Friday, July 31, 2015

Eat At Home

We had a gloriously cool morning today (66F at 7:00 a.m.) and it warmed up very slowly, so up until lunch was quite nice.  I felt well enough in fact, to do about 45 minutes of cardio exercise and then another 30 minutes or so of weights.  I can tell that I am feeling better since embarking on the no-starch but it's slow and the pain is very slow to move.  But hey, my mood and such is better and I realized today I had not needed to take a Claritin in about 2 weeks.!  Now, I am still getting rather tired and I crashed heavily this afternoon but I was pleased with what I got done today anyway.  Not as much as I'd like for sure, but I think it's improving.
It was still cool enough around 11:00 a.m. that I decided a nice brunch out on the deck would be good.  I love to eat outside if at all possible.  I made the new almond/ flax pancakes with fresh strawberries and some bacon.  They were very yummy and since a couple of you had asked for the recipe I thought I'd share that.
Now, this recipe comes from George Stella's The Complete Low-Carb Cookbook.
He developed the recipes in this book (and others) in order to lose a lot of weight but they work great for the AS low/ no-starch diet and some of the other diets for IBS, Fibro etc. because he basically uses no grains or other starches.  I think there are one or two recipes I would have to modify but for the most part the whole book is great and the recipes are truly good.  I highly recommend any of his books if you are interested in the low-carb, low-starch eating.

So, here is the recipe.  He calls them Silver Dollar Pancakes.
2 large eggs
1/4 cup water
1 TBS maple extract
1/2 cup almond flour
1/4 cup milled flax seed
1/4 cup sugar or sugar substitue
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

Spray griddle with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat.  (I use coconut oil)
Stir together ingredients with a wooden spoon until a well-blended batter is formed.
Pour approximately 16 silver-dollar sized pancakes onto hot griddle and cook on one side about 3-4 minutes.  Flip and cook another 1-2 minutes.

Okay, now I'll tell you what I changed.  I don't care for much maple flavoring so I left that out and used a little vanilla extract and a touch of cinnamon.  I also used just a tablespoon or so of coconut flour because the batter seemed just a little wet to me, although I'm sure it would have been fine.  I also made my cakes about 3-4 inches across.  I don't like teeny little pancakes.

It took just a little while to get the hang of cooking these because they do brown a little different than regular pancakes.  It seems that they are way too wet still to flip but they are not; they hold together amazingly well.  If you can get the spatula under them, you can flip them.  Also, you will not need much syrup at all with these.  They are very tasty.  I do use just a tad and also a little fruit juice from whatever fruit I top them with; which is really good.  You could eat them sans fruit but they are really good with strawberries, peaches, blueberries etc.  I bet bananas too, if you can eat them.

So, try 'em out and enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Things Can Only Get Better

 I'm hoping that I'm kinda rounding the corner on the starch withdrawal "flu" now and a couple of days after my last post I actually started to feel better.  No let up in the pain mind you, but my mood felt better and just kinda overall a little more energy or motivation to do stuff.  I will say that now though, when I do take nsaids I can actually feel them work some, whereas before there was no noticeable pain relief.  It doesn't last particularly long but it's something.

So, in other not really great news, the garden has about half crapped out this year and I can't say that I really care.  We should have lots of corn; it's doing really good.

 The green beans, which I can eat, turned out to be a BIG disappointment.  I don't know what these are but they are not Kentucky Wonder.  We've only gotten a few big handfuls to start with and when we finally scraped together enough for me to cook....well....they sucked.  They are almost instantly too big and knotty.  I mean, like you don't see the until they are these huge, lumpy things.  And the taste is bleh.  And they are very stringy.  I will order directly from a heirloom seed supplier next year.  So, no canned beans, no dilly beans, no fresh, sauteed green beans.

Now, the black-eyed peas are also doing great... And, my cukes died suddenly along with the zukes.  I think squash bugs got them both.  So no pickles.  However, the okra is doing great (when do es it not?) and I will pickle that at least..  My one little yellow squash plant is chugging along though and we have been getting a few off it.  I'm even starting to get a few tomatoes but after some more research decided that I should probably lay off those too, at least for a short while.  Along with the eggplant, which I can't grow anyway so, what the hell.  These plants are nightshades and many people have adverse, arthritic reactions to those, so I thought I'd give that a whirl too.  What the hell.

We should get several watermelons though, which I should be able to eat! and that's a first.  I've never done well with melons so I'm looking forward to seeing how they come out.  And maybe even a few cantaloupes.  The grapes are starting to ripen and they are really yummy and I still get about a handful of tasty raspberries every day, but I don't think they are going to last much longer.  They sure are good though.  It's still to be seen if we are going to get any figs this year though. So far it's not looking good.

After buying a cookbook on no-starch recipes I decided to try using almond flour as opposed to the coconut flour and that is a VAST improvement.  Much, much better.  In fact, these almond flour/ flaxseed pancakes are so good, I'd eat them even if I didn't have to avoid starch.  They are so tasty you really don't need syrup much, as the chef says in the book, but I do use just a little and they are super good with any fruit.  I've made several of the recipes in the new book and they have all come out well.

So, some things are improving and some things are still requiring a lot of adjustment to and some things still just remain to be seen.  I guess that's life in general.  haha!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Fever

First off, THANK YOU for all the kind comments! and please excuse me this one time for not answering each of you in the comment section.  I appreciate all the good juju from you guys.  I still feel like hammered cat shit but I have done some more research and maybe have found some encouraging info.  From what I've read it's possible that I am going through a no-starch "flu".  At least that's what the popular phrase is.  And "flu" would aptly describe how I feel, down to even running a temperature.  Now, I don't think I am actually running a fever, I just feel that way.  And as one commenter suggested, I could be experiencing some bad gut bacteria die-off, which is the whole point of a no-starch diet for rheumatological issues.
Supposedly, the starch flu will last 2-3 weeks and in that time your body makes the transition from burning mostly starches for energy to burning mostly fats and healthier carbs, such as what comes from fruits and vegetables.  Most people would think, well, just don't eat potatoes, rice or bread and you'd be good to go.  Well, once you start researching things a bit you find it's not so easy.  For one thing, fruits like bananas (something I love) are starches.  So are most winter squashes, peas and beans.  And, worst of all, in our overly processed society, if it comes in a box or jar it almost certainly contains added starch.  I found out that even my daily vitamins contain rice powder or added potato starch.!  Most packaged seasoning mixes, some alternative milk (like soy milk), ice cream, yogurt, lunch meat (even whole hams) etc. etc., may contain added starch.  So, I've really had to read ingredients well.  Now, I have never been one to rely on packaged foods much anyway...but I do use yogurt some and things like that.  And one other thing...don't let anyone kid you...coconut flour sucks.  I've tried making various things with that stuff and so far, it's pretty hideous.
But, I am sticking with this.  Something's got to give eventually.

And to top things off, as if I didn't feel bad enough, one of my girls died this morning.  It was very unexpected and I'm not sure what happened.  Fortunately, I woke up early this morning so I was with her when she passed.  I feel especially bad that I have not been out and about with the girls as much lately and if I had felt better I might have noticed she was not feeling well in time enough to do something.  Or not.  I don't remember seeing her acting ill not one time recently.  But still....I normally check them all at bedtime to make sure they have been eating good, no cuts or injuries etc. but I just missed this one.  At least it seemed quick.

So, that's the news from Dragon Valley.  Anybody got any good news from your parts?

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hurt Don't Know When To Quit

I just wanted to put up a quick post to kinda let ya'll know what's going on....I don't know how much I'll post in the next few weeks.  Things are not going well.  I hope this is just withdrawal from abstaining so much from starches (which are basically sugar), but my pain levels have really taken off and I'm hurting much more now than I have in a long time.  It could be partly the weather too.. I don't know.  But it's really got me.  I'm really kinda at the end of my rope.  I'm gonna keep on with the no-starch because they say it can take up to a month before you notice any relief but in the mean time it's really doing a number on me.  And I mean mentally as well as physically.

There have been a number of medical studies done lately that have shown a consistent link between chronic pain and inflammation and depression and anxiety and the link is physical; it's not just being bummed out because you hurt.  You can look up any number of articles on the subject but basically, when the body produces inflammation (which usually is accompanied by pain) certain proteins are also produced by the inflamed tissues etc.  These proteins use the same neural pathways that the substances serotonin, dopamine etc. use but are somehow stronger and they block the serotonin and others from reaching the brain.  Basically the proteins clog up the lines.  Now, it's widely known the serotonin, dopamine and other substances are responsible for mood; lack of these substances cause depression, anxiety and other issues.  So, not to make excuses but that's it in a nutshell for me.  I have zero motivation to do anything, except to somehow relieve my pain.  The anxiety is back and an overwhelming, engulfing fatigue.  I do not care about anything right now and I do not like being this way.

So, I'm doing all I can right now, or all I can think of that is within my power.  All I know to do is just keep on with the no-starch stuff and all the natural anti-inflammatory stuff I can find and hope and pray that it takes hold one day.  And yeah, I am taking some actual pain meds and nsaids but they don't do much or simply don't last very long.
So keep your fingers crossed for me.  I'll come back and post when I can think of something lucid to say.  Or maybe have some decent photos to share.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Honey Bee

 Not a lot to report on around here lately....other than I am still on the very low starch diet and so far I have not gone to jail.  It was looking kinda iffy there for a while but all I can say is thank God for chocolate and coffee, otherwise I'm not sure where we'd be.  This diet is a special kind of hell in case you're wondering or would like to get back at someone at some point.  The first few days I was sure I could, and possibly would, chew the siding off the house but things have calmed down now.  I guess it was just my body adjusting to getting part of it's energy somewhere else but for now at least, I am able to go for several hours without having to cram any non-starch food I can get my hands on into my face.
I have even been experimenting with baking with coconut flour!  and I managed to make some "biscuits" tonight that were.....not horrible.  With a little pat of butter they were actually fairly edible.  Chigger on the other hand, seems to really like coconut flour .....creations....errr....eggy things.  She also had to stop and poo about 3 times today on a 15 minute walk, so I guess maybe I should spread the "love" between her and the chickens a bit more.  So far I have not felt any particularly noticeable pain relief but they say it can take 3-4 weeks before you notice anything.  If it will be totally worth it.  If it doesn't....well...I'm gonna be one pissed @#^%*&*(%&^$%!!.

 In some wonderful news though, the honeybees have been massive this year!!  There are just tons of them on my corn (which I can't !$%&*^*% eat now!) and on the catnip.  Yay!  Just hundreds of them it seems.

 I don't think I have seen this many honey bees the whole time I've lived here.  I know these pictures don't seem that impressive but I assure you, there are scads of them!  I missed getting a really good shot of about 6 on one tassel of corn when the battery in my camera went dead but I did manage to eek out these few on the catnip.  I wonder if somebody on the area has added or started hives?

 The little bitties are not bitties anymore..they are well on their way to young adult chickens.  This is Wingnut, one of the little pullets, enjoying some overgrown cucumbers from the garden.  She has one feather on each side, in exactly the same spot, that appears to grow wrong side out, so that's why I call her Wingnut.  That's what she looks like from the front.

 These three stick together like peanut butter and jelly.  I don't know why they were picking on this little dead tree in a pot but for some reason they found it interesting.

 I tried to get some new pics of the dragonflies but they were not in the mood.  I managed to get this one mediocre shot however.

The little Silkies are still doing fine and the broody one FINALLY got over herself and gave it up.  Now she goes outside everyday with the other one and they pal around together.  My big hens don't bully these two but the little silkies are still kinda scared of the big hens so they stay to themselves.  I don't know if you can see or not but here one had caught her a vole and was trying her best to eat it.  I think she finally gave up but I have seen the large hens eat a mouse in one big swallow.  I take them various treat during the day though, so the little girls get plenty of nice things to eat. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Another Sunday In The South

We celebrated an early Independence Day on Thursday of last week, so that left the weekend open. Well, we just mainly worked around the house and in the garden to be honest.  But by Sunday I was getting a bit of cabin fever, so we decided to have a day on the town for a change.
Our first stop was this little Vietnamese restaurant in a suburb of  Birmingham.  We hardly ever go to that particular area because of the horrendous traffic but it wasn't too bad on a Sunday and we had a great lunch!  These spring rolls are absolutely to die for!  I could just eat that until I was a big balloon ready to pop!

These are actually photos from another time we ate there but what we had was similar, so it's close enough! ha!  To me, Vietnamese is very different from other Asian food; I guess kinda how Thai is different flavors and such.  Very distinct.  I enjoy it though.

 So, we stuffed ourselves good (or at least I did) and then went a few doors down to do a wee bit of shopping.  Which means I bought a bar of fancy soap and some popcorn.  Yes, I know...we live right on the edge.
We did go to Whole Foods and do some real grocery shopping though and they had some of their chicken on sale, which meant we could actually afford to buy a little.  ha!  I don't shop there much but do get some stuff I can't buy anywhere else, like non-gmo canola oil and decent coconut oil and a few other things.

Then we went by the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  I have posted about them before and I always recommend out of town folks to stop by there if they are looking to see the sights.  It was a cloudy day and the lighting was just not right for many photos but I did get a few.

These were some of the most exotic water lilies I had ever seen.

I know I look horrible but it was a very warm and very humid day.  You trudge your way through a July day in Alabama after a week of heavy rains and see how you look at the end! And besides, the rabbit was the main focus anyway!

We were excited to see that the Gardens have added a good size bee colony to the grounds.  These were right near the extensive vegetable gardens they grow there.

This is on the path to the Japanese Gardens on one end of the property.  Those gardens are my favorite as you all probably know.

Not a lot going on down there though; didn't even see many koi in the pond, which is unusual.  We did see quite a lot of  turtles though....which may explain the lack of fish....

So, we had a very nice day but I was hurting rather extensivly by the time we got home.  I really was a bad girl this past weekend.  I went on a bender the likes I've not done in a while, eating sweets and bread, corn and fries and all kinds of starches.  Something I rarely do, especially the sweets; I don't know what got into me really.  Even finished off a small bottle of Knob Creek and had some wine, later of course!  And let me tell you....I am paying for it now.  I hurt so bad.  I hurt so bad I finally broke down and took some Diclofinac for the inflammation.  I don't like that stuff because it really affects my kidneys but I was desperate. I was doing okay this morning, and even worked out yesterday, but by this afternoon I couldn't sit, I couldn't stand and laying down even hurt.  So, I learned my lesson on that one.  I had read a little while back where a number of people advocate a starch-free diet for the treatment of AS, and I really didn't put much stock in it to tell the truth.  Well.....I changed my mind today when I realized just how much starchy stuff I stuffed the past few days!  I know it's going to be hard but I'm going to give the starch-free thing a whirl.  The sweets are no problems really (cakes, cookies, breads) but I love popcorn, potatoes in all forms and stuff like that.  I've got to get off my ass and make that big jar of kimchi tomorrow too.

So, I may not post much in the next few days or I might come here and tear us all a new one as I go through the DTs!  I've also started a new herbal regiment for inflammation that my herbalist friend is guiding me through.  I'll keep ya'll posted on how it's all working.

Thursday, July 02, 2015


 This is the only time of year that I believe I could come close to being a vegetarian.  I love me some fresh veggies from the garden!  I will generally serve fresh, raw tomatoes and cukes at every meal also (even breakfast), but I think that's common in the South.  Or at least, it used to be, and still is amongst the older set, which I guess I'm in now.  Ha! 

 The second planting of corn is definitely kicking some butt and making up for the failure of the first planting.  In fact, today we saw where some of it is starting to tassle, so I'm well pleased with how this crop is doing.  I could eat hot, steamed corn on the cob until I just popped!

The tomatoes are still lagging way behind and being puny but virtually every other crop is well taking up the slack.  We should even get some good watermelons this year, something I've never been particularly successful growing.  I have about 6 good size melons on 2 hills now.  Won't be ready for the 4th by any means but they will come in while it's still mighty warm here.
This spring we added the entire contents of our large compost bin to the main garden and that has apparently been a boon for it.  Of course, that contained a large portion of composted chicken poo and that stuff is some great fertilizer.

And the grapes are doing great too!!  I MUST build a better, stronger arbor for them for next year.  What I have now is a true embarrassment, especially for a carpenter and welder. lol!  The dreaded Japanese beetles are hitting the leaves hard but we've been hitting back pretty good.  The chickens have learned to stand right on the other side of the fence as we pick and toss! The beetles that is, not the grapes!  The girls love those little crunchy monsters...kinda like chicken popcorn and I'm happy to fill 'em up!  I wish there was a way to just let the chickens come get them on their own but they could not reach them and they'd tear up the garden trying.

The new bean and pea trellises are working out great.  Not more bending over!  The peas are well on their way of making little pods but I've yet to see many beans yet.  They are blooming however, so it should not be much longer.  I've never grown this variety of beans before so I'm still learning it.  Seems like the Jade bush that I used to grow was a pretty early type.

You can see the blooms all over the peas here and they are much further along now.  It's interesting, in that the garden is growing so well, if I lollygag around about posting pics they are usually outdated within just a couple of days.  And I usually do lollygag.  The peas should be coming in just in time though as I think I only have one more jar of canned peas from last year. 

I've also already canned a dozen half-pints each of strawberry and blueberry jam and started a 2-quart jar of refrigerator pickles tonight.  Hopefully I'll be able to do better on the canning this summer than I did last year.

And the rest is just some gratuitous flower photos. .... Most of my daylilies have pooped out at this point although there are a few still here and there.  

And the Vitex shrub is growing like a weed this year.  It's well over my head and they say these things can get about 20 feet tall.  I love the blooms and it is also medicinal for women.  In fact, I need to gather a fresh batch of the seeds this fall.  I also like having these shrubs because all types of bees love it and anything that encourages those guys (or gals!) is great.
So how does your garden grow this year?