Friday, April 30, 2010

A Balancing Act: Alkaline and Acidic Foods

As you probably know already, your body has to digest whatever you eat. The typical American diet is made up of way too much acidic foods—soda pop, white bread, mayonnaise, processed cheeses, white sugar, etc.—which means our bodies have to work extra hard to neutralize those foods. And why do our bodies neutralize the food? Because it's all about balance. Our bodies know that healthy=balance. When our bodies are worn out or sick, they don't always have the strength to neutralize the acidic foods we eat, so they pull minerals from our organs and bones to help neutralize the acid. It makes me want to cry to think how much I've been overworking my poor little body. In a healthy state our diets should be 60% alkaline, and in an unhealthy state our diets should be 80% alkaline.

Your first thought may be that citrus or tomatoes would be acidic foods, but they are actually alkaline. After our bodies digest the food, whatever remains of each food is either alkaline or acidic. The remains of a lemon are alkaline, so the body doesn't have to do any extra work to neutralize it.

I'm currently working for that 80% alkaline. It's not easy, but it's possible. Today was a frustrating day, and I felt burned out from having to put so much energy into what I eat. I'm tired of it, but that doesn't mean I'm giving up, of course. I'm just tired. But my body is thanking me already.

For more background on alkaline and acidic foods, click here. The charts I've found that divide alkaline from acidic foods vary, as the Web site authors admit, but I liked the chart on this Web site in particular because it gives ranges from High Alkaline to High Acid.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nutrition Data - Know What You Eat

You can learn a lot from a label. On Nutrition Data, you'll find detailed nutrition information, plus unique analysis tools that tell you more about how foods affect your health and make it easier to choose healthy foods.

Food Was Meant to Be Fun

Read more about healthy eating and Robyn Openshaw at

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Flax Oil

I introduced flax oil into my diet when I started drinking green smoothies. Flax oil, also known as flaxseed oil, is the richest natural source of plant-based Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are said to support arthritis, bones, heart health, cholesterol, joint mobility, blood sugar, blood pressure, and much more.

Flaxseed oil takes a bit of time to be absorbed into the body before the full beneficial effects begin, ranging anywhere from a few days to as many as six weeks, depending on your overall well-being. It's important to buy high-quality flax seed oil as it is prone to rancidity. Light and oxygen will slowly breakdown the essential fatty acids. You can buy flax oil in the refrigerated section of a health food store or online. Make sure you refrigerate it to help extend its shelf life. You can also buy flax seeds or flax meal and sprinkle them on salads, cereal, or mix them in muffins. One ounce of flaxseed meal (approximately 4 tbsp.) will yield about 6 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fiber.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Blender Spaghetti Sauce

Since I've bought my Blendtec blender, I've used it to make a couple different soups, at least 20 smoothies, hummus, salsa, flour, and pancakes. Lately my focus has been to eliminate foods with preservatives, so this week I expanded my blender creations to include spaghetti sauce.

Give the recipe below a try and see what you think. I added a couple handfuls of torn, fresh spinach while I was simmering the sauce and then spooned it over some rice noodles with a side of steamed asparagus. Mmm-mmm-mmm. I was quite pleased with myself to say the least.

3 cups tomatoes, peeled and quartered
1/2 onion, quartered
6 oz. canned tomato paste (I didn't have any, so I threw in an extra tomato—still tasted good but made sauce too runny.)
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon agave

Put all ingredients in a Blendtec blender in the order they are listed. Put the lid on and press DRESSINGS. Then pour into a saucepan and simmer for 45 minutes.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Writers of the Blog

Hello friends and family! I just wanted to let you know that there are two writers on this blog. Katie is the creator of the blog and Sam is a contributor. If you look at the bottom of each post, it will say who it was posted by. Please feel free to leave comments, we'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More Answers

In all honesty, I haven't posted any health updates lately because I've plateaued and am slightly frustrated about my arthritis pain not improving, so there's nothing much to share that's progress. And just yesterday fear started to creep in. I don't like that word and for the most part I feel completely at peace about my health, but yesterday I saw my Uncle Mike, whose wife has RA. I'd taken my car in to see Mike, the Saab master, because the "check engine" light came on Wednesday afternoon. Nothing's wrong with the car—the light came on because my gas cap wasn't screwed on tight enough. It hurts my hands to click the cap tight, so after I fill up with gas I just twist it on without clicking it in place. Something about the lack of pressure in the gas tank makes the engine light go on. So I practiced turning the cap and can click it three times if I do it with both hands, mainly using my thumbs, and go at it at a different angle than normal. Mike figured that me not being able to screw the gas cap on tight was the problem because his wife, Lavon, can't do that either because of her RA. It hurts my fingers to even hit the blinker or the windshield wipers now, but what can you do? Lavon's in the same boat but worse. So are a lot of other people.

So the fear part crept in after Mike mentioned joint damage and how when you use your joints when they're inflamed, you can cause permanent damage. I didn't know that. The rheumatologist said to keep using my joints even when they hurt. She also told me to come back in 4 months or until the pain got unbearable because she said my hand pain appeared to be osteoarthritis not rheumatoid. Well, what is unbearable pain? I think I can bear any pain. I feel like my rheumatologist has just left me hanging without figuring out the root of the problem and looking deeper. At first I felt fine about that because I had Barbara and knew about the infection in my body even if the rheumatologist didn't want to go down that road, but now that my symptoms aren't improving as quickly as I hoped, I feel very vulnerable and don't want to cause permanent joint damage. I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing. If I were seeing faster results with the medicine I've been taking from Barbara, I would feel safer.

But just now I decided to research more about Strep G to better understand what it's doing in my body and what to expect with it, and I came across this information, which helps me see the whole picture a lot better! Amazing! Read below.

"Group G strep (GGS) is normally present on the skin, in the mouth and throat,and in the intestines and genital tract, and is most likely to lead to infection in alcoholics and in people who have cancer, diabetes mellitus, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions that suppress immune-system activity. GGScan cause a variety of infections, including:
     -Bacteria in the bloodstream
     -Bursitis (Inflammation of the connective tissue structure surrounding a joint)
     -Endocarditis (a condition that affects the lining of the heart chambers and the heart valves)
     -Osteomyelitis (inflammation of bone and bone marrow)
     -Peritonitis (inflammationof the lining of the abdomen)."

If I didn't have RA and if my immune system weren't low from other health issues (epstein barr virus and hyperthyroidism and stress), I bet the Strep G wouldn't have attacked my joints. Interesting! So my primary concern is to kill the infection and then see if the joint pain goes away completely. If not, then I know the infection really did trigger the RA and then I'll deal with the RA. My most persistent and worse pain is in my right pointer finger knuckle, which is an RA joint (OA joints are the two top joints of the fingers and the thumb joints), so I am concerned about joint damage there. Here's what I'm doing now to eliminate the bacteria:

-taking herbal drops to kill the parasites and Strep G infection (same drops I've taken over the years to kill all my travel bugs)
-taking Lactozyme pills to put good bacteria in my body
-eating 4 Tbs. coconut oil daily, which has major antiviral properties (go to to read more)
-getting massages with essential oils that fight infection and help with pain (Okay, so I've had only one massage so far, but was the best thing I've done so far for my pain. I felt amazing the entire day and swore I would start doing them every other week. But they cost money, so I have yet to go back for my second one.)
-trying to stress less
-trying to sleep more
-eating 4 cups of green smoothie a day (see Please Pass the Green for more info)
-lessening the foods I eat that contain preservatives
-eating mostly fresh, raw veggies, especially asparagus, edamame, chickpeas, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, spinach, and green beans to get the most protein

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wheatgrass Shots

A new thing I have been experimenting with is making wheatgrass shots. I purchased some wheatgrass plants at the grocery store in the produce section. Typically people make their wheatgrass shots by juicing them, but since I don't own a juicer I have been blending them in my BlendTec blender with a small amt of water. I have read that it is best to start with a small amt and work your way up. Make sure you wash your wheatgrass thoroughly before juicing or blending them. I'll be honest though, it doesn't taste very good, but you get used to it.

Wheatgrass is said to be a strong detoxifier, helps with blood flow, digestion, and cleanses the blood. Here are some websites with information:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Two Months of Drinking Green Smoothies

It's been almost 2 months since I started drinking green smoothies. I began with drinking 2 1/2 cups of smoothie a day, and have worked up to 5 cups (1.25 L). I have also started adding supplements such as bee pollen, brewers yeast, and protein powder. I noticed a difference in how I felt almost immediately. I felt energized. I began craving the green drink and looked forward to having more.

I have been training for a half marathon and within 2 weeks I drastically improved. One day I dropped 30 seconds per mile and have maintained that. Last Saturday I went on a 10 mile run at a comfortable pace and ended up running 7:52 minute miles. Now after almost 2 months, this week I have started to run another 10 - 15 seconds faster per mile. I have been running again since June and have not had such drastic improvements until I started drinking green smoothies.

In the last few weeks I have been having an easier time waking up in the morning and feel more happy. I have not felt myself since having my second child 4 1/2 years ago and I am beginning to feel the old me coming back. I am slowly beginning to have more patience with my children and feel more able to handle them. My skin is starting to clear up and I am losing weight. I am also working on eating more healthy in general and eating less meat.

Another aspect to drinking the smoothies is that I have had some weird symptoms which I read are called detox symptoms. After a few weeks I got a cold and cough that has lasted for a long time, and is still lingering now. I have had some very bizarre skin issues. Acne, sudden dry patches that come and go, red blotchy itchy spots. I had times where I felt very fatigued, light headed, have had headaches, and a hard time focusing my eyes. Very random strange things that come and go. I did some research to find out that these symptoms are all very normal when you start drinking green smoothies and change your diet. These symptoms can mean your body is cleansing itself and getting rid of toxins, or that your body is releasing toxins faster than it can get rid of them. These symptoms can also be withdrawal symptoms if you drink coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Something in the Green

Last night I was at the library working on homework when I realized I wasn't tired. It was 8 o'clock and for the first time in months I wasn't ready to crash! I was shocked. And then it gets even better. This morning I woke up on my own at 7:30 a.m. I beat my alarm, and I didn't feel like a zombie! This is HUGE. But this is only the beginning.

Maybe I should attribute the added energy to nerves and stress and pending work deadlines, but I'm not going to. I really think there's something in all that green I've been eating. It's been exactly one week since I started the green smoothies, and I'm never going back. That was an easy decision to make. There's no question I'm on my way to healthy.

Today's smoothie wasn't too extravagant, but it went as follows:

1 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon coconut oil
7 strawberries
1/4 banana
2 handfuls spinach
1 handful ice cubes

1 1/2 scoops Nikken protein powder

Blend all ingredients together except for the protein powder. If you're using a Blentec, press the SMOOTHIE button. When the cycle has ended, add the protein powder and hold down PULSE for 5 seconds.

Tomorrow's smoothie will most likely include kale, peaches, and kiwi fruit. The rest of my breakfast will be a stack of wheat-free and dairy-free pancakes, thanks to Bob's Red Mill (and my dear mother who bought me the mix).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Alkaline vs. Acid Foods

Okay, you guys. This is really getting good now. I love doing all this research and knowing I'm onto something.

Saturday I went to dinner with a friend Emily who briefly explained her vegetarian eating habits. They were inspired by her grandpa, who converted over when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer 20 years ago. He's a walking miracle who's survived countless death sentences. They keep giving him a couple months to live, but who's counting after 20 x 12? Some quick math in my head says that's 240 more months than doctors ever imagined.

So in the process of our conversation, Emily explained that her grandpa and, more recently, her dad are on an alkaline diet. Ring any bells? I'd vaguely heard of it, but I do know from my years of chemistry that alkaline and acid are complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Our society's foods tend to be more acidic, so an alkaline diet brings our body back into balance.

So I haven't spent much time researching alkaline and acid foods in depth, but I just came across this food chart to give us something to build on. It was helpful to me, so maybe it will be helpful to you. Click directly on the chart images to read the text without a magnifying glass.

PS: I had my first taste of almond milk just a few minutes ago. Not bad, not bad at all. And it's even included on the alkaline side of the chart below.

This alkaline and acid food chart comes from the Energise for Life Web site.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

What is a Green Smoothie?

A green smoothie is simply leafy greens and fruit blended together. Go to, scroll down and watch a video on how to make one. There are also 3 pages of videos under the videos tab at the top right of the page.

This is how I make my smoothies in a 5 cup blender:
2 cups water
2 Tbsp Flax Oil
*1-3 Tbsp Coconut Oil

Any combination of leafy greens:
Kale, Purple Kale, Collards, Spinach, Red Chard, Bok Choy, any other dark leafy green
(I also include the stems on most of these)
Blend until smooth and fills to about the 3 cup line or higher. I usually fill the blender to the top with greens about 2 times to achieve this.

Add Fruit of your choice:
Bananas, strawberries, mango, blueberries, apples, pears, raspberries, blackberries, goji berries...
(I find adding a banana to my smoothie makes it more creamy)
Blend until smooth.

Easy way to drink the smoothie is with a straw. Smoothies can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours. I sometimes add supplements to my smoothies such as protein powder, brewers yeast (contains vitamin B12), or bee pollen. Take smoothies to work for a healthy snack or lunch. When you first start drinking green smoothies you may also experience detox symptoms which I will discuss in another post.

*If you are using coconut oil for the first time and do not have a good diet, I would recommend starting with 1 Tbsp a day and gradually increase, as you may experience a cleansing reaction if you start with too much.

Hot Pink Breakfast Smoothie

* 1 ½ cups coconut water
* 1 large carrot, cleaned and cut in 3 pieces (or 5-6 baby carrots)
* ½ a medium raw beet, peeled
* ¼ cup cashews
* ¼ cup chopped dates (inexpensive in bulk foods at a health food store)
* 2 tsp. vanilla
* 12 frozen strawberries
* optional: 1-2 Tbsp. hemp protein (available at health food stores or on Amazon)
* optional: 2 Tbsp. kefir or yogurt

Puree all ingredients except strawberries and hemp protein in BlendTec for 90 seconds. Add strawberries and puree on high until smooth. Add hemp protein for the last 5 seconds.

Raw beets are an excellent blood purifier, coconut liquid is packed with minerals and electrolytes, and how many breakfasts do you know that taste great and contain raw carrots and beets? Makes one quart, a 450-calorie breakfast that has 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 15 percent plant protein, probiotics from the yogurt, and high-nutrition, unrefined fats in the cashews.
( - 5/22/2008)

Whole Wheat Please

I'm quickly seeing that I can't instantly remove myself from the everyday social scenes where food is involved. I still want to eat out with friends on a Friday night and most of them aren't craving what's on the raw menu. So last night when a group of friends wanted to eat at Arella's Pizzaria—a new locally owned Italian place on 535 W. 400 N. in Bountiful—I looked up the menu online and then called the restaurant. I explained that I eat only whole wheat pizza crust and asked if they would be able to make my pizza with whole wheat bread dough. The girl said hold on, and when she came back on the line she said they would make me a special order of it! Can you believe that? It never hurts to ask. The great customer care, uniquely delicious wood fire oven pizzas, and huge, cozy booths will definitely take me back Arella's soon. Thanks for helping me eat right, Arella's!

PS: Since friends make everything more fun, Sam (who I mentioned in a previous post) is joining me on this blog. She's always the first one to say, "Please pass the green," and then she chows down because she knows what's good. I'm not quite up to her level yet. My ratio for veggies to fruits is about 1:5 and Sam's is 1:1. She's hardcore. And the best part about Sam is that she likes to keep passing the green on to everyone she knows. Bienvenido, Sameranth.

Smoothie #4

I picked up my blender Wednesday afternoon and have made one smoothie each day since. I've been throwing in an array of fruits—oranges, bananas, strawberries, tangerines, grapes, pineapples—and only a couple green veggies so far—spinach, broccoli, and chard.

I think today's concoction was my favorite—less fruit and more green. I'm hypoglycemic, so a banana a day doesn't do well for my head. Thursday and Friday I had headaches all day, and I have a feeling it was from getting too many fruits with high carb contents. Pineapple and grapes also have high carb contents (15%), but today I chose to eliminate the banana (20% carbs) and the protein powder to see how I feel. Here's what I'm drinking at the moment:

1 c. water
10 grapes
2 tangerines, peeled
2 slices pineapple w/ cores, frozen
2 handfuls fresh spinach, frozen
1 chard leaf, stem and all
6 ice cubes

Another tid bit of info: After making the smoothie, my roommate helped me get the lid off my tub of pure white coconut oil. It's beautiful and smells like island heaven. I've never actually been to the islands, but I've been to the Caribbean and it's the same to me. So I threw in 2 spoonfuls after the fact and then blended. It turned into little yummy coconut ice chunks, which I don't prefer, so I'll be sure to put the coconut oil in with the rest of the fruits and veggies or blend at a higher speed next time. Can't wait for the lauric acid to get busy doing it's job!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friend or Foe to RA

I wish I'd known this months ago! Practically every morning I eat eggs and/or peanut butter on my toasted double-fiber English muffin, but now I know those may not be the smartest decision. "May not" is the key though. Everyone's body is different. This is why I keep doing my research. Thank you, Alternative Medicine Angel (info found at 

Much of this chart makes sense for my body, but at this point I don't think I'm prepared to give up eggs or peanut butter—it's getting harder and harder to find protein around here. And bell peppers are a personal fave, so I'll have to experiment and see how they affect me. Tonight for dinner I actually ate a whole-wheat pizza topped with red and yellow bell peppers and portabello mushrooms. We'll see how my joints feel tomorrow. My plan with eggs is to start eating organic and see if I notice a difference in my health. I love eggs too much to say good-bye so easily. I wonder what it is about eggs that annoys RA so much.

If you have trouble reading this chart, which should include everyone, click your mouse on it and it'll open it as a separate larger image. Then you can zoom in if you need to.

The Hidden Beauties of Coconut Oil

One of my latest, or Sammy's latest, discoveries is coconut oil. Hold on, because these findings are going to blow you away. My friend Sam told me about this healthy substitute for butter, vegetable oil, margarine, shortening, etc., because as she was researching it, she came across the news that coconut oil helps treat hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, candida, parasites, viruses, and colon cancer. The words jumped off the monitor at her and screamed "Katie! Katie needs to know this!" She apologized to me in advance, explaining that she didn't want to tell me how to eat, but she just had to share what she'd found. That's what friends are for, right? I would've been mad at her if she hadn't told me about coconut oil.

So what's the big deal about this stuff? A lot. Coconut oil has anti-viral properties because it is about 50% lauric acid, which is a major component of mothers' breast milk to help fight infection while babies' immune systems are still developing. Dr. Mary Enig, a Ph.D. nutritionist/biochemist and an expert on fats and oils says, "Lauric acid is a medium chain fatty acid, which has the additional beneficial function of being formed into monolaurin in the human or animal body. Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza, various pathogenic bacteria including listeria monocytogenes and heliobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid," (quote found at Alternative Healthzine).

Coconut oil is also the leading oil for weight loss, and it helps the body balance the thyroid. Read more about coconut oil's health benefits by going to Coconut-Info.comAdvance Health and also Green Smoothie Girl. Do some of your own research too and see if you can't find a reason to give coconut oil a try to feel healthier and treat your body better.

So although coconut oil is one of my hot new discoveries, I have yet to try it! I've been dying to get my hands on some, and as luck would have it, the gallon of coconut oil I ordered 5 whole days ago just arrived on my front porch. Who's ready for a batch of kettle corn or some sauteed zucchini. Yum! The only problem, the lid is sealed like the top of a frozen juice can and my fingers can't grip it and pull. So I must wait till another pair of hands comes home. My positive thinking says that by the time I go through this whole gallon of coconut oil and receive the next one in the mail, my arthritis will be next to nothing and my hands will be strong enough to open the lid without the help of no one. I know these are lofty goals.

P.S.– Make sure you get virgin cold press/unrefined coconut oil. That's the best. I bought mine from Mountain Rose Herbs because I'd heard that they sell the cheapest high-quality coconut oil around. Let me know if you find otherwise.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I've got to admit . . .

. . . it's getting better. A little better all the time. Since you've been mine.

When I found out that the BlendTec demo guy is currently camped out at the Costco in St. George, about 5 hours from my house,  I called my dear friend Heather who happens to reside in St. George. I just knew I couldn't wait 11 whole days for the traveling blender man to make his way back up north—his next stop is actually Orem from 4/16 to 4/24 and then on to Lehi and Bountiful. As luck would have it, Heather's brother was visiting her from the land northward, so the two of them bought it from the St. George Costco yesterday, he drove home that same day, and then I drove to his house to pick it up today!

How far will you go for a BlendTec?

When you know you've come to the end . . . or the beginning.

So I'd driven into a parking garage, rolled down my window, and was frantically straining to reach the ticket. The only problem was I couldn't lift my left arm to save my life because of elbow bursitis, so I was pressed against the car door, flopping my right arm out the window and trying not to cry out in pain. I thought, "This is it! I'm done. I can't do this anymore. Something has to change." That was almost a week ago, the day I turned 29.

And things did start to change. I researched better food choices on my own and listened to health insights of friends—they somehow must've sensed I was gathering health information. Over this past weekend I shared with some friends and family that I was now ready to jump right into a lifestyle of green smoothies, blender buying, and making my own almond milk.

Then on Monday I hit the end again. I had class and missed the bus, so I drove myself to campus instead. All parking meters were occupied, so I ended up down the hill, about a quarter of a mile from class. In the process of parallel parking, I tweaked my bad elbow (frustration no.1). Then I started limping up the hill because I now have arthritis in my right knee (frustration no.2) and a foot with a stress fracture (frustration no.3). Writing all this makes me feel like a negligant parent, like I should hand myself over to the officials for abuse. Anyways, I'm done feeling bad. So in that moment I felt irked and I wanted to cry because I didn't like what's happening in my life.

Monday's experience reinforced that I cannot wait any longer to make a new healthy beginning. So that beginning is tomorrow. Hah! No, really. I'm not procrastinating. This is the real thing. Why tomorrow? Because tomorrow I start life with the BlendTec. Stay tuned for all the major food changes that lie ahead, like fresh applesauce, natural homemade peanut butter, and green smoothies galore. The experiment is about to begin!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Green Experiment

I feel like I'm embarking on a never-ending road trip, which is why I'm inviting you along. Who wants to road trip alone on an endless and everywhere adventure? Not me. And instead of gorging ourselves on Milk Duds and pork rinds for hours on end, we're going to be chowing down on fresh sauteed veggies and gloriously green smoothies and homemade hummus. Lots of hummus.

Each one of us is responsible for what we chew and swallow, but how often do we really pay attention to the ingredients we're inhaling until we're sick and in pain and bloated and unhappy with life? Or until our taste buds are raw from eating a whole monster bag of Skittles?

My null hypothesis: Eating more whole and raw foods will eliminate all my health problems, plain and simple. I don't want to be on pain killers or immune suppressants or steroids—I want to get to the root of the problem (pun intended) instead of masking it. To be honest, I don't know if all this green eating will cure me completely, but I have plenty of hope and am ready to try anything. Learn from me, teach me what you know, and we'll see what all this natural eating can do to give us a better quality of life.

My plan is to attack the following: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA), bursitis, hypoglycemia, colon cancer, hyperthyroidism, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), candida, Strep G, and Epstein Barr Virus (EBV). As the author, I also have the freedom to add to the list as I remember other things that ail me. Hopefully my findings along the way will be of some help to you.