Tag Archives: crohns

Planting herbs in containers

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As I do my reading, I’ve been trying to be really aware of where my food is coming from. I shop as local as possible, hit the farmers market, head out to the nearby farms, and buy from companies that are close. I try to get foods that are in season and fresh, organic is a bonus. While my husband is a vegan (yes, that dreaded v-word again), my son and I still eat meat. I feel (mostly) OK about that, because all the meat Sir Picky and I eat is from a local meat market that butchers meat fresh from a local family farm. I really am trying. So…..what about my spices?

I’ve decided to see if I can pull off growing my own herbs in some backyard containers. I looked on the Internet for local sources of good soil and starter plants. Luckily, I found some that were grown just a few miles from my home. I picked up some containers on sale. Grabbed some soil and compost and got it all ready to replant.

Now, I’m far from a gardener. In fact, looking at my thumb right now and it’s not even slightly green. But I have been growing mint for several months, which made me optimistic until I found out they grow like weeds. (Tastes great in lemonade or mojitos though)

I chose a small selection of herbs, trying to select ones we would actually use. I got basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. I also grabbed some more lavender for my backyard (great to add to the dryer cycle). I also bought a larger variety of rosemary for maybe toasting on the grill. Then, my son picked out a grape vine (eek) and a pink blueberry bush (?). Both are super anti-oxidants and I have hope that maybe my son and I will like blueberries better if they are pink. It could happen. Hopefully, all this has a better ending than my poor pathetic apple tree my son talked me into a few summers ago.

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I picked out these herbs with their health benefits in mind, but also how likely it was I would cook with them. OK, mostly based on which ones I had heard of and would cook with….but the health benefits actually rock!

ROSEMARY

Rosemary has many health benefits besides smelling great and making you happy. It’s tagged for helping people with their memory, migraines, pain (especially joint pain), is an anti-inflammatory and boosts your immune system (great for crohnies). It also has anti-bacterial qualities as well as help balance out your digestive system (yea). It helps with colds and congestion and has anti-aging qualities. All in all, great enough, I bought two!

THYME

Some consider thyme essential for good health. Besides preventing cancers and promoting good health, it is packed, and I mean PACKED with minerals and vitamins. Plus, lots of recipes team thyme up with rosemary.

OREGANO

Oregano has lots of bacteria fighting elements as well as loaded with vitamin K, Iron, and full of fiber. It’s a powerful anti-oxidant that also has lots of Omega 3.

BASIL

This is another herb that works as an anti-inflammatory. It stops some icky bacteria, promotes healthy bacteria we all need, all while packing in vitamin A, magnesium and increasing your blood flow. Without basil and oregano, your spaghetti sauce would just be plain ole tomato sauce (whoa, look at me all spicing up my foods).

PARSLEY

This little green sprig is actually rich in vitamins. Remember that old dude in the restaurant who would chew on it after dinner? Maybe you called him grandpa. Well, he had the right idea except maybe hide it into your salad for a fresh taste. It’s not only an anti-inflammatory herb, it boosts your immune system, helps even out your nervous system, reducing stress and joint pain while preventing some cancers. Full of vitamins and minerals, it’s powerful stuff. One of the vitamins it has a lot of is vitamin B12, hello vegans!

Now, I know what you are thinking. Ok, these little herbs are great, but how much do you think I’m going to eat? Does it matter how healthful these are or aren’t? Yes! I know you are only going to sprinkle some here, add a dash there, but wouldn’t you rather get some awesome benefits from these herbs than not get any at all? Heck, yea! I personally want to add things onto my plate that will help me, no matter how trivial it may seem. It all adds up!

I’m pretty excited and can’t wait to start cooking with my new treasures. They look cute and smell great, in fact, I’d love to roll around in the rosemary for awhile! (Don’t worry, I didn’t) Now I have real plants, real herbs and I will really know where and how they grew when I eat them.

Have a healthful day!

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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.

Meet the real me

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As I get older, I sound more and more like my mom. Realizing that it’s not a bad thing, must be what others call, maturity. I have similar worries, agendas, dreams. However, I’m raising my family very differently.
Like most of us, I was called inside to sit down at the kitchen table to eat a family dinner every night. My mom always set out bread and butter. We all drank milk, no exception. We usually had meat, veg and starch. The most adventurous meal my mom cooked was her Mexican casserole, which was Fritos and Nalley’s chili with some cheese (Velveeta).

When I was very little, I ate proudly like my dad. Trying whatever was offered. Then one day, I noticed my mom didn’t use salad dressing. I was about 5 and my baby brother had just been born, so to complicate life, I became the pickiest eater ever. Gone were the days of trying new flavors. Everything I ate was packaged, processed and plain. Potatoes became a vegetable and apples or strawberries were my only fruit. Meat had to be plain and usually nothing touched anything else. The only sauce I’d even consider was ketchup and even that I only liked certain brands. I let my diet become complicated by using my crohns as an excuse. It was the ideal excuse to hide behind because no one wanted me to be hospitalized. I found ways so I wouldn’t have to be adventurous, and so, I still ate very basic meals and snacked…a lot. Unfortunately, as I became a parent, my palate had not made many changes.

During my pregnancy, I took my diet very serious. I limited all sugary things. I didn’t have any caffeine the whole time. My crohns even took a vacation. Now, to say I watched what I ate would be pretty subjective. Compared to my per-pregnant ways of facing face first into a bag of Doritos, I was doing great. But, to compare my new foods to a truly healthy person, well, they would have laughed at my attempt. In the end, I did successfully have a healthy gorgeous baby boy.

I proudly made my son fresh organic baby food and he loved almost everything I served. That was a short-lived phase that went nicely into the processed food phase. Well, maybe era. He quickly realized that mommy and daddy ate differently. My husband will eat anything, and I won’t. My son picked up my habits and then improved upon them by finding new ways to limit his foods that I never even dreamed up. He gagged. Yep, he gagged anytime something was offered to him. This would include plastic pretend food. The goal of branching out began.

Whenever I asked my son to try something, to play fair, I’d try it as well. I’m not a very good actress, so when it was “gross”, it was really hard to talk him into trying it next. I found some foods weren’t so bad. However, I also found myself letting my son get away with being picky so I wouldn’t have to try it either. As a family, we ate the Standard American Diet, which really is sad. We knew it was bad for us but each meal can be justified. We are tired. Don’t have anything to make. Never enough time. Grabbing something is easier, faster and everyone can get what they want. We chowed through many bags of grease and constantly talked about how we were going to eat better soon. We filled our fridge full of foods that would spoil before getting used. We always had great intentions. I felt so much grief.

As a stay at home mom, dealing with a digestive disease, you’d think I’d have the time and inspiration to feed my family better than talking my husband into grabbing something on his way home. The guilt I had was compounding daily. Each food choice, I’d know was bad even as I handed it to my son, added another layer of guilt. Every time my guts rebelled, more guilt. Then my husband would go through phases that we didn’t follow. He’d be on some fad diet, usually restricting the heck out of everything, and eating foods I’d never dream of even trying. So, he’d be eating healthy and with guilt, my son and I would be eating junk.

Fast forward to now. We looked at what we had become and decided to make some changes. We have a son that loves music but would rather not play sports. My husband had worn out his excuse of having back surgery and was looking toward a new phase of going healthy, maybe. Me? Man, I’m always jumping into things only to drop it like a hot potato halfway through. You should see the half-finished ottoman I have in my bedroom.

Wish me luck.