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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday: Grilled beef Polish sausages in a bun; coleslaw

Monday: Tacos al pastor

Tuesday: Chicken pad thai

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

Thursday: Slow cooker chicken adobo with bok choy

Friday: Mini pizzas with roasted peppers and leftover breakfast sausage

Saturday: CookDo pork & pepper stir fry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We shop at five different stores on the island:

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

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

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

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

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

Store bought but still delicious.

Monday: Spinach and cheddar quiche; pumpkin cake

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

Tuesday: Ham fried rice; pumpkin cake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rum cake will be our dessert all week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hawaiian comfort food

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

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

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

The rosemary in this dish comes from our yard!

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

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

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

Mabo nasu is mabo tofu with eggplant instead of tofu.

Thursday: CookDo mabo nasu with steamed rice; pumpkin cake

No pineapple allowed.

Friday: Ham & green pepper mini pizzas; pumpkin cake

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

Saturday: Chili pork burritos; coleslaw; pumpkin cake

On the menu for next week’s dinners are:

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

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

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

There were rainbows almost every day this past week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
Sunday pot roast

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

I added bok choy this time – it was delicious!

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

One of my top three sandwiches!

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

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

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

Cheeseburger in paradise.

Thursday: Cheeseburgers; olive oil orange cake

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

Friday: Roasted vegetable mini pizzas with pesto; pumpkin cake

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

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

Next week’s menu, in no particular order:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday: Kabocha squash risotto; sautéed green beans

Simple beef tacos were as good as I remembered.

Tuesday: Ground beef soft tacos

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

Wednesday: CookDo mabo tofu with steamed rice; cucumber spears

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

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

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

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

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

Next week’s menu plan in no particular order

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dash mini waffle maker is only $10.

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

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

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

The pasta and sauce were a complete meal for us.

Monday: Spaghetti with meat sauce

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

Tuesday: Egg Roll In a Bowl

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

Wednesday: Barbecue pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw; cucumber spears

Bacon was a great addition to this recipe.

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

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

Friday: Leftover barbecue pulled pork mini pizzas

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

Saturday: Zucchini frittata; Ruth’s Chris broiled tomatoes

And here’s the menu plan for this week:

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

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

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

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

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

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (2/14 – 2/20)

Mega Omega trail mix, our new afternoon snack

Besides eating more mindfully, Brett and I are making an effort to snack more mindfully as well. So, when we shopped at Costco this past week one of our goals was to find some new and better snacks than what we had been having. Costco has an amazing array of organic/natural and affordable snacks, but we had gotten hung up on their salted peanuts and had been having some of those almost every day for the past several months. The trouble with salted peanuts though is that a small amount is never enough and both of us found ourselves eating more and more of them as time went on. Lately I had to admit that I was walking not just to get more fit but in order to earn enough calories to eat more peanuts! The salt was getting to be a bit much as well. Anyway, after checking prices, calories, and so forth we chose the Mega Omega trail mix, which contains walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and dried mango. It’s a keeper – only 140 calories for 1/4 cup, and much more satisfying than peanuts and without all that salt. We also chose a bag of organic baked apple chips – wow! Much better than salty potato chips, and I say that as someone who loves potato chips. We’ve found with the new snacks that less is more – we’re getting everything we want from a snack, but in a smaller amount. The apple chips have been a great accompaniment to our sandwiches this week, and much healthier than potato chips. We’ll be stocking up on more when we shop this week!

Here’s what we had for dinners this past week”

These Valentine’s pancakes were more difficult to make than I imagined – the batter did not want to stay in a heart shape when it hit the pan! That’s lilikoi curd on the pancake in stead of butter.

Sunday: Heart-shaped pancakes; breakfast sausage; fresh papaya; ice cream & gingersnaps

Perfect risotto is so quick and easy with an InstantPot.

Monday: Chicken-rosemary risotto; cucumber; ice cream & gingersnaps

They didn’t have quiche at Costco this time so we picked up these wraps instead. They’re great because they contain cabbage instead of lettuce. 

Tuesday: Costco’s Asian chicken wraps; baked apple chips; ice cream & gingersnaps

Brett and I finally got our turkey dinner (YaYu doesn’t like turkey). The plate looks overflowing, but that’s just three ounces of turkey, a half cup of stuffing, three TBSP of gravy, one TBSP of cranberry relish, and a whole lot of green beans.

Wednesday: Roast turkey; stuffing; turkey gravy; Monkeypod Jam cranberry relish; sautéed green beans; ice cream & gingersnaps

Yes, I did have a couple of bites before I remembered to take a photo!

Thursday: Turkey club sandwiches; baked apple chips; ice cream & gingersnaps

I was going to make something fancy with pesto, but decided to go with a classic instead.

Friday: Pepperoni mini pizzas; cucumber; ice cream & gingersnaps one last time

My favorite way to eat leftover turkey.

Saturday: Hot turkey sandwiches; roasted zucchini & tomatoes; gingerbread with lemon curd

Next week’s menu, in no particular order:

  • Spaghetti with meat sauce
  • Egg roll in a bowl
  • Barbecued pulled pork sandwiches
  • Thai curry vegetable & chicken stir fry
  • Tom Colleccio’s one-pot pasta with bacon
  • Zucchini frittata; broiled tomatoes
  • Mini pizzas (not sure what kind)

I did not lose any weight this past month, but that’s okay. I’ve been steadily losing since last June, and I’m guessing I’ve hit a plateau. I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing and assume that things will pick up again in a while. 

I decided to go ahead and order my new walking shoes this past weekend versus waiting until next month. My old shoes have had it, and my feet are miserable right now. The amount of walking we’re doing has been very hard on my feet and nails, and the shoes in their current condition are not helping. I ordered my new shoes from Zappos – they have good prices, good availability, fast shipping, and their customer service is superb. The ones I originally wanted were not available in my size, so I’m trying out a different style. Zappos has a great return policy though if they’re not a good fit or I have other issues with them. I’m greatly looking forward to having a spring in my step once again! 

The rain stopped a couple of minutes after we arrived at the park on Saturday, and the sky started to clear so we were able to get in a good walk (4.2 miles). However, it poured the whole way home afterwards, and there was more rain off and on after we got home.

The weather hasn’t been all that great for walking this past week, but other than taking a day off on Monday and staying home on Friday because of a storm Brett and I walked every day. We actually walked in the rain (light mist) on Thursday and arrived just as the rain was stopping on Saturday. We’ve had to avoid the trails through the woods though because of issues with mud. We’re going to try walking in our own neighborhood now and again – three laps of the street and cul de sac at the end gives us a mile and a half. Usually though the weather up at the park is better than it is in our neighborhood, but with all the road construction going on it can be a pain to get out and up to park so we’re glad to have another option.

Staying Healthy: Food & Exercise (2/7 – 2/13)

A new habit I’ve acquired over the past year is measuring/weighing everything I eat. It’s been shocking to discover how much I was eating before, and it’s no wonder I struggled with my weight for so long! For example, rather than spoon a heap of rice on my plate or in my bowl, I measure out 1/4 cup – it’s more than enough. A serving of stir fry, like the pork and peppers below, is 1/2 cup . . . and that’s more than enough too. I have a great digital kitchen scale, purchased years ago from Weight Watchers, and it gets pulled out several times a week these days because two to three ounces of meat is more than enough now. My set of Weight Watchers stainless steel measuring ladles (1/4 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup) also get used frequently – those have turned out to be one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Measuring my servings is a habit I don’t think is going to go away any time soon either – it doesn’t take long, and it makes a BIG difference.

We went Hawaiian for YaYu’s last meal at home – delicious!

Sunday: Loco moco; cucumber; German chocolate cake for dessert

Warm colors on a cold evening.

Monday: Roasted red pepper and tomato soup; toasted cheese sandwich; fresh pineapple; German chocolate cake

This salad has everything: protein, minimal carbs, and lots of fresh vegetables.

Tuesday: Panzanella with beans; German chocolate cake

Cuban bowls with yellow rice, roasted sweet potato, spicy chicken, Cuban black beans, sautéed banana, and salsa.

Wednesday: Cuban bowls; German chocolate cake

A full plate with three ounces of steak, half-cup of stuffing, and green beans.

Thursday: Grilled flank steak; sourdough stuffing; sautéed green beans; German chocolate cake

I typically make this stir fry with red, yellow, and green peppers, but only had green on hand this time.

Friday: Pork & pepper stir fry; steamed rice; peach ice cream & gingersnaps

We had cucumbers instead of coleslaw because I discovered we had more than I thought and they needed be eaten!

Saturday: Leftover steak sandwiches with sautéed onions and cheese; cucumber spears; peach ice cream & gingersnaps

The menu plan for next week, in no particular order:

  • Roast turkey w/cranberry relish; stuffing; vegetable
  • Turkey club sandwiches
  • Hot turkey sandwiches
  • Breakfast for dinner
  • Pepperoni mini pizzas
  • Chicken risotto
  • Broccoli quiche

The views along the beach never disappoint.

While last week’s weather started out chillier than usual, it made for some nice walking, even if I did have to do some of it on my own. By the end of the week temperatures were thankfully back up with lots of sunshine, but the humidity remained low. Last Sunday afternoon YaYu and I took a three-mile walk up on the eastside beach path. We had planned to walk longer but some very big storm clouds began rolling in from the west and we eventually made the call to head back to the car. Still, the temperature and breeze were perfect for walking, the views were gorgeous, and it was the perfect place to walk together one last time. I took Monday off because it rained most of the day, but I was back at the park for 3.5 miles walks on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Brett was out of quarantine on Friday, and we were back to 4.6 mile walks then and Saturday, and yesterday we hiked four miles on the Waiokapua Bay trail for Valentine’s Day. The trail is located on the Barking Sands base, and the loop goes from Major’s Bay beach to base housing and back (we did two loops). It was quite hot out on the trail, but we still got a breeze most of the way, and the views along the way were lovely. It’s beginning to look like Monday is going to be our day off going forward.

After nearly two years and many, many miles my trail shoes need to be replaced, but I am trying to hold out until next month. My first choice for a new shoe is the Hoka One-One walking shoe to see how they work out, and if goes well with them I will get the GoreTex version for our walking tour in Japan in 2022.

These are my first choice for new walking shoes

Staying Healthy: Food & Exercise (1/31 – 2/6)

There was lots of prep work and cooking this past week as I made several of YaYu’s favorite dishes before her departure. I am frankly looking forward to cutting back on my time in the kitchen, or at the least not having to make as much food as I have been. Leftovers always got eaten, but we have had to stay on it. 

I have been finding myself craving sweets more than usual this past week and am not sure what’s up with that. It’s been an effort to not go looking for something to snack on and I hope this is only a temporary thing. For so long that one small dessert at night has been enough, but I wanted more this week for some reason (but didn’t give in, thank goodness).

The onions are my favorite part of this adobo dish.

Sunday: InstantPot chicken adobo with bok choy; steamed rice; butter mochi with white chocolate-raspberry ice cream

The recipe made lots of extra sauce this time for some reason – yeah!

Monday: Chili pork burritos; Mexican slaw; butter mochi with white chocolate-raspberry ice cream

(I forgot to take a picture – photo credit: craftlog.com)

Tuesday: Japanese chicken curry with vegetables; German chocolate cake

This quesadilla was very satisfying and a great way to use up leftover chili pork sauce. I added fresh cilantro and chopped green onions inside as well.

Wednesday: Chili pork quesadillas; German chocolate cake

I used Rao’s marinara sauce – it really is the best.

Thursday: Spaghetti w/marinara and grilled Italian sausages; roasted zucchini; German chocolate cake

I substituted mung bean noodles since we’d just had spaghetti the day before.

Friday: Snake Alley noodles; cucumbers; German chocolate cake

Fresh pineapple, honeydew melon, caracara orange, and blueberries in the fruit bowl; peppers, onion, and sausage on the pizza. I had been busy chopping fruit and over-browned the sausage 😦 but it was still good.

Saturday: Sausage & vegetable mini pizzas; fruit salad; German chocolate cake

This coming week’s menu, in no particular order:

  • Loco moco (we had this last night, for YaYu’s final meal here)
  • Panzanella salad with chickpeas and feta cheese
  • Cuban bowls
  • Pork & pepper stir fry
  • Grilled flank steak; stuffing
  • Steak sandwiches with sautéed onions
  • Roasted red pepper and tomato soup with toasted cheese sandwiches

Vegetable sides will be what’s on hand (which is not much right now) and what I can find this week at the farmers’ market. We’ll run out of German chocolate cake mid-week but I’m planning to fix a pan of gingerbread next which we’ll have with Monkeypod Jam lemon curd. 

Heading up the hill to the clubhouse at Kukuiolono, the highest point in the park. The walk up to the clubhouse and back down is 1.6 miles.

With Brett still in quarantine until Thursday, and YaYu leaving today, I’ll be walking on my own for the next few days, and I’m frankly not looking forward to it – I like having company. Hopefully the weather will hold – we got lucky last week and there was no rain in the afternoons so YaYu and I walked every day (we took last Monday off though, and I’m taking today off as well). We didn’t walk as far as Brett and I typically do (3.5 miles versus 4.6) but we still got in a good workout. I’ll be continuing with the 3.5 mile route until Brett joins me again on Friday and then we’ll kick it up again. As much as we have struggled with the cooler weather at home it has made walking easier and more comfortable up at the park.

Master of all he surveys from the commanding heights.

I was finally ready yesterday to kick up my upper body strength training routine as well. This past week I started counting the YouTube instructor’s reps and discovered he was very inconsistent. He would do six reps with one arm, for example, and then 10 with the other arms. Or, 12 reps with one exercise, and 18 with another, and so forth. I have the routine memorized and started doing on my own yesterday with a more consistent 20 reps for each exercise. Progress!

Staying Healthy: Food & Exercise (1/24 – 1/30)

Back before we left on our Big Adventure, before YaYu headed off to school, I told Brett that once she had left the nest I no longer wanted to cook, or at least not cook very much. It wasn’t that I didn’t like cooking or enjoy it, but I was tired and wanted a break. I told him we would be having more sandwich meals, or prepared casseroles, things that wouldn’t require me to spend a lot of time in the kitchen while still allowing us to have healthy meals.

And how has that plan turned out? Well, as you can see from the meals we’ve had below, not very well, at least not while YaYu is home. The girl likes to eat, and, as it has turned out, wants a home-cooked meal at night. I had hoped she would help out more in the kitchen, and she does occasionally, occasionally being the operative word though. For the most part she wants Mom’s home cooking. I’ve indulged her this visit, especially as she doesn’t intend to come for the summer (nothing for her to do here) and we won’t see her again until next winter. It’s meant a higher food bill, and more work for me, but she’ll be heading back to school in another week, and then it will be back to simpler meals, and less time in the kitchen for me.

Breakfast for dinner

Sunday: Breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, tangerines, and toasted artisan roll); tapioca pudding with gingersnaps for dessert

Guadalajara quesadillas

Monday: Guadalajara quesadillas; tapioca pudding with gingersnaps

Ham, egg, and cucumber provide the salad’s three colors.

Tuesday: Chinese 3-Color salad; tapioca pudding with gingersnaps

We had grilled opah (sunfish) in our tacos.

Wednesday: Grilled fish tacos with cabbage and mango-peach salsa; tapioca pudding with gingersnaps

This is one meal YaYu always cooks for us; she makes it differently every time but it’s always delicious.
Butter mochi and ice cream: a perfect combination

Thursday: Ham fried rice; butter mochi & white chocolate-raspberry ice cream

YaYu’s favorite casserole, but it hasn’t been available at Costco for ages, so she was thrilled to have one before she goes back to school.

Friday: Costco pasta and Italian sausage casserole; sautéed green beans; butter mochi & white chocolate-raspberry ice cream

Classic pepperoni always satisfies.

Saturday: Pepperoni & vegetable mini pizza; butter mochi with white chocolate-raspberry ice cream

Menu plan for next week will include many of YaYu’s favorites:

  • Chili pork burritos
  • Spicy chicken quesadillas
  • Spaghetti with marinara and grilled Italian sausages
  • Chicken adobo with bok choy
  • Noodles with pork sauce
  • Japanese curry with chicken and vegetables
  • Sausage mini pizzas

We eat meat almost every day, but with a few exceptions meat is never the “star” of the meal, and I try to treat it more like a condiment. If a recipe calls for a pound of meat, for example, I will only use a half pound. We eat a lot of vegetables and fruit or incorporate them into our meals, and although we’re eating less carbs overall, our desserts, small but indulgent, provide a daily treat that helps keep Brett and I from turning to other high-carb sweets or snacks. They also give us something to look forward to toward the end of the day. 

Last Wednesday I was cleaning out my photo file and discovered a picture I had taken of myself exactly two months earlier (November 27). As I was coincidentally wearing the same outfit, I took another picture to see if I could see any difference as I weighed seven pounds less than I did in the November photo (on the left). I don’t see any change, but Brett and YaYu both say they definitely do so I’ll go with the majority. Hopefully in another two months or so I will finally be able to see a difference. I definitely look different from how I did when we arrived here last year though – even I can see that (and my baggy, loose pants confirm it). At the end of the day though, my focus is not on how I look – I am never going to be model thin with shapely legs. These days I am walking for endurance, to increase my bone strength, and for the other health benefits, and to get my weight back to where my body feels comfortable. I am average height (65″) but have a small frame, and it’s difficult and painful to carry around too much weight. I have no one but myself to blame for that happening though, but I am able to change things.

All the above being said, this past week was not a great one for walking . . . the weather was very sketchy for most of the week. We took a regular day off on Sunday, and then got rained out on Monday. We walked in fierce winds on Tuesday and Wednesday – there were times we thought we might get blown off the path! Thursday the weather was better, but we had never seen the park so crowded so we didn’t walk as long as usual. Friday would have been perfect except for the strong winds (“it was trying to be hot but the wind wouldn’t let it”), but the sun was out on the Saturday, and the wind had died down to a breeze – it was lovely. We walked through rain showers on a few days, but those thankfully didn’t last long and we barely got wet. Never a dull moment! I will have the totals mileage up for January next week, but I know we walked over 100 miles last month.