Tag Archives: vegetarian

How Cheesy Crack Sticks Can Keep You Employed

Sometimes just sometimes, my job can be a little, how shall I say this nicely, “challenging”. Whether it is dealing with a not so happy person over the phone or face to face, there are numerous times during the day when I want to bang my head against my desk to prove that 1.) this is real life 2.) I am actually awake, and 3.) to keep me from doing or saying something that will get me fired. Instead of one masochistic behavior, I choose another, snacking. Yes, snacking can and is good for you, if you choose the right snack. For me, cheesy crack sticks work for me.

Fruit, veggies, and nuts are all healthy and amazing snacks, which you should each by the way, but nothing makes me feel like I am floating in the clouds surrounded by rainbows and unicorns than a couple of soft pretzels, a bag of cheese puffs or a couple of fun sized Snickers bars. There have been days, today included, when I have brought healthy snacks with me to work, but will still go get a bag of cheesy crack sticks (cheese puffs) from the vending machine after a difficult phone call. I know that I should eat the tasty blood oranges from Trader Joe’s, but they don’t soothe the savage beast like the cheesy crack sticks do. Why is that? Seriously, why does crappy food make my feel all warm and fuzzy inside?

Cheesy-Crack-Sticks-Employed

The ultimate mood stabilizer

After some extensive research (Googling), I found scientific proof that cheesy crack sticks of goodness were in fact, responsible for my improved mood. According to a study by the University of Leuven in Belgium, people who were given a saline solution while listen to depressing music and viewing pictures of people with sad facial expressions became 4% more depressed, while those given a fatty solution under the same conditions where hardly affected.

Say what?!?! There is scientific proof that those cheesy crack sticks are a mood enhancer? The research shows that the improved mood is not only caused by the taste and feel of crappy food, but also a chemical reaction in our brains and tummies that make us snap back to Happy Land. Thank you Sweet Baby Jesus, for proving that I am not completely losing my mind in my assumption of the power of crappy food to mellow out the mind. While I won’t switch to a diet made up of only Butterscotch Krimpets, Soft Pretzels, and cheesy crack sticks, at least my anxiety can be put at ease knowing that these no-so-good for you foods are doing their job of stopping me from putting my head through a wall during normal business hours.

So when you are about to jump off the deep end at work and possible do something that will land you a meeting with the HR Department, back away from the ledge and go get a bag of chips, cookies, or a cupcake. You, your coworkers, and your employment status will be grateful for the decision. Me, I am going to raid the vending machine and stock up on cheesy crack sticks. One must always be prepared.

Later Days,

B

 

Frankie’s Being Evicted

You know that moment when you know you have made the right decision, all the parts are in place, everything is order, but you still feel like Alice when she goes thrown down the rabbit hole?

Frankie in his natural habitat

That is me, right now. At first I thought that my expanding tummy pooch was due the fact that I had fallen off the wagon with my clean eating and workout habits, but when I started to feel pressure in my stomach and my clothes no longer fit, I knew that Frankie was getting his revenge. It takes a lot for me to willingly schedule a doctor’s appointment and even more for my to call the “girly doctor” on my lunch break. I had a week before my appointment to wrap my head around the possibility that my doctor would tell me that I needed surgery. If you have weak constitutions, please for the Love of Pancakes and Chocolate Chip cookies do not google the terms, Fibroid removal and/or myomectomy. If you do, please don’t search images. You have been warned and I do not take any responsibility for your reaction.

I must admit, at the beginning of the appointment, my doctor was leaning towards renewing Frankie’s lease. But after being ultrasounded every way possible and examined, it was abundantly clear that Frankie was getting his eviction notice. I was surprisingly calm about the whole thing. I had done enough reading and video watching to know what I was in for. What I was not prepared for was my doctor informing me that there is chance I need vertical incision. Yeah, Frankie #1 and #2 (seems that one of my other fibroids decided to have a growth spurt as well) are so big and I am so small, that I need to sliced open.  And I just got a cute new Fendi bikini. There is a chance that this will change when I am splayed out on the operating table, but for right now, one piece swim suits and a Scar Away are in my future.

 

Damn you Frankie

Honestly, the hardest part of this entire process has not been telling people. That truly has been a piece of cake. My family and “circle of trust” have been absolutely amazing. I don’t know what I would do without them. Getting the phone calls, letters, and emails from the hospital have been the worst.It makes everything so real, like “yup, you are going to be under anesthesia, sliced open, crap removed from your uterus, stitched up like Frankenstein and sent on my merry way to spend Thanksgiving convalescing at my parent’s house. While I know that this is a necessary procedure which will improve my quality of life and chances of having kids one day in the very not so distant future. I just want to get everything over and done with. Just yank the bandaid off already and be done with it.

Another thing I am not looking forward to… 4-6 weeks of recovery. The most I have not worked out has been a week, but even then, I would walk at lunch and to and from the train station. What is a girl to do? I guess I can catch up on my knitting, reading, and Netflix binging. Bring it on!

Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end. Pre-Opp appointment with my doctor and pre-admission testing at the hospital, then one last weekend hoorah before the big slice and dice. Until then, it’s all happy thoughts of unicorns, rainbows, glitter, pixie dust, and blue skies up until S-Day (surgery day) and beyond. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you all in the loop about my surgery and recovery!

Later Days
B

3 Day Refresh – The Final Verdict

And there we have it folks! The 3 Day Refresh is in the books. I must say that my timing was good and not so good. Good that I finished right before my vacation. Why not so good? I had my last shake on the bus to NYC to start my vacation. Needless to say… I have no final weight. Whoops.

Besides weight lost, what has the 3-Day Refresh done for me? I has completely cut my carb and sweet craving. I can eat fruits and veggies all day every day and that is fine by me. I don’t even want to look at at piece of bread! And coming from me, that is saying a lot.
So who needs the 3-Day Refresh? Anyone who is looking to loose some weight quickly and in a healthy way. Anyone looking to get their digestion moving in the right direction (sorry had to go there). And anyone who wants to shake loose those pesky carb and/or sweet cravings, this is the program for you!

I did feel hungry at times, but not like I was about to past out like most cleanses. I think all of the liquid helped! And I’ not complaining. I have never felt this healthy, nutritionally in my life and I am going into vacation with the intention of not messing it up! The program is completely planned so it takes all (and I mean ALL) of the guess work out of what to eat, what to drink, and when. I loved this program and the results! Just take a look!

Yes that’s me and it took just three days of sticking to the plan.

Wanna know more about the 3 Day Refresh or get one for yourself? You can email me at bshart@gmail.com or like my Facebook fan page, Bianca – Just Bee You Fitness.
Now for some sun in the fun! Here’s to rum punch and fish cutter sandwiches. Everything in moderation folks.
Later Days
B

Refresh Day 1

Day 1 is in the books and I survived! It was a lot easier than I thought, even though I felt like I was smelling pizza and fries everywhere. Maybe that’s part of the detox process or just my detox process.

I will admit, I did feel a wee bit hungry between lunch and dinner. I already drank my water for the day (1 whole gallon) so I chewed on some gum for a little bit. That did the trick.
Let’s get one thing straight… there is no way to get dehydrated on the cleanse. You are drinking so much fluid. 8 oz of water in the morning, 8 oz of water with the fiber drink, 20 oz water for both meal shakes, on top of your daily water intake. I need to count how many calories I burn walking back and forth from the bathroom. LOL.
Unlike some cleanses, like Beachbody’s Ultimate Reset, which I am dying to try, you can workout. So T25 Cardio went down. Hop squats are not my jam… Cleanse and workout at the same time? Yes, please.
And…  I am eating, just in smaller portions and no meat, carbs, or dairy! No liquid cleanse here. Cucumber Tomato salad is the best thing ever!!!!  Or maybe the best think last night since it was the most solid food I had all day.
So there you have it. My Day 1 3-Day Refresh recap.
Short, sweet, and straight to the point!
Just like me!
Later Days.
B

Brunch Be Damned

Insert Drool Here…
In
a couple of weeks, I will be heading to, what seems like second home of Virginia to
visit my dear friends for the weekend. I am so looking forward to this wonderful
outing, especially the adult beverages and food. The food that I do eat.
Frankie has caused me to become someone who eats only fish, fruits, and
veggies. Still a work in progress, but I have significantly reduced my meat
intake. I’m not vegan, and I’m not vegetarian so I guess I’m FFV… We’ll go with
that. But this makes eating at restaurants a little tricky. Especially brunch.
Breakfast
has always been kind of an issue for me. See, eggs and I don’t get along at all.
I can eat eggs baked in cake, cookies, etc, but boiled, scrambled, fried, and
or in omelets sends my tummy into a tizzy. It’s not fun. Trust me. Before, I
would get pancakes or waffles and sausage for breakfast. Since meat is off my
menu, my breakfast choices have been diminished, which reduces my brunch
options even further. Sometimes a girl wants more that fruit and oatmeal, ok.
But
where there is a will, there is a way! There is nothing wrong with asking the
waiter to take something off of your food! I used to eat around things that I
didn’t like. Now, I ask them to take it off. It is so liberating! You are
eating at a restaurant, order what you want! It took me awhile to grasp this
concept for myself. I didn’t want to be that customer with the crazy order. But
now I am the “no egg, no cheese, dressing on the side” queen. My go-to Greek
salad: lettuce, onions, olives, tomatoes. That’s it. Order what you want so you
can eat with peace of mind.
And
yes, I have already scoped out the menu of our potential brunch spots and it
will be tricky, but I gotta eat something if there are bottomless mimosas!
Eat,
Drink, and order what you want!
Later Days

 

B

Death to Frankie

Well it finally happened. Someone asked me if I was pregnant… I chuckled and and said I had too much food at lunch, but it shook me. Did I really look pregnant? See for yourself…

Yeah…..

To be absolutely clear, I AM NOT PREGNANT! Please do not start any rumors people. This is all Frankie, the not so little bastard. And I was sucking my gut hard when I took the picture. It seems that as I get smaller, Frankie appears bigger. See what I am up against? It’s been about a month since I began my vigorous vitamin regiment to rid him from his happy home. However, he is putting up quite the fight as you can clearly see. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and it is obvious that it will take some time to win the war over Frankie. And I am prepared to fight.

Youtube and Pinterest can be extremely helpful and a great way to lose hours of your day scrolling and searching for everything under the sun. They are quite addictive. After a lot of clicking, watching, and reading, I did find some additional weapons of Frankie’s destruction.

I ran out and got a different brand of DIM (Women’s Way – the one suggested by shrunkfibroids.bolgspot.com) and red clover extract. A woman posted a Youtube video about how she shrunk her fibroids will red clover alone. Her stomach looked like mine and is now flat. I have nothing else to lose, what’s another 2 pills on top of the 9 I am already taking? Plus, my doctor added Vitamin D to the mix. Grand total….11. You would think swallowing pills would get easier, but no. It’s still a struggle. Especially if I am running late. And the two big horse pills that smell do not help. I think I have reached my pill quotient so that’s it for the oral supplements. This is in addition to becoming vegetarian. It’s a lot, but you see what I am up against right! I gotta bring out the big guns.

Another Youtube score.. castor oil packs. You basically take a washcloth soaked with castor oil, wrap it in plastic wrap (the pack), take the pack and place it over your uterus and warp your stomach in plastic wrap and then place a hot water bottle over the pack for 20 minutes to an hour. Haven’t tried this yet. Still have to get a hot water bottle and cloth, but I am intrigued. The castor oil to supposed to rid the body of toxins and breakdown the fibroid tissue, shrinking it. Again, Frankie ain’t getting any smaller, so why not give it a shot.

For now it’s loose fitting shirts and high waisted bathing suits to hid Frankie. Most websites say that for larger fibroids (Frankie is currently the size of a grapefruit – large), it will take 3 months to shrink.

Here’s hoping and praying that I win the war… Frankie is going down.

Later days
B

I Eat So I Don’t Pass Out

 

My sister cooks. She can spend hours making sauces from scratch,
complex stews, soups and other deliciousness. We won’t even go into the octopus salad
adventure, which included an actual octopus.
Julia Child I am not. Although I could
spend hours, and I have, watching her make aspics and coq au van; the only
reason I cook is to eat. And I only eat so I don’t get hangry or pass out. Pure
and simple.
The simpler the better. If it has more
than 3 ingredients or involves advanced
Culinary terminology, I will not make it. I won’t even read
through a recipe if the ingredients are complicated. Yeah, I have issues. And
just like my simple ingredient list, I have simple cooking techniques. Sautéed,
bake and microwave. Again pure and simple. So when I find a recipe that is easy
to make, tastes good, and I can eat for a week without getting tired of it, I feel like I have won the
lottery.
Case in point…. Bean salad. I had this two weeks ago at a pot luck
dinner and it was amazing. So amazing that I knew that I had to try it. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
I could not keep this stuff out of my mouth!! I honestly ate it
for 4 days straight and could not get enough off it. Only problem? I ran
out of tortilla chips and had to get more!
This is so easy to make that I even a kid can do it. And total
prep time… 7-8 minutes. Less than that if you are a fast chopper and have an electric
can opener.
 Want to know how to make it? Here ya go!
  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 2 cans of corn
  • 1 can of chick peas – rinsed. (need trick – rinse them in the can! Mind blown)
  • 3 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • Oregano, salt, and basil to taste
  • Dump contents of can into a big ass bowl. Add oregano, salt, and
    basil to taste. Mix well and refrigerate.
  • Eat

 

 That’s it.
I made another batch this week and added another can of chick
peas, garlic, and finely chopped (thanks to my Veggie Chop) red onion. My taste
buds are still singing and I have 6 Tupperware containers full. Oh and I
remembered to get another bag of chips!!
This is the perfect appetizer for a summer cookout or gathering.
Give it a try and let me know how it turns out!
Later Days!

 

B

Frankie on Fleek

Frankie (my fibroid) is on fleek. After a few weeks of eating meat
and not necessarily watching my diet, I started to notice that I was getting
fluffy in the mid-section, which tends to happen when one completely falls off
the diet wagon. But something wasn’t right. As soon as I ate something, my
stomach would become extremely bloated and start to hurt. I was waiting for
people to ask me when the baby was due.
No I am not pregnant.. I swear
And then it hit me. Or I hit it. Frankie was growing…
That alien thing on the left…. That’s Frankie!

It got to the point that I was seriously considering talking to my
doctor about surgery. Like cut this out of my now considering it. I reminded
myself that surgery was that absolute and final option for riding my uterus of
its unwanted inhabitant. Although Frankie is not causing any physical
discomfort; no matter how clean I eat, how hard I work out, or how much cardio
I do, my stomach will not get flat thanks to Frankie. Which is extremely
disheartening especially in prime swim suit season.

Therefore, Frankie must die.
I scoured the medical encyclopedia (Google) for natural fibroid remedies
and found a wonderfully helpful blog, shrunkfibroids.blogspot.com (how
appropritate). It is written by a woman who had fibroid surgery twice, only to
have them come back, so she decided to treat them naturally. With success. Her
battle plan, a vegetarian diet and vitamin supplement regime. Sounds simple
enough and since her fibroids shrunk, I figured why not give it a try. I have
nothing to lose. I quickly went to vitacost.com (the mecca of all things
natural) and filled my cart with my arsenal, most of which I had never heard of
before. And by the way, besides being extremely affordable (except for the $30 Whole Food vitamins), Vitacost constantly sends your promo codes for 10-12% off you next purchase or buy one Vitacost brand product, get one free. That’s how I scored a free bottle of DIM. Here’s my new vitamin regime and daily servings:
The Whole Food Vitamin (4 capsules daily)
Mangosteen Juice (1-2 ounces)
Decaf Green Tea Extract (1 daily)
DIM (1 daily)
Bragg’s Apple Cider vinegar (1 ounce in 6 ounces of water)
The weapons of Frankie’s destruction

My supplements were waiting for me when I got home, but I bought
the apple cider vinegar this weekend. And since Frankie isn’t getting any small
(yet), there is no time like the present to start my attack. So, as
recommended, I drank 1 ounce of vinegar with 6 ounces of water. A dirty martini
it is not. It is not good at all. Like gag me with a spoon disgusting. And warm water did not help. I’ll try it
tomorrow with some honey any let you know how that turns out. Maybe you get used to the taste…

So here we are. No meat, no dairy, a whole lot of vitamins, and apple cider vinegar.
Frankie is going down!
Later Days

 

B

6.2 Hemoglobin Count and Still Kicking

For those health care practitioners out there, you are probably screaming at me to run to the ER because I obviously have some internal bleeding. After some routine blood work as part of my physical, my doctor called me frantic, saying that he had been trying to reach me all weekend and feared that there was something seriously wrong with me because I was not answering the phone. Truth is, like most people, I don’t answer the phone if I don’t know the number. He then proceeded to tell me my hemoglobin level was 6.2, way below the normal range of 12-14 and I needed to go the the emergency room immediately. Here’s the thing…. I felt fine. I worked out that morning (when the admitting nurse heard this she called me a bad ass). I was A-ok. Totally normal. And I was at work so I was not about to take a sick day if I didn’t have to.

Against doctor’s orders, I went to the Emergency room after work. More blood work, waiting, more waiting. At least I had a book and a full telephone battery. The doctor came in with even more terrifying news. “You are being admitted. You need a blood transfusion.” Hold please… At this point, the only thing wrong with me is a spike in my blood pressure because I now have an IV in my arm and have to tell my parents that I am in the hospital. Long story short, I signed myself out. No blood transfusion and still a 6.2 hemoglobin count. I did stay home from work the next day.

So what was the final verdict?? I have Thalassemia. A genetic blood disorder which causes chronic Anemia. I just don’t make enough hemoglobin. And here I thought I was normal.To put things in perspective, I trained for and ran half marathons, a full marathon and completed several intense cardio programs at a hemoglobin level were normal people would pass out or have a gun shot wound. The human body is an amazing thing. My body adapted to be able to train and workout at intense levels, when by all Doctor’s accounts and tests, I should not be able to walk, let alone run. And for full disclosure, I never knew why I couldn’t do high impact exercises. Yes folks, I am a modifier. If I were to go all out, I probably would have a heart attack. And I did come close the first time I Cardio Fix from the 21 Day fix. I had to stop because I felt dizzy and short of breath. Lessons: know your limits and it is perfectly fine to modify!! Don’t try to kill yourself because you think you have to go balls to the wall to prove that you can workout at Shaun T’s level.

After a follow up trip to the hematologist, I am now on prescription iron (yeah I know). But I have counteracted all side effects by increasing my water intake and I becoming vegan. My standard meal is corn, kale, mushrooms, chard, and lentils. Fiber is my friend. I try to stay away from soy thanks the Frankie the fibroid. I do have some meat, but it is maybe once a month. And I will be having steak when I go to Disney World in May. I went back to the hematologist last week for a check up and I happy to say that my levels are now a whopping 9!!!! I made 4 pints of blood in 6 weeks. Booyah! I go back in 4 months and hopefully will be able to kick the iron pills to the curb.

I embrace my abnormally low hemoglobin levels because Thalassemia is just one trait that make me…. me. It’s a part of who I am and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Later Days

Trader Joe’s How I Love Thee

So, by now you are all aware of my absolute love, honor, admiration, and obsession with my new happy place, Trader Joe’s.

One of the biggest, in my opinion, excuses for not eating healthy is that it is too expensive. And you know what? It can be!!!! There have been many times that I have fallen victim to the Whole Foods Wallet Grab all in the name of healthy eating. I have driven 30 minutes to shop at Walmart because it was cheaper. But what else does Walmart have beside fresh vegetables and eccentric clientele? Junk food and lots of it. So covering my broccoli, corn, organic spaghetti sauce, and whole wheat pasta in a protective layer of bad food goodness, was always two bags of Utz’s Honey BBQ potato chips. (See previous post about will power). Don’t get me wrong, my shopping habits have improved tremendously. Avoid the end caps, shop the perimeter, etc etc. But the potato chips kept calling my name, so of course I had to bring them home with me.

Fast forward a couple of months, when I decided to go vegetarian (see post about Frankie the Fibroid). I was trolling Pinterest (OMG, so much good stuff!!) for vegetarian recipe ideas and shopping tips and there it was…. the top 20 vegan items to buy at Trader Joe’s. After perusing the list, I knew that I had to see what other goodies where contained within this Trader Joe’s place, and lucky for me, there is one two blocks away from my job. Score! After making my way through the store, I was waiting for the sticker shock to occur when I reached the register…..

And you know what?? I didn’t happen. Say What??? I spent $34.00 to feel myself for an entire week. This was less than I head ever spent in Walmart on one of my “good” shopping trips.

For those who are not familiar with the holy land that is Trader Joe’s, it is a small supermarket that stocks only organic, vegan, gluten-free, clean foods. They even have their on line of products. And the best part…. this stuff is CHEAP!!!  All clean and organic!! HOLY COW. Instead of reaching for the potato chips, I get two bags of vegan pita chips and two bags of air-popped popcorn as my snack!! A pack of Tempeh… $1.99!!! 16 oz of spinach…. $1.99. A bag of  individual serving sizes of almonds. $7 bucks!!! My life and eating habits are changed for the better. Not only is the food good for you, but it tastes so good!

On a whim, after eating some Chicken Marsala (before the change) and Naan for lunch one Friday. I scoped out the Trader Joe’s freeze aisle and stumbled upon frozen Naan. Not only was it healthy, it was flippin delicious. For two days I had sauteed kale and 2 pieces (I know, one piece too many) of Naan for dinner. And was stuffed!!!

Here are the items that are always on my Trader Joe’s Shopping List:

  • Frozen Corn
  • Kaledscope Chard
  • Durot – Frozen crushed garlic (they do have ginger which I am on the look out for)
  • Lentils
  • Air-popped popcorn ($1.50 for a huge bag) – the Devil
  • Sea Salt Pita Chips  – the Devil’s Helper
  • Dried Seaweed – $.99 – unbelievable 
  • Sliced mushrooms

I will add to this list depending on my taste buds. But basically, I eat the same thing for weeks on end until I get sick of it and move onto the next recipe. My current meal of choice is sauteed chard, kale, corn, lentils, and sliced mushrooms.  If I feel like a little splurge, I will get a bag of Southern Blend greens (collard, turnip, and mustard greens. So tasty).

I knew I wanted to treat myself to something sweet for my birthday, so I decided to try their chocolate ice cream made with coconut milk. Baby Jesus must have made this delectable dessert himself because it was so good. Creamy, chocolaty, and it did not taste like coconut. Hands down it was one of the ice creams I have had in a while, and that is saying a lot. I will be trying the strawberry flavor very, very soon.

Overall, Trader Joe’s is an amazing place with great organic, non-GMO, and vegan choices for a very, very reasonable price and some stores even sell wine and beer. If you live near on, go check it out!!!

*** This is not a paid endorsement. I just love their product!!! ***

Later Days!

B