12.31.2010

An eat free! Cookie Exchange

By Miranda



The Eat Free Trio & Friends
Pictured left to right: Miranda, Jaclyn, Cheryl, Sharon, Irene


Yup, that's right; this year the Eat Free Trio had a cookie exchange filled with gluten free, IC friendly, and of course, vegetarian delights! I have to admit, we didn't focus much on weight management, because, hey, it's the holidays! (Read about Jaclyn's approach to holiday eating here.)

My mother-in-law was kind enough to host this gathering at her home. We each brought at least two kinds of cookies, and as you can see, we had plenty of variety!



Pictured above:
Jaclyn's fabulous Coconut Macaroons (Gluten Free),
Perfectly Peanutty Peanut Butter Toffee Chip Cookies (Gluten Free),
and World Peace/Korova Cookies




Pictured above:
Irene's delicious Russian Teacake Cookies
and Gingerbread Cookies (IC Friendly)



Pictured above:
Cheryl's Iced Pumpkin Cookies (IC Friendly)
(she also made unbelievable Shortbread cookies and Pumpkin Bread, not pictured, but both IC friendly)



Pictured above:
Sharon's Pistachio Shortbread Cookies with Raspberry Thumbprints
,
and Nutella Cookie Sandwiches

***


As for me, I made two kinds of cookies as well:

Miranda's IC Friendly White Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies

3/4 cups organic sugar
3/4 cups packed organic brown sugar
1 cup organic butter, softened
1 teaspoon pure organic Madagascar vanilla extract
1 organic egg
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag (12 oz) Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
1/2 cup toffee bits


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, stir sugars, butter, vanilla, and egg until well blended.
3. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt (dough will be stiff).
4. Stir in white chocolate chips and toffee bits.
5. Drop dough onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Press down lightly with hand so cookies come out round.
6. Bake for 4 minutes, turn pan 180 degrees. Bake for 4 more minutes.

Yields 3 dozen cookies.


Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies Two Ways (Candy Cane Flavored & Frosted)

3 cups sifted organic all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons organic baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup organic sugar
1 cup organic butter (softened at room temperature)
1 organic egg, lightly beaten (egg should be at room temperature)
3 tablespoons organic milk
2 teaspoons pure organic Madagascar vanilla extract
1/2 cup crumbled candy canes


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter and blend with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly.
4. With a fork, stir in lightly beaten egg, vanilla and milk. Blend well with fork.
5. Add candy cane crumbles and mix with your hands to ensure thorough blending.
6. Chill for 15 minutes in refrigerator.
7. Drop dough onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Press down lightly with hand so cookies come out round.
8. Bake for 3 minutes, turn pan 180 degrees. Bake for 3-4 more minutes.

Frosting
Combine 4 cups organic powdered sugar, 1/2 cup shortening, 5 tbsp organic milk, 1 tsp pure organic Madagascar vanilla extract in a large bow. Use an electric mixer to beat until smooth and stiff, about 5 minutes. Add food coloring if desired and decorate!

Yields 2 dozen cookies

***

Overall, the cookie swap was a great success and proof that dietary restrictions don't have to get in the way of fun around the holidays!


Happy New Year to all!

12.09.2010

Hot Beverages to Get You Through the Holidays Without Chocolate

By Miranda

A couple nights ago my husband and I were going to help some friends decorate their house for Christmas. I knew everyone else would be drinking hot chocolate, which I something I desperately miss, especially around the holidays. Instead of letting it get me down I decided to create my own festive hot drink to enjoy for the evening. I enjoyed it so much that I am having some again right now!


Peppermint Vanilla Tea

1 teabag Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Tea (it's caffeine free, of course!)

1 tbsp Flavorganics Vanilla Syrup (purchased from the IC Network)

6-8 oz. hot water

Your favorite holiday mug



Another incredibly delicious holiday drink is White Hot Chocolate! Jaclyn actually posted the perfect recipe for it recently on her own blog. I get a shout out in the post and she mentions IC! Read the post and get the amazing recipe here: White Hot Chocolate

Cheers!

12.07.2010

Zippy Egg Tacos

By Jaclyn

As an ovo-lacto vegetarian, I eschew meat, but I do eat eggs and consume dairy. And I'll tell you what. I absolutely LOVE eggs.

Since I do a lot of weight training, I have to be sure to get adequate amounts of protein and beans and tofu are great, but nothing is easy, wholesome, or cheap as eggs. I love eggs because they're insanely versatile; you can just do so many different things with them--fry them, scramble them, boil them, bake them, poach them--really, the list could go on and on. I eat eggs several times a week and I try to switch it up, but this is my absolute favorite way to cook scrambled eggs; the cumin and red pepper give the eggs some real zip, the vegetables give a nice depth of flavor, and the corn tortillas make the dish extra-comforting and satisfying. Best of all, it's filling, nutritious, and delicious in your mouth.



Zippy Egg Tacos

Recipe serves 1

Ingredients:
2 eggs
2 corn tortillas, fajita size, warmed (wrap in a paper towel and nuke for 15 seconds)
1/4 cup chopped zucchini and onions (sometimes I add red pepper or mushrooms too)
1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 cup shredded jack cheese
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and saute chopped vegetables for 1-2 minutes until slightly soft and the cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add beaten eggs and move the eggs around with a spatula until curds start to form. Add cheese and continue moving eggs around. Once the eggs have set up, put half of the egg and vegetable mixture on each corn tortilla and salt and pepper to taste and eat it like a soft taco!

This can be served with spicy salsa and reduced fat sour cream for extra zip and it's awesome for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

11.22.2010

Be Thankful For All Things Thanksgiving

By Miranda

There are a lot of reasons to love Thanksgiving. For one, I've always considered myself a very grateful person and I love the idea of a day when everyone takes extra time to think about what they are thankful for. Also, I have an amazing family and we always have fun on holidays. Oh, and I am a huge Charlie Brown fan so I'm always excited about watching Peanuts specials.




And then there's the mashed potatoes.

I LOVE MASHED POTATOES.

And turkey, and carrots, and corn, and green beans, and yams, and rolls.

AND PUMPKIN PIE!

Let's take a moment to think about what all of those things have in common:

THEY ARE ALL IC FRIENDLY!

When I say I get excited about Thanksgiving, I'm really not kidding. I've always been thankful for Thanksgiving, but since I got stuck on the IC diet, I've developed a whole new appreciation for the holiday. Just thinking about sitting at a table surrounded by the people I love is enough; but to top it off with a smorgasbord of food I can actually enjoy is almost too much for me to handle! It's the one big meal of the year that gives me no anxiety. I get to sit at the table and eat the same food as everyone else. I take full advantage of it, too. I'll eat seconds, maybe thirds, and even partake in midnight leftovers with my dad if I'm up for it.

This year I've been lucky enough to have already celebrated Thanksgiving once. Fakesgiving, actually. Fakesgiving is a concept my family invented a couple years ago since some of us can't always make it to town for "real Thanksgiving". This year we celebrated Fakesgiving (the name was coined by my husband) on November 12th. It was just like regular Thanksgiving, but maybe even more fun!


My sister is serious about her Fakesgiving selection, as she should be.


This Thursday I get to celebrate Thanksgiving again at my mother-in-laws house. I'm making mashed potatoes and my somewhat famous honey butter carrots. I use pretty standard recipes for both, and get great feedback from ICers and regular folks alike.


Mashed Potatoes For Everyman

10 peeled organic potaotes

5 tbsp Olivio butter

1/4 cup Organic milk (this is one of the only times I used milk that isn't fat free; I usually go with 2%)

Salt & pepper to taste

Yields 8 servings

I peel and slice the potatoes into chunks and then boil them in a large pot for about 15-20 minutes. I add half a handful of sea salt to the water before adding the potatoes.

Once I can cut through them easily, I drain the potatoes and then put them back into the pot. Then I add some more salt and some pepper, the butter, and the milk. Then I mash them up! I like them to be smooth so I use my OXO Good Grips Smooth Potato Masher.

It's about as basic as mashed potatoes get, but I love them.


Miranda's Somewhat Famous Honey Carrots

2 lbs carrots baby carrots

2 tbsp organic cane sugar

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp Olivio butter

1 tbsp organic honey

Add the sugar and salt to a small amount of water (just enough to cover most of the carrots) and boil. Once boiling, add the carrots and let cook on high for 15-20 minutes.

While the carrots are cooking, mix the honey and the butter and set aside.

Once the carrots are cooked to your liking, drain them and then return to the pot. Add the honey butter and stir until it covers the carrots.

This is a great way to take something very healthy like carrots and make it less healthy so it can be enjoyed by everyone on the best holiday of the year ;)



Happy Thanksgiving!

10.25.2010

How I Stopped Being Stubborn & Started Loving Pears

By Miranda

Recently I was craving one of my old favorite snacks: apple slices with peanut butter. I got sad about it for a little while, wishing I could just cheat on my diet without painful consequences, but I flare up easily from both apples and peanut butter, so I decided against it. A few days later it hit me; pears and almond butter would be a great substitution!



When I was first diagnosed with IC I couldn't believe that one of the only fruits left in my life would be pears. I literally hadn't consumed a pear in over 20 years at that point. I lived off apples, but I was completely unimpressed by pears for pretty much my whole life until about 3 years ago.

It took a little while for me to stop being stubborn and start loving pears, but luckily I gave in eventually. Now I eat (and enjoy) one almost everyday.

As it turns out, pear slices with almond butter make a great snack. Want to know a secret though? Pear slices with caramel dip make an even better one!


10.04.2010

A Big Ol' Pot of Vegetarian Chili

By Jaclyn

Something about the cooler weather makes me want to eat all of my food with a spoon. There are lots of delicious soups and bisques to warm your belly, but for me, the best cool weather dish is hot vegetarian chili.
My vegetarian chili is sweet, spicy, and really easy to make. Everything can be done in one big pot, which means no piles of dirty dishes!

Vegetarian Chili:
(Serves at least 8. I eat this for days.)

Ingredients:
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can of diced tomato, drained (I get the kind with the Mexican spices)
1 6 oz can of tomato paste
1 15 oz can of dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 package of frozen corn (or fresh corn if you have it. I usually use the Steamfresh super sweet corn)
1 package of Morningstar Farms veggie grounds, or other vegetarian ground hamburger substitute
1 medium to medium-large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp cumin (the spice of the gods)
1/2 tbsp dry ground mustard
1/2 tbsp table sugar
1/2 tbsp kosher salt
Olive oil
20 grinds of cracked black pepper
More salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Put about a half a tablespoon of olive oil in the chili pot on medium heat and add the chopped onion and garlic. Let the aromatics get aromatic, then add the Morningstar veggie grounds. Stir the onions, garlic and grounds until the grounds are warm, then add the tomato products and the kidney beans. Add all of the spices, the corn, and the jalapeno. Stir until heated through and salt and pepper to taste. I usually let this simmer for a few hours, but you can really eat it just like that.

Depending on my mood, I might add a bit more chili powder and red pepper flake. If it gets too hot, I've been known to add a square of dark chocolate. You can pretty much add anything in here and it will be insanely flavorful and it will feed you for days.

I like to serve this with a dollop of low fat sour cream and some shredded cheddar and a warm multigrain baguettea or some corn tortillas.


The best part is that this is chock full of veggies and fiber. Mmm, delicious fiber.

Happy Fall!

10.01.2010

GF Enchilada Casserole

By Irene

Just like those with IC (ahem..Miranda!) those of us who eat GF run into some major issues when trying to enjoy a good ol' tortilla. Should we risk the "crunchy" knowing that they are commonly more wheat and less corn? Go with those soft corn tortillas that rip when you fill them with anything warm, or just eat something along the lines of a rice-bowl or a taco-flavored salad?

This recipe is my solution to the tortilla conundrum. It's warm, gooey, cheesey and crunchy and will leave you wondering what non-GF eaters are thinking!

Ingredients:

2- cans of enchilada sauce
1- can black beans (low sodium is best)
1- can vegetarian refried beans
1- large bag of "fiesta" blend cheese
1- package (you will need about 12) small corn tortillas
1- small package yellow rice (publix brand is the lowest in sodium by far!)

*sour cream for garnish is optional and good!

Directions:

Cook the yellow rice first. When it's just about done (it can be left a tiny bit underdone) start layering the tortillas into a square baking pan. I put 4 on the bottom, let them slightly overlap and crawl up the edges of the dish for support (all this food will need some support!)

Spread about half the can of refried beans onto the torillas. Add a layer of rice, sprinkle with cheese (if you are me sprinkle means make it rain cheese) and pour on some sauce.

Put down another layer of tortillas. Add the can of black beans. Add cheese. Add another layer of rice (this should be about it for the rice). Add sauce.

Again, tortillas. The rest of the refried beans. Rest of sauce (if you think you're adding too much sauce, you might be right. You don't necessarily need to use both cans, but then again, enchilada sauce is delicious.)

Now for the crunch. Add a top layer of tortillas. Sprinkle (downpour) with chese. Bake on 350 for approx. 35 mins. Enjoy! And forget why anyone would not be GF! Hooray!

9.27.2010

Everyone Needs a Taco Night!

By Miranda

I went nearly two years without a taco night, and it was just plain unacceptable. One day, I decided I was going to find a way to create a taco that even an ICer could love and enjoy. I am happy to say, that day came last year, and has been re-lived many times since.

IC Friendly Tacos


My taco recipe is actually quite simple and completely safe for me. You might have to tailor it a little to your own specific needs, but I hope my recipe and meal plan can at least guide you to creating your own perfect taco.

Ingredients

1 package organic blue or yellow corn taco shells (I use 365 brand from Whole Foods, but Garden of Eatin' has good ones, too)

1 can organic refried black beans (you can also use regular black beans or regular refired beans, but check the ingredients because some brands add tomatoes)

1 package Goya Arroz Amarillo (yellow rice)

1 lb. organic ground chicken

Organic Valley mozzarella cheese

Organic sliced black olives

Adobo seasoning

Sea salt

Garlic pepper

Cumin

Baking soda

Yields 12 tacos

The Process

I start out by preparing the yellow rice, since it takes the longest. Now, yellow rice is not necessarily the safest food for IC, but I am able to tolerate this brand as long as I add 1/4 tsp of baking soda to the mix after I boil the water and add the contents of the rice. Other than that, I simply follow the directions on the package and it is really delicious. The baking soda helps neutralize the acid in the seasoning, but it does not sacrifice the flavor at all! The rice takes about 25 minutes.

Once the rice is simmering, I get out all my other ingredients and open the black beans and put them in a bowl so I am ready to pop them in the microwave for 2-3 minutes once the rice and chicken is almost ready. By the time I do that, I am ready to wash off my ground chicken, sprinkle it with sea salt, and brown it in a small amount of olive oil over medium high heat.

Once the chicken is fully cooked and browned, I drain it, return it to the pan, and then add my "IC friendly taco seasoning"

IC Friendly Taco Seasoning

1 cup spring water

1 tbsp Adobo seasoning

1/2 tsp garlic pepper

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cumin


I just mix the spices in with the water and then pour it over the chicken and let it cook on medium-high to high heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.

At this point, I set my oven for 425ยบ and set the taco shells on a baking sheet. I also put my olives and mozzarella in containers and set the table.



At the 5 minute mark, I heat up the black beans and taco shells so that everything is ready at the same time. Then it's time to enjoy.

Viva taco night! (And don't forget your Prelief!)

9.17.2010

Tea Time!



I've been taking pictures of my favorite GF bread-products lately, and was ready to compile the photos with some reviews (don't worry, this will come soon), when I was suddenly overtaken by the harvest spirit. This is my first autumn living GF, and over the past few days I've noticed a trend: everything smells like cinnamon-y baked goods that I know I can't have! The obvious answer to this temptation was to find a great GF cake or scone, but walking down the aisles of the grocery store, a different idea came to me.

Sometimes I find myself in the mood to bake an entire GF cake for myself while others eat handier sweets, but today wasn't one of those days. Today I didn't want to use 400 ingredients and spend $50 on something not so healthy, so I opted for something simper-- fall-time tea.

If you're in the mood for something sweet, nutty and spicy, a great cup of tea can be an instant fix. It's a healthier, more afforable option that can satisfy a flavor craving without the gluten or the hassle. I suggest looking for black teas that can be mixed with milk ( I use almond ) and honey.

Tonight I enjoyed a caramel-vanilla black tea with vanilla flavored almond milk and some delicious local honey harvested in the fall**. Honestly, I wouldn't have traded my yummy, steamy treat for any old cinnamon bun, GF or not!

Sometimes it's fun to come up with exact replicas of treats made with GF ingredients, but finding a simpler, healthier solution can also be just as much of a treat!

**As a note, the honey I mentioned is a sampler of local honey harvested in each of the four seasons. Each has a unique taste and appearance and it's fun to use them seasonally. Eat the honey from the season coming up and protect yourself from seasonal allergies. Mine was given to me by my dad from a local farmer's market, but local honey can easily be found with a little bit of research.

9.06.2010

No-Fry Spinach and Feta Fritters

I love cheese. I love most cheese. I'm particularly fond of feta cheese because of how much flavor a small amount can pack into a dish. I also love fritters. Fritters are delightful vegetable patties that are usually deep-fried. And then there's Greek food--obviously, I love that too. What's not to love?

When I came across a recipe for spinach and feta fritters on Closet Cooking (which is full of AWESOME vegetarian recipes, by the way) and I knew I had to make them. After all, I love Greek food, I love feta, and I love fritters so this one was sure to be a hit.



The original recipe requires frying the fritters in two tablespoons of oil on the stove top, which I did the first time I made the fritters, and they were seriously delicious, but then I got to thinking about how to make these fritters lower in fat so that I could enjoy them more frequently. On a whim, I tried cooking these on the stove top with Smart Balance cooking spray instead of the oil and lo and behold--delicious and nutritious low-fat fritters for my mouth!

The original recipe also calls for regular all-purpose flour, which I replaced with whole wheat flour, and I used reduced fat feta. I also mixed up a little creamy dipping sauce to go on the side. With my adjustments, these fritters are amazingly low in fat and full of nutrition.

Adapted from Closet Cooking:

Spinach and Feta Fritters

(makes 2 servings--about 4-5 fritters)

Ingredients:
10 ounces spinach (roughly chopped, cooked and squeezed to drain)
1 handful fresh herbs (I used a mixture of dill and mint)
2 green onions (sliced)
1/4 cup reduced fat feta (crumbled)
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
Smart Balance cooking spray

Directions:
1. Mix the spinach, herbs, onions, feta, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl.
2. Mix in the flour. (Note: You want to mix in enough flour that the mixture will hold its form when "fried.")
3. Liberally spray a pan with Smart Balance cooking spray.
4. Shape the spinach mixture into patties and cook in the pan until golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Dipping Sauce:
2 tbsp reduced fat sour cream
1/4 chopped cucumber
Dash of paprika

Enjoy these alongside a fresh summer tomato sprinkled with sea salt, a crisp salad, or do what I did with the leftovers the next day, and top two fritters with a medium-well done egg for an awesome and filling lunch!

9.03.2010

On Being Sick & Having IC

By Miranda

Being sick just plain sucks no matter how healthy you usually feel. For chronic illness sufferers who are already always feeling sick, even just having a common cold on top of everything else can make you feel like the world is falling apart around you and you're going down with it.

Right now, I am at the tail end of a sinus infection. Over the past couple of years I have found that the dietary restrictions that go along with having interstitial cystitis make it especially impossible to find comfort when I'm sick. Old remedies like chicken soup, Gatorade, and cold medicine are not options for me, and I imagine they are not for most other ICers out there either. It's not like it's smart to cheat on the diet just because I'm not feeling well, because in the end, it will cause a flare and just make me feel even worse! I'd like to share some suggestions of products I have found are safe for me to use to deal with being sick.

As always, remember that what works for one ICer does not work for everyone. I have discovered these remedies through trial and error, and you will probably have to do the same.

Low Acid Orange Juice

One of these days, I am going to sit down and write Tropicana a long thoughtful thank you note for actually producing low acid OJ. It feels like a personal win to know that when I am sick I can have a small glass of orange juice to help my throat. Now, when I say small, I mean small. Low acid orange juice still has acid in it, but it is certainly a better option than no juice at all. I usually stick with about 1/4-1/2 cup of OJ with 2-3 Prelief pills once a day when I am sick, or when I feel like I am getting sick. I am also always sure to chase it with lots of spring water. It's actually quite a treat though. I hope that one day I will be far enough along in my healing process to have a small cup of it everyday. But for now, I save it for when I need some vitamin C.

Probiotics

If you have any type of infection and are on antibiotics, probiotics are an absolute necessity for you. Antibiotics kill all the bacteria in your system. Probiotics help replace the good bacteria that you are losing from the antibiotics. Without probiotics, you leave yourself more susceptible to other infections. For ICers, it is common to develop a yeast infection during the course of antibiotic treatment. Limiting sugar intake and taking probiotics while on antibiotics can really help reduce this risk. Please note that eating yogurt instead of taking probiotics is not usually a good idea for ICers.

I actually take Culturelle probiotics everyday to help with my IBS symptoms and keep my pH levels high, so while I am on antibiotics I take extra, just to be safe. If you are sensitive to dairy, make sure you buy lactose free probiotics. I would also like to note that I had to try several different brands of probiotics before I found one with a coating that didn't irritate my bladder. If you'd like to give Culturelle a try, there are some printable coupons here. There are definite benefits to taking them everyday if you have IC, IBS, chronic yeast infections, and many other chronic illnesses.

Nettle Tea

If you're feeling sick and you want some hot tea, nettle tea will not only help soothe your throat, it is actually an anti-inflammatory that specifically targets the urinary tract! It is believed to help kill both viruses and bacteria and acts as a natural antihistamine as well. You don't have to save this tea for when you're sick with a sinus infection or the flu, I suggest drinking some everyday. Some ICers even report that it helps with managing flares!

Tip: I add a little bit of local honey to mine to sweeten it.

smartwater

I normally only drink spring water, but when I am sick I will also have about 8-16 oz. of smartwater each day as a substitute for Gatorade because it contains some electrolytes. I can't overdo it though, or I will end up with a flare.

Homemade Soup


I have yet to find a store-bought soup that doesn't cause me to flare up, but read my recent recipe post for homemade IC friendly soup here. I keep some frozen in my freezer for when I need it.

Buffered Vitamin C

Desert Harvest makes a vitamin C capsule that is buffered with Aloe, which is meant to coat your bladder so the vitamin C doesn't irritate it as much. I have to limit my use of this product or I will get a flare. I actually prefer the Low Acid OJ approach, but I know that some ICers find this to be more tolerable.

Sudafed, Dye-Free Benadryl, & Motrin

Sudafed Sinus Headache, Dye-Free Benadryl, and Motrin IC are the only three OTC medications I am able to tolerate.



I can't take Sudafed Sinus Headache or Motrin for extended periods of time or they start to cause discomfort and spasms. But for short term use to help with headaches especially, they can be very helpful. I am always relieved when i can take just one and it knocks out the problem without causing a flare.


Benadryl, on the other hand, I could take every single day if I had to! Since it is an antihistamine it actually helps my flares, since they are definitely allergy related, and of course, it knocks me out and helps me sleep better. I absolutely have to take the dye-free kind though. I'm not really sure why anyone wouldn't use the dye-free option since it is available.


Interestingly, before I was diagnosed with IC, I used to take Benadryl every night to help the pain and let me sleep (a tip my husband read about on the internet). Once I was finally diagnosed I started taking prescription Hydroxyzine HCL (Atarax) for the same purpose.

Blueberries, Pears, & Watermelon

I eat a pear a day, blueberries almost everyday, and watermelon several times a week. I try to step it up even more when I am sick to get all the nutrients I need to fight off whatever illness is ailing me. Blueberries have the highest level of antioxidants of all fruits, help the urinary tract, help prevent cancer, and are just plain delicious. Read about more benefits of blueberries here. And quick, go buy some!

Rest!

Finally, if you're sick, you need extra rest. This cannot be avoided. I know how hard it is to call into work or cancel plans when you're not feeling well (since you're probably never feeling well anyway and you're used to pushing yourself as it is) but getting rest is our best defense against being sick. Our bodies need rest to heal. When I have to call into work because I am sick, it is always awkward because my boss knows I never feel well, so I usually emphasize that I am contagious when I have a cold, the flu, etc. and that's why I am staying home. The truth is that most managers don't want sick employees coming to work and getting everyone else sick. As long as you are not abusing the process, your boss will probably know. Just remember, the last thing you want is to be sick, so there is no reason to feel guilty. Get some rest. It will be good for your body and your co-workers will be thankful that you didn't spread your germs.

***

Do you have any good tips or products that help you deal with being sick and having IC? I'd love to hear about them!

8.26.2010

Simple IC Friendly Baked Oregano Chicken

By Miranda

This recipe is slightly adapted from one of my favorite meals that my mom used to make, and is now a favorite in my own home.

Simple IC Friendly Baked Oregano Chicken


Ingredients

2 organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Organic olive oil
Organic oregano
All natural minced garlic
Sea salt
Garlic pepper

Set the oven to preheat at 350°. Wash the chicken and place it on a prep plate. Brush with olive oil, then sprinkle with oregano, minced garlic, sea salt, and garlic pepper to taste.

Bake for 40-45 minutes on a non-stick pan, then broil for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy!

This chicken goes with a variety of delicious sides.

Pictured above, the chicken is accompanied by Columbia River Organics Gardener's Blend veggies and Alexia's Olive Oil, Rosemary & Garlic Oven Fries.

Pictured below you will find the same baked chicken with organic french green beans and a side of whole grain brown rice.




Sometimes simple is what's best!

8.23.2010

Pizza For One, Pizza For All: Jaclyn's Flatbread Pizza and Other Weight-Friendly Pizza Options

Well, since Miranda wrote about IC friendly pizza and Irene wrote about gluten-free pizza, I decided I had to jump on the pizza bandwagon and write about weight-friendly vegetarian pizza. This was a good bandwagon to jump on.

Like everyone else in the world, I love a good pizza. Every once in awhile I'll indulge in real, delicious, perfect pizza, but obviously that's not an everyday kind of thing for me--but I want to eat pizza every day! It's a true conundrum. That being the case, I have to find ways to get my pizza fix without totally undoing my long spinning sessions at the gym.

(side story: there was a point in time when Miranda and I literally ate pizza every single day, before she was diagnosed with IC. This was years ago. It was perhaps not our proudest hour)

The easiest way for me to get pizza'd and keep it relatively healthy is to turn to good ol' Amy. Amy's Kitchen makes really tasty organic pizzas in single serving sizes that are great for me when I'm in a pizza pinch. I really like to have one alongside a simple green salad with olive oil and vinegar for dinner after a cardio gym session. They're satisfying and truly delicious; I've never had any other frozen pizza that actually tastes good. I do bake my Amy's pizzas in the oven, rather than heat them up in the microwave, because microwaving pizza is for suckers.

The pies are all under 500 calories, are totally organic, and while they're a little high in fat, it's nothing that makes me run for the hills. The few extra fat grams are totally worth smashing a pizza craving. The Margherita is my favorite.


When I'm not in the mood for frozen pizza and I have a lot of time on my hands, I love to make a honey whole wheat dough and pizza sauce from scratch. Guess how often I have that much time on my hands?

The thing about making dough from scratch is you have to let it rise and knead it out and yadda yadda yadda. Come on. I need pizza now!

The good news is, I came up with a fabulous quick and easy pizza recipe that I turn to when I'm not feeling the Amy's and don't have time for all the kneading and rising.

Check it out:
Flatbread pizza!

This recipe serves one and I enjoy this for under 400 calories! Actually, as long as I keep an eye on the cheese, I can usually make it for just under 300 calories. Unreal!

You'll need:
1 Flatout flatbread. I use the multigrain with flax kind.

1-2 tbsp pizza sauce. I usually have some homemade marinara on hand that I use, but I won't judge if you use jarred sauce. I do it in a pinch.

2 oz. freshly grated part skim mozzarella. I do insist on the freshly grated stuff. There's nothing like a soft mound of freshly grated mozzarella cheese. It totally beats the pre-shredded stuff in the bag that's coated in cornstarch. That stuff will ruin your life.

Garlic salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tsp olive oil

Your favorite pizza toppings. I used mushrooms, onions, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil!

Cooking spray

Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle a little garlic salt on top. Place the Flatout flatbread on the cookie sheet and spread the olive oil around the edges of the flatbread. Spread the pizza sauce on the flatbread; be careful not to use too much. One tbsp should do it, but you can use a little more if you really like sauce, just remember that the flatbread is relatively thin. Spread the freshly shredded mozzarella on the pie and finish it off with your favorite toppings* and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, top with fresh parmesan cheese and fresh herbs, then cut into quarters and eat it up!

*If you're using fresh herbs like basil on your pizza, sprinkle them on top after the pizza is done. If you put them in the oven they'll burn up!

The whole process from beginning to finish (not including the eating) takes about 20 minutes. This is a great way to eat pizza and keep it healthy. The Flatout flatbreads are about 100-110 calories apiece. Add the sauce, the cheese, and some veggies on top and you have a complete meal!

Like Miranda and Irene, I also really enjoy eating at Mellow Mushroom and Pizza Fusion. Both restaurants have options for people who are looking to keep it healthy. Mellow Mushroom is great because they use part-skim mozzarella; my big thing there is that I have to keep my portions in check. I love their Magical Mystery Tour pizza, add onions, no jalapenos. It has a pesto crust and is loaded with mushrooms. When I go there I get a single serving pie, eat two slices, and save the other two for the next day. Leftover Mellow Mushroom is the best! The slices on the small pies are a good size. I'm still waiting for MM to come out with nutritional information, but several reputable calorie counter sites report that a slice of cheese pizza from MM is around 250 calories, which is pretty awesome. I tend to think they're probably closer to 300 calories apiece. Mellow Mushroom, please come out with nutritional info!

Pizza Fusion has lots of great vegetarian options and they have nutritional information posted on their website (go Pizza Fusion!) Their pies are thin, they offer multigrain crust, and they're mostly organic. It's a win-win-win. I love the Farmer's Market and the Bruschetta single serving pies the best; it's always hard to choose.

So there you have it. There are plenty of weight-friendly pizza options out there for you; after all, a life without pizza is not much of a life at all, is it?

8.22.2010

A Big Old Pot of IC Friendly Soup

By Miranda

My husband is sick right now, so naturally he was craving soup for dinner tonight. I have yet to find even an organic canned or packaged soup that doesn't irritate my bladder, and while I could have just made him a can of his own, I decided to take on the challenge of making a big old pot of IC friendly soup that we could both enjoy and would last the next couple of days until he is well. I've actually never made homemade soup before, but it came out really good and it's been two hours and I don't have a flare, so I think I'm in clear!

IC Friendly Chicken Soup with Barley

Ingredients
2 boxes Pacific Natural Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth
3 celery stalks
1 large potato
1 bag frozen Columbia River Organics Harvest Trio (carrots, peas, and corn)
2 cups Mother's 100% Whole Grain Barley (cooked)
*You can use noodles or rice instead, but I've been on a barley kick lately
6 cloves garlic
Parsley
Sea Salt
Pepper
Garlic Salt

It was actually a pretty simple process. I started out cooking the barley with a pinch of salt for about 14 minutes. While it was cooking I chopped the celery and potato.

I took out a big old pot and sauteed the garlic cloves with some olive oil for a minute. Then I added the celery and carrots and sauteed for another minute. I poured in the chicken broth, sprinkled the parsley, salt, and pepper in, and left it simmering on medium heat for about 20 minutes.


After 20 minutes, I added the harvest mix (which I had already heated) and let it simmer for 4 more minutes. In the meantime, I heated up 2 whole wheat rolls for dipping. Then added the barley, let it sit for another 3 minutes, and it was ready to serve, after a quick taste-test and approval from Joey.




Mission accomplished.

8.21.2010

Sweet Potato!

By Irene


A few days ago I found a delightful surprise in my mailbox-- the most recent edition of my favorite magazine-- Real Simple. I love this magazine because it's not just about food, health, fashion or how to hide craft supplies in a small office space. It's about all of these different things, each of which I am interested in.

This was the first Fall edition, and as always, the cover was beautiful. I felt very ahead of the curve because the East Free Trio has been posting a lot about alternative pizza lately, and Real Simple had a great pizza review. They even had a category for best GF (haven't tried this
pre-made choice yet) and a few that both Miranda and Jaclyn could eat.

As I browsed through the magazine, I saw that they had a nice little feature on sweet potatoes, which I LOVE and I was instantly inspired to make a fun meal using these in-season gems. I decided to use the cover of RS as inspiration for my little meal and chose a "colors of fall" theme. Side note: I also made the choice to make "cheap" my secondary theme.

So, I bought some sweet potatoes for under a dollar a pound and headed home. Sweet potatoes, I learned, are high in lots of healthy nutrients, like Vitamins A and C, Manganese, Copper, Fiber, B6, Iron and Potassium and are fairly low in calories. And, they are also different than yams.


I looked for color in my pantry and found a bag of rice-mix I bought at a local
Chamberlin's by the pound that had lots of colored lentils and black-eyed peas in it and settled on a festive frozen veggie mix in the freezer.


The meal went a little bit like this:


First, I washed and peeled the sweet potatoes. Not sure why I had to wash before peeling, but it just seemed right.





Next, I cut them up into little chunks and put them in a bowl. I thought I was using a big enough bowl, but apparently I wasn't. Since my move I haven't been able to locate my favorite giant salad bowl that I use for mixing large amounts of stuff, so I shoved them all into this normal-sized mixing bowl. Then I coated them with olive oil, a tiny bit of salt, pepper and probably too much brown sugar (if you believe there is such a thing), and stirred untl they were well-coated and I had made a big enough mess.



The sight of the oily, peppery brown sugar at the bottom of the bowl was a sign this would be a wonderful evening. All this time the oven had been pre-heating to 400 and now it was time to pop the puppies in for about 50 minutes.



Next, I got down to business with the rice-mix. I bought it without instructions for cooking or seasoning, so I made it in the standard fashion with one cup of rice and 1.5 cups water. I boiled it and then simmered it for about 25 mins until the water was absorbed and the rice was fluffy. I added olive oil for flavor.





Once the SP had about 25 mins remaining, I took them out to stir the now gooey, aromatic sauce around. I replaced the two minutes on the timer that it took me to stir. They smelled so wonderful I was tempted to eat them half-raw. But I kept on cooking.



Finally, when the SP had about 10 minutes remaining and the rice was off the heat with the lid still on, I opened up those always useful frozen veggies. I heated some olive oil on medium heat and stir-fried them with dried red bell pepper and paprika and black pepper.




Once the veggies were done the meal was ready! It smelled, looked and tasted wonderful (although the rice turned brown when I cooked it) and I felt like my Real Simple inspiration was shining through. The SP were sweet and yummy, the veggies full of flavor and the rice was hearty and satisfying! Here is the result:


Take a cue from me and enjoy the colors of food no matter what your inspiration. My next post will be coming soon...plan on a run down of low-sodium and GF key-ingredients.

8.19.2010

The IC Friendly Pizza Sauce Conundrum

By Miranda

Recently, Irene wrote about the pursuit of a good gluten free pizza crust (read all about it here). As I was reading her post, I was thinking about how similar the Gluten-Free-Pizza-Crust-Puzzle is to what I consider the IC-Friendly-Pizza-Sauce-Conundrum.

For starters, I'll talk about what is, in my opinion, the best IC take-out or restaurant pizza. Ironically enough, I concur with Irene. The winner is:

Mellow Mushroom!

For a long time after I went on the IC diet, going out for pizza seemed like a thing of the distant, delicious past. That was until I discovered that Mellow Mushroom has an IC friendly pizza option!

For one thing, they make their pizza using spring water, which is an IC staple because it has a higher pH than tap or purified water. I'll talk more about the importance of spring water in another post at another time. But trust me, pizza crust made with spring water is a very good thing.

As for pizza options, Mellow Mushroom's "Build Your Own" pizza section is excellent.

First you get to choose your base. I go with olive oil & garlic, but pesto is also an option. I haven't tried their pesto because I am afraid it could have lemon juice or citric acid in it, and furthermore, I love the olive oil & garlic base enough that it's what I crave when I go there.

Next comes the fruits & veggies option. I like mine simple, so I just get black olives. Sometimes I'll get fresh basil, too. They have a whole selection of other options, plenty of which are IC friendly.

As for cheese. I go with regular mozzarella or fresh mozzarella. If you have IC and haven't tried mozzarella to see if you can tolerate it, you might want to try. I avoided it for a long time out of fear, but eventually discovered that it doesn't make me flare at all. Talk about a relief!

They also have some safe protein options, including chicken and turkey, but I have never liked meat on my pizza, so I usually leave it at that.

*If you can't tolerate Parmesan, make sure to let your server know because they sprinkle it on the crust of all their pizzas!*

I always order the personal sized 10" pizza, and I usually have leftovers for the next day. It works out great because my husband can order his own "regular" pizza and we can enjoy the meal together. Or sometimes we'll share an IC friendly pizza and he'll just get a side of tomato sauce for dipping. Either way, we both win!

Mellow Mushroom is one of the only restaurants where the whole Eat Free Trio can go together and all order the same meal, tailored to our specific dietary needs. I would rate them a 10 out of 10 and give their pizza the Eat Free Seal of Approval!

Check out the full menu, here.

***

I'd also like to mention my 2nd Runner Up in the take-out/restaurant category:

Pizza Fusion!

Pizza Fusion serves up fresh, organic, earth friendly pizza. They also have organic beer and wine, if you are able to tolerate either. They have a great selection and atmosphere, and their prices are reasonable. I order the exact same pizza there that I do at Mellow Mushroom, and I enjoy it every time!

Check out their menu here.

***

As for at home pizza, after trying my Mellow Mushroom creation, I realized I could probably re-create it easily at home. I have done so many times since.

Miranda's IC Friendly Pizza

Ingredients


Boboli Whole Wheat pizza crust
Organic shredded mozzarella
Organic olive oil
Olivio butter
Organic garlic salt
Organic garlic powder
McCormick All Natural Garlic & Basil seasoning
Organic black olives
Organic spinach leaves

Pre-heat oven to 350°

*I have found that Boboli whole wheat pizza crust works great for me.

The first thing I do to prepare my pizza is lightly cover the crust with butter and then sprinkle it with garlic salt. Then I spread olive oil over the entire center of the pizza and sprinkle garlic powder and and garlic & basil seasoning over it. I add a layer of spinach over the olive oil and then cover it with mozzarella. Finally, I add the black olives on top.

I bake for 8 minutes and then enjoy!



So as it turns out, pizza doesn't have to be a thing of the distant, delicious past. It's actually quite attainable. Just think about all the things you like about pizza besides the sauce, and hopefully you can make your own, safe, delicious pizza at home.