The problem with having chronic illness and trying to eat healthy is that the chronic illness can keep you from being well enough to put together healthy food. I’m lucky I have a husband and some very helpful convenience appliances that make it more doable. Still there are times I need to do this on my own. Almost always I can barely make it across the room.
Best suggestions I can give is to always keep a covered container of greens and chopped veggies and fresh fruit in the fridge so all you have to do is dish up.
Busy day? Black beans on greens with melon
Cucumber Carrot Citrus Salad
Have canned beans that you can drain and use.
Whole grain bread (egg free is best) to make veggie open face sandwiches is good.
Batch cook on your good days. Even if you have one or two reasonable days a month, it can make a huge difference.
Here are other possibilities to have on hand with the right planning.
old world pumpernickel bread is good to keep on hand. Topped with homemade bean burger from freezer
Frozen brown rice and a bag of frozen peas tossed together with light seasoning. Some raw carrots and a few grapes. No fuss meal
Homemade bean burgers made on a more doable day
Here is a recipe that literally just happened today. I managed to toss together on a so-so day that is my norm. Couldn’t stand over a stove. Number of variations possible are limited only by your imagination. Took less than 5 minutes to toss together and then it got tossed in the oven where it baked while I sat on the sofa with my legs up and felt miserable (aka typical day).
Whole Food Plant Based Pointer: Using Parchment Paper means you can keep
Cindy’s Plant Based Mexican Bake Casserole
2 cups garbanzo bean flour ( Bobs Red Mill found with that line of products).
I tsp baking soda
2/3 cup salsa
2/3 cup water
1 cup of favorite Mexican friendly veggies (riced or finely chopped or chunked onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro, cauliflower, greens…corn and black beans)
Mexican seasoning of your choice…
Chili powder, cumin, turmeric, low sodium chili or taco seasoning. Curry seasoning is good too.
Possible toppings for after baked…
Shredded lettuce, Miyoko cheese, addition chopped veggies and or salsa….
Combine ingredients except toppings. Pour into lasagna pan that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 375 until cake like (approx. 20 minutes).
Serve in squares and top as desired.
Mine looks boring compared to how colorful you could make it look. It’s just what I had on hand.
How lucky for me that I puked my guts out. When I ended up in the hospital, deathly ill after over two days consuming a fish sandwich and I turkey sandwich Easter weekend 2018, I never thought of myself as lucky. Really though it gave me a good opportunity to walk away from meat, dairy and eggs and never look back.
Top row of picture were taken that weekend when I got so sick from meat. Bottom row taken several months later, still animal product free.
In hospital bed Easter 2018
3/18 Size 24
Me November 2018
Had it not been for the taste and smell of those products repulsing me, I would have had a harder time giving it all up. I’ve watched my husband long for an Arby’s Roast Beef and pepperoni pizza dripping with thick slabs of cheese. He had a harder time, but he managed. I could see it was a thought process for him.
So much about our lives have been wrapped up around animal products.
What holiday or family event doesn’t have animal products as the centerpiece of the associated feast? I can’t think of any. Traditions, holidays, early childhood memories, all of that is very powerful.
So it’s a week before Christmas and you are trying to gain control of your health. With the guidance of your own doctor of course, you have chosen to eat whole food plant based which means all animal products, sugar and overly processed foods are banned.
Some people can go cold turkey in avoiding turkey and gravy over the holidays. They can even drive past a fast food drive thru and never get a burger, fish or chicken or even a taco with cheese. If they eat animal products it’s only because they didn’t know it was in the food they were served to eat (and yes that is going to happen especially at family gatherings).
Then there are people who genuinely feel giving up animal products is like pushing away the love of their lives or an dear friend. It’s anxiety provoking. The fear of living without animal products means for them that they break up with animal products in steps. I call this the process of Burger and Human Uncoupling.
Would Shakespeare have written verses about the despair and feeling pulled between lusting for cheese burgers and possibly deflating backed up lymphatics and staying alive an extra 10-30 years?
Ode To Animal Products: My Mind’s Tears I Weep For Thee
(spoken tenderly with great drama)
“Oh Cheese Burger, Pepperoni, Chicken and Eggs…
In my mouth you delight, but inflate my legs.”
” So Cheese is dairy, so is yogurt and Butter.
I loved you before, but now must love another.”
“Endothelium, walls of arteries and veins you line.
So no animal products I eat or carbs refined. “
It’s only slightly an overstatement to say that for many to give up that relationship with animal products is very imposing..
So let’s be reasonable. So much of this is mental. You have to have courage to turn away from all meat, dairy and eggs as well as processed foods. While it is for health sake better to just cut off all animal products, it may not be in the long run productive. You may be one of the people who may give up for good the first time you cave. So if you must, take steps to prepare yourself to gain that needed confidence that you can live without animal products. Start introducing what others call “transition foods”. These are foods that can give you a sense of having some of the textures and tastes you are in the habit of eating, without them actually being animal products.
Vegan food has come a long way. Please note that I use the term Vegan food instead of Whole Food Plant Based. Processed vegan foods many times are not that healthy. I would never suggest eating processed vegan foods on a regular basis over time but there is no crime in using them initially on occasion. Will they make you blow up like a balloon if you have soy and or sodium sensitivities? Maybe. before going 100% without meat dairy and eggs or not, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it not to eat soy filled and high sodium foods. Read the labels and weigh it all out.
Another way to approach it all is if you cease eating one product at a time and adjusting to that before removing the next product that is ok too. And like I’ve pointed out throughout this piece, eating processed vegan food at times in the start, is fine too as long as you keep your eyes open to it temporarily making symptoms for things like lipedema, lymphedema and other disorders worse.
And even once you make the clean break from animal products, don’t be stunned if you still feel the need for a burger sometimes or cheese. It’s ok to ocassionally indulge in a Beyond Meat Burger (sold in many stores and some restaurants) or Impossible Burger (served at White Castle, and some restaurants and coming to stores in 2019). There are also several other brands of non animal product burgers you can indulge in.
Just make sure that the majority of the time, you are eating actual fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh greens, unprocessed grains, fresh or dried beans, peas, lentils, and a few unsalted nuts here and there. Some flax or chia seed for good measure, and take a good B-12 suppliment. Have some blood work done to see if you are lacking in anything else.
I am just going to drive this point home one last time… better to eat whole foods that are plant based, without added oils, sugar or processed ingredients. Try for example, bean burgers or use lentils in place of ground beef in sloppy joes. They are better for you than the mass produced, pre-prepared vegan burgers and so on. Let me tell you, it can be pretty tasty.
Need a chance to wrap your brain around the notion of no animal products? Here are some suggestions.
My ultimate black bean burger here is topped with fresh mushrooms, red sauce, and a schmeer of some additional Miyoko’s garlic and herb cashew cheese. Fresh spinach below the burger and on the top bun.
I’ve been making different bean burgers for several years. This is by far the best tasting and satisfying of my bean black bean burger recipes ever. You want to impress your beloved? This will do it. Now you can make these without the cashew cheese, but sometimes you have to jazz things up to keep your family interested. Miyoko’s makes their cheese with pure ingredients, just like we would make it here. ( I say we because my husband assists or full out cooks most of our food).
It’s so easy, it’s so delicious and relatively inexpensive, If you don’t already have access to Miyoko’s delicious cashew cheese products, put in a request for your store to start carrying their line.
My Ultimate Black Bean Burger Recipe
1 bag of dried black beans (1 lb) cooked per directions and partially mashed
1/2 wheel of Miyoko’s Kitchen garlic and herb vegan cheese (they make it exactly as we do at home)
2 “eggs” worth Bob Red Mill’s Vegan Egg Substitute (follow directions on bag) (or flaxseed)
1 cup almond meal or oat flour
Tablespoon or more of lime juice
To taste as desired:
-crushed dried red pepper
-turmeric , cumin, whatever you like
-onion powder or finely chopped
Directions. Think of this as making a meatloaf but messier. All the ingredients or soft so wash up those hands and prepare to get messy! Once you have squished together all the ingredients, let it set for 5 minutes so that it gives the egg replacer a time to thicken it all up. If you need to add more dry ingredients to make it meatloaf consistency, then please do.
Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper and without adding oil or “grease”, form and place on the cookie sheet the bean burgers.
Bake in preheated oven (375 degrees) for 30 minutes, my oven has a turbo setting that allows it to cook both sides at the same time, if you don’t have that, consider making your burgers an appropriate size to be easily by carefully flipped half way through.
Burgers will be soft but crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. Allow 10 minutes before serving or 40 minutes or so to fully cool before placing in the freezer. Consider putting wax paper between burgers for easy removal.
My ultimate black bean burger here is topped with fresh mushrooms, red sauce, and a schmeer of some additional Miyoko’s garlic and herb cashew cheese. Fresh spinach below the burger and on the top bun.
Moist on the inside but holds together. Easy to reheat in microwave or oven for up to month.
Oh and this IS whole food plant based cooking. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If the products you use are like you would make it at home, then there you are.
Here we have one of the black bean burgers taken from the freezer and reheated, placed on a bed of beet noodles and baby kale. topped with carrot shavings and mushrooms.
As long as you follow the formula, these veggie balls are full proof.
The formula = riced veggies and a grain of your choice +binding vegan egg substitute + flour or crumbs of your choice.
You can interpret these any way you want and I never measure a darn thing except the vegan egg replacer.
If you read my blog much you know that I have disabilities in my arms, legs and pretty much every other part of my body. My husband assists me, so if you wonder why I take short cuts, that is the reason. So if you want to go a different path, terrific, go for it. We are blessed with a Trader Joes and a Whole Foods, and the latter delivers, so we have wonderful access to whatever we want to experiment. This buys us convenience that not all stores would afford us.
We buy fresh riced carrots-broccoli-celery-onion-cauliflower. In water we par-cook in a skillet the vegetables. Trader Joes also sells delightful frozen brown rice that can be easily defrosted. We combine all that with garlic powder, dried crushed red pepper, sometimes a pinch of salt. sometimes curry seasoning.
Add in two eggs worth of vegan egg replacer (I prefer Bob’s Red Mill). Follow the package’s directions. Then add in enough bread crumbs of your choice or “flour” of your choice and additional seasoning if desired. It should be enough without making it over dry. In the center place a dollop of vegan cheese (best is a cashew cheese) or if you are feeling naughty, add Aldi’s vegan shreds and mix them in. Feel free to as an option to roll the balls in favorite stuff such as crushed cashews, almond meal, or bread crumbs.
If the ball slightly crumbles, if it won’t hold together, add a bit more water and no worries. Gently reform the ball and place it with the rest on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. In preheated 400 degree oven, bake for 25 minutes.
Let it sit for 5 minutes after removing from oven. Remove with spatula.
Many people who have the physical diagnoses of fat disorders such as Lipedema, Dercum’s Disease are said to have trauma in their history. Many with eating disorders have a similar background.
I’ve come to know many, many people who are in this circle of physical health and emotional concerns with that history.
Trauma if left as it is, can make one’s life less than it could be. It can ruin a life. It can shorten a life. It can impact future generations.
Don’t throw away the power you have by allowing yourself to linger in a life that isn’t all that it could be.
I learned this mostly by taking myself by the hand and pulling and pushing myself forward. Sometimes through therapy sometimes in having my life move forward. all on my own.
Life has a way of taking that blank slate of a precious baby each of us once were and puts emotional dings, scrapes, dark marks and dents into our sense of self and world view.
Many of the world’s ills are passed down from one generation after the other. Humans are the most capable creatures we know of on the planet, yet we seldom seize our own power we have to heal ourselves. If we can’t heal up some of the junk we emotionally carry around, the world is having to live without all the positive we have to offer it.
If we aren’t careful, we can end up knowingly or unknowingly wallowing in the muck of other’s dysfunction and take on a confused toxic world view.
Is this really a social issue?
1 in 3 children are abused physically, sexually or emotionally by age 14. Then consider how many young adults are abused by significant others physically, sexually or emotionally in their 20’s 30’s and into the twilight years. It’s not uncommon for people to have layers of abusive experiences that puts them in a mental haze and inner physical turmoil that changes even their brain chemistry.
The important point I wish to make is don’t shy away from doing the work needed to rebuild yourself. Your value and my value is not based on the attitudes of those who in the past have harmed us.
I have had to rebuild myself and when I was up and running again, even though still in the process of repair, some people would say they didn’t know me anymore. I was nothing like the girl who would roll over and play dead on command.
Reality can be painful but it forces you to live where you have the most power in your life. Reality is where growth takes place. Where there is growth then life changing positive decisions can happen.
So if you haven’t done so already, find power and purpose in rebuilding in yourself what needs to be rebuilt.
There is no reason to apologize for believing every life has a place and deserves respect and dignity. You will be forced to include yourself in these ranks the more you understand.
Once you really learn and understand this and know that you are worthy,, you won’t settle for the dysfunction you’ve taken part in or subjected on yourself.
Be prepared because as an individual heals, those who are wallowing in the dysfunction will try to pull you back. Your health is too unsettling to their world and for them it’s uncomfortable. Pick and choose your battles. Sometimes you can maintain relationships and there are times when you have to walk away. Each situation is different. Forgiveness is fine, self preservation when based on what you know to be true, is a must.
If you have the feeling that in their eyes you are expendable, if they leave you feeling small and not worthy, and there is a long history of such behaviors and attitudes, it’s ok to walk away. They may raise a fuss through dysfunctional means, but that should only strengthen your resolve to not waste your time with them.
Oh Bother! We have all been there. Today dysfunctional people brought me face to face with the desire for emotional eating. I didn’t succumb. Being physically disabled makes it hard because I can’t just go “walk it off”. That makes me feel more helpless so I have to be more creative. Dysfunctional people’s behaviors towards me shouldn’t control what I eat or how much. Aside of making sure I don’t allow myself to be pulled into other people’s dysfunction, it’s best to keep myself occupied.
None Of These Foods Are Worth Wrecking Your Health.
No! No! No! No! Just Tell Yourself No!
So I got thinking about the movies and TV shows I gravitate towards when feeling the sting of boundary challenged extended family members and others I deal with from time to time.
So here is my guide on entertaining means of diversions when you feel driven by circumstances to self medicate with unhealthy foods.
A) The Movie Stuart Saves His Family– Al Frankin helped to write and is the lead in this 1990’s take on the dysfunctional families and 12 Step Programs. His family is classically dysfunctional and most people can relate to the situations Stewart comes across. Harold Ramis directs and there is joy as people learn to live healthy lives of recovery from their dysfunctional families of origin, Stuart’s boss, extended family and so on. I’ve seen it many times over the years and it never fails to make me feel better. Watching Stuart “shame spiral” his way through the first initial crisis with a bag of cookies is a great reminder how futile it is. Available on Stars.
B) The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: This Amazon Prime series original is about a woman born ahead of her time. She is funny and intelligent. She is East Side New York from a posh circumstance until her husband leaves her and her parents decide to treat her like a child again with chores and curfews. Her escape is her sneaking out to night clubs to perform as the funny woman that she is. She’s a fish out of water willing to learn how to have legs. The one liners are endless and the show very well written. Very human characters but I warn you, when she chows on a pan of macaroni and cheese, you may have to fight the urge to make some for yourself. Just remind yourself, she is a movie character and won’t gain weight or swell up, but you may.
C) Matilda: I know it’s a child’s movie but there is so much about the movie that shows depending on yourself inspite of a dysfunctional family who doesn’t understand or appreciate you. Danny DeVito is really funny as his wife, Rhea Perhlman.
D) The Godfather: Yes it’s violent, but the writing and acting are so wonderful, the lines so memorable, it’s always a pleasure to see this work of art. Just be glad that Mama Corleone isn’t a real person and in your life, she would comfort you with a plate of meatballs and make you eat, diet or not.
E) Ruthless People: Bette Midler is so funny. It will make you laugh no matter what. As she celebrates her weight loss while in captivity,, you will think twice before chowing down during this movie.
F) Harry Potter Film Series: “The Boy Who Lived” Need I say more. The ultiment believe in yourself and see that there is power in love and never giving up.
G) Mystery Science Theater 3000 Admit it, when you see a bad movie, sometimes it’s as funny as any comedy ever filmed. Crow T. Robot, Tom Servo, Gypsy, Cambot, and Joel or Mike will say lines and sing ditties you wish you had thought of. Watch it enough and the next time you have an issue with dysfunctional people you will swear you hear the MST 3000 gang giving comic commentary as you deal with it. Also check out RiffTracks.
F) The Big Bang Theory : The great thing about a well written series is that you get to know the characters for their good and their imperfections. In this show the cast is funny and like old friends I can recall knowing over the years. It’s a pleasure to watch.
G) Musicals!: I started to list my favorite musicals but the list is too long. If you love musicals, there are decades worth to pick from. If you don’t like musicals, just pass.
H) Everybody Loves Raymond: The joys of dysfunctional family life and all problems wrapped up in 30 minutes. ( making it a real modern day fairy tale). Great way to encourage yourself to laugh at dysfunction instead of abusing yourself with food.
I) And you can always watch the same YouTube Video over and over again like this classic from Frozen
And remember….Let It Go! Let It Go! Don’t let the Fat and Processed Foods flow!
In our household. we take care of eachother. Doesn’t matter who the caregiver or the one needing taken care of is. We look out for eachother. Hey we are a family of adults making it work!
Anyone with a severe chronic illness or the caregiver of someone who is chronically ill, knows that self care is both a must and many times the hardest to provide oneself.
There isn’t anything more basic in self-care than good solid nutrition. The less hassle the better too. The less hassle. the more likely it’s going to happen. The less hassle, the kinder you are being towards whoever is responsible for making it happen.
When dealing with chronic illness, it can be our biggest weapon to ease our suffering and even in some cases reverse the chronic Illness. Good nutrition can help slow down some chronic condition’s advancement and prevent new ones from taking hold. It can allow our medications a chance to work better, or if lucky, it can replace the need for prescription medications all together.
Living off store bought frozen entrees with less than healthy ingredients like high sodium, animal products and non whole foods, for me would never help. Fast food will make most people’s health more complicated. So the sooner any of us in these sorts of shoes can figure this out for ourselves, the better.
With Dercum’s Disease, Fibromyalgia,and Lymphedema, Lipedema and Diabetes and low grade start to coronary disease, it has come down to me to figure this out. How to eat to not make things worse. What can be healthy to eat, inexpensive, and easy enough to prepare that my husband can manage along with all his other responsibilities. If it can be easy enough for me on a good day to prepare and toss individual servings in the freezer, that’s great too.
This week I am recovering from the Plant-Based Nutrition Summit last Saturday, and one grocery run on Monday. (Dercum’s Disease is like that, overdo it and you are down for the count. It doesn’t take much). Even a motorized scooter couldn’t save me from being a pain filled zombie on Sunday, part of Monday, and bed bound on Sunday and part of Tuesday and all day Wednesday through Thursday morning.
Yet unlike the past when this would start to happen, I’m not eating greasy cheeseburgers my husband is bringing home, or processed foods on white bread, or even sodium filled frozen entrees. We aren’t going broke from food either.
Now that we are established in a plant-based diet as a household, we have kept it easy to manage and afford.
The easy sandwich/pesto recipe:
Aldi sells frozen peas 79 cents a bag. Trader Joe sells Miyoko Vegan Crème cheese $5.50 a container. Broccoli is cheap everywhere fresh or riced.
in a freezer bag, we combine frozen peas and riced broccoli (or riced cauliflower). Keep it in the freezer. Defrost half per batch you are making. Place in food processor or high power blender, can be somewhat lumpy. In a bowl, stir in garlic, onion chopped or onion powder, some crushed red pepper if desired, and 2 Tbl of either Miyoko Vegan Cream cheese or no-oil hummus.
It will keep for a few days in the fridge and makes a great sandwich spread, or on whole grain toast in the morning for breakfast. Very good as a type of stir in for whole grain pasta. You can add basil and oregano and lime juice to liven it up. Put cucumbers on top of it or tomato. Add some shredded carrot to it.
Or forget the grain pasta and use a peeler or veggie noodle maker and stir it into veggie noodles for a 100% vegetable dish.
You Can’t Go Wrong With A Great Salad
Never underestimate the power of a good salad. Never over estimate how much it cost to eat salad. These days even Aldi can keep you fresh organic greens and other produce for very little money.
I try to follow the daily dozen rules of Dr. Michael Greger to keep my nutrition well rounded. Gone are the days of ice berg lettuce being sufficient. Now it’s 2 servings of greens a day along with a serving of cruciferous vegetables and two serving of “other vegetables” that are low glycemic index. Also I need to get two servings of fruit and a serving of berries. In addition to all that, three servings of beans/peas and three whole grain servings. One serving of seeds and nuts and I’m also suppose to have flax seeds once a day.
If I know I’m going to be down for the count in bed for several days possibly, I direct my husband or try to plan myself to throw together salads that will incorporate a little of everything to make a salad. Dark greens, riced cruciferous veggies of some type, brown rice or barley, well rinsed and drained black beans, sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots. I’ll put fresh fruit around the sides such as something easy to rinse and use like fresh blueberries and easy to peel like orange sections. Then just some lemon or lime juice.
Black Bean Burgers Too
The sandwich spread mentioned above and one or two varieties of salads that are kept on hand and prepared, can keep well rounded nutrition within easy reach. I also keep black bean burgers in the freezer that we make. There are many recipes online and in plant-based cook books. Here is one of my favorites
Roast a head of cauliflower in the oven and slice it when it’s cooled. Very easy to keep for a few days and eat from as needed. It freezes well too.
No Cook Over Night Oats
Overnight Oats are wonderful too. I’m not talking about the Overnight Oats you see on the grocery shelves. This is like a breakfast oatmeal and fruit custard without eggs though. No cooking involved either. You can find the recipe online by looking it up, but basically, it’s one part old fashioned oats and two parts non dairy milk of your choice, and a tablespoon or two of chia seeds stirred in. Oh and also you can put in the fruit of your choice, any amount you want.
I like using a one cup storage container to make it in and eat it from to keep the portions reasonable. I use berries, but apple slices are good too with some cinnamon mixed in. I tend to use more fruit than oats. So the oats and non dairy milk are a sideline, but that is just my preference. The chia seeds make a gel that helps to solidify the entire dish into pudding sort of combo, if you will.
The gelling process happens as it sits airtight/covered in the fridge overnight. When you get up, it’s ready to eat.
You can make a few of these overnight oats up at one time and eat off of them for a few days for breakfast. Adding nuts or sliced banana is good too.
Nothing wrong with some herbal tea, but you will find that eating this way will replace your need for caffeinated coffee. Your mind may become better focused and you will know you are doing all you can for yourself and those you care about.
Well nourished people are healthier and more content in life. Take care of eachother and help it happen.