Monday, November 02, 2020

Breakfast Sausage With Vegetables is What's For Supper

Breakfast Sausage with Vegetables

This dish has become one of my favorites. I fix it often and it is very versatile. I interchange the meat and the various vegetables depending on what I have or what I feel like eating. Due to dental issues I mainly eat soft or chopped foods. So this kind of meal is perfect for me. It is very easy to prepare in the Instant Pot but you can cook it anyway you want. I like the Instant Pot due to easy clean up as well as fast preparation. Cooking the spaghetti squash first, then while that is cooking I prepare the peppers and onion.

Spaghetti Squash Strands

First thing I do is to cook the spaghetti squash in the Instant Pot. This is a previous blog post I wrote last year that shows you how I do it, Spaghetti Squash Cooked In The Instant Pot. It is very fast, only 7 minutes compared to baking it in an oven. I put about one cup of water in the inner pot. Then put the cut squash on the rack and put the lid on it, making sure you have your gasket on the lid. Turn the release to sealing (NOT VENTING) and close the lid. Turn on using the manual or pressure button and set for 7 minutes.

Cutting up onion and peppers

While the spaghetti squash is cooking in the Instant Pot, I cut up the onion and peppers. I use whatever type of onions or peppers I have on hand. I cut them in slices but they can be chopped smaller if you like. I have started using a lot of peppers and onions, so always have some available. I did not include mushrooms in this recipe this time, but if I had some fresh ones I would have.

Masher and pot holders, modern style!

When the squash is done I remove it and pour the water out, Now heat ithe inner pot on saute and add some oil or bacon grease. When it is hot add the breakfast sausage. I use my masher to break down the ground sausage so it does not cook in a lump. I brown that a bit and then add the peppers and onions.

Sauteing the sausage, onions and peppers

I cook them until the peppers are soft. You can cook them to suit your taste. I need them to be soft so they are easier for me to eat. At this point though, you can add whatever else and seasonings to the pot. Lastly I add the cooked spaghetti squash into the pot and mix it in. When it is hot, it is finished. It was very good!

All done!

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Fresh Produce is Important to My Meals


Recently Bought Local Produce

Living without a garden has been hard for me. Though to be honest, my garden at my house had not been a good producer beyond squash, green beans, cherry tomatoes and salad greens for a few years. The soil had become impacted from weeds that came from using horse manure. Possibly it was in their hay. It frustrated me because I physically could not get rid of them. Their roots were deep. Even the grass on the lawn had stopped being healthy and it was difficult to get any decent grass for my pet bunny boy, Rabbit. What I miss the most, is the time spent out there with the birds singing and the cats playing nearby.

Local Produce Stand

If you are a senior citizen in New York state, not sure if other states have this program or not. But if you are in New York, contact your Office for the Aging for the Senior Farmer's Market Nutrition Program. It is on a first come basis so if they still have coupons this late in the year, you can still use them until the end of November. It is for low income seniors. These coupons can only be used at your local farmer's markets or stands. Not all will be in the program so be sure to ask first. When I called my local office they told me that they stop giving them out at the end of September. I will remember that for next year!

One of the best cantaloupes I have ever eaten!

There are programs online to order fresh produce. Some of the reviews I have seen on them makes me not want to try them. I am very picky when it comes to choosing produce in the grocery store. Since I am cooking for one now, I try to find smaller vegetables. I like to cook with fresh produce more than frozen or canned. I will use that in a pinch but the prepping of fresh vegetables is worth the work. Glenda Sully's YouTube channel has several reviews of the Misfits produce box. Her daughter, Jill does the reviews and I like to watch it. For me though, it better to buy my produce at the grocery store.

Locally Grown!

Lucky for me, the grocery store closest to me, Tops, is one I can get to on my own. Their produce is good, but you have to check it over. I figure if I want to snack on something, it should be fresh fruits or vegetables. Something I like is blueberries or strawberries in sour cream. It is something I used to order in a Jewish restaurant back in the 80's. Another quick snack is cucumbers or broccoli with a homemade dip. There are a million varieties you can come up with. It is definitely not the same as picking it from your own garden. Now I buy what is available and enjoy preparing it for myself since I like to cook.

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, October 23, 2020

A Special Fall This Year


In the park on a fall day!

Being outside in the crisp fall air is one of my favorite things to do. I love the smell of the leaves as they fall from the trees. It gives me a feeling of being glad I am alive and fills me with hope for my future. My future???? Do I think about my future now at my age? Yes, I do. Even if I was ninety I would still be thinking of my future. That is what humans do. We look forward to tomorrow. Unless you are suffering from depression which I am not. Whenever I am sad or troubled by something or someone, I refuse to let it get the best of me. I wasn't always like that but in my home now, I make sure to keep the environment happy, soothing and colorful.

My apartment building is across the street.

To be honest, I miss the walks in the woods and along the dirt road I used to live on. That was one of the things I considered carefully when I decided to move to a city. My apartment building is downtown in a small city, but has four different parks within walking distance. Using "Jazzy" (my mobility chair) I go to them quite often. I can sit in the sun and think about things. It is a place to be alone and just watch the activity around me. Breathing in the fresh air. Feeling the sunlight on my face. It renews my spirit I think.

The memorial flower bed is dying off now.

This fall has been an active one for me. I had tried having a personal care aide. That is an aide who comes to your home and does things for you such as house cleaning, errands, personal care that you can't do yourself. I was having trouble doing some of my house cleaning chores. One being changing my sheets on my bed and another was vacuuming and mopping the floor. I tried it. I realized when the aide was here that I could still do it better. Like cleaning my bunny's cage, I believe it was good for me to exert myself to do it. Since then, I have cleaned my apartment and found ways around my difficulties. I feel much better for doing it.

Leaves changing colors is the beauty of fall!

I was picking dandelions and plantain leaves for Rabbit in the park. Trying to find out of the way spots. Now I don't dare pick any anywhere due to the rabbit virus that wild rabbits are getting. There is a vaccine for it, but I choose not to do that to him. It would be too stressful and it does not guaranty he wouldn't get it. He is safe in my apartment. I will just avoid the food from outside from now on. I am researching growing some grass and dandelion in pots in my apartment. If I can do that I would not have to worry about it being safe.

Pretty colors of fall!

Another reason having an aide did not work out for me is that I hate scheduling things. There are some days that I can walk better than others. I can do more on those days. Trouble is that I don't know in advance when those days will be. On those days, I just want to be in my recliner and color and not deal with anything else. I will say on most days I feel good and can do a lot more than I thought I could do. Getting older did not hold my father back at all. He had health issues but he didn't let that stop him from doing what he wanted. If it hadn't been for other people in his life, his last years would have been more enjoyable even without my mother. My mother always said I was more like him, even though I looked like her. So I try to live up to that standard the best I can. 

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Golden Years Or Are They?

Bringing color & light into my home!

Aging is not necessarily the golden years as we are told when we are younger. In reality, it seems that the golden years are probably your twenties and thirties. Those are the years you are grown up and able to do the most. If you can take care of your physical body as well as the mental side, life should be great. If you do take care of yourself by eating a healthy diet, getting exercise and expand your mind, maybe your so called "golden years' will be much brighter than most. When I worked in a nursing home, I remember our in-service instructor telling the class that the people you see in the nursing home are a very small portion of the elderly population. That most elderly people live on their own in their own homes. It was true then, but is it now? Now it seems that a large portion of elderly move to "senior communities" which are pretty darn nice. 

St. Bartholomew's Catholic Church, Norwich, NY

Losing your independence and being forced to leave your home is a big worry of most. Often when a spouse dies the other one does not even think about their own future for a period of time. There comes a time when you must take charge whether you feel like it or not. Or your life could go downhill from there. My grandmother was alone due to being separated from my grandfather. She was Catholic and would not even consider divorce. If it wasn't for her religion and she divorced, could she have remarried and lived her life happier? Maybe. She had a very low opinion of men though and I can't picture her doing that. Even if she had been free to find someone else. If she had, it is possible she could have kept her home and had a better life. Not being able to drive also was another roadblock for her. If she had been able to go back to work or move to the city, she would have been better off financially. Her life could have been much brighter in her golden years.

Entrance with places to put things away upon entering.

It is my opinion that if you stay busy by doing things that you are focused on then things like memory loss or losing touch with reality will not happen. As long as these are issues that are not the result of illness. There are ways to counter this happening to you. A start is to always put things back where they belong! Find a spot for everything and do not change it ever again. Immediately after coming into your home put things away........your keys, your purse, items you just bought, etc. I always take off my mask and hang it on a hook inside my entrance to my apartment. Then I take off my shoes and leave them in a spot near the door. Put my keys in a basket on my way into the main room. You get the idea. I like to think if I lost my sight, I would still know my way around my home. Everything has a place and everything is in that place unless I am using it. You have to be disciplined about it.  

Intercom and basket for keys are here.

Safety in your home is important too. In this day and age it is important to keep your doors locked. Don't let anyone in that you don't know! If someone is coming for an appointment, make sure it is the person you are expecting. Living in an apartment building it is pretty easy to do this. We have video cameras all over the place.They don't do any good at the moment someone is coming in unless someone is working in the office. Our doors are locked and you must have a key or know a code to get into the building. If you are expecting someone they have to use the intercom system that will ring into your apartment. You can speak to them to make sure it is someone you know or are expecting. Press the button to open the locked door to let them in.  I keep my apartment locked at all times. I never let anyone into the building unless they are coming to my apartment. 

Grab bar is securely attached!

Another worry of people in my age group is falling. Falling can take away your independence in an instant. Keeping your home neat and clean is a good start. Do not put anything on the floor that you could trip over. Take a good look at your floor now. Small rugs, shoes that you took off and did not put away, a package that came and you haven't opened yet, a small cat, dog or rabbit following you, etc. Look carefully to see what you could fall over. You might think your pet is sleeping in the bedroom and when you take a step, there they are! In your bathroom, have grab bars installed securely. I know for me, these things have saved me from falling many times. There is one on the outside of my shower which I have come to rely on, as well as two inside. A shower chair is another good thing to prevent falls in the shower.

My rolling walker!

Don't be too proud to use a walker! I have a stationary one near my bed so when I get up during the night it steadies me. I have a rolling walker that I use all the time. Even if your doctor does not prescribe it for you, buy one anyway. They are not that much money and can save you from falling. Breaking a hip or worse would make you regret not having one and losing your independence. I love mine!

New Slippers!

Wear shoes in your home! Yes, I know many people like to take off their shoes when they get home, but walking around in your socks can result in a fall. If you must wear socks, get those non-slip types that have grips on the bottom. I have never liked walking around barefoot or in my socks. I wear slippers all the time. I probably go through two pairs a year, buying the same pair on eBay every time. 

Don't trip over your pet!

There will always be things to worry about. That is life. We just have to take care of ourselves the best way we can. Especially if we want to remain independent and happy. If you are not independent now, find ways that you can be. Living with others does not mean you can't establish your own independence to a point. Accepting help from others is something we must sometimes do regardless. Illness happens. Just as financial stress does and a zillion other burdens. Keep your chin up and never give up!

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole

Friday, October 09, 2020

Getting Rid of Mothball Odors in My Apartment

My apartment is small.

I have had a sensitivity to various odors for almost as long as I can remember. When I was a child and complained, my parents didn't take me seriously on such a trivial matter. As I grew up and went out on my own, I avoided the things that bothered me. As I got older, it got worse. I realized I was sensitive to many products and not just household cleaning supplies but to personal products as well. Especially perfume and lotions. The fumes from a propane refrigerator affected me horribly. I could not even sleep. It was worth living six years with no refrigeration due to that problem at my previous home. Now living in an apartment building means having other residents living in very close proximity to me. Sometimes things they do will effect the other residents on their floor or even the whole building. Noise, vibrations, odors, etc.

Mothball odor came from neighboring apartment.

A few months ago I started being affected by the smell of mothballs inside my apartment. I smelled them occasionally in the past and thought it was from the lady across the hall. Now I know they were coming from the apartment next to me. The difference is the odor was so strong I could not stand it. It was coming out of my kitchen cupboards and near my bed and inside my vanity drawers! I wrote about it in this blog post, Much To Look Forward To As You Grow Older. After much research online I discovered that I most likely suffer from Multiple chemical sensitivity. Even when others don't smell it, I will and do. Makes me physically sick. I will feel it inside my mouth, affecting my tongue. Then a bad headache and nausea. Sometimes even dizziness or the feeling of fainting. Just from an odor or fragrance! I suffer very much in stores or places where other people are that wear various types of products.

Germ Guardian Air Purifier on my vanity.

In my research, I discovered that an air purifier might help get rid of the mothball odor. So I purchased the Germ Guardian air purifier from Amazon. It has a "true HEPA" filter which means it is verified by testing that it removes almost, 99.97% of allergens in your home. Pet dander, pollen and dust mites. A UV-C light on it kills germs. A charcoal filter captures the odors. The product information says it decreases the dust, I will see about that. Having someone living in the apartment above mine creates more dust and I have to dust almost daily. 

Bamboo Charcoal Air Purifying Bags

It did eliminate the mothball smell, though it still was in my cupboards. I would leave one open and put the air purifier in front of it and that would work. I could not leave my cupboards open all the time. Upon doing further research I discover these Bamboo Charcoal air purifying bags on Amazon. I took a chance after I read they were even strong enough to take away the odor of cigarette smoke (though I live in a no smoking community). They come in a set of four and they work great. No odors at all now!

The second air purifier works great!

I decided to purchase a second air purifier. The first one I bought was over a hundred dollars at Amazon. Then one of my neighbors had listed one on Facebook Marketplace. I bought it for ten or twenty bucks, I can't remember now. All I had to do was purchase a new filter, which I did. Now I have two air purifiers going in my small 338 sq. foot apartment. They works very well. They are quieter than my fans or air conditioner and are worth using if you have a problem with odors in your home. 

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole


Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Skipping the Carbs in Food Preparation


Alternative Whopper!

Sticking to a Ketogenic food plan means I cook different now. I eliminate most of the carbs or obvious harmful ingredients from my old recipes. Most keto recipes I come across will almost always use cauliflower in place of rice or potatoes. I have done that, but don't always find it that tasteful. At least to me. I like cauliflower and include it in my plan. I just do not like to use it to replace the rice in a casserole. Mostly I just skip the rice and add more of the other ingredients.

Halupki unstuffed! No rice!

For instance when I make halupki, the Slovak stuffed cabbage I grew up with, I now make it unstuffed. Using more chopped cabbage. More ground beef and other ingredients. Then add in other vegetables depending on what vegetables I have on hand or looked good at the store that day. It has become a dump & go recipe for the Instant Pot. Much faster and no longer an all day preparation. 

Broccoli in a cheese sauce

I do this with other recipes as well. A stir fry is one of my favorite meals. I do not put it over rice either. Eating rice gives me an uncomfortable feeling for the next two days. That makes it easier to eliminate it from my food plan. Basically you can make a stir fry with a variety of vegetables and no meat if you choose. I always use meat in it but the meat is not the center of the dish. It is the vegetables and whatever types of seasonings I use. Each time I make it, I try to make it a little  different.   

A rice replacement I found!

A casserole is a dish I love to make. I have always used those very thin egg noodles in many of the recipes. It has been a struggle to not add at least some. Again though, replace the pasta in any recipe with more vegetables, a little less liquid and season it well. There are many new low carb alternative noodles or rice in the stores now. I choose not to buy most special ingredients and find my own ways of replacing them. I tried some but did not find any I was crazy about.

Pork Rind Crumbs replaces bread crumbs.

It is difficult to make my favorite Italian dishes without the pasta. Lasagna I now make with zucchini and I love it just as much. Spaghetti and meatballs has become a homemade sauce over a bed of spaghetti squash or French cut green beans. Meatballs made with pork rinds replacing the breadcrumbs. Sometimes I skip the meatballs and use sausage with onions, peppers, celery and mushrooms cooked in the sauce. Delicious!

I miss my own homegrown carrots!

Making a stew or soup is simple. It can be low carb as long as you skip the potatoes and carrots. Carrots is one of my favorite vegetables and I still use some from time to time. A soup or stew really needs that flavor so sometimes I add dehydrated diced carrots instead of fresh. I limit how much I use though. They are hard for me to resist. Chili is another good dish to make but just be sure to skip the beans. Sorry. They are high carb regardless of how healthy they are.

I buy small potatoes to keep carbs lower.

This does not mean you can never eat a potato or a carrot again. If you are counting how many carbs you can eat, plan your day to include the carb count of a potato. Be aware of the size of the one you eat. If you are going to splurge, do it on a vegetable. Not grains or sugar. I am no expert on this. This is just what I have found to keep me on track. It is better to save your splurges for after you have lost all your extra weight.

Cheese Omelet & Bacon

Something I like to do is to use an omelet to make a variety of good meals. Like adding tuna salad topped with cheese inside the omelet for a tuna melt. Try adding some chopped roast beef, onions, peppers and cheese for a cheese steak omelet. Taco ingredients in an omelet spices it up a bit. You get the idea. There are so many combinations you can make. One of my favorite omelets at a local restaurant is a Greek one using Greek cheese and other Greek ingredients. 

Eggs are my #1 Essential Low Carb Food

There are tons of YouTube videos on low carb recipes. Though now I can change just about any recipe to fit my low carb count. Even if I have gone off my low carb food plan, I still basically cook that way most of the time. It is not hard to do. Giving up bread and other grains has made a difference in the way I feel. It is the sugar that is a struggle. Like in ice cream or my favorite cookies.  I must keep trying to beat that struggle and persevere. 

Copyright © 2020 Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2020  Kathleen G. Lupole