On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Vegetarian chili for lazy people.

And busy people.  And people who are afraid to leave slow cookers on whilst they’re at work.  And people who would rather risk eating beans from a can than soak dried beans overnight.  And people who like tomatoes, a variety of beans, some onions, some garlic, and a kick of spice.  Because, really, that’s all it takes.

Lazy vegetarian chili

Yields 6-8 servings.  Sort of depends on how hungry you are.

Ingredients:

  • One 16 oz. can of organic whole peeled tomatoes
  • Three cans or cartons of organic beans (I used dark red kidney beans, ranchero beans, and black beans)
  • Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • One medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly rinse your beans.
  2. In a large stock pot, saute garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and any other desired spices.  I like to add red pepper flakes for a little heat.
  4. Stir in beans and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with a large wooden spoon (This can also be done ahead of time, but why dirty up another bowl or pot?  Maybe you’re not so lazy after all?).
  5. Cover pot and reduce to a simmer.  Your lazy vegetarian chili is ready to enjoy as soon as your beans and tomatoes are heated through, but the longer it simmers, the more flavorful it becomes.  And the more spicy your condo smells.
  6. Serve piping hot with a bit of cilantro, red onions, or shredded cheese.

Sometimes laziness pays off.  Sometimes.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Weekly B12 shot
  • Heading to the Head of the Charles this weekend?  Get schooled here.
  • Missing hockey 😦

What’s On Tap for your weekend?


3 Comments

Today: Give us this day our daily juice.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I bought a juicer a year ago, or so.  I used it a number of times, almost lost a finger once, got sick of cleaning up after myself, and then hid the whole thing away.  It lived under our sink with 9,000 reusable Whole Foods bags (I’m more likely to buy a few new ones that the store than endure the shame of requesting paper) and various other rarely used appliances until last week.  Nick and I have been going balls to the wall, proverbially speaking, with juicing as of late.  A man who will give you the choice of first shower or firing up the juicer?  I’ve got myself a keeper.  After a few weeks of struggling to get up and out the door on time, our new little juice ritual is working wonders.  Perhaps this #hulkjuice is turning me into the Incredible Elizabeth?

Drinking fresh vegetable and fruit juice in the morning is sort of like exercising at the start of the day.  It’s an insurance policy against all the naughty choices I might make later on, and great motivation to keep on the straight and narrow.  Whatever that means.  Even after just a single week of morning juice, I feel a difference.  I have more energy and fewer random cravings.  I don’t need to sneak Diet Coke.  I’ve made better choices at lunch and dinner (namely: more vegetables, in non-liquid form).  I haven’t given anyone the finger during my commute.  Did I mention my skin is glowing?  Oh.  Maybe that’s just the fluorescent overhead lighting.

It turns out the juicer is very easy to clean if you tend to it right away.  I am sure that was somewhere in the directions (why read them when you can promptly recycle them?).  It still takes up considerable counter space (the juicer isn’t getting any smaller, and our condo isn’t getting any larger), but we’re making do.  For people like me who have trouble following recipes, winging it is perfectly acceptable when juicing.  After making multiple trips to procure more kale, I finally just started grabbing whatever was in our refrigerator or on the counter.  A few combinations that have worked well:

  • 1 bunch of kale, 2 cups of spinach, 1 lemon, 1/2 cucumber, 3 stalks of celery, 1 inch of fresh ginger, 1 apple, 1 handful of parsley
  • 3 cups of spinach, 2 apples, 2 carrots, 1 lemon
  • 2 cups of spinach, 3 stalks of celery, 1 lemon, 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 medium cucumber, 1 cup of raspberries

Each batch perfectly fills two tall glasses.  Next adventure: make use of all that pulp.  And make fewer trips to the market.

Also On Tap for Today:

What does your morning routine look like?


5 Comments

Today: No guts, no glory… and a skunk alert.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Oh, hey.  If you don’t want to read about body parts, skip to the end for a photo of one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in ages.  Also, it should probably go without saying, but this is the internet, so… I am not a medical professional.  I do other things professionally, that’s how I bring home the imitation bacon bits.  I am happy to share my personal experience, but highly recommend you seek out a medical professional to help guide your own body experiments.

I had my last doctor’s appointment for a while yesterday.  Hopefully.  After months of food logs, blood tests, challenge diets, laying on my bathroom floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve got some semblance of a plan.  And I am very happy about that.  I’ve spent over a decade stressing about stomach aches and um, like, intestine things.  And really, I’d grown sick of being sick.  When I finally found a new PCP, RD and GI (that sounds like a rap crew) earlier this year, I finally felt like I was heading in the right direction.  While chronic issues don’t just go away, I am looking forward to feeling better, taking better care of myself, and spending millions of dollars in the supplement aisle continuing to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

[Image source]

I’ve been following various diet plans recently to help support or challenge the results of my food allergy panel.  While I had very few reactions to lactose, fructans or polyols during the “challenge” phase, I wanted to straight up expire while testing gluten (see above: laying on my bathroom floor).  During the challenge/testing phase, I ate multiple servings of whole wheat (bread, pasta, crackers) over the course of two days.  When we reviewed my food logs yesterday, I was like… dude, why is gluten suddenly an issue?  I’ve practically survived on pasta.  And my RD’s was all, I’m a lady, not a dude.  And also, damage done to one’s digestive track over the years can result in difficulty processing certain foods.  We talked about things like leaky gut syndrome (nearly fainted) or intestinal permeability, vitamin deficiencies, and other things that you probably don’t want to read about over your lunch break.

Going forward the plan is to focus on restoring my digestive track to its former glory.  I’m going to walk around singing Heal the colon.  Make it a better place.  For you and for me and for everyone who puts up with my crankiness.  And then I am going to:

  • Follow my PCP’s recommendations for bringing my vitamin levels up to “normal.”  This includes taking a once-weekly high dose of D3, as well as a daily dose of B12 and my usual daily multivitamin plus iron.
  • Take a daily dose of L  glutamin powder to help boost the regrowth of intestinal cells (enteroctyes) and provide immune support
  • Take a high potency probiotic (30-50 billion cells per day… doesn’t that sound very sci-fi?) for one month, followed by a maintenance dose (15-30 billion cells) in later months
  • Consume 52-65 grams of protein per day
  • Avoid fun gluten for 2+ months

By the time my next colonoscopy rolls around, it will look all sparkly and new in there.  Or whatever.  Want to talk about something rather than my insides?  How about what was happening inside a nearby stairwell today?

Sometimes life really stinks (because your body sprayed chemicals in the stairwell, maybe), but then someone comes along and opens the door.  And they let you out.  And you start to feel better.

Also On Tap for Today:

What would you do if you were trapped in a stairwell with a skunk?  Besides print a sign and tape it to the door, obviously.


4 Comments

Today: The Bachelorette.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I’ve never watched the show, but if it’s anything like this past weekend, I’ll be DVR-ing the next season.  I got to spend the last three days on the Cape with some of my absolute favorite people.  Equal parts low key and dancey, the weekend was absolutely perfect.

My sister and I picked up our cousin Katie from the train station Friday evening and made it to the Cape in record time, especially considering it was a holiday weekend.  We shared a bottle of wine and a game of Phase 10, before beginning the search for the ultimate “learn to dance like Michael Jackson” YouTube video and establishing the sole ground rule for the weekend (we only needed one):

If you say you’re going to do it, you have to do it.

I broke that rule first thing Saturday morning when I… um… forgot to wear my newly gifted clip-on veil on our run.  Colleen and Tina joined us shortly after we got back to the house, just in time for mimosas on the beach.  We enjoyed beautiful weather and perfect tides all weekend long.

Being a complete control freak person, I was anxious to know what was in store, and a bit nervous about the surprises the girls had in store.  Their thoughtfulness far surpassed anything I could have imagined.  My sister worked with Nick to create a guessing game/video, which was definitely a highlight of the weekend for me.  Not surprisingly, Nick and I had matching answers for most questions about one another, including how annoying my indecisiveness can be… and his questionable taste in music.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, though, as Nick talked about how excited he is to get married.

I am just so lucky.  For so many reasons.

Soon, our sweet ride was pulling up.  Katie connected with Jerry, owner of Cape Cod Limousine, and set up a fantastic evening for us.  Having a driver for the night was such a fun surprise.  We played with the overhead lights and music like a bunch of junior prom goers.  Our first stop was the Chatham Bars Inn for drinks by the gazebo as the sun was setting and a fabulous dinner in the tavern.

The roasted tomato soup was perfect for warming up (before donning a heavy Champagne jacket…).

After dinner, we made a quick stop at Land Ho! in Orleans.  I enjoyed a hard cider, a lap around the bar, and a quick lesson on life courtesy of the ladies room.

Jerry’s prediction that the scene at the Ho would be a bust proved true, though the band (and the band members’ hair) was quite good.  Sadly, our glow bracelets didn’t quite fit in.  And no one was dancing.  That was our cue to move on.

We took the express train limo to our old standby, the Woodshed, where we spend the rest of the night dancing, dancing, dancing, drinking and trying to avoid being danced on.  There was some aggressive elbowing taking place on that tiny dance floor.  The Boston Naturals played a great set and being surrounded by the girls had me smiling like mad.

I had to break out my flying squirrel costume (oh… doesn’t everyone have one?) before the night was over, but my attempt to sneak through the house resulted in a skinned knee.  You can’t win ’em all.  I am sure there are photos of Squirelizabeth, but I don’t have any.  Which is entirely fine by me.

Sunday morning, I slept later than I have in decades (possibly an exaggeration, but maybe not) and missed Colleen and Tina departing.  I had so much fun with them, and was glad they could both join us for part of the weekend.  Several of my friends and bridesmaids were traveling, moving, and attending weddings and though I certainly missed them, I felt their love from far away and appreciated all the texts and calls over the course of the weekend.

Katie, Andrea and I fit in another run before more time at the beach, more Phase 10, more MJ videos, and a trip to Kate’s.

Oh, and a beer can duel.  Because what’s a bachelorette party without Bud Light cans flying through the air?

I loved every minute of this weekend.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • I went away and it was August… I came back and it’s September?!
  • Just moved to Boston?
  • Grocery shopping (sort of an emergency)

If you were in a cover band, what would be on your must-play list?


5 Comments

Today: Stocked up and bagged up.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Laundry’s folded, the Frenchie’s been bathed, and the fridge is stocked.  I’m ready to take on the rest of the week.  Mostly.  After taking a wild cab ride to Southie (lots of honking, not much signaling), snuggling Clark, and tossing my bags in the hallways Sunday afternoon, Nick and I headed back to Cambridge to restock at Whole Foods River Street.  We usually split up as soon as we get in the door: I head to produce, he heads to the fish and meat.  I get distracted at the cheese counter, we find each other at the almond milk.  It’s a beautiful system.

My favorite part of MTV Cribs was always the sneak peek inside stars’ refrigerators.  We’re not famous, but we do go through an inordinate amount of non-dairy milk.  If had half a brain a whole non-exhausted brain, I would have dug into my HLS swag stash for those Almond Breeze coupons.  Next time.

Other staples that always end up in our cart:

  • Bananas and grapes
  • Berries galore (blueberries, strawberries and raspberries)
  • Basil and other fresh herbs
  • Spinach and spring mix with herbs, and veggies for salad
  • Avocados (and occasionally WF guacamole– so, so good)
  • Gluten free cereal (Erewhon crispy brown rice is my favorite)
  • Yogurt
  • Olives
  • Beans and a wee bit o’ cheese for me, meat for Nick
  • Nuts and nut butter

I met with my dietitian late last week to review six weeks of “challenge” dieting (using a restrictive, low FODMAP diet as the baseline and “challenging” every few days with potential allergens… interesting at its best, awful at its worst).  We’re “revisiting” gluten, lactose, casein and fructans again, but fortunately, it seems like I can eat many of the foods that were originally on the no no list (i.e. the foods that scored a 2 or 3 on my ELISA food allergy panel) in moderation.  I am so grateful to have access to such a great health care team.  Especially when they tell me I can eat tomatoes again.

I loaded up my new Chobani lunch bag with all kinds of good stuff yesterday, including a handful of those little heirloom cuties.

I’m working to continue to build the good habits that have helped me lessen my symptoms lately.  Keeping a food log has been, well, annoying… but it’s been a great way to identify patterns and linking symptoms to potential triggers.  Making meals at home has been, by far, the most effective tactic.  It seems like the only way to know for certain what’s in my food, and to ensure that I will have something healthy and safe on hand when hunger strikes.  I’m giving myself a gold star for brown canvas bagging it on a Monday.

Also On Tap for Today:

 

What’s your favorite on-the-go lunch?


6 Comments

Today: Freshly showered.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I am as grateful as I am lucky, which is to say, very.  All of my lovely bridesmaids were in town this weekend, along with family and friends, to host the most wonderful bridal shower.  In short: I laughed, I cried (only a tiny, tiny bit… and they were happy tears), I got nail caviar.  I am still overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.  I really am so grateful, and so lucky.

Nick and I started the weekend at CrossFit Southie, where I was able to increase my PR by 10lbs for the power snatch.  After a few really helpful coaching cues, I have improved significantly on that Olympic lift.  That’s one of the best things: if you work hard, you’ll continue improve and grow stronger.  After sweating like a beast, I had less than an hour to transform into a beauty.  Thank goodness for mascara.  And antiperspirant.

I traded my new lightweight training tank (a gift from my friends at Reebok) for this cute eyelet sundress (what good is a selfie without a photobomb from a random stuffed French bulldog?).  Side note 1: Stuffed animals totally creep me out.  But this one is a Frenchie.  And the proceeds benefitted a charity I love.  Side note 2: I am a natural frowner.  Those mouth corners seem to go down, even when I’m smiling.  And smizing.

Kristine picked me up just before one o’clock for a manicures, pedicures, Prosecco and lots of catching up at Bliss.  It was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.  It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole seven years since she traded Boston for New Jersey.  I miss living downstairs from her, and being able to see her at the drop of a hat (what a weird expression).  If I thought I could trick everyone into coming back home, I’d get married more often.  Sort of.

After plenty of pampering, we grabbed a bite to eat and did some browsing on Newbury Street before heading to my sister’s apartment.  Andrea, Katie, Meg, Kristine and Colleen had dangerously strong cosmopolitans, snacks, and plenty of Michael Jackson waiting, as well as some fun little surprises.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner and lots of laughs.  Pink prosecco?  Yes, please.  This little lady loves bubbles.

The next morning we headed home for the most lovely shower.  From the centerpieces (straight from my parents’ garden) to delicious food and incomparable company, it was just the perfect day.  I was spoiled rotten.

I’ve said it before, and I know I will say it again.  I am the luckiest.

Also On Tap for Today:

Are your dearest friends nearby, or far away?


11 Comments

Today: Updating my plate.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I rarely talk about my eating habits On Tap, mostly because you’d like either be bored to tears or find my picky-ness offensive.  Or maybe both.  After years of dealing with stomach issues (that was delicately put, right?), I finally met with a Registered Dietitian yesterday at the urging of my new primary care physician.

While we’re waiting for the results of several food allergy/sensitivity tests to come back, my RD developed a plan to eliminate certain foods that may be triggering symptoms.  I was relieved to have tested negative for Celiac Disease last week, but they were not able to rule out a gluten allergy or sensitivity.  So in addition to following a low FODMAP diet, I’ll be doing my best to eliminate gluten as well.

[Image source]

My RD answered every question I asked, and kindly corrected me each of the fifteen times I said food map.  I still have a lot to learn, but for the time being: FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates, and the word itself is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols.  If you know what any of this means, please call me immediately.  I need you to come food shopping with me.

A few high FODMAP foods, which I will be avoiding for the next four weeks:

  • Excess fructose: apples, pears, mangos, watermellon, honey, agave, fruit juice and most whole fruits (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, kiwifruit and grapefruits are allowed)
  • Lactose: Milk (cow, goat, sheep), yogurt, soft and fresh cheeses (lactose-free milk, rice milk, 2 oz. of hard cheese lactose-free yogurt and cottage cheese are allowed in moderation as long as artificial sweeteners are used)
  • Fructans: Artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, wheat and rye, barley, raw oats (alternatives such as gluten-free breads and crackers, rice crackers, corn chips, gluten-free cereals are allowed)
  • Galactans: Most beans and products made with soy (soy milk is allowed as long as it doesn’t contain any high FODMAP ingredients)
  • Polyols: Sweeteners such as xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, isomalt (found in sugar-free gum, mint, cough medicines, cough drops, etc.)
  • Oliogosachharides: Added fiber such as inulin and the prebiotic FOS (sometimes added to probiotic supplements, granola bars and frozen desserts)

Being a life-long vegetarian, I am no stranger to the pasta.  Nor the beans.  Nor the salad.    I top my hummus with hummus.  I put onions in everything I make.  I eat enough garlic to kill the entire Twilight saga.  Will following all these rules be challenging?  Yes, I think it will.  Will it be worth it?  I certainly hope so.

In addition to following the diet as closely as I can, I’ll be logging my food and fluid intake, along with any presenting symptoms.  I have a feeling this in itself will be a helpful exercise.  I’ve gotten so used to feeling crappy (oof, pun not intended), that  I’d do just about anything at this point.  Up to and including stop drinking Diet Coke.  I know, I know.  But I mean it this time.  I’ve gone cold turkey on the caffeine.

I feel slightly demented, but hey.  Hopefully that will pass.  Along with the headaches and grouchiness. To quote 2pac (something I try to do daily), “You gotta do whatcha gotta do.”  And if that means stepping away from the Diet Coke and beans and apples?  Well, holler.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Hitting the grocery store, with various lists, charts and spreadsheets in hand
  • Going for a run 🙂
  • Giving my dog a hug

Do you follow a special diet?  Any tips for learning the ins and outs?