There Is No Better Time Than Now

Finally the sign of spring that I was looking for in our yard. The bulbs that I planted in the fall are starting to awaken.

Finally the sign of spring that I was looking for in our yard. The bulbs that I planted in the fall are starting to awaken.

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…”
― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek 

In June I will be forty-five years old. I have never been one to feel hemmed in by numbers, but I confess that in the past couple of years — I feel my age. While in my 20s and 30s I had boundless energy, now I notice the difference if I am not getting enough sleep. I can put weight on much easier (and take it off much slower) and I need glasses for the first time. Last week I joked on Facebook that it was a sign of aging when a hot date with your husband meant getting your eyes checked. I was not laughing when I got fit for bifocals. Though the doctor said that I would be fine with just reading glasses, I decided to get bifocals to also correct a slight distance vision issue (for night driving). My husband John and I tried to take the sting out of our bifocals by declaring how fortunate we both were to carry insurance from our employers (something I did not have in my early 20s. That’s a benefit of aging, right?). I made John pick out my glasses because it felt strange to wear them and I could not look at myself without being too critical. Maybe I will share a photo when my glasses come in if I can mange to get used to them.

In addition to ordering glasses, I have been doing well with the April goals that I set for myself in my last post, Setting Healthy Goals. While I have been lacking in water a bit, I have been moving more, watching my starchy carbs, and have been incorporating salads and more vegetables with every meal. I have found that bread is something that I cannot go without out so last week I bought one of my old mainstays, Food for Life Ezekiel bread. I love the bread with a smear of avocado, hummus, or natural peanut butter, and I enjoy it when it is made into toasted garlic bread.

While I am acutely aware that I will be forty-five in June, one number that I do not have the slightest inkling about is my weight. After I stepped down from leading Weight Watchers meetings, so I could spend more time with my family, I decided that I would not allow myself to be a slave to the scale. In fact, it has been close to a year since I have monitored my weight on one. While it has been unbelievably liberating, this winter I have managed to put on (in my best guess from the way my clothes are fitting) around fifteen pounds. Last Saturday I was horrified to find out that the summer capris that I bought last year do not fit. 😦 Sadly, it was exactly what I needed to get my rear-in-gear.

Speaking of last Saturday, it is amazing the difference a week can make. While the week before we were getting hit with record setting amounts of snow in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – last weekend we were greeted with gorgeous 70ish degree weather. It was the perfect time to head out to enjoy a nature hike and get oxygen into our lungs. John took us to Autrain Falls (for local folks it is a lovely spot on M94 between Chatham and Munising) and I was able to capture the beauty with my new camera.

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In addition to some local sightseeing, we also were able to get some work done at home. My step-son Lukas is learning to drive our tractor and he helped John pull rocks from our property to decorate and protect my flower beds. Luke (with help from John) also took an impromptu dip in the creek on our back property. 😉

I love my new camera.

I love my new camera.

John, Lukas, and Avalon. You have to love spring hikes in the U.P. Shorts and Bog Boots! ;)

John, Lukas, and Avalon. You have to love spring hikes in the U.P. Shorts and Bog Boots! 😉

Lukas learning to drive the tractor.

Lukas learning to drive the tractor.

Since the snow is nearly gone I have been taking advantage of the network of trails on our property and have been taking long, spirited walks around our pasture. Incidentally, I tried a pair of my capri pants this morning and I was wildly surprised that they fit much better than they did last weekend.

While I was not going to set a reward for accomplishing my April goals, I decided that I would reward my efforts and help increase my motivation by purchasing a Fitbit activity monitor this week. I will make sure to post my step goals and if there is any interest, maybe I will start a challenge on my Facebook page.

I am pleased that my husband has joined my quest to eat more vegetables and fresh produce. We both have been feeling like we are in a food rut and nothing sounds appetizing. As I said earlier I am trying to cut down on starchy carbs and this does present a bit of a challenge (we love pizza and pasta). John has been very receptive to large dinner salads and I thought that I would share one that he has asked for several times in the last few weeks (trust me, getting this man to ask for a salad is a victory).

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Ingredients: romaine lettuce, spinach, strawberries with caramelized pecans, avocado with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, cucumber and feta cheese, Gorgonzola cheese, Newman’s Own garlic balsamic vinegar dressing (though it would be great with one of my dressing recipes), steak with Penzey’s Arizona spices, Parmesan cheese, and sautéed onions and mushrooms (added right before serving). While I try to stick to vegetarian and plant-based meals,  I did have a piece of wild salmon on my salad (as I have done in the past year on occasion). This salad is more proof that salads do not have to be boring and that they are filling when you load them up with fiber rich produce and protein. What is your favorite salad combination?
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In the coming days I will not beat myself up about putting on winter weight, but I am determined to do something about it. As I learned after joining Weight Watchers in 2007 (and losing 50 pounds) that making small changes in our lifestyle can transform our bodies and lead to lasting results. I am worth the effort – and you are too! Please join me in welcoming spring and putting our health first. Forty-five years old in June? No problem! I am ready to take on the challenge with style, finesse, and energy. Age is just a number and I have always been a late bloomer. ❤

A mini falls at Autrain Falls.

A mini falls at Autrain Falls.

Luke and Avalon loved splashing around.

Luke and Avalon loved splashing around.

I took off my Bog Boots and enjoyed the icy water.

I took off my Bog Boots and enjoyed the icy water.

A little "dip" in the creek on our property.

A little “dip” in the creek on our property.

The dogs loved taking a dip too. I love this photo of Ollie. He looks like a lion but he is as gentle as a lamb.

The dogs loved taking a dip too. I love this photo of Ollie. He looks like a lion but he is as gentle as a lamb.

John started cutting and peeling logs for our home addition and covered deck.

John started cutting and peeling logs for our home addition and covered deck.

Our ducks and new chicks are getting big.

Our ducks and new chicks are getting big.

Shakespeare II greets spring with a spirited Cock-a-doodle-do!

Shakespeare II greets spring with a spirited Cock-a-doodle-do!

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Mediterranean Wrap with Greek Olives & Tzatziki Sauce

Mediterranean Wrap by Produce with Amy“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 

Since I try to fully embrace a healthy lifestyle, I do wait until the beginning of month to start new if I have slipped up. I truly believe that each day presents an opportunity for a fresh start (or as one of my Weight Watchers members always says – when it  comes to food – each meal). I think that the healthy routines that I have in place help me brush myself off when I stumble and fall.

November started strong but some of my healthy goals fell to the wayside (exercise, tracking, sleep) due to massive snowfall, rescheduled parent teacher conferences, and major stress in my personal life. However, I still managed to maintain a four pound loss. I attribute this to my obsessive food prep and the fact that I eat clean, plant-based foods. Even when my life feels “out of control” I make sure to nourish my body with the proper foods.
November GoalsFor December I decided to continue my November goals and will add in a daily green smoothie. I commit to a minimum of three days at the gym (two of the day attending a Strong Bodies group exercise class) and two other days of formal activity. Even though I was not able to meet my goals in November each week, I still feel it is realistic to do so in December.

Last week I had some personal stresses that made me feel completely out of control with my life and everything was turned upside down. I am thankful for Thanksgiving break to pause, breathe deep, and allow things to settle and seek balance again. I have had a lot of time to think about what I want to happen in the next few months and I am sending out positive vibes. The cardinals in this collage represent the angels in my life – I believe. I have witnessed and felt the fluttering of wings.

December Goals by Produce with AmyWhat are your healthy goals for December? If you are having a hard time setting or keeping goals, check out my post Fall Forward Healthy Lifestyle Challenge for some ideas.

In my last post, Layered Greek Dip with Hummus & Tzatziki Sauce, I shared my recipe for homemade Tzatziki Sauce. Today I thought I would share another recipe that incorporates the sauce.

Seeding the cucumbers by running a spoon down the middle will keep the sauce from getting runny.

Seeding the cucumbers by running a spoon down the middle will keep the sauce from getting runny.

This wrap is one of my husband Mike’s favorite and I make his with chicken breast. Since I do not eat meat, I add a veggie burger patty or white or garbanzo beans, or hummus for myself. If I am using whole beans, and not hummus, I mash the beans and lightly saute with garlic, oregano, and lemon juice. While I try to avoid processed food, I sometimes buy store bought veggie burgers. For this wrap I used MorningStar Farms Roasted Garlic and Quinoa Burger. 

MEDITERRANEAN WRAPS WITH GREEK OLIVES & TZATZIKI SAUCE

  • Med Wrap Tortilla
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Tzatziki Sauce
  • Tomato (I used 6 grape tomatoes)
  • Handful of spinach
  • 6 chopped Kalamata olives
  • Veggie burger (hummus, beans, or protein of choice)
  • *optional – herbed tofu or feta cheese if you eat dairy

Lightly heat tortilla on griddle until it starts to brown. Layer with ingredients and wrap tightly.

Today I prepped extra ingredients and stored in the refrigerator. This will be our go-to dinner for the week.

Pin this post HERE.

Med Wrap I also made a large batch of Greek potatoes. I scrubbed the potatoes well, sliced, and drizzled with olive oil, minced garlic, finely chopped onion, dried dill, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. I roasted at 400 for 40 minutes (tossing at 20 minutes). I heat them up and squeeze fresh lemon on them before serving.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and I look forward to sharing more healthy and plant-based recipes with you.   I encourage you to sign up for email updates, stop by my Facebook page, and check out my other social networking links at the right hand side of the page. I love being part of a healthy community and together we can maximize our potential. May December be a wonderful month and let me know what your healthy goals are. I would love to keep each other accountable.

Mediterranean Wrap by Produce with Amy