It Starts With a Hole

Holding out several packets of squash and tomato seeds to the nursery cashier, I asked.

“Is it too late to plant these?”

She then turned to the bagger and snickered.  “Ummmm, you can always try.  See what happens.”  She said in a “good luck girly” tone.

Okay, so it was no mystery that she was talking to an amateur, but would it have been too much to ask for her to have a little faith?

Armed with a bag of seeds, I then consulted with my neighbor about starting my own garden (Organic and non-GMO, of course!) in which she simply laughed, “By the time you start, gardening season will be over.”

I figured she would be the perfect source considering the fact that she’d managed to grow a jungle at her other house in the mountains.  Pineapples and lemon trees in the mountains of North Carolina?  In the middle of winter?  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  And although she’s a little tight lipped about the secret fairy dust she sprinkles over her garden,I’m beginning to believe one of the main ingredients is Miracle Growth.

I thought that perhaps with a little luck and lots of praying I could develop a green thumb or at least a fraction of it.  Were my ambitions so low that at that point in time my only wish was to have something green sprout out of the ground?  At least an inch or two or something plant-like.

So what if it was June-ish when I finally built a house for my soon-to-be garden and July-ish when I planted my first zucchini seed?  I needed that month to build the best veggie house I could on a budget and to muster up enough courage to actually build the damn thing.  If you haven’t guessed it by now, I was little worried about my adventure into gardening.  (Just a little.)  But I pushed through my concerns despite the snickers and giggles and here’s how it all went down.

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(By the way, I have to admit that if I were a vegetable, I’d want to live here too.)

Why am I imprisoning my beautiful garden you might ask?  

deer

There’s your answer.  Deer are a gardener’s worst enemy along with their buddies, the squirrels.  In Eastern and Central Carolina we don’t play around.  You either build a fence or forget about having food for yourself.  You’ll just be feeding the wildlife instead.

Okay, so I’m not a professional (Just yet), but I know a little somethin’ somethin’ about getting dirty.  I spent plenty of summers planting seeds along my grandfather in his garden when I was a little girl.  As a child, I may not have understood the true awesomeness of burying a seed into the ground or how that simple act had the potential to affect the rest of the world and someday possibly end world hunger, but I knew something great was about to happen.  And that greatness started with a hole.

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It took cutting through the arteries of the earth and going toe-to-toe with live snakes (Did I mention that I hate snakes?  Like run-in-the-house-with-the-rake-still-in-your-hand kind of hate?) to create this late summer miracle, but in the end it was worth the effort and next year I’ll be a little ahead of the game.

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BON APPÉTIT

Seeds Planted:

Zucchini, Patty Pan Squash (a.k.a. Spaceship Squash (the only way I could describe them as a child), crookneck squash, grape tomatoes, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, herbs: basil, chives, parsley, bay leaves, lemon balm, thyme).

Produce Harvested:

Grape tomatoes and all herbs

Healthy Journey!

(Deer: Photo courtesy) http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/whitetaileddeer.htm

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No Dairy, No Gluten, No Peanuts…NO Problem!

Piece of cake….

Well, it was a good journey, but not as sweet as a slice of cake.  (Strawberry cake, please!)  However, surprising to me, giving up dairy, gluten, and peanuts for three weeks wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be considering how much I like all three.

Dairy and I have always had a love-hate relationship, but I honestly couldn’t imagine living without it.  Going into this thing with that in mind, I knew that dairy was something I probably shouldn’t eat too much of or eat at all anyway.  A nibble of cheese or scoop of Ben & Jerry’s every once in a while, okay, but anything more than that within a 48-hour span is trouble (Bloating, severe gas mostly).

Gluten?  Who doesn’t love take a chunk of fresh-out-of-the-oven bread and slather it with butter?  Or cheese if you prefer?

And peanuts?  Peanut butter?  Peanut butter cheesecake?  Oh, my goodness, REESE’S?  Come on, life doesn’t get any better than that…Unless eating these things make you sick as a dog.

Some of you may remember my previous post in which I talked about embarking on an Elimination Diet journey in order to get rid of a chronic sinus infection from hell, but unfortunately, after only four days, my motivation tapered off.  Given that I’d gone to every type of doctor on the planet in search of an answer for the cause of my dizziness, body shakes, headaches, and more and after coming up empty handed every single time, I thought I’d take a closer look at my diet (Can you say run-on sentence!).  It seems like there’s more and more research out there linking what we eat to many ailments.

So why was my elimination diet a F-A-I-L?  The program was extremely strict and although I had a general plan of how to tackle my cravings, it wasn’t good enough.  I wasn’t eating enough food and staying hydrated.  I was also lacking the necessary vitamins and minerals needed daily to sustain myself.  Why not take a multivitamin you might ask.  In the many years that I have taken a multivitamin, I can honestly say that I haven’t noticed any difference in my overall health, but maybe that’s just me.  I’m multivitamin resistant?  In my mind, I thought that by eliminating most food groups following the plan, this would make eating a lot simpler and easy with limited choices, but I was living in la-la land.  Folks, I was hun-ga-raaay!  Even with eating these beautiful babies!!!!

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Could you handle not eating the following foods for 3-4 weeks?

NO Citrus

NO Nightshade Vegetables (Potatoes, Peppers, Eggplants, Tomatoes…)

NO Gluten

NO Nuts and Seeds

NO Legumes

NO Soy

NO Dairy

NO Beef, Chicken, Pork, Bacon (I repeat, NO BACON), Eggs,….(Only fish, lamb, turkey, and wild game allowed)

NO Sugar

NO Green or Black Tea

NO Caffeine

NO Chocolate

After the big FAIL, I took a week off and went back online researching the many causes of sinus infections and inflammation, reading testimonies.  I even came across sites that suggested an even more restricted plan than the one I described and needless to say, I couldn’t close those pages fast enough.  No way was I going to do THAT.  By the end of the week, I had basically concluded that the only way to deal with my potential food sensitivity was not to eat at all (Yeah, right!).  Okay, that was bit dramatic, but that’s how I felt.  Eat this, don’t eat that…blah, blahh. AHHHHH!!!!!!!

After calming down, what I decided to do was to try eliminating certain foods in phases, starting with the ones that I knew I wouldn’t have a big problem giving up: Dairy, Gluten, Peanuts.  Something to give me a boost of motivation when the time came for me to give up foods that I knew would be difficult to phase out like sugar and soy.  Sugar, because I’m addict and soy, because it’s everything, including the healthy stuff I try to eat to NOT get sick.

During my gluten-dairy-peanut phase, I wasn’t eating 100% clean and I still found ways to still have junk food while avoiding these groups of food, which I’m sure hindered my progress, but honestly, I was proud of myself for sticking to my ultimate goal.

I cooked more, ate out less, told people “no” when asked out to eat.  By week two, I was still going strong, but I didn’t notice much difference in my symptoms except that they were not as severe.  I still had headaches and fatigue, but not nearly as bad as before and more spaced out so I knew something beautiful was happening with this approach.  Mentally, I could think more clearly, but still felt a bit groggy.  I still had insane popping in my ears during both week 1 and 2 (imagine your ears sounding as if they’re making popcorn), however, I developed a bit of a head cold during week 3.  I thought this was my body’s way of trying to detox since it was mostly mucousy-yellow stuff (TMI) and I wasn’t running a fever and actually started having a little bit of energy.  But the most amazing thing happened.  After the mucous cleared up, so did the popping in my ears.  Six months of constant popping in my ear, poooof, it was gone.  The pressure in my ears somehow equalized and for me, that was enough proof that my horiable diet has finally caught up with me.

I’m making myself sick with food.

Sticking to the modified plan, I started reintroducing foods after week 3 and after most of my cold symptoms had disappeared.  The first food that I introduced was peanuts because I didn’t think it was a major problem or a problem at all really, but I knew it would be the easiest to give up.  I know for a fact that I’m not allergic to nuts or seeds or any food for that matter given I’d been recently tested for allergies.  However, I knew there was a posiblity that I could be sensitive to some foods and sure enough, I was right.  After eating a tablespoon of peanut butter in the morning and a gas station pack of peanuts later in the day, I developed migraine headaches that lasted a few days.  I haven’t had peanuts since then nor have I had any headaches.  Who would’ve thunk it?

A few days later, after my body had enough time to process the peanuts, I re-introduced gluten and waited a few days before finally adding dairy.  I did not have a noticeable reaction to dairy or gluten right away, but I know that these particular foods can take some time to cause problems unless you are allergic to them.  However, over the next week after adding gluten and dairy back, I’ve noticed that on some days my nasal cavity seems a bit inflamed.  I’m almost certain that it’s either dairy or gluten, but it’s slow acting.  Regardless of my discovery, I don’t want to go back to eating dairy or gluten as frequently as I use to.  Less is best.

I’m feeling noticeably better these days, but I’m not feeling 100%.  I’m working out more and drinking more water, taking my vitamins, but I’m still not done with my elimination journey.  I’m thinking of eliminating soy for a few weeks and sugar ( A BIG BIG BIGGY for me).

In the meantime, I’m eating more vegetables and fruit (Stay tuned in for my garden post!!!), more quinoa and brown rice.  And I’m learning that I’m fine without many things like pasta and bread.  It’s not the end of the world.

This is only the beginning.

MY PHOTO JOURNAL

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Healthy Journey!

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Week 1: The Elimination Diet Review

Four four days straight, I managed to pass Exit 12 without so much of an urge to make a pit stop on ‘murderous-row’, the restaurant-saturated street on the way to our house.  I resisted the urge to kick this elimination diet shenanigans to the curb and sink my teeth into a juicy, greasy chicken sandwich.  Instead, I went home, pulled out a few salmon fillets, veggies and big girl portabellas and made dinner and prepped meals for the next day.  The future was bright and full of more produce.  Until Day Five came along….

After my four days of elimination zen, I broke down.  I was huuuuungry!  My body said, “Whoah, whoah, whoah.  Girl, are you crazy?  FEED ME!!!”  Is it even possible to live without citrus, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, nuts and seeds, gluten anything, meat (only turkey, fish, and wild game allowed), soy, beans of any kind, dairy, sugar, and canola oil?  And the list goes on.

Im-hungry Patrick

I have to admit that I’m surprised I made it this far on such a restrictive diet and I would’ve gone longer had I not gotten bored with the menu or maybe prepped better, but I had the drive, I was committed all the way up to my first bite of California Roll at my favorite Japanese restaurant on break-down day.  Really, I was.  But I didn’t regret my decision to jump off the wagon.  I needed it.  To regroup, to think this thing over.  To put more protein and fat into my body.

My thinking of going all in on this thing was that I didn’t want to do it in phases.  I wanted to do it once, suffer once, and be done with it.  Get the results I wanted, find out what’s causing these crazy sinus issues.  Boom-Bam-Pow, Done!  But I can’t ignore my voice of reason and hunger headaches.

So what was a typical day like for me?  Why was I so freaking HUNGRY?

Breakfast: Cream of Rice with almond milk, coconut oil, and a pear/apple.

Snack: More fruit

Lunch: Salmon, Veggies, Arborio Rice with Mushrooms and Cauliflower Sauce

Dinner: Turkey Burger (no bread), beet greens, sweet potato wedges

This isn’t enough for a grown woman like me…not even close.

Elimination Dinner

And by the way, everything that you can possibly think of has sugar, citrus, or soy in it.  Including my Vitamin D supplements, which send me searching on Amazon for a substitute.  I even checked the labels on my mouthwash because I WAS dedicated.

Going to Whole Foods proved to be an adventure too. I found myself circling the hot bar, drooling over Thai tofu and citrus rice.  Both yummy and healthy.  Both off-limits.  Ironic, most of the healthy things you typically pick up in a health food store were off limits to me.

But have you noticed that not once in this post have I declared defeat?  That I’m done?  I’m like a surfer.  Rising and falling with the waves and at times I may fall off the board, only to get back on.  This isn’t a failure, just a bump in the road.  I didn’t fall off the wagon, I jumped off to take a different path.  Only time will tell how successful my next attempt will be, but one thing’s for sure, it’s gotta be better than the last.

COWABUNGA!!!

Healthy Journey!

Photos Courtesy of:

http://berzinatorfitnessdesigns.com/15-tricks-for-killing-hunger-on-a-diet-part-1/

Personal (S.J.)

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Day 2 at the Elimination Station

Four four days straight, I managed to pass Exit 12 without so much of a word about making a pit stop on ‘muderous-roe’, the restaurant-saturated street on the way to our house.  I resisted the urge to kick this diet to the curb and sink my teeth into a juicy, greasy chicken sandwich.  Instead, I went home, pulled out a few salmon fillets, veggies and big boy portabellas.  I was rocking it in my kitchen.  And then day five came along….

After my four days of elimination zen, I broke down.  I was huuuuungry!  My body was screaming, “FEED ME!!!”  Is it even possible to live without citrus, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, nuts and seeds, gluten anything, beef, chicken, soy, beans of any kind, dairy, sugar, and canola oil?  And the list goes on.

I have to admit that I didn’t think I’d make it four days on this restrictive diet, but I had the drive, I was commited all the way up to my first bite of California Roll at my favorite Japanese restaurant.  Really, I was.  But I didn’t regret my decision to jump off the wagon.  I needed to regroup, to think this thing over and start SLOWER.  My thinking of going all in on this thing was that I didn’t want to do it in phases.  I wanted to do it once, suffer once, and be done with it.  Get the results I wanted, find out what’s causing these crazy sinus issues.  Boom, Bam, Done!  But even I can’t ignore voice of reason and a growling gut.

So what was a typical day like for me?  Why was I so freaking HUNGRY?

Breakfast: Cream of Rice with almond milk, coconut oil, and a pear/apple.

Snack: More fruit

Lunch: Salmon, Veggies, Arborio Rice with Mushrooms and Cauliflower Sauce

Dinner: Turkey Burger (no bread), beet greens, sweet potato wedges

I hate cutting sweet potatoes because of the dull knives we have in the house, so if you’re like me and only eating for one, you could probably get away with just cutting half of the potato into same size slices.  Make as thick of thin as you want.  Toss onto a baking sheet. (I cover mine with aluminum foil for easy clean up)

Drizzle on the oil.

Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and your favorite spices.

Coat the potato slices well.

Bake for 25-30 minutes depending on the thickness of your slices.  If you’re only cooking half of the sweet potato, reduce your cooking time to about 20 minutes and check periodically.  Temperatures may vary depending on your oven.

Brain fog slowly clearing, having old memories (good), nostalgia, single days, new beginning, something’s happening.  I’m actually doing okay.

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Day 1: Elimination Diet

Around Exit 12.  That’s usually right around time when I look over at my boyfriend on our way home from work.  Like clockwork, Laziness rears its ugly head.

“I don’t feel like cooking dinner tonight.  What do you want for dinner?  Chick-fil-a, Zaxby’s, Tokyo Express?”

“I don’t know, whatever you want.  You choose.”  Says Laziness’s companion.

And now on Day 1 of dipping my toes into the deep end of a very strict Elimination Diet (6 weeks of torture), when I saw Exit 12 in the horizon, I could feel the words forming on my lips.  “Chick-fil…?”  But I kept them to myself, resisting the urge.

No joke, old habits die hard, but so does a mystery sinus infection from HELL.  Having gone to Urgent Care, the Emergency Room, to an allergist, ENT, two family practitioners, two dentists, and being stuffed inside of a tube and having my brain baked for twenty plus minutes only to be told, “It could be a mild sinus infection, but other than that, we can’t find anything wrong with you,” I’ve had enough.

I know that’s a mouth full, but that’s been my life since August 15, 2014.  I remember the day well and hope I never have to repeat such a thing again.  Sinus pressure, dry sinus, wet sinus, brain fog, depression, dizziness, balance issues, fatigue, gas, toothaches, nasal inflammation, breathing issues, chest congestion, popcorn popping in my ears (seriously, that’s exactly what it sounds like on a daily basis), and more, OH MY!!!

‘If the doctors can’t do anything about it, then I’m going to take matters into my own hands.’  That’s what I decided last week.  Figuring the only thing left to do now is hook me up to a bunch of machines and have me run on a treadmill or see a nutritionist, I chose to wait on getting a cardio work-up.  It’s not really an option anyway given the amount of moolah I’d have to dish out.  Even with insurance.  I could see a nutritionist, but my insurance may not cover it either and quite honestly, I’m tired of being poked and prodded.  Another possible solution?  Reboot and try an Elimination Diet!

Now there’s an idea.  Something I’ve somewhat experimented with in the past and had great results.

On paper I’m a very healthy young lady, but physically, I feel like crap.  My diet is crap.  Crap, crap, crap, crap!!!!  That’s what I’ve been putting into my body and expecting to feel like a million bucks. And that’s supposed to make sense?

So I’m doing an elimination diet.  What do I have to lose?  Maybe a few pounds, but weight loss is not my goal, People!

As much as I would love to spend the next 30 minutes or so going over the details of this diet, it’s getting kind of late here and beauty sleep is very much needed.  However, I will list some of the things I’ve eaten today and I’m proud to say that I survived Day 1 without chewing someone’s arm off out of starvation.  High-five for that!!!!

Here we go:

Breakfast: Cream of Rice w/ Almond Milk, Coconut Oil, Cinnamon, and a Pear

Snack:  Homemade Applesauce

Lunch: Mushroom Arborio Rice w/ Cauliflower Dressing and Asparagus (Lots of it)

Dinner: Turkey Burger (No bread), 1/4 Avocado, More Rice, and Steamed Broccoli

*Nibbled on more applesauce and a date while cooking.  Drank a lot of water also.

Healthy Journey!

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Tested: DIY Protein Powder II

powder

Oatmeal….yummmmmm!

Hemp Seeds…delicious!

Quinoa…complete protein perfection!

Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)…nutty awesomeness! (when cooked)

ingredients

All of these ingredients grounded into a fine powder, blended with a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, banana, and honey……a test kitchen disaster.  Folks, the taste was a little rough, but great if you’re into drinking bean flavored milk.  I originally added two tablespoons of the DIY Pro-powder to my normal morning smoothie, but found the garbanzo beans (chickpeas) to be extremely overpowering.

final drink

When adding only one tablespoon, the taste was less extreme and sweeter.  The drink itself was somewhat bearable, but far from enjoyable.  Well, at least I could taste a little bit of the sweetness from the milk and the banana, but the bean flavor was still pretty pronounced.  Soaking the beans overnight and adding a few to the milk and banana mixture may be the solution, but has yet to be tested.

The upside of this kitchen nightmare is that all of the ingredients were things that I had on hand.  In general, aside from the hemp seeds, the ingredients are inexpensive.

There’s potential with this protein combination if I skip the chickpeas, but I think I’m going to play around with a few more ideas as well.

Folks, it ain’t over!

‘NOT SO YUMMMY’ – DIY Protein Powder

1/3 cup oats (not instant)

3 tbsp raw hemp seeds

3 tbsp quinoa

3 tbsp garbanzo beans, uncooked

* Blend ingredients in a food processor or heavy-duty blender until fine powder if formed.

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Healthy Journey!

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Test Kitchen: Powder Power I

So I’ve been thinking about buying protein powder again for breakfast shakes.  I’ve tried some in the past that tasted freakin’ fantastic.  Almost like drinking a milkshake.  While others were just hell-no-I’m-never-trying-that-again.  My search for the next best thing led me to the wonderful world of Amazon.  After venturing into the world of Prime for less than a minute, filtering through endless list of options, I couldn’t find the strength to pick my bottom lip up from off the floor.  Maybe I’ve been out of the protein powder loop for a while, but is it me or have these manufacturers lost their minds?  They want 60 bucks for a jar of powder?

Hillary Clinton shock

I quickly opened up another tab and began to search for DIY protein powders and after reading through several recipes, I wanted to kick myself.  Why didn’t I think to do this before?  These recipes include all natural ingredients that are simple and inexpensive.  I’m pretty resourceful.  I have plenty of protein options in my kitchen already: hemp seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, almonds, walnuts….and the list goes on.  Now I know my makeshift powder won’t taste anything like the fingerlickin’ goodness I’ve tried in the past…

Or will it?

Testing

1/3 cup hemp seeds

1/3 cup oats

1/8 cup lentils

Want to know how it turned out?  Stay tuned to find out…

Photo Courtesy of:

http://israelmatzav.blogspot.com/2010/10/jaw-dropping-statement-of-day.html

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