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.


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


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!)


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.


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)

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

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!


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.


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.


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!


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!