Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy 1The first time I remember hearing about a colonoscopy was when Katie Couric’s husband died from colon cancer.  Katie was so passionate about getting everyone tested she, herself, televised a portion of her procedure (or something like that. That was several thousand lost brain cells ago).

When you’re young (or even young’ish) you think 50 is a lifetime away. The reality is it creeps up on you while you’re busy buying dental floss and flipping pancakes.  Before you know it, you’re buying Miralax and a beverage that you used to enjoy, but will now never be able to tolerate again.

Yes. Yes.  It is my turn for the preventive colonoscopy and I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts on the prep work.  First of all, you get the same set of instructions regardless if you are a 5’ 6” 138 pound female or a 6’ 6” 350 pound man. It doesn’t matter if you are Vegan, Vegetarian or a dyed-in-the-wool Carnivore; you get the same prep work instructions.

I decided to go rogue and buy coconut water instead of Gatorade. I, being a sometime sugar snob, didn’t want all the sugar that Gatorade contained contaminating my detoxing colon.  Needless to say, I never think like this when there’s expensive chocolate or a fabulous Cabernet within my grasp. Oh noooooo! Then I wholly justify it.

I did check with the GI nurse to ensure this substitution was ok. Oh, dear Lord, how I wish she would have said no. I have effectively killed my love for coconut water in one fell swoop. What the hell was I thinking?! And to make matters worse, I use coconut oil for almost everything and I almost puked when I slathered it on my hands last night. The smell! The memories! Gahhhhhhh!

So for you readers who like my writing a little uncensored, this blog is for you.  Here are a few things I’d like to pass along about colonoscopy prep.

When you know you can’t have something, like ohhhh food or water (you know, the essentials of life), you’ll crave it like CRAZY! It will consume your thoughts and you will become a food/water junky whore. Think I’m kidding?! I found myself smelling my husband and daughter’s breath after they returned home from eating out. I was like a determined dog sniffing out a drug. In fact, on the pretense of kissing my husband, I shoved my flared nostrils right to his mouth.  The black heart ate at Mexican Village!! (Whimper) That’s one of my favorite places.

And my daughter? I was all wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing with her. I purred, “Come and sit by me, honey. No, closer. CLOSERRRRRRRR. Ooohh yes, that’s it my darling” as my eagle-like eyes scanned her face for any bit of food.

However, just a few hours later, my tune changed. I was very THANKFUL I did not eat or drink anything as I was doubled over from gut-ripping shit cramps. Dude, I’ve birthed a kid and this does not compare. I was thinking to myself I must have somehow become a host for an alien who is all teeth and claws. This alien is in a bitch of a mood and wants to claw its way OUT of my intestines NOW!

And then this happened. I inevitably choose a bathroom, in a most DIRE moment, where my husband or daughter used all the toilet paper leaving me with nothing. Not even the cardboard roll. If that doesn’t make your eyes widen in fear, I don’t know what will. Of COURSE both of them were sleeping by this time so I was on my own.

Before I could fully address this issue, I was, once again, projectiley exploding more pee-pooh from a place that wasn’t really designed to do that.  When that passed I, slumped shouldered and possibly sweaty brow, thanked God for the reprieve knowing it would be short.

I will not describe what I had to do in order to get more toilet paper, but suffice it to say, it involved swear words.

While I was waiting for the next pee-pooh wave, I tried to pacify myself by thinking, “I’m so glad I’m a vegetarian. Those carnivores must have it MUCH tougher.” This became my mantra and I clung to it.  I found myself breaking into a snarling smile just hoping someone had it worse than me. I delighted in this thought.

Then, somehow, as the alien was becoming quieter and I could go for more than 2 minutes without using the toidy, I came to understand that having something enter an “exit only” hole no longer seemed traumatic.  In fact, it felt like a walk in the park compared to the prep work.  I found internal peace at that moment.

This is where my story must end as I am almost ready to make the trip to the hospital. I am looking forward to the blissful unknown that comes with anesthesia and a return to normal bodily functions.

Bow Tie Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes – A Vegetarian Meal

Bow Tie Pasta with Basil and Tomatoes

(Adapted from: The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook; Farfalle with Fresh Tomato Sauce)

This recipe has become an easy favorite in our family as there is minimal prep and lots of flavor. You can add mozzarella pearls to increase the protein/fat content if you want, but really, it’s a perfect dish without it.

  • 4 tomatoes (about 2 lbs total weight), diced and seeded  (Note: you can also use halved cherry/grape tomatoes, unseeded, of course)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, julienned
  • 3 T chopped red onion
  • 3 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly round pepper
  • 1/2 lb bow tie (farfalle) pasta

To make the sauce, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, julienned basil, onion, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss gently to mix.   (Melissa’s Note: Make this ahead of time and let it marinate, mixing occasionally, on your counter for at least an hour. It really enhances the flavor.)

Boil the pasta in a large pot according to al dente directions or 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta thoroughly and return to the pot.  Add the sauce mixture and stir.  Serve as is (luke warm) or continue to heat until warmed through.

Coconut Oil

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I’m a relative newcomer to the coconut oil bandwagon.  A few years ago, Charmaine told me how I could evenly substitute coconut oil for butter when making cookies or while cooking.  It took me a while to warm up to the idea but once I did, it was bub-bye butter.

Shannon has told me she uses organic, unrefined coconut oil for almost everything. She takes tablespoons of it each day to help with her Fibromyalgia, reduce her sugar cravings and allow her to feel satisfyingly full. She uses it as a facial/body moisturizer and mixes essential oils with it for a deodorant. She tells me it’s the MacGyver of oils. If she can’t use coconut oil with or for something, it’s not worth doing. Connie, who has a strong background in cosmetology, tells me she uses coconut oil as a deep conditioner for her hair and a moisturizer for her lips and cuticles.

Ahhhhh, the humble coconut; so unassuming and yet so multi-dimensional. According to Mercola.com, these two gals are spot on with their uses. In fact, here’s a few more:

·         Shaving lotion: Just apply a thin layer and shave as usual. The lauric acid in the coconut oil will also act as an antiseptic for shaving nicks and cuts. Good to know for people like me who, um, like to get the most out of their disposable razor.

·         Insect Repellant: Mixing coconut oil with a high-quality essential oil(s) such as peppermint, lemon, rosemary, tea tree, citronella or catnip oil can help repel those little buggers. Wait. Catnip oil? Really? Yep. According to one study, catnip oil is 10 times more effective than DEET. Well, shizzle my dizzle! I wonder if you’ll have all the kitties in the neighborhood after your milkshake?? I also wonder if this study was done on ND/MN mosquitos! 

·         Head Lice: LICE?! Yep. Combine coconut oil and anise to create a treatment that is nearly twice as effective as the prescription Permethrin.

It can also be used alone, or in some cases, in combination with a high quality essential oil for cold sores, ear infections, bug bites/stings, athlete’s foot, chicken pox and eczema.  I can attest to the eczema part as my daughter is prone to bouts of eczema during the winter months. This year I am using organic, unrefined coconut oil on her and her eczema is almost non-existent. In contrast, last winter we went through a tube of (sparingly used) hydrocortisone.

It’s also said that coconut oil destroys free radicals and can help your skin look more youthful by diminishing fine lines and wrinkles.  If looks aren’t your thing, how about your health? Coconut oil contains 50% of a ‘miracle’ ingredient called lauric acid. This acid can actually destroy viruses such as measles, HIV/herpes, influenza, pneumonia, UTI’s and vaginitis.

What are some of the physical benefits to using coconut oil over others? Well, a HUGE one is organic coconut oil isn’t genetically modified, however over 90% of soy, corn and canola oils are. Zoinkies Scoob!  Organic coconut oil promotes weight loss, metabolism, immune system and heart health as well as providing immediate energy.  Yes, you read right: immediate energy. That’s because coconut oil is immediately converted to energy, via your liver, instead of being stored as fat. No kidding.

I was curious about the difference between refined and unrefined (virgin) coconut oil. Refined is good for baking and cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures (450 degrees). It also doesn’t have any coconut smell.  The reason for this is because unrefined coconut meat is often dried in open air and, because of this drying method, can result in salmonella poisoning. To ensure this doesn’t happen, the coconut meat needs to be purified and is put through a bleach filtration system. Once that’s done, it’s heat treated to remove any odor.1

Unrefined (virgin) coconut oil uses fresh, not dried, coconut meat. This ensures the oil is sanitary and doesn’t need additional purification, however it can only withstand 350 degree heat. To produce unrefined coconut oil, there are two methods used and while I’m not going to go into detail (you’re welcome), I will say that both methods result in a coconut oil that wasn’t purified by bleach. Because of this, it does maintain some (mild) coconut odor. 

Through personal experience, I find the unrefined coconut oil to be a better choice for lotion as it melts like buttahhh when rubbed between your palms. The refined is more difficult to melt and now that I know bleach is used to purify it…well….. (gulp).

And what coconut oil blog would be complete without dispelling what you think you know about the saturated fats in coconut oil? Pishaw, my faithful readers! Not this blog!  It’s not the enemy you may believe it to be. The saturated fats in coconut oil are naturally occurring. Ding ding! The key words here, in the saturated fat fight are, ‘naturally occurring.’ You see, again according to Dr. Mercola,2  there are  other fats which are “artificially manipulated into a saturated state through the man-made process called hydrogenation.”  If this is the case, it will result in trans-fats which actually contribute to heart disease.  Fair warning! Some of the coconut oils on the market contain hydrogenated oils and trans-fats.  Blasphemy!

I guess the long and the short of it is coconut oil is a dynamo. It has healing, healthful properties and is safe to use both internally and externally. Be sure to read labels (check for trans-fat, hydrogenated oil and even ‘animal byproducts’ – euwwwww) and buy a good quality organic coconut oil; don’t just go for the cheapest.

Maybe make the switch in cooking first and then baking. Then, maybe think about switching your expensive facial moisturizer or maybe even your methyl paraben’d body lotion for plain old coconut oil. Why stop there?  Toothpaste? Sure! Polish furniture? Yes! Oil rusty door hinges? You bet!  Moisturize leather, including the interior of your car? Yes, Yes, YES!  Coconut oil could quite possibly become your MacGyver, too.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Barley and Spinach

Here’s one of my newest favorite vegetarian recipes.  This dish has 19 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber. Best of all there is minimal prep work. This recipe is  EASY, quick to prepare and it’s really tasty.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Barley and Spinach; a Vegetarian Recipe

Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook – 15th edition

1 - 14 oz can of vegetable broth
1/4 c quick-cooking barley
1/4 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 c chopped yellow onion
2 T coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 14.5 oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
5 oz frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 c Monterey Jack cheese or Jack blend
4 large red sweet peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400. In a medium saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add barley and quinoa. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, covered, about 12 to 15 minutes or until tender. Drain, reserving cooking liquid; set aside.

2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook and stir for about 7 minutes.  Add in 1/4 teaspoon of salt and black pepper, undrained tomatoes and spinach.  Mix well. Stir in quinoa mixture and 1/2 to 3/4 cup of cheese. Remove from heat.

3. Cut washed peppers in half, lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes. Sprinkle insides lightly with salt. Fill pepper halves with quinoa mixture. Place peppers, filled sides up on a greased 9×13 baking dish. Pour reserved cooking liquid into the greased dish around the peppers.

4. Bake, covered for 35 minutes. Uncover and top with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered for approximately 10 more minutes.


			

Avocado Soup – A Vegetarian Recipe

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Avocado Soup

Adapted from: Unknown

Makes 4 to 6 servings

This recipe is like taking guacamole and adding hot veggie stock. It’s easy, filling and really, really good!

Soup:

4 medium ripe avocados
2 limes, juiced
¾ c sour cream
3 or 4 T onion, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped (I like romas)
1 small garlic, minced
¼ t cayenne
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 c hot (not boiling) vegetable stock

Topping:

Corn tortilla chips (we like Garden of Eatin’ – Spouted Blues)
1 c grated cheddar cheese

 

Scoop out the avocado flesh and mash it with lime juice (a potato masher is good for the job). Stir in the sour cream, onion, tomato, garlic and cayenne, season with salt and pepper. Mix well.  Add the hot stock and blend. Place into individual serving bowl and add chips and cheese. Serve immediately.

 

Note: You can go through all the trouble of turning on the broiler and warming up the bowl(s), but that’s too much effort for me.  The recipe does state to put the soup under the broiler to melt the cheese but again, too much effort.  Just don’t boil this soup – the sour cream will not like it.

Vegetarian Taco Salad

(adapted from: EatingWell.com)

This is a hands down winner. It has a little kick (it’s pretty gentle), so add more chili powder if you like a big kick. I make guacamole to accompany this, otherwise it stands on its own.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil, an oil of your choice OR use about 1/4 c of vegetable broth
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels or frozen, thawed
  • 4 large tomatoes (we like romas)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice (to save time, buy this in the frozen food section)
  • 1 15-ounce can black, kidney or pinto beans, rinsed (we use black)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup prepared salsa
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled tortilla chips (we LOVE Sprouted Blues by Garden of Eaten’)
  • Lime wedges for garnish (optional)

Preparation

  1. Heat oil or broth in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and corn; cook, stirring, until the garlic and onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Coarsely chop 1 tomato. Add it to the pan along with rice, beans, chili powder, 1 teaspoon oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the tomato cooks down, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  2. Coarsely chop the remaining 3 tomatoes. Combine with cilantro, salsa and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon oregano in a medium bowl.
  3. Toss lettuce in a large bowl with the bean mixture, half the fresh salsa and 2/3 cup cheese. Serve sprinkled with tortilla chips, salsa and the remaining cheese.

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

I have a teensy tiny confession to make. I, um, miscalculated the amount of cheese needed for this recipe and ended up doubling what the recipe calls for. It was really oooey-gooey cheesy good though. Maybe I should ‘miscalculate’ more often. 😉

I’ve adapted this recipe to substitute a modicum of coconut oil for the 1/2 cup of butter the original recipe calls for.  I ONLY use organic milk for reasons I think are best to skip while I’m writing a recipe that is suppose to be appetizing and delish.

Vegetarian Broccoli Cheese Soup

  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1/3 c chopped celery
  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 c flour (I use whole wheat)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper – to taste
  • 6 c organic milk
  • 2 1/2 c (organic) veggie stock
  • 1 lb (organic) chopped broccoli
  • 8 oz (1/2 pound) of diced American cheese (If you’re like me, you can put in 16 oz and act like it was suppose to be that way.)

Saute celery and onion in coconut oil; add salt/pepper.  Whisk flour into stock and whisk into sauteed ingredients.  Add broccoli and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat and add milk stirring constantly until creamy and broccoli is desired tenderness. Add cheese. Cook/stir until cheese melts. Serve.

Fettuccine Alfredo with Zucchini – A Vegetarian Receipe

This recipe is adapted from Shine.yahoo.com and it’s a healthy, good alternative to the ‘old’ butter and cream original.  I like this better. It’s rich, flavorful and downright YUMMY!

This recipe feeds 4. Well, unless you’re my husband and I and then it feeds two. 😉

FETTUCCINE ALFREDO with Zucchini

  • 1 1/2 c vegetable broth
  • 8 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 8 oz whole-wheat fettuccine
  • 2 small zucchinis, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 T cornstarch OR flour mixed with 2 T water (or veggie broth) – to taste
  • 4 T sour cream (I use the full-fat version)
  • 1/8 to 1/4 t nutmeg (this adds so much flavor!)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 C grated Parmesan cheese – divided

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Once water is rolling, add fettuccine, stirring often, for about 8 minutes.  Drop in the zucchini matchsticks and cook until tender, about two minutes.

Combine the broth and the peeled garlic cloves in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Cover.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the garlic is soft and tender – about 15 minutes. Transfer the garlic broth to a blender. Process until smoothe, about 1 minute. (NOTE: I recommend making this broth ahead of time and allowing it to cool. If that’s not an option, USE CAUTION when blending hot liquids!)

Return the garlic broth mixture to the pot and bring to a simmer over med-high heat.  Add cornstarch/flour mixture; whisk until slightly thickened, about 15 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in sour cream, nutmeg and pepper.  Return the pot to a very low heat to keep warm. DO NOT BOIL.

Drain the pasta and place in a large bowl. (Note: If you put this back in a hot pan, the cheese will stick to the sides and bottom. There will be less for you to enjoy and more clean up work.)  Add the sauce and 1 cup of Parmesan cheese; coat well.  Serve immediately with the additional cheese.

 

3’s Meat(less) Balls – A Vegetarian Recipe

As promised in my ‘Vegetarian’ blog, here’s one of our FAVORITE vegetarian recipes. You’d be hard pressed to tell there isn’t meat in these filling little beauties. Not even kidding. 

These cooked balls freeze well and make a quick, easy meal. So go ahead and make a double batch while you’re at it.  There may not be many leftovers, but if there is, try a meat(less) ball sandwich on a sour dough hoagie. YUM!!

If you’d like to try some protein rich pasta, we like Ronzoni – Garden Delight or Barilla Plus. Each has about 7 to 10 grams of protein, per serving.   

3's Meat(less) Balls

Adapted from: www.ohsheglows.com

400 degree oven // 20 minutes total – Approximately 16 balls 

MEAT(LESS) BALLS:

  • 4 eggs; slightly beaten
  • 1 c mozzarella shredded cheese
  • 1 c sharp cheddar shredded cheese
  • ¾ c walnuts; ground to a fine texture
  • 1 c rolled oats (Quaker Oatmeal) – do NOT use the ‘quick’ oats
  • 2 cloves garlic; minced
  • Approx 2 T TOTAL of Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Marjoram Leaves (or Italian Seasoning)  (to taste)
  • Approx 1 T of Garlic Powder (to taste)
  • Black Pepper (to taste)
  • Salt (to taste) 

Mix all of the above ingredients together using a power mixer. Mix well.  Place in fridge for a MINIMUM of 30 minutes. Do not refridgerate less than 30 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400. Spray a 9 x 13 metal baking dish with cooking spray (Pam).  Remove the mixture from the fridge and roll into small balls (1 ¼ inch or so).   Place them in the sprayed baking dish and bake, uncovered, for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. 

Remove from oven, roll the balls over and bake for another 10 to 12 minutes. The meatless balls should brown nicely. NOTE: Flattening of the meatless balls is normal. 

SAUCE: 

  • 1 jar of Classico Marinara sauce (or your preference)
  • 1 small can of petite Italian diced tomatoes

Mix together in a saucepan; warm through.  You can either place the cooked meatless balls in the sauce and simmer until ready to eat (this helps keep them moist) OR serve them on top of spaghetti/spaghetti sauce.

Uncooked meatless balls