Start with what you can eat . . .

Special diets can be maddening, time consuming, expensive and an all-around bite in the shorts (if you know what I mean)!  Instead of stressing, I apply a few basic food prep principles, start with what I can eat, and whip something up from there.  After a few weird entrees and sauces, things will start to taste more palatable and even kind of good as you gain confidence.  Who needs recipes anyways?

My husband went shopping at a big box store this evening for basic groceries including grated cheese, fruit, a few veggies, and the only meat I’ll buy there for a rare convenience:  canned chicken.  Since I haven’t been able to shop very much lately, preparing dinner tonight required some very special creativity!  Gratefully there were onions and cabbage from our garden in the frig, a loaf of multi-grain bread in the freezer for hubby, some sliced almonds in the pantry and a few other staples here or there.  Now to make a gluten/dairy/sugar free meal plus a full flavor meal for the two of us . . .

His and Hers Salads began with Canned Chicken!
His and Hers Salads began with Canned Chicken!

Not bad, eh?  Gratefully it was yummy!   The base started with spring greens in both bowls with oven toasted almonds (sprayed with grapeseed oil, sprinked with celtic salt and roasted about 7 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees, stirred once halfway through the baking time).  The chopped chicken salad-and-vegetable mix included all the veggies we now had in the house:  cucumber, cabbage, radishes, onion, and the canned chicken.

For Him:  I garnished the ceramic bowl and base of salad greens with sliced pears and grated cheese.  I made a 1/3 batch of homemade mayonnaise in the Vita-Mix using sunflower and olive oils instead of GMO-laden canola oil listed in the recipe.  (Yes, here’s the one exception:  ya gotta follow a recipe exactly from the Vita-Mix manual for mayo to turn out right!)  I mixed the mayo with half of the canned chicken-and-vegetable mix and dolloped it over the cheese and spring greens.  He got a topping of toasted almonds with a little extra dressing on the side, just in case.

Basic Parmesan breads:  I thawed and sliced a loaf of multi-grain bread about 3/4 inches (2 cm) thick and placed them on a cookie sheet lined with foil and brushed with melted butter.  I brushed the tops of the bread liberally with butter then sprinkled on some parmesan cheese.  (For garlic butter, sprinkle some garlic powder or chopped garlic into the cup before microwaving the butter, about 23 seconds.)  Broil on low for about 6 minutes checking it often near the 6 minute mark.  I find that the low setting allows the pan to heat up and toast the underside in addition to both melting and browning the cheese on top.

For Her:  I garnished the ceramic bowl of spring greens with a non-cheese alternative (e.g. Goya shredded mozzarella).  Next I made a dressing with almond butter, unsweetened. coconut milk, Mrs. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and a pinch of celtic sea salt.  This requires some minimal adjustments for taste and consistency.  Then I placed the other half of the plain chopped chicken salad-and-vegetable mix on top of the remaining bowl of spring greens and poured the almond coconut dressing of it, mixing it into chopped salad slightly to coat it.  I finished it off with a topping of toasted almonds as well.

Sure, this meal took a little extra time to prepare and it was worth it.  To make it even more worthwhile, during the assembly phase of this meal and next to the ceramic salad bowls were two large plastic containers that are not pictured above.  I made duplicate salads with every ingredient listed above except the sliced pears (since they would turn brown by lunchtime tomorrow).  So we not only had a yummy dinner tonight but will look forward to a “repeat performance” for lunch tomorrow!  I usually make dinner this way:  setting out the storage containers for lunch and serving them up right alongside the dinner plates to save time the next day.  Cool beans.

That’s it!  And it’s not all bad following a protein-oil-vegetable diet, with a tiny bit of optional, extra carbs from the cheese substitute, when it tastes good too.  ‘Twas tough avoiding the cheesy breads I must confess . . .   ;J

Potato Chips Made Me Better

Did you know that Detroiters eat an average of 7 lbs. of chips per year, as opposed to 4 lbs. in the rest of the country?  If it’s true, it must be due to the Better Made

Better Made Potato Chips
Better Made Potato Chips

snack company that has dominated the potato chip market in Michigan since it began in 1930.  As for me, I can say that these chips made me happy as a kid growing up in the Detroit area.  When I would walk into my grandparents’ home in the country on Lake Columbia, my eyes would quickly scan the top of the refrigerator.  I knew it was going to be a good visit if there was a family sized bag of Better Made potato chips up there!  The same was true at home, especially if there were any left after my dad had already snarfed his evening share of chips with a bowl of chocolate ice cream.  Yes, it’s genetic.   My family loved potato chips!  (I recommend the folded, slightly browned ones with the extra trapped salt and crunch!)

Flash forward a few decades and even today, a chip has the power to make me happy!  Of course I can’t justify the simple carbs and canola oil combination of Better Made potato chips on my special diet so I had to find a replacement.  Let’s see, if there was a crunchy treat that had relatively low salt, 4 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, no sugar, 14 grams of carbohydrate, and all non-GMO ingredients, would you go for it?  Well I checked them out and found my new favorite:  Beanitos are better and made for me!  The pinto bean and black bean varieties have clean ingredients and no guilt . . . unless you eat more than, say 12 chips!  Better buy a couple of bags or there might not be any left on top of your refrigerator tomorrow!  Or maybe they need to manufacture a Family Size Beanitos too?

Well that’s all fine and dandy but what does it have to do with finding hope while recovering from Lyme Disease?  In my life, having a treat, an escape, is an essential part of coping with the trials and suffering of this crazy illness.  The ingredients in Beanitos barely count as cheating on my protein-oil-vegetable diet!  I thank the Lord for the little things:  round crispy, slightly salty, and satisfying too!

Long before I would crash and burn this evening, paralyzed by seizure attacks with difficulty speaking, moving, and even feeding myself a sip of water, I imbibed in munching on a few chips.  I am grateful for such a simple pleasure as this to take my mind off of the nightly terrors that have been anything but pleasant these past few weeks.  When the health food section of our local grocery store remained sold out of my fav bean chips, I planned to head straight for the health food store as soon as I was well enough to drive.  My delight came today.  Yippeee!  Both flavors were in stock and “jumped” into my shopping basket as I walked by!  Those happy feelings were to fill my tummy once again.

God’s Word teaches us:

14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[f] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4

Yes.  Once again my Prince of Peace met me today in my time of need.  This day and always He satisfies my soul that cries out for His mercy when I am in times of crisis — and when I need a little treat as well.  Sometimes the little things mean a lot.  As for me and my refrigerator, we will keep a steady supply of crunchy treats within reach a while longer.  As for me and my house, under the spiritual leadership of my husband and best friend, we will serve and wait on the Lord.  In all things I am truly blessed.

Too Pooped to Punt? Try Another Way!

When the ravages of illness keeps me from working out, I hunt for alternatives to get my heart-a-pumping!  I recognize that even when we are sick we must keep our bodies moving for the benefits of exercise we all know and to prevent further complications, such as blood clots from inactivity.  This is a constant battle for me these days.  How about you?

In times like these I am hoping that even walking the dog to the mailbox and back counts as physical exercise!  Well, almost.  Exercise at the moment sure takes on a different form, gets performed at different times, and gets done with different strategies fer shure!  For example, twice this past week I got on our elliptical trainer for 10-15 minutes at 2 in the morning!  It actually helped me to relax before bedtime and took the noxious symptoms down a notch that can be worse if I am stressed in any way.  I am very grateful to have an elliptical trainer in my living room just for this purpose!

When I am able to do exercise with a little more intensity, I turn to my garden chores.  Digging in the dirt burns tons of calories but more importantly, it becomes resistive exercise for my lower torso and “lifting” for my upper body as well.  O.k. so I’m not recruiting all of the muscle fibers within the limited range of motion of scooping-and-throwing.  I’m hoping that the diagonal axis of movement actually counts more than the up and down motion of most curls, presses, lunges, and squats?  It’s more like a hybrid exercise that combines the core muscles, upper and lower extremities at the same time, right?

A gal has gotta do what she has gotta do for a time such as this.  That goes for you guys too.  If I have just enough energy on a Monday to lift some weights or re-dig a border around our pine tree, the pine tree is going to see me first!  I just make sure that I use the best body mechanics I can muster during the job, like lifting with my legs, keeping the load close to my body, and so on.  After all, I still am an occupational therapist deep down inside you know and this is the stuff I’ve been teaching patients for years.  The stuff applies to me too and preventing injury is important now when I am more deconditioned than conditioned!

And when that extra measure of energy-grace appears, I do not need a reminder to get out the foam roll, 3-10 pound weights, theraband, weighted bar, or therapy ball.  I still crave exercise!  Gratefully I am able to place these exercise tools within reach in our living room for a quick few reps at, well, 2 in the morning!  As long as it’s a shorter workout, those few reps still won’t keep me from going to sleep.  By the way, like most folks battling Lyme Disease, it’s common to be nocturnal.  The noxious symptoms are the lowest in the middle of the night so that ‘s the time I use to make jewelry for Trinity Jewelry by Design or get my office stuff done too.

I look forward to the time when I can have both a traditional schedule and a traditional work out routine.  Just before my time of illness began on October 11, 2011, I was completing the Metabolic Effects (ME) workout DVD a few days per week, kayaking with my hubby, and our local recreational group and either going for long walks or riding my awesome, custom fitted hybrid, cross bike every week.  I was at the highest level of strength, of fitness of my life at middle age.  Wow.  As I posted in a previous blog about returning to my prior level of fitness, I am Counting on Muscle Memory!  Lord willing, I’ll get back there.  Lord willing, I may even exceed my former level of fitness.  And this is entirely possible if I have less chronic pain in the future.  Wow.   This hope actually keeps me going during the trials of “bothering” to recover from Lyme Disease and Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome.  Someday I very likely could be older, wiser, and better than ever.  Cool beans.

I am grateful to my step daughter-in-law, Kate Horney, for introducing me to a way of working out and of eating that has kept me from gaining weight during this time of illness.  She probably didn’t know that I was tracking her work on  Facebook, long before her successful fitness business.  More on that in a moment.  And when I would need to eliminate all forms of sugar in my diet due to Lyme Disease, because of my familiarity with what the ME folks call the fat-loss diet, the transition went smoothly.  Again cool legumes, not beans!

While I had followed a “protein-fat-vegetable diet” many years ago to eradicate a candida infection, the process in the past was very difficult.  I lost a lot of weight very quickly and was weak/shaky/miserable.  Using the ME approach to exercise more recently actually helped control my cravings for carbohydrates because of the hormone-balancing effect of resistive exercise.  This helped when I was exercising more two years ago and it helps now as well because I did not have to go through a rough transition again when eliminating simple carbs from my diet; they were already gone!  I was also already gluten free as well.  To be sugar and gluten-free are both are very helpful in battling Lyme Disease.  The spirochete bacteria of primary Lyme seems to feed off of simple sugars; gluten-laden foods makes everything worse as it can increase inflammation in sensitive individuals.   Wow again.  It’s like the Lord was preparing me for victory two years ago!

For more information on Kate’s work I invite you to check out her website at:  Beyond FitPhysiques.   While her latest book is titled for new moms, I found that it contains incredible weight and fitness strategies that can help all of us ladies who have bodies in transition, hormones adjusting to illness or post-partum changes, and who need a boost to get back on track.  Check out 101 Tips for Post-Natal Fitness and the Metabolic Effects Diet books by using the links under the NEW HOPE FITNESS RESOUCES in the right hand column of this blog.

Just writing this has energized me to do more than I thought I could do earlier today.  Gee Kate, I hope washing the hardwood floors counts too?!  :J

Extreme Diet Survival: Snacks

So if you are gluten free, low egg and grains, dairy free, sugar/fruit free, and feeling deprived, what the heck do you eat for a snack?

Funny you should ask.  Just had the second one on the list.

Here’s my top 10 list:

  1. Roasted nuts.  Raw nuts can run the risk of mold so I get nuts either dry roasted or roasted in healthier oils.  No cottonseed or canola oils please!
  2. Slather 2 leaves of romaine lettuce with nut butter or coconut oil and wrap them around a slice of low impact, cooked meat.  Meat examples:  Boar’s Head Oven Roasted Turkey Breast, cooked fish/chicken/beef, and last night’s leftovers (aka meatloaf slice!).
  3. Celery slathered with nut butter or coconut oil.  Optional:  dip in sesame/pumpkin/sunflower seeds or chopped nuts.
  4. Beanitos pinto bean or black bean chips.  The protein and fiber grams are close to the carb grams for lower glycemic and candida impact.
  5. Small salad.  Be sure to add some meat and a dressing with a healthy oil (organic, non-GMO when possible).
  6. Last night’s leftovers!
  7. A cup of my Protein Pudding.  See Extreme Diet Recipes in the Category at the right.
  8. Cup of unsweetened vanilla or original almond milk with hemp (or other acceptable) protein powder, an ice cube, and a flavoring mixed in a shaker bottle (e.g. stevia, instant organic coffee crystals, cocoa, cinnamon)
  9. Nut butter on your finger!  Chunk of avocado!  Coconut oil and a flavoring mixed in a tablespoon!  Or mix the first and third with protein powder and use it as a dip for veggie sticks
  10. Drink a big glass of snobby filtered or gourmet bottled water.  You might not actually be hungry at all just thirsty . . .

Have any good suggestions of your own?  Feel free to let me know.  Please limit snack ideas to those that are grain, sugar, fruit, gluten, and dairy free or you’ll bum me out, man!   I can’t eat that stuff right now.  :J

Extreme Diet Survival: One Pan Meals

Here’s another quick, satisfying main dish that meets the criteria of gluten-free, dairy-free, completely sugar-free,  and no simple carbs for those requiring an Extreme Diet.

One Pan Meal

High heat cooking oil:  Avocado, coconut, grapeseed.  Use olive oil if you can have it.

1/8 c. chopped onions ( I use red onions that I keep in a freezer bag in the freezer and pull out what I need.)

1/2 to 1 bag of pre-chopped coleslaw mix from the grocery store.

8+ oz. pre-cooked meat (canned chicken or tuna works in a pinch).

Celtic or sea salt and white pepper to taste.

1/2 C. Low Salt Organic Chicken Stock

Mild herbs such as marjoram or whatever you like.

Chopped nuts for added protein, topping and crunch.

Optional:  about 1/2 t. chili powder or 3 T. Mrs. Braggs Liquid Aminos (omit salt).

Big bowl and fork!

Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with a few tablespoons of really good oil and heat slightly:

Add onions and begin to sauté for about a minute (less if you like your onions more potent).

Add coleslaw and continue to sauté.  Add chicken stock and cook until slightly soft.  This makes it easier to digest.  Less cooking time preserves the enzymes.

Toss in the cooked meat, herbs, seasonings to warm them and combine flavors.

Transfer to a big bowl and enjoy garnished with chopped nuts.

Note:  if this is too much, share with a friend or keep for later.  It does get soggy after a few hours so add more nuts for crunch!

Want more stuff?  Check out the “Pages” Section in the right hand column and the link entitled:  Extreme Diet Survival Strategies for general tips and menu ideas.  :J