The Hummus secrets!

Dramatic headline? well, the tips I am about to give you deserve the drama+ I have a flair for the dramatic.

First -why bother with hummus secrets? you go to the store and buy hummus and get it over with.

No no no no!

There is a hugggeeee difference between homemade hummus and store-bought ones- in my opinion. by the way, I know people who prefer the taste of store-bought ones. I mean I heard about them- I didn’t meet them personally. maybe they are an urban myth or something.

The benefits of making Hummus at home are so many, I can’t see the reason to avoid it.

#The cost– 1 kilo of dried chickpeas costs a few $ (here- about 4$), a kilo of raw tahini costs the same, and these will yield your hummus spread for at least 2 months- considering you will eat hummus spread every day. whereas- the store-bought spread will cost you around 5$ a kilo that will last about 2 weeks- again- if you eat it every day.

The ingredients: at home, you know exactly what you put in the hummus, how you washed and handled your utensils, and how you prepared it. no strange tuff with letters and numbers you have no idea what they stand for. on the other hand- most store-bought spreads will hold for 2 weeks- when your homemade one will only be good for 3-4 days in the fridge.

The taste: that is a matter of taste- I am aware- but just try making your own spread and see for yourselves.

OK- there are a lot of benefits but is there a downside you might wonder?

Well- actually no, there isn’t.

This is one of the rare cases of win-win-win situations where life does surprise you with something easy to prepare+healthy+yummy+cheap.

tip #1: Quality of ingredients: What you need to remember is that homemade hummus relies on 6 ingredients only: tender chickpeas, tahini, lemon, garlic, salt, and water.

Since these are fairly cheap ingredients, to begin with- make sure you like the taste of each ingredient before you prepare your dish.

This means preparing tahini dressing with the designated raw tahini you are about to use in your hummus. if you don’t love the tahini taste- don’t use it in the hummus -because it won’t “blend so you won’t notice”- it will change the hummus taste and what is the point of fussing over a dish that isn’t great?

waste of time and money.

tip #2: save the chickpea water!!! this is super important since it turns out that chickpeas love staying close to the water they were boiled with. separation issues- I don’t know- but the fact is that the hummus tastes better using that water, so don’t discard them, plus- don’t use baking soda or salt in the cooking water- because you end up eating this.

tip #3: Fry your garlic! yep. this is a huge one. thank me later. please don’t think I mean every time you want to make hummus you need to turn on the oven. no no no no. that makes no sense at all and goes against everything I believe concerning simple cooking. I can’t stand cooking shows where they make such a fuss over one dish that no real person at home will ever dare try cooking that.

Simple is best.

Whenever you cook anything that isn’t a cake or cookies in the oven- throw a pan of garlic heads in for 15 -20 minutes- until they are tender.

Why not when baking cakes? well, I believe this is obvious. unless you like your cakes to smell like garlic, which is fine with me- to each their own.

The tender garlic heads keep great in the freezer, in a sealed container, and you only need half of a head each time.

tip #4: batch cook chickpeas and store in the freezer soaked in their cooking water! why bother soaking overnight and cooking the chickpeas every time you want to make hummus?? they freeze great and if you learn to portion the quantity that suits you (remember homemade hummus keeps for a few days only!) and remember to pour the cooking water to the container as well- all you need to do is pull the container from the freezer, let it thaw and voila!

last tip -#5: don’t skimp on the tahini! this is what makes or breaks a good hummus- the quality and quantity of the tahini used.

How to?

Oh- just put the boiled tender chickpeas, their water, a drizzle of lemon, baked garlic and tahini to taste, and use a hand mixer to blend, taste, add water or lemon or salt to taste, spread on whole-grain bread and smile to yourselves.

Sealed container and always in the fridge!

Enjoy- there cooliflower.

am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog, therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility

About that coconut oil- part 2.

*Disclaimer as usual: I am not a dietitian, nor health certified anything. I am a retired health enthusiast checking stuff that interests me and sharing my personal opinion here, no need to get excited or influenced. do your own research, don’t believe anything anyone tells you, and that includes this post and any other post I write.

So last week I embarked on the important mission of trying to discover who /what is responsible for the wretched rise in my cholesterol levels, a rise that in my humble opinion, should not have occurred, seeing as I am vegan, thus do not consume meat-eggs- poultry- dairy, specifically to the point-butter or fat cheese-which are super-yummy-(I do have my memories people, can’t take those away, I loved eating all of the above. If only they came from vegetables)- but also high in fat percentage.

Last week I came up with suspect no 1: if you are interested in the results- here is the link: About that coconut oil.

But- as any good detective- and even the lousy ones- will tell you- concentrating on the immediate and usual suspect will get nowhere- just watch Kevin Spacy walk out of the police station when a few minutes later the detectives understand who the real Keiser Suze is. (I am not a film lover but this is a good movie if you haven’t seen it- check it out).

So- I tried to check whether my diet changed over the past year- and the truth was- yes. it did.

I incorporated a lot of vegan cheese and vegan butter because I couldn’t watch my family members devouring my homemade pizza (they are not vegans- that is an under-statement-they consume quite a lot of meat-poultry-fish -eggs on a daily basis). I felt deprived, and any diet depriving person for more than a day- is in my opinion doomed.

So I made a habit of buying vegan “mozzarella cheese”, containing -100 grams- 23 grams of fat- 21 of them saturated fat, and vegan butter- containing 100 grams- 75 (!) grams of fat, 26 of them saturated fat. these vegan butter and cheeses are many (many) times made of coconut oil plus all kinds of additives, and they are considered to be a fairly good replacement for people who- for all kinds of reasons- abstain from eating dairy.

Personally-I haven’t yet found a replacement similar to the original. plus they are much more expensive. which is a shame. but this is my personal opinion- many disagree-and I live and let live.

Oh- and to complete the walk of shame- I baked a lot of vegan cakes-using at least half a cup of coconut oil in each cake. that’s what the recipes required!

The thing is- since turning vegan almost 9 years ago, I adopted this mindset of: “oh I can eat just about anything I want because I am vegannnnnnnnnnnn!!!”

Well- turns out that’s not quite true.

I suspect the abundance of coconut oil-based butter, cheeses, and cakes, had its way with me and resulted in the rise (thus fall) of my blood tests.

The reason I am writing this is this following article I found (Harvard-good enough for me), that stated that coconut oil is correlated to a rise in cholesterol, thus should not be considered heart-friendly- and should be limited in a diet. here is the link to the article:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/coconut-oil/

If anyone is thinking: “what’s the problem then- eat moderately! you can eat anything in small portions! “-I already told you -no way. if I like something- I don’t “portion control” it. I just eat it. 

So now I have 2 primary suspects- my menopause, and my vegan cheese and butter passion. 

Only one of the 2 can be eliminated. 

So I am weaning myself off those vegan “mozzarella” grilled sandwiches, I stopped baking vegan cakes, and I will do my blood tests next year and see if there is any difference. 

(In an immature place in my head hope there’s no difference, so I can go back to my grilled “cheese” sandwiches and tell myself “that’s life, babe. can’t stay young forever!”). 

What do I eat instead? 

Well- homemade hummus is a hit here, and tahini, avocado, and tofu. I have a great trick for great hummus. I’ll write about it next time. 

here is the link to what I eat instead of vegan cakes:  

Why I stopped baking vegan cakes.

All of these are great, but I am telling you I am learning to restrain myself, and it isn’t easy. 

The cooliflower. 

am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog, therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility

About that coconut oil.

So a few weeks ago I did my annual blood works ( please please please consider doing this. super informative and an important tool in the prevention of a vast variety of unwanted things!).

I was unpleasantly surprised to find out my cholesterol levels were up this year: last year my LDL levels were 101 and this year they were 112. last year my total cholesterol level was 176, this year 195.

*Oh usual disclaimer here- I am not a medically certified anything- nor a dietitian of any sort. I am a health enthusiast who believes in searching and learning everything can concerning my wellbeing and health. I share what I learn- but this is not professional advice- or any advice for that matter- do your own research- there really isn’t anything more important than your health, in my opinion.

I admit these results are still below the level of concern according to the medical charts that accompany those blood tests, but I wasn’t so happy about the rise of so-called “bad cholesterol”- meaning that wretched LDL -as opposed to HDL- which is considered “good cholesterol”. by the way- HDL levels were up this year as well- from 63 in 2021, to 70 in 2022.

After reviewing the results, I started looking for someone to blame for this.

Since I prepare my food and am responsible for online grocery shopping- the only person I could blame was me.

That wasn’t acceptable- so I looked again.

Since I am vegan- I do not eat butter, meats, fat cheese, and other fun stuff that research tends to correlate with cholesterol.

Honestly-

I thought being vegan was a full-proof shield from high cholesterol levels forever and ever.

Well- turns out that isn’t the case for me.

I did find two possible factors I could blame- (and again this is not medical or professional advice- this is only my opinion based on my search- every body is different ( and unique!). do your own research concerning your own (unique) body)-

#1. my hormone levels indicate that I entered menopause officially.

If you are a male reader and this makes you feel uncomfortable or boredor if you find this stuff gruesome regardless of your gender- you are free to go read another post or another blog or watch somethingfunny” on TikTok.

I believe that understanding the mechanism of the human body is useful information, plus I think many men can find it helpful to understand what the women in their life ( sister? spouse? mother? maybe the mother is too much information)are going through. or will go through. because it may affect your life too. (research says some women get really short-tempered when going through menopause- at least that’s my ongoing excuse).

What does that mean?

Again- I am not a medical doctor-I did watch all the seasons of “House” (and loved it! it was the most non PC show ever- but it was equally non PC, which in a (very) strange way made it acceptable in my opinion)+I did watch a few seasons of “grey’s anatomy” until I stopped caring about Meredith Grey’s life choices because I kept thinking”girl! get a grip on your life! what’s the matter with you!”-but I find it hard to believe this qualifies me to give medical advice.

But- I happen to believe that before going to the doctor’s office, I need to be educated enough to be able to follow what she-he says and ask the important following questions right then and there- instead of going home and fretting about a lot of stuff I should have asked.

*By the way this does not mean believing Dr. Google when it says that the cold you have seems it could be an autoimmune disease. (see! I remember something from “House!”).

Anyway-

My research concluded that after a certain age- (45 being the average age- could be later or earlier) when a woman reaches a period of 12 months without her period, it is time to get her blood work done- specifying hormone levels.

The hormones that are good indicators for post-menopausal change are (according to the official charts accompanying my results)- Estradiol -between 1.9-46 (mine were 11.8 this year. last year: 72.3), FSH levels between 20-138 (mine were less than 11.8-they didn’t even bother to write the exact number, wheres last year I had 88.7), LH levels between 15-62 (mine were 41.1, last year 5.9), and progesterone levels between 0.11-0.9 (mine were less than 0.2, last year 0/6).

You can see there is a consistent change in all relevant hormone levels- combined with the no period thing- I believe the situation is quite clear. I also went to the OBGYN and she agreed my conclusions were right. I like it when the doctors agree with my assessments.

Some women experience hot flushes (I didn’t), increased heart rate (did that), irritability (check on that too), and increased anxiety (check-double check come to think of it).

The thing is- apparently when estrogen levels drop=the fat distribution in your body changes, making it more difficult to lose that wretched belly fat, and get your behind back in place.

I know- this is just an excuse- but it’s a valid medically backed excuse.

I am aware that some women keep their bodies in great shape at the age of 70 and 80 -all I’m saying is that it is more difficult than before reaching menopause- because of that Estrogen thing.

In case you find this hard to believe- here is a link to a random article I found:

https://www.healthline.com/health/estrogen-and-weight-gain

By the way- I chose not to implement HRT- Hormone replacement Therapy- meaning pills or patches of hormones that are intended to relieve your body of the flushes and night sweats and other symptoms of menopause- because I don’t suffer from those, so I see no reason to put artificial hormones into my body.

*It is my personal belief that my being vegan has to do with the late arrival of my menopause+ the light symptoms I am experiencing. science has yet to back it up but I admit there isn’t enough research on this subject- maybe the vegan worldwide trend will encourage researchers to test this once and for all. what a boost it will be for veganism- if there’s anything that can support the cause is it being declared “the fountain of friggin youth”.

Back to my suspicions: turns out there is a correlation between post menopause and a rise in cholesterol levels-here is the relevant link to the study proving my suspicions:

https://www.uscjournal.com/articles/menopause-cholesterol-and-cardiovascular-disease-0

So?

So nothing- a good investigation never shines the light on one suspect only.

Thorough detective work must be done here before I conclude there is nothing I can do because “hormones and that’s life baby” and all that.

Enter suspect #2: my fondness of vegan cheese and butter spread+ last year’s baking vegan cakes spree: meaning my vast use of coconut oil.

To be continued.

Enjoy- the cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog, therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

Park farther, get fitter.

My mother is 78, and hates exercising.

At least she is consistent- she never liked working out. even as a teen she did everything in her power to avoid it, and sees no need to change her ways now.

She is also a smoker, started at 16, and kept going for 62 years. still enjoys it.

But- she likes going places-she is an avid art lover, knows a lot about art, and visits galleries often. until a few years ago- she traveled the world, looking for new and exciting places and exhibitions.

I love this about her, I love the fact that she has such a love for beautiful things, that she appreciates the fine arts, and enjoys it so much.

The thing is, for the past few years, her knee is acting up making it almost impossible for her to walk the distance she used to. Add the Covid -19 to this, and she rarely goes out of her house- and she is the ultimate extrovert: unlike me- she loves going out and meeting people, talking with friends, entertaining 20 people -etc.

I tried to convince her to go swimming- that is not only great exercise but also very easy on the knees-

She did go for a while, but now it’s winter here, and she says it’s too cold for her.

I tried making swimming more fun for her- I made a playlist of her favorites (Leonard Cohen, Yves montane, Bette Middler-you get the drift) and gave her my SYRYN waterproof pool friend MP3 with the earbuds to match, but to no avail. she returned it a week later, saying I should stop pressuring her to do things she can’t/won’t do.

She Is right by the way- so I stopped.

Though I’m still very concerned about her wellbeing. I still try and figure out ways to make it more fun for her to get going.

I am aware I sound a bit patronizing, but I am concerned about her health, she has gone through 2 surgeries in the past few years, and I believe the only way to be healthy is to exercise regularly and eat well.

*By the way- although I have been vegan for the past 8.8 years, and feel better than I ever did- I do accept that being vegan isn’t for everyone. I still think that striving to eat healthily can benefit everyone- carnivore, omnivore, vegetarian or vegan.

So a week ago I had this errand to run- I needed to send a package abroad, which meant I needed to go into town- the nearest town is a15 minutes drive from where we live, and with morning-midday- every hour traffic-getting to the center of town takes at least 30 minutes, then you need to find a parking space, pay for parking, run the errand then go through traffic again on the way home.

The thing is- maybe it’s just me- but I feel like people in traffic have become really annoying lately.

They are impatient, they honk with no reason to, they try to pass through illegally, making the whole standing in traffic thing a really bad experience for me.

So last week I decided to beat traffic:

I drove to town- but parked a few kilometers away from the center of town- a lot of free parking- and walked to the post office.

It took me 20 minutes, I really enjoyed it- I like walking, I put my earbuds on, listened to music, and didn’t hear the cars and the honking. I had my running shoes on, comfortable clothes and my mandatory water bottle, and on my way there- I could work on my introvert social anxiety concerning the “post office mission”.

I am aware this may sound strange if you aren’t an introvert, but I’m sure you can relate if you happen to be one.

Running errands, even simple ones, as an introvert, is a thing.

I need to prepare myself ahead, write down what I need, possible ways for things to go wrong, possible ways for me to solve those possible problems, and breath deeply before, during, and after.

Sitting in traffic and seeing everyone try and steal the light or lay their fists on the car horn, and then try to look for a parking space- doesn’t help my social anxiety, it worsens it.

But my 20-minute walk, listening to music, and getting straight to the post office with no parking problem at all was great.

I finished my errand, climbed back up the street (yes- going back wasn’t as fun- it was hotter and uphill all the way- but still better than sitting in traffic.

I thought later that this could be a good idea for my mother too- she lives in a big city, and running errands on foot could be a great reason for her to start walking, beating traffic, parking problems and most important- get some exercise.

Maybe if the walking isn’t done “for exercise” but “to get errands done” it might be more appealing to her.

I tried running this idea past her- she said she’ll try it.

I have a feeling that if she could sack me in the face she would, but I live quite far from her, so no smacks for now.

If you are an introvert and hate traffic and parking mess- and happen to have small errands to run (not groceries shopping, obviously, those I do online)- try parking a few kilometers away- and walking the distance.

You might enjoy it.

The cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

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Things even minimalists need to keep!

When I grew up, there was this saying: “what would you save in a fire? the photo album!”.

Needless to say that isn’t the case in 2022, since every photo anyone takes is sitting in the Google cloud somewhere.

So- if you have spare hands- (and don’t need to carry all your gold bullions)-take your important binder with you.

What is “the important binder” you ask??

lately, I’ve been busy with a procedural thing, which forced me to start looking for all kinds of documents such as my marriage certificate, my birth certificate, my children’s birth certificates, etc etc.

Sure enough- I had no idea where my birth certificate was, or my children’s for that matter- but lo and behold -I did locate my marriage certificate, and I can tell you it saved me some precious time, though locating the document at home wasn’t that easy. at all.

The funny thing is- when I asked my daughter for her documents, she sent them to me as soon as she got home from work. no dilly-dallying and futile searching and drawer banging.

She was very proud of herself, and I was proud of her too- and thought I should tell you all about it so you can create “an important binder” and save precious time and effort too.

How?

Take an old school binder, write “important!” on its cover, and start filing all your important documents:

#1. legal documents: house deed, mortgage documents (if you have one if not- don’t ), bank account opening documents- no -I do not mean every friggin monthly bank statement-I hope you get those online-I mean the few papers you sign when opening an account. why keep them? because sometimes you need to remember what account you had in back 2000 for all kinds of sporadic reasons. just keep the 2-3 pages stating the account number and legal terms. the same goes for your will (I hope you remember I strongly advise on drawing a will- one neer knows, better be prepared, unless you are a Buddhist monk, and even then- you need to decide who gets your food bowl. )

#2. personal documentsthat are legal documents as well: birth certificates, passport, marriage certificate-if you ever got married-and definitely even after divorce!, speaking of- divorce papers, if you have a prenuptial agreement- that too, SAT grades, uni certificate, major work certificates, you get the picture.

With all of these- keeping the originals is super important- and having them scattered around the house hiding in dark closets isn’t going to help anyone.

Please don’t avoid doing this saying “I hate bureaucracy! ” “I am a free spirit letting the wind beneath my wings!” and stuff like that.

This is exactly why you need the binder! because you don’t like wasting your free spirit time on collecting these documents time and again! once you have a designated binder, you waste 0.00 time on bureaucracy-

And can live happily ever after.

Enjoy-the cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

Sweet veggies??

#Before you start rolling your eyes and saying: “red peppers aren’t vegetables! they are fruits!” –I know -botanically, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, corn, okra, eggplants, zucchini, and string beans- are all fruits disguised as veggies.

(I actually didn’t know that corn and eggplants were fruit. well-if we’re being honest, I didn’t know okra and avocados were either).

That really doesn’t leave any “real veggies” on the veggie list, does it?

But- sorry- who cares?? they are so healthy and yummy, and versatile, easy to use, fun to eat -for all I care you can call them whatever you wish.

These long sweet red peppers have been my favorite snack/salad component lately, and here is an example fresh from the salad bowl-

spinach, sweet long red peppers, mujadara- home made-because there really isn’t anything easier to make than that+ tahini dressing (OK- maybe this is easier than the mujadara) -really couldn’t be happier -in 5 minutes of work. ( because I made the mujadara yesterday that’s why).

#quick mujadara: when you get up in the morning- put a cup of green lentils to soak in hot/boiling water- I mean let them soak- the lentils like to drink up the water apparently- you may have to give them more- then go about doing whatever it is you do in the morning. come back after hour-the lentils are half soft already. yay.

Cut 2 onions and a few garlic cloves, fry with a drizzle of olive oil, salt& pepper, and any other condiment you like, add the soaked lentils, then- let fry for 10 minutes adding a cup of boiling water to the pan halfway through.

Meanwhile- in the same bowl you used to soak the lentils- soak a cup of bulgur-again with boiling water.

when the lentils are almost tender but not too mushi!- add the soaked bulgur- and stir .drizzle the juice of 2 lemons, and let simmer for a few minutes. c’est tout.

Freezes great. tastes great. super healthy and full of complete protein.

#Tahini dressing? oh- this is really the easiest: just mix equal parts tahini and cold water, add some salt to taste, a juice of a lemon, e voila!

So what’s so special about the sweet red pepper? it’s sweet! I am not joking here- this is serious stuff, nothing to joke about.

We, humans, love the sweet taste, and I am aware that I do too, and I accept that.

My coping mechanism is simple -why fight it if you can benefit from it?

Since I stopped baking vegan cakes (read here why: Why I stopped baking vegan cakes.) I feel free to indulge myself with Medjool dates, oranges, pears, homemade granola, and these sweet long red peppers.

I’ve heard that there are dietitians out there telling people to avoid peppers because they are sweet- so accused of being full of “bad sugar”.

I am not a dietitian- neither registered or unregistered- I am merely trying to use common sense here.

In my layman’s opinion- diets are made to fail if a person is denied red peppers or any other fruits and veggies- because they contain sugar.

I am probably biased, being vegan for 8.5 years now, but if there is anything that can keep me eating healthy food, and not feeling “punished” or whatever- is the abundance of fruits and veggies I eat every day.

In my salads, on their own, with my porridge, as snacks-

I don’t count how many fruits I eat, and I personally- being a layman- think that eating fruits and veggies that are tasty -is something to appreciate- not avoid.

So I looked online to see what the health benefits of sweet red peppers were: and found out that they are made mostly of water, some carbs, and mainly vitamins- vitamin A, B, E, and mainly vitamin C (169% of the RDI intake of vitamin c- more-much more than oranges!) plus antioxidants, so really -if you think about it– people should be encouraged to eat peppers every day so that they can keep a healthy long-lasting healthy diet for life- not a crush 20 day eat only sad things and lose 10pounds which will quickly climb back when you inevitably go back to eating like you used to because who wants to eat sad things all day every day?”.

Here is a link to all the nutritional values of sweet red peppers- check it out yourselves:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/bell-peppers#vitamins-and-minerals

As usual-go check this for yourselves-and make the decision that is right for you-

The important thing is to be happy with your food and keep a healthy lifestyle. with or without peppers. (preferably with).

Enjoy- the cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

Does volunteering make you a better person?

Research conducted among people about to retire/dreaming of retirement found that when asked “what are you going to do in retirement?” 100 out of 100 people answered, “obviously travel and volunteer!”.

***I have no idea if such a research was ever conducted. but I’m pretty sure these would be the results.

Why? well- because people like to think of themselves as “good people”. people also like to be acknowledged by others as “good people”.

Since I am a person as well, when I retired (early. at 50, the best decision I ever made), those were the answers I gave as well.

And now, celebrating 3 years of early retirement- I want to say something. something a bit controversial perhaps.

Volunteering is not all roses and daffodils. not everyone is cut out to be a volunteer, not every volunteer program is actually helping people, and careful thought should be put into the type of program cut for you. this is not a one-size-fits-all.

I also want to say that many times, just being kind to people can be bigger help than some high profile volunteering project. But that Is only my opinion.

If you feel upset by my exclamations- please feel free to wander off to other posts, other blogs, or other things you need to do.

The reason I am writing this post is that when I embarked on my volunteering projects, I was enthusiastic and naive, and was disappointed time after time when I discovered my time and effort were not exactly going to the right places.

Now- I am a cynic and a very judgmental person, I never accept things as they are presented to me, and 30 years of working as a criminal lawyer and dealing with the worst of the worst, had definitely taken their toll.

Your experience could be totally different, you might be a devoted longtime volunteer, doing real work, actually helping the right people.

In that case- I am really happy for you.

But I still don’t think it makes you a better person.

I think it makes you a person who made a decision to volunteer. that’s all.

But -if- like me- you can’t help but see things in a certain (judgmental)way and feel discouraged at the reality of everyday volunteering- this post is for you. please keep reading.

I started volunteering about 5 years ago- when I was still working full time. I thought I could spare the time and effort to try and help others.

So I volunteered to guide a 17-year-old who was being charged with carrying a knife, and since he was charged in juvenile court, a probation officer was supposed to give a report on him.

I joined a project intended to try and give these young kids another chance. to clean the slate and start fresh. the point of the program was to try and give these kids the option to change and perhaps find a better coping mechanism that will eventually deter them from criminal court.

Being a criminal lawyer for so many years, I thought (vainly)that I would be the perfect person to help.

“I know the system!” “I have 3 kids!” “I can help this young kid get out of the trouble he’s in and be a respected member of society!”

Ok.

The reality was that the project was so under-budgeted, that the only place the kid and I could meet was the 2nd floor of the public library, a public space where other people were learning computers (another volunteering project). no privacy, and for that kid- the library wasn’t considered “a safe place” to share his real problems.

He, quite understandably- did not want to sit there, so we ended up wandering the streets of the city he lives in. no parks nearby, the heat unbearable at times, and the only time he and I could meet was during his break from work (I was working full time then, and couldn’t get out of work in the mornings- not that it would help- he was -so he told me- fond of sleeping until noon.).

So we wandered the busy streets trying to discuss life and goals and his family problems.

This was really tough- for him- and for me too.

He didn’t really want to be a part of this project- his appointed lawyer told him it would help him in court. so he made the effort to appear- but wasn’t really keen on sharing his real problems with a stranger he just met (totally makes sense to me).

The fact that we were strolling the hot and busy streets wasn’t helping either, and another major problem was me.

I am a “problem solving” type- not the “emphatic listening “type.

I listened to him at first, but after a few months, I couldn’t help myself and started giving him advice.

Now- this might have been good advice- I don’t know- he wasn’t about to take any advice from anyone, least of all a stranger that he had to meet to dismiss a court case.

After a while he got bored with me- I can’t blame him- he told me a little about his family, his friends, his lack of ambition due to his family issues, and his unsuccessful encounter with school, and I listened but also couldn’t help but try and help in a practical matter.

And he kept saying “it won’t work’ I don’t want to’ there is no use”.

He started to miss appointments.

I would get out of work early, drive to where he lives, bring him a bottle of water and a snack -and stand there waiting in the heat for30 minutes, while he didn’t answer his phone and never let me know in advance he wouldn’t come.

I contacted the program manager and asked for help. They told me this is typical behavior and that “he is testing me”.

So I kept showing up.

And he kept not showing up.

This was really frustrating and went on for a couple of months. until I finally gave up.

I am not proud of myself, I think another person- a more emphatic and compassionate person- could perhaps reach him better, or maybe not.

Maybe a person- even a 17-year-old- has to want to be there and try and help himself- so others can help him.

I don’t know.

I hope he is doing ok.

After that I had a few more encounters with organizations that weren’t so much focused on helping people in need- but getting the funds and their own salaries.

This happens in some cases too.

After retiring 3 years ago, I volunteered in a project for lonely elderly people.

I was assigned an88-year-old lady who lives at home and turns out that has more family relatives where she lives than I do.

I think the reason she asked for someone to keep her company is that she is a judgmental lady who makes sure to tell you -in your face- exactly what she thinks of you.

At first- it took some adjusting: for example- she saw my shaven hair and said boldly”what is it with your hair? how can your husband stand that?”

(well, I told her, I’m not absolutely sure he can, but I like it this way, so this is it).

We have been meeting every week for the past 3 years, (except for lock down and cold spells when we can’t go out for our stroll ( since omicron- volunteerS are not allowed to go in the elderly’s house and we have to keep our meetings in open-air with masks-which is perfectly understandable).

The lady I now 90.

We walk around the village, she sees people, she gets talking with them- and we sit on a bench and chat.

Although she has family near by- turns out the stroll with me is the only time she actually goes for an hour walk- which is crucial for her since she has stability problems.

I also take her to doctor appointments if her family can’t’ and fix some things at home from time to time.

She is not an easy person.

She walks by people’s houses and tells me ( in a loud voice) all kinds of gossip tidbits about them, and honestly, there is no way of telling if they can hear her or not.

She complains a lot and criticizes her family.

Probably criticized me too behind my back.

I don’t mind.

I keep going. I’m not an easy person either.

Does this make me a better person? no . it doesn’t.

I feel nice about myself afterward, and this is a clear sign that I am not in any way selfless.

I don’t believe anyone is, really.

We are wired to be self-centered, and that’s ok.

I realized that volunteering is not necessarily easy and glamorous.

I realized I do it for myself as much as for her.

And that’s ok too.

What I’m trying to say is- if you find volunteering in a certain project isn’t for you- it’s ok- try to find another project. and please don’t think this is going to be an automatic fairytale of help and gratitude- because- like any other things in life- the reality is so much different than the brochure.

And that’s ok too.

Enjoy-the cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

Why I stopped baking vegan cakes.

I need to be clear here- in case you were thinking- “Hear ye! hear ye! the great baker of the decade stopped baking vegan cakes!” that’s hardly the case, although I did try to make it work.

But failed.

My cakes always looked sad. no other way to describe them.

I’m sure there are tons of vegans and non-vegans that bake incredible vegan cakes, bravely overcoming the “no eggs, no butter, no real milk or cream” obstacles. using all the usual tricks- ground flax seeds, apple sauce, mashed bananas, soy milk, and coconut oil or vegan butter.

This is great. and I’m proud of each and every person who can bake a vegan cake using all these substitutes- and pull it through- meaning- that the ultimate product doesn’t scream “VEGAN!!!” -meaning- “it looks healthy”. because mine always does.

The thing is- I realized that flax seeds- with all due respect don’t imitate the puffiness eggs give a non-vegan cake, and honestly- vegan butter is very expensive, and doesn’t really taste as good as butter.

This is only my opinion- don’t get all worked up.

Also -I realized that many vegan chefs use 2 ingredients abundantly when baking vegan cakes: coconut oil (replicating the butter- supposedly anyway), and sugar. albeit brown sugar- but sugar nonetheless.

So I started thinking: excuse moi- what is the effffing point of this?

I put in the effort, the time, the ingredients, the cleaning up-and the result in my opinion- is neither yummy nor healthy -and I am a firm believer in eating foods that check both boxes anyway.

So??

So-none of that.

I bake regular (butter+eggs) cakes for the non- vegan family members, and I concentrate on the :

#Simple!

#healthy!

#Yummy!

#And cheap too.

No dishes to wash, no oven to pre-heat and babysit. no “oh it fell” /”it’s running the middle!/ its over baked!”.

None of these.

2 minutes and you’re done.

Sweet+ yummy+healthy and easy and guilt-free.

What about guests?

Well- if they are vegan-they will appreciate the fruit just like you do- because chances are they can’t bake decent vegan cakes just like you can’t.

If they aren’t vegan-why bake vegan cakes for them? let them live and eat whatever they want-bake them a regular cake and continue with your life.

Enjoy- the cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

My “weird” sleeping hours.

*I remind you, yet again, that I am no sleep specialist-MD-scientist or anything of the sort. an early retired lawyer who happens to be a health enthusiast.

Actually- that’s not true- I didn’t “happen to become a health enthusiast”. I chose it, and set it as a personal goal because I believe that maintaining good health is better than seeking professional help when the damage is already done. I am by no means a poster girl for anything- I have my weak moments (days?) but I know that being vegan, working out regularly (combining swimming, running, and walking), and Intermittent fasting, has done me- personally- a world of good. that may not be the case with anyone else, though, so, as always, do your research before embarking on any health plan you read about online.

So- it’s winter here, meaning it’s colder, and it rains, and it’s already dark at 17:00.

I stopped napping at midday a few months ago, when I discovered it wasn’t doing me any good -I mean the nap itself was good,

(real good) but I felt off for a couple of hours afterward, and my night sleep was compromised, so that was that.

*In case you are reading this and feel an urge to virtually slap me for the leisurely contemplations I have, well- you’re right.

The only thing I can say in my defense is that I worked really hard for 30 years and saved for a long time to get to this point in life where I can decide against napping because I choose to.

Anyway- I always was a morning person, 5 AM was the time I was on my way to work (beat traffic on the way there- and get early back home so I can monitor my kids’ closed door.

But since I turned 50, 3.5 years ago, I started getting up even earlier than 4 AM- first at 3 AM, and now, in the winter- even at 2AM.

The thing is- I go to sleep very early too- I shut my phone (flight mode) at 17:00, and get to bed reading by 17:30, and dose off around 18:00.

This means I get around 8 hours of sleep each day, every day, and go to sleep and wake up around the same hours every day- sleep after dark+wakeup before sunrise.

Why did I mention that?

Because studies apparently show that the body needs to sleep between 7-9 hours a day, at nighttime (darkness- has to do with the circadian rhythm ), it is important to try and keep the general hour frame constant-meaning- alternating night and day work shifts are probably not the best-case scenarios.

Here is a link to an article explaining this:

https://www.healthline.com/health/best-time-to-sleep

The reason I bothered writing a post about my sleep regime is that I’ve been getting a lot of surprised (disapproving?) comments about it.

People seem to think it makes more sense to go sleep at 1Am, and wake up at 6 am, (resulting in less than 6 hours of daily sleep!) because that’s what they’re used to.

Which is fine -great even- people- do whatever you want -I just do things differently, and that’s OK too.

People seem interested to know What I do when I wake up at 2 AM, so I’ll tell you too:

I get myself a cup of black coffee, drink it slowly, and quietly– (the house is asleep, and I see no need to wake them up just because I get up early)- then I write in my diary (here is a link to a previous post): 53 and writing a diary???, then write my to-do list for today and tomorrow, then I learn some Portuguese on Duolingo ( here is another link -why don’t I): My Duolingo hacks!, then I meditate (lately- 2 or 3 or even 4 sessions of “15-minute meditation” on Youtube, very calming I can tell you), I eat my porridge and banana,

(this is only for the past 2 weeks- I am trying to alternate my 7-12 AM eating window to 4:40-10:30 AM), I tidy the house in a super quiet way ( If I set my mop ready the evening before I can even clean the floors without any noise!); then I get ready to go swimming or running (pool opens at 5 and takes a 30-minute drive).

When I get back -at around 7 AM, I get my son ready for school, start cooking lunch (cut the veggies for soup, marinate the tofu, soak the lentils in hot water, make the dough for sourdough bread or cookies, etc), then I go for a walk with my partner.

We come back at 9AM, I eat some fruits and granola with tahini and date syrup, and cook “lunch”-which I eat at 10 AM.

Yes- 10 AM is the time I eat my “lunch”.

Sure- it may sound strange to eat beans or lentils at 10 AM, but I assure you that if you get up at 2 AM and workout, clean, and cook -you get hungry at 10 AM. I do anyway.

So I eat my lunch and finish by 10:30 Am- and if I finished my baking- cleaning- cooking- I get a shower and go read a book and listen to classical music on the radio.

This- for me- is an example of a good day. a great day. the best.

Preferably no errands -I try to do everything online, including my supermarket food shopping,( link? why not? My online grocery shopping: saving money+big time!(and my quick bean stew recipe for no fresh produce situations))

I can tell you that most days- though not on all days- I sleep well, and my hours awake are active and energetic (by the way- more than they were during the nap time period). maybe this is just better for my body- maybe it will be better for you too, I have no idea.

I do know that the people I ask back -“what do you do after 20 pm? ” never answer: “I am writing my novel/ learning a new skill/ cleaning or baking “or anything of the sort.

They usually admit that they watch Netflix.

I don’t watch Netflix- the only thing I saw there was “the queen’s gambit” and “the power of the dog” and I liked the first but didn’t like the second. oh- and I watched “fight club” which is a good movie in my opinion.

But that’s me- I don’t like TV and movies so much, but I understand most people do like them, which is great.

If- by any chance- you resonate with my “weird” method and you can alternate your work hours to maintain those sleeping hours- all I ask is for you not to be ashamed of turning in early- so long as it’s dark already (circadian, remember) even if everybody else disapproves.

#Beyourself.

Enjoy- the cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.

My 6 tips on intermittent fasting: part 2!

*If you happened to miss part 1-containing tips 1-3, no need to get upset, here is the link: My 6 tips for Intermittent fasting: part 1.

Before I start I want to remind you all again that I am not a dietitian, health expert, or anything remotely resembling any of the above. also I need to say that intermittent fasting is a personal choice that isn’t cut for everyone, and it involves hours of fasting when you may feel actual hunger– something that in our culture isn’t common.

Some may think that feeling hunger is unacceptable and some might even think it will do them more harm than good- in the sense that they might binge later to compensate.

Please- I encourage you to do your own research and make your own decision -on this matter- as well as in everything else in your lives.

In my opinion- every person on this planet should exercise his-her-their right to make independent decisions concerning their life choices, and this includes nutrition as well. the only thing I regret seeing is people who wave this right and believe others should be responsible for their own well-being.

Enough of the feminist hu ha -let’s get back to the tips, carved through endless mistakes I continue making- though much less than before.

tip#4: Learn to delegate authority:

That’s a big one for control freaks such as me.

I find it very disturbing to trust another person- any person- to do anything I see as “my responsibility”.

Go ahead: think “type A! “”controlling “”mind your language things concerning the part of your body where the sun don’t shine!”.

I am well aware of all that.

The thing is-

The young people I know- are so much smarter than trying to fight that-

The young members of generation ZZZ I happen to know- they let me be. let me run around thinking I control everything, let me achieve and do everything “exactly the way it needs to be done! my way or the highway!” and other bulls@#$ phrases- while they go enjoy some game-movie with their online friends.

They don’t mind- in fact- they really like the fact that I insist on doing everything.

My youngest is even smart enough to seem interested when I try to teach him “life skills” such as cooking pasta or an omelet.

He knows well enough the ordeal will be over much faster if he says: “oh, OK, got it, thanks mom” and then sneak back to his room, rather than getting into a tedious argument about future cooking robots and “SIRI, make me an omelet!” subjects.

The thing is- doing everything yourself is great until it isn’t.

Until you need some rest, some “me time”, you enter your “fasting zone” and need to sit one meal out of sight so you don’t challenge your (my) weak caricature and gobble down something that will compromise the way you decided is best for your body to feed on.

Then you find out you made the household people so dependent on you- that they can’t manage on their own, meaning you need to make food and serve it while fasting- a no go for moi.

It took me a lot of time to let go- but once I understood it isn’t doing anyone any good- I started releasing, a bit anyway.

I encourage every household member to try cooking from scratch- even if I have to clean up and shut up later concerning the results, and not say out loud:” Oh come on, just crack that egg into the pan already!” . just an example. doesn’t mean it even happened.

Tip #5: define your “weak hours” and brace yourself towards them.

Everybody has their “internal schedule”- whether they are early birds or night owls, whether they like to eat many small meals or one-two big means, sweet or savory people- etc.

I found out the hard way that between 3 and 5 Pm – that’s 3-5 hours after I stop eating for the day- I get the feeling that if I don’t eat something real soon- something unpleasant will happen.

I tried to ignore it -didn’t help, I tried to “eat only one small apple- one apple can’t hurt anyone” (don’t bring up snow white- I have enough to say about Disney movies and feminist frustration to last a few posts so not now) -one apple is fast compromising + for me -it never ends with the small apple- so no apple.

I found out that every 10 days or so – I get an irresistible urge to eat after my fast has already started- an urge that is more difficult for me to resist- psychologically- not physically- I have no idea why.

For now, I accept that this is the situation, and succumb to it, at first- feeling ashamed of my weak self, but now- #nomoreofthat, I accept that this is what I can do now, and eat in the afternoon.

What I realized is, that if I can track my “food urges” -I can contain it- meaning I don’t start self-sabotaging myself with binge eating or unhealthy stuff in the lines of “I already compromised the fasting, might as well celebrate like there’s no tomorrow”.

Turns out until now- tomorrow always came, and with it- the regrets and the bloating and lethargic feeling of not eating well.

Also, I noticed, that now that I tracked my hunger issues occurring every day between 3-5 Pm, I know I need to steer away from the “accidental” stroll near the kitchen, no cooking or food prepping in those hours, and I always keep a bottle of hot cinnamon tea next to me: helps ease the “hunger cues”.

The strange thing is- that once those hours pass- I seem to be fine- even more than fine- great! if stick to the cinnamon tea and ignore the so-called “hunger cues”- it simply passes- and I don’t even think about food until the next morning.

I don’t wake up in the middle of my sleep feeling hungry and can wait with breaking the fast a few hours, and even exercise while fasting- which is quite amazing- considering that 12 hours ago- I thought I “had” to eat or else.

I know I can only vouch for my own experience since I didn’t research this- but perhaps this will work for you too.

Tip #6: watch what you eat before your fast begins!

I found out that for me- eating something sweet- even fruit- before starting the fast- will result in a much more difficult time 3-5 hours after starting the fast, whereas eating something savory- or neutral-makes it less difficult in those hard enough hours.

My suggestion?

Popcorn made from scratch- is healthy, nutritious, full of fiber- thus keeping me full longer, and relatively low on calories (1 cup of popped popcorn gives you 25-30 calories and keeps my cravings at a decent level).

We recently bought this popcorn maker from Amazon- it’s a silicone bowl that can fold into itself, saving lots of space in my small kitchen, and you can microwave great tasty no oil popcorn in 4 minutes, no need to scrub a pot clean for hours and no foul smell around the house. also- much cheaper than those full of butter bags, both in calories and in price. (a bag of kernels costs about 2$ a kilo here and lasts at least a week).

Mind you I am not promoting any company- or Amazon for that matter- I paid full price (full 11 $) and don’t care if you buy it or not- as always- check what works for you.

I hope these tricks will help any of you struggling with intermittent fasting, it can be tough, it still isn’t easy for me -after quite a few years into that, but- the benefits- for me personally- have been huge, so I felt I needed to share what helps me.

Enjoy and please write in the comments if you have any other tips that might help others!

The cooliflower.

I am not a medical/health/emotional/financial /nutrition or any other kind of expert as far as it concerns the contents of this blog,  therefore anything written on the blog is not to be taken as any kind of advice, and should you choose to rely on anything  I write on this blog- you are doing it at your own risk and at your own responsibility.