Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stuff Will Happen

If we listen to all the messages about healthy living, healthy aging, never aging, etc., it's easy to assume that if we live a reasonably healthy life--eat well, exercise regularly, manage stress, keep our weight in check, not smoke, not drink too much--we'll sail actively through our 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond. . . That we'll thrive all the way to immortality, or at least a greatly-deferred mortality.

Surprisingly, even if we do most things right, "stuff happens". Blame it on genetics, the environment, or just bad luck, life will sometimes stop us in our busy tracks. It's happened to me several times, even though I lead a healthy, active life.

I can watch my parents' generation soldiering through their 90s and say that I have at least 25 years before I need to worry about home care or other support systems of the very old. 

But the truth is that stuff can happen anytime, so I've been getting pro-active about creating a support structure for myself now.

For instance, last year I made some simple changes to my house so that if I need household or errand assistance, there's a separate suite to house a future aide. What's important to me is living with my dog and my garden, so I want to make sure I can stay at home to enjoy both.

And, in a few weeks I need outpatient surgery. To keep me safe at home afterwards, I called a local home assistance agency and arranged for an aide to stay with me for a few hours. Does that make me feel like an old lady? No, it makes me feel like a smart, realistic Boomer. And, once I've had this "trial run" with home assistance, it won't feel daunting to ask for it in the future.

The next item on my preparedness list is researching long term care Insurance. I'm so glad my parents had policies that helped them when they needed it most. By signing up now for my own policy, I'll be paying a lower premium and will have the peace of mind that if and when I need in-home or institutional help, it will be covered. 

On that note, I also know that getting payouts from long term care policies can be challenging. Thankfully, I've got an ally in Aspen Billing Advocates, a "client-centered medical billing advocacy service committed to reducing hospital and medical bills and maximizing health insurance coverage." 

None of us can age successfully alone. It truly does take a village. If you're surrounded by family with time and inclination to help, that's great. But if, like many Boomers, you're living on your own, you need to start assembling your own village now, while you can make the choices that are important to you.

Because "stuff happens."

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nice Exercise and Stretch Routine

Walking has always been my exercise of choice. I don't need any motivation to walk; rather, I crave it. But I realize, too, that it's important to include strength, balance, and stretch movements into daily life. 

In order to keep it interesting, I alternate among various exercise DVDs and videos, for about 20 minutes of supplementary workout several days a week.

Here's a series of smooth-flowing exercise and stretch routines from Ken Raupach, who trains triathletes in Australia. This one's for seniors, so it's gently demanding but not damaging!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Banana Raisin Spinach Protein Bites


These taste as rich as a loaf of banana zucchini bread. But they contain very little fat, no added sugar, no baking powder or baking soda, a good helping of plant proteins, vitamins, and spinach. 

Banana Raisin Spinach Bites
In addition to carrying these bites with me during the day, to keep up my energy and nutrition, I send boxes as gifts to friends and relatives in retirement homes, to boost their protein, vitamin and healthy spice nutrition. 

Much easier to mail these bites in a box than a package of raw spinach and protein powders. And much more fun for them to munch on.

Moist, flavorful, and rich with warming spices. With some turmeric included to help with achy knees!

oat flour, hemp protein powder, flax, Alive Ultra-Shake Vanilla Pea Protein powder OR Purium Super Meal L.O.V. powder, banana, raisins, spinach, egg, spices, olive oil, sea salt


Banana Raisin Spinach Protein Bites

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quick Super Greens Salad

There's nothing like a hearty serving of dark leafy greens to give us a boost of clean and calming energy. But it's easy to get lazy about all the preparation involved in making a tasty and satisfying salad. 

Surprisingly, a few basic ingredients can provide the fun and nutrition without much effort.

  • loosely packed 2 cups of prewashed arugula
  • handful of chopped cashews, pecans or walnuts
  • sprinkling of raisins
  • drizzle of cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • drizzle of plain kefir (liquid yogurt)
  • pinch of salt
  • a few shakes of curry powder
  • a few small pieces of pre-grilled chicken (such as "Just Chicken" from Trader Joe's)

Toss all together and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Domestic Arts as a Survival Tool

If you've cooked every day for many years to feed your family, along with perhaps working full-time, and commuting, it's understandable that during retirement you may look forward to eating out several (or all?) days a week, happily giving up most kitchen activities.

Your post-retirement calendar may be full of meeting friends for meals, attending theater, playing golf, volunteering, traveling, etc. These days, there are plenty of very healthy food choices you can find at restaurants almost anywhere you live or visit, including at major airports.

I'd like to suggest, though, that it's a smart aging strategy to develop the habit now of enjoying at least some of the "domestic arts" that you're so eager to give away. 

Why? Because I've observed that people whose lives were "outer-directed" during their active years often experience a loss of daily necessity and meaning when they transition to advanced age. 

Previously, their daily sense of meaning and goals were all accomplished in the world outside the home. Now, the absence of that sense of purpose, status, and value to others can leave them feeling depressed, unfocused and passively depending on family or professional aides, not only for their physical survival, but also for their state of mind.

I've noticed recently how glad I am to enjoy food design as a sort of personal art project, as well as feeling so much healthier when I cook and bake from scratch. 

My crafts business, which gave me (and my hands and eyes) something to do every day for many years, took a nose dive this Fall, due to the increase of online shopping and hot weather late into the holiday gift show months. My sales plummeted, and I had to give up selling at shows and markets. Moreover, my hands have made it clear to me that they need a break from daily crochet. The constant repetitive motion is unsustainable, and I need my hands for the activities of daily life!

Luckily for me, I'd started this blog project, BoosterFoods, over Thanksgiving weekend. Although I hadn't intended on replacing most of my food staples with homemade versions, that's what's happened over the past few months. So, now when I run low on meals or baked goods, I have to cook or bake. I've sort of created a new "job" for myself. 

Another reason why I think it's important to enjoy some domestic arts as long as possible is that they can keep us company when life forces more solitude on us than we want. 

On rainy days, or cold days, or days when my car is in the shop, or when I'm just tired and stuck at home, it's really comforting to pull out a baking pan or a pot and make an energy bar, some soup, icebox jam, or whatever I need to replace in the fridge. The aromas, the textures, the tastes, the satisfaction of creation . . . fill an emotional void that would otherwise make the day feel less fulfilling.

And it's a funny thing, having a nibble of something just out of the oven to offer to a neighbor or a friend--and definitely some little treats to my dog!--can be an unexpected bonus.

Even if you live alone, you can have the fun of making small batches. Divide each batch into one container for the refrigerator and another one for the freezer. 

I know that, as they age, some folks become unable to use their hands, eyes, minds for cooking and baking, due to injury or ill health. But if you start the habit now of making food basics yourself, that may actually help your mind and body stay healthy longer.

Right now, I'm enjoying a bowl of homemade chili that my neighbor brought over yesterday. When she stopped by this morning to borrow my ladder, I gave her a taste of flatbread squares, Apple Raisin Compote, and Caroline's Zucchini Soup, fresh out of the oven and stovetop. Mm, mm, good!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Easy Yogurt Parfait


For a light, refreshing dessert or snack, here's an easy way to make yourself a quick parfait:
  • 1/4 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 medium banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Strawberry Icebox Jam (or Strawberry Apple Jam)
  • 1 tbsp cashew pieces
  • 1/4 c. plain kefir (liquid yogurt)
Combine ingredients in a dish and serve.

The fruits give you sweetness and a variety of flavors. The cashews give you texture. The kefir provides a cool backdrop. The protein in the kefir and the fat in the cashews help slow down absorption of the natural sugars in the fruits.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Homemade vs. Packaged Foods

Because my recent recipes have been turning out quite tasty, I've now supplanted quite a number of categories of packaged foods in my diet with homemade items. That means I can eat healthier, cheaper, and tastier meals and snacks that are also more digestible.

Here are some examples:
More items in the works, of course!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Savory Cannellini Cilantro Burger


This is a very simple, yet satisfying and flavorful recipe for bean burgers made with mild tasting beans such as cannellini (white beans). 

If you want to avoid wheat, you can substitute oat bran for the wheat germ. 

You can also influence the flavor by varying the type of oil and nut butter.

To boost the veggie content, add some finely chopped dark greens such as spinach or arugula, or finely chopped celery.

cannellini beans, onion, carrots, wheat germ, cilantro, ginger, peanut butter, olive oil, ginger, liquid amino acids


Savory Cannellini Cilantro Burger

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Easy Spice Tea

This is really simple, and it tastes delicious. Just as good as some packaged herbal spice teas, and way cheaper, of course. Especially warming on cold winter nights.
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom 
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp honey
  • unsweetened vanilla rice milk 
Heat water. Mix in spices, honey and rice milk.

TIP: You don't actually have to measure the spices. I just shake in what I want, remembering to keep the proportion of turmeric lower than the other spices, since it's bitter-tasting.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Black Bean and Spinach Soup

Here's a quick and inexpensive meal you can prepare in about 3 minutes. Black beans for protein and fiber, spinach for the strength of Popeye. If you're feeling hungry and lazy, you'll love the simplicity of this dish.

I use Trader Joe's Cuban Style Black Beans because they're already prepared with onions, green peppers, garlic, mild vinegar and spices. Sodium is 370g/serving, which is not too salty. 

  1. Spoon some beans and liquid from the can into a saucepan. 
  2. Add a handful or two of prewashed spinach. 
  3. Simmer on medium heat just until beans start to bubble and spinach wilts. 
That's it. You now have a lovely bowlful of Black Bean and Spinach Soup, and all you had to do was warm it up.