Is It Still Possible To Create $5 Dinners With Inflation?

Updated 1/28/2023: As I continue to edit older posts and get ready for new posts, this topic is especially popular. Living on a grocery budget with CKD is difficult due to the food limitations one might follow. We have in the last few months had to increase our food budget to $100 dollars per week. It is still difficult, but with some effort it is doable. It is hard when you have a family with others that don’t need to follow the same restrictions or even worse you have several people in a home on varying restrictions. I look forward to enhancing this topic in 2023.

Hello, hello. You may have noticed I have not written anything in like 10 days. I took a much-needed break from blogging. I still have not had time to take the new AKF Kidney Coach Class, but I hope by the end of May I will have it done. Then I can edit the old posts, and post the new slides. I have not been feeling great the past couple of days. My new job has a lot of mental stress and it is wearing me out. You know they say the grass is not always greener on the other side. I can say for sure that is true. While my old job had become toxic in many ways, there were things I appreciated about that job. Switching to a new job did not necessarily change some of those toxic issues. Health care is a very stressful, and mentally challenging profession these days. I hope to have my certification in Medical Billing and Coding by the end of the Summer, and I can begin transitioning into that.

Back to the topic at hand. Is it still possible to create 5-dollar dinners with inflation? In November of 2020, I did a blog post with a whole list of possible 5 dollar dinner ideas. So, I decided to try and recreate them to see if they can still be made for 5 dollars or less. The first one is Chicken Fajita wraps. I have no idea why Chicken Fajita Casserole is on the list because I don’t know as I have ever made that. I am going to straight-up say this may not be doable unless you can find a really good deal on chicken since it is so expensive right now. You can always use beans instead of chicken. Anyway, I searched all of my local grocery stores to see if I could find chicken on sale at a decent price. The only place that did, and it is only a 2-day sale was my local Hitchcock’s. They have chicken leg quarters for 98 cents a pound. So, if you bought 2 pounds it would cost $1.96. Flour tortilla wraps you can not get any more for less than a dollar. In my area, the Dollar Tree has them for the best price of $1.25. The Great Value brand of Fajita seasoning mix is .62. one green pepper is .72, and one onion is.78. If you want the cheese to sprinkle on a block of Great Value cheese is 1.86. We will use sour cream instead of cheese, at 1.16 for a smaller container.

The total if you use chicken and cheese would be $6.57 and honestly, I don’t think that is all that bad considering.

The total if you use chicken with sour cream would be $5.87

To keep it closer to 5 dollars use a can of black beans at .72 for a total of $5.25 with sour cream but no cheese.

You can always make your own fajita mix if you have the 3 main ingredients, cumin, oregano, and chili powder already on hand.

I am making these tonight for dinner with chicken and sour cream. I par-boil the leg quarters for about 10 minutes. This makes it easy for me to remove the meat from the bones, plus if you have CKD it will reduce the fat, potassium, and phosphorus in the chicken.

We are still sticking by our 75 dollar per week grocery budget, for 3 people, and while it is not as easy as it was, it is still doable. Meat is super expensive right now, and we have cut back even more on meat.

Have an awesome Saturday!

My disclaimer is very basic and easy to remember. I am not a doctor or a dietitian. None of the information I share is intended to be medical advice or nutrition advice. All information shared is my personal opinion, personal experience as some living with CKD, or information I found online.

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Meatless Monday Pasta and Sweet Peas!

Updated 2/6/2023

For some quick updates before I get to the main topic. I still have not taken the new Kidney Coach class, but you can still read the older version on this blog, as much as I got through. I hope to have that done very soon as summer winds down. I am finishing my Medical Billing and Coding classes to hopefully become certified by early next year. I am hoping this will be a supplement work-from-home job to my out-of-home nursing job. It is not hard, and a lot of it I already know, but it is boring, and they gave me a year to complete it so I see no need to rush.

If you read here often, then you know Meatless Monday is one of the weekly blog post topics I would do. I also have CKD, so limiting my meat protein intake is good. I have made it all the way back to stage 2, then dropped a bit and am hovering right at 58 or 59 eGFR. You could always opt to do meatless meals daily by having one of your meals, either lunch, or dinner be meatless.

I could literally eat this meal every Monday, and I could eat sweet green peas every day. I love them! Unfortunately, no one else in my house will eat them, so I don’t buy them as often as I could. I found these two videos below for your entertainment. The young man ate only peas for 3 days, now I don’t know about eating just peas for 3 days, but he did. He is funny, and I found him to be quite honest. The other video goes into detail about the many proven health benefits of peas, which are very healthy.

Peas are technically a legume, and I am not a fan of legumes, other than peanuts and peas. Beans make me gassy and cause frequent stools. I am not a fan of that at all. From a CKD standpoint peas are low in protein, fat, and sodium, with moderate levels of potassium and phosphorus. The phosphorus in the peas is not absorbed well by the body, though. They are also high in fiber. Be sure to read the label and get organic if you can, or peas with the least amount of additives and preservatives. Some are higher in sodium than others.

My simple Meatless Monday meal that I could eat every single Monday, is pasta, peas, and butter with some seasonings to taste, mostly garlic and paprika. If you are not a fan of avocado toast, which is all the rage right now, you could mash up some sweet peas and spread them on toast and no one would know but you. This is also affordable with a whole box of pasta costing about a dollar, and a can of peas 50 cents. I use whipped butter that is much lower in fat and it costs about 3 dollars depending on the brand for a tub. You obviously will only use part of the box of pasta, and some of the canned peas with a tbsp of butter. I also like to add lemon juice and brown sugar to the butter to make a beautiful sauce, but I don’t do that every time because I don’t always have lemons on hand. The peas on toast would be great for breakfast or lunch and are even more affordable than dinner. I like whole grain bread or the low carb high fiber wraps, so mine would be more expensive than it could be.

Let me know if you like sweet peas in the comments.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice, nor to replace seeing a medical professional. It is for informational use only.

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Menopause, Belly Fat, and Weight Gain

Updated 2/4/2023

Hello, and welcome to another Self Care Saturday post. In the month of April, I am focusing on the topic of Menopause. If you did not see my first post, you can find it in the archives.

Menopause is a fact of life. It is part of the middle ages, and there are different aspects of it. Just like kidney disease, dementia, or really any other topic everyone’s journey will look different. But, there are some main topics that are more common to all women going through Menopause, and one of those is belly fat and weight gain.

I encourage you to watch the full video below. There are no gimmicks here, no easy, or fast ways to lose belly fat, but good sound discussion on the topic. I am not promoting the course that she is selling at the end, I have no idea if what she offers is good, or not.

There are a few things I would like you to pay particular attention to.

  1. NEAT- I have talked about this before via using a step tracker, and getting up and moving every hour. I have two dogs, and one way I increase my NEAT is to take them out every hour, when I am home, from 8 am to 8 pm, even if it is raining. They love this! My back fenced yard, around the perimeter is exactly 125 steps. When I first started this I would do 2 laps or 250 steps. I now do 6 laps every hour. It is really a habit now, and I just do it. My dogs are used to it and will remind me. We play ball and enjoy the fresh air. Sometimes, when the weather is super lovely, I do my laps and then I sit on my swing listening to all of the nature around me. It truly is a beautiful part of my day.
  2. LBT- Licks, Bites, and Tastes. You will see what she means.
  3. The amount of protein they are promoting. If you have kidney disease or may be at risk of getting kidney disease please be very careful about consuming this much protein. I have talked a lot about getting back to stage 2, and while there are many things I think have allowed my kidneys to heal, consuming a lower end, but quality, amount of protein is one of them.

All in all, I feel like this is a good video, and lines up with articles and studies I have read. They do not promote any particular kind of diet, supplement, or gimmick. They do promote weight training, and I have discussed that before and how important it is for women to do weight training. They do talk a bit about heavy weights, and I urge you to go slow, especially if you are over age 50, and especially if you are over 50 with kidney disease. Please consult with your doctor before lifting heavy weights over age 50.

Once you hit menopause, and your estrogen begins to decline and eventually disappear, the fat you carry will shift from your hips and thighs to your abdominal area. Note, that they state the abdominal area is the last place most women will lose weight. You can’t target it via abdominal work, or decreasing sugar. It is a process, and most likely you will see results in your face, and chest, long before your waist.

You also will not need as many calories as you age. This is just plain true. So, you may not even realize how much you may be overconsuming what your body needs.

If you would like to work with me as your health coach to conquer your health goals, send me a message via the contact form below.

None of the information on this blog is meant to be medical or nutritional advise. It is for information purposes only.

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Who Likes Squats?

Updated 2/3/2023 I am no longer working the 12-hour shifts mentioned in this post. However, I am working more days of the week so the concept is the same.

I would say most people do not like to do squats, but some people probably do. The other day I was reading an article on bone health and preventing Osteoporosis. With CKD you know how important bone and muscle health is. Squats were considered one of the best weight-bearing exercises you could do for bone health. I mean think about it, you are lifting your own weight from a seated to a standing position and then back to seated. The article stated that women in certain cultures who regularly sit on the floor have the best bone density in that study. This is because they have to get up and then down to the floor several times a day. I mean think of it this way, say you have an office job but you get up from your chair at least every hour and take 250 steps. In an 8-hour work-day, that means you would have done at least 8 squats as long as your chair is not high. Even if you have an active job, doing squats will improve your bone density.

Watch the video to learn how to properly do a squat. Start low and build up to more repetitions. Your buns and hamstrings probably will complain, especially at first, but your bones will thank you.

Now for a quick update on the pantry food challenge.

I looked up rolled oats that I used in my blueberry crisp and 1/2 of a cup contains 17 grams of protein, 66 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fiber, 523 mg of Phosphorus, 2 mg of Sodium, and 429 mg of Potassium. This makes oats a concerning food item for CKD. The recipe called for 3/4 of a cup of oats. Be sure and eat the blueberry crisp in moderation only. The homemade sloppy joe sauce was amazing! Compared to Manwich sloppy joe sauce in a can, it has much better nutrition for CKD, namely in sodium content and it contains HFCS. The frozen corn per 1/2 cup has 3 grams of protein, 3 mg of sodium, 213 mg of potassium, and 70 mg of phosphorus. Be sure and be mindful of portion sizes with the corn as well.

Today is an all-leftover dinner day. So, anything I have already cooked will be finished up today.

This weekend is the hardest for me, any weekend- because I work 12-hour shifts. On the first day I can manage a healthy meal, the second day I am too tired and with little sleep not much time to get something together. I may go ahead and prep a bunch of stuff today so I can eat healthy both days. Below are some pantry items I have thrown into my lunch bag in case I don’t get prepped for Sunday. We can eat at work for free, but I find the food generally upsets my stomach so I try not to. I have shown just the item and the labels.

The first item is for Poptarts. The list of ingredients is immense, but I forgot to take a picture. Then a bag of Cheez Its, Quest protein bar, a tun pouch, and Canola mayo I bought that Canola mayo through Misfits Market and I have not tried it yet. I think I will make tuna, and chicken salad so I have something for both days. The only real difference is that it has more Omega 3 than other mayos do and less saturated fat. The Quest protein bars I need to eat up. According to one website, one bar contains 10% of the RDA for phosphorus. I bought them and didn’t love them, but I refuse to waste them. They are so expensive. I have to eat three meals at work because I work 12- hour shifts. I will probably have my last serving of blueberry crisp before I leave for breakfast. I will also stick in a banana, and maybe some clementines. These are high in potassium so they will not work for everyone. That will avoid a fattening greasy breakfast there. If you work with CKD you know how hard it can be to stick to a diet and to get enough fluids. Fluids are an even bigger concern for me than food. As far as pantry meats go, you really can’t beat tuna. Try to buy the brand with the best ingredient list. I have tried organic tuna and I do not like it at all.

Have an awesome weekend and let me know how you plan for workdays with CKD.

My disclaimer is simple. Nothing on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes.

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How Many Steps Per Day To Improve Quality Of Life With CKD?

Updated 1/25/2023. I continue to work on changing all of my old posts to reflect the new name of this blog.

If you have been following along this week, then you know I have been talking about exercise and CKD. In the archives of this blog, you will find lots of walking videos, that are low-impact aerobics. Walking is my main form of exercise, whether on the treadmill, outdoors, or using some of my favorite walking videos, I walk a lot. I also walk a lot at work. But, after I was first diagnosed it was so hard to work. I was exhausted all the time, with feet, back, and leg cramps. I wasn’t even sure I would be able to work. I worked part-time and felt like it was daunting. I still work part-time but have started to pick up the number of days of the week that I work. I don’t see myself working 5 days ever, not because of CKD, just because it seems like no life at all to only have two days a week off. Now that my second child is grown I have no real reason to need to be at home so much. The more I move around the better I feel, and the better I feel the more I can accomplish. This would most likely be true for you too. I am stronger, fitter, more active, and happier. But, that is just me, one person. What do other people with CKD say on this topic?

Well, good thing you asked because that is the topic today. This study is pretty new, and it used a survey format to ask people with CKD how they felt their life was going with certain amounts of exercise. The target number of steps was at least 7,000 per day up to 12,000 per day. The average age of the participants was 40, pretty young considering most CKD studies are done on older populations, with about half being men and half women. You can read the study here, but the study showed that the more active these people with CKD were the better they felt their quality of life was. The survey that was used is from the CDC and you can see the survey questions here. Walking is low impact, easy to do, and free with no equipment needed other than a device for assistance if you need it. You can even start by sitting in a chair and marching or holding onto your walker. You will only get stronger. Be patient and take your time. I have been fitness walking for years and 12,000 steps per day are hard to achieve. It is a lot of steps. You can not expect to do it in one day, or even one year, possibly, depending on where you are at. It is a goal, and goals take time. I give myself one full day of rest where I walk way less than 7,000 steps. I need that day.

I still have days where I feel yucky, but those days are mostly related to poor diet choices, and or not staying hydrated enough. Hydration is a huge stickler for me in what positions I am willing to take as a nurse. Having drinks at work can be frowned upon, but I am not in the need to care. If I get dehydrated I feel like crap. Working for me is almost like a workout, and I hydrate before I even get there, just in case I may not have time to grab a few guzzles of a drink. Since I drive 30 minutes to work, I have adequate time to down at least 8 ounces of fluids before I get there. I try to get 16 ounces in.

Invest in a step counter. Now, with that being said you don’t need a fancy one. I used to have a Fitbit and I loved it. But, it died, and I just never replaced it. Instead, I put a free step counter on my smartphone and I take the phone everywhere. There is workout apparel that can accommodate holding a phone so it can count your steps, or just put it in your pocket or even your bra.

If you need someone to walk with you to motivate you, adopt a dog. There are so many dogs in need in the world, or just foster it. The chances are good the dog will have to go to the bathroom. If you are new to dog ownership, or older, choose a manageable breed. Basic dog training for bigger dogs is recommended if you are new to walking. You don’t need your dog dragging you around.

Always talk about exercise with your doctor, especially if you are new to exercise. Take your time. If you can only do 1,000 steps on your first day, that is fine. Do 1,001 the next day. Add a couple of steps each day.

Tomorrow, or Friday, I will share some more of my favorite indoor walking videos that you can try.


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Medical Monday: Menopause!

Welcome back to another month of new Medical Monday topics. If you read here often, you know this blog is focused a lot on health, wellness, tips, plus CKD.

Chances are very good that you are either a woman, or you know a woman. I am sure you have heard all of the stereotypes about hysterical women and Menopause. This month I will discuss Menopause and how it can affect everyone’s wellness, not just a woman’s.

I watched a ton of videos on Menopause last night until I found one that explains it in a sensible but educated way. The video, a TED Talk, is just a basic introduction to the topic of Menopause. Watch for future posts and how Menopause affects women and their well-being.

If there is a subtopic related to Menopause that you would like me to talk about, leave me a comment, and I will consider it.


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Watch For Some New Content In 2023!

I am editing old posts and deleting some that are no longer relevant. I ignored this blog for most of 2022, mostly because I was just too busy with other things going on. But, I really miss blogging and sharing content and ideas. I changed the name of the blog to Living Life With CKD and am now starting to edit all old content. I won’t be accepting paid health coach clients, but I will be writing on CKD, health topics, and maybe some other stuff related to living with CKD.  

I still want to be your Health Buddy!  I want to help people living with CKD live the best life they can. This disease is hard for so many reasons and having someone to share your day with can make a difference.

This will take a while. I have years of content on this blog. So, I will try to edit and delete daily, plus add new content at least once a week. Plus, I still have to take the new updated Kidney Coach class, which I simply have not had time to do, yet. By Spring, it should be done.

Since I changed the name I have to change all of the old graphics on each post, as well.

I hope you will stick around and continue to enjoy my blog posts. I will get a monthly newsletter going, again as well.

If you have CKD and there is a topic you would like me to write about leave me a comment. I remove all spam, so how about we just skip that.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I work in the health field, and I have CKD, but I can not diagnose or give medical advise. Any information on this blog is for information only, to start a conversation. It is my opinions and personal experiences.

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Why I Started Taking Zetia

Before I go into the main topic of why I started taking Zetia, let me do some housecleaning. 2022 has been an interesting year for me in a lot of ways. I intended to continue my blogging routine but it got off course. I had a lot of educational goals this year, volunteering goals, work goals, and health goals, and I have met them. But, they did take away from my time to write here on this blog. Blogging is a stress reliever for me, as is writing in general. I have still been writing for my volunteering position, so I am still getting stress relief. But, I have neglected this blog, my personal blog. I have over 400 followers, some of who continue to read the few new posts I have done. I have now changed the name of this blog to Living Life With CKD, rather than buying a paid domain. I may upgrade in the near future, but for now, I am content with this. It is the reason I started this blog, to help others who are living with CKD. I will get back on track in 2023 with regular topics, and posts.

Now, to Zetia. If you have been reading here then you know a few things about me. I am a nurse, I have CKD which is now hovering around stage 2, and I believe the body can heal itself without medications sometimes, but not always. Sometimes you need a little nudge to help you along. It is a balancing act to keep the body in homeostasis. All through 2022, my Cholesterol has been stubbornly a little above normal. Not too high, about 20 points, but enough to concern both of my doctors. Because Heart Disease is a major complication when you have CKD both doctors wanted me to take medication to assist. They agreed to let me try lifestyle changes, including exercise, and diet modification. Even though I did those modifications it wasn’t really working. My levels would go up and down, and then my LDL went up and kind of stayed there. My Triglycerides remained OK, however. Weight loss has always been a complicated metabolic hot mess for me, so that wasn’t really happening. Because my goal has always been and will be, that I have worked so hard to improve my kidney function, something I was told was not really possible, that I didn’t want to take medication that is going to set that back. Plus, I have been tracking my blood pressure all year and it is good and stable. I don’t have high blood pressure, so they were pleased with that. Anyway, I knew my primary doctor, and my kidney doctor agreed and was going to suggest medication to assist me in getting these numbers back in line. So, after a lot of research, and soul-searching I decided to try Zetia. Zetia is not a statin and I don’t think I would ever take a statin. Statins put a lot of pressure on the kidneys and have lots of other side effects that I know I would just not be content with. Zetia is a cholesterol-absorbing inhibitor, which simply means it absorbs fat you eat in the intestines and you eliminate it in your stool. It may or may not decrease other types of fats, however, so a diet with lowered fat is optimal for the best results. I have taken it for a month and had my levels checked and all of my numbers have improved in the right direction. They are not normal yet, but I am very optimistic. I also noticed I am starting to lose some of my stubborn belly fat, and I have not changed my exercise routines. Zetia can help with weight loss if you modify your diet as well. If you don’t modify to a lower-fat diet, then Zetia will most likely not help with weight loss, but it might. I also liked that the side effects reported by others were minimal and manageable. There is always a risk of liver damage and a severe kidney effect. Liver enzymes and kidney function need to be monitored closely while taking Zetia. A severe reaction to Zetia, affecting the kidneys, would be very similar to muscle wasting symptoms, for example, dark urine, severe muscle aches, or muscle weakness. The first day I took it in the morning and noticed that I had the most common side effect which is tiredness. I can not be tired all day, I work, so I switched to taking it at bedtime and that worked very well. I just sleep through the side effects. It also inflames my sinuses, but this is a chronic issue anyway that I am very accustomed to living with. I have had no other ill effects since I started taking it and it is working. So, for now, I am very pleased with the results. It is also affordable. A 3-month supply only cost 14 dollars. I do have insurance so I am not sure what the cost is if you don’t. However, there are possible programs to help you afford your medication.

Do you have CKD? Do you have other illnesses along with it? How do you manage them? In the month of January, I will be focusing on Lipids, and Heart Disease.

Have good, honest, open discussions with your doctor about your needs and how your medications may be affecting you. There may be other options with fewer side effects that may work just as well. A good relationship with your doctor is vital to your health and well-being.

Disclaimer This is my old disclaimer. Now that I am not offering paid coaching, I will be updating it. This blog is not medical advice. It is a discussion about health-related issues and CKD. It does not replace your doctor and I would never recommend that.

I will be taking the updated Kidney Coach class for sure in 2023. I need to get my other certification completed and then I can focus on the Kidney Coach class. I am excited to start sharing that information on this blog, again.

Funny Friday!

I think we all are aware that laughing makes us feel better. I promise you will laugh at the pranks in the video. Some will make you laugh til you cry. If you love to play pranks on people, I always say do it with caution. You never know when the scared person might have a fight response rather than a flight response.


Taste Test Tuesday: Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars

Hello, and welcome back. I did not get to blog as much last week as I had expected due to lots of factors. But, today I am back with another Taste Test Tuesday. This is not a paid post, it is just a topic I enjoy covering on this blog.

If you read here a lot, then you know that I shared some emergency meal kits for any kind of preparedness, but especially hurricane prep here in Florida. Well, of course, we have a late-season hurricane barreling toward Florida. We have lived here since 2005 and I don’t remember ever having a hurricane in November. I don’t think we will need to evacuate, it is supposed to be a huge rainmaker and wind, but a category 1. Since we live inland we should be OK. But, we could lose power, and trees can come down, stuff like that.

Now for the taste test. I do not care for Greek Yogurt, or any yogurt really. I find it to be bitter or sour. But, I really wanted some ice cream one day when I was in Publix and these Yasso Frozen Yogurt Bars were buy one get one free. They have substantially less fat and sugar than ice cream. So, I decided to buy them and if I didn’t like them maybe my husband or daughter would. I tried the ones with the chocolate coating first and they were really good. I was very pleasantly surprised. I was even more skeptical about the mint chocolate chip because I was thinking it would be bitter without the chocolate coating. In all actuality, I enjoyed the mint chocolate chip much more than the one with the chocolate coating.

Would I buy these again? Absolutely! However, they would have to be on sale. 4 bars at Walmart costs $4.98, so you know they would be even more at Publix. That is way too much to spend on such a small amount, in my opinion. But, I also don’t crave ice cream often, so these would be OK once in a while even at that price range.

Have you ever tried either of these? If yes, let me know if you liked them, or not.

If you are on dialysis these will obviously count towards your fluid limit for the day, so be sure to count that. Dairy products tend to be higher in phosphorus than other frozen treats like sherbert.