This past year has been one full of revelations for me.
My health took a turn for the worse, thanks to an unseen tick bite, causing me to be out of work for six months. I was forced to seek answers from both the medical and naturopathic communities. I found more help in the natural solutions than in the man-made chemical ones. It was not a very easy road to go down, but one that continues to surprise me and show me that Mother Nature really should be consulted more often!
Easter Sunday, with all its culinary delights, came at me full force this past Sunday. One of the major issues with my Lyme is my compromised diet. I decided to not worry about possible pain and stinging that I would undoubtedly feel after eating dinner, and just eat small amounts of the foods that I haven’t been able to eat for the past 15 months.
Surprise! Surprise! It was revealed unto me that I could eat with no pain!
I ate stuffed shells—with both cheese and meat. No stinging! (The cheese bothered my stomach a bit, but I was thankful that was all that bothered me.)
I ate some green beans—no stinging!
I ate some mashed potatoes—no stinging!
I ate porketta and ham with horseradish—no stinging!
And then…I tried….dessert.
I ate a sliver of chocolate cream pie with homemade whipped cream, two anginettes, and two of my own biscotti. Hey, if I was going to cheat, and if anything would bother me, I’d rather it be the dessert!
I was so thankful that none of this bothered my system. None.of.it.
I did notice that my knees and elbows had pain later on that night…like really late, like 2 am late…but wow! Oh Wow! If that was all I was feeling, was I ever thankful!!
That’s not to say that I’m going to start eating all carb-laden foods again. I clearly still have the Lyme bugs in my system, but the fact that I could eat so many different foods without that nasty stinging side effect within a half hour of eating really made me thankful.
Here is my own recipe I created for the Kale Supreme dish I am bringing to a family gathering tomorrow.
You can adjust the ingredients to whatever veggies and meats you like, just be sure you have enough meat to balance the veggies. Since I am limited in what foods I can eat, I use at least 2 meats when I make this dish. For this event, I chose to add bacon as well…who doesn’t love bacon? It gives the dish enough salt and complements the sweetness of the roasted brussel sprouts.
Olive oil (in a pourable hand-held container…you will be using a lot of olive oil!)
Garlic- 2-3 cloves, cut up
Kale -1 bunch, stems removed and leaves chopped up (you can put it in a processor or cut the leaves with scissors)
Brussel sprouts 1-2 containers, depending on your own taste (I used 2 here) cut in half pieces
1 lb bacon cut up into bite size pieces
1 lb chicken cut up into bite size pieces
1 lb sausage either removed from casings or cut up into bite size pieces
Any other veggies you like: red peppers, broccoli, or asparagus cut up would be good in this
Pre-heat oven to 375 or 400, whichever you prefer.
Mix chicken, sausage and bacon in separate bowls w/ olive oil. Place each meat separately in baking pans and cook until done. I line my pans with foil just to make clean up easier. Put some olive oil in the pans as well to discourage sticking.
Put kale into a bowl while meat is cooking. Mix with more olive oil to coat the leaves. Add salt if you like.
Cook garlic in olive oil large pan (like what you use to make a large pot of homemade sauce in) and add kale once the garlic is almost browned. Add a little more olive oil if the pan is dry. You can put all of the kale into the pan, (it will fill to the top of the pan!) putting the stove on a medium flame or temp. It will cook down to cover the bottom of the pan in about 7 minutes or so. Stir the kale from time to time and continue to add olive oil as it cooks so that it doesn’t stick to bottom of the pan.
Once the kale is done, add the meats to the pan just to mix it all together.
After you halve the brussel sprouts, put them in a bowl and again, toss them with olive oil. Put some more olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish and put the flat sides of the sprouts on the bottom of the pans. You will need to let the brussel sprouts roast for about an hour at 375. If you want them darker, just roast them longer!
Once the sprouts are golden brown, put the kale and meat mixture into a pretty serving dish. In the picture above, I used a lasagna dish. But any rectangular or other heat-resistant dish will do. Add the brussel sprouts on top. Try not to steal a few to munch on!
Cover with foil or a top and keep in the fridge until you are ready to heat it up and eat!
I suggest taking the dish of the fridge and letting it get room temperature before heating just to hasten the heating time if you are serving the whole dish.
A few notes:
This makes about 3 or 4 individual meals for myself. It keeps very well in the fridge for a few days. And when I want to heat it up, I just put the portion I want in a sauce pan with some olive oil to keep it from sticking to the bottom.
Another variation would be to make the kale and cook some shrimp with lemon and olive oil and bacon as the meat addition. I would cook the shrimp on the stove and bake the bacon in the oven as directed above, since shrimp cooks very quickly and you don’t want to to over cook it. I can’t handle the shellfish, but I am sure that would be yummy! Salmon or cod might work well, too. You just want to be sure you have enough of the fish to enjoy with the kale. And the fish may not last as long in the fridge, so you want to be sure to eat it before the fish gets too fishy!
Do you feel like a tourist, making many stops along the way, but not getting anywhere?
Read on to learn how to have a successful Lyme adventure!
Foods To Help You Heal
Each person’s Lyme adventure is different, since Lyme affects body chemistry differently. HOWEVER, one constant with Lyme is that it LOVES SUGAR! Who doesn’t, right?So, your number one job is to eliminate as much sugar from your diet as you can. The sooner you do this, the better for your body and cells to heal!
Below are some foods that may help you feel better and will help your cells to rejuvenate:
Organic proteins like chicken, pork, and turkey (5 oz or more per large meal to help maintain energy levels)
Organic liver and organ meats
Leafy greens like kale and spinach
Green Tea (brewed at home, not purchased with artificial sweeteners)
Green vegetables like cucumbers, asparagus, and broccoli
FOODS THAT MAY EXACERBATE SYMPTOMS:
Carbohydrates (bread, crackers, desserts, cereal)
Fruits (Lemon is a fruit! Be careful adding this to your water to detox–it may not help you feel better!)
Nightshade vegetables: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers
Nuts and seeds (and their “cousins”, like nut flours)
Eggs (organic eggs may also cause a problem, so watch how you react after consuming)
Artificial sweeteners like those found in Gatorade, Vitamin Water and Seltzers
An important note about Gluten:
Many people are advised to eat ‘gluten-free’ when they are diagnosed with Lyme. But I caution you. Instead, become a label reader and compare the carbohydrates in gluten-free products like bread, chips, and crackers to wheat made ones. What do you notice? Exactly. They are pretty much the same in terms of carbohydrate content. So skip the gluten-free processed products because it will only make the Lyme bugs happy to have sugar in your system, and your inflammation worse.
What’s Your Pain Index Today?
Each day is a new adventure in pain! Realize that your pain levels can be directly linked to the food you eat, so document what you eat and drink each day. Document how you feel on a 1 -10 pain scale. After a few days, you should start to see patterns emerge as to what foods your body likes or doesn’t like.
Make sure the supplements you are taking are ‘whole food’ supplements and not synthetically made ones. Your body needs all the whole food it can get, and if you are adding toxic chemicals to your already compromised system, you can be wasting valuable healing time.
A tip about taking all those supplements: Use a Sharpie to label the bottle cap with the number of pills and how many times you need to take it each day. It will make refilling your weekly pill-box that much easier!
Fluids are Good!
Be sure to keep all those whole food supplements flowing through your body. Get yourself a 20 oz container to refill throughout the day. You should be drinking up to 90 oz or more a day! It seems like a lot, but if you keep that water bottle with you, you will find that you can easily drink between 32-40 oz per meal….that gets you very close to or even over 100 oz just on meals alone! Drinking in between meals only adds to your daily totals. So get yourself some 20 oz refillable bottles and starting drinking!
The Lyme Bible
Having Lyme is truly an adventure! Below are the steps to help you create your own Lyme Bible that grows along with you as you trek along the winding roads of Lyme disease.
Get yourself a 3 inch binder in the color of your choice—green perhaps?
Put in pocket sleeves, at least 6 to start. Different colors for each practitioner can help you stay organized.
Put a post-it note on the front of each pocket with the name, address, phone number and fax number of the doctor or practitioner.
Each time you go to a doctor, take a notebook and write down all pertinent information. Date and label the page and be sure to note the follow-up appointment in your notes as well. Add your notes to the corresponding pocket at home. (You may want to invest in a large, fashionable tote bag instead of a purse so you can carry your Bible and notebook more easily to appointments.)
Add pockets as needed for blood work results, MRI scans, food charts, or whatever information you feel will be important to remember on your journey through Lyme.
Create a working document that lists your medical history prior to and including Lyme. Note any physical, mental, and emotional changes as you go through your healing process. Update this chart monthly so you can see positive or negative changes along the way. Share information with your practitioners so adjustments can be made if needed.
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING!
Your best way to confront Lyme is by thinking like Watty Piper’s Little Engine …I think I can…I think I can…I think I can….
Being positive, even angry some days, will get you farther in your treatment then sitting back and ‘waiting’ for things to change.
Look for new ways to heal. Read, research, and revise your thinking. If a method of healing sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so double-check any quick heal claims with reputable clinicians and practitioners. The only way you will get better is by putting in the effort to learn and find what works for you!
Surprise! Medical Doctors Don’t Have All The Answers
In your Lyme adventure, realize that you will be making many stops along the way to wellness to take in the sights and scenery, mostly found in doctors’ offices. And yet, once there, you may slam into bumps that slow you down. You may decide to make appointments with various medical doctors, only to discover that they listen to only one symptom, and in turn, misdiagnose you. You may receive a diagnosis like “eat right and exercise”, that won’t give you the guidance you need to heal. And you may find that those with an MD after their name aren’t the ones who can really help.
LLMD’s are very good at their treatments, but they can be costly and not very timely for you in scheduling appointments. This author heard of an LLMD about an hour away from her home, but needed to wait 6 months in order to see him! Not wanting to wait that long for her symptoms to become even more debilitating than they already were, she researched a naturopath, a dietician, and a later on in her healing, a holistic practitioner. While this is not the conventional route to healing, she found that those without an MD after their names actually were willing to take the time to work with her and help her begin the healing process. Instead of being laid up in bed or in a hospital, six months later, she is working in her garden, reading for a half an hour or more at a time, and genuinely being able to get through her summer days without requiring to rest every few hours. Every person has their own path to follow, but be assured that it may not be the one you have been taught to follow all of your life! Be willing to try new treatments and protocols. Your body will thank you!
BRAIN FOG SLOWING YOU DOWN?
TRY THESE 5 TRICKS TO KEEP YOUR SANITY WHILE YOU HEAL!
STAY IN ONE PLACE AND COMPLETE THE TASK AT HAND. Zipping around the house like a squirrel running up a tree leaves too many little jobs to finish!
USE POST IT NOTES to remind you to do simple jobs like switch the laundry. Put these in high-traffic areas that you will see.
TAPE INVITATIONS RIGHT ON THE CALENDAR after you write the information down.
ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE. Many stores save your lists, so review your last week’s order before adding new items.
EAT LOTS OF LEAFY GREENS!Kale has many nutrients in it that help rejuvenate cells, especially those foggy brain cells! Create your own ways to eat kale in salads, eggs, and meat dishes. (I don’t recommend Kale brownies, however…)
I hope you enjoyed this guide to Lyme and tricks to healing.
Remember: your attitude is everything and will determine how quickly you heal!
I never heard this expression before, and it wasn’t until I researched phrases with the word ‘tick’ in it that I came across this clever idiom.
Sadly, it takes different foods for me to be full as a tick now. I really miss baking and eating my favorite dessert of cookies and milk. Diving into a bowl of my husband’s homemade sauce on pasta with buttery garlic bread on the side can’t happen at my place setting anymore. Potato chips with my special sour cream and onion dip is a snack that I have to pass by. Summer corn on the cob and shrimp cocktail with another homemade sauce recipe are now distant culinary memories. And no more summer desserts like s’mores or ice cream. Pancakes or waffles with syrup–out. Toast with jelly and butter–gone.
All gone from my diet and my taste buds.
And forget about wine or mixed drinks. Those delicious refreshments would clearly turn me into a stinging human, capable of electrifying any number of appliances in my home. And that something I do not wish to do with my time right now.
Now, it is kale, protein, green tea and water that make me full as a tick. Today, I realized that eggs need to be taken off my menu, too.
Well, that makes more room for more of those good-for-you greens in my diet, right?
I grew the second eldest of five children in a middle class home. I wasn’t a sickly child, and my parents made sure I ate right and went to the doctor’s when I needed to for appointments, or if I became ill.
As a teenager, I got a job working in a health food store. I wasn’t really a big health food nut, but I liked the atmosphere of the store, my boss and the people that worked there were wonderful to me, and I did purchase some of the products. I loved the Martinelli’s apple juice, it’s golden nectar housed in glass apple-shaped bottles. I’d purchase Xylitol gum, carob coated goodies, or nuts to chomp on. Some of the product names like Kiss My face and Nature’s Way enticed me , but I never really purchased personal products. There were many regular costumers who would buy all sorts of vitamins and organic food products at that store, and the owner and many of the employees had specific expertise well beyond my sixteen years.
The worst medical issue I ran into as an adult was developing gestational diabetes with the pregnancy of my daughter, and even that was managed with insulin and then pills afterwards.
This past December, however, my life and health took a spiral downward when I developed severe joint and muscle pain and was treated for Lyme for one month with Doxycycline.
I initiated numerous doctors’ visits with specialized doctors–a rheumatologist, a neurologist, and two infectious disease doctors–because I wasn’t happy with the minimal level of my improvement with each passing week. Each doctor gave me a different diagnosis ranging from “It’s Fibromyalgia. Take this Lyrica.” to “You just have to wait and see.” to “We don’t know what is causing your symptoms. Just eat right and exercise.” My insurance was paying for these vague or totally off-base diagnoses. Frustrated, I’d basically hit a plateau, and I wasn’t back to normal. I was out of work, tired, and in pain. And yet no one in the mainstream medical community seemed to really want to help me. If their hands were tied, they weren’t telling me. I was left scratching my head and searching for answers elsewhere.
In March, I’d found a naturopath and a dietician who really assisted me more than the prescribed antibiotic treatment, and yet, I was still experiencing fatigue and pain that was directly influenced by what I consumed. It wasn’t enough for me to just have some good days and some bad days. Prior to this happening, I had a strong teaching career with an active family life. All that changed with Lyme, and I was merely a shell of who I used to be within a matter of weeks. I wanted to get back to my normal, active self. And yet, even with the supportive help of my naturopath and dietician,it seemed like such a far reach to get there.
In my graduate school days, we learned about synchronicities in life. The idea that ‘things happen for a reason’ and the experiences you have that seem like coincidence all lead you down a path that you may never have expected or planned. Call it fate, God Winks, signs, whatever. I’ve experienced many of these synchronicities since my Lyme adventure began in December, leading me to new ways of thinking about my health and medical care.
My most recent new learning has come from a place called Holistic Wellness Alternatives in Yorktown Heights, New York.
I was led to this place by my husband and a chance conversation with a recent acquaintance. He was speaking this man about my recent issues with Lyme. This man in turn shared about his friend’s success as a client of Holistic Wellness. This particular cancer survivor experienced wonderful results from Dan Court, the owner and practitioner, so I called and made an appointment.
After speaking with the client liaison who had been misdiagnosed Lyme for four years and now WORKS at the place, I figured with yet another coincidence, it’d be worth a try. But it wasn’t without its glitches; they rescheduled 3 times! Dan had injured his ankle and his orthopedic had very limited hours. By the third phone call, I was feeling a little desperate to get there and experience some of his all natural magic. At least the last call was just to make the time later on my scheduled day.
The office is an hour and a half away from my home in Connecticut. I drove down the Merritt Parkway all the way and almost had a panic attack when I saw the sign for the Tappan Zee bridge! I hate going over bridges if I am driving. Thankfully, my faithful companion, my GPS, directed me to get off the exit before the bridge. While my appointment was scheduled for 1 1/2 hours, Dan spent 2 1/2 hours with me. It was a pretty unique and eye-opening experience.
I had completed several forms for the appointment that were analyzed by a computer, and we spoke for at least an hour about my issues, the practice, and Western Medicine versus Indian and Chinese medicine. Based on my paperwork, I was having issues with my sugar handling (no surprise there!), my endocrine system and my liver. After discussing my test results, he performed a muscle test, which is based on Chinese medicine. It is designed to test the energy levels in the body to see the strength and weaknesses of the organs. Dan also uses muscle testing to determine what compounds are useful or not useful to the body. It was very unconventional in comparison to what I am used to experiencing at the doctors who practice “Western Medicine”. I wouldn’t have believed what was happening if I hadn’t experienced it myself!
To start the test, I lay down on a table and lifted my right arm, pressing it gently against his left arm. He was pressing and tapping against the muscle of my extended arm, and with his right hand, he was pressing against my organs. If my arm went down, it meant the organ was weak, if it stayed up, the organ was strong. When he got to my stomach, he said, “OH!!” as my arm went down. It was so freaky! ( I had told him earlier that my stomach seemed to be the only organ I wasn’t having trouble with…I guess I was wrong!)
He then put little vials of different compounds, minerals, and toxins on my stomach to test my body’s reaction. Again, with different bottles, my body reacted and my arm would either stay stiff or fall down. With a particular one, Actonex, I could actually feel my stomach muscles getting tighter with the vial resting there on my stomach. It was so wild! And my stomach still remained tight several minutes afterwards.
So, after 2 1/2 hours, I walked out of there with three additional supplements to try for my issues with sugar, endocrine system, and liver, and another appointment scheduled for June.
It will be very interesting to see what happens at the next appointment. And I’m looking forward to it.
Maybe I’ll learn something new that continues to challenge my thoughts about medicine and holistic care.
When I first became ill, before even seeing anyone who really helped me, I started what I now jokingly call “My Lime Bible”. It’s a green binder (I want to get a Lyme and tick photo to slip into the clear, plastic front cover….) that is sectioned off with pocket files, one for each doctor, specialist, dietician, or practitioner. I have a separate pocket for blood work results. I also have a pocket with general information about my health prior to my illness as well as monthly changes, positive or negative.
Additionally, I created a table in Word where I record daily my food and liquid intake, with measured amounts, as well as any reactions I had. I note exercise and daily supplements and amounts as well. I make hard copies of this to bring to appointments as needed. Sometimes this information changes, so it is important to note what date supplements were added or stopped as well as reactions that occurred.
I take a loose leaf notebook with me to every appointment, and put all my notes in the corresponding pocket. It’s impossible to remember every thing, so this is a quick way to help me and gives me a system to check back if I need to.
I keep a post it note with the name, address, and phone number of the specialist on the front of each pocket for easy reference as well. This was especially helpful for me when I had to go see a neurologist and was having difficulty reaching the office over the phone with the number they gave me. When they called me on a different line, I jotted that number down as well.
Little things like this help streamline my treatment and make it easier to share my complex history with new practitioners.
2. Know And Listen To Your Body
When you are struck with a chronic illness, your body has amazing ways to tell you when something is or isn’t good for you. Learn to listen to your body and respond. Back to back activities for me right now is a recipe for disaster, so I have learned to really pace what extra activities I can do. I’ve come to realize my health is more imporant right now than being sure that I attend every family get togther.
If you feel tired, say not to family and friends.
Even if you anticipate being tired, say no to friends and family.
Leave from events early if you need to.
Eat and drink what and when you should to avoid getting more tired than necessary.
Get at least 8 hours of sleep a night; 10 hours is best.
3. Brain Fog Strategies
I was so distressed early on when I realized that my brain wasn’t functioning like normal. I was used to having a ‘ticker tape’ running in my head of things I needed to accomplish each day, especially on the weekends. Now, I realize that is just not a good option for me anymore.
Instead, I use little strategies to help me remember things:
Stay in one area of the house to complete a task before leaving the room. Many a lunch was left unfinished before I started doing this!
Use post-it notes for reminders like : switch the laundry or empty the dishwasher. Display them in a prominent place where they will likely be seen.
Tape invitations next to the calendar as well as write the information down on the corresponding date.
If your store offers this service, order groceries on-line and have them delivered or picked up when scheduled. This both a time and energy saver for me. The store I use also saves my favorites and my last order, so I always go to those sections of the website first to see what I need before adding new items. This helps me remember to order staples like milk or eggs, which I may have in my head to do, but oftentimes, I’ll forget, because I get sidetracked looking up other items.
Write due dates for library books right on the calendar.
Focus and tackle one small cleaning job at a time if you feel up to it. Starting two or three is too taxing on the memory and the body.
4. Food Can Be Your Best Friend Or Your Worst Enemy
Remember my Lyme Bible? Over time, I was able to see what foods caused what reactions in my body. It was so disheartening to me to find out that I was having issues with almost every part of the food pyramid: dairy, carbohydrates, fruits, nuts, and nightshade vegetables. But I’d never know this if I didn’t keep a food journal on the advice of my naturopath and dietician.
Just as an example, I was drinking lemon water for the longest time, thinking that it was a healthy way to detox my body. One day it dawned on me that lemon was a fruit, and that was probably why I was experiencing a light stinging sensation over my whole body! Sure enough, once I just switched to regular water, the stinging subsided. I felt even better once I started adding green tea into my diet.
Becoming a label reader was really important for me. I read many posts about Lyme warriors eating gluten-free processed products because they are staying away from wheat, and I cringe inside. Gluten-free doesn’t mean sugar-free. In fact, if you start to read and compare labels, you will see that many gluten-free products have just as much sugar as regular wheat produced products! You are just feeding your little Lyme friends by eating gluten-free processed food products like breads, cereals, and crackers.
A few guidelines that have helped me:
Stick to eating whole foods, not packaged or processed foods.
Cook in olive oil.
Drink only water or tea that you brew. I drink 40 oz of water and/or green tea per meal, and another 10-16 oz in between meals to total close to 100 oz or more of fluids a day. The green tea seems to help me greatly with inflammation.
Eat at least 4 – 6 oz of protein for each large meal to help sustain cravings and maintain energy levels. I typically eat 5-8 oz of protein.
Use supplements that are made out of whole foods and not synthetic compounds. Talk to an experienced holistic practitioner or naturopath about the important difference between the two.
5. Reach out and Touch Somebody’s Hand
The best information I received about how to heal wasn’t from anyone with an MD after his or her name, it was from people who went through Lyme, are going through it, or know someone with Lyme. Also, natural practitioners and a dietician helped me greatly. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. There is so much information out there, you need to work smarter, not harder, when you have Lyme.
Ask friends and family whom they recommend for a naturopath, holistic practitioner, dietician, or LLMD.
Research all natural cleaning products, shampoos, and body cleansers, toothpastes, etc. to find ways to limit more outside toxins entering into your body.Some companies will send you free samples to try if you ask! Dr. Bronner’s sent me free many free samples of their products, and I’ve discovered what compounds from their line my skin can tolerate as well as which ones aren’t safe for me.
Keep in touch with family, friends, and co-workers either on the phone or by email. These little connections can help you to keep a positive attitude even on a bad day.
Send cards to friends and family via snail mail. It’s nice to receive letters from people, and it’s equally as nice to send them out, too!
And never stop learning. Your health depends on it.
Today, the weather is beautiful outside with no humidity, and I’m feeling relatively normal for me, so it’s a ‘cook in bulk’ day today.
I was advised that I need to do this, since I have such a limited diet and must prepare fresh meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Every. Single. Day.
It’s taken me a while to figure out what I can eat as well as how much I should eat. I also know that once I start a task, I have to stay in close proximity in order to finish it. Otherwise, the short-term memory function in my brain shuts off, and lunches are left partially complete on the counter, laundry is left in the washing machine for days, and animals don’t get fed.
So, I pulled out the chicken, bacon, and tea kettle to made my bulk food. After putting the meat in the oven, and turning on the timer, I went back to into my happy little office to working on a few writing projects.
My attention span is short and quick, like the squirrels that zip up the oak and maple trees in my yard. Writing work is interrupted by taking my Scrabble and Dice turns, checking my Twitter, Facebook and Word press accounts, reading and perhaps following random writings of bloggers, and responding to anyone that comments on a post or follows me. I get up to meander around the house, check on my blooming perennial garden outside, open a few windows, put some odd objects left on the counter or dining table away, water my plants. It’s like I have ADD with a hefty dash of Alzheimer’s sprinkled in. Quite a combination.
I smelled the bacon instead of hearing the timer.…triggering me to get up and go back into the kitchen. The meat was done.
I decided today to actually cut up all the meat before storing it, since I always cut it up when I eat it in one of my three main kale and meat combinations anyway. Smart, right?
My green tea is brewing in the kettle. I like to keep a glass container of it in the fridge to drink so I have some variety between tea and water. My new batch for today will be ready to drink.
I also have some fresh kale that I need to chop in my Ninja. It’s a pain to do, but it definitely helps having it all ready to toss in a salad or a pan of olive oil. And I recently discovered you can kale and brussel sprouts frozen, too. Victory in the kitchen will be mine!
Now if I could just remember to close the cap on my water bottle next to my laptop….
I have a sweet tooth. A big, bad one. No cavities, but a sweet tooth nonetheless.
And I enjoy baking because of it. Although I will readily admit that I am more like a “Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade” baker instead of “Martha Stewart It’s All Good From Scratch” baker.
On my quest for eating better, I am really missing my desserts. I’ve been eating a lot of kale lately (See my post Adventures in Kale), so I decided to research kale brownies.
I came across a few recipes, one that had too many ingredients, including butternut squash and other foods. The one I settled on didn’t have 25 ingredients, and although it listed brown rice flour and arrowroot for the ‘flour’ and no eggs, I figured I could substitute coconut flour and just increase the liquid.
And so began a new kale adventure.
I gathered all my ingredients after making a special trip to the store to purchase the zucchini and coconut milk, more coconut flour, and coconut sugar. Going over the recipe and my ingredients back at home, I discovered I did not have baking powder, only baking soda. Ok, no biggie. I’ll just use the baking soda. It can’t possibly make THAT much of a difference, right?
The recipe also called for kale finely chopped. I had already chopped mine in my Ninja food processor, so I was all set there. I grated the zucchini as directed, and mixed the dry ingredients, which included cocoa, to give it the chocolatey goodness I was after.
When I went to add the coconut milk, I used the metal can opener that pokes holes in the can, only to discover nothing came out when I tipped the can upside down! So, I opened it with the rotary one, and realized I hadn’t shaken it as instructed on the side of the can. I solved that problem with a frustrated “REALLY??!!”, and mixed it in the can with a wooden spoon.
Next came the coconut flour and other dry ingredients to the milk. As is its nature, it sucked up all the coconut milk, so the mixture ended up more like a thick, brown, play dough instead of a creamy brownie mixture. I added half the can of the coconut milk, but now I realize I should have probably added the whole can.
After putting in the kale, the mixture looked more like a pile of dirt and grass from my backyard. I hadn’t ‘finely’ chopped the kale, so pieces of it stuck out from the blobs of brownie mixture. It didn’t “pour into the pan” as the recipe explained the next step. I had to literally plop the mix into the pan and spread it with a spatula. It was pretty bad.
At this point, I just figured, I’m the only one whose going to eat this stuff (you can supply your own expletive here), so I might as well bake it and see what happens.
Well, baking it for a half hour, it smelled pretty good. But it didn’t change in its appearance. It still looked like dirt and grass from my backyard when it was done.
I took it out of the oven, only to be met with a pile of coconut flour, zucchini and kale that didn’t bind together. I couldn’t even lift one whole brownie out of the pan. It just disintegrated.
Sadly and happily, that batch went into the pail.
I’m going to try it again next week, but this time add eggs to the mixture and a whole can of the coconut milk to see if that will help bind everything together.
And I’m definitely going to ‘finely’ chop the kale.
No one likes to get a kale leaf stuck in his or her teeth when eating a brownie.
I never thought I’d ever have a relationship with kale. Turns out, never say never.
My brother-in-law is named Kale. I can tell you that he is very funny, smart, and always up for a good laugh and a good time. He’s a native Australian, and while he was living and working in New York, he met, wooed, and married my youngest sister. It was a rather quick wedding, held at the New York City Hall, and we met his parents for the first time a short time before the actual “big day”. His parents are truly lovely people, and why not? Kale is a lovely person.
But I digress. This is not about Kale, the man, but rather, it’s about kale, the leafy green vegetable, the “oh, so healthy super food” that I was encouraged to eat my both my naturopath and dietician, but of which I had clear reservations.
The first time I saw it, I had left my dietician’s office with “Be picky about your liver!” ringing in my ears. (See my post Be Picky About Your Liver to learn more about that meal!)
There it was, a red leaf variety, in a cute wicker basket, just waiting to be plucked by me. I am not an adventurous cook, so at first, kale didn’t have much fun in my kitchen. I’d merely just chop it up and toss it in my salad, measuring it out so I’d be sure I’d be getting a healthy amount of the magic green stuff. It took a few salads to get used to the taste, but I found that if I chopped it up finely in my Ninja processor, it really didn’t bother my taste buds too much.
On Monday, a friend of mine read another post about my new “research life” in dealing with Lyme and the Wahls Protocol diet. This particular diet advocates for 9 cups a day of specific fruits and vegetables. I admitted that eating 9 cups of anything didn’t strike me as feasible, but she suggested cooking the kale with garlic and olive oil. “It cooks down to nothing and it will be easier to get the nine cups in.” Ok, I’ll bite.
The next day for lunch, I removed a fresh mound of kale—if you’ve ever purchased kale, you know what I mean—from my fridge. As I removed the leaves from the stems, some of it I put into my Ninja to chop up for salads, and some I put in my beautiful All-Clad 12 inch frying pan, covering the bottom. I roughly chopped up two cloves of garlic and drizzled the kale and garlic with olive oil, turned on the gas, and waited for it to cook down.
While that was cooking, I fished around my fridge to see what else I could add to the meal. I found 3 lone slices of uncooked bacon, one left over baked chicken tender, and some broccoli. Perfect.
Once the kale and garlic were almost done, I threw the bacon in the pan to cook, cut up the broccoli and chicken and tossed them in to heat up as well. I added a little bit more olive oil as well.
Fairly soon it was all ready, and wow! I was impressed with myself! It actually looked rather appealing in my pretty terra-cotta edged dish!
But tasting it was even better. The kale absorbed the olive oil so it didn’t have as bitter a taste, and anything with garlic and bacon is a sure-fire winner.
Today, I made kale with sweet Longhini sausage and garlic for lunch. Again, it was another delicious meal. I baked the sausage first in the oven, (work smarter not harder here!) then sliced two links and threw them in the pan to brown once the kale and garlic were done. Since my kale had already been chopped previously, it cooked down rather quickly this time. I had cut the garlic into thin slices today, anticipating a quicker cooking time. Next time I do this, I’m going to remove the sausage from its casings and just brown it with the garlic, then add the kale. But I have to remember to keep more bacon on hand. That would have been dynamite! And add more kale! I only cooked three cups of kale, but it definately could have used more in this dish.
I’m really dying for some kind of dessert. I did find some recipes for kale brownies. I’ll have to try that next week.
My days phase in and out. I’m much stronger now than I was back in the winter, thankfully, but I still have my weaker moments. I remember looking out at my perennial garden back in the winter, sadly thinking I wouldn’t be able to work in it this spring. Happily, I am able to move around and get out there, set up the sprinkler to water, and observe the daily changes of my plants as they come back to life. Some of my purple irises that I transplanted last year have started to open. They are tall and regal, their dark petals dainty and full. It’s a beautiful sight to see, and yet they remind me of those not so far away thoughts from a few months ago.
The worst time of day for me is at night, when the cravings for something crunchy and sweet hit me. Advertisers know their consumers, and I am their best target! Their ads spring up on my television screen, teasing me with foods that I crave but simply should not eat. My stomach gurgles longingly at the sight of Dairy Queen ice cream or Lays potato chips. I pine away for the day when I can actually eat something so good, but yet, so bad for me, again.
Instead of working for my students, I am working for Lyme. I read books and food labels, go to doctor and holistic practice appointments, try to eat healthier than I’ve ever done before, take multiple supplements over the course of the day, and write about my experiences. I make batches of kale, romaine, and spinach for my salads that I eat at lunch and dinner. I eat eggs and other meats for all of my meals. And I drink water. Lots of water–like 100 ounces a day of water. I’m surprised I haven’t floated away yet.
My latest phase in my ‘get healthy’ regime is to slowly change out many of the toxin-filled products in our home that I use to “greener” ones: toothpaste, hand and body soap, shampoo, facial cleansers and house cleansers, make up, and laundry detergent. It’s another way to try to get healthy and lessen the toxic load on my system, but who really knows if it will help. And yet, nothing beats a failure but a try, right?
Every night, I go to sleep and each morning I wake up, thinking that this may be my way of life for me forever. Even with my latest trip to a new holistic practitioner, my body may be beyond repair, and I will have to live with the joint and muscle pain when I eat anything with carbohydrates.
I can only take each day one at a time, and anticipate that this too shall pass. Much like the irises in my garden, I hope my future will yield a different phase, one which will include my new healthy habits, as well as some of my old yummy ones, too.