She is JUST like those nuns that used to crack the fingers of children with rulers. LOL. Menopause is a phase, a joke, a nightmare and the inevitable outcome of a life well lived up to the point of change-over into the beauty of the Crone.
But getting there. Wow. Your body is no longer your own. You don't know her moods, her temperature, her favorite song anymore. She becomes a bit of a brat. Things don't taste right. Or everything tastes right. LOL. Ten hours of sleep are not enough of course she needs twelve now! She's hot. She's cold. She is stone freakin' in control one minute and the next - oh look there goes a chicken! Or, worse yet, she bursts into tears in the middle of yoga class for no apparent reason other than she was suddenly sad, again, for no apparent reason. You don't get along so fabulously with her right now and damn did I mention the hot flashes?
I was a very young menopauser. LOL is that a word? Well, it is now. I have been told this can happen to anyone but a combination of never having children, never being on artificial hormones (birth control and the like) long-term, and any number of other factors can begin the process earlier than average.
My main issue with all of this was not the menopause itself. I did not feel like I was "losing my womanhood" as so many chicks describe. Uggghhh, I never had a particular need for that anyway. My main issue is really the hot flashes. Even now, post-menopausal, I have them. I mean, I can deal with the sudden sadness and even bursting into tears after a hard run. Shoot, I'm fine with being a little bit crazy. But, the flashes.... Someone bring me a portable ice bath and I'll make it work. I might even build a cart to pull it around with me just in case I need it.
Currently, at my office, the girls simply laugh with (or is it at) me while I stand at the copier peeling layers of clothing off at any given moment, only to put them right back on five minutes later when I got from a bizzillion degrees back down to my normal sub zero. Which is why it is so annoying. I'm cold blooded. LOL. I've always been cold blooded! I'm the girl that gets the teeth chatters on a frosty morning. I hate air conditioning. I have a foot heater under my desk year round. LOL. Well, I'm still cold blooded. Only, around 17 times a day at any given moment, for the past seven years, I'm an internal inferno. And it pisses me off! Which makes me even more hot. LOL.
I've tried all the FAQ "cures" and now I am down to herbal assistance. I won't say "remedy" as I think it is simply a matter of degrees (no pun) with something like this. You just manage it. No real cure.
In a time crunch and want to make the most simple stir fry on the planet? This is an old recipe left over from my days of following Pauline Nordin's insane Fighter Diet that called for eating like eight pounds of vegetables a day BUT it is actually a tasty vegan stir fry option. Filling up on veggies does work by the way as far as staying satisfied and also getting your fair share of important greens so in theory the benefits are real.
So, you take a bag of broccoli slaw (you can use cabbage instead if that is your pref I just prefer the broccoli) and you stir fry it along with any other veggies you might want in about a tablespoon of olive oil, adding your choice of spices. For mine I added some mushrooms and red peppers and my spices this round were cumin, salt, pepper and I threw in some dried hot pepper seeds.
Cover and cook until slaw gets soft (you can add a quarter cup of water to help the process), then uncover and stir fry until you like the consistency. I like mine a little crunchy in spots so I turn the heat down to medium and let it fry, stir, let it fry some more...
Eat over rice or by itself.
Tonight's awesome vegan meal brought to us by Vegetarian Times and a glass of water - this stuff was spicy!
I served it with rice. Sam love it and suggested that next time I add chicken. Very funny. LOL.
It was full of cumin so it had that exotic flavor that I love and the other spices gave it a kick - sort of hot, sort of sweet all in one. I skipped the spoonful of yogurt because I didn't have any vegan yogurt on hand but it was still amazing....
Good and hearty too. Just the thing for this cold winter afternoon :)
Unexpected Outlaw Vegan Responses...
So, for coming up on three months now I have been back at my old vegan ways. Well, not exactly as I am actually eating lots of vegetables, which was not the case in my 20s. LOL.
I am finding some interesting things are going on with me and they are unexpected in terms of, well, I didn't expect them and wasn't trying to make them so. First, I have leaned out a bit. Meaning that some of what I used to deem everyday "bloat" has now disappeared. When I checked it I found that indeed I am four to five pounds leaner according to my once often used and now mostly stuck in the bottom of the sink cabinet bathroom scales. As far as activity levels, formal training has actually been cut back. I have been doing shorter workouts, lots of yoga and very little cardio since winter has me pretty much snowed in. It isn't loss of muscle either. In terms of muscle tone I look exactly the same.
More importantly, my cravings have lessened. I have been a long sufferer of sugar cravings. I would crave sweets during the day at work and often cave to the never-empty candy dish in the main office. I would crave them after a meal or before bed I would "need" a little sweet snack. These things weren't BIG - like I wasn't eating a whole bag of candy but I don't like the feeling of "OMG I NEED CHOCOLATE" ruling my brain. For the first time in years I actually have made the comment that something is "too sweet" in relation to a dessert. Further, I used to be a hot cocoa fanatic. It was how I would feed my cravings in the evenings. Worse, I would drink the sugar free kind to save on calories and then load it with artificial sweeteners. I was worried about giving this up so I bought some vegan hot cocoa but I've only had maybe two cups this winter. I used an artificial sweetener in something the other day, took one drink and poured it down the drain. It had this awful, bitter aftertaste that I never noticed when I was living life as a crazed sweet-oholic.
Not only sweets but other cravings in general have mostly stopped. The snacking craving, the thinking about food constantly (which will happen anytime you have spent years focusing on food, calories, blah, blah, blah), all but gone. I generally have been eating a mid morning snack (I am not a breakfast eater) then lunch and dinner. I'm hungry at mealtimes. I actually feel like it is OK to stop eating when the meal is over (something else that has been a struggle for my entire life). The key thing to me with all of this is that I didn't force any of it, actively pursue it, plan for it. It all seems to have just naturally happened by taking the focus OFF of some things that had been part of my life for decades. So I guess what I DID actively pursue was letting go.
See, when I went back onto this path I told myself that I would not see NOT eating things as a punishment. I did not want this to be like a "diet" or like self imposed "clean eating" because those things have always made me feel out of control due to over control and downright resentful of my own decisions. I was simply going to eat things I liked that didn't involve animal products. So, that included lots of vegetables, fruit, plain white rice and a little of the Tofurkey type stuff but really wanted to try and eat as much fresh food as possible. At the same time, I decided I would not deny myself snacks like tortilla chips and salsa because this wasn't about a diet...
I really wanted to get away from that mindset. As a matter of a fact I felt like I had to purge that mindset from my life and I took pretty extreme measures to do so. I started engaging in positive conversations with myself, I stuck those scales under the sink, I refused to talk about training and instead went to yoga or meditated, I ditched memberships and unsubscribed to email notices involving training, unsubscribed to training podcasts or anything else to do with "fitness", deleted all fitness and food tracking apps from my phone, turned the mirror in the bedroom around, (leaving Sam grumbling when he went to put on his tie), because for Hades-sake if your pants still fit they look fine why are you checking to see if your butt looks big? I stopped wearing make-up.... Yes, I stopped wearing make-up. I never have been a big make-up person anyway but even the small amount I did apply I just stopped. This has nothing to do with being vegan per say it was just another way for me to take the focus away from appearance and put it on other things.
I started cooking because I had to. I didn't want my going back to vegan to mean that Sam and I couldn't sit down and eat a meal together or that he had to cook two things and I didn't want to be a junk food vegan. I gave us both permission to screw up and not get my panties in a twitch. Just because I am in the restroom and Sam orders my salad and forgets to ask for no cheese doesn't mean I'm a bad vegan. It just means there is cheese in my salad. LOL.
So what I have experienced in my return to veganism has been a path of relinquishing constant control, (and worries about control and whether I would lose control), and struggle with my mind and body. Maybe that is the best unexpected benefit of all.
Well, it is a learning process I guess. LOL. So, several weeks ago I had made what I thought was a lovely soup with potatoes and carrots. Simple, basic, tasty. Sam of course had all kinds of suggestions on improving my soup and so this weekend I took him up on them.
Sometimes I should just tell him to stay out of my kitchen time. LOL.
He suggested adding beans - OK, I get that. A little protein, some substance. We talked and chose a small red bean and I planned on that addition. This was my first mistake and I'll get to why in a minute. His other suggestion was why not throw a little pasta in there - something harder like a small shell. And he went out and bought me a bag of it. Who is running this kitchen anyway? ;)
So, I go about making my soup on Saturday, following the basic recipe and putting everything in my trusty crockpot after soaking and adding the beans, which required more liquid to be added as well. Again, suggestion - why not use tomato juice as the additional liquid instead of opening up another can of veggie stock? OK.
Then soup was cooking. It was agreed that the pasta shouldn't be added until almost done so that it wouldn't get soggy (at which point I am thinking this is ALOT of soup and isn't it gonna eventually get soggy anyway?). To make matters worse the addition of the beans caused everything to cook more slowly so the soup was woefully behind schedule. When Sam got home from the studio he deemed that the pasta should "go in now" and so it did.
Four hours later the soup was finally "done" sort of only that it really didn't turn out as soup but more like stew. Very thick and hearty and the taste wasn't bad. But the pasta was gooey and to me it went better over rice sparingly than it did straight.
And there was ALOT.OF.STEW. So much that there is still a big sealed bowl of it in the frig for lunches for the next couple of days. The remainder, sadly, will be composted. LOL. I would count this in the fail column of my cooking adventures and am vowing that one suggestion is welcome but several in the same recipe are overboard.
On the upside, I have perfected my beer bread recipe (which I made to go with the soup that turned out to be stew) and also whipped up some roasted B sprouts and chick peas over the weekend. Not a total kitchen loss
I am sprouting Alfalfa seeds for salads and sandwiches and I put them to soak tonight after work. I've had my sprouting jar for some time and just never seemed to get around to using it.
Since I am in need of interesting recipes and additions to my vegan menu I thought now was the time to dive in!
So, I will add to this post with some pictures of the little buggers as they start to sprout, the process, etc.
For right now they are soaking. I am thinking five hours should do it because they are tiny little seeds. Then I will need to rinse them at least twice a day, baby them and hope they grow. Then I get to eat them. LOL.
UPDATE - these were amazing! And lasted much, much longer than the store bought variety. Super easy and if you love sprouts I would definitely just grow them yourself.
I was going to post some pictures of the process but when I decided to grow them I looked up Devin Hunter's DIY video and he explains it so much better with loads of instruction and a really nice daily illustration of how they are grown and harvested so I am posting the link here:
Two successful recipes for the Outlaw Vegan! The first one, roasted chickpeas, was given to me by a workmate and is so super simple, meets my five ingredient rule and everything!
Take a can or two of chickpeas, drain liquid and put in a bowl with enough room to stir in:
a Tablespoon of olive oil and whatever spices you want to put on them. I put hot pepper flakes, curry and garlic. You can totally change up the flavor to whatever you want. Look on line and you'll find a ton of different variations and flavor combos to try. I mixed all my spices in the olive oil first and then drizzled it over the chickpeas, stirred everything together really well and...
Placed on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, take them out, swirl them around and try your best to turn most of them. Put them back in the oven for another 15 minutes and they are done!
I served these over rice. IT.WAS.AWESOME.
Next up, I had some mushrooms that needed consumed with love because I hate wasting stuff. I have committed to doing some cooking because Sam is really, really busy with his hobby job and because since I have chosen to return to a vegan lifestyle I feel like it is fair that I contribute.
So, the mushrooms.... I found this wonderful recipe for a mushroom and black bean "chilli" - see link below:
VEGAN CHILLI WITH MUSHROOMS AND BLACKBEANS
This stuff turned out SO good that my regret was I didn't think to make cornbread with it! LOL. A great meal for a cold winter weekend.
My next task is to find something to do with carrots because Sam and I went to the store separately this week and BOTH bought carrots. LOL. Communication is key people.... ;)
I have always loved Brussels Sprouts. Even as a kid I would eat them while other kids turned up their noses at the funny looking little (sometimes) bitter balls.
This week's score of yummy alternative eating features our friend the little sprout. And, it will teach those willing to give them another try how to make them better, not bitter!
So, I just wanted to basically use my sprouts as a main lunch course and planned to add whatever I came up with to rice. I rinsed my sprouts and took off any leaves that didn't look fresh. Oh, I should mention I am talking about fixing fresh sprouts. Like from the produce section. LOL. Okay now that we are on the same page...
After rinsing I cut the sprouts in half and made a slit near the more narrow portion of each half. This is important because cutting and slitting them allows the sprout to absorb the flavor of your seasonings, resulting in a nice fresh taste and not a bitter little sprout taste. Then I sautéed some onion in a little olive oil and earth balance butter-like spread. I added the sprouts and then added pepper and sea salt. Now, I wanted my sprouts to cook through a little so I also added about a third a cup of water - kind of par boiling the sprouts but as the water got absorbed and steamed off I let the spouts get just a tiny bit browned.
The picture above is not mine but they looked very similar. I fixed a batch of rice and this was my lunch for two days this week. Rock ON Outlaw Vegan Lazy Food Prep Woman!
Eat it! I have some crappy beer in our frig leftover from a get-together of some sort. No, I didn't plan to serve it to guests to be an ass, my friends actually like crappy beer. LOL. Aside from their poor taste in alcohol, they are actually OK people. But, what is a girl to do with a six pack of this nasty stuff?
Make beer bread! I found the easiest beer bread ever recipe (link below). Super simple, throw everything in and mix, bake and eat. Best use of bad beer I've ever found.
Food Dot Com Beer Bread
Don't forget to sift your flour! It makes it more moist and a better loaf of bread.
Or at least what you are good at!
I've been told I make one helluva salad. LOL. Believe me with my cooking skills I take that as a compliment. The secret is in the layering. You layer everything as you go and then the eater doesn't have to worry about anything but the dressing. When I make salads for others I will simply layer in their salad bowl and let them apply as little or as much dressing as they want.
Here is my favorite salad technique when I am mixing up one for just myself, including an ultra low calorie dressing that I came up with long ago. I call this "shake-a-salad" and it makes for a great lunch or dinner full of good for you stuff!
First, pick your ingredients. I like dark greens mixed with some romaine. I chop onions, peppers, tomatoes and sometimes add carrots and cucumber slices too. If I'm feeling like I need a little more substance I will throw in some garbanzo beans or even some peas. I layer all this stuff in a container as I am cutting it - like a storage container that has a lid so that I can shake it later.
For the dressing I will use a little bit red wine vinegar and a dash of oil, mixing it with seasoning in a small container (again, one with a lid). For the seasoning you can use whatever you like but I usually just use an Italian spice sprinkle. Then I put spicy mustard in the container. I use lots of it because I like a hot dressing and because it makes the mixture a little more thick so it sticks to the greens better. I add a pack of Stevia to the mix and then put the lid on container and shake really hard.
So, having made my dressing I then drizzle it over my salad, put the lid on that container and shake shake shake a salad until everything is fully mixed.
And there you go! Perfectly mixed, perfectly dressed, low cal and full of yummy greens for the tummy :)