RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2010

Remember Chabba….

Every now and again I remember Chabba Salvador, the man I met in the dump at Puerto Vallarata this past summer.  If you don’t know the story….I went on a mission trip with my church to help the people who live and work around the old dump of this vast tourist city.  We fed people and loved them for the short time we were there.  We were all impacted by what we saw.  One man in particular struck in my heart.  His name is Chabba.  The very first time I saw him, I knew there was something different about him.  Even though he was dirty from digging through trash, I had to go up and shake his hand.  We talked, albeit in small words and short phrases because my Spanish was very basic and his English was even more so.  But still, I was able to hear part of his story.  He is a man with a family who wakes up every day, thanking God for his daily bread.  Literally, he trusts that each day God is going to give his family enough to eat that day.  The smile on his face told me that he had full confidence in his God.  Even though he worked in a dump of all places, making pitiful amounts of money each night, he was so extremely grateful for all that he was given.  There was absolutely no question in his heart that God would take care of him.

When things get tough, I remember Chabba.  He taught me so much.  I have so much compared to him, yet the simplicity of his faith, of his trust in God, is something I admire immensely.  The rock-solid belief in a God who loves him and wants to take care of him is outstanding.  In my life, I want that confidence each and every minute that I live.  Most days and times I am strong in that faith, and do not lack in the assurance of the provisions of my God.  There are times though where our feet get weary.  We don’t lose hope, but we just need our Saviour to come and carry us for a time.

When my heart gets weary, and I ask my Jesus to carry me for a time, I remember Chabba, and his smile.  I remember the second time we spoke, under the starry sky with the pile of garbage in the background.  Words almost fail me as I try to capture that moment.  In the vastness of this world, I was sent to find a man I might never talk to on a normal day.  Yet God wanted to touch my heart, through this man.  As Chabba talked to me about his God who provides so much, his smile stretched across the sky.  It lit up the night brighter than any star up above.  His hands moved to emphasize the depth of the conviction of his heart.  And in his eyes, there was no weariness.  Just a twinkle that said, “I am loved by the Most High God, who sent his Son to save my soul.  What more could I need?”

Today, I choose to remember Chabba, and all that God has blessed me with.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 28, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

WFD: Salmon, apples, broccoli

What’s For Dinner?

With my new supply of resources for food I was able to get some Salmon last week that was pretty inexpensive.  I love to have fish at least once a week, and it felt really great to get back to that for this week!  My salmon meals are often pretty simple, but are always a wonderful and filling dinner.  This is a picture of my dinner plate last night (how I ate for having Crohn’s), and here’s what I did:

Salmon: I took a nice sized fillet and broiled it for about 3 minutes first.  In the past I have not cooked salmon with the skin on (though I’ve just found out that cooking with the skin on can have it’s benefits!), and this is a great way to get it off.  After broiling for a short time, the skin just peels right off.  Tonight I took a few big pats of butter and threw them on the bottom of the pan to melt, then added two big spoonfuls of minced garlic to the butter.  I set the salmon on top of my “garlic butter.”  I then took a large lemon, first did a titch of lemon zest on top of the fillet, and then juiced the lemon right into the pan.  Finally, I drizzled probably about 1/4 cup of honey over the fish.  At 350 this took about 15 minutes to cook.

Apples: My baked apples are very simple, and thankfully my family has not gotten bored of them yet!  I took 4-5 meduim apples (various kinds), peeled them and sliced them up.  After placing them in an oven-safe dish, I drizzled about 1/4 cup of honey on top and sprinkled with cinnamon.  I cook this, lid on or off doesn’t matter, at 350 for about 20-30 minutes.  A shorter time frame will have crisper apples.  A longer time-frame will make this almost into baked applesauce as the apples will just about fall apart when you stir!

Broccoli: Of course, the broccoli is nothing fancy.  My family loves broccoli, and it’s so good for them, so I serve this as often as I can.  I’ve found that my family will eat more of it if I put a bit of cheddar cheese on top, so that’s what I do!  I simply steam them until mostly soft and then melt the butter on top.  Instant yummy veggies for my family!

Review: I had planned to serve brown rice with this meal, for my non-SCD family.  But the rice didn’t get done in time so I just eliminated it.  My kids actually didn’t even miss not having a starch for dinner!  We each just had the apples, salmon, and broccoli, and that filled us up.  I loved the flavor of the salmon tonight.  It had a tangy-sweetness that was delicious!  When I served it I took some of the juice from the bottom of the pan and drizzled it on top of the portions, and that gave an even more intense flavor.  This meal is a great example of how a person can eat a full meal without serving bread or rice or potatoes.  Our society has told us that we need something like that with our meals, but truly, most of us….don’t!  And if one is still hungry, like my son was, a second helping of veggies or fruit never hurt anyone!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 26, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, What's for Dinner

 

Oh boy…..

Well shoot…..how do I write about this one?  The previous posts along this nature haven’t been too hard, but this one….I’m struggling on a bit.  I guess I just want to hide in my house, just a titch……and not say anything.

BUT……that’s not who I am anymore, so here goes.

Yesterday I took the next step in our lives and walked into a DSHS office asking for help with food and medical.  I never thought, in a million years, that I would be in the “government help” system.  They don’t call it “welfare” anymore, but that’s basically what it is.  Again, I NEVER thought I would be asking for that kind of help.  I’ve gotten used to the food bank, and that helping us out a bit, but to go there….to that office?  Way out of my comfort zone…….

I’ve spent an average of $40 on groceries, per week, the last 3 weeks.  For a family of four.  That was my food budget for just Mark and I way back in the early days of our marriage.  We’ve been making it work, but the future was not looking pretty.  Finally, my husband said to go for it.  So, I did.

I guess I wasn’t really that scared or embarrassed to go in there and ask for help.  I mean….look at how the economy has touched people these days.  There are SO many who are in our same boat.  If I was too scared or proud to ask for help, my family would not get the good food they need.  It was really a pretty easy process, and in the end, they approved us for emergency food help.

Let me just say that, when she told me how much I can get for help, my jaw dropped.  Not that it was out of whack….it is actually just what I would guess most people with kids spend each week on food.  It’s just that the amount was so much more than what I’ve been spending, I couldn’t process it.  I literally sat there, almost crying, confused as to how to use that much money to feed my family.  I haven’t been able to shop with a “real” amount of money in a while now, and literally didn’t know how to do it!  Even now, a day later, I am stunned.  I’m going to have to plan my meals out for this next week, so that when I go to the store I don’t waste the money I’ve been given.  I want to use it to feed my family like I KNOW I want to feed them….not just getting by.  I have wanted to incorporate more fresh foods into their meals, but haven’t been able to.  The food bank usually barely covers fruit and veggies for two or three meals, let alone a full week’s worth.  But with this…..I can feel good about how I’m feeding my family.  One of my love gifts to my family is the food I prepare.  It makes me feel good, and them feel loved, when I can put a good meal on the table.  I am SO excited to put some meals together and start serving them!

Sigh….happy sigh…..

We don’t know how long we will be in this boat.  I’m working now.  My husband is still doing his best to bring in money.  For years though we’ve paid our dues, helping those who needed help.  The system is there to help people like us, who just need some temporary assistance until things get better.  This season will pass.  I have a deep assurance of that in my heart.

I hope that, in reading this, people realize that there is no benefit in hiding what’s going on in life.  Yes, be careful and don’t just blurt your life and it’s details to everyone.  But, as I’ve said before, we need to stand together during this time.  Don’t be ashamed of what’s going on, because life happens to everyone.  Stand strong on your foundation, and THAT will get you through.  And don’t be afraid to ask for help.  It’s like the man in the storm, who asks God to save him.  Over the course of a few hours, a truck, a boat, and a helicopter come by saying “hop on!”  He refuses, and ends up dying.  In Heaven he asks God why he didn’t help.  And God replied….”I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter, but you didn’t take advantage of the help I sent!”  God wants to bless you and help you and pour out his grace in your life.  Don’t turn away his help, simply because it’s not what YOU want it to look like.

Blessings to you and your family today.

–me

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 23, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

Hunger

A problem that I encounter every now and again with this Crohn’s is being extremely hungry.  In a normal world, this would not pose much of a problem for anyone.  Simply open up the fridge or the cupboard, pick something to eat, and chow down.

Not gonna happen here, at least not for a while.

I’m still in the phase of needing to make all my food.  I don’t know many “processed” foods that I can eat, which means when I get to one of those days where my stomach is screaming, there’s really not a whole lot I can do about it.  I had one of those days earlier this week.  In addition to the hunger, it often is accompanied by extreme fatigue.  Try handling everything being a mom with after-school kids entails after a day of work in the public school and being totally spent!!!  I usually can muscle through the exhaustion, but it’s just not very easy!  🙂

Why am I so extreme on what I eat?  Basically, the person behind my diet believes that gut problems like mine stem having too much “junk” in our systems.  This often comes from the overprocessed starchy/sugary foods that our bodies ingest so much of in our society.  The bad guys in the gut just love to feast on those types of foods, so in order to restore balance, you starve them out and take away all the crud.  How out-of-control in our society is this “adding things to” and “processing” our foods?  Take this as an example:  Did you know that Dole canned pineapple juice is now fortified with Vitamins A and E?  Sounds great, right?  Except for the fact that they use cornstarch as a binding agent for the Vitamin A.  Cornstarch is one of those things the bad guys in my gut love to feast on.  So, something that seems perfectly okay, now can send someone with a compromised gut into a nasty flare.

Pretty ridiculous, don’t you think?

It just goes to show how much of our society has gotten away from natural foods.  I know a lot of people who are going back to canning and preserving their foods, which I think is awesome.  I honestly do love the way I eat now.  I feel so good about what I’m putting into my body.  I simply am looking forward to the day when I have lots of foods on hand that I can eat at a moment’s notice, and not have to think about making something when I am in one of those “hungry” modes.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 22, 2010 in Crohn's Journal

 

WFD: Fajitas and apples

I’m starting a new category on my blog titled, “What’s for Dinner.”  In it I’ll be posting the menu I serve on certain nights, along with recipes.  My hope is that it gives people ideas on how to feed their families healthy meals that incorporate more fresh foods instead of high-processed crud.

I had picked up a ton of small green peppers from the food bank last week, and needed to do something with them.  So, I decided to make fajitas last night.  I made the meat, veggies, salsa, and tortillas according to my diet.  The rest of the family had flour tortillas for their fajitas.  Since everything else was going to be warm, I served cool Granny Smith Apple slices as a side.  That was it!  The picture is my fajita that I assembled, and will tell you about later in this post.  Yum!

Flank Steak: I marinated the flank steak for about an hour with a mixture of oil, garlic, onions, hot peppers, salt, and pepper.  I turned the steak a few times to get a good coating on each side.  I then thew it on the BBQ for about 20 minutes and sliced it thin to serve.

Veggies: I took green peppers and onions and sautéed them in the leftover marinade from the flank steak.  This took about 5 minutes as my family wouldn’t eat them if they were too crispy.

Salsa: I cut up and mixed together two small tomatoes, one small green pepper, 1/2 of a small hot pepper, 1 tablespoon white onion, and 1 garlic clove.  I then added 1 tablespoon dried cilantro, oregano, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.  Last I added 1 tablespoon each white vinegar and honey, mixed well, and let it sit in the fridge for an hour so the flavors could mix.

Tortillas: For legal tortillas using almond flour, I added 1/3 cup almond flour with 1 egg and water (a few tablespoons) until the consistency was somewhat runny.  I then added a pat of butter to a hot pan and poured a small amount in to cover the bottom of the pan.  I cooked it until I could flip it.  This made two small tortillas, but probably could have made three.

My fajita (pictured): For my fajita, I set the tortilla open-faced on my plate, and slathered a good amount of dripped yogurt (which to me tastes like sour cream!) all over the bottom.  I then layered a few strips of flank steak, veggies, salsa, and olives on top of that, in that order.  I topped it off with a bit of cheddar cheese.  It was….amazing!

Review: This dinner took me about 1 1/2 hours to prepare because I was doing it all on the fly….creating as I went.  Next time I’ll try to think ahead more.  I wanted a more bold flavor in the salsa and with the meat, but overall the taste was very satisfying!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, What's for Dinner

 

Doctors, Part 9

I am believing more and more that what I’m doing for this Crohn’s is actually working.  I’ve been on this diet for almost a year, and have followed the Naturopath’s protocol for 9 months.  We just took some blood last month, and had a bunch of my levels tested.  Here’s where things sit:

One of the main indicators that I had inflammation going on somewhere in my body was the CRP level.  When first diagnosed, this was at 23.  A normal CRP level is less than 0.30.  The 0.30 level is at the top end of normal, and means a high risk of cardio problems.  A level of 23 means, basically, “help!  This whole body is in disarray!”  Right now, my CRP came back at 0.31.  Woooohooooo!!!!!  The CRP is not always an indicator of inflammation going on in the body (I know of other Crohnies who have normal CRP levels, yet their inflammation is still active), but in my case, it is a very good indicator that things are looking up!

My Vitamin D is now at a normal level, where before it was very low.  I’ll keep taking 5,000 a day to keep it where it needs to be.

Cholesterol still looks great at 153, even though I am eating full-fat homemade yogurt, lots of high-calorie nut flour baked goods, and try to put real butter on everything.  🙂  This was actually low a few months back at 93, so it’s good that it is where it should be.

A big surprise was the testosterone level.  I knew this was low, but never took a full course of anything to correct it.  IT IS NOW NORMAL!!!  What this tells us is that my body is, in some ways, starting to re-balance itself and heal the areas that it can heal (the Crohn’s inflammation cannot be healed….it can just get better).  THAT is very cool to me.  🙂

My iron stores are looking up.  A low storage of iron can also mean bleeding inside (likely due to inflammation).  My level was at 9 last time, and is now at 17.  Again, another marker getting to “normal” without any undue interference from me!

This has really excited me, cautiously.  When I was diagnosed, the GI doctor I was seeing wanted to put me on a strong immunosuppressant and steroids right away to get this inflammation under control.  The immunosuppressant would have, just like it sounds, “calmed” down my immune system by suppressing it, which they HOPE would make the inflammation stop.  But while taking that, I would be susceptible to any cold or virus that came along.  NOT a good option when I’m now a teacher and my kids are back in school!  In addition, these drugs could often have the side-effects of bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea.  These are all symptoms of Crohns, which I DON’T HAVE.  I surely didn’t want to take a drug that would give me the Crohn’s symptoms I was trying to avoid!  This GI doc was very skeptical that any natural or diet approach could work.  I look forward to emailing him at some point in time to tell him how things are going.  🙂

I’m not out of the woods yet.  A colonoscopy still looms in my near future.  It’s only through that test, an actual visual inspection of the problem areas, that we’ll know how much good has been done.  Until then, I still will remain cautiously skeptical.

But I think these latest blood results are pretty cool.  🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 18, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, Doctor Journal

 

Basic Almond Flour Cookies :)

Today I was craving something baked, warm, sweet, and bread-like.  Most of the recipes I have call for 4 eggs, and I didn’t have that on hand, so I decided to venture out on a limb and create something myself!  I’ve learned that most baked almond flour recipes have these ingredients in common:  almond flour, salt, eggs, baking soda, honey.  You can add vanilla too, which I often do because I’ve made my own recently and LOVE the taste of vanilla!  With this recipe, I wanted to work towards a cookie, and so knew the consistency I needed.  I’m sure there are ways to improve on this, but here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons honey (I like sweet stuff….add less if you want, or more!)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg

Preparation:

I have discovered that for any almond flour baked goodie to be light and have a good thick consistency (not runny), I need to whip them first.  So, I took the egg, and whipped it for about 2 minutes.  I then added the salt, baking soda, honey, vanilla, and butter and whipped them until well mixed.  I then added the almond flour and mixed until well blended.  The consistency was thick, and perfect for dropping on a cookie sheet.  I dropped them by spoonfuls onto a baking sheet and baked them for 8 minutes at 350.  This made a dozen cookies.

I will add a touch more vanilla and honey next time to increase the flavor.  These ones were good, but I want them sweeter.  Otherwise, I am very happy with the recipe.  The consistency and flavor are both what I was desiring today.  🙂

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 17, 2010 in Crohn's Journal, Dessert, Recipes