Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Eat it Tuesday (from Monday ... on Wednesday...)


I did have good intentions.

I photographed what I ate on Monday. I intended to make a "Eat it Tuesday" post on Tuesday. And, well ... here we are.

I am easily distracted by shiny, pretty things. I also prefer sleeping to pretty much everything else, so sleep has won over this week. I've also been enjoying the pretty, aromatic smoky environment I'm presently living in. Many, many forest fires:


Photo: NWT Sixtieth Parallel on FB

Mighty and stunning.
Summer just isn't the same without smoke and ash in the air.


Anyway, deliciousness from Monday:



Started my day with chia seed pudding and organic raspberries. With lots of cinnamon!


In the morning I had a few cups of Yogi Kombucha Green Tea. I was feeling pretty fatigued on Monday morning, so a boost was required!





Then for lunch there was some broccoli soup I had made the night before. I'm finding that I'm having a bit more of a time crunch over the lunch hour, so having something prepared beforehand is making my life MUCH easier.



I loaded the soup with nutritional yeast, which gives it a nice cheesy flavor (without the nasty effect I get from dairy). 

The afternoon was one of my favorite snacks. Organic, of course!:


Nom nom nom ...


Dinner was some leftover Luxurious Tomato Basil Pasta. It's so good. SO. GOOD.



My after dinner snack is my latest guilty pleasure. I randomly came across these chips while on a Westjet flight and they were giving out sample bags. I instantly fell in love. 
I love the Hardbite All Natural chips - just a little bit of salt and crunch. I could inhale a bag in one sitting if I let myself!

They are also made in BC, gluten-free, vegan, no MSG!



I may have finished this bag in a mere few days...


I went to the grocery store and there were no more Hardbite All-Natural chips left. It was tragic. Almost.

The really tragic thing would be ignoring the beautiful, clear sky and crisp air this evening. 
I think it's time for a stroll around Old Town.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Cookbook Review: The Oh She Glows Cookbook



I love Oh She Glows.



I discovered this plethora of plant-based deliciousness several years ago, when I was avoiding animal products in my diet. Her website has concise recipes, beautiful food photography, cute commentary ... and the recipes DELIVER! There are so many recipes that I have bookmarked on my computer, and I refer to them frequently. Here are a few of my favorites:


Angela Liddon is a self-trained chef, whom found herself seeking inventive and delicious ways to incorporate nutritious plant-based meals into her life. She had previously struggled with an eating disorder and chronic IBS, and had overcome these challenges and created her blog. Years later, she is now an author - and a mommy-to-be (her pregnancy updates are pretty darn cute - check them out here).


Thusly, I had high expectations for the cookbook. I was expecting the same beautiful photos, amazing recipes, and catchy commentary.

Visual Appeal



Beautiful photography. Throughout the book.
I wanted to eat the meals right off the page. Everything looks delectable!


Recipe Ease

I made two recipes for two separate occasions. The first was Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta ...



... and the second was Glowing Strawberry-Mango Guacamole.



The recipes are laid out in a simple manner, with clear instructions, and with tips for those who might want other alternatives. For the guacamole, I did not opt to add jalapeno!

Replication

The photo:

The reality:


The end results were not as glamorous as the photos from the cookbook, but they were attractive and smelled tasty. That was also the pasta sauce before the actual pasta was added - I promise it was much prettier when it was all completed!!

Flavor


Oops!
The Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta was so delicious, that my dinner partner and myself inhaled it before any photos could be taken. It was really that good. Creamy texture, flavorful, filling. I may have even had seconds!

The Guacamole was prepared the evening before a work potluck/BBQ. I prepared all of the ingredients and tossed them together before I headed for the gathering the next day.


It was a hit. I was told by several co-workers that they enjoyed the mango guacamole/salsa, which is an impressive feat considering the amount of cookies/cupcakes/dip, etc that was available.
Since I had doubled the recipe, I had some leftovers. I used them atop salad as a "dressing", and it was FANTASTIC.



Taste Test

The pasta was enjoyed by my dining partner, although he added some chili peppers to it. He tends to be fond of spicy foods, so I think it's more an ode to his own personal tastes than him disliking the pasta. 

The salsa was enjoyed by my co-workers. As well, I shared some with a friend who was raving that he enjoyed it - eating it by the spoonful, or with chips!



I continued to be impressed with the Oh She Glows cookbook, as I continue to try other recipes with great success. For anyone who's never been (you're seriously missing out!) - check out her blog as well: Oh She Glows

HIGHLY recommended, especially for anyone looking to incorporate more nutritious, plant-based meals into their repertoire that also tastes fantastic.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mango Lime and Raspberry Agave Chia Drinks (Ch-Ch-Ch-CHIA!!)


I was walking through my local co-op, search for my regular organic and healthy food items for the week, when I came across this new product  next to the organic salad mixes:


I love me some chia seeds. I eat this nutritious powerhouse almost daily. They are dark little seeds that become gelatinous when exposed to fluid. Aztecs were rumored to chow down on this before going into battle, as it was believed to provide energy in strength. If it's good enough for the Aztecs, I figure, it's good enough for Red! As well, it comes from a flowering plant in the mint family, and is harvested in Guatemala and Mexico. Oh, and they were once used for this purpose:


CH-CH-CH - Chia!!


They are packed with Omega-3 fatty acid, fiber, manganese, calcium, protein, antioxidants, amongst other amazing things! The Ceveland Clinic even boasts that in some studies, Chia Seeds are found to lower cholesterol and C-Reactive Protein in some people with Type II Diabetes and may lower cholesterol. Read more about that here

... but for these wee bottles it seems fairly pricey. I mean, $4.29?! Then again, it is organic. I had a quick skim of the ingredients to see what magic potion is in these elixirs to make them so magical:



Nothing too extravagant. 
Rather than purchasing these fancy drinks, I decided to experiment at home and make my own versions - for much cheaper - and without "natural flavours". It's also fully gluten-free and vegan!

I made two versions: Mango Lime Chia and Raspberry Agave Chia.




The recipes were quite simple, with ingredients I already had at home (and are easily available in YK at this time of year!)

Raspberry Agave Chia Drink
  • 1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) raspberries
  • 2 tbsp agave nectar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

Mango Lime Chia Drink

  • 1/2 fresh mango
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
The Recipe

The recipe is fairly similar for both, easy, and takes very little time. Perfect for hot summer days when you want a refreshing, nutritious drink. Or, I imagine it can be easily prepared the night before and be enjoyed while hiking, fishing, or out cycling!

First step, put the chia seeds and 2 cups of water in a glass jar. Set aside and let the chia thicken:



Above is what it looks like after 20 minutes.

While the chia is thickening, mix the fruits/berries with one cup of water until smooth:



The mango with water, and the raspberry with water.

Then, add the fruit-water mixtures and remaining ingredients into the glass jars, mix, then either drink or put in the fridge to enjoy cold!



I left them in the fridge to cool, then enjoyed on my balcony while enjoying the sunshine.



I recommend classing it up with some wine glasses. I may have to invite some of my friends over sometime soon to enjoy these - they are too cute and delicious to hog all to myself!

I can't pick a favorite between the two. The raspberry reminds me of a margarita and the mango is like a refreshing summer cocktail - without the alcohol, and full of nutrients!


There you have it - chia drinks that are really inexpensive, delicious, and simple to make!

I intend on making other versions of this very soon - I'll be sure to post if they are as successful and delicious as these ones!

I'm off to enjoy a beautiful summer evening with friends. Tell me, what is your favorite "healthy" drink?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bonne Fete Du Canada!


Happy (Belated) Canada Day, Eh!




I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday. For those of use who had the day as a statutory day off ... did today also feel like a second Monday this week for you?

I spend the morning doing, as I LOVE to on my days off ... slept in. And missed the Canada Day Parade. Not sorry about it whatsoever.

After some running around with a busy person, I went down to check out the festivities solo and found a large crowd enjoying some live music, draw prizes, sunshine, and the Farmers Market!




I have NO idea why my smartphone started taking such ethereal photos, but bear with me. Imagine it's a Northern fairy-tale or something.


Northern Eggs!

Fried whitefish!

While wandering through the event, I ran into a very festive friend of mine:


With a kilt and all!
Jay Bear was the MC for the event - hilarious as always - and rocking the red, white, and 'hawk! 

And I am sad to say I missed out on this adorable little furball, but I'm giving credit to Jay Bear for taking the photo and sharing the absurd cuteness:


Awwwwwwwwwww


I had missed breakfast (Oops!), so my next mission was to find something nutritious and tasty  to enjoy. Considering it was a quite warm day, it also had to be refreshing.

Thanks Buddah for my friend Lorie, the holistic nutritionist, and her raw food booth at the Farmers Market!


Hi Lorie!

Most of the food had been picked over, but there was some juice left. I picked up some orange-ginger concoction. 


Just what I was looking for! Delicious and full of vitamin C and beta carotene!


I also picked up a jar of kimchi, which is a fermented Korean side dish. It is apparently spicy in taste. It's main benefit is that it is a potent probiotic, but is also has benefit in lowering cholesterol, antioxidant, anti-aging, and more! There is a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food that outlined all of the amazing benefits of kimchi.

This is my first time trying it, but Lorie suggested it is tasty with fish, chicken, and atop salads.


When I finished meandering around the Farmers Market, I went home to have some leftover fried rice and tend to my garden:


I may only have had these herbs for a week, but I am so happy they look so vibrant! I have absolutely no green thumb, so I am excited I am keeping these healthy and alive. I am most excited about the basil - as I love Italian style meals and it is hard to come by fresh basil in my neck of the country! There is also some mint and parsley scattered throughout there - these will be for juicing or flavoring water.



A perfect end to a perfect day: A good book, tea, and the sunset...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Remicade-ing



So, I Remicade-ed on Friday.


I was a wee bit anxious about this treatment - this is my second infusion at a higher dose - and last time I had a bit of an infusion reaction. Chills, nausea, significant fatigue ... I was not looking forward to experiencing this again. 
However... it's that or a flare. I'll take the side effects over full-blown UC.



I was not as prepped as usual, as sleep won in the early morning. I made a chocolate-flavored green smoothie that I drank from a coffee mug. It's speckled with chia seeds and bits of coconut oil!




 Despite my lack of morning preparation, I did manage to pack lunch and snacks. A necessity considering the state of most hospital food.

Mmmmm organic blueberries!



I also brought myself some reading material:



I am aware that I don't need to lose significant amounts of weight, but I loved her first book Meals that Health Inflammation (review to come!). She has such an incredible way of simplifying the science of nutritious eating, and her recipes are stellar. It was an enjoyable ready during lapses of consciousness.




So, due to my infusion reaction, I was offered pre-meds. I was never given these previously, as I tolerated the infusions fairly well. It seemed fairy innocent: oral tylenol, IV benadryl, and IV steroids. 

While the IV benadryl was infusion, I noticed that my left forearm was itchy. I figured it was the tape (some types of surgical tape give my rashes), so I removed the tape from my arm. When the IV steroids began running, at a higher rate than the benadryl, I noticed a burning to my forearm.

Then excruciating pain.



I was rubbing my arm furiously and sought out the nurse, whom brought me a warm blanket to wrap my arm in. I am sure I was a sight: deep breathing, my left arm wrapped in a huge blanket, and shaking my arm to lessen the pain.

When the pain finally ceased several minutes later (which, in my mind, felt like forever) I was hit suddenly with incredible dizziness and mental fog. I was stunned beyond belief. I couldn't even read my book, as the sentences seems nonsensical. I was too nervous to try and stand/walk to see if that would improve the situation as.... I wasn't sure if I would be able to stand!

Eventually powerful fatigue set in. I tried to fight it, as I was getting my vital signs checked every 10 minutes and didn't want to mess up my sleep routine. Despite my best efforts ... I fell  fast asleep. For two hours. Waking up intermittently when my blood pressure cuff would inflate and to have the Sa02 monitor place on my finger, but falling asleep promptly after. The nurse left the blood pressure cuff on my arm to make this process easier, and I was in complete agreement. Less maneuvering and more sleep.



I eventually woke up, drowsy and foggy, but was able to feed myself and flip through a few pages of my book. I was still feeling a bit dumfounded from my reaction to the benadryl and/or steroid, but was relieved I seemed to be recovering.

Lunch was a mixed greens salad, strawberries, sprouts, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, and maple cider dressing.


Delicious and light.

I got up for a short stroll along the tiny unit, just to wake myself up and gain more energy. I had to drag my little friend with me as I trudged along.


If I look tired, it's because I was still in the process of waking up!


With the pre-meds and infusion, I was in the hospital much longer than usual. Apparently this will be ongoing ... which means more hospital time. Boo.

When I went home I went right to bed and napped. It was a warm day, so I had my fan on full blast with my windows open. Along with my chamomile-jasmine-vanilla aromatherapy infusing ... I had a soothing sleep.



My late night dinner: Organic chicken fried rice and maple-glazed brussels sprouts.



I've been going over this last Remicade infusion in my mind all weekend. It was more intense than usual, and it frightened me in a significant way. I did not like feeling so out of sorts, out of control, out of my own skin. As much as I am dependent on this treatment to put me into remission, I keep pondering if there is another way. A way without side effects, hospitalization, and intense fatigue!
However, I am not going to dramatize upon this at the moment. I am hoping I will have an epiphany, or some miracle with present itself, but until that time comes I will have to continue on with present treatment.