Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I'm Thinking of Something Green...

Yesterday's snow has mostly melted, the day is warmer, and there are green growing things all over the yard! We've had such a bitterly cold winter that I've been fretting over my flower gardens. It is good to see several of my plants putting out new leaves!

Ahhhh! Come on, Spring!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Such a Tease!

The weather can be such a tease this time of year!

My tulips yesterday, 57° F.

My tulips today, 32° F.

I imagine my tulips are shaking their little heads and heaving great sighs about being under a couple of inches of very wet snow today. I am glad for the warmer days we've had here and there. I will be even more glad when they come and stay awhile! I think there is hope; besides some of my early plants popping out of their beds, there are robins in the neighborhood again.

Are you seeing signs of spring yet?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Who'da Thunk It?

I love it when I run across something new and interesting that I did not previously know. Don't you?

I use ground flaxseed meal to get my omega-3 fatty acids, rather than eating fish (yuck) or taking fish oil pills (also yuck). I've been mixing it in my oatmeal or a protein shake for a few years, but I had never really stopped and looked at the package it comes in. Until today.

The Bob's Red Mill package is literally covered in writing, most of it small print. Beyond making sure it's the ground flaxseed rather than the whole, and looking at the nutrition information, I had never bothered to read all the other stuff. But this morning, something at the bottom on the back of the package caught my eye:

"Flaxseed meal makes a great egg substitute for most baking recipes. For one egg, simply mix 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons water in a small bowl and let sit for two minutes. Add to a recipe as you would an egg."

Hmmmm, I'm going to have to try that.

Then I read more of the info on the package. There is a recipe for bran muffins, and more info about the benefits of eating ground flaxseed. It is high in fiber, and contains 75 times more lignans (natural antioxidants that are good for the heart and for preventing cancer) than any other plant source. I knew it was good for me, but I had no idea just how good.

But an egg substitute? Who'da thunk it!

Friday, March 7, 2014

An Interesting "Cure"

Some of what I'm going to write about is kind of unpleasant, and embarrassing to talk about. But what I've been through and discovered may help others with similar problems, so here goes!

My family and friends know that I have suffered from gut issues for many years. I've been diagnosed with stress, lactose intolerance, allergies, IBS, and finally, celiac disease. The process from stress to celiac took about 12 years. Even though I've been gluten free for four years, my insides still have never worked right and have been really cantankerous most of the time. I have to make sure I have access to a restroom no matter where I am. Feels like prison; like being chained to a toilet all the time. This is embarrassing, annoying, and causes anxiety. Not fun.

For years, I've had increasing trouble eating vegetables. It started with celery, then cucumber, and just kept gradually getting worse until I was unable to eat anything but small amounts of iceberg lettuce, a little tomato, and maybe a little bell pepper. For quite awhile, I was still able to eat raw fruits, but eventually that became impossible, too. It didn't matter if the veggies were cooked or raw, a few minutes after eating them, I'd get sharp pains in my stomach that would over the span of a couple of hours move to my gut. Very painful, I know my intestines were inflamed. These were not gas pains. In fact, there was never any gas. Just swollen and painful guts, followed by diarrhea. It would take several days for things to calm down as long as I avoided vegetables and most raw fruits.

Over the years I have heard about and tried probiotics of various types. I have eaten yogurt with the active culture acidophilus, and I've taken probiotic pills that have other "good" gut bugs. Nothing seemed to make a difference. Since I am lactose intolerant, taking a pill seemed like a better option than eating yogurt. But alas, not only didn't taking probiotic capsules work, I think some of them actually made things worse.

About a month ago, I read an article about how most lactose intolerant people could eat Greek yogurt with no need to take a Lactaid pill. The way it is processed, there is virtually no lactose left in the finished yogurt. I was kind of interested in Greek yogurt also because it is higher in protein, and I was interested in trying it out as a breakfast option, not because of the active cultures. I never even thought about that aspect. I tried a few brands and seriously disliked most of them, but I found I really liked the Chobani.

I began to notice about four or five days later that I was feeling really great! No gut pain or discomfort at all. I am always aware of my guts, but I realized that I was feeling NOTHING from them, and that was amazing! It was also a pleasant surprise, because I wasn't eating the Chobani to try and help my gut problems. Hoping it wasn't a fluke, I kept eating the Chobani every morning, and continued to have happy insides without even a single twinge! I felt so free, not having to run to the bathroom multiple times a day, every day! Chobani has five different active cultures in it, so I don't know if it's one of them, or the combination of all five that helps, but I'm so thankful to be feeling better!

I did a little research, and this is what I found out about Chobani Greek yogurt: Twice the Protein of regular yogurt • Only Natural Ingredients: Free of Artificial Flavors & Preservatives • Made with milk from cows not treated with rBST • Kosher Certified • Gluten Free • Safe for People with Corn, Nut and Soy Allergies • Vegetarian Friendly: Made without Gelatin.

Next, I decided to go out on a limb and try eating veggies. All in, I went straight for the veg that does the very worst number on me; celery! I ate a stalk of celery, and waited. Usually within five minutes I would begin having the stabbing stomach pain. This time, nothing happened. I waited to see if the gut pain and inflammation would happen, but it never did! The next day I ate even more celery, and a few other raw veggies in a big salad. No symptoms!

After a couple of weeks, I did a little test to see what would happen if I stopped eating the Greek yogurt. I didn't eat any for a week, and my symptoms returned. So I went back to eating the yogurt, and everything calmed down again within a few days. So I make sure to eat my Chobani at least two or three times per week, and am able to enjoy happy guts that are functioning normally. I am loving being able to eat all kinds of vegetables and fruits again.

I have no idea if the other brands of Greek yogurt have the same active cultures as Chobani. I haven't checked it out, because I don't like them and won't eat them anyway. I have discussed my "cure" with my doctor, and she loves that I've found such a simple solution. She had talked to me about probiotics before, and knew that I had not found any that worked for me. She's very pleased with my discovery, and I know she will pass this information on to her other patients that have similar problems.

Ahhhhhh. Thank you, Chobani. Life is good!