On turning 40

Well? I’ve officially entered into a new decade. So far, it feels okay. I can’t say that I’ve achieved anything that I had wanted to by this age, but I’m okay with that. It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with that, but finding that peace is also incredibly liberating.

I thought my twenties would be a time to embrace freedom of newly found adulthood. But no, they ended up being absorbed by severe depression. I’ll admit, I was surprised I made it to 30. But I survived it, I think in part to Calvin and Hobbes, The X-Files, D&D, and ice cream. Seriously, all four of those things can do wonders.

Just before I turned 30, I got diagnosed with PCOS and found out why I felt batshit crazy and I was able to get treatment and start to heal. I remember thinking, FINALLY, I can get my life back. I can do BIG THINGS! I can have BIG PLANS! And then shortly after my birthday, I got bit by a dog and went into the hospital with the risk of losing my finger and developing osteomyelitis. Luckily, I didn’t lose my finger, nor did the infection get in my bone marrow.

However, this event kicked off what would become a decade focused on illness, from years of PCOS “treatments” that made most everything so much worse (except the depression, oddly enough), to having my digestive system and my hair completely damaged by antibiotics, to a new found gluten allergy, plus the onset of severe adult allergies, and more. Fun times all around…weee!

I did not like this ride much, thank you very much. Please let me off. But, this too, I survived, or rather have been surviving since it’s not over. What helped through all of that was (and still is) my lovable cat Ruki, an addiction to more TV shows than I care to admit, and yep, more ice cream.

And now I’m entering a new decade…

I have no idea what the focus of this decade will be. If I get my wish, it would be focused on getting healthy and having massive amounts of fun. Yes, massive! I’m not making BIG PLANS or anything like that. Life is so messy and plans often have to be changed or altered or kiboshed all together. So, I’m trying to enjoy the small moments in between the mess if I can. I’m also trying my best to spend more time doing what I enjoy and less time being crippled by what I can’t do. And that’s that. :)

My birthday wish for you is that you take some time to enjoy the small moments too. They often get overlooked or forgotten, but there is something magical in them too.

Here, I’ll leave you with my favorite Zoe Keating song, “Optimist.” Have a fabulous day!

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp

I picked up a basket of peaches at the farmer’s market and was a bit stumped for what to do with them. I’m still in the middle of Whole30 so I thought making a peach crisp would be out of the question. And then I stumbled upon The Clothes Make The Girl’s Peach Almond Crisp recipe. Technically, this recipe is considered a baked good and is not approved on Whole30. However, all the ingredients are Whole30 approved, so I went for it. :)

You can check out the recipe here.

I had 8 peaches on hand so I made 2 1/2 times the recipe. I also added a pint of blueberries to the mix and used crushed pecans instead of sliced almonds. I didn’t have sliced almonds on hand. It’s delicious!

Pork Chops with Apple Pear Sauce

Center Cut Pork Loin Topped with Apple Pear Sauce

Okay, I admit it. I’m making another crock-pot of apple pear sauce. Might as well use it as part of dinner, eh? I made pork chops and topped them with the apple pear sauce. Mmm.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of pork chops (I used thin cut pork chops, but you can use whatever thickness you want here.)
  • 1 Tbs of ghee or coconut oil
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • About 1 1/3- 2 cups Crock-Pot Apple Pear Sauce

Heat the ghee or oil in a frying pan over medium to medium high heat. Salt & pepper both sides of your pork chops, then add them to the skillet.  Sprinkle them with rosemary. Cook until the downside is browned, about 2-3 minutes. Cook the other side for about 2 minutes, making sure all the pink juices are gone. If you are using fatter chops, you’ll need to add more time to make sure the chops are cooked through. Serve each chop with 1/3-1/2 cup of apple pear sauce.

Making this dish for your lunches at work? I’d suggest cutting up your chop as you pack each of your meals up. It makes for easier eating on the go, especially if you have to use flimsy plasticware for your utensils.

Pork Chops and Apple Pear Sauce on the Go

Crock-Pot Apple Pear Sauce

Apple Cranberry Pear Sauce

I went to a farmer’s market yesterday and picked up some beautiful apples and pears. I decided to turn them into an apple pear sauce with cranberries and lots and lots of cinnamon. It’s great to eat as a snack or as a topping for something like pork.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium pears
  • 5 medium apples
  • 1/4 cup dried apple juice infused cranberries
  • Cinnamon (As much as you like. If you have cinnamon sticks on hand, feel free to toss a couple of those in. But make sure you take them out before you mash the sauce. I used about a Tbsp of ground cinnamon plus 2 cinnamon sticks. Yes, I like a lot of cinnamon.)

Peel and chop up the apples and pears. You can core them to do this if you like. I just chopped around the core. Add the fruit to a crock-pot. Add cranberries. Sprinkle in as much cinnamon as you like. Cook on low for about 5 hours.

Either mash the fruit with a potato masher (or a ladle or larger spoon) or puree it. I like a chunky sauce so I just used the masher.

Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato & Roasted Garlic Frittata

Heirloom Tomato & Roasted Garlic Frittata

Okay, that pan is a little messy looking, I know. But these eggs are so good! I baked a frittata using what I had on hand and was surprised at how yummy it was. So, I thought I’d share the recipe:

Ingredients

  • Heirloom tomatoes – I bought a small basket of them so I don’t have an exact measurement. It looks like it’s about a quart sized basket. I was able to break it down into 1 1/2 cups chopped into chunky pieces, plus 3 medium sized ones sliced thinly
  • 10 large eggs
  • 1/2 bulb of garlic (or 1 if you want it really garlicky)
  • 1 Tbs fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt, plus extra dash for the garlic
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, plus extra dash for the garlic
  • 2 Tbs oil, plus extra to spray into pans

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees F.

2. Slice off the top of your 1/2 bulb (or full bulb) or garlic. Place it on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle  a little oil on top of it (about 1Tbs). Sprinkle a little salt and pepper on it, then wrap it in the foil. Bake until the garlic cloves are golden and soft to the touch, about 30-35 minutes.

3. Chop up your onion and sautée it in 1 Tbs of oil.

4. Thinly slice 3 tomatoes horizontally. Chop up the rest of your tomatoes into chunky pieces.

5. Crack eggs into a large bowl. Whisk.

6. Once the garlic is ready, turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Squeeze the garlic cloves onto a plate and mash them with a fork. Then add the garlic paste to the eggs and whisk the mixtures together.

7. Chop fresh basil. Add it, onion, chunky tomatoes, 1/4 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper to the egg mixture. Stir.

8. Lightly coat a baking pan with oil. I used an 8×8 pan here. Add your egg mixture to the pan.

9. Top with slices of tomato, then bake until the eggs are set, about 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Easing Back Into a Regular Running Schedule

September Running Calendar

Look! I made a running schedule. Well, really I copied what was listed on Hal Higdon’s 15k novice training schedule.  I just changed “stretch” to “yoga” and added in that I ran 2.25 miles this morning. It’s a pretty light schedule, but I’m trying to remember to allow time for easing back into it since it’s been six months since I was able to work out regularly. I don’t want to injure myself or face-plant from overdoing it.

I’m excited to get back into it. Bring it on!

Hal Higdon Quote

What I learned on Whole30

It Starts With Food

When I started receiving allergy shots in February, I never expected my digestive system to fail, but that’s exactly what happened. Every time I ate, I got horribly sick. And since I’m still getting weekly shots, I don’t yet know if it’s just the shots or new allergies developing.

Anyway, I dove in an did some research and stumbled upon the Whole30. It’s a program that gets touted as the end all be all cure to everything, but it’s not. Really what it’s about is taking time to eliminate allergy related foods to give your body time to heal. You ditch all inflammatory foods. What’s more is you ditch sugar, which I thought could help me too because sugar isn’t so PCOS friendly anyway. It also focuses more on organic foods, which is good all around there.

I decided to give it a try. And let me tell you, what a frustrating experience it was! At first, it made me even more tired than I already was from the allergy treatments, irritable too. Oh yeah, fun times… But the experience was eye-opening too. I never realized just how hard it is to find foods that don’t have sugar in them. It really was about going back to the basics, with a few perks tossed in.

By the end of it, yes, I was feeling better, but I wasn’t 100%. I’m not even sure I was at 50%. My stomach still getting unpredictably sick. That certainly didn’t help when I attempted to re-introduce foods to see if I had any reactions, since guess what, everything made me sick again. Yay!

I think the problem is this: 30 days is not enough. When I had to remove gluten from my diet, I had to allow 3 months before I’d see any improvement. It took me 5 months before I was myself again. That’s how food allergies work. It takes time. I think for me, I should have done a Whole90 instead. Then, I could have gauged how I felt better. I tried to do that earlier this summer, but I let food related social obligations get in the way and then last week I had gluten contamination. So, I have to start over. And I will be doing just that, tomorrow!

But let’s take a look back at what I learned about the food. While there are many restrictions, I learned new ways to cook, and found simpler styles of food to eat too. Here are a few examples of pics I’ve been taking along the way:

Lettuce Wrap Tacos With Plantain Tortillas Stir Fry Spaghetti Squash Tessemae's Stir Fry Chicken Parmesan Berry Salad

I also learned about some great brands & products like Tessemae’s dressings and sauces,  Artisan Tropic’s plantain chips, La Croix sparkling water, and GoHunza’s Go Take a Hike trail mix. What’s more is that I found a wonderfully supportive Whole30 community on Instagram (and recipes too!).

I think the hardest parts are a two-fold problem. One, I do have a pretty bad ice cream craving that I have to work on. That’s gonna be hard. And two, socializing gets rough since so much of it seems to be food related and my options will be limited. Though, as long as I can get a fresh salad with oil and vinegar on the side, I’ll be okay there.

While I’m still feeling pretty cruddy, I’m looking forward to the journey and discovering new recipes. I’ll be chronicling this process on my new food blog, A Busy Life, Gluten Free, since I don’t want everything over here to be just food focused. I’ve already got meal plans going for the week too! For breakfast, it’s mini frittatas and for lunch, chicken parmesan with cashew cream sauce and zoodles.

Here’s to finding out what’s making me sick (and hopefully finishing these allergy shots soon too!).

Hidden Veggie Muffins

Hidden Veggie Muffins

Against All Grain’s Hidden Veggie Muffins have become a staple breakfast of mine.  The dates and applesauce give them a nice sweetness that isn’t overpowering. And all the veggies make these super healthy.

One batch yields 12 muffins, which makes 6 breakfasts for me. I split them up by twos into sandwich bags and store them in the fridge. That makes them handy for a grab and go kind of morning. Plus, I love how they taste cold. These are fast to make and are filling too.

Here’s the recipe.

Life On Hold

I just noticed that I hadn’t posted here since last October. I don’t think I’ve ever let that much time slip by before. So, I thought I’d pop on and give a little update. Since October, much of my life has looked like this:

Nap here, please

It happens about as quick as the flipping of a light switch too. Talk about fun when you are trying to finish dinner before passing out, eh? Haha.

I’ve mentioned before how I started getting sick two years ago thanks to the onset of adult allergies. The gist is, I’m allergic to EVERYTHING. Yep. For me, it causes chronic migraines, sinus infections, nose bleeds, and extreme exhaustion. Fun!

I was undergoing treatment in October, but that’s when everything got worse.  Ragweed season hit and my meds had to be upped just to keep me from having daily migraines. By Winter, my doctor had decided that I needed to start up with allergy shots. I had no clue what I was really getting into there. Oy. Between the shots and the pollen, Spring was about the worst it’s ever been for me. Most days I’d wake with eyes swollen shut and I’d have to take meds just to get my eyes open. All my energy had to be put into making it through the work day.

What’s frustrated me the most through this process has been how it affected words. Talking, reading, writing…it all got very hard. And since I post on public accounts for work, you can imagine my concern there. No worries. I had stuff proofread. Haha. It also got in the way of my working out regularly. I almost fell asleep mid-jumping jack!

So life, for the most part, went on hold.

But now it’s Summer. I’m still not done with my shots, but I am finally starting to feel more like myself again. My thoughts feel way less fuddled. And that has me tentatively excited. I’m starting to schedule in more things (like photography classes – yay!) and finally starting to work on developing a food blog that I’ve been wanting to do for years. I also want to get back to working out. I just stopped typing for a minute so I could set my running shoes by the door. Maybe that will inspire me to go for a jog when I wake tomorrow. Hope so!

Anyway, that’s that. As my health continues to improve, I’m sure I’ll be chattier again. Have a fabulous evening! :)

Weekend Cooking: Cherry Sage Beef Stew & Breakfast Cookies

cherry sage beef stew

I tried a new recipes out this weekend and it’s super yummy. It’s called Cherry Sage Beef Stew. The recipe is from Sep/Oct issue of Simply Gluten Free Magazine.

I changed a few things though. The recipe never mentioned how to cook the butternut squash, which seemed odd to me. So, after I sauteed the onions, I tossed it all (except the cherries and pumpkin) in the crock-pot. I also added 4 cups of broth instead of the 2 it called for. It seemed like it needed more liquid to me. Near the end, I added the cherries and a can of pumpkin. So good!

I also made three batches of these fabulous breakfast cookies:

paleo breakfast cookies

They are addictive! I love that they are so great for on the go breakfasts. Plus, being able to store them in the freezer means I can make a month’s worth of breakfast at a time. :) The only thing I changed in the recipe was that I ditched the coconut sugar. They seem sweet enough without it. And these chocolate ones look amazing too. I’m gonna have to try those next!