Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (1/2 – 1/8)

We polished off all of the meat in the house last week and are happily returning to vegetarian/vegan meals this week. We did a Big Shop on Thursday and stocked up and the freezer is full. Brett and I didn’t mind eating meat again, but we much prefer not eating it so are looking forward to a return to our former ways. YaYu is also thankfully happy to eat vegetarian and helped me come up with some ideas for the new few weeks. We’ll still be eating seafood now and again.

Our goal for next year is to continue to eat healthy, mostly plant-based meals and manage our portions so that we can maintain our current weight. Another task will be to better manage food purchases going forward so we don’t end up with a lot of food that has to be thrown out when we leave. For example, I passed on a big bottle of olive oil at Costco last week because I knew we wouldn’t be able to finish it before May, and it was the same for a couple of other items. We did buy three Costco-sized packages of vegan items (chick’n patties, vegetable egg rolls, and plant-based burgers), but that’s probably it for Costco other than a few things like wine and such. The store has been a lifesaver for our budget, but we just won’t be able to use up any more of those big packages before we go.

We did a great job of cleaning out the refrigerator last week, using up odds and ends of things, eating leftovers, and so forth before we shopped on Thursday. Some of our meals look pretty uninspiring though. We had a last few meals with meat during the last week of the year: a meatloaf from Costco, one of YaYu’s favorites; Snake Alley noodles with ground pork and shrimp; and lumpia, which also is made with ground pork.d

We are selling the lamp that sat on our table up until the last couple of weeks – it provided such great lighting for food photos. The only place to take a photo now is in the kitchen and the light there is awful, so I apologize for the poor quality of the food photos these days.

Sunday: Ham & vegetable fried rice

Monday: Noodle bowls topped with ham, fish cake, kim chee turnip, onion, and bok choy

Tuesday: Tofu in Thai red curry sauce; steamed rice; kim chee coleslaw

Wednesday: Potstickers; steamed rice; roasted vegetables

Thursday: Meatloaf; mashed potatoes; roasted squash

Friday: Snake Alley noodles; namasu

Saturday: Pad thai & pork lumpia; leftover namasu

We had a Pepperidge Farm cake for dessert at the beginning of the week, and then picked up a pecan pie at Costco along with some lactose-free ice cream at Times Market for YaYu (we would have preferred having apple pie but all that was available were pecan or pumpkin). YaYu tried one serving of the pie and that was enough for her and she’s been enjoying a small bowl of ice cream every evening instead. Enough oranges should be ripe on our tree that I can make an olive oil orange cake after we finish the pie next week.

YaYu helped me come up with this week’s menu. She is going to make the noodle dish with shrimp using a recipe from the Padma Lakshmi cookbook she received for Christmas (Tangy Tart Hot and Sweet) and also asked for fish so we’ll have that later in the week in some tacos.

  • Spicy Singapore noodles with shrimp
  • Plant based burgers
  • Pasta with marinara & plant-based meatballs
  • Vegan corn dogs & onion rings
  • Be’f pot pie
  • Mini pizzas
  • Grilled fish tacos

The gloomy weather this past week kept us guessing each day whether we’d be able to get out for a walk or not and it turned out to be mostly not. Monday surprised us and we did our regular 4+-mile walk at the park, but there were storms on Tuesday and Wednesday that kept us at home. It was still stormy on Thursday, but we did our Big Shop at Costco and Walmart so got two and half miles of walking done that day, but were stuck inside again on Friday and New Year’s Day. We took advantage of a break in the storms yesterday afternoon though and got in a full walk.

Kukuiolono Park was a soggy mess, but it was great to get out for a walk again. Golfers were stacked up at every hole!

Brett keeps a spreadsheet of our walking distances, and by the skin of our teeth, we walked over 1100 miles last year. We were walking longer distances at the beginning of the year, but like the distance we do now, around four miles, and are going to stick with that until we leave. I have more aches and pains than I did at the beginning of the year, especially in my hips, but nothing that keeps me from doing anything. We see a lot of walking in our future this year and are excited about the walks coming up in France and the UK (and hopefully Japan by the end of the year).

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (12/19 – 12/25)

Validation! Now that the girls prepare their own meals for themselves every day, or like YaYu (and occasionally Meiling), for their partners as well, they told me last week they finally understand and appreciate all the effort I put into creating healthy meals for the family for so many years. I enjoyed cooking for them again but also was feeling glad to only have to do it for a few days and not full time again. YaYu took over the kitchen on Wednesday to give me a break, and I got loads of help with the dishes and clean up, but last week made me grateful that I am “retired” from cooking other than for Brett and myself.

I worried that some of my bad eating habits might return with the girls here (too big portion sizes, snacking, sweets, etc.) but that thankfully didn’t happen. I kept up with my daily food diary and kept my portions small, avoided meat when I could, didn’t snack other than maybe a bite or two. I surprised myself because this was exactly a situation in the past where all my good efforts would fall apart but didn’t.

It was difficult taking pictures of our meals last week, and many of these pictures are of leftovers enjoyed the next day. I managed somehow to stick to my eating plan, and keep my portions right sized, but I did indulge a bit on Christmas Day because the girls gave Brett and I a big box of chocolates and WenYu and YaYu gave me a BIG container of caramel corn, a dangerous food where I’m concerned. Arggggghhh! Although we enjoyed all our meals while the girls were all here, both Brett and I are looking forward to returning to meatless eating.

Sunday: Spicy black bean bake nachos

Monday: Chili shrimp; pork lumpia; Korean beef potstickers; namasu; steamed rice

Tuesday: Tom Colicchio’s one pan pasta with ham & broccoli

Wednesday: Mabo tofu; steamed rice

Thursday: Grilled Italian sausages; risotto with peas

Friday: Christmas Dinner: Mississippi pot roast; mashed potatoes; green beans

Saturday: “Mexican” mini pizzas (salsa, onion, and pepper jack cheese)

Brett and I thought the girls would decimate the Costco chocolate cake we bought in record time, but like us, a small piece was plenty and we finally finished it last Tuesday. After that I had dorayaki (a traditional Japanese sweet) one evening while Brett and the girls had s’mores, and we all shared apples with toffee dip on another evening before enjoying a lilikoi chiffon pie for our Christmas treat.

Hamura’s lilikoi chiffon pie is amazing.

I’ve planned meals for next week that continue to use what we have on hand although we’ll be shopping again before the end of the week and I don’t know what YaYu wants to get then or wants for future meals. She’s open to vegetarian eating though so I think we’ll be moving in that direction. This week’s dishes contain lots of Asian-influenced dishes and flavors that YaYu prefers. Brett and I are going to try our hardest to only have meat two or three evenings per week while YaYu’s here, or at least try to have dishes where she can add her own meat and we can skip it.

  • Snake Alley noodles
  • Fried rice with ham
  • Mini pizzas
  • Noodle bowls
  • Potstickers & rice
  • Pad Thai & lumpia
  • Tofu in Thai red curry sauce

The few times the weather was nice enough to walk last week, it seemed the girls were out with the car. If the car was available, it was raining, we didn’t get much walking done. There was a break on Wednesday and Brett and I hiked the Old Hapa Road Trail from Poipu to the old St. Raphael church in Koloa and back, about 3.5 miles or so (WenYu and YaYu ran it), and we got a short break on Thursday as well and walked at the park. We did a perimeter walk with YaYu late Christmas Day (lots of walkers but the golf course was deserted. We still found six golf balls). If we weren’t walking there was still plenty of packing, organizing, etc. to take care of and Brett and I ended up on our feet a lot. We’re are looking forward to getting back to our regular walking schedule this week though, weather permitting.

Along the Old Hapa Road Trail

Brett and I have walked over 1,000 miles this year (we’ll have a final total next week). We have been blessed with the great walking venue at Kukuiolono, had a lot of fun hunting for golf balls for a few months, and we’ve done some other great hikes on the island as well. Plans for our last four months on Kaua’i are to continue what we’ve been doing so that we’re in our best possible shape when we begin Big Adventure II in May.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (12/5 – 12/11)

I occasionally get questions from readers wondering if I’m getting enough protein, or too much salt, or too many carbs these days. The answer is I’m/we’re doing fine in spite of eating vegetarian. I’ve posted a screen shot above from MyFitnessPal of last Tuesday’s meals and snacks. At the bottom of the page, my daily calorie limit is now at 1500 as I’m no longer trying to lose weight but maintaining my current weight, and I was below that by 36 calories. My carbs, sugar, and sodium numbers are very slightly over the recommended amounts (thanks to the lemon meringue pie). My protein intake looks low compared to what MyFitnessPal recommends (75 grams daily), except that for a woman my age that recommendation is quite high; a daily intake of 45-60 grams of protein is what’s a more realistic range for my age and activity level, and at 49 grams I’m right in the ballpark. I check these macros every day and adjust what I’m eating, if necessary, so that my diet is in balance and I’m meeting my nutritional goals. Brett eats larger portions than I do, but he stays within his range each day as well. Also, I don’t count calories when it comes to fruits and vegetables – I eat as many of those as I want, and we eat a lot of vegetables (and not as much fruit)!

We are eating more prepared foods these days than we did in the past. With just the two of us to feed, it does not make sense to fix big meals every day, and I honestly also no longer enjoy cooking as much as I once did. We have a very small kitchen, and only a small amount of storage space in our refrigerator and freezer so it’s impractical to make dishes that create a lot of leftovers and that we’d be eating for days. Once in a while is okay, but definitely not every day. When we buy prepared foods we are careful to avoid “frankenfoods.” I always read the ingredients and if there is bunch of stuff I don’t understand or know what it is, I’ll pass. The prepared foods we buy add variety to our diet, and allow us to enjoy dishes we wouldn’t otherwise.

We continued cleaning out the freezer last week, and also enjoyed some of the vegetarian entrees we picked up on our last shopping trip. All of them were good and we would purchase them again!

Sunday: Vegan chili dogs; steamed artichoke

Monday: Vegetable enchiladas; seasoned rice; cucumber spears

Tuesday: Tikka masala mini pizzas with roasted squash and feta cheese

Wednesday: Vegetable potstickers; steamed rice; namasu

Thursday: Baked ziti casserole; steamed artichoke

Friday: Vegetable yakisoba with shrimp

Saturday: Be’f pot pie; roasted vegetables

We enjoyed a small slice of lemon meringue pie for our dessert last all week. It was soooooo good, but we finished it last night. We’re having the last of the cream puffs tonight, microwave s’mores tomorrow, and after that it will be whatever we have when the girls are here (fingers are crossed that Costco has their chocolate cakes in stock!).

We’ll start this week with four meatless meals but then switch things up and meat will make its first appearance on Thursday. Meiling has asked me to fix the broccoli & tofu stir-fry, one of her favorite dishes, but YaYu doesn’t like it, so I’m making it the evening Meiling and WenYu arrive (to be fair, YaYu wants a dish that Meiling doesn’t like that we’ll have after her older sisters return home. For the record, WenYu eats everything without complaint.)

  • Lentil soup & toasted cheese sandwiches
  • Spaghetti with plant-based ‘meat’ sauce
  • Mini pizzas
  • Broccoli & tofu stir fry in spicy peanut sauce
  • Italian sausage & pasta in garlic wine sauce
  • Ham with macaroni & cheese
  • Chinese 3-color salad (hayashi chukka)

Last week’s rain put a damper four days of walking. We took our regular day off on Sunday, then sat inside and watched it rain all day Monday. We were expecting more of the same on Tuesday, but ended up with a beautiful afternoon so we headed up to the park and walked just over four miles. We thought we might get out on Wednesday but Brett went out to check what was happening in the direction of the park, came right back inside and said “no,” and sure enough we had rain coming down less than a minute later. Thursday it was very windy but once again it was nice up at the park and the wind kept us cool during another four-mile walk. It rained all day Friday, but Saturday’s weather surprised us and we walked four and half miles at the park. So, only three days of exercise this past week but we were grateful for that. We watch our calories very carefully on the days we don’t get to walk.

Thursday was very windy at the park, but perfect for a long walk. Exotic and noticeable chickens are again making an appearance after a long stretch where they all looked alike.

Brett and I are looking forward to doing some hiking with the girls when they’re here if the weather cooperates. I hope to hike the full Maha’ulepu Trail with them, and maybe the Waioukapua Trail at Barking Sands but I’m pretty sure they are going to want to hike Sleeping Giant as well and that’s out for me. We plan to do some golf course walks with them up at the park (they want to look for golf balls and go into the gully) but otherwise we’ll just continue with our regular walks (WenYu and YaYu will probably run).

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (11/28 – 12/4)

While Brett and I were going through paperwork the other day, I came across a photo of our family taken in December 2015 at luau. We’d been here about a year and a half, and the girls and Brett all had nice tans while I was still the color of a pale pink shell. I was also quite a bit larger than I am now, but back then I wasn’t walking five to six days each week and I definitely wasn’t counting calories.

I am terrified of gaining back the pounds I’ve lost and kept off once we begin traveling again. I like the way I feel now, and the way my clothes fit, but wonder if I will be able to maintain the same level of exercise and keep track of the calories we consume. Brett and I have been having a bit of fun talking about what sorts of things we can eat for our meals that will help us maintain our current shape. For example, we know eating a croissant, pain au raisins, or scones and jam every morning is definitely not the way to go but having them once or twice a week will be okay. We can share a sandwich at lunch instead of each having our own, or a bowl of soup or have a small amount of cheese and fruit. Whatever we do it’s going to require effort and discipline on our part because there will be so, so many tasty options. We’re confident we will figure it out – we’ve come too far not to – but there still remain so many unknowns right now.

We continued to use up what was in the freezer last week, but picked up more produce at Costco (cucumbers, artichokes, and butternut squash) and a couple of vegan/vegetarian entrees at Walmart. We will be our last Big Shop before our daughters arrive next Tuesday, but the focus next time will be on getting things they love to eat and want me to fix for them.

Sunday: Butternut squash ravioli with pesto; roasted zucchini

Monday: Coconut squash dal; steamed rice; Indian-spiced coleslaw

Tuesday: Pasta with plant-based ‘meat’ sauce; steamed artichoke

Wednesday: Chick’n patty sandwiches; onion rings; cherry tomatoes

Thursday: Tikka masala mini pizzas with roasted butternut squash & feta cheese

Friday: Plant-based chick’n pot pie; roasted butternut squash

Saturday: Vegetable fried rice

We ate pumpkin pie all last week, but finished last night. We’re having cream puffs tonight and tomorrow we will begin a lemon meringue pie which will take us all through this week. We’ll have the last of the cream puffs when the pie is done and then be ready for the girls’ arrival and some new desserts. We’re hoping to pick up a Costco’s chocolate cake for them because they love it (and it’s a dessert I can pass on as it’s too rich for me).

Walmart had vegetarian entrees that have either been out of stock for a while (pot pies) and and one we haven’t seen before (enchiladas). The vegetarian potstickers were a new item at Costco – they’re very good. Everything else we’re having this next week will get a lot more out of the freezer. We liked the tikka masala and squash pizzas so much last week that we’re going to have them again this week as well.

  • Vegetable yakisoba
  • Vegan chili dogs
  • Tikka masala pizzas with roasted squash & feta
  • Baked ziti casserole
  • Vegetable enchiladas
  • Vegetable potstickers
  • Be’f pot pie

After all the beautiful weather preceding this last week, we were due for some rain and it arrived! We somehow slipped in a walk between storms on Monday. It looked great when we arrived, but as we turned around we noticed a beautiful rainbow fronting a huge, dark bank of clouds – oh oh. We took a detour through the woods, and when we came out the clouds were gone, headed off in another direction! We headed out again on the Pavilion path, but noticed another rainbow leading another bank of clouds our way, this time from another direction. We walked fast and got around the loop and back to the car before the rain arrived.

Starting counter-clockwise from the top left: Monday’s walk.

On Tuesday we shopped, and for some reason this past week I ended more tired than any walk up at the park! I think it was because Costco had moved so many things so we were circling the aisles looking for items on our list, with the same happening at Walmart (our total was two and half miles combined through the two stores). Thursday it rained all day and Friday started out equally gloomy, but was glorious, if a bit cool, in the afternoon. Saturday weather was questionable, very cold (for Hawaii) and with rain threatening all afternoon, so we stayed home. This week’s weather has been a roller coaster but we walked when we could and watched our calories on the days we couldn’t.

Taking Another Look At PLan B

With a new Covid variant, named Omicron, making its name known while concurrently remaining mysterious, Brett and I figured this might be a good time to take another look at our Plan B, or at least come up with a couple more Plan Bs, just in case.

Much remains unknown about the Omicron variant, but scientists are working hard at figuring it out, looking for patterns, how infectious it is, and for other factors. The variant’s numerous mutations are the major cause for concern, and it’s unknown whether these make the Omicron variant more transmissible. It’s unknown whether this new variant will be as deadly as previous variants, such as Delta, and resistant to the antibodies produced by previous vaccines and boosters as well. And, because it is spreading around the world, it’s unknown at this time how the variant might affect cross-border travel long term. The current travel bans in place offer only short-term solutions, but may slow things up enough to give scientists and doctors time to get a better handle on what this variant brings to the ongoing COVID pandemic and what needs to be done to fight it.

We’ve always had a Plan B whenever we make travel plans. Plan B for our upcoming travels was to buy a car and drive around the U.S. for a while staying in Airbnbs at each destination. However, this option no longer seems as fun or exciting as it once did, especially as we have been looking forward to being outside of the U.S. for a while. The plan could be adjusted in a myriad of ways; for example, we could rent a car for a few months versus buying, and then travel internationally when it’s viable again, but mostly it just doesn’t interest us much any more and would also require a lot of work to pin down the logistics.

A new Plan B is taking shape though. This one has us moving to our settle-down location, renting an apartment, and changing future travel plans from full-time to occasional. We learned a lot of valuable lessons on relocation during our abrupt move to Kaua’i in 2020, and there were (expensive) mistakes made then that we know how to avoid this time. We’re not particularly crazy about this idea either, but it would be the most practical.

Our feeling right now is that we’re going be able to travel as planned next May. We’ve been vaccinated and boostered, and even if the Omicron variant requires a new vaccine, pharmaceutical companies (Pfizer, Moderna, etc.) have said they can move into rapid development and roll out new ones in a short amount of time as much of the research needed in creating a new vaccine is already done. Most are already working on new vaccines/boosters for this variant. A bigger fear for us is getting started on our travels and then a destination we’re booked into will shut down or the border will be closed (we can deal with quarantines and mask mandates). We’ve always been very flexible and able to roll with the punches, but something like this happening would affect us financially, and not in a good way.

We’ve decided that now is not a time to be fearful, but to think positively, and have faith in science and in our plans for the future. No matter what happens, we will still be leaving Kaua’i in May of next year. There are many unknowns right now, and we’re preparing ourselves for the possibility that changes may be required but keeping positive thoughts for the future.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (11/21 – 11/27)

Except for the ziti casserole, all of last week’s meals included some kind of meat substitute. The reason for that was mostly to use up what was on hand in the freezer in order to make room for upcoming food purchases for our daughters’ visit. We bought a ham on our last shopping trip which will be used in three different meals (the girls LOVE ham), but I still need to get ground pork, a pot roast, ground beef, and maybe some chicken. We will be purchasing meat from Big Save this time as we don’t need or wants the amounts that would come from Costco.

We have enjoyed all the meat substitutes we’ve tried these past few months. They taste good, they’re easy to prepare, and it can be hard at times to tell we’re not eating meat. I don’t miss what we used to pay for meat, and I definitely haven’t missed handling meat. However, if I’m honest I do miss the flavor of meat sometimes, and Brett and I are looking forward to enjoying a few favorite meat-based dishes again while our daughters are here. We feel healthier and better overall for not eating meat these past few months, our food bills have been lower, but we remain undecided about adding meat back into our diet.

Whenever I look at the photos of our meals my first thought is always that seems like an awful lot of food! However, the biggest plates we own are salad plates and a serving fills those plates. The ziti casserole was comfort food at its best and our Thanksgiving casserole was also delicious and filling. Besides tasty dinners, both casseroles also provided us with plenty of leftovers (some of the ziti casserole even went into the freezer).

Sunday: Plant-based meatball subs; 3-bean salad

Monday: Baked ziti casserole; roasted zucchini

Tuesday: Crispy mandarin orange chick’n; steamed rice; sweet & sour coleslaw

Wednesday: Plant-based chicken nuggets; onion rings; roasted cauliflower; roasted cherry tomatoes

Thursday: Chick’n & butternut squash casserole; roasted vegetables (zucchini, cauliflower, & tomatoes)

Friday: Baked ziti casserole; leftover roasted vegetables; apple slices

Saturday: Vegetarian cheeseburger mini pizzas

We enjoyed a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake for dessert the first four evenings of the week, then began another Costco pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. We’ll be eating it all through next week.

Next week’s goal is to continue emptying out the freezer and refrigerator before stocking up in preparation for the girls’ arrival. None of next week’s meals will be anything new or exciting but they will help free up space for other things, including all that meat we’ll be buying for the first time in months.

  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • Vegetable fried rice
  • Pasta with vegetarian “meat” sauce
  • Chick’n patty sandwiches
  • Coconut squash dal
  • Mini pizzas
  • Butternut squash ravioli with pesto

With nearly perfect weather all last week we got in lots of good walks. Most of our walking was done up at the park, but on Thanksgiving Day we hiked part of the Maha’ulepu Trail, which runs along the southeastern coast from Poipu eastward. Brett has hiked it several times, but this was my first time out there, and all I kept thinking was why had I put this off for so long? It was stunningly beautiful the entire way. Some of the trail was over ancient lava flows, where we spotted several “bowls,” created when lava bubbles burst, and there were other fascinating lava formations along the way. Some of the trail was as sandy as a beach and our legs got quite a workout, but views along the entire way were spectactular. We turned around a little after a mile, at the site of a huge ancient heiau (sacred native Hawaiian temple). Some of the boulders that had been used to create part of the wall were massive, a true architectural feat. It was weird though to realize that behind the heaiu walls now sits the giant Grand Hyatt resort golf course. I can’t wait to get out there and walk the trail again, hopefully to the end, maybe with the girls when they are here.

Views along the Maha’ulepu Trail

The trail was difficult for me in spots because of its uneven nature and even though I walked with the aid of a hiking stick, my bursitis still kicked in. With more frequent walking on pavement these days as well, I am experiencing more aches and pains in my hips again overall. I try to remember to take pain relief before we walk, which is the most effective for me (Aleve is my medication of choice because I need to take less for more relief).

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (11/14 – 11/20)

With the approach of Thanksgiving and the holiday season, we are entering what I call “the time of dangerous eating.” Brett and I did okay last year with just the two of us and YaYu at home, but this year, with all three of our daughters here, is going to be difficult. The girls love to eat, and pretty much can and will eat anything, including candy, cookies, cakes, as well as savory things like chips and such. It’s easy to avoid eating those things when they’re not in the house, but they will be expected when the girls are here.

I’m frankly not sure what to have on hand for them. I’ve thought about making pecan pie bars (one of Meiling’s favorite things) but realized Brett and I would have no trouble whittling away at them as well. I’ve also thought about making a batch of peanut brittle, one of WenYu’s holiday favorites, but peanut brittle is one of those things that if I take one bite I’m probably going to finish all of it. We plan to binge-watch the new Dexter series, so I’m thinking of putting out chips and salsa while we do that, but otherwise I’m stumped about what else to have on hand, for now anyway. Candy is out of the question as are cookies – Brett and I can’t leave them along – but maybe we could avoid eating cake these days. There will be lilikoi chiffon pie following our Christmas dinner, but otherwise I’m trying hard not to think of all those other oh-so-troublesome-but-so-delicious things that are part of the holidays.

Last week’s menu got several things out of the freezer, which was the plan going in. I’m going to go shopping for meat in a couple of weeks and there needs to be room for it.

Sunday: Curry with tofu & vegetables; steamed rice

Monday: Vegetable yakisoba

Tuesday: Vegan mini corn dogs; 3-bean salad; onion rings; pickle slices

Wednesday: Vegetarian lasagna; roasted peppers

Thursday: Chick’n tikka masala mini pizzas

Friday: Split pea soup; toasted cheese sandwiches

Saturday: Vegan mabo tofu; steamed rice

One-sixteenth of a key lime pie – a wonderful ending to our meals

We enjoyed a small slice of key lime pie most of last week for dessert (we had mini cream puffs again on Tuesday), and when the pie was finished on Saturday we started in on a Pepperidge Farm coconut cake which we’ll finish just before Thanksgiving. We bought a big Costco pumpkin pie to enjoy for that day and beyond. Pies seem to be our thing these days.

I haven’t made ziti casserole in several years but I found two packages of ziti at the back of the pantry this past week, and other than ricotta cheese we had everything else on hand to make it (and we picked up the ricotta at Safeway). The casserole will provide our main dish on two evenings. On Thanksgiving Day we’re having the Chicken & Butternut Squash casserole which contains a couple of things we’d be enjoying with a traditional turkey dinner. We’ve got pumpkin pie for dessert. Between the two casseroles we’re set for lunches for the week as well.

  • Baked ziti (2 meals)
  • Mandarin chick’n
  • Vegetarian chick’n & butternut squash casserole (Thanksgiving)
  • Chick’n nuggets
  • Mini pizzas
  • Plant-based meatball subs

We got in some good walks again this week, including a hike on the Waioukapua Trail and through Costco and Safeway during our Big Shop (slow, but we cover over two miles). Otherwise we walked up at the park. Brett walked alone on Friday because I was under the weather from the shingles vaccine. Packaging up Etsy orders on Saturday kept us home although rain threatened outside as well, but we made up for the two missed days by walking yesterday, our usual day off. We miss walking out the golf course and reverse walked it on Wednesday but only found two golf balls (although we weren’t really looking for any this time). There have been a lot of golfer the past couple of weeks, so it was sort of obvious that other hunters had been going through our usual spots.

It was very hot out on the Waioukapua Trail last Tuesday, but even though I drank more water than I usually do, ate a small snack at the halfway point, wore my hat, and remembered my wet neckerchief to help keep cool, I still ended up feeling shaky, dizzy, and slightly nauseous by the time we got set up on the beach. After some more water and with the shade from the umbrella and a cool breeze I felt better quickly though. I also got overheated out on the golf course when we did our reverse walk of the perimeter on Wednesday. We took that on after we had walked two Pavilion loops and then up to the club house and it really was too much, especially since it was hot and quite humid. I drank a lot of water along the way and just kept going, but I won’t push myself to do it again. When did I become so heat sensitive? Hopefully this will not be an issue next summer when we’re in Strasbourg and Oxford.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (11/7 – 11/13)

I came across a great article this past week written by the daughter of a woman raised in France but now working and living in England. She gave five lifestyle choices employed by the French as the reason so many French remain slim in spite of eating lots of high fat and high calorie foods, and it turns out two of them are ones we (unknowingly) started using last year: we’ve cut back on snacking and we practice mindful drinking and eating. Those were two things we paid absolutely no attention to last time we traveled. We wanted to try everything, from fresh croissants in France to small-batch gin in England to Italian cookies, and we tried them all . . . every day, and with abandon. Although we walked a lot, it was not enough to overcome the huge number of calories we were taking in. As someone once wrote, “if you are eating two croissants a day, it doesn’t matter how much you walk . . . you will gain weight.” We were consuming the calorie equivalent of far, far more than two croissants each day.

That does not mean we will not be enjoying fresh croissants, cheese, and wine in France, or having biscuits (cookies), scones with cream and jam, or gin in England. We most definitely will be having those things! Plenty of them, in fact. But, they will be enjoyed in smaller doses, (mostly) planned before eating, and definitely not consumed every day. We’ve hopefully learned our lesson this time. These days snacks are limited to once or maybe twice a day, portions for everything we eat are measured, and calories are recorded.

We missed our Friday evening cheese board this past week, but since both of our stomachs felt better for not eating so much cheese at one sitting we’re only going to only have them occasionally going forward. There’s no way we’re giving up cheese, but we have come to realize maybe we can no longer eat and enjoy cheese with the abandon we once did.

Sunday: Grilled vegetarian cheeseburgers (with brie for Brett, Irish cheddar for me); onion rings

Monday: Vegetable spring rolls; vegetable fried rice

Tuesday: Tofu patties; leftover fried rice; namasu

Wednesday: Pasta with marinara; roasted peppers

Thursday: Mini pizzas with roasted peppers

Friday: Chili shrimp; steamed rice; namasu

Saturday: Butternut squash ravioli with pesto; roasted cauliflower

We had cream puffs on Tuesday, finished our big apple pie on Wednesday, enjoyed campfire s’mores on Friday, and are now having a very small but satisfying slice of key lime pie each evening. We’re Big Shopping tomorrow but have no idea yet what we’ll find or want to buy for our next round of desserts.

There’s nothing new on the menu this week; we’re mostly eating what we already have in the freezer as we need to make room for all the meat we’ll be buying before the end of the month.

  • Vegetarian lasagna
  • Vegan mabo tofu
  • Soup with toasted cheese sandwich
  • Vegan corn dogs
  • Chick’n tikka masala mini pizzas
  • Vegetable yakisoba
  • Curry with tofu & vegetables

Last week was a great one for walking. We were at the park every day from Monday through Saturday, covering over four miles most days and over five miles out of a couple of those. Walking on the paths again is frankly not as enjoyable as walking out on the golf course, but we are moving at a quicker pace and getting in more hill climbs so know it’s better exercise. We got in over 10,000 steps on the two 5+ mile days, and were close (over 9,500) the other four. We even found a few golf balls last week, five of them on two different days. All of them were just sitting there beside the paths, and four of the five were in mint condition. They’ll be added to the boxes we’re currently selling.

Palm trees, sunshine, and blue skies: my favorite view when we walk out to the pavilion

Brett just had his annual cholesterol check and his levels are his best ever, thanks we think to our vegetarian/vegan diet and exercise. I can only hope mine will be as good when they’re tested next year. My weight is still right where I want it to be, although maybe with our once again increased amount of exercise I can drop a couple more pounds. As I wrote above, our greatest fear as we travel is that we will get lazy and start gaining weight again. We’re already talking about steps we need to take, signs we need to look out for, and things we need to stay away from so that we maintain the current shape we’re in.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/31 – 11/6)

I am already dreaming about the foods we will get to eat again when we begin traveling again next year: tarte flambée, charcroute, and paté in Strasbourg; scones or cake with tea, sticky toffee pudding, and custard tarts in England; and meat pies with flaky crusts and shortbread in Scotland among other delicious items. We ate with abandon the last time we traveled and we gained a lot of weight, a whole lot of weight. We are bound and determined not to let this happen again and are already plotting strategies to keep us from overindulging and overeating as well as sticking to healthier food choices.

Some of the strategies we’ve come up so far are:

  • Continue to measure food portions and weights when possible.
  • Limit local treats to one day per week
  • Avoid bringing sweets and other high carb foods into our homes (we had a big problem with this last time)
  • Limit our dining out
  • If possible, share dishes when we dine out versus each getting our own
  • Make sure we get in a good walk every day, weather permitting

We enjoyed ourselves immensely when it came to food the last time around, but it’s taken a lot of work to lose the pounds we packed on and get ourselves back into shape. We’ve practiced more mindful eating here in Hawaii and developed new habits, and we’re hopeful these new habits will overcome the lure of so many delicious options at all the places we live and visit.

We enjoyed the chick’n and squash casserole this past week and will have it again. It was easy to make and very sastisfying – we couldn’t remember the last time we’d had a casserole. The split pea soup we had (Amay’s organic) was also very good – I don’t think I could have made it better. The meatball pizzas looked weird but were tasty.

Sunday: Chick’n and butternut squash casserole; steamed broccoli

Monday: Vegan chili dogs; coleslaw

Tuesday: Split pea soup; toasted cheese sandwiches

Wednesday: Risotto with peas; roasted butternut squash

Thursday: Plant-based meatball mini pizzas

Friday: Cheese board: Irish cheddar, Brie, Manchego, Boursin with garlic & herbs; crackers, apple, sweet pickles, marinated artichoke hearts; dried apricots

Saturday: Spanakopita; falafel; pickled cucumber & tomato salad

Dessert this past week has again been a small but satisfying slice of apple pie each evening except for last Tuesday when we ate cream puffs. Just one night of those thankfully did not cause any stomach issues.

For the first time in ages a cheese board won’t be appearing on our menu because . . . we don’t have any cheese, or at least enough for a meal, and we don’t want to go to the store (next week it’s time for a Big Shop again). We begin work in earnest this week on getting the freezer cleared out so we’ll have room for things we’ll need when the girls are here for Christmas :

  • Butternut squash ravioli with pesto
  • Vegetable spring rolls; fried rice
  • Chili shrimp
  • Tofu patties
  • Mini pizzas
  • Pasta with marinara
  • Grilled vegetarian cheeseburgers

We went back to our old walking routine last week, but it felt weird (and difficult) at first, because besides walking on pavement almost the entire time we also didn’t return to the car with our pockets full of balls. We took our last perimeter walk last Sunday but took Monday off from walking when the humidity was at 88% and it was miserable. We walked 4.2 miles on Tuesday in slightly less humidity, but it was still starting to rain by the time we got back to the car. Wednesday was lovely and we walked 4.8 miles, but it rained all day Thursday so once again no walk. We did 4.8 miles again on Friday, but only got in 2.6 on Saturday before rain showed up again. We’re off to a good start though, and this should stay our routine until we leave – the goal is to depart Kaua’i in the best shape possible!

We enjoyed walking through the woods again.

Besides feeling a bit more sore, the biggest difference this week has been the increase in calories burned. Because we’re not slowing down to look for golf balls, we’re walking at a faster sustained rate once again and using more energy. We know as we get back into it we’ll be able to do these longer distances without feeling so worn out and with less soreness. We’re also glad to be finishing our walks earlier in the day.

It’s been a long time since there have been any unique/beautiful chickens up at the park, but we’re starting to see some standouts again. We’ve named this guy “Rusty.” He’s huge, beautiful, and he knows it.

Staying Healthy: Eating & Exercise (10/24 – 10/30)

I have always been someone who could pretty much eat anything I wanted. There are a few things I don’t care for, but otherwise I have never suffered from eating anything other than lettuce. I have no food allergies, no other intolerances.

That all seem to have changed this past week. Both Brett and I suffered from wonky tummies, and had other digestive issues. We’re weren’t sick, but we definitely didn’t feel good, and by the end of last week we were concerned about what could be causing the problems. We gave it a lot of thought and discussion, and decided the only thing that had changed was that we had been eating cream puffs and tiramisu for dessert, both new additions and filled with dairy. We each only had been having five of the mini puffs for dessert, less than the recommended serving, but along with the tiramisu they appeared to have stirred things up. We knew Brett was already slightly lactose intolerant, but after going months without any dairy other than cheese (which doesn’t bother us), it looks like I may have possibly developed a bit of lactose intolerance as well. As soon as we dropped the cream puffs for dessert, everything settled back down.

We still have about six evenings worth of cream puffs left to eat though, but will space them out between other non-dairy desserts going forward and see if we can avoid the issues we had last week. If not, we’ll have to start at zero again and try to figure out what’s going on. Growing older and stay healthy is indeed an adventure, and I honestly did not have another possible food intolerance on my scorecard.

Below is what we ate for dinner last week. Everything was easy to fix and delicious (as were the leftovers).

Sunday: Chick’n patty sandwiches; three-bean salad

Monday: Tikka masala with tofu & peas; steamed rice

Tuesday: Chick’n nuggets; onion rings; 3-bean salad

Wednesday: Vegetarian lasagna; roasted peppers

Thursday: Mini pizzas with roasted peppers and onion

Friday: Cheese board: Manchego, Brie, Irish Cheddar, and Boursin; crackers; apple slices; dried apricots; marinated artichoke hearts; sweet pickles

Saturday: CookDo tofu & pepper stir fry; steamed rice

We enjoyed both the mini cream puffs and the tiramisu cups last week (up until we figured out they were probably the cause of our stomach issues). We’d have a couple nights with the cream puffs, then a tiramisu, then back to cream puffs, but that won’t be happening again. We picked up a (vegan) apple pie at Costco on our shopping trip last week. They had a whole two of them out and we grabbed one, so this coming week’s dessert will be pie, pie, and more pie with one evening of cream puffs in there somewhere. We had honestly come to believe though that we’d never see those apple pies again.

In spite of the beautiful weather we’ve been enjoying, temperatures have cooled off a bit so we’re enjoying what goes for fall dishes this next week: soup and toasted cheese sandwiches, chili dogs, and risotto. A new thing we’re going to try this week is a chicken and butternut squash casserole, vegetarian style. Mavis posted the recipe on the 100 Dollars a Month blog week before last and I decided I would try it IF I could keep it vegetarian. Costco finally got butternut squash in, and we found grilled chick’n strips at Walmart. The Great Value chicken flavored stuffing mix has chicken flavor listed as its absolute last ingredient so we figured we were pretty safe with that as well so the casserole was on! We’ve still got a lot of spanakopita and falafel on hand that we’re going to enjoy that again as well.

  • Vegan chili dogs
  • Vegetarian chick’n & butternut squash casserole
  • Cheese board
  • Mini pizzas
  • Spanakopita & falafel
  • Risotto with peas
  • Split pea soup & toasted cheese sandwiches

Last week was our swan song for perimeter walks and golf ball hunting. We need/want to get rid of the golf balls we have, and want to get back to walking for exercise as our main focus versus hunting for golf balls, which sort of got in the way at times. One benefit of getting away from the perimeter walks is that we’ll once again be able to go to the park a bit earlier in the day, at 3:30 in the afternoon versus 4:30, and be home in time that I don’t have to segue right into fixing dinner. I can’t say we’ll never walk the perimeter again but we have other goals we need to focus on now. I know it’s going to feel strange not heading out onto the course but we’ll get back into our old routine in no time. Our walking total for October (66 miles) was our lowest for the year so far, but there were so many bad weather days where we either didn’t walk at all or had to shorten our walks.

The clouds were white when we started our walk, pink when we finished last Wednesday. We’ll once again be walking earlier in the day beginning this week.

We had a great final week for lost ball hunting though. We picked up 52 balls between Monday and Tuesday, then another 29 of them on Wednesday! We thought we’d picked the course clean when we started out on Thursday but found yet another 13 that day. The weather was too sketchy for us to walk on Friday and Saturday, but we went out again yesterday for one last round and found 42 (!!!) to give us our top weekly total ever: 136. We have quite a bit of sorting to do, but we hope to have everything listed by the second week of November and out of the house by the end of the month with some additional funds in our travel account!

The above is the most mysterious and creepy place we passed on our perimeter walks. These huge branches are near the top of a giant tree! Just past the small green plants at the bottom, the cliff suddenly drops off steeply into darkness and there’s no telling how far it goes down. Any balls that fall there can stay there, thank you.