Monday, December 02, 2013

Book Review: The Acid Reflux Solution.

I stopped being personal on my blog long ago, but I think it's time I returned. My name is Aisha and I have acid reflux and gastritis.  As I have searched for sources of information on acid reflux and gastritis, my friend the Internet has really let me down. There are a lot of reputable sources such as WebMD and the Mayo Clinic but they don't explain how to live everyday with these conditions. Then there are also blogs and patients forums but I found these to be overwhelming and not very practical. So I went back to the basics, I went to the library and got a book, The Acid Reflux Solution: A Cookbook and Lifestyle Guide for Healing Heartburn Naturally .
Written by a Gastroenterologist and Registered Dietitian this book covers the science of acid reflux and translates that information into recipes. Dr. Rodriquez shares his own journey with the disease including the reasons why we should all be wary of taking the prescription solutions for a long time. This book posits eating a low fat diet, eating small portions, and staying away from the trigger foods as a solution for acid reflux. It also states that the resulting weight loss from the diet changes will also help to relieve symptoms.

As I mentioned earlier I had already read about what not to eat, the so called trigger foods. That lead me to believe that I had to eat nothing but bland plain foods. The trigger food list in this book is quite a shorter than others. He distinguishes between:

1. Trigger foods:  Foods you should avoid because they cause your lower esophageal sphincter to relax and acid to escape from the stomach.

2. Acidic foods: Foods that are highly acidic that may irritate your esophagus and stomach. This includes things like onions, garlic, citrus, and tomato. Everyone reacts differently to this set of foods. 

The recipes in this book are just what the foodie in me needed. While some may find the recipes in this book complicated, I wanted to be able to enjoy food again. I was looking for more complex flavors that would also not cause flare ups for me. Recipes such as:
  • Butternut Squash and Pear Bisque,
  • Asian Barbeque Chicken, and
  • Mushroom Risotto 
are neither bland or plain but they steer clear of the foods on the trigger list. The recipes also help give me a bit of a clue as to what I should eat when I go to restaurants. 

That said, many of the recipes do contain small amounts of acidic foods. For instance garlic and tomatoes are in some of the recipes.  If you are "in the middle of an acute inflammatory stage" the author recommends avoiding acids and spices. Meaning if you are already having symptoms then stay away from these foods. I have enough cooking knowledge to make modifications where necessary. 

If you are looking for ways to add additional flavors and vary your meals while deal with your acid reflux and gastritis this is the book for you. As always I recommend checking this out from your local library before purchasing the book. 

*This post includes affiliate links.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What I learned from being sick

Remember when I said that I was going to show you how to cook with no kitchen? That didn't happen because I got sick and I didn't really eat anything other than yogurt and chocolate milk for much of the renovation. I made a leg of lamb in the crockpot. That was about it. But I am thankful that I have pulled through this whole thing. But while I was down and out I was always with my trusty iPhone so I learned a few things.

 1. Apple Cider Vinegar is Everything. One of the myriad of things that I went through over the past month was acid reflux. They put me on some medication to help and I developed chest pains. If had not just seen the heart doctor I would have thought I was having a heart a attack. I did some searching and found that apple cider vinegar might help me out a bit and it did. I put a tablespoon in my water bottle and got to sipping. Not sure of the science but I all really needed was n=1 to let me know it worked. It's worked for my hair and my allergies so I wasn't hesitant to try it.

2. Greek Yogurt and Bio K+ = happy tummy. One of the persistent things through this whole ordeal was nausea. A friend of mine recommended that I eat Greek yogurt to help put some good bacteria back in my stomach after a course of antibiotics. I was trying to stay away from dairy but I was desperate to feel better. I started eating Fage every morning and it really helped to settle my stomach and get me out of bed. Plus I had to admit that Fage has a great texture so I stopped eating the store brand varieties. However, the nausea didn't fully go away. Another friend recommend I try Bio K+ from Whole Foods. She said it was expensive so I was immediately turned off especially having recently read this article. But I found myself in Whole Foods one day and I picked up a bottle. It's essentially a super dose of probiotics, again something to put the good bacteria back in my stomach. I took it for a few days and by day three the nausea was gone. I don't know if I was nearing the end of my sickness or what but I'll stick with it for now.

3. Just rest if you can. Sometimes you just have to accept that you are going through it. I didn't want to accept this so I wouldn't rest. I kept trying to declare myself cured and just get back to it. Only to have leave places in hurry because I thought I was going to pass out. That's not fun for your friends. I had to realize it's okay just be. I think a meditation course is in my future.

 4. There's got to be an app for that. Growing up I got all of my medical care through Kaiser Permanente. All I needed was my medical record number and I could call and find out when and where I needed to be. Then I got Kaiser in DC and it wasn't the same. The doctors just sucked and the facilities aren't big enough to have everything in one place. So I went the PPO route. While my choices of physicians are better I don't have a single medical record, each doctor does their own thing. I think I had 10 encounters with medical facilities. I was carrying around all these papers and I had to remember all the instructions for preparing for each test. Then there were the medications. Calls to the insurance company. Bills in the mail . I have worked in public health all my life and even I was drowning. I totally understand why people don't adhere to doctor's orders when they have complicated care regimens. I know that there has to be an app to help people but I didn't even have time to figure that out for myself. I was just trying to get better.

So friends take these lessons and tuck them away for a later time. Toodles.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Kitchen Renovations: Meal Planning

In two days we will start our journey of 30 days or more without a kitchen. Yep we are ripping it all out and putting in new cabinets and counter tops. We are doubling the amount of cabinets we have and getting rid of those unsightly wire racks. The racks are nice. The amount of crap we have on them isn't so nice. One of the challenges we have is to be able to eat good meals and to not eat out all the time. My blood pressure has been high lately so I need to minimize my salt intake.  So processed foods are out the door. B also needs variety or he will just eat out. So I have set up a mini kitchen in the basement. While we have more than we need accessible most of the stuff we can't use because there is no stove and we are trying to keep the use of dishes and appliances to a minimum. It will be like living in a dorm again. So here is what we have to cook with:

Slow Cooker
Foreman Grill
Waffle Iron
Outdoor Grill
Utility Sink
Mini Fridge


My plan is to try and eat breakfast at work. We can take oatmeal and cook it in the microwave or I can do a batch of slow cooker oatmeal at the beginning of the week and eat it all week. Greek yogurt parfaits would be good too but I think it flares up my allergies. Although we don't use the waffle iron a lot, I can see myself making up a batch of waffles and putting them in the freezer at work. Some grilled chicken sausage on the Foreman and we are all set. Of course fruit and nuts make a good breakfast as well. Most of this will minimize the amount of dishes I have to do at home.

Lunch & Dinner

I have been looking on Pinterest for easy dinner recipes. While the slow cooker is great it's nice to have some variety. Here are some of the interesting things I found:

Groupon, Living Social, & Gilt City Let's be real, we are going to want to eat out some days. There will be those days when we just don't have the right ingredients to make something happen or we are just lazy. It's allowed. So I decided to buy about $50 worth of coupons. Most of them are for fast casual food but I did get at least one for a nicer restaurant.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Chai Tea Misto

If you go way back on this blog, you will see that there was once an Indian guy and gal on my life. The former was addicted to Starbucks Chai and the latter made homemade Chai. Thus my obsession with Chai. I weaned myself (and my wallet) off Sbux in 2012 but recently I was back on it. Upon return, I realized that that the Chai was just way too sweet for me. It has 42 grams of sugar and nearly 240 calories. So I asked if I could have my chai latte made with a tea bag. Oh yeah nearly sugarless Chai. I can taste many more of the flavors in the chai itself and the vanilla steamed soy milk takes it to the next level. This week I learned that in Sbux lingo it is a "soy chai tea bag misto." It also cheaper and way less calories. You only have the 60 calories in the vanilla soy milk. Such a great find. Yes I could make it myself for way cheaper but for some reason I don't want to. I will do it soon I promise. I have to because those Morning Buns, cinnamon rolls, and glazed donuts call out to me.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

You have how many unread emails?

My name is Aisha and I had 5000+ unread emails in my Gmail inbox. About a year ago I started keeping track of the number of unread emails in my inbox. It was a cry for help. I was hoping someone would take pity on me and offer to clean it up. Yeah no takers.

I had a feeling I was missing important email and I was starting to look like a flake to some people. I'm on three nonprofit boards and I was not doing my duties when I couldn't find things in my email. I read a  lot of productivity blogs and they often feature many email solutions. This week I read a lot about email so I figured it was time to take control of my email.

First I used to help me get off a bunch of mailing list and delete the messages associated with those list. Great, but I seemed to still have a lot of email lingering. I also now had The Swizzle sending me a daily email. That seems like the opposite of what I wanted.

Then I signed up for after I saw them on Lifehacker. It sounded great but then I was in the queue for over a week. During that week I didn't know if it just wasn't working, was slow, or just sucked. So I gave up. About a week later I got an email saying that my inbox was ready. What? I already broke up with you before we started. I tried to log in and got a message saying it was broken. Yeah that's not cool either. We were over before we got started.

While I was waiting for Mailstrom to get its act together I found Sanebox. It basically goes through your inbox and auto sorts things into to stuff that needs to stay in your inbox, archived, or you can read later. Just had to press the button and say poof! It's gotta free trial then after that it's like $2/month. I also like the feature that it strips attachments in future emails automatically and saves them into Dropbox. Losing attachments was a real reason I couldn't get a hold of my inbox. I'm not afraid anymore. This may mean I need DropBox Pro at some point.

But I still had a lot of old email that was sitting there. After Andre told me that it was a Baltimore startup, I went back to . I guess it started working because Sanebox had already helped me get the box down. It has a multiple sort functions. So I could see that had I 1500 emails from just three people, none of which I probably needed to keep. Poof!  Deleted or Archived.

So within the last week I have deleted about 25K worth of email.

Now I need to do this for my two other email accounts. Le sigh. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Springing Forward My Health

As you all know I go on and off of trying to be healthier, though I  don't obsess about numbers on the scale anymore.  I am more concerned about the fact that I seem to bust my ass once a month, that I am tired after one flight of stairs, and  a two year old would probably put a hurtin' on me in a fight. I have been thinking very hard about trying to change but I needed to reflect on my past a bit before I came up with a plan of action. 

Family History

First things first. Both my parents had high blood pressure and my dad died prematurely because like me, he faked at eating right. I would come home for visits and all I saw was rice milk, tofu pups, and eggs. I thought he was eating pretty well. I guess I should have wondered what about lunch and dinner. When I moved home temporarily to take care of him, I found out the truth. From his bank statements I saw he was eating El Pollo Loco and Ms. Marilyn's Soul Food, a lot. I also learned that my dad didn't know how to cook. I remember growing up he would make oatmeal and waffles. My mom made everything else. I just figured that it was a gender role thing. Nope he didn't even know his way around a tuna sandwich. 

My mom on the other hand fed us lots of foods, both good and bad. We were only allowed to eat Cheerios and Kix because the other cereals were full of sugar. However, Pop Tarts were a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. I guess icing doesn't have sugar. Totally mixed messages. Given my mom's background she was making sure we had enough food, no matter what it was. We always had vegetables but mostly from a can. We always had fruit too.

I have a pretty decent knowledge of what's good for me and what's not. Where I struggle is that I focus on what makes me feel happy or comfort. I need to focus on what makes me feel alive, healthy, and strong. I eat the right foods all the time, but I also eat a lot of cupcakes. I am working on it now through Weight Watchers. 

Weight Watchers Simply Filling Technique

Danica's Daily  does a great job of explaining the technique so I won't get into that.  For me this technique was appealing because I didn't need to count the oatmeal, bananas, and the grilled chicken. On the regular Points Plus plan you track everything! What I need to do is track the cupcakes and french fries. I would always forget about the bottle of wine I had the night before. That's why I think the Simply Filling technique will work for me. 

This is week one and it's easy and hard at the same time.  It's easy to have delicious meals made of the right stuff. It's hard when you didn't tell your husband you were going to do this and he brought home a pound of prosciutto and the gelato you bought last week is still here. It's easy to pack a lunch with the right foods in the right portions. It's hard to not eat your entire Chipotle burrito bowl. But overall it's easier for me right now because the alternative was to not track any of it all and expect to magically look differently.  

Body Pump

If I am going to be able to wrestle that two year old I need to get stronger. That starts with working out.  I got a little present from a past mystery shop in the mail in last month.  I temporarily joined a gym for a mystery shop a few years ago but I guess I was still in their database of old members. This gym normally cost about $100 a month but they were offering a Family membership for $60. While their locations are not that convenient during the week I thought I could start by committing to one class of Body Pump per weekend. That alone pays for the membership.

It's a challenging workout for me and by the next day I am super sore. You get a decent cardio workout as well. I am committing to once a week and will try to add in at least one more workout. The gym is also near one of my favorite bike trails so when it gets a little warmer I might be able to do both things. 

Next Steps

I am not exactly sure. I am going to track how I feel about the Simply Filling technique. It seems easy but I think others might be able to learn from my experiences. Also my husband is a fabulous cook and I want to share his recipes. Many of them are simple but interesting. Deer with sautéed collard greens anyone?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Breathe: Naturally Tackling a Cold/Flu

A couple of days ago I woke up with a killer sore throat and a stuffy nose. I forgot to take a flu shot and CDC said that it wasn't that effective this year anyhow.  I am always super slow to react any signs of flu/cold but this time I wanted to get on top of it. So here are  few tips.

Step 1: Listen to your mother

If you are sick, eat a lemon. Growing up in Southern California , I had no idea how spoiled we were to have fruit trees in our backyard. We had a lemon tree that bore fruit year around. Whenever a cold appeared, the first thing mom tell us to do was eat a lemon from the tree. Just peel it and eat it like an orange. I found that it would dry up mucous with a quickness and take extra does of Vit. C doesn't hurt.

Honey, Lemon, & Ginger
Building on that advice, I drank lots of Naked Power-c machine this winter. I figured it was cheaper and tastier than Mucinex.

Step 2: Have some tea

Any type of tea will do. The hot liquid will soothe your throat. It helps if you add honey or lemon. I found this recipe of a honey lemon concentrate that I plan to keep on hand. 

Step 3: Make some chicken soup

This is where I diverge from moms advice. She would pop open a can of the name brand chicken soup concentrate and added water. It's pretty easy to whip up some homemade chicken soup if you start with store bought broth. I'll ask B to give me the recipe.

Now if it is really bad here a few other things

Step 4:  Steam!

Use a steamer or take a hot shower. That will help to break up the mucous. 

Step 6: Use a Neti pot.

Years ago my friend Gibran told me about Neti pots.The idea of putting water up my nose was terrifying. Well one day I was so miserably stuffed up that I said what the hell. Gross but effective. Put some lipgloss on afterwards so you feel less gross. ( Visit Gibran's tea shop)

Step 5: Apple Cider Vinegar is a boss

Drink 2 tablespoons in 16 ounces of water.  Grab a box of tissues because you will be blowing your nose soon. 

These are the things I have found effective. Do you have anything else to try?