I woke up on morning 9, very excited about the day. We had friends visiting from out of town who used to live here in Connecticut. They are the best house guests ever, they come and go as they please, never get in the way, let us know in advance if they are dining with us or not, and are never intrusive. We look forward to their visits and, because one of them is from here, the added bonus is that she has many friends and some family who still reside here so they visit. On this particular visit, we decided to host a BBQ and invite a few friends and former co-workers and made this BBQ a successful visit with people we haven’t seen in a long time, and catch up on each other’s lives. It was sure to be a wonderful day.
In the morning, I got up and prepared my Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. I have to say, I love these quick rolled oats, they are really creamy and gluten free. I’m not sure I would have sought out gluten free, but these happened to be and I will buy these time and time again. The oatmeal recipe was tasty and my favorite combination of apples and cinnamon, so I was a happy camper right out of the gate.
In preparing for the BBQ, my husband and I visited our deep freezer to figure out what the day’s menu would entail. Hot dogs are a given when children are invited, so we took those out along with Italian Sausage, a spiral honey baked ham, and two whole chickens. This BBQ we did things a bit differently, we actually took people up on their offers to bring something along, so we opted to allow others to prepare side dishes. My husband smoked the honey baked ham to perfection, prepared the chickens to make smoked beer can chicken, and the hot dogs and sausage were grilled to perfection. And then it happened…one of my friends walked in with two T-Bone steaks…cut thick…my mouth started to immediately drool…when I was a meat eater, I loved T-Bones. I loved any steak, actually, and my preference was for the steak to hover slightly over an open flame or, better still, for someone to strike a match in the next room and I would call my steak done. The rarer, the better. Blue steak would be my preference. This was a temptation that I would talk about to myself from the moment that she plopped the steaks down on the counter, my self-talk went something like this: “So, there’s some left elbow pain right there, some high blood pressure sitting on that counter. Do you see that swelling in your ankles? Hey, Shirl, how about you eat a bite of that steak and have a sleepless night tonight?!?” And do you know what? It worked. My salivary glands calmed right down and I happily trotted off to consume the beautifully colorful bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup that I began to make right after breakfast. I self-talked myself right back into success and away from my saboteur. This was another proud moment in my life. I chose, actively, HEALTH over Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I chose to be sleeping, pain free, and swelling free rather than to indulge for even one bite of a plump succulent steak. Yes. It looked good. Yes. I wanted one all to myself. However, YES, my health and happiness are more important than a moment of satisfaction that will result in so much negativity. I passed a milestone.
The soup was tasty. When I was roasting the vegetables and apples, I was having a hard time not simply eating them as they were on the roasting pan! Honestly, the house smelled like an autumn evening should smell. I made the soup and wondered if texture would present itself as an issue again, but it didn’t. The recipe allows for an adjustment of vegetable stock for thickness. I utilized the option and made it slightly thicker than a soup, but not as thick as a stew. It was tasty. Another recipe that I will turn to and another opportunity to try my hand at freezing the remainder of the pot that wasn’t consumed. I’m building a stock-pile of great plant based eating options!
Dinner was upon us and guests were arriving for the festivities. If you have ever been to my house, you know that there is never a shortage of food, good times, great company, and laughter. I love my home. I love the people who gather there and make it my home…our home…and I love that people are comfortable in our little corner of the world affectionately dubbed “The Cottage Kingdom” by great close friends many years ago. I decided to allow people to also have healthier plant based options, so I made a fabulous jicama salad with all kinds of fresh, raw veggies like radishes, cucumbers, spinach, arugula, romaine, fresh chives from my garden, and red onions. I also made a cauliflower tabouli. A friend brought all veggie “sushi” rolls which were amazingly beautiful and quite tasty, and another friend brought chips, a summer veggie pasta salad, and another brought corn (the same one who brought steak, of course, she’s evil) and there were chips and dips and such. The BBQ was in full swing. Again, I challenged myself to stay focused and not to stray from my plan. In order to do so, I returned to day 8. Instead of making the planned menu of raw zucchini alfredo, I returned to the eggplant rollatini and ate the left overs. Intrigued, I offered everyone a taste. Some liked it, some did not, others were unsure and didn’t even bother to try it, and the meat-loving corn bringer, she doesn’t eat anything except meat, potatoes and corn, so she also refused. Now, if you read day 8, you know that the last person who matters in this tale of egg plant rollatini is The Grand Pope of Pasta himself, my Italian Husband, Willie…he took a large mouth full of warmed up eggplant rollatini and he declared ‘THIS MEAL SHALL BECOME A STAPLE IN OUR HOME AND CASHEW CHEESE MAY NOW BE DUBBED UNSINFUL” There you have it, folks. He actually LOVED it. It will make a command performance again in the Lenhard household. I was satisfied. My guests were satisfied. I did not feel cheated, neglected, or deprived at all. I set myself up for success and then I succeeded.
This was a great day! I moved on from my left overs to my snack when everyone else was enjoying ice pops and cookies, I had my 22 day nutrition bar. I loved the fruit flavors and the sweetness of the bar, it acted just fine as a dessert. I’m finding that when people are watching me enjoy my new plant based eating, they are inquisitive enough to ask questions and to ask if they can try what I’m having, so the bar got passed around…happily.
Today’s observations are that when people hear that I am doing a plant based life change, they usually start talking, quite uncomfortably, about how many vegetables that they consume. They start talking fairly rapidly about how they would be more plant based in their eating habits if not for…(insert reasons here)…husband, kids, life, etc. I find myself listening and thinking that I don’t really need their guilt or justification about why they eat the way they eat. I just want to enjoy my left elbow bending AND straightening. I want to enjoy living pain free for the last 9 days. I want to remember that I was in so much pain from 1989 until now that I never want to feel it again. I want to sing from the roof tops that my quality of life is so much richer as a result of this conscious decisions. I want to tell them that it’s ok if they choose something different. I am not politically motivated. I am not morally motivated. I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually motivated to feel this way, this way that I feel on day 9, every day for the rest of my life, however long that it. I want to feel alive and alert. I want to not only feel, but believe and actively choose that in life there are one of two things that we all get…(1) results or (2) reasons…and I now have and continue to want results!