Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Food of the Week

I seem to have been absent for at least a week...apparently I was just so busy, or my fibro fog was thicker than I thought...that what I thought was only a couple days turned into two weeks! Sorry about that folks!! Anyways, since I seem to have completely skipped a week, I'll start this week with a new Food of the Week. One of my favorite baking mixes...Betty Crocker GF Yellow Cake Mix.

I have found that I am able to create GF versions of so many tasty desserts with this one box of yellow cake mix. I should probably note that I am not much of a baker (mostly because I don't want all those sweets around the house or I'll eat them all!!), but when I do decide to do some baking - usually for holidays and such - I turn to the wonderful GF Betty Crocker mixes. I have made (successfully may I add), layered carrot cake and sugar cookies with this mix and it's just wonderful. I've been wanting to make a bunch of other things, but just haven't had the right event to bring them to. Hopefully the summer (and all the get togethers that come with it) allow for some baking to try out more of the delicious recipes on the Betty Crocker website (and no, I'm not a promoter of Betty Crocker - only of ways to enjoy GF versions of my favorite goodies)!!

Make sure you check out some of the awesome recipes on Betty's website - please share with me successes you've had with her yellow cake mix or any of the others!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken BLT Salad -- YUMMY!!

With the temperature hoovering around 90 and the dew point around 60 here in the Twin Cities today, I decided it was just too warm to even go stand over the grill to cook something for dinner. So, I stopped by the grocery store on my way home from work and picked up the ingredients for my Chicken BLT salad that my husband absolutely loves!

I came up with this combination a couple weeks ago after craving a BLT but trying to keep with my low carb (refined and sugars) diet. So, I figured out a way to put it in a bowl without the bread, but with all the delicious flavors!

Mmmmm...such a yummy twist on the BLT comfort food - great for a hot summer day!

The basic ingredients - torn/chopped rotisserie chicken with the classic bacon, lettuce, tomato - and you can't have a salad without some cheese and dressing!!

I start by chopping up three ripe roma tomatoes and adding them to a large mixing bowl

Next comes the fresh lettuce...yup, clean and chop up a whole head!

Throw the lettuce in the bowl with the tomatoes...already starting to make my mouth water!!

Next, dump in the bacon pieces (pre-cooked or fresh and crumbled at home)
...everything's better with bacon!!

Make the dressing with a couple tablespoons of mayo, a teaspoon or so of fat free half & half and a couple packets of splenda with fiber

Add your dressing and toss until the lettuce, tomatoes and bacon are evenly coated.

It'll look something like this. If you want, you can stop here and enjoy, or continue on to the cheese and chicken for a bit more flavor!!

Add in about a cup of shredded cheese and about a cup and a half of shredded chicken and toss until evenly coated/mixed...


Chicken BLT Salad

1 head iceberg lettuce
3 roma tomatoes
1 package oscar mayer bacon pieces
1 cup shredded cheese (whichever you prefer - I used marble jack)
1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (chilled)

Chop up the tomatoes and roma tomatoes, add the bacon pieces and toss with the dressing (see below). Add shredded cheese and shredded chicken and toss until well coated - ENJOY!!

3/4 cup mayo
3 packets splenda with fiber
1-2 teaspoons fat free half & half (adjust for consistency preferred)

Mix mayo, spenda and half & half together until smooth - you may choose to add a bit more or less half & half depending on your preferred consistency for the dressing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Food of the Week

The biggest change I've made in my life to help me to LIVE with my fibro symptoms has been to cut out gluten containing foods. I first decided to go gluten free back during the summer of 2010 - at that time there were only a handful of items out there and companies making good tasting gluten free alternatives. Over the past couple years, the gluten-free options available in the grocery store have EXPLODED!! This is a good thing for those with the allergy (celiac) or those like me who have a sensitivity to it. I've had the blood tests (which were included with the numerous others taken to get to my fibro diagnosis) that indicated I don't have celiac, but my doc said that if it helps, go for it! So I took the plunge and haven't regretted a single minute of it!

So, I'm going to try to highlight one gluten free product, brand or food item that I've found and love. Since we all have different tastes, something I think is good may not be what you decide tastes the best, SO, I'm asking for input from each of you for food items you may have found (that might not be available in the stores here in Minnesota) so they can be shared with everyone else.

To start off the "food of the week," I am focusing in on Udi's Gluten Free Bread. I was introduced to this brand by my nephew (he happens to be autistic and has found relief by going gluten free also) a few months back and have decided that I completely agree with him that it tastes about as close to "normal" bread as I think store bought gluten free bread can get.

Generally Udi's bread is found in the freezer section of most grocery stores (at least here in Minnesota); however more stores are beginning to shelve it in the bakery section - I was able to find some very good information regarding the shelf life of Udi's bread depending on where you store it from A Spoon Full of Wellness' blog. Here's what she says:

Here is the recommended shelf life for Udi products:
*       At room temperature: 5-7 days
*       In refrigerator: 21 days (the refrigerator will only prolong the life of the bread but since it's bread, it may dry out)
*       In freezer: 6 months
Please note their breads do not spoil, as with any other bread products, it will mold.  So as long as it's not moldy, you can refreeze or refrigerate the product.

There are a number of other Udi products, but I'll cover those in the future - but definitely do try yourself some Udi's products, they just might suprise you (and make you almost think you're eating "normal" food)!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quinoa Caprese Salad

One of our (my husband and I) favorite summertime salads is Caprese salad. I have made just about all of the variations of the tomato, fresh mozarella and fresh basil salad I had seen and could come up with...then I saw a picture of it with Quinoa in it. I have only recently begun experimenting with this wonderful (and completely gluten free) grain. I found my Quinoa at Trader Joe's, but have seen different brands in almost every grocery store I've been in.

I think I saw the recipe when going through Pinterest, but apparently didn't pin it, nor was I able to find it again, so, I'm not sure if mine is the same as the recipe I saw (I had to try to recall the recipe from seeing it for only moments a day or two ago). So, here goes...

I got a bit of a jump on the salad before I remembered to slow down and take some pictures! I used a container of cherry tomatoes and cut them in half...then sliced up a handful of basil

To make things easier on myself (okay, just to cut out a step) I bought the fresh mozzarella pearls - so it was easy peasy to just open the package an separate the pearls while adding them into the bowl

Yum, looks good already!!

Once the mozzarella is mixed in I add my EVOO and Balsamic Vinigar to the mix...

And now comes the newest addition to my Caprese salad - Quinoa

Add the quinoa to the tomato, mozzarella and mix in.

Mmmm...looks good!! I did have to add a bit more EVOO and Balsamic Vinigar as well as a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

And waalaa...a perfect side to some grilled chicken legs for dinner!

Quinoa Caprese Salad

1 package cherry tomatoes (halved)
1/4 c. fresh chopped basil
1 package fresh mozzarella pearls
1 c. uncooked quinoa (will be a couple cups when done cooking)
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. balsamic vinigar
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa according to directions on package (mine was 1 c. quinoa to 2 c. water and simmer until all water is absorbed - approxl 10-15 min). Cool to at least room temperature before adding to the salad.

Mix together the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella and add the olive oil and balsamic vinigar. Mix in cooked and cooled quinoa. Add additional vinigar as well as salt and pepper to taste (if necessary).

Enjoy as a heartier version of everyone's favorite caprese salad!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Letter to a Pain-Free Person

Reblogged from fibromodem:

Dear Pain-Free Person ~

There are the things I would like you to understand before you judge me…

Please know that being sick doesn’t mean I’m not human. I may spend most of my day flat on my back and I might not seem like great company, but I’m still me stuck inside this body. I worry about school, work, family and friends and I’d still like to hear about yours.

Please understand the difference between ‘happy’ and ‘healthy’. When you’ve got the flu you probably feel miserable but it will pass. I’ve been sick for so long that I can’t afford to be miserable all the time, in fact I work hard at not being miserable. So if I sound happy, it means that I’m happy, it does not mean that I am well. I may be in pain and sicker than ever.

Please, don’t say, “Oh, you’re sounding better!”.I am not sounding better, I am sounding happy. If you want to comment on that, you’re welcome.

Please understand that being able to stand up for five minutes, doesn’t mean that I can stand ten minutes, or an hour. It’s likely that five minutes has exhausted my resources and I’ll need to recover – imagine an athlete after a race. They couldn’t repeat that feat right away either. With a lot of diseases you’re either paralyzed or you can move, but with Fibromyalgia it gets more confusing.

Please repeat the above paragraph substituting, “sitting up”, “walking”, “thinking”, “being sociable” and so on … it applies to everything. That’s what a fatigue-based illness does to you.

Please understand that chronic illnesses are variable. It’s quite possible (for me, it’s common) that one day I am able to walk to the park and back, and the next I’ll struggle to reach the kitchen.

Please don’t attack me when I’m ill by saying, “But you did it before!”. If you want me to do something, ask if I can and I’ll tell you. In a similar vein, I may need to cancel an invitation at the last minute, if this happens please don’t take it personally.

Please understand that “getting out and doing things” does not make me feel better, and can often make me worse. Fibromyalgia may cause secondary depression (wouldn’t you get depressed if you were no longer able to participate in life?) but it is not caused by depression. Telling me that I need exercise is not appreciated or correct – if I could do it, I would.

Please understand that if I say I have to sit down/lie down/take these pills now, that I do have to do it right now – it can’t be put off or forgotten just because I’m doing something. Fibromyalgia does not forgive.

Please understand that I can’t spend all of my energy trying to get well. With a short-term illness like the flu, you can afford to put life on hold for a week or two while you get well. But part of having a chronic illness is coming to the realization that you have to spend some energy on having a life now. This doesn’t mean I’m not trying to get better. It doesn’t mean I’ve given up. It’s just how life is when you’re dealing with a chronic illness.

If you want to suggest a cure, please don’t. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the thought, and it’s not because I don’t want to get well. It’s because every one of my friends has already suggested every theory known to man. I tried them all, but quickly realized I was using up so much energy trying new treatments I was making myself sicker, not better. If there was something that cured Fibromyalgia, all of us would know about it by now.

If you read this and still want to suggest a cure, submit it in writing but don’t expect me to rush out and try it. If it is something new, with merit, I’ll discuss it with my doctor.

Please understand that getting better can be a slow process. Fibromyalgia entails numerous symptoms and it can take a long time to sort them all out.

I depend on you – people who are not sick for many things but most importantly, I need you to understand me.

Thanks for your understanding,

Fibro Figher :)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Drawing a blank...Oh, I know...I'll tell my Story!!

Over the past couple weeks, the thought has crossed my mind as to what the heck I was thinking when I decided I would start a blog and share my life with people...and actually be able to keep them interested and intrigued by me and my life - as it realtes to my fibromyalgia. I figured I could blog on my bad days about what is bothering me, and on my good days post the yummy things me and my husband decide to cook up in our kitchen or on our grill...but beyond that, what else can I possibly write about that people will want to read!?!? Oh, and not to mention, I've never really considered myself to be much of a writer...that's evident from my childhood diary and journal...they're kinda sad interpretations of what my day was like - and of course they skip a year at a time between entries. So, I am deciding, and posting it for all to read, that I'm going to do my best to just "keep it real" and be honest about life with Fibromyalgia, post interesting info when I see it or read it, and of course I'll keep posting recipes as I make them!

So, here's a little about myself...I was born and raised in Minnesota - small town life was where I grew up. I was a pretty active kid - I liked to run around outside and play with my friends. In junior high and high school I was in a number of activities and sports. I went on to college right after high school and loved every minute of being at Winona State University - I may be biased, but I think it's the best school ever!! Anyways, time flew by there and I was soon spit out into the "real world." I didn't realize that there was anything "wrong" with me until I was well into my later 20's. I thought the pain I felt and the fatigue that could hit me like a brick wall were "normal" and that everyone had those issues...

I didn't start to realize there was something wrong until the summer of 2009, stress from work had gotten so bad that I wasn't sleeping at night, which in turn made my fibro symptoms flare up, which just perpetuated the cycle of lack of sleep and painful days - which of course caused the stress to become even worse. I started by entering my random and seemingly unrelated symptoms into WebMD - yup, that awful online doctor that flesh and blood doctors despise...but it lead me to the conclusion that I wasn't crazy, and that there was something wrong with me, which in turn meant - there is a way to treat and manage these symptoms!! YAY!! There was a light at the end of my tunnel!

I finally convinced myself that I needed to go in and see a doctor about these symptoms and see what he/she could come up with to help. I called my clinic and told the appointment person that I wanted to see a doctor about my symptoms and that I think I have Fibromyalgia, she scheduled me with an internal medicine doctor. So, I went to my appointment as scheduled and started talking to the doctor and telling her my symptoms. She then did the trigger point test (anyone with Fibro is familiar with that); but she barely touched me (literally), so her immediate conclusion was that there was no way it could be Fibromyalgia, that I must have arthritis and/or a sleep problem. So, she sent me to the lab for blood work and a sleep study for my sleeping problem. Both came back negative - no problems there. I went back in to this doc and she basically told me there was nothing wrong with me, that I don't have fibromyalgia and that I'm just going to have to deal with it.

I refused to accept was a couple months later when I had an appointment with my OBGYN for a regular yearly check up that I mentioned something to her and asked if she knows any docs in their clinic system that is familiar with diagnosing and treating fibromyalgia, and she referred me to a rhuematologist. I have to say, that referral was the best I could have gotten. I quickly scheduled the appointment and when I went in to see the Rheumatologist, I didn't even get through my entire list of symptoms before he said that he was pretty sure I had fibromyalgia, but he needed to run some blood work to rule out anything else. After the lab assistant took about 6 vials of my blood, they ran just about any and every test known to man that related to an autoimmune disease and all came back negative. So, here I am, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. When I first started talking about it, people would say how sorry they were to hear the news...but I was THRILLED!! Okay, not necessarily thrilled, but excited to have an answer - and to know that I didn't have anything that was damaging my joints, my nerves or any other part of my body - AND, I now had an answer and could figure out how to manage it!!

So now I had a find out a way to lessen my symptoms so I can live as FULL a LIFE as I had always dreamed of. On one of my follow up visits to my Rheumatologist, I asked him what he sees as the best way to manage symptoms. He said that his most successful patients learn to manage their symptoms through lifestyle and diet changes, the ones who manage with little or no prescription medications seems to live the fullest life. I made a decision that day, that I would be one of "those" patients then!

I went completely gluten-free the end of August 2010 and haven't regretted or turned back! I noticed within a week or two that my pain and fatigue had greatly diminished; however, I did notice when I ate something I didn't realize had gluten in it, my symptoms would come blazing back almost immediately. I have lived and grocery shopped now for almost three years buying one set of food for me and another for my husband. It can be a bit more costly, but the benefits far exceed the monetary cost! Now don't get me wrong, I do still take 1/3 my prescribed dosage of gabapentin as well as a small dosage of muscle relaxers to help me get to sleep and stay asleep at night, and I would go without those if I could, but I do still need the small bit of help at night.

Well..that gets us to where we are today. I am LIVING my life with my wonderful (and amazingly understandable) husband, working full-time during the week in the receivables department of a law firm, running a small photo booth rental business on the side, spending as much time as I can with family and friends and still managing to stay sane and keep my symptoms to a minimum. I am so amazingly blessed to have family and friends who understand and accept my limitations and go out of their way to support me and the lifestyle changes I've made to manage my symptoms. I pray for each and every one of you that you have people surrounding you who are equally supportive!

God Bless Each and Every One of You!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Tomato, Cucumber & Red Onion Salad

I've just realized that once it gets warm out, we pretty much live off of tomato based fresh salads...I have another one today to share with all of you out there. I hope you're as big a fan of tomatoes as I am! Unfortunately I don't have step by step pictures for today's post, I thought of it after I was all done with the chopping and mixed the salad up...but here it is:

Tomato, Cucumber & Red Onion Salad
4 Medium Tomatoes (chopped)
1 English Cucumber (chopped)
1/2 Medium Red Onion (thinly sliced)
1/4 c Basil-infused Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a small bowl, fill with cold water. Thinly slice the red onions and put in the cold water while you chop up the tomatoes and cucumber. Drain red onions and combine with tomatoes and cucumber. Add basil-infused olive oil, salt and pepper and mix until evenly coated. Enjoy!

My husband and I also add a little bit of feta cheese, but it's excellent on its own!

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Name is Fibromyalgia

by: Terri Been

Hi....My Name is Fibromyalgia, and I'm an Invisible Chronic Illness. I
am now velcroed to you for life. Others around you can't see me or hear me,
but YOUR body feels me. I can attack you anywhere and anyhow I please.
I can cause severe pain or, if I'm in a good mood, I can just cause you to
ache all over.
Remember when you and Energy ran around together and had fun?
I took Energy from you, and gave you Exhaustion. Try to have fun now! I
also took Good Sleep from you and, in its place, gave you Brain Fog. I can
make you tremble internally or make you feel cold or hot when everyone else
feels normal. Oh, yeah, I can make you feel anxious or depressed, too. If you
have something planned, or are looking forward to a great day, I can take
that away, too. You didn't ask for me. I chose you for various reasons:
That virus you had that you never recovered from, or that car accident,
or maybe it was the years of abuse and trauma. Well, anyway, I'm here to stay!

I hear you're going to see a doctor who can get rid of me. I'm rolling
on the floor, laughing. Just try. You will have to go to many, many doctors
until you find one who can help you effectively. You will be put on pain pills,
sleeping pills, energy pills, told you are suffering from anxiety or depression,
given a TENs unit, get massaged, told if you just sleep and exercise properly I
will go away, told to think positively, poked, prodded, and MOST OF ALL, not
taken as seriously as you feel when you cry to the doctor how debilitating life
is every day. 
Your family, friends and coworkers will all listen to you until they
just get tired of hearing about how I make you feel, and that I'm a debilitating
disease. Some of they will say things like "Oh, you are just having a bad day" or
"Well, remember, you can't do the things you use to do 20 YEARS ago", not
hearing that you said 20 DAYS ago. Some will just start talking behind your
back, while you slowly feel that you are losing your dignity trying to make them
understand, especially when you are in the middle of a conversation with a
"Normal" person, and can't remember what you were going to say next!

In closing, (I was hoping that I kept this part a secret), but I guess you already
found out...the ONLY place you will get any support and understanding in dealing
with me is with Other People With Fibromyalgia.