Monday, February 18, 2013

Zombie Fever...or maybe just the FLU

And here I was, feeling invincible. Weight loss, muscle gain, staying far away from dairy.  Two weeks ago, when the husband was sick on the couch and out of work for nearly a week, I kept waiting for it to hit me. Everyday I felt fine.  No signs, no symptoms. I was, I believed, an immune system Super Hero. The Amazing Aimee. Powers beyond belief. The ability to knock out germs with a single blow. As long as I avoided my krypton (dairy and wheat), I'd be fine.  Wrong.

Exactly two weeks after the husband was sick here I am, apparently mortal and very sick with the FLU. Yesterday, when my doctor offered to meet me for an evening treatment and I made my way to the car, I felt more like a "Walker" than a living, breathing, human. Shuffling, scraping one foot behind the other, groaning in pain.  Yep, I was a "Walker". I even had the super high fever to prove it: 104.8 degrees.  For real? Yes, for real.  Not such a immune system Super Hero after all.  

Although I'm definitely on the mend, it's slow going.  There are many holistic meds on the night stand and I've already taken a wet sock bath, followed by a neti pot treatment.  But there's one not so home remedy that I really miss.  It's a guilty pleasure that we all know is bad, bad, bad.  I hang my head in shame to admit this to you, but I really miss ramen soup.  It's not just the noodles, it's the seasoning too.  All of it filled with bad stuff I just can't eat.  But, there are some good things too; there is one very good thing in fact...turmeric.  With its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, it's actually the one ingredient that might be called good for you.  

A few weeks ago, I had a craving and decided to attempt a homemade version.  Switch out the ramen noodles for rice noodles, the powdered broth flakes for vegetable stock, and add some turmeric.  Ok, it needed just a little bit more, but not much.  I whipped up a batch today, at about noon, before I had a chance to become a "walker" again and it did, in fact, keep me human for a little while longer.  

Not So Bad For You Ramen

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup water
1-2 tablespoons Tamari (depending on how salty you like it)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tespoon garlic
1 ounce flat ride noodles

To be honest, I am guesstimating my measurements here.  Some days I prefer a stronger garlic flavor, some days more salt.  Use this as a rough guideline and suit your own tasts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Handsome, Brown Eyed, Boy

As I write today, I am busy wiping away my tears.  On Monday, we received definitive word that our beloved little friend, Sparty the Italian Greyhound, has cancer.  They give him somewhere between two weeks and two months to live.  There is so much to be said about the little guy, so much I have to put down before it's too late.

He came to us, along with his litter-mate Sophie, 10 years ago this spring.  I was beginning to feel the need to mother and mothering of a little person was some ways in the future, with many obstacles yet to overcome.  When we agreed that we would get a dog, we agreed to get "A" dog- a little girl.  It took much searching to find the breed that would be right for us and eventually agreed on an Italian Greyhound.  The husband has pretty severe allergies to pets, but the IG is pretty close to hypo-allergenic.  Finding one of these rambunctious creatures to adopt proved to be a challenge.  Having never had a puppy of his own, the husband very much wanted to look for a puppy rather than a rescue.  I know, some people look down on that, but it was the right decision for us and one that changed our lives. 

Italian Greyhounds are a very protected breed.  Every breeder I spoke to basically gave me the same line: they weren't sure what I was up to, but they were certain it was no good.  Every single breeder doubted my intentions.  Until I talked to Dick and Marilyn Michigan.  It turned out they had a litter of three pups, two of whom would be available for adoption. If we were willing to make the 6 hour drive to spend the day getting to know them, they MIGHT consider us as an adoptive family for one dog.  I don't know and I never asked, but I wondered if the offer for us to drive that distance was a test to see how bad we really wanted a new family member.  I know it was a test to see if we could handle a true IG.  Dick and Marilyn had more than 10 dogs in their Michigan home at the time, so a visit would definitely prove something.

We readily agreed and set a date.  When we arrived, we were greeted by some of the most spirited little creatures you could ever imagine.  IG ownership is certainly not for everyone, but right away we knew it was for us. There was only one 10 pound problem.  There were two dogs up for adoption and I wasn't leaving without committing to the little girl.  But the other one, the little boy Sparty- I could barely stand to leave him for a trip to the restroom, let alone never see him again.  There would be a waiting period, during which time any adopted puppy would be spayed or neutered and then the breeders would drive to our home to deliver our newest family member.  It broke my heart to leave either dog for my return home and the waiting period that would follow.  I knew we would leave committed to Sophie, but the thought of not bringing her brother to live with us tore me to pieces.  With a little convincing, the husband agreed that two pups were the way to go.  Truth be told? Something about Sparty's incessant need to lick won over the husband long before I had a chance to do my best convincing act.

The weeks passed and eventually the doorbell rang.  Two of the most wonderful pups were welcomed into our home. In the years that followed, they became our dearest family members.  Rare was a family event to which the puppies did not go, rare was the evening we didn't stay snuggled under a blanket. Our lives were changed. And then motherhood happened.

I had always said I would not be one of those women who shunned the dogs when two legged children arrived.  I wasn't.  Sure there were times when my hands were full and fewer scratches were given, but I never for a second forgot that those two pups were my best nursemaids while I was on bed rest during pregnancy.  Never could I ignore their melted chocolate-brown eyes when one or both came padding into the girls' room. And, without a doubt, never could I forget a birthday for the little four legged fuzzy guys- my girls were born on the same day as the dogs (separated by four years time.) My 9-1-6ers, that's how they were all collectively known. Life was chaotic, sometimes frustrating, often overwhelming, but never without unconditional love.

I find myself looking back at the last handful of years and realizing that time has been perfect, especially since I got my health in order.  When I found health and peace, I began to see that my life was as close to perfect as one girl can get.  A loving husband, two great kids, and dogs that cuddled with me whenever I saw down.  One dog who was so devoted, that even a late night with friends, couldn't send him to bed without me. Those deep, knowing, compassion filled eyes were always watching. He. Was. Always. There.

When I received the crushing news, a friend mentioned how hard she knew it was for me and how symbolic to me it must be. At first, I couldn't identify what was symbolic about this situation, though I knew she was right. Then I figured it out, through many shed tears. The symbolism lies in my devotion to him.  My relationship with Sparty, is much like a marriage.   It took time to cultivate our routine, our understanding of one another, and a relationship of comfortable habits. I think back to the past couple of years and the peace I have found cuddling in bed, watching TV or reading, with the my soft and caring friend.  It was comfortable and warm and peaceful and known. 

It may sound strange, but I equate it to the idea of dating again - something that I am beyond happy I am not doing.  There comes a peace when a relationship hits the point of being content and comfortable.  At that point, each other's faults are known and accepted.  That is where I am in my marriage and in my relationship with everyone in the household, including that little dog.  Much like my relationship with my mate, where I have finally realized I don't need to always be right and that he loves me no matter what, my relationship with Sparty is a comfort.  It is a comfort I am not ready to give up, and don't know that I will ever be prepared to be without.  When we learned the devastating news I told him that I will not be selfish.  I will not let him suffer.  I will be for him what he has always been for me.  I will hold him, I will love him, I will see him through.  I am terrified for every second of that goodbye, but I owe him the kindness he has always shown me on my darkest days. 

And when it is over, when the end has come and gone, I will carry the pure and unconditional love forward.  The thought of never again looking in his eyes and seeing a universe filled with devotion and love is killing me, but I will keep looking until they close for the last time.  I will shower extra scratches on Sophie, for she has never known a day without her brother.  I will give her just one more treat, and love her even more.  And I will never forget the time I had with them both, no matter how long either lives, because it will never be long enough.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Baby Steps

I have a friend. Well, I have more than "A" friend, but this story is about one in particular. We had a talk last night that got me to thinking. I have some very good luck: great insurance and unique opportunities to address medical conditions holistically. But, what do you do if that isn't your lot? What if your family isn't quite on board with dietary changes, or your insurance says a big fat NO to the treatment you're so desperately looking for?
Baby steps. Take a breath, take a step back, roll up your sleeves, and do what you can for yourself-by yourself. It may not be easy, but I believe in you and I think you can make it happen.
Baby step #1- Dairy Detox
Pour out the cow milk, toss out the cow cheese (even more rapidly toss out the plastic cheese known as Velveeta, because admit it- that stuff is just gross.) Get your kids some goat milk, take a tour of Whole Foods and learn about the other types of cheese they sell- that is, of course, if your family can't live without cheese or milk. My kids can't. They both love yogurt, one can't be separated from milk, and the other has to have goat cheese in her lunch a couple of times a week. Me? I could do without it. But just in case I ever have the urge, the ONLY options in the house are options I can believe in.
Oh, and find ways around ordering pizza for a few months. The addicting (and I truly mean addicting) combination of mozzarella and sauce on a flakey crust- that smell will mess with you when you're trying to detox from killer cow dairy. Trust me, that was the hardest thing. I sometimes felt like one of Pavlov's dogs in those first couple of months off cow dairy. Every time a Papa John's commercial came on (you read that right- Papa John's), all I could think about was pizza. It's been two+ years since I had a slice of pizza, the commercials stopped triggering a salivary response long ago, and the smell of pizza now leaves me slightly grossed out. Step one complete.
Baby step #2- Rage Against the Grains
The Doc told me no gluten, which is found in a handful of grains. As I mentioned somewhere else in the archives, it messes with my thyroid. One other very good reason to rage against the grains? Wheat, rice, rye- they're calorie hogs. The way I see it is this: I have two choices- eat meals packed full of nutrient rich fruit and veggies (leaving room for several snacks in the day) or have a giant piece of bread (nearly void of natural nutrients), be hungry an hour later, and go back for more of the same nutritiously vacant food as a snack.
For many people, the idea of removing most grains from the diet leaves them wondering what else there is to eat. The fear seems to be rampant hunger- if bread, breakfast cereal, or a giant bowl of noodles aren't part of a daily diet, they think there is nothing left so starvation MUST be imminent. Wrong.
But what is there, really, besides bread and pasta? So much. How about some lightly steamed veggies, just steamed enough to make them brightly colored and super crunchy? What's that you say...your kids hate steamed veggies and your husband will only eat broccoli? They're  carb-a-holics? Easy fix, make a sauce from scratch that secretly has sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash blended in- tucked far from their field of view. Let them have their pasta if they must. On your plate? More of those steamed veggies, a small piece of fish, and a drizzle of that sauce you just fooled them with. Maybe the family will take in a little rice now and then? Great! Make it brown and make less than usual. Why less? For me, rice is a weakness. If I make a smaller amount, I feel bad taking too much because there might not be enough for the kids. Its my own little trick to keep from over indulging and over serving myself. Another option: become new best friends with quinoa. It's an easy substitute for rice. I even told the kids it was a special kind of rice and they bought it. It too can be pretty high in calories, but it's low on the glycemic index, high in protein and packed with amino acids. It works well in stir fries, fried 'rices', served on a bed of cooked greens with a piece of chicken or fish. Step two, manageable.
Baby Step #3- Go Green...and Red, and Pink, and Orange, and Blue
Fruits. Vegetables. Eat them. Every day, every night, and for snack time in between. After dinner, I prepare my breakfast and lunch for the next day. While lunch is usually a small portion of leftovers, breakfast is always fruit. I fill a glass bowl with about 2 cups of fruit and seal it up for the next day. In the summer it was mango and grapes. Now it's grapes, strawberries, and blueberries. And what about dinner? As I near my target weight I have fewer calories to consume every day, so I find myself leaning towards home prepared soups. I can control how many vegetables are in the recipe, I can assure there is no gluten, and I can be certain no dairy touches the pot. Thanks to those factors, I can also control the calorie content. Last night's thick tomato soup totaled 52 calories per cup and contained tomatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and parsnips to name a few items.
For the family? Anyone who wanted soup got a cup and I made sure there were other options for everyone that were my version of healthy. There were several varieties of fruit, goat yogurt for the kids, and broiled fish for everyone (besides myself). It was a small amount of additional work to cut the fruit and broil the fish, but not much. I didn't feel like I was making multiple meals, if I stopped with the meal I planned on eating there wouldn't be enough calorie content for the husband and not enough variety for the kids. I think the problem we face when modifying our own diets is not making several meals, but being creative about what we're actually putting on the table. Step three, always in process.
Baby Step #4- Calorie Track
Why? Because by the time you get to step 4, you've probably started to see a difference in your body. It's hard to imagine NO change, after radically changing your diet. If nothing other than noticing a difference in how you feel, something is changing. In my own story, calorie tracking was step 1. I tracked my daily intake for a while before I took out dairy and stopped eating gluten. On the one hand, tracking my calories from the start was very rewarding. I began to see a change in weight pretty quickly. On the other hand, it was just one more thing to try and keep up with when I was already changing so much. I've been tracking what I eat, every day, since July 2011, and I've seen a loss of 42 pounds. It seems strange to some, me pulling out my phone before every meal. I found it very enlightening in the beginning and now, as I near the end of my weight loss journey, I see it as daily motivation. The enlightening part is this: I never thought I ate much in volume. Sure, I had the special occasion meals where I did eat too much and knew it, but most meals were average sized and I didn't gorge all day. What I didn't realize was how many calories even the healthy snacks brought with them. The calorie content in an avocado or a banana is shocking. They're both great snacks, but the calories quickly add up when you are trying to save 500 calories a day, the calorie deficit needed per day in order to lose one pound per week.
If you have a smart phone, there are all sorts of apps meant to track your calorie intake on a daily basis. Some are free and are very good. If you don't have a smart phone, but you do have a computer, there are free calorie tracking websites. The husband says calorie tracking is too much work. He's right, it takes dedication, a lot of dedication. That's one more reason to start tracking calories after you've become comfortable with the major changes listed above. Step four, doable if you want it bad enough.
Baby Step #5- Pre-made = Pre-packaged Problems
This is it, the last step. Well, the last step to getting started anyway. I'm saying to make it the last step, even though it might seem like the most obvious. There's a reason for that. When you start trying to do the other things: remove dairy, minimize grains (especially gluten filled grains), and consume more fruits and veggies, you start doing this step almost naturally. Take a look at the side of a box of anything. Wheat of some form, dairy in some fashion, and the only form of fruit is usually a fruit juice concentrate and even that is toward the bottom of the list (meaning it's in there, but just barely.) So, if you're being careful to follow the other steps, you've automatically cut most boxed goods already and this isn't even really a step, it's more of a companion to the others.
Onward We Go
There it is 3 must do steps, plus 2 steps to really get you going. I say do them one at a time. Little by little, and bit by bit, you'll get there. It won't happen quickly and it won't be easy. But you have at least one friend to cheer you on...Me. I believe in you, you CAN do it.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Weekday Vegan

Way back over the summer, a friend recommended I watch a documentary called "Forks Over Knives". I had no idea what he was talking about, and had no access to the film, so I started to do a little web surfing. I came to learn the documentary is all about the research done by a few doctors; research that claims a plant based lifestyle (aka- vegan and for sure NO DAIRY) can reduce the likelihood, reverse, and/or completely eliminate a myriad of diseases that are currently running rampant in the good old U.S. of A. Diabetes? Reverse it. Heart disease? Obliterate it. Obesity? Say hello to your skinny jeans. I had to know more. I mean really, they had me at "no dairy."

I got my hands on the film and watched it with the hubs. At the time, I remember thinking how I could cut out most animal product, but wasn't sure I wanted or needed to cut out ALL animal protein. I'd already limited my animal protein to goat cheese, chicken stock, and fish of various types. I still don't know if I want to be full on vegan. What I do know and can say with all certainty: the stretches of time when I eat vegan, when I include absolutely NO animal protein in my diet, those are the days I feel the best. Digestion is crazy awesome, my inflammation is non-existent, I feel clean. That sounds like such a strange thing to say- "I feel clean," but it's true. I feel like I've taken a shower and been scrubbed down from the inside- out.

After Thanksgiving, which was completely cow dairy and gluten free, I made a deal with myself. Even though the meal was entirely safe, as far as my doctor's restrictions were concerned, I still felt a little...gross. I felt plump even though I lost weight (and really, who can say they lost weight over Thanksgiving). I felt slow, even though I was rested. I felt all around not as great as I had the week before. Enter my deal with myself. During the week, I would cook and eat a vegan diet. All I had to do was drop the goat cheese and chicken stock in recipes. Most weeks since, I've been very good. Of course there was Christmas Eve and a pot of Beef Burgundy...and there was Christmas Day and the plate of Prime Rib. It wasn't like I could stomp my feet and force a gluten free, a dairy free, AND an all animal protein free diet on the rest of the family. The gluten and dairy run them crazy enough without adding veganism to my list of dietary dilemmas.

So, every other weekday surrounding the holidays, I was great. I stuck to my plan and veggified as much as I could. Like I said, I'm not sure I need or want to be totally vegan. Sunday morning breakfasts out with the family are fantastic and who wants, or can eat, a bowl of oatmeal made with milk? Not this girl. So, eggs and bacon it is on those special days out. The rest of the time? I'm a veggie girl.

*As a special note, there are a few websites I've combed through in recent months. I've found some fantastic soups and main dishes at each of these sites. I often have to modify, as vegan doesn't mean gluten free. But, with a great base, the modifications are easy. I hope you enjoy them as well. Happy veggification to you!

The Gluten Free Goddess

Forks Over Knives

The Plant Powered Kitchen

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Sleepless Night Truth

So I have two 'best friends'.  I think every girl probably does.  You know, the one you have from way back when you were just a kid, doing stupid things and thinking you were cool.  Then there is the one you made when you grew up, maybe you met at work or the gym or somewhere else.  The one who knows about your childhood, but wasn't there to experience it with you.  (And this doesnt even begin to cover family.) Yeah...I have one of each.  And I have to be honest, meeting a best friend's other best friend is very unnerving for me.  What if she hates me?  Shouldn't I be friends with my friend's friends?  Yes, I am 36, but still a little girl on the inside.  It recently happened that I met my other best friend's best friend and what a relief it was.  We fell in love and quickly made it Facebook official- we are now friends too! Yippee! 

Over dinner we explored topics that included: why we are awesome, recipes, our favorite wines, and kids.  I've thought about our 'kid' conversation over and over again since that time.  The statement was made "no one ever tells you how incredibly exhausting it will be- not just in the beginning, but for YEARS!" I guess that's true.  You know the early days will be rough, but what about the months and even years that follow?  We all know the moms who say their kids are sleeping through the night at 8 weeks.  Lies.  I mean, maybe their kid is some sort of miracle child, but I know way too many women who have gone sleepless for too long for me to believe it is ever that simple. 

I was always of the opinion that my children needed me in the middle of the night and 'crying it out' wasn't something I could let them do.  Turns out, that wasn't such a bad thing for them.  I recently read and reviewed the book, "How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character", which seemed to completely validate why I subjected myself to sleeping on the floor every night for months.  Author Paul Tough cited research that indicated cortisol levels of children, under one year of age, who are left to 'cry it out' are higher than desireable.  That means stress people...something I loathe as an adult and made me more than my fair share of sick in my lifetime.  Is that something I could consciously let my child experience at a time when rational thought or comprehension of the environment was out of her reach?  Nope.  So I slept in my own bed for a few hours, was awakened nearly every night for 9 months in the first year and dutifully lifted my sweet curly haired angel into my arms, often falling asleep with her in the rocking chair.  On nights when I stayed awake long enough to return her to her crib, she almost always woke the second I took my hands away from her.  At that point- so wrought with exhaustion I could barely stand; I laid a blanket on the ground, found a pillow, and cuddled her near me as we slept together on the floor. 

At about 16 months old, I had a short reprieve.  Both girls were sleeping all night and I stayed in my own bed.  At about 24 months the waking started all over again.  Both girls had begun to climb out of their cribs, a sure sign that toddler beds would become part of our lives. Que the sleepless nights.  Newly installed toddler beds meant two wobbly kids were free to scitter down the hallway immediately after bedtime and all throughout the night.  And they did. I quickly became a zombie once more and recreated my make shift bed on the floor.  One night Izzy would awaken, the next night it was Lily.  Many nights I laid on the floor, weeping with exhaustion, and held hands with both girls until they drifted back to sleep. 

In retrospect, I'm not sure I would've done anything differently.  They needed me.  They needed reassurance that I was there, they were safe, and they could count on me.  But, it did go on too long.  Worn thin and constantly sick (for a variety of reasons, some loosley related to my lack of sleep) along came a terrible ear infection that left me temporarily deaf in one ear.  That was my breaking point.  I couldn't do it anymore and I firmly believed that my 2.5 year olds were intellectual enough that I could tell them why I wouldn't continue getting up every night- I wasn't healthy and needed rest to be the best Mommy possible.  They got it- sortive.  With their brains still wired to be self-serving and impulsive, they continued to get up and try to rouse me.  They knew I needed to sleep, but they were 2.5, their ids were in full swing.  So, one night the husband and I decided we had to do something drastic.  We closed their bedroom door.  We did not lock it, they were not trapped.  But they did received a clear signal that they had to stay put.  I was just deaf enough that I couldn't hear their cries, and that was absolutely for the best.  The husband made multiple nightly checks on them to verbally assure of our presence and our love.  And thanks to my temporary deafness, I slept and was excused from the guilt that has plagued so many of my friends in a similar situation. In less than two weeks, we were all sleeping through the night and, ever since, waking is only from the occassional bad dream or growing pain.

But the guilt. It's a bitch.  As I've said before, today's woman is somehow wired to believe that she must do everything and do it perfectly.  But we can't, we must let go at some point and realize that we are not harming our children because we must occassionally choose ourselves.  To any of you who fear that you are a bad mom, because you choose your own health or your own needs, let me tell you that you- you are not bad.  You must take care of yourself and the line has got to be drawn somewhere. I continued to believe that my kids needed me. For a long time, at night, the hugs were sweeter. But I also believe that somewhere along the way, waking up at 2am and pulling me from sleep happened as a habit and not so much for consolation like it once had been.  When the reason was habit, it was time for the tide had to be turned. I had to teach them self-assurance was more than a hug from mommy.

I have no scientific evidence that 2-2.5 years old is the right time to teach that skill or that at the age of 2.5 all children are able to reason and rationalize about the needs of others.  I do believe it was the right time for my kids and family.  And I know many who had very similar struggles, at the same ages, that my kids did.  And to all of those who struggled I shared my story.  I told those friends that their kids would be fine. No, I told them their kids would be more than fine...they would be GREAT.  And to you? I say tell that little voice inside to get lost and remind yourself that you do love your kids excessively, tell that voice you are raising your children to be strong and to think and to empathize with others.  Remind yourself that self-assurance is a skill they will need for the rest of their lives. And please trust...they will thrive all the more for it and you will once again feel human after a few nights sleep.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recent Publication a MAJOR Success

If you knew me, you'd know how very much I LOVE to read...fiction.  I am always fascinated by different non-fiction topics, but reading non-fiction?  Most of the time I fall asleep before I ever begin. I sometimes marvel at the fact that I made it through college and graduate school; if it doesn't read like a "story" I lose interset.  But as I drove back to work one Monday afternoon for the twice monthly department meeting, I heard an author, Paul Tough, discussing his recent non-fiction book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. That was it, I was hooked.  As I pulled into the parking lot I KNEW I had to download the book immediately, lest I forget the name and the author and miss the opportunity to change my life.  Ok, maybe it wouldn't change my life, but everything I heard the author say sounded like what I have believed as a teacher, a parent, and as a person striving to regain my own health. 

Not only did the book address the adrenal system and the dangers of having your flight or fight response swithced on almost permanantely, but it also discussed how stressors from early life events can negatively affects student performance in school, later in life.  Author Paul Tough follows the paths of several students from low performing schools, in neighborhoods that would make most of us shudder.  He spends an entire chapter examining the success of a chess coach in a low income school and attirubites her teams' success to her blatant honesty.  He revists the success of a student from Chicago Public Schools who is, by all measures, a HUGE success story in her new role as college student at Western Illinois University. And Tough doesn't stop there.  He discusses character skills, character report cards (done the right way), and talks about the downfalls of placing too high a value on ACT and IQ scores. 

Honestly, I have never picked up and read a non-fiction book 'for fun'.  I read pretty much everything I was supposed to all the way through college and graduate school.  I occassionally find myself interested in an non-fiction news article, but always something brief.  This book was not brief, but it was intensly interesting.  I absolutely give this book 5 stars on a 5 star scale.  Anyone who: is curious about what makes a person successful, has children, wants children, works with children or even knows someone else's children- you must read this book.  And don't wait until you finish whatever is on your shelf or your Kindle at the moment.  Read it now.  Pull into a parking lot and download the book.  Use that smart phone to place a hold at your local library.  Make sure you have this book in hand by bedtime. What you read will change your life, or at the very least put a new perspective on what you thought you knew.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Little Crustless Quiche for me!

Eggs.  I love them.  As a kid I was under the impression that I hated them.  They were spongy, smelled bad, and looked weird. As an adult with a dietary plan that can be difficult to follow- they are the only reason I can have breakfast out with the family.  Admittedly, I still think 'over easy' is too drippy and slimey for me.  Poached, fried, basted and soft boiled...yuck.  I know, at 36, I should be well past issues of texture and I'm not.  But I did learn, in recent years, how protein packed and delightful a properly hard boiled egg could be.  Toss it in a salad, eat it sliced on a plate, mix it with some quinoia for an extra punch of protein.  Scrambled eggs in my asian noodles?  Absolutely. 

In the years since I realized I truly love the little oblong treasures, I would venture to say our family also became breakfast goer-outers. Back in the day my omlettes oozed with cheese, the metled strands never willing to neatly separate from the masses, leaving me struggling to eat like a lady (I should've taken the hint and given up on the dairy battle then and there!) I buttered up my English Muffin and devoured it all ravenously.  (And had the weight gain to prove it.) But beyond the casual diners we have so always enjoyed on Sunday mornings, we USED to bake a delightful, gluten filled, dairy rich quiche, sometimes for breakfast, sometimes for dinner.  We usually cleaned the pie plate, rarely having a scant crumb for leftovers.  Not so anymore.  My days of calorie counting, dairy banning, and gluten refusing have left quiche all but a distant memory. Imagine my glee when I found, on Pinterest, a crustless and dairy free quiche?

What  delightful little meal it made.  With a couple of slices of bacon and a side of avocado I felt like I was eating at one of our favorite Sunday morning haunts, with only a fraction of the calories and with certainty that my meal was dairy and gluten free.  Was it hard, not at all.  Was it fast, not as quick as a standard (and perhaps boring) scrambled egg. Was it filling, yes actually it was.  And that little fact is one thing that shocked me most.  At only 138 calories per serving (I tallied a total of 8 servings and from the pan I used and this offered a substantial slice of quiche) it was every bit as satisfying as the calorie and gluten laden quiche's from the days of long ago.

I tried the recipe last night for dinner (isn't breakfast for dinner great fun for the family?) and ate some leftovers today for lunch.  Yum.  I did alter the flour/arrowroot volume. And the original recipe left eggs looking more fried than looking like a quiche.  I'm sure, if you like your eggs looking at you, it would taste divine. The original can be seen here. I present a modified version to you now and hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  Happy eating!

Crustless Quiche Delight
1 large or 2 medium sized squash and/or zucchini, spiral cut
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon organic butter
5 medium mushrooms, sliced
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 ounce soft goat cheese
1 small onion, chopped
6-8 fresh basil leaves, sliced
4 large eggs
I used a Vertical Spiral Slicer (Google Affiliate Ad) from Sur La Table to slice the squash and/or zuchinni.  Toss the squash/zuchinni with 1 beaten egg and then with the brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and sea salt to create the 'crust' of this crustless quiche.  On the stove, heat and melt the butter, then add the crust mixture. (I used a fritatta pan, but a medium sized, oven safe, sautee pan would also work.)

Form and pat down the edges of the 'crust' to resemble that of a pie crust.  The underside of this crust will brown and the edges will become crisp, about 10 minutes over medium heat (checking it often to prevent burning).  Once the crust has set and browned, remove from heat and add remaining vegetables, garlic, and goat cheese- layering them on top of the crust.  Over that, pour remaining beaten eggs and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.  I check periodically and when the egg seems solid, I call it done. 

If I could eat spinach, I would add some.  In fact, I would use whatever favorite vegetables are in the fridge at the time I prepare this dish.  Whatever you like in a quiche would also fit brilliantly in this dish.