Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Hospice Journal

Today I had my second visit with my precious hospice patient. After our visits are over, I can't stop thinking about the time spent with this patient and my observations of all the Alzheimer patients sitting or walking nearby. Although I can't give specifics (names, location, etc.) of each visit due to privacy issues, I can and want to journal these thoughts and feelings after each visit while they're still fresh in my mind.

As I sat and listened to my patient tell me more stories about his life, his loves, and his interests, which were repeated countless times with a different story line or version each time he spoke, I also glanced around to take in what the other Alzheimer's patients were doing. I couldn't help but be in "awe" of an elderly husband sitting on the couch holding his wife, fixing her hair by pushing it gently away from her face while caressing her hand, patting it as if to tell her everything is going to be ok. I felt my heart swelling with love for them as they displayed their love for each other and I wondered how long this loving husband came to this place to visit his wife, just to hold her. What happened next almost made me giggle out loud as I realized they were both Alzheimer's patients when the aide came over and told the little old lady "she just can't do that to everyone" and  gently helped her to another chair across the room away from the older gentleman. Ok so they weren't husband and wife after all -- but I think they still needed each other's companionship and affection. From giggling to myself back to my heart sinking as I watched them look at each other from across the room and shake their heads at each other while lifting their arms and shrugging as if to say, "We have no idea why that lady separated us but we don't like it." Not having their story and not knowing if they were "Alzheimer Soul Mates" or just simply enjoyed attention from anyone, I decided the aides knew what they were doing and maybe the next time I visit, I will pick up where the story left off with these two adorable patients.

The only other observation from today's visit was a cute elderly woman, maybe  five feet tall, staring at me. I would be having a discussion with my patient and glance up to her looking at me from across the room. As I kept talking to my patient, this elderly woman got up and came over and sat by me on the couch. My back was to her as I was turned toward my patient who was sitting in a recliner beside me. But I felt her presence. I stopped talking for a minute so I could turn around to see what she was doing. She was still staring at me, smiling. I said, "hello." She responded "hello". I continued talking with my patient, but after a minute or two turned toward her again. I smiled and said, "hello". She smiled even bigger and said, "hello". This doesn't sound very interesting but let me assure you, it was. Seeing her face light up every time I turned around to say hello made me wonder if maybe she needed an "Alzheimer Soul Mate" as well. She slowly got up and moved on, knowing exactly where she was going in her safe environment... a recliner nearby.

These visits truly awaken me. It confirms how temporary life is, how love is truly ageless, and sometimes, as my patient will attest... it truly is all about the ice cream. You can throw the other food away! :)

Thank you Jesus for guiding my steps and giving me strength to work through my fears so I can witness the beauty of life. 

I think it's time for some ice cream.

Low-Point Steak with Red Wine Sauce


Sometimes, you just gotta have a steak! We're one of those families who rarely eat red meat, but every once in awhile a steak just sounds wonderful! Here is an easy and scrumptious steak recipe with red wine sauce I hope you enjoy as much as we did.


- 1 Tbs olive oil
- 4, 4 oz. Boneless Top Round Steaks
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1 tsp. marjoram
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- 1/3 cup sparkling cider
- 1/3 cup red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 1 Tbs flour
- 1 Tbs soy sauce

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Combine coriander, marjoram, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle on steaks, both sides. Add steaks to skillet and sear for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove steaks and let them rest while you add the cider, wine, flour, and soy sauce to the skillet. Whisk briskly for a few seconds (sauce should thicken quickly). Dip pieces of steak in sauce or drizzle a little bit on top and enjoy! If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"It's easy to get lost in endless speculation. So today, release the need to know why things happen as they do. Instead, ask for the insight to recognize what you're meant to learn." - Caroline Myss

Friday, November 25, 2011

Low-Point Wafer Treats


Easy and decadent desserts your kids can help create! These two wafer treats are delicious and low-point; perfect little delights that will satisfy your sweet tooth.

Low-Point Caramel Wafers
- Reduced-fat vanilla wafers
- Hershey Rolo Caramels
- Pecan halves
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Place vanilla wafers, flat side up, on cookie sheet. Place one rolo on each wafer and bake for about 3 minutes. Remove from oven and press a pecan half in the center of rolo. Let cool and enjoy!
Serving size - 1 wafer with rolo and pecan
Points per serving - 1.3

Low-Point Wafer Yogurt Freeze
- Fat-free cool whip
- Yoplait light yogurt (any flavor)
- Reduced-fat vanilla wafers
Combine two tablespoons of cool whip with two tablespoons of yogurt. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of a cupcake holder. Spoon cool whip/yogurt mixture into cupcake holder. Place another wafer on top of cool whip/yogurt mixture (if desired) and freeze until just firm or completely frozen. Enjoy! If you'd like printer-friendly recipes of these two desserts, Click Here.
Serving size - 1 frozen treat
Points per serving - 1.8 (1.2 points without second wafer)

"Be thankful for what you have and you'll end up having more; if you concentrate on what you don't have, you'll never have enough." - Oprah Winfrey

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Learning to Live

Precious! That's the only word I can think of in describing my first hospice patient. I don't know what led a person like me into volunteering for hospice. I have always had a fear about death and never liked to talk about it. Yet at the same time, I must have always had a fascination as well. There's no other reason why in high school I would choose to write about "Death and Dying" for my thesis. High school! What's wrong with me? Maybe it all started with my wonderful giving mother, who has worked in a nursing home for over 35 years and is still very giving of her time, talents, and herself to the residents. Or maybe it's because I loved my grandmother so much and enjoyed listening to her stories until she passed away at the very young age of 105! Something must have piqued my interest.

When my husband and I first moved to Virginia, we became foster parents to newborns; picking them up from the hospital and loving them immensely until they went home with their forever families. So how did I go from welcoming newborns into this world to now being there for others as they depart? 

After fostering, I found myself volunteering through our church to take communion to the homebound and visit the sick in the hospital. Thinking I was going to show up at the hospital and tell a patient I'll be praying for them as they undergo an "appendectomy" or some surgery that would leave them healthier and home within a week was a little naive on my part. Three of the four patients I visited were in the hospice unit, two of which probably didn't even know I was there; and since those visits, have all passed on. Made me realize I had a lot of growing to do... and I couldn't wait to get started.

After my training session ended to become a hospice volunteer, I couldn't wait for my first patient. I saw him today. An elderly man with Alzheimers. I was given some information on his background, his likes, bits about his life, etc. which I typed up to take with me so I could refer to the notes just in case I didn't know what to say. Then I accidentally left the notes at home. I was left just saying some prayers on the way there for guidance, wisdom, and courage.

We had the most wonderful visit and I loved hearing his stories over and over again because each time he told them, they were new and different. (I'm so glad I forgot to bring my notes.) Throughout the course of our visit I learned that I loved being "in the moment" with this Alzheimer's patient. The journey was wonderful and after I reassured him several times that he was not going to miss his "flight" he told me he better use the "facilities" before boarding. The nurse took him to the restroom and I sat, staring at a room full of Alzheimer's patients who were staring right back at me. I wanted so badly to walk around to each one and be with them on their journey... even for a short time. I'm sure that most of them had stories of their own, while others who could no longer speak sat quietly waiting for a new life. 

My patient came back from the restroom, all ready for his flight to Florida, as the nurse helped him into a soft high-back chair. He isn't going to be going anywhere, but he's probably been all over the world in his mind.

Although it's a little discomforting not knowing what's in store for this "new" hospice volunteer, I look forward to learning how to live a better life through these precious patients who are nearing the end of theirs.

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." 
- Neale Donald Walsch

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mozzarella Skewers


An appetizer that's easy and delicious! Perfect for a large gathering or a party of one. :) These wonderful well-seasoned skewers with fresh mozzarella, parsley, chives, and basil are a great snack, side-dish, or appetizer for any occasion!


- 20 cherry bocconcini (mini fresh mozzarella balls)
- 1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. coarse salt (or to desired taste)
- 1/8 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
- 1 Tbs chopped fresh chives
- 20 small cherry tomatoes
- 40 small basil leaves

Place mozzarella in a bowl with the olive oil, salt, pepper, parsley, and chives. Combine well (gently). Cut each cherry tomato in half. Place one half of the tomato on a toothpick, followed by a basil leaf, one mozzarella ball, another basil leaf, and the other half of the tomato. Repeat until all tomatoes and mozzarella balls are used. Serve immediately and enjoy or chill and eat within a day or two. If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you." - Aldous Huxley

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Low-Point Steamed Mussels in White Wine Tomatoes

A super-succulent meal in just 15 minutes? You betcha! These savory mussels with white wine tomatoes was a complete hit with my family. A very simple meal that will delight your palate without adding on the pounds!

Low-Point Steamed Mussels with White Wine Tomatoes
- 1 lb. bag of cooked and frozen Mussels
- 1/2 onion, chopped small
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp. rosemary
- 1 Tbs. butter
- Pam Cooking Spray
Place mussels in a microwavable safe bowl and microwave, covered, for 6 minutes. Meanwhile, spray Pam cooking spray in a large skillet and heat over medium/high heat. Saute' onions and garlic until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add tomatoes, wine, and chicken broth. Heat through and add oregano, pepper, rosemary, and butter. After mussels are microwaved, add to tomato mixture, turn off heat, and let set over hot burner for 4 minutes. Serve and enjoy!! If you'd like a printer-friendly version, Click Here.
Total servings - 3
Serving size - 1
Points per serving - 2.4
"An individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself". If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence." - Thomas Merton

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Low-Point Creamy Cannoli Parfait

Did you know by enjoying a regular cannoli pastry, you are consuming anywhere from 10 to 17 (or more) points? But they're soooo good! That's why I had to create something very similar for just a little over 5 points! Indulge in this sweet and creamy cannoli parfait after your low-point dinner. It's sure not to disappoint!

Low-Point Creamy Cannoli Parfait
- 1/2 cup part skim Ricotta cheese
- 2 Tbs honey
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. all spice
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 2 Tbs chocolate chips
- 4 reduced-fat vanilla wafers
- 1 Tbs chocolate cool whip (or regular lite cool whip)
Combine all ingredients except wafers and cool whip. Break up two vanilla wafers and place in the bottom of two dessert/parfait cups. (If you don't have parfait cups, use small ramekins). Spoon mixture on top of wafers into each cup. Top with a tablespoon of cool whip and either place another wafer on top (as shown), crumble the wafer and sprinkle on top, or leave off wafer and add just a few more chocolate chips. Enjoy immediately or chill until ready to devour. :) If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.
Total servings - 2
Serving size - 1
Points per serving - 5.8 (with vanilla wafer on top); 5.3 w/out wafer

"Meditating on an event that is going to happen, and visualizing it as you want it to turn out, has the power to mold it according to your thought." - Anonymous

Friday, November 4, 2011

Smoked Curry Chicken Strips


All it takes is combining a little Panko, paprika, curry, sesame seeds, and seasoning; and suddenly you have an outstanding chicken entree'! You will be happy and amazed at how easy and wonderful this chicken recipe is to make.


- 4, 4 oz. chicken tenderloins, boneless and skinless (or chicken breasts)
- 1/4 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 2 Tbs sesame seeds
- 1/4 tsp. curry powder
- 1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp. Goya Adobo seasoning
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray (or olive oil)

Cut the chicken into strips. Combine Panko, sesame seeds, curry powder, paprika, and Adobo seasoning. Heat olive oil over medium/high heat in a large skillet. (Feel free to use a little Pam cooking spray with olive oil if you need a little extra oil.) Spray chicken with spray butter (or add a little olive oil to them) and roll in Panko mixture. Add chicken to skillet and cook, turning several times, until done (10 to 14 minutes). Enjoy! If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.

"You must be the change you hope to see in the world." - Ghandi

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Low-Point Healthy Chicken Salad

After consuming more than our fair share of Halloween candy, it's time to regain focus on eating light and healthy (although I don't regret enjoying all that chocolate!) This light, easy, and delicious chicken salad is perfect for lunch or supper and at very few calories, you can still throw in a bite of chocolate or two for dessert. :)

Low-Point Healthy Chicken Salad
- 1, 12.5 oz. can Swanson White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast
- 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
- 1/2 cup apples, chopped
- 1/4 cup celery, chopped
- 1 Tbs capers
- 1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
- 1 to 2 Tbs Light Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing
- 4 eggs, boiled, optional
In a small/medium bowl, combine all ingredients (except eggs). Place chicken mixture on a bed of lettuce and add a boiled egg, if desired. Very easy. Very appetizing. If you'd like a printer-friendly version of this recipe, Click Here.
Total servings - 4 (1/2 cup servings)
Serving size - 1 (1/2 cup)
Points per serving - 2.3
Points per serving with 1 boiled egg - 4.3

"Be faithful in small things because it is in them where your strength lies." - Mother Teresa