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Monday, October 31, 2011

Favorites List

To offset my recent frustrating sinus days, I thought I'd share some things that make me happy. (Sorry sinus cavities you don't make the list.)

1.West Village Stroll
On my morning commute to work, I always get off the subway one stop early. This gives me a much needed ten minute walk and allows me to meander through the West Village every day. As I climbed the subways stairs at the Christopher Street stop this morning, I stepped into an elementary school Halloween parade. I walked behind Strawberrry Shortcake and Dracula, who were probably on their way to a high powered negotiation with Pinkalicious. The townhouses and courtyards were already decked out for the holiday.

I love gourds. ( I need a t-shirt with this motto.)

2. Yogi Tea
I always keep in my drawer at work at least two flavors of Yogi Tea. They're organic and each bag has attached to it an entertaining message. Today's reads:

I have no idea what this means. But I like the universe and dancing.

3. Stuff My Son Says
I keep a Word doc of all the funny, profound and unexpected things that my three-year-old son says. A few recent favs:

"What do you want to be for Halloween?"

"What'd you do at school today?"

4. Reading on the Subway
I used to really dread my commute to anywhere on the subway. I counted each stop. Held my breath. EAch ride was a source of absolute stress. Now, I look forward to each ride because I pull out the latest wellness related book I'm reading and immediately get immersed. I get so absorbed that I've missed a stop or two.

5. When my husband makes green juice.
I told my husband that green juice counteracts the negative effects that beer has on his body and that cleaning the juicer erases blemishes from his face.*

*This is a lie. My husband really loves me and is sweet enough to make juice for us and clean the juicer.

6. Tillecat
My cat turned 19 today. She takes 4 different meds and barely weighs five pounds. What's her secret to longevity? Sassiness!

7. Koyo Organic Brown Rice Chips
While in South Carolina, mom picked up these chips. Their ingredients are safe for me and they are delish. I eat them straight up or topped with guacamole and cultured veggies.

8. Ghost Stories
I love and at the same time fear ghost stories. One of my favorite shows is Ghost Hunters. When I was four-years old I saw an apparition in the first home I lived in in Camden, South Carolina and in my early thirites had another experience in Avignon, France at Le Mirande hotel. This past December, my mom had a midnight ghost run-in in Charleston, SC. Maybe it's timing? Or possibly southern Jews attract spirits...

9. Goji Berries
Pink and super tasty in gluten free oatmeal. They're a good source of protein, antioxidants, essential amino acids, and over 20 vitamins and minerals -- including vitamin A, C, and iron. Better than your average raisin. 

10. Rainbows
No favorites list is complete without rainbows.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Food Makes Me Sick

The realization that food makes me sick is so disheartening especially since I've been trying to heal myself through food. Yesterday I was at the editors's. It was mid-afternoon, and I was feeling hungry. The kitchen at the editor's is stocked with pretzels, Skittles, York Peppermint Patties, and granola bars. All of these items either contain gluten, sugar or a host artificial stuff that'll make me sick. The producer ordered a sandwich from a nearby deli and I, a banana.

Within ten minutes of eating the banana, my sinuses became incredibly inflamed and clogged with gross mucus. Something as innocent as a banana makes me sick. I could understand feeling bad, if I had tasted "the rainbow".

This week has been struggle. I feel like my body has taken several steps backwards along the healing path. I'm currently reading The Yeast Connection by William G. Crook. The book highlights the connection between candida overgrowth and an over use of antibiotics plus steroids. The book recommends a yeast-free diet. I was confident that my diet is yeast free, other than the three glasses of sparkling wine I consumed last weekend. Those three were my first in more than six months. I checked the ingredients on my gluten free English muffins and bread and was horrified to read this listed for both: yeast.


Sure it's easy to give up these morning breakfast items. The hard part is replacing them. So many foods are a bother. I foresee my next post to be something along the lines of veggie sushi for breakfast.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


I'm discovering that thresholds aren't static. As I experience more and more good moments free of insane inflammation and disgusting sinus mucus, I find it increasingly harder to handle the bad days. I feel like my threshold for sickness and discomfort is lowering. I can't take as much as I used to. Honestly, I don't know how I survived so many weeks even months as sick as I was. These days I have less patience for sinusitis. Yesterday, I felt poopy. I just wanted to cry. Instead, I went to the bathroom and cleaned out my sinuses. I guess nasal douching is a form of shedding tears. Thick, gross tears I never want to see again.

I met my friends Kristal and Madhu for dinner last night. On the way, I passed Blossom Du Jour, a to-go vegan eatery. They had pressed, fresh juices. I selected a pint of The Field of Greens, which contained spinach, cucumber, apple, ginger, lemon. The apple overpowered all the ingredients. If I let the juice settle, all the greens settled to the bottom leaving the top four-fifths of the liquid looking like apple juice. Overall, the juice was too sweet for my tastes. Once again I discovered that thresholds can evolve. What a few months ago would have tasted ok, now I could barely stomach. I like my green juice less sweet. Since I spent $7 on the juice, I drank it down and then headed to Cookshop for dinner.

Ten minutes after finishing the juice, my sinuses became super clogged. I think it was all the sugar from the apple. It made enjoying my amazing veggie plate a little difficult. I found myself gobbling up all the brussels sprouts, greens and cauliflower, but avoiding the sweet carrots.

Over the past two months I've greatly decreased my intake of dark chocolate. I'm curious if my threshold for this old fav has changed. I can only hope.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Cheating is one of those things you hope to get away with. Sometimes you do. Sometimes you're not so lucky. This past weekend I cheated a bit on my anti-candida diet. My son was visiting his grandparents, so my husband and I went out.

Saturday night is when the first incident went down. I had two glasses of Sekt, German sparkling wine. The next day I felt a little more congested. During the day, I had green juice, a green smoothie, cultured veggies. I rinsed my sinuses a few times with all my meds and headed out again Sunday afternoon when the second incident began.

I had enjoyed the bubbly so much the night before that I just had to have another glass. This time it was Prosecco at a beer bar. Afterwards, my husband picked up a slice of vegan vanilla, lemon cake from Peacefood Cafe. I had planned to have a bite or two, which turned into me eating half the slice.

Monday I definitely noticed a decline in my health. I felt much more congested and had to rinse my sinuses two times at work. Last week at work I experienced two days without having to go through this routine. Candida thrive on sugar, found obviously in vegan vanilla, lemon cake and sparkling wine. They were happy to be feed the sugary feast.  I think if I had just cheated one night and then gone right back to my regimen, I wouldn't have felt so poopy come Monday. Two nights of nefarious behavior were too much for my body.

So, remember, cheating gets you nowhere. Or somewhere you'd rather not be.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The King of Alkaline Foods

Over the weekend I picked up some Umeboshi plum paste from Fairway. The pickled plum is a natural antibiotic, antiseptic and digestive aid. It's also known to be beneficial for water contamination, liver function, prevention of ageing (anti-oxidizing effects), general detoxification, carbon monoxide poisoning, skin diseases such as eczema, lack of appetite, bad breath and dysentery, typhoid, and paratyphoid. With this long list of benefits, I say eat up!

I spread the paste on vegan sushi, which I ended up dipping into guacamole to counter some of the sourness. The sour taste reminded me of lemon pickle, a condiment in Indian cuisine.

The plums are aged similar to kimchee. After being left out to dry in the sun, the fruit is packed into barrels with sea salt and shiso leaves and then pressed by weight for six months. By the way, shiso leaves possess many anti-viral qualities and are a member of the mint family. Six months later you have the king of alkaline foods. The process creates natural bacteria, enzymes, organic acids and powerful alkaline qualities– all in a tiny little plum.

Fairway also had the actual Umeboshi plums. The paste was a little less expensive and I figured it'd be easy to spread on edible vehicles such as sushi or g-free crackers and bread. 

Next time you come across the royal Umeboshi, be sure to stop and bow to the king. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Don't Think

Yesterday I checked out the IBM Think experience at Lincoln Center. It was the last day for the exhibit, so my husband and I arrived for the first screening of the video installation. Before entering, we checked out the data visualization wall and the various posters.

The exhibit's execution was flawless but its content was short. I felt like IBM searches for incredibly complicated solutions to simple problems. (They are a data company so they have to prove their worth.) For example, they presented the problem of world hunger and stated that much of the world's supply of rice falls victim to floods. What's their solution? They analyzed the DNA of rice and found a way to reengineer this code and create a hardier rice.

Introducing...Genetically Modified Organisims!

Impaired immune systems!
Reduced antibiotic effectiveness!
Increased Allergic responses to foods!

In addition to the ethical implications of genetically modified foods, there is quite a list of health concerns. These days you have to be prudent in order to avoid GMOs.

I found this astonishing fact online:

Today, an estimated two-thirds of all products in supermarkets contain genetically engineered ingredients, including tortilla chips, drink mixes, taco shells, veggie burgers, muffin mix, and baby formulas.

One solution is to avoid packaged foods and focus the majority of your meals around whole foods. If you want a treat like a slice of pie or a cookie, make it yourself with organic ingredients. Or visit a vegan bakery. I find most vegan bakeries are more ingredient aware and try their best to source from local farmers.

IBM should change their tagline from Solutions to a Smarter Planet to Solutions for a gullible planet.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Purple Zing

The other day I picked up Rejuventive Foods' Vegi Delite. I couple weeks ago I tried their raw sauerkraut which I loved as a side to foods, on g-free rice bread and crackers. The purple color is a fun splash to any plate. However, I think I preferred the taste of the straight up kraut. I"m eager to try their kimchee next. I love spice.

Overall, adding this raw, probiotic food to my daily meals is really helping my overall health. I have so much less bloating and gassiness, which is caused by the candida yeast overgrowth, which is caused by the over consumption of antibiotics and steroids as well as a lack of eating fresh greens and whole foods. These days it's just my husband and son who are bringin' on da noise.

I love the Rejuvenative Foods brand. However, their packing and logo lacks shelf-appeal. The design is kind of chaotic and messy. I imagine that's how people's guts are before they start eating the raw, probiotic foods. I think they could really benefit from the expertise of a skilled designer and copywriter. I'd welcome this raw challenge!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Green Spending

One thing that I feel guilty about is the amount of money I spend each week on groceries. Since I've overhauled my diet and been incorporating more organic greens and veggies in my diet, I probably visit the market about five days a week. A couple times a month I hit the weekend farmers too.

Living in New York and carrying my bags from store to home, makes it impossible to truly stock up. I can a handle one bag per arm. Also, my refrigerator only has so much room. These days it's always packed. Next to my husband's beer, you'll find kale, cucumbers and cultured veggies. In the fruit and veggie drawer not only are there granny smiths, lemons and more cucumbers but also a chunk of Callebaut chocolate (leftover from when I used to eat a lot more sugar and engage in a lot more baking) along with tiny vials of tobramycin and amphotericin (medicines that I use in my daily nasal wash). Also, it's hard to stock up on fresh, organic produce since whole foods have an expiration date unlike processed ones.

I have no actual idea exactly how much I spend, since I'm partially afraid to total the amount. The book, In Defense of Food, encourages readers to spend more on fresh, organic whole foods while eating less overall and specifically eating less or abstaining from eating processed and manufactured foods. It states in the end you'll have better health, fewer doctors visits and fewer medical bills.

I have come to believe that food can heal. As I see my health slowly improving, I see myself being able to get off my intra-nasal medications that cost close to $200 a month and to stop visiting the otolaryngologist, who charges cabout $4,000 for a visit and debridement. So, spending $2.29 for two organic cucumbers at Trader Joe's or $4 for a pound of fresh, local kale seems like a steal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Heart Healthy Post

I'm about three-quarters of the way through In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. I like the cover moto, "Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants." The book clearly sets up what's wrong with our food supply, why it went wrong and what you can do to ensure you eat foods that are good for you.

One thing I've discovered that the book mentions, is when grocery shopping stick to the periphery. This is where you find fresh produce and lots of greens. Other spots I hit are usually frozen foods for Amy's g-free vegan burritos, the rice section and other gluten free areas.

Another point the book highlights is that the American Heart Association, for a free, will bestow its heart healthy seal of approval on a product. Some that have paid include Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Trix and Yoo Hoo. I wonder how much they'd charge for me to add this symbol to my online portfolio? I'd like to think my work is heart healthy.

The book is chock full of enlightening information and suggestions. I plan to pick up a copy of Food Rules by the same author. Reading books about wellness, keeps me inspired to continue on my own personal journey toward a sinusitis- and yeast-infection-free life. Some days are really tough. Overall, the bad moments are lessening. If you've read any good books about wellness and healthy lifestyles, please share.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pink Alert

Last night I had dinner with some old friends at Dos Caminos. When I went to sign my credit card bill, I saw something that really disturbed and annoyed me. Under the total and above the tip was a line that read "Breast Cancer Awareness Donation", along with space for me to write in a dollar amount.

There are numerous things wrong with finding this on one's bill. First of all, who would receive my donation? The Breast Cancer Awareness Fund? I googled this "fund" and didn't find an exact match. Please let me know if anyone has better luck. Secondly, after enjoying a nice dinner with friends do I really need to be hit up for a guilt trip donation? Thirdly, if the Breast Cancer Awareness Fund really wants to help the American population, shouldn't they offer some cancer prevention tips or highlight a healthy vegan dish on the restaurant menu?

Last week on a plane, the flight attendant made an announcement that passengers could make a $5 donation to a breast cancer group (can't recall exact name) and in return they'd receive a Minute Maid Pink Lemonade. I googled Minute Maid and received much better results. The ingredients in pink lemonade include:


With less than two percent of natural flavors, the drink hardly constitutes as lemonade. Instead, it seems more like a way to guarantee that people ingest over-processed and over-sweetened beverages, which leads to sickness which leads to more people getting breast cancer which leads to more people knowing people who get breast cancer which leads to more people making a "donation" which leads to more sales for Minute Maid. 

We all hear how cancer is big business. Let me how many times each day or each week the cancer machine infiltrates your life and tries to get you to spend money.

Saliva Test Part Deux

I subjected my husband to the candida saliva test. Just as he stumbled out of bed, I thrust a glass of water before him and said, "Spit into this glass."


"Just spit."

"Gross. Into our drinking glass?"


His saliva formed some of the tendrils that mine had but they quickly disappeared, unlike mine which grew and grew and....then I tossed them down the sink.

Seems that something is indeed up with my saliva.

Today I'm nursing a green smoothie that's packed with dandelion greens. The dandelion combination is bitter and definitely more suited for the hardcore green smoothie lover. It's back to kale, parsley and spinach for me.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Saliva Alive

I'm always reading if not two then three wellness/candida/sinus/vegan-related books at once. Right now it's In Defense of Food and The Yeast Connection and Women's Health. The latter of which has an accompanying website, where I found a candida saliva test. Wa-hoo!

The test requires that first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything, simply spit some saliva into a glass of water. This morning I poured a short glass of purified water from my Brita pitcher and then proudly spit into it.

The test says to wait any where from 1 to 30 minutes. Then look in the glass and:

(from the website)
If there are strings coming down from your saliva, or if the water turned cloudy, or if your saliva sank to the bottom, YOU MAY HAVE A CANDIDA CONCERN!

While I waited, I went about my business cleaning up the kitchen. I was terrified to look in the glass and find a tiny colony of creatures holding a sign that reads, "PLEASE HELP US" Or find that my spit had turned the water a radioactive green. 

Instead when I checked, I found the aforementioned strings. Kind of like the tails of jellyfish suspended from my spit that sat on the surface. Is this the yeast? Looks like the test may have confirmed exactly what I already know. Just to be sure, I'm gonna have my healthy, yeast-free husband take the test too. Results coming soon!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Delicious Allergens

My health continues its back and forth dance. This is a true test of perseverance. Definitely visiting my parents and being around old eating habits was one of my biggest tests. I grew up in a home that had a huge clear glass cookie jar. Instead of the jar being filled with cookies, there were miniature sized candy bars. But back then the minis were more mega-sized. Three Musketeers, M&Ms, Krackel bars, Almond Joy and Milky Way.

During my past visit home, my mom actually had cookies and cake. All of which contain numerous delicious allergens. Overall I did pretty well abstaining. One evening I lost control. I sampled cakes that mom had picked up from a local bakery and revisited my favorite cookies. That evening I didn't sleep well. The next day I awoke with a dull headache, congestion and overall foggy feeling. Between the sugar, gluten and dairy, I guess it was too much. Could I have used up all my sugar cards from over consumption as a kid? Do we all just get so many that our body can handle and after that it's do or die? I managed to balance out my day with a green smoothie and a fresh green juice from Earthfare.

The other hiccup from my mini-vacation were the flights. It used to be when I flew my ears would experience a little congestion, but once I landed it all cleared up. Now, I get intense ear congestion and pain that lasts up to 36 hours after the flight. If anyone has any suggestions or remedies, I'm all ears.

Mom promised that for the next visit she'll attempt to make a low-sugar, gluten and dairy-free cookie. I think I can't wait. Hmm...although Peacefood Cafe has a darn delish gluten free, vegan chocolate chip cookie. So, maybe there is hope in a cookie jar. (One that looks like Mr. T would be truly sweet.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's Alive!

I finished The Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates. The book details reestablishing your internal chemistry through a diet of probiotic Kefir made from cow, goat and coconut milk or cultured vegetables. Since I can't have dairy and coconut is an allergen, I decided I'd try the cultured veggies. I ordered a kit to culture my own veggies. Basically, you place shredded cabbage and other veggies into a container, mix in good bacteria and then let sit on the kitchen counter anywhere from three to 10 days. At this point you move the swamp like thing you've been growing to the fridge. Supposedly, the fridge doesn't stop the bacteria growth. Just slows it a bit. For a full-time working mom who also takes on her share of freelance projects and already has to make all her own food, this seemed daunting and scary. So, when my mom mentioned having been wanting to try the raw sauerkraut that Doctor Oz mentioned on his show, I was game.

I canceled my Amazon order and hightailed it to Rosewood Market in Columbia, South Carolina where mom and I purchased raw sauerkraut by Rejuvenative Foods. When we got home, I opened the jar and my husband said, "If you're going to be eating that, you better brush your teeth afterwards." Smells don't scare me. One of the benefits of years of acute sinusitis.

I took a bite of the kraut and liked the tangy sourness. I then toasted a slice of brown rice bread and spread more kraut on it. The stuff is delish. Plus, I think it's helping me other throw the evil bacteria in my gut, and it's lessening my food allergies and nasal inflammation. I've been able to eat small amounts of some allergen foods (walnuts, cake) without extreme reactions. More like subtle congestion. I've also been maintaining my greens intake through smoothies and juices.

When I return to NYC on Wednesday, I hope to find a jar of my latest fav food at Fairway. It's my new breakfast of sinus champions!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


I have no idea what invaded my body at 8:32 pm last night and decided to make a slow exit that had me hugging the porcelain god for four hours. Was it the flu shot from Tuesday morning? Or, was it the sauteed onion and shallot combo I woofed down with my dinner last night? As if I don't have enough problems already. The good news is, the less I eat the more open my sinuses are. Today I've bypassed my usual green smoothies and veggie bowls in favor of dry gluten free rice crispies and gluten free English muffins. I'm happy the entire ordeal is over in time for my flight to South Carolina tonight. Yay, for mini vaca!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Outside My Body Experience

I visited Dr. Firshein today for a flu shot and my third course of acupuncture. He asked how I was feeling. I explained that some days I feel really positive about all the changes I've made to my diet and health, while others I feel incredibly discouraged. I explained how I'm still getting an acute sinus reaction even when I eat something like a baked potato. He asked if I had rethought trying a course or oral antibiotics. I really want to try to go longer without this intervention. He completely respected my decision. He also commended all the dietary changes, pointing out my addition of green juices and smoothies. He said that this was truly helping my body.

He explained that the sinuses are kind of like storage units outside the body. (I immediately thought of Hannibal Lecter's storage unit. Hopefully my sinuses aren't harboring a severed head.) This is why they're so difficult to treat when they're infected. If you get an infection in your eye, you put drops in it. If you get one in your bladder, you take oral meds that reach your bladder via blood. But the sinuses are built outside the body. This faraway address makes it difficult for antibiotics to reach. But easy for antibiotic over use to cause harm in other parts of the body.

For my next outside my body experience, the doctor placed tiny needles on my forehead, cheeks, elbows and shins. He then taped electrical wires to my elbows and shins that feed a tiny current to my body.
This was to help put energy in my body. My previous acupuncture treatment made me feel truly energized. When I left the office, I felt like I was bouncing as I walked down the sidewalk. Today I feel pretty tired. I'm curious to see how I feel over the next day or two. I'm hoping for a power surge.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Half Miracle

It's not a miracle but a half miracle. Coming out of last week's cold, my sinuses are feeling better. I have a bit of an asthmatic/bronchitis cough, which a cup of green tea usually alleviates. Much better than having to use my inhaler. My sinuses are less inflamed. I think the colonics really helped clear out some of the yeast overgrowth from my colon, which has caused the extreme sinusitis. A lot of foods can also damage the colon like sugar, flour products and dairy. I have been a sugar fiend up until about three months ago. I got years of JuJu babies, Rolos and Jacque Torres chocolate covered peeps taking up way too much space in my lower extremities. It was like an Eater basket up in there. (How funny that the image above is a of a chocolate named Collon?) A combo of colon cleansing and dietary changes should help alleviate future sinusitis.

Changing gears, I usually buy bags of organic spinach from Trader Joe's for juicing. They were out of my base ingredient so I bought a bag of organic arugula. It's green and alkalizing, I figured all good. I mixed with it cucumber, lemon and apple plus a tiny bit of garlic. The juice tasted tangy and good yesterday. But this morning it was hard core bitter arugula. Spinach definitely has a smoother taste. (I have a masticating juicer which doesn't expose the plant cells to as much oxygen, so you can save juice in the fridge for a day or two.)

Since I was still feeling a bit under the weather, I didn't hit the gym this past weekend. Instead, me and my family went on an adventure to Tarrytown, New York. I was really craving getting out of the city. We had thought about apple picking, but didn't feel like lugging back bags of apples on multiple trains. Although fresh apple juice would be delish. The Metro North train ride to Tarrytown follows along the Hudson River. So pretty and relaxing.