Monday, July 30, 2012

Recipes, Ramblings, and a Zest for Life

This is the life. At the pool, saving the mountain of laundry to fold after bed time (oh what a special treat), and watching the girls perfect their 'bobs'. Ah, to be 5 years old again! Nearly limitless energy to conquer the world. Anything that lay in your path can be knocked out of the way with sheer exuberance and your unique zest for life. Can you remember when that was you? Sure, our daily caffeine drip may throw us back in time for a short while, but that comes to an end all too quick and we are back here- in the now with the stress of the world and fatigue of a lifetime weighing on our backs.

Not so long ago, just over a year, I found myself thinking there was no way I would make it to 50 when I felt as bad as I did at 34. Despite having the absolute best family in existence (the kids, the husband, the dogs, the extended family...everything as perfect as it gets) there was always a woe. I couldn't get out of bed in the morning and couldn't fall asleep at night. It wasn't that I didn't want to, but that I really truly could not do it. Enter that amazing doc I mentioned in another post. It wasn't long before I was able to get out of bed without a daily struggle and life became brighter. Through a combination of daily supplements and dietary changes my life began to change and zest seemed to be waiting for me to pick it up and go.

So what did I do that really changed my life so much? I already mentioned not totally "getting" the science, but I live by a basic set of guidelines set up by Doc Fantastic, I mean Dr. Fabbi:

  1. Cow dairy causes crazy inflammation, which causes a whole host of other illnesses. Don't eat it. Don't drink it. Don't let it near my otherwise nutritious kale salad.
  2. I am prone to kidney stones comprised of calcium-oxalate, spinach is high in oxalate. (See where I'm going with this?). Don't make spinach for a salad, as a side, or in a dairy free dip; it will make more stones, which means time in the ER, time on traditional antibiotics, and time on pain killers. All that spells disaster for the vibrant glow my otherwise healthy liver was working on. (I never thought about my liver affecting my skin, but boy does it.)
  3. Glutens = trouble. Thyroids and glutens don't play nice together (not to mention the super high calorie count in all things wheat) and I have a thyroid 'thing'. Thyroid 'things' and glutens lead to weight gain, goiters, and other things that sound pretty unpleasant, so I order my burgers with a lettuce leaf bun.
That's my list. If I stay away from things on the list, I stay healthy. But what's a girl to do about, you know...eating something that tastes good? It's not as hard as everyone seems to think. Today I had pretty much the most amazing spring rolls of all time. And you will be the first to ever see the recipe! In years to come, this will be like the illusive cookie recipe everyone thinks was smuggled from the kitchen of some department store restaurant- highly saught after of course. It will be the most coveted recipe you will ever make. Lines will form around the block for the mere hope of a taste, of a bit, of a bite, of a spring roll. Either that, or you will make them once in a while, feel refreshed, and a little more like the five year old you again- world conquering zest and all.

Super Amazing - World Conquering Spring Rolls
1 rice paper spring roll skin
Pinch of shredded carrots
1/2 teaspoon green onions
Pinch basil or cilantro leaves (whichever is on hand)
1/4 ounce sea kelp noodles
1/4 ounce ground chicken *
Moisten the spring roll skin in a pan of warm water. Lay it on a plate, pile on the toppings, roll it up, eat it up. It's that simple. To make this dish all vegan, skip the chicken. Prepared as described, you are looking at about 50 calories each. If you love a little dip for your spring rolls try the one below.

Spicy Spring Roll Dip
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons Tamari
Use less of this gluten free soy sauce if you don't LOVE salt as much as I do. At 70 calories for the entire recipe, use the sauce sparingly.
Ground Chicken*
1-2 poached chicken breasts
Using a food processor, chop chicken until it is very fine. That's it. Two chicken breasts will keep you stocked for nearly 20 spring rolls or can be used in other dishes as well...homemade pad Thai, or some other rice noodle dish, for example. Be sure to store in an airtight glass container. (You don't want any plastics leeching into your otherwise healthy and delicious ground chicken!)
If you are tracking your caloric intake, please don't take my word for it. Use your own calorie counting app or device to double check my values. This is what I came up with using an app called LoseIt! You can use that app- for free online, on your iPhone, or in the Android market.
Oh, and next time I make them I will Instagram a photo. They went much too fast to photograph this time around!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cows Be Damned!

Coffee. It's my daily weakness. I think we've covered that. Would you believe, before and after that solitary and vacuum sealed mug of steamy tastiness, I am up to something else? I am changing everything else about the way I approach food, living, health and my diet. Not diet as in the cabbage soup kind, but diet as in a total lifestyle change of how I approach food. Ok maybe not a whole lifestyle change- coffee is still on my daily radar. I got the medical ok for that one delicious cup and I go for it. But in the tiny office of my chiropractic internist, I was faced with a direction in January of 2011- no more cow dairy...ever. Then nearly six months ago I got another blow...apparently gluten is a many-horned devil as well.

At a time when I didn't think I could feel any worse, having been on antibiotics no less than every four weeks for 6 months, I started seeing the most amazing doctor ever. I didn't know what to expect, but knew I couldn't feel any worse than I already did. Not only was I constantly sick, but I had massive weight gain over a short period of time and couldn't lose a pound no matter what I tried, how closely I watched my food intake, or how hard I hit the gym. But it was the chronic illness that got me through her door and on a regimen of vitamins, herbs, and I don't even know what. It was chronic illness that tipped the scale in my mind: have some Swiss cheese and feel like crap everyday for the rest of my life or jump off the cow dairy train and hope for the best. I chose the latter.

What my doctor diagnosed as systemic inflammation slowly started to ease. I was sick two more times, each less awful than the time before. I became best friends with Epsom salts, cold wet socks, and a neti pot (really strange sounding I know, but the combo forms a relaxing 'decongestant' of sorts and shocks the lymphatic system into doing its job). I opted out of creamer or milk in my coffee and learned to love almond milk in my morning treat. Slowly my health improved and eventually the weight started coming off.

I am sure I've not learned everything there is to know about my health, not yet. But I do know that I can never go back. I don't know the science behind my treatment and I don't care. I feel better. I know I look younger than I did two years ago, I have more energy too. Throw into the mix a better mental outlook on life and you have me hooked on the holistic miracle that is my doctor and her medical treatment.

Now that I can't have glutens, I am learning about so many delicious foods I never knew existed before and probably would've been too afraid to try.'s out of this world! What a tasty and protein filled little dream it is as an accompaniment to pretty much anything. Almond milk, which I've already touted for its creamy deliciousness, offers more calcium than a glass of milk. And today I found, what could be completely meal-plan altering: hemp seeds! No, not the thc filled version- the protein packed, nutty flavored, smoothie thickening version. With 400 calories left in my dietary day and hunger threatening to push me over the edge, I gave in and made my way to the fridge to compile my smoothie.

Now, I have to be perfectly honest. I think I am making some great meals lately. Gluten and dairy free, packed full of flavor and high in nutritional value- what more could you want? But this smoothie was absolutely unreal. Only 266 calories later and I had a satisfied belly, no more hunger pains, and a clear sign I would make it until morning. The only problem was that the deliciousness in a glass left me wanting more because it was so delectable. Just to be kind, I will share:

Mind Blowing Smoothy of Goodness
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 nectarine
1 kiwi
1 banana
1 tsp hemp seeds*
Handful of ice cubes
1/2 teaspoon Truvia or other Stevia based sweetener
Dump all ingredients into an awesome blender, smooth-i-fy, and try not to make another.
*I would like to make note that I skimped on the portion of hemp seeds I used. I wanted to keep the smoothie in my calorie range for the remaind of the day and I was yet unsure how the hemp seeds would agree with my palate. Next time I will increase the hemp seeds to at least one tablespoon.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Way it is with Friends

Wouldn't you know it? Just as I expected, insight struck me when I just couldn't write. With five minutes left in swim class, parents started filtering in for the next session and that's when I heard it. The brash, uncaring, mocking voice of another mother. I found myself tempted to turn around and tell her, as rudely as she had spoken to her own children, to shut up. I had all sorts of profanity free insults to throw her way, but I kept my mouth closed. I hid behind my sunglasses, rolling my eyes at her extraordinarily unloving approach to parenting. I can't say beyond a shadow of a doubt that 'pool mom' really meant to be nasty to her children and my thoughts don't revolve around that mom in particular, but around all of us moms as a whole. The question I found myself asking as I watched the stream of parents trickle into the local pool was this, "You love your kids, but do you like them?"

You know how it is with your best friends, you choose to like them and look past their neurotic tendencies. You choose to accept them for whoever they are and stand by them regardless. What I don't understand is why more moms don't approach their kids with that same sense of acceptance and choose to 'like' being with the little people that are part them? I know the argument, 'you can't be friends with your kids.' I completely disagree. In fact, I argue that you MUST be friends with your kids. In the end they must understand that you will make the decisions to keep them safe and traveling the right path in life, but if you and your children don't have a genuine, mutual respect and caring for one another, beyond the required parent/child genetic love bond, they may turn to someone else later in life (as a friend) who will give them a lesson you may not want them taught.

I know I am not perfect. But I will strive, every day until I die, to have a bond with my children that demonstrates compassion, understanding, love, and genuine friendship. I was once told that I like my kids too much. I have never been able to comprehend that statement. How could I not like them? They are, alongside my mom and Granny (may she rest in peace), the best friends I can imagine. We do nearly everything together, we laugh together, we get frustrated together, we eat and shop together. We celebrate success and talk about how to be better next time. I tell them when they are champions and they tell me when I make a good meal. So when I hear the old saying, "I'm your mother, not your friend", I will cringe a little on the inside and repeat my alteration to that statement: "I am your mother and best friend you will ever know."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The 35 year Old and a Temper Tantrum

I love coffee. I'm not over the edge obsessed with it. I stop (on most days) with my one mug of a dreamy home brewed concoction: 1 cup coffee and 2/3 cup chocolate almond milk, in the morning. But when I get to that last sip, the one where I know my mug will be empty until I refill it in the morning, I hold back the sigh that so eagerly tries to push its way out. For I know that I must set a good example for my five year old twins. No whining, no pouting, no stomping your feet. Though on the inside I am having just about the biggest fit you can imagine. But what kind of role model would I be if I let it all out? Can you invision a 35 year old throwing her vacuum sealed coffee mug to the ground in protest of its emptiness? What would the children think? It would be bad. It would be very, very, bad. Fortunately for them (and I suppose for me) I have pretty good self-control.

It's one of the many things I am good at. Self-control, analyzing the behavior of others, parenting, having a strong opinion, putting my matter of fact thoughts on paper. Yes, I am good at all of these things. However, being the modest person I am, telling you I'm good at those things makes me feel as though I am bragging. I feel like I need to tell you all the things I am not good just to be fair. There is a pretty hefty listing some of which are: creative writing (I always wish I could write about far away places populated with magical creatures, but alas I cannot), keeping my house as organized as my mom always could, getting up early in the morning for the daybreak run that I know would make me feel awesome, singing, planning vacations. When I meet people who can do any one of those things I am in awe. I suppose we can only try to cultivate our strengths and grow from our shortfalls, I can't expect to be able to do everything perfectly, or even well.

Accepting that I can't do it all (it's probably better than none of us try), I will do the best I can and share it with you (I probably should add 'over-share' to my list of shortfalls and strengths- that could be in the eye of the beholder I suppose.) Hopefully I will be near a writing device when a moment of clarity strikes and I want to share. (Doesn't clarity usually strike when you are driving and can't write it down?) One day my thoughts on parenting, the next day a critical analysis of my latest read. Who knows that might come to me and my over friendly mind (it could be something really good!) After I've cultivated the strengths, I will do my best to keep my house orderly, be happy if I get up early once in a while for a peaceful morning run, sing along with the music anyway, and be thankful my husband plans our vacations. And of course, I will enjoy that steamy cup of coffee with a smile, looking forward to doing it all over again tomorrow.