I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Some (Good!) News at Last: Health Video Update Part X

Hi guys! Remember me?

It's been more than a year since my last post. Gosh, I hadn't realized I'd been 'unplugged' for that long, but that's how life goes... Not having internet at home has really put a big stopper on my web activities. I mostly go online once a week at the community library and just have time to have a quick look at my email and do the odd research.

Anyhoo, I'm here now... :-)

Soooooo, as you can imagine, LOTS has happened since our last 'talk'. There's no way I could cover it all, especially not in writing (well, unless I worked on this post for weeks, and you spent a few sleepless nights reading it! lol), but I go over the main highlights in this next video.

Thank goodness for technology; that saved me quite a bit of typing! :-)

Here are links to some of the resources and for more info on topics I mentioned in the vid, in case you'd like to learn more:

Local Practitioners
Michael Smith - nutritionist, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Functional Medicine specializing in the gut. He outlines his approach to diet (Ice Age, New Paleo and Healthy Homesteader Diets) on his website, Integrative Health Solutions.ca. He has also published a book called "Returning to an Ancestral Diet".

Academy of Chinese and Oriental Sciences (ACOS), school of TCM in Nelson, BC

Auto Immune Protocol
AIP Lifestyle
Phoenix Helix

Why No Nuts and Seeds

Why are Nightshades Harmful
Fast Track Diet (for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth)
Outline by Norm Robillard

Gallbladder Health

What my Diet Looks Like 
As I said in the video, I followed a very strict form of Paleo Diet for most of the last year, based on Michael Smith's approach. Basically a highly anti-inflammatory diet consisting of lean proteins (fish, a little chicken, lots of eggs from a source that uses corn and soy-free feed), pretty much all vegetables (woo hoo!), except peas, beans, corn and nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants), and copious amounts of fat (butter, ghee, coconut and olive oil). I've been staying away from grains and starches, dairy, and, for a long time, also sugar and fruit. As a lot of spices come from either seeds or nightshades (cumin, coriander, nutmeg, paprika...) or are too hot for my gut, I've been only using garlic powder and herbs to flavour my food. I haven't been able to have anything acidic such as citrus or vinegar (and most vitamins as well for the same reason). I know that in theory these are supposed to be alkaline by the time they leave the stomach, but all I can say is that they irritate the sensitive spot in my small intestine.

Looking back through my Food Journal I'm noticing that it was pretty darn spartan for a while, but things improved considerably once I reintroduced a bit of fruit and sweet potatoes. I thought I'd give you an idea of what one day's menu looked like during that phase.

Breakfast: 1/2 sm avocado, 1/4 cup blueberries and/or strawberries, 1 tbs melted coconut oil and a bit of stevia blended up and with 1/4 cup of live water kefir grains tossed in, 1 cooked egg (usually with the yolk still soft)

Around Noon: 10 oz fresh cucumber and celery juice

Lunch: 50 g of fish or chicken, 2 cups steamed veggies, 1 tbs coconut oil, 2 tsp butter

Late afternoon: large glass of water kefir or kombucha

Dinner: 1/2 sm avocado, 2 cups veggies, sweet potato noodles, 1-2 eggs, 1 tbs coconut oil, 2 tsp butter

Dessert: jello made from grass-fed beef gelatin, stevia and medicinal extracts or pumpkin blended up with a little cinnamon, stevia and coconut oil

Since giving the Fast Track Digestion approach a try, I've reintroduced Jasmine rice, a few products made from white rice (flour, puffed cereal, crackers and pasta), small amounts of various sweeteners (cane sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, coconut sugar) as well as greater amounts of fruits (yippee!!!) I'm also having sweet potato and sweet potato noodles again (I stopped during the FTD), which really help in the variety department. In fact, the sweet potato and rice have allowed me to cut down on the amount of chicken and fish I'm eating. Not surprisingly, I found myself automatically having more 'vegetarian' meals. Yay!

I can still tolerate very few things raw other than fruits (without thick skins or seeds), But I was very recently able to introduce tender greens from our garden, as long as I remove the tougher veins and stems (various types of lettuce, baby kale, arugula, mustard, spinach, and mizuna). I can also eat raw radishes and cucumber without peel and with small seeds. Gosh, I can't tell you how ecstatic I am to be finally able to have some raw veggies! :-) Ever since the beginning of this health saga I have faithfully enjoyed a glass of fresh cucumber and celery juice daily.

At this point I'm able to use a few special ingredients from my 'raw days': kelp noodles, nori, lucuma, maca and mesquite, vanilla powder and medicinal extracts for flavouring.

In the last couple of months, I've further adjusted my diet to accommodate my gallbladder problem (I have 3 large gallstones). So now I use eggs just for baking rice goodies (sometimes only the whites) and I've cut down on the amount of fats I consume.

Natural Supplements and Herbs
In terms of supplements, Michael recommends products to help heal the lining of the gut that I've been taking pretty much since the onset of this whole thing: l-glutamine, n-acetyl glucosamine and liquid vitamin D. I also take digestive enzymes as well as HCL to assist my digestion. I've tried to reintroduce probiotics, but so far, no luck. At least I'm able to drink home brewed water kefir as well as kombucha every day.

Both Michael, and more recently Monica (the student at the ACOS clinic I've been working with), have prescribed me a number of different Chinese herb formulas over time. However, we seem to have been able to finally nail down the ones that I respond best to, and for the last 3 months or so I've been taking a combination of Er Chen Tang (to remove heat and dampness) with a small amount of Huang Lian (berberine). I also take Ma Zi Ren Wan (rhubarb root is the main ingredient) to help support my daily elimination.

Alrighty, I think that pretty much covers the technical stuff surrounding my health.

Trip Back East
After some reservation, I finally decided to go visit my family in Quebec this past spring. As you can imagine, my parents have been super worried because of my health issues and were anxious to see me, but I kept waiting to feel strong and stable enough before doing so. One major concern was that the journey itself as well as the visit would be too stressful and result in onsetting more inflammation. (As you may know, gut health is closely related to stress.) But then I realized that maybe I'll never feel totally 'ready' to go as the risk of triggering a flare will always be in the background. And so I decided to go ahead and see what unfolds. Amazingly, everything went super smoothly, from the preparations to the actual trip, to the time spent with my family. Actually I can't imagine how things could have gone any better! I had a wonderful two weeks which I spent entirely at my parents' apartment on the South Shore of Montreal. (I decided to minimize unnecessary stress and therefore didn't even go to the city or to my sister's home about 2 hours away.)

My parents are both in their 80s now and I hadn't seen them in nearly 6 years. My dad had a bout with colon cancer some years back and is diabetic but is otherwise mostly ok (other than being overweight). My mom has had no major health issues at all. I find that baffling considering their SAD diet, but hey. We made a joke of how they'd 'fatten me up' during my stay with them. See, one of the things about following a Paleo type diet is that you usually loose weight. I've been having a heck of a time getting over 100 lbs. Anyhoo, I did manage to put on 2 or 3 lbs while I was in Quebec, something we were all very happy about. :-)

This was taken on the day I arrived with my mom and dad, Jeanne and Antoine.

We spent most of the days just quietly hanging out, yet time just flew right by! Jeanne has been doing embroidery on paper for the last 20 years, but I'd never actually seen her at work. And so she showed me how and I completely fell in love with the technique. In fact, there's something utterly satisfying and even a little addictive about it. Now as soon as I have a spare moment I have needle and thread in hand.

In this pic, we happened to be both working on the exact same pattern. I later gave the card to Don as he turned 67 soon after I got back to BC.

I arrived baring all kinds of gifts. I'm not sure why; I just felt like pampering them. :-) Before I left, Don and I made a bunch of raw chocolates. I hadn't realized how much I missed working in the kitchen with him and how well we operate together. It was a little tricky as I couldn't really try the chocolates and fillings, but after a while I found a way around that; I'd put a bit in my mouth to check on the flavour balance then spit it out. I know, I know, sounds like a sacrilege but a girl's gotta do what she's gotta do! To my delight, it worked as I was told the end result was yummily decadent. Yay!

I happened to be there for both Mother's Day and Jeanne's birthday which is only a few days later. I had knitted her a lace shawl in a beautiful delicate Estonian pattern, called "Echo Flower." She loved, loved it!

The timing of my visit couldn't have been more perfect as the ornamental trees surrounding their residence all bloomed a few days before I left.

One of the biggest challenges about undertaking such a trip was to accommodate for my food requirements. While I can eat a great deal more things than I could before, there is still a lot that I must carefully stay away from. As a result, nearly half of my luggage consisted of food or supplements! lol It was a little tricky for the first day or two as we had to do a huge shopping and I had to cook a whole bunch of veggies. But once I got my bearings it went quite well. Sadly, we could almost never enjoy the same things, but at least we ate together at the table.

I haven't been able to eat at a restaurant for over 2 years, but after making a few calls I was able to find one close by that served plain white rice and fish served sans seasonings or sauce. And so we took my mom out for her birthday. As it turned out, I was even able to have a side of plain cooked veggies, so my plate looked almost 'normal'. :-)

For our last meal together, we all ate the same thing which was such a treat! I stir-fried tons of veggies in coconut oil and we served them on a bed on Jasmine rice, along with sauteed shrimps and scallops and steamed fiddleheads. Yum! Yum!

The evening before my departure. My sister, Josee, came to spend the night and then gave me a ride to the airport early the next morning.

Crazy About Embroidery
As I was just saying I'm now totally hooked on 'embroidery on paper'. My mom was a huge help in setting me up for it and I continued to build my supplies once I got home. Amazingly, it looks like this new passion is supported by The Mystery; after seeing me at work a volunteer at our library gave me what we figure must be over $100's worth of thread that she inherited from the estate of a local lady who used to do embroidery. What a blessing! :-) She was glad to find someone for whom it would be useful.

Don laughs at the sheer amount of cards and bookmarks I keep 'pumping out', but I can't help it! In fact, I love it so much (or perhaps, because of how much of it I do every day!), I even dream of doing embroidery at night! hehe It's hard to explain, but I find it both soothing and deeply gratifying (perhaps it's to do with 'connecting the dots'?) It's also so nice to have a short term creative outlet since I no longer have food prep/recipe creation. I still love lace knitting, but it's a much more involved long term activity. For my embroidery projects, I find myself naturally gravitating towards nature-based patterns or mandala type designs. There's something really magical about watching a piece gradually come together, stitch by stitch.

Here are a few examples of my work:

The Gardening Bug
Last year we were able to grow our first 'real' garden, as before that we were never in a location that was conducive for it. I did get involved in community gardens for 2 or 3 summers, but it was always such an ordeal to get there. It's sooooo nice to be able to just walk down the driveway in order to water or tend to our 'green babies', as we've nicknamed them.

There were already several established beds as well as a greenhouse on the property, but these hadn't been used for ages, so last year we began to gradually dig them back up again. Well, this spring Donnie gave me a surprise: he dug out a whole bunch more while I was away. Yippee!

Last year we only grew a few things, as pretty much the only veggie I could eat was potato, but this season it's a whole different story! I think we've got something close to 30 different veggies and herbs! :-)

June was exceptionally sunny and warm, plus we got a major head start as I planted most beds mid-April before I left for Quebec. And so our garden is already growing like crazy, and we've already been able to enjoy some of its produce.

But wait, how about you join me as I walk you through our little piece of lush paradise?

Just in case you don't have time to watch it, here are a few pics taken over the last few weeks. With the gorgeous weather we've been having, we can see changes daily, but you'll still get an idea. :-)

When I planted greens, I was expecting these to be for Don since my gut complained when I introduced them last summer. :-( As it turns out, this time they're fine as long as I only eat the tender leaves and remove any tough parts. I've been enjoying a salad daily (sometimes even twice a day... Call it SGB ('Serious Green Backlog')! lol

Our very first cuke! Again, I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to tolerate it, but I can! Woo hoo! Keep 'em coming!

While we opted to plant tomatoes and cucumbers in the main garden, we still put a few in our greenhouse. See, since it's been built, trees on the property have grown quite a bit, so it really doesn't get that much direct sun anymore. With the combination of lack of sunlight and extreme heat, our tomato plants are pretty leggy. Nevertheless, the greenhouse is still starting to look lush, what with the few mystery squashes that volunteered from our compost. Even though these are usually tasteless, I didn't have the heart to kill them all.  I figure that in the worst case we'll be able to use them for pies and soups. ;-)

We're using the two beds in the front garden mostly for root veggies - beets, carrots, rutabaga, daikon (which I just plucked out as it all went to seed), and parsnips, but we also have broccoli, lettuce, cucumber, garlic and a couple of squashes.

Surrounded by a sea of green; just the way I like it! ;-)

Donnie has been super helpful; watering, weeding and just looking after the general well-being of our plants.

We had heaps of bees hang around our arugula, bok choy and mizuna flowers.

Our gorgeous zucchini patch; one of my favourite parts of the garden, with its almost daily offering of beautiful yellow blossoms as well as zukes.

We ended up with several squash beds since in addition to the few varieties we started indoors, I tried to rescue as many volunteer squashes as I could. Carmi, Carmi; you have to learn to be a more ruthless gardener!

With my talk of deer in the video, wouldn't you know it, one came to visit us later that day. He kept creeping closer and closer to our flower bed, and in the end we had to scare him off.

Sadly, he came again a couple of days later and did quite a number on Don's potato patch. It's one of the only areas that isn't protected by netting as, well, we ran out of the stuff, and we found that it seemed to weigh down on the plants and cause them to slouch. (I don't know why but, just like last year, ours insist on being giants; some of them over 5 feet tall!) Plus, I had just that morning removed one of the nets on the lettuce bed in order to put it somewhere else, so of course the deer had to munch on a few lettuce heads too while he was at it. Anyhoo, we were not happy campers! :-(

As a matter of fact, we encountered Mr. and Mrs. Deer on our walk yesterday and I gave them a stern lecture to leave our garden alone. There's tons of greenery everywhere at the moment, so surely there's no need to eat our little plants, right?

Birthday Girl
I just turned 44 a few days ago, so I figured what the heck, might as well post a few pics of that too! lol

I spent this beautiful sunny day mostly lounging around, eating fruit (can you think of a better way to spend your birthday?) and doing embroidery. I worked on a sunflower pattern which I thought was particularly appropriate, considering. It later occurred to me that I actually made myself my very own birthday card. he he In fact, I can't think of a better one for me! See for yourself.

For my birthday dinner, we started off with the best part: dessert. I can't eat fruit after a meal, and I just HAD to have strawberries for my birthday, so we had fresh strawberries and blueberries with a dollop of Coconut Whipped Cream (made from the thick cream in a refrigerated can of coconut milk with a little stevia.) Decadent!

The main dish was baked sockeye salmon, Jasmine rice topped with a Mushroom and Carrot Sauce (fancy for me as I usually just eat my rice plain with a little oil, garlic powder and avocado) and a side of steamed broccoli. 

And of course, a beautiful salad made from our garden greens, cucumber and our first nasturtiums.

About My Fellow Furries...
But 'nuff talk about myself!

In the video you got a chance to look at Miss Puss being mischievous in the garden. She had a good winter (other than early getting in a fight with a visiting neighbouring cat). She continues to have a knack finding good, cozy and, of course, warm spots. ;-)

She's especially thriving now that the weather has warmed up and she gets to spend most of the day outdoors. She usually follows us to the garden at least once a day and finds a quiet shady spot between beds for a little lie down. So cute!

In the most recent heat wave (we had temps in the 100s F which is unusual for us), she was staying close to the house and moving as little as she could. Poor thing; I can't begin to imagine how it must feel to be wearing a fur coat in such heat! Eeeek!

As for Mr. Don, he's been doing well too. He's been having to fend for himself in the kitchen, but we've been sharing our evening meal since my return from Quebec. Yay! He continues to be fascinated by what all is going on in the world of macro economics, especially as things seem to be heating up in the European Union/China. He just wanted to pass on to you guys a few words...

Hello Everyone! Don here with a short note of Warning!
 Perfect Financial Hurricane directly ahead! 

As some of you know, we both feel certain that society is in Big trouble, just count the ways, eh? One important aspect is the ongoing financial/economic crisis, now heating up in Europe and China.

The question to ask ourselves is how important is our financial security for us and our loved ones? Very, very critically important, right? Given the very unstable situation, what is one to do? Finding the answer to that deserves all the attention necessary, doesn’t it? ‘Head in the sand’ is surely not a viable strategy. After many years of research for me all roads keep coming back to Physical GOLD.

For a short version of why, see here: A Quick Look At Why GOLD and Why NOW?

I have created a new blog with one simple approach which I am certain will work wonders, whatever happens. I highly recommend you take a look HERE.  

Note: BitGold was initially not available in the US but now it is.

Anyone with questions can feel free to contact me at: freedomroad999 @ gmail.com (remove spaces)

All Blessings

On this note, I say we call it a day! Phfew, I'm no longer used to being at the computer for so long and my hands are getting sore from typing so much!

And while I'm in a blogging spree, keep an eye out for an upcoming post offering all of my raw recipe books on sale in the next few days. :-)

I hope you have a blessed and bountiful summer!

Links to my Previous Health Updates...