True Story!

Hello, and welcome to another Taste Test Tuesday! Wait, I thought this was a true story. Well, it is, sort of.

A few weeks ago, I think they came from Aldi’s, but I might have gotten them at Misfit’s Market, I bought these sweet Italian chicken sausages, from the brand True Story. Now, I have tried chicken sausages before, and no one in my family liked them, and honestly, they didn’t have a lot of flavors so there wasn’t much to love.

But, these sweet Italian chicken sausages from True Story were amazing! They look really skinny, and if you didn’t give them a chance you would be missing out. I was really impressed, and my husband even liked them and he is fussy about sausage. They are organic and with good ingredients. However, like any kind of sausage, they are still quite high in sodium and fat. But, they are still better than other sausages. We had them with spaghetti sauce, over pasta. I cooked them on the side just in case no one liked them. But, they were a hit. They are a little expensive too, but honestly worth it.

This is not a paid post, and if you follow here you know I try to do a Taste Test Tuesday every week. Since I have CKD I try to find organic, or preservative-free foods to try, as those are my preference. They have tons of other items too, so be sure and visit the True Story website where you can order them. I don’t think I have seen these in stores. I am almost positive I ordered them from Misfit’s Market and the price was reasonable. I would definitely buy these again.

I am using Itrackbytes now called the Healthi app and one link is 3 bytes.

You can see the ingredient list, and nutritional info, by clicking here.

Let me know in the comments if you have tried these, or if you will try them. What did you think of them?

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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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The Biggest Kidney Development In 20 Years!

Hello! It is still National Kidney Month, and I meant to talk about this topic weeks ago, but I got busy with other things and it didn’t happen.

I am not going to go into all the mumbo jumbo of a clinical trial, there is a video for that, lol. The video below will talk about the clinical trials for Farxiga and the results. I will keep it simple and state it met all of their standards with flying colors! The FDA has now approved Farxiga for the treatment and prevention of kidney decline in CKD patients with or without Diabetes. This is huge!

Now, before you get too excited there are some caveats. It is for stages CKD 2-4, and you can not be on hemodialysis. You can read the drug information here, but if you are on a low sodium diet, and which person with CKD is not on a low sodium diet, then you need to proceed with caution as Farxiga can cause you to be dehydrated, and cause volume loss. Make sure you discuss all aspects of this drug if you decide to ask your doctor about using it. The people in the clinical trials were on ACE Inhibitors, or ARBS, most likely to control blood pressure. So, I would be curious to know how Farxiga would work for those of us who do not take those medications. Not all of us do, though it is a typical standard of care for most people with CKD. Also, and most important in my mind, is that Farxiga can cause a type of genital infection, that can lead to gangrene, in the genitals. Yes, you read that correctly. You would need to pay extra attention to this very sensitive part of your body for any signs of infection. You also can not have Polycystic Kidney Disease or autoimmune kidney disease to take Farxiga. There are other drugs in this class of medication, but only Farxiga has been FDA approved for the treatment of CKD. Farxiga is made by Astrazeneca.

Now, my thoughts on Farxiga. Would I take it to slow the progression of my CKD? Absolutely, if what I was currently doing did not already have me back hovering at stage 2. I also do not take Ace inhibitors or ARBS, so I probably would be disqualified from using it. I do not want to be on hemodialysis, ever, and so this would be something I would consider. I would request my doctor make adjustments in my plan of care, such as sodium restrictions, and I would request closer monitoring for side effects.

Be sure and watch the videos, read the links, and educate yourself before talking to your doctor about taking Farxiga.

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Extreme Grocery Budget Challenge Start Of Week 7, Oopsie!

Hello, and Happy Monday. I am just going to get the oopsie out of the way to start with. Have you been following along, did you join the challenge? The challenge is to spend 21 dollars per person per week for groceries. There are 3 of us, one with CKD, and our budget is 63 dollars a week. My week starts on Monday and ends on Sunday, but that may change with my new job that begins Wednesday. I will let you know. Each week I learn something new about our eating habits, how much food we buy that we really don’t need each week, and most importantly, so far we have been able to eat relatively healthy on this budget. I gave up on eating pantry foods with CKD. It was not healthy for me, and I could tell by how I felt.

When I order from Misfits Market, it is on a Thursday or Friday, and then the food is not delivered for several days after that. So, Friday of last week I noticed they had some really good sales on organic meat. If you read here, you know that is my preference and I was getting concerned as to whether I would be able to afford it on this budget. I compared their sale prices to the organic options I can buy at Walmart to compare the pricing. Walmart didn’t even carry some of the options, and the ones that they did Misfits beat them by at least a few cents. So, anyway I placed a 30 dollar order with Misfits Market on Friday to be delivered this Wednesday or Thursday. Then this morning I went shopping and totally forgot I placed that order. So, my oopsie this week is that I should have only spent 33 more dollars today, and I spent $58.17. That is my blonde moment for the week, lol. That means I am 25 dollars over budget this week, which really just annoys me, but live and learn. I will have to see if I can change my Misfits order and delivery days, so this doesn’t happen again.

One thing I learned is that I probably will not buy canned veggies anymore. If I can’t afford fresh, I will buy frozen. They taste much better than canned and don’t have all the sodium. Each week I learn something new and it helps me to buy smarter for our needs, and avoid waste. Below you will see what I purchased from Walmart this week for $58.17. We still have a good amount of food on hand, but like most families, we run out of favorites and snack foods. I always try to have fresh fruit on hand for snacking, but that is not always the snacks they want, but it will have to do. You will see donuts and Trix yogurt. My daughter asked if I would get those and I do try to let her have some snacky stuff each week.

What is on the menu this week? Breakfasts and lunches are always simple and whatever is leftover or on hand to make. These dinner ideas may or may not be in the order they will be made. Today, we had leftover pizza from the get-together with my son last night. I did not actually have pizza I had taco casserole again. I actually froze the last 2-3 servings for later use. I put lettuce in it this time so it was kind of like a taco salad. Tuesday, my daughter and I are having some small steaks I purchased from Misfits a couple of months ago. My husband will not be eating dinner with us this week, so these 4 oz steaks are perfect for two people. I will decide on the sides later. Wednesday I will work, and I will take out hot dogs and buns, and fries will be the side. I am not sure yet if I will have hot dogs or something else. It depends a whole lot on what I decide to take for my lunch. My daughter and husband can have the hotdogs for lunches the next couple of days after. Some other meal options for the week are tuna noodle casserole. That meal makes a lot of food and can be used as leftovers for several lunches after. Probably one night will be sweet sausage with spaghetti. I am not sure, though, because we already have steak and hot dogs this week. Quesadillas with tomato soup is another option. I haven’t really thought out meals that much this week, as you can tell. I will share what I come up with. I need to sneak in at least two chicken meals or a meatless meal.

This budget has allowed us to save more money to pay down debt, and that is a good thing. Our washing machine just died last week and we were able to buy a new one with cash, and no financing. That was pretty awesome! We have some financial goals we would like to meet before we retire, and as long as we are not starving or malnourished this budget works fine. I can always add more money if we need to, but so far everyone is adjusting fairly well. We do not buy a lot of sweet drinks, snacks, and other empty calories that really can suck up your budget. We are also learning to eat healthy portion sizes, which also saves us a lot of money. I have been following my portions for many years, but now the others have to as well.

If you would like to learn more about meal planning, meal budgeting, portion sizes, healthy snack options, etc. a health coach like myself may be able to help you to learn these things. Use the contact form below to message me for a free consultation.

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Is Your 401K A Scam?

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. As I continue my research on topics related to retiring and elder years, this one came up a lot, and of course, is one I and lots of others can relate to. A scam is probably not completely accurate, but many people do not truly understand their 401K and actually end up losing a lot of their earnings long before they retire.

Most places don’t even offer a 401K option to their employees, and if they do you probably have to work full time to participate. I really am not sure I understand why because my research shows all of the burdens is on the investor, that’s you, not the company offering it to their employee. So, right off the bat, I call BS. At the end of last year, I pulled out of having any more money taken from my check and put into my 401k. Why?

For several reasons.

  1. I did not see any stability in the company I was working for and figured the would be rolling over the business to another healthcare managing company in a couple of years, just like the many previous ones before them. Rolling over a 401k is a pain, and I can’t cash it in without huge penalties, and I wasn’t vested so it didn’t even matter. Most companies don’t have you vested until at least 5 years working for that company. The new job I am starting at next week is 6 years to be vested.
  2. I have about 10 years to retirement, and while they can put my money into less risky portfolios, not all of them are set up that way. I really do not know enough about investing to take any kind of high risk with my money.
  3. The fees these companies charge are ridiculous.

If you don’t know about these things and your 401K I suggest that you learn about them. I urge you to watch the video below and if you do have a 401K start looking into what amount of fees you are paying, where your money is actually invested in, etc.

Index funds may be a much safer place to invest your hard-earned money. They have way less risk and are easy to manage so the fees are nominal at best. Read more about index funds here, and there is a short video that he ranked as the top 5, after the longer video. I do not know that they will make you rich, his title is his title.

I am not an investing coach or money coach. I am a health coach, and retirement issues are a huge part of health.

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What Is A DNR And Do I Need One?

Welcome back to another Thinking on Thursday topic. The answer to this one is it depends.

First off, what is a DNR? DNR is an acronym for Do Not Resuscitate. It is a legal and binding order that makes it illegal for healthcare providers to begin CPR on you. CPR is another acronym for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, which simply means in the event your heart stops beating or you stop breathing.

You can not have a legal and binding DNR without a valid doctor’s signature. It also has to be witnessed. A DNR can be rescinded if you decide you don’t want one.

The question of whether you need one is always controversial. If you are under the age of 50, especially if you do not have a terminal illness, getting a doctor to sign a DNR order will not be easy. However, not everyone has the same perception of what being alive, or quality of life means to them. That is why you need a Living Will, especially to make it known what your wishes would be if you suddenly went into cardiac or respiratory arrest. It is never the point of these posts to define what living or quality of life means. Those are very personal subjects and ones you should explore on your own and with your family.

If you decide that you want and or need a DNR make sure it is legal with all signatures required. Then make sure your doctor, family members, and your living will all have copies. You can also file a copy with your local emergency services, and the hospital you frequent. You can carry a copy in your wallet or purse, and I think there are special bracelets you can purchase. Know your state laws in regards to a DNR. Some states may not honor the DNR unless you have the DNR insight on the yellow paper.

As we age these are very important discussions and decisions to make.

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A Mindfulness Photography Challenge and Week 1 Pantry/Budget Challenge Review!

Happy Monday! I think I will repeat this Mindfulness challenge each month with a different theme. A very important part of Mindfulness is being present at the moment, observing your surroundings and how they make you feel. I love being outdoors in nature and all the beauty that goes with it. I also love photography. It is a great hobby that is relaxing and fulfilling. Even if you think you take awful pictures, then you don’t understand art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while some people may actually not like your photo lots of people will. I actually make a little bit of money off my art pieces. It isn’t a lot, maybe 50 to 100 dollars a year. I certainly am not wealthy from it. But, it does allow others to enjoy my art and purchase it on various items if they choose to. You will see a picture of one such item below.

So, the Mindfulness Photography Challenge for the month of January is to find hearts in nature. You can’t create the heart yourself. The point is to be observant and mindful of your surroundings. You can share your photos in the comments or a link to your photo if you have a blog. I will not accept spam so please don’t waste your time. I approve all comments manually. My picture is from a few years ago, so I will be on a mission to find some new hearts in nature. Please do not steal other people’s artwork. That is just rude and may be illegal.

Yesterday, was the end of two challenges we are currently doing. One of them is for the whole year and that is to try and spend 21 dollars per person, per week. For three people that is 63 dollars and it is for food items only. For week one I only had to buy flour and garlic bread. So, I only spent $5.98 The extra money not spent will be deposited into our savings. Some people do this challenge and spend all the money each and every week to build up their pantry, even though they already have a huge stash of food in their homes. This just makes no sense to me, which brings me to the second challenge, The Pantry Challenge. We have quite a bit of food already on hand. To reduce food and money waste I have decided we will use up what we have even if it is not our favorites, which is why it usually sits in the pantry or freezer. Freezer items are considered shelf-stable for this challenge. I tend to buy organic only which probably will be the real challenge as it is way more expensive. We managed to use up a lot of food that we had on hand in week 1. I will be doing inventory today and I will try to take a picture of what we have left and I will share it tomorrow. My husband and daughter did manage quite well this weekend while I was at work. They tend to not want to cook and want to buy stuff from the store. The only thing my husband purchased was garlic bread to go with his homemade meatballs for dinner last night. We also had tortellini from Sam’s that absolutely had to be used and that went with it. Plus, tons of salad items were used up. Unfortunately, some of the carrots did go bad, organic foods go bad fast. I should have frozen them. This leads me to another tip, watch your fresh items, and freeze them if you need to. I will be freezing up the peppers today.

Week 2 begins today. I already know we need milk and coffee creamer. So, they have been added to my list. I do not think we will actually need anything else. But, we will see. That doesn’t mean we won’t want something else, lol.

Today, for breakfast I had the rest of my blueberry crisp and a garden salad. Both were from the fridge. Please remember that oats are extremely high in phosphorus so use caution if you have CKD. Lunch I will have a peanut butter banana smoothie with ground flaxseed. Again, flaxseed is very high in phosphorus so use it with caution. Bananas are high in potassium. All of these items I have discussed in previous posts, and are in my pantry supply. We are almost out of fresh veggies but have quite a bit of fresh fruit still that I may have to freeze to not lose. Dinner will be leftover meatballs and tortellini. Be mindful of portion sizes. Meat should be about 3 ounces but no more than 4, unless your doctor has advised you to eat more protein. Tortellini has cheese, so you will get even more protein. Pasta sauce has potassium and sodium. Be sure to read your labels and be mindful of your portion size.

Today will be a complete leftover day!

Are you doing either of these challenges with me? Share your thoughts and results. Will you try the Mindfulness Photography Challenge?

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Kidney Class: The Kidneys!

Hello, and welcome to the first slide in the AKF Kidney Class. Today, I will share what the kidneys do. I did a detailed post about this last year, and you can read it here. Please be sure and look at the image with the information about the kidneys on it.

The kidneys are two bean-shaped organs, that are only about 5 to 6 inches long. They are located under your ribs behind the abdomen. They are vital organs to the human body. Their main job is to filter waste from your body. When they can’t filter waste properly it builds up in your blood, causing all kinds of problems. The kidneys are part of your Urinary System. You can actually live with only one kidney. You just have to be more cautious to protect the one you have. If both kidneys fail, Hemodialysis will become necessary. You can also opt for a kidney transplant, though that can take years. Preventing Kidney Failure should be the objective for everyone. We will delve more into this more in the weeks to come. So, be sure and bookmark, and or follow, so you don’t miss a topic.

I personally have one kidney that partially failed, my left one. It has always been my goal to preserve, and or improve the function of the left kidney, hopefully back to normal. If you follow this blog then you know that in 2021 I was able to get back to stage 2, improving my EGFR from 49 to 60. I did just have my bloodwork done for my most recent appt, and my EGFR was 57, just below stage 2. So, that means I am hovering right around stage 2, and I am thrilled about that. In the coming weeks, I will share pertinent things that I have done that I feel have helped me improve my kidney function. It does take hard work, persistence, and dedication to the goal at hand. That does not mean I don’t ever waver. That would be silly. No one is perfect nor can you try to be perfect. But, you can be persistent and that is awesome!

I am an American Kidney Fund Kidney Coach. This is completely volunteer and since Covid, I have not done any live classes. I was given the go-ahead to share the slides and information here, that I would normally share in a live class. Please feel free to participate in a good conversation by asking questions, leaving comments, or reaching out to me via the contact form. I do moderate all comments, as there are so many spammers out there, so your comment may not appear for a couple of days. This is different than my Health Coach plans. They are my side hustle and the AKF has no connection to them.

Kidney Class: Introduction

Hello, and Happy Humpday. Below you will see an image which is the first slide in the AKF Kidney Class presentation. If I was doing this in person with you, this is the very first slide you would see. I will upload a new slide every Wednesday. Each slide will have an explanation, plus links to other websites, personal experiences of my own, and some things to research on your own. Since Covid, I have not done an in-person class. The AKF has given me permission to do it this way to help more people in a safe way.

At this point I would introduce myself and tell you a little about me and why I became a Kidney Coach.

My name is Melissa. I am 52 years young, married, with two almost-grown children. In 2016 my left kidney failed and in 2017 I was officially diagnosed with CKD. I became a Kidney Coach because I found the information given to me by my healthcare team to be inadequate at best and I knew there had to be better information other than watching your sodium intake and waiting for Dialysis. The AKF kidney presentation helped me and I am hopeful it will help others along with my own experiences with CKD. I am a nurse by profession and helping others learn about their illness, as well as learn to better manage it, is what I have dedicated my whole life to. If you are not new to this blog then you know I am also a Health Coach. I am currently enrolled in Medical Billing and Coding certification courses to move away from bedside nursing into a more relaxed type of nursing.

You may leave comments or questions for each slide. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to engage with me and others. I do moderate all comments, and spam is not going to get through so there is no sense to waste your time. I will answer all comments and questions to the best of my ability. The words accompanying each slide are the AKF slide wording. They are not mine and it is part of the class.

The information from the AKF class is not medical advice, nor is it meant to replace seeing a medical doctor. It is meant to educate the public about kidney disease, and promote the prevention of kidney disease and its many complications. My comments are my experiences with the disease. All kidney patients are different and just because something helped me does not mean it will help you. However, I am hoping my experiences, and those of others will assist people to advocate for themselves with their health team to ask better questions, gather information, and make good sound decisions. If I find good relatable videos about the topic I will share them.

Let’s talk about Kidney Disease!

Meatless Meal #2!

If you read here earlier this week then you know that I am trying to get my family to eat two meatless meals a week. These are not Vegan, just meatless.

Why? Because plant-based proteins are generally more affordable and I want to expand the food items we consume in our diet. It can also help the environment.

The first meal in this week no one really objected to. It was an egg, cheese, and bagel sandwich. Everybody loved it. My husband was less enthused with the second meal, which you can see in the photo below. That was what I ate and everyone had the choice to eat that. That didn’t happen, lol. My husband and daughter refused to eat the pork and beans. My husband prefers the sugar-laden Bush’s baked beans of which I had none on hand. He did eat the salad which had cheese on it. I think he ate a Clementine as his fruit, instead of banana and grapes.

For me, with CKD, I had 1/2 cup of pork and beans. Sometimes I only have 1/4 cup depending on what else I have eaten that day. I had 8 red grapes with 1/4 of a medium banana. On top of that was 1 tbsp of whipped topping. Then I had a huge salad with Romaine lettuce, orange bell pepper, onion, tomato, and 1 ounce of sharp cheddar cheese. I believe all of these were organic. I used 1 tbsp of Country French dressing, which is my favorite. Also, on the plate are two small slices of deli bread you can buy at Walmart for 1 dollar. This was delicious and super filling. I could totally eat this every day as a meal and be content.

I have not thought about what two meatless meals I will create next week, but now I feel better if they eat crappy over the weekend when I am at work. Plus they are baking Christmas cookies. Watch for a sugar-free cookie recipe next week and why I am making them.

Have an amazing weekend!

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