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Cajun Sweet Potato: This Week in Soup!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Checked out my fridge last night to see what needed to be used up: and found 5 large organic sweet potatoes, half a large bin of baby spinach, celery, carrots, a green pepper, a red pepper, and half a yellow pepper.

In the cupboard: a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of black-eyed peas, a can of black beans. Dried onion. Cajun seasoning.

So . . . I slow roasted the sweet potatoes last night, slipped off the skins this morning (Charlie loved them) and pureed the potatoes with the tomatoes in the food processor.

Simmered 5 stalks of the celery with the half bag of baby carrots, some of the dried onion, and lots of the Cajun seasoning until soft. Briefly steamed the baby spinach in the same pot, then pureed all of this.

Mixed the simmered veggies with the sweet potatoes/tomatoes and returned to the pot to heat and mix the flavours.

Finely diced the bell peppers. Thoroughly rinsed the black eyed peas and black beans. Added to the pot and brought back to a simmer. Added a little water, adjusted the seasonings (some more Cajun, a little salt).

It's delicious! And: gotta be nutritious. That will be my soup this week, a generous serving for supper every night.

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Now: to the gym!!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIANEGLORIA 8/27/2011 11:03AM

    Love it, emptying out the fridge, clearing out the pantry. And wonderful flavour profile, for sures. Hard to miss when you have healthy flavourful options in your home at all times.

I am about to cull thru every cabinet here and donate to the local food bank, as I can not eat it all and it may just go to waste, get old or rancid, whatever.

Defluffing ftw!

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TEENY_BIKINI 8/17/2011 4:19PM

    Wow!!! That sounds delish! I have some sweet potatoes on my table right now....

Totally creative.


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FROSTIERACES 8/15/2011 5:54PM

    We should open up a kitchen together Ellen! You cook like I do...a little of this...a little of that, an extra ZaZ of TADA! and I just made something AWESOME! Repeat? I'm not sure how I did it...but quick I must write it down! :) Sounds delicious! Great for using up those veggies in the fridge too! YUM! emoticon emoticon

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JOHAL52 8/15/2011 3:13PM


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BLUESKY_321 8/15/2011 5:34AM

    I'm always amazed at folks who can look at an array of ingredients and put together something delicious! What a wonderful talent to cultivate... enjoy!

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SLENDERELLA61 8/14/2011 10:25PM

    Very creative! I'm sure it is absolutely luscious and very, very nutritious.

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DBCLARINET 8/14/2011 10:24AM

    Wow, that sounds awesome! Sounds like that would be delicious with shrimp or chunks of fish thrown in (if you're into that sort of thing).

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DDOORN 8/13/2011 11:28PM

    Yum! LOVE sweet potato, LOVE hot & spicey...wouldn't think to combine, but bet it works nicely!


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TRYINGHARD1948 8/13/2011 5:44PM


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PHEBESS 8/13/2011 3:00PM

    Sounds like a few servings of vegs in each bowl!

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NANCY- 8/13/2011 11:06AM

    What a creative way to tickle the taste buds with healthy fare.

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ALICIA214 8/13/2011 10:34AM


Sounds delicious


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Mind Over Mood

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

I'm really enjoying "Mind Over Mood" by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky. It's sold over 750,000 copies so clearly I'm a late fan . . and there have to be lots of people here on SP who've discovered it before me.

The intro is by Aaron Beck, father of cognitive psychology AND of Judith S. Beck of "The Diet Solution: Train your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person".

Basic process to uncover the thought/mood connection:

1. Identifying the situation in which you experience the strong mood, eg while at work and speaking to an employee, or while at home and receiving a phone call from a friend etc. etc.;
2. Identifying the mood (one word: sad, mad, anxious, excited, ashamed, etc.) and rating how strong it is;
3. Identifying the automatic thoughts that give rise to the mood, including especially the closely linked "hot thoughts";
4. Identifying the evidence that supports the "hot thought";
5. Identifying the evidence that DOES NOT support the "hot thought" . . . or the mood;
6. Identifying the alternative of balanced thoughts that challenge the mood;
7. Rerating the strength of the mood.

So: not just "power of positive thinking" but more along the lines of actually changing how you feel by changing what you think.

I'm thinking: not a "moody" type, particularly, but this will still be a valuable tool for me. By training and by personality, I'm all for examining the evidence!! No question, the Beck Diet Solution approach was very effective for me, and continues to be effective, in managing weight loss . . . and so why not broaden the cognitive psychology approach to other areas of my life?

Anyone else who's tried this and cares to comment??

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEENY_BIKINI 8/16/2011 6:17AM

    Wow. What a great resource! I love stuff like that. I will have to look it up...Thanks!!

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JOHAL52 8/11/2011 11:44PM

    I have tried it but haven't mastered it emoticon

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TRYINGHARD1948 8/11/2011 5:40AM


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PHEBESS 8/10/2011 5:14PM

    I was noticing today that just the SMELL of food triggers a desire to eat - so mind over nose (or other senses) as well as mood would be a huge help!

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SLENDERELLA61 8/10/2011 1:03PM

    No, I haven't tried it, but like you I found the Beck Diet Solution powerful. I'll look into this book. I like evidence. Occasionally I'm moody. Probably would help me. Thanks for the recommendation. -Marsha

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KALIGIRL 8/10/2011 12:35PM

    Seems like a great way to deal with multiple life issues identify the trigger, accept how it makes us feel and find a way to let it go.

Here's to "examining the evidence"!

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NANCY- 8/10/2011 11:57AM

    CBT can be used for many aspects of our life that we wish to change. I used CBT and medication to assist me in quitting smoking. (Smoke Free for 2.5 years now)
For me it is a matter of my perspective and my reactions to them.
For me The Beck Team on SP is the closest thing to a support group. If Dr. Beck's office was closer, I'd be inclined to schedule a visit.
Hmm, I should see if I could find the text that was being used for that group I attended. I'll check out "Mind Over Mood".
Being a late fan, if it benefits you, is better than never being one.

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DDOORN 8/9/2011 10:06PM

    Have "known" about Beck's work for some time...going to have to dig deeper into this...thx for flagging it for me!


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GROEDER 8/9/2011 6:59PM

    Sounds like one I will read!!!! I was a psych major in college, so this is very interesting to me. I will probably learn some valuabe things too!!!
Thanks for the review.

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"Body of the Year": Age 66

Friday, August 05, 2011


Oh my: there is hope!! Yeah!! Six more years to work on it . . . . .


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEEBELO 8/16/2011 12:21PM

    Helen Mirren is AWESOME!

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TEENY_BIKINI 8/16/2011 6:14AM

    Love, love, love Helen Mirren.

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_LINDA 8/10/2011 12:27AM

    Lots of good looking seniors right here on Sparks -Marsha comes to mind, but wouldn't want to be guessing who is a senior and who is not, people are taking good care of themselves here and looking fabulous!

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FROSTIERACES 8/8/2011 3:24PM

    She is beautiful. I love Elle Macpherson too...that beauty tho is like unattainable! I love it when there are seemingly *normal* looking women that look stunning the older they get. I think Helen Mirran was in the movie RED? Funny movie. Thanks for sharing!

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PHEBESS 8/6/2011 8:09PM

    I want to look like her in 9 years!!!

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TBANMAN 8/6/2011 3:25PM

    She does look fabulous. So does Kate Winslet.

It gives us all hope - and something to look forward to!

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JOHAL52 8/6/2011 11:32AM

    She looks like a healthy woman! And that smile does wonders too!!!!

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NANCY- 8/6/2011 10:35AM

    What a different vision of getting older is now!
No more buns, babushkas or baggy house dresses.
WE are hot stuff!!!

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JIBBIE49 8/6/2011 12:14AM

    I'm sure she has had cosmetic surgery to get there, but more power to her! Sally Field is 64 & she looks great. She's 5'2" and 100# & runs 35 miles per week. Denise Austin is 54 & 5'4" and 112#. I know at 66, she'll look great.
Joyce Vedral looks wonderful and she's about 68 now. Love her videos.

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PENNYAN45 8/5/2011 9:05PM

    I'm a big fan of Helen Mirrin. She looks terrific!!

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CARRAND 8/5/2011 8:31PM

    Wow, she does look great!

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DBCLARINET 8/5/2011 8:28PM

    Wow, she looks AMAZING. I aspire to age that gracefully. And I liked how several of the top spots were snagged by women who weren't 25. Aging is not the end of the world! Yeah!

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TRYINGHARD1948 8/5/2011 6:57PM

    Yes, there was a photo of Helen Mirren in a bikini not so long ago. I have too many scars and stretch marks to even contemplate that!!!!

She does look great and I'm sure you are looking fantastic too. Why wait until 66!
Admit that you are one beautiful person now, I sure do think you are in mind, body and spirit. emoticon

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Weight Creep Halted . . . Chew on That!!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Weighed myself today AFTER lunch (a nice salad and fruit lunch out at the golf club with a glass of red wine too, all tracked) and: 136.5 pounds!! Hurray!!!

So, recorded 137 again. Back down from that pesky 138 on July 30. Leaving a little margin for the scale goddess to play around with . . .

Eternal vigilance? It works.


And: maybe chewing does too.

See link above for an article from today's Globe and Mail concerning the effect of chewing on weight loss. Most of us chew food 15 times; but chewing 40 times results in 12% lower calorie intake.

Not sure how reliable this study is: small sample, all young males (I'm neither). But indicators were that the hormone ghrelin, associated with elevated appetite, was lower in persons who chewed longer. A 12% reduction in calorie intake can translate into 25 fewer pounds in a year . . .

So what the heck, chewing more might be a concept worth chewing on!!

One thing for sure, the kinds of food that require more chewing (freggies, high fibre whole grains) also tend to be the kinds of foods that work for increasing satiety and reducing weight gain.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DDOORN 8/9/2011 10:08AM

    Kudos to your vigilance!

Having a messed up kinda bite, which was semi-corrected through oral surgery in my teens, but is kinda slipping back...it all makes me pretty careful to chew, chew, chew! I'm always the last one to finish when dining out...especially with all those salad veggies! :-)


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FROSTIERACES 8/8/2011 3:29PM

    Congratulation on the continued loss!!! woohoo! You MUST be smiling! :) :) :) I LOVE the 130's!!! I just have to get back there myself now. I'm really happy for you. emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/8/2011 3:29:50 PM

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SLENDERELLA61 8/6/2011 9:34PM

    Congrats on the weight!! Chewing more does sound like a good idea. Improves digestion, too. -Marsha

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JOHAL52 8/6/2011 11:30AM

    I am sitting here chewing away on my Genesis bread and peanut butter. Feel like a cow.... Yay on the weight control!

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NANCY- 8/5/2011 8:35PM

You are very wise woman!

There might be something to that chewing. Eating mindfully helps chew longer and really experience the food being consumed so in my not so humble opinion :) so slowing down gives satiety a chance to kick in.
My question is how did they get young males not to inhale their food !

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KALIGIRL 8/5/2011 12:53PM

    emoticon I'm just trying to get to 20...
emoticon on 137!

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FRACTALMYTH 8/5/2011 11:58AM

    Must work... my MIL always goes on about how her mother taught her to chew slowly - and she is still slender, fit and active at 90!

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BARBIETEC 8/5/2011 5:19AM

    I am eating breakfast while I am reading this and now I chew slower heheheh :)

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CARRAND 8/4/2011 9:40PM

    Slowing down and chewing more is certainly a good idea for me. I tend to eat really fast, always have. That's something I can work on. Congrats on reversing the weight creep. I had been almost up to 154, but after the colonoscopy was down to 150 again. Tough way to lose it! That was 150 at the doctor's office with my clothes on, getting my tetanus shot.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/4/2011 8:22PM

    Wonder if chewing gum helps? (Sugar free, of course!) emoticon

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PHEBESS 8/4/2011 8:15PM

    I'm a big fan of slow eating - makes a huge difference, since you feel full more quickly. Plus enjoy each bite of food more than if you eat quickly.

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Resilience, Optimism

Monday, August 01, 2011

At stressful points in my life . . . and this is one . . . I focus on optimism.

Willed optimism.

Because: optimism is the essential ingredient of resilience.

What helps most in willing optimism? For me, it's a deliberate "paying of attention" to how beautiful the world is. Persistently beautiful. Consolingly beautiful. Fascinatingly beautiful.

I know that I can be irritatingly Pollyanna-ish. A bit of a Victorian botanist lady in my love of flowers. (Purple phlox, nasturtiums sitting beside my computer: powdery and peppery fragrances mingling).

But it's noticing the world which works best to take me out of myself, my own pesky stresses and trivial (or not so trivial) problems. And I can choose to do that.

The full grown speckled seagulls squawking at the parent seagulls on the beach, demanding to be fed. And the exasperated parent seagulls flapping away.

A little girl proudly showing her daddy how she can swim. But wanting to make sure she doesn't have to swim too far. "Don't move back, Daddy." And plunging confidently towards him, kicking vigorously. The dad, thirty years younger, grins over at me: he knows I'm remembering.

Charlie, sitting on the verandah with his chin resting on the fretwork, watching a Russian blue cat (the neighbour's) crouched on our lawn. Tail thumping lazily as I tell him what a good dog he is. But never taking his eye off the cat. Which is watching a chipping sparrow under the mock orange.

The golf course sparkling with dew. Sparkling. While over our shoulders to the west, thunder mutters low. And then the sky is black. And we race for the clubhouse. Coffee on the balcony till it's over, and we can head back out. The heady scent of soaked grass. Soaked cedars. Soaked lavender and thyme and salvia. Racing clouds. Then sunshine again.

"The world is so full of a number of things/I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings."

(Or maybe queens).

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSSNOWY 8/4/2011 6:31PM

    Totally agree. Too tempting sometimes to focus on me, me, me. Much better -- and saner and healthier -- to realize that there's a big world out there with lots of fascinating stuff going on in it.

Tell Charlie I'm impressed he sat so still and just WATCHED!

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PENNYAN45 8/4/2011 4:30PM

    Getting out of one's own head is a great way to deal with stress. And noticing the beauty all around is a lovely way to do that. And you are noticing not only the physical beauty - but also the beauty of loving interactions (as between the father and daughter).

Optimism and positive thoughts are strong remedies for just about anything that ails us.

Let me add my own positive thoughts and wishes for you - as a friend.

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ONEKIDSMOM 8/3/2011 9:18PM

    Love this blog... it so captures one of the best tools for remaining motivated... noticing the good in the moment! emoticon

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SLENDERELLA61 8/3/2011 1:37PM

    Willed Optimism is a great concept. I love it. And your poetic writings about the earth, our world, is just beautiful. Thanks for writing. Long live Willed Optimism!!

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FROSTIERACES 8/2/2011 5:28PM

    awe..I SO needed to read this right now. Thank you...

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DDOORN 8/2/2011 1:26PM

    Sometimes when cycling I'll find myself so self-absorbed and pedaling away like crazy. I have to remind myself: hey! You are out in the great wide open! Look around! Soak up all that Mother Nature has to offer! The sun, blue skies, clouds, warmth, breeze, lush nature of all shades and varieties...! There: THAT'S better... :-)


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NANCY- 8/2/2011 9:34AM

    May I come visit you?
Just reading your blog made me feel better. I think you said it best when you said the world is consolingly beautiful. The beauty that surrounds us soothes and heals us in a way that nothing else can. It redirects us. We can realize that all will be right.

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KALIGIRL 8/2/2011 8:42AM

    Here's to chosing positivism! emoticon

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PHEBESS 8/1/2011 6:29PM

    NEVER lose that optimism, that ability to enjoy the little moments, that outlook that life CAN be good, even in our worst moments - that is what makes us human, what gets us through the darkest nights.

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CARRAND 8/1/2011 4:50PM

    I love your optimism! I'm sure optimism is what's carried my Dad through to 97 and counting.

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