Monday, January 28, 2013

Resting and recouping

After 3 weeks of being sick and running a fever most of the weekend, I finally dragged myself to the doctor's office at the suggestion of my family and friends.  The receptionist checking me in handed me a beautiful blue mask and I sat in the waiting room with people looking at me like I had leprosy.  The medical assistant calls my name and upon seeing the blue paper mask, instantly puts one on herself and a pair of latex gloves.  Great, not only do they think that I have leprosy, but they think that I probably have the plague too. 

 I mean what's next?  Are they going to try to throw me on the dead cart going down the street like in Spamalot?  I'm not dead yet.  I feel like it, but I'm far from it.  

Have you seen Spamalot?  It's hysterical, and my husband who says he hates theater and musicals, loved it and has seen it twice!  

After the medical assistant took my temperature (100.2*), tried to squeeze off my arm with a blood pressure cuff, and asked a million questions about if I smoke (no), if I'm pregnant (no), or if I'm in an unsafe home environment (no), I finally got to see the doctor.  

I really like my doctor.  I'm so glad I finally found someone I like at Kaiser, it's pretty difficult.  After talking with her for a few minutes and her listing to me (try to) breath through my crackling lungs, and checking my ears, and tonsils, I got the diagnosis I'd been fearing...pneumonia.  Ugh!  I don't have time to be this sick.  I got sent home with a get well present consisting of a z-pak and some stronger cough syrup and ordered to spend the next two days at home in bed.  If I'm starting to get better by Wednesday morning, I can go back to work, and gradually get back to normal life.  If I'm feeling the same or worse by Wednesday, I get to go back to the doctor for a chest x-ray, and a bunch more exciting get well activities.  

I came home and made a quick chicken soup with leftover rotisserie chicken and a few handfuls of whatever veggies I could find in the fridge.  I spent much of the day napping in bed.  When I got bored with that, I napped on the couch.  I made myself some fresh juice with a big hunk of ginger in it. I've sipped on hot lemon honey water all day.  I've been trying not to hack up a lung or break a rib from all the coughing.

Tonight, I'm not feeling any better, but am hoping that I will be able to get a good night's sleep, as long as this cough can get under control.  Hopefully tomorrow, I will start to feel better and can get back to normal life soon.  I miss cooking and going to the gym.  I miss feeling human and caring.  Today, I almost wore sweat pants out of the house and didn't even feel like brushing the knots out of my hair.  Thankfully, the shame about not wanting to look like a People of Walmart picture brought me back to my senses and I went out of the house with real clothes, a washed face, and brushed hair.  I'm just so tired of being sick.  It's exhausting, physically and emotionally.  I want to cry my eyes out, but if I do, I will end up n an asthmatic coughing fit and will cough myself into a migraine, so I just sit and feel sorry for myself and snuggle with my girls.

I hope to back writing and cooking soon.  I miss hanging out here.    

Have you managed to stay healthy so far this year? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Chicken lettuce wraps

I love my crockpot.  I really do.  I have two full size crockpots, a mini crockpot for dips, and now I have a small lunch crockpot for my desk.  I love the fix it and forget it method of cooking.  I love that I can put something in when I leave for work and when I get home, it's ready to eat. 

(Except the other night.  My work day plus commute is fairly long and a tomato sauce based recipe that cooks 
for 6-8 hours on low ended up burnt and inedible and my house uninhabitable after an 11+ hour day...)

When I discovered the website Crockpot 365 , I was really excited to find many new recipes so I could expand the use of my crockpot.   Even better that all of the recipes are gluten free! 

The hardest part of eating gluten free is no more Chinese food, so I was very excited that she put up a few make your own takeout recipes.  And even better yet, they were all for the crockpot.  It's practically exactly like takeout, but waaaaaaay cheaper and healthier. 

I know many people (especially me) look at their favorite over or stove top recipes and try to figure out some way to make it a crockpot recipe.  But for ones, I was looking at a crockpot recipe and wondering if I could make it a stove top recipe.  I was desperately craving lettuce wraps, and wanted them NOW (along with a golden goose) and I didn't want to drive the hour to the closes PF Changs and didn't want to wait the 4+ hours it would take for them to cook in the crockpot.  So I looked at the ingredient list and cooked the old fashioned way, slaving over a hot stove. 

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1lb of ground chicken
1/2 onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 can of water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/4 cup gluten free soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4 cup white wine
2 tbl balsamic vinegar
Fresh ground black pepper
1 bunch of green onions, sliced thin
1 head of butter lettuce

Brown chicken in a large deep skillet.   While cooking, break chicken into small pieces.  I love to use my PC hamburger chopper for these kinds of jobs.  When the chicken is almost done, and sufficiently broken up into small bits, add the diced onion and cook for about 3-5 minutes until the onion is soft.  Add the garlic, ginger, and water chestnuts and cook for about a minute.  Add soy sauce, wine, and vinegar.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is reduced by about half.  Season with pepper to taste.   Spoon a bit of the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf.  Sprinkle with green onions.  Serve while chicken is warm.  Makes a great appetizer or light dinner!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Superstitions, Folk Remedies, and Other Cures for Colds and Flus

Wintertime sickness is still lingering in our household.  It started right after Christmas and the coughs, sniffles, and tiredness are still hanging on.  I haven't been at work for a week, and I'm almost starting to miss it....but just a teeny tiny bit...

Ever since I was little, every time I got a wintertime cold, the cough seems to hang on for weeks....even months.  I remember missing a couple months of school when I was about 7 due to bronchitis, and got sick every winter and usually on every family vacation.  Although I do have a history of bronchitis and asthma as a child, it's virtually nonexistent since I've become an adult.  But every bad cold I get seems to reignite the past lung problems and I wind up with a cough that could be mistaken for an 80 year old lifelong chain smoker.

Since I've started eating a much cleaner, organic diet, and even more since going gluten free and working on my food allergies and other health issues, I've slowly been getting healthier.  I don't get every single cold that goes around, but this one managed to hit me hard and fast.  

I tried so many different things when I first started feeling like I was getting sick...vitamin c, zinc, juicing, washing my hands, anti-bacterial sanitizers, raw honey, staying at home, not eating out, eating warm foods like soups and bone broth, lots of garlic, lemon juice and coconut oil....anything I could think of to try to keep my immune system up.  But too many long, cold nights....too much indulging in foods I shouldn't....and I got sick.  

For the past week I have rotated my time between the couch and my bed.  Sleeping on and off all day and night.  Trying different folk remedies.  Eventually giving up on strictly the natural approach and living off Nyquil and way too much Netflix as well. Trying to keep the cravings for junk food away.  

(Does anyone else crave disgusting, crappy food when they are sick?  Or is that just me?)

My gym has a eucalyptus oil steam room.  I did manage to make it there on Sunday morning when the gym was empty and let my body try to sweat out the sickness.  I was very concerned that I would cough up a lung while I was in there...and the fact that I can't bring kleenex in there was of great concern.  But I brought a ton of water and a couple small hand towels for any sort of coughing catastrophe that could happen.  I did feel much better after doing that, but was extremely tired and slept most of the day afterwards.  

My sister said that one of her go-to-cure-all remedies is a hot toddy.  On Saturday evening while we were watching the 49ers game, I decided to give it a try.  I searched online and found many different variations, and decided to create my own version. I drank two of them and slept very well that night and woke up not feeling like I had been hit by a fleet of semi-trucks.  So did it cure me?  Who knows.  But I did feel better the next day, so I'm going to add it to my arsenal of natural cold remedies.   

Honey Lemon Hot Toddy

1/2 of one organic lemon
2 shots of Honey Whiskey 
Boiling water
Spoonful of raw, local honey

In a large mug, add juice of a half of a lemon.  Cut the juiced lemon half into 4 pieces (discard seeds) and add to the mug.  Add 2 shots of honey whiskey.  Fill the mug with boiling water.  Stir in a spoonful of honey.  Drink while still very hot, but don't burn yourself.  Drink entire mug before it cools down. 

***Be sure not to mix this with any cold medicines....always read the warning labels about mixing alcohol and medication.****

What do you do to stay healthy during cold and flu season?  Are you strictly a vitamin and chicken soup person?  Nyquil and trashy daytime TV?  Or a mixture of the two?  What are your favorite cold remedies?  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Before I started on my journey for a healthier diet, I used to think sweet potatoes were reserved for Thanksgiving dinner and were only to be eaten with scorched marshmallows on top.  I never cared for them because they were too disgustingly sweet.  I think there was more sugar in the dish than actual sweet potatoes.  

As I began to learn more about cooking, especially after beginning my food allergy journey, I began to realize that there was a beautiful world of sweet potatoes out there beyond the marshmallows.  

Baked Sweet potatoes with butter and maple syrup.  

Sweet potato fries. 

Sweet potato tots.

Sweet Potato hash. 

Roasted Sweet potatoes.  

Now that I've found that I need to limit my consumption of potatoes (and all nightshades), sweet potatoes (not nightshades) are my new favorite menu items.  

Lately, I love preparing them roasted.  Theres something about roasted veggies that just a staple of winter-time meals.  Plus, turning on the oven also gives the house an extra boost of heat to the chilly house. 

This recipe is great served any time of day. For breakfast with a side of bacon and topped with a fried egg.  For lunch topping a salad with a leftover chicken apple sausage.  For dinner as a side to roasted chicken.  Mmmmmm! 

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes
1 tart apple (I like pink lady or Arkansas Black)
1tbl coconut oil melted
Salt, pepper, and cinnamon
2 tbl maple syrup

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into small cubes.  Core apple, peel if desired, and cut into cubes.  Melt coconut oil and toss with sweet potatoes and apples.  Season with salt, pepper, and cinnamon to taste.  Spread onto a cookie sheet in a single layer.  Roast at 400* for 25-30 minutes until soft and slightly browned (or desired level of done-ness).  Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year, New Focus

I'm not the kind of person that makes New Year's resolutions.  Just because it's a new year, doesn't mean things are suddenly different and magical and you will suddenly have the willpower to change that flaw in your life.  Nor do I think that you have to wait until a certain date to begin a plan to better yourself.  You can start a plan just as easily on January 1 as on March 19 or August 22 or even November 5.  

While we were out Christmas shopping, I had mentioned to my sister how exhausted I was from all the stuff I had been doing lately.  Not things for myself, but things for other people.  She reminded me of something that I know, but keep ignoring. 

If you don't take care of yourself, 
how can you take care of those around you? 

Who knew that my baby sister could be so wise? 

Growing up, it was always stressed to me that in order to be happy, you needed to live a life where you put others needs above your own needs.  While I do believe that you do need to live a life that is not self-centered, unfortunately for me, I have let it go to the extreme and truly put my needs dead last.  I exhaust myself doing for others that I don't take care of myself and have let my life, my health, and my happiness wants and desires be put on hold for the benefit of others.  

I'm burnt out.   

I joke that I wish I was a rich celebrity so I could go stay at the spa for 30 days and get treated for exhaustion, but I'm almost at the point where that wish is slowly becoming a necessity.

Today, I am home sick with what feels like the head cold of death.  Everyone around me has it.  I didn't give myself permission to get it until after my sister's birthday party.  I took tons of vitamins and drank tea and stayed away from the general population and their diseases.  Her party was Saturday night.  By Sunday night, it finally caught up with me and I was done.

Instead of just laying in bed feeling crummy, I got up and got some bone broth started on the stove. I'm wrapped up in layers of warm clothing, resting with my dogs, drinking tons of fluids, taking cold medicine, and trying to not be mad that I'm sick. I'm going to take care of me, because my mom isn't here to do it for me. 

(Am I the only person who wants their mommy to take care of them when they are sick?  I suddenly feel 5 again and want comfort food, vics, and fresh sheets...)

Maybe this is just my body's way of saying enough.

I have noticed that over the past year, my immune system has dramatically improved.  I spent months eating very healthy, working on healing my gut and my food allergies, and my body in general.  I used to catch every single bug that went around, and have slowly been building up my system.  

But the past several weeks of overdoing it, not to mention the past couple weeks of holiday indulgences, have compromised it.    

I need to take care of myself.  If I don't, how can I take care of my husband, my dogs, my family, my friends and the rest of the world? 

As much as I hate resolutions, this year I resolve.... 

To become selfish.  

To learn to say no.  

To put my health and my needs first.  

To spend more time exercising and being active. 

To not stay complacent in my life and to constantly look for ways to challenge and better myself.  

To work on finishing my degree and reaching my goal of higher educations.  

To use the tools I've been given to heal my body and manage my food allergies and the other health challenges associated with that.  

To become a better me, so I can better take care of everyone else around me.