Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fake it till you make it.

Just now on my way home from visiting my cousin Laney (who, by the way, grows the sweetest strawberries I've ever tasted), I decided to remove my hanging handicap pass from my rearview mirror. If I'm to get better, I need to act like I'm healthy and think like I'm healthy. So now I'll most likely be setting up a silent auction for my two handicap passes. They've still got two good months before they expire and they look quite attractive when the sunlight hits them through your windshield. They slide easily into a purse or briefcase, and they get you rock star parking no matter where you go.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Can foods increase or decrease your pain?

Sometimes process of elimination is the best way to figure out what makes your body happy and what doesn't. Months ago when I was first diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), I read about nightshade vegetables. Tomatoes are one of them. So are eggplant, potatoes, and peppers. Some people say these are the culprits for increased arthritis pain, while others say there is no connection. Only you can decide what's best for your body.

All I know is, my RA symptoms mysteriously doubled this past week and old pains came back, so I decided to cut tomatoes from my diet. Now, you have to understand that I love tomatoes more than I love(d) Oreo cookies. Tomatoes are my number one food staple for salsa, marinara sauce, spaghetti sauce, salads, and in pitas and tacos, etc. But since I've eliminated tomatoes this week, my hands have felt the best they've ever felt (since March), and my feet, which had become so painful to walk on, have felt 99 percent better the past three days. Whatever works, right? We're all about feeling better naturally. Do your own experimenting and see what you could eliminate from your diet to get feeling healthier.

For more information on the alkaloids in nightshade vegetables and how they may cause inflammation and affect people with joint pain, click here.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Something Sweet

Here is a recipe for 'Chocolate Balls'. I have to admit, I wasn't sure if I liked this at first, but I have come to really like it. Although I can't seem to get my kids to eat them. I store mine in ziploc bags in the freezer and have a cool treat now and then.

Chocolate Balls

1 cup Raw Almond Butter
1 cup Raw Tahini
1/2 cup Flax Seeds, freshly ground (optional)
1/2 cup Agave
1/2 cup Raw Chocolate Powder
1/8 tsp Sea Salt

Mix all together in a bowl, roll into balls, and chill. Optionally roll in chopped nuts or shredded coconut.

(I was not able to roll mine into nice looking balls, if any of you have a trick to do that let me know. I placed mine on a cookie sheet with saran wrap and froze them. Then took them out, placed them in a ziploc bag and stored them in the freezer.)

Not for Long

In two weeks my Salt Lake self is being put to rest in the city cemetery next to that hauntingly creepy ghost story woman. Long past dusk we crept over the chain link in search of her. Never found her (even though friendly Mr. Officer found us), but I've still got time. Two weeks. Two weeks to eat my oat groats with the morning cool and the box elder bug babies and my little parsley plant on the balcony. Two weeks to smile at the sycamore trees on Michigan Avenue and dream of the day I'll have my own mini window in my front door and listen to Josh Ritter tell me how hard I am to love.

Fourteen days to hike up Emigration Canyon and be able to call it my own and visit my neighbors the three rowdy tiger cubs and run across the street to catch the shuttle to campus. I've got fourteen whole days to visit my little ducky friends at Garden Park and listen to the trees in the gully and talk to the rushing water. Sometimes it's all I need. Fourteen days to not feel so far away. I still need to partake of the Patagonia Outlet, pay Park City a visit, eat at Omar's, tour the Masonic temple, meander through my favorite corners of the Avenues, discover more secret gardens, reek of camp fire, and just be one hundred percent in the moment. Walks and talks and friends I love. I'm pretty sure this is exactly what it feels like to know you're dying.

But the downtown farmers markets will bring me back at least once a week and so will the refugees and so will you. Please promise to put flowers on my grave, and I just may come back for a day. Or three. My new home feels too far away.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It's Possible to Live on Hummus

Hummus is my new mayo, miracle whip, veggie dip, and dressing, and boy do I wish I'd discovered it years ago. Sure I'd buy it ready-made from the store every once in a while or order it as an appetizer at Mazza. I indulged in plenty of hummus last year when I was visiting the Middle East, but I never knew it was so versatile. Or maybe I've just become more creative now that my food options are more limited.

The biggest problem I first found with making hummus is that the recipes were too lemony. And one even burned my mouth, there was so much garlic! So I gave up for a while. Then I tried again and the texture was too thick and lumpy. Well, I finally found the perfect combo. If this still isn't your perfect combo, keep at it and make it work for you.

1 can chickpeas (or 2 cups soaked and cooked chickpeas)
1/4 cup tahini
1 tablespoon lemon juice (or add more if you so desire)
small handful parsley
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (or substitute with coconut oil)
Approximately 1/4 cup water, depending on the texture you prefer
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin

Blend all ingredients in your Blendtech. It's so much smoother and creamier with the extra water, but maybe you'll want to add it gradually to the blender until it's the consistency you like. I usually double this recipe, but make it in two separate batches since the blender can only handle one batch at a time. Then I put half the hummus in the fridge and half in the freezer, and then I'm set for about two weeks if it's just me eating it.

Lately I've been eating my hummus on sprouted tortillas with lettuce, cucumber, and tomato. I can attest that it is possible to live on hummus.

How do you eat your hummus?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


JUNE is the smell of vine-ripened tomatoes that triggers memory after memory of watering my dad's garden to the setting California sun. And picking zucchini the size of baseball bats. It's morning sunlight and carefree wildflowers and fuzzy baby quail waddling along the back fence. It's cut grass and baseball and endless weekends. Summer storms and evening hikes and a renewed hope for romance, of course. And farmers markets and new yummy recipes and late nights with the windows open and the fire pit ablaze. And lots and lots of beautiful words on paper that come together only at dusk. (Maybe I should've waited till dusk to write this post.)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Fatigue in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease where the body thinks the joints are foreign and attacks them. Part of the disease includes fatigue. Now, I've been experiencing this fatigue since the end of March, and some days I know I was on my feet too long or danced when I should've sat still, so not being able to move the next day makes sense. I just blame it on my forgetfulness—I still haven't had RA long enough to remember that my body needs more rest now. But I actually just came across a very informative Web site by the RA Warrior that not only shares pertinent info about RA but also explains where the fatigue comes from.

Naturally when your body is sick (or thinks it's sick, as it does with autoimmune diseases) it releases chemicals called cytokines. Some scientists blame these cytokines for the fatigue symptoms associations with the common cold or the flu. So since with RA your immune system is working overtime to fight a nonexistent foreign entity (your joints), your body is being overloaded with these fatigue-causing chemicals. It all makes sense now! No wonder some mornings I feel like I've been hit by a truck when all I did the day before was take a shower and sit at a desk. If you're interested in learning more about fatigue in RA click here.