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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Entries in Lyme Disease (10)

Friday
Apr192013

Snow! School! Cheese! Lyme Disease!

Hello! It's been awhile. I've been busy.

 

This is what is going on outside my bedroom window right now...

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That's right! An April blizzard. Whatever, Minnesota. I'm supposed to be on spring break, enjoying robins and tulips and bike rides and picnics. Alas, instead I am shivering away, enduring the sixth month of winter we Minnesotans have had this season. I hope the weather decides to warm up before I have to go back to school at the end of this month! I want to enjoy a few free days in the sun...

 

I just finished my second trimester of classes toward a Masters of Oriental Medicine. Two trimesters down, seven to go! Since September last year, my life has been a whirlwind of large books, flashcards, Chinese words, and remembering the ins and outs of pattern diagnoses like "turbid phlegm harassing the upper body" and "wind cold with pre-existing cold rheum". 

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I feel blessed for having the opportunity to be in school. The program is challenging and exciting, and everyday is an affirmation that I am on the right path. It's exciting to make connections between my own health experiences over the last five years with what I'm learning in class. I love thinking about the type of practitioner that I want to be and working toward that goal. When school starts again in a couple weeks we start our first classes in Chinese herbs and needling techniques, and get deeper into diagnostic practices and treatment strategy. Exciting!

In addition to absolutely loving it, I am proud to say I am rocking a 4.0. And not only that, I recently received a scholarship based on my academic achievement, leadership experience as president of our campus LGBTQ organization, and my volunteer work experience with a local clinic that supports transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. 

I've found it challenging to find the balance of school, work, volunteering, self-care, relationship, and friendship. It's been harder than I thought it would be, honestly. I figured it would come naturally to me, that I would easily slide into this new lifestyle pattern and still find the time to cook and take care of myself and have a healthy social life. Wrong! It's been hard. One of those things they never tell you when you decide to go back to grad school.

Culinary endeavors have taken a particularly large hit. My income as a student is drastically reduced compared to the past (I worked for Target's advertising department for eight years). While much of my former income was spent on medical expenses, I know I was also wasteful with money and was not always aware of the privelege that income afforded me. It's been a really good reality check, honestly. Living off loans and part-time work means I no longer have room in my budget to regularly buy large amounts of food and expensive specialty items for baking and cooking experiments. I'm having to take a much different approach to preparing and sharing food, and I think it will ultimately benefit my readers and my future clients. I mean, who wants to take advice from someone who makes suggestions that you can't afford to follow? Food accessibility is a huge issue, and this is especially true for individuals who need to follow specialized diets based on health conditions. I look forward to developing and sharing new recipes that are both nourishing and more affordable than recipes from my past. For example, I was looking at a past recipe and I saw that I used over 1 cup of maple syrup. I gasped, thinking I would never consider using that much maple syrup right now, because there is no way I could afford it. Like I said, REALITY CHECK! 

 

I also have exciting news to follow about my job. I am a proud cheesemaker for Punk Rawk Labs, a Minneapolis-based company that makes organic vegan cheeses from cashews and macadamia nuts. These cheeses are fermented, live, raw wheels of whole food goodness that you will LOVE. It is creamy and buttery, ranging from a texture similar to fresh chevre or brie (cashew cheese) to something more like ricotta (macadamia cheese). It is great with crackers, and can also be used in many ways in recipes. Working for Punk Rawk Labs probably ranks in my top three job experiences in terms of overall satisfaction. We workers are treated so well by the owners, and I feel awesome about making a product that I believe in. The cashews we use are so amazing, purchased from Equal Exchange from an organic cashew farm in El Salvador called Aprainores (here's a great blog post about the farm). These are the best cashews I have ever eaten, hands down, and are even more delicious because they are sourced responsibly!

One of the perks of the job is constant snacking. We often have small, extra wheels that aren't large enough for sale or wheels that aren't quite as pretty as they should be, and these wheels are perfect for employee snackies. Here's a photo of a particularly impressive snack spread from a couple of weeks ago. 

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I definitely recommend you look up the Punk Rawk Labs website and find a place in your neck of the woods that sells our product. You will love it! The cheese is pricy, but if you have the chance to splurge on a wheel I am sure you'll be satisfied. 

 

And, as a bit of eye candy...

Here's a photo of an amazing dessert I made for my dad's birthday back in February. Flourless chocolate torte with chili-pepper infused ganache, garnished with candied chili peppers. Yeah. 

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I have been cooking and baking as often as I can, but simply haven't had the time or desire to sit down and blog about it. My brain has been so full of school stuff! But truly, I am hoping to get some of these things blogged soon, cuz they are too good not to share. Nut-free granola, fudgy chocolate browneis, tasty bean dishes, curries, and on and on. My sweetie and I have been making the best gluten-free pancakes for months now. And I've been juicing up a storm and have some delicious juicing recipes that I think you'll love. 

Soon.

Soon.

 

Healthwise, I've been doing okay. The chronic Lyme Disease I've been fighting for what feels like an eternity went into remission last summer, and I felt amazing when I started school last fall. But, as chronic Lyme Disease often does, the infection became active once again and I relapsed. In January and February, my body started being ravaged by strange symptoms I was trying to deny. Dizzness, visual disturbances, swelling hands, severe body pain, brain fog, night sweats, insomnia, waking in the middle of the night, extreme mood swings, digestive issues, sudden rashes, the list goes on. After getting blood work done, which confirmed the presence of an active Lyme infection, I finally conceded and started treating again. I am working with my naturopath and physician once again, and have started taking antibiotics (Omnicef and Zithromax) in combination with botanical medicines (teasel root tincture, Nutramedix Samento, Enula, and Banderol, and Byron White A-Bab, A-Bart, and A-L Complex). My body is capable of handling really large amount of "killer" medicines at once, so I'm hitting it hard in the hope of killing it off and getting back into a remission state once again. Fingers crossed! I already feel a lot better after the last month of treatment, and have a lot of hope. 

Eventually, I hope to write more about my Lyme protocol over the years. It is something I talk a lot about in person with people, but haven't focused on as much as I hoped on the blog. 

 

Until next time, much love.

xo

Monday
Dec132010

Tips for Cooking when You're Chronically Ill

Big pots of whole grains are an easy-to-make staple for any healing kitchen.

Any of us with food allergies and intolerances already have a lot of work to do in the kitchen. But when you are also battling with any type of chronic illness, the challenge becomes even more intense. Combining a limited diet with feeling sick all the time makes it hard to get the motivation and energy to cook. I mean really, when you don’t feel well the last thing you want to do is cook, right?  

I have been fortunate that my Lyme symptoms have never made me totally unable to cook for myself. I have always been able to grocery shop and prepare my own meals.  And while I've always been able to do it, a few years ago when I was very sick it was completely exhausting. I was so brain foggy and fatigued that preparing a meal took forever, and left me feeling trained. I lived alone and was working a full time job, and it was a serious struggle.

During those times, I figured out some tips and tricks that helped me along the way - things that I still do today even though I'm feeling better. The trick is learning how to make the most of your time in the kitchen and get the most out of your meals.  Making big batches, eating whole foods, and getting help from friends are just a few ideas. Here are some of my favorite things I learned, and I hope they help you too.

Tips for Cooking when You're Chronically Ill 

Make big batches and freeze the leftovers. When you’re having a good day or when you have help from a friend, make big batches.  It is more work on the front end, but ultimately, it leaves you with less work.  You can eat off your big batch all week or freeze the leftovers for later.  Basics like cooked rice, quinoa, millet, or any kind of cooked beans can last for 5-7 days in the fridge if tightly sealed, and they can freeze very well for months.  Prepared foods like soups, lasagna (with brown rice lasagna noodles!), casseroles,  burgers and meatballs, and homemade breads and muffins freeze amazingly well. I use a FoodSaver to vacuum package all my foods for the freezer.  Then when I am super busy or having a bad day and can’t deal with being in the kitchen, I can just reach in the freezer and get something wholesome!

Get friendly with quick to prepare whole foods.

  • Split mung beans and lentils cook quick very quickly and don’t require pre-soaking.
  • Whole grains like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat cook in under 20 minutes. Make big pots of a couple different grains at the start of the week and eat off them all week in salads, soups, or just plain.
  • Winter squash are nutritious and so easy to bake, and you can eat off them for days. 
  • Sweet potatoes and regular potatoes can be baked whole in the oven or microwave, and stored in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Most vegetables can be eaten raw if you don’t want to deal with cooking them.  Make a meal of bean dip, raw vegetables, and miso soup.

Steam vegetables. Steamed vegetables take only minutes to prepare, are easy to digest, and can be eaten any time of day with any kind of other foods. You can steam vegetables on the stovetop with a steaming basket in a pot, or you can purchase electric vegetable steamer appliances if you don’t trust yourself (and your Lyme brain) with open flame.  My rice cooker even has a vegetable steaming tray that I sometimes use if I don’t feel like using the stovetop.

Make salads and get comfortable with eating raw.  The easiest food in the book.  Bag of pre-washed baby greens, some kind of protein (beans, meat, fish, nuts), and a handful of other vegetables, or a scoop of quinoa or millet.  Add some salad dressing or a little oil and vinegar, lemon juice, or  sprinkle of vitamin C crystals, and you’re done!  Under 5 minutes.  If your body tolerates raw vegetables well, learn to love eating raw veggies with your meals – less prep work, and good for you too!

Eat plenty of nutrient-dense foods. Don't skimp on the calories and fat. Make sure you eat enough during the day, eating eveyr few hours to keep your blood sugar stable and your metabolism going. Assuming that your body can digest fats well,  you should eat lots of healthy fats throughout the day.  Not only will it help the your brains nerve coatings, it will help your body tissues, and give you a sense of satisfaction.  Cook with coconut oil or ghee, and add olive oil, flax oil, pumpkin seed oil, and help oil to salads or over baked sweet potatoes.  Eat plenty of avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut milk, and high quality olives.  If you can, make bone broth, which is a good source of natural fat and nourishing gelatins. While you are healing, it is imperative that you keep your body well nourished, and eating quality fat can really help.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec092010

My Lyme Disease is not the IDSA Lyme Disease

fight lyme.

I am writing this post in response to an article the Chicago Tribune posted yesterday entitled "Lyme Disease: A Dubious Diagnosis", by Patricia Callahan and Trine Tsouderos. I recommend you read the article first, to understand the perspective from which I write this post.  I know this post is long, but I have a lot to say about this topic. I recommend reading part of it and then reading the rest later if you don't want to be overwhelmed. I just couldn't narrow it down anymore than I did. 

The Tribune's article, in my opinion, is biased, uninformed, and a blow to the Lyme Disease community and the reputation of decent journalism. A little information and a lot of ignorance is a dangerous combination, and results in reporting such as this that does more damage than it does good.  It undermines the real face of Lyme, and is a slap in the face all of us who have struggled to heal and overcome this disease.  Determined to share a real experience of the effect of Lyme, a group of Lyme Disease community bloggers and I are posting responses to this article. We want nothing more than for the medical and journalistic community to lift the veil of ignorance, confusion, and misinformation surround Lyme Disease.  

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Oct032010

Get Cultured: Dietary Sources of Probiotics

Updated from a post I originally wrote and published for  Lymenaide, February 6, 2010.

 

“Support bacteria – they’re the only culture some people have.”

-Steven Wright


See that jar of Kohlrabi Garlic Pickles up there? It's teaming with happy, healthy bacteria.

Bacteria gets a bad rap - bacteria is our friend. Sure, there are lots of bacteria out there that do everything from make food spoil to make body odor stink to make people very sick.  As someone with chronic Lyme Disease, I'm quite familiar (and unhappy) with the constant microbial battle going on inside my body with those nasty little buggers. For years, Borrelia bacteria has been compromising my immune system and screwing with my body.  My challenge since starting treatment has been to kick those bad bacteria out and replace them with the friendly bacteria that will make me healthier.

Our bodies rely on healthy bacteria to function properly - without it, we'd die. The flora (bacteria) in your gut effects everything.  Beneficial lactobactilli bacteria help your body deal with all the bad bacteria appropriately, stimulating the immune system to react.  Bacteria also help your body digest food and assimilate nutrients, and break down toxins.  If you are on antibiotics, it is clearing out ALL your bacteria, both good and bad, so it is important that you take steps to help restore good bacteria to your gut.  Otherwise yeast infections and Candida will take over, and your immune system and digestion will suffer.  

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Monday
Jul052010

Helpful Hints for Battling a Herxheimer Reaction - or - my adventures with Teasel

After reading the book Healing Lyme Disease Naturally, I was inspired to add teasel root tincture to my Lyme treatment protocol.  Teasel is a plant with powerful anti-Lyme properties, and is successful in killing the Borrelia bacteria. I spoke to my naturopath about it at my appointment a couple weeks ago, and we decided to go with it.  I started taking the teasel root tincture, slowly building up the dosage, and just waited to see what would happen.  My naturopath had warned me that people Herx badly on this stuff, and I'd read it on the book and online.    

About 36 hours later, it hit me: a got whalloped with a nasty Herx. 

I love it when my medicine comes with a handwritten label. There is so much power in this little bottle.

A Herx, more formally known as a Herxheimer reaction, is when there is a massive die-off of bacteria and your body is suddenly overrun by toxins. Your system freaks out, because you are filling up with toxins faster than your body can purge them. Your liver gets overworked, your symptoms flare up, and you basically feel like you have a super flu times 80 million. In short, it sucks, and you never know how long it is going to last. Eventually, things even out, and then you come out the other side feeling better. But the journey stinks, and it is easy to think about quitting.  This is why so many Lyme patients never make it through treatment - it is sometimes rather intolerable.

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