Archive for the 'Liver' Category

Blackbird Naturals


February 9th, 2011

package
Look what I got in the mail the other day! A beautifully wrapped package from BLACKBIRD NATURALS. If you haven’t heard of them yet, you should definitely check them out. The company was started by Anthony (THE RAW MODEL, I’ve been following his blog for a long time), Alexandra and Andrea Maw.

card
I can’t get over how pretty the package was. Lots of good intentions went into this.

seeds
I won this package of their wild green seeds (lambsquarter, wild spinach, and dandelion) from their forum, REPLANT PARADISE. This is such a beautiful thing. They are building food forests and packaging up wild seeds. With companies like MONSANTO contaminating our food supply with genetically engineered and copyrightable mutant seeds, it’s good to know that there are people out there doing things right. I can’t wait until the snow melts so I can plant these. These wild greens are going to be so good for my ailing LIVER (esp. the dandelion)! It will be interesting to see how this goes over in my community garden. I know at least one gardener is NOT going to be happy about me planting dandelion. 🙂

Here’s to shaking things up!

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Day 36. Bikram Yoga Challenge


January 18th, 2011

snow yogi
This has been the story of my life these days…tromping through snow to get to yoga! We have had a ridiculous amount of snow this year. I’m scared to see what happens when it all finally melts.

I’ve been meeting some really cool people at the yoga studio. This is WILL. He’s hilarious! He’s also doing a yoga challenge. So, we are like comrades in arms. You should check out his blog.

seacress
This YOGA CHALLENGE has been intense!! But in a good way. I’ve been helping things along with my uber clean diet. This is a watercress/seaweed salad that I made yesterday. I got the recipe from SARMA’S book, and it is a winner! I have to tell you that raw food plus bikram yoga equals very powerful detox, to be sure. I’ve been going through a lot…from sore muscles to amazingly efficient elimination to feeling ill to feeling wonderful to unbelievable progress with my health issues. Admittedly, I’m holding up better than I thought I would. In some ways, I wish that progress was a little faster. But I know that my body is going at MY pace. If it went any faster, I think I would be overwhelmed.

halfmoonThis is the half moon pose, and it is my nemesis (for a lot of reasons). It’s the second pose in the series. It looks easy enough. But for me, it’s hard. First off, it’s early in the series. So, I’m still stiff. It’s very hard for me to lift my arms over my head like that the first time around (we do each posture twice). I have a lot of muscle pain from my ACCIDENT in my upper back and neck. It’s actually improved a lot since I started this challenge. In the beginning it was more widespread and diffuse. Now, it seems more focused. Like a lot of the milder tension has released a little. Now I’m left with the most stubborn spots. The other issue is that according to my teacher, Martha, there are many small muscles in the pelvis that stabilize you in this side stretch. Since I was on crutches/walker for some time, these muscles are really weak. This pose starts with a left and right side stretch and then progresses to a front and back stretch. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? You would think so. But OMG. It’s hard!! My lower back is kind of a wreck right now.

standing bowThis is the standing bow. I’ve actually been making good progress on this pose the last week or so. It really stretches out the shoulder surprisingly. So to me, it feels really good. The professional yogis do this pose and it looks like a sideways split. Right now, I can NOT fathom how they do that. But it’s amazingly inspirational. I have a ways to go before I get to that point. But I can see my foot coming up behind my head when I look in the mirror. So, I’ve reached the first goal. Yay!

chalupa
I’ve been eating really well to support the challenge, and I have to say it doesn’t feel difficult at all to me. Now that I have the repertoire, I feel like I’m really hitting a stride with my food prep. Here are some chalupas I made the other day.

pizza
This is a raw pizza. I garnished it with marinated mushroom, COCONUT JERKY, and pineapple for a hawaiian feel (I’m in denial about the snow). Healthwise, I’ve been noticing lots of changes. My muscle tension is slowly dissipating. I hoped that I would have worked through most of it by now. But alas, it is a lot worse than you can tell when you’re all numb. But it is changing. So I’m determined to stick it out until I get ahead of it. My liver has been going through a lot. If you have liver issues like me, I should warn you that I definitely had to do a lot of work on my liver to work up to this. My yoga teacher even noticed. She said that it seemed like I had a lot of gunk to work through at first. I was really surprised that she would observe that. Really intuitive! The liver is definitely working things out. Like, I have this constant burp that comes and goes in class (a symptom that first appeared when I was in the HOSPITAL with my liver issues). I also have had some healing crises like an episode of the chills and a severe episode of heartburn that wasn’t food related (liver symptoms). But I went into see my doctor last week (to follow up on my TEST RESULTS – perhaps a topic which is worthy of it’s own post). She checked my liver numbers, and they were good. So despite the challenges, I seem to be staying on top of things. And my doctor encouraged me to keep doing what I was doing. So, I think I will. I’ll keep you posted…

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New Year’s Rampage


January 4th, 2011

kombucha
Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by. At this time last year, I was just STARTING ADVANCED INSTRUCTION at 105 DEGREES. It’s so interesting to look back and reflect on YEARS PAST and see how PERCEPTIONS have changed and how things have unfolded. Well, last year I had a very reasonable goal which I’ve made significant progress on. This year, I’m on a rampage! It started a few weeks ago with a YOGA CHALLENGE. I gave myself a few weeks to acclimate to that before I really started focusing in on my diet.

fridge
This week is all about stockpiling goodies for my fridge and kitchen. Here you can see the pomegranate kombucha I made for my boyfriend (a hopeless addict who drinks at least two of these a day). I also made a big stash of SPROUTS. My diet is actually pretty good most of the time. Since I suffer from some DIGESTIVE ISSUES, I can’t really stray very far from a certain level of enlightenment, so to speak. But I do notice that I tend to stray towards going out to eat and getting comfortable with a little too much slop in the system. It’s amazing when you really clean things up. You realize what a difference it makes.

marinating
Here I am marinating a variation of the coconut bacon in ANI PHYO’S NEW BOOK. She uses this in tons of recipes. So it’s great to have around. Plus, I had a huge amount of coconut meat leftover from making a big batch of KEFIR.


My version is quite a bit spicier than hers. So I think of it more like a jerky.

kimchee
I also made a big batch of kimchee (which I am only allowed to eat when my boyfriend is NOT home). This is what it looks like when it’s just made.

kimchee
After it ferments, it turns pink. This year, I am much more savvy with the fermented foods which interestingly was the answer to my quest from LAST YEAR (to get my Candida under control).

peppers
Yesterday, I started pickling these peppers (another recipe from ANI PHYO’S book). She has a really nice section on kimchee in her book with authentic asian recipes. I like that!

onion bread
My boyfriend has been getting really involved too (which makes it so fun and creative). Yesterday, he made this AMAZING onion bread with pineapple pieces in it. He was inspired by VICKI (a fellow student at 105 Degrees). She made a recipe similar to this for her final project. It is SO DELICIOUS!! I was very impressed.

rampageIn other news, my YOGA CHALLENGE is going well so far. I’m just starting week four right now. It’s so interesting how things evolve from week to week. I’m still having a lot of pain and tension in my muscles but it has loosened up A LOT since I started. This week, I made the most progress on the standing bow pose. Actually, both of the bow poses are starting to open up for me. Right now, I’m having the most trouble with Standing Head to Knee pose (this will take a WHILE) and Half Moon Pose. I have a lot of issues with my lower back. I think there are a lot of muscles in that area that have gotten weak and out of whack. It really becomes obvious in these poses. My teacher, Martha, said that there are many small stabilizing muscles in the pelvis (which I BROKE) which will impact this pose as well. So I think I have my work cut out for me on that one. The other thing I’m noticing this week is massive detox. Yesterday was rather intense. But letting go of what’s not working for me is what this challenge is all about. So bring it on!

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Bikram Yoga Challenge


December 19th, 2010

yoga sign
As you might have guessed from my LAST POST, this is the time of year when Minnesotans switch up their exercise routines. I have been finding myself rather addicted to BIKRAM YOGA lately.

walker
If you have been following my blog for a while, you might have heard about some of the health lessons I’ve been working through lately. Last summer, I was in an ACCIDENT. I sustained a number of injuries in the crash including three pelvic fractures and some broken ribs.

hospital
Prior to that, I had worked through a number of complications related to a toxic exposure. It’s kind of a LONG STORY. But essentially, I had a severe exposure which unfolded into a colorfully epic saga involving seemingly every organ system in my body. The lastest drama is that I’ve now tested positive for rheumatoid factor twice (the antibody seen in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease). Now before you get too worried, I actually had a SIMILAR DRAMA to this last year when I tested positive for ANA twice (an antibody seen in patients with lupus, another form of autoimmune disease). We’re still figuring out what this means. The exposure that happened to me is actually pretty unusual. So, it’s difficult to predict how things will evolve. I’ve personally gotten kind of detached from the outcome at this point (this has been going on for four and a half years – YAWN. I’m over it). Whatever it is, it’s just a name. In a lot of ways, I think the mystery is kind of a blessing. As long as the future is unknown, the possibilities for healing are limitless. But what I can say for sure is that I have issues. Liver issues. And autoimmune issues.

studio
This is perhaps why I find bikram yoga so compelling. Bikram yoga class consists of a series of twenty six postures and two breathing exercises which are practiced in a room heated to 105 DEGREES! Isn’t that an interesting coincidence? (The same temperature that my CULINARY ACADEMY was named after). The heat does AMAZING things for my muscles. I have had a lot of muscle pain since the accident. I distinctly remember the moment of impact. It was like this incredible amount of energy was transferred to my body in an instant. I remember feeling like every cell in my body was spinning in overdrive. For months after the crash, I couldn’t really feel anything. I was in the ‘beyond pain’ state where the muscles just clamp down. The process of restoring them to a normal state of tension requires you to work through the pain little by little. I can say that without a doubt, this form of yoga is having a huge impact on this issue! I can’t get enough. I go to class and find relief for a few hours. Then, I wake up the next day and need another fix. It’s a good kind of addiction.

awkward pose
I’ve noticed a lot of changes with this pose this week too. This is awkward pose. You sit down in an imaginary chair and try to lean back as far as you can. This pose uses a lot of muscles which got really weak during my sedentary phase of healing. Back muscles and hip muscles. Triangle pose is another one that uses those muscles a lot. I’ve made a lot of progress on these two already.

window sill
I feel like this yoga is having a big impact on the autoimmune issues as well (a revelation that perhaps deserves it’s own post). I have decided this winter to dedicate myself to the next phase of my healing, and my instinct is that this is it!

studio lobby
Luckily for me, Minneapolis is home to a really wonderful BIKRAM YOGA STUDIO owned by Martha and Eric Williams. I just purchased an unlimited pass there. Many Bikram studios offer these ’30/60/100 Day Challenges’ as a motivator for students. Right now, I’m feeling very motivated to practice yoga as it is acting as a pain reliever for me. I’m not sure if my own challenge will conform to the 30/60/100 day model. But, I am starting a challenge of my own. Since I have a number of medical issues, I am hesitant to commit myself to one of these numbers as I don’t want the number to take precedence over my focus on healing. But, I am committed to seeing how the yoga can impact my health issues. And I appreciate and respect the discipline that goes along with the challenges. I just want to be gentle with myself. Today was my seventh day in a row. I am noticing lots of positive changes already. I will keep you posted on my progress…

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Catching Up


October 9th, 2010

kitty perch
Well, it’s been so long that I feel like I have lots to catch up on. Here’s the view from my new chef’s table. It’s turned into a perch for kitty. She loves it up there by the WINDOW. I love that window too. Spectacular sunsets and good vibes. Check out my boyfriend’s gigantic vinyl collection. I’ve been catching up on all this while I’m working, and it’s truly wonderful. You can also catch a glimpse of my window garden…

window gMy new place has south facing windows! Perfect for growing WHEATGRASS and SPROUTS. I’ve got my wheatgrass system down now. The trays I’ve been growing lately have been coming out beautifully. I’m really trying to focus now on healing and restoring my LIVER, and these little trays of wonder are definitely part of the plan. OH. I should mention that there is a video for PRL TV that details how you can grow your own WHEATGRASS GARDEN. You should check that out.

chef tablMy chef table is overflowing right now with garden goodness. It’s amazing. I love this time of year. It’s so abundant that I think it deserves it’s own post (coming soon). Today, I’ll just focus on my evolving kitchen.

booch plus mixerSpeaking of, look at this amazing stand mixer I got at a yard sale last week for $25!!! Can you believe it? I asked the girl if it had all the parts. And she said, ‘Well, it’s missing the meat grinder…’ How much more perfect could it be?

booch latticeAs you can see I have a few batches of KOMBUCHA going there. It’s so amazing. Look at the elegant lattice it forms. Very interesting.

dehydratorsThis is also new. My multiple dehydrator shelf. For my burgeoning kale chip empire (which also deserves it’s own post – coming soon).

grassOk. Well, I gotta run. I need to make lots of chocolate truffles for a wedding reception tomorrow…

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Wine Pairing


March 5th, 2010

wines
Last week, we had a discussion about wine pairing. I actually don’t drink at all because I have a lot of trouble with my LIVER. But since this seemed an important topic, I tasted a little.

champagne
As with any party, we started with champagne.

baileyana
Then, we had with this lovely chardonnay and some mango.

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wine pairing
We also tried the mango with some reisling. I think I preferred the chardonnay. I’m generally not a big fan of riesling, but this one was nice.  Still, the chardonnay complemented the sweetness of the mango better.  (All this talk of wine is admittedly making me miss my wine tolerating days.   But I suppose ten years from now, I’ll appreciate their absence.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself).

altaluna
This pinot grigio was excellent. Ladan thought it a nice all purpose wine for raw food. I agree.

bp wedge
The next pairing was my favorite. It was black pepper truffle cheese paired with pinot noir.

paraiso
YUM! I’ve always had a weak spot for pinot noir, and it was amazing with this cheese.

olives
Next, we tried some heartier wines with olives.

syrah
This one was nice too. Though I’m admittedly biased towards syrahs and pinot noirs.

zin
Zinfadels can be hit or miss with me, but this one was wonderful.

rose
Generally, I hate rose. It brings a bad association with White Zinfadel. But this one is actually nice. Maybe I should be more open minded.

port
The last wine we tried was a port. HELEN was gaga over the port. Me…not so much.

handout
All in all, the tasting was lovely. I think I had less than a half of glass of wine, but I definitely paid for it. Good thing I’m not an alcoholic. I don’t think I’d still be here. Regardless, I’m going to be including a lot of these wines in my repertoire (for service). HOORAY!

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State of Emergency


January 30th, 2010

open for business
This weekend I am getting some much needed rest thanks to Mother Nature. She just KNEW how badly I needed it. Things are starting to improve today. The restaurant was open for business again.

window
But yesterday, this was about as close as I got to the outside. Oklahoma declared a state of emergency, and school was closed. This is actually the SECOND state of emergency declared since I’ve been here. They seem to declare states of emergency at the drop of a hat around here. In Minnesota, this would be more like a state of normalcy. But I’m not going to complain because I definitely needed some time to relax. I’ve been spending a lot of time sleeping the last few days. I definitely feel like I’m working through some things. I think I’m finally starting to get ahead of my CANDIDA infection. My symptoms are starting to change again. At first, I was having extreme headaches and mood swings and well…purulent drainage among other things. But those things have started to improve. Now I’m in a stage of extreme sleepiness. I’ve definitely gone through periods like this before esp when I was recovering from LIVER troubles. When one’s liver is under a lot of stress, a unique kind of sleepiness develops. It’s not the kind of thing you can fight through. It’s the kind of thing where you need to drop whatever you’re doing and go to bed. DO NOT PASS GO. DO NOT COLLECT $200. Just got to bed. That’s where I’m at currently. So, I know I’m working out something big.

pecan bun
I went into school today because I was supposed to assist with a detox class, but nobody came because of the weather. So I ordered myself a kale caesar and a pecan bun. And then I went back to sleep. It doesn’t seem like much is happening on the surface. But just below that, something BIG is happening. I’ll keep you posted on my progress…

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Salad Bar


November 24th, 2009

curry salad
For our last regular day of class, we made a salad bar. Everyone made one salad, and we had a potluck. This was Elizabeth’s delicious coconut and green curry salad.

marinara
Brad’s wasn’t exactly a salad, but it was yummy. He made a beautiful marinara dish.

seaweed salad
Ann made a seaweed salad with golden beets. Very good for your liver!

arugula
Mine was an arugula salad with grapefruit and blood orange. What a nice buffet we had. Very diverse. I wish I could eat like this every day!

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The Good News and The Bad News


September 13th, 2009

anomolies
Today I’m starting a new series…MEDICAL ANOMALIES. To anyone whose ever fallen through the cracks of the modern marvel we reluctantly refer to as a medical system, I feel ya!

obama
With debate over the future of healthcare spinning into overdrive, I can’t help but reflect on my own situation. It has without a doubt been among the most frustrating debacles I’ve had to deal with. Everyone agrees that there is a problem.  And on the surface, it seems like nobody agrees on the solution.  But honestly, I don’t know if that’s actually true.  I think that when you talk to most people, there IS some consensus.  It’s just when you turn on the TV…well that’s another story entirely.  Honestly, I try not to turn on the TV much at all these days.  I try as much as possible to form my own opinions based on my own experiences. This is a pic I took of President Obama yesterday at the Minneapolis Health Care Rally.  I was pretty proud of it.  Politics aside, I think it’s a really good picture.

Probably the most important lesson I am taking away from this experience with my health is that it’s not up to anyone else to fix what’s wrong with me.  Other people can offer guidance and support.  But that’s about all I can hope for.  In the end, it’s a personal journey. For those who are just catching up, here is a little insight into mine…

It all started about three years ago. I started developing a number of ‘seemingly unrelated’ symptoms after incurring a prolonged toxic exposure. It was the age old story of someone cutting corners to save a few bucks and creating a situation where someone else (that person being me) had to pay a dear price for it. But it’s complicated. So, I won’t get into that. The short story is that I breathed in a bunch of toxic gas. The gas contained chemicals which ate through the lining of my lungs and caused severe respiratory problems. I also developed GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS.

growing wheatgrass
The respiratory issues started to break up after a few months (though they still recur even now). The GI issues were much more elusive. But, I was able to get them under control after about fifteen months through a combination of an elimination diet and GROWING WHEATGRASS in my window. This is when I discovered raw food. It became my baseline diet.

hospital
Shortly after the GI issue began to stabilize, I was hospitalized. Essentially, I started vomiting blood one day and was having a lot of difficulty breathing. Among other things. I was in the HOSPITAL for about five days. During that time, doctors performed every test known to man while I watched documentaries about MEERKATS. In the end, nobody was able to come up with a satisfactory explanation of what happened. I had had a very severe bout of hepatitis, but it wasn’t clear what caused it. There were some different theories thrown around. The long and short of it was that there were a lot of test results that were abnormal (several of which I didn’t find out about until five months later), and none of the theories offered an explanation that encompassed them all. Whatever it was, it’s clear that it wasn’t caused by any of the ‘normal’ reasons that people get hepatitis.

weird eye
Since that time, I’ve had a range of unexplained symptoms and test results. Things like my eye swelling up for no reason, fatigue, chest pains, twitching, etc. Things that I’ve gone into more detail about in EARLIER POSTS.

wbcs
About five months ago, I was sent to yet another specialist to see if he might be able to cast some light on the situation. The waiting list was very long, but that appointment finally came due this week. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about what the doctor was going to say. He put me at ease, right away.

‘I know what you’re worried about. And you don’t have lupus…’ I breathed a sign of relief. ‘…At least not YET.’ Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I appreciated his honesty. There was one really good sign. There is a screening test for lupus, the ANA, which I’ve tested positive for twice. Well, this time, I was NEGATIVE!

lupus recovery dietSeveral months ago, I read a book called the LUPUS RECOVERY DIET by Jill Harrington. She was diagnosed with lupus and recovered fully by switching to a raw vegan diet. She mentioned in the book that she was able to not only reverse her symptoms but also her ANA test. Interestingly, shortly after I got my first positive ANA, I encountered another person who was in remission from lupus. She told me the exact same story. I’m not sure if that’s what happened here, but it’s a very interesting coincidence at the very least.

mad scientistThere was some bad news. There are some abnormal tests that he said ‘they weren’t smart enough to figure out’. Some strange antibody problems. According to my blood tests, I should have arthritis and mono. I’ve been testing positive for mono for a long time. With most people you can see a spike in certain antibodies followed by a recovery. But mine are just stuck on. This doesn’t necessarily mean I have mono. And in fact, it means that I probably never had mono. Sometimes people with immune system issues make errors in their immune response and this causes them to react positively to lots of things they don’t have. At least, this is how it was explained to me. I was also missing some antibodies that everyone has. This may or may not become an issue. He wasn’t sure what to make of the arthritis test. Apparently, I had high levels of rheumatoid factor. Usually, this means arthritis. But it can also mean lupus, hepatitis, liver damage, or mono. Things which are all kind of suspect.

So, all in all, I think it was a good visit. The way I’m interpreting it is that things are getting better. I’m doing all the right things. They said that my immune system suffered a very big insult and it might just take a while for it to recover.  He also said he thought it was time to start thinking about changes that I could make with my work environment.  This I’ve heard before and have been stewing on for a while.

It’s starting to feel like the beginning of a new era.  For the last three years,  I’ve been very open to everyone’s advice. I’ve tried a little of everything without making any judgements. Just observations. But now, I have a pretty firm idea of what’s working for me. And what’s not. Now it’s time to cut out the flack and really get focused on what IS working.  I suspect there will be some big changes coming soon.  I’ll keep you posted…

ADDENDUM: About five minutes after I posted this, I found an ARTICLE ABOUT AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE that pretty much sums it up. It’s the first article like this I’ve seen in a mainstream media outlet.

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Herbalism 101


June 23rd, 2009

milk thistle
Admittedly, the medicinal qualities of plants and herbs are something that I am woefully uninformed about. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right? This is a milk thistle flower from my GARDEN. I haven’t figured out what to do with it yet, but I know that they are helpful for those who have issues with their livers (i.e. ME).

steviaWe also have this lovely stevia plant. Apparently, all I need to do to make my own stevia is harvest the leaves, dry them, and grind them into a powder. Considering how expensive stevia is, this sounds like a great idea. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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mind
I also have several varieties of mint which are overgrowing their SQUARE.

mintnibic
I have to tell you that they make a MEAN MINT CACAO NIB ice cream.

goji
I also have some goji seedlings that are doing quite well. Three years from now, they will bear some righteous superfood fruits.

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