Adventures in Kale

Dedicated to my brother-in-law, Kale Bogdanovs

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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!20160524_120119_resized

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.

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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.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

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Research

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Dedicated to Michelle Armstrong, Shelton, CT

When I was in college, I became enthralled with a computer game called Tetris, thanks to my roommate Michelle. The object of the game is to create rows of lines using geometric square and rectangular shapes. A four-line group is called a Tetris, and the computer would start slowly dropping pieces from the top of the screen and increase speed until the pieces were flying down, the player frantically trying to place them correctly to make lines. I recently found another version online, and I am once again obsessed with the game. Only in this version, you are playing against another person, and each time you complete a line, it sends another line to your opponent. You still need to clear lines and try to beat the other player in a 2-minute time frame, but it moves more quickly since your opponent can easily send over more lines than you are ready to handle if they are really good at placing their pieces before you.

This game requires you to be able use what you have as well as think ahead, much like addressing a pressing problem. Right now, my problem is Lyme disease, and it’s a tougher puzzle to figure out than a Tetris game.

In my research about Lyme, I’ve come across different books. My go-to book right now is The Top 10 Lyme Disease Treatments by Bryan Rosner. The 11-chapter book is clearly written and has sections about antibiotics, detoxification, and detailed information about supportive supplements. What I really love about this book is that it gives a holistic approach to treating this disease. Rosner has a detailed portion as well about how there are two very different views in the medical community about how to treat Lyme. He advocates for being knowledgeable about Lyme and to use all available resources, both traditional and non-traditional. Relying on one particular therapy will not help treat or cure your condition, since Lyme is a multi-faceted disease that mutates and has co-infections attached as well. He does state that it is crucial to find the right combination of therapies and also realize that time plays an important role in healing.

I’m also reading Terry Wahls book, The Wahls Protocol. She reversed her debilitating MS symptoms through diet, after researching cellular growth and health. And what a diet she has! It’s all healthy fruits and vegetables, and you need to eat 9 cups a day each of sulfur rich vegetables, leafy greens, and colorful fruits. Not an easy task! The most of the leafy greens I can do a day is 4 cups. My body can’t handle any fruits right now, as much as I’d love some grapes or pineapple, or even an apple, which is not my favorite fruit!  She does advise building up to the 9 cups, however slowly you need to do it, but she urges to just start eating the right foods now to rebuild your sickly cells.

One of my favorite mantras that I gleaned from my graduate work is, “Work smarter, not harder”. And I’ve tried to put this into practice whenever I can, especially with my Lyme issues. A few months back on a more healthy day, I had visited the bookstore and was astounded at all of the gluten-free, vegan, and paleo cookbooks out there! But I refused to buy even one cookbook as my food sensitivities made it hard to actually use any of the books I’d seen. I’d made that mistake early on, buying a smoothie cookbook, only to find out after a big swing of a healthy yogurt and strawberry smoothie, my body couldn’t tolerate the fruit or the dairy. Live and learn.

So, I hit my library instead. After first searching the internet for book titles, I’d then go and peruse the stacks, leaving with about 10 or so cookbooks, thinking that maybe one of the books would be helpful in finding some recipes that my body could tolerate. Many cookbooks later, I was able to photocopy 10 or so recipes. There are just so many foods that my system is sensitive to right now. Sugar free recipes include sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Gluten free ones include flours made out of almonds or rice, which I can’t tolerate. But I haven’t given up yet. I’ve got two more books on hold at two different libraries–one called Recipes for Repair and another Breaking the Vicious Cycle–that I am hoping will be returned soon. It seems like I’m not the only one with food struggles!20160413_103853

My Lyme adventure is just like a Tetris game: some of the pieces fit, and some don’t. There are gaps in my healing that need to be filled. I keep hitting a wall, but someday, I’m hopeful be able to clear out the lines with the right combination of building blocks.

I’ve already had some success when I started with my naturopath and my dietician back in March, and I just recently went to another holistic practice. The owner who runs it has given me some extra supplements to try. He has helped other people with Lyme, as well as a particular client with very similar issues to mine, so that gives me confidence that I am on the right track.

I am anticipating even more positive results with the start of this new regime of mine. And with the inclusion of more books, of course! I just have to keep finding the right ones to help with my personal Tetris puzzle!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL