On Tap for Today

A fun loving, inspired living blog


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Today: Vegetarian chili for lazy people.

And busy people.  And people who are afraid to leave slow cookers on whilst they’re at work.  And people who would rather risk eating beans from a can than soak dried beans overnight.  And people who like tomatoes, a variety of beans, some onions, some garlic, and a kick of spice.  Because, really, that’s all it takes.

Lazy vegetarian chili

Yields 6-8 servings.  Sort of depends on how hungry you are.

Ingredients:

  • One 16 oz. can of organic whole peeled tomatoes
  • Three cans or cartons of organic beans (I used dark red kidney beans, ranchero beans, and black beans)
  • Three cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • One medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons organic olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Thoroughly rinse your beans.
  2. In a large stock pot, saute garlic and onions in olive oil over medium heat until onions are soft.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, and any other desired spices.  I like to add red pepper flakes for a little heat.
  4. Stir in beans and tomatoes, breaking up tomatoes with a large wooden spoon (This can also be done ahead of time, but why dirty up another bowl or pot?  Maybe you’re not so lazy after all?).
  5. Cover pot and reduce to a simmer.  Your lazy vegetarian chili is ready to enjoy as soon as your beans and tomatoes are heated through, but the longer it simmers, the more flavorful it becomes.  And the more spicy your condo smells.
  6. Serve piping hot with a bit of cilantro, red onions, or shredded cheese.

Sometimes laziness pays off.  Sometimes.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Weekly B12 shot
  • Heading to the Head of the Charles this weekend?  Get schooled here.
  • Missing hockey 😦

What’s On Tap for your weekend?


5 Comments

Today: No guts, no glory… and a skunk alert.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Oh, hey.  If you don’t want to read about body parts, skip to the end for a photo of one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in ages.  Also, it should probably go without saying, but this is the internet, so… I am not a medical professional.  I do other things professionally, that’s how I bring home the imitation bacon bits.  I am happy to share my personal experience, but highly recommend you seek out a medical professional to help guide your own body experiments.

I had my last doctor’s appointment for a while yesterday.  Hopefully.  After months of food logs, blood tests, challenge diets, laying on my bathroom floor at 2 in the morning, I’ve got some semblance of a plan.  And I am very happy about that.  I’ve spent over a decade stressing about stomach aches and um, like, intestine things.  And really, I’d grown sick of being sick.  When I finally found a new PCP, RD and GI (that sounds like a rap crew) earlier this year, I finally felt like I was heading in the right direction.  While chronic issues don’t just go away, I am looking forward to feeling better, taking better care of myself, and spending millions of dollars in the supplement aisle continuing to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

[Image source]

I’ve been following various diet plans recently to help support or challenge the results of my food allergy panel.  While I had very few reactions to lactose, fructans or polyols during the “challenge” phase, I wanted to straight up expire while testing gluten (see above: laying on my bathroom floor).  During the challenge/testing phase, I ate multiple servings of whole wheat (bread, pasta, crackers) over the course of two days.  When we reviewed my food logs yesterday, I was like… dude, why is gluten suddenly an issue?  I’ve practically survived on pasta.  And my RD’s was all, I’m a lady, not a dude.  And also, damage done to one’s digestive track over the years can result in difficulty processing certain foods.  We talked about things like leaky gut syndrome (nearly fainted) or intestinal permeability, vitamin deficiencies, and other things that you probably don’t want to read about over your lunch break.

Going forward the plan is to focus on restoring my digestive track to its former glory.  I’m going to walk around singing Heal the colon.  Make it a better place.  For you and for me and for everyone who puts up with my crankiness.  And then I am going to:

  • Follow my PCP’s recommendations for bringing my vitamin levels up to “normal.”  This includes taking a once-weekly high dose of D3, as well as a daily dose of B12 and my usual daily multivitamin plus iron.
  • Take a daily dose of L  glutamin powder to help boost the regrowth of intestinal cells (enteroctyes) and provide immune support
  • Take a high potency probiotic (30-50 billion cells per day… doesn’t that sound very sci-fi?) for one month, followed by a maintenance dose (15-30 billion cells) in later months
  • Consume 52-65 grams of protein per day
  • Avoid fun gluten for 2+ months

By the time my next colonoscopy rolls around, it will look all sparkly and new in there.  Or whatever.  Want to talk about something rather than my insides?  How about what was happening inside a nearby stairwell today?

Sometimes life really stinks (because your body sprayed chemicals in the stairwell, maybe), but then someone comes along and opens the door.  And they let you out.  And you start to feel better.

Also On Tap for Today:

What would you do if you were trapped in a stairwell with a skunk?  Besides print a sign and tape it to the door, obviously.


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Today: Stocked up and bagged up.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]Laundry’s folded, the Frenchie’s been bathed, and the fridge is stocked.  I’m ready to take on the rest of the week.  Mostly.  After taking a wild cab ride to Southie (lots of honking, not much signaling), snuggling Clark, and tossing my bags in the hallways Sunday afternoon, Nick and I headed back to Cambridge to restock at Whole Foods River Street.  We usually split up as soon as we get in the door: I head to produce, he heads to the fish and meat.  I get distracted at the cheese counter, we find each other at the almond milk.  It’s a beautiful system.

My favorite part of MTV Cribs was always the sneak peek inside stars’ refrigerators.  We’re not famous, but we do go through an inordinate amount of non-dairy milk.  If had half a brain a whole non-exhausted brain, I would have dug into my HLS swag stash for those Almond Breeze coupons.  Next time.

Other staples that always end up in our cart:

  • Bananas and grapes
  • Berries galore (blueberries, strawberries and raspberries)
  • Basil and other fresh herbs
  • Spinach and spring mix with herbs, and veggies for salad
  • Avocados (and occasionally WF guacamole– so, so good)
  • Gluten free cereal (Erewhon crispy brown rice is my favorite)
  • Yogurt
  • Olives
  • Beans and a wee bit o’ cheese for me, meat for Nick
  • Nuts and nut butter

I met with my dietitian late last week to review six weeks of “challenge” dieting (using a restrictive, low FODMAP diet as the baseline and “challenging” every few days with potential allergens… interesting at its best, awful at its worst).  We’re “revisiting” gluten, lactose, casein and fructans again, but fortunately, it seems like I can eat many of the foods that were originally on the no no list (i.e. the foods that scored a 2 or 3 on my ELISA food allergy panel) in moderation.  I am so grateful to have access to such a great health care team.  Especially when they tell me I can eat tomatoes again.

I loaded up my new Chobani lunch bag with all kinds of good stuff yesterday, including a handful of those little heirloom cuties.

I’m working to continue to build the good habits that have helped me lessen my symptoms lately.  Keeping a food log has been, well, annoying… but it’s been a great way to identify patterns and linking symptoms to potential triggers.  Making meals at home has been, by far, the most effective tactic.  It seems like the only way to know for certain what’s in my food, and to ensure that I will have something healthy and safe on hand when hunger strikes.  I’m giving myself a gold star for brown canvas bagging it on a Monday.

Also On Tap for Today:

 

What’s your favorite on-the-go lunch?


4 Comments

Today: Like the hippies do.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I am not especially pleasant when I am hungry.  It’s been a challenge to fill up while on an elimination diet, especially when some of my favorite sources of protein and fiber are off limits.

While whey protein isolate is on the okay, if you must list, the artificial sweeteners and other chemical brothers found in my protein powder of choice are very much on the don’t even think about it list.  My RD recommended hemp or rice protein, but I had no clue where to start.  Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I found myself on Hippie Butter‘s website.  And placed an order.  On 4/20.  (Sheer coincidence.)

After starting the morning like hippies do, I am feeling satisfied, energized, and not the least bit cranky.  Those happy people are on to something.

Vanilla, hemp and cinnamon protein shake

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp hemp seed protein powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tbsp organic cinnamon

(Extremely obvious and likely unnecessary) Directions:

  1. In a large glass or shaker cup, combine hemp protein and almond milk.
  2. Stir until liquid and powder are incorporated.
  3. Add cinnamon, and stir.
  4. Shake can also be served over ice, and makes a great post-workout drink.

While the hemp seed protein powder is dense, it is not at all chalky.  I imagine it would mix well with frozen berries, citrus, and any number of smoothie or shake add-ins, as the powder itself has a very mild taste.  I much prefer it to other flavored powders.

I am looking forward to continuing to experiment with my happy little hemp seeds (I bet Bob Ross would have loved this stuff).  Hippy Butter has a number of other interesting products, too, including hemp coffee and skin care.  Like everything else that is good in this world (namely sparkling wine and stinky cheese), hemp powder should be kept refrigerated.

[Yoga Journal, June 2012]

With a few minutes to spare before the morning craze set in, I continued to embrace my inner hippy with a quick meditation.  One of my favorite aspects of yoga is the emphasis on setting your intention for your practice, or your day.  There’s nothing like a healthy dose of perspective, gratitude, and hope to keep you on track.

Now, if only my peace moccasins matched today’s outfit.

Also On Tap for Today:

What’s your favorite way to start the day off right?


11 Comments

Today: Updating my plate.

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]I rarely talk about my eating habits On Tap, mostly because you’d like either be bored to tears or find my picky-ness offensive.  Or maybe both.  After years of dealing with stomach issues (that was delicately put, right?), I finally met with a Registered Dietitian yesterday at the urging of my new primary care physician.

While we’re waiting for the results of several food allergy/sensitivity tests to come back, my RD developed a plan to eliminate certain foods that may be triggering symptoms.  I was relieved to have tested negative for Celiac Disease last week, but they were not able to rule out a gluten allergy or sensitivity.  So in addition to following a low FODMAP diet, I’ll be doing my best to eliminate gluten as well.

[Image source]

My RD answered every question I asked, and kindly corrected me each of the fifteen times I said food map.  I still have a lot to learn, but for the time being: FODMAPs are fermentable carbohydrates, and the word itself is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides, and Polyols.  If you know what any of this means, please call me immediately.  I need you to come food shopping with me.

A few high FODMAP foods, which I will be avoiding for the next four weeks:

  • Excess fructose: apples, pears, mangos, watermellon, honey, agave, fruit juice and most whole fruits (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, kiwifruit and grapefruits are allowed)
  • Lactose: Milk (cow, goat, sheep), yogurt, soft and fresh cheeses (lactose-free milk, rice milk, 2 oz. of hard cheese lactose-free yogurt and cottage cheese are allowed in moderation as long as artificial sweeteners are used)
  • Fructans: Artichoke, beetroot, broccoli, cabbage, onions, shallots, scallions, leeks, garlic, wheat and rye, barley, raw oats (alternatives such as gluten-free breads and crackers, rice crackers, corn chips, gluten-free cereals are allowed)
  • Galactans: Most beans and products made with soy (soy milk is allowed as long as it doesn’t contain any high FODMAP ingredients)
  • Polyols: Sweeteners such as xylitol, mannitol, sorbitol, isomalt (found in sugar-free gum, mint, cough medicines, cough drops, etc.)
  • Oliogosachharides: Added fiber such as inulin and the prebiotic FOS (sometimes added to probiotic supplements, granola bars and frozen desserts)

Being a life-long vegetarian, I am no stranger to the pasta.  Nor the beans.  Nor the salad.    I top my hummus with hummus.  I put onions in everything I make.  I eat enough garlic to kill the entire Twilight saga.  Will following all these rules be challenging?  Yes, I think it will.  Will it be worth it?  I certainly hope so.

In addition to following the diet as closely as I can, I’ll be logging my food and fluid intake, along with any presenting symptoms.  I have a feeling this in itself will be a helpful exercise.  I’ve gotten so used to feeling crappy (oof, pun not intended), that  I’d do just about anything at this point.  Up to and including stop drinking Diet Coke.  I know, I know.  But I mean it this time.  I’ve gone cold turkey on the caffeine.

I feel slightly demented, but hey.  Hopefully that will pass.  Along with the headaches and grouchiness. To quote 2pac (something I try to do daily), “You gotta do whatcha gotta do.”  And if that means stepping away from the Diet Coke and beans and apples?  Well, holler.

Also On Tap for Today:

  • Hitting the grocery store, with various lists, charts and spreadsheets in hand
  • Going for a run 🙂
  • Giving my dog a hug

Do you follow a special diet?  Any tips for learning the ins and outs?


11 Comments

Today: Where did cavemen get agave nectar?

[tweetmeme source=”elizabethev” only_single=false]While I am happy to be an evolved, hygiene-obsessed, convenience-shopping woman of the 21st century, I can’t seem to get enough of this so-called paleo crunch.  Nick started making it a few months ago, and he’s been playing around a bit with the recipe he found at Simple Fitness ever since.  I whipped up my own batch this weekend and must say, I am quite pleased with the results.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups of raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted sunflower seeds (shelled)
  • 1/2 cup of raw, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts (or any other flavorful nut)
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds (I dipped into my GNC stash)
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup of almond flour (if you’re patient, all it takes is almonds and a food processor… or you could buy a package in the gluten-free baking section of most markets)
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1/2 a cup of honey or agave nectar

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Using a food processor or knife, chop almonds and hazelnuts to desired size.
  3. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add coconut oil, honey and vanilla extract and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  5. Spread the mixture on a large jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with a lip, and bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from the oven and stir ingredients carefully.
  7. Return pan to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until ingredients begin to brown.
  8. Let your paleo crunch cool before eating.  As it sits, the crunch will get… crunchier.
  9. Store in an airtight container, or in single-serving (approximately 1 cup) bags.

Paleo crunch can be eaten by the handful, as is.  That’s the most caveman-like approach.  It’s also great as a cereal with almond milk or sprinkled over Greek yogurt.  I bet it would also make a great topping for apple crisp, especially if you added a bit more cinnamon.

Oh.  I forgot one important last step.  Hop on your wooly mammoth and share your paleo crunch with all of your cavemen friends.  Good things are meant to be given away.

Also On Tap for Today:

What have you whipped up lately?  Feel free to share a recipe link!