Monday, January 26, 2015

New Coat and Honey Sesame Chicken

pants: DNKY via Ross
socks: Target
shoes: Aerosole
sweater: Macy's
coat: Target (!!!)

My Mom and Dad are very generous, and each winter during their sojourn in Arizona, Mom picks out one large-ish gift to buy me to remind us of our wonderful fun shopping trips together.  This year we found it on our first adventure - this beautiful new coat!

Look at the buttons!!! 

And the polka-dots!

I like to pretend dots are a solid and wear them with a floral or a stripe
(as in the above picture).

I'm planning a trip to Minnesota again in early April, so I'll be sure to take it with me so it will get worn the whole time!

I also found some completely amazing jeans at Macy's.
I am extremely picky about jeans because I don't like jeans that have a stiff waistband and I don't like jeans that don't move well (I like to be able to sit and run and bend and sit on the floor!)

These are adorable . . . 

and they have a wide elastic waistband!

Not so wide or stretchy that I can gain a hundred pounds and not notice, though.
They will still keep me in check because they're slim-fitting overall.
They're amazing and I got them in a light wash (this one) and a darker wash).
I'm not going to take a picture of my butt, but believe me that these make that look cute, too!

I have been feeling uninspired and unsuccessful with cooking and meals lately. 
I feel as if my digestive system isn't happy with anything except french fries and corn puffs, but I can't get adequate nutrition that way!

So I've been reading and looking up recipes that sound good to me and have been trying some out.

I tried out a peanut sauce with cucumbers that was too rich for me:
I sprinkled feta cheese on top.

I may try the peanut sauce again more watered down.  Or a different recipe altogether.

Then last Friday, I decided to try a whole new meal - and it was a big risk because I
decided to try Honey Sesame Chicken, and I have tried Asian meals MANY times and always failed to get the meat coating and the texture/thickness/bubbly-ness of the sauce right.

But then I found this recipe, and it is a BAKED recipe, which was significantly different from what I've tried before, so I decided to try again.

And I'm thrilled that I did!!!!!

First the chicken is dipped in corn starch, then beaten eggs and cooked in olive oil (or sesame oil, which I didn't have).  The sauce is made up and poured over the chicken in a pan and popped into the oven for 45 minutes, where it emits a lovely smell that made my mouth water.

The sauce got thicker and thicker.
Next time I'm making at least twice as much sauce because I didn't use very much chicken this time and there was still barely enough sauce for everything.  This time there was a confounding factor - Greg was extra late home from work, so I turned the oven off but left the chicken in there, which left the sauce to thicken even more - it was lovely and sticky and sweet and tasty, but next time I won't leave it in so long.

Here it is with the sesame seeds on top!

add brown rice . . . 

And steamed broccoli (not for Greg!)

And it was DELICIOUS!

I think I'm going to try this version tonight!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Cleaning Up

Since my diagnosis of Crohn's Disease a year and a half ago, I have been cleaning up my life to hopefully support my body as it heals and maybe also prevent future illness.
My Mom's scary diagnosis recently was another clue that I'm on the right track.
My special Auntie Cindy (my Mom's sister) asked me recently what steps she could take to clean up her lifestyle a bit to do anything possible to keep her own body as healthy as possible.

I'm not an expert, but I've been doing a lot of research and reading, so I thought I'd write a blog post about what I'm doing and why.  It's a slow process, but any difference is a healthy difference and a benefit to your body!

This book is the best one I've read so far:

The doctor who wrote the above book fought an aggressive brain cancer for almost 20 years by adding complementary strategies to his traditional treatments.  He describes the process as having four parts:

1.detoxification (getting rid of) carcinogenic substances
2. an anticancer diet
3. adequate physical activity
4. emotional peace

I very much recommend the book for the science alone, but it is also an interesting read, full of the author's personal journey.

Part 1:

There's the obvious stuff like DON'T SMOKE and stay as far away from nasty chemicals (like asbestos) as possible.  I hope you already know those things.

About pesticides:  I firmly believe in eating organic whenever possible and I don't think pesticides are a useful thing for the human body to consume.  I am now working on figuring out nontoxic (to humans, anyway!) ways we can tackle the spiders, ants, and cockroaches that wish to live in our home without pesticides.  Our bug control guy comes every other month and only deals with the outside, but I would like to get rid of that extra source of chemicals altogether.

We also won't be repurchasing RoundUp or any herbicides once ours is gone . . . there are other options (boiling water, vinegar, etc.) that won't add to the toxic load our bodies face.

Make-Up & Body Care:
There is no governmental body that assesses and approves cosmetic items as "safe".
These items don't fall under the FDA's jurisdiction because they are neither food nor drugs.
We know there are many harmful chemicals in these products and many of them have proven links to illnesses such as cancer and reproductive disorders.

I recommend a slow process of replacing items from your make-up and self-care arsenal with items that rate lower on the EWG's Skin Deep database scorecard (they have a great app you can use from the store to scan potential purchases).  Don't try to replace everything all at once or you will end up with lots of products you don't like because they don't meet your needs.  Decide first which products you must have, what you need from each product, how much you're willing to spend, and whether that item is a must-have.

For example, I require the following every day:

body wash
facial moisturizer (with sunscreen)
foundation/bb cream
sometimes mascara
lip product (tinted balm, usually)

face wash
night moisturizing (and anti-aging) cream

I decided I would start first with the foundation/bb cream because it stays on my face all day long.

I wanted my foundation/bb cream to be less than $15 and to rate in the "green zone" on EWG's SkinDeep scorecard (0-3).  I chose finish I wanted (dewy, not matte) and the sort of coverage I wanted (medium).  Then I tried a bunch of different products.  The ones that didn't work, I took back.  I can do a later post or a video if you're interested in the actual products I have settled on.

There may be some products that you decide are not worth the effort.  I don't usually wear fragrance anymore.  I discovered the other day when I sprayed on my favorite scent that I got stuffed up right away and got a headache.  "Fragrance" is one of the most dangerous ingredients, because almost anything can be hidden in there!

Trust your body.  Listen to it.  When you use a new product, watch for reactions.  Does your skin feel itchy?  Maybe that product isn't right for you.  Give it a couple of days and if it doesn't seem right, take it back and try something else.  If you purchase potential new products from Target, Walgreen's, CVS, etc., you will be able to return the product if it doesn't work for you, even if it is opened and used.

This doesn't have to be an overwhelming process.  Just do one product at a time.

I am feeling successful with my routine now, but it hasn't been quick.

Consider whether you truly need the medications you take.
I am working to NOT take antihistamines and decongestants anymore and I work really super hard to not take antibiotics.  I don't know if I'll be successful, but the more we put in our bodies that our bodies have to get rid of, the higher the overall load our bodies have.  Think of a highway with only one lane.  If there's only one lane of cars on that road, it's fine.  But if there are four-lanes-worth of cars, there's going to be a back-up.  That seems to be sort of what happens with the body when it's getting rid of bad stuff.  I would like to lower the burden for my body so it can do its job well (and for a long time!)  Don't just take my word for any of this, but do your research and make wise decisions with your health-care provider.

*** Oregano oil is helping me a lot with allergies and sinus problems
*** D Mannose prevents/heals many/most UTIs
- at least for me and every other woman I know who's tried it!
*** Boswellia and Turmeric are excellent anti-inflammatories (for pain, swelling, etc.)

See if there's a better, less-burdensome option before using a drug
that your body will have more trouble breaking down (and that will have negative side effects!)

Part 2:
An anticancer diet

For me, this step will probably go on and on forever, because there's almost always more work to be done in this area - also, my digestive system isn't tolerating a lot of vegetables right now, so I'm still figuring this all out.

What we eat can hinder or help the body to resist abnormally-growing cells (cancer) AND our food can help our bodies heal from illness.

for more information on how food choices can specifically affect cancer
Both of these books are very science-based, meaning they list studies to back up their recommendations; I found them a little overwhelming and their recommendations weren't always the most practical, but if I were diagnosed with cancer, I would definitely be more on board!
(Both books are applicable to more than breast cancer and more than cancer in general!)

Obviously, EATING is a big issue.
I'm not a nutritionist or a doctor, but I can tell you about what I've read and what I'm striving for.

There are lots of differing opinions about what best fuels the human body.  It's up to you to decide which particular eating works best for your body (vetegarian, vegan, Mediterranean-style, low-carb, etc.)  I am still figuring out the triggers for my Crohn's episodes, so I don't always know what's going to work from one day to the next.  Play around with which real, whole foods suit your body best and lean on those.

Overall . . .  

*** Whatever you choose to eat, decrease your portion size a little.
*** Keep your glycemic level LOW (use agave syrup or coconut palm sugar, both of which have a low glycemic index) - sugar feeds cancer, and high-glycemic foods (pasta, white bread) count as sugar
*** Switch out some processed low-nutrition foods (candy, chips, etc.) for vegetables and fruit.
*** Eat less red meat (and maybe a lot less meat and dairy altogether)
*** Try to eat lots of foods that don't have an ingredients list
*** Move towards organic choices when your budget allows, especially with meat, dairy products, fruit, and vegetables

Part 3: 
Adequate physical activity

Yes, exercise.

But before you go out and sign up to run a marathon, keep in mind that the newest theories are that cancer (and many other diseases) are inflammatory processes.  We know that inflammation is related to poorer outcomes for people with cancer (people who had high levels of inflammation in their bodies when they were diagnosed with cancer were more likely to die from it).  The idea here (though I can't give you statistics) is that anything that lowers your inflammation level is an anti-cancer, anti-illness activity and anything that raises your inflammation level is a pro-cancer, pro-illness activity.  So activity that is moving around and gentle to your body is anti-inflammatory, but running a marathon usually causes much more inflammation because it's so hard-core.  Sweating is fine, raised heartbeat is great, but too much stress on the body isn't so great in this context,
so we're talking gentle exercise like walking, yoga, tai chi, etc.  

The studies show that walking 3-5 hours per week at normal walking speed has a measurable effect on breast cancer.  Cancer of the colon and rectum require twice that much (either twice as long or twice the speed).  Prostate cancer requires three hours of jogging per week (can be done in 30 minute segments) or the equivalent exertion.  It doesn't have to be much.  Go for a walk!  Just walking is benefiting you in all sorts of ways!

Part 4:
Emotional Peace

This one may seem weird, but there is plenty of science behind it.
Most of us probably can't prevent or cure cancer with our minds, BUT, as the above book says, "certain psychological states can profoundly influence the soil in which the seed develops" (page 197).  Feeling helpless is one of the worst enemies of health.
Meditation and repetition of certain mantras can create a six breaths per minute pattern, which creates a harmony with autonomic functions in the body.  This slow steady breathing and inner calm is shown to cause better regulation of the immune system, reduction in inflammation, and better regulation of blood sugar levels (see the book for the studies).  When the body is not in harmony, it's an environment in which cancer and other illness find it easier to grow.

Check out this program for bare-bones NON-spiritual meditation guidance.  It's good stuff.
10 minutes once or twice a day are recommended.

Check out this book for a Christian guide to silence and solitude.

Check out this book, "Train Your Brain" (it isn't just for business building as the subtitle suggests!), which talks about how to re-train your brain to help you heal.

So there are the four steps to preventing an illness OR giving your body the extra support it needs to recover from one.

Here's a short, concise guide to avoiding cancer, in case you prefer your "books" to take less than 10 minutes to read!

The food one is the most challenging for me.  Which one is most challenging for you?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cat Oppression

Two kittens (look inside the bookcase for kitten #2 - he's hiding in the shadows!)

The other night, Allistair decided to hop on Greg's shoulder to get closer to the
chicken . . . 

and then he realized he was high up, and he could see lots of fun things!

I had to rescue Greg from the kitten oppression.

He doesn't look so oppressive when he's sleeping.

And Juvy doesn't look oppressive when her tongue is poking out!

The sky has been beautiful azure blue and the hot air balloons are out regularly.

And my parents made it to Arizona a couple of weeks ago . . . 
it's been a busy couple of weeks for all of us!
Mom, Greg, me, Dad

We walked to Sprout's the other day and this egg was lying next to the little lake!

It's lovely here this time of year!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Peralta Trail

Greg and I went on a hike while he was on his Christmas vacation.
We decided to try the Peralta Trail.
I've done it before, and it's a biggie - four miles in and four miles out . . . 
which doesn't sound like much, but it's pretty steep.

When we left in the morning, there were ice crystals on Greg's truck!

Greg had to use his scraper (it's not used to much of a workout, since we live in Arizona, but we were glad it was up to the challenge!)

This is the Lost Dutchman State Park.  I have climbed up to that little bump near the cliff on the left-hand side of the mountain!
If you look closely, you can see snow up there!

Here's some more snow on the top of more mountains in the Superstition range.

I was feeling happy!

Look at allllll these Saguaros!

The trailhead is at the end of a looong, very rutted and bumpy trail.
But we made it!

"this surface is not regularly maintained" - that's for sure!

And once we got there, the sky was gorgeous and the rocks were beautiful.

That's Greg in that little needle!

And there's me!

We saw some holly along the way!

And then we ran into SNOW on the slopes!

But it was warm enough for shirt sleeves.

We didn't go all the way to the top because I don't have quite that much stamina yet (after being ill for a while with Crohn's stuff and recently a bad cold) and because we got to a place where there was ice on the path and Greg wanted to keep us safe (thanks, stud!)

On the way down, it got chilly again as the breeze kicked up and our sweat dried off.

 A beautiful view behind me down the canyon:

We'll be back, Peralta Trail!