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My Raw Resolution

5 Jan

The holidays are over.  The cookies are gone.  The desserts have been devoured.  All that remains is one muffin top…mine.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a lovely holiday.  I visited with friends and family, and I didn’t go crazy with my eating.  But…by Christmas day, I felt terrible.  In fact, was tired most of December.  My energy level was way down from normal and I had the blues a bit, especially after Christmas.  Maybe some of that was just normal post-holiday emotions, but I think a majority of it was from my diet that was consisting of more starches and sugars than what I am used to eating.

Also, about a year ago, I noticed a small lump along my bikini line which scared the daylights out of me until I did some research and saw a doctor and found out I have a femoral hernia.  It’s a rare type of hernia that occurs mostly in women and can be caused by pregnancy.  I was relieved that it wasn’t anything more serious.

I noticed that when I eat too much, my gut really bothers me.  I had an episode just after Thanksgiving that almost sent me to the hospital.  If you have ever had intestinal pain, you will know what I’m talking about.  I almost passed-out, was throwing-up, and then broke-out into hives, all from pain in my gut.

I did some research on hernia surgery and thought I was going to have to have surgery right away to avoid another emergency situation.  Then I stumbled upon some websites that examined healing a hernia without surgery.   Being the crunchy girl that I am, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.  General anesthesia scares me to death!  If I’m going to have surgery, I would rather it be for a tummy tuck than to fix a hernia! But I’m probably too chicken for that, too.

I also read that, contrary to common medical advice, moderate exercise, including abdominal strengthening, can actually help to heal a hernia (depending of the type and severity).

I was training for a sprint triathlon last year and stopped my training, in part, because I was afraid I was going to make it worse.  I plan to start Pilates and yoga from home and I am going to resume walking/jogging and swimming.

The best site I found so far is the  Hernia Bible.  It’s filled with information about diet and exercises to heal a hernia naturally.  Here are the basics:

The principles of the hernia diet

  • Reduce the overall quantity of food you eat.
  • Eat mostly foods which are easily digested and pass quickly through your digestive system. These help to reduce the amount of time food stays in your intestines (‘transit’ time), and make bowel motions soft and easy.
  • Eat foods which help to reduce gas and lubricate your intestines.
  • Eat foods rich in nutrients which help to maintain the integrity of collagen and elastin in your abdominal wall.
  • Consider eating only two meals a day instead of three. Skipping breakfast means your intestines should only contain one meal’s worth of food by lunchtime. This greatly reduces the volume of your abdomen and the pressure on your inguinal gap.

After reading this, I thought, raw food fits the bill here for sure.  I knew I needed to get flour and sugar back out of my diet, and I needed to cut-out meats and cheeses for a while because they are digested too slowly.

“A diet that is high in fibre, wholegrains, vegetables and fruit and low in dairy products, meat, white flour and sugary foods will assist in reducing your transit time to 12 hours or so and in reducing your overall appetite. In turn this reduces the volume of your abdominal contents.”  The Hernia Bible

Recommended Supplements:

The strength and integrity of your abdominal wall depends on the strength and integrity of the collagen and elastin proteins which are its main structural components. For optimal collagen integrity, your body needs an ample daily supply of the following nutrients:

  • Vitamin A, Vitamin C
  • Calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, sulphur,
  • The amino acid arginine found in most protein foods but especially nuts

I try to get my vitamins and minerals from food sources whenever possible, and the best Vitamin C source I have found is a 100% food concentrate from Acerola Berry.  I use Healthforce Nutritionals Truly Natural Vitamin C.  I just add a tablespoon to a green smoothie.

Since I’m not eating meat, I have included nuts and seeds in my diet as well as an L-Arginine supplement.  Nuts, together with sunflower and sesame seeds, are the best all-round sources of zinc, copper, calcium, magnesium and arginine–nutrients which your body needs to make collagen for strong connective tissue.  I am adding sunflower and pumpkin seeds to my salads and am snacking on Go Raw’s Super Cookies, which are made with coconut, sesame seeds, and dates.  That’s it.

They have other flavors too, but I have only tried the original so far.  My kids love them too.  When I have some time, I’m going to make some myself.  I have a super recipe for raw cookies with sprouted oat groats, raisins, and cinnamon.

I admit, it sure helps owning a health food store. I am able to try things, often for free from companies and see if they taste good and test how they work.  I will be trying lots of new products and let you know what I think.

So, where to start?  I started with green smoothies.  Today I used frozen bananas, frozen strawberries, coconut water or spring water, and TONS of spinach.

The BlendTec sure helps.  My regular BlendTec is at the store, so I ordered this refurbished Starbucks blender on Ebay.  I prefer mine over this one.

Here are my kids enjoying their smoothies.  As a mom, I can’t do anything on my own.  Everyone wants to join in.  I guess that’s a good thing!

RawFamily.com has some great green smoothie video demonstrations if you are not sure how to make a green smoothie that actually tastes good.

I’m getting ready to make some videos of my own, so keep checking back.

So far, I’m down almost 6 pounds in 3 days.  My energy level is WAY up, and everything is moving well, if you know what I mean. My only cheat has been coffee in the morning with a bit of organic half and half.  I haven’t had any coffee in the afternoon, though.  That’s progress for me:)

I’ll keep you posted about my raw food resolution.  My plan is to continue eating raw for about three weeks.  At that point, I will re-evaluate my progress.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year,

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Better Late than Never!

23 Dec

We all have our strengths, and our weaknesses.  I am terrible at getting Christmas cards out.  I’m good at picking them out and ordering them.  It’s the addressing, stamping and mailing part that challenges me.

Just to illustrate, my husband and I were married in October of 1995.  I had the cutest cards made with our wedding picture and the words “Marry Christmas”. Get it, “Marry” instead of “Merry”?

Anyway, I must have had 150 of these lovelies made up.  I wrote little thank you notes for our wedding in them, addressed them, and stamped them.  Well…about 10 years later, I found a box full of them!  Stamped, addressed, everything!  What happened?

I know some people got them, because they felt it necessary to inform me that I misspelled “Merry”. Urgh!

I ALMOST put them in the mail and blamed it on the post office.  I was so embarrassed that so many people didn’t get a thank you note from our wedding.  Oh well, I moved on.

That brings me to Christmas 2010.  We had the cutest pictures taken in October (plenty of time), ordered Christmas cards, and never got them out.

Fast forward to this year.  I just couldn’t justify ordering more cards after my failure to follow through last year.  So, it’s last years card you get!

Yes, I am mailing out last years card.  I wonder how many people will even notice?  I don’t think I would.  I would be too busy admiring those cute kids!

Just to update things a bit, I included a picture from our daughter’s wedding in October of 2011.  Isn’t she beautiful?

My only expense was $13 for the copies of the pictures and postage.  Not bad.

They are all addressed and ready to go to the post office today.  Hope I don’t find them is some box in ten years:)

Merry Christmas!

Cookie Day is Coming!

4 Dec

Every year, my very best girlfriends, whom I have known since I was five, get together along with our families and decorate Christmas cookies.  My friends are four sisters who have adopted me into their “sisterhood” since I have no sisters of my own (boo hoo).

Sadly, they all live about two hours away and every year my family drives up to one of their houses and we don’t get home until after midnight.  So this year, they are all coming to my house for a “Cookie Day Slumber Party”!

It’s going to be so fun!  It’s a good thing I got the house in order for Thanksgiving.

Thankfully, all of their kids are getting older now, because one year I hosted cookie day and had colored frosting from one end of my newly carpeted house to the other.  I forgave them, because all five of my kids have grown-up with this tradition and have, undoubtedly done the same.

I remember my Sarah last year just sitting at the decorating table eating a mound of frosting.  It wasn’t pretty.  In fact, I think she had more green sprinkles than frosting.  It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.

Each family brings a load of sugar cookies that we have already baked and then we can all just chose any of the cookies on the table to decorate.  It’s fun that way because every gets a greater variety of shapes.

We used to try to bake the cookies the same day, but I always seemed to burn mine because I would get distracted chatting.  So now I just burn my own at home:)

I’ve been thinking about how to get prepared for cookie day and remembered the most amazing cookie blog ever, Bake at 350.  I found it last year and suggested to my friends that we take our cookie decorating to the next level.  I even emailed a link to the blog to them and none of them even looked at it.

So, it was tubs of nasty frosting with food coloring and powdered sugar and milk with food coloring for the 30th year.

Well, this year, it’s at MY house!  We are going to kick it up a notch!

Take a look at these babies:

Did I mention that my friends and I get pretty “into” our decorating.  I won’t call us competitive, but…ok, we can get a bit competitive.  Unfortunately, I am definitely not the best cookie decorator.  I think that honor probably goes to one our daughters.

I love these trees, too!  Aren’t the dots so cute?

The trick, according to Bridget at Bake at 350, is to outline, then fill, then flood with frosting.  We will be expanding our frosting repertoire this year to include outlining, filling, and flooding.  I can’t wait!

Are feeling inspired?  Are you getting hungry?

Here are some tips from Bake at 350 to help you get organized and will make your cookie baking more enjoyable:

First…take a look at your supplies.  You’re going to need:

If you are planning on mailing your cookies or giving as gifts, you will need:

OK….next.  Start early.  Cookie decorating is really more fun if you break it up into chunks.   
Do one of the following to make life easier:

  • make the dough ahead and freeze (thaw in the fridge overnight)
  • bake the cookies and freeze (thaw at room temperature for a few hours)
  • bake the cookies the day before decorating
  • make the icing a day (or so) before decorating (if you are doing fine detail work, you’ll want to make this the same day you are using)

I think I’ll be baking the cookies a few days in advance so I can use my time to get ready for company.

Here is the recipe that I used last year and the cookies were awesome.  I love how they held-up and they tasted better than the others (sorry girls!).  Notice that it calls for sugar with vanilla beans.  I’ve been storing vanilla beans in my sugar ever since I read about it last year.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies (from Bake at 350)

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Enjoy and have fun!