The Symptoms Never Bothered Me Anyway…Being Chronically Ill During the Holidays

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I wrote this post in November 2014. I’ve been debating whether or not to post it, because it’s really personal and kind of long. But today I heard about a friend of one of my cousins who was just diagnosed with a chronic illness, and my heart broke a little. So I’m going to post this, despite the personal aspects and the length. If you or anyone you know has a chronic illness, I hope this bit of my story helps you feel like you’re not alone this holiday season.  Continue reading

The Cure for Boredom

Sunny background. Vector

(c) Maskim Pasko –     Text added by me

I read this post about a summer bucket list by an awesome fellow blogger here on WordPress, and it got me thinking. I may have already mentioned that I live by lists.  I have shopping lists on my phone, to do lists in my email and on a special mousepad with a weekly to-do list on it (this is possibly the single greatest thing I have ever purchased in my life), and other various lists on Post-Its all over the place (i.e. songs I want to learn on my fiddle, the items I sold the most of in my Etsy shop last year, books I want to read…).  The lists pretty much never end.

So, naturally, the idea of a summer bucket list appeals to me.  However, I also agree with Brey of Ordinary Adventures that one summer is not necessarily the place or time to complete items you want to do before you die. Really, over a summer you can only complete a to-do list with a few items of cosmic importance added in.  And, as you may have gleaned, there are lots of things I’d like to get done this summer. Some fun, some for school, some for my dietetics resume, and some more of the bucket-list persuasion.

For Fun

1. Spend lots of time at the pool. This one is easy. As a semi-pro list maker, I heartily believe in including items that are quickly accomplished and easily crossed off.  And especially after this past winter, I plan to soak up as much sun as humanly possible.

(c) 2015

(c) 2015

2. Bake. A lot. I looove to bake, but during the school year I don’t have a lot of extra energy to spend in the kitchen.  I have Pinterest boards full of cool recipes, but so far I’ve only made banana nut bread and sumbitch cookies (points for catching the How I Met Your Mother reference), both of which I’ve made multiple times before (in the case of sumbitches, countless times. They’re amazing).  So I want to branch out.

3. Find a community orchestra to play with. Most orchestras take breaks during the summer, but I’d like to find one I can join once fall comes back around.  I haven’t played with a group yet, so this will be a fun challenge for me.

4. Read 50 new books. I’m being a little conservative with that number – I can probably read more (a Master’s in English Lit means I’m basically a professional reader).  But I also have a lot of older books I want to reread this summer, so stipulating that at least 50 should be new is a good rule of thumb.

For School/Dietetics Resume

5. Volunteer. I’m already scheduled to help out with a kids’ nutrition camp during July, but I’d also like to spend some time at a local food pantry – somewhere that I can keep working during the school year. I need to get myself in gear and make this happen.

6. Shadow professional dietitians. If I want to get into CP, I need to spend a certain amount of time shadowing (it’s part of the application). But since I’m double majoring in dietetics and food marketing, I think that shadowing would also be a great way to figure out which way I’m leaning.  I have a list of people I want to contact, but again, need to make it happen.

7. Post to this blog 2-3 times per week. I slack a little at writing here during the school year.  But I really want to push myself this summer and turn this into a space that interests other dietetics students, people who love food and learning, and people with/who know others with chronic illnesses.

8. Work through the human nutrition textbook I got from the library. I have to take this class in the fall, and I’ve heard through the grapevine that it’s incredibly difficult.  I want to work ahead a little this summer so that I won’t be overwhelmed when the class starts.

For the Bucket List

(c) sellingpix -

(c) sellingpix –

9. Travel or make plans to travel. I don’t know that I’ll necessarily have the chance to go far this summer, but I would like travel to be a bigger part of my life.  This might involve day/weekend trips to nearby states or fun places within my state, or it might involve plans for a bigger vacation to somewhere exciting.  Either way, I’d like to have gone or be going somewhere by the end of the summer.

10. Learn another language. I’ve kind of already started this one, but as with my first item, I thought I’d include it anyway.  I’ve been wanting to learn Italian for years, and in fact have tried the last two summers to do it (online and using CDs in my car during commutes).  But this year, it’s gonna happen! I found a nifty app called Duolingo – it’s completely free and breaks various languages down into manageable, 10-minute sessions. There are 66 categories in the Italian mod, and each category has anywhere from 1-6 lessons in it, so there’s a lot to keep me busy.  So far, I’m on a four-day streak.  Woot!

(c) 2013

(c) 2013

That’s a lot to keep me busy and having fun – hopefully the story of this summer will be a great one.

What do you all plan to do?

Easy, Yummy Recipes for Post-Splurge Season

(c) hemeroskopion -

(c) hemeroskopion –

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles on this topic floating around the interwebs. I love reading recipes, so I’ve looked at almost all of them. But there are two major problems with most of these articles:

1. The recipes require weird ingredients or foods I don’t like
2. The recipes are way too freaking complicated

We’ve already established that I eat like a two-year old. I never eat salmon or kale. I just don’t like them. And I don’t even know where I would get barley or pomegranate seeds. Yes, yes, I know, they’re probably at my local grocery store or at least at Whole Foods, but at this time of the year, the extra effort is just not happening.

Speaking of which, I’ve spent the last two and a half months making all kinds of complicated foods that require lengthy recipes. I’ve spent hours putting together fancy outfits and complicated hair styles and putting on sparkly makeup. I don’t want to do that anymore! You know what I want to do? Eat a bowl of cereal in my sweatpants. That’s easy. Or order takeout. Also easy, plus I don’t have to wash the bowl and spoon afterwards.

So, long story short, most of these recipe collections are just not happening for me. Sure, I’d like to eat healthier now that the holidays are over, but not if it means driving 45 minutes to Whole Foods so I can hunt down barley to make some weird kind of dish that takes three pages of instructions.

Thus, here is my post-holiday gift to you: a collection of healthy, healing recipes that use normal-people ingredients which can be found at Giant Eagle without asking the employees for help, that whip up easily, and that store beautifully in the freezer for leftovers (because you know that tomorrow you’ll be even more tired than you were today).

You’re welcome.

1. Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup
Use 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme instead of the 1 teaspoon fresh thyme the recipe calls for if, like me, you don’t want to buy an entire bunch of thyme when you’re only going to use 1 teaspoon of it just this once. You can also eliminate the chives if, like me, you don’t want crunchy stuff floating around in your soup. Plus, then you don’t have to buy chives.

2. Easy Veggie Quiche
I recently learned how to make quiche, and not only is it a supremely fun word to say, but you can also put pretty much anything you’d like into them. I made one with leftover hash browns and sausage from the previous day’s breakfast, and it was delish. Not super healthy, of course, but sub in whatever veggies you like, and it will be. There’s no link for this recipe because it is honestly the most ridiculously easy thing ever.  Here’s how you make it:
Use a pie shell you’ve purchased from the store. Put into the defrosted pie shell any leftover veggies you have. If you don’t have any leftover veggies, saute fresh ones in about 1 tablespoon of oil until they’re soft. Then put them in the pie shell. Mix 3 eggs together with 2 cups of milk (bonus points if you use skim, but 2 percent is fine). Dump the mixture into the pie shell on top of the veggies. Then dump a bunch of shredded cheese on top (bonus points if it’s low fat), and cook it in a oven heated to 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until it’s not jiggly. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
Super easy, right? Plus, you can freeze frozen slices and just defrost them in the fridge the night before for a super-easy breakfast.

3. Healing Hot Chocolate
You probably already have all these ingredients in your house, except maybe the unsweetened cocoa powder (unless you’re like me and always have all kinds of chocolate on hand all the time). You can go make yourself a cup right now, before you finish reading the list. Go ahead! I’ll be here when you’re done.
Bonus points if you use sugar-free maple syrup and skip the whipped cream.

4. Tangy Tuna Salad Wraps
Just use a quick sprinkle of lemon juice and a dash of regular pepper if you don’t have lemon-pepper on hand. Using Greek yogurt instead of mayo makes this much healthier! And you really can’t taste the difference.
Personally, I hate eating this kind of thing as a wrap. It gives me flashbacks to my early days of gluten-freedom when I had to eat sandwiches as lettuce wraps all the time because there was no such thing as GF hamburger buns or soft tortillas. Then I want to cry, because while non-GF people may find it perfectly acceptable to eat the middle of a sandwich on two pieces of lettuce instead of bread every once in a while, when you eat every sandwich that way, and in fact can only eat rolls of lunchmeat that you dip in ketchup, it is a completely abhorrent and pathetic way to live.
To avoid this mental downward spiral, I just put the lettuce in a bowl and the tuna on top and eat it with a fork. If you don’t have these kinds of emotional issues regarding lettuce, then by all means eat it as a wrap.

5. Half-hour Veggie Chilli
Okay, yes, this one has a lot of ingredients. But it’s worth it! And none of the ingredients are weird. If you’re like me and have acid reflux issues, cut out the jalapeno pepper and cut the chilli pepper and cumin in half. Finally, yes, quinoa sounds weird. You might not even know how to pronounce it (it’s KEEN-wah, if you care to know). However, it’s a staple of the GF diet because it’s a good sub for oatmeal. You could probably use steel-cut oats in place of the quinoa, but I promise Giant Eagle has it. It will be near the steel-cut oats, and you cook it the exact same way.

6. De-lish Oatmeal
Speaking of oatmeal…
Again, sub in any fruit and nuts that you want here. The only weirdish ingredient in this one is cider, but really, how hard is it to find cider? You could, however, sub in unsweetened applesauce if the thought of finding cider off season exhausts you (I certainly won’t judge you).
If you’re gluten free, make sure you get certified GF oats. Bob’s Red Mill makes it and is in most grocery stores.

7. Greek Yogurt Parfait
I love parfaits. Not just because of Shrek, but because they’re super delicious. Sub in any fruit and any nuts and this will still be darn tasty and a great mid-day snack.

So that’s that!

As an added bonus, here are some yoga videos for you.  SarahBethYoga (a YouTube channel) is awesome. She has a ton of great routines (I do one of her bedtime routines every night) that are very easy, and she explains exactly how to do everything. The first one is for detox and digestion (it’s 20 minutes long) and the second is to reduce bloating and aid digestion (12 minutes long).  You can definitely take 12 or 20 minutes out of your day to do one of these, and you’ll feel so good afterwards!  Especially if you also indulged in one of these recipes.

What are your favorite foods and exercises to feel good this time of year? I’d love to hear – share in the comments!