Hello! I’m back after a two-week hiatus from blogging, and I have to say I’ve missed it! Almost two weeks ago, I had an unexpected surgery to remove my infected appendix, so I’ve spent the last ten days focusing on recovery.
If you’ve been following my blog for long, you know that my passion is health, nutrition, and taking care of my body. Ever since I had a rough bout with my health about 10 years ago, it has been my quest to build my body up strong. I am a doer – I like to get stuff done. I also have countless interests to pursue, and my list of round-to-its keeps getting longer. So feeling good and healthy is a necessity for me! And one that has developed into a passion for healthy food, recipes, and practices that nourish my body.
Even though all of this sounds like a very positive thing – and I think it still is – I also realize now that it had led (without me being aware) to the feeling that I can control my life, my health, my body. When my body was sick years ago, I had no control, and it stunk. So the more effort I put into my diet and taking care of myself, the more control I felt I had.
Well, how wrong was I! On Tuesday, May 7th I did not feel good. I just lacked energy in general. When I think back, my energy level had been lagging for about 2 weeks. Those close to me remember me complaining about being tired. So what did I do? Assuming my seasonal allergies were causing inflammation, I focused on what I put into my body.
But by the evening of May 7th, I hurt. I had a constant pain in my right lower abdomen. Thinking it was a cyst on an ovary, which I’ve had before, I took an Advil and went to bed. I tossed and turned until about 12am. The pain was pretty terrible at this point, so after a couple of hours of gritting my teeth, I told Rob I needed to go to the ER. I had the feeling that something needed to come out of my body – a cyst, my appendix – who knows, but something.
After receiving pain and nausea medicines through an IV and having a CT scan of my entire abdomen and pelvis, I was sent home with the conclusion that I must have a terrible stomach virus coming on. I curled up in the fetal position on my couch until about 8:30 when the ER doctor called back. Apparently, when they double checked my CT scan, the second doctor found a little stone blocking the opening of my appendix. So back to the ER I went for more tests. By 4pm, the conclusion was I needed my appendix removed. I had a laproscopic operation (my first surgery ever!) to rid my body of my badly infected appendix.
Due to the nature of infection in an appendix, I was required to have IV antibiotics and follow up at home with 2000mg of two different strong antibiotics (8 pills a day!) for 10 days. Yuck. Have I mentioned how much I hate antibiotics? My body is allergic to 3 common groups of antibiotics – penicillin, sulfa, and quinolones – so it’s clear that I just don’t like them. I credit them (along with my gluten and sugar filled, nutritionally lacking diet) with sending my gut into a tailspin 10 years ago. I believe the gut is the foundation of good health, and I was currently completely wrecking mine and all the work I’d put into building it back up over the years.
Hospitals are a great place to pray. I prayed. The smart part of my brain knew just how life saving these antibiotics were to me. The controlling part of my brain was just plain ticked off. Why was my body sick again? I’m so good to my body!!
Back to my prayer. God, I know you have a plan in EVERYTHING. And I trust you. I sat next to a woman on a plane to Albuquerque for a girls getaway about a year ago. This was probably at the height of my “anti-medicine, I can control everything” moment. She struggled to have children because of a health condition, and she has to be on a strong medicine for the duration of all of her pregnancies. She was on her way to a conference where a holistic doctor was the featured speaker. At a previous event, she had the chance to personally talk to this holistic doctor, and she asked the one question she was troubled by – is it okay that I am taking this medicine while pregnant because I do not want to harm my baby. The doctor gave her this advice “Every day before you take that pill, hold it in your fingers and thank God for this medicine that has allowed you to live a healthy life and be the vessel that brings this new life into the world.”
I’ve never forgotten that story. So, I looked up at the two antibiotics dripping into my veins, and I thanked Him for those medicines.
As of yesterday, I am off the antibiotics and now I begin the quest to heal my gut. I actually began this project while taking the medicines. I took three maximum strength probiotics each day, two hours after each dose of antibiotics. I’m happy to say, by the grace of God (because I can’t control anything, remember?!), that I made it through without stomach upset, yeast infections, or diarrhea.
For my first recipe blog post back in the saddle, I chose to re-post. Creamy asparagus soup was the first thing I craved while recovering. My sweet mom (thank you Mom!) did what moms do – she got on a plane the day of my surgery – so she was here to help me, starting by making me this soup. I had so much fluid in my abdomen and all over (I felt like a football player!), so the asparagus helped take a little of that off. Plus, one of the antibiotics changed my taste buds and left me with a horrible taste in my mouth. The tangy taste of this soup was the only food that sounded good to me.
Good thing it is one of the simplest to make. Start by soaking raw cashews in a little almond or coconut milk in the large Vitamix container.
Second, zest a lemon and add the zest plus the juice to the Vitamix. Season with a little salt and pepper.
Next, cut the asparagus and the onion into one inch pieces, and peel two garlic cloves. Place the asparagus, onion, and garlic in a medium saucepan and add four cups of organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegan soup). Let it simmer for about an hour.
Last, add the broth with cooked veggies to the Vitamix, and blend on high for about a minute. Before turning on the Vitamix, cover the lid with a towel to avoid injury. Serve immediately or chill before serving for a cold option.
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- zest from 1 lemon
- juice from 1 lemon
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 small purple onion, cut into pieces
- 4 cups organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth for a vegan soup)
- 2 cloves garlic
- In the Vitamix or other blender, combine the cashews, almond or coconut milk, olive oil, zest and juice from a lemon, sea salt, and pepper. Do not blend, but instead let the cashews soak in the mixture.
- In a saucepan, combine the broth, asparagus, onion, and garlic cloves.
- Cover and simmer on low for 1 hour.
- Carefully pour the contents of the saucepan into the blender.
- After putting the top on the blender, place a towel over the top to avoid injury.
- Blend all the ingredients until creamy, at least 1 minute.
Ravens or 49ers? Who are you rooting for on Sunday? I was asking my kids that same question this week, as I don’t know much about either team this year. Kayley said – doesn’t Michael Oher (Blindside) play for the Ravens? We looked it up, and sure enough, he does. So, we’ve got ourselves a team to root for on Sunday. My family loves that movie.
Does your family have any traditions for Superbowl Sunday? Thinking back over the last few years, I think we’ve done something different to watch the game every year. This year we are watching the game with good friends. The only tradition I can think of is that we love to have chili in some form on game day. I make a baked chili dip we all look forward to, or I throw together some kind of chili stew in the slow cooker.
This year, I am making a new recipe that I tried out a couple of weeks ago. Rob insisted we have it again this weekend because he liked it, but also so he will have something healthy to bring to work for lunch next week. And, it’s also nice for our family to have a tradition to look forward to every year for the Superbowl.
Traditions are good for our family because they bond us together. Traditions are unique to each family, and having them is a great reminder that we belong to something special and are all part of the same team. Traditions are also like coins in the memory bank that stay with us as we grow older and move through different stages of life. My kids will grow up and have their own families one day, and those traditions will hopefully be fond and sometimes funny memories. I’m sure they will not like some of the traditions our family has and be happy to ditch them with their own families, but some they will treasure and want to continue.
I hope you enjoy our family’s Superbowl tradition with this game day chili recipe! And let me know how you like it!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 diced onion
- 1 pound ground turkey
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons chile powder
- 4 tablespoons raw cacao
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced fire roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 1 cup water
- 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
- optional: ½ cup plain Greek yogurt for garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add onion and turkey to pan, and sauté until the turkey is browned and onion is tender.
- Transfer to a slow cooker, and add all ingredients except sweet potato.
- Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.
- About 2 hours before serving, add sweet potato.
- Optional: garnish with Greek yogurt.
Happy New Year! After traveling to be with family over the holidays and taking a couple weeks off from cooking and being in my kitchen, I am more than ready to get back in the groove! My brother gave me the most beautiful Le Creuset stock pot for Christmas, my first Le Creuset anything. It’s so pretty that I’ve decided to leave it out on my stove all the time.
Although slow to arrive, winter is definitely here in Texas, so it’s the perfect time to break in my new kitchen “toy”. Winter means flu season, and nothing feels better to a sore throat than warm soup.
This soup is not only hearty and comforting, but it is also seasoned with curry. Turmeric is one of the spices in Indian curry and one of the top medicinal spices for flues, viruses, and other chronic inflammatory conditions. Turmeric is responsible for giving Indian dishes and ballpark mustard their bright yellow color.
Hit with the flu this season? Systemic inflammation is an uncomfortable symptom of the flu, and turmeric’s active component curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Curcumin can be taken as a supplement if you’re not a fan of the taste of turmeric or curry.
Two teaspoons of turmeric contain almost 20 percent of your daily requirement for manganese, iron, vitamin B6, and potassium. Because of turmeric’s high antioxidant value and its antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties, it benefits those with all kinds of chronic conditions:
- Heartburn and ulcers
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Eczema and skin conditions
Turmeric also helps promote:
- Weight loss
- Healthy liver
- Healthy cholesterol levels and arteries
- Healthy digestion
Some curry brands can contain gluten, so double check to make sure your curry is gluten free. Besides adding curry to soups and stews, incorporate turmeric into your diet by adding it to:
- Deviled eggs
- Sautéed green vegetables
- Chicken dishes and barbeque
- Turkey meatloaf and meatballs
- Butternut squash dishes
- Homemade salad dressings
Or drink homemade turmeric tea. To make the tea, add 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric to four cups of boiling water and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the tea through a fine sieve into a cup and add honey and lemon to taste. Enjoy!
- 1 pound chicken breasts
- 4 cups organic chicken broth
- 3 sweet potatoes, cubed
- 1 onion, cut into wedges
- 1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets
- 2 – 3 teaspoons curry
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Cut chicken into cubes and add it to a large stock pot with chicken broth, sweet potatoes, onion, and curry.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low.
- Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add broccoli, cook 5 more minutes, and then serve.
Does anyone else start craving creamy comfort foods this time of year? Why is it that when the temperature starts to drop and the days get shorter, I am in the mood for warm, hearty, creamy, and comforting foods? Historically, the next 2 months are when my body chooses to pack on a few extra pounds. I always chalked it up to the fact that my body actually needs these extra pounds to handle the cold weather. And, in reality, that is exactly what our bodies are trying to do. According to John Douillard, author of The 3-Season Diet, we have a natural desire to insulate, storing fats and proteins to rebuild in the winter.
But that’s not all. As the weather turns colder and the days become shorter, we experience actual chemical changes in our brain. Ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD? Well, those chemical changes in our brain that are responsible for seasonal depression are also to blame for the changes in our food cravings, causing us to want to eat more and to eat those warm and creamy comfort foods. Comfort foods are generally sweet, fatty and calorie-dense, which may help temporarily improve mood and alleviate anxiety or stress says Dr. Melina Jampolis in a recent CNN health article. Our bodies are always striving for balance and this includes our mental state, so we look for ways to boost our mood on those dark and chilly days, giving rise to those cravings this time of year.
To avoid too much winter weight gain, choose healthy versions of your favorite comfort foods. Try this pumpkin and pear soup to satisfy your need for a warm, sweet, and creamy meal. Both pumpkin and pear lend a sweet flavor and healthy carbohydrates among other nutrients, and an avocado gives a creamy texture and healthy fat. I hope you enjoy!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pears, cut into slices
- ½ onion, cut into slices
- 2 inches of fresh ginger, diced
- 2 cups organic chicken broth
- 2 cups cooked or canned pumpkin
- 1 avocado
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- Saute pears, onion, and ginger in olive oil until tender.
- Place chicken broth, pumpkin, avocado, cinnamon, and sea salt in a Vitamix or other blender.
- Add the sauteed pear, onion, and ginger.
- Blend until smooth.
- Transfer to a medium saucepan, and warm over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
I was craving something refreshing the other night, and the seedless watermelon I picked up at the store looked delicious and no doubt juicy, a perfect food to eat in this Texas heat. Watermelon is not only great on a hot summer day, but this delectable thirst-quencher may also help quench inflammation in our bodies due to it’s high concentration of vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, and lycopene. In addition to being a kid favorite, watermelon is rich in the B vitamins necessary for energy production and is a good source of magnesium and potassium. It’s 92% water, which makes it an excellent hydrator and very low in calories (always a plus!) – only 48 calories per cup!
- 1 bunch carrots, peeled and tops removed
- ½ small to medium seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
- 3 cups organic chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- ¼ – ½ teaspoons Himalayan sea salt, to taste
- Steam the carrots for 30 minutes and then let cool.
- In a Vitamix or other blender, combine steamed carrots, watermelon, chicken broth, olive oil, thyme, and sea salt, and blend until smooth.
- Serve at room temperature, or refrigerate to chill before serving.
Well, one of our ACs has been out for several days now, so I opted for this refreshing chilled soup for dinner last night featuring the detox superstars parsley, cilantro, garlic, and onion as well as other nutrient packed greens. It was delicious and flavorful and loved by all in my family. Hope you like it!
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- handful of chopped cilantro
- handful of chopped parsley
- 3-4 leaves romaine lettuce, torn
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup yellow teardrop tomatoes
- 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
- 1 jalapeno
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into chunks
- 1 small purple onion, cut into chunks
- ½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
- 1 cup cold water
- Combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or other blender, and blend on high until smooth.