Recipe substitutes, local workout options for busy parents, and more
Read (or skip!) to the end for a delicious vegan oatmeal cookie recipe!
In an attempt to check off some of the “adulting” tasks on my to-do list, I recently (finally) found a new doctor. I’d been putting it off for YEARS, hoping my former OB/GYN would someday be in our insurance network again. No such luck. I’m still a few years away from 40, but I’ve been feeling guiltier and guiltier for avoiding my annual Well Woman Check. Since I hadn’t had blood work done in awhile, I got to go through that fun business. And the results came in: My cholesterol is slightly high. Diet change and exercise recommended. NOOOOOO!
It’s not hard to see what happened. I’d say I eat semi-healthy, but making a healthy meal at the end of a workday is not always top priority. And ever since Joss returned to in-person learning, I’ve quit waking up at 5:15 a.m. once or twice a week to make it to spin class. COVID meant the end of free evening childcare at my gym, so early morning or weekend classes were the only option. Once Joss had to start going to school at 7:30 a.m., those extra hours of sleep were too precious to waste!!
All that to say, I’ve had to start doing some research into a low-cholesterol diet and reexamining my workout options. I’m not an expert or even close, but here are some things the experts have to say from across the web:
What Is Cholesterol?
According to heart.org, cholesterol is used to build cells and make vitamins and hormones. So it has an important function! There are two types of cholesterol, LDL (bad) and HDL (good). Too much bad cholesterol (or not enough good cholesterol) can be problematic.
Cholesterol is related to your fat intake. Bad cholesterol comes from foods high in saturated or trans fats, such as red meat and high-fat dairy products, and even coconut oil. Trans fats may be found in highly processed foods, fried foods and baked goods.
According to mayoclinic.org, “Studies show that eating foods rich in unsaturated fat instead of saturated fat improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart attack and stroke.” Examples of these foods include olive and canola oils, nuts and fatty fish like salmon.
For further reading, visit:
In Pursuit of a Low Cholesterol Diet
If I had to guess, I’d say, my cholesterol problem probably stems from too much dairy and baked goods. And of course, not enough exercise. When I heard that I needed to eat healthier, I tried eating salads for a couple of days and just felt hungry. Also glum that I could no longer thoughtlessly eat ice cream whenever I want.
Latte made with vanilla oat milk tastes fine, but much harder to get decent latte art! 🙁
So given what I’ve learned about where cholesterol comes from, here are some changes I personally am going to try to make:
- Low-fat or alternative milks. Instead of making my morning latte with whole milk, I tried oat milk today! It wasn’t as bad as I feared. Thankfully, you can also find a good variety of vegan ice cream usually, so I can check labels on that. And let’s face it, I’m not planning to give up ice cream entirely.
- More whole grains. According to everydayhealth.com, whole grains can help lower cholesterol, as opposed to refined/white flour, which has had its fiber-rich parts stripped away. Of course, I’ve known for a while that whole grains are healthier. But we eat a decent amount of pasta, and I should prioritize choosing the healthier options rather than the cheapest options. Oats are also good, so I’ve been trying to find some good overnight oat recipes. There’s been some trial and error, but here’s my favorite one – from TulsaKids Magazine, no less!
- Butter substitutes. Heart.org has a helpful list of food substitutions you can make to help lower cholesterol. When it comes to baking – one of my favorite hobbies – choosing a low-cholesterol butter alternative may help. Vegetable oil, Earth Balance vegan butter, even margarine might be better alternatives.
- Egg substitutes. Bigger BOLDER Baking has a whole article on egg substitutes. Ones I’ve tried before include making a flax egg (1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed + three Tbsp. water), and applesauce. (Use about 1/4 c. applesauce per egg.)
- More beans. Going to save these lists for later bean-inspired cooking:
Obviously, I’m just now starting to research this. So please share your tips (and favorite recipes) in the comments!
Local Exercise Options
I need to call my gym, but I think they finally have some evening childcare available again. So that’s helpful. And there’s also a Sunday afternoon spin class I might be able to attend. I usually avoid planning to work out on weekends, because there’s always so much going on! But a Sunday afternoon might be doable.
Additionally – although I haven’t taken advantage of this so far – Guthrie Green is once again offering free fitness classes.
- Morning Bootcamp: Wednesdays from 6-7 a.m.
- Yoga: Wednesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
- Zumba: Mondays from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
If you live in the Owasso area, Redbud Festival Park offers the following classes throughout the summer:
- Yoga: Thursdays from 8-8:45 a.m.
- Defend Together: Thursdays from 9-9:45 a.m. (I’ve taken a Defend Together class before, and it’s amazing)
- Functional Fitness: Mondays from 6-6:45 p.m.
Looking for virtual workouts you can do from home? Here are some options:
- The YWCA has a YouTube channel of options, which they were doing a lot with during quarantine.
- The YMCA of Greater Tulsa also has a YouTube channel with workouts. Some start at just 10 minutes, which is great for me!
- Shape Your Future has workout suggestions for a variety of needs. Including workouts for home, workouts to make you sweat, and family activities. You can even take a quiz to find out what kind of workouts might be best for you.
Finally, this isn’t a local option, but MadFit on YouTube has a few Dance Party workout videos. I tried this one last night – humiliating, but fun!
A Delicious Recipe: Vegan Oatmeal Cookies
I adapted this recipe slightly. The original is from Lovingitvegan.com. Sadly, my whole wheat flour was several years passed its expiration date, oops! If I’d been planning ahead, I would have tried using whole wheat flour. There’s still a lot of sugar in these, but at least they’re slightly healthier than my regular chocolate chip recipe!
- 1.5 c. rolled oats
- 1 c. flour
- One c. shredded coconut (I used sweetened because that’s what I had, but probably better to do unsweetened)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- One tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- a dash of cardamom (optional)
- 1 c. brown sugar
- 1 c. Earth Balance
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp. oat milk
- 1/2 c. raisins
- 1/2 c. chopped pecans
- One-half c. chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in raisins, pecans and chocolate chips.
- In an electric mixer, cream brown sugar and Earth Balance. When light and fluffy, add the maple syrup.
- Mix dry ingredients into butter and sugar mixture. Add oat milk until a good consistency.
- Form into balls (probably about 2-3 Tbsp. of batter per ball) and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes.