Recipes

2 years (ish) later

LoveOkay, I’m a few weeks late with this post.  Okay, almost a month.  :)  But I did celebrate two years (!!!) of being medication free on August 13, despite my lack of pomp, circumstance or blog post about it. It’s a little surreal to think that it has been two years. And simultaneously, it seems like much longer. Especially if I think if it in terms of alcohol! It helps that I’ve been pregnant for all of 2014, granted…still, I don’t remember the last time I was even buzzed, let alone drunk! Strange. I guess my 30s will be defined by different types of headlines than my 20s. I am okay with that.

It has been interesting comparing Year 2 of living drug-free versus Year 1. The first part of any new adventure is filled with hope and motivation and dreams and pie-in-the-sky expectations. After that wore off, in Year 2, I had to M A I N T A I N. Long-term maintenance can be much more challenging than the initial cold turkey decision. It has been for me in a few ways. First and foremost, I started feeling better! This was a blessing and a curse. And as my dad would say, my lifestyle changes were working so well that I stopped doing them. I started putting different things into my diet, in the spirit of “seeing what works for my body”. In reality, it just tastes good to eat a bagel with cream cheese occasionally. I am human after all. As I was feeling better, I lost that direct feedback loop of “eat crap or get stressed out –> have blood in poop”. I didn’t have the blood anymore and consequently, I had to find new ways to remind myself that it’s not a good idea to freak out at small things out of my control or eat random processed sugar at all hours of the day. Of course, after a few days/weeks of poor decision making, the blood would make a comeback anyway, so, good job colon? At least it’s consistent and I know what I’m dealing with. Having strategies to combat the colitis has been hugely helpful during this second year.

Socially, the long-term maintenance has been way easier than the first year. People adapted so easily to my strict eating habits that when I began deviating from them after awhile, they were kind of confused. Especially after I got pregnant and my colitis was SUPER AMAZING. Gotta love the upside of hormones. I was eating whatever I wanted with no repercussions at all. Now that the pregnancy is almost at an end (is it Sept 19 yet??), I am noticing the return of traces of blood, small changes in my acne, slight shifts in my hair, etc. I love observing it and figuring out how to return my body back to balance. It’s like a crazy Jenga game.

I think the hardest part of long-term maintenance is the most obvious: staying committed. It’s like being an addict. You have to take it one decision, one minute, one hour, one day at a time. You have to be okay with yourself when you deviate from the plan. Be nice to yourself and try not to develop an eating disorder.  :)  It’s all a little overwhelming sometimes, which means sometimes you take a break. Relax and eat a cookie and don’t judge it. But don’t eat the whole box either. Work in a little spinach and kale more often. Such a dance.

Speaking of being an addict, I was cleaning a few months ago, and it was stunning how I had hidden the drugs that were maintaining my colitis in various rooms of our house. I didn’t even realize it. I felt like an alcoholic discovering bottles they hid for themselves. I found a bottle of Asacol in the back of the third drawer of my bathroom. I found another half bottle faaaaaaar in the back underneath the sink. I still had three weeks worth of medicated enemas in my closet, just in case. Even though I had long since given up the habit of mesalamine, there it was, lurking everywhere. I knew I had the enemas as insurance in case things got really bad, really quickly and I needed it. However, I had been holding on for such a long time that they expired! The pills were all still good, but why did I have them? I hadn’t taken them in years. As I threw out the final bottle and box of enemas, I started crying. It was much harder than I thought it would be. At the same time, it was incredibly liberating. I knew I was doing right by my body, nevertheless, the finality set in during that moment. Saying I was done taking the drugs was one thing. Stopping the 9 pills a day regimen was another thing. Physically eliminating the option was apparently a whole new thing. Luckily, my incomparable supportive husband was there to give me hugs and tell me I was doing the right thing. He’s incredible. Not sure what I would do without him, but I’m pretty sure it would involve me shooting drugs in my butt through enemas. HAHA! That’s ridiculously gross! But true. Weird.

At any rate, the house is now officially 100% mesalamine free! It only took almost 10 years to get there! It is an interesting, frustrating, exhilarating, educational path, and I’m grateful everyday I’m on it. Plus, since it is a chronic disease, I may as well embrace the journey because it’s not going anywhere! As the name of the blog implies, I feel that I’ve been given UC as a life assignment and the only way I know how to deal with that assignment is through love. Love of self, love of patience, love of mistakes, love of others, love of balance within my body and life, love of food, love of yoga! It’s all very exciting. Thanks to all for the support and hopefully Year 3 will be even better than the last! I’ll have at least one more family member to share it with soon.  :)  LOVE!

 

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

In the spirit of love, here’s one of my favorite love songs ever. It captures the emotion of love in such a heartbreaking and accurate way. Makes me cry most of the time when I hear it. I like the studio version best:

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Categories: Colitis, Healing, Love, Patient History, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Frozen Happiness

Frozen kale cubesHello, hello and happy September!  It’s the time of year where a crisp, cool breeze bites through your sleeves and reminds you that autumn is on the way.  Oh wait.  I forgot.  Apparently, it’s just freaking hot.  All the time.  When did September become such a ridiculous heat wave?  Goodness.  (Edited to say that I started this entry a few weeks ago, but I’m sticking with it, even though it’s cooled down and semi-irrelevant now!  Deal with it!)

Football has started again which is pretty exciting.  We’re heading into my 11th season as an NFL watcher (coincidentally when I started dating Jon).  Although for that first season, I think 90% of my football “watching” was really just me sleeping.  Aaaaand not much has changed, really.  I get a LOT of sleep and a LOT of snuggles during football season….which helps explain why I’m so excited that it’s here!  Plus it is fun to watch occasionally as I slip in and out of consciousness, just like the football players!  Of course, the Eagles haven’t been any good the last few years, which means Jon is not always as committed to watching it every Sunday.  We’ll see how this year plays out.  So far it’s been a roller coaster of emotions that usually leaves everyone confused and angry.

But what have I been doing to keep cool?  Well, my air conditioning in my car went out.  After many years of nothing being majorly wrong with my dependable Corolla, on the first day of the heat a few weeks ago, BOOM, there was no cold air rushing through my vents.  So I’ve been embracing the window.  The fun part is that since I was 21 when I bought this car, I had zero money and opted to not get power windows and doors.  For the extra $2,500 I was saving, I figured my friends could roll up their own windows (lazy bums!).  What I did not think about was that in ten years, if I wanted my passenger side window to go down because it was approaching 100 degrees in my non-AC vehicle, that I would have to awkwardly lean over and try to reach the little turny knob thingy across the whole car.  Super classy.  It has since been fixed, but that was an interesting couple weeks.

What I’ve been doing to keep cool through food is a lot of smoothies.  We left for a wedding in Philly two weeks ago and I had a ton of fresh, delicious vegetables and fruits in my fridge (shocker).  But what to do?  They would all go bad in our absence!?!  Typically I would freak out, try to juice or blend them ALL and end up with a big brown disgusting mess that smelled weird.  Of course I would drink half of it out of spite, but by the time we got to the airport, that thing would be trash.

So I’m standing there at my sink, wondering what I should do and I started to put things in the freezer.  At first, it was stuff that made sense and that I froze all the time: bananas, strawberries, raspberries…..but then I started thinking, hey vegetables can be frozen too!  What a concept!  I am obviously a genius for thinking of this very new concept of frozen vegetables.  But they were weird ones for me to freeze, I think.  I chopped up my zucchini, cucumbers and broccoli into smoothies sized pieces and stuck those in the freezer.  But why stop there?  I started freezing the celery, the kale, the spinach, even my romaine lettuce!  I got carried away and ended up freezing tomatoes and oranges…I haven’t tried those yet but I was on a roll!

After the trip, I went to make a green smoothie with all of my delicious frozen weirdness.  It. Was. Awesome.  I couldn’t believe how well everything held up, right down to the last lettuce piece.  I have been a freezing monster ever since.  My smoothies have never been more delicious and I don’t have to feel bad when things start to go bad in the fridge….I just transfer them up to the freezer!

Now for all the hardcore yogis out there, ayurvedically, frozen beverages are not balancing my whacked out vata dosha.  :)  They are kind of feeding it.  But I am justifying it because it’s crazy hot outside.  I am still drinking my warm ayurvedic tea throughout the day, so I’m good right?  Whatever helps me sleep at night, haha.  I’ll switch to warmer, soup-type options as we ease into colder weather, I promise.

I figured I’d include a smoothie recipe to end this off in case you’d like to try it at home.  The problem is that I don’t follow recipes in general.  But if you take these ingredients and play around with amounts, you will find a combination that you like in a few tries, I promise.  Happy blending!

Alisa’s typical green smoothie:

  • green apple….1
  • celery…1.5 stalks
  • kale…..1-2 big pieces
  • juice of one lime
  • spinach…..a big handful
  • green grapes…..a small handful
  • cucumber….a quarter of a whole cucumber
  • zucchini…..a quarter of a whole zucchini (at first I was cutting off the top and bottom, and then I was like, wait a minute, I have a Vitamix!  I can just throw the whole thing in there!)
  • green bell pepper…..only if I have it around, and I use probably an eighth of a pepper or so
  • apple juice…..enough that it can blend pretty easily.  I also add water if it gets too thick.

Pretty much anything that is green in the fridge goes in.  Enjoy!!!

 

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNER

John Legend’s new album came out recently and I love it.  I especially have been obsessed with his Common cover of “The Light” which he has renamed “Open Your Eyes” and put in new lyrics, etc.  I love the original and I may even like the cover better!

John Legend

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Balance

Awhile ago, Jon asked me what this term balance was all about because I’ve been throwing the word around like beads at a Mardi Gras parade (with less flashing).  My hippie friends and I are often saying things like: “My doshas are not in balance” or “I need to work on being more balanced” or “Get that balance out of your pocket!”…..okay the last one doesn’t make sense, but what is this elusive balance that we are trying to achieve?

I’ve come to realize that no matter what you eat, or how you eat it, there are going to be toxins in life that need to be addressed.  Disease cannot be managed by medicine alone.  These toxins come in not just through your food, but through your thought patterns and emotional choices.  Don’t get me wrong, food is wildly important in health.  It clears out the excessive toxins so your body can work on the real crap (pun intended).  Food is my medicine, thank you Hippocrates, and it is much preferred to 9 pills a day or steroids for me.  But it’s not the whole picture.  This pyramid seems a closer for nutritional guidelines:

primary food pyramid3

I think it’s missing a component on sleep and also fun.  I also think vegetables should be a larger section with fewer grains, definitely fewer proteins, and maybe even less fruit.  Veggies are pretty important.  At any rate, what this pyramid does show is that there has to be a balance between ALL of these areas in your life.  Without that balance, you can eat as much organic broccoli as you want….if your outer red circle is toxic crap, you will feel like toxic crap.  And for relationships, this applies hugely to the relationship with yourself as well as others.

I didn’t realize it, but somewhere along the way, I was fighting my inner wisdom and had sort of misaligned my relationship with self.  I was at war with my self-acceptance, my natural beauty, and now I have this “disease” that is literally eating up my colon with its own acids.  Great.  It left me with many feelings of shame, guilt, anger, imbalance, confusion and discouragement.  The strange part is that throughout this whole process, I was and am a super happy person.  I love my life and my family and friends.  But it is so hard for me to allow myself to feel true, unadulterated joy.  I often stop myself from being 100% vulnerable or 100% free.  I get damn close!  But still I stop at 98%.  That’s my move!  I stop short.  Why??  I feel….undeserving for some reason.  I struggle with the concept that I am special and that I have a right to a good life because I don’t want to come off as an entitled jerk.  What makes me different from the person who is outside, right now as I type this, without a home, without someone to take of them, shivering cold and hungry?  I am a human, same as them.  To me, my joy and amazing life is somehow a smack in their face.

I also have never enjoyed the idea that I am not in control.  Of anything.  And everything.  :)  So when situations occur where I am not in control of my body or my surroundings, I become very anxious.  Toxically anxious.  I don’t want to go to a place where I have to surrender everything.  This was a completely foreign concept for me when I was first introduced to it.  Surrender?  Give in?  Never!!??!  I am an amazonian woman warrior and I can do ANYTHING.  Give me something.  I will dominate it.  Giving in felt like giving up and I had not once opened myself up to having an experience where I had to give in and surrender.  I refused to show any weakness.

This may seem like a jump, but I’ll bring it back together.  :)  My therapist had me do an exercise the other day where I had to invite different feelings into my body, including love, guilt and joy.  Inviting love and joy into your body is one thing, that was awesome.  :)  Inviting guilt??!  I have tried for so so long to push guilt out of my body that it was a strange guest.  But it was immensely powerful to do it.  I made a few realizations with the exercise:

1–I am really good at breathing now!  I am very effective at breathing into areas, thoughts….being breathed by them is wonderful as well.  And through yoga and ujjayi breathing, I can bring these emotions in and out of my body relatively easily.  So I have that going for me.  Which is nice.

2–There’s only so many parts of your body and consequently, only so many parts of your body where you can experience emotions.  As luck would have it, love and guilt were both felt for me in my gut.  Shocker.

3–Emotions and feelings can only last so long.  Some longer than others, definitely, but they are not with you forever.  Reminding myself of that and experiencing it physically was very eye-opening.  I tried to hold on to each feeling as long as I could but eventually it just went away, no matter how hard I tried.  I feel empowered by this knowledge and it has helped me in the practice of non-attachment (aparigraha or vairagya in hippie Sanskrit yogi terms).

The fun part is that I am in the middle of this process and that I am living life!  I’m going through this seemingly tough time working my way through an “incurable” illness. (I put incurable in quotes because I refuse to believe it, despite the Mayo clinic’s warning.)  But in the meantime, I am becoming a more whole, assertive, loving version of myself.  I think I’ve been pretty darn excellent in how I treat other people in my life.  I’m trying to allow myself the opportunity to apply that same kindness to me.  I am allowed to be me and to be happy.  I know that my purpose in life is to help others.  I’ve known that for a long time.  What I didn’t fully understand is something I’d heard a million times, I just didn’t absorb and accept it: in order to truly and effectively help others, I have to accept myself.  Which means having moments of pure, unadulterated joy.  Having moments of complete, utter sadness.  Knowing that giving in and giving up are two completely different concepts.  Realizing that I am unique and special, and that is okay.  Just like this poster.

you are unique

None of this makes me “better” than the person who is homeless in the streets, it just makes me different.  (sidenote: I know nothing about this anonymous street person or their journey….why was I feeling bad about them when they could be having a completely normal or even great day?)

That “thing” that seemed out of reach just a few weeks ago when I wrote the post on my patient history is coming into focus and I am happy about that.  I am striving to set myself up for success by being honest with myself and doing what is right so I can function at an optimal level.  It is only from a place of love and acceptance that I can fully help others.  It’s the patience part that is hard now.  :)

Well.  That was a load off.  I’m going to go process now.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

I was having an urge for baked goods (my kryptonite) so I made some muffins last night that turned out to be delicious!  I did use a 3/4 cup of flour (ahh!) but they were still super clean and tasty.  Not super sweet which was what I was going for, so you can add honey once you are eating them if you want.  Here’s the recipe if you want to try them out:

Carrot-banana-walnut-raisin Muffins adapted from the “Coffee & Quinoa” blog

Ingredients

¾ cup flour of your choice (almond or 100% whole wheat would be my suggestion)
¾ cup ground flaxseed
¾ cup rolled oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp clove
2 ripe to overripe bananas
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup applesauce
2 medium-sized carrots, grated
½ cup walnuts (I just smashed them with my hands, you don’t want them too small)
some raisins to taste…..I didn’t measure them!

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, oats, flaxseed meal, baking soda and spices).

In another bowl, mash the bananas (with a fork is fine). Add the pumpkin, maple syrup and applesauce and stir until combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir to combine. I added in a little bit of water here, not much.  Gently mix in the grated carrots, walnuts and raisins.

Place muffin cups in tin and fill 90% of the way full with batter. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.  Tasty!

Categories: Balance, Colitis, Love, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Food, more food!

I was a little off with my “I’ll post more recipes tonight” comment in my last post.  :)  But here I am with some more food now.

This first recipe is originally from Sisterfriend…she brought me this delicious salad on Mama’s birthday and we ate it in the parking lot of Swallow’s Inn!  haha.  It was soooo good that I’ve made it with friends multiple times since then.  We’ll be enjoying it tonight too!

Sister’s eggplant with hummus and beet salad

1 eggplant sliced to ¼ inch thick pieces
hummus
cherry or grape tomatoes cut in half
slivered or sliced almonds, to taste
1 lemon, most of it for the juice, but cut 8-10 super thin slices, like paper thin
3-4 beets, diced
1 apple, diced
arugula
goat cheese (optional)

Heat the eggplant slices up in a skillet over medium heat until soft. You don’t even need oil, it softens on it’s own, shouldn’t stick. While that’s heating, toss together the arugula, apples, beets, almonds, tomatoes and goat cheese with the lemon juice and lemon slices.  Place one or two eggplant slices on the plate.  Slather hummus generously on each piece.  Top with the salad mixture and enjoy!  Serves about 4.  PS-you can buy the beets at Trader Joe’s already all done and ready to be cut.  Really easy.

Here’s a final recipe before I leave for dinner.  It’s what we had last night and it was great.  Yes, I am still eating fish from time to time because it doesn’t seem to affect my stomach like meat and dairy.

Alisa’s Traditional Salmon Dinner for 2

2 fillets of salmon
1 cup “power rice” (½ cup cooked brown rice and ½ cup cooked quinoa mixed together)
1 white or red onion, sliced into rings
2 veggies of your choice….last night we used broccoli and kale

Heat the oven to 350°.  Bake the salmon with freshly cracked pepper and a tiny bit of sea salt for 35-40 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes, throw a ton of broccoli into the oven with the fish.  Then saute the onion on low with a little bit of water (no oil required, there’s a decent amount of liquid in the onion already).  Once it’s 90% there, throw in a bunch of kale, and cover for the last few minutes.  Distribute the rice on the plates first, top with salmon. Layer the onions and kale half on the salmon, half off (it’s all about presentation).  Broccoli goes on the side!  Voila!  I also used a little bit of ponzu sauce on the kale (ponzu=equal parts lemon juice and soy sauce with diced green onions) but not too much because that is a ton of salt.

Off to the Pirazzinis for dinner!  No Music Corner tonight, just listening to the rain.  :)

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Recipes!

My beautiful cousin requested some recipes for getting a healthier kick to life.  There are SO many different great websites and cookbooks for this sort of thing.  I’ll give you a bunch of resources and then also some good recipes that I’ve been making lately.

First to mention is definitely Kris Carr.  I’ve been slightly obsessed with her story, her book and her recipes lately.  I identify a lot with her and she has a fun writing style, so it’s been good to learn from her.  Here’s a link to her online recipes.

Taking a step back to educating myself about health, a big game changer for me was watching Forks Over Knives….do yourself a favor and watch it right now.  Even just the first half hour.  I’ve seen Food Inc, watched Jamie Olver’s Food Revolution, read Fast Food Nation, and still through all of that, I was a pretty ardent meat and cheese eater.  This movie either came at the right time or it just did a good job at explaining things.  Either way, it seriously shifted how I approach my plate.  I hadn’t been that woken up since Michael Pollan who also shifted me into higher thinking with his books (which I need to re-read, it’s been a few years).  His mind-numbingly simple and profound slogan on In Defense of Food reads: Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.  Man.  Can’t get more simple than that!!  Make it the caveat of eating REAL food (not overly processed crapola) and you are there!

But back to recipes….two things that I’ve learned are hugely important in trying to balance my insides are my pH levels and the amount of inflammatory food that I’m eating.  Dr. Robert Young wrote the pH Miracle and it makes so much sense.  Keep more alkaline foods in your body and disease doesn’t want to hang out there!  Also, Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid makes some sense for my body too.  Although I’m being much more strict than that in my healing phase (ie no meats, dairy or processed sugar at all).

Luckily, my new favorite person Joy Houston wrote out a ton of really good tasting, fast recipes that incorporate a lot of the concepts from all of these ideas.  She has a cookbook too that I’m sure I’ll end up getting at some point.

So there’s some homework for you to start in learning about what will (hopefully) make your body happy!  It’s a process, but with some baby steps and some giant steps, I think it’s all doable.  :)

Well crap, I am out of time and have to run.  Here is one recipe but I will put more up later tonight.  Love to all!

Healthy, Mexi-Salad

I adapted one of Joy’s recipes and made it last night for dinner.  It was quite delicious:

½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
¼ cup cooked brown rice
¼ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup black beans seasoned with cumin, pepper and chili powder
¼ cup diced mango
¼ cup diced white onion
¼ cup diced green onion
some cut up cilantro
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
dash Tapatío
½ diced avocado

In a large glass mixing bowl combine oil, lime juice, Tapatío, salt and pepper.  Taste dressing and adjust as needed.  Toss beans, rice, quinoa, mango, onions, and cilantro in the dressing.  Place a handful of lettuce on each plate, top with bean and rice mixture and some diced avocado.

You can adjust the amount of beans, rice or quinoa you are putting in depending how many peeps you are feeding.  This amount was good for me and Jon.

ALISA’S MUSIC CORNERmusic_notes

Today has been all about Stevie.  They have his entire collection on Spotify which is great.  I started backwards with the Down To Earth album, moved on to For Once In My Life, My Cherie Amour and am now halfway through Signed, Sealed, & DeliveredTalking Book next!  I don’t think I could ever hear these songs enough in my life.

Categories: Cleansing, Colitis, Recipes | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

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