? We have a few vegan entrees that we’ve found at Costco and Walmart, including mini corn dogs (we loved them!), hot dogs, chick’n patties, Better Than Burgers, chick’n nuggets, meatballs, and ground meat substitute. There’s a bag of extra-large shrimp for next week’s menu as well as bags of frozen broccoli, bags of frozen blueberries, yakisoba noodles, some bread and rolls, a few frozen burritos and a bag of burrito filling that will get used this coming week. In other words, lots and lots of healthy things to put together tasty meals. Our freezer may be small but it is mighty!

Every inch is in use in our little freezer.

We now walk later in the afternoons than we did before, and when we get home these days the last thing I feel like doing is standing and cooking. In the past we would have purchased and used lots of processed foods, and although I’m finding myself reaching for some easier- or quick-to-prepare options included some processed vegan items, the foods we’re eating now overall are much healthier – less protein (but still enough), less gluten, less dairy – and we feel much better for it. We’re sticking to smaller portions as well – I still measure and/or weigh everything. I’ve also figured out that by fixing some dishes earlier in the day all I have to do is heat them when we get home. My biggest issue seems to be remembering to fix rice (if we’re having it) before we leave for our walk so that we don’t have to wait for it to finish later.

We didn’t try any new recipes this week except for the zucchini fries, which were so-so (I’m going to look for a different recipe next time). Everything tasted good, there were some leftovers for lunches, but best of all the meat is gone!

Sunday: Coconut squash dal with jasmine rice; cucumber spears

Monday: Chick’n nuggets; baked zucchini fries

Tuesday: Mini pizzas with meat sauce

Wednesday: Pork & pepper stir fry; steamed rice

Thursday: Quinoa salad with feta cheese

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Chick’n patty sandwiches; coleslaw

We’ve been enjoying a treat for dessert the past few days: Bubbie’s mochi ice cream balls, which are made in Hawaii. They have the best flavors (we’ve had green tea, passionfruit, chocolate peanut butter, strawberry with dark chocolate chips, and pistachio this week) and each one contains less than two tablespoons of ice cream, so there’s been no dairy overload. Calories are also fairly low: 180 for two. We finished them last night, so this week’s dessert will include thin slices of leftover pie (we’re picking up a couple of pies from our local shop tomorrow to have when Bob and Betty Lowry come over for dessert) and we also bought another coconut cake and another matcha cake to enjoy as well.

Strawberry with dark chocolate chips and chocolate peanut butter Bubbies. The ice cream flavors are always delicious, but Bubbies’ mochi has unfortunately often been hard and somewhat crumbly, not soft and chewy like mochi should be.

Cheese will feature in a few meals next week because we need to use it up: toasted cheese sandwiches, sprinkled on the chili dogs, on the mini pizzas, and of course on the cheese board. We’re looking forward to the chili dogs and found our favorite chili, Amy’s vegetarian, at Big Save. I’m trying one new recipe this week: vegan peanut stew with sweet potato. Everything except the peanut stew can be fixed in a short time after we get home from our walk but I’ll manage. Tomorrow evening we’ll be enjoying happy hour appetizers with Bob and Betty Lowry which will be enough to count as dinner (I hope).

  • Happy Hour appetizers
  • Vegan chili dogs
  • Tomato & roasted red pepper soup; toasted cheese sandwiches
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Spicy black bean burritos
  • Vegan peanut stew

I must have fallen harder than I realized week before last because it feels like I have either bruised or cracked a rib or deeply pulled a muscle. The pain in my upper right chest has not let up, and while using my right arm can be painful depending on what I’m doing (and hard to avoid because I’m right handed), actions like coughing or sneezing are excruciating. I have been forbidden by Brett to enter the gully again so I’m now consigned to checking the edge. My shoes are too slippery for the slopes inside the gully, and because I have beginning osteoporosis, Brett is worried about my falling again and possible breaking my leg or hip (I am too frankly) but whatever I did to my chest is proving to be motivation enough to stay away.

We often pass by this old fountain during our walks. It must have been gorgeous in its day.

The weather this past week was mostly okay for walking with nice breezes and cooler temperatures once again. I remember having to cut our walks short this time last year because the humidity was so fierce and clouds of gnats were everywhere, but we really haven’t experienced those things at all this year. We walked the perimeter on Monday and Tuesday, got in a lot of steps on Wednesday during our Big Shop, but had to stay home on Thursday because of rain. We were almost rained out again on Friday, but the big clouds hanging over the park eventually changed direction, the rain stopped, and we got in a full perimeter walk (our feet got very wet though). Saturday’s weather was lovely and we once again got in another full walk. We found 50 lost balls this week, most in very good condition, and an overall decent number considering the weather, the reduced number of golfers, and only four days for us at the park. Our ball collecting also finally paid off this past week: we sold three packages of used golf balls in one day!

Staying Healthy: Eating and Exercise (9/5 – 9/11)

This coming week is a Big Shop week, but we’re fairly well stocked up for the time being, so it will be interesting to see what and how much we buy. Our shopping is so different now that we’re not buying meat. We’re still constrained by our small refrigerator/freezer (and can’t stuff the fridge, for example, because then things starts to freeze), but these days we’re on a constant look out for basic vegetarian ingredients we can use to create tasty meals. Hopefully Costco will have their six-packs of organic tofu back in stock, but the truth is we never know what we’ll find there. When we stopped in last Wednesday though we saw lots and lots of fresh produce again, so that will give us some more choices.

We enjoyed our dessert fling with the Costco apple pie and might do that again some day, but we’re otherwise tired of baked oatmeal and looked for some other options last week. I don’t want to go back to baking cakes again as they take up so much room in the refrigerator, and since we’re avoiding dairy as much as possible these days (except for cheese) ice cream is not a dessert option either (and non-dairy ice cream is unfortunately too expensive here). We checked out some different dessert things at Costco last week as they are the most cost effective but they didn’t have anything that worked for us – everything was either too high calorie or too much dairy (or both, like their cheesecakes), and the only pie they had available was pumpkin and it’s too early for that – maybe next month. We got luckier at Times Market and came home with a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake (one of the best cakes ever) and a Japanese matcha Swiss roll cake, another favorite. Costco used to make and sell haupia (coconut cream) cakes – so good – but we haven’t seem them since we arrived last year. Cookies would be a nice option except we know we’d eat too many too quickly. We love having a little bit of something sweet in the evening, but it’s getting a bit more challenging these days.

We ate well last week – the enchiladas and stuffed peppers were delicious as was the kabocha risotto. I love that by measuring and being careful about the amount we eat we can quite literally have our cake and eat it too!

Sunday: California roll salad

Monday: Kabocha pumpkin risotto; roasted zucchini

Tuesday: Stacked chicken & zucchini enchiladas

Wednesday: Mexican quinoa stuffed peppers; pickled cucumbers

Thursday: Mini pizzas with meat sauce

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Vegan orange chick’n & fried rice

We finished up the lemon-blueberry baked oatmeal on Monday and Tuesday, enjoyed a s’more on Tuesday, and Wednesday through Saturday ate a slice of Pepperidge Farm coconut cake for our dessert. It was every bit as delicious as we hoped.

Pepperidge Farm coconut cake is as delicious as ever.

The only things I see us needing to buy for this coming week are peppers, and feta cheese for the salad (and cheese boards). The pork chop I’ll use for the stir fry is the last piece of meat in our freezer! There was also a small bag of meat sauce but we used it up on the pizzas last week. Going forward, other than eating fish occasionally, it will be vegetarian/vegan all the time. We made it.

  • Coconut & squash dal with brown rice
  • Chick’n patty sandwiches
  • Pork & pepper stir fry
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas
  • Chick’n nuggets with zucchini fries
  • Quinoa salad with feta cheese

Walking was sort of hit or miss for me this week. We did our regular perimeter walks on Monday and Tuesday, but I fell on Tuesday at the end of our walk when we went down a bit into the gully to look for balls. Actually, I slipped on a hillside, the branch I was hanging onto snapped, and I lost my footing which sent me tumbling. A couple of bushes thankfully stopped my fall, because there was another slope down just a few inches below the bushes. I was able to get back up the hill without any problems (and found four more golf balls!), but boy was I sore and more scratched up than I knew when I woke up on Wednesday. I stayed home that day – just didn’t feel good and was still too sore to walk – but Brett headed out and got in a good walk and found lots of balls. Thursday we went to Barking Sands and walked the Waiokapua Trail before spending a few hours out on the beach. Friday was quite rainy but it had mostly cleared in the afternoon so we headed up to the park. It was misting up there but not too wet to walk and we got in a full perimeter walk before the rain really started coming down. Saturday was lovely and I dared myself to go backing into the gully, although with an increased respect for its dangers.

Out on the Waiokaupa Trail. It was hot, but there was a somewhat decent breeze that kept it bearable.

We found a total of 77 lost balls last week. I’m still feeling somewhat sore from my tumble, but have added a regimen of Aleve to my daily meds along with stretching, and that’s been helping (and am picking up a softball this week per Anele’s suggestion). Brett got fairly scratched up on Saturday as well, and we commented on our way back to the car that our kids would be horrified to see what we’re doing these days. They approve the walking, but climbing down into a gully going after golf balls, no so much we think.

Staying Healthy: Exercise & Eating (8/29 – 9/4)

Brett tallied up the total miles walked in August last Tuesday: 87 miles walked in August. That made our total miles walked for the year 758, and if we keep up our current pace we will walk over 1000 miles by the end of the year! From the first of September last year to this year we walked a little over 1,263 miles. I honestly never, ever saw us walking this much when we arrived here, but here we are and we are so much better for it. Our little side gig of golf ball hunting has added to the enjoyment, and I have yet to get tired of the views out from Kukuiolono. Driving up to the park to check it out last year was one of the best things that ever happened to us.

Scenes from around the golf course on Thursday including wind through the palms, dramatic clouds and long views, a rainbow seen from the massive green at Hole 3, and the remains of a wall built by early Hawaiians.

I’m glad now we decided against doing a long distance walking tour, and I almost shudder to think of the distances we would have to be walking now to get in shape for one of those. We know we could do it, but our nearly four daily miles is enough, and when I finish our four miles now I am ready to stop. I am no where near needing a hip replacement, but my hips definitely let me know these days they are there – they’re sore after a walk. Same for my right foot – I have pains there now that weren’t there when we started all this walking. Brett has more aches in his ankles as well. None of it is enough to cause us to slow down, or keep us from walking or doing other things, but they are signs we are getting older, and we know if we weren’t getting as much exercise as we do we would be feeling a whole lot worse and be in much poorer shape.

We enjoyed another full six days of walking last week with five days at the golf course and one shopping day. Monday’s weather was sketchy, but we headed up to the golf course anyway. It wasn’t raining when we started out, but a light mist began about a third of the way though our walk and we were stuck out on the course. We didn’t get very wet except for our shoes, which got soaked in the wet grass and became very uncomfortable. In spite of the weather we still found eight lost balls. Tuesday afternoon we headed into Puhi/Lihue to shop at Costco and Walmart, and along with other errands got in all of our steps. Wednesday was breezy, cool, and overcast – perfect walking weather – and Thursday was still cool but quite humid as well and I felt like I was melting for much of the walk. I stumbled into another lost ball graveyard on Thursday, and walked away with 15 more balls in my pockets. Brett also found a bunch and we ended up bringing home 30 balls. We arrived at the course on Friday just after a storm has passed over and had another great walk, and found an astounding 37 lost balls that day! Saturday’s weather was supposed to be miserable but it cleared up in the afternoon so we got to walk again. We broke all previous lost ball records last week, finding another 97 lost balls to add to our stash!

I had to change up our meat dish this week and fix the basil beef stir fry instead of chicken enchiladas when Brett picked up not one but two bundles of basil at the farm stand for some reason. Basil doesn’t keep well but between Wednesday’s pasta and the stir fry I used all of it. The summer pasta recipe was super easy and delicious and as long as we can get fresh basil we’ll be making it fall, winter, and spring in spite of its name!

Sunday: Broccoli & tofu stir fry with spicy peanut sauce; steamed jasmine rice

Monday: Grilled vegetable ravioli w/ pesto; roasted green peppers

Tuesday: Mini vegetarian cheeseburger pizzas with ground be’f, onion, tomato, dill pickle, and cheddar

Wednesday: Ina Garten’s summer garden pasta

Thursday: Basil beef stir fry

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Vegetable yakisoba

Looking at the above photos, our pottery bowls sure got a lot of use this past week!

I’m trying our two new recipes next week: kabocha squash risotto in the InstantPot, and some Mexican-spiced quinoa stuffed peppers.

  • Kabocha squash risotto
  • California roll salad
  • Stacked chicken enchiladas
  • Orange chick’n & fried rice
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Spicy quinoa stuffed peppers

Desserts this week have been microwave s’mores on a couple of evenings, but otherwise we’ve been enjoying lemon-blueberry baked oatmeal. The apple pie is greatly missed.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (8/22 – 8/28)

Every week I post what we have for dinner, but what about breakfast and lunch? Well, beyond wanting to overwhelm anyone with photos of every meal we eat, breakfast and lunch are much more simple and, in the case of lunch, usually consist of leftovers from our evening meals. Breakfast is even more simple: a bowl of Cheerios with blueberries and oat milk for me these days, and a bowl of oatmeal with fruit for Brett. I occasionally will make us some pancakes or mini-waffles, but otherwise we stick to the basics.

The above montage shows some of my lunches for the past week, using leftovers and other items that need to be used up. The exception was Wednesday’s brunch of eggplant lasagna at Ku’ulei’s Gourmet in Hanapepe, but in a switch those leftovers were enjoyed for dinner last Thursday. Otherwise I enjoyed a vegan chick’n patty sandwich which used up a piece of avocado; leftover egg roll in a bowl; a bean & rice burrito from the freezer; tomato & roasted red pepper soup; and leftover lasagna. Brett also ate leftovers all week. He is the king of making something delicious out of what’s on hand, no matter how small or how weird a combination might seem, and is a big reason why we rarely throw away any food. I’m the picky eater around here these days in comparison.

Our evening meals this past week were easy and delicious. With a package of ground beef used in the egg roll in a bowl we now only have a package of roast chicken, a small pork chop, another package of ground beef, and a very small bag of meat sauce. It should all be used up by the end of September and we’ll eat meat free until the girls are here for Christmas.

Sunday: InstantPot black bean & rice burritos

Monday: Egg roll in a bowl

Tuesday: Better Than Burger cheeseburgers; three bean salad

Wednesday: Vegetarian cheeseburger pizzas

Thursday: Wednesday’s brunch leftovers: eggplant lasagna (me) & ahi tuna melt (Brett)

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Vegan corn dogs; three bean salad

One-twentieth of a Costco lattice apple pie

We enjoyed a thin slice of apple pie every evening, but finished it yesterday. We’re having a s’more tonight, and then I’m baking another lemon-blueberry baked oatmeal as there we have everything on hand to make it.

We’re excited to try the garden pasta recipe this week as long as we can get some fresh basil (it got bumped by leftovers last week), and are looking forward to the grilled vegetable ravioli as well. We haven’t had yakisoba in ages, and the tofu & broccoli stir fry is a long-time family favorite that I also haven’t fixed in a long while. The Bulldog sauce used to flavor the yakisoba is vegan versus regular Worcestershire sauce (which contains anchovies).

  • Grilled vegetable ravioli
  • Vegetable yakisoba
  • Ina Garten’s summer garden pasta
  • Stacked chicken enchiladas
  • Tofu & broccoli stir fry with spicy peanut sauce
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board

After having two days off from walking – Sunday (regular day off) and Monday (rain and high winds as the remains of Hurricane Linda passed by the islands) – we got back to walking on Tuesday and enjoyed cooler temperatures and nice breezes the rest of the week. Thursday was the wild card. It was another trash pick-up day – frustrating because of how much trash shows up in a week – but rain also threatened the entire walk. We cut our walk short by a few minutes and had no more gotten into the car and shut the doors when the rain started coming down in buckets. Friday and Saturday were lovely, although the combination of rain followed by sun meant a gazillion gnat eggs hatched and we had to walk through swarms of them. We had another stupendous week for golf ball finds: 65, breaking our old record. We are eager to walk these days because of the ball hunt and it makes the walk a lot more fun as well.

I am beginning to lose weight again, albeit slowly (less than a pound a week). I was okay with where I was for so many months, weight-wise, but am also happy to see some more weight finally coming off again. I had given up thinking it would ever happen.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (8/15 – 8/21)

More and more vegetarian and vegan products are becoming available these days, although in a limited market like Kaua’i they can be hard to find or expensive. Costco had a couple of plant-based options that we picked up last week, but we discovered a motherload of vegan options at Walmart as well which was quite the surprise. I had never really searched in the freezer section there before and as the doors are almost always frosted over I had no idea they carried such a variety of items. They had several vegan brands available, like Quorn, Field Roast, Gardein (a favorite), and Morningstar Farms, all at affordable prices. They’re not something we use frequently, but they will give us several more meal and protein options.

Last week I found a website that listed 51 vegan products that Costco (supposedly) regularly carries – our Kaua’i store carries three of them. Shopping trips have turned into treasure hunts as we look for plant-based options. Besides what we found at Walmart, last week’s surprise discovery was grilled vegetable ravioli, imported from Italy. They’re vegan, the ingredients look delicious, but we sadly know they most likely won’t be available the next time we shop. We have so far refused to shop at the natural food stores on the island because of their ridiculously high prices. We can occasionally find some vegan/vegetarian products at Safeway, but prices there can be equally high, so the challenge is ongoing, and we’re grateful for what we do find. I never thought I would be thankful for Walmart, but when it comes to food prices here, they, along with Costco and farmers’ markets, are a lifesaver.

We had four Japanese meals on our menu last week: sushi, zaru soba with accompaniments, mabo nasu, which we made with plant-based ground “be’f,” and Japanese-style tofu patties with a pickled radish salad. The vegan ground beef substitute was delicious. I’m not sure how we ended up with so many Japanese meals in one week, but it’s our favorite cuisine, and is light and easy to prepare. Sunday and Monday’s dinners were chosen for the purpose of getting the refrigerator cleaned out before Tuesday’s Big Shop. New cheeses on our board this week were smoked gouda, English cheddar, and a soft Boursin with herbs. We liked the tofu patties and will have them again, but thought the daikon & carrot namasu was just okay. The radish was quite spicy and didn’t work with the pickling mix.

Sunday: Sweet corn ravioli with pesto; roasted peppers, zucchini, and onion

Monday: Mini pizzas with leftover meat sauce

Tuesday: California roll sushi

Wednesday: Zaru soba; hiyayakko; cucumber namasu

Thursday: Mabo nasu; cucumber slices

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Tofu patties; radish & carrot namasu; cucumber slices

We splurged last week and bought a giant Costco apple pie for our dessert for the next several days. Not the healthiest of foods, but cut into 20 servings the calories are the same as a piece of baked oatmeal, and it will give me a short break from baking. Also, after eating pie for 10 days we hopefully won’t be wanting any more for a long, long time. Costco’s apple pies are vegan, by the way.

Below are the meals I’ve planned for this week. We’ll be using up our next to the last package of ground beef to make the egg roll in a bowl, and will try out one new recipe: Ina Garten’s Summer Garden pasta. It looks easy to prepare, and the only cooking required is the pasta. The vegan corn dogs were one of our finds at Walmart. We used to love the ones from Trader Joe’s, and hope these match up.

  • Grilled vegan burgers
  • Summer garden pasta
  • InstantPot bean burritos
  • Egg roll in a bowl
  • Vegan corn dogs
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
A rainbow here sometimes means rain is arriving, not that it’s finished (and boy it did show up last Monday).

We had good week of walking in spite of some questionable weather on a few days. We got caught in the rain on Monday after finishing the perimeter and heading down from the clubhouse, and both of us got soaked as there was nowhere to take cover. On Tuesday we did our Big Shop, always an exhausting experience (nearly two hours pushing a big cart). We thought we were going to melt from the humidity on Wednesday or be eaten by gnats, and Thursday was still humid but very windy and we left just as some rain was arriving. We picked up another full bag of trash off the course that day and at one point had over thirty wild chickens following us, apparently assuming what was in the bag was for them. Looking over our shoulders at all the chickens behind us was like something from a horror film, but they eventually figured out there would be no food and dropped off. Friday afternoon was lovely: not too hot and a nice breeze the entire time we walked, and Saturday was lovely as well.

Our haul on Thursday: 30 lost balls

We found an unbelievable 68 lost golf balls this past week, with an astounding 30 of them found on Thursday, and the other 38 spread out over the other five days we walked. We’re still shaking our heads in amazement as the golf course has only nine holes and no water hazards. We honestly start out every walk at the park hoping to find just one lost ball, but we’re very good at keeping our eyes open and looking in unexpected places and always seem to do better than just the one. On Thursday, as we approached the last hole where we walk (the sixth) we had already found eight lost balls, a very satisfying number. The sixth hole is split over a wooded gully that golfers need to hit over, and we occasionally find balls on the edge of the course near the green, ones that don’t quite make it over are left behind. As we were walking along on Thursday, Brett spotted a ball a bit down into the gully and climbed down to get it; a few steps later I spotted a ball in another section and climbed down as well. I picked up the ball, looked up, and thought I had stumbled into an elephant’s graveyard of lost balls. By the time I came back up to the course I had 12 balls in my pockets, and Brett had found an additional ten of them from the area where he had been. To say we had a very good week would be an understatement: lots of good exercise and lots of lost balls.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (8/15 – 8/21)

This past year has been one of many healthy new habits gained and some not-so-healthy old ones lost for good. Below are some of the many changes that have been made

  • Daily meal planning: Every day I make sure I know what I’m going to eat the next day and the calories for that food. I still start with 1200 calories/day but add calories according to how much walking we do.
  • Water: Both Brett and I consistently drink at least 72 ounces of water a day.
  • Reduced coffee intake: I finally found my sweet spot for daily coffee intake: two cups of half-caff in the morning, and a cup of decaf in the early afternoon.
  • No sodas: A Diet Coke a day was an old habit, but no more! Brett got me one in May for a birthday treat, but it didn’t taste as good as I imagined it would be and I haven’t wanted one since.
  • Reduced sugar intake: We keep supplies in our pantry for a once-a-week s’mores treat, but they’re hidden at the back of the pantry where we’re not tempted by them. Otherwise, no cookies, cakes, pies, etc. enter the house these days. A small piece of baked oatmeal in the evening, made with a little bit of maple syrup, is our sweet of choice these days.
  • Vegetarian diet: We’ve nearly arrived at a full vegetarian diet, more plant-based (cheese is the only animal-based product we eat), and feel so much better for it. Along with exercise, it’s helping us to keep off the weight we’ve lost (and keeps our food costs down as well).
  • More exercise: We walk nearly four miles every day now, and with everything else we do almost consistently get in 10,000 steps a day. I’ve also stuck with upper body strength training for nearly a year now. We still get more aches and pains then we did when we were younger, but we’re in the best shape we’ve been in a long time.

We had to find several ways to use feta cheese this week so that it didn’t spoil and have to be tossed out. Besides putting it a salad on a cheese board, and on pizza, we also ate it in sandwiches and as a snack. We bought a big container of organic feta at Costco last month, made from sheep’s milk and imported from Greece, and it ended up containing a LOT more cheese than we imagined. The feta has been positively delicious, so much better than what’s usually available in supermarkets, but we will be giving this variety of cheese a break for a while as we’ve had it so many ways for the past couple of weeks and are eager to have something different.

The coconut squash dal we bought was very good and we’re glad we bought a case of it! The quinoa salad was our favorite dish of the week though – I took a recipe I’ve used for years and added feta cheese and cucumbers to make it a main dish salad. We loved it and were very happy to have leftovers for a couple of days. Besides having meat sauce over zucchini noodles, we also used the leftover sauce on our mini pizzas – delicious! We have just one more small bag of the sauce left in the freezer now, two packages of ground beef, a very small pork chop, and a small package of roast chicken breast. We’ll be meat free in September!

Sunday: Coconut squash dal with steamed rice; Indian-spiced roasted zucchini

Monday: Zucchini noodles with meat sauce

Tuesday: Vegan Orange chick’n (actually batter-fried mushrooms); vegetable fried rice

Wednesday: Quinoa salad with cucumber and feta cheese

Thursday: Mini pizzas with leftover meat sauce

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Falafel sandwiches; tabouleh salad

Our desserts were yummy lemon blueberry baked oatmeal on Tuesday, s’mores on Wednesday and Friday, and pumpkin baked oatmeal the rest of the week.

We’re looking forward to trying this tofu burger seasoning mix this week!

We’ve got another Big Shop coming up this week. We’re also going to try some Japanese tofu burger patties using a seasoning mix we found at Walmart on our last Big Shop – it looks interesting. I’m planning to make the egg roll in a bowl (with ground beef this time), but If Costco has a nice selection of sushi we may pick up a package or two of that as a treat. I’m using plant-based ground “be’f” to make the mabo nasu.

  • Zaru soba; hayakko
  • Eggroll in a bowl (or sushi, depending on what’s available at Costco)
  • Tofu burgers
  • Mabo nasu
  • Sweet corn ravioli with pesto
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas

We started off our walking this week with a hike on the Waiokapua Trail at the Barking Sands base on Monday. The day was partly cloudy and much cooler than usual with a nice breeze, but for a fairly level 2 1/2-mile hike the trail was as much work as ever. We always finish feeling absolutely drained and can’t figure out why, whether it’s more humid out there than we realize, the trail itself, or something else. After hiking we had to walk another quarter of a mile from the parking lot out to out spot on the beach which just added to our feelings of exhaustion. Still, it was nice to have a change of view, and we’ve been unsuccessfully searching for the name of a plant along the trail with giant pods that were bursting and sending big balls of fluffy stuff everywhere.

The rest of the week we took our usual walks up at the park. We picked up trash again on Thursday, filling another bag and a half this time, frustrating because we only filled one bag last week! Hopefully we will see less this coming week. We found an amazing 39 lost balls last week in just five days of walking the perimeter, a new record, and also broke our previous one-day record of 10 when we found 14 balls on Saturday. Brett washed up all the dirty ones yesterday, and got them all dried and sorted.

Sunday is bath day for most of the lost balls we find – they almost always clean up well and look as good as new! We’re constantly surprised though by how many of them are in pristine condition.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (7/18 – 7/24)

I am a label reader. I want to know what’s in the food we buy. We try to buy food using four of Michael Pollan’s rules:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. “When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can’t pronounce, ask yourself, “What are those things doing there?”
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4. Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food.”

While we often miss on the five ingredient rule, we do look for ingredients we can pronounce and know, for whole grains, and for natural sugar or sweetness (anything with high-fructose corn syrup will be immediately rejected). We do buy processed foods that meet these rules. Locally-produced will almost always win over national brands if the price isn’t too outrageous, and almost all the produce we eat is grown on Kaua’i or in Hawaii, with exceptions mainly things like apples, stone fruit, and berries. About 20% of what we buy is organic, but we don’t go out of our way to shop at natural food or health food stores for organics. Costco carries many organic products at good prices, and other organic items we often find at Big Save or Safeway. I don’t think organic is healthier or more nutritious, but it is cleaner in my opinion.

As we get ready to enter August we have very little meat left in the freezer: two 12-ounce packages of ground beef, two pork chops, two quart bags of meat sauce for pasta, one package of chicken thighs, and a half-pound package of roasted chicken breast. We’re now down to just one meal with meat per week going forward. This week it will be grilled teriyaki chicken thighs along with zaru soba, and we’ll continue this way until it’s all gone, hopefully by the end of September.

We had some very good and tasty meals last week. Vegetarian lasagna was not to be found, and the ingredients to make our own were costly, but we found organic sweet corn ravioli at Costco and it made a surprisingly good substitution along with a little bit of pesto.

Sunday: Spaghetti with meat sauce; roasted zucchini

Monday: Plant-based chick’n sandwiches; watermelon

Tuesday: Sweet corn ravioli with pesto; roasted asparagus

Wednesday: Sweet & sour pork with steamed rice

Thursday: Spicy black bean bake with Fritos; sliced cucumber

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Mini Margherita pizzas

Our dessert this past week has been an olive oil lemon cake. Very yummy, and a small piece is more than enough. We have a couple more days of it left and then I’m going to make a cherry baked oatmeal.

On the menu for next week’s dinner meals are:

  • Spaghetti pasta salad
  • Guadalajara quesadillas
  • Cheesy white bean-tomato bake
  • Panzanella with beans and feta
  • Mini pizzas
  • Cheese board
  • Grilled teriyaki chicken with zaru soba

Getting up to the park to walk this week was very hit or miss because of the weather. We took Sunday off, but walked the perimeter on Monday. Tuesday was our Big Shop and we put in nearly two hours of shopping (including pushing a heavy cart) – it was exhausting. Wednesday it rained most of the day and I decided not to risk getting wet but Brett went up to the park and walked the paths. He did get a little wet and had to take cover a couple of times, so I was glad I stayed home. We got in a full perimeter walk on Thursday although it started to pour again just as we got to the car so we timed that perfectly. Friday was a total washout, but Saturday the rain cleared in the afternoon and we got in a full perimeter walk, or at least until the last eight minutes or so when the rain started falling again (and we got soaked). We still found a total of 17 lost balls last week, something of a miracle since we thought we had cleaned them out last week.

Stormy weather at the park on Thursday, but we made around the course perimeter.
Lost balls show up in completely random locations – there is no rhyme or reason to the places we find them. The location of the above ball I found last week had absolutely no relation to any fairway, green, or other location on the course, but there it was, hiding in some tall grass I walked through.

One of the things we have enjoyed most about our walks are the other walkers we have met and become friends with over time. Sadly, many do not not come to the park any more for a variety of reasons, although we keep in touch through Instagram and Facebook. We sadly said goodby this past week to a walker we have become very fond of, an 80-year-old retired judge (we know his name, but always called him The Judge or Your Honor). He was recently diagnosed with a rapidly progressing neurological condition, and will be moving back to the mainland to be closer to family and better medical facilities. He will be as greatly missed as much as the others have been. We continue to meet new people, but the ones we met during the pandemic when we were new to the park will always be special to us.

COVID Will Always Be With Us

(Photo credit: Fusion Medical Automation/Unsplash)

This is my opinion, but Covid isn’t going anywhere. In fact, cases of the virus are once again on the rise, with over 99% of deaths occurring in people who are not vaccinated. People who have been vaccinated have also caught the new Delta variant of the virus. As much as I’d like for COVID to eventually fade away like the flu, I now believe it’s always going to be around, going forward in one variant or another, and killing people as it moves around. Vaccinations, if people get them, will help keep it in check, but that will always depend on the willingness of others to be vaccinated. Realistically, there are always going to be those who will not get vaccinated for a variety of reasons, from a lack of health care options to their personal politics. However, the more people who don’t get vaccinated, the bigger the chance for newer and more deadly variants to arise.

(Photo credit: Adam Niescioruk/Unsplash)

Are we always going to have to wear a mask? For now I think yes, at least in certain situations. I will always wear a mask if I’m going to enter an area where the possibility of unvaccinated people will exist, places like Costco, supermarkets, farmers’ markets and so forth. With the return of tourists and flights going back and forth to the mainland and other islands, our little island has been averaging six to seven active cases diagnosed per day for the last week or so. I’m sure other situations are going to arise where masks will either be required or recommended, and because of our ages Brett and I will always follow those rules, regulations, and suggestions.

Will we stay socially isolated? Again, for the most part I think yes. The two of us have grown comfortable being together so much, and have no problems going forward this way. We will have occasional social outings, getting together with family and friends, whenever possible, but for the most part we are fine with our own company these days.

(Photo credit: Nick Fewings/Unsplash)

Will we continue to stay vaccinated? Absolutely. As new variants arrive and new vaccines or boosters become available we will make every effort to take advantage of them.

Did we (the U.S.) learn anything last year? Some did but others did not, sadly. Every time I see a large gathering of people, especially if they’re not wearing masks, I see a certain percentage passing along COVID and another percentage catching it, vaccinated or not. Just like the flu, in all it’s many permutations, has been around for a long time, the new reality sadly looks like COVID is going to be with us as well for a long, long time as well, and failure to adjust to the new reality will be at our own peril.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (7/11 – 7/17)

I love cheese. And, although I can easily give up all other forms of dairy, cheese is here to stay, although in moderation these days. We currently use oat milk, don’t eat yogurt or ice cream any more, but there are no substitutes for good cheese.

I don’t think we’ve met a variety of cheese we don’t like except for vegan cheese and Velveeta. My favorite section in any market has always been the cheese counter, and I give thanks for the many cheesemongers who have offered me samples and opened my palate to new varieties and tastes. My exposure to cheese varieties were fairly limited when I was young: my mom stuck to American, and longhorn or Colby cheddars. I remember us “discovering” Monterey Jack cheese and falling in love, but Parmesan came in a green can, cottage cheese came from the supermarket, and I didn’t know about mozzarella until I was in my 20s let alone any other variety.

We thought we’d entered paradise when we stepped into our first French fromagerie, or when we had four levels of gorgonzola to choose from in Italy (firm to runny and a couple of steps in between). England’s cheeses were equally amazing, with more varieties to choose from than I could get through in a lifetime and some fun names too, like Stinking Bishop. These days I’m grateful for the varieties that our Costco carries, and the few gourmet (and expensive) markets on the island that carry more of the ordinary varieties, On the whole though cheese doesn’t feel like a big thing here. I long to taste Cowgirl Creamery Humbolt Fog again, or some Rogue Blue or Stilton, or a good Normandy camembert, but we make do with gouda, manchego, brie, Irish cheddar, and the other varieties we can get here.

We enjoyed some great meals last week. The sweet potato enchiladas were delicious and easy to make; the falafel and homemade tahini sauce were perfect; the basil beef stir fry was so good that I’m saving my last packages of ground beef to make it again; and the plant-based orange chick’n turned out to be deep-fried mushrooms in orange sauce and was very, very good – we can’t wait to have it again either. Mabo tofu is always good, and the pizzas and Friday’s cheese platter were tasty as always. The Hami melon was fun to try but I don’t think we’d go out of our way to buy another one.

Sunday: Sweet potato & black bean enchiladas; Hami melon

Monday: Mabo tofu; steamed rice; Hami melon

Tuesday: Falafel sandwiches with tomato, cucumber, and tahini sauce; roasted vegetables

Wednesday: Basil beef stir fry; namasu

Thursday: Mini pizzas with roasted vegetables

Friday: Cheese board

Saturday: Wednesday: Plant-based orange chick’n; fried vegetable rice; watermelon

Desserts this past week were peanut butter-banana baked oatmeal, s’mores, and arroz con leche. I’m planning to make another apple pie baked oatmeal this week.

Nine seconds are all that’s required to make perfect microwave s’mores.

Below is what’s planned for dinner this week. I haven’t made up my mind whether I’ll make the lasagna from scratch or look for a pre-made one tomorrow when we shop. Right now I could go either way. There isn’t a new recipe this week either as I didn’t have time to look for one last week.

  • Spicy black bean bake
  • Plant based chick’n sandwiches
  • Vegetable lasagna
  • Sweet & sour pork
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas

We had another great week of walking, getting in five perimeter walks. Because of the sketchy weather Wednesday was the only day we missed, but otherwise we were up at the park and ready to go by 4:45 every day. There must have been a whole lot of really bad golfers out on the course last week because we found a record-shattering 33 lost golf balls, finding four on Monday, five balls on Tuesday, 10 balls on both Thursday and Friday, and four more on Saturday. Just unbelievable. Brett’s skill is seeing balls sitting off in the distance (it’s amazing how many people just leave balls out on the fairways) while my skill is spotting them hiding in the tall grasses at the edge of the course.

Thursday’s collection of lost golf balls. Most of the red dirt scrubs of easily and they look good as new.

We didn’t get to hike Maha’ulepu this past because I overslept a couple of mornings, and the weather interfered a couple of other days. Hopefully we’ll get out there this week – we need some variety.

Neither Brett nor I has lost any weight lately, but we continue to change shape and thin down and that’s just fine with both of us!