Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bad Days

It's been almost a week since I've written here. I'm having a VERY hard time physically. I'm feeling so sick and exhausted all the time. I manage to get out of the house and do one-two things and then I get back in my jammies and lay in bed the rest of the day. Most of the time the one thing I do is a doctor's appointment. In fact, I've got two on Monday, a procedure on Tuesday (not major) and then a different doctor on Wednesday. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I also want to find a pain management doctor. The fact that I'm willing to look for that kind of doctor speaks volumes.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 (my new code for my housemates) seem to always be at each other's throats. They have different styles of communicating and neither one of them seems willing to learn how to effectively communicate with the other one. I'm tired and fed up with both of them trying to convince me to be on "their side." Sometimes I want to sit the both of them down like one would their fighting children. Both are physically older than me yet sometimes I think I'm the only mature adult here.

A dear friend passed away today (4/28). He, along with his wife, would pet-sit Peanut Butter for me whenever I went out of town or was in the hospital. He called Peanut Butter a "little critter," never could remember that he's a boy guinea pig and would give him carrots as big as Peanut Butter is! He also looked at me like a daughter. Don had a daughter diagnosed with BiPolar disorder who committed suicide. I have my own psych stuff and it was almost like Don saw me as a "second chance" to be supportive, understanding and encouraging. He had been sick and I knew he was slowly slipping away. I know that it's only his physical "self" that is gone; his spirit lives on. I will miss his physical presence and I know that I can also talk to him anytime I want to.

Grief isn't easy. I'm grieving my health and my friend. I'm learning tolerance and patience with myself and with the people around me. I am really trying to look at this as a growth opportunity while giving myself the space to be angry and sad and whatever other emotions come up. I'm not really feeling tolerant of other people right now. I guess I'm isolating myself in some ways. I think that it's healthy to a point. I don't want to take my irritability out on those around me. At the same time I don't want to be alone. This is where my man comes in. I love being around him. He's fairly drama-free, he lets me be vent and/or cry and then he says something to crack me up and keep me in reality so to speak. I love that man so much!

No recipes to share. Tomorrow is weigh-in day. No matter what I'm going to be ok. No matter what.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weighty Issues

I've been told that most women have weight issues. I know that I've put weight on since switching from the TSFL program to my allergy restricted diet. I don't know exact numbers but I do know at least 20 pounds. Ugh. I've made a commitment to turn this whole thing around. My lovely sister introduced me to a website MyFitnessPal (thanks Tweedles!) that figured out what my calorie intake needs to be to lose approximately 2 pounds a week. It has a way of inputing my own recipes and figuring out the nutritional information per serving. Neat-o burrito! I'm excited about taking charge of this. My man is also on a journey to health and has joined a gym. I get to go with him for free. On the days that he doesn't go I still go for a 2 mile walk and do toning exercises at home.

Now my focus in the kitchen is not just allergy restricted but healthy. Vegan or vegetarian food isn't necessarily healthy. I figured that out the hard way (the weight that I've put on). Sunday I made the most delicious black bean burgers that are only 118 calories per burger! Packed with veggies too. I'll probably make multiple variations of this one. They also looked pretty legit as a burger. Don't know if I can convince my man to try them. Baby steps with that man. The other day he told me where I can put my habit of drinking at least 2 liters of water a day. He drank that much and claims to have spent the whole day in the bathroom. Total exaggeration I'm sure. I told him that if might be a good idea to start with a goal of just one liter a day and slowly increase the amount. That idea didn't fly. Apparently everything is a competition in his world (he claims it's a man thing but I don't know about that) and he has to at least match how much water I drink. This is going to be fun to watch given that I've drank as much as 6 liters in one day. Is that excessive?

Black Bean Burgers
adapted from the kitchen of Cookin' Canuck

2 1/2 cups black beans, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 cup zuccini, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/4 cup brown rice, cooked
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried cilantro
1/3 cup cornmeal

Saute onion, green pepper and zuccini over medium heat until soft. I use a cast iron skillet and olive oil spray. Add garlic and cumin. Saute for an additional two minutes. Scrape mixture into food processor. Add 1 1/2 cup black beans, rice, lime juice, chipotle pepper, salt, pepper and cilantro. Pulse until beans are more chopped than pureed. Dump mixture into a large bowl. Add reserved beans and cornmeal and stir until combined. Divide the mixture into 10 patties, adding more cornmeal if mixture is too moist to form. Place patties on a plate, using waxed paper to separate layers and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Heat your skillet over medium heat. Again, I use cast iron. Non-stick is good, especially if you want a good crust. Add the burgers and cook for 4 minutes per side.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oi Vey

I think I spelled that right :) That's how I feel about life right now. The housemates are almost at each other's throats. The one thinks I'm enabling the other and "getting in the middle" when in reality I'm just trying to manage the amount of drama around me. Can't please everybody so I'm out to keep things as simple as possible for myself. Oi vey.

My scones are more like crumbly, dense tea biscuits. Good, but not quite the way that I want them to be. I like the way that they are headed. I will get this recipe right one day. Baking without sugar is possible, it just takes some playing around with ingredients. Heck, cooking in general without sugar takes creativity.

My moving plans might be as set in stone as is possible. Looks like I'll just be moving down the hall to the master bedroom rather than moving down the street. Moving down the hall will be much easier. I really dislike moving. It takes soooooo much effort. At the same time I like moving because I let go of more and more stuff. Letting go of clutter feels great. I just wish it didn't take moving to get me to do it.

Been doing well health-wise so to speak. Back to running daily fevers in the afternoons, have had to take a sleeping pill a couple of nights because of pain (I was actually crying from how much pain I was in which says a lot), feeling lethargic all of the time and staying in my pajamas most of the time. What's good is that I've been getting out of bed and "doing." Gone to the gym a couple of times with my man - he's committed to getting in shape! Also gone on a couple of walks by myself. I can walk 2 miles in 30 minutes! That's pretty impressive for someone who's as sick as I am. Looking at me you would never guess the seriousness of my health problems.

Brain fog is kicking my butt.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy Hump Day

A whole week has gone by. . . what a busy week it's been too. My mom and I have made a game up regarding my housemates. It's more like a bet really. I think my landlady is only going to be accommodating to the new girl for a total of two weeks (one week down, one to go). My mom said a couple days. I'm winning although the end is in sight. Today I woke up to a great debate about Palmetto Bugs. The new girl is terrified of them. Well, she's terrified of a lot. She has a real issue with not using chemicals. I looked up an all natural repellent and I see a difference but it's not "good enough" for the new girl. This morning there was a heated discussion about the bugs. Yesterday the new girl said she doesn't know what to do about the whole situation. I haven't been feeling well and I almost snapped "You have three options: stay here and keep complaining, stay here and accept that these are the house rules or move out." Thank you Goddess for restraint of tongue! There was not much tact in this morning's talk. I put my headphones on. I have no interest in getting in the middle of this. I guess that's my lesson: neither of these women's problems are mine. I can totally detach from all this bull crap and live my life the best I can and set healthy boundries. I just have to remind myself that I am a lady of diginity, respect and integrity and deserve to be treated as such.

Yesterday I told my man that I wear the pants in the relationship. He insists that he's in charge and makes the rules. Ha! I told him that I'm taking over from here on out :) I love the banter between the two of us. He really helps me to stay on the positive side. Now we're talking about him moving in here with me when my landlady moves south rather than me moving into an apartment with him. There are a lot of benefits to staying here. Full kitchen plus a washer/dryer on the premises are two big ones. It's all about finances. My mom, my housemate and I are going to sit down and see if we can make me not moving (beyond moving down the hall to the master bedroom) a possibility. Since I hate moving and this would be the fourth move in as many years I want this to work out too.

My landlady is leaving for 3 1/2 months end of May and I get a break in my rent to take care of her dog. Ah, a little peace and quiet plus more money in the bank. Pretty sweet deal if I say so myself. I also get to dog sit for my man. I love animal energy.

Successes in the kitchen: Crockpot Steel Cut Oatmeal. I can't say enough good stuff about it. Chipotle Guacamole Salsa has some serious kick to it. I adapted the salsa recipe from the Frosted Bake Shop. "Scones" which were more like dense cookies could use some final touches. Need to download pictures off my camera to add to my posts. One thing, one day at a time.

Chipotle Guacamole Salsa

1lb tomatillos, peeled, rinsed and quartered
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped or to taste
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 avocado
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup packed fresh basil
juice of 1 lime
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or to taste

Put all ingredients in blender/food processor in the order listed to prevent the avocado from sticking to the blades. Give it a whirl until desired consistency. Yum!

Obviously I'm a big fan of garlic and chipotle peppers :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


 Ah yes, inconsistency is the fabric of life. My landlady has rented out the second bedroom to an aquaintnance of mine and has decided not to move until at least Christmas. She still has the house on the market if someone wants to rent it. If that happens she will give me 30 days notice. On my end I made it clear that I am still looking for a place to move to but I have no set timeline. The new roomie is a lady I met through my Mom and this lady is DRAMA to the core. She found out I have food allergies and auto-immune dysfunction and declared that we are now best friends and have so much to talk about! Not so much. She is more of someone who I consider a person I can tolerate but don't want to be all buddy-buddy with. I get the feeling that she and Linda are going to get along just fine. Linda plans to be gone all summer again. Wants to know if this new roomie or myself will watch Davi for her. I dunno about that. If that were the case I'd ask for a reduction in my rent. We'll see. My man and I are looking to move in together and we've got some options on the table. He's pretty laid back about the whole thing. I am too. Most of the time :)

Today he asked me why we don't fight. I was totally off guard. It was such a random question. I told him that I didn't have an answer to that. Then because I'm a smartass I asked him if we were supposed to fight. I followed that with the fact that I like that we don't fight. He said he was watching something on TV and was just curious. I suppose the real answer is that we give each other space. I respect when he has a bad day and wants to be left alone and he does the same for me. I'm no expert in relationships but I'm guessing that respecting each other is key.

Yesterday's date in the kitchen produced some yummy homemade fig jam and corn muffins. The jam I created on my own. The muffins are adapted from Madhuram's Eggless Cooking. I stayed pretty true to the recipe. When this batch is gone (which won't take long) I'm going to play with this a little more. I think they came out a little dry. Only my opinion. So I'm not going to post my version just yet.

The fig "jam" was a cinch! I used a cup of snipped dried mission figs (can't find fresh this time of year), a small palmful of chopped dates (less than 1/4 c) and some water. Throw it in a saucepan and let it simmer til you get jam consistency. I used a potato masher to get the consistency I wanted. I didn't measure how much water or take pictures. Next time I think I'll use a spiced tea instead of water for more flavor. Looking forward to the next batch and I will post those results :)

Friday, April 6, 2012


Good news and bad in my world. Can't remember if I wrote about this before so I'll just lay it out briefly: I have to move. My landlady/housemate is moving and wants to rent the whole house. I get the impression that if I stayed and found 2 people to share the house with I would be put in the role of property manager and I am not willing to take on that responsibility. So, I told my man and he said he'd figure it out. Somedays he just wants to swoop in and save me from my troubles :) He's so sweet. I told him I wasn't in need of rescuing. His suggestion was to move in with him and his parents in a townhome. Sounds great in theory. Sat down with his mom and the four of us living together is not going to work. My man and I, maybe, but definitely not the four of us. Found a REALLY spacious one bedroom that I'm going to go look at tomorrow. 650 square feet for under $600! That's a steal! Doesn't include utilities and there's no on-site laundry but that's what mom's house is for :) Love ya mom!

My latest and greatest feat in the kitchen is vegan zuccini bread! Oh wow is it good. Not only is it vegan but there is absolutely no processed sugar! No white sugar, brown sugar or any sugar syrups like agave and maple. That's right, baking without sugar can be done! I never knew that was possible. Thank you allergies for giving me a new way of looking at food preparations. I adapted the recipe from Joy at She has some wonderful recipes on her site and I am loving playing around with them to make them Stephanie-friendly. So, here's my version!

Completely Vegan Zuccini Bread by Stephanie

makes one 8x4 loaf

3 cups barley flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg (fresh is awesome but store-bought ground is good too!)
pinch of cloves (I believe I put in somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons ground flax seed (I bought whole seeds at Richard's Foodporium and ground it myself)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon soy milk with a splash (approx 1/8 teaspoon) of white vinegar (this is in place of the buttermilk)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
10 whole pitted dates
1 cup raisins, divided
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups shredded zuccini
3/4 cup sunflower seeds

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8x4 inch loaf pan (I used olive oil spray to grease the pan and it worked wonderfully!) Set aside.

In a food processor or blender (I used a mason jar fitted with the blender blades rather than the big blender pitcher) combine the applesauce, dates and 1/4 cup raisins. Puree the heck out of it. You're looking for a smooth consistency. It'll look like baby food :)

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, spices and flax meal. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, applesauce/dried fruit puree and almond extract. Mix thoroughly then add the zuccini and sunflower seeds.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together. Make sure all of the flour is thoroughly incorporated. It'll look like it needs more liquid but just be patient. The batter will be thick. Spoon batter into prepared pan, cover it with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes and remove the foil. Return the pan to the oven and bake for about 20 minutes more or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Almond Butter

Ok, this stuff is TOTALLY addicting! I could sit and eat a whole jar of it. I've checked out a bunch of different recipes and this one I adapted from a recipe for pumpkin spiced almond butter (that recipe can be found here). Naturally, I cut out the sugar and simplified it to a basic but butter. I want to play with it and make chocolate almond butter but right now, I'm keeping it simple :)

Almond Butter

2 cups almonds
pinch sea salt
canola oil (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees farenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil if desired. Spread almonds on pan and stick those bad boys in the oven. Give'em about 10-15 minutes in there and they will start to smell wonderfully nutty. That's how you know they're done :) Take them out and let them cool 20-30 minutes. You want the almonds to still be slightly warm. Throw the warm nuts into your food processor, turn it on and watch the maggic begin. I use a Ninja so I have to stand there and hold the button down but it is sooooo worth it. Let the machine run until the nuts "butterize," which is past the stage where they look like a ball of cookie dough rolling around in there. Take the lid off, smell the yummy goodness and add the salt and oil if you want. Sometimes I use oil, sometimes I don't. It all depends on the consistency I want. Put the top back in place, push the "on" button and keep on processing until you get the butter to the desired consistency. There ya go. Almond Butter! Variations to follow. .  eventually :)

My latest and greatest

Start with the bad, end with the good: I can't stand my housemate! Oh, it feels sooooo darn good to say that. I have been trying to convince myself for months that I like her. Now, it's like I have FREEDOM from pushing myself to like someone who I don't. Right now, I'm getting some kind of sick pleasure from allowing myself to feel the dislike. I was taught growing up that some emotions were off-limits and it feels good when it isn't off-limits anymore. The good: she has decided to move and rent the house out. I can't come close to affording the rent here on my own and that's ok with me. My man and I had already started talking about sharing an abode and now Goddess presents me with an opportunity to see if that is something that will be an option. No move date, just that it will likely happen in the next couple months. I will miss being on the lake and the bathtub. Sounds silly to miss a bathtub but it's a garden tub and so awesome for bubble baths :)

Medical crap: My doctor neglected to tell me that she changed what medication I am getting in my IV! She neglected to tell my nurse too! Argh! No wonder I'm looking for a second opinion from someone who is closer to me. It's just a matter of submitting paperwork to get the consult appointment. It's always paperwork that holds up progress.

My housemate feels inconvenienced with I use the kitchen (she has some serious control issues!) so my playing around has been limited. Still working on pics to post. I really, really want the Easter Bunny to put a high-quality digital camera in my Easter basket. I don't know if that'll happen but a girl can hope.

Write this day (well, yesterday) down in the history books. I got my man to try tofu AND he liked it! Even wants me to make more. He tried my eggless egg salad. Next will likely be something that has less fat (veganaise is just as fatty as mayonaise. I cut it with hummus but still. . .) and just as much flavor. Oh, I forgot already. Today goes down in history too! He joined a gym and added me to his account so I can go for free! If you knew my man you would know how astonishing this is. He has made it a point to tell me over and over that he is a "lazy, fat asshole." His words, not mine. Ok. Not totally true. I have called him lazy. But only because it's the truth. Now, he's ready to make some changes to his eating habits and lifestyle. Amazing how being a living example works miracles! I'll be his biggest cheerleader too because I love him and because it will help keep me motivated too.

Just got a crappy phone call. Ugh. I don't want to talk about it. So, I just sat for half an hour and organized my recipes. That was soothing. To celebrate, I'm going to post a recipe today! Toodles Noodles!