Where is Peace?

This is a totally different post for me. I don’t expect many people will read it. It isn’t a smoothie recipe or any recipe, it won’t have a vegan tag. This is more like a confession.
In this country there is a stigma surrounding mental illness. Even now I don’t want to say that I have a mental illness, I just have some issues, like everyone else. My particular issue is anxiety. Many Americans are anxious. Some people have crippling anxiety. Others have panic attacks. I rarely have issues like most people. I am allergic to dairy. Impossible, say my doctors. They aren’t really convinced by the welts left by a scratch test. My mental illness is of course also a head-scratcher for my physicians. I have anxiety attacks, but only in my sleep.
One night, in college I was staying at home with my parents. I woke up in the middle of the night with acute nausea. I staggered to the bathroom, threw up and waited for the waves of sickness to ease, as they usually do after you vomit. But the waves did not recede. I spent hours on the bathroom floor, alternating retching and resting on the bath mat. Early in the morning I crawled back to my bed and fell asleep, totally exhausted. The next day when I woke up, I felt tired and sore, but mostly normal. After several months I had another episode of unexplained “night nausea”. My sister urged me to talk to my gynecologist, the same doctor who had recognized her depression. He said it sounded like anxiety attacks and prescribed Xanax. Those pills were like magic. If I woke up with that nauseous feeling I just had to take a pill and get back to bed. I felt like I had been in a fight the next morning, but I didn’t have to spend the night on the bathroom floor. I only have four to six of these attacks a year. I’m not much good the next day, but after that I’m fine. While the attacks aren’t getting more frequent they have increased in intensity. During my last attack I couldn’t open the small safe where we keep our prescription drugs. My husband thought I was having a migraine. I was having trouble breathing, walking, using my hands, using my words. And it didn’t go away with one Xanax. I laid in bed with my muscles clenched, my hands shaking and my stomach rolling for hours before I got up, took another pill and finally fell asleep or passed out. The magic pills didn’t seem so magic any more.

I have had so many people give me friendly advice. Bless their hearts, they are trying. I have been told to exercise more. I try to exercise five days a week, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect on these anxiety attacks. Pray more. Always good advice, but when I wake up in the midst of an attack I can’t even form thoughts. I have repeated “help and peace” over and over, but can’t make sense of these words in my mind. Recite scripture. Also a wonderful idea. If only I could get my brain to work, I could remember those words that are tucked into my heart. Meditation. OK. I really should try that, it wouldn’t hurt to meditate daily. Eat better, drink more water, don’t drink alcohol, pretty much if you are physically healthy you should be mentally healthy as well.

So here is where I will lose the last two readers that made it past the mentions of prayer and the Bible. I don’t even know really how to write this. I am an American. Yes, I go to church and I read the Bible every day, but I’m not a fanatic. I am spiritual. I probably believe things even most Christians don’t believe. I believe in ghosts. Or at least the supernatural. Strange things happened in the house where I grew up. I firmly believe in the spiritual world. People may say that they believe in angels, but if you say that you have seen an angel or an angel talked to you, you are crazy. I think I would have a hard time believing someone who said they saw an angel. Some things are just not acceptable in this scientific age.

I have read several Frank Peretti books. Entertaining and scary stuff. Demons, dragons, Sasquatch (what is the plural of Sasquatch?) anyway, stuff of bad dreams. They are compelling books. In my mind I believe in demons, like I believe in angels. I know they exist, but they don’t have any part of my life. Demons are put in the dragon, Sasquatch category. I say that I believe demons are real, but really, I don’t. And here is where my anxiety attacks and my demon rabbit trail intersect. I read another book, The Bondage Breaker by Neil T. Anderson. It was recommended to me by a friend I met while she was completing a drug and alcohol treatment program. She knows about bondage, she knows about overcoming your past and living a full life. I thought it was a great book, I was totally following what Anderson was saying until he suggested that some mental and even physical illnesses are caused by demons. What? Wait. Let’s get off the crazy train. Why would Satan be wasting his time making my anxious? Really? He’s sending his angels of darkness to my house to give me anxiety attacks? Hmm. Wait another second. If I do believe in demons, if I believe that Satan is real, why wouldn’t I think that he is trying to shake my faith? Isn’t that what he does? I’m not Job. I’m not special, except that I am special. God knows me. He thinks I’m a pretty big deal. He died a horrible death so I could go to paradise and live with Him. I know it sounds crazy, but waking up in the middle of the night, puking, shaking, having breathing problems isn’t exactly sane. Anderson suggests that if we are new creations in Christ that all we need to do is remember that we are in Christ and Satan has no power over us. The only power that Satan has, was allowed him by God. If I am in Christ I have power over Satan. If Christ Jesus can cast out demons, so can I. The power isn’t in the words “I am in Christ Jesus, you have no power over me”, but the power is in the truth of those words.

I have woken twice in the night with the dread of an anxiety attack after reading this book. I have repeated to myself “I am in Christ Jesus, you have no power over me” and the anxiety fled and peace covered me and I was able to go back to sleep. It still sounds crazy, like alien abduction crazy, but it happened. I’m not throwing out my Xanax. Medication is helpful. I’m not going to stop seeing a doctor or start thinking that everything can be cured by repeating magical phrases. But I’m not worried that I will have an anxiety attack. I’m not panicking, wondering if my next attack will be more than Xanax can handle. I have a weapon to fight anxiety. If it is caused by demons or a chemical imbalance, I am still in Christ and He has dominion over all His creation.

If you aren’t a Christian, this doesn’t really apply to you. (And you probably stopped reading a while ago, but if you haven’t…)The good news is it isn’t difficult to become a Christian. All you have to do is believe that you are a sinner, you can’t save yourself, and believe that Jesus died to wipe out your sin. He defeated death, He rose from the dead. And (crazy) He loves you.

The problem is that it is so simple we have a hard time believing that it is true. It doesn’t make sense. Luckily, I don’t have to understand it, just believe it. I’m not really sure why I was compelled to write this post, but it was something I had to do and I pray that God uses this to His purpose.

No Thank You, I’m Having a Smoothie…

…Because my pants don’t fit. Because what I really want is pumpkin pie. Because I haven’t eaten anything green for five days. Because I haven’t really felt hungry since before Thanksgiving. Oh, the shame!
With the weather turning colder I thought I might want a break from smoothies, but…without a healthy green smoothie to start my day I kinda fall apart (nutrition wise). Here is a smoothie adapted from Green Thickies. Just like most recipes, I don’t have all the stuff that goes into her smoothie, so I do what I can. Usually I eat pears, if I can wrestle them from my husband or oldest kid, but I have been buying pears with a purpose lately. Yeah! I had a ripe pear that no one knew about and into the smoothie it went. If your pears are small you might want to add two.

 

Pear and Apple Smoothie

1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup apple cider (cold pressed, not clear apple juice or the alcoholic kind, unless you roll that way)
1/2 cup oats
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup hemp protein powder
2 cups spinach or other baby greens
1 apple, cored
1 pear, cored
1 banana
1 pinch pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg
splash of vanilla

Blend milk, cider, oats and dates. Then blend in protein powder and greens. Add fruit, spices and vanilla, blend until smooth.

I find I have to do T-Tapp right before I drink my smoothie so I don’t get too cold.

Green Oats

It is too cold for a smoothie this morning. I want something hot and hearty. My tastes have changed as I have aged, I don’t like white, processed grains any more. They taste stodgy. Do you know what I mean? Like glue or wallpaper paste. White bread or pasta, white rice, blech. So, if you still like Wonder bread toast with Skippy peanut butter, don’t try these oats because you probably won’t like them. (Try these ones instead, Butterscotch Oats) My husband would laugh if I tried to give him this for breakfast.

Green Oats

1/3 cup quick oats (old fashioned oats pulsed in the food processor)
2/3 cup almond milk or coconut
Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes in the microwave.
Dash of salt
2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1-2 drops maple flavor (optional)
Optional toppings:
Handful of walnuts
1 tablespoon coconut
Dried fruit
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Doesn’t that look healthy? Yes, yes it does.

So, now that I put hemp in my oatmeal, I’m wondering what else I could hide in there. Spirulina? Powdered spinach? Hmmm…maybe.

Can I Give Up SWEETS? Um, no.

The thinnest I have been as an adult was during my vegan experiment. However, my hair was also falling out, so perhaps I wasn’t doing it quite right. Last night I was thinking that I should make another vegan effort. The thing is, I don’t think that meat is a problem for me. I don’t have the passion for saving animals. That sounds heartless, but I like to eat meat. I know where it comes from. I ate vegan just for health reasons. Pretty sure skinless chicken breasts aren’t making me fat. Yes, I gave up meat and all animal edibles, but I also gave up sweets and alcohol.

So here I am again, facing my problem, my addiction, my passion: sugar. As I am writing this I have two tabs waiting for me to click them. The Minimalist Baker is calling me! Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies! AND Easy Raw Vegan Brownies! I want to make them so much and they are vegan! Doesn’t that count for something? Am I over-thinking this whole eating thing? No, I don’t think I am.

Not over-thinking, but thinking the wrong way. I have a problem with eating sweets until they are gone. I can’t make a pan of brownies and eat one. I am greedy. Ooh, that is an ugly word! It’s true though, I don’t want to share my sweets. I want the first cookie out of the oven and I want the last one too. So, what do I do?

Either, 1. give up all sweets (will work for a time, but not a permanent solution), 2. make healthier sweets (better, as long as I don’t eat the whole recipe, negating the healthy part) 3. make small batch recipes (again, I still have to pay attention. I got into trouble with “single serving” desserts. I ate a mug cake that was almost 700 calories. That is still less than Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but as I will never eat that cheesecake…um…did I have a point?) 4. give sweets away (I can’t eat the sweets if they are not in my house). (My apologies to any grammarians reading this post.) New Plan! I will implement all of these ideas.

I need to have sweet-free days. A dessert break, that sounds too good. A break from desserts. I know people who don’t eat sweets after every meal, they do exist. Every one has different temptations. I can walk past a slot machine and feel nothing. I cannot walk past a pan of brownies and feel nothing. Even though I know that I can never eat cheesecake, I still like to visit the cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory. They look so good in that case. I like to read the descriptions of them in the menu. Focus! How did I get hung up on the Cheesecake Factory? Stop saying cheesecake! Deep breath, drink of water. OK, moving on.

I can make small batch, healthy dessert recipes and give them away. Good idea. Let’s start with pumpkin sugar cookies! To make them a little more healthy, I halved the fat and added more pumpkin. One of my favorite muffin recipes Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins, doesn’t have any added fat and uses pumpkin instead. I also used more whole wheat flour. Pretty sure I could use all WW pastry flour, but my kids might not eat them. Next objective: smaller batch, well 20 is a pretty small batch for cookies. Plus I am making these on Monday so that I can take most of them to Bible study Tuesday morning! I think that sounds pretty good.

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I decided to use a cookie scoop and not get my hands all gooey.

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A flat bottomed bowl works the best for the cinnamon and sugar.

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I  always use parchment paper for easy clean-up.

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A picture of my hand. I always wanted to be a model.

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These would look so much better if I had any talent for photography or a camera. Both would probably be good.     On to the recipe!

Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

Makes: 20 cookies

Adapted from Minimalist Baker Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I like Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for thickening/binding)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

 

  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Instructions

  1. Add butter or coconut oil, pumpkin and sugars to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer for 1 minute.
  2. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Add corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix to combine.
  4. Add flours. Mix until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes (or chill overnight), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
  6. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of dough and roll into balls (it will be sticky) or use a cookie scoop. Swirl dough in cinnamon sugar to coat and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 10-14 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.
  8. Let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These stay puffy and are a bit cakey. I’ve only eaten two three, you know for research.

 

 

 

 

The In-N-Out Diet

Last week my family got home from a three-week road trip. We drove over to Portland and then all the way down to San Diego. We went camping on the Oregon Coast, to Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo and Coronado Beach. Then for some reason (we now regret) we took our small children to Las Vegas. We also stopped at In-N-Out Burger every day. I had no idea if I could eat In-N-Out and was pleased to find (after I ate the first burger) that the buns are dairy-free and if you say something they will make your burger anyway you want. I just told them I had a dairy allergy and my burger was cooked alone and came on its own tray with ketchup and mustard. I heard conflicting information about the dairy ingredients of the special sauce and since I don’t really care for mayo or mayonnaise based sauces I just went with ketchup and mustard. I should have said something about the fries because my husband’s ‘animal style’ seemed to ooze onto the other fries. Anyway, great to know In-N-Out is allergy friendly! The only bad thing is the number of times we ate there in two weeks. I didn’t count and I am too ashamed to even try.

I have found that if you eat fast food and don’t exercise you will gain weight. It’s a revelation! Who knew? We are settled in now, the laundry is done and the green smoothie/T-Tapp diet and exercise program starts today!

I did my T-Tapp this morning and drank a Sweet Grapefruit Thickie. I’m on my way! Here’s the recipe so I don’t forget that I liked this one:

Sweet Grapefruit Thickie

1 cup dairy-free milk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup dates
1/4 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
2 cups baby spinach
1 grapefruit, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate or 2 oranges peeled and chopped
1 small mango peeled and chopped
1 banana
1 cup ice

Blend in order given.

I usually don’t use ice in my smoothies, but there isn’t much to have frozen in this recipe so I added ice.

So, is this why my hair is falling out?

Eating vegan this summer was great for weight loss, energy and over health. I actually like salad now. When my aunt was visiting she asked how I was getting enough protein. Protein? I eat nuts, seeds and beans everyday. I was sure that was fine. But…On an (I thought) unrelated note my hair has been falling out. Now, I have thick hair and have always had little wads of hair in the drain after my showers. The last few months I have had handfuls of hair come out when I shampoo and more fall out when I comb and brush my hair. I wasn’t really worried, but now I can feel a difference in the circumference of my ponytail. My hair is thinning. There are many reasons for hair loss. Physical trauma is one. I haven’t been in a car crash or had any other trauma. Stress. Hmm, well having my husband gone all summer was a bit stressful. Aging is another reason for thinning hair. I refuse to age, so that can’t be it. Also, not getting enough protein can cause your body to shut down hair growth. Well, how much protein am I supposed to be consuming? Turns out a lot! Using several protein calculators and charts from several websites, I found that I should be taking in any where from 65-90 grams of protein daily. How many grams of protein in a 1/4 cup of almonds? 6 grams. 6? So my smoothie that I thought had me covered nutrition wise was lacking a bit. So, what do I do now? Yesterday I added hemp powder to my smoothie. It didn’t change the taste too much, but it did make it feel like I added sawdust. I needed a drink of water to wash my smoothie down. Today I added Sunwarrior brown rice protein powder and it was good. No bad taste, no gritty or sawdusty feeling and 16 grams of protein! 16! Plus the 6 grams from my almonds. 22 grams of protein for breakfast is not a bad way to start my day. Wait, this makes two smoothies so that’s only 11 grams of protein. Tomorrow I’ll make it with two scoops of protein powder and see how that goes.  This is harder than I thought it would be. I better find some more supper-foods. Quinoa, you’re on the list! Now I just have to figure out how to get the rest of the protein I need and hope that in 6-9 months my hair is back to healthy!

Temporarily Vegan

I have 2 days left of my 7 day green thickie diet. I am feeling confused about the way I regard veganism. I will not give up eating meat for ethical reasons, I will spend more money and take more time to find free range, grass-fed animals though. If I want convenience I can order meat from Azure Standard or Tropical Traditions. I’m hoping that my husband will provide us with wild game this Fall. I could take my girls fishing this Summer. Will I go back to eating meat? Red meat? Hamburgers are one of my all-time favorite foods. Could I consider giving them up? Am I considering giving them up?
Anyway, here is my menu for my veggie week:

Brown Rice with stir-fry vegetables
Vegan Chili
Vegan Zucchini Patties
Humus with Veggie Dippers
Grilled Mixed Vegetables
Vegan Alfredo with Whole Wheat (or GF) Pasta
Black Bean Tacos with Avocado

It was a good experiment and I might do it again. I will probably do it again.