Beginning to See the Light Granola

I’ve been going through an interminable five month depression, primarily brought on by a work schedule impossible to maintain. Work has finally slowed and I’m beginning to come up for air – sixteen pounds heavier, toxic and worn out. In an effort to find my health again, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer last week. After eating a full bag of Pepperidge Farm Maui cookies on Monday and three quarters of a bag of Newton’s blueberry Fruit Thins on Wednesday, I decided my diet needs an overhaul, too, but any willpower I may possess is melted by crispy, crunchy, chewy, buttery sweet carbs. Pastries make me happy like Prozac. In an effort to channel my love of a good cookie into something a bit more healthful, I whipped up a batch of granola this morning, capturing the flavors and textures without all the wheat, sugar and fat.

Granola

Beginning to See the Light Granola

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 cups assorted nuts and seeds (unsalted and unroasted, if possible)
½ – ¾ t. salt
½ t. cinnamon
½ t. cardamom
¼ t. ginger
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup liquid sweetener (such as honey, maple syrup or agave syrup)
1 t. vanilla
1 cup dried fruit, chopped if needed (unsweetened and unsulfured, if possible)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine oats, nuts and seeds in a large bowl (I used chopped almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. I also used about ¼ cup toasted flax seeds, but added them at the end since they were pre-toasted). Add salt and spices. Add oil, sweetener and vanilla. Stir until moistened and combined. Turn out on to a Silpat covered sheet pan.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes, stirring at the following times: 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 30 minutes, and 35 minutes. Chop and measure fruit while granola bakes. If you use coconut, add coconut at the 20 minute mark. Add dried fruit (and any toasted nuts) to the hot granola. I used coconut, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, and apricots and also added the flax at this time. Cool granola and store.

Note: I like to pour almond milk over the still hot granola to make a tummy-warming snack to nibble while the rest of the granola cools.

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Sunshine

Fresh orange bundt cake

Fresh orange bundt cake

I’ve been in a grey mood these past few weeks, very dark and grey.  Last night, I decided to bake my own sunshine.

The Next Chapter

I’ve been told that I need to close the chapter of my life that included him.  It may not have a sufficient ending, like an unfinished Franz Kafka story, but I must move on regardless.

So,  I turn the page and I stare at a blank piece of paper. What can I say about the protagonist? She’s emotionally beaten and bruised, weary from her struggles (wary as well).  Cynical?  Yes, but there is a little glimmer of hope that sparks within her still.

What does she do next?  The online dating appears to be going nowhere.  She receives emails almost every day but, the men that seem to have fallen for her live on another coast – or even in another country.  The men that seem mutually compatible fizzle out before the first date.  The ones she sees and say, “maybe perhaps,” don’t respond to her emails.

She needs a diversion.  But what?  Her work, right now, is as disheartening as her love life.  And her hobbies bore her. And her friendships are close to nil. What is her next step?  How does she move on?

Balanced Meal and Mind

After a bout of melancholy that lasted through the weekend and into the new week, I’m feeling okay today (finally by Thursday!).

I think my therapist was a little concerned about how emotionally beaten up I seemed during my visit on Monday.  Heck, I was concerned.  Shouldn’t these drugs have kicked in 100% by now?  Shouldn’t I be walking on sunshine?  Frankly, I’m tired of talking and thinking and dreaming about him.  He’s gone.  I’ve got to get over it and move on with my fabulous life.

I did a little Google research today and I’m starting to wonder if part of this depression isn’t caused by my new limited, limited eating habits.

For me, food has always meant Love and Passion. I feed those I care about.  When I was dating him, eating was our favorite thing to do.  When he left, I lost all interest in food.  I LOVED food – the taste, the texture, the scent.  These days, I drive around aimlessly during lunch just trying to find something to eat that will stop the gnawing in my gut.  Nothing seems to excite me.  It could all be sawdust as much as I care what goes in my mouth.

The upside – and, yes, this IS an upside, I’ve lost 19.5 pounds over the last 3 months.  Just a half-pound to go and I’m done. Down 20 pounds.  I’m in a size 2 – and I’m happy about that, at least.  The body looks good – took a new photo for the online dating site:

The downside – the butt is flat – I just bought a bootie busting DVD so I can find my butt again. I need a butt for my new skinny jeans, right?

But, anyway,  I’ve been eating like crap and I’ve been feeling like crap, so today I had a little something with my breakfast coffee, had my mid-morning chai, ate a lunch with a bit more carbs and I’ve got plans for a good, healthy dinner.

I’m feeling better today – not laughing, light-hearted, Holly Golightly, but I’m also not ready to break into tears at the slightest provocation – or as soon as the therapist’s door closes.  Maybe it’s as simple as starting to eat again.

Days since I’ve contacted my ex:  57

Days since I’ve searched for my ex: 9 (although I did drive by some of his lunch haunts yesterday, but I didn’t stalk and I didn’t go inside)

What I’m grateful for:  Carbs

Melancholy

Melancholy Flower:

image courtesy of whaticaught.com

Or Melon Cauliflower:

image courtesy of itslife.com

image courtesy of bigoven.com

I was feeling melancholy yesterday.  A culmination of canceled evening plans, a hauntingly quiet day in the office, too much rain and my gloomy musical choice eventually sent me home to a darkened room, blanket, couch and a long nap. Today, I hope, will be better.