Playing catch up.

I’m sitting here struggling to decide what the title of this post should be…… because I’ve been thinking about writing it since my last post, which was a whole month ago. Why the hiatus? Partially because I have been crazy busy: It’s the end of the semester, we just bought a house, we’re planning our wedding, I work… But then also because I’ve been frustrated and disappointed in myself. Why is it that even though I’ve done Whole 30 now 3 times, I can’t just stick to it? Why can’t I just build the gym back into my routine? Why can’t I successfully practice eating 80% Paleo without totally losing it? How the hell do people do AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) and still have time to do ANYTHING else? It takes so much planning and preparation and TIME! Where do people get all of this time?!?! How did all of these amazing people who I follow on Instagram and whose Cookbooks I own find the time to heal themselves and write these cookbooks?! Where did the money come from???!

I took my first Uber ride yesterday. My driver was named James. He is from Kenya. He loves America but wishes it weren’t SO business-minded all the time. Can’t we all just sit around and hang out and chit chat and drink coffee and reminisce about the good ol’ days? Amen, James.

So, I’m sitting here drinking the most disgusting concoction known to mankind…….

IMAG00801

…… Colonoscopy prep, for those who are unfamiliar…… and it’s the first time in a while that I can remember just sitting. Without anything pressuring me to get done this very instant. I do need to do my nails, but I can prioritize…. So finally I have time to really reflect on my last month. A month of trying to eat well, but failing. Of telling myself that I’ll get back to it. That it’ll be okay. The good thing is that it will be okay and I will get back to it. My mindset has already shifted and I’ve got 2 days carved out next week to dedicate to shopping and cooking. But how do I fix the fact that I know I’ve not been doing my already sick body no favors, but I’ve still carried on doing it? I’ve eaten everything from Pop Tarts to Doritos, to Reese’s and Lucky Charms, to mall Chinese food and Pizza. Things I know don’t sit well with me. Things I know cause me inflammation. Things I know are made with shit ingredients. Things that go against what I truly believe about eating and treating my body right. How powerful our minds are that I can still somehow convince myself that it is okay. I consider myself to be a pretty strong person, though I also consider myself to be a realist. I think that it is reasonable to say eating a slice of cake and a scoop of ice cream for your birthday is not the end of the world.  Some cream in your coffee or a slice of swiss cheese every once in a while is not going to kill you. Eating 100% Whole 30 or even Paleo, forever, is certainly possible, but also certainly difficult. But boy is it easy to feel vulnerable when you feel like you can’t totally control yourself.

I do a lot of reading. Not only to keep myself educated and in the loop, but to keep myself motivated. Even if the motivation isn’t instantaneous; if it doesn’t make me throw away every trace of gluten in my house, it still keeps me constantly thinking about how I know I can do better.  At the end of the day, I know that everybody is different. Some of us have far more self-discipline than others. Some of us enjoy the gym, while some of us hate it. Some of us are capable of coming up with our own rules, while others need the rules spelled out for them. I feel like I fall on the more flawed, or weaker side of all possible alternatives, but I figure if I keep pushing forward my habits will eventually change.

At the end of the day, I want to live a long life. I don’t want to be on medications that require me to inject myself every other week. I don’t want to have to drink this abysmal drink every year. I don’t want to have to run to the bathroom all the time. I don’t want to be worried that I won’t be around to grow old with my future husband because I just had to have another bowl of Lucky Charms. (No, I don’t think Lucky Charms will actually be the death of me, but you see what I’m sayin…)

I want to be strong enough to do what’s best for me, my health and my future. I want to help others be healthy. I want to travel the world without having to worry about medications and doctors. I want to have a family that I can take care of without worrying about Crohn’s bringing me down. I want to have the energy to play sports. I want to look in the mirror and be proud of the way I look because I’ve gotten myself there, not because the disease has caused me to wither away. I want to be in control of my destiny. I want all my fellow Crohnies to know they are NOT alone.

The good news is… I will have a family – starting with my amazing, supportive, handsome hubby to be. We will travel.

I will fight this disease with food and win.

I will be proud of myself.

I am strong enough.

Stay tuned 🙂

Advertisements

Above all: listen. to. your. body. and mind.

I’ve been quiet for a week or so… Missed me?! Jk, I’m not that vain. It’s been a roller coaster over here! I stayed home from work last Wednesday after going a bit over a week with the most awful tummy gurgles that wouldn’t go away and seemed to get worse the healthier I ate. It started to seriously stress me out. I was frustrated, angry sometimes, determined and hopeful others, but overall, it took its toll and I was stressing. If you know anything about chronic diseases: it’s probably that stress exacerbates symptoms. If you’ve read any of my prior posts, you may remember the one titled “You’re looking too thin” – thanks, Mom. But no seriously, she was right (isn’t Mom always?..) This past Thursday I went to the doctor for this fantastically pleasant feeling of my ears being clogged with liquid, which caused me to constantly feel like I was yelling at everybody because sound was super magnified. Super! So, I went to the doctor, and I stepped on the scale as is routine, and…

I weighed…..

140.

Guys. I haven’t weighed 140 since…………. I can’t even remember. Probably when I was like 10. I was a pudgy kid. I’m 5’7″ so I don’t look deathly ill, but I look the thinnest I ever have and it’s NOT for a good reason, and it’s not a goal of mine to lose any weight at all really – let alone 12 pounds in a few weeks, nor is it because I’m starving myself; y’all know that. It’s because my body has been holding ZERO nutrients. I’ve been colder than usual all the time lately (but no fever), anything that touches my lips has caused the T-Rex in my stomach to awaken, I’ve spent more time in the bathroom than I care to share, and I’ve looked paler than usual (for those who know me, I know that’s scary to imagine…). ANYHOW, as you can probably imagine, this stripped me of that last bit of determination and hope I had, and launched my already stressing out, frustrated, angry self into a different gear. I had to down shift. I had to stop using the little bit of energy I had left between work and school to just be in the kitchen and shopping and worrying about making sure my meals followed such a strict regimen. I LOVE Whole 30. I believe in it. I LOVE Paleo, I believe in it. I LOVE AIP, I believe in it and look forward to doing it. But I had to be a human for a minute. So, we left the Doctor and went to run some errands, aaaand I had rice with my lunch. And you know what? No violent gurgling. How about that.

I go to DC next week for work, where I’ll eat the best I can, and upon my return will dive into AIP.

I have an appointment scheduled with a reputable Naturopath this coming Thursday. After a lot of reading, it seems like my gurgly symptoms may be due to a bacterial overgrowth, so I’m looking forward to getting this hopefully figured out, figure out the right probiotic balance for myself, and to get back on track.

UNTIL THEN, I have been sooooooooooooo much less stressed, the gurgling has not completely gone away, but is far more infrequent. At first, I felt a little bit like a failure. One of my friends at work even said, “BUT MELISSA, YOU HAVE FOLLOWERS!!!” when he saw me munching on a non-compliant french fry. One fry. And although he was kidding, it is tough to not feel like you’ve failed. But I KNOW that I haven’t. My beliefs of healing myself through diet have not changed. A hiatus is not the end of the world. I have done too much good, and will continue to do so, for a brief detour to throw me off track.

Michael-Jordan

Listen to your body. Doing GOOD for your body should never cause negative encroachment in the rest of your life. Listen to your body. Listen to your mind.

How To Love A Crohnie

I have the best companion in this life. Hands down. So much love!!!!!

Love Is All You Need

Here are some things you can do to make your relationship with a Crohnie more successful, enjoyable, etc.:

  1. Gratitude
    1. The moment you appreciate someone for their difference(s), the closer you come to loving them and yourself.  If they’re different, then so are you; You’re different from them!
    2. If you think a relationship (of any kind) with a Crohnie is difficult, imagine what it’s like for them.  They live with it every waking moment, and even while they sleep.  You can be grateful to know a Chronie even if for the simple, selfish fact that they remind you you’re not the one with Crohn’s.
  2.  Hug
    1. Whether it’s sympathy or empathy, a compassionate hug goes a long way.
    2. Try to feel some of their stress and frustration pass into you.  And then let it go for them.
  3. Listen
    1. This is another way you can assist in the dissipation of anyone’s stress.

View original post 45 more words

Tostones… will make your soul smile :D

There are a million different ways to make plantains. And they’re all delicious; that’s scientific fact. So, I’ve been waiting to make them in all their different ways and take beautiful pictures so I could do an all up post on all the beautiful varieties to make plantains. BUT, today, I had a moment where I was like, dude, you work full time and go to school full time… maybe you don’t always have to be an overachiever. 

So, although I’m embarrassed at the quality of images I’ve posted on here thus far, considering I’m a photog and actually have a nice camera and what-not, how about until I’m not doing a million other things in life, camera phone pictures are acceptable and if I can’t do the EXACT post I intend to, it’s a win that I do one at all. Cool? Very cool.

I stayed home from work today. I HATE calling out sick, but I slept 14 hours, so I’d say my body needed it. And my night was bathroom-trip laden. No bueno. I think I’m all of a sudden allergic to all things…. eeeeverything activates my digestive system. I’m over it!!!!

The GOOD news though, is that regardless of if my body is revolting against all of the delicious and nutritious foods I put in it, people are actually looking at the pics I post and asking for recipes!! Which makes me extremely happy. As long as your body doesn’t hate you like mine does, it will thank you for eating these foods 🙂

By far, the most asked for recipe thus far has been the one for tostones. Which are twice friend plantains. Without further ado…!

disclaimer: the steps are long and involved. I have literally been making these for years and have messed up a LOT. I’ve got it down to a science now, so I think these steps will help you achieve the best success! Slash I’m wordy. 

What you need…

  • 1 green plantain (will yield enough for 1-2 people depending on how much else you’re eating… about 8-10 tostones, depending on how big the plantain is!)
  • Coconut oil (I’m waiting on my shipment of ghee, which I’m looking forward to making them with as well.. I’ve read good things)
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • A cutting board
  • A mug with a flat bottom
  • large pan (if you want to do the whole plantain at once, trust me, you need the large)

What you’re doing with it…

  • Prepping is half the battle, so make sure your cutting board is set up right next to your pan, and next to the cutting board, have a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle the paper towel with salt and garlic powder.
  • Microwave the plantain for 30 seconds. This will help to soften the skin, and you WILL thank me.
  • It will be hot when you go to take it out, and don’t be surprised to see a few scorch marks. Please handle with care.
  • Preheat your large pan on medium heat and put a generous tablespoon of coconut oil in it
  • Cut off the ends of the plantain
  • Cut a slit the long way down (just the skin; don’t cut INto the plantain!)
  • Peel the skin off. Should come off pretty easily. If not, you may not have microwaved it long enough. The greener the plantain, the firmer, and the harder to peel.
  • Cut the plantains into inch-ish thick rounds
  • Your oil should be getting hot, so go ahead and drop them in one by one
  • It should take about 2 minutes for you to start seeing the color of the side that’s in the oil turning darker and yellow, once that starts happening, flip them
  • Another 2 mins on the other side until the pieces have completely transformed in color. Note: you do not want your oil to be too hot! This should be a relatively slow and patient fry, though not annoyingly long, I promise. All stoves are different, so adjust down a bit if they are getting brown too quickly… too quickly means they are burning before you can flip them)
  • Take the pieces out one or two at a time and mash them with the bottom of a mug (in the picture you’ll see I used a I don’t even know what it is, but it’s clear so you can see what it should look like!)toston mashed
  • Once they’re smashed, drop them back into the pan and continue smashing until they are all done. Your pan will look like below…. it will get crowded… and you’re welcome, if you listened and used a large pan.tostones in pan
  • Let them fry until they are a desired brown. You want them to be hard on the outside with some darker brown. They will still be soft on the inside unless you let them fry to a crisp…. (Like the little burnt pieces you’ll see on my paper towel…. loooove the burnt pieces!!!)
  • Once at desired brownness, take them out one by one and place on paper towel, and immediately sprinkle with salt and garlic powder on top.tostones finished

Eat plain, eat with ketchup or BBQ or hot sauce (Tessemae’s makes THE best ketchup and BBQ sauce…Whole 30 compliant, no added anything, all natural baby! Their hot sauce is great too, though I’m sort of obsessed with Frank’s) But whatever your little heart desires, you’re gonna love ’em. As we say in Venezuela: buen provecho! ❤

When life gives you lemons……..

….Make Lemon Garlic Chicken! .. That sounded just as corny as I expected it to. Perfect.

If you’ve read any prior posts (so pretty much my boyfriend Matt, and like three of my friends), you probably know I’ve felt crappy this whole past week. It’s sucked. On top of feeling crappy, Matt is out of town. Which apparently makes me spend more money????! SInce he’s left, I’ve ordered a spiralizer, like 5 Paleo cookbooks (including Inspiralized), a few different digestive enzymes, essential oils… I don’t even know what else…. Welp, at least it’s all good for me.

I haven’t felt this blah since the last time I had pizza and ice cream in my regular diet, so naturally, I get desperate. Why is it happening?! I’m eating super clean! I sleep well! Why does everyone else get to eat burgers and fries and be fine?! So now I immediately want to do every possible calming technique I know, while oil pulling, while using essential oils, while drinking aloe juice and eating at least one fermented food per day, while…. youuuuu get it. All the while knowing that being sick trumps all sometimes. When life gives you lemons….

So I’ve had smoothies and mashed potatoes and mashed plantains and applesauce and…. you know what… I’ve felt slightly better. And I think the digestive enzymes have helped. In fact, I forgot to take them with the food I ate most recently, and I have had more of a gurgly tummy. So I think those might actually be working. Winning. I do wish my body didn’t find such an issue with fruits though, that I’ll say. I’m about 95% sure I’m fructose intolerant. Joy. When life gives you lemons!!!…..

ANYWAY, while on the topic of safe foods, chicken is almost always a safe bet for me, so one of my favorite go-to meals is easy, super flavorful, and delicious.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

What you need…

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2-3 fresh cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic dressing
  • salt
  • pepper

What you’re doing with it…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper
  3. Coarsely chop garlic (you want the pieces to be small-ish)
  4. Slice shallots and lemon thinly (lemon should yield 9-10 slices)
  5. Pour Tessemae’s Lemon Garlic marinade on the bottom of a 9×12 Pyrex (I’ve done this part with a mixture of Olive oil and lemon, too. It’s just not the same. The Tessemae’s is the perfect compliment)
  6. Place chicken breasts in the pan and sprinkle chopped garlic, shallots and capers onto the chicken. Layer the lemon slices on top.
  7. Cover with tin foil, set the timer for 35 minutes and wait (aka clean the kitchen).
  8. Let it cook uncovered for 5 minutes after the timer goes off.

lemon chix raw

Now I can’t find my after picture…… *sigh* ….. Know it looks even better than above with some brown on it 🙂 And I think it looks pretty damn good like that ^!

Do you have “safe foods” that you turn to when your tummy is upset???

‘Til next time….. 🙂

Man….. Diseases super suck……

Think of something that totally sucks. Anything! Having a bird poop on your head… stepping in gum… your phone not loading a web page when it says it’s on LTE…. now multiply that by 19 and that, my friends, is how much my digestive system has sucked this week. That’s a whole lot of suck. In Crohnie land, we call that a flare-up. Your Crohn’s symptoms rear their ugly heads all the time. Really, all the time. Drink too much water, bathroom break. Move the wrong way in bed, bathroom break. Just think about potentially taking a deep breath, bathroom break. You get the point. When flaring, typically it means your intestinal inflammation is out of control (sometimes it is accompanied with fever and pains, too. Joy!). To combat the flare, it’s in your best interest to only consume foods that are easy to digest. During my last 2 Whole 30 stints, I had zero Crohn’s symptoms, no flaring at all. So this took me by surprise and has been every level of frustrating. BUT, it could be worse. 🙂 It could always be worse. That’s a good thing to remind yourself of every once in a while.

Earlier today I got a call from a good friend. She called to tell me that her doctor thinks she has Ulcerative Colitis. For those who don’t know, UC is essentially the sister to Crohn’s. While Crohn’s can affect any part of your GI tract, UC affects only your colon, but otherwise, similar symptoms. I was already in a bit of a mood when she called; what having eaten all of probably 400 calories since I woke up 6 hours before, feeling tired and bloated and annoyed and blaaahhh. But as soon as she called, my heart broke and softened all at the same time. All of a sudden, I was transported to 4 years ago. I was the one who had just been diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease. I was in pain, and confused, and relieved because there was a name for what was wrong with me, and I didn’t know who to call or what to do or what to ask or what I even needed to hear. In that moment today, all that mattered, was being a support system for a friend who needed somebody.

My heart didn’t break because she had received a death sentence. Or because her life is gonna suck so bad now. It broke because every. single. day. I watch people eat complete crap. And I see commercials promoting processed foods as being “healthy” when they’re so far from it. And I want so badly to help them. All of them. I want so so so badly to make them understand the damage they are doing to their bodies. I want them to understand the reality that IBDs do not discriminate. The more crap you put in, the more likely your chances of landing a never-ending date with some form of digestive disorder. Frankly, I don’t care that it’s not 100% proven that processed foods are the cause of these diseases, and I do believe that genetics play a role too, but there is enough science, and logic, to back the theory.

A few days ago, another friend of mine, who’s had Crohn’s since she was very young, started a group conversation on Facebook focused around this article and asked for my, along with a few other Crohnie’s opinions. (It’s a quick read, and it pretty much says that studies are linking common food additives with Crohn’s and Colitis.) I think it’s important to note that there are different levels of Crohn’s. My Crohn’s is different from the Crohn’s of people who – like my friend – have had their intestines removed. The disease definitely affects each person differently. From where I stand, what the article is stating makes perfect and logical sense to me (even though I do also believe there is more to it), but there are a lot of folks out there, even those already with Crohn’s, who don’t believe it – because they got sick at a young age, but their siblings or parents didn’t when they all ate the same diet. I see where they’re coming from, but since it’s also proven that eating well DOES help, why not try. You literally have nothing to lose. And I PROMISE you won’t miss cheese, or bread, or goldfish, or whatever it is you think you can’t live without, nearly as much as you think.

Don’t let the disease you have define you.

Recipes coming later this weekend. 🙂

“You’re starting to look too thin…” (eat some Coconut Curry Chicken)

… said my Mom to me a couple days ago. (Except for the eat some chicken part… that just means there’s a recipe at the end of this post) …Anyway, I was all, funny, because i’ve felt kinda blah and not so thin the last few days..

Throughout my journey with Crohn’s, I’ve been given lots of advice. Certain pieces of advice stick out more than others, usually the ones that actually help. I remember reading an article a while ago in which somebody was talking about how awkward they feel when someone says that they look great! and have lost so much weight! and what on earth have you been doing?! Because then she gets to be like, oh, well, I got this disease that makes me shit a lot and causes my body to not really keep in any nutrients… thanks. Moral of the story was that people mean well and that exact situation will happen to you, likely many times, and so you should be prepared with how you want to respond.

If you had told me at any point in my life prior to Crohn’s that someone would tell me I was thin, I would have taken another bite of my bagel and laughed between sips of my iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts with cream and 3 splenda (*shudder*)… And now, 4ish years later, if you’d have told me someone would tell me I look thinner than I already did, I definitely would have told you you’re high. However, here we are. And it’s true… which is weird for me. While on Whole 30, you don’t count calories or really worry about how much you’re eating; it’s all about what you’re eating and how your body feels. In my last 2 stints, by day 11 (that’s today), I was feelin’ like I was on top of the world. I was reintroducing raw veggies and it was going well, and I was able to have some fruit without dying and it was lovely. Today?????????????????? I might as well have been eating pizza and ice cream yesterday with the way my bowels have reacted. The. Worst. I even had to leave work early today… Not a thing I do. I told my co-worker (and good friend) that I wasn’t feeling well and was really cold and felt like I must look like — and before I could finish he said, shit. You do. Look like shit. Thanks, Ryan, love you too. lol, but hey, again, the truth.

Anyhow, I got home and passed out for 3 hours and woke up to Matt shaking me awake yelling, babe! look! there’s a squirrel trying to get into our produce delivery! (we get a weekly organic produce box delivery)(also, he didn’t shake me)(nor was he yelling)(but whatever – absurdities make for better stories)(and there was for real a squirrel), drank a bunch of water and started to feel hungry. Ate some leftover coconut curry chicken & veggies (light on the curry though; didn’t really make it spicy this time), and almost immediately paid a visit to the restroom. Landed on a smoothie for dinner being a good idea and thus far am doing alright… BUT, since I’ve learned to listen to my body and feeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelllll…… I don’t think my night is quite over yet.

So what I’m saying is: despite all of my Whole 30 rule following, meaning I have been eating the best I possibly can, despite putting my best foot forward and treating my body the best I know I can, despite not eating Doritos and Lucky Charms and Macaroni & Cheese and Pizza and all of the other things I watch everybody else eat, I feel defeated today. I feel betrayed. My disease has defeated me and my body has betrayed me.

Makes a girl feel like giving up.

But she won’t.

So when you feel sugar craving headaches and withdrawals from Coca-Cola and coffee with cream and whatever other things, and it’s day three and you’re SURE you can’t make it…… I promise you can. And even when it feels like it’s not working, it IS. I promise it is.

Now, the thing I know you all care about the most…. This recipe is kind of a spin off of Massaman Curry – Matt’s favorite dish when we go out for Thai. He is wholly responsible for this creation. Enjoy 🙂

Mouth-Watering Coconut Curry Chicken

What you need…

  • 3 chicken breasts (or more if you like it chicken-y, which I do… but we only had 3 left last night)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 6 oz. can of tomato sauce (not paste! not crushed with basil! not ketchup! just plain good ol’ tomato sauce!)
  • 2 oz. coconut aminos
  • 3 cups of veggies of your choice. (We used carrots, green beans, loosely-chopped onions, broccoli and cauliflower) – If this were not Whole 30, I’d have added a few peas myself 😉 Peppers are also nice, my tummy just doesn’t love them.
  • 1 tbsp of red curry paste for flavor (another tbsp for heat)
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Salt
  • Pepper

What you’re doing with it…

  1. Cut the chicken into chunks
  2. Cut the veggies into manageable sized pieces that wouldn’t be awkward to eat if scooping with a spoon
  3. Mix all ingredients above except the shredded coconut! into the Crockpot.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Cook in Crockpot 4-5 hours on high (that’s how we’ve done it and it comes out perfect. On low for 7-8 hours would work too, though.
  6. Once the stuff in the Crockpot is pretty much done, it’s time to…. toast some shredded coconut! Do this in a pan on medium heat. (This can also be done in the oven, but the toasting happens quickly and I think it is much easier to manage on the stovetop.) You’ll know they’re done when there are varying shades of brown and it smells like heaven.

coconut curry chicken

We serve this amazingness over a bed of cauliflower rice, and with the toasted coconut flakes sprinkled on top. BON APPETIT!