Category Archives: Health and Wellness

Who knew?

Carrots and celery and beets — and some apple and pineapple just for fun ūüėČ

Yep, it was so good I drank half of it before I thought to snap a pic.

Thanks to my mother-in-law, I now have the use of a real, live juicer!

Yes. ¬†It is a lot better than my “pioneer woman” version:

Somehow, it actually tastes better from the actual juicer. ¬†I don’t know why.

Now I know what you’re thinking — What about all that nutritious fiber? ¬†Isn’t that why everyone has to plunk down their life savings for the Vitamix? ¬†You are SO behind the times!

Well, let’s just say I have to follow my tummy. ¬†I can barely tolerate cooked, soft fruits and veggies right now. ¬†Juice is the way to get the enzymes, nutrients, etc that I am missing because I just can’t digest raw celery and a bunch of other stuff any other way. (See: ¬†GAPS, Juicing) ¬†Once my system heals a bit more, I will definitely be appreciating keeping all that fiber ala fresh fruits and veggies. ¬†I miss those, I really do.

For now, I love my carrot-celery-beet-apple-pineapple concoction!


Post Thanksgiving chores

Whew! That one is done! Since I can’t find a brand of broth or stock that doesn’t include onions, I decided to try making my own. Jury is still out on whether I can do bone broth or if I should have done meat only — when I get brave enough to try it I’ll let you know!


There has to be something I can eat like a “normal” person…

We made a cake one weekend that I couldn’t eat and it sat in the fridge, just daring me to try it.

And why don’t I?¬† When I ate it that weekend, I ended up with headache, inflammation throughout¬† my body, and a sleepless night.¬† Not to mention my tongue was all scratchy and swelly and my throat was sore.

That had been happening for about a week, in fact.  After furiously searching the Internet for other people like me, I found them:  the SULFITE SENSITIVE!!!!!!!

That tells me that the no-additives journey that I had been on for 8 months at that time (and wasn’t totally sticking to the beaten path) was right on — there are sulfites in pretty much anything that doesn’t arrive on your table straight from the ground.¬† (And some of those, such as onions, garlic, and grapes, have it naturally).

After another two years, in which I have completely let this blog lapse during nursing school, I’ve been trying to cut down to vegetables and fruit, plain meats (prepared with individual spices is ok), unadulterated grains, and anything else I can get away with. ¬†Naturally, I immediately need to beat the odds and find myself SOME kind of junk/comfort/sweet food that I can eat from time to time. ¬†This has for the most part led to frustration — for whatever reason, the “new rage” ingredients in “natural” health food products such as agave nectar, palm oil, and weird flours like Timothy grass do NOT agree with me at all.

The kicker is, there is actually a fair amount of food that I can eat, though preparing everything from scratch does take time. ¬†It’s the social aspect of food that makes this kind of eating difficult. ¬†As an anthropologist, I have studied the social aspects of eating with an eye towards health maintenance. ¬†Those who must follow special diets — those with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, –kidney disease to name a few — experience many barriers to following those diets. ¬†Availability of proper foods is usually not the culprit. ¬†It’s family. ¬†It’s culture. ¬†It’s holidays and trips and visiting friends and school functions and all those multitudes of moments in any culture where food is an expected part — and those moments happen to make up the most part of our lives. ¬†If I try to avoid some of those moments to make it easier on myself or others, I start missing life.

So the next step of my journey, now that I’ve limited so many foods in my diet, is to find a way to add some back in. ¬†Not because I’m missing out nutritionally, but because I don’t want to start missing out on life.


Crackers ‚ÄĒ finally!

You may remember from a previous post I was trying to get my home-made crackers to turn out.  You know, to be crisp and crunchy rather than tough and dense.  Well, I got that pasta maker and finally turned out some crackers to be proud of! 

The pasta maker made the crackers nice and thin, thinner than I was getting with the rolling pin (guess I’m not that good with it!) and, more importantly, an even thickness.

I also used this recipe; the use of ground oats made the dough less ‚Äúpasty‚ÄĚ which I think helped them retain crispness without going all the way to ‚Äúhard.‚ÄĚ

I made just a few modifications to the recipe in the link above, here is my recipe list:

1 1/2 cups oatmeal (ground or processed)

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1 1/2 TB sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup (any) vegetable oil

6 TB cold water

Mix dry ingredients, slowly add wet, send through the pasta maker, cut and bake at 300 F for 30-35 minutes.

They turned out so good!  I’m afraid they wouldn’t hold up to a dip though.  Next time I might replace some of the whole wheat pastry flour with a little bit of white flour, and see if I could use them with humus or something.

Happy crackers!


stocking up on…borscht

Ukrainian Borscht Soup

Not many of us probably think about keeping some Borscht on hand.¬† Some of us don’t even know what Borscht is.¬† But let me tell you, it is a great way to make use of some great beets.¬† And cabbage, carrots, and potatoes.¬† And it is GOOD!

You can find the recipe here, but I did depart from it slightly.¬† I didn’t add the sour cream at the end, because I can’t eat it.¬† The main difference: after following the directions, it seemed a bit, well, uncooked.¬† I let it cook for at least an hour on a low setting.¬† It reduced a bit, and the vegetables melded into each other just the way they should.¬† Absolutely delicious.

It was a busy day:¬† I also made my whole¬†wheat bread again and cooked up our chicken carcass from lunch to make a base for Vietnamese pho’.¬† For eating without a lot of added junk, we are going to be eating well (at least for a few days)!

Quite a day's work!


whole whole-wheat bread

I mentioned the “Laurel’s Bread Book” whole-wheat bread a couple of days ago.¬† This bread turned out to be really good for sandwiches!¬† It holds together well, doesn’t crumble much, and keeps peanut butter and jelly contained while travelling.¬† We tested this the other day by eating lunch in our parked car downtown after doing a bit of Christmas shopping!

It does take a little more planning than the bread machine, but for most of the prep time it’s just, well, sitting there.¬† That’s not too hard, is it?

Whole-Wheat Bread, from “Laurel’s Bread Book” (I have paraphrased here):

2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water

6 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp salt

2 cups lukewarm water (the recipe calls for 2 1/4, but I find this too much.  In fact, next time I might reduce it to 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup oil or butter (if you choose)

The basics of the directions are: 
Mix yeast and warm water; allow to dissolve.¬† *You can skip this step by using rapid rise yeast — use 2 1/2 tsp and add the 1/2 c water to the rest of the water later*
Mix flour and salt; separately mix water, honey, and oil together.  Add honey and yeast mixtures to well in the middle of flour mixture.  Place in a non-oiled bowl (I cover with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel).
You will need three rises, preferably in a warm kitchen (make cookies while bread is rising!):
1st rise:  about 1 1/2 hrs (it should double); let air escape and reshape into round
2nd rise: about 3/4 to 1 hour (it should double again) let air escape and reshape into round
split in two if you like, let rest for ten minutes; shape into loaves and place in pan of your choice
3rd rise:  about 3/4 to 1 hour (it should just start to go over edges of a bread pan, if pan is big enough)
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes, then reduce temp to 325 and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour (45 is usually enough for me, but it is a little moist).

The book has lots of suggestions for variations on this recipe, so if you are feeling adventurous and want some “fancy” bread, borrow it from me or pick up a copy.¬† It’s a lot of fun!


Or what’s a health insurance company for?

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Sunday, March 21 saw the passage of a bill almost a century in the making.

Ever since the costs of health care began to exceed the ability of the majority of Americans to be able to pay for it, in the 1920s according to author Jonathan Cohn, we have been dealing with health insurance companies when we get seriously sick or injured.¬† It wasn’t long before the costs of health insurance also outstripped the ability of many Americans to pay for it, leading to many attempts to rectify that situation by Presidents Roosevelt and Truman, Senator Ted Kennedy and most recently first lady Hillary Clinton.¬† Each was followed by attempts to stop any form of government involvement in the health care debacle.¬† And it was stopped.¬† Until this week, under President Obama.

In the debate that shadowed most of the 20th century, and will continue into the 21st despite the historic passage, I feel that there is a little detail that has gotten lost in the polarization of the issue.

That something is, why health insurance exists.

Health insurance exists because we all need it.¬† Simple as that.¬† If we could pay out-of-pocket for multiple doctor visits, various diagnostic tests, associated prescriptions, and technological marvels like CT or MRI scans, we would.¬† We are honest, responsible people.¬† If we could avoid these when we weren’t able to pay for them, we would.¬† But the nature of health (and illness) is that it won’t wait until you’ve saved the necessary thousands to millions that one can incur.

One of the buzzwords in the debate is “personal responsibility.”¬† It is a very good thing to be personally responsible for yourself, your actions, and your financial obligations.¬† That’s why having health insurance is the responsible thing to do.

In the 1920s, as mentioned above, health care technology had improved to the point where, while it saved many lives and cured many illnesses, the average American could no longer pay out-of-pocket(see article).  This led to the rise of non-profit health insurance cooperatives, and eventually for-profit health insurance companies.  If you pay a monthly amount, the company will pay for the costs you incur if you get sick or injured.

This is a fee-for-service arrangement, not a charity.  The company has told you that it will pay for your medical costs, and your responsibility is a monthly fee, and certain percentages of the costs.  Paying a monthly fee to avoid bankruptcy for yourself and your family is the responsible thing to do, in a society where any illness but the common cold can cost a small fortune to diagnose and treat.

Now lets talk about “corporate responsibility.”¬† Many health insurance companies are not providing the service they promised when you paid them a fee.¬† True, technically they are not breaking their contracts.¬† In practice, however, after they say they will pay and they begin to collect the fee, they are exceptionally good at finding ways not to pay when you get sick.¬† It is well documented that health insurance companies revoke coverage for people who become seriously ill and have hospital bills that the company had agreed would be paid (example here). Many also use any mistake in the health provider’s billing to deny payment (making you ultimately responsible for the amount the insurance company had agreed to pay) (see sickthebook.com).

If we want to continue entrusting our health to health insurance companies, lets at least make sure they are doing what they advertise and say they are doing:  supporting our ability to access needed health care without losing everything.

Next:  Me, myself, and my health:  Poster child for health insurance reform

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