2020 30-Day Minimalism Challenge

Friday, July 29, 2022

Garden update...


These pictures were taken a week or so ago, and frustratingly, I can only report that the trellised pole beans don't look nearly so nice at this point.  It just so happens we have some critters that love the leaves of green bean plants.  Early in the week I came out to check on things, only to find withered leaves at the top of these Kentucky Wonder pole bean plants.  "That's weird", I thought for a moment.  Then I traced the vine down to a spot where something had chewed through the plant.  Sigh.  Then one evening, as I approached the garden, I saw two cottontail rabbits hopping off toward a group of trees that line the back of the neighbor's yard.  My first thought was, "How cute!"  My second thought was, "YOU are the thieving culprits!"  

Honestly, I wouldn't  really mind if they ate to their hearts' content all the leaves from the bottom of the bean plants - as high they could reach.  But it was disheartening to see that they had chewed through the plant itself - killing it and, frankly, ruining any future meals for themselves.


And the above plant shows how some small bush bean plants were totally decimated - except for two little green beans left on this one.   For some reason, the rabbits have left two larger bush beans alone.  They are being held up by tomato cages, so maybe that has been a small deterrent somehow???

I sprinkled some blood meal around the remaining green bean plants since that's supposed to be a rabbit repellant, but I don't want to overdo blood meal since it's high in nitrogen and I don't think these plants need a lot of nitrogen at this point, so I don't plan to repeat that very often - if at all.  

I also read online that human hair might repel rabbits.  The timing was uncanny as I had trimmed my hair the same day I read that, so I took the little garbage liner bag that still had my hair clippings in it, and sprinkled it around the base of my green beans plants.  I hope I don't gross anyone out with this (I think I grossed a friend out when I told her), but the hair was clean and there was nothing else in the garbage liner so I don't know why this is any grosser than any number of other things I've had my hands in recently.  Besides, if it helps someone else, why not share?  I don't know what was most effective (the hair or the blood meal), but it's been several days and I haven't noticed anymore green bean leaves disappearing.  That said, I'm all but giving up hopes of green beans for more than a few meals this summer.  I need to do more research as I clearly need to be better prepared for rabbits next year.


Fortunately, rabbits don't seem to care for my pickling cucumber plants (pictured above).  They are going gangbusters - having climbed these cages to the tops as of this writing.  I was thrilled this week to finally have a few large enough to pick.


I set to work finding canning directions and a recipe for simple dill pickles.  Lots of people online have lots to say about making and canning pickles, and keeping them crisp, but few (if any) that I came across takes a person step by step from slicing to canning (with a recipe for canning in pint jars) - and that's what I wanted.  So I looked at a number of recipes, watched several videos, learned about the low-temperature pasteurization method (which many claim will produce crunchier pickles), and once I understood that method, I found a simple brine recipe and canned my first pickles:


I've tried to find the recipe I used, but I only wrote down notes while watching a Youtube video and I can't seem to find it now.   I understand the low-temperature process now, so really I just need to experiment with some recipes. Since I go through quite a few jars of dill pickles in a year's time, I figured dill was the first to try.  I need to give these a few weeks before trying them, but my hopes are high and I'm already planning on planting dill in the garden next year!

And while I wait for these pickles to... what?  Ferment? "Ripen"?  What exactly am I waiting for?   I'm not sure, but I'll look it up while I wait for more cucumbers to grow large enough to harvest.   

And I'm waiting for the tomatoes to turn red.   They've looked  approximately this color for weeks now: 

Curious why it's taking them so long to ripen, I looked it up.  Seems our weeks of sustained 90+ degree weather may be responsible for halting the ripening process. Who knew that?  I sure didn't.  I thought tomatoes thrived in hot weather - the hotter the better.  Evidently, not so much.

It's been a few decades since we've gardened (three to be exact), but I seriously don't remember it being this complicated.  We hoed the ground, stuck seeds in the dirt, watered the garden from time to time, and things just grew.  Or so it seemed.  I need to find some pictures and remind myself of what our gardens looked like if I can.  I know I've got at least one picture of me happily holding my first canned green beans.  Or maybe it was tomatoes.  Regardless, we actually produced things without all this hubbub.  And without the internet at our fingertips to answer every question we had.  And questions we didn't have.  When the temps get back into the 90's, I'll go digging through the photo albums and see what I can find.  

Anyway...  I might be disappointed, but I'm hoping the tomatoes ripen by mid-late August or early September so I have time to preserve them.  I have hand surgery scheduled for mid September - at which point, my canning/freezing days will come to a halt for at least a few weeks.  While I enjoy being generous, I confess I hope we don't have to invite friends over to pick and take home tomatoes in September, like we did with our strawberries in June.  

There are certainly worse things that could happen, though, I suppose.

Oh yeah...  and there's this:  
 

A peach tree we didn't realize was a peach tree!  And suddenly, it's full of fruit.  I thinned the fruit today (I learned last night that should have been done when the peaches were less than quarter size), but we never saw these coming!   We may have missed our opportunity for helping this tree produce decent fruit this year, but it's kind of fun having just discovered it loaded down with beautiful peaches. They're kind of small, but they're purty.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about having a peach tree.  I say we should give it another year and see if we can manage it, but if not (or if it doesn't produce fruit worth picking), I know we'd rather not deal with having to clean up falling fruit, and the insects it will attract.  It will be interesting to see what happens with this tree over the next few weeks...

More and more, we're seeing our job with this new place is to simplify the landscape.  There have been some cool things to discover, for sure, but seriously...  no one is going to be unhappy with this property when it comes time to sell if we've tamed it and made it more manageable.

And that's a wrap for another week. 


Saturday, July 23, 2022

Chicken Burritos - Healthified...

Chicken Burritos has been a favorite of hubs and mine for years.   I got the original recipe (below)  from my mother-in-law more than a decade ago, and it may be that the recipe she gave me is floating around out there on the internet, but I've never looked it up, and I've kind of healthified the original, so I'm giving you both recipes below.  

While I have given measurements, I am not a stickler for them.  I suggest using them the first time, and erring on the side of more sour cream (or yogurt) and cheese.  I almost always add more cheese to a recipe.  You also may want more chili pepper. I usually add more, but sometimes Hubs and I suffer for it later - we are not super spicey food eaters.   

While the first recipe calls for a rotisserie chicken, you can substitute any cuts of chicken (fresh cooked or leftover) to make approximately 4-5 cups of shredded chicken.  I've made this so often over the years, I go by taste and texture - I've learned it's best if the chicken mixture is too moist, rather than too dry.  

There is no rice in these burritos.  Never was, never will be - unless you want to put it in, in which case, you're on your own.  Anyway, here goes:
 

This is one burrito cut in half


Chicken Burritos Original recipe:

1 rotisserie chicken
1 10-oz can tomatoes with chili peppers (or you may prefer jalapenos)
1/2 cup sour cream (use whatever amount gives a very moist mixture)
1 Tbs Chili Powder
1 tsp salt
1 16-oz can refried beans
8 8-inch flour tortillas
1/2 - 1 lb Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (depending on your love of cheese).  


Pull meat into thin shreds.  In bowl, stir together shredded chicken, tomatoes (with peppers and all juices), sour cream, chili powder and salt until well mixed.  If the mixture seems a bit dry, add more sour cream.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spread 1/8 of refried beans evenly on one side of the tortilla.  Spoon 1/8 of chicken mixture atop the refried beans.  Reserve 1-2 cups (depending on how much cheese you started with) of shredded cheese to melt on top of burritos later. With remaining cheese, sprinkle 1/8 of what is left over chicken and beans.  Roll up tortilla and place burritos seam-side down in a greased (I use butter) 12"x 8" baking dish.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake 30 minutes or until burritos are heated through.  The chicken mixture will start to bubble out from both ends of the burritos.  Remove foil and sprinkle burritos with reserved shredded cheese, back in the oven (uncovered) for 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Serve with chopped lettuce and tomatoes, or any side salad.  Makes 4 generous servings.

~~~~~



Healthified Chicken Burritos

2 or 3 med-large chicken breasts - cooked and shredded
1  10-oz can tomatoes with peppers
1/2 cup Greek yogurt 
1 Tbs. chili powder (add chili powder to taste)
1 tsp. salt
1 16-oz can fat-free refried beans (or vegetarian refried beans)
1 8-inch whole grain, keto friendly tortillas
1/2 - 1 lb Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (depending on your love of cheese).


Pull meat into thin shreds.  In bowl, stir together shredded chicken, tomatoes (with peppers and all juices), sour cream, chili powder and salt until well mixed.  If the mixture seems a bit dry, add more sour cream.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spread 1/8 of refried beans evenly on one side of the tortilla.  Spoon 1/8 of chicken mixture atop the refried beans.  Reserve 1-2 cups (depending on how much cheese you started with) of shredded cheese to melt on top of burritos later. With remaining cheese, sprinkle 1/8 of what is left over chicken and beans.  Roll up tortilla and place burritos seam-side down in a greased (I use butter) 12"x 8" baking dish.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake 30 minutes or until burritos are heated through.  The chicken mixture will start to bubble out from both ends of the burritos.  Remove foil and sprinkle burritos with reserved shredded cheese, back in the oven (uncovered) for 5-10 minutes longer or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Serve with chopped lettuce and tomatoes, or any side salad.  Makes 4 generous servings.

That's it!  This recipe is so easy that once I'd made it a few times I no longer look at the measurements.   I might double-check the recipe for the ingredients, but once they are gathered, I just create a mixture that looks nicely moist, and spread whatever amount of refried beans on the tortilla that looks good (I often have to open a second can of beans). 

When our boys were home, I often made a larger (even double) batch - depending on how many tortillas I have.  Now that it's just hubs and I for most meals, I always have more than we can eat in one meal.  I just freeze any extras prior to baking and thaw later.  Once thawed, bake as described above.  

We have found, if the inner mixture is moist enough, these also make tasty leftovers - cover with foil until they are bubbly, then sprinkle with a bit of extra cheese. I often re-heat in the toaster oven (on the bake setting).  Leftovers on these are a bit hit and miss, though, I must admit.  These are best eaten the first time they are baked.  If you know you're making more than you'll eat at one meal, just bake what you think you'll eat, saving the rest in the freezer (or even fridge, if you plan to cook them within a day or two).

If you try them, I hope you enjoy!

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Walk like an Egyptian...

In spite of having surgery right smack in the middle of planting the garden this spring, and then subsequent challenges for me of bending over for several weeks (something one does fairly often when tending a garden), somehow my garden has managed to thrive - more or less.   

Hub helped out with some weeding in the early weeks of June, and he hammered tomato support stakes in the ground when the tomato plants started flopping over.  And while I don't really know how I managed it, I was able to finish the planting of some pole beans, zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers in early June.   Then by mid June, when we were clearly in a drought, Hub set up hoses across the yard so I could just step outside when I needed to turn the sprinkler on.  That has been wonderful during recent scorching hot weeks.  

All that said, I have to admit... until this week (when I turned a significant corner in the ability to bend forward and toward the ground, and even get down on the ground), the garden has mostly done its thing while I've tried not to overdo it for most of the last six weeks.  I learned the hard way (as I suspect most people do), that a person often can't tell they've overdone it until after the deed is done.  

Anyway... as of today, this:


Looks like this:

It's amazing the difference a month and a half makes.  I know it's not the prettiest garden, but considering the spring I've had, I'm kind of impressed we have a garden at all.

The thing I want to write about today, though, is something I've shown here before, and I've had a complete change of heart over.




At the time, I couldn't figure out what it was.  I was even a bit cautious about tasting them.   Well, I finally did taste one, and was surprised to find it tasted like a peppery onion.  While I concluded they were edible, I still wasn't overly impressed, and I figured I would at some point just dig them up and plant something else in their place.

Before I did that, though, I decided we needed to ask the previous owners just what this mystery plant was.  I'd never heard of it before, and since none of my regular readers suggested it back in April, I'm guessing none of them (or you?) have heard of these either. 

Or maybe this will jog your memory...

These are Egyptian Walking Onions.  Or simply Walking Onions.  Or Tree Onions.  Or top-set onions...  I have no idea how many different names this plant has, but it seems they go by a variety of different names.

Once I learned more about them, I became intrigued and decided that I'd give them a year (at least) and even harvest some and use them in cooking before I turned my back on them.

I'm not going to explain them in great depth here (there are lots of articles and YouTube videos that will do that), but I enjoyed taking pictures of this plant as it progressed through spring, and I've decided it is time to let you in on my fun little adventure with Egyptian Walking Onions.

In late spring, these little white sacs started appearing at the top of the green stalks:


You can see them atop just about all of the stems late in May:

It wasn't long before the little sacs started opening up, revealing what was inside:
What appeared were more stalk-like things, breaking the sac open as they unfurled.

And then little pink bulbs started appearing.  With more stalks growing out from them:


And at the ends of these new stalks were new little white sacs:

It was all kind of magical.  And I knew before May was over, we were keeping these babies.

The short explanation as to why these are called Walking Onions is because at some point, the top-set bulblets weigh the stalk down, bending it over until the those bulblets are touching the ground.  If left there, they will take root and form a new plant - shooting up a new green stalk, and the process starts all over again. Over time, the plants "walk" across the garden, replanting themselves over and over again.

And as if watching that happen every spring and summer isn't enough reason to grow these, I came to learn that every part of the plant is edible at some point.  These plants earn their keep!  When young and tender, the green stalks can be used like chives, and the plant can be dug up and the small onion can be used just as you would use any onion (they are a little spicey all by themselves, but in a dish they seem fine).  Even the little purple bulblets can be harvested when they are tender and used as small onions.  Some say they taste a bit like scallions, but perhaps a little more pungent.  I've never tasted a scallion, so I have no idea.  Now that I've developed something of a relationship with these amazing plants, they don't need to taste like anything but themselves as far as I'm concerned. 

The plants that have sprung up outside the raised bed boundary for the onions,  like these (in the foreground):
I'm digging up and cooking with them.


Cleaned up, you can see they make fine, if small, onions:


At this point, most of the green part of the plants are dying back. I'm planning on cutting back the dead stems and what I don't separate and transplant, I'll be letting overwinter in place and see what's there when I dig next spring.  I suspect they will be larger onions, and possibly more than one onion per plant.  

 
And I'm harvesting the top-set bulblets to plant where I'd like them to be, rather than just let them take root wherever they fall.  

At this point, these bulblets are starting to dry out on the plant, and most of what I read indicates that late summer through autumn is when they are best to plant.  I'm so looking forward to seeing the annual cycle of these plants.  And I'm so glad I didn't dig them up when they were still a mystery to me!  😊


How does your garden grow?  




Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Skyr and a recipe...


Recently, I came across a new-to-me product called Skyr:

Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt that is thicker and a bit less tangy than Greek yogurt.  I don't typically eat plain yogurt (because it sooo tangy), but I thought this stuff was pretty good. Mostly, the texture is what makes it better to me than Greek yogurt - which I thought was "the bomb" before this.  I bought this brand at Fresh Thyme Market, but I also found it at my local Meijer yesterday.

Anyway, I shared the picture with my two sisters via text and a conversation ensued about yogurts, probiotics, just generally healthy eating... 

And my sister, Sherri, offered up a recipe.  It sounded so good I told her if I liked it,  I would post it to my blog and give her credit.   I did make it, and here it is: 


While I made it without paying any attention to measurements (I know I added more berries, and I completely forgot the walnuts), I give you Sherri's breakfast recipe (complete with her notes):

 ¾-1 cup of Fage Greek Plain yogurt. (I like 2% the best but they are all good depending on any dietary considerations.)

1 Tbsp of chia seeds. I stir and let sit for 5 – 10 minutes.

Top with a couple tablespoons of walnut pieces (Full of all kinds of good things for you: polyunsaturated fat, antioxidants and Omega 3’s)

And 3-4 berries. (I like to crush 3 blackberries with a spoon to stir them through the mixture.  


Sherri also writes:


"When I am out of berries, I have used an all fruit spread, which tastes delicious too. Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries would be fine too but I think the crushed blackberries enhance it the most.

 

I’ve had this nearly every morning for about three years and I am addicted to it. It is so easy – I don’t have to think what will I eat?   And it's probably more nutritious than anything to start the day.

 

The chia seeds and walnuts I buy on Amazon in the 2-lb packaging and are staples in my refrigerator. A small container of blackberries at 3 per morning will last a week. The yogurt I buy most every time I go to the grocery. I like the taste and texture of Fage Greek the best and its sugar content is the best I’ve seen."


~~~~~


When I told Sherri I'd give her a shout-out on my blog, she offered a discount coupon at her eBay store: https://www.ebay.com/str/myagelessbest


She's created a coupon code just for my readers for 20% off.   The coupon code is FieldLilies which can be entered at check out.  I will say, there are several items there, if I was their size I would have snapped them up already.  Sherri encourages you to follow the store as items get added every day.  


I want to be clear...  I do not get any kick-backs from the links here.  Just sharing the info!


While I have no experience with these products, I'll include a mention that Sherri also sells "innovative whole body health products" at https://myagelessbest.com, and in addition to eBay, she sells preowned clothing collections on Mercari and Poshmark under the username MyAgelessBest.  


A busy and beautiful gal, my sister is.  :)  Thank you, Sherri!


Actually, both of my sisters are busy and beautiful gals...


Thank you, Dear Reader, for hanging out with me again.




Monday, July 4, 2022

Sugar fasting...

A couple posts back I mentioned breaking a months-long sugar fast with a cherry cobbler made from cherries I'd picked from our own cherry tree ('cuz if there's a reason to break a sugar fast, making something from cherries from your own tree tops the list).  I was asked by one commenter if I had any advice to share about doing a sugar fast.  Turns out I have far more thoughts on the subject than Blogger would allow me to leave in a comment, so I decided to turn a response to the question into a post.

To minimize frustration I'm letting readers know first up that I'm turning comments off for this post.   While I love comments, and I like to respond to comments, I really don't enjoy engaging in conversations about diets, and what constitutes healthy eating.  I tend to find such conversations overwhelming (especially, if people are passionate) and sometimes downright tedious.  By turning off comments I'm also eliminating the opportunity for unwelcome advice.  And, hopefully, by letting you know up front you can't leave a comment, you'll read more freely knowing you don't have to spend time forming your thoughts for a response to something I've written.  If you feel compelled to correct, or add to something I've written, or even just tell me you found this post helpful, you can send me an e-mail through my profile.   But don't feel like you have to.  To be honest, I may or may not respond to an e-mail - for the same reasons I don't want to spend time responding to comments on this topic. :)

First off, let me say that I am no expert on the subject of fasting, let alone sugar fasting, but I've done this a few times now and I definitely have some helpful-to-me things I'm happy to share that I've only heard from very few sources.  Some of the things I've found helpful are not the most intuitive, and at least one thing is the exact opposite of what has become "common wisdom".   Curious?   If things I've learned or found to be helpful can help someone else, then I'm glad to share.

I was asked why I did a sugar fast, and the answer is simply that I periodically do a sugar fast (and diet soda fast, for that matter) purely for the sake of disciplining myself to get some control over an area that is out of control.  While some people lose weight with a sugar fast, I can't say that I ever have.  That's not to discourage you.  I just don't make losing weight part of the goal.  Conquering the addiction was the goal - and a sugar fast is a great way to do that.  

I want to say, too, that this time around I only fasted from what I call "overt sugars".  Desserts, candies, cookies, cakes...  sweet treats.  Sometimes I include all unrefined carbs such a fast, but this time I didn't.  That said, I noticed that I almost automatically avoided some things like pasta this time without outright declaring them part of the fast.  In fact, an interesting thing I've found is that periodically doing sugar fasts is that over time this practice has created an awareness of how often added sugar shows up in food, and I become more attuned to how refined carbs convert to sugar in our bodies, and how they affect me, personally.  Because of these things, it shouldn't be surprising that even when I'm not totally re-fined-carb-fasting when sugar-fasting, I eat fewer unrefined carbs in general during a sugar fast. 

A program where I learned much of what is below is based on cognitive behavior theory.  Though, in my estimation, it's mostly common sense.  The particular program I used was available years ago through my husband's work (it was part of an incentive program that was tied to the cost of insurance), AND it does not seem to be available at this time. I don't want to name it because I've seen that other programs have labeled themselves similarly and I don't want to lead someone to one of those.  They are not this.  That said, I suspect that some other, possibly well-known programs that exist today do use similar tools and techniques.  I'm just not personally acquainted with them.

While some of what I've written below may seem counter-intuitive, or go against the grain of common wisdom, if you're wired like me, some of these things will immediately resonate with you.  Some may not, but even if you doubt the effectiveness of any of the suggestions below, you have absolutely nothing to lose by trying them.  To be clear, some of the ideas below are simply what I do - in other words, they weren't learned as a part of a program.  As always, your mileage may vary.

Here we go... 

  • Getting ready to fast from sugar I think it's really helpful to try to understand why sugar has such a negative impact on our health and why it is so addictive.  I suggest watching some YouTube videos on the topic of sugar as a cause of inflammation (for starters).  Search out documentaries on sugar (on whatever streaming service you may use) and you'll likely find several. 

  • I believe pushing through sugar cravings is harder psychologically than it is physically, though I wouldn't deny some people suffer some short-term physical side effects of giving up addictive substances like sugar.  In the end, any physical side effects will only be uncomfortable, they will not harm you.
  
  • Once I make the decision to do a sugar fast, I set a period of time (usually a month or 40 days) that I will commit to it.  Interestingly, I've never done this and not gone well beyond the time frame I committed to.  Usually, once I've gone that far, I don't want to break the fast.  

  • I learned some years back to never tell myself lies about food.  For example, I don't tell myself or others, "I cannot have sugar" or that I can't eat this or that.  I don't make any negative statements to myself about any of this.  Not only is it unhelpful to put a negative twist on abstaining from things that are unhealthy, but the negativity typically contains lies.  The truth is, I can eat sugar (or sweets) anytime I want.  When I have the desire to eat sweets, I say something like this to myself:  "I'd like/love to eat [whatever it is], but I am choosing to be healthy instead (or in this moment)."  A statement like that takes the power away from the food (and from my addiction) and gives it squarely back to me.  I am in control of the moment, instead of feeling deprived and weak.  Note that I say this to myself.  I do not say this to other people - for various reasons (see next point). 

  • This next thing is probably my biggest tool when sugar fasting:  I don't (usually) tell anyone that I'm doing this while I'm doing it.  That itself is a motivator for me.  I know the "common wisdom" says to bring people on board with your plan, or that being accountable to someone else aids a person in sticking to a goal like this, but I have learned over the years that this isn't necessarily true.  I've also experienced, in many ways, other people subtly (though probably not intentionally) sabotage my efforts.  While some may balk at this piece of advice of keeping this a secret, I suggest trying it.  You might be surprised.  And it certainly can't hurt anything. I find the longer I can go without mentioning that I'm abstaining from sugar, the stronger my will grows.  It almost becomes like a game of "how long can I keep this going?"

  • Of course, if you're living with anyone, eventually, your people will catch on, but I have found I can carry on with this sugar fast for quite a while - sometimes couple of weeks before it becomes obvious.  Even at that point and beyond, I try to go about my business quietly abstaining from sugar.  As best as I can, I try not to bring the subject up. As the main shopper of groceries, I do not buy sweet stuff during a sugar fast so that hopefully minimizes how often the topic will come up, or how noticeable it is that I'm abstaining.  In my case, if Hub brings up that he'd really like a particular sweet thing, I acknowledge the statement with a nod and maybe an affirming sound, but I don't engage in conversation about it.  If pressed, I will say something simple like "I'd like that too, but I'm trying to not buy sweets right now."  Or I remind Hub that he can buy it if he'd like. 
 
  • I can see how this may feel trickier with kids, especially if desserts are a matter of course in your house.  Hub grew up with regular desserts, I did not.  I, instead, grew up with a small grocery store next door, and a drug store a block away that I could run to every time I had enough change in my pocket to buy some candy.  I quickly learned to like Hub's family's way of a dessert with pretty much every meal, but knowing it wasn't a good idea, I would have periods where I went back to my upbringing, and only offered a dessert on occasion.   When I had kids at home, and I was suddenly not buying things they were used to seeing in the house, I would be more direct with them, recognizing a teaching moment, and that I was influencing them and their future.   I wish I had done this type of thing more when they were young, but I've noticed each of my sons periodically go on different "fasts" and overall, they seem healthier than I was at their age, so maybe I did something right.

  • I also resist the urge to offer explanations or apologies for taking a pass on dessert when I'm dining with others.  I just say a nice (as opposed to a pained) "no thank you", or nothing at all if a thank you isn't required.  It took me ages to realize no one owes anyone an explanation about such things.  A polite person wouldn't go on about something served them that they hated.  I've come to see that it's just as polite to not go on about passing up something I'd love to have, but am choosing not to eat.  I let others enjoy their dessert, while I enjoy my little secret, knowing I'll be happier with myself later for it.  

  • I don't substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar during a sugar fast.  Aside from some questionable health risks of some artificial sweeteners (admits she who loves ice cold Diet Pepsi), the reason I don't substitute artificial sweeteners when I'm on a sugar fast is because that would negate what I'm trying to do - to discipline (or train) myself to not crave sweets.  Substituting artificial sweeteners during a sugar fast just continues the desire and addiction to sweet stuffs.  Not to mention there are some seriously uncomfortable side effects when overdoing some artificial sweeteners.  

  • Once I've gone a week or so, I start to feel so good about not having eaten sugar for THAT long, not breaking the track record becomes the motivation to continue.

  • Another (very nonintuitive to me) thing I've learned is to build resistance by allowing myself to contemplate eating a sugar-ladened thing and create a momentary craving - actively practicing this for a week or two early in the fast.  In fact, when I do this I buy myself a single-serving sized sweet treat (like a bag of Peanut M&Ms).  For several days (or for as long as it helps), a few times throughout a day I pick up the bag, stare it down, feel the crave (create a crave even), then say, "I'd really want to eat this, but I am going to choose health."  In doing this, I've learned I can experience a craving and not give into it.  I've learned a craving is not nearly as fearsome a thing as I think it is.  If we learn that we can feel uncomfortable for a moment, the moment will pass. 
 
  • This point goes along with the point above, but it is so important I decided to separate it out so it doesn't get missed.   In the moment of the craving, I do not replace or try to pacify the craving with a healthier snack.  In that moment, substituting something else for the unhealthy thing doesn't build resistance, it feeds (or attempts to feed) the craving.  And as we all know, the craving is never really satisfied - either by giving into it, or by substituting something else.  It is really important to understand that feeling the crave and realizing I don't have to give into it is what builds resistance.

  • I try not to snack - especially in the early days of sugar fasting, but I do try to add healthier food options to my days.  I try to eat more nuts, and proteins.  I fill my plate with more healthy veggies.  And I have learned that eating my salad (or saving some to eat) at the end of the meal instead of at the beginning or alongside whatever else is my meal, often leaves me feeling more satisfied. 

  • While I try not to snack during this time where I'm disciplining myself regarding sugar cravings, let me say that the first year of COVID seriously altered our way of eating - I think for good.  Hub and I tend to only eat two meals a day anymore.  Many days that is plenty of food, but some days, especially lately when we've been more active outside, we do get hungry between those two meals, so we'll grab something easy to eat mid-day.  In a sense, these are snacks, but I try to keep nuts, and easy proteins for eating when true hunger strikes and I'm not wanting to make a meal.  Easy proteins for me are nuts, cheese, sometimes canned meat, even a bowl of cereal that has nuts in it (I really like Great Grains Crunchy Pecan).  Or I'll eat a leftover protein from a prior meal.

Of course, we all know to drink plenty of water and to exercise.  And hopefully, the real goal is to eat better overall.   It's great to have a hobby or an activity to do to keep oneself busy and distracted from rummaging through the fridge and pantry out of sheer boredom.  The above points don't make up an exhaustive list of things I do when I attempt to reign in addictions to unhealthy foods, but these things have been most helpful to me.  

I know the struggle is real and I hope I've provided some encouragement with these things that have been my greatest helps.  Giving this topic this much time makes me consider that I might start posting some recipes I enjoy that are also (relatively) healthy.  And I'll try to remember to post new food-related things that I have a mind to try (as I try them).

If you hung around to the end of this long post, thank you!  I will back soon with comments turned on.  

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