Raw Mexican and Second Opinions

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While I’m on board with eating raw, I’m not yet fully convinced regarding some of the texures. As I learn more techniques however, I am beginning to have more faith.The  above plate was mostly successful. Flavor wise, it was pretty good. I didn’t have a couple of the key Mexican flavors on hand, such as lime juice and jalapeno peppers. I think that would of changed things. Yet, I’ve eaten in Mexican restaurants that offered far less flavor so I still give it 4 stars.

I’m not convinced about eating sprouted raw lentils honestly and so I marinated them in a lemon dressing for a full day to help cook them down. Again, missed the lime. Corn tortilla was store bought and cooked. Everything else was raw.

Salad, guacamole, kale chips, butternut squash chips . It took time. Thats another downer of some recipes.

We are leaving tomorrow to head down to Madison for my second opinion oncology appointment. I’m quite nervous because I’m counting on this doctor to instill some semblance of hope tnrough long term planning. My goal is to try to create more tangible goals for my treatments because all this time, its just been about keeping it at bay and that has had very limited results.

So many options are off the table as well and I can’t understand why this is. I’m inoperable for this or that reason. I’m not ideally qualified for some lymph treatment for whatever reason. My lungs can’t be biopsied for another reason.

Most of the reasons are about location of tumors. But thats three seperate metastasis’ at three locations with the same exact reasoning. It seems unbelievable that I would have such crap luck….and the doctors want me to believe thats just it- luck of the draw. I have no idea how improbable this is. It just seems ludicrous that in 2017, where doctors can operate on nerve endings, that tumor licatiln is such a big issue. If chemo fails to work on my lymph nodes then the cancer is heading to my pancreas in no time.  And that will not be good…might even be irredeemable infact. So we have a sticky situation on our hands.

I just cant see continuing without an end game of some kind, i.e., having liver resected after eliminating the other tumors or removing the lymph, etc. Why keep treating the untreatable if I’m trully hopeless? Its not like treatment is giving me life…quality of life is important too.

Tough decisions ahead. But I’m breathing deeply and taking this one day at a time.

 

Baklava Flavored Buckwheat Granola

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Before I actually realized how important soaking grains is in a raw foods diet, I tried to add raw millet to baked granola and naturally nearly broke my teeth so when I undertook this idea, I remained cautiously skeptical. Buckwheat of course is not a real grain but needs to be treated like one.

I presoaked the buckwheat for a good 24 hours then I put it in the dehydrator at 115 degrees F for about 6 hrs. I had other things in there so the timing might have been overkill as I’m used to dehydrating for long term storage which requires longer timing and higher temps than raw foods does. I’m  still learning here:)

The recipe is very basic and you can easily wing it, but I wrote it down what I did. Its like any other granola except it goes back into the dehydrator after adding liquids, instead of the oven. All the dried fruit except the home dried strawberries plumped up in the process so that was quite a surprise. Another very nice surprise is that this batch tastes very much like baklava.

1 1/2 cups buckwheat (prepared as above)

1/4 cup raw pecans

1/4 cup blanched almonds

1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

6 dried apricots cut with scissors

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup dehydrated starwberries

1 Tablespoon cinnamon

Mix the above together in a bowl

Then, on low heat, melt 2 tbsp. coconut oil remove from flame and let cool slightly then add 1 Tablespoon raw honey ( or maple syrup, etc. )

Pour over dried ingredients, mix well then return to dehydrator set to 115 degrees until the granola is dry. It will be slightly sticky. Thats it.

Some of my ingredients were not raw ( dried fruits) so this isnt fully raw but it is delicious. Seriously….baklava granola? Who can resist that?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In My Garden: Iris

Last year, a friend gave me about a dozen iris from her late mother in laws garden. She had no idea of what colors much less names they were but I was thrilled just the same because these have been in their garden for a very long time. I hoped for heirlooms. The gift came later in the season therefor only one bloomed- a yellow.  I then waited patiently to see what I had all of last year. In the meantime, they unexpectedly divided like mad.

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For the last week, its  been somewhat like Christmas here for me. Every morning I wake up eagerly awaiting the sun to reveal which delicate tissue wrapped pod has blossomed. So far:

IMG_0405Possibly, Coronation. I am told by my friend Mary – a member of one of the Iris historical societies- that this type was introduced in the 20’s and was popular in graveyards.

Also:

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Evolution, a variety from the 1930’s. Its colors remind me of a sunset.  So far it looks like these are the two varieties in that bunch. I’m thrilled of course.  I already had:

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No idea about name or history but I think its my favorite. Its at least 3 feet tall and is an early bloomer. I have another purple variety that haven’t bloomed yet- a smaller “Japanese Iris” as well.  Photos when they do.

Iris came into my life in such an odd way. I recall how an elderly neighbor in Chicago used to wax poetic about his collection and while I liked them well enough, I didn’t think they were an easy flower to grow so I just used to nod politely and let him talk.

Then we moved up here and we eventually uncovered the two previously mentioned bunches – one hidden amongst the thorny raspberry patch and the other in a cluster of unmowed grass….as far from the house as you can get. We moved the Bearded Iris under the Oak tree ( my pet project has been to “decorate” beneath it) where I can appreciate them as well as access easily  for bouquets. I have to move the Japanese one as well as place samples of each variety in pots in case we do sell the property.

I was very wrong about them being hard to grow …they are easy as pie. The rhizome stays in the ground so they are extremely hardy. Our area can dip well below freezing into the negative numbers (-32 and thereabouts)  and stay there for days if not weeks. Its nice to not have to dig them up! And though our spring weather can be extreme with high tornado level winds, hail and torrential rains, they have held up beautifully.

The worst part is having to divide them but even that has rewards because one can spread them around as gifts to friends and even entice friends to do the digging.

I realized something about them- they are tokens of friendship. If you have watched The Botany of Desire, it is stated how plants use these sort of enchantments in order to survive. Iris  propagate easily and they encouraging gift giving. In this way, they also propagate memories and friendship which is the way they move into other gardens. Clever flower! And it gets even better. One can plant from seed but even with heirlooms, each seed wont necessarily produce true. Instead, the rhizome carries the true genetic code and that of course is u der ground.

Mary and I will trade ( she has my Japanese ones already) and in this way, no matter what becomes of me, I will live on in her garden.  When she thins hers, I will cherish her gifts too and the friend who gifted me the dozen also lives in my garden,  as does her late mother in law  who I barely knew and of course my elderly neighbor from Chicago lives in memory if not in the garden itself. Thats quite a feat for a flower!

Now I’m planning on how, if we move, I will prepare samples to take with me and how to encourage the kids to also take samples to grow in my memory when I am gone.  I think that ultimately, thats the beauty of some gardens- they can be legacies if we allow it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chia Pudding

IMG_0391 Its very rare that I have the exact ingredients as the source but this time, I did…I think anyway. I used canned coconut milk , not the mylk type in a carton so my pudding was probablly more flavorful.  I also used maple syrup not honey and used less. In retrospect, the sweetner might not be missed if eliminated altogether.( I can’t find the source tbat I used but this is the same recipe.)

I chilled this for a full day which is much nicer than a short chill that many recipes suggest.  I love rice pudding very much but in eating less grains and sugars, have avoided it. My family always added just a drop of rose water to rice pudding so I suggest adding that here too.

Meanwhile, I have concluded that my Facebook fast is the best thing I have ever done. Once or twice in the last few days, I felt the itch- mainly because my  “liked” pages were a collection of good news sources, but I can use their websites instead. The friends who communicated with me there regularly are now texting me or using Messenger which one can have as a stand alone without Facebook. Its working out just fine.

However, while I have begun to knit again, I have not begun the other activities I need to do yet. I hope that today will be different.

I set two goals during my palliative care appointment- well actually four, but two pertain to my withdrawal from Facebook: Art and Exercise! Do them.  Daily!

Easier said than done but do them I must!

I hope that today, I will.

How to break through these creative blocks ? How to convalesce , not just from a long winter but one in which I was bedridden for half the time? We will soon find out. Suggestions welcome.

 

 

Breakfast of Champions

IMG_0400 In trying to  eat alkaline/raw/vegan, eating more can be important to success. The reasons are due to calorie needs as well as the fact that by eating these foods in greater numbers, one is achieving optimal nourishment from the allowable healing foods. Cancer patients need a great deal of deeper nourishment as do others with severe debilitation so low caloried dieting in the traditional sense is out.

The take away here is that a person who just eats a bit of fruit with some dairy for example, but has a sandwich for lunch and a steak and potato dinner does not have room for the portions  I would eat, so to that person, this platter looks excessive I am sure. However, if that same person were to try this diet, the mindset of “excess” has to change otherwise that person would be very hungry all the time. Also, eating one portion of fruit and another of vegetables a day is not optimal. We all need far more.

I say this because I am old enough to remember the calorie restricted cottage cheese/ celery stick/ melba toast diet and I can see how the image prevails and is applied to the vegan/ raw diet too. They are NOT the same;)

I am very rarely hungry on this diet but I was initially.  Infact, sometimes (like this breakfast), my eyes are far bigger than my stomach, but thats because of my inner artist. I love colorful  platters! My point however is to advise newcomers to pack your plate. Don’t be afraid to eat more. The reason people use smoothies and juices is because they can pack in far more portions than they can eat in a day, not just for hunger but for the reason we need to eat-nourishment. There is no harm in doing so. Eat!

The further I have gone into my cancer journey and alkaline eating, the more my body just has no desire for denser foods so if you try this way of eating,  give it a chance to work. It feels odd at first but as your body changes, it feels right.   I consider myself to be in the transitional stages of the diet and recommend taking time to adjust.

Some notes: Since I have cancer, my appetite might  not be strong regardless but I’m not losing weight so there isn’t a concern regarding calories and I’m  feeling what I call “normal” so theres no concern about rampant metastisis changing my appetite.My blood work is monitored constantly and continues to impress doctors as well.  Something more positive appears to be shifting.

I obviously don’t discount the power of  higher level nourishment but I do believe theres a syncronisty between adding good/ removing bad at this stage for me. I estimate that I’m about 65% alkaline and 30% raw at this time- thats the “add” bit. When I was less committed I didn’t feel any striking benefits necessarily.  When I finally upped the ante, I began to see the power of food to heal. This part meant a stricter watch over elimination.

An alkaline diet in general is vegan. Anybody can eat more alkaline foods but the formal diet itself is vegancentric.  It can allow grains if sprouted, but many eliminate them. I have removed many.  The diet removes dairy ( I still do cultured yogurt maybe twice a month, more out of habit than anything), soy, bad oils, refined sugars, chemicals, peanuts, etc.

Once these foods were removed, its been much more uncomfortable adding them back in when I am so harried that I just eat whats there.  Whats more, it took awhile to realize it. Infact, I just realized last weekend to be exact when I ate something I shouldn’t have and my liver let me know the following day.

Other results:

My entire torso has been subject to crippling pain since last December when my body underwent a severe cytokine storm after direct radiation to a liver tumor. My oncologist asked me to track my triggers. Long story short- meat and eggs. I was still eating both now and then, with an emphasis on eggs, which I absolutely love. I stopped both and the troubling pain in my torso went away completely. I am off of acid reflux medications and can focus on deeper healing finally!

This is no small thing to endure but it became more distressing when the pain was being blamed on my swollen lymph and maybe lung tumors which stressed me out which put me in a vicious cycle. I began to doubt that my alternative measures could work.

Recently I was reading an old issue of the Hippocrates Institutes magazine. In it, a patient said that one of the important lessons she learned on her visit was to stop being afraid that the treatment wouldn’t work and to believe that it will.

Those of us choosing integrative medicine are afraid. We are covering all bases and nothing wrong with that. What we need to keep in mind though is that our allopathic oncologists will say things that scare us. Cancer is scary business after all. But how we react is up to us. For example, I was terrified regarding my lymph glands. I took immediate action to recommit to this diet however…upped it a few notches, not thinking it would help. Looking back, I see that I was desperate to feel in control but not necessarily trustful. Then I read the article and conciously let some of the fear go.  And my diet did help. I believe my entire digestive tract was inflammed and that was what needed attention.

So keep this all in mind. Food is not ” just food”, healing itself is also not just about food, but mind ( and spirit).  Changing my perceptions about food, excess, hunger and healing has been tremendously helpful to me because its necessary to do. We need to get out of our own way sometimes.

To your health.

Oh look, a picture!

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The rest of Day 2 of my Facebook fast went well. I knit more of the ribbing on the cardigan I started. The yarn is from an alpaca I once owned who I named Kosmic Shiva, mixed in with some other alpaca fleece I was given from a rancher. Shiva is in a new home but has a lovely soft fiber that a local mill cleaned, carded and spun into fingering weight for me. They kept 2/3rds of the yarn and gave me my share. I’m thrilled! Unfortunately , my Dolly Lama’s fleece was unworkable as it was too short so I have nothing to remember him by besides memories. I think of him often actually.

At any rate, I’m actually happy to not be on that social network. I was hating it and now I realize how deeply that went.

The palliative care appointment might well be the best thing to happen to me. The nurse practitioner I met with is going to try me on a new pain killer that she feels might be better because of how sleepy my current one is making me. Her goal is to give me back a semblance of a quality life- one that is active and well adjusted. I’m obviously on board with that.

In the meantime, I am returning to UW Madisons cancer center for another second opinion so I am on hiatus from treatment until then. The direct radiation to my large livertumor worked…the tumor is dead. The other one on the left lobe is stable which is good. However my lymph is quite enlarged and as per usual, nothing invasive is possible without serious risk, if at all. I no longer believe that.

Infact it disturbs me because half the stage 4 Colon Cancer patients with similar cases to mine that  I have spoken to have this crazy idea….they can shrink things down then do surgery for the rest. This goal makes the torture of chemo tolerable…its part of a long game, not an end all. I don’t have that sense of possibility because, well…..thats what I’m going to find out- why?I’m not a rare case, nor is my cancer the scary genetic type. Just run of the mill stuff here.

So far my lung tumor was too dangerous to biopsy, my liver tumor too close to the pancreas to tinker with and now my lymph also is too close to something or other. ….. So off to Madison we go.