Tuesday, March 7, 2017

My Healing Kitchen Journey

Hang on, I'm back! I know it's been quite some time since my last post, on World Arthritis Day, when I had made the decision to start Enbrel Injections. I needed some time to figure things out before I updated all of you. I did the injections for 3 weeks. Those were 3 weeks spent on the couch feeling nauseous, tired with painful horrible swollen injection sights on my legs.  So, I stopped!

As I have said quite often, there has to be a better way than pharmaceuticals. Hippocrates said "Let food be your medicine."  In the past I have lived by that saying. I feel like I gave up on my eating plan too soon. Maybe....maybe not. Maybe I needed 3 weeks of misery as a reminder that I still believed in Hippocrates mission. 

I was sick, depressed, and without hope. A good friend of mine had recently been diagnosed with RA and when medication failed to help her she found another solution.   An amazing book that she recommended to me has changed my life.  Rocked my world.  The Healing Kitchen by Alaena Haber and Sarah Ballantyne came to my rescue.  

The Healing Kitchen teaches the Auto Immune Protocol diet. It's hard you guys! Really hard! When you are a foodie like me and cannot eat and cook in a way that you find fulfilling, it's quite a challenge. Much discipline is required. The list of acceptable ingredients is limited. In the beginning I felt like I was cooking most of the day. But, with the healing and positive results I've seen, this plan is so worth it. I feel better than I have in years and my body is beginning to heal.

Back to talking about food though. I have discovered that life as I know is not over because I can't eat pasta, cake or cheese. Oh wow! I miss cheese! My cooking abilities have been stretched and what has come out of it is only positive. I don't feel too deprived when there are great things to eat such as: 

Scrumptious Blueberry Thumbprint Cookies

Chicken Kabobs with Garlic Roasted Veggies

 Bacon Wrapped Dates......seriously decadent! 

So you see, life moves on and I still get amazing delicious food that is healing my body. It's a big adjustment with quite the learning curve and I can finally say (on most days) that it's all good. What worked in the beginning of my auto immune journey does not work now. Whether it is hormonal changes or progression of the disease that caused this change I cannot say. But, several months into this new eating plan and happily, 24 pounds lighter, I can say with great confidence that the Auto Immune Protocol has most definitely changed my life. So thanks to the book and the ladies behind The Healing Kitchen, I can say once again, "Let food be your medicine."

P.S. I won't just leave you here. I will be sharing recipes and ideas to help you navigate the AIP lifestyle a little bit easier and hopefully with a little less frustration than I had in the beginning. We are in this together friend. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

An Honest Look at Autoimmune Disease on World Arthritis Day

Today seems an appropriate day for me to add a blog post.  It is World Arthritis Day and I have Rheumatoid Arthritis which is an autoimmune disease.
An autoimmune disorder occurs when the immune system begins attacking cells and destroying healthy tissue.  There are more than 80 types of autoimmune diseases.  Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Osteo-Arthritis are well known autoimmune diseases.  Chronic inflammation plays a large role in these types of arthritis and may lead to irreversible damage if not controlled. 
Not all inflammation is bad.  Bodies need some inflammation to fight viruses, infections and help repair itself.  The problem comes when there is too much inflammation leading to pain, swelling, and damage.  It is imperative to get the inflammation under control right away to prevent future damage to joints and organs.   In the past I have been able to control many of these symptoms with an anti-inflammatory diet.  Not so much anymore. 
I have looked back at this blog noticing the changes in my body and life because of my disease. What started out as an anti-inflammatory eating blog that would control my RA is now changing.  Of course, isn't that the way of life?  Always changing. 
In the beginning I could eat whole grain pasta, bread and cereal.                    Now I cannot. In the beginning I could enjoy cheese, sour cream, and yogurt.                    Now I cannot. In the beginning I could bake and enjoy the sugary delicious treats.                   Now I cannot. Most things that I eat cause pain and swelling to the point that I am unable to function.  
Once upon a time I believed the way I ate could help heal all who suffered an auto-immune disease.  I wanted to share it with the world.  Time and pain are such great teachers.  
I am not sure what caused these changes and I'm not happy about it.  Two weeks ago I made the decision to start Enbrel Injections.  My decision has been frowned upon by many (not all) of my natural and holistic friends.  I understand their concern.  I have the same concern.  The choice I faced was to watch and feel my body crippling before my eyes or start the injections and pray they would work, with minimal side effects.  I've missed out on so many moments because of pain and am ready to get back to the business of life.  
So, on this World Arthritis Day, if you or someone you knows suffers with chronic pain, stiffness, or sickness, think seriously about it.  Now may be the time to see a doctor and get some relief.  Please don't wait until your symptoms cripple you.  Go now.    

Friday, August 19, 2016

Oodles of Zoodles During Zucchini Season

Spiralizer's are all the rage right now and I am a fan.  I have recently purchased one and it has truly saved me.  
Well, let me tell you.  I love pasta!  I miss pasta!  I crave pasta dishes! Since I have had to stop eating gluten, I have been trying other options.  The gluten-free versions of pasta just don't cut it for me.  However, zoodles are cutting it!  A zoodle is a spiralized zucchini noodle.  It's actually very cool how these work.  If you have never seen one, insert the word "spiralizer" into your search engine and many cool images will appear.

 My spiralizer is a pencil sharpener style.

You insert the zucchini in one end and turn as if sharpening a pencil.  Spirals of zucchini noodles come out the other end.  It is truly genius!  

 Then you take the zoodles and blanch them in boiling water for 30-60 seconds.  I do 30 seconds because I prefer al dente.  

Today my neighbor, Rachel, brought me over oodles of zoodles and I adore her for doing so and am putting them to good use :)

Here is a super easy idea for creating a delicious meal with your zoodles: 

First, heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium heat.

Then, add a heaping teaspoon of garlic and sauté for just a couple of seconds.

Add about a tablespoon of bacon crumbles and sauté until caramelized. 

Add a teaspoon of capers and a large handful of blanched zoodles.  Stir quickly just until warm so that you don't make the zoodles mushy.  

Serve warm and if so inclined, sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.  It is delicious without the cheese also. Even though I am trying to maintain a Paleo diet, I enjoy a little Parmesan occasionally.  

Next, I am going to try spiralizing sweet potatoes.  I wonder if they are called spoodles :)  I would love your feedback on your spiralizing experiences.  For now though, enjoy zucchini season my friends! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Stepping up my game for healthy changes

Now that December is here, I am reflecting on my health journey over the past year. 2015 started out fairly strong. However, by spring I began noticing more pain throughout my body.

When summer arrived, it was full of fun in the sun......

.....but my inflammation raged out of control, causing joint damage. So, July 5th I reluctantly added the prescription drug Leflunomide to my morning routine with the hope of preventing further joint damage and ending my chronic pain.  Those of you who know me and follow my blog understand what a huge decision this was for me.  I live my life around nutritional healing. "Let food be thy medicine" has become my mantra. I felt like such a failure and wept while taking the first pill.

The first couple of weeks on the medication seemed to go OK, but then I began having horrible stomach pain and other gastrointestinal issues (I will spare you the details).  The pain became increasingly worse as the days went by.  I finally called my RA doc and he advised me to stop the meds immediately.  It has been 4 months since I stopped and am still having issues. Apparently this drug takes quite some time to get out of your system.

After this experience, I am more determined than ever to continue my healing path through nutrition. Obviously, it is time to step up my game so that I am able to enjoy the many adventures left with my best friend, the love of my life.

I have been reading about Paleo, Whole 30, and other gut healing books.  What I am learning from these books is that auto immune disease may begin in an unhealthy gut.  It is time to give that some serious consideration.  I am also noticing an intolerance to gluten since the medication episode.  I have never had problems with gluten before so this has me stumped.  Never the less, I am avoiding gluten at the moment and seem to feel much better.  I really really really miss my breads and pastas. My waistline on the other hand is not missing them at all :)

Since I love to cook and create delicious healthy recipes, eating a Paleo diet has been discouraging creatively and left me feeling blah about mealtime.  Recently, I shared my struggle with a friend of mine and she sent me home with several Paleo cookbooks that inspired me.  I feel excited about cooking again.  I guess Paleo doesn't have to be boring after all.  I am now looking forward to trying fun new dishes that can potentially heal my body as well.

Getting through the holiday's will be challenging with all of the wonderful treats. I would love to hear your favorite Paleo or gluten-free recipes and tips!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Rhubarb cubes to calm inflammation!

I have this great rhubarb plant in my garden that produces nicely every spring.  My husband and I collected the last of it before summer heat stops it from producing. We harvested a nice big bundle.

Rhubarb is an extremely tart fruit that has some great health benefits. According to a wonderful and informative new book I recently bought, "Healing Foods",  rhubarb assists in lowering cholesterol, protects eye health and helps to strengthen bones. It also calms inflammation.  This is something I really want in my daily smoothie!

I decided to experiment and the experiment was a success!

First I removed the leaves and discarded them. Then I diced each stalk into about 1/2 inch pieces and placed in the strainer.  After washing them well I placed them in a pot and covered them with water. Just enough water to cover them though and no more.

I let them simmer for 30 minutes on medium-low heat stirring occasionally.

Then, I poured them into mini muffin pans but, if I had ice cube trays I would have used those. However, the muffin pans worked just fine.

Now I have wonderful frozen cubes of rhubarb to add to my daily smoothie.  I recommend also adding a sweet fruit into your smoothie with the rhubarb to balance out the tartness if it is too tart for your personal taste.  Mango is a good choice as it is a powerful inflammation fighter and very sweet.

I hope this is something you can use to add more calming foods into your diet! Enjoy :)

*If you are wanting a baked treat  Summer Rhubarb Coffee Cake is fantastic!