Ever since the first year I homeschooled Hannah, we've observed March 14th as Pi Day- as March 14th is 3-14 in America. We bake and eat pies, and learn about circles. Since Jack is doing Algebra this year, circles aren't part of his math curriculum right now, but it's still been a tradition for nearly 10 years to eat pie on this date. This year is 3-14-16; making it even more special since Pi rounds to 3.1416. The whole thing is nerdy and somewhat silly. You could get even sillier and say that tomorrow is "Badly Rounded Pi Day" since you could (incorrectly) round Pi to 3.15. You could then serve foods that are made in very imperfect circles. I would have done that this year if Hannah wasn't going to be home for dinner, but instead we'll eat a late dinner when she comes home from work.
I'd forgotten about the upcoming holiday when I thawed 2 pounds of meat last night. I don't have the ingredients in the house to make a Shepard's Pi, so I'm making a huge batch of meatballs. Some we'll eat later in the week and some might get frozen for next week's meals.
This morning, I debated between making Chicken Pot Pie or Pizza Pies. Jack is likely to enjoy the pizza more, but Hannah and I will feel better if we eat meat. So I decided to do both. I made pizza for lunch and meat foods for dinner. Leah and a friend surprised me this afternoon, so all the pizza got finished. I'd otherwise have served them tomorrow for "Badly Rounded Pi Day". My homemade pizzas definitely qualify as "badly rounded"!!!
Since I was also busy making meatballs, I simplified the chicken pot pie. I used leftover chicken, and then I opened up a can of carrots and a can of peas. I might have used fresh vegetables, simmered in broth, otherwise. Then I would have strained the vegetables out of the broth and thickened it into gravy to pour over the veggies and meat. Instead, I made a large batch of gravy in a pot. Part of it got spooned over the chicken and vegetables and the rest will go into the refrigerator for later meals.
I don't normally bother with pie crusts, but chicken pot pie just doesn't feel like a pie without a crust. I didn't bother with a bottom crust, putting the cubed chicken and strained, canned vegetables directly into a circular foil pan. I did make a top crust, with a mixture of olive oil, coconut oil, an egg yolk, salt, rice flour, and arrowroot. I tried to make it a smooth crust that I could lay neatly over the top of the pie and then decorate with the Greek letter, but it turned into a crumbled mess when I tried to transfer it. So I have pie crust crumbles somewhat evenly sprinkled over the top of the pie. That will have to be good enough.
I also made a pumpkin pie for dessert. This was easier because it's an old, familiar recipe. I mostly followed the recipe on the can, but I used agave instead of sugar, an extra egg white because I used an egg yolk in the pie crust for the other pie, and 1 cup of almond milk in place of the 12 ounce can of evaporated milk it called for. I've been using that substitution my entire adult life, since we keep kosher and I usually make pumpkin pie with turkey or other meat. I've alternated soy, rice, or almond milk, and all come out fine. Rice milk would have been a healthier choice for me, but we're currently out of it, and we've been keeping almond milk on hand for Hannah.
My 22 year old daughter in law, 6 months pregnant, has had a score of 36 for GFR kidney function.
Can she be tutored in naturopathic approaches to stabilising/ improving?
Kidney function, or the ability of the glomeruli (capillaries around the end of the kidney tubule) to filter waste products from the blood, is measured by creatinine blood levels. Higher levels of creatinine indicate a lower glomerular filtration rate (GFR), and GFR tends to gradually decline with age. There are 5 stages of kidney disease, and a GFR of 36 is classed as stage 3 kidney disease. Women who become pregnant when they have serum creatinine values above 124 μmol/l have an increased risk of faster decline in renal function and poor outcome of pregnancy.
As a result, all women with chronic kidney disease should be referred early in pregnancy to a specialist to plan care during the pregnancy. Regular monitoring of maternal renal function (serum creatinine and serum urea) is necessary, as well as blood pressure, urine (for infection), protein in the urine, and when appropriate ultrasound (to detect obstructions to the urinary tract). Vitamin D levels should be monitored, as the kidneys normally increase blood levels during pregnancy.
Use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) should be avoided, as these can damage renal function. Other drugs should be checked for their influence on kidney function as well as on the fetus.
A naturopathic physician experienced in treating patients with kidney disease should be consulted alongside conventional care, to recommend strategies for improving kidney function. One potentially useful supplement might be trehalose, a natural disaccharide sugar. Trehalose is known to be safe during pregnancy, and may even prevent neural tube defects in mothers with diabetes. Trehalose may also be useful to repair damage to kidney podocytes, the cells that encapsulate the glomeruli.
1. National Kidney Foundation. K/DOQI clinical practice guidelines for chronic kidney disease: evaluation, classification and stratification. Am J Kidney Dis 2002; 39: Suppl 1: S1-S266.
2. Williams D, Davison J. Chronic kidney disease in pregnancy. BMJ. 2008;336:211–215. PMCID: PMC2213870.
3. Williams D. Renal disorders. In: James DK, Steer PJ, Weiner CP, Gonik B, eds. High risk pregnancy. Management options. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders, 2006:1098-124.
4. Xu C, Li X, Wang F, Weng H, Yang P. Trehalose prevents neural tube defects by correcting maternal diabetes-suppressed autophagy and neurogenesis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Sep 1;305(5):E667-78. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.00185.2013. PMCID: PMC3761168.
5. Kang YL, Saleem MA, Chan KW, Yung BY, Law HK. Trehalose, an mTOR independent autophagy inducer, alleviates human podocyte injury after puromycin aminonucleoside treatment. PLoS One. 2014 Nov 20;9(11):e113520. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0113520. PMCID: PMC4239098.
The Jewish holiday of Shavous starts on Saturday night, which means I need to be ready for the holiday before Shabbos. It’s traditional to have dairy products, and in the past I’ve made a lot of quiches and baked pasta dishes containing veggies along with cheese, and tomato sauce in at least one of them. Since my dairy intake is supposed to be very limited, and I’m not supposed to have tomatoes, I normally “cheat” for Shavous, in order to make delicious meals we can all enjoy. Well, that most of us can enjoy, since Jack doesn’t really like cooked vegetables mixed into his hot foods.
This year both girls are going to a friend’s house for the holiday, and clearly Ben won’t be joining us this year. All the holidays are going to be a bit strange this year. It’s just going to be me and Jack for the holiday. I have never before planned an entire holiday menu for just two people! As newlyweds, Ben and I went out for all of our holiday meals. We went out for the daytime meals when we had one or two babies. By the time I was cooking full holiday meals at home, I had 2 children with definite likes and dislikes. In the past few years, I’ve had at least 2 adolescents at home, plus Ben for several of the meals, plus the kids often had overnight guests. The house has been busy and crowded!
Since I’m only cooking for two this year, I asked Jack what he wanted for the holiday meals. He told me “cheesecake.” I assured him I planned to bake cheesecake, but he needed to eat something else besides that, and he said “cheesy rice.” That’s just rice with cheese melted into it. I can do that.
I’ve been having a very rough time lately with seasonal allergies, and this is NOT the time for me to cheat on my diet. Dairy is especially bad for me when my allergies are acting up. Frankly, I’d be happy with salad and fish for every meal, maybe with some egg salad and quiche for variety. I can skip the cheese in the quiche if I’m the only one eating it, and cook the mushrooms and onions in butter to give it that dairy flavor.
This does NOT need to be complicated. I’m going to make simple foods that each of us enjoys, relax, and enjoy the holiday.
I saw this on a plaque in a cute little Hill Country shop.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I oughta eat,
The courage to avoid the things I shouldn't eat,
And the wisdom to know that a little chocolate never hurt anyone.
Is that not a great summary of the Blood Type Diet lifestyle?
After our hike today, the group went to an adorable sandwich shop with the intriguing name of Bumdoodlers. I searched the menu for something good for Type Os, and there was nothing. The only salad was Chef Salad. Between the ham and the cheese, this salad was not Type O friendly? The only thing I could find was a dinner salad. Would I have the serenity to order a dinner salad and wait until I got home to eat? Fortunately, it didn't come to that. On the sandwich menu was a note that if you wanted to increase the meat on your salad you could get 3 more ounces for $1.50. I stepped up to the counter and said, "I'm going to create my own salad. I'll have a dinner salad, no cucumbers, no cheese, no dressing. But add 3 ounces of roast beef." I had olive oil in my camera bag. Indeed I was serene eating what I ought to eat.
Bumdoodlers is also a bakery that specializes in pie. They looked delicious. Coconut Cream Pie is my favorite, and it looked especially delicious. But I think everything in Coconut Cream Pie, except the meringue on top, is avoid. Would I have the courage to avoid Coconut Cream Pie? Today I did. Courage prevailed.
Given my overall health, a slice of pie would not have hurt me. But I try to reserve my avoids for special occasions, or for moments when to refuse would be ungracious. Not everyone was having dessert, so I wasn't being unsocial. After a healthy lunch, I didn't need a slice of pie. If you want to eat an occasional avoid, do so. Enjoy it. Once in a while is not going to hurt you.
Chocolate is a different matter. It is actually a beneficial food for both Hunters and Gatherers. Some people find that something to celebrate, but when I started the BTD, it didn't make any difference to me. You see, I had been allergic to chocolate since I was in 2nd grade. It made me break out in hives. As a child, I occasionally ate some at a party, knowing I could go home and take antihistamine. One night in college I broke out in hives so quickly after a piece of chocolate cake, that I had to have my date drive me home immediately. It scared me, so I stopped chocolate altogether. Not even a chocolate chip cookie or thin mint for me.
When my Dad was in his 80s, his blood pressure began to creep up. He read that unsweetened chocolate could lower blood pressure, so he began eating a square of unsweetened baking chocolate every day. It worked. He was able to go off his blood pressure medication. I was intrigued. I had not had chocolate for more than 30 years. I tried one of his chocolate squares - no hives. I had another a month later - no problem. I began eating it several times a week, and have never had a single hive.
My chocolate allergy disappeared along with my seasonal allergies after I went on the BTD. The only thing I have to watch is that for a while I started eating chocolate at about the same time every day. I began to develop an addiction to the caffeine. At any rate, I would get a low level headache if I didn't eat my chocolate on time. So I limit chocolate to 3-4 days a week, but not every day.
So is it proper to pray about the Blood Type Diet? Absolutely. God is the one who led me to this diet, and with his help I am serene and courageous about staying on it.
I started making my own nut butters in 2005, when I had been on the BTD for about 2 years. I began with almond butter and pumpkin seed butter. I would grind the seeds in my food processor. They would first become a fine powder, and then become a thick sticky ball. In order to have a smooth nut butter that I could use for a veggie dip or spread on a cracker, I had to drizzle in a little light olive oil.
When DD and I began making homemade peanut butter, she didn't want to add the extra oil. When the peanuts reached the sticky ball stage, she said wait. Let's see what happens. I had just about given up when suddenly the ball moved and became delightfully smooth peanut better. It was almost miraculous.
I tried more patience on almond butter and pumpkin seed butter, but no amount of extra processing ever led to a smooth nut butter. I gave up and for all these years have added a little oil when I made nut butter.
Our Strong Son has radically changed his diet in the past two years. First, his blood pressure went up and he began to feel heart palpitations. SS has never been over weight. He is tall and thin. He has always played sports, and run. His doctor sent him to a cardiologist, and he checked out fine. Both my husband and my husband's father are tall and thin. Both developed high blood pressure at a young age. The cardiologist thinks it is inherited and has him on a low dose of blood pressure medication.
SS wanted to do everything he could to get his blood pressure downnaturally. Though he had always eaten relatively healthy for a single young man, he began to seriously watch his salt and fat intake.
At the same time he began training for triathlons. He became interested in nutrition websites related to long distance running, swimming and cycling. Not everything he has learned from his heart and triathlon research is identical to the BTD, but it is remarkably close. I have chosen to be completely supportive, rather than harping on the differences.
He had never eaten margarine, and he stopped eating butter. He eats olive oil, but he needs a lot of calories when he is training. He read about putting almond butter on sweet potatoes instead of butter. He bought almond butter at the store, and loved the taste, but complained about the cost.
That sent me back to the kitchen to give homemade almond butter another try. Walnuts are beneficial for Type Os and have a higher fat content than almonds. What would happen if I added walnuts to the almonds? It worked. The almonds got to the sticky ball stage, and I began adding walnuts. When the ball began to move, I waited and added more walnuts. Suddenly, just like with the peanut butter there was creamy smooth almond walnut butter with no added oil.
I gave SS the first jar for his birthday. The next night I had a text that it was delicious on a sweet potato.
My family has hit some hard times lately. My primary source of income for years has been SSI, but I've also gotten child support and SNAP benefits (food stamps) for all 4 of us. I haven’t gotten child support in a while because my ex, Ben, has been unemployed, but there’s always been an expectation that he’d repay me when he got back on his feet. Last year, when Leah graduated from high school, we stopped getting SNAP benefits for her, but it was OK because she was out of the house anyway.
Everything changed this fall. SNAP benefits dropped again when Hannah finished high school. Ben got cancer, and is declining rapidly. He won’t be “getting back on his feet” and he’ll never repay me what he owes in back child support. Leah was planning to spend another year in Israel, coming home for Jack’s Bar Mitzvah and going right back. Now she’s home to stay. She is in school full time and working about 6 hours a week, but she still doesn't qualify for SNAP benefits. She has begun to buy some groceries for the family with her own money.
Leah was a big help in locating Food Not Bombs, an organization that distributes free food that stores were going to throw away. I also contacted the local food pantry and started getting food from them twice a month. I no longer need to “borrow” money from my Mom to buy food. I've “borrowed” thousand of dollars from her, with the hope of repaying her when Ben repaid me, but now we both know I’ll never be able to pay that back. She’s OK with this, in that she isn't about to let us starve, but she also can’t really afford to keep doing it.
It’s empowering to realize that I have other resources; that I don’t have to keep “borrowing” money to feed my family. I have a bit of financial independence. But it’s also hard to lose control of the grocery choices. I always walk out of Food Not Bombs or the local food pantry with several bags of groceries, but I have limited choice in what those groceries are.
Right now, I’m well stocked on lentils, but I didn't have the option to bring home split peas or black beans instead- either of which would be more useful right now. I have freezers filled with gluten-free breads, even though I’d rather feed my family sprouted wheat or spelt bread instead. Food Not Bombs does have those occasionally, but the gluten-free breads are more prevalent. I currently have a lot of greens in my fridge, but most of them are on the cusp of spoiling. I’m encouraged to eat a lot of salads this week so they don’t go to waste, and that’s good. There have been weeks when I've been completely out of greens and ate a lot more grains instead. Grain foods keep better- I have uncooked rice in the pantry and breads in the freezer. And I seem to be inundated with fruit while I often have barely enough vegetables.
I've definitely allowed Blood Type Diet compliance to slide. I used to be very careful to not serve chicken to the Bs. Jack never had any obvious reactions to it, but I felt it was better for him to avoid it. Ben got sick to his stomach when he ate chicken, so that was incentive to keep it away from him! But now that Ben is too sick to visit, that incentive is gone. I've also stopped keeping Jack away from tomato sauce. It’s something we have in abundance, both homemade from “Food not Bombs” tomatoes, as well as canned sauce from the food pantry. When I make pizza for the kids’ dinner, I make individual pizzas. I used to make the ones for Jack without any tomato sauce, but I've given up on that. He doesn't eat enough fruits or vegetables anyway, and he prefers pizza with sauce.
I’m not in a position to turn down free peanut butter from the food pantry, and the kids will eat it. Leah likes it in smoothies and in hot beverages, and will sometimes prepare that for her siblings as well. It might even make sense to encourage the kids to have peanut butter on toasted gluten-free bagels, instead of the cream cheese I have to purchase.
It all just feels like the opposite of how I used to feed my kids. I no longer have the luxury to select spelt bread over gluten-free bread, because the gluten-free bread has a few questionable ingredients near the bottom. None of them are in 100% perfect health, and I wish I could encourage them to clean up their diets to see if that would help. But I honestly can’t afford to.
I’m doing what I can to keep my own diet as pure as possible, since it directly affects my energy and pain levels. I can avoid the “questionable” breads, and keep my overall grain intake down. I’m eating larger quantities of lentils than SWAMI suggests I should, and I’m not being as strict about avoiding additives such as sodium benzoate in bottled lemon juice or soy protein added to canned tuna. I simply can’t afford to always buy fresh lemons when they’re so much more expensive than the bottles, nor can I afford to turn down free cans of tuna from the food pantry.
I’m not about to actually go hungry, nor was that ever a risk. But I can’t afford to be as careful with our food choices as we used to be and as I’d like to be.
DD and I have not been as organized about looking for new recipes in the beginning of 2015 as we were at the end of 2014. But we are both still looking for quick, easy, and beneficial recipes for our often-picky eater husbands. Here is one recipe from DD for Broccoli Stuffed Chicken, and one recipe from me for Crock Pot Turkey & Broccoli
Picky Eater Stuffed Chicken Breast
This recipe reminds me of a product I used to buy before the BTD. It was a chicken breast stuffed with broccoli and cheese, then breaded. The family loved them. But between the cheese and the breading there were too many avoids for the BTD. I'm excited to give this version a try.
Thin sliced chicken breast
Broccoli, chopped - no big pieces. Steam lightly if using fresh broccoli
Put broccoli, onion and cheese on half of the chicken breast. Fold over. Wrap in foil.
Bake 350 degrees 45 minutes or until done.
Crock Pot Turkey & Broccoli
The original recipe called for making a thick sauce out of chicken broth and corn starch. I skipped that step. Between the natural juices from the turkey and the added soy sauce and agave, I thought the crock pot made a nice thin sauce. It was just right to moisten the rice. I didn't need a thick sauce distracting from the flavorful turkey and broccoli.
1 pound turkey tenders sliced into thin strips
1/2 cup tamari sauce
1/3 cup agave
3 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh broccoli florets (as many as desired)
1. Place turkey in a crock pot.
2. In a small bowl, combine, tamari sauce, agave, and garlic. Pour over beef.
3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. After first hour, stir to make sure turkey slices don't stick together.
Serve over rice.
I went to the Farmer’s Market last week looking for kohlrabi. I asked at each stand, and had nearly given up, when a man in one of the booths said, I have one bunch left. He handed me very four small kohlrabi with the greens still attached. They were $3. That price for such tiny kohlrabi would not have been worth it, but I was intrigued by the greens.
When I got home I looked on the internet and learned that kohlrabi greens were edible. Tonight I gave them a try.
I cut off the thick stems and set them aside to feed to the deer. I cut the leaves and small stems into small pieces with my kitchen scissors. I cooked them in a little water and a little light olive oil. I seasoned them with a Mediterranean blend of rosemary, cumin, coriander, oregano, and cinnamon.
They were very good. I would definitely buy them again.
On that same trip to the Farmer’s Market. I bought sweet potatoes. I had read an article about grocery store sweet potatoes being sprayed with something to keep them from sprouting. I have no idea whether that article is true, but it made me cautious and I began peeling my sweet potatoes rather than eating the skins.
When I saw organic sweet potatoes, I stopped and looked. The price was $3 for a small sack – roughly twice the price of sweet potatoes in the grocery store. I bought a bag, wanting to see if I could discern a difference in the peels.
When I got them home, I realized that the skins were pitted and moldy. I had to peel the sweet potatoes before I cooked them. So the experiment was a waste. I paid twice the price, and still threw away the peelings. At least the deer were happy. They love sweet potato skins.
This is why I rarely buy organic. In theory it makes so much sense, but way too often I pay a high price and get home with poor quality produce
So hurrah for Farmer’s Market kohlrabi, but blah for Farmer’s Market sweet potatoes.