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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Status Update: Good!

Last night I picked up my son to give him a hug. He immediately poked at the diminishing zit/cyst on my chin. Actually it's one of two. Guess this means his eye sight is good. Since I began taking the Singulair again along with using a Clindamycin topical gel, my chin is looking better and better. Thank God, Yahweh, Jesus, Zeus and Oprah. Although I'm not sure what Oprah had to do with it. She probably thinks she's God.

My sinuses have really cleared up. The horrible rampant mucous is no longer a minute-by-minute occurence. Instead of nasal douching up to four times a day. I'm down to one time in the morning. I'm still experiencing some wheezing when I eat certain foods. I'm in denial that the NuGo g-free chocolate rice bars I eat may be a culprit. Although I had a banana, cherry, beet green, kale and raw cacao smoothie this morning and experienced zero wheezing. Yippee! So chocolate may be ok. Only time will tell.

Since I'm feeling better I've upped my cardio routine. I'm now running short intervals on the treadmill. Mom is gifting me a one year membership to a yoga studio. I'm excited about the combo of gym and yoga  over the next 12 months. One thing I've noticed is that extra hard cardio can leave me feeling stiff. The yoga is perfect for stretching me out plus helping me to feel limber.

Vegan cooking is coming more natural to me. I have several goto sites for recipe finding. Here's a short list of a few favs in case you're interested.

This weekend I'm attending the Veg Food Fest. Can't wait to report back. Hoping to snag some goodies.

Happy Vegday!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Numbers Game

Instead of being told to cut back on red meat, dairy or fried foods, imagine being told that you need to cut back on your banana consumption? This might seem within the realm of possibilities is you were a chimpanzee.

I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about the results of my blood panel test. Yesterday I visited Dr. Firshein to go over the results. I was shocked to learn that my cholesterol was the highest it's been in ten years at 206. Last year 170. I don't eat any meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs or nuts as well as fried foods. What gives? The doctor said my fructose level was very high. The body will sometimes turn the extra fructose into cholesterol. Oy. He said I need to cut back on some, not all, of my fruit consumption. Instead of a full banana in a smoothie, try half. Most berries are ok. Tropical fruits not so ok. I really don't eat many tropical fruits. I find pineapple too sweet.

On the flip side my good cholesterol, HDL, increased from 70 to 80. Yay!

He asked if I experience highs and then lows where I become very tired. Yes. But how did he know? Just by looking at my numbers. My glucose blood sugar level was on the low end. He said the fruit smoothie gives me a boost of energy then my body releases insulin, causing the low. He suggested I carry a snack to eat for off setting the low. I'd love to carry a jar of my fav raw, vegan truffles but I'd probably consume the entire jar.

So in the middle of the night it occurred to me when I had the test done that I hadn't fasted. The full blood panel test was kind of sprung on me. I had inquired about rechecking the ANA test. The doctor noticed my last full blood panel had been in April of 2011. He said it was time for another. Just as the nurse was about to draw blood, I mentioned that I had had a fruit smoothie prior to my visit. She said this shouldn't affect the test. But now that the test showed very high fructose plus cholesterol levels I wonder. Hmm...

The doctor also reviewed the results of my ANA test, which is an anti-nuclear body test used to detect autoimmune disorders and inflammation. These numbers had doubled indicating a growing problem. However, I feel amazingly better than when I first had the test in April of 2011. My doctor said while the test was a concern the fact that I'm feeling better makes it less of an issue. But he wants to check it again in June.

I made an appointment with a general practitioner in my neighborhood for a physical in early March. This time I will definitely fast. Curious to see if my numbers are better. In three weeks I'll have the answer.

In the meantime, I'm trying gluten free oats again. I mixed them with some flax and rice Puffins this morning. So far no wheezing or bloating. Hoping the extra soluble fiber helps. Fiber can be confusing. I've been referring to this post on CR for help.

Here's to a high-fiber weekend!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A to Zits

My chin has become home to two large red welts. They might be zits. But usually zits go through a series of steps before disappearing. The things on my chin are stuck in huge red welt phase. And they're kind of itchy. Luckily one of the welts is just under my chin. So that leaves the other completely open to sight. I feel like a third one is trying to pop out of the left side of my nose.

Other than drinking two glasses of champagne Saturday night and a gluten free bagel for breakfast one day last week, I'm following a vegan, gluten free and yeast free diet. Also, I don't touch my face. Ever since my doctor warned me not to, I've banished my hands from my face except when washing or putting cover up on.

When will the hell end?

Any one know of good remedies for removing gigantic hardened rocks from one's face?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yoga Virgin

How long am I allowed to say that I'm new and totally clueless to yoga? I'm hoping at least a year. I need an excuse as to why I'm often in the completely wrong position. Over the last week, I took my third and fourth yoga classes at Pure Yoga. Last week's was a Basics class. The class left me feeling much more flexible and supple. I've been amping up my gym routine by running intervals on the treadmill. Afterwards, I feel incredible tight and achy. The yoga Basics class relieved a lot of these feelings.

Yesterday's was an hour and a half Alignment Basics. Since yesterday was a holiday this class was very full. I was able to follow along with the instructor until about three-quarters of the way through when I found myself totally lost. I was standing in warrior yet the name of the pose was something entirely different. The last thirty minutes of the class I found myself fighting a nap. Maybe the warm room temp brought on the sleepiness. Or my hunger. The class was ran during lunch time.

After class I came home and made a curry millet dish I discovered on Choosing Raw. I substituted raisins for the goldenberries. It's really good if you like the intersection of spice with sweetness. To date this is my favorite recipe I've discovered at CR. My husband said our apartment smelled like Mughlai restaurant. The dish makes a lot. I just finished another bowl for lunch. No drowsy yoga today.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The '1' Train Makes Me Sick

Since my overall health is improving, it's easier for me to notice symptoms. Gone is my constant wheezing and itching. These things happen daily, but not constantly. However, lately I've been noticing during my morning and evening commutes to work that my symptoms reappear. While riding the '1' train I find myself experiencing light asthmatic wheezing and even nausea. Within twenty minutes of getting off the train, my symptoms subside. Could it be that I'm allergic to the subway?

Where's an unlimited budget for a town car to drive me around? Honestly, I would really hate being driven all over the city in a car. I easily get motion sickness in the backs of cabs and cars. I prefer the zippity-do-dah nature of the subway. Except when the zip is gone and service stalls. Or when I get squeezed into some dude's armpit on a packed train during rush hour.

What's happening down in the subway causing this sickness? Or, should I not ask? (An image of a man I once saw eating a fish complete with bones comes to mind. He licked his hand clean and then wiped it on the pole. Who knew a metal pole doubled as a napkin?! ) I imagine in addition to horrific bacteria and viruses there's tons of mold lurking. Mold and me don't get along. I gave up blue cheese eight years before I nixed all dairy from my world. I may never really know.

Last night when I got home from my asthmatic commute, accompanied with heavy coughing and itching, I broke out my juicer. I whipped up a carrot, pear and apple blend. Check out my non orange orange juice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Couch T-bones in a Cheese-atative State

Being a writer sometimes a find words or phrases that make me say, "WTF?" 

According to one of the meanings of the phrase vegetative is:  Of or being a state of grossly impaired consciousness, as after severe head trauma or brain disease, in which an individual is incapable of voluntary orpurposeful acts and only responds reflexively to painful stimuli.

Then there's couch potato. A person whose leisure time is spent watching television.

Let's face it, phrases like these really don't give vegetables a good Klout score. However I know very well the positive power of vegetables on well being and on the environment. I have now been following a vegan diet for about seven months. My diet combined with a mix of supplements, juicing, acupuncture, exercise and meditation has made me feel so much better than 15 years of oral antibiotics and steroids ever did. 

Instead of couch potato maybe the phrase should be couch t-bone? A friend of mine commented that when she used to eat a steak, she had to spend two days on the sofa recovering. 

How about replacing cheese-atative state for vegetative? I've read more accounts that I can count of people who have given up eating meat, dairy and eggs in exchange for plant-based diets. In return, these people have been reawakened with vibrant energy as there ailments diminish or even poof!– vanish. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Vegan Eating Bender

Last weekend my two friends from high school, Dana and Regina, visited me in New York City. One is a vegan and the other liked veggies way before I even knew what a brussels sprout was. During their two-day stay, we managed to eat at four different vegan and veg-friendly spots.

Friday night it was Candle 79 where we spotted Woody Harrleson. He rolled right up to our table with a baby in hand. Not sure who the baby belonged to. Any one missing one? I had recently read an article in which Woody talked about being vegan. So how apropos to see him there.

To begin, I orderd the Guacamole Timbale.. I've ordered this dish before and once again enjoyed the multi-flavor layered app with caramelized onions and black beans. Since I can't have soy, the crackers that accompanied the dip were off limits. Instead, I dunked chip-shaped pieces of jicama and cucumber into the timbale.

For my main I had the incredibly filling Brussels Sprout Salad. It was a cold salad featuring roasted brussels sprouts, turnips, jerusalem artichokes, and baby carrots with a garlic-rosemary dressing. Dana jumped in on the sprouts too.

Saturday we kicked things off with lunch at Peacefood Cafe. My four-year-old son joined us too. He gobbled up half a plate of soy nuggets. I admit, I told him they were chicken. I had to have the chick pea fries and my goto order of roasted Japanese pumpkin and brussels sprouts. I think I may have over sprouted. I had so much food leftover that I packed it up and took it home. I also indulged in a fresh green lemonade juice. On the way out, my son picked out a gluten free chocolate chip cookie to go. I somehow managed not to order one for me. A true test of restraint.

We spent the afternoon at the MAD. Two of the floors were closed so we were only charged half admission, $7.50. What a score I thought. But after perusing the 2 floors that were open I felt gypped. The main attraction of the museum is the roof top bar when jaw dropping view of Central Park. Late afternoon we rode the elevator up. I was feeling so sleepy. I expected my friends to order cocktails or wine. When they began checking out the tea list I followed their lead. The green tea with jasmine blossoms really woke me up. I felt rejuvenated and super charged. The tea also smelled fragrant. My $5 cup of tea plus tip and view, now this was a deal.

When I got home, I popped open the jar of UliMana raw, vegan truffles Regina had given me. These were yummymana. Another lesson in restraint ensued as I kept from devouring the whole jar. Will have to purchase more of these, that is if I can trust myself.

That evening we dined at Gobo. My friends had a tough time deciding which dishes to order. There were so many good ones. In the end they each ordered the same main dish some kind of lettuce wrap and shared the pan seared vegetable dumplings and the scallion pancakes. I went for the yam fries and the roasted veggies. No dish disappointed. I was excited to have plenty of yam fries to take home. The leftovers went really well with gaucamole and my office computer.

The next day we kept things simple and affordable by dining at Whole Foods. Afterwards we hit Juice Generation where I discovered the Hail to Kale blend of kale, watermelon, apple and lemon. This juice was like a shot of espresso. I felt hyper and giddy afterwards. At least this is one bender that ended with me feeling radiant.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Macrobiotic Lunch

Friday was a big day for me. Instead of hauling my lunch with me, I went out for a macrobiotic meal with my coworker Kayte. Kayte is also a veggie girl. And I'm sad to see her leave the office for a new job. Her last day is tomorrow.

The two of us had lunch at Souen. As we walked through the restaurant to our table, I couldn't help but notice how beautiful all the diners looked. Maybe it was the sun-flooded restaurant lighting everyone up? Or maybe it was the internal glow from consuming fresh juices and healthy macrobiotic food? Possibly they had really good makeup artists? Whatever it was, I wanted to glow.

To kick things off, we each ordered a fresh juice. I had carrot, lemon and cucumber. Kayte chose beet, ginger and apple. Check out our vibrant juices.

For my main I went with the classic macrobiotic plate of brown rice, beans, seaweed, steamed kabocha, carrot and greans. I love how the plate was served with a huge knife sticking out. You usually only see this at steak houses.

I had to abstain from any of the side dressings since they all contained soy. I think the seaweed had some soy in it. I got congested during the meal. But ten minutes after leaving Souen my congestion resolved itself and I felt pretty good.

My first lunch out was a grand success. The food was fresh, healthy, delicious and amazingly affordable and I had a blast with Kayte, who I will miss. I hope to stay in touch with her over a future veggie meal.

Friday, February 3, 2012

World's Greatest Zit

I almost called in sick today. Not because I have a cold, fever or a bad tummy. Instead I'm cultivating the world's largest zit. It's growing from under my right nostril. I guess it could have chosen to take root from the middle of my nose or between my eyes. Despite this eyesore on my face, I managed to show up to work.

What exactly is the cause of the world's greatest zit? I eat zero dairy as well as any animal-based foods. I consume very little refined sugar. I think the culprit could br 15 years of antibiotics and steroids. I imagine these drugs are still lingering deep in my tissues. They're trying to get out any way they can. They seep out as nose snot, slither down my throat as think mucous and plop out of my pooper as caca. I guess the typical passageways weren't available so they decided to make a grand exodus through my face. Thanks Levaquin!

I'm getting closer to my year anniversary that'll mark a year without ingesting any oral antibiotics or steroids. I have about two and half months to go. In the home stretch.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Food Journaling Make Over

My handwriting is awful. So bad that I can hardly read it. I had an intervention with myself. That it was time I cleaned up my food journal hand writing. As you can see from the image below, the left side is my previous illegible version. The right side is the new cleaned up, easy to read version. Hopefully.

I took both with me to see Dr. Firshein today. My homework was for me to track everything I ate along with any symptoms experienced. Honestly, every single day I experience light wheezing and gross, thick mucous draining down the back of my throat. As bad as this sounds, this is a vast improvement. A year ago I ran a fever daily, had zero sense of small, used my emergency inhaler about five times a day and spent my days choking on pistachio colored mucous. 

These days I can smell my fresh veggie juice, perfume and the subway. With good comes some bad I guess. I haven't used my inhaler in almost two months. I drink green tea constantly which some how relaxes my airways. I've also almost gone a full year without ingesting any oral antibiotics or steroids. Can't wait for the anniversary party.

As my doctor scanned my food journal he brought up some interesting points. He said many of the foods I'm eating are not the most easy to digest. One of my latest issues is a lot of bloating and belly rolling after eating certain foods. He asked me what my family and relatives eat. I mentioned my dad's love for meat and Wendy's. The doctor said items like goji berries and cacao nibs, while healthy, are somewhat foreign to my body. Foreign things are harder for my body to digest. He looked at a long list of ingredients I threw together to make a smoothie: banana, blueberries, flax, spirulina, maca, rice milk, vanilla and stevia. He suggested I simplify. Remove goji berries and spirulina. Try a different brand of rice milk. And so on. He said my goal is to find a small group of ingredients that cause zero reactions. Then I can mix and match these when creating meals. 

The doctor commented that my diet is perfect for prevention of cancer and heart disease. But a challenging one for someone with food sensitivities and digestive issues. Prevention is good. And continuing to track my eats, while tedious, should lead me to a safe eatery haven. 

I also had a bone density test. The nurse had me remove one boot and sock. Then I placed my naked, freshly pedicured foot into a machine. She turned on the machine which gently squeezed my heel and then released. Done. The doctor read my results. He said I was in an ok place, but borderline bad. He said if I were to maintain my current level of bone density into my seventies, then great. He plans to give me a super duper bone-building supplement after my next visit. He didn't want to throw another supplement into the mix since I'm having some digestive issues.

He had the nurse do a full panel of blood work. Last April when I had this done, one test for ANA, showed slightly elevated levels. An ANA (antinuclear antibody) blood test is used to help screen for autoimmune diseases. I'm really curious to see where my numbers pan out this time around. Here's more info about the test:

Any one else keeping a food journal?