Category Archives: Diet Habits

Sequins: Date Night Magic

Monsieur and I have, in separate instances, both received some (rather flattering) comments about how well we sustain our relationship. It makes me giggle, since we both feel like we have so much to work on when it comes to being together, but who are we to judge? The comments we’ve gotten lately that made me laugh came from my sister, who was admiring how well we date each other. I literally laughed out loud because date night is single-handedly what we fight about the most.

That being said, since we fight out about our lack of date nights so much, it becomes the thing we know we need to work on the most. We’ve only been living together officially for a couple months, but we’ve always been homebodies, and preferred to spend our time being lazy in the living room instead of courting each other*. Now that we live together, we have at-home dates almost every single evening, and it’s become clear that now, more than ever, getting outside is important for our health. And our relationship’s health.

Case in point, a couple nights ago we went out on a really fun date. We planned to walk about a couple miles through this beautiful beach-front park to a great Mexican restaurant and a paint-your-own-pottery place. It was going to be fun and exciting and I was looking forward to it. Monsieur ended up having a bad day, though, so we called it good with sharing headphones to listen to the new Rush album as we headed to dinner, and then had a nice time at dinner. I ended up laying out, in excruciating detail, the first two seasons of Buffy. We walked home and talked about it some more, and got eaten alive by mosquitoes.

It was worth it, though, and we went back the next day to paint pottery. I’ll share photos when they’re both finished. I’m a slowpoke control freak when it comes to painting pottery, so I didn’t finish the first trip out. Or the second trip out. I imagine, though, that I’ll be good after the third trip to coat it with paint! I’m excited to share, though, because Monsieur’s is pretty adorable. Adorable = I’m going to steal it from him.

*Because I’m old fashioned, I think courting is important. Because I’m not sexist, I think it needs to occur from both partners.

Sequins: Casual Milkshakes

Milkshakes are very high up on the List of Foods My Stomach Doesn’t Like. However, milkshakes are even higher up on the List of Foods Capable of Fixing Grumpy Moods, so I’ll make an exception every other week or so (I know, I know, it’s a problem). Monday wasn’t a particularly bad day, if you don’t count the atrocious doctor visit (which I don’t count, since I’d like to just pretend it didn’t happen. Be grateful, because if I wasn’tpretending, this post would be full of stories about how incredibly unprofessional and inappropriate he was. But I’m pretending), but the second I swallowed the last bite of the stir fry Monsieur cooked for dinner, I knew.

“Babe, I’m going to need a milkshake tonight”

And thus, the story of how Monsieur and I ended up putting clothes back on after settling in for a Monday (opposed to the pajamas we had been wearing. Jeez, guys) to venture out for milkshakes.

There are several places around town for milkshakes, and one happens to be in walking distance. It isn’t our favorite, but it is in…walking distance. So that place usually wins out.

It’s mocha salted caramel flavored. Pretty fantastic, I’d say. Not as chocolatey as I usually prefer, but very sweet. I alternated drinking it with sipping on Monsieur’s, which was a classic chocolate.

And all was fixed.

Also, for all the doubters out there about my ability to throw on jeans and a sweatshirt, I give you proof:

Sweatshirt: Fred Meyer, Jeans: Gift, Shoes: Toms, Scarf: Vintage

I’m so hipster even my shirt has glasses. True story, Stripes asked if I added them on. I didn’t. I’m actually constantly debating taking them off him. I’m pretty sure Fredrickstein has perfect vision.

Stripes: Allergen Free Candy Making Adventure!

Today, I decided to show you all how to make some allergen free candy! Well, it doesn’t have to be allergen free but I want to eat my work when I’m done, so all my ingredients are free of wheat, dairy, coconut, and peanuts although it meant I had to adapt from this recipe. NBD because the recipe is super simple and I ❤ all things chocolate.

Ingredients:

Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (these are the only ones that cost less than $4 a bag that are allergen free, also, they are freaking delicious. I am only using mini chocolate chips because the store was out of regular size, but if you’re going to melt it down anyways it won’t make a difference in the end). I also used 1.5 bags of chocolate.

Almond Butter

Powdered Sugar

Almonds

Supplies:

Bowl

Double Boiler (or a bowl and a microwave)

Mini-Muffin Tin

Mini-Muffin Wrappers

3 Spoons

Refrigerator

Let’s Do This:

Step 1:

Add water to the bottom portion of you double boiler (but only enough water that it doesn’t touch the top pan), put the top pan on, and pour chocolate chips in to the top pan. You’ll want this on medium heat. But if you don’t have a double boiler (I lucked out and stole this one from my dad a couple years ago…thanks dad! You can also microwave the chocolate chips to melt them. I just feel super cool whenever I get to use my double boiler).

Step 2:

While periodically stirring the chocolate, slowly add some powdered sugar to your almond butter (or which ever kind of butter you like, this would work with peanut butter, sun butter, cashew butter…really any of those “butters” would do). Taste the butter as you go so you get it to the sweetness you prefere. Then make a bunch of “butter” balls. I am not making as many “butter” balls as spaces in my tin because I want some to just have almonds in them (fancy, I know!).

Step 3:

Line the cups of your muffin tin with the papers. Simple enough.

Step 4:

Spoon in enough melted chocolate to make a solid layer in the bottom of each paper. Let this dry a little so the insides of your cups have somewhere to sit. This picture shows how it looks when you first dollop the chocolate in but as you can see from the top row, it works a lot better when you spread the chocolate out with your spoon. Then, refrigerate these babies for 5 minutes so they can set.

Step 5:

Add the insides to the cups. Like I mentioned before, I am using both sweetened almond butter and almonds.

Step 6:

Cover each cup with chocolate. Pretty much, just make it look like a normal peanut butter cup.

Step 7:

Chill them so the become solid. Mine only required about 20 minutes in the fridge until they were om nom nom ready. 

Step 8:

OM NOM NOM. Appreciate what you just made by eating it!

And there you have it, allergen (at least for me, anyways) free candy!

Are there any tutorials you’re wanting to see? Anything I can do to help demystify food allergies? If so please comment so I can help spread info!

-Stripes

Sequins: A Broken Stomach

Watching Stripes go through her very frustrating and difficult process of figuring out her allergies and a new diet reminds me of where I was three years ago. Stripes and I might be really different in the clothes we wear, the mugs we use, and the way we style our hair, but we have a surprising amount in common when it comes to food.


I’m not burdened down by Stripes with a ton of allergies (that I know of–I’m so not brave enough to get tested!), I have my own bag of issues with my digestion. Not a lot of people know about gastroparesis, but oddly enough,  one of my coworkers has the exact same condition so it can’t be that uncommon. And just like Stripes forewarned–I’m not an expert. Neither of us are. I’m just sharing my own experiences, which in no way replaces the importance of someone talking to their own doctor.

It started a few years ago when some (digestion-related) issues I had became worse, to the point of me not being able to ignore them. The list is pretty gross, so I won’t give too many details, but it includes blood, constant nauseous, and the desire to vomit. All the time. It was getting to the point where I’d make myself throw up once a week or so, just because I felt so awful and my body would refuse to vomit on its own (I know that sounds a lot like bulimia, which is a serious and real condition, but you should read the whole story. I don’t have an eating disorder). I saw my normal doctor, was referred to a specialist, and bounced around for a few months before settling on the right practitioner.

For anyone dealing with health issues, I give you this advice above all others: work with someone who works with you. Half the medical professionals I sought out told me straight off the bat that I had cancer, and the other half told me I was imagining things. Not fun at all. I finally found an excellent gastroenterologist who worked with me. It was his patience and willingness to listen that actually ended up solving the problem.

Before I got to that point, though, there was a large suspicion that I had Celiac’s Disease (which is basically like being lactose intolerant, except with gluten [which is in wheat, along with almost everything else]). They did the tests and encouraged me to cut gluten out of my diet. I was a vegetarian at the time (and am currently), but I opted back to meat when they cut so many things out of my diet. It was really, really hard (as Stripes can attest to!)

I was on my gluten-free diet, and I was sitting in the doctor’s office. He shared the results; I showed no signs of Celiac’s disease. However, I did show that I was still full of… food… when they did the scope. Which, considering I had done a two-day fast, as well as the cleansing, was unusual. He sat me down and asked me about my diet, which at the time (and still currently does, shame on me) consist of raw vegetables, nuts, and whole grains. He counted up the calories I was getting from my daily diet and told me it was less than 1,000. Which is no good. I am a pretty active person, so 1200 is a really healthy amount for me to consume.

Then, while he was doing some paperwork, my mom and I started talking. She was in town to support me, and we were planning our post-doctor visit day. She mentioned lunch, which we hadn’t had yet. I told her fries sounded amazing. She asked if I wanted a milkshake, and I made a face. The doctor caught the expression, and asked me if I don’t normally like milkshakes. I told him I do, but that I felt way too full to even consider it. He asked me what I had eaten for breakfast (rice-flour toast and egg with some raw veggies to munch on). He paused, and (as my mom remembers it) a lightbulb clicked on above his head.

He introduced the concept of gastroparesis to me, which essentially means your stomach works, but very very slowly, and harder-to-digest food move through you at a glacial pace. You can read Mayo Clinic’s definition here. It would explain a lot of my symptoms, so he scheduled me for a study and my mom and I left to go grab some french fries.

A couple weeks later, I had the study done. It consists of eating radio-active dry bread with a radio-active butter-free dry egg and washing it down with radio-active sugar free apple juice. Talk about the most boring and terrifying meal ever! I sat around the hospital for three hours and they took pictures of my radioactive stomach periodically to watch the food move through my system. In the course of three hours, the food (in a healthy, working digestive system) would be completely out of the stomach and well into the intestines. At the end of the three hours, my stomach was still over halfway full of food, which put my solidly in the running for a gastroparesis diagnosis. Finally, an answer!

What this means is that I’m always full. It’s hard for my body to digest food, and if I eat a normal amount, I’m in a lot of pain. I balance this out by drinking a lot of smoothies (Columbia Gorge VitaSea smoothies are my absolute favorite!) and eating small amounts of food throughout the day. Cooked food, food low in fiber, and highly processed food (pop tarts and skittles, anyone?) are the easiest. Unfortunately, I actually really love whole grain, nut-filled bread and raw vegetables, so I hate sticking to my recommended diet (I love the skittles, though, so eating candy continues to be not a problem!). I’ve gone back to my vegetarian ways, since my body doesn’t handle meat well, and I avoid dairy since my body hates it (imagine milk just sitting in stomach acid for three, four hours–gross, right?), but I do occasionally indulge in a wine and cheese night with Monsieur. Some great foods that Stripes mentioned, like quinoa, is amazing and perfect for my body–it is especially accommodating for my vegetarian requirements.

The trick has been small portions, eating the light in the morning, the heaviest (like a bagel with peanut butter and jelly) in the middle of the day, and pretty much nothing after five. I still struggle with eating enough calories, and I find that I can get all kind of grumpy and sleepy when I’ve gone too many days eating too little (and what better way to balance it out than by gulping down a chocolate milkshake, am I right?), but it’s manageable. Frustrating, mildly hopeless, and very bloaty, but definitely manageable.

An Average Workday Menu:
7:30 Breakfast: Coffee, two bites of Monsieur’s cinnamon roll (We “share” a lot of meals, which usually consist of me telling him he should eat something so I can take a bite. It’s way less wasteful than me ordering/cooking a huge thing of something I’ll take a bite of and be done with)
9:30 Work Snack: Handful of blueberries, half a Columbia Gorge SuperBerry Smoothie
12:00 Lunch: more coffee and a plain, toasted bagel with organic peanut butter and jelly (my barista makes them perfectly, with peanut butter and jelly on both sides, so I can eat it open-faced)
4:00 Work Snack: Handful of carrots, a couple of radishes and broccoli (I’m telling you, I don’t know how to say no to raw veggies! I love them so…)
6:30 Dinner: Small serving of rice with some stir fry veggies (it’s about a quarter of what Monsieur ate, and he doesn’t eat a ton of food) and a couple bites of the chocolate ice cream we “share”.