Archive for ‘Tips’

July 31, 2019

Forty Ounce Rosé Plus Gluten-Free Breton Original Crackers

40Forty Ounce Rosé plus gluten-free Breton® Crackers feels like a representative combination for happy hour in my gentrifying neighborhood. About thirteen years ago, I moved into a four-block neutral zone between the Crips and the Bloods located in the historic neighborhood that houses my state’s governor’s mansion. Forty-ounce bottles of malt liquor or beer could be purchased a block away. A decent bottle of wine and upscale crackers required driving several miles.

After 30 years of “getting better” (but not really), the neighborhood has begun to change. I haven’t had a break-in or drive-by shooting at my home in about three years. Many young couples with small children live nearby. It’s only a few blocks to new green-built urban farmhouses and shipping container homes. A distillery and craft-beer maker have relocated within walking distance. We have a farmer’s market, performance venue, restaurants, two bakeries, a creamery, local retail, and a museum.

Many of my neighbors sit on the front porch in the evening. There’s almost always a light breeze. A generous pour of chilled Forty Ounce Rosé in my glass makes for a refreshing accompaniment to relaxing on the porch.

Forty Ounce Rosé is a French wine that is handmade using traditional sustainable farming and vinification methods. It includes a blend of grapes from Muscadet and Touraine:53% Gamay, 33% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 4% Pineau d’Aunis and contains 12.5% alcohol. The amusing bottle holds 33.82 fluid ounces (a liter) rather than an actual forty ounces.

I often find rosé either too sweet or too tart. I like a balance somewhere in between. I don’t expect the fullness of a red, but I want some body to the wine. Forty Ounce Rosé fills the bill.

Rosés have been back in vogue for a few years, but in my city it can still be a struggle to find a satisfactory bottle. My friends and I recently resorted to having the liquor store order a case of Forty Ounce that we can split. Perhaps if we order often enough, they’ll opt to stock it on the shelf.
breton
Eventually, we get hungry while sitting on the porch. This week I decided to add Breton Original gluten-free crackers to my snack choices. I must confess, it’s been so long since I’ve had the original crackers containing gluten, I can’t remember what they taste like so I can’t give you that comparison. I’ll just have to describe my current experience.

The initial taste is slightly sweet and not unpleasant. The texture is not crisp and crunchy like Schär Table Crackers or crisp then somewhat flaky like Glutino Premium Rounds. These are softer with a texture similar to that of a graham cracker. At the end of the bite, there’s an aftertaste I don’t like. I’m not sure if it comes from the flax seeds or added flavoring.

I tried these crackers alongside chicken salad and tuna salad. This is not the cracker I would choose for either in the future. Perhaps I would serve Breton Original gluten-free crackers with a soft cheese.

It’s possible herbed chévre would mitigate the aftertaste. A smear of cream cheese topped with apricot jelly or olives might also work. Overall, I see these as a specialty cracker, not one to keep on hand.

In addition to snacks, porch sitting is often filled with fanciful contemplation. I’m sure the world’s problems have been solved several times over on porch stoops. Perhaps if conference rooms were filled with rustling leaves, beautiful blooms, a pleasant breeze, warbling birds, diverse and cordial neighbors in comfortable clothes, and plenty of wine meetings would inspire change and improvement in our institutions.

At least we know we can inspire change from our porches with Forty Ounce Rosé and Breton crackers in hand.

http://www.fortyouncewines.com/#wines

http://www.fortyouncewines.com/#wines/rosé

https://www.darefoods.com/ca_en/brand/breton/1

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/well-preserved/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

June 18, 2019

Five Ways to Cope When Life Feels Like it’s Always About Someone Else

Here are five ways to cope when life feels like it’s always about someone else. If you are an attentive, involved caregiver you know how difficult it can be to prioritize yourself. There’s often no time and energy remaining once you’ve taken care of feeding, bathing, dressing, medications, recreation, transportation and cleaning required to provide for an ill or disabled relative. On top of that, you may be responsible for paying bills and taking care of other children. You may also have a job.

I feel overwhelmed just typing that list. And I feel tired this morning in spite of 9 hours of sleep. Yesterday, I kept my medically fragile granddaughter who had been throwing up everything, including meds, for two days. It is a draining experience. And that’s the reason I offered to keep her. Her parents and brother needed a break!
sleep
For those of you who have never been a caregiver, it’s easy to assume that being organized, prepared, and energetic will be sufficient to handle the job without undue strain. It helps. Having sufficient financial resources along with family and social support lessen the impact. But until you’ve done the job, there’s no way to understand the toll it can take.

Data say a large majority of caregivers report adverse effects to daily routines of sleep, eating, and exercise. They also report a significant negative impact on social and recreational life. A majority also report often neglecting their own health during caregiving. Even if you view caregiving as rewarding, this eventually affects your quality of life.

I recently ran into a nurse who works in the hospital unit my granddaughter frequents. She told me how much she LOVES my family. She’s so impressed that my son & daughter-in-law still have jobs and lives. She said that most parents with similar children quit their jobs.

Of course that’s an anecdotal assessment, but it’s telling. At a certain level, caregiving can require you to limit your hours, change the level of job you hold, or stop working altogether. That not only affects income, it can lessen your social connections.

Nurture Supportive Friendships

When I look back at the years I owned my previous business, I see lots of inclusion in birthday drinks, holiday parties, family weddings, and funeral visitations. I also see how much effort I put into maintaining the connections that led to that inclusion. Once I had less time to “market” myself, many of those invitations ceased.

The following year when circumstances demanded I begin caregiving, an additional level of friends fell away. Now, I have a core group of friends who understand that I must often say no. They don’t take it personally. They endure my initial nonstop talking the days I haven’t spoken to anyone besides children in weeks. They are patient when nothing seems funny to me.

I am grateful for these friends. I’ve known most of them for more than 15 years. Some I’ve known for 30. If I had not already had an established set of friends, it would have taken a great deal of deliberate effort to cultivate them once caregiving began.

Allow Yourself to Receive

One of the best ways to cope when all of the focus in your household is on someone else, is to allow yourself to receive. Of course, that requires someone to give. It is often friends who are willing to lend a hand with cooking, shopping, or other errand running. Don’t hesitate to ask or to say yes when they offer.

If offers of help aren’t sincere, you’ll learn that quickly. You’ll also learn that many are. I recently had a friend research the availability of Quick Dams online while I wet vacuumed water from my flooding office building. That was one less task I had to do that night.

Hire a Service

When friends run shorter than finances, a service can help with care. After my mother suffered a stroke and no longer met the criteria for rehab, my stepfather took her home. He had been very impatient with the staff at rehab and frequently let them (and us) know that believed he could do a better job of caring for her, keeping her bed clean, and getting her to eat than they had.

My sister and I arrived at the end of her first week home. One look and it was clear that NewDaddy could not handle another day without assistance. He had grossly underestimated the care required to deal with her impairment.My sister and I lived hours away, so I hired a service that would do household chores, dispense meds, and eventually provide hospice care.

The emotional drain of caregiving can be exhausting. The roller coaster of hospitalization, code blue, ventilator, return to baseline, stable period, minor illness, rapid decline, and hospitalization in the medically fragile is traumatic for both patient and family. It becomes difficult to relax and renew between medical events because the natural reflex is to remain braced for the next escalation. Often the stable period does not last long enough to process through the most recent past trauma making the effects cumulative.
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Make Time for Grieving

With dementia, stroke, traumatic brain injury, down syndrome or cerebral palsy comes a sense of loss that must be grieved. Grief requires stillness which requires time away from tasks including those of self-care like cooking. Unfortunately, church groups, civic clubs, book clubs, and informal groups of friends who happily provide meals and household support when someone dies do not recognize the prolonged grief of slow decline with the same kind of assistance.

Healthy caregivers may set good boundaries, make sure to add an hour of sleep or a nap, eat well, and continue to work out and still end up hitting the wall. It happened to me in 2018 and it came as a shock. I have always been able to work long and hard and still find the energy to play. I had no idea how much energy it takes process grief and trauma.

When you begin to notice life is never about you, it may feel selfish to sleep an additional two hours per night. It can also make you feel old, unfun, and unattractive. But catching up may not be a matter of sleeping-in one weekend. It can take months of added sleep to get ahead when you’re a caregiver.

Change What You Can

I now begin to say no much sooner–before I get too tired. I pay more attention to subtle body signals. And I work less. Since I am my own boss, my work schedule is something I can change.

While maintaining connections is important, I no longer choose to give my time to people who make things more difficult. I feel much less distress over the relationship shifts this causes than I do accommodating friends and relatives who regularly create interactions that are convoluted, vague, chaotic, argumentative, unnecessarily complicated, manipulative, inconsiderate or filled with turmoil. Any offer of “help” from these parties is not helpful and therefore declined. Ditto for those who have proven repeatedly unreliable.

Finding the time, resources, and energy to plan an actual vacation has been difficult the past couple of years. I’ve made plenty of trips, but they haven’t exactly included recreation and relaxation. I can reframe how I view days off and vacations and I can certainly give up feeling bad about relaxing when my to-do list remains long.

The Sum Total is Self-Kindness

Big change begins with small changes. When you deliberately practice self-kindness it eventually becomes habit. And practicing self-kindness is really the best way I can think of to cope with any difficulty in life!

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2791523/?ncid=edlinkushpmg00000313

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5453737/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5453737/table/TAB2/?report=objectonly

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4924075/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/least-feel-like-party-need-one/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/id-tell-you-but-then-id-have-to/

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June 3, 2019

Ice Cold Non-Dairy Treats for Summer

The temperature outside has hit the 90-degree mark and it’s time for ice cold non-dairy treats! Last summer I could still consume ice cream as long as it was gluten-free. This summer, I need a non-dairy treat.

When ordering my groceries last week, I discovered avocado based non-dairy frozen desserts. It was a clicking accident but I decided to try the Deep Dark Chocolate nonetheless. The flavor was rich chocolate. There was no hint of avocado taste, and the avocado base created a creamy texture that made it seem very much like ice cream. I wouldn’t want to eat a whole meal of it, but I enjoyed the creamy denseness.
ice cold
Cado’s seven dessert flavors contain only 12 grams of sugar and 170 calories per serving. These pints are plant-based, vegan, and soy free but contain guar gum and gum acacia. I’m curious whether a lighter flavor would let a bit of avocado flavor come through. I think I’ll try Simply Lemon in order to find out.

I like Talenti® Alphonso Mango Sorbetto. The primary ingredient is Mango and a 2/3 cup serving has 160 calories. It’s a sweet treat so it contains sugar. It also has 2 grams of fiber. The only thing I’m not really fond of is the addition of Carob Bean Gum.

Alphonso Mango Sorbetto is not the only dairy-free flavor from Talenti. There’s Roman Raspberry, Peanut Butter Fudge, and Cold Brew Coffee. The raspberry is just as appealing as the mango, but harder to find locally. I haven’t tried the other two.

If you eat dairy, Talenti offers a wide range of gelato flavors. Many are gluten-free and can be found under a gluten-free tab on the Talenti website. These include Organic Ginger Matcha, Peppermint Bark, and Vanilla Chai.

When I want something on a stick, I reach for Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss® Organic Dark Chocolate Bars. I think I’ve mentioned these before. I often keep a box in the freezer. One melt-in-your-mouth bar has 140 calories. I like both the flavor and texture of these treats made from coconut milk, agave syrup, cocoa, and vanilla extract. Difficult to avoid in frozen treats, the coconut milk contains guar gum as a filler.

All Coconut Bliss flavors are certified gluten-free — even the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Some flavors come bars. Others are in pint cartons. A 2/3 cup serving of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough has 330 calories. The Ginger Cookie + Caramel has 330 calories per serving and the Sweet Cherry Amaretto 260. Unfortunately,

There are other non-dairy frozen desserts available. Steve’s Ice Cream Burnt Sugar Vanilla sounds delicious, but it’s not sold in stores in my area. I’ll make it a point to seek some out when I’m traveling.

Ben & Jerry’s®, Halo Top®, So Delicious®, NadaMoo! and Snow Monkey also produce highly acclaimed dairy-free ice creams. I’ve tried a dairy version of Halo Top that would not make my short list, but the non-dairy version may stand out.

Of course, you don’t have to take my word for any of this. Is there really a downside in getting out there and trying LOTS of these yourself? I don’t think so.

Enjoy some for me too!

UPDATE:I tried the Cado Simply Lemon and Mint Chocolate Chip flavors. Neither is as pleasing as the Deep Dark Chocolate. After a bite or two, the Simply Lemon was too lemony. I feel this way about most products that include lemon oil. Lemon juice might have had enough flavor on its own. The mint chocolate chip was okay, but one bite did not leave me wanting another one.

https://www.talentigelato.com/products/alphonso-mango-2

https://www.talentigelato.com/product-category/dairy-free-sorbetto

https://coconutbliss.com/product-details/dark-chocolate-bars/

http://cadoicecream.com/

https://stevesicecream.com/index.html#WhereToBuy

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/my-five-feel-good-things-for-the-week/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/summer-ice-cream/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

May 14, 2019

Right Sized Relish Tray

Curb the food waste when you use these products to create a right sized relish tray! I recently cleaned out my refrigerator and threw away open jars of green olives, Kalamata olives, sweet pickles, and dill pickles. I hated to do it, but they had been open way too long. When you live alone, it’s easy to tire of something before it’s used up.

Many of my get-togethers are impromptu. I like to be able to reach in the cupboard and refrigerator and quickly assemble a relish tray. The problem with that is that many of these gatherings are just two or three people including me. A full-size jar of pickles, one of olives, and one of banana peppers is waaaay too much for 3 people especially when you add some carrot sticks & celery or nuts & fruit. The result is that jars get opened, but not emptied.

I’m always attempting to right size my purchases which requires constant reevaluation. Buying yogurt in single servings is not cost efficient because I can consume a larger container in a few days. Buying two peeled boiled eggs in a package also makes no sense because I use eggs often. I may as well buy a dozen and boil a few here & there. On the other hand, a half gallon of any kind of milk is way too much for me to consume before it spoils.
relish
Immediately following a refrigerator purge, I’m especially uneasy about refilling pantry space with things I just had to throw away. The other day, I was walking slowly by the pickles in Natural Grocers trying to decide whether or not to purchase anything when I happened upon a great solution. Sitting right in front of me were small packages of olives, gherkins, and marinated cauliflower!

The packaging bills these as snacks. Each resealable bag contains 3 to 4.5 servings without liquid which makes them great for snacking, but I immediately saw the potential for solving my relish tray waste problem! I love it when a solution is just a matter of paying attention!

The Gaea cauliflower and gherkin snacks are vegan, gluten-free, and contain nothing artificial. The cauliflower is marinated in extra virgin olive oil and lemon essential oil. The mini gherkins are marinated in extra virgin olive oil and vinegar enhanced by salt, garlic, and coriander. A serving of either one equals a half serving of vegetables and has 5 (gherkins) or 10 (cauliflower) calories.

All of that sounds good. How do they taste? I like the crunch of the cauliflower. It leaves a lemony aftertaste on the palate. The gherkins are teeny tiny and adorable. They are not the traditional sweet, crunchy gherkins you’re used to. The most prominent flavor is salt and the texture is less crisp. Both of these would benefit from a pairing with something to balance the saltiness.

The Mediterranean Organic olives are pitted, organic and non-GMO. A serving of green olives has 20 calories and is flavored with salt, parsley, basil, and thyme in addition to olive oil, sunflower oil, and white wine vinegar. The Kalamata olives have 40 calories per serving and are flavored with salt, red pepper, oregano, thyme, and cumin in addition to the same oils and vinegar.

Both olive selections are more traditional in taste, but have an oiliness not found in jarred olives. I don’t mind this so much because it keeps the olives feeling moist. It might be a bigger issue if I were eating these as a car snack. I’d have to be sure to have a napkin handy.

As far as packaging goes, I wasn’t very successful using the tear tab on the olives. I either ended up ripping the entire side of the package rendering it unsealable or I pulled so lightly that I had to use scissors just to get the thing open. The pull up tab on the Gaea packages was much easier to use.

If you prefer to have more flexibility, you can also choose PearlsR Olives to Go. Four individual serving cups per package allow you to customize the ratios of black pitted, pimento stuffed green, and pitted Kalamata olives on your relish tray. The flavor selections have recently expanded to include Sriracha, Taco, and Italian Herb infused ripe olives.

It’s been awhile since I’ve eaten Olives to Go and I’ve only tried the sliced black olives. The flavor was exactly like jarred olives, but they were drier. I don’t mean dried out, just drier. I have not tried the new infused flavors. The Olives to Go cups cannot be resealed, but they are easy to open.

Have I found a right size relish tray solution? I have made progress. Keeping the Gaea cauliflower and Mediterranean Organic Kalamata olives on hand gives me two good small serving choices. The Sriracha Olives to Go sound like something interesting to add as well. I like the idea of having a spicy choice on the tray.

At this point, I’ll probably stick with a sweet, crunchy gherkin. I may not use all of them in a reasonable amount of time, but at least I’ll have accomplished my goal of keeping relish tray ingredients on hand while reducing my food waste. I feel good about that.

https://www.mediterraneanorganic.com/med_organic_product_description?upc=81498500224

https://www.mediterraneanorganic.com/med_organic_product_description?upc=81498500225

https://www.olives.com/pearls/product-locator.php

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/haste-not-waste/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/whats-worth-preserving/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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