Sunday, November 30, 2008

The word is getting out

I just read this article (via Instapundit) from the New York Times about people re-discovering home cooking to accommodate leaner budgets. We've been singing that song here at the Feedin' Mama blog from the beginning although not due to budget restraints but rather to encourage people to eat real food that isn't loaded up with sodium. I hope people will begin to realize that cooking at home with real ingredients is not hard, doesn't have to take a lot of time, is better for you, less expensive and just flat-out tastes better. Maybe it will catch on.

Getchyer discounts here!

Belk is having a Senior Day in their stores on Tuesday, December 2nd. If you’re 55+ you get 20% off with a Belk Card or 15% off for other forms of payment. I’m all about the senior discount – take every one you can find. Other than being able to eat ice cream for dinner if you feel like it, senior discounts are one of the best parts of getting older. I think I’ll add a page to the Feedin' Mama web site and post what stores have discount days for seniors and when they are.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Turkey Tortilla Soup - Ole!

I just couldn't get excited about the usual recipes for using up the turkey carcass - turkey rice or turkey noodle soup so I did something completely different and made turkey tortilla soup. I simmered the bones from the turkey breast I had cooked in a big soup pot with water and low-sodium chicken broth along with carrots & onions. For spices I used pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and a new blend from McCormick - cocoa and chipotle pepper that added a nice kick. After a couple of hours I took the bones out, took the rest of the turkey meat that hadn't already fallen off to put back in the pot and tossed the bones out. Then I added a box of Pomi chopped tomatoes and a can of low-sodium chili beans.

For the tortillas I sliced some whole grain flour tortillas into strips with a pizza cutter, sprayed them with butter-flavored Pam and sprinkled them with garlic and onion powder. I baked them at 325 for about 15-20 minutes until they were crisp and put them on top of the soup. It was a pretty good way to jazz up the leftovers. It's supposed to be rainy tomorrow and soup is always better the next day. Now if somebody could figure out a way to get the Jaguars jazzed up for Sunday football...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Reading List

Here are some books I've been reading lately. The first one on the list, Happiness is an Inside Job, will be required reading for all of my subjects when I become Queen. Or perhaps I'll just recommend it to everyone I meet instead. It is a life-changing book. The others are all excellent reads as well.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

We here at Feedin' Mama wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving Day. We are joining the extended family for dinner at 1 so all I have to make is German sweet 'n sour red cabbage with apples. Low sodium of course.

Remember to Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. [1 Thessalonians 5:18]. Easier said than done sometimes but I know that when I gratefully leave my life in God's hands it works out so much better than when I try to work things out on my own.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Time to Stand and Stare

Some great thoughts over at the High Calling Blogs. We don't value taking time out to think or to just be. We are called human "be"ings, yes? We should do more of that.

It's a small, small world...

I was just over at the Feedin' Mama site looking at the reports on how many folks have visited and where they're from (geographically speaking, I don't have the capability to track you down in case you're concerned about that) and I am just amazed at how this whole interweb thingy works. Feedin' Mama has been live for one month and two days and the traffic has been amazing considering I haven't even started doing any official marketing other than mentioning it at a couple of local networking events and lots of word of my big mouth to anyone who will listen. Over 850 individuals have stopped by the site in that short time and have viewed an average of 2 pages each. I think that's pretty awesome but what's even more fun is looking at where they're coming from. The majority are naturally from NE Florida but there are two separate cities in California that have very high numbers of visits and someone in Amsterdam is hitting the site hard. There are folks from all over the US, probably 20+ different ones and even a couple from Russia, China and Japan. This is just awesome! Now if I can get some of these people to use the sound off form or send me e-mails it can get even more interesting. But it just goes to show you... older adult issues and caregiver issues are of interest to just about everyone at some point. I just hope my visitors are finding help, inspiration and encouragment while they're here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More from Frito Lay

Here is the second response to my wailing and gnashing of teeth about the discontinuation of the Flat Earth fruit flavored chips:

Response from Frito-Lay RE: one of our products, Reference #010381042A

Hi Betsy,

Thank you for writing to us.

I, too, share your disappointment regarding our discontinuing the fruit crisps. Though the products were delicious, we were unable to get enough consumers to switch to sweet-tasting snacks.

Have you visited the "For Your Health" section at There you can get information on ingredients, nutrition and healthy snacking as well as a list of snacks that are lower in sodium.

Should you have further questions or comments, please click on this link to send a reply: Please do not hit reply in your e-mail.

Best regards,

Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs

I did go take a look at the list of the sodium content in their snacks. You'll notice that the 2 Flat Earth chips are right up there on the top of the list and there's not much else on that list that has as low sodium content that they had. It's a darned shame. Those things were awesome.

Sad, sad news

Oh the humanity! I have not been able to find any of the fruit flavored Flat Earth chips at Publix or Target for weeks and weeks. Mama & I just love those chips especially the Wild Berry and Peach Mango flavors, they are especially good crunched up in yogurt and they are one of the few snack-type items that are low enough in sodium for Mama to eat. They have veggie flavors but none of them are within the allowable sodium range and while they're tasty, they're nowhere near as good as the fruit ones. Anyhoo... I contacted Frito Lay to find out what's up with that and got this very disappointing reply in the Feedin' Mama e-mail box today:

On Nov 18, 2008, wrote:

Response from Frito-Lay RE: Flat Earth, Reference #010380261A

Hi Betsy,

Thank you for taking the time to write to us. I'm right there with you, loved the Wild Berry. We’re sorry to report all fruit varieties of Flat Earth are being discontinued because of slow sales. While there are no plans to reintroduce this product, please know your comments will be shared with our sales and marketing teams for any future consideration.

When you take into account the tremendous variety of consumer preferences, not every product does equally well, and occasionally one is discontinued. The decision to discontinue a product is always a difficult call and is made only after considerable market research has shown that sales and interest in the product is too low to keep it on the store shelves.

Thanks again for sharing your comments with us. We hope that one of our other snacks or perhaps future offerings will satisfy your taste buds.

Best regards,

Frito-Lay Consumer Affairs

If we here at Feedin' Mama had had any idea that this was coming we would surely have mounted a campaign to put a stop to it. I wonder if it's too late? We want our Wildberry Chips!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Now that's initiative

I am very proud of Mama's investigative skills and initiative. She's been feeling exceedingly puny over the past few weeks and getting progressively more fatigued. Other symptoms were a rash that looks like shingles and her weight was up 4-5 pounds over a short time which is a concern because of her congestive heart failure although she has no edema and her lungs are clear, thank goodness. We were just at the cardiologist for a routine check on Friday and he ordered blood work thinking the fatigue might be thyroid related or perhaps anemia.

She had a cardio ablation done several weeks ago to fix an arrhythmia and that doctor who keeps up with her pacemaker put her on a medicine that helps regulate her heart rate in addition to her pacer. Now Mama has a history of intolerance for many medications and there seems to be an ongoing struggle between the cardio guys and her primary care physician over her meds. Her primary care doctor is an internal medicine doc and gerontologist and he understands Mama's physiology so he we have a lot of confidence in his judgment in managing her meds. It should have occurred to me to be aware of any reactions to a new prescription but it just didn't. (In my defense, though, her cardiologist didn't consider it either.) So Mama took it upon herself to research the new drug and its possible side effects and guess what she found? Fatigue, rash, sudden weight gain...

Anyhoo... I'm very proud of Mama's initiative in researching that information that we can bring to her primary care doctor whom we will call first thing Monday morning. And the moral of the story is to remember that we need to be active participants and partners in our medical care. Fewer and fewer physicians these days, especially the specialists, are able to take the time to understand the histories and the individual idiosyncracies of all of their patients so we need to speak up and ask questions about the medicines and procedures that are prescribed, especially when the unexpected happens. And if you're very lucky, as we are, you will find an old-fashioned doctor who still makes the time to really know his or her patients and their histories. But even if you don't you need to be a working partner in your health care and take some initiative when neccessary.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Blessed are the flexible...

Anyone who has known me for very long knows that my own personal beatitude is, Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape. Life has been messing with me lately and I've had to hold on to that pretty tightly. I have so much going on in just trying to keep up and make a living as best I can while nurturing some of these projects that I expect to become fruitful and we know that when you're juggling chain saws you don't need any monkey wrenches thrown into the mix. So things like exploding chicken casseroles and realizing that my car keys are sitting on the seat of my locked car while I'm running errands way on the other side of town have been tempting me to cry, get angry and frustrated and otherwise wallow in non-productive space. Thank goodness for that beatitude which has been doing double-duty as a mantra to keep me from going totally bazonkers. Sometimes you just have to stop and take a breath and make sure your priorities are in place. Most of the things that bug us aren't worth the energy and don't impact the things that are truly important in our lives. It makes my life a lot more pleasant when I can keep that straight.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bring it on!

A very interesting article via Instapundit:

THIS SOUNDS PROMISING: Fountain of Youth: Drug Restores Muscles. "A daily dose of an investigational medication has been found to restore muscle mass in the arms and legs of older adults and improve some of their biochemistry to levels found in healthy young adults, suggesting an anti-frailty drug has been found." I hope this pans out.

Betsy says: This is very hopeful for those of us who have the longevity gene... my family tends to live into their 90's with their minds still sharp. The thought of retaining physical strength and mobility in addition to mental stability is mighty encouraging.

Friday, November 7, 2008

A chicken in every pot

The budget at the Feedin' Mama household is mighty tight these days as it is in many homes and I have gotten pretty good at stretching a chicken into many meals. Today I made another one of Mama's favorites, chicken and rice using Italian Arborio rice which has a creamier texture and is used for risotto. We had eaten several meals already from a baked chicken so I put the whole carcass with the remaining chicken on it into a pot with some onions, celery seed, sage, pepper and a couple of packets of Herb Ox sodium free chicken boullion and water and let that simmer for a couple of hours. Then I took the chicken out and set it aside to cool off a little bit so I could pick the meat off to put back in the pot. I added some more water to make about 3 cups total in the pot and added a cup of rice. After that boiled I put the lid on and turned the heat down to low for about 20 minutes. Then I picked the chicken, put the meat back in the pot and cooked the extra liquid down for a few more minutes. It was delicious along with some frozen corn and green beans and that little chicken can rest assured that it was used to the full extent of its potential.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Some good german cooking!

Publix Supermarkets have a nifty program called Apron's Simple Meals. They create meals, have someone prepare them right in the store and hand out samples and recipe cards. Everything needed to prepare the dishes is available nearby. I have always just assumed from looking over the ingredients that it was all too high in sodium for me to use any of the meals until recently when I was tempted by the wonderful smells of the recipe for that day - Pork Schnitzel, German Potato Salad and Sweet & Sour Red Cabbage. I took one of the small plates that held samples of all three dishes and it was so delicious. I picked up the recipe card and yes, there were ingredients that were out of the question for the Feedin' Mama dinner table. But with a few adjustments I thought I could make it work. The schnitzel was easy, I just left out the salt completely and used Progresso Panko bread crumbs (plain). Some bread crumbs are high in sodium so you have to watch that. The potato salad wasn't hard either, I left out the bacon and used 1/4 packet of Goya ham flavoring and used more than a pinch of pepper. Instead of canned potatoes I sliced fresh and parboiled them. That just left the sweet & sour cabbage. Instead of prepared sweet & sour cabbage from a jar I sliced a half a head of red cabbage instead and added about 1/4 cup of cider vinegar and 1/4 cup of sugar in the bowl before cooking it.

The results were fantastic. It wasn't that much extra work and it sure was worth it. Mama loved it and I did too. I was so pleased that the next time I was in Publix I picked up some more recipe cards with meals that will lend themselves to a little adaptation and I'm starting a new binder of meal ideas and recipes. I have to say it one more time - a low sodium diet does NOT have to be bland and boring. Do some experimenting and enjoy a good meal.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Another great product for cooking

In case you didn't know it, you can find a lot of spices and such in the ethnic food aisle at the grocery store and they are almost always a lot cheaper than the ones in the spice aisle. You can find some interesting and exotic items there as well. You know I'm always on the lookout for ways to make Mama's low-sodium diet taste better and I found a winner while poking around in the ethnic cooking area at Publix. It's from Goya and it's called Sofrito - Tomato Cooking Base. I'm using it tonight in a pot of black bean soup and it smells delicious. It has 45 mgs of sodium in a teaspoon full but I only used about 2 tablespoons for the entire pot of soup. I used my favorite Pomi tomatoes in a box that are practically sodium free and I actually found some organic canned black beans with a very low sodium content at Target so along with some onions, shredded carrots, water and Herb Ox sodium free beef boullion I have a pot of black bean soup that Mama can eat without worrying about the salt content. Oh, I sprinkled in some cumin and black pepper for good measure as well.

You know, it just takes a little extra time to explore alternative products and you can avoid the bland and boring side of a low sodium diet. It's well worth the time.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Great Caregiver Link

I just found a great link on the Medicare site that's got lots of other links for caregivers information. The links are all to national programs but many of them have links you can follow for more specific local information. It's a great place to start when you're looking for helpful information.