I’m Turning Into The “Crunchy Granola” Type

On the Nutrition Front:

I’ve been having smoothies most mornings. I vary the fruit, but I always have baby spinach, honey, and acai powder. I’m just testing the acai out. It’s flavor is good, kinda tart. Today’s was banana, mango, kefir, water, and the others. I find that it’s gentler to start my system with something easier to digest, you know, liquid form. I have found that I don’t like my smoothies too cold or too slushy/thick. I usually microwave any frozen fruit or let it thaw at room temp, and I add a little extra water so it’s thinner.

I’ve also been buying nitrate-free bacon and hot dogs for the family. J loves the natural turkey dogs. It’s more expensive, but I figure I’m saving money in other areas, so why not?

On the Crunchy Granola Front:

Today I ran out first thing to the health food store and got castor oil, sunflower oil, arrowroot powder, and organic wheat-free tamari. The oils are for my next self-experiment: The Oil Cleansing Method described here and here. My skin is really temperamental, I get irritated with sunscreens, it’s oily one day, flaky at the forehead and nose, I break out randomly and they are really deep, painful buggers I dub “Mt. Dawn”. Yeah. It’s gross.

I seem to be hell-bent on getting out toxins from the home all of the sudden. I’m thinking of giving up shampoo and ridding the house of sodium laureth sulfate. I already make my own cleaners with Borax, castile soap, vinegar, and essential oils. It’s awesome stuff and I don’t have to evacuate the room to use it. I am now thinking of the cleaning products for our bods and I’m not happy. I’m also scoping out some towels to try to wean us off our paper towel habit. We use a LOT of paper towels in this house. If I could even just cut back it would be an improvement.

Also, any male readers who may get squeamish can tune out now. I just ordered the Diva Cup last night. Yep. I’m going there. I am super excited to try this. I’ll do a review when I have it sussed out. Think of all the money I’ll be saving from not having to buy pads and tampons!

So many changes to look forward to. Just someone please stop me if I start wearing patchouli oil, wearing tie-dye clothing, and asking for miracles.

Bye for now, I need to go listen to some Hatebreed and rock out to shake this hippy vibe.

Cabin Fever

This winter break and forced hibernation with the blizzard and all has been nice, but I’m getting restless. I’m eager to go grocery shopping tomorrow. Yeah. Grocery shopping. I know. But I do need more kefir, at least til I figure out how to make it:) And lots of veggies and fruits for health! We are going through a case of mangoes from our warehouse club store, and we have cases of oranges from babcia. She sends them every year.

I’ve been making an effort to get good bacteria in this persnickety gut of mine. This has been a regimen of kombucha, yogurt, and now store-bought kefir. The kefir has 10 strains of bacteria, which is great. And yes, I’ve been researching how to make it myself. Soon enough. I use it in smoothies, or sometimes I just chug a quick cup by the fridge just to get it in.

I made a yummy dinner tonight. It got thumbs up and the stamp of “you can make that again”. Which is good. As always here on PD, we do things down and dirty, not a lot of measuring and whatnot. But I’ll break it down as best I can:

Ingredients:

-ground beef

-spaghetti squash (I used one big one, could have used another 1/2)

-pasta sauce (homemade preferably, but hey, nobody’s watchin’)

-mozzarella

-parmesan

-egg or two

-cottage cheese or ricotta (I used cottage cheese)

-onion

-italian spices….you could use a blend but I just threw in some oregano, basil and a little marjoram

-garlic

 

How To:

Beforehand (I did it the day before)….steam spaghetti squash in microwave. Just slice in half, scoop out seeds, place cut side down in an inch of water in a dish and poke a few holes in the skin. Nuke the hell out of it. Then let it cool and take out the yummy strands. I strained mine in the sink for a bit to get out any extra liquid. I don’t know if it helped.

Saute onions, then throw in the ground beef and garlic. Then when it’s nice and brown, dump the sauce in and stir. Take off heat after a few minutes.

Then in a bowl, mix your cottage cheese, parmesan, and eggs with some italian spices. This is going to provide some stickitude to your casserole.

Shred mozzarella and set aside.

Then assemble: In a big casserole dish, put some sauce on the bottom of dish. Then layer however you like. I put some squash down, then cottage cheese mix, then sauce, then mozzarella, etc. Save some mozzarella to finish the top. Finish with meat sauce on top. Then cover and bake for about 30 minutes at oh…350. Then take the cover off and put the reserved mozzarella on and pop back in til browned a little and bubbly.

This was so yummy. I will say I need to tweak the texture. It was kind of goopy. Delicious, but goopy. Nobody but me cared, but I wanted to slice into it and have a chunk, not spoon it out. Really, if you are craving lasagna or baked ziti, this will definitely satisfy us cavegrrls. Oh, and more cheese. As always, I wanted more cheese. But that’s no big revelation there.

I am also on day 2 of my flax seed regimen. I’ve been taking a tablespoon and putting ground flax seeds in a small cup of warm water and chug-a-lugging. I have tried several ways of eating these buggers, but I don’t like the texture in smoothies or really in my food. It’s too grainy. So I’ve just done the “get it over with” approach. It’s not that bad! I buy whole seeds, keep them in the fridge, then grind small amounts (1/2 cup at a time) and keep in a jar in the fridge. I haven’t noticed any life-changing effects, but I know it’s not hurting me, and it IS only day 2. Stay tuned.

Next week I’ll begin adding coconut oil back in daily. Tablespoon a day. I haven’t figured out how to do this one though. Any thoughts? Some people say just to eat it off a spoon, but I dunno about that. Some people spread it on toast. I don’t eat toast. I’m sure I’ll think of something.

Yoga. Yeah, yoga. I am committed to beginning a serious practice once everyone is back at school and work. I just can’t really relax when all the menfolk are in the house. It’s just me. I know they are there and I just can’t relax completely. They are always coming in, making noise, doing yoga next to me (TLO is good for that), or just….wanting stuff from me!!! Such is the mama’s life.

So moving forward, thinking and reflecting on the year past and the one coming up. Looking good for me. I may have been diagnosed with chronic incurable illness, but I think knowledge is power and things can only get better for me in 2011. I’m definitely focusing on health and even spirituality. Yes, PD is going all hippy-dippy. Nah….I’ve been reading about buddhism for a while, it’s become a hobby sort of. I’m feeling the urge to start dipping my toe in the water, so to speak. I mean, at what point do I stop reading and admiring, and start doing the work? I think 2011 may be the year. I have lost focus on my beloved “play time” and I want it back. I’m thinking hula hoop. I’m thinking hopscotch. I’m thinking knitting. I’m thinking sewing. I’m thinking fun!!!

Love Letter to a Friend

Dear Andreanna,

I cannot deny my love for you. As I write, my family are horking down slices of  pizza with your grain-free crust recipe. Seriously. Mr. Dawn just told me to tell you he wants to kiss you. I’m sure in that European, air-kiss sorta way, you know, all platonic-like. But still. He doesn’t like anyone, but he likes you! And me, of course.

The crust came out delicious. The texture is only slightly different, with an almost crumbly thing going on. But not much. And the flavor is great. I used my homemade yogurt, chichi parmesan (grated by Mr. Dawn while watching football), and I skipped the parsley. I wanted to do a purist sort of thing to start with. The crust holds together enough to eat with your hands. Preferably standing over the sink, stuffing your gob before anyone realizes the pizza is even done. But I wouldn’t know anything about that.

When I spread it out on the parchment, I covered it with plastic wrap, then I used my meat pounder to flatten the dough out evenly. I started with a rolling pin, but the meat pounder rocks. Just go easy. I think if I were to change one thing, I would make the crusts a little thinner, and bake only a little longer. I was nervous the first time through.

I made my own sauce with canned crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, onion powder, oregano, basil, and marjoram. Yum. Then we layered the pizzas with fresh whole milk mozzarella, pepperoni, and onion for the big peeps.

I will say I felt like I was on Top Chef or Master Chef. Watching Mr. Dawn eat a slice and not say anything for the loooooongest time. Then he looks at me and says, “My verdict is:” then he raises two thumbs up in the air. Hardy har har. And he would be totally honest. He knows if he says something’s good, odds are he’s gonna be eating it again.

Love,

Primal Dawn

Santa Came!

Christmas. It was so fun and the kids got those big goofy eyes when they saw exactly how much was under the tree. Mr. Dawn and I were kinda freaking out at how much was there. We had lost track a little, I suppose.

The highlights: T-LO’s accordion (so cute!!)

Tea time with Cap’n J and his pet koala. I believe he’s drinking Sleepytime Vanilla. Yum.

So proud. J put together his Lego thingy that had 381 pieces all by himself. I said to him, “You really gonna do that by yourself??” and he replied, “Well, I gotta grow up sometime, Mom.” *sniff sniff*

T-LO is in love with Super Grover, and I’d had an old red T-shirt to make a cape to turn regular Grover into his alter ego. Well, it only took me like 6 months to get to it, then maybe 3 minutes to cut out and attach velcro to the cape. I had to make a bigger version immediately after for J’s bigger Grover. They were flying Super Grovers all over the house.

And finally…here’s me opening my amber bottles with stopper caps for bottling my kombucha! No, I’m not really that big, I’m wearing an XXL hoodie sweatshirt. But still, I look huuuuuge!!!

What else did Santa bring….oh, some new ceramic knives, a video game (Fable), two board games (Bezzerwizzer and Carcassonne), my GPS (squeeee!), 2 craft books (one on Guerrilla art and one with Day of the Dead crafts), a Tim Burton poetry book, shooting glasses (smoke tint, I look like Terminator!), and….I think that’s it. Whew. I got a lot. Oh so grateful. My stocking usually has chocolate, but I hinted to a certain man that maybe some jerky might be in order. Sure enough, my stocking had jerky and no candy this year! The boys didn’t get any candy either. Yay!

We are under a blizzard warning here in NY. We are set to get anywhere between 10-16 inches of snow! This is a great time to hunker down, play games, read, cook, and drink tea, lots of tea.

I am still learning what is okay to eat and what is not so okay. I woke at 3 this morning with abdominal pain, and have spent most of the morning traveling between the couch and the bathroom. I think two things may have played a role. I had a salad last night as a main dish (taco salad…mmm), and I think the fiber was not digested well, and I had 3 snack size pieces of candy from the boys’ stash. I am avoiding most sugar other than honey in my baked goods and tea, and I think it was too much for my system. Lesson learned. Painfully, unfortunately.

I think there is a grieving process when you learn you have a chronic, incurable condition. I find myself freaking a little at the “foreverness” of it all. I can’t eat like other people. I always followed a pretty strict diet, but I could always stray and, other than feeling a little crummy or guilty if it was junk, I was fine. Now, my body physically cannot handle certain foods. That makes me sad. But I’m reading and researching and learning and hopeful that things will get better. But hey, another comforting thought I have: Things could always be worse. I spent a Christmas in the hospital two years ago. That sucked. To have two small boys and not be home. So yeah, it could be worse.

 

18 lbs

That’s how much I’ve lost since May 17th of this year when I started an Excel spreadsheet tracking weight, diet, exercise and such. It is really interesting to note that from the time I started tracking in May to when I started eating Primal on July 9th, I only lost 3 pounds. The other 14 have come off since July. And, I’ll even grant the fact that I’ve been ill and not really eating much lately to another 2 pounds. The weight loss has been slow, that’s for sure. But I can say that even the loss has been relatively stable with either style of eating, I feel so much better eating lower carb, higher protein and fat. I will say it again, I am not hungry all the time and thinking about my next meal. It’s liberating!!!

So even though I get down on myself for being a chubby bunny, I need to remember that this IS working. Slow is better than fast in the weight loss game. And it’s not like things haven’t been complicated when it comes to this bod. I mean, between stints in the hospital for infections and the spectacular blow-out of my left shoulder to “tendinitis” (I put that in quotes because I’ve had 4 diagnoses for this shoulder), I’ve had quite a time keeping to any regular exercise regimen.

I wanted to also share my excitement over supplements. Or, at least my new-found interest in researching things for inflammation and autoimmune disorders. I was at the natural/health food store today, and I asked the lady restocking the vitamins and stuff if she knew anything about A: inflammation, and B: immune system support/boosters. She seemed excited to talk to me and pointed me to two things: turmeric and a healing mushroom supplement. The mushroom supplement was supposedly awesome for the immune system, but it was pretty expensive, so I shelved it until I can get more information. I did walk away with some turmeric tablets though. I’m supposed to take them 3 times a day. Since I’ve been home from the hospital, I’ve had yucky joint pain and puffiness in my hands when I wake. Every day. I’m assuming this is inflammation, and I hope that the turmeric helps. We’ll see. I’m a little bit skeptical, but hopeful nonetheless. I told the woman that the mushroom tabs were a little pricey and I’d need to do my homework. She totally understood and told me to look up healing mushrooms. We’ll see. I do like turmeric and have it in my spice rack, but I think these tabs have quite a bit more than I could eat in a serving. I like curry, and it’s in most curry blends.

Basically, I wanted to do another post today just to discuss progress and whatnot. It’s great to get perspective on things, and looking at my spreadsheet (“The Dawn Project”!!) really helped to see how far I’ve really come. Onward and downward!! Weightwise, I mean. Everything else: Onward and Upward!!!

School’s Out!!!

Hip hip hooray!!! I just right in the last 10 minutes finished the Fall 2010 semester!!!! Whoopity dooo!

Okay, now that I got that out of the way…..

I’m looking into making sauerkraut. Why, you may ask? I have been doing some reading and it turns out homemade raw fermented sauerkraut has all sorts of good bacteria for your guts! However, these fancy schmancy handmade crocks I’m seeing online are mucho dinero. We’re talking well over 100 bucks for the smallest one. I’ve found a much uglier, however utilitarian one using something resembling a giant pickle jar and a weird valve cappy thingy for waaaay cheaper. I must mull this over. I need to remember that in most cases, cheaping out is not the way to go. The reviews look promising though. I may try the cheaper one and if I like it, graduate and invest in the prettier one. Stay tuned.

Okay, the bread. The bread. The bread. It was…..pretty good! It has a texture more like, I don’t know, almost cornbready, do you know what I mean?? I didn’t add the arrowroot, though, so that may have made a difference. I didn’t have any. I slathered it with cream cheese (which I’ve discovered is not so good for me insides) and sliced cucumber for a faaahncy cucumber sandwich. I did leave the crusts on though. I could see this being useful for those random “OhmygodIneedbreadorsomethingrightnoworsomeonewillgethurt” moments. Like a burger or some sort of meat sammy. Although, I don’t have a lot of those moments anymore. I do have homicidal tendencies when it comes to bagels, though. The flavor was good, both the boys tried it with peanut butter and jelly. It got mixed reviews. Not a rave, but they ate it. So I’m thinking if I serve it a few more times they may like it more. Maybe with a grilled cheese??

My kombucha brewing is going very well. I make a batch a week. I’m looking for another jar, though, as the amount I get doesn’t last til the next batch is ready. I know, I have a problem. It looks really weird and I like having the ugly thing sit on my counter where people, say J’s dad, can go, “What the f— is that???” when they see it. It makes me laugh. They don’t get it and I don’t mind. Like with most things. I try to explain the awesomeness and they just look at me like I’m crazy. I get that when I try to explain geocaching too.

I’m making smoothies and I started doing this cool method of juicing. I call it Juice Packs. I prep everything when I go to juice so that I can have 1 or 2 batches of juice after the initial juicing. I just prep it all and put each batch in it’s own baggie or (lately) glass container. So just scrub and seed or chop or peel extra of your fruits and veggies, and as long as you use them within a day or two, you’re good to go!! This is what it looks like:

Oh, and while we’re at it, I don’t know if I showed you my ‘booch, but here she is!!!

(not the greatest pic, but you  can see to the left my beloved juicer, the Omega!!)

And here’s J with a cache that we tried to find 3 separate times, and needed my super-geocaching maniac friend C to help us with:

And since there’s one of J, we need to show love to TLO (The Little One):

Here we see TLO rockin’ mama’s sunglasses in his tres-badass Batman jammies. Note all mama’s school books piled to the right there….oy. Good riddance! At least for 3 weeks or so 🙂

So that pretty much sums up my life at this particular moment in time. Lots of nutrition, bacteria, yoga, and kids. Good stuff, don’t you think? I’m off to get my yoga on before the kiddos get home.

PD out. Namaste, bitches!!

Baking

I’m baking some bread that AndreAnna over at Life As A Plate swears is the best thing since…..well, sliced bread. Ha. It’s made with coconut flour, butter, eggs and some other stuff. I doubled it so I needed 14 eggs!!! Holy moley! It smells pretty good in here right now.

I’m savoring a day of not much to do. On the to do list? I have to clean the bathroom (yay), clean out the fridge (gross), and yoga. Yep. I only have one more test to study for, biology, and that shouldn’t be too tough. I am happy to report that I will be passing precalculus 1. Yay me!!! On to precalculus 2. Not-so-yay.

I’d like to go over what kind of diet modifications I’ve made so far. I’m off the coffee now since I got back from the hospital. That’s about 13 days, I think. It was funny, I had to put the box of earl grey right in front of the coffee pot so I would remember no coffee, more tea. I’m having earl grey with honey and half and half in the morning, then organic green chai, green tea, or herbal tea the rest of the day. I’ve given up most sugars other than honey. Potatoes and I are no longer buddies. Sad, but true. I am eating very similar to primal still. I avoid all refined carbohydrates, wheat, grains. For now, I’m staying away from salads and raw fibrous veggies and fruits. I usually will make smoothies or juice raw produce, and I don’t know how long I’ll stay like this. I’m a little nervous to add the insoluble fiber back too quickly. I’m adding plenty of probiotics with my homemade yogurt and kombucha. I usually have my nightly snack of homemade yogurt with thawed frozen cherries or blueberries, honey, walnuts or pecans, and cinnamon. Soooo tasty. I’m eating lots of protein in the form of beef and chicken, with fish once or twice a week. I’m on my last day of antibiotics, and I am tentatively researching a liquid multivitamin that I can have. I’m reading that I should avoid seaweed and algae with any inflammatory bowel disease, but I’m still learning so I don’t know if that’s truly the case.

Oh (I know this post is all over the place, but bear with me)!! I had J’s parent teacher conference this week. His teacher had nothing but lovely things to say about him. He’s reading well above grade level. She said his strongest area is math. The school has a math team called the Math Olympiads that he can join next year, by invitation only, and she said she’d be very shocked if he weren’t on it. She’s even going to her 3rd grade teacher friends and getting extra math work for him. He’ll have a special folder that he can work out of when he finishes his classwork. I’m so proud!! She also said he’s very good at relating or connecting life experiences to concepts in class, and that he frequently speaks up in class about how something he saw or read at home is like what they are studying. You can get a C for capable, or an S for Strong, and he had probably 85% S’s on his report card! He even got all S’s in art. His art teacher said he was “a joy to have in class” and that he quickly grasps all concepts. I asked his teacher about any gifted or advanced programs and she said that they had them before, but now with the economy and budget cuts, they were one of the first things to go. Sad. I’m fairly confident that I can challenge him here at home a little, so that’s what I’ll do. Okay, gushing mom moment over!!

I have a question for you dear readers: How do I go about getting more traffic on my site? I see I’m not gaining any readers and I don’t know if it’s lack of interest or just ignorance on my part. If you are experienced in this area, email or leave a comment for me! Help a cavegrrl out!

 

Just A Quickie

I have to get to my next to last final here, but I wanted to say hi and let you know I was still alive.

Things that have made my heart happy recently:

–Playing Just Dance on the Wii with J….so silly and fun!

–Getting a Christmas card from a new friend, totally unexpected, although now I feel guilty for skipping cards this year.

–Art class. Today was the last day and I will miss it.

–Yoga. There. I said it. I did it and it hurt and I sucked, but it was good for my soul. I did about 20 minutes yesterday and thought I was going to break something. Little did I know, but Sie was unleashing her inner yogi as well!

–Pleads for extra huggles and kisses at bedtime from TLO 🙂 Always a plus in my book!

 

So school is almost over. Well, until next semester, but I have a break of about 4 weeks. And oh, the plans I have! Yoga, sewing, catching up on reading….

I’ve made a big decision that really stinks but needed to be made. I have to give up my beloved boxing. For now. I keep telling myself it’s just for now. With my health issues lately, and trying to do yoga and the C25K, there’s just no room with school and family to do it, and I’m paying for it but not going. I WILL get back to it, and I’m at least hoping to maybe hook up a heavy bag and some equipment here at home. But I’m a grown up, and sometimes I have to act responsible and do what needs to be done. *Insert sad, dejected face here* I do want to focus on yoga and running now. So that’s what I will do.

The Red Red Robin…

Goes bob, bob, bobbin’ along…..

That’s me. I’m the red red robin. I’m moving forward. Right now, I’m feeling like I need to reassess and set some clear plans or goals. However, I’m in such a tizzy with the holidays and my health and school, let alone being super-mama and less-than-super-wifey-to-be. Yes, unfortunately, Mr. Dawn has suffered the most in all this and it’s not really fair. But it is what it is and all I can do is try to do better, right? I’m Snappy McSnapperson to him a lot and I try to take it back by apologizing, but I really shouldn’t do it in the first place. I’m trying. And apologizing is excruciating for me. I hate to apologize or admit wrongdoing to anyone. That’s one of my (many) issues, I’m afraid.

On a brighter note, I’m pondering exercise again. I plan on going boxing soon and restarting my Couch to 5K program. Again. Again. Again. Diet is still in limbo. I’m finding what works, what doesn’t. I don’t have much to say about it yet, because it’s still so new and awkward. I did discover that potatoes are out. I ate some and then my tummy was all gross for hours after. I have no problem with meat, and I’m eating a lot of lean ground beef patties and chicken breast. I’ve been advised to do low-residue and low-fiber for now to avoid stressing my intestines. Weird, I never thought I’d be told NOT to eat my veggies! I juice them or cook them well and it seems fine so far.

I’m so excited for the holidays. I got J the coolest stuff! Mr. Dawn and I love to get things that may not be on the wish list, but that we think will allow for discovery and creativity. Some of the things we got: a science experiment book, a microscope, a solar-powered grasshopper kit, stuffed red and white blood cells, some board games….so many things to keep them thinking and exploring! J’s dad is always good for the stuff on the list. We got a few things he asked for. We don’t get the glory of the whole “Oh my gosh it’s just what I wanted!!! Squeee!!” reaction, but not guts, no glory, right? I find that long after the glitz and glamour of the latest trendy toy has worn off, the scientific, creative toys are going the distance. And yes, J has all the usual things that the kids have, a video game system, the action figures, blah blah blah…..but we like to provide out-of-the-ordinary stuff. The Little One doesn’t really know how to ask for things, but we got things we think he’ll love as well. Of course, along with some new Sesame Street friends (Big Bird and Oscar), we got an accordion!! His occupational therapist put that bug in my ear. She called me the other day saying how much TLO LOVED the accordion and how good it was for his upper body strength and coordination. I thought it was a fantastic idea. He’s so musical. We also got him a super cool stomp rocket. It’s a rocket that launches when you jump on the launching pad! Great big body movement and exercise! Of course, we’ll need back-up rockets for all the ones that I’m sure are going to fly over to the neighbor’s yard…..

I don’t think I’ll have anything left to get them for their birthdays next month!!

How about you? What gifts are you excited to see loved ones open? Who is toughest to buy for (for me it’s Mr. Dawn, he wants for nothing and everything he wants, he gets, or it’s out of my price range!!)?? What’s on your list? For me, I already got my nook, and I know Santa’s bringing me a GPS for geocaching, and possibly some new video games or shooting goggles or earmuffs to save my hearing. Guns are hella loud!! Hmmm…hella…nobody says that anymore, do they? Well, I just did. And I regret nothing!!!