Category Archives: Real Food

Spinach and Chickpea Curry

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I read the book Promise to Keep by Jane Green. Besides being a great read, it also featured a vegan chef and included several recipes. From the book, I made a Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry for my vegan husband. He loved it, but then again it’s a big detour from the foods I typically make. It is rich in flavor and color. A little spicy, a little sweet. Plus, it has the ever-so-healthy Turmeric in it. Then factor in that it takes things you probably already have in your pantry/fridge and that takes less than an hour from start to table….Mass positives all the way around.
Making this definitely piqued my interest regarding Turmeric. Besides being a spice used to season foods, you can find it as a supplement. The health benefits of Turmeric (Curcumin) seem endless. From helping with inflammation (crohn’s?) to healthy heart, arthritis and joint health, cancer prevention and so on. I’ve also seen recipes where you add Turmeric to rice or applesauce. I might have to try these as a natural remedy to some of my crohns symptoms.
Without further ado, the recipe for

Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry.

1 can Chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes (bonus points if organic)
2 medium potatoes, cubed and parboiled
3 cups torn spinach
5 cloves (approx 1/4t ground cloves)
1-1/2 t Turmeric
1-1/2 t Curry
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can coconut milk

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First step I took was to cut up the potatoes into 1 inch cubes and parboil them. This is simply boiling them until they are just softening. When you pierce it with a fork, you should be able to feel the potato is slightly softened but still a little firm. Over-cooking these will result in mashed potatoes. By parboiling them, it reduced your cook time as well helps the potatoes retain their cubed form later. I let them boil about 8-10 minutes.

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Next you will add all the ingredients into a large skillet and combine. You will want to bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.

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Cover and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. The flavors will cook together and the dish, especially the potatoes will turn a rich gorgeous shade of yellow. About 5 minutes before it was done, I tossed in another cup of slightly torn spinach. The original 3 cups had cooked down so much that I liked the look of the golden potatoes, red tomatoes and bright green spinach. Plus, my husband isn’t a huge fan of cooked spinach so by adding in some at the end, those retained a bit of a crisp fresh touch.

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I served this over rice, allowing the broth of the Curry to flavor that as well. You can always add more spice if you’d like a more seasoned dish. You could add Rooster sauce if you wanted extra heat. If you aren’t vegan, you could add some yogurt or sour cream. I also served some pita/flatbread with it, only because I couldn’t find vegan naan.

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Enjoy! This recipe makes enough (with rice) to serve 6. Because it only gets better when all the spices can mingle longer, leftovers are awesome. After serving it as dinner, we kept some out as leftovers and tossed the remaining into the freezer for a quick meal later.

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe. I love reading and so it’s always fun when I come across a character I adore. With the recipes included in the book, I can pretend I’m a vegan chef too!

Have a healthful day!

What are they feeding us?

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I read constantly. I will read any book that happens to get in my reach or happens upon my nook. I finish every book I read, no matter how bad it might be. I love to edit and research and learn. When I find a topic that interests me, I like to look at it from all angles before forming an opinion. Even after I have an opinion, I’ll change my mind if I learn more or differently. I am not without fault, sometimes I get it wrong. Very wrong.

I use to believe that I couldn’t make a difference. Now I am ashamed I might have passed that thought to my son. Each person does make a difference.

I use to think one didn’t matter. Such as, one more time won’t hurt; just one will be fine. Boy, was I wrong there too. One becomes two, two becomes a dozen, a dozen morphs into hundreds and if you allow yourself to just “one more” or into thinking one doesn’t matter….it does!

I use to say that it didn’t matter if I bought this or that because it was already made, already there. It’s not like my getting it made a difference. Like my dollar spent even counted.

I bought the name brand products. I loved junk food. I liked the ease of popping something into the microwave or grabbing “food” in a drive up for dinner. The speed dial of pizza delivery. The Standard American Diet…..sad.

Then I woke up. From a nightmare.

My health was horrible. My crohn’s was flaring like never before. I was dropping weight, taking meds, pleading with doctors to not hospitalize me.

My husband was overweight. He was worn out, grumpy, depressed. He slept with a CPAP. His days of Ironman Triathlons were done. His back hurt, his feet hurt.

My son was tired all the time. He didn’t want to do anything anymore. His energy level was dropping along with his spark. He munched on the crappy snacks I provided then chowed the crappy dinner I served.

We were all starving. Starving not just for REAL food but for life.

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I took my love of reading and went crazy. I have read dozens of books about food and diet. We’ve made some huge changes — that have actually been easier than you’d think.

My crohn’s isn’t perfect but I don’t expect it to be. I push my limits with my new diet. I don’t just eat white processed foods. I am trying to expand my diet to a plant-based diet full of variety. I lost 50 pounds in the process.

My husband has dropped over 70 pounds (and not by pooping like me) by changing the way he sees food. He eats only plant-based meals. His diet is most easily defined as strict vegan. Zero animal products or by-products. He’s thin, fit, exercising comfortably. He’s running races, cycling, swimming, all in preparation for a triathlon at the end of the summer. I can describe him as an athlete again. He sleeps without the loud machine and looks 10 years younger and refreshed. His work has improved. He quality of life has dramatically improved. All he did was switch to an all plant diet. It is an amazing and formation. I wonder how I’ve changed? I know I have…..

His transformation has been so inspiring that my son and I are trying desperately to mimic him. We are just such picky finicky eaters that we can’t eat the variety my husband eats yet. YET. We are working on it. With my crohn’s, I do add in and try new foods a bit slower but I’m doing my best without pushing myself so far I flare. With that, I am encouraging my son to try new foods. He has been so great at trying, unfortunately, he hasn’t liked much he tries….still, baby steps.

After eliminating the junk food, stopping all the fast food and educating our whole family more, we are all improving in leaps and bounds. My son is active again. His skin looks terrific and his smile charming. His outlook is very positive. He is so supportive of the plant powered diet that I love listening to him explain the benefits to an adult. He’s very passionate about health and food and quality.

Let’s pause on that word. Quality. That word is what made me grab my iPad and start tapping away at this post. Quality.

What the hay is up with GMO and other “food” like crap we are buying, eating, and serving to those we love? We are not educated on what GMO is or does unless we go look for the imformation ourselves. My father was agreeing with me when we talked about how horrible it is. Then I realized, he thought companies had to inform us when they used GMO ingredients. Nope, not in America. He was floored. He is a very intelligent man. He watches the news, reads the paper, he is well-informed. So how did he miss that? How did I?

Until recently, I couldn’t have told you what GMO even stood for. Yet now after learning more, I still can’t explain to my son why these big ass companies feel the need to use these products. Beyond greed, it doesn’t make sense. Have you ever tried explaining something to a child? Where you can slide stuff by some adults, maybe sway the story, leave out parts you don’t agree with or don’t understand; you tell that same story to a kid and they’ll call you out. They question the simplest things and man, they want answers!

So, in my research (and its far from complete), I’ve learned that big companies will bury the facts so deep that you start to believe what they want you to believe. You can easily fall into the trap of believing that you need meat twice a day (gotta get that protein) or that milk, it does a body good. You might even feel comforted that good ole McDonald offers more healthful choices now. Maybe you don’t feel GMO is damaging us. Or maybe you don’t think that children are effected by all the hormones in meat and dairy. Perhaps you haven’t heard of BVO or care much about essential amino acids. Maybe you are still sipping that diet soda hoping to lose some weight. No worries, we’ve all been there. Sometimes, I don’t feel that far off from all that.

Baby steps! My researching is opening my eyes. I’m teaching my family. I’m choosing where I want to spend my dollar. I’m not accepting just “one more”. I am done ignoring the facts. I am done with the excuses. I am looking for answers in that straight forward nature frequently reserved for kids and old folks. I’m making changes that will benefit me, my family, my community, my world. Because, I do make a difference. My dollar counts. My vote counts. My life relies on me making the right decisions. My health is too precious for me to keep ignoring it all. Hopefully, I can inform others of what I know, what I learn through websites, publications, news stories and my beloved reading. I learn so much from those I follow on twitter. I truly feel it’s a give and take exchange of knowledge. I learn from you while sharing what I know.

Together, we really make a difference.
Really.

EEK! A holiday is coming!

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Oh boy, it’s a holiday. I made plans to have my family over to my house. I’m on prednisone, enough said. The crohnie in me sitting in the bathroom is less than thrilled with my plans. The party girl is excitedly planning a menu.

This is the first year our BBQ will have to accommodate both my crohns and my husband not eating animal products. Beyond that, my mom is coming and she is who I learned to be picky from. Top all that off with my new knowledge of how foods are created and processed and you’ve got one girl (me) freaking out. Oh, I might take this opportunity to also say, I sort of made these plans without consulting my husband, so to him, surprise!?!

I know I want to bake something colorful, patriotic, and yummy for dessert. I also want it to be vegan so my husband can enjoy it. I’ve been baking enough lately, I feel good about that. For the main course though, I will BBQ some veggies, corn on the cob and some local chicken. Sorry, I’d love to say my meal will be completely vegan but at least I’m not serving L&A hot dogs. I’m also sorry local chickens, I know just because you were raised locally doesn’t mean you are honored to be featured in my meal, but I do promise I will appreciate you.

My menu is looking like this;

Fresh veggies with dip (undecided on dip recipe)
Local tortilla chips with bean dip

BBQ chicken for those that partake
BBQ veggies for all others
I got this insanely good Bo Mack BBQ sauce, yum!
BBQ corn on the cob
Fresh rolls (vegan & made by me)

Strawberries, blueberries and vanilla something, cake, cupcakes, something. Dessert!

For drinks, fresh lemonade, sun tea, mix those together for some Arnold Palmers, beer for those that dig that.

What am I missing? I need more items. Maybe a salad or two?

I am really feeling torn. Part of me would love to serve up an all locally sourced vegan meal, while the other part of me is already missing the traditional fried chicken and BBQ burgers. So with a side of guilt, I’m going to do the best I can to transform my meal into one where any animal products served are done so on the side and anything that can be replaced in my baking/cooking will be.

Wish me luck. I’d love to hear your plans, struggles and menus.

Real Good (Vegan) Chili Recipe

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OK, I can honestly say, I’ve finally created the best chili recipe this picky family has ever seen!

I battle with Crohn’s, my son is so picky he makes me look adventurous (which I am not) and my husband eats an only plant-based diet (fancy wording for vegan). So finding, then adapting, a recipe for chili has been a goal of mine. After a few flops, I’ve done it! Here is how:

Shell’s KickAss Chili
serves 8

1 onion (sweet yellow is nice)
1 jalapeño
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2t garlic
4 cans of beans (I prefer 3 black beans and 1 kidney bean)
15oz tomato sauce
2T chili powder
2t salt
2T pepper
1t Oregano
4 cups of liquid; this can be all water, I use 3 cups water, 1 cup vegetable broth
2T whole wheat flour

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Dice the onion, garlic, all peppers into small pieces. The smaller they are, the more they will disappear into the chili when cooking. (Great way to sneak it in without having to see it but can still benefit from the flavor).
In a large stew pot, sauté the onion and garlic with a touch of water until translucent. About 6 minutes. You can also use a bit of coconut oil if you want.
Add the jalapeño, green and red peppers and continue to cook on medium until all veggies are soft. Another 5-6 minutes.
Rinse the cans of beans thoroughly. The best you rinse, the less gassy they are later. (extremely important if you have Crohn’s or any digestive issues or, you know, a stinky spouse).
Combine all the beans in the pot with the softened veggies. I turn the heat down to low at this point so I don’t burn the beans.
Add in all the spices right on the beans. The chili powder is flexible. 1T is a nice mellow chili, where 3T is a bit spicier. You can also add a bit of cumin at this time (or chipotle) depending on the heat flavor you are seeking.
Add the can of tomato sauce (or purée) and mix well. Then add about 4 cups of liquid. I use mostly water with some veggie broth. Depending on how long you are going to let this simmer, you can adjust the water. If you have all afternoon to let it simmer, 4 cups is perfect. If you are going to rush this, then add much less.
At this point, I crank the heat to high. I make a super simple roux from 2T wheat flour with about 1/4 cup of warm water and mix until its a thick paste. Then I stir the roux into the chili to ensure the final product will be a nice thick hearty chili. Once it boils and bubbles, turn it down to low/simmer.
I cook mine all afternoon on an easy low simmer. I haven’t tried to speed cook this but it could be done. After about 45 minutes, it’s usually ready. I like to really slow cook it because the longer I cook, the more the veggies disappear!

Consider serving this with some delicious Mexican Rice. I modify a great recipe found here By not using any butter when warming the uncooked rice and instead either use coconut oil or just water you can make it vegan.

This chili freezes really well. It is ideal for making tacos and burritos. It’s great as an entree for either lunch or dinner. You could easily top this with tomato, avocado, salsa, whatever you might normally top your Mexican yummies with.

I really hope you can use this recipe to create your own masterpiece. I’d love to hear your take on chili. Even though I found this recipe to be Perfect, I’ll always be experimenting with additional changes.

Have a real good night!

Can I be a Real Vegan?

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I’ll be the first to admit my food choices usually suck. I’ve done some research and know how important eating healthy is. I’m the pickiest eater ever and I also have Crohn’s. Not every food choice I make, I can tolerate. What to do?!

My husband is vegan. My son is as picky as I am. We’ve watched enough documentaries and read enough books that I feel bad when I eat poorly and feel guilty when I feed my child poorly. We have improved a little. At least we don’t eat any fast food anymore!

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Here is a glimpse at our weekly groceries.
Our old  batch would have been full of name brand junk food!

My Crohn’s started its most recent flare about 9 months ago and has only improved by baby steps. I’ve lost a bunch of weight and after living a life determined to lose weight, I’m actually insanely now trying to hold on to the weight I’m at.

Losing weight is real difficult. I’m finding maintaining a weight is just as hard, especially when the weight came off fast and due to illness.

As my guts start to settle down and accept food, I’m being careful what I introduce. I’d love to go vegan and get quite a chuckle out of myself when I say that. I wouldn’t miss the cheese but ice cream, I’ve tried coconut “ice cream” and it’s nothing like real creamy good ole ice cream. Although, I do like sorbet….

I somewhat enjoy meat. I say somewhat because if I stop to think at all about it, especially when it’s still raw, my stomach turns and I really don’t want to eat it. Once it’s all cooked, it’s hard to resist. Somewhat.

I adore the Hungry for Change (www.hungryforchange.tv) advice of adding more and more “good” foods to replace all the “bad” choices. I’ve been trying that. As I add something like kale to my salad (has to be in teeny tiny pieces) then that’s replacing just plain green leaf or romaine. However, I don’t think that line of thinking is going to get me to my goal of being a vegan.

I highly doubt I will ever add so many veggie meals that one day I decide not to make my great grandpa’s beef stew. I’m going to have to give up animal products. Then, as I pathetically try to find foods I like, I’m bound to try and like something I can add. I hope.

What I afraid of? I love to blame my disease for my pickiness. Oh, my guts don’t like that. That definitely wouldn’t settle well. Ahhhh, but most things I have never even tried. My fear of food isn’t limited to healthy foods. I don’t like (read: I’ve never tried) any dipping sauce besides ketchup. No ranch, no sour cream. I don’t like (never tried) any toppings for burgers, or salad dressing besides 1000 Island. In fact, I have only ever eaten apple, strawberry or coconut cream pie. I’m too scared to try cherry, probably because I’ve never eaten cherries. I don’t like trying new ice cream flavors, candy bars, drinks. So the likelihood of me trying a vegetable has always been slim. I haven’t even tried hiding anything green into my fruit smoothie.

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I’m going to jump in, give up meat. That way I’m part way there. If I reduce my animal products like cheese and butter, then I’m even closer to my goal. My husband has asked me why I can’t do as he did and just jump straight into being a vegan. I’m scared. When I look for advice on picky-eaters, I get advice I can’t use on myself. I don’t want to make an avocado a face with cauliflower hair. I don’t see how I could sneak food into my own meal, what cover my eyes as I put in something slimy? I did read you shouldn’t bribe a kid with money, although a few weeks ago my husband paid me $10 to try asparagus and that worked, kinda. I tried to so I could claim my ten bucks and even sorta liked it. Not enough, I’ve eaten it again. Maybe, I should pay myself but that might also be an easy out, I mean, it’s still my money whether I eat it or not…..ohhhh, why was my mom picky and let me get away with eating Mac n Cheese all my life?

I’m part of a generation that’s been told what nutrition you need and how to look for that on the side of the box. Only lately, is it that I’m looking at things I don’t want included or better yet, buying items without a barcode. Being brought up with this mindset, I’ve been convinced, even though my research shows otherwise, that I won’t get enough nutrients if I give up meat.

I’m well aware that by eating a well-rounded vegan diet, a person will easily get all the necessary vitamins and minerals, protein, calcium, all that besides B12. However, that is what makes me fear being vegan: well-rounded. Well-rounded? I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean a salad of green leaf with a couple of hidden pieces of kale and a carrot.

As long as I eat meat and animal products, I’m going to have this internal battle at every meal. I look at my husband’s colorful plate then look at my plate full of different white and beige and pout. I really want to eat what he is eating.

My son is just like me. He’s declared himself a vegan just about five times a week. Only, he’s afraid to try new foods too. He eats what I eat.  I have so many reasons (read: excuses) why I just don’t like (read: won’t try) certain foods.  They are lame ones, but I got a ton of them.

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I make a bunch of different veggie burgers for Mr Vegan,
Sir Picky and I don’t eat them (yet)

I also know there is a bunch of hypocrisy when I say I want to be vegan but then also feel better about eating only locally grown, grass-fed meats. The local cows don’t like that. I’m also aware that by saying I’ll eat vegan most of the time isn’t right. I mean, is it ok for a heroin junkie to just relapse once a week? OK, meat isn’t heroin but some would argue it’s a darn good comparison.

I also worry that by being vegan, I’ll need not only to try new foods but try things like faux meat, vegan cheese and things that are mimicking a non-vegan food. That sort of grosses me out. I mean, if I have trouble understanding mixing peanut butter with jelly, you can imagine my not being keen on tofu.

Last night, I did more research and made some tough decisions and without even thinking, sat down with a bowl of ice cream to think it over. That was one guilty snack. Guilty because if you do care about weight loss, then a midnight snack isn’t healthy. But more so because I was literally online researching vegan choices while I ate!

I’ve got to make the jump. The guilt will only get stronger.
Wish me luck!

Real Crohnie – Real Struggles

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I had already had several really bad stomach cramps. I had already pooped my pants in public. I had already spent hours and hours in the bathroom. I finally learned I had Crohn’s.

I did what I would advise people not to do. I looked up Crohn’s on the Internet. This was 1998 and I had limited knowledge of the web. Being exposed to pictures showing the worst of the disease was really not something I should have been looking at during work hours, well, ever! Don’t do it. Don’t look up some medical thing, especially images. Yet, we’ve all done it. And we’ll probably do it again.

So I sat at my desk and cried. Why I looked it up is still a mystery for me because I had grown up with a mother who has crohn’s. I already was familiar with the disease. Yet, when the doc scoped me and said it was the worst case of crohn’s he had seen and asked me how I was dealing with the pain, I freaked out.

My mom had been in the hospital twice when I was growing up. I knew she had to be careful with what she ate, she got tired easily and sometimes took pain meds. I also knew that she spent a long time in the bathroom. Even though she deals with it on a daily basis, she has a mild form of the disease. That wasn’t my case.

Within a few weeks of finding out, I had my first two week stay in the hospital. Immediately, the docs saw my case was anything but normal. I went anaphylactic on meds, I broke into rashes, my IV had to be changed every 12 hours, I absorbed pain meds like a junkie, and nothing seemed to want to work.

After 30+ hospital trips, featuring several different hospitals in two different cities, I can honestly declare that hospitals suck. Once you can eat, the food is gross. The nurses range from rock stars to “oh, man, please not her again”. Guests either never show making you feel lonely or stay too long, turning you into a hostess. It’s just rough on everyone.

I was the first person at my Oregon hospital to try Remicade, which had been approved for use only days before. It worked great….at first. Like all good crohnies, what works at first, might not later. Remicade worked well but I still had to take handfuls of other meds as well. In fact, I took meds to help with the side effects of other meds. Handfuls.

Around this time, working became impossible and I struggled to stay out of the hospital for two months at a time. Always staying at least two weeks, and once a whole month. Lots of people ask why? Fluids, pain management and usually high doses of steroids (fun fun).

This was before docs knew better than to prescribe 120mg of Prednisone, so I got slammed. I gained 80 pounds despite being unable to hold down food. I never slept. I got depressed then I went psychotic. I’m not proud of what I put my friends and family through, but I also totally blame the meds. After a couple of months, I was dropped to 100mg and stayed at that dose for a couple of months. Doctors misdiagnosed me as bi-polar because that amount of steroids was wrecking havoc on all aspects of mental functioning.

Meanwhile, I’m on this med and that med, getting Remicade transfusions and still visiting the nurses at the hospital every couple of months. My husband struggled with it but stood by me. In fact, he would come home on his lunch breaks to make sure I’d take my meds and get me some lunch. He’s so incredible.

My friends all but disappeared. After I bailed on plans, missed parties, couldn’t commit, backed out of promises, no one wanted to be friends with a sickie. I can’t really blame them yet, to be honest, I totally do. It’s hard to stay friends with people that only want to be around during the good times and split as soon as the admission papers are signed.

It was hard on my mom. She knew about Crohn’s in her limited experience and couldn’t understand why nothing that worked for her, would work on me. Oddly, during her third major flare in 30 years, the doctors removed some of her gut and she’s been great since. I say oddly because in all my battling, surgery was only mentioned once and not in a positive way.

Perhaps, surgery isn’t an option because the more they scope me the more complex my case becomes. I have crohns, but I also have colitis. I might have celiac disease but nothing has been conclusive. I also deal with all the crap those with autoimmune diseases deal with, fibromyalgia and symptoms that mimic other diseases. My disease runs from my mouth to my anus. I get mouth sore, nodes on my legs and bruising so bad, my husband begs me to wear long sleeves. (He has never ever put me in a box and tossed me down a hill, it only looks like that could have happened) I also have different doctors than my mom.

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I found out I was pregnant only a week after a dose of Remicade. I was scared. Some doctors warned me against carrying my surprise baby to term. Others said I was safe. I believed the latter. At 7 months pregnant, our little girl stopped breathing in utero and died. While its rare, I can’t directly blame the medicine either, but I totally do. I gave birth and promptly had the worst flare ever. A month long hospital trip was my prize.

Very quickly after I got my strength back, we tried for a baby. We hadn’t been ready, but losing my angel changed that. We got pregnant fast but my past miscarriages and then the stillbirth taught my not to count any chickens before the eggs were hatched. Like the pregnancies before, everything went smooth – except it was hard to control my anxiety at times. In 2002, I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. And I stayed in remission!

After 10 amazing months of motherhood, I flared. They tried Remicade and it failed. They couldn’t give me high doses of steroids because I had developed Addison’s disease and my adrenal glands no longer produced cortisol so I take low doses daily. (Thanks first GI, hoped you learned from that little oopsy) We had tried experimental, traditional, basically anything ever suggested as a possible assist, we tried. I’d either be allergic, it might work for a few weeks before failing, or it never worked from the get go. I was hospitalized in a city 100 miles away from my baby. That was crushing.

After several more hospital trips, I got serious with my docs about limiting my meds and tried to make some significant strides. I had felt awesome when I was pregnant and not on any meds, yet felt like crap when flaring and placed on handfuls of drugs.

Some of my doctors are forward thinking, others like to play things safe. About 8 years ago, I tried TSO. That’s pig whipworm eggs. I’d digest them and they would hatch in my gut. My body would then fight them instead of itself and then after a few weeks, expel them and I’d start over again. That was the plan anyway. The vials came from Germany and were ridiculously expensive. I had to get so many approvals from places like the USDA, prove I wasn’t a pig farmer and so on. so when the FedEx guy tossed the package of glass vials on my porch, I prayed none broke. A program called, From Beyond, filmed me and my family for their Discovery Health show. It was an exciting time, I felt I had beat the odds. Then I flared again. And again.

Getting the Addison’s part under control helped a ton. Everything started to smooth out slowly. I was finally feeling better and wasn’t on a ton of medicines. I had a nice couple of years where everything was in a nice moderate stage. Nice. Then, boom, when Crohns wants to come out and play, it does. My crohns happens to be a spaz.

Last fall, my health went from pretty good to horrible in one day. All of a sudden, nothing stayed down. I threw up everything I tried to eat, spent hours rushing to the bathroom dozens of times a day, my body hurt. I did as I was instructed, except I wouldn’t go to the hospital. Flat out refused. I could push my on fluids, I didn’t want to rely on pain meds this round and I can’t take high doses of steroids so really, anything the hospital would do, I could do. It took tons of help from my husband and son to stay at home. They pretty much catered to my needs as I laid in bed for a couple of months.

I missed out on school events. I pushed myself then would slide backwards. As the holidays approached, I panicked and faked feeling better. Us, crohnies, we fake feeling better so well we really deserve an award. My health suffered and I lost tons of weight.

My husband has always been a yo-yo bouncing from one extreme to another. He had let his weight go and was eating really poorly. As a result, our son was eating only junk while I was still struggling to hold down jello. At the beginning of 2013, my husband went into a huge health kick. One that looks promising, like it might be a forever change, for real this time. (You can read about our story and his 70+ pound weight loss here: http://wp.me/p3CR61-1t)

I decided to once again, not follow doctors advice. Another thing crohnies get good at, practicing medicine without a degree. My GI has always suggested a bland, all white, processed diet; especially while flaring. I decided to eat healthy; fresh foods, fruits, veggies, basically everything off the do not eat list.

At first, my gut flipped out. Then again, it hadn’t really ever stopped flipping out since the flare began in September. I pushed through and my gut adapted! Soon, I wasn’t cramping as bad after meals. I was, but a normal amount. I was still going to the bathroom over a dozen times a day, but that has become my normal so food wasn’t really effecting that, negatively or positively. Then, I really ticked off my docs. I decided to come off some of my meds. For the first time in a decade, I was off my pain meds, off anything “extra” and off anything I didn’t think was helping.

I can’t say I’m in remission right now, but I’m also not in bed crying, or rushing out of a store with poop in my pants. I’m more active than I have been in the last nine months. I’m happier. I’m eating all the things the doctors stay not to eat. My doctor knows and is hesitant but I think she’s still mad that I refuse to go to the hospital, even for a scope and that I love to play doctor and make whatever changes I want. She’s dealing with my rebelling, I’m sure she would get along with my parents.

My husband has stopped eating all animal products and I call him vegan, he says he eats an all plant based whole food diet. Same dif. Now, I’d do that far and slowly I am trying. I know meat isn’t the easiest thing to digest and if I was trying harder to get my crohns into remission, meat and dairy would be some of the first things to go. But, I’m picky. I’m so picky that picky people make fun of me. I’m so picky, the idea of trying something new scares me. I run to the bathroom, ok, only to hide but still….what if whatever I try is so gross, I puke, on the table, in front of everyone??? What if…..

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I’m trying. I’ve been cooking and baking vegan recipes for my husband, Mr Vegan, like the one pictured above. (That’s @Engine2Diet Mac not Cheese, and one day I hope my plate will look like that) I’m trying it all to encourage my son, Sir Picky to try it as well. I’m finding I like some of them (beans, huh) or at least I can hide it in a salad (kale please pretend you are green leaf) Although, the concept of hiding yucky food in yummy food doesn’t really work on me since I’m the one cooking it. Even if I didn’t, I’m pretty sure I could spot a pea hiding in my noodle.

As I try to train my taste buds and get brave, I’m blogging. I’m hoping to share recipes, share my stories, learn from you and share what I have learned. Mostly, I’m hoping this crohnie will one day soon, become Mrs Vegan, for real.

First Real Day of Summer

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School got out yesterday before lunch, which makes today the first real day of summer. Sir Picky is now a fifth-grader! To prepare for an awesome summer, we made a wish list of all the things we want to do. On the list were things like; make salsa, pick berries, learn to store food (like bears). There is also things like; go to the beach, to OMSI, run a race, play frisbee in the park. All in all, about 25 things. Today, we will not be doing any of those things because let’s face it, it’s just the first day. Since I am an at-home mom to an older child, summertime is really when my job becomes full-time.

So today we did some fun things. We started the day with some Wii Fit and called that a workout. Yesterday we had a water fight, but today the weather turned a little cooler so we opted to stay dry. We jumped on our large trampoline. My son had a friend over to “hang out”. We also hit the grocery store. I try to buy organic, as local as possible and healthful but again, 2 out of 3 of us are picky and still eat a small amount of processed junk.

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I know we can improve but here’s the groceries for this week. Not pictured is one small watermelon my son generously dropped onto the kitchen floor or the items I got at the local farm, Thistledown.

Here is a great recipe for black beans. It has a lot of flavor and is perfect with rice or in burritos. I’ve had a hard time getting enough spices in to really get a flavor. So, this recipe calls for quite a bit of spices because I have found you need a healthy amount to get them perfect.

* * * BLACK BEANS * * *

1 can Black Beans, drained and well rinsed
up to 1 can of Rotel (tomatoes with green chilies)
Cumin
Powdered onion
Powdered garlic
Oregano
Paprika
Chili Powder
Cayenne Pepper (optional)

First really wash and drain your black beans. The more you rinse, the easier on your gut. Then add all the juice from the can of Rotel plus as much of the tomatoes and chilies you want. Add some water until the beans are about half covered. Then mix in the spices, adjusting the amounts to your taste. Just about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each. I just shake some on, lightly covering the beans with each spice then stir to mix it up. Place on a low heat until warm throughout.

Mr Vegan really loves the Beans Extravaganza from the Engine 2 website. You can find that recipe here. We have done it just as instructed and also made my black beans from the recipe above for a bit more flavor. In fact, if we have extra beans of another variety (navy, pinto, butter, etc) we use those. You can really turn their recipe into your own and it makes enough to freeze. Next time he has this, I’ll try it. Eek!

Enjoy and have a healthful day!

Trying new (super)foods

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Well, last night, true to my word, I tried some new foods. Instead of my normal salad of green leaf and carrots with my dressing on the side, I tried kale, spinach, green leaf with red peppers and cucumbers. I learned that really anything is edible with 1000 island dressing. Probably not ANYTHING!

My husband started getting fit again at the beginning of the year. I have been in a long flare up since last fall, so I was ready to try something/anything to get my stomach to chill out. After reading a few books (dozens) and watching some documentaries (tons), my husband went vegan. Ok, that is not what he calls it because I guess the “v” word makes people think of dirt-eating hippies or something. He eats a whole-food plant-based diet. Yea, that was easy explaining to my mom, who months later still doesn’t seem to understand why he isn’t eating steak. Or butter. Or eggs. The list goes on.

Going whole-food plant-based (dang, I might just use vegan, what the heck!) brought a whole new realm of recipes and lingo and conversations to the table. Literally and figuratively. My son, Sir Picky and I love love love the idea of not eating meat. But in reality, eliminating meat takes about half our foods away. So while I understand my husbands adoration for all things Engine 2, I’m going the more Hungry for Change route of adding new foods not eliminating. Hence, my wild salad! (baby steps)

Now, I’m trying hard to bake and cook without any animal products and trying to add foods while getting away from food-like processed nightmares. Still, super-foods? Goji sounds very Zsa Zsa Gabor; Spiralina is not Tinkerbell’s unknown sister; and there is no Big in front of Maca. What are these little treasures and what do they do?

Goji berries
You can find these in a dried form similar to raisins or as a juice like acai. Filled with antioxidants and rich in vitamin A, these little treats are suppose to help boost your immune system as well as make you a happy, calm, more athletic, mentally stable person that sleeps great. Wow is all I can think as I grab to try one. Not bad! It’s a yummy little berry very much like a cranberry/raspberry, only in raisin form. A little sweet, a little tart. Also known as the wolfberry, how can you resist? I have cooked with these for Mr Vegan but hadn’t tried one….I know, it’s a berry but it was still new. I’ve baked these into cookies and energy bars. I have tossed them into his salads. He also tosses them into his cereal. I can see why now. The only thing I did notice was a slight aftertaste of tea. Maybe, this was because I found these in the bulk tea section or because they are often used in tea. Here’s how:

* * * GOJI BERRY TEA * * *
Boil a mug full of water. Add in a small handful of dried goji berries and let it soak. The berries will rehydrate and become plump. Remove them at that time then enjoy them as a snack while you sip your fresh healthful tea.

Spiralina
This strong smelling powder is also found in the bulk section. It is super rich in protein and essential amino acids, as well as many vitamins and minerals. The research shows Spiralina is superior to plant proteins such as that from legumes. Protein-wise it is also very comparable to meat, eggs and milk. Calcium-wise, it has over 20 times more than milk. The list of all the health ailments it could help is impressive. From preventing toxins in the heart, liver, kidneys and many other organs. Again, Mr Vegan has this stuff. I can honestly say I have only seen him use it twice. It’s really pretty it the jar but man, does it stink. Sorry, but it does. Now, I am reading that you use it in smoothies, shakes and pretty much in anything you can stomach. It smells fishy but they say that it can taste differently depending on the source it came from. Spiralina from a fresh water pond should have a less harsh smell and taste. I’m not sure where ours comes from, but I just can not bring myself to try it. UPDATE: as I typed, my husband cracked a joke about me trying this. Then he proceeded to make the following recipe, probably thinking he could talk me into tasting it “for my blog”. UPDATE on the UPDATE: I tried it! It wasn’t horrible. Maybe over ice on a hot day, it could even taste good(?), maybe. After being mildly harassed, even by Sir Picky who gagged at the smell, I took TWO sips with a straw and can honestly say, if you want to drink Spiralina, it can be done.

* * * STRAIGHT SPIRALINA with HONEY * * *
1t Spiralina
1t Raw honey or agave
Fresh lime or lemon

Mix the spiralina and honey with just enough water to make paste when mixed. Once you have your paste, fill your glass up with water and squeeze a fresh lemon or lime. Instead of lime, you can also try cinnamon. Enjoy (?)

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Maca
Seriously, after not trying Spiralina, I felt guilty so I wanted to jump into the next supplement on my list; Maca. After researching and getting page after page explaining that it is an “acquired taste” and that it comes in pill form that “might” help. While it appears fairly safe, there is many warnings about it (goiters, eek). I have gathered that if you are looking for something to help with moods or something to boost your vitamin B12 (vegan alert) and proteins, this might help you. While good ole Maca-Maca is suppose to boost your libido, there really isn’t much proof in it. Again, I could be talking myself into not even having to try it since I am not a vegan looking for an aphrodisiac.

Next on my list: Chia Seeds (these I like)

Recommended websites:
Engine 2 Diet this website has great recipes and their books super resources.
Hungry for Change this website is one of my favorites. They have a documentary that is so good, I’ve watched it several times (Netflix!). I also have their book. They are the sister site to Food Matters who happens to have a great video on SuperFoods ~ ow.ly/lTMaF

Currently Reading: Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan (@michaelpollan)

Have a healthful day!

Please note: everything has some risk, so research how something may effect your own health and talk to your doctor before trying any new supplements or vitamins. Some foods may also interact to certain medications.