Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Never in a million years did I think I’d say it, but we ate seaweed twice this weekend. On purpose.

It all started a few weeks ago when Brent and I watched a webinar on how eating well is essential to overall health. That’s no surprise, but we did learn a thing or two. Among the handful of application points we took away was a big thumbs up for the virtues of seaweed. Did you know that this sea vegetation can help curb appetite, and provide a tremendous amount of vitamins, minerals and protein? It can also aid digestion and promote other health benefits.

Most likely, that’s not enough to make you run out and indulge in a heaping bowl of seaweed. But we enjoy an occasional cooking adventure, so we decided to do a little research and give it a try.

Before we got that far, we actually ordered a seaweed dish when we stopped for lunch at Crave at the MOA on Friday. We shared their seaweed salad and it was delicious. Really!

If you’re not used to cooking with seaweed, your first question might be, “Where do you get it?” That’s what we wondered. We started off at a local Asian grocery store, but came up empty-handed. When in doubt, give Whole Foods a shot. And wouldn’t you know, they have a whole section full of the stuff.

After pulling ideas from a bunch of online recipes, here’s what I came up with. It’s much like a Miso soup. Honestly, I had very cautious expectations as I watched the hunks of green leaves simmer on the stove. But if Brent’s response is any indication, it turned out quite nice.

P.S.: If you’re a family member reading this, don’t worry, we don’t plan to bring this soup for the holidays, but if you give us a heads up, we’d love to make a bowl for you.

Seaweed Soup
Prep and Cook Time: 45 minutes

12 whole dried medium shiitake mushrooms
6 cups warm water
4 medium-sized pieces 
Kelp seaweed, cut to bite-size pieces
1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thinly
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 T minced fresh ginger
1 carrot, thinly sliced
4 T dry Veggie Base powder
4 T chopped dulse seaweed, cut to bite-size pieces
4 T Amino Acids or soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
3 T green onions, thinly sliced, for garnish
1 tsp “Sea Seasonings” Kelp Granules (optional)

Rinse mushrooms, kelp and dulse and soak in 2 cups of warm water for about 10 minutes, or until soft. Save the water. Directions:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the mushroom/seaweed water in medium soup pot. Add onion and healthy sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another minute.
  2. When mushrooms and kelp are soft, thinly slice the mushrooms and chop the seaweed into bite-sized pieces. Cut out the mushroom stems when slicing mushrooms and discard. Add to the soup pot along with the soaking water, and 4 more cups of water and Veggie Base. Add carrots. Bring to a boil on high heat.
  3. Once it returns to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes. Season with Amino Acids (or soy sauce), rice vinegar, salt, and pepper. Add green onion and serve.

Serves 6


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It feels like we’ve been going non-stop for about a week straight. Maybe because we have. It’s one of those beyond-busy-seasons of life for us right now. And it’s exactly those times that it’s often easy to rationalize grabbing some fast food and falling off the healthy eating train. Our track record isn’t perfect, but we’re trying to cook more than a couple healthy meals each week.

I find the key is to pick a few relatively easy recipes that don’t call for a lot of ingredients. And if you don’t mind being repetitive, go ahead and make them every week for a while to get you through the crazy times. Repetition means you don’t have to think so much. When there’s so many other details to keep straight, that’s huge.

Over the past three or more weeks, this is one of those recipes for us. It’s easy and we love it. A good friend got the recipe from her doctor and shared it with us. We’re not sick of it yet.

Sausage with Wilted Spinach  & Fennel

1 lbs. ground sausage
2 T almond oil
1 bulb fresh fennel, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chicken broth
1 bag baby spinach

1. Put the sausage on a lipped baking sheet (in small chunks).
2. Place the baking sheet into oven, set to broil.
3. In a large frying/sauté pan heat oil on medium high.
4. Add garlic and fennel. Cook for 4 minutes.
5. Turn sausage to finish cooking in the broiler.
6. Add broth and spinach to pan. Stir until spinach wilts.
7. Spoon spinach mixture onto plate and top with spinach.

The recipe didn’t call for it, but we’ve also served it on quinoa.

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I’m 13 days into the month of Movember. That’s right Movember.

3 Bro's with a Mo!

In the month of November the Movember campaign is responsible for the growing of facial hair on mens’ upper lips all across the world. Their moustaches are a means to bring attention to prostate cancer and mens’ health issues. I  suppose it’s sort of like the pink breast cancer run for women. Mens’ upper lips provide a means to raise funds and awareness to issues that affect men. The programs that are funded are the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Livestrong, and the Movember Foundation. The moustache provides a tangible bridge to build awareness and education on men’s health issues. The men growing a moustache become walking, talking billboards to encourage other guys to think about improving their health, getting their annual check up, discuss men’s health with their family, research their own issues, and understand how to take better care of themselves.

Each guy creates his own profile on the Movember website. Some guys band together to form a team. So far my team “Get Your Mojo On” has raised $200. I hope this note has encouraged you to think about your own health issues and consider donating something to the effort.

My brothers-in-law and myself are standing for my wife’s father, Jim, who is battling prostate issues right now. I’m also standing for the other fathers in my life: my own dad who has been on a weight loss campaign and my step-dad who is battling heart problems.

For myself, I need to take care of my blood pressure by eating right and getting exercise and watching my salt intake. If you have a story to tell that would encourage other men to get to the doctor or remain positive in their health battles, then I encourage you to leave a note in the comments. Or if this message has changed your mind about calling the doctor and getting your check up, let us know.

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I love to learn new things. After college, my roommates and I traveled to California. It was my bright idea that we each pick a topic related to the trip, do research on it and share our findings when we return. Bet you want to vacation with me! But, several of us actually did it. I remember I wrote a paper on the meaning of kosher. Someone else researched the use of windmills we saw all over the place. Seriously, it was interesting stuff.

Life really is fascinating and holds immensely more than anyone one of us can ever take in. But we can embrace each season for all its worth. My current season seems centered on hobbling around, trying to stay off a fractured foot. And once again, I’m seeing there’s much to learn.

A week into the healing process.

Upon giving me the bad news about my break, my doctor explained what needed to take place for my foot to heal. Roughly, it sounded like a bunch of cells that specialize in eating up debris move in to clean up the broken area during the first few days. Then new cells begin to form bone. 

What I’ve since read says that the healing begins almost the moment you break the bone, but the whole process can take up to 18 months. Typically, the healing is at about 80 percent by three months.  If that’s the case, I’m just a third of the way there. <Sigh.>

Here’s the Reader’s Digest version of the healing:
1. Bleeding tissues form a fracture hematoma (blood clot) within the break.
2. Blood vessels form a jelled substance and bring phagocytes which eat away debris.
3. At 3-4 weeks, fibroblasts produce collagen fibres that surround the bone. They are rubbery to help restrict movement.
4. Bone matrix forms into which bone crystals are deposited and gaps are filled in. This stage should begin to show up on x-rays.
5. When the ends of the fracture are firmly held in place, normal stress can be introduced and may even encourage healing. Over the coming year, “remodeling” will continue, removing any bulging and rough edges. I asked my doctor about one of these jagged edges that I noticed on the x-ray and she assured me that over time the bone would smooth over. Has God created our bodies in an amazing manner or what!? Basically, it sounds like it’s advisable to follow doctor’s orders, but the healing all takes place pretty naturally.

My doctor was encouraged to see there was already evidence of healing on my two-week x-ray. But the fracture is severe enough to warrant well over a month of no weight bearing. Good nutrition, calcium and keeping off it are all essential to healing. I’m trying my best to be a good patient with the hopes of reducing the healing process. The last thing I want is to be hobbling around on a bum foot at age 70 because of impatience today. 

Once again, I’m seeing that you really can learn something new every day!

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I’ll just be honest. I don’t like having a broken foot. I don’t like spending most of my day on our futon. The futon isn’t that cozy. And my “to-do” list is growing.

I don’t like watching my husband do a good share of the cooking, cleaning and laundry. I know that might sound silly, but I am definitely ready to jump back into having a mobile life again. I want my freedom back. For three weeks I’ve been unable to carry anything and unable to drive and there’s barely one position that works comfortably well for sleeping these days.

I know that sounds like a lot of complaining. The truth is there’s nothing to really complain about. I know this is temporary. It’s obviously not in the top 10 of medical issues that deserve extreme sympathy. Not even close. And I’ve got a great husband who is taking good care of me. As I write, he’s downstairs doing the dishes. How can I complain?

I’ve had my moments of frustration and even self-pity. My to-do list grows and the house is a little dusty, but I’ve also felt new compassion for people who have truly long-term health challenges. That is one of the gifts in this season of inconvenience. Sure the scooter was sort of fun, until I experienced the awkwardness of it running out of juice in the middle of a busy aisle at Costco. And then came the looks of pity from passers-by. I have been humbled to ask for help when there was no other way. 

There have been other unexpected discoveries. I’ve seen how just hobbling around in a boot with crutches seems to break barriers. Perhaps it comes from being in an obvious place of vulnerability. All sorts of people have opened up conversations with me that I’m quite sure never would have otherwise.

People have gone out of their way to open doors, offered to help, given advice from personal experience with broken bones and extended encouragement. Total strangers have smiled and wished me well.

On the way home from the doctor, we got into long discussions with couples who sat next to us when we stopped for lunch. I think it ended up being a timely encouragement for all of us. Last week two women stopped me at Target, asking if they could pray for me. What a sweet gift. At the Ordway, two women shared a bunch of their life story with me while Brent went to get the car. When he picked me up, he was amazed at all I had learned in a mere 15 minutes. I love to hear people’s stories and am reminded to pray for them as they come to mind.

We know that God has purpose in this latest adventure he has us on, so we’re doing our best to sit up and take notice. We’re praying that the inconvenience, the extra sense of weariness we feel at the end of the night, and the momentary frustrations don’t get in the way of all he wants to show us. We don’t want to miss a thing. 

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I don’t imagine we’ve been married long enough to suppose we can offer too much in the way of marital advice. But one thing we’ve experienced in our short time together as man and wife is that while challenges and trials can put great pressure on a relationship, they can also deepen and cement it. Right from the start this was evident for us.

While we were dating, I ended up needing a biopsy. I was scared, but not having dated all that long I had no idea how Brent would react. I was amazed at his response. He assured me that he’d be there no matter what the outcome was. He even sought out the advice of a female friend, wanting to understand what I might be going through from a woman’s point of view. Thankfully, the outcome was good, but we knew a bit more about what each other was made of.

Not long after we were married, we found ourselves facing considerable home expenses that were completely out of our control. The economy, the timing our our wedding, having to sell one of our homes and unexpected home repairs all came together at the same time. Quickly, we learned even more about one another. Yes, it was stressful for both of us. At one time or another, each of us struggled with it. But I was grateful that more often than not, Brent’s response was something like, “Well, God’s in control. He owns it all anyway. He must have a purpose. He’ll see us through.”

Through every challenge you learn more. You learn when and how to communicate. On a lighter note, just this week I realized I had adjusted my method of communicating impending traffic dangers during our busy morning commute. In the beginning, I typically let out a loud gasp while pressing that pseudo passenger-side brake. Unfortunately, that only alarmed Brent and was not helpful. I see now that I’ve adjusted my communication to a gentle side-to-side wave. (It’s sometimes still accompanied by braking.) This is much less alarming, seems to work fairly well and gets a chuckle or two from Brent.

My prince in shining armor

This week we’ve entered a whole new lesson platform. After a major miscommunication with the stairway, I ended up with a fairly severe fractured foot. This will mean six or more weeks of being dramatically to roughly incapacitated. And that means Brent is making dinners, cleaning, doing laundry, driving and more. That might sound like a dream for some, but being someone like me who always has a long list and has a hard time even sitting through one TV show without getting up to clean something, this will be an immense challenge. I’m in pain, impatient with the healing process already and poor Brent is fetching me everything from Tylenol to meals to ice packs. Tell me we won’t learn a thing or two in the coming weeks! We could use your prayers.

We’ve been reading a lot about the sovereignty of God lately. That’s probably not a coincidence in itself. We’re trusting that this current little “blurp” in our plans has his fingerprints all over it. It’s a pain. I’ve complained already and it’s annoying. But we’ve also begun to see him unfold some opportunities we’d never have had outside of these current circumstances. And so we hobble along and pray for his grace to see and embrace these unexpected opportunities.

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Between the incredibly hot weather and being on the look out for healthy eating/drinking alternatives, we’ve come up with a new favorite. It started with running into a lot of recommendations for using apple cider vinegar. I discovered ways to use it in cooking and salad dressings.

That’s when I tried serving a concoction of it as a beverage. Brent balked at first, but now he’s hooked! He also found that the Bragg’s brand sells a delicious rendition of this drink and we started picking some up every weekend at the grocery store. But at nearly $2.50 an individual serving size, it was a rather expensive treat.

So, I looked into a new recipe. Now, we’ve been drinking a glass or two nearly every day for the past week and love it.

According to what I’ve been reading, apple cider vinegar is supposed to boost energy, cleanse from toxins and break down fats among other health benefits. Here’s the recipe we’re going with, but you can experiment with the ingredients for your own blend.

The plunger pitcher works well.

3/4 quart purified water
3/4 quart apple juice (low sugar)
1 cup apple cider vinegar (raw, organic)
1/2 cup honey (local/raw or agave nectar)
3 T cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a pitcher. We have one of those pitchers that includes a cover which acts as a “plunger” to mix the drink prior to each serving. That works really well since the cinnamon and cider sediment settle at the bottom.

Serve over ice and enjoy a refreshing, cool, healthy drink on a warm summer day!

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