Just a wee posting…

Yoga Class at Sunset by the Ocean

Yoga Class at Sunset by the Ocean

Just a wee posting…

To let you know I will be on a “sabbatical” as I continue my search for that gnarly tree I hold so dear to my heart … and get “caught up” with life.

Until we meet again here at thisoldheartblog, please remember to bless the world and each and every human being, focus on your mantra and your purpose, smile broadly and leave the rest to the Lord.

Please – take care of your heart. 

 

Gnarly, not OLD!

Gnarly Roots

Looking for My Gnarly Tree

 

Kathie Lee Gifford said it.

“I am no longer old.  I’ve now become gnarly.”  I heard it one contemplative morning on the show “Today with Kathie Lee and Hoda” on NBC.

This wise declaration made me think.  Who wants to be old?  YES! I am gnarly too!

The definition of gnarly is “difficult, dangerous or challenging.”  Being gnarly is being real.

“Real doesn’t happen all at once.  You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

Gnarly has always been a word that describes a tree, at least in my mind – most likely a wise oak tree with protuberances from years of wear and tear, like a knotty arthritic hand, worn and weathered and twisted from living life to the fullest.  The trees roots are anchored deep into the ground, revealing a tortuous tuberous entanglement above ground.  Only God knows the elusive entanglement below the ground.

I love the idea of being gnarly.  I love knowing that I am real and genuine. Read More

Tuesdays with Bonnie & Sharon

Tuesday Mornings with Bonnie & Sharon

Tuesday Mornings with Bonnie & Sharon

There is a whole lot of chopping going on here at thisoldheartblog!

Every Tuesday morning, Bonnie and I head on down to Sojourner House at 5 AM to make and serve a hot breakfast to the guests experiencing homelessness.

And every Tuesday morning, Bonnie, a vegan, tells me how she tried another new, delicious and healthy recipe from her latest vegan cookbook: “Oh She Glows.”

She raves about the flavors and the flawless and achievable recipes.  Her daughter, she tells me, praises the website and cookbook, “Oh She Glows” as well.  And Bonnie adds that her husband loves each and every new vegetarian delight she makes.  The concoctions sound mouth-watering but, truthfully, they sound like more work than I would be willing to employ.

But then I read about the health benefits of a vegan diet.  Studies suggest that a vegetarian diet  lowers risk for obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and even some types of cancer.  The American Heart Association tells us that the vegan diet is devoid of animal products, making it lower than a non-vegetarian diet in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.  Studies have shown this lowers your risk for coronary artery disease as well as other chronic conditions.

And then I checked out the “Oh She Glows” blog site.

“After a decade of struggling with an eating disorder and subsisting on diet, low-calorie processed foods, Angela Liddon vowed to get healthy once and for all. Done with feeling sick and tired, she threw out her fat-free butter spray and low-calorie frozen dinners. Instead, Angela embraced whole foods that made her glow from the inside out. But first, she had to learn to cook—and eat—right.

Five years ago, Angela started a blog, ohsheglows.com, to spread the word about her journey to health and the powerful transformation that food can make in our lives. Almost overnight, her energy and authenticity attracted readers eager to create their own positive life changes.”

And then I ordered the cookbook, “Oh She Glows” from Amazon.

And yes, Bonnie continues to ask me every week if I tried the cookbook.  Am I cooking vegan yet?

There is so much to learn!  And so many vegetables to chop!

My plan is to start with one thing at a time because my cupboards reveal I am nowhere near a vegan right now!  (Good-bye chicken, burgers and ham!)

Bulgur sounded like a great place to start as I read somewhere that bulgur is the secret to weight loss due to its ability to “fill you up” with few calories.  Who wouldn’t love bulgur?

Bulgur is a Middle Eastern staple because it is inexpensive, low-fat, high fiber and protein, making it a most nutritious addition to a low-calorie menu.  Bulgur is a whole grain that will block the absorption of cholesterol lowering your total and LDL cholesterol levels making it heart healthy.   It has a mildly nutty flavor and somewhat chewy texture.  If I had to compare it to something, it would be rice.

Bulgur has fewer calories and less fat and more than twice the protein of brown rice.  It can easily be substituted in your recipes when they call for rice.

I found bulgur in my usual grocery store where it came in three grains – coarse, medium and fine.  Coarse bulgur is used for stuffing, stews and casseroles, while medium grind is used in baked goods and salads, including the popular Middle Eastern tabbouleh.  The finest grind is used for breakfast and dessert recipes.

Store bulgur in a screw – top Mason jar in the fridge.  It should keep for months.

Let’s get cooking!

My first recipe was Bulgur with Ginger and Orange – a high protein salad.  I even added some extra ingredients to the recipe.  I think that is what vegans do – always add a few more veggies to the recipe.  It certainly sounded like a grand idea to me!

 

Bulgur with Ginger and Orange

Bulgur with Ginger and Orange

Bulgur with Ginger & Orange

Makes: 4 servings, 3/4 cup each

Nutrition Profile

Low calorie | Low cholesterol | Low saturated fat | Low sodium | Heart healthy | Healthy weight | High fiber |
Ingredients

2 oranges

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 cup bulgur, rinsed

2 teaspoons brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/3 cup slivered almonds

2/3 cup chopped scallions

1 cup chopped celery

1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

Preparation

  1. Zest 1 orange; reserve the zest. Juice both oranges. If necessary, add enough water to the juice to measure 1 1/2 cups total.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over mediumhigh heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add bulgur and stir to coat. Add the orange juice, brown sugar and salt; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the bulgur is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 15 to 25 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast almonds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until light golden and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add scallions, soy sauce and the reserved orange zest to the bulgur; mix gently and fluff with a fork. Serve sprinkled with the almonds.

Extraordinaire!  I impressed myself.  I will have to admit that my meat-loving husband said it needed a “little something like maybe chicken or pork!”

My second recipe is from the “Oh She Glows” cookbook.

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Casserole

Vegetarian Tex-Mex Casserole

Crowd-Pleasing Tex-Mex Casserole

Tex-Mex Blend:
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika or ½ teaspoon regular paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more as needed
1 ¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground coriander (optional)

For the Casserole:
1 ½ teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 orange pepper
1 red pepper
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

Note:  I eliminated the jalapeno as I do not like HOT foods, and added a green pepper and yellow pepper.  (I love rainbows!)
1 cup corn
1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes with their juices
1 cup tomato puree or sauce
1 can black beans, rinsed
2 to 3 cups kale or spinach, chopped
3 cups brown rice OR BULGAR
½ cup vegan shredded cheese such as Daiya
2 handfuls crushed tortilla chips

1.  Make the Tex-Mex Spice Blend:  In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne, salt and coriander (if using).  Set aside.

2.  Make the casserole:  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Oil a large (4 to 5 quart) casserole dish.

3.  Rehydrate bulgur. Put 1 ½ cups bulgur in a bowl and pour 1 ½ cups boiling water over it — the ratio is slightly more than twice as much water to bulgur. Stir in a bit of salt, cover and let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour, until the grains are fluffy. Drain any excess liquid.

4.  In a large wok, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and jalapeno and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes.  Season with salt and black pepper.

5.  Stir in the Tex-Mex Spice Blend, corn, diced tomatoes and their juices, tomato sauce, kale/spinach, beans, rice or bulgur and ¼ cup of the began shredded cheese.  Saute for a few minutes and season with more salt and pepper, if desired.

6.  Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle the crushed chips over the casserole mixture along with the remaining ¼ Cup cheese.  Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 15 minutes.

It is noted as a casserole, which it truly is, but I used it as an appetizer with Scoops Multi-grain Tostitos Tortilla Chips.  I also used it as a taco salad by putting it on a bed of spinach leaves.  It would make fantastic burritos as well.

What are my first thoughts on vegetarian cooking?  I will have to admit vegan cooking is a bit time-consuming as there really is “a whole lot of choppin’ going on” but well worth it.  The house gets a tad “aromatic” with a multitude of distinct and unique spices.  I may even need another spice rack!  The appetite is stimulated as you cook with “real food”, fresh from the Farmer’s Market with no chemicals, no frozen meals, no fake anything!  The recipes all seem to burst with color and flavor.

Vegetarian cooking is empowering.  It is positive and healthy.

Bulgur has become a new and respected ingredient as I begin my journey in vegetarian land.  I hope you join me.  I am anxious for you to try some recipes and hear your reactions.

Try it!  Take care of your heart. 

Note:  Tuesdays with Bonnie is an inspirational morning for me as much as “Tuesdays with Morrie” was for Mitch Albom.  I am certain Bonnie would agree that our mantra could easily be taken from Mitch Albom’s book:

“The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

 

Inflammation and Heart Disease

 

Inflammation

Inflammation

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States in both men and women.

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease and the number killer of Americans.

Inflammation is thought to promote the formation of fatty plaques in the arteries – atherosclerosis – causing coronary heart disease.

It is important to understand the meaning and risks of inflammation and how it affects the heart.

Inflammation is a familiar and all inclusive topic in the health community.  Inflammation is said to be a strategic instigator of chronic conditions such as heart disease, obesity, depression, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s.  Inflammation is the body’s protective mechanism and natural, biological response to remove an adverse pathogen so the healing process may begin.  There is growing evidence that chronic inflammation participates in various stages of these diseases and in some cases acts as the driving force.

Inflammation is a form of self-protection of the body by removing the harmful culprit – the damaged cells, the irritants, the bacteria or the virus.  The healing process can then begin.

Inflammation is best recognized as pain, swelling, redness, loss of function and warmth at the site of an injury or an illness.  This initial response of inflammation is known as acute inflammation – meaning it is brief, lasting only a few days.

Read More

Happy Blogiversary!

Happy First Blogiversary!

Happy First Blogiversary!

This is the 52nd episode of thisoldheartblog.

This is the 52nd time you will read: “Take care of your heart.” 

Today “feels special” here at thisoldheartblog.

I hereby declare this my first ANNIVERSARY POST!

“Happy Blogiversary” to thisoldheartblog, as it has been one year since I began reflecting, laughing at myself, meeting new friends, letting go, remembering, connecting and touching lives in small ways.

Maya Angelou sums it up best:  “When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up and go on from darkness to darkness.”

Time has surely passed.

I like to think I have become a writing warrior. (Sounds awesome, anyway!)

I have always loved fiddling with words.  I am mesmerized by imagined worlds and dreams with description, similes and alliteration.

Writing, to me, is a form of prayer and celebration in life.  It is my way of investigating the world.  I believe it is an obsession with the senses – a connection with body and soul.  My passion with words extends to my passion with creativity and ideas.  I love looking at life’s situations from every side, lifting it up, shaking its contents and exploring every angle.

Writing has been an escape, an adventure, a support system, and a resilience.

Writing has become a friend.

Writing has given me control when I felt it was one of the most important things in life I had lost.

A blog is just simply therapeutic, if nothing else.

The act of writing words down and looking at those words every day become something that you must do.  Writing “take care of your heart” tells the writer to do exactly that.

The power of writing is vividly captured at getbusylivingblog.  

The author could not find the motivation to move forward until he wrote his goals and thoughts down:

“This is it. This is when I start to make changes to the life I want. It starts now. Stop wasting time. It’s been more than five years since you’ve wanted to find a new career. You need to start doing it today. Today. Tomorrow and every day until you reach your desired lifestyle. Life is too short to be unhappy when working. Start working hard every day to find your passion and reach your goals. Focus, focus, focus. Open your mind and allow it to attract great ideas and answers to your questions.”

He printed two copies – one for the bathroom mirror and one near his computer.  His words flashed before him every day.  Writing was powerful.  Writing helped him make the change.

Harvard Health Publications reiterates the calming benefits of writing.

“Most studies have evaluated the impact of expressive writing on people with physical health conditions such as sleep apnea, asthma, migraine headaches, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, and cancer. Likewise, most of the outcomes measured are physical, and the findings — such as blood pressure and heart rate — suggest that expressive writing initially may upset people but eventually helps them to relax.”

Research done at Ohio University revealed that spending too much time “sweating the small stuff” could cause chronic inflammation which contributes to heart disease, depression, diabetes and arthritis.  The “trick” they suggest to de-stress is journaling.  They recommend writing your emotions on paper, detailing your “stressful event” and then find meaning in it.  Lastly, move forward in written word.

The process of writing is its own reward.  The human connections have felt amazing!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading my postings and for your words, thoughts, feedback, support and concern.

You are all truly my “huckleberry friends.” 

I feel so blessed to have you all in my life.  You are priceless.

And for the 52nd time:

Please take care of your heart, dear friends. ♥

Happy One Year Blogiversary to thisoldheartblog!

Hmmmm… how does one celebrate a Blogiversary?!

 

Read More

What Do You Think About When You Walk?

Chippewa River Trail

Chippewa River Trail

I was just wondering… what do you think about when you walk?  I have the most extraordinary, and sometimes the most creative thoughts when I walk.  Tell me… do you?

It seems to me that my thought process is guided by the “tune” I am listening to at the time.  I have a playlist on my iTunes that sets the pace I walk.  And it tends to set the thought pattern too.

Take my all-time favorite tune – “This Old Heart” by Rod Stewart.”  This is the theme of my “new” life (since heart disease), the title of my blog, and the personification of who I now am.  My thoughts are succinctly and poignantly captured in my very first posting “This Old Heart of Mine,”  on this blog, penned back almost a year ago.  (Can you believe it!?  I have been doing this almost a year!)

Moving down my playlist, “I come to the song “Six Pack of Summer” by Phil Vassar.  This song sets a perfect pace for me with its rhythmic beat.  It has a “feel good” sense of well-being, reminding me of my good friend and former co-worker Marilyn.   It was years ago; I “twisted her arm” and coaxed her into walking home with me after a grueling work day.

I was accustomed to walking home every night, as my daughter was a working teenager at the time… and YES, she had my car.  I must add that I “liked” being forced to walk home after a long day of work.  There were definitely nights that I could hardly do it, but I had little alternative.  It is a little over 3 miles, but much of it is along the Chippewa River on a paved walking and biking trail – picturesque and peaceful. Read More

Making Sense of Cholesterol

Delicious group of healthy vegetables isolated

Heart Healthy Eating

“Somewhere, over the rainbow,
way up tall,
There’s a land where they’ve
never heard of cholesterol”

~ Allen Sherman

 

Everybody has a junk drawer.  A junk drawer contains treasures of the heart and its contents are generally overvalued by one person in particular for some reasonable – or at least close to reasonable – explanation.  The next person would be ready to toss your treasured tidbit at immediate glance.  Little do they realize its value or the memory connected to it.

A small irregular rock that shimmers with the dusky red rudiments of a glassy luster (that was gifted from the cutest grandson ever!), a bag full of Betty Crocker box tops that students collect for education and a tattered and folded sheet of lab values from years gone by.  These treasures are interspersed with paperclips and buttons, coins and rubber bands, safety pins and old keys.

It is the tattered and folded sheet I am searching for.  I have always thought I would memorize those numbers and not need that sheet any longer.  I keep it in my junk drawer, just in case I question my memory. (And it seems I am forever “questioning my memory!”) I need to review those lab values again!  What are the normal values?  What were my numbers last time?  How am I doing?  Has my exercise been bringing those numbers down?  Is my healthy eating making a difference? Read More

Heart Disease and Profiling

 

Which person has heart disease?

Who has heart disease?

I am addicted to the suspense and escapades of the CBS Show “Criminal Minds.”

I am in awe of criminal profiling.  I marvel at how the agents perform the physical and character analysis in tracking the perpetrator, only to arrest them before they strike again.  It leaves you on the edge of your seat!  I love all the powerful characters and the drama. My all-time favorite characters are the computer geek and hacker, Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) and the genius Dr. Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Hubler) who is an expert on everything with an IQ of 187.

The BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) can form a complete profile of the offender in less than 30 minutes.  It is downright uncanny how the criminal psychologists come up with a personality profile of a criminal whose identity is unknown. Profiles, they believe fit the suspect, sound  something similar to: The “unsub” (short for unknown subject or suspect) appears to be a white male in his early twenties due to his youthful arrogance and has detailed knowledge of law enforcement techniques.  The “unsub” is believed to be a sadist, who enjoys watching people in pain.

This term “profiling” intrigues me.

Read More

Angina – Life with a Chronic Illness

Broken but ok

Broken but o.k.

Simply stated, the word BROKEN, in my humble opinion, best sums up the world of chronic angina.

Broken, but o.k.

One is not the whole person they profess to be, not the person they once were, nor the person filled with hope and dreams when your life is affected by chronic angina.  You know vehemently and dolefully that you have limitations.  You are “broken”.

You become the mechanical wind-up toy that no longer springs ahead once the key is turned.  “Your get-up and go has truly got up and went.”

Let’s get real.  Chronic pain exists everywhere from chronic back pain, fibromyalgia, headaches, depression, chronic joint pain, gastric pain – the list is endless.  I would guess each and every human being can relate to my analogies.  Although this post deals with chronic pain associated with angina.  I do not want to lessen the pain or importance of any other medical condition or struggle.

Chronic pain is chronic pain, no matter which illness or disease process chisels away at our human form, making us the person we are today.

We all fight some demon every day.  I live with angina every day.  I stay “normal” by doing my best to make a difference in someone else’s life.    I remain positive.  There is always an advantage to every disadvantage and I find it.  I do not fully understand how it helps me, but it does.  Perhaps it gives me self-worth at a time when I feel I cannot live up to my full potential.  I have some limitations.

I write this so others can relate to my words and life.  Writing reflects feelings. Writing shares emotion.  I want others to know that I feel what they feel.  We are all here for each other.  I don’t want anyone to have to fight alone.

I want to share what angina is all about. Read More

The Story of the Five Bears – Part III “Teaching Academics”

The Story of the Five Bears - Part III - Teaching Academics

The Story of the Five Bears – Part III – Teaching Academics

As you may recall, once upon a time in the year 2014 there were Five Bears, who lived together in a crazy, multigenerational household, filled with crazy, unconditional love and crazy – sometime uncontrollable commotion and organized chaos.  All the Bears called it simply and tenderly “Home, Sweet Home.”

One of them was a little wee-size boy bear named Wee Bear who loved Nerf guns; and one was a small average-size boy bear named Small Bear who loved computers, and one was a medium-size mother bear named Mother Bear who loved her boy bears.  One was a medium size grandmother bear affectionately called Grams Bear or just plain “Gramsi” who loved writing and the other was a great big grandfather bear called Bumpa Bear who loved trains.

The five bear family found multi-generational living as a life that is gratifying and whimsical, loud and zany; full of love and peanut butter sandwiches, Nerf darts and Ripsticks, adventure and rocks in pockets… and life is precious and sometimes even bursting at the seams.  These frolicking bears found multi-generational living all about the action verbs: love, compromise, improvise and adjust.

Ahhhh… the life and times of the Five Bears… It has always been “just right.” Read More

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