Taste Test Tuesday: Quest Pizza!

Hello, and welcome back my awesome readers to one of my topics that readers seem to love, Taste Test Tuesday. With my new job and all that goes with that, I had forgotten I wanted to repeat this series every week. But, if you read my Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge post yesterday, then you knew I was going to talk about this today. I will tell you at the end of the post why I ultimately chose Quest Pizza.

This Quest pizza and this is the link to the item with the ingredient and nutrition info, is quite expensive. For 2 servings it was $7.48. With that said if your family loves pizza, and maybe you are on a weight loss journey, this could be a good option for you. I didn’t even know Quest made pizzas, so I was pleasantly surprised when I saw them at Walmart Sunday. I like the Quest tortilla chips, and some of their protein bars, but not all. I am fussy about protein bars, anyway, so it isn’t a flaw in the Quest product. I was looking for a healthier option pizza, for both CKD and weight loss. I could not find any WW pizzas, so I opted for one of these. Before I get to the nutrition of this Quest pizza, and no I did not look at it first, except for the fiber and carb count, I want to talk about texture and taste. I am a huge texture eater. If the texture is odd, chances are I am not going to like it, or even eat it. I chose a thin crust Quest pizza, and I fully expected the crust to come out crispy. Not only is this crust not very thin, but it also does not come out crispy after baking. So, I threw it into the air fryer for 5 more minutes. The only thing that got crispy was the toppings. I was a little disappointed by the crust, but not enough not to eat it. The cheese I am not so sure about either, but it didn’t taste bad or have a strange texture. As far as taste goes, it was overall fairly bland. I am funny about pizza sauce and this one was OK. I think if I buy it again, and actually I still have half of it left, I will sprinkle on some garlic powder. Would I buy this again? Maybe.

Now as far as nutrition goes, and now I am speaking in relation to my CKD, this is probably not a great choice. Why? I threw away my box, and I can’t really make out the ingredients on the box online, but the list is fairly long. That means it probably has additives I would normally opt to avoid. Remember, there are only 4 slices to this pizza, and 2 slices are a serving size. It is very high in fat, sodium, calcium, and protein. In this regard, this is not a healthy option for CKD as most pre-packaged foods are not. Plus, I can not account for how much phosphorus is in it, but I can assume it is pretty high. It is high in fiber, and low in carbs, and I was not hungry after I ate 2 slices. This was definitely a spur-of-the-moment buy for me. I would have been much better off using one of my Wellness wraps, a little marinara sauce, low-fat mozzarella cheese, and making my own little pizza.

So, why did I choose this particular pizza? I have not discussed weight loss at all much this year, and that is on purpose. But, I recently started following Itrackbites. It has a different name now, but I am finally coming off of my plateau and seeing results. It is similar to WW in that you get assigned a set number of points and each food item has a point value, and some are zero points, but not like WW. Anyway, I knew we would have pizza on Sunday for a quick and easy dinner. I also knew the pizza my family likes is like 13 points per slice, so I was hoping for an alternative. For the 2 slices of the Quest pizza, it was 10 points and was a much better fit for that day. That is why I chose the Quest pizza, and because I was intrigued by how it would taste.

This is not a paid post, as none of my posts are. This is my thoughts and my journey. If you would like help in your health journey email me for a free consultation.

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Romantic Dinners For People With CKD!

Hello, hello! This is my first Sunday post in forever. Today was the last day at my current job and I only did 8 hours instead of 12. No more 12-hour shifts! If you have CKD, like me, you know how difficult these long days are. I never get to stay hydrated enough, and my eating habits are bad. My new job will start within a week, I am thinking.

Are you a romantic? I am not a romantic, not even a little. That doesn’t mean I don’t like a lovely dinner once in a while. We like to eat out, but we have started a savings plan for this year, so it has to be kept to a minimum. I also don’t like crowds or standing in line forever just to eat. So, I found 3 delicious romantic meals you can cook right at home, that should be relatively good even if you have CKD. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I am not at all prepared with a special dinner. However, I do know there are two small steaks in my freezer that I can make. I very rarely eat red meat, and these are small steaks.

Let me know if you try any of these recipes and if you like them.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Remember to love your special people every day, not just one special day.

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/recipes/a44277/butternut-squash-ravioli-seared-chicken-recipe/ You could leave the chicken out and make this a meatless meal which is even better for CKD. You could even make the ravioli homemade, but who wants to do that? LOL. Having butternut squash stuffed in the ravioli rather than cheese, or meat will reduce the phosphorus in the food. I don’t like asparagus, but broccoli would be OK. If you have issues with potassium consider cauliflower or roasted radishes on the side.

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/recipes/a37757/salt-and-pepper-chicken-with-spring-quinoa-pilaf-recipe/ This one is very easy, but I would skip the feta and use parmesan cheese instead, fresh is best. Quinoa can be high in phosphorus so be mindful of your portion size.

https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/a36740706/grilled-sea-scallops-with-parsley-shallot-honey-sauce/ I don’t even care for seafood and this one sounds decadent. This one would probably be the most expensive. Parsley is very high in potassium so use it as more of a garnish.

If you need an idea for a fast and easy tablescape for your Valentine’s Day table, watch the video below.

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Mediterranean Mashed Potatoes!

I am sticking with the Mediterranean alternatives to Thanksgiving sides. If you have CKD or any inflammatory disorder or are thinking of ways to prevent Dementia, the Mediterranean Diet may be the way to go. There are not tons of butter or heavy cream in these recipes. You will find one recipe to read, and some that are from Youtube. They kind of all have the same idea with a few variations. For the first one, I would not use Pine Nuts, as they are not the best option for CKD, but I would use Sunflower Seeds instead. I also would add a few more spices such as Paprika and Turmeric.

Now, if your family might not be feeling healthier dishes at Thanksgiving but it totally would benefit your health, just make smaller dishes of the two options. That way those that want the less healthy mashed potatoes can have them, and others can have the healthier version. Please note potatoes are very high in Potassium. If you have CKD limit your portion sizes or leech the potatoes prior to cooking them. This will help reduce the Potassium in the potatoes. I love potatoes and I eat them regularly. I do not have an issue with Potassium, though.

These are kind of short posts this week, as I have family coming to visit starting today.

Mediterranean Mashed Potatoes

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Recreating A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Feast!

Welcome, to another Throwback Thursday topic. I am probably going to extend my Dementia topic into the month of December because there are so many topics I want to cover that center around the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If you are in your 50’s or older you most likely watched A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving every single year. I know I did, and I watched it with my children as well. Sometimes it is hard to find, which is a shame, and I have to watch it on Youtube. This year it will not be on CBS, it will be on PBS on November 20th. Be sure and find your local PBS station and mark your calendar.

If you read my blog pretty consistently then you know I have started a family cook-off-night competition. We do this every two weeks on a Monday. There are several reasons I started doing this, such as family fun, we homeschool and it gets my daughter in the kitchen and can count as an elective credit, we learn creativity and budget planning. My husband has already picked the theme for his judging turn and it will be this coming Monday. That means it is my turn on the Monday of Thanksgiving week. Guess what my theme will be?

You probably have noticed that food prices are higher, and the news is starting to report that there may not be enough turkeys for Thanksgiving or maybe not as big ones. I know we get stuck on our traditional foods for holidays, but would that really be such a tragedy? Would it be so bad to just be thankful for being with family and the ones you love? Should it really matter if you don’t have a 4,000 calorie day of eating? I am not sure, let’s think about it. I think my husband would be devastated as Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday. But, I also think there is a lot to be said about being humble, and grateful for what you have rather than what you want. Is this the year we all consider the real meaning of Thanksgiving, and maybe it isn’t a gargantuan meal? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

So, what about the meal created in Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving meal. What kind of nutrition does it have? According to this website, the meal contains around 500 calories and nearly 100 grams of carbs. Of course, you could eat more and increase the calories. But, what about a modern version of this meal. Could it be made healthier while sticking to the basic premise of the meal? That is the question and will be the theme of my next family cook-off challenge, on November 20th, which coincidentally is the same day the special will air. I will definitely take pictures this time to share on the blog. Technically, if you think about it, on the show they all end up going to grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner, so this could technically be an appetizer. That is something to think about, too. Below are two videos of people that have recreated the dinner. One is very traditional and the other puts a little more effort into making it homemade. Be sure and check them out.

If you would like to join in on this challenge be sure and share a link in the comments to your post, or video, so everyone can see your results. I will read, view, and share anyone who comments on their results, or thoughts. Please do not spam me. All comments are moderated and spam never shows up here on this blog, so don’t waste your time.

Have fun with this one! If you are a homeschooler like me, this is a great activity to do with your kiddos, young or old. Bonus points if you set the table the same way as in the show. You do not have to do it the same day I do, any day in the month of November is fine.

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Obesity Causes Dementia!?

Whoa, and Happy Tuesday! It is Obesity Awareness Month, so be sure and check out all of the other posts on this topic in the archives, or just search the word obesity.

Dementia touches my life in so many ways. I work on a Memory Care Unit with Dementia residents, and I have a loved one suffering from this horrible disease. I am not going to go into all the details of Dementia, now, but it will be discussed in more details on Memory Care Mondays. It is an unkind disease that robs your brain of memories and basic life skills.

I know there is a body positivity movement, and I love that. It is great to love yourself and know that you are beautiful no matter your size. I saw one of these influencers on Youtube state that losing weight is torture and self abuse. While I agree it is not a lot of fun to put yourself into the throws of an exercise regime, eating less food, and lifestyle changes. But, I also think you have to be Mindful of what studies say Obesity really can, and does do to the human body.

You will find a few videos below. They are short, and some talk about the Mediterranean Diet as a lifestyle to help with Obesity and prevent Dementia.

But, what about the statement does Obesity cause Dementia. I like facts, with real data, and controlled studies. They make me happy. Now, if you don’t understand all of the jargon in the study, just read the conclusion.

There are a few things I would like to point out about Obesity and Dementia. Obesity is complicated, and so is Dementia. But, the study I am sharing does show a correlation between Obesity in midlife and a definite increase in Obesity. Now, why I find that really interesting is, if you look at the way they did the study mild cognitive injury appears to show up about 12 years before diagnosis, and the average age of diagnosis was about 75. That means mild cognitive changes probably started around age 63 or sooner. But, Obesity at ages 60 and 70 seemed to be protective. Why? If someone is already starting to have mild cognitive changes, say as early in the 50s when they are Obese, when they start to decrease their food intake, as the disease progresses, the extra weight proves to be protective. Did that make sense? It makes sense to me. Being underweight at ages 60 and 70 proved to increase mortality. They tend to forget to cook, not eat, or just don’t want too. In another words, it is mixed. You need to not be Obese in midlife and below to help prevent Dementia in the first place, but if you are obese in your 60s and 70s it is protective because you are going to need a little extra weight when you don’t want to eat anymore. If you are young and you think carrying all this extra weight does not seem to be harming me, you might want to rethink that.

The reasons for this is most likely because of the inflammatory processes caused by Obesity, and vascular changes caused by Obesity. If you don’t want Dementia, and trust me you probably don’t, giving yourself a little self love now, by losing weight, and maintaining it can help prevent Dementia. Following the Mediterranean Diet is a great start. This style of eating has been shown to be protective against Dementia, and other chronic illnesses too.

If you would like to start walking to increase your daily activity, check out my Walking Buddy Plan.

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How Much Salt Does the Body Need to Function Normally?

Hello, and happy Thursday! If you read this blog, then you know I talk a lot about salt. I talk about salt when I talk about the kidneys, and I talk about salt when I talk about blood pressure. But, how much salt does the body actually need to function normally. Yes, you are reading that correctly. The human body needs salt to function! I usually say that right around a 2GM Sodium Diet, is probably good for most people. But, am I correct? I found a video that explains it quite well, and better than me. It is short, so be sure and watch it and see if my 2 GM, or 2,000 mg is a good amount, or not. I picked two posts that I have done in the past on this topic. You can read them here, and here. There are certainly many others, and you can find them in my archives.

I like this lady because she explains things in a simple, easy to understand way. She is a Kidney Dietitian, and that is super important when getting information about diet and Kidney Disease.

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Should You Avoid Everything But the Bagel Seasoning With CKD?

Hello, and happy Monday! I hope everyone had an awesome weekend. It is finally getting to be a smidge cooler in the mornings, and I can enjoy my coffee outback on the swing. If you have been following along then you know for this month I am discussing Oxalates and how they can effect CKD, and other parts of the body. It is taking me a while to put together a long post on Oxalates in general, and how they effect other parts of the body besides kidneys. I will leave links to all of the posts I have done on this topic so far, so you can find and read them. It is very interesting and understudied topic, to me anyway, because I feel like I probably am sensitive to Oxalates.

Just a note that I love Trader Joe’s and I am not picking on their brand of Everything But the Bagel Seasoning. I am sure they are all similar, but this is the one I have on hand and was consuming regularly up until my strange symptoms begin. See my first post on this topic for more info on that. This seasoning is delicious and adds a nice little punch to food. You can see the ingredients below, but of concern is the Sesame Seeds and the Poppy Seeds. It does have a bit of Sodium as well. A serving is a 1/4 of a tsp, and trust me that is hardly anything at all. Check out this image, to see what I mean. According to my Oxalate app tracker Sesame Seeds contain 324 mg of Oxalates per 1 tbsp, and Poppy Seeds contain 34 mg of Oxalates per tbsp. Unless you are only using the recommended serving size of this seasoning, you could be consuming way too many Oxalates, especially if you have CKD. Oxalates are tiny nano crystals that build up in the urine because the kidneys can’t remove the Oxalates efficiently anymore. You don’t have to get a kidney stone for this to be an issue with CKD.

I sadly have stopped eating this seasoning, at least for now. My symptoms have improved by changing my diet, and I feel like I am back to baseline. My kidneys were actually improving, and at my last doctor visit I was back to stage 2. But, then I went back to stage 3A. So, I would live to be and stay at stage 2. Anything that is potentially going to make my kidneys work harder, and I don’t need it, I will try to avoid. I will eventually go back to using this seasoning, but in smaller amounts, and I will be Mindful of the other foods I eat in a day to be sure I stay right around 100 mg of Oxalates per day.

Please don’t just stop eating foods with Oxalates. You can cause something called Oxalate Dumping. Speak to your doctor, or request a Dietitian referral if you think you are sensitive to Oxalates, or are having strange symptoms especially during Summer months when Oxalate foods are probably higher consumed. If you are Vegan, Vegetarian, or even Keto, and you are having symptoms that are unusual to you seek the advice of a trained Dietitian to see if Oxalates may actually be causing you harm.

If you would like to learn more about how a Health Coach can help you reach your eating lifestyle goals, send me a message using the contact form at the end of this post.

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low oxalate green smoothie!

Hello, Friday! Are you happy it’s Friday? Most people end their work week today, but I have changed to just weekends, so I am the opposite right now. There are so many hot button issues right now, related to Health: my body my choice, parental rights, masks, vaccines, climate change, lower drug prices, better health care. Don’t worry I will be discussing some of these in the coming weeks, but today I decided to keep it light.

If you read my post from the other day, then you know some of the foods I have been eating while trying to be meat free forever. I forgot to add a few: almonds, raspberries, sunflower seeds, and cocoa. I also talked about the weird symptoms I had been experiencing, and how they pretty much went away when I stopped eating these super high Oxalate foods.

I love smoothies! You may have even read some of my posts on smoothies, and received my free smoothie recipe when you signed up for my Mailchimp newsletter. See below to sign up. I drink a lot of smoothies during the warm months. Even though my smoothies are only about 200 calories, I use them as a meal replacement when I am on the go, or as a light lunch, or breakfast. I do not consume them as much in the colder months. How do I know these foods I have been eating in large amounts are high in Oxalates? I use an app called, Oxalate Food Counts. It will tell you the oxalate levels in various foods. For me, the goal is not to completely eliminate oxalates, but rather to choose lower oxalate foods. I am doing a bunch of research on Oxalates, CKD, and other organs. So, watch for future posts. It is a really interesting topic.

A typical smoothie for me will contain the following, and how to switch out for lower oxalate foods:

  1. Ice, no oxalates lol
  2. Some kind of other liquid source. For me it is usually some 100% juice, and French Vanilla Creamer. I will get into the Vitamin C issue in another post, but a lot of Health Gurus and Influencers push Almond Milk as the liquid source in a smoothie. 1 cup of Almond milk has about 18 mg of Oxalates. Cow’s milk has virtually no Oxalates. If you still would rather have a plant-based milk try Oat Milk which has 8 mg of Oxalates, or Evaporated Milk which I don’t think is plant-based but does have zero Oxalates.
  3. Protein Powder. I use Orgain which is a pea protein powder. 1 scoop of a pea protein powder has 3 mg of Oxalates per scoop. I use only 1/2 a scoop because I think it makes the smoothie gritty. If you use Whey protein it has 0mg per tbsp, Soy Protein powder 2mg per tbsp, and Brown Rice Protein Powder 5mg per scoop.
  4. I use bananas, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, or raspberries. How do they match up? Banana 1 fruit 3 mg, I use 1/2. Blueberries 2 mg per 1/2 cup, Peaches 1/2 cup has 1 mg, Raspberries 1 cup has 48 mg, and Strawberries 1/2 cup has 2 mg. These are for the raw varieties. It may differ for frozen, canned, or dried fruits. But, if you watch some of the gurus and influencers they are pushing more exotic fruits. Let me share some oxalate levels for more exotic fruits, star fruit 1/2 cup 235 mg, cassava cooked 1/2 cup 34 mg, clementine 1 fruit 19 mg, dates 24 mg, elderberry 1 cup 105 mg, goji berries dried 1/2 cup 77 mg, Gooseberry varies but it is very high for all varieties, guava 1 fruit 67 mg, kiwi 1 fruit 16 mg, orange 1 fruit 29 mg, pineapple in canned or dried forms is high, pomegranate 1 medium is 99 mg, tangerine 10mg.
  5. I typically would also add spinach and carrots as well. I have CKD, but no issue with potassium, but I still limited spinach to about a 1/4 cup per smoothie. Carrots I would just throw in some baby carrots. Spinach has per 1 cup of raw spinach 656 mg of Oxalates, cooked is even more. So, for my 1/4 cup of spinach I was still consuming 164 mg of Oxalates. Carrots have 15 mg of Oxalates per 1/2 carrot. I forgot to mention celery. If I have celery I would often throw that in as well, for added fiber. Celery has 15 mg of Oxalates per 1/2 cup. If you want to make your smoothie green, try Kale instead of Spinach, which has only 2 mg of Oxalates per 1 cup. If you really want to get Vitamin A, but want to avoid carrots and sweet potatoes, throw in some Iceberg Lettuce. You won’t even know it is in there and it has only 0mg of Oxalates.

Most actual experts would say that a daily average of Oxalates should be about 150 mg per day. You can see by what I have written that you may be consuming way more Oxalates than the body can handle. You may even add other things, like Turmeric to your smoothie, which is also very high in Oxalates.

If you are Oxalate sensitive, which I think I am, your doctor may tell you to eat 50 mg or less of Oxalates. You can not avoid Oxalates all together, well some people do by going on the Carnivore Diet, but trust me you are going to be constipated, and probably mess up your intestinal biome. There is something called Oxalate Dumping as well, so please don’t just stop eating these foods if you have been eating them in very large amounts.

So, there you have it, ways you can make a low Oxalate smoothie. Check out the app if you are concerned about your intake, any unexplained symptoms you may be having, and speak to your doctor. It is probably best to ask your doctor for a referral to a Dietitian, as most doctors really don’t know much about nutrition.

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What are oxalates?

Happy Wellness Wednesday! Today, and at different times this month, I will be talking about Oxalates. If you have Kidney Disease, are at risk of getting Kidney Disease, are Vegan, Vegetarian, Plant-Based, etc. you may wish to read this month. Each day will be a different topic related to Oxalates.

So what exactly are Oxalates? Oxalates are found in most plants, some more than others. They break down in the body to Oxalic Acid. Plants use Oxalates as a way to protect themselves so they don’t get eaten, a toxin, or poison if you will. When consumed in large amounts Oxalates may build up in the body causing various illnesses. Watch the very short Youtube video below that explains what Oxalates are.

If you read here often, then you know that I am always tweaking my diet, for various reasons, but generally for overall health. I have been plant-based for a while, but I really want to try to eat more of a lifestyle with no meat products. I had pretty much attained that goal, but I started to notice some odd symptoms, or exaggeration of other things that I have had previously. These symptoms were worsening of my dry eyes and strange vision without explanation, Calcific Tendonitis in my shoulder joint, urinary retention, bladder pain, hesitant speech or a stutter, Arthritis type stiffness and pain in my finger joints, and the return of migraines that I have not had in years. I had read about Oxalates before, because I have CKD. I even thought I was limiting my Oxalate intake, but I did not know the extent of Oxalates in foods. But, one day when doing some research I read some more about Oxalates and guess what, a lot of my strange symptoms could have been from oxalate toxins!

What was I eating almost every day that is high in Oxalates on a plant-based leaning towards completely meat free diet?

  1. Black beans
  2. Whole wheat pasta and brown rice
  3. Whole grain breads
  4. Baked beans
  5. Peanuts, peanut butter, and some other nuts
  6. Spinach, carrots, potatoes, and a variety of other greens.
  7. Turmeric
  8. Paprika
  9. Sadly Everything but the Bagel Seasoning

And I am sure there were many others. I immediately cut back on these high Oxalate foods, and my symptoms improved very quickly. You have to do this slowly, and may want to get assistance from a Dietitian as it can cause Oxalate Dumping. More on that in another post.

What was I not eating? Dairy! More about that later, too.

Be sure and come back to read the other posts on this topic.

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What should I eat with diverticulitis?

Welcome back to another Wellness Wednesday topic. This also concludes this month’s series of posts on Diverticulosis/Diverticulitis. Be sure to read through the other 3 posts if you are interested.

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Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis are kind of sister diseases. You won’t get Diverticulitis without having Diverticulosis first. Most people don’t even know they have Diverticulosis until they get Diverticulitis. The video below explains it all really well. But, as for what you should eat if you get Diverticulitis, it is kind of the opposite of Diverticulosis. The video shows images of the colon. If you do not like those kind of images you may wish to not watch.

With Diverticulitis you may be instructed to:

  1. Eat liquids only for a few days to allow the bowel to rest and decrease inflammation.
  2. When you do start to eat foods again, eat a soft diet, and an easy to digest diet such as scrambled eggs, toast, soups, broth, etc.
  3. Eat a low fiber diet. Fiber is harder to digest than other foods, and the bowel needs time to rest from all that work.
  4. Your doctor may even tell you to eat nothing by mouth for a day or so, if you have a really bad case of Diverticulitis.

That is pretty easy, right? Well you want to avoid the complications that can come with Diverticulitis, which can lead to perforation, Peritonitis, and even surgery to repair parts of the bowel. Some people could even need a resection of the bowel.

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