Saving the Planet: A Day of Meals Part Two

BACKGROUND

If every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetables and grains … the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off the US roads. Environmental Defense Fund

Studies show that eating can affect our environment. No matter your beliefs on climate change, we should be good stewards of our planet and minimize our carbon footprint, right?

Since 2004, I’ve been experimenting with healthier and more mindful attitudes about health, the environment, climate change, God, compassion for animals and other cultures.

With encouragement from my brother, recent studies and my doctor, I returned to my whole foods, plant based eating on 02 January 2017. As of 25 March 2017, I’ve lost fifteen pounds (those three months include 11 vacation days and a cruise!) and feel fabulous. Check out part one for more details on how it will save my life and yours.

PLANETARY EFFECTS

According to a 2006 study, raising chickens, pigs, cows, and other animals for food contributes nearly one-fifth (18%) of all global human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. A quick Google research reveals that the US has 90-108 million dairy and beef cattle, 68 million pigs and hogs, and 250 million egg-laying hens. Nine billion birds, pigs, and cows are killed for human consumption each year.

These days I’m reducing my contribution to detrimental effects to the environment by not putting animals are on my plate!

To find out how this will save the planet, check out Food Choices and Cowspiracy documentaries and these websites: Methane Impact on Climate Control, Sustainable Management of Food, TryVeg.com, and Environmental Impact of Meat.

Below is a typical day of meals for me. The variety of whole food, plant based choices out there is endless. I hope to share more later. I hope you share yours with me!

A DAY OF EATING

Breakfast

Yellow Corn Grits: prepare per directions or as I do, in a rice cooker.  Stir once or twice. My family will then add soy milk or almond milk, but I prefer it plain. Mix with a 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries (thawed), tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, flaked organic coconut, and a dash or four of cinnamon.  All to your taste of course.

Lunch

Hummus Open-Face Sandwich;  Use half of a toasted Food for Life English muffin. Spread hummus with a generous hand. Use your own chickpea dip or one of the great prepared ones out there. I like Trader Joe’s’ Chunky Olive Hummus dip. Top with olive tapenade OR tabouli salad and shredded basil leaves to taste. Sides: sliced carrots and cucumber. Dessert: handful of dried Turkish apricots and six macadamia nuts.

Snack

Mixed nut butter and fruit spread sandwich Use your preferred Food for Life bread. I like the cinnamon raisin.

Dinner

Vegetables soup and salad for a chilly night.  My grandma called this hobo stew. I call it “clean out the fridge” soup. To a pot of veggie broth, add left over cans of beans, rice, mushrooms, chunked cabbage, shredded onion, and other veggies you may have like sweet potato or russets or zucchini. Bring to a hard boil and then simmer till at your preferred taste and consistency. My mom likes to add leftover puréed tomatoes to the broth. To a mixed green leaf salad, I’ll top with sliced beets, diced celery and cauliflower sprigs and spray lightly with olive oil and drizzle with a favorite balsamic vinegar. Dessert: melon chunks.

Again, thanks to Dr. Greger’s daily dozen in his How Not to Die book, I’m fully satisfied after eating and lost cravings almost immediately. I recommend Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live if you want to read more about health benefits.

Other good news this week … LILLIAN IN THE DOORWAY 

OC Writers is publishing a three part series on plotting, the fun and easy way.

Check out the second post at: http://ocwriters.network/2017/03/23/love-plot-part-2-promise/

Michelle Dutton’s historical novel, Lillian in the Doorway  that is featured in the article, is available on Amazon.

Happy reading and eating!   Michelle Knowlden

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Saving My Life: A Day of Meals Part One

BACKGROUND

Since 2004, I’ve been experimenting with healthier and more mindful attitudes about health, the environment, climate change, God, compassion for animals and other cultures. To quiet irritated friends, my nutritionist, family and waitresses, I transitioned from Whole Foods, plant-based diet to lacto-0vo vegetarian with fish.  Not only did my carbon footprint increase and my health suffered, but my mindful attitude about the above went kaput.

With encouragement from my brother, recent studies and my orthopedic doctor, I returned to my original eating on 02 January 2017. Even with an 11 day break for a cruise, I’ve now lost ten pounds and feel fabulous.

To find out how this will save my life, check out the Food Choices and Forks over Knives documentaries, these websites: Nutrition Facts and Hallelujah Acres, and these books: The China Study and How Not To Die.

The hardest part is figuring out what to eat, yes?  After I emptied my pantry, gave away $65 worth of seafood and cleared my fridge, I did the following and saved loads in my grocery bill.

Top shelf of the pantry: cans of beans, jar of organic raspberry fruit spread, dried fruit, organic pumpkin.

Second shelf: jars from bulk lentils, rice, mixed beans, quinoa, oatmeal, mixed grains, raw nuts, and seeds.

Frozen fruit, pumpkin, and Food for Life breads in the freezer.  Fresh produce and herbal iced tea in the fridge.

This is a typical day of meals for me. The variety of whole food, plant based choices out there is endless. I hope to share more later. I hope you share yours with me!

A DAY OF EATING

Breakfast

Oatmeal (rolled) prepare per directions or in crockpot the night before.  No dairy required.  Mix with a 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen berries (thawed), tbsp of ground flax seed, tbsp of chia seeds, tsp of maple syrup (optional), 1/3 banana, a dash of cinnamon and a dash of cardamom.  All to your taste of course.

Lunch

Bean tacos  Use Food for Life corn tortillas. I also use Trader Joe’s. Cheap and simple ingredients. Canned vegan refried beans, rice on the tortillas. Bake for 15 minutes at 325 deg F. Top with avocado, tomatoes, onion, cilantro to taste. DEssert: half a small apple.

Snack

Almond butter and jam sandwich Use your preferred Food for Life bread.

Dinner

Roasted vegetables medley.  Boil a small sweet potato and a golden beet cut in chunks for ten minutes. Spread in a pie pan for one or cookie sheet for more. Cut Brussel sprouts in half and trim cauliflower into small sprigs.  Add carrots (I like rainbow colors) in equitable chunks. Spray lightly with olive oil (optional). Sprinkle with herbs of your choice (basil, cilantro, Mediterranean, paprika, etc). After roasting for 20 minutes at 375 F, add over rice and beans. I like sprouted California rice and red lentils. Dessert: three dates and a tbs of nut butter.

Thanks to Dr. Greger’s daily dozen in his How Not to Die book, I’m fully satisfied after eating and lost cravings almost immediately. I can’t wait to do my blood panels in six months.

Other good news this week …

SINKING SHIP NEWS

Sinking Ships Cover with Eric's pictureOC Writers is publishing a three part series on plotting, the fun and easy way.

Check out the first post at: http://ocwriters.network/2017/02/23/love-plot-part-1/

The Abishag mystery featured in the article is available at Amazon for 99cents.

Happy reading and eating!

Michelle Knowlden

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Puerto Rico: Transatlantic Cruise Part Four

img_3502Fall 2016, I took a transatlantic turnaround cruise with three fellow writers. We ended the cruise in Orlando, Florida and Hogwarts. We started the cruise by spending two days in Barcelona which I talked about in part one. The first port stop was in the Canary Islands which was my part two report. Sea days on the Norwegian Epic ship in part there. Now I’ll talk about the second port stop in Puerto Rico. Our time in Orlando after disembarkation will be the last  post of this series.

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Day Eleven
84F
Wordcount: 0
Wednesday, Puerto Rico, Nov 9, 2016

Docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico about 7:00am. Since we were now back in the USA, we went through passport control on the ship.

A travel buddy and I went off ship to the tourist bureau and had our day mapped out for us. Literally. Then we went to Starbucks and a cold brew for me.

img_3501We walked up to the old fort and around it to the sea. The picture above was taken neat the Plaza San Juan Bautista. Then returned and saw a large green iguana on the verge. We walked up the other side of the fort and got good pictures of the iconic guard towers (see photo to the left). Unfortunately the free trolleys were full so we decided not to go to the second fort and headed instead for the central part of San Juan which had lovely churches and seedy doings. We had a great rooftop lunch which included mahi bites, fish tacos, and shrimp tostones, all Puerto Rican fare. Lovely conversation and a good view of our ship.  img_3504See photo to the right.

Much revived, we returned to Colon Plaza for some shopping, then walked back to the ship. After spending time getting online (little success) and locating my slacks lost in the ship’s laundry (success), we watched Epic leave the harbor with a superb view of the second fort and sunset.

Nice, small, satisfying dinner at the Irish pub after stuffing ourselves at our Puerto Rican lunch feast. A simple salmon and Caesar salad. Lots of post election talk. I still feel peace.

At sea till landing in Florida. Two more days to write words upon words.

Before lights out in my studio, I watched the post-election protests on television and am still at peace.

Till next time, this report respectfully submitted by, Michelle K

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At Sea Days: Transatlantic Cruise Part Three

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Fall 2016, I took a transatlantic turnaround cruise with three fellow writers. We ended the cruise in Orlando, Florida and Hogwarts. We started the cruise by spending two days in Barcelona which I talked about in part one. The first port stop was in the Canary Islands which was my part two report. In this post, I’ll devote to the sea days on the Norwegian Epic ship. I’ll talk about the second port stop in Puerto Rico and our time in Orlando after disembarkation in the last two posts of this series.

Yes, the photo above could be of any sea day of our trip!

Oct / Nov 2016 Cruise Days, Weather in the 70s and 80s

A Typical Day Working

Woke early, showered, dressed, and worked for two hours in the studio lounge with a cappuccino. I met a travelmate for breakfast after a nice Canadian couple led me to the elevators. It is a big ship. After talking to the ships internet guru to solve a connection issue, I took a short break to the view the bridge. Afterwards I returned to the lounge for another round of work with cookies and more cappuccinos.

Lunch was late and another round of sushi.  I think we went to Wasabi five or six times. I grabbed a book and read two chapters sitting aft in the Garden Cafe so I could stare at the sea not a spec of land in sight.

I returned to the lounge for more work, not lasting long, finishing the day editing THIRDS, the YA book I’d like to finish on the cruise. Since I haven’t worked in it since June, I’m re-acquainting myself with it and revising at the same time. Did 68 pages today.  To page 111 the next day.  Now working in the Moderno restaurant (Brazilian). After the writing started: 1130 words, 771, 2095 word days.

On the first day, I tried to take a nap, but the announcement that the Rock of Gibraltar was coming into view interrupted that. At sunset, I took a pile of pictures. The Rock was about five miles away with Spain/Europe behind the rock Starboard and North Africa on the port as we headed for the strait.

A fellow traveler and I went to dinner after that, sharing a table with two British couples. Very nice. Swordfish at the Taste restaurant and split a lava cake.

Time changes again tonight. (I think we experienced six time changes.)

Things We Faced

Exercise: Eight stair flights walked, deck walk next to lifeboats. Writing breaks.

Lots of internet issues. IM was intermittent too.

Election Day 2016: NCL was concerned riots might erupt so wouldn’t televise election news in any public area. So five of us returned to the lounge where the solo travelers watched it. The dismay was palpable when Trump surged ahead. Few were left by 1:00am. I continued to watch it in my room till 3:00. Took a 30 minute break to edit and back up the document. Slept till 5:00 am and found out then that Trump was declared the winner. I’d woken that day at peace and ended the day feeling the same.

Discovered that they had scones every afternoon late in the cruise. Found myself less interested in food and portions were getting smaller. The Irsh pub had a good baked salmon served on a Caesar salad.

Never got tired of meeting new people.

The Ways We Played

One night we saw Barricade Boys, four stage performers who had all played in Les Miz, stage and film. They sang Frankie Vallee and Beatles songs, not to mention a few from Les Miserables. A highlight for me was a song from Queen.

Another night: show was in the Epic theater. Christian Miro, an Argentinian relocated to Spain, comic, mentalist, and magician. Great show. Nice twists on traditional magic acts. Used umbrellas instead of swords.

One afternoon I watched a hypnotist. He taught a method of self hypnosis to lose weight.

Dinner with trave companions and four strangers: Mike, Rob, Sue, and John. I talked much with John and Sue who provided me with good and plentiful color for my Gibraltar section. I love when that happens.

On the last night saw Cirque du Soleil. Many moments of mouthes gaping. Some audience participation. Incredible costumes. Wonderful. Good dinner too.

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Another port city in the part four post!

Till next time, this report respectfully submitted by, Michelle K

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Oranges in Valencia, Spain

I’ll return to the transatlantic stories of November 2016 after this update.

I just completed my 2017 Viking Sea cruise which included another stop in Barcelona. The Secret Mediterranean trip included Italy, Malta, Sardinia, Tunisia, Algeria, and Spain.

A special thrill to hear the Launeddas, a breath instrument, sounding similar to a bagless bagpipe in Sardinia. As the pipes appear in my YA dystopian novel, it was terrific to check facts and get a sense of the music and setting.

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Here’s a brief splurge of memories of my February 2017 Mediterranean trip …

…it was not all about our room steward Von making my bed or finding my favorite hominy porridge with dates for breakfast. It’s Carthage in the sunlight, Algiers from our balcony, orange trees lining the streets in Valencia, mosaics, the shop owner in Tunis with the camels, the falcon on my arm, afternoon tea, papas bravas and the singing and Flamenco, a bravura opera in the Starlite Theater, meeting a couple from Fullerton, California while listening to Launeddas in Sardinia, that PakistanI driver, talks at dinner, passing Sagrada Familia on the way to get coffee, listening to our guide in a glade of 56 pillars, flamingoes in salt flats, green parrots in the palms, churros dipped in chocolate.

Again with the oranges in Valencia, Spain!

The streets were lined with orange trees. Such a happy sight! It made me homesick for the orange ranches back in California. While the guide talked about the medieval history of her city, I thought of our Orange County history touched by mission fathers, conquistadors, Californian Indians, and Mexican laborers. And the orange ranches.

lillian with shoes copyI’m in the early days of sketching out a novella and the second novel in the 1920s Orange Ranch Brides series. The novella will be a brief look at Sadie still trapped by her past but given a peek into possible futures. The draft will be completed before April 1st.

The novel’s beat sheet should be finished mid March. I plan to work on the manuscript, tentatively titled Sadie’s Secret Window, for Camp NaNo April 2017.

The first novel, Lillian in the Doorway (by Michelle Dutton), is available on Amazon. It makes a nice Valentine for those you love.  Including yourself!

Happy reading!  Michelle

 

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Canary Islands: Transatlantic Cruise Part Two

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Fall 2016, I took a transatlantic turnaround cruise with three fellow writers. We ended the cruise in Orlando, Florida and Hogwarts. We started the cruise by spending two days in Barcelona which I talked about in part one. In this post, I’ll skip the first few days of the cruise on the Norwegian Epic ship. I’ll devote one post to the sea days. The ship stopped at two ports before ending the cruise in Orlando.

Oct / Nov 2016 Cruise Day Four: variable temps, Canary Islands

img_3339Realized this morning that I’d lost the battle with the cold. Couldn’t cancel the excursion as this was a key reason for taking this cruise. In my current YA novel and the one I’m toiling over this cruise, the characters make a stop on Tenerife.

K and I took the scenic drive and Mt Teide excursion, about a three hour tour. Weather varied from pleasant 70s at the port to chilly at the higher elevations. While in good condition, the road was narrow for our large, luxury bus nearly full. Looking straight down cliffs was unnerving.

The Canary Islands are part of Spain and we landed on the largest island. The people of Tenerife speak a Spanish dialect closer to South American because of immigration from there and Cuba. Traffic was slow out of Santa Cruz. Part way up, we drove through a pine forest. As we drew closer to the volcano, the landscape grew bleaker, more lunar. We stopped at Papillon, a lovely cafe, and our only toilet stop of the trip. The hot tea wasn’t enough to warm us so we crammed ourselves into the tiny gift shop till the break was over.

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We did pull over for pictures of the coastline and Mt Teide, before we arrived at a caldera with interesting rock formations and our closest approach to the mountain as shown in the photo to the left.

We had a good view of an observatory where they study the sun. Not surprising that Tenerife is a popular place to film movies and documentaries that are set on Mars.

On our return, our guide talked about jobs on the island. The best are in tourism. Engineers are paid a measly $1500 per month, so most go to Spain or other locations for tech jobs.

I had a good soup for lunch, and headed for bed at 2:30. No writing today.

Trip report respectfully submitted by, Michelle K

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Barcelona: Transatlantic Cruise Part One

Fall 2016, I took a transatlantic turnaround cruise with three fellow writers. We ended the cruise in Hogwarts, Florida. We started the cruise by spending two days in Barcelona. This post talks about the first leg of the travel which included good eats, the Basilica, and a theft on the Metro.

Thursday, Oct 27 2016 / lots of getting-there details.  Our airport shuttle picked us up at 3:00am. Our flight wasn’t till 8:30 AM, and we landed at the airport at 4:30 AM. We had Dunkin’ Donuts coffee while we waited, me with a healthy pumpkin donut too. I dashed back for a Caprese sandwich to eat on the plane. It was a five hour flight and the only food was for purchase. Flight left after a 30 minute document delay.

We had a very short layover in New York, and the American Airlines flight to Barcelona went without a hitch. Plane not too crowded, eight hour flight, and great flight attendants. I saw two movies.

img_3335Friday, October 28: Landed at 7:00am. Passport control was easy: languages in Spanish, English, and Catalan. Easy pickup of luggage even with an only 30 minutes at JFK to transfer baggage.

N arrived here yesterday. We’ll board the ship on Sunday.

We’re booked for two nights at a Best Western in an industrial area. They picked us up at the airport and let us check into our rooms early. It’s 9:30am. The decor is industrial chic. Love the bathroom, shower is separated from the rest of the bathroom by glass. Rain shower head. Best part?  The bus to downtown is right next to the hotel and only cost us two euro 15 pence and 20 minutes to get to the Christopher Columbus statue. We passed the harbor where the cruise ships dock on the way.

img_3336K and I walked Las Ramblas, built in 1853, and passed many live painted statues and open air tapas eateries featuring massive cocktails. Lovely architecture that reminded me of New Orleans. Nearly noon, we wanted lunch.  After walking through the famous food hall, seeing many of the places featured on I’ll Have what Phil is Having, we stopped at another open air place. I’m in heaven as we see loads of seafood everywhere. We had black rice paella, calamari, and a lovely salad. So fresh and the best I’ve ever tasted. $46 for two. Stopped at a large chocolate stand for dessert and I had two truffles.

I love meeting natives and tourists in Barcelona. Hotel staff is wonderful with directions as are the bus drivers and people on the street. Met Rod, a business traveler from Chicago, on the way to Las Ramblas and a lovely couple from British Columbia on the way back to the hotel. They said I could live with them.

Saturday, October 29: K and I met for breakfast. Lots of carne in the hotel buffet breakfast: different sausages and cured meats. Breads were served with puréed tomato, like a non-spicy salsa. A few pastries and large croissants and small raised donuts. A cheese platter with a minimalist fruit platter that included sweet melon and pomegranate seeds. Best of all: a cappuccino machine.

Gaudi side of Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona

Gaudi side of Sagrada Familia cathedral in Barcelona

We took the bus to Las Ramblas and then the Metro to Sagrada Familia cathedral. An incredible sight surrounded by gawking crowds. We met N on the modern side. Gaudí designed this side of the cathedral as shown in the photo to the left.

Entrance tickets were booked till Monday night so we couldn’t see inside. From here, we took the metro intending to check out Park Güell also designed by Antoni Gaudí. The park has amazing stone structures, colourful ceramic tiles and the house were Gaudí lived. You can easily spend half a day on a visit to this park. Or so the guidebook says. Chances are we wouldn’t get access to it either.

The excursion became moot as, after we changed trains in the metro, K realized his wallet had been stolen by a pickpocket. K reported it to Metro authorities, who directed us to the closest police station. After consideration, we returned to Las Ramblas and had lunch at Minos. Mine was cold shredded cod on tomatoes and baked, sliced fingerling potatoes. We went from there to a lovely chocolatier for churros and a cup of chocolate for dipping. Then we caught the bus for the hotel, where K was given good advice: report the theft to the police station at the airport as they are better equipped to deal with English speakers. The hotel also offered their shuttle service to take him there and back with no charge.

K is cancelling credit cards and ordering a new driver’s license as we speak. We’ve also developed a preliminary plan for the rest of the trip without his cards. It’s a blessing that he still has his passport, and that he had paper copies of his cards at the hotel.

As N said, what was lost, can be replaced. In reality, the worst is a temporary hassle, nothing that should taint the rest of his vacation.

Plans can change without warning, but the bad is mixed with good.

Sunday, October 30 / Cruise Day One: low 70sF
Interrupted sleep as I made several checks during the night to ensure all devices addressed the Barcelona time change.

I rose early to accompany K to the airport police station to file a report of his pickpocket incident. The policewoman who took our report said she’d also been robbed on the metro. The hotel kindly took us there in their shuttle and retrieved us also. We were at the station approximately an hour.

img_3337We went to Las Ramblas hoping to have squid on eggs but, alas, the food hall, St Josep La Boqueria, isn’t open Sundays. As the Barcelona marathon surged up the street as we arrived, we traveled under the street via a metro tunnel to bypass them.

We returned to the hotel for checkout and caught a taxi to the NCL Epic dock. Although crowded, it was perhaps the quickest check-in I’ve experienced with them. They processed 9000 passengers in approximately three hours. I’m getting the hang of unpacking in the studios, pleased that everything was neatly put away in thirty minutes. We had a late buffet lunch and an early sushi dinner with a cappuccino somewhere between. The ship sailed at 5:00pm.

In bed before 9:30.

Trip report respectfully submitted by, Michelle K

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