Garden Skillet

Garden Skillet (summer squash)

Garden Skillet (summer squash)

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick bacon, cut into 4-5 pieces each (scissors work well for this)
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and sliced into skinny rounds
  • 1 yellow summer squash, seeded and cut into bite sized chunks*
  • 1 apple, cut into 12-16 slices
  • 2-3 large kale leaves, removed from main stem and ripped into chunks
  • eggs (optional)

* Fresh sliced mushrooms are a nice substitute if you don’t have squash (half a container).

Place bacon in bottom of skillet on medium to medium/low heat. Layer peeled and sliced sweet potatoes on top of bacon.  Cover with lid (glass lid helps to see how things are doing).  Cook until sweet potatoes are soft.  You may need to stir it if bacon starts getting overcooked before sweet potatoes are soft.  Try not to stir as long as possible. 

When sweet potatoes are fairly soft (not mushy), add squash and apple.  Cover again and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally and recovering skillet. 

Add ripped kale. Stir and cover for about 1 1/2 minutes.  Pile ingredients to one side of pan.  Add eggs to empty side.  Cook as desired (scrambled or over easy/medium are both yummy options).

Serve.

Bacon and apples are super yummy!

Garden skillet (mushrooms with egg)

Garden skillet (mushrooms with egg)

 

 

Rheumatoid Arthritis – So Much Going On!!

Well, I’ve been quite bad about blogging, so I thought I should put something out today, as I have some time. 

I did something crazy the last year.  I went back to work full time.  I’ve been working part time for about 12 – 13 years, but some odd circumstances made it clear it was time for a job change.  It was actually a significant pay cut hourly, but going part time to full time has definitely helped our financial situation. I was worried my body couldn’t do it.  I thought it could, but there’s always that self doubt.  Well, I made it through in one piece.  My RA is a bit more active.  I’ve been taking a bit more Enbrel (I was down to 1/4 dose or less, now more like half to occasionally full dose).  Stress and lack of time got me eating less nutritionally, but still following the big rules (no grains, no legumes, occasional cheats with dairy that have not been kind).  Sweetened caffeinated tea made its way in, and I’m trying (since school is out for summer) to get unaddicted.  Gosh, I’m tired!  All exercise was thrown out the window, and I’ve gotten very wimpy.  Got to work on that starting this week.  Weight has been creeping back on for sure.

On top of full time work, I took an 8 month Permaculture course (1 full weekend per month).  This was fascinating and is making me rethink all of my gardening techniques.  Our back yard is in year 1 of a probably 3 year renovation to incorporate Permaculture principles and maximize healthy food output.  Permaculture has a variety of great principles, but what I take away is it’s how to make nature work for you with as little work as possible to maintain it.  For this year, we moved all of our working garden beds (annuals) closer to the porch so that there is easy access to them (more likely to go and pick my favorite foods, if they’re right off the porch).  Further out in the yard we will have perennials and fruit trees, things we don’t need to plant every year and just need to harvest once or a few times.  Makes sense, right?  Keep things further out we don’t need to get to as often.  That’s more of year two.  We also got baby chicks 3 weeks ago.  In addition to giving us eggs at some point, they eat bugs, mow my lawn, give me fertilizer, and are generally kind of cute.  Well, except Minerva. I’ll tell you about Minerva later. 

Hopefully I’ll be able to post more and do some videos on this Permaculture thing.  Paleo drove me here.  We’ll see where it goes.

I hope you all are well!  Take care!

Paleo – Thanksgiving Dinner

We had a fabulous relatively Paleo meal yesterday for Thanksgiving.  I chose the word “relatively” because I have my relatives bring the non-Paleo stuff, for the most part.

What we made:

  • Turkey (whole, unstuffed, with olive oil and some fresh sage and rosemary, baked)
  • Gravy (made from the cooked juices of the turkey with arrowroot starch and water as thickener).
  • Broccoli (cut into chunks, steamed, then sauteed in garlic slices and olive oil)
  • Paleo stuffing 
  • Bread stuffing (NOT Paleo, but it was my grandma’s recipe, and I LOVE just the smell of it.  I don’t eat it.  I get to use a lot of herbs from my garden for it).
  • Sweet potato pudding (my other grandma’s recipe, adapted to a Paleo version, and very yummy)
  • Homemade applesauce
  • Cranberry sauce (the canned stuff, as my son won’t eat the chunky kind his grandma makes…. I eat Grandma’s!)
  • Gingerbread (from Paleo Indulgences cookbook)
  • Pumpkin Pie (I burned the heck out of the edge of the crust…. make sure to cover the crust edge or only press the crust into the bottom.  It was still very good.)

What other family brought:

  • wine
  • non-paleo breads
  • mashed potatoes
  • chocolate pie
  • cranberry sauce (Paleo)
  • raw veggies as pre-dinner snacks

We had a ton of food.  It was awesome.  With the exception of turkey, we have tons of leftovers.  We had an 18 pound turkey, and it was almost gone for 9 people!

Paleo Recipe: Grammy C’s Sweet Potato Pudding

Grammy C’s Sweet Potato Pudding Recipe (Paleo adapted):

  • 6 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 to 1/3rd cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • marshmallows, if desired (watch ingredients on marshmallows, I’m not sure of their Paleoness.  I usually do one side with marshmallows and one side without).

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into chunks.  Boil potatoes until very soft.  Drain water off.  Hand mash sweet potatoes with coconut milk and sherry.  Place in ungreased baking dish.  Add marshmallows on top, if desired.  Make at 350 for 20 minutes (watch your marshmallows so they don’t burn).

RA – I’ve Been Outta the Loop

I’ve not been making blog posts lately and thought I should give a big update.

Life here has been quite crazy.  After about 13 year of being part-time, I went back to work full-time.  I did this for a few reasons.

  • My job of 17 years wanted me to go back to work full time.
  • I was growing increasingly unhappy there.
  • Due to increasing traffic, my once 25 minute each way commute had turned into 50+ minutes each way.

So, rather than going back to work full time where I had been, I took a closer job (12 minute commute) for A LOT less money than I would be making had I stayed where I was full time.  This has brought about its own stress, as it’s new people, new stress, and a lot less resources and time to do the same work I had been doing at my old job.  In this new position, there is a unique sense of being needed, as my skills are hard to find, and they’ve been looking for somebody with my expertise for 3 years.

I should also mention I’ve started a class in Permaculture, which takes up one full weekend per month.

So, here’s what I’ve learned in relationship to my RA and this new lifestyle. 

THE GOOD:

It is a relief to have more money.  We’ve been putting off some much needed home repairs because of lack of funds.  This helps a lot. 

The commute is much better and I’m way less stressed about being late due to crazy traffic.  I have more time than I would have had if I stayed where I was.

It feels good to know that I can do full time work.  I’ve been trusting in that for a long time, but also fearing it, as half-time work makes it much easier on my body.

My husband has stepped up with doing more of the grocery shopping.  My son has stepped up with packing his own lunches and unloading the dishwasher daily.

THE BAD:

I’m tired at the end of the day and week.  I don’t have much to give my husband or son.  I zone out after work.

Part of me misses my commute.  I miss long opportunities to listen to podcasts and audiobooks.

I am feeling very stressed, and my body is reacting poorly to it.  I’ve had some mini-flare-ups that seem to be quite correlated to stress.  I’ve been hyper-aware that I don’t cope well with stress.  I’ve been taking more Enbrel. It is hard to make doctor’s appointments with this schedule.  It is hard to find time to cook Paleo meals.  Consequently, I’ve been eating “less clean” which also contributes to the mini-flare ups.

 

With all of that said, I have this whole week off.  I’m cooking a bunch of Paleo meals to freeze today (soup, meatballs, and later chicken).  More to come on this topic as the year progresses.  I hope you all are well!

Recipe – Turkey Pepperoni Pesto Roll Ups

I invented this a few years ago, but never made a post for it.  Today, we made it with basil (for the pesto) and lettuce (for the wraps) from the garden.

One of our many basil plants.  This one is growing in a pot with some flowers on the porch.

One of our many basil plants. This one is growing in a pot with some flowers on the porch.

 

Recipe:

Place a turkey slice flat on a plate.  Place a pepperoni slice flat on top of the turkey slice.  Place some lettuce or a few spinach leaves on top of that.  Add a glob of pesto.  Roll up and poke with a toothpick to keep in place.  See photos below.

My pesto.  It's pretty chunky.  I didn't exactly follow the linked recipe.

My pesto. It’s pretty chunky. I didn’t exactly follow the linked recipe.

DSC07792 (2) DSC07793 (2)

 

Recipe – Tuna with lettuces and scallions

I’ve greatly expanded my gardening space this year, and today, for the first time ever, I picked a scallion (green onion).  Most of my lettuces are bolting (turning to seed from the heat…. the leaves get smaller and more bitter).   I’m still eating them though.  My recipe:

  • Can of tuna, drained (I use tuna in water)
  • Mayonnaise (I use Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo)*
  • Scallions, sliced

Mix together tuna with appropriate amount of mayo and sliced scallions to taste.

Scallion/green onion from my garden

Scallion/green onion from my garden

  • Loose lead lettuce (keep it simple and grab a bag of salad)
  • Handful of pecans
  • Handful of berries (I like blueberries or blackberries, but raspberries and sliced strawberries work as well).
Lettuces from my garden

Lettuces from my garden

 

Tuna salad

Tuna salad

 

* I had been getting Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo from Costco, but it is no longer available at my Costco.  I had to order it through Amazon, but it was very expensive.  Looking for other places where I can find it cheaper.

 

 

 

Paleo & Rheumatoid Arthritis – Gardening

Admittedly, I am a crazy person.  The further I get into this Paleo world (over 5 years as of this post), the more paranoid I become about Big Business trying to poison us all.  I heard the other day that 80% of foods in the US listed as organic are not organic, and that most come from China which is heavily polluted with things like arsenic.  AGH!  We do not eat all organic, but I do buy organic when the price is reasonable and we can afford it.  I’ll be pissed if I’m not getting what I pay for.

If you do reading on the state of the world’s food supply, you’ll hear things like we’ve only got 30 – 60 years of top soil left before we can’t grow crops here anymore.  You also hear about the chemicals, like Monsanto’s Roundup, that are poisoning us all.  I live in a farming community with farmland on the south side of my house.  In the summer, the crop duster comes around 5:00 AM spraying nastiness that makes us all wheeze.

Then, of course, there are some theories that the reason we’re all getting autoimmune diseases is that our soils (and therefore the foods we eat) are depleted of nutrients and/or loaded with chemicals.

Remember when I said I was crazy? Ok, so then I think about how far our food travels (like from Chile or China), and how the way we raise animals to eat is both inhumane and destroying the planet.  That’s starting to keep me up at night.  On top of that, Colorado has a significant lack of water problem (on top of being in the high plains desert, the oil and gas industry takes most of our water for fracking).  We don’t even have the rights to water that falls from the sky in our yards in Colorado. They just passed a law last year that now allows us to keep two 55 gallon drums of water from rain.  That’s not much.  Scary, huh?  That starts creating scares not just about water security, but food security as well.  Colorado has an ever shrinking agricultural economy.

I started thinking about all of this, and thinking it is completely wasteful to be watering a lawn in my yard, when I could grow food and at least recoop that water in food that I eat.  When we moved into our house in 2003, we made a few garden beds in our back yard, which I have used every year.  This year, with my new found craziness, we expanded our endeavors with 5 new 4 foot x 4 foot wood square planters, 4 for food, and 1 for compost.  So, here’s what I’ve got in pictures so far.  Most of these were taken on June 7th, so still very early in the season.

4 foot by 4 foot square box garden with strings every 1 foot.  10 foot pvc pipes criss crossed to allow shade cloth (in this case, burlap) or plastic to make it like a greenhouse and extend the growing period.  This picture, taken June 7th, has lettuce (has already had at least a dozen salads from it), broccoli, carrots, and scallions.

4 foot by 4 foot square box garden with strings every 1 foot. 10 foot pvc pipes criss crossed to allow shade cloth (in this case, burlap) or plastic to make it like a greenhouse and extend the growing period. This picture, taken June 7th, has lettuce (has already had at least a dozen salads from it), broccoli, carrots, and scallions.

 

 

 This box contains lettuces, cauliflower, tomatoes (not ideal, as they get too big), and kale.

This box contains lettuces, cauliflower, tomatoes (not ideal, as they get too big), and kale.

 

 

This box, with the exception of the PVC pipe was a kit from a company called Greene's.  It is not as deep as the others, which we built from scratch.  It contains sweet potatoes, a pepper, strawberries, and some seeds (carrots and scallions) that haven't come up yet.

This box, with the exception of the PVC pipe was a kit from a company called Greene’s. It is not as deep as the others, which we built from scratch. It contains sweet potatoes, a pepper, strawberries, and some seeds (carrots and scallions) that haven’t come up yet.

 

Not ideal for large plants, this box has 1 cucumber and 1 cantaloupe.  We did not break it up into 1 foot sections as these will be long vines and will outgrow the box.

Not ideal for large plants, this box has 1 cucumber and 1 cantaloupe. We did not break it up into 1 foot sections as these will be long vines and will outgrow the box.

 This is one of our old beds from 2003/4.  The white flowers are arugula that came up from last year and is already going to seed.  There is a broccoli plant with yellow flower (close) that was also a surprise from last year.  Planted among all of that mess is kale and collard greens.  Kale is wonderful baked into chips.  We also juice kale and collard greens.

This is one of our old beds from 2003/4. The white flowers are arugula that came up from last year and is already going to seed. There is a broccoli plant with yellow flower (close) that was also a surprise from last year. Planted among all of that mess is kale and collard greens. Kale is wonderful baked into chips. We also juice kale and collard greens.

 

This used to be my son's garden, but he hadn't planted anything the last 2 years, so my husband took it over.  There is a new apple tree planted to the left.  I don't know what all he has planted in that bed.  In the back fence corner, there is a large rose bush.

This used to be my son’s garden, but he hadn’t planted anything the last 2 years, so my husband took it over. There is a new apple tree planted to the left. I don’t know what all he has planted in that bed. In the back fence corner, there is a large rose bush.

 

This is one end of a very long bed.  You can see sage, chives, and oregano.  In the mulch, you can see the shives have spread, as has the arugula from 15 feet away.  There are pumpkins, zucchinis, and yellow squashes planted in here also (behind these plants).

This is one end of a very long bed. You can see sage, chives, and oregano. In the mulch, you can see the chives have spread, as has the arugula from 15 feet away. There are pumpkins, zucchinis, and yellow squashes planted in here also (behind these plants).

 

Pots interspersed with flowers, basil, and rosemary (basil and rosemary are annuals in Colorado, so must be replanted every year).

Pots interspersed with flowers, basil, and rosemary (basil and rosemary are annuals in Colorado, so must be replanted every year).  The bottom pot is my lemon tree, which almost died before it got warm enough to go back outside after a long winter under grow lights.

 

My orange tree is getting buds.  Maybe I'll get some oranges.  I've had the tree for 3 years and have gotten a total of 4 oranges.

My orange tree is getting buds. Maybe I’ll get some oranges. I’ve had the tree for 3 years and have gotten a total of 4 oranges.

There’s a lot more going on in the yard than this.  It looks pretty messy, but I don’t care.  I do eventually want to kill off the grass, so we won’t have to mow.  We are composting everything we can get our hands on, so you’ll see cardboard on the ground in some of the pictures.  Very little is going to waste in our house, but I’ll save that for another post.

 

 

 

 

RA- Diagnostic Test Results

I am a supporter of RA research.  I’ve been in at least 4 studies (excluding online ones).  The last two were from the same group, one in 2011 (pre-Paleo), and the other just a few weeks ago (March, 2017, having been Paleo for 5 years).  They did bloodwork, I assume as confirmation of my diagnosis.  Each time they did several tests, but only 4 of them overlapped.  I daresay that Paleo is making a big difference, as I am on a lot less medication now than I was in 2011.  These are the results of the 4 tests that overlapped:

Anti-CCP3.1 antibody (normal range less than 20 U/mL)

  • 2011 (Pre-Paleo): 401
  • 2017 (5 years Paleo): 261.7

RF-IgM

  • 2011 (Pre-Paleo): Elevated
  • 2017 (5 years Paleo): Negative

RF-IgA

  • 2011 (Pre-Paleo): Elevated
  • 2017 (5 years Paleo): Negative

Rf-IgG

  • 2011 (Pre-Paleo): Normal
  • 2017 (5 years Paleo): Negative

That’s got to be good, right?  I wonder how I can get that anti-CCP3.1 down!