Category Archives: Recipes

Staying Cool

I know there are places more uncomfortable than the Ohio Valley in the summertime, but most of them are tourist destinations in the spring and fall and everyone goes somewhere else for August. The heat, humidity, and allergens would make a saint grumpy.

I started having hot flashes many years ago, but my OB/GYN insisted it was just stress. She worked at the same hospital I did and heard my name paged overhead 24/7. Once the hot flashes finally ended I had gastric sleeve surgery, and the rapid weight loss put my hormones into a tizzy and I ended up with teenage acne and hot flashes at the same time. SO unfair!

A woman having a hot flash using a fan to cool off.

I will be fifty later this year, so I didn’t have air-conditioning at home until I got married. I had air conditioning in middle school and high school, but only in about 2/3 of my college classrooms and none of my dorms.

I have multiple chronic spinal issues, and chronic inflammation should always be treated with COLD, not heat, no matter the time of year. So I’m a bit of an expert. Here are my tips on keeping cool:

Evaporation. Don’t dry off after your shower (unless there is a teen in the house who would need therapy after seeing his mother naked). And for the love of God don’t blow-dry or heat-style your hair. Put in some leave-in product and let it go.

Layers of cotton or “wicking” fabric. All loose, and in light colors. You may hate your upper arms when you start yard-saleing at 8 a.m., but you really won’t care by 10, and your bra will be in the back seat by noon.

Box fans. There’s a reason they still sell these – they work! In fact, they work much better than the high-tech, expensive fans. Buy several.
box fan
Alcohol-based cold packs. I like to combine rubbing alcohol and floral gel beads for an eight-hour cold-pack (no kidding). No matter how many ziplocks or other bags you put it in it’s going to leak eventually, though.

Gel-packs. These don’t stay cold as long, but they freeze back faster, remain flexible, and don’t leak. Great for errands with no AC in the car.

Hair away from the face, neck, and back. You can wear it down and styled when it gets cooler. Right now sweaty hair stuck to your face just makes you look more like a hot mess.
Messy-Bun
No makeup. Waterproof mascara if you feel the need, but anything else is just going to get sweated off. But wear some sunscreen, even if it’s overcast.

Cold food. Frozen grapes and bananas, chilled watermelon and cantaloupe, iced coffee, and gazpacho or other cold soups. Stick with plain water unless you’re really sweating like a pig. Then, alternate water with Gatorade or something else with electrolytes. Drink like it’s your job.
gazpacho
Ice water and hand towel. Not in the office or on your way to a job interview, obviously. But if you are working outside fill a small cooler with ice, add water, and soak a hand-towel in it. Wrap it around your neck, wipe your face, wet down your hair. Rinse, repeat. Once the ice has melted take a break and start over.

Take breaks. Make the timer on your phone your friend. I can’t sit, stand, or walk for more than 15 minutes on the best of days without expecting to pay a large price the next couple of days, so my timer is always set for 15 minutes. When it goes off, I go lie down (with water, in front of a box fan) until I feel like getting up again. It may be 15 minutes later, or it may be a couple of hours later. Listen to your body.

There were a lot of great prompts over at Mama Katโ€™s Writers Workshop this week. Go check them out (Tue post) and link up (Thur post)!

High Protein Tuna Salad

tuna

What’s the hardest thing after having gastric sleeve surgery? Getting enough protein. Yep, it’s not a problem keeping portion size small – that’s a mistake I’ve only made on rare occasions. Full + one bite = miserable. ย I have three small meals a day. But I’m trying to pack 60 grams of protein into a day, and that’s incredibly hard to do. Yes, there are shakes I can drink, but I’m lactose intolerant and I like to chew my food. After a month on liquids postop I literally begged my doctor for celery. She told me I was the bright spot in her day ๐Ÿ™‚ Clearly she didn’t realize that if she’d said no I was probably going to take a bite out of her arm.

Thankfully, she freed me up to advance to solid foods. In the months since my idea of a “healthy meal” has changed dramatically. I was raised on the old “food pyramid” most of you may remember – the one with grains at the bottom and oils at the top. I was a cardiac nurse for my entire career, so it was all about fat grams. If you eat less than ten grams of fat a day you’re doing great! (Yeah, not so much.) I love my fresh veggies, and I’ll even break my only-three-meals-a-day rule for garden-fresh tomatoes, asparagus in season, or when broccoli calls to me. But if I don’t get enough protein I will start losing my hair, and that’s pretty motivational.

So without further delay here’s the tuna salad that’s flying out of my fridge faster than Michael and I can make it!

2 cans tuna, drained
4 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
avocado (on the side for the picky eaters)

I seriously can’t even call this a recipe. You don’t need to write it down or print it out. BET: beans, eggs, tuna. Those are the essentials, and anything you add after that is up to you. It can go on a sandwich, in a pita, on a plate with fresh tomatoes. Mayo is not needed to hold this together!

The Perfect Salad

I can’t really even call this a recipe. It’s more like an equation or a rule of thumb. All credit goes to Dianna Kennedy, who was the first to ever introduce me to this idea. It’s been my go-to for salads ever since.
perfect salad
By greens I mean Romaine, or spinach, or even iceberg if you really must (I’m anti-iceberg). Whatever greenery you like, or whatever’s growing in your garden. For fruits I like whatever’s in season: strawberries, blueberries, apple chunks. You can always use canned mandarin oranges if nothing in the produce aisle looks tasty. I like crumbly cheeses, like Feta or Bleu, but you could go with chunks of Gouda, bits of Mozzarella, or whatever’s in the fridge. Nuts are pretty much “anything goes” as far as I’m concerned. If you have a nut allergy get some more protein in there another way: chunks of chicken, grilled tofu, maybe leftover roast beef. I do think it’s important to use a vinaigrette for a little “bite”, but there are dozens of options from savory (balsamic vinaigrette) to sweet (raspberry vinaigrette). I always put a bit of fresh coarse-ground black pepper on mine, too, but I put pepper on everything. I’ll leave that to your judgement ๐Ÿ˜‰
first salad
Here’s my very first salad after I was allowed to advance from mushy food to real food after my gastric sleeve surgery. I’d been dying for something crunchy, and this salad was just perfect. I put a picture on Instagram and shared it on Facebook and Twitter and you’d have thought I’d sculpted a masterpiece or something. My first comment was from one of the top dogs at Nerium, who was at a huge conference in Dallas, waiting backstage to be called out and presented with a huge check! They must not have had enough snacks backstage – LOL!

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