Low cal, clean recipes.

Low fat Chili

  1. 1 lb. grass fed happy cow meat, ground
  2. 28 oz. tomato sauce
  3. 28 oz. diced tomatoes
  4. 16 oz. red kidney beans
  5. 16 oz. white kidney beans
  6. 16 oz. can corn
  7. 1 red and one yellow pepper
  8. 1 med onion
  9. cayanne pepper, red pepper flakes

dice peppers. dice onion. throw in skillet with ground beef. Brown beef.

In stock pot: sauce, tomatoes, beans, corn. Add in beef, pepper, onions when done. toss in a little salt. I used 1/4 packet of hot chili seasoning packet. I added maybe a cup or two of water to thin it a bit.

You can also add in 1/2 lb. sausage. Red wine. Green chili’s. The red wine is FAB but I didn’t have any in the house.

The recipe above makes 12 cups and is 221 calories per serving (per cup).

Chicken Curry Soup:

  1. 1.5 cups carrots
  2. 2 cups chopped fresh kale
  3. 6 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  4. 1/8 c. coconut oil
  5. 8 oz chicken tenderloins
  6. 32. oz fat free free range chicken broth
  7. cup water
  8. 1/8 cup (aprox) curry powder
  9. 1 can northern beans
  10. juice of two limes

in stock pot: melt oil, add in curry and lime juice. Stir in carrotts, kale, chicken, mushrooms. saute until chicken is cooked. add in beans. broth. water. simmer. Makes 8 cups. 100 calories per cup.

Cigarettes.

Cigarettes. The newest taboo. The filthy, filthy cigarette.

Today I was conducting some business at the bank, and my heavily bearded, perfectly coiffed teller had his Vape sitting just out of eyesight. (he simply could not have been more cliche`) Because I’m on the lower side of tall, I could see it perfectly from my vantage point, tho I think the intent was it to be out of sight. I had already been thinking about the subject after reviewing a marketing piece in the morning. One of the examples of killer marketing (pun intended) was the Marlboro man. Just seeing the Marlboro ad made my mouth salivate for that lung biting inhale off a Red.

My first foray into the land of the rolled tobacco was on the playground. My next door neighbor was an older girl, much more experienced in the world, as children from my neighborhood tended to be.  I remember swinging on the swings and her lighting up and goading me into taking a drag. I wasn’t hard to convince. Even at a young age I had a proclivity towards rebellion. From that point on, I can remember several neighborhood spots we’d find to smoke at. I don’t think I’d quite lived a decade at this point. I still remember her one piece of advice. “Never smoke and chew gum at the same time, it will give you mouth cancer”. To this day I can not have a smoke without a piece of gum in my mouth. And I still think “good lord I”m going to get mouth cancer from this”.

It wasn’t until middle school that I took a renewed interest in smoking.  A bowling alley sat situated between my neighborhood and the one where my “rich” friends lived. I took quite the delight in stopping and buying a pack of smokes from the vending machine. I can only imagine how this 60 lb. pre-pubescent version of myself looked dragging off a cigarette outside the bowling alley, trying to be a bad-ass. Probably as absurd as it looks in my head.

My allegiance for many years was to the Marlboro. We could pick them up at the mall, or the bowling alley, or really about anywhere. They were easy to ask for. Nothing would trip you up faster with the little old ladies working the register than to ask for the wrong type of cigarette. You had to ask for it like you meant it, or tell them they were for your mother. Either way, mess it up, and they’d deny you. This was the early 80’s and no one really gave too much of a care about kids smoking. We smoked IN THE MALL. Sometimes I simply forget that people smoked EVERYWHERE. If you went to the mall on any given weekday, you’d find a handful of kids in the food court, or inside Aladdin’s Castle chain-smoking away while ditching school. Man, we had it made.

In my late teens, after I had graduated from high-school the roommate of a co-worker at my new “adult” job at the home improvement store took a liking to me and my friends. He offered up his place as a place to hang out, do our homework, whatever. He kept his fridge supplied with wine coolers and lite beer. Cartons of cigarettes on the counter. All the pot. This is when menthols entered my life. Salems to be exact. Pack after pack after pack of free smokes. It was only in retrospect, sometime after he introduced me to his young children, that I realized that he wasn’t just a kindly older dude who was being nice to some college students. After a few months I got the clue. I also failed out of my first semester of college, and got kicked out of the house. It was time to get my own place. And go back to my trusty Reds.

Eventually I got married. (like 2 years later) and settled down and started having kids. I quit cold turkey when I found out I was pregnant with Taylor. I never smoked around my kids. I’d have a smoke with my sister-in-law at holidays. I’d buy a pack if I was going out with my girlfriends. I’d have one here and there but not much. I had switched to the ultra popular, Virginia Slim Menthols. My sister-in-laws smoke of choice. It seemed classier for a mom to smoke those over Reds.

Then one day, I decide to get divorced. And my habit started again in earnest. I now sit on my porch, smoking. A lot. As soon as the kids go to bed I sit outside and chain-smoke and drink wine. I can still feel my eye twitch from my anxiety, while I take a long drag. Filling my lungs with blue smoke, exhaling. Something to focus on other than my world imploding. I would find this to be a pattern that would repeat. With each subsequent relationship, and subsequent end to the relationship, I’d find myself, on my front steps. Breathing in, breathing out. Letting it drift around me, envelope me, my sadness.

I take a job in radio sales. Everyone smokes. You smoke with your co-workers. You smoke with your clients. It’s the martini of the early 2000’s. Its the socially acceptable bonding ritual. Sure you have to go outside to do it, but that’s where you take your break. Flirt with the Dj’s, chat up your co-workers, convince your boss that next big sale is right around the corner.

Then somewhere along the line, everyone quit. Even I cut back to 1 or 2 a day, at night with my partner. More on the weekends. But people weren’t bonding over smoking anymore. It was becoming taboo. You couldn’t smoke anywhere. It was a relief, to go to a bar and not chain smoke. It was gross to go outside to the cattle pen with the other smokers. It smelled bad. It looked worse.

Not long ago, I was up in Chicago. I was back up to about a pack a day. After a series of devastating life events I had gone back to my old friend. I walked out of a bar in Old Town, to have a smoke. I get out to the street and there is no one else out there. It’s Memorial Day weekend. The ‘Hawks are playing their final game for the cup and there is not a single smoker on the street. I had a full fledged panic attack. Was I the last smoker? Was everyone just inside vaping away? Had everyone quit?

I had to sit down on the curb.  Arms crossed over my knees. Head on my arms. My trusty American Spirit (the healthy cigarette), dangling between my fingers. “I am a dinosaur”. I. Am. A. Dinosaur”.

A young man sits down next to me. “can i bum a light?”  I look up, into his fresh face, with his ridiculous beard. “I thought I was the last one. You still exist. We still exist. The last two smokers in Chicago”

He looks up and down the street. Then back at me. “everyones just in watching the game.”

And a handful of people come out of the bar and light up.

I tend to be overly dramatic.

_________________________________

I recently decided I was no longer going to be a slave to the habit. I cut back from about a pack a day to about a pack a week. If that. I don’t smoke in my car. I might give in to one in the evening. I’ll go days at a time without one at all. I know that if I’m ever coupled again, it’s likely my partner won’t smoke and that is probably when I’ll quit for good. When I have someone who wants to kiss my face and doesn’t appreciate the mint/tobacco combo. And I’m good with that. Or maybe I’ll get to the point where I’m just done. I feel close.

Cigarettes and I. We have a long history, longer than any friendship. Any boyfriend. We go back. Back even farther to memories of my own mother, sneaking out to the back porch to smoke her super thin cigarettes. (Capris – do you remember Capris?!)The way my dad would smell after coming home from the theatre, hanging out with his actor friends, where of course, everyone smoked. Stealing his Pall Malls, or Winstons out of his jacket pocket. My first boyfriends who all smoked by middle school. All the tv bad boys kept a pack rolled up in their shirt sleeve or in the front pocket of their leather jacket.

I’m glad its becoming a thing of the past. I know on the long list of things that might kill me it’s pretty high. But I don’t regret my relationship. It’s a part of my past. It’s gotten me through a lot of dark days. But I’m leaning into new, healthier, less anecdotal vices. I feel like that should make me happier than it does.

Letting go.

When Taylor was born and her first Christmas came around I went out and got her a Baby’s First Christmas ornament from Hallmark. In fact, I think I got two. And most years afterwards, minus a few years here and there, after the holiday I would take the kids out and let them pick out an ornament. We have several Barbies (sidebar: I never liked the Barbie thing, but was over ridden by my in-laws. It was one of those battles I didn’t put up too much of a fight about but I recall it causing me angst. She grew up to be a big mouth feminist so parents: they watch you no matter what you let them play with . . .). We have Star Wars and Simpsons, Disney Characters, Nightmare before Christmas . . the list goes on. I’m not a big holiday person. I’m not a big Christmas person. In fact, I kind of loathe the holiday. But I love our family traditions, and we have several during that season. But my favorite, outside of decorating the cookies is getting out the ornaments. I love to watch the kids separate out their individual boxes, hang theirs. I like to watch them laugh about the ones they made in school, we try to remember which lucky spider belongs to who. (whom?) When Steve and I split, we split up our ornaments. He took his, I kept mine (my Oscar the Grouch being my favorite). He took the Doors and Alice Cooper. It’s kind of a thing. The ornaments.

The idea behind the ornaments for the kids is that when they are grown and move out on their own, they would have a minimum of 18 ornaments to start their own holidays with. A minimum of 18. Taylor has 23. Chase has 17. Harry 14.

Taylor graduates in May. After 5 years of working her ass off she will graduate from BSU with her RN. I anticipate in December of ’16, she might want those ornaments for her own tree. Or maybe she will want them this year, for her and Eddie in their apartment.

And Chase, he might want them for his place. Because he now has a place. He will have his 17 ornaments and he might want them for his own tree. Or maybe he will want to stay here Christmas eve with me, like we all have done for the last forever many years. But this year might be different. I just don’t know yet.

I’m not sure as parents, we are ever entirely prepared to let go. With Tay, it’s been a gradual process. A year at Hanover. Where she was far away, but she was at College! We were excited for her. Then she moved to BSU. And then she started staying with Eddie on breaks. And she sometimes stayed here but mostly was there. Then she eventually was just there when she came home but she’s in her 20’s. It felt gradual and natural.

This feels like chopping off a limb. It hurts. Its jarring and sudden and unexpected.

It hurts.

I remember Steve and I talking, long before we had kids, (like that whole year we dated and maybe that whole year were were married before we had kids) about how we would raise them, and what we wanted for them. As two dumb ass kids who took every hard path, we wanted to raise them to be smart, self sufficient, independent, critical thinking explorers. We wanted them to care about people, about the earth. About themselves. About others. We wanted to raise them to be fearless, but cautious. (is that a thing? we wanted it anyway)

I was hoping they would get the best of us. Minus our self destruction, minus our impetuousness.   Our combined deep thinking, without the anxiety and depression being hyper aware of the depth and complexity of the universe and life itself can bring. Steves practical side, like the ability to pay bills on time, combined with a strong work ethic. My drive, independence, do it my own damn self attitude and unwavering passion to find beauty even when life is handing you a bowl of shit.

They all got a heavy dose of anxiety with a side helping of depression. It’s in their DNA and they got a hefty dose. But the are dealing with it in the right ways.

Taylor has worked both during school and in the summers to pay for all the expenses of her education that loans dont cover. Chase is working 35 hours a week on an organic farm and schooling online 30 hours a week. Harrison still likes me to bring him snacks in his room and by god I’m going to continue to do so.

When I was deep in the throws of a good 36 hour cry after Chase told me kindly and with tears that he was getting his own place, a good friend said to me “He wants to do it himself, he wants to get out there and make his place in the world. Who does that sound like H?”

I wish he had taken a different path. But we have known for a long time Chase’s path wasnt going to be college/job/family.  He’s going to do it his way. He’s clean. He’s sober. He’s alive. He’s happy. And these are all things that we weren’t sure we would see in him at the age of 18. He’s had a hard road. And he pulled himself through the worst of things. Just like his sister, and he’s making his way. Just like she is making hers, only different. One can only hope Harrison will follow in both of their footsteps, one way or another.

I always say, however these three kids were placed with Steve and I, we got damn lucky. We’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. Those kids have saved us both in multiple ways. I just hope we have given them enough back, to have an easier road. That’s all I think we really want for our kids, for them to be happy, and healthy and to not have to fight too damn hard to find that. I think they did get the best of us, and because of that, it takes them away to lead their lives. This is healthy, I understand. Logically, I do.

I’m still super sad.

I miss my kid. I miss my kids. I think I’ll go hug the one who now has to take ALL THE HUGS.