The Older I Get

We’re all getting older.  The alternative sucks!  I don’t know about you, but time moves forward and I don’t really notice that I’m getting older.  I notice that my kids are aging more than myself.  When I look at old pics I think, wow, I was young then.   I don’t feel that much different.  Oh sure,  my joints are a little stiffer. I get tired earlier than I used to.  I eat well, not too much fat or sugar, rarely junk food, try to incorporate more and more fruit and veg into my diet.  I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, wine with dinner, the occasional margarita at the local Mexican restaurant.  I’m certainly not a fanatic about what I eat.  I can’t eat a lot of gluten, not because it’s a trend, but because it seriously plays with my stomach.

margarita

I wrote before about getting rid of stuff.  I’m working on it because I look around and, man, we have accumulated a lot of stuff over forty two years of marriage.  I have to arrange it and dust it, etc.  Now is the time in our life where we’re actually thinking of simplifying and minimizing.  My oldest daughter finds it amusing, she told me about an article saying that baby boomers are trying to pass all of their stuff onto their children who do not want it.  I understand that.  There are a few family things that I explained they were going to have to share because it’s our history.  The rest is going on Ebay!

I am a thinker.  Not a genius, but I think about things.  All sorts of things, constantly.  My husband picks up on some of my ideas, not all of them.  Then he’ll think about them too, different scenarios about our future.  Last night he said to me these classic words, “Do you ever, in that squirrel cage of a brain of yours, ever think about…”.  And that’s it, in a nutshell (no pun intended).  My thoughts go round and round.  Not in a crazy sort of way and not in a brilliant sort of way.  They just don’t stop, one thought leads to another.  I used to think everyone has this thought process, but my husband, siblings and friends tell me it’s not so.  I don’t have ADHD, I don’t have rambling thoughts, they have a purpose.   I’ve thought about it a lot, haha.  It’s because I’m curious and interested in pretty much everything.  Even if I’m not at all interested in a thing, like sports say, I’m still interested in the history of it.  I find the personalities of competitive people very interesting.  Not so much sports for what it is.  My husband is a drag racer, but I think, who cares who gets to the end of the track first?  I would think building the car and driving it is the fun part.  The part that’s exciting because you came up with an idea for the car,  bought it,  modified it and get the joy of successfully driving it down the track.  Anyway,  I’ve just always thought about any sport as challenging yourself, to get better.  Not to annihilate the other guy.

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Now this may seem like a bunch of rambling thoughts put together in one post but it does have a purpose.  At this juncture of our lives, what’s on our mind more than anything else is the future.  Are we going to have enough retirement money?  Are we going to stay healthy?   I remember a dear aunt of mine. suffering from bone cancer, telling me that the golden years aren’t so golden.  My husband and I look at some of our friends that are now retired and sit at home all day watching TV with bottles of medication on the side table.  I also remember another aunt and my own dear father, losing their partner and then having to go on alone.

It’s all so sad and has made us want to do something with whatever time and energy we have left.  I am researching a temporary move to England.   My husband shares my love of the island for many reasons; good friends, familiar culture, they even have drag racing.  Now we are throwing around the decision to sell our home and find a place out of the chaos when we return.  When you get to a certain age, you start looking for a bit of calm.  (We live in the suburbs, but there is still a lot of traffic, high taxes, constant noise and sirens).  Should we rent it out for a year or just go for three months and rely on neighbors and our security system to keep it safe?  Then there are the grandchildren,  can we be away from them for a long stretch, knowing it’s temporary?

travel poster

It’s a big decision and a lot of research and questions to answer.  I’m happy that my husband feels the way I do.  We don’t want to become old farts, sitting in front of the TV eating our meals off of a tray and no gumption to go out and see the world.  England is the perfect place to use as a base and then spend a few days in France, Amsterdam, Spain,  or Italy.  We aren’t rich, but aren’t afraid to do something like work away,  where you go to someone’s house to work a few hours a day on remodeling or gardening in exchange for room and board.  I do have retirement money and social security to draw on and use for something that will enrich our lives, not wait in case one of us gets sick.  Most times people don’t do something like this because they want to leave it to their children.  I can thank my dad for this gem “I worked for it, why should I leave it to you”.   That may sound harsh,  but you are doing well by your children if they understand not to expect anything from you.  Then when you leave them whatever is left, it’s the icing on the cake along with your influence to live your life to the fullest!

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It’s Easy to Eat Real Food

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I’ve long been an advocate for real food.  I’m not a fanatic about it.  I will, occasionally, eat an Oreo or add flavored creamer to my coffee.   Always at work,  I don’t buy processed food when I do my grocery shopping.  If it’s not there, I won’t eat it.

proc food

My middle daughter sent me an article the other day about why you should never eat margarine.  Kind of a family joke, I won’t have margarine in the house.  I’ve heard all of the arguments about cholesterol in butter and animal fat.  None of which are man-made chemicals.  I can pronounce the ingredients in butter,  I have no idea what most of them are in margarine.   The same for diet drinks,  what the hell?  You know what sugar is, you know where it came from.  Here’s one of the chemicals they use for diet soft drinks.  It’s not always on the label because it’s an ingredient of aspartame.

This is what The Mayo Clinic says about this chemical:
“Phenylalanine isn’t a health concern for most people. However, for people who have the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) or certain other health conditions, phenylalanine can be a serious health concern.  Phenylalanine can cause mental retardation, brain damage, seizures and other problems in people with PKU.”

Now I don’t know about you, but PKU or not, I do not want my children or grand children drinking something that includes this.  Sugar is not a healthy thing to have too much of, however,  if you’re drinking more than one soda a day, there may be no help for you.  This is a life style change that is easy to make if you really want to do better for yourself.

diet soda

Back to my original point, eating real food is easy.  I’m just as busy as the rest of you and I don’t have time anymore to make large complicated meals.  Unless it’s a holiday,  I won’t spend more than 15 minutes making a meal.   I don’t have the time or energy after a busy day.   Still,  I rarely eat fast food or processed foods.  I’m not judging you if you do like processed food .  However, and this is important, add nutrients, in the form of something that grew, to pretty much every meal.  A chopped tomato, slices of avocado, some chopped green onion or cilantro.   It doesn’t take a lot of thought or time.   When I make my eggs in the morning, I throw in some mushrooms and spinach,  I top them with chopped tomatoes and/or green onions.

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Have you seen the ad in doctors offices and markets that says “5 a day for life”?  When I first saw that, I thought “how daunting to try to make 5 veggies a day, unless you eat them all raw”.  I don’t like all vegetables raw.  Then I realized if I just add some fruit or veg to every meal, it’s better than nothing.  So, that’s how I started, just adding something live to every meal.  It got easier after that, five a day or more is now typical for me.  Add tomato or avocado,  throw in some mushrooms, fruit for snacks or dessert.  Easy to do, not a lot of time, not expensive.

5 a day

A baked sweet potato is delicious all by itself, and an easy way to add some real nutrients and fiber.  Wash them, place on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake at 400* for 50 to 60 minutes.  A knife should go through easily.  I put a teaspoon of butter on it, that’s all it needs.  Naturally sweet, it goes great with any meat.

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Other things need some help, like a simple grilled cheese sandwich or quesadilla.  I add sliced mushrooms and tomatoes.  Or guacamole, it’s excellent on many things and avocado is a “good” fat.

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Here are a few easy ways to make some veggies that you can add to any meal.  Take an hour or so out of your week.  It’s something I look forward to now,  kind of a nice break from news or chores and I know I’m doing something healthy for my husband and myself.  I pour a nice glass of red and put on music.

Roasted tomatoes-I can eat these things like candy, they are so yummy!  Add them to mac & cheese, pastas, tacos, salads, sandwiches, etc:  Wash and dry Roma or small salad tomatoes. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment to make clean up easier, brush with olive oil.  Slice the tomatoes so they’re all about the same thickness and lay them on the cookie sheet, you can cram them together as long as they’re in one layer.  Or, you can use the smaller tomatoes and just cut them in half.  Either way,  brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in a 375* oven for 20 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet and bake another 15 to 20 minutes.  Take a peek to make sure they aren’t burning.  (This usually happens if they aren’t cut the same thickness)  Remove from oven and let cool.  Keep in a glass dish in the fridge, they last about a week, add to any dish.

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Roasted peppers,  I like the red, yellow and orange ones better than the green.  They have a subtler taste and the green ones mess with my stomach.  Basically you take off the top, slice in a uniform size and rinse out the seeds.  Then you make them just like the tomatoes.  I like to add these to Italian food, salads, just heat them up and eat with any meat. Also good in soups and stews or tacos.

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You can add other vegetables as well:  eggplant, onions, chunks of celery, garlic (don’t over cook the garlic or it’s bitter).  An excellent way to use these is to puree’ and add to meat and rice for stuffed bell peppers.  Make the filling, stuff into pre-roasted bell peppers and top with Parmesan cheese.  Heat in a 350* oven, lovely if you can make ahead, they take less than half an hour.  Add crunchy french bread and you have a great meal.

Asparagus,  one of my favorites and simple to make.  Wash them and hold with index fingers and thumbs, the fat end and just below the head.  Bend the fat end until it breaks.  (I usually just throw this away, but if you’re really ambitious, you can boil it along with onion skins, potato and carrot  peels and/or any part of any vegetable that you don’t use.  It all makes a healthy veggie broth you can use for soups, just strain)  Again, line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.  Lay the asparagus in a flat layer.  You can leave them whole or cut them into 2 inch pieces.  Sprinkle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper and broil just 2 or 3 minutes, turn over and broil again.  You just want them slightly browned on each side.  These are great as a simple side dish or throw them into soups, egg dishes, what ever sounds good to you.

aspar

Carrots-Wash and peel, cut into strips, chunks, halves, it’s up to you.  I like to dice them and saute’ in butter along with diced celery and onions to throw into soup.  You can par boil them in water or 7 up until they’re about half done.  When you need them they cook up fast.  Keep in the fridge for 4 or 5 days.   I also discovered chili and garlic infused honey.  Saute’ the partially cooked carrots in a little butter for 2 or 3 minutes.  Drizzle with this honey and cook to desired tenderness, so good.

carrots

Another quick veggie that I love in winter are parsnips, carrots and potatoes.  Just wash, peel and cut into equal size chunks.  Drizzle with olive oil, sea salt and pepper to taste, stirring to coat.  Bake on a lined cookie sheet in a 400* oven until brown, about 20 minutes,  stirring occasionally so they brown evenly.

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Cabbage may not sound like your favorite food, but try it this way.  Slice a half of a head in 1/4 inch slices, saute’ in butter and season with sea salt flakes and pepper. Don’t over cook, it should be a little crunchy and not soft or mushy.   So simple and delicious, the crunchiness of the salt and the buttery flavor, so easy.

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If you eat these with lean meats and fruit, salads, etc.  it will change your life.  It’ll help build your immune system and give you the nutrients your body needs instead of the processed chemicals that are making people sick.  I’m so tired of seeing the commercials for pharma with all of the side effects that sound worse than the disease!  If I can do one simple thing myself and avoid doctors and prescriptions, I’m just stubborn enough to do it.  I’m about to retire and don’t take anything but vitamins, and I’m convinced it’s because of simple eating habits and gardening.  I’m not great at exercising, other than a daily stretch.  I don’t deny myself things that I enjoy.  Ice cream is a staple at my house as is chocolate.  Moderation is key and simple food.

It’s easy to see the difference,  which would you rather put in your body?

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brown food