Monday, January 25, 2010

Mama gets the sniffles

Here is a health-focused piece cross-posted from my main blog, Crunchy-Chewy Mama. I had been putting more health-focused pieces here and more snippets from life on the alternative mainstream divide over there, but I now that I am writing for The Washington Times Communities at "Reading Ingredients: Tales of a Health-Conscious Mom," I'm re-evaluating my blog strategy (which includes looking for someone to help me upgrade them all or combine at least these two blogs.)

Here is my tale of a recent illness and how I fought it off the pharma grid.


We've got 60 degrees here in Metro DC and I think I'm finally getting over a cold that started two weeks ago. I never get sick and stay sick. This was annoying. Not so bad that I had to make the husband stay home or back out on a major event I was planning, but bad enough that I sounded like the woman from "The Nanny" if she had a sinus infection. Not pretty!

We don't do drugs in our house, so I did my best to self-medicate. This starts with food -- lots of nutrient-dense homemade (from pastured chickens) bone broth and a limit on refined carbs. When I look back, the weekend before I got sick I had hot rice cereal for breakfast one day and French toast another day (GF millet bread, but still) and a bunch of rice crackers. That's way more packaged food than usual. So I cut out what I could but still allowed myself some antioxidant-rich raw cacao.

When I started to feel an illness on I restarted the flower essences I maybe should have been taking all season long from Perelandra. On Tuesday the 12th, I tried the homeopathic remedy Hepar. Sulph. Calc. and promptly got worse with a sore throat and swollen glands. I think I honestly fell asleep on the floor of my bathroom while my son played with toys in an empty bathtub. A homeopath said it was most likely that this reaction was just pushing the natural course of events forward and that now I just had a cold I might as well let run its course. So I gave up on the homeopathy - none of the indications seemed 100% right on anymore,anyway - and just tried garlic & ginger in hot lemon water in the morning, eating well, getting sleep, staying in bed even if I couldn't sleep well (instead of getting up to work), and putting some eucalyptus in my shower. I kept meaning to get even just a basic saline nasal spray but didn't, and we found our humidifier but never got it working.

Well, all that, and a lot of water and a lot of bodywork. My head was killing me with major sinus pressure, so I looked for whatever healing hands had openings. On Wednesday, the day after I felt terrible, I had a chiropractic adjustment and acupuncture. On Saturday morning I had a massage, primarily of craniosacral therapy. On Monday afternoon I had another bodywork session, a combo of craniosacral therapy and lymphatic drainage massage. Each time I handed over my credit card after a session, I did feel better. But it didn't last to the next day, not as much as I wanted. I still had a lot of nose-blowing and some coughing.

Then, on Wednesday when I'd been sick for a week, my eye looked red in one corner, which I thought was from not sleeping well until the next morning when it was sticky and red all over. This was the day of my event. None of the many homeopathic remedies for conjunctivitis sounded spot-on for my symptoms, but I got so weepy when my friend rang the doorbell while I was trying to have my son nap, that I decided to take pulsatilla. And I found some homeopathic eye drops at CVS, which I think helped, for sure with the redness. The eye was cleared up a day later. (The second eye got it too and also cleared up after a day).

Friday I saw an osteopath who worked a lot on my head in general, my sinuses and even in my mouth and upper palette. I sounded like a different person after that appointment -- much less nasal. But the next morning I slept in and still felt like I'd regressed. Maybe shopping for a sofa, meeting friends for coffee and walking a mile in mild winter day were too much. But we did get a new rebounder, which I used twice, hoping that it would help my lymphatic system clear out. And I did fit in a little yoga.

Sunday I had to drag myself out of bed but felt a lot better after starting the morning off with Vitamin C before my lemon/ginger/garlic drink, to which I added turmeric and elderberry. And then I had a full breakfast and set to work on some reorganization of the house, which felt great. I even had a little decaf coffee and some GFCF sugar-free (maple syrup only) chocolate cake my son and I had made as a celebration of my successful event Thursday night (adaptation of this cake recipe but using mashed cherries instead of applesauce and adding cacao and coconut flakes).

Despite this indulgence, I could tell I'd turned the corner Sunday afternoon. It's now Monday afternoon, and though I still am not ready to go out and do a full run in this gorgeously warm day (or to be too far away from a tissue), I am glad I was able to ride this out and that so far, no one else in the house seems to have any symptoms.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Applesauce Cake - Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Low-Sugar

At my son's Waldorf school, birthdays are celebrated with applesauce cake. We always pack my son a wheat-free, gluten-free alternative for the baked goods. I also make them dairy-free so that I can eat them and because we try to keep my son's dairy intake down.

I was very pleased with the cake we made yesterday after I'd cobbled together several different gluten-free recipes. I substituted almond flour for most of the flour and drastically reduced the sugar (though did not omit for fear of a too-soggy cake).

Next time I will make a double batch so that we can have plenty to munch on at home! This time we had to reserve three servings for two birthdays this week (and one we'll freeze for next week). I will also increase the spices from the numbers used here, but I'll leave them for those who prefer a milder taste.

GFCF Applesauce Cake Recipe

Dry ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch flour
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (Could use other GF flours per your preference, but the almond makes it moist and sweet and gives the cake more protein)
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp (real with minerals) sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • shake of ground ginger
(increase all spices if you want more flavor)

Mix the above in one bowl and set aside.

Then mix the following in another bowl:
  • 2 (pastured or at least organic!) eggs, beaten (and warmed so the coconut oil will not harden)
  • 1/3 cup warmed (to liquid) coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup Sucanat, Rapadura, date sugar, or maple sugar
Add to that mixture
  • 1 cup applesauce (organic or local from an orchard you trust)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk mixed with water (so not too thick)
  • 1/2 cup grade B maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp black strap molasses (could add more)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (try for GF/alcohol-free. Could increase quantity if desired)
Mix the wet ingredients into the dry bowl. Mix well, with electric mixture for a short time if necessary.

Optional to add in nuts or raisins. If adding raisins, cut down on the sugar and/or maple syrup.

Grease pan(s) with coconut oil prior to filling them or use parchment paper to line if you don't want your food touching non-stick/Teflon surfaces.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. This should fill one 13x9" pan.

(I used a square pan and put the additional batter in a pumpkin-shaped pan, per my son's request. That one cooked in 25-30 minutes as it was not as thick.)