Tag Archives: health

Teeth & Soup

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Rice-noodles

Image by Martijn Nijenhuis via Flickr

As if my recent post about amalgam in my teeth weren’t enough, the last few days I’ve been in extraordinary pain from one of my impacted wisdom teeth.  It’s not tooth pain, thankfully, but my gums just at the area surrounding the lower left quadrant wisdom tooth swelled and caused me to accidentally and repeatedly bite the inside of my cheek connected to the area.  I’ve been careful with it, salting and brushing, and it’s starting to get better (slowly), but without dental insurance getting this taken care of is an impossibility.

However, because I wanted to eat without a lot of chewing, I ended up saying hello to necessity, and ended up creating a Thai-inspired soup with what I had on hand.  It’s not a proper Thom Yum Gai, but it was very tasty and since I had a request for the recipe, I’ll post it here.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or 3-4 breasts)
3 large carrots
2  handfuls of sugar snap peas
1 medium non-green sweet pepper (ours was a mix of orange, pink, and yellow)
1 bunch fresh mint, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 T. coriander
1 T. fresh grated ginger
4 slices of fresh ginger
1/2 gallon chicken broth
2 t. Thai chili paste
3 T. lime juice (or more, to taste)
~6 oz. can of coconut milk
1/2 pkg. of vermicelli style rice noodles, broken into 1 1/2 – 2″ lengths (a.k.a bahn pho)
sea salt, to taste
white wine
olive oil

Cut chicken into bite sized lumps and toss into a skillet already oiled and hot.  Throw in the grated ginger, sprinkle sea salt, and cook with a splash of white wine until chicken is cooked but not browned.

Empty contents of skillet into stew pot, scraping as much oil into the pot along with the meat and sauce.  Add chicken broth and lime juice and set to boil (this is a good point to determine how much soup you want to make; add water if there is not enough broth to cover and cook ingredients).  As it heats, toss in ginger root slices, coriander, basil, and half the chopped mint.

Shave skin and trim carrots.  Slice them into rounds as thick as nickels.  Slice the sugar snap peas at diagonal angles into approximately three pieces each (depending on size).  Trim off the top of the pepper and core; slice the pepper in half lengthwise, and then make long, thin slices.  Set vegetables aside.

Break rice noodles into shorter pieces to your liking.  When the broth comes to a boil, add in noodles and stir.  Toss in carrots.  Wait four minutes, and throw in the peppers and snap peas as well.

When noodles are almost tender, mix in chili paste, salt to taste, and coconut milk.  Stir thoroughly and remove from heat.  Carrots should have just a little give when you bite into them, and peppers should retain their color and sweetness.

Serve  with sprinkles of mint in large bowls that allow slurping of noodles and sipping of broth.  Keep salt, lime juice, and chili pepper on the table for those that want to adjust the flavor. (My daughter liked it the way it was, while I wanted more salt and lime and my partner wanted more salt and chili pepper!)

Temptation & Discovery

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For a while now I’ve been plotting for Daughter’s week away at camp at the end of August.  I’ve been planning to see certain people, do certain things.  One of those is to hurt myself with food.  It’s not that I want the pain, oh gods no, but I really want that chicken burger I’ve been craving and I want to cash in on my Trophy cupcake gift card from the time they screwed up and forgot my cupcake (remembering my partner’s and my daughter’s) and I didn’t find out until I was all the way home.  They gave me enough money on the card to get three cupcakes, and I think I have one left.  Maybe more.

But after spending this week sick (too many high-thiols* foods, apparently), a sudden attack of my lower back preventing me from putting my weight on my right leg for two days, and the discovery that spelt isn’t going to work for me, I’m starting to rethink my plans.  I mean, I really want to be able to say that once a year I’m going to have a wheat-filled day and then pop naproxyn sodium for the three days that follow, but considering all of the food accidents lately (“why is this wheat-free food making me sick?  oh, it’s really got this hidden ingredient I didn’t know about… oops.”) and now this happy-fun-time with spelt burger buns, I’m not sure that even decadence (yay, decadence!) is worth it.

*Foods high in thiols (organic sulphur): Being sick Sunday and Monday with that sulphuric taste in my mouth made me wonder what else could cause it, because I’ve been strictly avoiding chicken eggs that have been triggering such reactions since I was 18.  I did a search on Monday for not digesting foods and having the sulphur taste and turned up this high sulphur food list that includes a link between this reaction to high sulphuric foods to amalgam poisoning.

Now, I’d heard about mercury in fillings, and I’ve had amalgam fillings since my mid to late teens . . . around the time my health symptoms first appeared.  In fact, numerous sources state that amalgam-based mercury poisoning can lead to depression, chronic fatigue, short temper, insomnia, a dulling of the senses, memory issues, digestive problems, anxiety, food allergies, and so on.  The list reads like my own list of symptoms (even the damage to my sense of smell!) and I’m staring to come up with a game plan. It’ll take time, courage, and a lot of money, but here’s the long-term goal:

  1. Get a blood test to check for high levels of heavy metals, including mercury.
  2. Make an appointment using a free dental check up coupon at a local dentist that includes free x-rays.
  3. Use both medical and dental results to go to the low-income dental clinic and begin having my amalgam fillings replaced with a safer material.
  4. Use chelation and a food diary in the meantime to keep track of attacks and gauge how much is too much sulphur for my body.

It may just be hooey, it might just be coincidence, but I see this discovery a small ray of long-term hope for many of my medical issues all thanks to a very bad stomach upset.

On a brighter side, my homemade meals this week have been fantastic.  I made wheat-free brownies (thanks TJ’s!) with walnuts and bittersweet chocolate chips, served warm with vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate whipped cream.  I cooked black beans in a way I never had before, and they turned out delightful, tried ono (or wahoo) for the first time, and made a wheat-free kung pao chicken that turned out fairly tasty.

Now if I could just figure out how to make a moist chocolate cake with a sinful frosting that didn’t crumble into dry crumbs an hour after slicing . . .

 

Update: As my daughter/partner dual birthday party planning approached, I let a lot of my basic improvements fall by the wayside.  But after a trip to the Hoh Rainforest with my other boyfriend, coming home, I’ve been good about keeping up with water, vitamins, wii fit, walking, maintaining the kitchen, and even practicing my Japanese!  🙂

Small Lessons, Big Results

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Recently learned . . .

Lesson 1: Split up the CoQ-10 into 300 mg doses, one with breakfast and one with lunch.  The latter will help me push through that post-lunch slump that so often recently devolves quickly into a nap I didn’t plan for nor wanted in the first place.

Lesson 2: Homogenized conventional cow’s milk makes my stomach sick.  Non-homogenized and raw cow’s milk, sheep’s milk, and goat’s milk rock (as do their cheeses).

Lesson 3: Daughter has the same problem as in Lesson 2.

Lesson 4: There is nothing satisfying as being able to know for a fact that a given food substance is causing my body distress and being immediately able to address it.  Having removed wheat, chicken eggs, and onions from my diet, my daily systemic inflammation no longer masks all the other things going on in this meat-bone package in which I am encased.  Localized pains and discomforts now stand out and I can better identify target areas to work on with my health care providers (when I have money to see them).

Lesson 5: I’m still a procrastinator.  Work on that . . . later.

Less Pain

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Bob's Red Mill

Image via Wikipedia

Seems getting rid of wheat was a good decision.  My inflammation has significantly reduced since I stopped eating what proved to be an allergen.  I’m not 100%, but there are a lot of other factors leading to my chronic pain and other issues.  The fact that I can now feel aches in specific places (knees, lower back) rather than a near-constant swath of pain across my body with tenderness almost everywhere is a good reason to continue abstaining from wheat.

Of course, I had a mild flare up the other day, and went over in my head what I’d eaten.  I called Bob’s Red Mill because I’d eaten their organic Scottish oatmeal–I’m addicted to it–and Andre told me that there’s a cross-contamination issue.  I have to wonder how they can call it organic unless the only cross-contamination is with other organic products.  They have yet to provide a gluten-free Scottish oatmeal, though they have other forms, none can compare.  Alas!

I did find something good, though, this recipe for wheat free bagels looks as though it could be adjusted to include the extras I like including jalapeno-cheddar, poppyseed, or blueberry.  I could also make my own flavors if I want.  That’s, of course, assuming I can ever get yeast to obey me.

For those that like oatmeal and often make more than they need (a bad good habit of mine), you can save the extra for a different treat the next day.  While it’s still warm, take the oatmeal from the pan and pour it into a glass container.  I prefer a rectangular, short-walled container with a snap-on lid.  Use a spoon or spatula to smooth it flat, cover it, and place it in the fridge.  The next morning, slice it into thick strips, place in a non-stick or well-seasoned iron skillet, add a dash of cinnamon, and fry on both sides until golden brown.  Serve with a dollop of butter (or substitute) and a drizzle of agave syrup, maple, or honey.

The key to its firm consistency is to not add any type of milk or toppers (e.g. nuts, fruit, et al) into the oatmeal before placing it in reserve.  I flavor the pot of oatmeal with sea salt, raw sugar, cinnamon, and butter or Earth Balance.  I only add almond milk to the bowls along with any add ons each of us like (I most love putting walnuts and bananas or apple slices on the bottom of the bowl and mixing them in after, so they get cooked slightly by the heat of the oats).

Returning to Focus and the Wheat Free Waffle

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a proper montreal bagel.. tiny, dense and slig...

Image via Wikipedia

Norwescon being over, and my muscles less agonized than yesterday, I am returning to focus on my self-improvement project.  Too long I’ve let go of almost every good new habit I was building, in part because of the depression caused by losing Taigil to one, small mistake.  I have done my part to search for him, and will continue to wish and pray for his return, but I must honor my health and what it means to those I love.

Today is the first day of removing wheat from my diet.  It’s cold turkey (literally! there’s turkey here!) from now on, as I acknowledge my test results.  I have a mild allergy to wheat, which is going to limit even more of my diet than before.  When I’ve incorporated this new change into my life, then I shall return for further testing to see what else contributes to the inflammation that makes my body go out of kilter.  The less inflammation, the easier it will be to maintain some semblance of energy and productivity in my life.

So, I wish to say good bye to my beloved, fluffy cakes, artisan breads, challah, Trophy cupcakes, banana-coconut and poppyseed muffins, english muffins, bagels (oh dear gods, bagels!!!) of all persuasions, Top Pot and Mighty O doughnuts, Dave’s Killer Good Seed sliced bread, sesame seed hamburger buns, dinner rolls, Kosher hot dog buns, pita, naan, uthampam, flour tortillas (and all the enchiladas and burritos they might hold), toast, pancakes, waffles, crumpets, scones (especially the orange-cranberry ones with the special frosting), every pastry Pomegranate makes, cookies, brownies, fruit and custard tarts, eclairs, biscuits, hoagie rolls, pasta, wheat noodles, egg noodles, soba, udon, lasagna, macaroni, roux (and all the sauces it makes), and many more.

I am beginning to realize how, after twenty-three years of cooking, I have to relearn everything.  I have to figure out the best way to make banana bread moist and fluffy, how to mix a roux for a sauce, how to prepare spaghetti so it’s al dente (because the rice and quinoa pastas are so temperamental), what brands work best, what tortillas and other flatbreads will substitute well. At the moment I cling to my Nairn’s oatmeal and pumpkin seed crackers and my Newman’s wheat-free fig bars in vain hope I can just alter one or two ingredients in all of my family recipes and still taste as amazing and comforting as always.

But it’s one of those compromises in life.  Do I want to be able to dance with my friends again?  Do I want to be able to climb hills without pain?  Do I want to be able to have a picture taken or wear pretty clothes without worrying whether a cyst has caused scarring or stains?  Or do I want to have a quick, gratifying snack?  There are many meals I love and adore that don’t have wheat, just as I’ve learned to live without chicken eggs, onions, cattle, pig, and a lot of other things, I shall find my way through this.  Although I have to admit, wheat and dairy are two things that are going to be hardest to let go of, and I know without question that I at least need to relinquish wheat’s hold over my life and my body.

So, I begin the search for the lightest wheat-free flours to make my baked goods, the best thickening agents to make a roux turn a cream sauce decadent, and a pasta that doesn’t turn to gelatinous goo if cooked an extra minute too long.  I also search for the strength to see it through, for the good of improving my health and being a better me for friends and family.

…it’s all about priorities, right?

Before the New Moon to Now

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I’ll need to keep this brief since I am borrowing a computer (still).  I’d left my laptop at Mystyrica’s house early last week, and events conspired to keep me from picking it up.  That being said, what limited images I have taken of myself are on the laptop, so there won’t be anything to see here until I retrieve it. 

It was the new moon on Thursday when Daughter & I went to our first gentle yoga class.  She did fairly well with listening, and I’m glad it was only an hour, or she’d have become bored.  For me, it was extremely difficult to get through.  The first pose was child pose, and it’s one of the hardest ones for me.  My knees hate it, I can’t bend far enough forward because my belly gets in the way, and even if I spread my knees wide, once my forehead’s to the mat, I start to suffocate myself (thanks breasts).

Nevertheless, we got through the first class, and we’ll be going back this Thursday.  Starting tomorrow, I’ll be swimming twice a week as well in a therapeutic class nearby.  This is part of the new moon’s additions to my routine.  Starting last Thursday, I will be donig something active each day: walking, swimming, beginning calisthenics, or yoga depending on weather and the class(es) I have that day. 

While I’ve not been keeping up with my stretching, I’ve been even worse about taking the daily photo.  Part of that is due to depression.  My kitten still hasn’t returned home, and though we’ve been working to entertain his sister, I find it all the more disheartening when I have to go release an opposum from the humane cat trap his adoption agency loaned us to find him.  I don’t feel as though he’s dead, but I don’t know if we’ll ever see him again, either. 

Good things: I’ve kept up with my vitamins and water (I missed only one day’s quota of the latter), and I’m increasingly getting better about stretching.  I’m listening to my body more, and though my activity hasn’t greatly increased yet, it will be soon.  Daughter suggested I measure myself today after we were looking at a clothing store that didn’t carry my size.  Since last August, I lost 1″ under my bust (nothing in the bust, proper), 1/2″ in my waist, and 1 1/2″ in my hip measurement.  I was surprised since my weight has hovered around 260 despite changes, and recently went up as my body headed toward menstruation (totally normal).  Maybe I’m losing fat but gaining muscle?  I definitely have more energy than before (thanks, CoQ10!), and though that doesn’t change other issues, it gives me more “spoons” to deal with everything else.

Stuff I’ve learned so far from my body:

  • Minimum 64oz. water + good sleep = less acne (at least it’s proved true in me)
  • More energy = better coping skills, less need for naps (doesn’t change procrastination, depression, or pain, just how I deal with it)
  • Eating a big lunch and a smaller dinner makes me feel better the next day
  • Yep, still shouldn’t eat chicken eggs
  • My knees are underdeveloped, and I may just have to live with that

My goal is to also start making notes of certain cyclical things to guage what’s really going on.  Are my cysts forming at certain points in my moon cycle? Are they reacting to certain foods or habits in my diet?  Will activity reduce the hemmorhaging I experience each month instead of a normal menstrual cycle?  By keeping a notebook (and making a monthly line graph to make sense of the data), I might be better able to see what’s going on and what my body’s subtle triggers are.  I also might learn more about myself than I realized before.

I’m really proud of myself for saving up the money for the first five week class of swimming, and I’m grateful to my partner who agreed to pay for the yoga classes for us.  I’m also proud of myself for giving me breaks when I need them, and honoring my need to be responsible to myself in all ways.  We’ve got a lot scheduled for the coming month, most of it related to my health or Daughter’s homeschooling, but I think I can get through it all fairly well.  I’m both nervous and excited.  I’m also rather disappointed, but I believe major dietary changes will be necessary in the near future; I’m saving up money to get allergy testing to prove it to myself, but most cow-dairy and all wheat might be removed from our diets.  If so, I plan to give myself a going-away-from-[x-food]-party, and I already said to my partner that if I have to give up cow’s cheese, we have to go to the Melting Pot just once before then (I’ve never been).  It’s an experience I want to have before I make any further shifts to my eating habits.

Not Quite Perfect

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Shirt Ninja Fail

Hiding Inside My Graduation Shirt

Ok, so I’m not quite perfect.  Perfection is far from me, in fact.  As we grew closer and closer to Solstice and then onslaught of holidays and even in the post-holiday slump, I found myself putting off responsibilities, not drinking my water, and not taking my vitamins.  Of the greatest failures was keeping up with my daily photos.

Preparing for Solstice

Dancing in My Kitchen

My current tally between December 20th and today is having missed my water quota one day (the day I spent out in Redmond waiting for car repairs for three times longer than the promised time I’d be down there).  My daily vitamins were forgotten four times, three of them consecutive days after Christmas.  I missed at least 6 days’ worth of self portraits, and some of the ones I took are still sitting in my Nikon (which needs charging) and need to be downloaded so I can get them on here.

Not More Fragging Snow

More Fragging Snow?!

However . . . I’ve been the most consistent with the water and vitamins this past month than in the last ten years.  Not since my pregnancy with Ana have I been so dedicated to keeping up with certain daily habits (and then I was downright religious about my health, or as much as I could be living below the poverty level).  I also discovered that my skin looks better when I don’t just drink 64oz. of water, but rather that I replace one glass of water with a cup of tea each morning.  It didn’t seem to matter whether I drank green or black or vanilla mint, it only mattered that I was hydrating with hot, leaf-infused water at least once a day.

A lot of this work came from my own need to be healthier, and my own refusal to live another day in pain and sickness without trying to make it better.  At least by doing this, I can say I really am doing my best to make healthy, long-lasting changes in my body.  If after following through with this 13 lunar month cycle proves to leave me little better than where I started, well, at least there will be some improvement, and I’ll know what does and doesn’t work for me far better than anyone else on the planet.

Running Errands

Running Errands

The other part of this is the support I’ve received.  By placing this out in the world, I’ve heard from several people close to me that they’ve been following (and enjoying!) my blog entries.  That gave me such a boost, and to those of you who said it and are reading this entry, thank you.

That being said, I started the year off right, continuing my knee exercises like my doc wanted and taking my supplements.  My water quota is going strong yet again, and I know that tomorrow I’ll be making a cuppa to get me going.  I wrote up a meal plan from last Thursday through Tuesday, and we shopped accordingly.  I’ve been doing this last part for over a year now, but sometimes I let weekly meal planning slip, and then it’s always more stressful figuring out what to make and when.

Why Can't Computers Keep Up With My Typing?

Why Can't Computers Keep Up With My Typing?

So the big obstacle facing me right now is getting these pictures done.  I really want to take interesting self-portraits each day, but to do that usually requires planning, and I’d prefer the higher quality of my Nikon.  However, going downstairs everyday to pull a single image off my camera seems excessive, and with my knees hurting more than ever, I try to avoid extra stair climbing whenever I can.

Two days until the new moon, and then my second “month” begins.  The calendar for this program started on December 1st, but I’d mistakenly thought it was the new moon, when in fact, December 4th or 5th was.  So in January, the new month starts on the 4th, then:

  • February 2nd
  • March 4th
  • April 3rd
  • May 3rd
  • June 2nd
  • July 1st
  • July 30th
  • August 29th
  • September 27th
  • October 26th
  • November 25th

Bet you’re wondering what I’ll be adding to my routine on Tuesday, don’t you?  😉

(to the tune of "White Christmas")

"I'm Dreaming of a Ta-a-all Viking . . ."

Completely off topic, having just read the entire Sookie Stackhouse series in under a month (I’d have read them faster, 4-6 hours each, but the library was slow in getting me the books), I’d like to impress upon others that I’m squirming in anticipation of book 11 in May, and the return of True Blood in the summer.  They can’t come too fast, as far as I’m concerned.