Sunday, February 27, 2011

Root mashed & Vegan Gravy

This is another recipe from Kim Barnouin's cookbook. It is a healthier version of mashed potatoes featuring parsnips, turnips, and a white potato. My first problem came from trying to find turnips at the food store. To be honest, I don't even know what turnips look like. I was relying on the labels to guide me and all I could seem to find were rutabagas. Are turnips like sweet potatoes/yams? You know how sweet potatoes and yams are technically different veggies but for some reason everyone uses their names interchangeably. I figured that rutabagas and turnips are both root veggies so they would probably work the same in this recipe. Maybe?
I cut up all of my veggies and threw them in the pot of boiling water. I had too much water in the pot and when I threw the veggies in the water boiled over and put the burner out! I had to switch to another burner because my first one was saturated.
Did I mention the fact that I do not own an electric hand mixer? For some reason I do have this old fashioned human powered masher and it seemed to work just fine. The problem was that it just mashed them and didn't whip them. I don't know if it was the veggies, masher, or a combo of the two. At this point I tried the mashed veggies and all I can say is, WOW they tasted fantastic!!

Ingredients for my vegan gravy. I put stuff all over the place.

I don't know why the color looks weird in this picture but in real life the color is brown, and it looks just like real gravy. Not only does it look like real gravy, it tastes even better!

YUM! This dish was awesome! I'm so happy that I have left over mashed to eat for a few days and extra gravy in the freezer. I can't wait to have this gravy with biscuits.
*I googled turnips and rutabagas and they are definitely different vegetables but in Europe rutabagas are called yellow turnips. Luckily for this recipe it really didn't matter. I'll just keep using whatever I bought last time.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

probable diagnosis (i think)

Well, it looks like I have early stages of Lupus.

I have actually known for a few weeks now and debated writing about it. Partly, because I haven't been to a rheumatologist for confirmation. It all started with my friend Heather "Bebe" (she comes up with the best ideas), suggesting that I go to an infectious disease specialist. First of all, it blew my mind that such a person existed! Why didn't I go to one of these guys immediately? I mean, I became horribly ill after spending a week in the Caribbean in addition to the multiple ticks (one embedded in my leg) that I have found on myself in the past year. I had been going to one specialist after another who each focused on one sympton out of many, this doctor would be able to look at the whole picture and know about all different types of bizarre diseases.

I have learned the hard way that not all doctors are created equal, and in fact some are down right crappy. As a result of my experiences, I now utilize a number of research methods to find a great doctor. Namely, I google "best infectious disease specialist or whatever kind of doctor I am looking for and I plug in my county or state". It really works! So I found this amazing doctor, Dr. Deshaw. He is a true gem in the medical field. He actually listened and responded (omg) to everything that I said. Let me tell you that I have a whole file on myself at this point and he was extremely patient and engaging. Some things that were great about this guy: he and his family are runners and he didn't make me feel bad for refusing to go on Lyrica for the fibromyalgia I supposedly had.

If you are a runner you know that most doctors will tell you that running is bad and will ruin your knees. It is so annoying! I just want to say, "thanks for the warning doc, I'm going to stop running, watch TV, sit on the couch and eat so I don't blow out my knees". Anyway, Dr. Deshaw said that my knees were fine and my legs feel "wobbly" because of inflammation. Interesting. Continuing, it was so refreshing for a doctor to confirm my feeling that Lyrica was a serious drug, that wasn't a cure, and carried some bad side-effects with it. Finally!! In addition, he ran a million tests for every kind of disease, virus, and any other weird thing I could possibly have. I gave 7 viles of blood. Why did this make me happy? Because I am so tired of doctors running a few tests, waiting for results, then going back for another few tests, over and over again.

So, I gave my blood and forgot to call for about 2 weeks. I seriously thought I had some kind of cool thing like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. When Dr. Deshaw finally got back to me and said that it was early stages of Lupus I was shocked. Lupus had always been in the running but I never wanted to seriously consider it. Who wants to hear that they have a chronic disease? Not me! Here's the thing, there is no Lupus test but my bloodwork came back in congruence with early stages of Lupus. My ANA test was previously high and now it is even higher. On top of that, my white blood cell count and Hemoglobin dropped. All in all, not so good. Obviously, nothing to panic about; I simply had to schedule an appointment with yet another rheum and hopefully this one will be better than the last 2.

Currently, I am focusing on my health and staying positive. I realize that my diet is now more important than ever. Eating healthy, anti-inflammatory foods is extremely helpful in keeping flare-ups at bay. This is probably why I saw such amazing results when I went vegan. I have also found a bunch of people with Lupus who lead normal lives, are active, and have gone for years with no problems at all. In addition, after I see the rheum and get a more concrete idea of what is going on, I will seek alternative therapies. Who knows I may see the rheum and she may give me a different diagnosis. Finally, I will keep my faith in God for strength and a continuation of good health. Sorry to get preachy, but He is the ultimate Healer!

best vegan thing I have cooked - crepes!

This recipe was the reason that I bought the cookbook in the first place and it did not disappoint. I was really proud of myself because I cooked 2 things at once. I was making my weekly batch of lentils for my lentil tacos and making strawberry sauce and batter for crepes.
Lentil Tacos in the making

This was the first batch of frozen strawberries that I defrosted. Clearly I microwaved them for way too long. I guess that the "defrost" button doesn't work for frozen fruit? I decided to throw them out and start from scratch.

Strawberry sauce in the food processor! Obviously this is my new favorite appliance.
YUUUMMMYYY!! Okay, I'll admit that they do not look so great but they tasted delicious. They were so good that I just kept eating one after the other straight out of the pan. In conclusion, I will be making crepes often

Thursday, February 24, 2011

quick update!

I still haven't gotten use to my schedule. I've been working a lot, had some late nights, and haven't been able to fit blogging in. I have managed to get my 3 weekly runs in but I have been struggling to fit in my XT days. On top of that I have a sinus infection.

I'm still using my 2:3 ration for shuffling. I had planned on increasing my jogging a minute but I still have moments on my runs where my knees feel wobbly. I definitely feel much stronger and I have been going farther with each run so I do not see a need to push it. I feel like I am benefiting from my strength training and I am going to make it a priority next week. I plan on just doing 15 minutes 3 days a week. That is about all that seems realistic at this point.

I have been cooking some really great vegan things, eating too much bread, and I ate something non-vegan. Yeah, I just tried to slip that in, but I'm sure that you caught it. It was actually an accident. I thought for sure the first time that I ate something with an animal product in it, it would be pizza or a binge on chocolate. It was a stupid Quorn brand meatless Chik'n patty. When I was a vegetarian I ate these things as a special treat. They are marketed as being "meatless" and "soy free" and are made out of some type of mushroom protein. I don't have the box in front of me and cannot recall what exactly is in this thing. I do know that I was all excited to have a sandwich. I put my patty in the toaster oven, got lettuce, tomato, and hummus, then checked the back of the box to see how long to cook my patty. As I was reading the back of the box my eyes grazed over the list of ingredients. I hadn't checked this before because I knew they were not made out of meat and I could see no reason why they would have a dairy product in them. My heart almost stopped as I read the second ingredient: rehydrated egg protein. As I continued to read I saw the dreaded "contains 2% or less of the following: buttermilk powder, whey protein, concentrate..." I might have been able to pretend that those things were not really from animals except at the bottom it clearly states: "Allergic consumers: This product contains: egg, milk, and wheat products" AHHHH!!! At this point I could have just thrown the patty out but I didn't. I was hungry and I wanted to eat it, and it was delicious! I don't feel bad, I am following this diet for my health and I don't think the patty was unhealthy. In the future I will read my food labels more carefully.

next up I will have some posts about the cool vegan things I have made like crepes with strawberry sauce, Ranch style salad dressing, and corn and potato chowder. yum!

Monday, February 14, 2011

St. Valentine

Happy Valentine's Day!

I love my husband so much and I am so blessed and lucky to be able to spend my life with him
Love you James!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Is The Kind of Friend That I am- I Stand My Best Up

Let me preface this by saying that Bebe is one of the best people in the entire world! I love her so much! There was a time in the not too distant past when she was in school to be a Physicians Assistant and I got out of work at 1:30. We would meet one or more times a week at our favorite local eatery, Panera. We would go into carb comas eating asiago cheese bread, sandwiches, mac n' cheese, soups, and of course their Cesar salads. Over awesome food, we would pour our hearts out to each other. Not a visit went by that we didn't laugh, cry, talk about non-politically correct things, and go home with migraines from laughing so hard that we cried.

For the past few months we haven't been able to see each other because of our crazy schedules. We finally thought we would be able to meet up this week.

I'm really not sure how it all happened in the first place. I was txting work related things to other people and somehow Bebe's bbm was thrown into the mix. We were having a conversation and for some reason I told her I was getting out of work at 2:30 that day and we could meet at Panera. I usually do get out of work at 2:30 on that particular day but due to circumstances I had to stay until 4:30. I was busy at work when I received a bbm from Bebe

♡ ​Hεαthεя : I'm here!!!!!

All of the sudden my stomach dropped! Did I tell her I could meet her today?! I frantically scrolled through the history of our conversation and read that I did in fact tell her I would be there today. OMG I felt horrible. I proceeded to spew apologies & luckily Bebe was really good about the whole thing. That is, until she sent me this...

♡ ​Hεαthεя : Bebe!!!!
♡ ​Hεαthεя : I'm eating alone at panera bahahahahaha
♡ ​Hεαthεя : This is so sad
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Sorry Bebe!! I hope you accept my blogpology!!! ILU!!!

My First Vegan Pizza From Scratch (not so good)

I have been falling very far behind in documenting my experiments in cooking. These are not really experiments, I am following recipes, I've just never cooked or worked with half of this stuff. I try and stay confident but I know that most of the time, the first time I am making something new, like dough, I will probably do it wrong. I prepare myself for the fact that although I may follow the directions explicitly, the end result will probably not be so great. So far, I've been able to learn from these first experiences and make it correctly the second time around. This is why I usually cook the same things all of the time.

This is the FIRST time I have ever attempted to make dough or a pizza from scratch. I got the recipe out of Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook. I know it sounds weird but doing things like making dough make me nervous. It just seems like something you learn from your grandma and if you missed that boat than you should never attempt to make dough. I bought all of my ingredients, of course confused by all of the yeasts. I bought 2 small packets of something that said it was good with all flour including whole wheat. I got all of my ingredients together and went to work.

The recipe did not say anything about testing the yeast to see if it was active but the back of the yeast packet said to do this very thing. hmmm? I guess I should test the yeast? I prepared to test the yeast and realized I had no idea how to gauge the water temperature. I know if it was slightly warmer of colder the yeast would die. This stuff seemed pretty important. I tried to guess the water temp and waited for my yeast to bubble. By looking below you can obviously see that it didn't.

On to the next! I tested the next packet and made the water a little cooler. I waited for it to bubble.... SUCCESS!

If you want to know the truth, I have no pictures of my dough because I was panicking as I was kneading it and getting it settled so it could rise in the cooled oven. I'm not kidding, panicking lol. Once the dough was in the oven, I cut and prepared my veggies. I was making a pepper and onion pie. The kitchen smelled amazing while the veggies were sauteing.

Furthermore, I don't have any pictures of my dough "rising" because it didn't really rise. It got slightly bigger but definitely did not double in size. I googled this, and read that I could still eat the dough it would just be dense.

Here is my finished pizza! I forgot to mention that I was certainly not making sauce from scratch. I used Nature's Promise organic pasta sauce (so yummy). I bought Daiya brand mozzarella style vegan cheese. It was the only one that I could find, although I didn't really look that hard. I had read some reviews about this cheese,that it tasted more like a Parmesan and to use a small amount, which I did.

The end result was just okay. My dough wasn't bad but it was pretty dense. The cheese was not bad at first and then I really hated it. I would never use this cheese again. The veggies were great so I ended up scrapping the cheese off and just eating the dough, sauce, and veggies which was great.

When I started this whole vegan thing I never thought that I would keep it up after the 21 days. I set about changing my diet solely for health purposes and once I realized how great I felt I wanted to keep going. I never intended to be at the point where I was going to eat "fake cheese". I didn't want to eat all of the same junk I was eating but in a soy alternative form. I feel like that defeats the purpose of eating this way. That being said, there is always room for treats. This is why I waited so many weeks before even attempting to have a vegan replacement for any of my old favorites. There are several other vegan cheeses that I will try. Hopefully, my next dough/pizza attempt will be better!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Warmer Days Make Me Happy To Be a Shuffler/Walker

I wrote this post on Monday when it was warm out. Guess what? A cold front blew in yesterday and it is freezing once again whomp whomp.

Today was beautiful out. Well beautiful compared to the previous weeks of ice, snow, sleet, and freezing cold. It was mid 30's which felt gloriously warm! I had such a great time on my shuffle. I loved not having to wear a hat. The air felt so good on my face. In addition, I was also able to vary my usual path a little bit since the sidewalks are somewhat passable. I definitely stepped into some giant puddles though.

On Saturday I stepped up my jogging to 2 minutes for every 3 minutes of walking. The funny part is that my time hasn't gotten any faster lol. My legs have been holding up pretty well. I have had some times where I have started getting the "weak in the knees" feeling. I think this is because I still have widespread inflammation from an unknown cause. If it keeps up I might go back down to 1 minute of shuffling. I finally got around to calling my doctor, the infectious disease specialist, for my bloodwork results. He has to call me back. I'm really curious to see what if anything has turned up in this last battery of tests. In a future post I will write all about this awesome doctor. By far the best one to date. That's about it!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Night, Snow, and Freezing Rain Shuffles

I really need to keep up with this blogging thing. Almost a whole week has passed and I didn't say one word about anything that has happened! First of all I got a promotion at work! It is temporary but I know I'll do an awesome job and it will be permanent hehe. I've been working 9-11 hour days and my schedule is going to be all over the place for the next few weeks. The replacement for my old position has not been officially hired so I will have to do my current job and my old job. Basically, I will have to still have to be at work at 5am for trucks, work the closing shift once a week, and work some time on the weekend. I'm going to have to plan when to prep my meals for the week and when I am going to exercise. This past week went pretty well. I managed to get in most of my workouts, although I did miss a strength training session. On top of my crazy schedule we have had some rough winter weather. I had to swap a run day with some indoor cardio because everything was a sheet of ice. I literally, had nowhere to walk outside.

Night Run- I went for my first evening run last week. It was pretty fantastic. I went out as the sun was sinking behind the Earth. I planned to stay close to home since I only had black clothes appropriate for the cold weather. It actually wasn't too cold on this night. I had forgotten how much I loved to run in the evening. When I first started running around 2005 I always ran in the evening. I love watching the light go out of the sky and smell people cooking dinner in the houses that I pass. I was glad that I did not travel far, when the sun did set my surroundings became extremely dark and there were still patches of ice to contend with. It seemed to have slipped my mind that there are no street lights around. I was even able to use the light on my Garmin for the first time because it was too dark to read the face.

I realized that I will probably be faced with many more evening runs and I should invest in a reflective vest of some sort as soon as possible. Therefore, the other day while I was running errands I happened to pass a Sports Authority and decided that I should check out the gear. I made a bee line for the reflective stuff. If I wander around a store like this I begin to want all of the really cute running clothes. Heck, I would settle for clothes that just matched! Anyway, they had 2 styles of vests. One was black mesh with 3 skinny lines of pink reflective material. The other was way less cute, made entirely of florescent green/yellow reflective material. Due to the fact that I am not going to a fashion show and actually just trying not to get hit by cars I choose the less cute green one. I honestly do not even know why they would make a black mesh one. Of course I will let you know the first time that I wear it.

Snow/Freezing Rain Shuffle - I've shuffled in some pretty wacky weather but Saturday morning was the weirdest yet. The temps were in the low 20's. The weather forecaster predicted snow, sleet, and freezing rain all morning. For some reason I choose to forget this as I decided not to wear my water resistant outer shell. After all, everything looked fine from my window. About 5 minutes into my journey I realized that it was "misting" out and the misty rain was freezing. There was a thin layer of snow/ice that crunched under my shoes. My feet were staying dry so I kept going. The noise was kind of nice. Plus, the streets were virtually deserted. I was exactly 20 minutes into my shuffle when the skies opened up and it started heavily raining. Crap. Sorry, I don't usually swear but that is exactly what I thought. This is because it wasn't just raining, it was freezing rain. This means that the rain is cold and freezes when it hits the ground. At least, that's what I think that it means. I should google that later. Anyway, I was getting wet and cold and I had 20 minutes before I would be home again. I couldn't even go any faster because the ground was getting slick. I kept thinking that I would be so mad at myself if I got sick. Luckily, after 10 minutes it let up and I made it home soon enough. I learned that anytime there is a prediction of rain or sleet or any other precip I will wear or bring some water resistant gear.