Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Experiment Update: Irritable Bowel Syndrome

When I started this blog, my intention was to experiment with a new, healthier way of eating to see if it would cure me of a number of ailments. (Click here for the entry that started it all and a complete list of the illnesses I decided to declare war on.) The biggest change I have yet to see has to do with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I've had serious intestinal problems since I was fourteen years old, so for about fifteen years now, and went to doctor after doctor. Finally when I was twenty-two they labeled me with IBS, since they didn't know what else to call it. But as many of you know, that doesn't solve the problem. They just tell you to eat a lot of fiber and to get on antidepressants because you have a nervous stomach. Nope. Not buying it.

So on March 8th I paid my last visit to my gastroenterologist up at Huntsman Cancer Institute and stopped eating dairy—what I thought was "the impossible"—and I can say 100 percent that that was the best decision I could've ever made for my body. No more visits to the gastroenterologist, no more pain, and no more thought about my colon—he's a happy little guy now.

Over the past 7 years I've had 5 colonoscopies to remove precancerous polyps (adenoma) and regular-old polyps (hyperplastic). My next colonoscopy is scheduled for a year from now, so the next part of my experiment is to see if my colon will stop producing polyps because of my healthy eating. That's my plan. It'd be a miracle, but I believe in miracles, and I've already seen miracles happen since I've been reaching for green.

Here are the main changes I've made to my eating habits during the past 6 months:

-No dairy. (I now drink almond milk, eat coconut oil instead of butter, and use hummus instead of mayo.)
-No table sugar. (I've replaced this with raw honey, stevia, and agave.)
-No white flour. (In July this evolved into using gluten-free flour, which as of last week evolved into no flour at all. More to come on this.)
-No processed foods or preservatives.
-No meat, except fish and eggs. (I now load up on beans and lentils. Until last week I ate a lot of quinoa and soy, but not anymore. More to come on this.)
-Leafy greens.
-Plant-based protein.
-Fresh fruits and veggies.
-Whole grains.

To be completely honest, making these food changes has been the hardest thing I've ever done. It's not for the weak at heart. But I want to move without pain and regain my life back more than I want a plate of Oreos and a glass of milk. It all comes down to what we really want out of life and what we're willing to do to get it. (I can see my cute mom doing a cheer right now, literally. Cheerleaders never die.) If you're on the fence, maybe start by making one small change in your eating habits and then making another. I promise that if you're consistent, you will see a difference and it will be worth it. My experiment is working!

Tip #1: How not to smell like throw up.

This morning I woke up to find mush. Moosh. Garbanzo bean mush. Yuck. I was planning to soak the beans for 48 hours (changing the water every 12 hours), but somehow I lost track of the days and let them soak double that. Whoops. So I picked through the mush and pulled the skin off most of the beans, and now have them in the pressure cooker. Almost time to make hummus. Except I smell disgusting now. I've washed my hands over and over again, but I smell like throw up. Garbanzo beans don't have the most pleasant smell, so to avoid smelling like throw up, don't over soak your garbanzo beans.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Please pass the green!

Last weekend I joined a fellow at his work party. The buffet wasn't as expansive as we expected, so when I got to the end of the line, all I had on my plate was a pile of lettuce and three slices of tomato . . . until I noticed the cheese platter garnish. Kale. KALE! I eat kale. So I carefully tugged at one of the leafs with the metals tongs, trying to be inconspicuous and searching for a way to not leave a bald spot in the decor. As I was taking my second piece of kale, I glanced up directly into the eyes of a little girl, probably 8 or 9 years old. I smiled at her over the buffet table. She froze, expressionless. I laughed, and she grinned and looked down. My guess is she was thinking, "People eat that stuff?" I hope she tried it, just to see for herself. So now you know not to overlook the garnish.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spinach and Edamame Soup

When it comes to recipes and easy gourmet dishes, the Dinner at Your Door authors—Alex, Andy, and Diana—know what's up. One of my all-time faves is their Spinach and Edamame Soup. Since making it over the last couple months, I've altered it slightly to meet my new vegan diet (e.g., opting for vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and replacing butter with coconut oil), but I actually can't hardly tell a difference in flavor! To read more about these three amazing women and their book Dinner at Your Door: Tips and Recipes for Starting a Neighborhood Cooking Co-op, click here.

Spinach and Edamame Soup
(serves 6)

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 organic carrots
6 cups vegetable broth
20 ounces fresh spinach, large stems removed
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup flour
12 ounces shelled, frozen edamame, thawed
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Throw onion in turbo blender or food processor, and chop. Then saute onion until translucent. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.

2. Throw carrots in turbo blender or food processor long enough to chop. (You'll end up pureeing the carrots later, so not worries about the carrots' chopped appearance are at this point.) Then add carrots and broth to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until carrots are tender.

3. Add spinach to broth and cook until spinach is just wilted. Remove soup from heat to cool. Pour soup into turbo blender in several batches and blend. I usually have a pitcher on the side into which I can pour the pureed soup. Once the entire pot of soup is blended to your satisfaction, pour back into pot and set heat to medium.

4. Combine nutmeg, coconut oil, and flour in a small bowl to make a paste. If your coconut oil isn't quite room temperature, let the mixture sit in the sunlight for a few minutes to make it easier to stir. Then whisk this paste into the reheated soup and cook for 5 minutes.

5. Add edamame to the soup and simmer until barely tender and still bright green. Stir in lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

I promise you will love this soup! Thanks for dinner (and lunch . . . and sometimes breakfast) Dinner at Your Door!