Kidney Education Class: Week 3

Happy Saturday! If you read my last post, back in March, you know my life has been crazy these past 4 weeks. I interviewed and accepted the full-time position with my current employer but in a different department. I had no idea how to adjust to working full time when I worked only 2 to 3 shifts a week for all my child-rearing years. The first week was rough. Even though my new position is basically a desk job and not nearly any strain on my body, I am not accustomed at all to sitting 8 hours a day. As a nurse, I am used to being on my feet all day, and all the other rigors that come with bedside nursing. I was not getting even a quarter of the daily steps I normally would and by the time I would get home there was dinner, showers, and other commitments that did not fare well for exercise. It is at least a 35-minute drive and with morning and after-work traffic closer to an hour. By the second week, I found if I leave my house 15 minutes before I need to I can beat the morning and school traffic and be a half hour early to work. My boss and I discussed this and we adjusted my hours so I can get there a half hour early and leave a half hour early. Of course, I am working not just sitting there wasting time. I also get a whole hour for lunch instead of just 30 minutes. So, I eat a quick lunch and then go for a 30-minute walk. As the days get hotter I may have to eat more of brunch or it will be too hot. I am now into a pretty good routine going into my third week of this job.

As far as meal prep goes, we have moved into our Summer menu, which is lighter and leans more told cold-type meals. I am still buying fresh veggies every week and prepping them for easy grab-and-go salad fixing or snacks. My husband and I have really committed to losing weight this Summer, which for me means I have to cut more calories if I can’t fit in the exercise, so we will be having carbs at lunch and no-carb dinners. I don’t know if this will be successful. It is working so far for him, but for me, weight loss is incredibly difficult. Due to my having CKD, I can only adjust so much for my macros and not cause damage from too much protein, or fat, so carbs are my main macro.

As I continue to adjust I hope to get three blog posts a week done.

This week I am going to talk about week 3 of the AKF Kidney Education Class. They sent me this lovely binder book so that I can take pictures of each slide and share them here. If you have not read the first two weeks you can find them in the archives.

Today, I am going to talk about what happens in the body when the kidneys are damaged. The short video below, I think explains it very well. The second part of the video talks about prevention. I want to say that while a lot of symptoms of CKD are minor and or unnoticeable until there is a lot of damage to the kidneys. If you ever have a metal taste in your mouth you need to seek medical attention right away. This is why CKD goes unnoticed because it can be easily mistaken for other things.

When your kidneys are damaged:

  1. The damage keeps your kidneys from working as well as they should.
  2. Waste and extra fluids stay in your body instead of being excreted as urine
  3. Blood enters the kidneys

Please remember these posts where I say that it is AKF classes, are the property of the American Kidney Fund to which I am a Kidney Coach. I facilitate the class and can answer questions based on my expertise and own personal experiences. It is not intended to be medical advice or to replace seeing a medical doctor. It is for informational and educational purposes only. If you would rather not wait for all of the slides to be posted to this blog you can contact me to see if I can set up a way to do the class via another option all at once. The video below is not an AKF video but one I found on Youtube and thought it fit nicely into the topic for this class.

Please like and share these posts, as they are helpful to all kinds of people no matter where they might live.


Taste Test Tuesday, Weekly Meal Plan, and Some Updates

As my personal life continues to evolve, my blogging habits will change. I worked a strange work schedule these past 7 days. I am also finishing up taking the CBCS certification exam and applying for a new position with my current employer. If the pay is up to par I will most likely take this position. This will give me a more normal work schedule which is something a nurse does not usually have. I have been doing bedside nursing since I was 18 years old and my body is starting to feel it. A change will be good.

Yesterday, I missed my meal prep post. Most of my topics will migrate to weekends if I am working a full-time job. This past week I spent 120 dollars on groceries, sorry I went after getting out of work and forgot to snap a picture. I am noticing a trend, though. We tend to buy the same items, basically, and one week is right around 100 and then the next week 120. That means, on average we are spending 110 dollars a week, per month, on food. I guess I can accept that.

I would like us to try a new recipe each week so we are not stuck eating the same foods over and over, even if we like them. Last week we tried Big Mac in a bowl. This recipe was originally intended to be a low-carb recipe, but we didn’t need it to be low-carb. You can definitely modify the ingredients to suit your eating lifestyle. We all loved this and it will be part of our Summer rotation of meals.

We used 1 lb of organic grass-fed ground beef, shredded lettuce, cooked brown rice, chopped onions, chopped dill pickles, and Thousand Island dressing. If you like cheese on your Big Mac, add some shredded cheese too. Basically, you cook the rice, and the ground beef and then put everything in a bowl and eat it. I would prefer this with ground turkey, but my husband always complains, so ground beef it is.

It was fast, easy, and delicious. It can also be affordable if you buy cheaper ground meat.

My meal plan for this week, which began last Friday and will end this Friday is below. I only share dinners because breakfast and lunch are just regular stuff like eggs, toast, salad, soup, leftovers, etc. I always have a fruit and veggies to add to our meals.

Saturday: BBQ pork, pork and beans, and mashed potatoes. My daughter won’t eat beans, so I make mashed potatoes too. Either broccoli or green beans will be on the side.

Sunday: Pizza

Monday: Grilled cheese and tomato soup. It was very cold out yesterday, and this was a lovely dinner.

Tuesday: Hashbrown casserole with bacon. I have frozen hashbrowns that have been in my freezer forever and I need to use them. This will be a new recipe for us, so watch for my taste test post next week. Fruit will be the side.

Wednesday: Chicken and broccoli with rice. Either Teriyaki, sweet and sour, sweet chili sauce, or just cheese for the topping.

Thursday; Sweet and sour pork with rice, and broccoli or green beans

Friday: Chicken Marsala with mashed potatoes and a veggie. This is another new recipe, so watch for the taste test post.

I did not save my receipt so I can’t give cost breakdowns, but each meal should be around 6 dollars. Processed foods are actually costing way more than fresh, and you get way less. So, if you want to save money on groceries stop buying processed stuff, learn to cook, and save some bucks.

Tomorrow I will be doing week 3 of the Kidney Class. I am working on next week’s meal plan and I am going to try a Weight Watcher recipe.

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Meal Prep/Plan Monday Week 3

Hello, and happy Monday! We have had a soaker of a day so far. It poured and thundered all night and morning. If you like light shows, the lightning would have impressed you.

This is week 3 of my meal prep/plan series. This week I remembered to keep my receipt, plus have my Walmart app handy so I can give prices for each meal. We are also on a mission to spend only 100 dollars per week for food, for 3 adults, and company when we have it. The only things not included in that 100 dollars are dog food, non-food items, and coffee. Yes, coffee. It is a necessity and I buy it in bulk on Amazon.

Last week, I went over my budget by 20 dollars. This week I spent 104 dollars and that is close enough for me. Even making a meal plan, it is very easy to go over budget when you are in the store. If I was always happy with the fruit and veggies that were picked by store employees, I would just always do a pickup order. But, sadly, I am not. So, I have been using the app to add the items from my grocery list into the app, so I know how much I can anticipate spending. Then, I have to stick to it, lol.

I buy larger packs of meat and split them into different meals. So, you will note on the meal plan, hamburgers, but won’t see any in the weekly shop. That is because I bought it in bulk the previous week, so I got three meals out of it.

I only share dinner plans, and when I work they eat pizza or some other quick meal. Breakfast is not common in my house, and lunches are always leftovers, sandwiches, soup, salad, etc. I always have some kind of fresh fruit on hand and veggies for snacking. I try to buy some crackers, or pretzels as well.

My meal prep is basically just cleaning, chopping, and storing fresh veggies and fruit for easy, fast snacks, and work lunches. This week I even prepped the onions from last week. I also chopped up all the lettuce into bite-size pieces. It makes it much easier, and faster to throw together a salad when everything is prepped and ready. But, buying these items already chopped is expensive and a waste of money.

This current meal plan started on Friday the 10th and will end Friday the 17th. Any of these meals can have fresh fruit added, or other veggies. The prices may not be exact, just a reference to how much the meal could cost if you made the amounts stated. There are items that are on the menu that are not shown in the image. That is because I have items from other grocery hauls and stuff already on hand.

Saturday: They had pizza Dinner cost $4.98

Sunday: They had chicken alfredo leftovers. I don’t have the cost for this one because I didn’t save my receipt from the previous week’s shop. But, the chicken was about 3 dollars, and I made homemade alfredo sauce. I will be doing a Taste Test Tuesday post about this recipe and I will try to figure out the cost then.

Monday: Chicken and rice with either Teriyaki or Sweet Chile sauce, and broccoli. I can’t decide. I buy the bulk chicken and split it into 5 meals. Even at the higher end of 15 dollars that is 3 dollars per meal of chicken. The sauce comes out to about 26 cents a serving, and there are three of us. Brown rice is about 44 cents per serving. Broccoli is 98 cents a bag. So, this meal is only $6.08 for three adults and I am sure there will be leftovers.

Tuesday: Hamburgers on a bun with onion rings. I bought the burger meat in the grass-fed, organic, 3-pack for $19.32. So the burger meat is $5.83. The onion rings were $5.26 This meal costs $11.09 and is the least healthy, go figure. We will probably have a side salad or fruit.

Wednesday: Kielbasa, peppers, onions, and rice. I bought frozen peppers and onion this time, so the fresh peppers can be for snacking. The Kielbasa is $3.98, the rice 44 cents per person, the peppers and onions were $4.28 and I will use half the bag, so 2.14. But, I had my daughter pick these and they were not the most affordable. I will not make that mistake again. This meal comes out to $7.44 to feed three adults and there will probably be leftovers. We may add some of the sweet chili sauce as well.

Thursday: Pork chops with stuffing, and either broccoli or green beans. I bought the family-size of boneless pork chops for 9.51 and split it into 3 meals for $3.17 per meal. Everyone gets 1 pork chop. The stuffing was 88 cents, and a big can of green beans was $1.08. So, the cost of this meal as is, and will have leftovers, is $5.13.

Friday: Chicken Cesar salad. We buy the family size and it costs $4.98 and is a kit that comes with everything you need to make it.

So, for the week of meals, I added 10 dollars for the chicken alfredo as I didn’t do a cost breakdown, 50 dollars for a week of dinners is pretty good. That means we are spending 50 dollars, on lunches, and snack items.

There are other things that may mess up my budget for the next few months, namely hurricane season.

I hope you enjoy these posts and they give you some ideas. You can make them even more affordable by replacing meat with beans. But, at this point that will not work for my family. It doesn’t make sense to buy stuff no one will eat. I bought fresh strawberries this week and was very disappointed with them. So, I have to find a use for them, and I think I might try dehydrating them. They will last up to a year that way and they are sweet and delicious.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Meal Plan/Prep Monday: Week 2

Good Monday morning! Welcome to week 2 of my meal plan/prep challenge. The reason this is a challenge is that I am trying to stay within a 100-dollar-per-week grocery budget for 3 adults, and when we have company for dinner. While this is absolutely feasible, it is difficult to do when everything is so expensive, especially if you have a chronic disease. Last summer I did a few posts where we tried to stay under 75 per week. It was OK, but with inflation, we had to increase our limit. The budget is for food only. Another thing we don’t always include in the budget is coffee. Coffee is something that my husband and I both agreed is a must and will not include it in the budget unless I am buying smaller packs at the grocery store. In general, I buy coffee on Amazon where I get the best deal, but it is like 30 dollars. You will see coffee in the grocery haul below, which was done on Friday of last week. I spent 19 dollars over, and if you read last week’s post, it is because someone else was shopping with me. This is the #1 way to not stick to your budget. Try to shop alone, or just say no.

There are several good reasons to create a food budget and stick to it. For us, it is the easiest place to cut spending from, allowing us to save more money for fun things, or to pay down debt. Don’t worry we are not starving. The hardest part is I like organic, grass-fed meats, and of course snacks. We all like snacks, unfortunately. Snacks are very expensive and everyone likes something different. This is an area I need to continue to work on. I would much rather buy more actual food, than snacks.

Leftovers are always for lunches, and we always have sandwich options, soup, fruit, and veggies.

I don’t really prep a lot of meals. My husband does not like frozen meals, and he does not like leftovers frozen and used later. But, I do prep fruit, and fresh vegetables, so they are easy to just grab and eat. You will see a bag of oranges in the image. I cut them into small wedges and put them in the fridge. I did not buy bananas this week. All veggies are washed and cut for easy use. I am going to start cutting onions ahead and putting them in the fridge, and lettuce as well. We always have canned and frozen veggies on hand. I don’t keep a ton of food on hand anymore. I find it doesn’t get used and it just goes to waste.

My menu plan always starts on a Saturday and ends on Friday. I do not always shop on the same day. It all depends on my work schedule. This week I have a Dr. appt in the city where Aldis is located. I am going to shop there this week and see if there is a big enough difference in the number of food items I can get as compared to my local Walmart. If it is I may consider the drive to Aldis a good idea.

We had bought a second turkey at Thanksgiving when they were marked way down to move. I don’t remember the size, but it was a good-sized turkey for 11 dollars. We had that on Saturday for dinner for our monthly family dinner. Today is Monday and I still have enough meat left to make sandwiches for lunch. You can make broth and soup, but it is really warm here right now and soup is not desirable. I may not eat all of the items in the food haul. I may eat a variation or smaller portions if needed.

Meal Plan for this week:

Saturday, March 4th: Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner rolls, green beans and my son brought ice cream for dessert.

Sunday: Tacos. I eat a taco salad.

Monday: Pizza a note about frozen pizza and CKD. Most of them I don’t like, this Walmart brand one shown in the image is pretty good. However, normally I only eat one piece and have a big salad. Last week I ate two pieces and had a massive headache. The preservatives or extra sodium, or both, were most likely the reason for my headache. So, if you have CKD and you experience headaches after eating processed foods, cut back your serving size or avoid if possible.

Tuesday: Macaroni salad with egg or tuna. We are quickly moving into warmer months and our Summer menu. We eat a lot of salad and sandwiches. I hate to use the oven. I did get a new, larger air fryer for Christmas and I am hoping it won’t warm up the house.

Wednesday: Pizza I will not eat pizza this day.

Thursday: Big Mac in a bowl. This is one of our favorite warmer month recipes. You will see it a lot. You will see in the picture I spent the extra few dollars to get the three-pack of organic ground beef. To me, it is worth it if I am going to eat red meat.

Friday: This will be a new recipe for me but as you can see there is a whole carton of half and half in the picture. I will probably make this a few weeks in a row so it doesn’t go to waste. I tried it in my coffee, but yuck. I will be making my own alfredo sauce. I tend to not like the store-bought jar varieties, even the organic ones. This meal will be chicken alfredo, pasta, and broccoli.

I threw away my receipt by accident so I don’t have the prices for each meal. I promise next week I will.

These posts are one of my most popular topics on this blog. If you would like me to write about something in particular, let me know in the comments. Wednesday will begin the weekly slides for the new AKF Kidney Classes. I finally got to the new class and am ready to begin teaching it. I will post a new one each Wednesday. If you would rather do the whole class at once, you can contact me below and I will work with you to set something up.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Food On Friday: Ezekiel Bread

Updated 3/4/2023 this post is from 2019. I have not bought this bread in quite some time. With inflation it is just not economical to buy bread only one person in the house will eat.

Welcome to Food on Friday!  Today, I am going talk to you about, Ezekiel Bread.  The kind I buy is the whole grain kind.  There are other varieties, but this is the one I chose to start with.  This is my first time trying this bread.  This is not a paid post.

First, let me start by saying this is not the most delicious bread I have ever eaten.  Matter of fact it isn’t delicious much at all.  So, if flavor is super important to you, this particular bread may not work.  This bread is also the first Organic bread I have tried.  No one else will eat this but me, lol, at my house.

So, why did I buy this bread?  There are several reasons, and they are listed below.

  1.  I follow a low-sodium diet.  Most sandwich bread, or rolls, has at least 140mg of sodium per slice.  So just the bread for a sandwich would have at least 280mg of sodium.  So, I stopped eating bread, for the most part.  With Summer coming, and it is brutal in Florida, we don’t cook a lot with the stove or oven.  That means sandwiches are on the menu.  If I toast this bread, I like it even more, and it makes a nice sandwich for me.  One slice of this Ezekiel bread has only 75mg of sodium.
  2.  I like that it is Organic, very low fat, has a low glycemic index, a good amount of Iron, and Fiber per serving.

There are some downfalls, though.

1.  Besides flavor, this bread is kind of high in Phosphorus, 8% per slice.  So, one sandwich and I am at 16% for the day, and that percentage is for someone who does not have CKD.  So, I have to make sure I am paying attention to other Phosphorus I may get throughout the day.

2.  It is not cheap, but I don’t find most of the non Organic good bread is cheap either.  I can remember when bread was .25, that is how old I am, lol.

3.  It has to stay refrigerated.  This is a pain for me because it is just one more thing taking up space in the fridge, but I deal with it.

4.  Because it is Organic, with no preservatives, it has a much shorter shelf life.  In the Summer months this will not be an issue, because like I said we eat sandwiches.  But, I probably will not buy this in the Winter months, because I just won’t eat it fast enough.  Which brings me to the last point.  We live in Florida.  We get hurricanes, and even without a hurricane, losing power is always possible.  As such, we have had to evacuate once, in the 15 years we have lived here.  We had no power for a week.  This bread would most likely not survive that, as I wouldn’t be able to refrigerate it, without a generator.  I will be doing a post, probably next week about disaster preparation, for people with CKD.  I did one before, on my homeschool blog, but it needs updating, and lots of new info learned.  I can tell you there are not a lot of Organic foods I can stock-pile due to shelf life that are OK for CKD.  So, that has to be kept in mind.

You can read the rest of the info about Ezekiel Bread, by looking at the images below.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information I share on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advise. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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I Have CKD But No Insurance!

Today is day 2 of National Kidney Month. Maybe you are at risk of getting CKD or were just diagnosed, and you do not have any health insurance. This can be a daunting feeling as you will need regular medical monitoring moving forward. There are some options, that may be helpful, and I am going to go through them. The #1 thing you can do, in my opinion, is to make the lifestyle changes necessary to help you either prevent getting CKD or prevent the progression of CKD for as long as possible.

As you know, I have CKD. You can read my history all the way back to the beginning of this blog. I was underinsured for many years of my adult life, some by choice, and some not. I truly feel my kidney disease could have been diagnosed many years earlier than it was had I been under proper medical supervision. I am very fortunate now, and for the last 10 years or so to have very good insurance. Before Obamacare, or the ACA as its technical name, pre-existing conditions, and many other limitations were put onto the American people via the health care industry. It made lower income families much harder to afford needed medical care, even just basic prevention. I feel like a yearly urine test falls under prevention for CKD.

Here are some options to consider if you are underinsured, or uninsured, but may be at risk for CKD, or already have it.

  1. You could buy urine dipstick test strips and monitor protein in your urine. These are available online and at drug stores. Just be sure to follow the directions to get accurate results.
  2. Many clinics and labs offer a sliding scale fee for those eligible.
  3. Care Credit is a credit card for medical care. Of course, you have to apply and be approved, and pay it back with interest. We actually have used this for pet care, and when my son needed very expensive dental surgery.
  4. Health Savings Plans. I don’t feel like these would work well for someone who is only making minimum wage, but I also don’t know much about them. My husband had one and after a year it had 150 dollars in it and he bought new glasses. So, maybe more of a supplemental thing.
  5. KEEP Healthy from the National Kidney Foundation. This is a free screening done for the public. You have to visit the screening site. If you are at risk for CKD you can get the urine screening for free. The other items in the screening are available to everyone who visits.
  6. Since pre-existing conditions can no longer be excluded if you are uninsured and find out you have CKD you could sign up for your employer-based health insurance. Of course, this most likely will not be free. There used to be a time when employers would offer health insurance to single adults for free, I remember, but I am pretty sure not many do anymore. Yes, I am old, lol.
  7. Florida actually has a pretty extensive Medicaid Insurance Plan. There are 3 options for adults, and one for children call CHIP. If you are not a senior, disabled, or a child the requirements to be approved are pretty stiff. You can read more here, and here.
  8. You can visit a Community Health Center. I am in a rural area, but when I looked up my zip code, down at the bottom of this page, there are actually several near enough to me should I even need this option. These health centers are in rural areas and underserved areas.
  9. Another option is your local Public Health Center. They may not be able to manage your CKD, but you may be able to get some prevention tests for free and counseling as to where to get affordable health care.
  10. The last option and I find this kind of depressing is Medicare. It doesn’t feel like there is a lot of hope for underinsured, and uninsured people at risk and with CKD. Once you reach stage 5 you can sign up for Medicare despite your age. Stage 5 is considered End Stage Renal Disease. Medicare covers 80% of medical costs. So, you would still have to pay the other 20%. I found this webinar from AKF on Youtube. I encourage you to watch it.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. Nothing on this blog is intended to be medical advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Meal Plan/Prep Monday

But, on Tuesday, lol. I am kind of consolidating several topics into one weekly post that has to do with budgeting, pantry challenges, budget meals, meal planning, and prepping. I will try my best to always post these on Monday.

This particular meal plan actually began this past Saturday and will end on Friday. So, even though I will do the post on Monday, a few days may have gone by. The purpose of these posts is to help you find ways to plan meals for your family while sticking to a budget. We budget our food because of several reasons, to save money, avoid food waste, and just be reasonable with what we need and don’t need. Our weekly budget for 3 adults, and sometimes we have family or friends for dinner, is 100 dollars per week. We have had to adjust it a few times since I first started last fall, due to inflation. This is only for food and does not include other household items in the budget.

Here are some tips that help me to stay on budget.

  1. Shop with grocery pickup instead of going into the store. I was doing this all the time, but sometimes I get annoyed with their choices of fresh food, so now I am back in the store.
  2. I know you have heard this one before, shop the sales, and shop in season. While I agree with this, I don’t always do this. Just because hot dogs are buy one get one free does not mean we should be eating hot dogs all week. If your goal is to eat somewhat healthy and stay on a budget, it may be a little bit harder.
  3. Buy what you know your family will eat. Don’t buy something just because it is a good deal and then you throw it away because no one really wants it.
  4. Yes, beans are more affordable than meat. But, are you going to eat them? No one in my house will consistently eat beans several days a week. Yes, we would be starving if we had to. So, they are not more affordable in my house. They are just going to go to waste.
  5. Make a list and stick to it, even if there is a good sale.
  6. Shop your pantry first and try to find new recipes or ways to use items that maybe are not the favorites of the house.
  7. Even if you don’t need to spend your budget each week, 100 dollars for me, do it anyway and have a stocked pantry for when you can’t have that money that week.
  8. Skip the junk food. I know I love potato chips too, but with some simple prep work, you can have fruit and veggies all cut up and ready to snack on. Plus, fruit and veggies, for the most part, are cheaper than potato chips and other snack items. Don’t worry we eat processed foods too, though I do try very hard to limit them. You will read more about that in the menu plan.
  9. Buy family packs of meats and then split them up into smaller portions. One portion per person per bag. Learn what proper portions are. It will save you a lot of money.
  10. Don’t take children or spouses shopping with you. Just trust me.

You will see my full Walmart grocery haul. I don’t always shop at Walmart but I do find they have the best prices right now for my area. I live in Florida, so your prices may be more or less. I will share the cost of each dinner meal for the night. I don’t meal plan breakfast or lunch. No one generally eats breakfast, but there are always options for it. Lunch is a salad, sandwich, or soup. Last Summer I did some posts on pantry kits for hurricane prep or any disaster. I had to use one today, so it didn’t expire. I will be doing more of those soon, as hurricane season is coming fast. The prices below do not include condiments, butter, oil, etc. They are pennies on the dollar and I am not going to figure that out.

Some of the items in the meal plan I already had on hand. So, I will share the price from the Walmart app that I set up my grocery pickup on. This week I only spent 91 dollars, but last week I went over by 20 dollars, so I tried to even it out. See #10 above. I do not drink soda and I feel it is a big waste of money. See #10 above, lol.

We almost always have some kind of fresh fruit, salad fixings, and canned or frozen veggies.

Saturday: pizza. On the eves that I work, even though my husband is a fabulous cook, they often want frozen pizza. One pizza feeds them both and sometimes I come home to a piece saved for me. Cost of this meal $3.98 I do not like most frozen pizzas, but this one is OK. So, that is definitely a budget meal. They can add fruit or salad if they want to, but they won’t, lol.

Sunday: Hot dogs on a bun with Cesar salad. Ok this one is a little more expensive, but I was at work and I don’t really eat hot dogs, so there were hot dogs for lunch the next day too. This meal is right around 10 dollars for all of the items. We buy the family-size Cesar Salad kit at WM and it feeds all 3 of us, plus some leftovers for the next day.

Monday: I worked the opposite shift this day, so I was pooped. We had an easy ravioli with sauce and garlic bread. Ravioli was 4.27 which is a shame of a price, it used to be so much more affordable, with sauce at 2.24, and garlic bread at 2.24. You could choose a less expensive sauce, and Dollar Tree has garlic bread for 1.25. The total for our meal was 8.75 But, there were again leftovers to have for lunch today.

Tuesday: Today, is my first day off of the week, so we will eat a properly cooked meal. Chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. The green beans need to be used up before they expire. We used to always buy chicken breast, but I have switched to chicken thighs because they cost less and they don’t dry out as easily when cooking. I very much prefer free-range chicken and or organic. But, it does not fit in a budget right now. I buy the family pack which will range from 11-15 dollars and I split them up into smaller bags with proper portion sizes for each of us. Then I stick them in the freezer. I can get 5 meals out of that price range, which is very economical. So, even if I go with the higher price of 15 dollars for the full pack divided into 5 packs, that is 3 dollars worth of chicken for this meal. My daughter loves the Idahoan instant mashed potatoes, and you know what they are easier too. They have gone up too. I used to get them for 99 cents, but now they are 1.44 The can of green beans is 50 cents. So, the total for this meal is 4.94, and as you can see this real meal is less than the ravioli or hot dog meals. I might even throw on some gravy if I have it on hand.

Wednesday: Breakfast for dinner. I love breakfast for dinner. It is not the healthiest option but it is splendid. I always have a banana, orange, or apple on hand. Pancakes, sausage patties, and fruit for those that will eat it, so me. The pancake mix is 1.98 because I buy the Great Value brand, the sausage patties were 2.76 and I buy bananas in bunches, but according to the app they are 27 cents each. So, we will go with that. I will probably eat an orange, as well. One orange is 88 cents. Those pancakes we have had for three meals now, so that is an awesome deal. This meal will cost 5.89 a little bit more if my husband decides he wants fruit. Technically, less because the pancake mix is for more than one meal, but you get the idea.

Thursday: Chicken and rice bake with broccoli. I have not exactly decided how I want to make this yet, so the price is an estimate for the main ingredients. I already have cheese on hand and I buy it in a block and shred it myself. There may or may not be a condensed soup involved. The chicken, just like above is from my bulk chicken pack so 3 dollars, brown rice is 7 cents per serving and I make 6 servings so a whopping 42 cents, and the broccoli I buy frozen at 98 cents. This meal will cost you a whopping 4.05! Again, a homecooked meal is much cheaper than processed food items.

Friday: I work again, so another frozen pizza at 3.98

That will round out the week. We are having family over the weekend and we bought an extra turkey at Thanksgiving when they were at rock bottom price. We need to use that up before it gets too hot to run the oven. So, Saturday will be Thanksgiving in March.

Where I currently work, they feed me. It is not always a healthy option for me, so I always have fruit and a sandwich with me just in case they don’t have a salad or other option I may like and find acceptable. My husband brown bags it for lunch. You will see in the grocery haul, I allow for some snack items. Everybody can pick a reasonably priced item. But, once it is gone it is gone for the week. You will see not all of the items that I purchased this week were eaten. That is because I have items I need to use up in my fridge, freezer, and pantry. We very often eat the Cesar Salad, mentioned above as a whole meal, especially during the hot months. At 4.98 and it feeds all 3 of us, it is a good deal.

Tomorrow starts Kidney Awareness month, my favorite month to share, and I will be looking for new information to share.

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Does Exercise Reduce Cardiac Risk?

Updated 2/22/2023

It is loving your heart month, and heart health awareness.  Today, we will discuss exercise, and how it can reduce your risk for Cardiac disease, but also as it relates to people with CKD.  Remember, everyone is different, and for some people exercise may not reduce the risk.  Always ask your doctor before beginning an exercise routine, especially if you plan on doing more than a basic walking routine.  Vigorous exercise can be dangerous for some people, and for people with CKD, studies show that intense exercise may increase Creatinine levels, at least for short periods of time. If you have CKD, or Heart Disease already, be sure to talk to your doctor as to what exercises are best for you. Generally, most health care practitioners will probably be OK with walking.

I did a post on walking, a couple weeks ago.  You can find it in the archives.  Most anyone can walk, and unless your doctor tells you no exercise, then chances are good you can walk too.  Me, I have CKD stage 3, and I try to aim for 50-60% intensity of my Maximum Heart Rate.  To find your MHR you subtract your age from 220, then figure out 50% of that.  So, for my age, my MHR would be 85 beats a minute, at 50% intensity.    I try to stay in that range. This is very light exercise and it is hard to stay in that range if your goal is to increase your fitness level.

Of course, vigorous exercise is going to have a higher risk reduction.  According to medical websites, up to 25% risk reduction if you exercise vigorously, of cardiac disease risk.  For me, who works out moderately, it is only a 10% risk reduction of reduction to cardiac risk.  But, for me, I can’t risk my one good kidney for an organ that right now is functioning fine.  Now that may change in the future.  Vigorous exercise would be running, jogging, bike riding, aerobics, etc.  Moderate exercise would be walking, yard work, or golfing.  Low-intensity aerobics can also fit under moderate exercise.  I recommend anyone starting out, do a walking program first.  This will increase your strength, balance, and circulation, preparing you for a higher endurance program.

Using weights also adds to the cardiac risk reduction.  However, again if you have CKD this can raise your Creatinine levels.  So, kidney websites recommend doing Pilates, or Yoga for toning, instead of weight lifting.  I have not started either of those yet, but I intend to.

Even 15 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity will benefit your heart.  The goal is to eventually build up to 60 minutes, at least 5 days a week.  But, if you can only do 5 or 10 minutes a couple days a week, then start there.  It is important to start somewhere.  Any activity is better than no activity at all.  Your heart is a muscle, and like any muscle, it will take time, and work to make it stronger.

Know to watch for warning signals, especially if you have CKD or an already underlying cardiac disease.  You do want to have difficulty carrying on a full conversation, but you don’t want to be breathing so hard that you are gasping for air, or can’t speak at all.  That is a sign that you are working too hard, and you need to stop and rest.  Learn to check your heart rate, before, during, and after you exercise.  Remember you want to stay within the MHR, as stated above.  The older you are the lower your MHR will be, so it is imperative you always speak to your doctor before starting an exercise program, and that you learn to properly monitor your heart rate and breathing during exercise.   Walking around your house is not an exercise program.  We all walk.  Fitness walking is an exercise program.  You will expect to have some muscle pain, after exercising, especially if you are sedentary.  But, chest pain, pain in the jaw, or neck, or any intense pain anywhere, can be indicative of an issue and you should stop and rest right away.  Also, make sure you stay hydrated.  Drink before, during, and after.  Don’t exercise in intense heat.  The goal is not to be a super athlete but to decrease your risk of cardiac disease.

Watch the short video below that talks about reducing cardiac risk, and reducing the risk of cognitive decline with exercise as simple as walking.

My disclaimer is easy to remember. Nothing on this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Aortic Stenosis?

Hello, and welcome back! If you did not read my post from yesterday, and watch the video, I encourage you to do so. This is part of a series for heart awareness. Be sure to come back and read the rest of the posts.

What are the signs and symptoms of Aortic Stenosis?

The very first sign, that can be noticed early on, is a heart murmur. A heart murmur is an abnormal heart sound that can be heard through a stethoscope while listening to the heart. Sometimes, it is obvious and can be heard clearly, other times it might be faint and not so easy to hear. A trained doctor, or nurse that has training in heart sounds, will notice the heart murmur.

The symptoms would seem obvious, but trust me they can be misconstrued as something else.

  1. The three big ones and symptoms that should not be ignored are dizziness or fainting, chest pain, and dyspnea which is shortness of breath.
  2. Fatigue with little to no activity. This can be an early warning and may be a symptom of other illnesses such as Anemia.
  3. Brain fog and forgetfulness.
  4. Low exercise tolerance.
  5. Chest pain that seems like maybe it is GERD, heartburn, or GI disturbance, especially after eating a heavy meal. This may be exactly what it is, but if you are having this on a regular basis please see your doctor to make sure it is not something more serious.

All of these symptoms may be caused because your heart is not pumping enough oxygenated blood to the rest of your body.

I know healthcare is ridiculously expensive for a lot of people, and the poor and underinsured are the most affected by awful outcomes, but by treating these symptoms early and with medical monitoring, you may be able to avoid a much bigger bill when the inevitable happens, or death occurs.

It is true that as we age our heart valves become less effective, much like everything else in the human body. You may even need a heart valve replacement in your 70s and 80s, but ignoring the symptoms earlier in life and not receiving treatment can lead to open heart surgery or even death at a much younger age.

If you have CKD you are already at an increased risk for heart valve disease because of the nature of that disease. When the kidneys can’t filter waste as well it builds up in the blood, blood vessels, heart valves, and even the organs. This can lead to calcification which is calcium deposit buildup.

There are two videos below. The first one shows how blood actually pumps through your chambers and valves. It is pretty cool. The second video talks about the symptoms of Aortic Stenosis. They are both short.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information shared on this blog is meant to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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Aortic Calcification and Aortic Stenosis!

For the rest of February 2023, because it is heart awareness month, I will discuss Aortic Stenosis. If you have CKD, like me, you are already at an increased risk for Aortic Stenosis just by the nature of the kidneys not filtering properly. This is not a disorder that should be ignored, or poo-pooed.

Aortic Calcification is just what it sounds like, calcium deposits build up on the Aortic Valve in the heart and cause the valve to become stenosed, or narrowed which limits the amount of blood flow going out of the heart to the rest of the body. The Aorta is the large blood vessel responsible for getting blood out of the heart to the rest of the body. As we age the valves in our hearts can become stiff and work less effectively. That also can cause stenosis, or narrowing.

Below is a short video that shows what this stenosis looks like inside the heart. It is a pretty cool video. I will discuss the anatomy of the heart and how it works, risk factors, symptoms, prevention, and treatment in future posts. But, I will also discuss the very complicated topic of health insurance and how people who are underinsured, or not insured at all have to cope with these medical issues with extreme stress and anxiety.

My disclaimer is short and sweet. None of the information in this blog is intended to be medical or nutritional advice. It is for informational purposes only and to spark a conversation.

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