Purple Soup

Yep, that’s right. I made purple soup last night. I’ve been on this soup kick since the weather started getting cooler. While Pinning soup recipes, I randomly saw this amazing photo on Pinterest of a mysterious purple soup. Of course the link only brought me to a food photography website – there was no recipe. So I Googled purple soup and pulled my usual recipe twist where I look at a couple of different recipes for the same thing, take out all the weirdo ingredients (or stuff I don’t like) and make up a slightly new recipe that’s all my own.

Viola! I made Borscht, a Russian peasant soup made from cabbage and beets. Sounds yucky, but I’ve had Borscht in a few different Russian restaurants in San Francisco and it’s good. Although, I don’t remember any of the bowls I ate being purple. Guess that’s where the red cabbage comes into play. I’m not a big fan of beets, but I noticed that when I make soups that get blended at the end of the recipe, my kids eat it up. Vegetables and all. So I’m experimenting with what kind of vegetables I can get into their healthy little bodies.

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Purple Soup in a red bowl.

As you can see, I’ll never make a living as a food photographer. In fact, they might pay me not to take pictures of food. It’s hard to see the purple color since I only have red bowls in my house, but you get the picture. So, do you think my kids ate it?

No way! It was absolutely horrible! Gah! I spit my spoonful right out of my mouth. In 8 years of marriage, this is the first meal that my husband wouldn’t eat. Even when he doesn’t like something very much, he’ll still eat it, but not this time! I got a, “I’m sorry, honey. I know you worked hard on this.” Then he got up and heated up some leftovers. Caylie tried a spoonful and then laughed while she pushed the bowl away from her. Chase said, “Yummy in my tummy; it’s delicious mommy.” When I asked him if he wanted more he said, “No thank you, I’ll have some peanut butter.” Peanut butter sounds good, kid. Sounds really good!

And here I was, all excited to post my first foodie blog, recipe and all. I’ll spare you. Don’t eat purple soup.

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My Whole 30 Update

weight loss-1Last Monday, I started the Whole 30 Challenge to try to lose some weight and change my life. Because that’s what the program claims will happen. Well, I’ll give them that. It definitely changed my life. It left me miserable, hungry and feeling bad about myself. I kept a journal, so you can see what I was feeling each day:

Day One:

Black coffee is gross! By 1 p.m. I had a massive headache. I am feeling depressed and more anxious than normal. I had to lie down for a while by 3 p.m. Mike said I was quiet and subdued; he could tell I wasn’t myself. By the end of the night, my hands had tremors.

Day Two:

I’m very sluggish today. My head is still aching, although not quite as bad as yesterday. My muscles are stiff, especially in my neck and upper back and I had a really hard time waking up this morning. I feel like I could have slept all day today. I’m depressed. I couldn’t bring myself to eat the pork tenderloin I made for dinner. The thought of eating it repulsed me.

Day Three:

I’m still tired, but my headache is lessening. I have no interest in doing anything other than reading a book. 2 hours after my dinner, my stomach felt hollow and I was hungry again. Nothing I eat is satisfying.

Day Four:

My headache was gone and I felt like I had some energy this morning. But by dinnertime I had a pounding headache, felt weak and when I tried to eat the dinner I made I almost threw up. The taste of the meat turned my stomach. I could smell the corn tortilla chips I had given to the kids to eat with my mexi-beef dinner and the desire to eat a friggin white-corn tortilla chip was so strong that I had to leave the table. I spent the rest of the night in a funk – depressed because I would rather starve myself than eat the foods I’m allowed to have. The taste of them is unsatisfying and oftentimes unappetizing.

Day Five:

I woke up with a pounding, head-swelling headache. I didn’t have any desire to get out of bed. I was out of spinach for my morning smoothie and the thought of eating eggs made me sick. So I ate oatmeal and spent the rest of the morning feeling guilty for cheating and feeling like a failure. But my headache is gone. The chicken salad I made for lunch turned my stomach and I literally ended up spitting out what I was chewing because it made me sick. Mike came home and told me he couldn’t stand to see me “this way” and announced that we were going out to dinner. I ordered what I was craving, and by the time we were driving home, I was finally feeling more like my old self.

Yep, that’s it. I made it five whole days. Way to go, Tamara, for completing the Whole 5 Challenge! Yay! But really, I learned some things about myself in those five, long, horrible days:

  1. I have a relationship with food in which food brings me comfort. I wasn’t able to get that comfort this week, making me depressed and miserable.
  2. I really, truly dislike black coffee. If I could never have my non-dairy creamer again, I would give up drinking coffee.
  3. Without any kind of sauces or starches on the side, I don’t like meat. Guess I’m a closet vegetarian who hates vegetables. Who knew? I sure didn’t!
  4. I would rather be comfortably overweight and happy than be thinner and miserable.
  5. I need to learn to love myself the way I am.

And there you have it. My Whole 30 update is complete. From here on out, the only thing I will keep doing is avoiding sugar. I’m not going to make myself crazy, but I think I can handle not adding sugar to anything and not eating anything that has corn syrup in it (which I was already doing).

What kind of relationship do you have with food? What do you get out of eating other than nourishment?

The Berserker Tear-Jerker

I think I’m fighting a losing battle with the Whole 30. I’m really hating life right now and I’m only on day five. Twenty-five more days of starvation may help me drop some weight, but I don’t think its worth it. Although, if I give up so soon, I’ll feel like a failure and feel worse about myself. So the million dollar question is: do I feel bad about myself for giving up my super restrictive diet plan, or do I feel bad for the next month because I’m miserable eating food I hate and hungry (because I’d rather not eat than eat food I hate)?

Anyhoo, now that I’m done playing my tiny little violin of pity, let me get back to my Book Blogger Challenge.

Day Five: Recommend a tear-jerker.

I don’t like books that make me cry. I feel like I’ve cried enough in the last two years over things in my own life to last me a long, long time. So I don’t want my escape mechanism of reading to also make me cry. But I have read one whole tear-jerker this year that my book club (when I was still going) was reading. And I would definitely recommend it: “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan” by Lisa See.

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I have a hard time sometimes getting into books about different cultures. Not because I don’t think different cultures are interesting, but because I can’t relate. I get angry when cultural rules or mores abuse people and suppress their natural human rights. I feel thankful that, being a woman, I live in America in the present time.

I didn’t have a hard time getting into Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Probably because its about women and friendship. I think that topic might just be universal. The book is about two girls from different classes in 19th century China, one lower class, one upper class, who spend their lives building a friendship through the sharing of their emotions and thoughts. They send each other secret communications that they write on a silk fan. They find comfort in each other in a time where being a woman in China (two words: foot binding) had nothing comforting to offer.

The tear-jerker part, other than the misery of their lives, is that the women have a misunderstanding that could potentially destroy their friendship. The woman telling the story is the lower class girl, Lily, and as she is the one who damages this lifelong friendship, you really feel her heartbreak, guilt and regret as well as her love for her friend.

What I got out of it, other than the fierce desire to name a daughter Plum Blossom or Beautiful Moon, is that women need each other. We have these crazy close friendships with other women because they are essential to our emotional well-being. No one will ever truly understand what a woman is going through or has gone through like another woman. No one can prepare you for a life event like a woman who has already experienced it. Women just get what it means to be a woman. And we can support each other emotionally because of that.

Personally, the real tear-jerker part was that Snow Flower, who takes such joy from her children, keeps losing babies. She tries to communicate the anguish and despair, the life-altering sorrow of those losses to Lily, her closest friend, but Lily doesn’t understand. She hasn’t experienced it and she doesn’t know how to comfort Snow Flower. This made me bawl openly. I mean, I was crying tears the way a berserker would fight a battle. I wanted to smack the crap out of Lily because the things she said to Snow Flower to snap her out of this depression were stupid and mean. I wanted to comfort this poor fictional woman who was steeped in despair and self-loathing because I understood what she was feeling. I understand that loss. And it made me relive my own feelings about all of my lost babies. “Cry Me a River” you say, Justin Timberlake? Oh, I did. I most certainly did.

I may just go cry another one.

What’s the last book that made you cry?

A Sugar Withdrawal Coma Killed my Blog Post

Well, I dropped the ball yesterday. This Whole 30 thing is kicking my butt! I’ve spent the last 72 hours going through sugar withdrawal and with the way I felt, I thought for sure I was going to wake up this morning looking like Lindsay Lohan. No luck with that, but that’s cool because I like my botexless lips just the way they are.

Since I missed Day Three of my Book Blogger Challenge yesterday, I’ll do 3 & 4 today.

Day Three: Who are your blogging BFFS?

That would be Mary at Contrary Mom and Levi at LPStribling. Wow, that was too easy to answer. Guess you’re glad I was in a sugar withdrawal coma on my couch yesterday, don’t you? Because now you get to keep reading!

Day Four: What’s the last book you flung across the room?

That would be the final Sookie Stackhouse novel, “Dead Ever After” by Charlaine Harris. Although, I only mentally threw it across the room because I can’t bring myself to damage a book. And it was a library book, so I didn’t want to mess with public property. I did, however, let out an amazingly loud “What?!” and a disgusted snort that echoed throughout my quiet neighborhood (I had the front door open!) before I snapped the book shut and walked away.

I have to warn those of you who still haven’t read the book and plan to that the rest of this blog will be a spoiler alert, so stop now and come back later when you’ve wasted your time finally gotten around to reading it.

This book was the thirteenth book in a series that started in 2001. I had been eagerly awaiting the publishing release date of the last 2 books and would dedicate an entire day on the weekend to just sit down and read the newest book in one sitting. That’s how much I’ve enjoyed them. The twelve book was good, but the story line I was interested in (aka the LOVE stuff) wasn’t too prevalent and I was really hoping that would be what the final book touched on. Instead, what I got was, in my opinion, a half-assed story line that felt forced and rushed so that Ms. Harris could finish out her series and wash her hands of Sookie and her supernatural friends. I’ve spent years and 10, count them, TEN books investing myself in a fictitious romance between two specific characters and instead of getting any kind of closure or happily ever after, what did I get? A wishy-washy, emotionless breakup and a dive right into a new relationship bullshit fest that ended the book with no closure whatsoever. Frankly, the whole thing disgusts me. That book deserved to be thrown across the room! In fact, just reliving the feelings that finishing that book evoked, I feel like I need to go out and check it out of the library again just so I can throw it at a wall.

I may even have to write some fan fiction so I can finish the series the way I wanted it to be finished. The reader is always right, right? Or is that the customer? Either way, if I had actually purchased it, I would be both.

My Whole 30 Challenge

Ugh! Just typing that title makes me want to eat a bag of Jalapeño potato chips because I know that I’ll be feeling deprived of flavor for the next 30 days.

For those of you who have never heard of the Whole 30, I’ll try to break it down for you. It is a 30 day program in which I will be cutting out all “psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups.” This is supposed to give my body time to heal from any damage those food groups have caused and to reset my metabolism. The website outlining the program claims that if I follow the guidelines it will change my life.

For 30 days I will only be eating whole foods. That means meat, eggs, seafood, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds and good fats like olive oil. That’s it. What I won’t be eating for 30 days is sugar of any kind (honey, syrup, etc), dairy, grains, legumes, white potatoes, alcohol, MSG or sulfites (which are preservatives).

Why am I doing this? I’ve heard it can break a sugar addiction, which I most certainly have. I’m already gluten free so my grains have been limited. When I started paying attention to what I was eating, it was still the starchy food that I was reaching for over the veggies and protein. I don’t drink, so the alcohol won’t be a problem at all. I even think the dairy won’t be too tough to cut out. But white potato, any added sugar and legumes. Yeah, that’s going to get rough. The program claims it will change my life and change the way I think about food, so I think its worth the effort.

Why am I doing this now? I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while, but I kept putting it off and putting it off. It’s so restrictive! And I have a weekly grocery budget that I need to stay within. Adding potato and beans is a cheap way to fill out a meal when you don’t want to use too much meat. The biggest reason I decided to start this now is this: yesterday my 3 year-old son told me I was fat. Ouch. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words like that from my kid? It hurt me. I cried. And I realized that I can’t keep putting this off. I’m going to do it starting tomorrow.

I’m not going to blog about it every day, but every Monday I will post a weekly update. I’ll tell you how I’m feeling, what I’m eating and whatever else comes up while I’m detoxing from all those disruptive (but oh so yummy) food groups. Wish me luck!

Body Therapy

How much time do you think a woman spends thinking about her body? As a teenager, I know I used to obsess about it. As a single adult, I spent quite a bit of time lamenting it. When I was in the Navy, I spent many hours cursing it. If I could gather together every single minute that I’ve spent thinking about my body over the entirety of my life, I think I would have enough time to….

I don’t know what I’d do with that much time, actually. There are so many things that I wish I had time for. I’d write more. Learn photography. Learn another language. I’m thinking Spanish since its the second most widely spoken language in the world. And it might come in handy if the hubs ever moves me to San Diego. Maybe I’d take a cooking class where they teach me all those knife tricks. I want to be able to chop all my vegetables in seconds!

And maybe the last thing I’d do, if there was any time left, is exercise. Yep. For all the time I spend being unhappy with my body, all that time feeling disgusted or ashamed, I still hate to exercise.* Why is that? I can give myself all these excuses as to why, but I don’t think any of them are legitimate reasons. Part of it is that I have some anxiety attached to it (and I’m still trying to figure out why that is). Near the end of my time in the Navy, I was having panic attacks just thinking about group PT (Physical Training) and I only had to do it 3 mornings a week. But I’d think about it as I trudged up the hill at 4:30 in the morning to get to the field where we met. And I’d think about it the next day because I’d have to remember to set my alarm at night. I’d panic while I was running, doing calisthenics (although I never heard that term used) and even just going for a stroll if I was thinking of it as a workout.

Here I am, about 3 months out from a birthday that will get me even closer to 40, and I still have moments that I waste thinking about my body. When I was younger, I thought about losing weight for social reasons. Don’t we all think we’ll find love once we’re the perfect size?** But now that I’m middle aged (I shudder just to type that), I think about it more for health reasons. I’m not that old, but I feel like my body is slowly falling apart. And I wonder (more time wasted!!) if its because I’m overweight. I’d like to feel good physically. And I’d like to be a good physical example for my kids.

Today I’m having one of those “I’m disgusted with myself” days. No reason for it. Maybe its the heat making me feel like a hot air balloon or maybe its just part of my inner insanity coming out to reek havoc. Who knows. All I know is that I think I’m gonna go take a cold shower and feel guilty while I eat some ice cream.

*Since yoga is something that relaxes me, I don’t consider it real exercise. Even though it makes me sweat. Ugh!

**It’s a myth! Don’t believe your own lies.

How much time do you think you spend thinking about your body? Constantly? Only when trying on clothes? Not at all? (liar!)

The Gluten Free Family

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I know what you’re thinking, “Oh no, another one of those health food fanatics.” That is not what I am about at all. In July, I stopped eating gluten at the recommendation of my doctor to alleviate, of all things, arthritis pain. Yes, I’m 37 and already have arthritis. In fact, I found out 3 years ago that my knees and 3 discs in my back are arthritic. As I have spent the last few years discovering, arthritis can be almost unnoticeable, or it can cause unbearable pain. So, in the hopes of some pain relief, I started cutting gluten from my diet.

The idea of avoiding all wheat products was horrifying! The staple of the American diet is wheat. You know, those “amber waves of grain?” They are in EVERYTHING!! Or almost everything. And gluten free foodstuffs can be pricey. So no gluten free crackers or gluten free bread or gluten free cookies in my house because I just can’t afford them. Fortunately for me, the gluten free “craze” is pretty prevalent right now. There are tons of gluten free bloggers out there publishing their recipes for all to see. For a while, I was flying solo on the gluten free lifestyle, with the rest of my family just having a gluten free dinner. But soon, I started noticing some other positive changes in my health. My husband noticed too. He decided he would try it. Since eating foods without wheat can be a challenge that is exactly how it saw it – as a challenge he would rise to and triumph over.

Since my early 20s I have suffered from migraines. Turn-off-the-lights-and-sound-and-lay-as-still-as-you-possibly-can-or-you’ll-puke-from-the-pain migraines. I have also suffered from a flushing form of Rosacea, which I assume was inherited through my eastern European ancestry. It’s why I don’t drink alcohol, eat super spicy food, or do high intensity aerobic exercise in public. I turn a nice shade of beet red. I once signed up for a boot-camp workout class at the local gym and the instructor kept coming over and asking me if I was all right. The woman thought I was going to have a stroke because of my red face and ears and chest. I never went back. But as I’ve cruised along in my 30s, I have begun to notice a general ruddiness to my skin tone that I assumed couldn’t be helped. After a month of eating absolutely no products that contain wheat (or barley, rye and other grains containing gluten), my skin lost some of that ruddiness and looked clearer and younger. My headaches stopped. Not just the migraines, but also the general headaches I was getting here and there.

I started losing weight. My stomach stopped cramping after every meal. The canker sores that would randomly show up in my mouth healed and never returned. I started sleeping better. I wasn’t waking up tired. I had more energy during the day. My mood was elevated. My anxiety level, which had been at the on-the-edge-of-flipping-out level, went down. I felt rested, calm, happy, pain free, and even better looking.

Even after Mike and I were completely gluten free, I wasn’t as strict with the kids’ diet. I still served up the occasional fish sticks or chicken nugget meal for lunch. After a few months like this, my daughter asked for Mac & cheese for lunch. I happened to have a box in the pantry and cooked it up for the kids’ lunch that day. Both of my kids ate less than their normal serving of the pasta and went off to play. 30 minutes later, Caylie was crying that her stomach hurt. Chase told me his tummy hurt as I put him down for his nap. Bye, bye gluten.

Caylie’s pre-school teacher started commenting about how great she was suddenly doing at school. We had been struggling with some focusing issues during group learning time, but suddenly Caylie was at the top of her game. All my worries about a possible ADD diagnosis were over. Her behavior started to improve at home. Her sleeping regulated. Halleluiah! (Although, I should point out that we had also taken Caylie to see a pediatric sleep specialist and were implementing other changes with sleep as well.)

If you think I’m imagining all these great health changes, let me tell you, I started eating some gluten again around the holidays and everything in my body went to hell! Migraines, red skin, stomach cramps, joint pain, canker sores, restless nights, exhaustion, anxiety, depression, you name it, I was suffering from it. Back to gluten free and I’m feeling much better.

My hobby nowadays is Pinning recipes on Pinterest. I’m so addicted to Pinterest! My latest favorite is finding gluten free lunch box ideas for when Caylie starts kindergarten in the fall. We’ve already tried some out and they went over well. Mike lost 15 pounds and said he feels so good he is never eating wheat again. I have to agree. And the meals I’ve been making are tasty too. It’s a win for the Noyer family!

So now you know what I’ve been doing for the last 6 months. Do you think you could give up wheat? It’s not as hard as it seems.