Tag Archives: Crohn

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.