Dont tell me what to do

Working on you, when you are ready

I refuse to be called a millennial and in the grand scheme of things I dont think Im that stubborn. But I have noticed a trend in my life: that I can only do things when I am ready. For instance, when I was 12 years old my father brought home a copy of The Wealthy Barber. To this day this book continues to be recognized for its illustrated wisdom of teaching thousands of people how to save and invest their money. Dad had just started to learn about this at a greater scale and thought it would be fun to teach me how to grow my money at a young age. Surely if I had listened and followed back then I would be fairly wealthy. But it was the LAST thing on earth I wanted to be learning or practicing. We continue to laugh about this today as Dad makes every attempt to teach my younger cousins and now my nephew – any last ditched effort to get the young ones to invest. At the age of 35 I would commend myself for how money smart I am, but only because NOW I have an interest.

Over the last month I have been in a dark place. My diaphragmatic endo took over my life, putting me into the hospital three times in one month. I have been nothing shy of spoiled with love by my social media family as well as my real family and friends. Each one has taken a vested interest in finding me comfort but up til now, I wasnt really ready to think about how to reset my life. I was more focused on being angry. I have slept more in the last month than I did in my teenage years. My boyfriend and my mother have taken turns flying across the country to take care of me. And while little victories (healthy blood work, no diagnosis of something fatal, etc) make them exceedingly happy all I can think about is the pain and how angry it is making me. One afternoon mom suggested – after reading some rather basic endometriosis blog articles – that I should incorporate deep breathing exercises into my daily routine. What did I do? I tore her a new one. “I dont need you to read blogs I already read 20 years ago, telling me to do things I already know. I need you to find me a specialist”. She knew I was angry. She rested my head in her lap and let me cry and cry and cry. I knew yelling at her wasnt fair. And while everything she said was correct, I wasnt ready.

The remedy for my sanity was to fly back home for a while. I live in Vancouver but Ottawa is where my soul is. I had a flight booked already, so nothing in the world was going to stop me from getting on that plane. For two weeks, while I was at home I took some much needed time to listen to my body, listen to my surroundings, and start to take in cues. The first thing I did was breathe. Yes, exactly what mom had told me to do, but this time I was ready. Lets be honest, breathing doesnt really help when you have diaphragmatic endo because it hurts like hell. So instead, I do breathing exercises  1) to understand my limitations and 2) to build the muscles around my diaphragm SO THAT if and when I get a collapsed lung I will be in the best shape that I can be. Its not much, and again, it doesnt create miracles, but its something. On the daily I try to do 5 long, deep breathes, roughly twice a day.

In addition to my deep breathing, I am also finally ready to make some other positive changes.

  1. Eating greener – Note that with my Ulcerative Colitis I started out on a low residue diet for nearly 4 months and then started to bring in root veggies which are healthy and low in fiber. I maintained this diet for another 4 months which has brought me to a very stable state (ie no sign of inflammation or irritation in my colon alongside Entyvio infusions). My body is finally ready to take the next step. On the advice of a social media friend I am slowly starting to bring healthier food back into my diet. She provided me with a suggestion to start with a handful of leafy greens per day, and wait a full 24 hours to see if it sits well. Mission accomplished! Now I am incorporating a handful of leafy greens into every meal. Once I am confident that this will not cause I flare, I am going to start replacing some rice with Bulgar, and then start to slowing bring in new veggies; keeping a diary along the way.
  2. Being liable (Myfitnesspal) – Ok so I am horrible for apps. I utterly detest the apps that require me to input my meals simply because they need the data, and I get nothing in return other than some simple graphs. But I also admit I have never understood calories except for the brief year in highschool when I was gaining weight from the pill and decided to starve myself. That was a good lesson on how not to obtain calories. But in all seriousness while I am trying to reduce pain, stay healthy and be whoever it is I am supposed to be, I am basing it on no metrics whatsoever. I decided to download myfitness pal. Yup, I definitely have to input my meals but it tells me when I am eating something good or bad, it gives me goals to achieve and shows me how much impact a little walk can make. If nothing else, it is making me very aware.
  3. Forgiving –  I am learning to forgive people for telling me how they think I should live my life. I am forgiving people for not taking me seriously before. I am forgiving the world for giving me two autoimmune diseases. I am forgiving my body for being flawed. I am forgiving my soul for taking times to cry. I am forgiving my dog for passing away when I needed her the most. I am forgiving my colon for being sensitive. I am forgiving my body for being too strong; and at times for being too weak. I am forgiving people who love me the wrong way. I am forgiving the medical industry for not pouring more money into endometriosis research. I am forgiving healthier people for thinking there is a diet that will cure ulcerative colitis. I am forgiving.

What is the ‘residue’ in a low residue diet?

Being a science major I thought for sure ‘residue’ was implying some sort of metabolic by-product produced by certain foods that would upset the lining of my colon. Nope… the residue is simply the poop mass. Not very technical at all. And therefore the diet is geared around reducing the amount of poop that is produced after all the nutrients are absorbed into your body. Specifically, reducing the fiber in your diet helps to reduce the poop mass and therefore controls the pain and inflammation associated during flare ups.

As I am on a low reside diet as we speak, I dont have to tell you how boring it can get. However, lets go over the things that are in the safe zone so that there is no confusion.

  • bread  – white, unwholesome bread with no whole wheat. The wheat is a no no.
  • bananas – not only nice and mushy but if you feel dizzy from the meds it could be from low potassium so its nice to just have bananas on hand.
  • pasta – not the fancy kind. Just the unwholesome, ‘things your two year old loves to throw at walls’ kind of pasta.
  • avocado – you will come to love avocado. They are very gentle on your stomach while providing some nutritional value. Great on toast, great on things, with things, or on its own.
  • apple sauce – not the greatest sweet thing BUT the grocery store as the school snack version where there are variations of apple sauce. Apple with blueberry, apple with peach, apple and carrot. Fill your boots. At this consistency you are golden.
  • squash – take this one with a grain of salt … not literally. I find squash while in flare up mode is good as a soup or a mash but not ‘as is’. So those fancy squash boats might upset your stomach if you introduce it too quickly.
  • rice – the end all be all to the flare up diet. Some days all you will feel like is rice. Other days, you will want to jazz it up with some broth or some chicken. It is the saviour of your flare up.
  • meat – you can do chicken, pork or turkey but it should be low fat, and cooked as is, with some seasoning or nothing at all.

The diet lies on the framework of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, apple sauce, toast) as this is what would help you reduce your diarrhoea if you had an infection. Same theory, but allowing some more flexibility as your stool begins to form while your colon is still swollen. It is recommended to have small portions of foods with low fiber and therefore would create low residue. Stay tuned, I have some great recipes that got me through so far.

Rolled Eggplant with gluten-free Capellini

Ever feel like adding a little spin on a pasta dish? I did. And I found this recipe and loved it. I claim it as my own now simply because – as always – I made some modifications. Note that this recipe can be made with substitute cheeses if you find good ones. 

What you will need:

Filling

  • 1 cup sauce (meat sauce or not, your choice)
  • 4 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground black pepper
  • pinch of dried oregano (or some fresh oregano if you have some on hand)
  • 1/2 pound gluten free capellini or angel hair pasta.

Eggplant

  • 1 large elongated eggplant
  • 1 cup gluten free flour (to dust the eggplant)
  • 2 cups olive oil for frying
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • chili flakes
  • vegan sliced mozzarella (optional) 

To make the filling… if you choose to use meat in your sauce, cook the meat and mix with the cup of tomato sauce.

In a bowl combine the tomato/meat sauce (1 cup), basil, salt, pepper, and oregano. Stir to combine.

Meanwhile in a large crock pot cook the pasta (half the box roughly) until al dente. Remove from heat and drain.

Add the pasta to the mixture and mix until all the pasta is coated. With tongs and a knife, cut the pasta mixture in thirds so the strands of pasta are much shorter to work with. Mix again.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Thinly slice the eggplant lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. dust each slice in flour and fry in a shallow frying pan until golden brown on each side. Remove finished slices and drain on paper towel. Continue process for all slices.

Line up slices and spoon about 1 tbsp (sloppily) of filling in the center of each slice. Roll each eggplant slice around the filling and place the roll into a baking dish. Once complete pour the tomato sauce (second cup) over the rolls. Top each roll with chili flakes and vegan sliced mozzarella (optional).

Bake for about 10 minutes (yup thats all!) or until cheese is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.

As I have said before, I really dont like pasta that is made with corn because it isnt digested well so try to find something like chic pea or brown rice. 

This recipe is so delicious, and easy to make!

Cabbage Soup

I got on a cabbage kick when I first cut wheat out of my diet. I wanted to make sure that I wasnt replacing wheat with crap, so I looked for very healthy, very pure recipes. Like most soups you make at home, it will last for a long time (the amount, not the shelf life) so make sure to choose soups you like. And you can always freeze them.

For this soup, which I chose to keep vegetarian, is very endo-friendly.

What you will need:

  • 5 carrots, chopped (or halved if baby carrots)
  • 1 head cabbage, grated or cut into very thin slices
  • (2 medium white onions, or 1 of those ridiculously large ones, chopped)
  • 2 celery stocks, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 lemons, squeezed
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • cayenne and/or black pepper to taste
  • chili flakes to taste
  • 2-3 liters of water

Pour olive oil in a large soup on high. Add garlic, onions, leek, salt and turmeric, and let cook until onions are soft.

Add carrots and celery, stirring occasionally. Add lemon juice.

When vegetables are getting soft add the cabbage.

After a few minutes add the water. Add seasoning to taste.

Bring to a boil and let simmer 1.5-2 hours.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheddar cheese 🙂

Easy Meaty tomato sauce

There are tons of substitutes for pasta dishes using eggplant, zucchini or gluten-free pasta. But what makes a meaty pasta dish divine is the sauce. Sorry to my endo sisters who dont eat meat, but if you do, this sauce is going to stick around in my family for life. So simple and intuitive and endo-friendly from a gluten perspective.

What you need for this sauce (serves enough for a whole lasagna):

  • 1 package lean ground beef
  • (1 large onion, diced)
  • (8 small mushrooms, sliced)
  • 1 jar tomato sauce (or a homemade tomato sauce of your choice)
  • Italian seasoning
  • (chili flakes)
  • crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a skillet cook the ground beef. Set beef aside in dish (its up to you if you want the drippings or not. Its healthier without but very flavorful with).

In the same pan, cook the onions and sliced mushrooms. No need to add oil as you are using the drippings from the beef. Once the onions are clear, add garlic and then the beef.

Add the jar of tomato sauce and all the seasoning to taste. Cook covered on low for 30min. Add seasoning along the way as needed.

Below is a picture of eggplant lasagna that I used with this sauce.

IMG_3942
By the way this pic is of a cold slice – I avoided taking a pic of the hot one cus it looked kinda sloppy.

To make this recipe:

Slice the eggplant width-wise to form circles rather than lengthwise. Sprinkle the slices on both sides with olive oil and salt, and roast in the oven on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10min at 375F.

The rest of the recipe is the same as my zucchini lasagna recipe.

Enjoy!

Power Breakfast

Because rice is my saviour, I make these power rice bowls when I need a boost of flavor and protein. You can mix the ingredients up as much as you’d like.

If you have endo you can use the blend I made before – a long grain rice that contains some dried vegetables – but if you have UC its best you stick with plain rice.  A few spoonfuls piled with cooked sausage (optional), avocado and a fried egg is the perfect way to start the day.

Ingredients:

  • Rice – long grain blend or plain white rice
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil
  • 1 egg
  • half avocado
  • 1 sausage (optional)
  1. In a small sauce pot, cook the rice as per instructions on package.
  2. (if you are adding sausage you should start cooking now)
  3. In the meantime, slice up half an avocado and set aside
  4. In one frying pan, pour in oil and place on medium heat
  5. Once hot, cook your egg to you desire.
  6. Once rice (and sausage) are cooked, place a heaping of rice at the bottom of the bowl. Layer with sausage and avocado, and top with fried egg.
  7. Season as needed.
IMG_3935

If you dont eat rice Im sure this could be well substituted for quinoa or lentils.