Food & Recipes

Chocolate Power Protein N’ice Cream

Whether you have a picky eater or an under-eater, it is sometimes important for your child to pack on some weight. That’s when we, as parents, turn to supplemental nutritional drinks and foods that are high in calories that will help them gain weight faster.

Jai recently had a nasty cold which suppressed his appetite and caused him to lose about one pound. At his age, this weight loss was less concerning, but he was already on the low end for his age range, thus causing him to be underweight. During the cold, he was only consuming liquids like breastmilk and water, so I wasn’t worried about him being dehydrated, but I wanted to make sure he was getting all the important nutrients he needed and his daily caloric requirements. I also wanted to help him quickly add that pound back on and maybe an extra one for good measure.

I went out and bought a name-brand nutritional drink for toddlers. I looked at the label and was not happy with how much sugar the product contained. He hadn’t had that much sugar up to this point in his life, but I was concerned about his needing to gain weight so I bought the stuff.

He seemed to like it at first, but after a few sips he rejected drinking more. I suspect it was too sweet for him. I couldn’t try it myself, but even Ash was unimpressed with the flavor.

We put him to bed several hours later. I had thought the drink had left his system, but  the sugar and chemicals caused him to be a light sleeper and he woke up around 1am and screamed uncontrollably for about an hour (we tried to console him as much as we could). The only thing different about his eating habits that day was this drink.

We vowed never to do that again.

That didn’t solve my concern regarding his weight and need for nutrients and calories. I decided to experiment with what I had in the house.

I came up with a dense ice “cream” that uses fruit and maple syrup to sweeten it, but has avocados and peanut butter as a means to heft up the calories and protein.

Because it doesn’t contain any dairy, this will be okay for your little one while they have a cold, the frozen nature of the treat will soothe throats but not increase mucus production. It is also a tasty snack, so it shouldn’t be hard to get them to eat it if you have a picky eater. You can find the recipe after the cut.

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Food & Recipes

Delicious Foods for an Eating Reset

Eating simply sounds easy by the terms used, but it’s hardly ever simple to do. There tend to be a lot of steps, ingredients, preparation time, and a short shelf-life. If you are being particularly strict about it, it can be budget breaking.

All of these reasons are why when I’ve attempted to do cleanses and detoxes in the past, I’ve failed miserably. I needed to approach this reset differently from before; I decided to make some adjustments, making the preparation quicker and easier so it would be less stressful and take some simple shortcuts that wouldn’t compromise the integrity of the reset.

Below are two recipes to make the necessary foods for this particular diet reset, with one modified for the Instant Pot. I am new to the IP community, so the recipe is probably rough compared to what you might be used to seeing. I wanted to share how easy it was to make these two items for others who are looking for a less stressful way to do a diet reset.

Simple Oatmeal

Original recipe here. Below are my modifications.

Ingredients
1/2 Cup rolled oats
1 1/2 Cups water
1/2 Cup diced, dried apricot
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 Cup raw, sliced almonds (whole are fine, I like the texture of the sliced)

Directions

  1. Combine the apricot, 1 Cup of water, and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes or until the apricot is rehydrated and tender.
  2. Add in the oats, 1/2 Cup of water, stir, raise the temperature to bring to boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Oats should be soft and water fully absorbed.
  3. Cool, top with almond slices, and serve.

Notes
Double the recipe so you don’t have to make this every morning of your reset. It shouldn’t sit in the fridge more than one day at a time because you do want to keep it fresh.

If you have a pumpkin pie spice mix, substitute that in by increasing to 1/2 teaspoon. The mix contains all acceptable spices during this reset (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger) and might be a delicious way to get that pumpkin spice craving if you are doing this reset in the fall.

Instant Pot Kitchari

Original recipe here if you don’t own an Instant Pot. Below are my modifications.

Ingredients
1 Cup basmati rice
1/2 Cup Yellow dal/lentils
2 Tablespoons of ghee (coconut oil for vegans)
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
2 Cups water
Easy to digest frozen vegetables (reheated)

Directions

  1. Combine the dal with the rice and rinse the mixture until the water runs clear. Put into the Instant Pot.
  2. Add the ghee, black mustard, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and fresh ginger to the rice/dal mixture in the Instant Pot. Stir. Add 2 Cups of water (make sure none of the rice or dal mixture sticks to the sides before closing it up).
  3. Seal and using “Manual” setting, set for 12 minutes. Once complete, allow for 12-minute natural release and then open the value to release the rest of the pressure. Switch over to warm.
  4. Stir in the re-heated veggies and serve.

Notes
Boil some potatoes or sweet potatoes (diced) while the kitchari cooks in the Instant Pot. Stir those in in addition to the veggies.

If you know how, you can saute the spices with the ghee ahead of putting the rice/dal mixture into the Instant Pot. I’ve never done this before, so I didn’t want to put this step in but leave it as a suggestion.

Bonus: Steamed Vegetables

I will let you in on a little secret for this one: I cheat and buy frozen vegetables that have been pre-steamed and just need to be thawed in the microwave. Make sure to select a type that contains nothing but the vegetables in it: no added butter, no added salt, just pure, frozen vegetables.

I am already spending time to make these other dishes that this is a simple shortcut that maintains the integrity of the reset.

Food & Recipes

Immune & Energy Booster Turmeric Shots

Several years ago, I participated in a yoga intensive course which required attending classes at a local studio almost daily and first thing in the morning. This was before my diagnosis, but just after I experienced my first flare-up, so fatigue was an issue for me at the time.

I was complaining to another student while we were waiting to step into the studio about how tired I was and how I would love to have a cup of coffee (we were doing a strict detox diet as part of the course at the time). She pulled this small bottle* out of her bag and handed it to me.

Her: “It’s a turmeric shot. These things are great natural energy boosts.”
Me: “Turmeric? As in the spice?”
Her: “Yeah, have you heard about it? It’s got all these great ayurvedic properties, but it’s been found to naturally boost your energy. It’s more potent than caffeine.”
Me: “And it’s safe?”
Her: “Absolutely. It’s all natural. Just try half of it and let me know what you think after class.”

I tried it and she was correct. I felt extremely energized. I was almost shaking to get class started, that’s how powerful it was for me. I will add this note: it was the first of any sort of energy drink I had in weeks. We couldn’t even drink green tea, so the results might have been slightly skewed due to my body just going into overload.

I didn’t get a chance to follow up with the turmeric as an energy booster after that experience. But it stayed in the back of my mind and when I read about the natural benefits of turmeric in the diet for brain health and as an anti-inflammatory, I decided to look back into it as something to add into my daily diet to help manage my MS.

The Health Benefits of Turmeric

What makes Turmeric the wonder spice is the curcumin. Curcumin is believed to be a beneficial supplement to fight Alzheimer’s due to its anti-inflammatory and brain boosting properties. It also is found to have cognitive-boosting abilities, though this needs to be researched further. It can also help prevent certain forms of cancer.

These two things alone: inflammation and cognition are issues a person with MS deals with on a daily basis. I am not advocating forsaking all other forms of MS therapy, I am saying that by adding it to my daily diet will help supplement traditional forms of MS therapy. And as a runner, the anti-inflammatory benefits is extremely helpful to recovery.

But the energy/metabolism and the immune benefits? This becomes a universal appeal for a daily consumption of Turmeric. Even if you don’t have MS, having a natural way to get more energy and boost the immune system will be beneficial to your health. It may not cure a cold or completely prevent getting one, but it will give you that extra boost your body might need.

Making My Own Turmeric Drink

Before removing sugar from my diet, I found it harder to stomach turmeric even in a drink form. The taste was too weird and I needed something sweet to help cover it up because that’s how I handled flavors I didn’t care for in the past: add sugar to make it more palatable.

A few weeks after quitting sugar, I bought several shots of turmeric for an early morning road trip I was making to Tennessee. I took some sips and found that I actually enjoyed the flavor and felt quite the energy boost.

Sugar struck again as a ruiner of flavors. Now that it was out of my system, I was able to enjoy something I previously disliked.

But what took my breath away was the price per bottle. I could drink one bottle per day for the health benefits, but my wallet wasn’t going to be fond of the ~$6.00 per 3 fl oz. I knew I could make it even cheaper.

I found a couple of recipes online, but they didn’t adhere to the vegan diet (I wanted something I could drink once I switched over), or they didn’t have the flavors I was looking for, so I decided to create my own recipe. Below the break, you will find my recipe and some ideas for modifications.

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The Check-In

Confession Time…

It’s the holiday season and that makes it very difficult to maintain any form of stick-to-it-tiv-ness when it comes to healthy habits. Exercising is harder with the colder weather and my running buddy is taking a slight break because of the holidays. It’s very hard to push yourself to get out of bed at 6am to go run in the cold.

Regarding my diet drops, I will admit I have lapsed. On a lot of things. Almost everything. Except sugar and fried foods. Sugar gives me such massive headaches that I can’t function for the rest of the day depending on how much I have and I think I have finally kicked the fried-food monkey. I don’t want to go through the psychological withdrawal again because of how difficult it was to get over.

I don’t consider any of this backsliding to be a failure. In fact, I consider it self-care. While I shouldn’t excuse myself for not meeting my personal goals, if I use this as a reminder that I can’t expect perfection and to be gentle with myself if I miss certain personal benchmarks, I won’t get discouraged.

Discouragement because of not meeting personal goals can spell the end of what is overall a positive and beneficial experience. I just need to maintain the mantra: tomorrow is another day and I can refocus once this “rough” period is over.

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Food & Recipes

Vegan, Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free Smash Cake

Jai had his official birthday party over the weekend, celebrated with friends and family. In the tradition of providing a cake for him to smash through while everyone laughs as he gets messy (and leaving Ash to do the literal dirty work), I wanted to create something “healthy” and in keeping with our eating habits for him. I’ve been limiting his gluten intake, avoiding dairy because it upsets his stomach, and avoiding all sugarcane with a few, minor exceptions; so there was an interest in finding an easy cake that fits these guidelines.

I found a few recipes, but I eventually made a few modifications to create my own cake for the little one (and combining recipes). One of my favorite dessert flavor combos is banana and chocolate, so I might as well pass that love down. I linked the original recipes that inspired my cake, though you’ll find my modifications below.

This recipe is actually perfect with a cup of coffee in the morning for the adult baked goods lover. I couldn’t bring myself to toss the whole cake out, so I snagged a few unbroken pieces for myself.

Recipe below the break.

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Food & Recipes

A Squishing Good Time

Bonus post!

Yesterday was Jai’s 1st birthday. I thought about making a dedicated blog post about it, but decided to post about his birthday “cake” instead. I am still not ready to give into the sugar beast for him (especially considering how much I love the stuff myself), so I created a fruit cake for him to play with and munch on instead.

It took him a while to get the hang of it, but by the end of the playtime, the cake was thoroughly dissected and smashed on the floor. He got a couple of good bites in and had a pleased look on his face when bits of fruit made it into his mouth with little difficulty.

Recipe below the break.

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