Thursday, October 16, 2014

Doing well, for a change...

The other day I noticed that I have been fully vegan for a while now. That insight came as a bit of a surprise because I hadn't really planned to do that - I was following Mark Bitman's *Vegan Before 6* and thought I would continue with that the rest of my life - or until a really good creamy or cheesey lunch desert came my way. However, I found some web sites that had vegan recipes that were really tasty and so I wasn't having any trouble making a nice dinner for myself (my teens have no interest in any form of healthy eating and certainly aren't going to do anything I do). I found great soups for lunch and I stick with my two pieces of toast for breakfast (Ezekial Bread). So, easy peasy. I don't feel like I'm dieting, but I sure have more energy. I've had no trouble finding really tasty vegan food in restaurants so I haven't had to give up my lovely Friday night dinners out. 

I think that besides finding great recipes, my last health tests were bad enough to scare the meat eating thoughts right out of my brain. Just dropping meat gets rid of a great deal of fat intake and I have to do that or I might as well start saving up for my funeral. 

I thought Thanksgiving might be a problem, but even though the turkey and all smelled great, I didn't feel the least bit tempted - I made some vegan side dishes that everyone ate along with the turkey and that I used as my meal. So, maybe this will last. 

Three people have commented that I look like I'm losing weight. I know most people would be weighing themselves, but as chronic failed dieter, I don't go that route. Maybe one day I will wake up and find that I need to buy new clothes, and when that happens I'll assume some pounds are gone. 

I find that dealing with my chronic conflict kids is also much easier as I feel so much better. I have the emotional strength to not engage in their conflicts with me, and instead I stay calm, empathetic to their feelings, and I am quiet. My breathing keeps me thinking and my decision to parent from my heart instead of my temper remains firm. Of course, I will blow it on occasion, but that is better than doing so every time. I've noticed that one of my ragers is raging less and overtly seeking cuddles from me daily, and that's a huge change. The other temper dysregulated teens are unchanged, but now that I only attempt to change me, it just isn't as big a problem. 

Okay my friend - you are entitled to a better day - so grab onto that with all of your heart. 

And, here's a really nice recipe from my favorite vegan food blogger - Susan Voisin at Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

Spanish Rice with Black Beans

This is a mildly seasoned dish. 


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green or yellow pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely diced (add more or less to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned fire-roasted, liquid reserved)
  • 1 1/2 cup black beans (or 1 15-ounce can), rinsed well
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chili powder (or other pure, mild chili powder)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (or more, to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat a deep, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to brown. Add the pepper, jalapeno, and garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes. If it becomes too dry, add a little vegetable broth or reserved tomato juice. Check the flavor, and add salt and additional seasonings to taste.
Preparation time: 15 minute(s) | Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
Nutrition (per serving): 172 calories, 11 calories from fat, 1.3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 89.9mg sodium, 324.8mg potassium, 34.7g carbohydrates, 5.9g fiber, 2.6g sugar, 6.2g protein, 4.9 points.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New book a while...

As always, I get nowhere slowly. I have now changed my eating to fully vegan and feel great, but my health tests aren't reflecting that at all. Maybe it hasn't been long enough, who knows. My body is just made for famine- it hangs on to fat no matter what. I won't stop eating this way despite the lack of weight loss because I feel better and its nice to do something good for the planet ie not eating animals and for myself ie not eating fats.

In my parenting life, I so often feel ineffective and unhappy - living with ragers will do that to a person - but at least this way I feel like something I do has an impact, albeit a tiny impact that no one really cares about.

I've started a new book on Conflict Resolution for Hazardous Families. I've taken a great deal of training in conflict resolution in the past years (certified as a mediator and as a conflict coach and a divorce coach) and I've found that a lot of it is presented as if both parties are neurotypical and have a choice in how they react. Well, our kids don't have much choice when their brains are altered by pre-natal exposure to drugs, alcohol and maternal stress hormones, and then the great follow up of neglect, abuse, changing caregivers, and finally - adapting to adoption by strangers. So, their brains are wired for survival through anger and conflict. They may mellow out over time, but it will be a long time - hence - my decision to write a book and follow it up with training for others who want to teach parents how to manage chronic family conflict. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

In the meantime, here's a great recipe from one of my favourite vegan sites: Planeat 
This is a vegan version of eggs benedict - its not something I would normally make - too much work and too complicated for me on a busy morning, but its a good recipe for a brunch or a treat.

Vegan 'Eggs' Benedict

Vegan Hollandaise Sauce
  • 6 pepper corns
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 80g silken tofu
  • 125g/4oz vegan margarine
  • 1tsp turmeric
  • 4tbsp white wine vinegar
  • lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Scrambled Tofu
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion
  • ½ cup soya milk
  • 1 block tofu (200g or 250g) crumbled
  • 3 medium vine tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp English mustard
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Muffins & Veggie Bacon
  • 1 packet English muffins
  • 1 packet vegan bacon (eg Redwoods)


    Vegan Hollandaise Sauce:
    1. Put the vinegar in a small pan with the peppercorns and bay leaf. Reduce the vinegar over a high heat until there is only 1 tbsp left. Strain the peppercorns and the bay leaf from this reduction.
    2. Put the silken tofu in a food processor with the vinegar reduction.
    3. Gently melt the marg so the solids fall to the bottom of the saucepan.
    4. Add the turmeric and turn the food processor on and slowly pour the marg on to the tofu with the motor still running. The sauce will start to thicken. When only the margarine solids are left, stop.
    5. If the sauce is too thick, add a little hot water.
    6. Season to taste with salt and pepper and a little lemon juice. Set aside to cool.

    Scrambled Tofu:
    1. Fry the onion and garlic on a low heat until soft.
    2. Stir in the flour, followed by the soya milk.
    3. Add the tofu, tomatoes, mustard and stir for 3 mins.

    Muffins & Veggie Bacon:
    1. Slice and toast two muffins and spread lightly with vegan margarine
    2. Grill or fry 4 slices of vegan bacon according to packet instructions

    To serve:
    Plate up two muffin halves on a plate, spoon on scrambled tofu, then top with vegan bacon and a dollop of hollandaise. Serve immediately.
    - See more at:

    Sunday, August 17, 2014

    I want my waist back...

    I've been thinking about how long its been since I had a waist. I used to have a lovely waist - I loved to wear my shirts and blouses tucked in with a nice belt to highlight my slimness. Well, I don't think my youngest 5 kids have ever even seen me with a waist  - they likely think I was born without one. 

    In looking at old pictures, it seems to have begun disappearing around the time we were first learning that one our sons had a diagnosis of conduct disorder (as well as fasd and adhd). To be clear, I don't blame my son, but I do blame the conduct disorder. The amount of stress that living with someone who has that disorder is huge - and no one was talking about stress management for parents back then. We were all (including me) writing books about how to effectively parent kids who are chronically non-compliant, but no one (including me) was writing any books on how to survive and thrive as the parent of such a person. 

    I've since parented several children with that and other diagnoses and my waist became less and less visible with each. We just didn't know about the link between cortisol and obesity - or the link between lack of sleep and obesity. I am okay with the cortisol link now - I manage my stress very well and my book *Recovery from Hazardous Parenting* is all about that.

     I still don't know what to do about the lack of sleep. 

    For those of you who haven't parented kids who are occasionally violent and are chronically non-compliant, then let me explain ----- those of us who are parenting kids with these issues don't have the luxury of going to bed when we're tired. We often have to stay up, or at least stay awake, as long as the acting out child or youth is threatening or raging or behaving in a way that indicates potential danger to others, or simply won't stop being noisy, or won't stop stomping in and out of the parents' bedroom with various complaints and demands. This can happen often, and so sleep becomes something we do when we can, not when we need to. I'm sure we all use every known de-escalating technique with our kids, and sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Either way, sleep is not on the agenda. And then, there is the need to calm and re-assure the other kids after the rager calms. I can't simply roll over and start counting sheep - I need to make sure that my other kids have processed their cortisol in a healthy way so they don't become fat victims like me. 

    So, yes indeed, I blame the mental health issues for my lost waist - but I'm doing better at recovering it. Still swimming almost daily and eating really well on my Vegan Before 6 food plan (Mark Bitman). I don't weigh myself because that is self defeating for me, but I have noticed that a couple of pairs of my jeans are loser around the upper thigh - so something is changing. Yippee!

    Well, off to buy school supplies today - 4 kids in high school and my last in elementary school. Might have one or two in college this year as well. 

    Hey, remember my friends, you are entitled to a better day.  If you have the time or the inclination, please check out my videos on Youtube (search my name) or my adoption course at (search my name or Adoption, What You Need To Know). 

    Here's a tasty treat for those mornings when you feel like something special and you've got time to really cook. 

    Pan-Seared Oatmeal with Blueberries from Jerry James Stone (@jerryjamesstone) Living / Easy Vegetarian Recipes

    October 5, 2011

    This recipe uses honey which I know most vegans don't like to consume - but I just can't let go of honey yet - so many health benefits and I don't think it harms the bees in the production process, so I still use it, even before 6. 
    • 1 1/2 cups steel-cut (Irish) oats
    • 2 cups coconut milk
    • 2 cups water
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    Honey-Poached Blueberries
    • 1 small carton of blueberries
    • 1 cup of honey
    • In a large saucepan, add the water, coconut milk, brown sugar, salt, and oats, and bring to a boil.Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes, until thick.
     Pour the oatmeal into baking dish and cool at room temperature for at least an hour. When the oatmeal sets, it becomes a bit cake-like and is a lot easier to sear.
     Lightly coat your frying pan with some cooking spray and turn up the heat.
    Cut the oatmeal into equally-sized cuts and sear each piece on each side.
    Bring the honey to a high boil in a small sauce pan.
    Put the washed blueberries in a small baking dish or a bowl and pour the boiling honey over the top of them. Let stand. .Top the pan-seared oatmeal with blueberries.

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    We've returned from a *sort of* vacation. Our main goal was to have my mom's ashes interred in the little cemetery in Kaslo. My mom spent the happiest years of her life in this little village  and she bought the plot beside her own mom many years ago and was always very clear that this was what she wanted. It's a very old cemetery, on the mountainside. Mom and I used to visit there on occasion when I was a child and teen and even as an adult- we would read the old headstones, some dating back to the 1800's, and just enjoy the beauty of the place. I've always found it very peaceful with a calming energy. The local Anglican minister gave the internment rite, and one of my adult children and her family, along with my 5 youngest, and my four cousins, all attended. My daughters sang the Lord's Prayer. It was really a beautiful and moving ceremony. As we left the town, I felt the first sense of ease within myself that I have experienced since mom died a year ago. I can finally move on. 

    So, the rest of the vacation was about swimming in the beautiful Kootenay Lake and the incredible Slocan River, and visiting family and having fun. 

    Then, we got home. And, if you are a hazardous parent, you know that it all had to go downhill at that point. My most fragile teen did her predictable meltdown, with the most foul name calling she's done so far, as well as some kicking and destruction. I had tried to be proactive and prevent this, but nothing was going to work. So, we went into rage survival mode for a few hours. A change from her younger years is that now when she comes out of the rage state, there are other forms of acting out, and there is no opportunity for nurturing her or re-connecting. Well, this isn't my first trip to this rodeo - we'll manage. 

    I've learned the hard way that if I can't help my child, I can at least help myself, so, I didn't let it stop me from getting to my gym and having my swim. I've become quite diligent about that and I hope I can keep it up once I'm back on a regular work schedule and the weather isn't so cooperative. 

    I've also been sticking quite well to Vegan Before 6. It was a little difficult on vacation but I was  at least able to reduce my intake of animal products and was able to stay vegetarian. Of course, most of our vacation was in Nelson, BC and that is a town that thrives on being *alternative* so most food places have really tasty vegetarian and vegan options. 

    Hey, remember, you are entitled to a better day. 

    Here's a lovely recipe for those of you have back yard peach trees, or anyone who loves a peach desert. I'm going to be making this tonight. Its from my favorite vegan food blog. I bet I make something from the recipes on this blog at least once a week if not more.
     Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.
    Peach Upside-Down Cake
    Peach Upside-Down Cake

    Dry ingredients:
    1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 tsp ginger
    1/2 cup natural sugar (I used demerara for all the sugar in this recipe)
    1/8 teaspoon salt

    Liquid ingredients:
    1 cup vanilla soy milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 teaspoon lemon zest (or 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract)

    4 cups peeled and sliced peaches
    2 tablespoons natural, raw or brown sugar
    1/4 cup natural, raw or brown sugar 
    2 tablespoons water

    Preheat oven to 350F.

    Combine the dry ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Combine the liquid ingredients in a separate bowl. Set aside without mixing them together.

    Combine the peaches with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Wipe or spray a 10-inch, well-seasoned cast iron skillet with oil. (This step is very important if you want to be able to get the cake out of the pan.) Begin heating it and add the 1/4 cup (or more) of sugar and the water. Heat and stir until the sugar is completely melted. Continue to cook and stir until the mixture is bubbly and slightly reduced (but be careful not to burn it). Place the peaches on top of the sugar and remove from heat:

    Add the liquid ingredients to the dry, stirring briefly, just to moisten. Pour and smooth the batter over the peaches, covering them entirely. Put the skillet into the oven (you may want to place a cookie sheet or foil on the shelf below it to catch drips) and bake until the sides of the cake pull away from the edges of the pan and a toothpick comes out clean (about 30-40 minutes).

    Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 15-30 minutes. Then, run a knife around the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Place a large plate or serving platter over the top and invert the skillet. Remove the skillet carefully from the cake:

    Be sure to scrape any caramelized juices from the pan and smooth them over the peaches.
    Serve warm or at room temperature, alone or with vanilla non-dairy ice cream. Makes about 6 servings.

    Each serving (based on 8) provides 148 Calories (kcal); 1g Total Fat; (2% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 36g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 166mg Sodium; 2g Fiber. With the sugar and white flour, it's hardly health food, but it is loaded with fruit and is almost totally fat-free.

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Summer time blues...

    The temperature now is very hot for the Canadian West Coast - around 30 daily, and the nights don't seem to cool off much. The good thing is that it makes eating less very easy, but it makes the risk of drinking sugary or unhealthy drinks very high. I know I grab whatever is handy at times (canned ice tea, pop)  instead of making sure it's sugar free or has some health value to it. 

    I've also been stressed in a way I haven't experienced for a long time. A grown up child returned for a short and disastrous visit; and, my teens are spending way too much time together so they ARGUE and YELL and SWEAR constantly.  

    The disastrous visit was heartbreaking. Most of my adult kids are doing well - they may be struggling but their struggles are just what you go through in life as an adult - no protection for that. This one, though, has extra burdens that keep him from creating a good life for himself and don't allow him to understand that it could be better with the right help. Maybe someday that will happen for him, but not today, and that shatters me. It also sends me right back to the high stress I experienced while he was growing up - always being hyper alert and ready to respond to react to some kind of unpredictable behaviour. I had let go of that over the last few years, but it's amazing how fast that returns. 

    He left today to return to the town he's been living in for the last few years. I hugged him and said I loved him ---a slight hug in return, nothing more. I guess that's my greatest sorrow - that I can't ever seem to help him understand that I really do love him with all my heart and soul. Or, does that even matter to him?

    As for my teens, not much I can do. I schedule in programs and plan for things as I can, but teens make their own choices to a large extent. I am grateful that I'm not dealing with drugs and alcohol so far, but my pride takes a huge nose dive as I hear them screaming their foul words for the neighbors and all to hear. I assume that my neighbors think we parents swear like that in the home (we don't), or that we have never, ever tried to get our children to learn conflict management (we do - and are working on that more and more) - but 5 adolescents + temper dysregulation disorder + fasd+ adhd+ anxiety = loud and obnoxious. 

    Next week we go on vacation to visit my family in the Kootenays. Will we survived the 12 hour drive and the week in a hotel? At this moment I have my doubts. 

    So, time for major stress management - that means extra swimming time and more meditating and making sure my oxygen intake is strong. Maybe a little wine wouldn't be a bad idea - but only if it's chilled!

    Here's a nifty vegan snack for hot afternoons. Chop up a few fresh vegetables and make an easy kale hummus dip. Easy peasy and low cal, healthy, and fast. 

    • 3 cups kale, de-stemmed
    • 1 can of chickpeas, well-rinsed and drained
    • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
    • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
    • ¼ cup tahini
    • ½ tsp sea salt
    • ½ tsp black pepper
    1. Add everything to a food processor or high-powered blender and process until smooth.
    2. Enjoy as a dip for raw veggies or crackers, as a spread in a sandwich or wrap or use a dollop on top of a fresh salad.
    3. Store in the fridge in an air-tight container.