Without being too overly dramatic, I am experiencing my version of the end of the world. A world that is devoid of eggs and cheese. Let me explain…
For the past two years or so, somewhere in the middle of my pregnancy, I started to develop eczema. Probably something to do with hormones triggering something autoimmune, or something. Annoyingly, it was eczema ON MY EYELID. Of all places to get it, it was super annoying. The severity of the eczema would ebb and flow, and it would mostly flare up and become horrible when I was especially stressed… like preparing for teaching trips. And it would calm down and go away when I was on vacation in Hawaii. So I thought it was totally stress-related. But then over the months, it started to get worse and worse… and every time I thought it couldn’t possibly get worse, it got worse. Steroid creams didn’t help (used around the eye, they are linked to causing cataracts). Moisturizers didn’t help. Even a sample tube of Protopic (which has been linked to cancer) caused my eyes to burn for over a day.
Since the new year, I’ve been doing a lot more cooking, making more green smoothies, and trying to change our diets to include more whole foods, less meat, and less sugar. And it was going pretty well until about two weekends ago when I fell off the wagon. In the span of three or four days, I indulged in all my very favourite things: pizza, pineapple custard buns from T&T, scones, egg tarts (also from evil T&T), pasta, eggs with spinach and feta, bagette sandwiches, and part of a Rosemary Rocksalt breakfast bagel (OMG the best breakfast bagel I’ve ever had). Just looking at that list, I’m a bit horrified with myself, but hey, this is what happens when you deprive yourself. In any case, at the end of my pastry-laden spree I ended up with the worst flare up of all time.
I finally visited a friend of ours, Dr. Jeff Lee, who is a naturopath and owner of Brio Integrative Health. He suggested that maybe my eczema was actually food allergy related and so I did the IgG food sensitivity test. A couple days ago, he showed me the results. My body does not appreciate my daily routine of eggs, cheese, and other dairy. This is probably not earth-shattering to anyone else but me, but it feels so depressingly unfair that the ONE (or two) things that I’m intolerant to are the very things that I eat every day. And perhaps that might be part of the problem too. So the doc’s advice is to cut out all eggs, cheese, and dairy for the next six months and to see if that helps heal my body from inside out.
So this Friday Five is a few foodie things that I’m grateful for.
1) Oh She Glows
A couple years ago when my family was meeting my sister-in-law Annica’s family for the first time, we needed to accommodate her sister-in-law who was vegan. I stumbled upon Angela Liddon’s amazing blog and made this salad for our families that was really incredibly well-received. Since that time, I’ve been referred back to this blog as well as Angela’s cookbook by a few people, including Ashley at our studio. It’s been an absolute godsend. It’s been a source of so much new learning for me… even silly things, like I cooked lentils for the first time in my life just yesterday. But seriously, I make her Apple Pie Oatmeal for breakfast every morning now, sometimes switching out the apples for pears or bananas (I’ve been using Medjool dates to sweeten it rather than maple syrup and it’s sooo delicious). And this Tomato Basil Cream Pasta dish that’s made with blended up cashews? Insanely yummy. And who knew you could cook like that with cashews?? I’ve been making it with gluten-free pasta and even my husband was surprised at how good (and not weird) it is.
2) Miso Gravy
One of my go-to dinners has been cooking a big pot of brown rice or quinoa, sautéing a bunch of veggie, steaming a salmon with a little sesame oil and soy, and then making miso gravy to go with it all. I will admit to being fully inspired by the Dharma Kitchen, a little vegan restaurant in Kits, where my girlfriend Michelle and I have been going, off and on, for ten years now. We have our best heart-to-heart convos over their heart-warming brown rice bowls. So I’ve been experimenting with a combo of these three miso gravy recipes:
3) Medjool date smoothies
So, I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of the ladies at SimpleGreenSmoothies. I’ve been making green, fresh, and fruity smoothies in the morning and having the second half in the afternoon as a snack. I like my smoothies to look a good colour… if it’s green, it should be nice, vibrant green. If it’s purple or red, it should be purple or red… not brown. So I was skeptical when I saw the Skinny Mint smoothie. It was sweetened with medjool dates… a totally new thing for me. But I tried it and it wasn’t bad. It was super filling, but yes, chocolatey, a little sweet, and minty. BUT even better than that, was using the Medjool dates for THIS smoothie! It taste like the peanut butter milkshakes we used to get at Lucy’s Diner! But it’s just bananas and dates… how CRAZY is that?
4) Fish tacos
I am grateful for the fact that I’m not actually sensitive to gluten, but I’m trying to cut it out too, where I can. Thankfully, I can still have grilled fish tacos up the wazoo. Avocado, fish, and lime are my friends.
5) My dear husband
Not a lot of people would give up their own favourite foods and ways of eating, simply to match their spouse. But I am absolutely blessed to share my life with my husband. He’s said over and over, “Whatever you need to do to change your diet, and go meat or no meat, cheese or no cheese, I can do it.” And this was all prior to him reading about LeBron James going no sugar, no dairy, and no carbs for 67 days. And my husband has been doing it… happily eating whatever brown rice, stew, veggie, miso gravy experiment I concoct each evening. Even, dare I say, enjoying it.
I feel like I’ve been eating tasty food all my life — going from my mom’s deliciously clean home cooking to trendy restaurant hopping during my twenties — I probably even misguidedly proclaimed myself a foodie during that time. But now, spurred on by the “have to” is quite a bit of “want to” in discovering new foods and ways to cook. Anything to make us not only look healther, but truly be healthier.
Happy Friday. Hope you have wonderful meals with friends and family this weekend. Have any of you changed your diets away from the North American “norm”? How did you do it? How are you doing with it?