Air Potato Plants Are Good For Nothing

Come to find out, Florida is full of invasive species of animals and plants. One such plant is known as the “air potato”. The name fits because the “potatoes” hang from vines that can climb. Of course many fall to earth where they commence growing new vines to choke all other growth and trees in the vicinity.

They are not edible, and are good for nothing, as far as I know. I read that they were brought in as medicinal plants from Africa and Asia. Now they threaten Florida’s native plants.

Potato vines smothering vegetation
The empty lot next to my yard has many potato vines crawling all over the vegetation

Potato vines grow rampantly here in Florida and climb over all sorts of vegetation from shrubs to trees. They will pull branches to the ground and smother plants by blocking the sun and distorting growth.

potato vines
Vines growing over vegetation

Getting Rid of Potatoes

I live in a very large neighborhood but beside me is a rare, uncleared lot. One day it will be sold and a house will go in, but for now there is a lot of wild growth in this small area. Because potato vines are growing like mad over there, the potatoes fall into my yard.

Potatoes dropped along the edge of my yard
Potatoes at the edge of my yard

The potatoes can be large or tiny. They cover the ground and hang from the vines. If they sit on the ground long enough they will root and send out vines to climb whatever is nearby.

large air potato in Florida
Air potato, large size

As I was picking up the many potatoes around my yard, I wondered what was the best way to dispose of them. All I found was this information on A Guide to Air Potato which says to put them in a black plastic bag (I only had white) and let them deteriorate then throw them out with the regular trash – not lawn debris – pick up.

I let these bags of potatoes sit around for months but nothing happened. Finally I threw them in with the regular trash.

bags of air potatoes
I filled these bags with potatoes
Florida air potatoes
Potatoes and vine under roots of the Brazilian pepper tree

Potato vines are just one of many invasive plants that threaten Florida habitats. In the photo above many potatoes litter the ground beneath Brazilian Pepper tree roots. That is an invasive tree.

Yup, here in the jungle invasive species are flourishing and choking out the local nature. But they are not half as dangerous as the influx of people who keep clearing land and ruining the ecology.

One Year on Keto, What Has Changed?

A year ago in August I began to follow the Keto diet. So, a year later, what has changed? Probably more importantly I ask myself, what have I learned?

After a year of making changes in my food choices and increasing my exercise, I can say that I feel much better than I did last year in August.

Today, my blood pressure is not perfect but it is lower. My body is less puffy and bloated, which I only realized when the “stuffed potato” feeling was gone!

I no longer have any heartburn and I sleep much better during the night. Even my hot flashes are fewer.

Zen stones peace

Am I skinny? No. Have I lost weight? Yes. I don’t have a scale so I am not sure how much I’ve lost, but it’s not a whole lot. I’d guess around ten pounds.

An important aspect of this lifestyle is that my outlook and attitude is calmer and more peaceful.

I do not miss eating bread, but every now and then I have a piece of homemade bread toasted with almond butter as a treat. I bake my own bread, and slice and freeze it for just such an occasion.

bread toast

Which brings me to my new realization: I may not be a total Keto follower. I stray over to the Paleo way of life sometimes (although they don’t eat bread either).

I believe in eating fruit more than Keto allows for. I also agree that natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup – the real kind from the tree – can have beneficial minerals and nutrients. And I still eat the occasional carrots, potato, and sweet potato.

cheese love

On the other hand, Paleo followers do not eat dairy at all. I do like cheese and yogurt occasionally. I don’t load up on cheese as many Keto Recipes will advise, and that was a mistake I made in the beginning, but I do enjoy some dairy – full fat yogurt, sharp cheddar cheese.

In general, I believe that a wide variety of food is necessary for overall health and well-being. I can still remain in ketosis for the most part, but some days I do go over the suggested carb limit. I DO NOT count carbs. I’m trying to eat to help my kidneys, by eating kidney friendly, and that is my number one goal.

Read Paleo vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

Fasting, or IF (Intermittent Fasting)

From the first time I learned about intermittent fasting and it’s good effects on the body, I was onboard. All I have to do is …. nothing… do not eat. I can truthfully say that this has been the easiest part of my dietary and lifestyle changes.

I do sometimes get hungry while I fast each morning. Usually by noontime I am ready to eat! But it’s not unbearable, and when I think about the good it is doing, I am encouraged to wait the few hours it takes to finish my fast.

I still have not done a longer fast, but it’s on my list to accomplish.

Exercise

As far as exercise goes, I still struggle with getting regular heart-pumping exercise.

I went on a trip to New Hampshire where I began walking almost every day. What a beautiful place to walk! When I got back home to Florida I kept walking and was regularly walking every morning, even when the humidity soared in June and July. I got out early and sweated my way through my 1.3 mile journey.

Then, in August – just two weeks ago – I hurt my neck. I was in such pain for days that I gave up any thoughts of walking or moving fast. That threw me off my exercise cycle and now I have to get back on.

Florida oaks with moss branching over a road
Walking the neighborhood

As someone older, I bounce back slowly. I know this. I will get back to it and I will keep my blood pressure down and my weight off. I’ve seen good results from following my Keto / Paleo diet plan and I am healthier because of it.

Here’s to another year of finding health in eating good, natural foods.

vegetable collage
Vegetables are always good!

Thanks to Pixabay for the images on this page.

Getting Healthy Over Sixty

After I turned sixty, I began to feel old. It was an age when I knew I would have to make a real effort to get healthy.

My life was pretty depressing at that point. I’d had to sell my house in New Hampshire, where I loved living, and move back to Florida.

Life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, so I turned my focus onto myself. I couldn’t control my lack of income, or even the place I lived, although I had certainly tried, but I could control some things. I could choose the food I ate and the exercise I got. I could focus on me for the first time in my life.

My Mistaken Beliefs in What is Really Healthy

I have an open mind and I like to keep learning. That has certainly been a requirement while doing my online job.

Without a family to cook for, I could now eat however I pleased and I was determined to eat healthy. After a few years I discovered that many foods I thought were “healthy” were actually not helping me.

breakfast, fruit, meal, waffles, healthy
I used to eat like this! Looks good, right? (photo credit: Pixabay)

I was eating toast and eggs for breakfast, or yogurt with fruit and oatmeal with apples. I was drinking lots of unsweetened juice and making smoothies. Potatoes were a regular part of my diet. I had cut down on eating bread, but I wasn’t against having a sub now and then, and every burger I ate was in a bun.

There were no desserts, ice cream, cookies or cake in my diet. I’d given all of that up, yet I did not seem to be benefiting from a “no sweets” diet.

I told myself I was doing better than most people, but I felt horrible.

I didn’t go to MacDonalds, or eat out at all very much. Vegetables and fish were a big part of my diet too. What more could I do?

When I went to bed at night I would be kept awake with heartburn. I’d never had trouble with heartburn before. I couldn’t lose a pound, no matter how much I walked (which wasn’t much) or how little I ate. I kept gaining weight and going up in clothing size.

My blood pressure has been high for years because of my kidney disease, but I desperately wanted to be medicine free and fix that problem myself. It was a big fail as my BP stayed too high.

The Road to Making Good Changes

Everyone begins down the road to making good changes in their lifestyle in some way. Sometimes (maybe often) it’s a wake-up call health-wise. I was feeling really lousy all the time. I felt like my body was dying slowly.

This was my journey.

First, I watched two documentaries that opened my eyes to new health information. The first, “Fat Fiction” showed me that good fats are necessary. It also showed me that carbs are bad as they turn into sugar, which I knew, but I did not realize where all those carbs were hiding. The show focuses a lot on Type 2 diabetes, which I don’t have, but the overall changes to diet certainly can help everyone. Everybody should watch that show. It will open your eyes to how food has changed to the point that it is killing us slowly.

The other show I watched was about fasting and how it can (sometimes) cure diseases. I don’t recall the name of the documentary, but it put that idea in my head. Short fasts seemed quite possible.

Not long after I saw those shows, I read about a study being done in California by scientists who were working to cure the type of kidney disease I have, where cysts grow uncontrolled all throughout the kidneys. They’d had success with treating rats and cats by using a Keto (low carb) diet combined with intermittent fasting.

keto food eggs, avocado, tomatoes
Eating Keto (photo: Pixabay)

As I checked further into the Keto diet and IF (intermittent fasting) I was convinced it was a good idea to do this myself. I could possibly lose weight, and maybe even cure my incurable disease. This was hope!

No Slacking Off, Keep Making the Effort

I’ve written about my journey into switching to the Keto diet and the mistakes I made in the beginning. Fasting every morning until noon is working very well for me and my carb consumption is low. I try very hard to stick to that.

If you are feeling lousy even though it seems you are eating the “right” things, it might be time to re-think your diet. Tell yourself you CAN make changes. Take small steps, and keep making the effort until it becomes effortless.

The best change I have made is walking every day. When I visited New Hampshire this past Spring, I began to take regular walks. When I returned to Florida I kept that up and I’m so glad I did.

dog and woman at water
Walking the dog (photo credit: Pixabay)

Being over sixty means I lose abilities quickly. If I sit around for a week, it’s back to ground zero when I start moving again. There is no slacking off because my body simply loses all the good.

I know how hard it is to get moving when your back aches, or your knees hurt, but I encourage you to do something. I only walk about a mile to mile and a half and I do it first thing in the morning. I had to work up to this! At first, any walking was very uncomfortable.

Walking first thing in the morning is very important because I can talk myself out of it if I wait! Here in Florida it can get too hot if I wait to walk past 7:00am. This is a motivator. Sometimes I am out on the street walking and feel like I am only half awake… but I do it.

biking, woman, elderly, exercise
Try biking too (photo credit: Pixabay)

Exercise first thing in the morning sets me up for a good day. I feel good that I walked. It sends me into my day with health in mind, which carries over to the food I choose to eat. Believe me, I don’t love walking here in Florida! I have to make myself do it. A big motivator is remembering how lousy I used to feel.

No Excuses, Sometimes I Must Yell at Myself

I’ve had many excuses to tell myself which have kept me sitting and not moving. “If only I had someone to walk with”, “It’s too hot”, “Walking the beach would be nice, but I hate that drive”, “It might rain”, “I have a lot of work to get done”, and “The walk is boring and ugly”.

Mostly I am just feeling sorry for myself because I don’t like where I live. Then I must be tough on myself and say, “Stop being a wimp and take an umbrella if it looks cloudy. Yes it’s humid and gross, but you only walk for 20 – 30 minutes so suck it up! The AC is waiting at home. Forget the beach, just walk the neighborhood or get on the treadmill.” Gosh, I can be such a baby.

And while I’m walking I have to urge myself to go farther and faster, a little at a time. I tell myself, “Pam, you are already out here doing it, so do it right”.

morning sun clouds Florida neighborhood
A view from one of my morning walks in the neighborhood

Two Things

Only two things stand between your present state and a better state of health, in my opinion. The first is food choices. The second is to be sure and move every day.

Of course there is more to being a healthy person overall, but for me, these are the two biggies. I’ve seen improvement in myself by changing these two things.

older couple walking
Walking sticks can help with balance (photo: Pixabay)

Fending Off Dementia

Here is a story and something I think about often.

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers in her mid-sixties. She was just about the age I am now.

Last year my sister, who is younger than I am, was diagnosed with dementia and she has gone downhill fast.

There is no other history of any type of dementia in my family for as far back as I can see. All my grandparents, and great-grandparents, lived into their nineties, except one grandmother.

When I think about both my mother and my sister some similarities come to mind when it comes to their lifestyle choices. Neither one ever made dietary changes for the better during the course of their lives. My mother was a big sweets eater. She didn’t like to do new things either and was a home-body who read books, played the piano and saved her money. She was definitely not active and I would say a very sedentary person. In all fairness, she was not exposed to this diet and lifestyle information either.

My sister liked to try new recipes but they were not necessarily healthy meals. She drank cheap beer and lots of it. She did very little moving and considered walking in her back yard, while her dog ran around, exercise. I took a walk with her once and she walked very slowly. Even though I always tried to get her to open her mind to new things, she was very stuck in her ways. Even though she worked a lot and made lots of money, she never used it to have fun, travel, or visit her sister, nephews and niece. She liked to sit around at home.

I do not want to be like either of them and I don’t think I am. If a low-carb diet and moderate exercise can keep me from having dementia, I will definitely make the effort.

The benefits I see to eating low-carb and exercising are all good enough to keep me on track. Unless, or until, I learn something new, this is my life.

Many thanks to the photographers at Pixabay for the use of the photos on this page.

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Delicious Keto Pumpkin Muffins With Cream Cheese

My sweet tooth remains even though I have been on a Keto diet for nearly a year. So when I find a dessert recipe that is delicious and low carb, I get excited.

The Keto Pumpkin Muffins with cream cheese is a keeper. (Link to recipe page below). With the addition of pumpkin, you will be getting a huge dose of Vitamin A. Mix in some nuts and seeds to boost the goodness.

This recipe is messy. I don’t do much baking these days, and I had one huge mess in my kitchen after making these muffins. I kept thinking, “I hope they are worth it”. And they were!

Anyone would eat these muffins – serve them to your non-keto friends and family

keto pumpkin cream cheese muffins
Baked and cooling

The recipe says to swirl the cream cheese topping with a toothpick, but I put one more spoonful of batter over the cream cheese instead.

keto pumpkin cream cheese muffins
I added seeds and nuts

The recipe I followed (and changed a little) is on the Gimme Delicious website. Choose the “Jump to Recipe” link at the top to miss some of the many ads and popups on the page. Print the recipe out to read and you won’t be distracted by all the stuff going on on the page. I really hate that about cooking sites.

Most of the muffins from my batch were wrapped up and stored in the freezer. I only eat 1/2 muffin at a time so they will last a while.

Recipe Changes I Made

To sweeten the batter, the recipe calls for Swerve granular sugar. I only have Swerve confectioners sugar, so I used it. The muffins turned out fine.

I chopped some sunflower and pumpkin seeds along with walnuts to mix with the batter.

After plopping the cream cheese mixture on top of the muffins, I added one more small scoop of batter to cover it. I did not swirl the cream cheese in.

To-Do Next Time

Take out butter and cream cheese ahead of time to soften.

Mix ingredients together first before adding to the bowl. Example: mix the eggs, pumpkin and vanilla THEN add to the mixing bowl. Do the same with the dry ingredients.

I would use the entire eight ounce package of cream cheese next time just so I don’t waste that last little bit. The muffins could handle it.

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