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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Love Vegetables

And, thank goodness I do, because vegetables have been a big part of our diet these past 7 months! If you have been following my other posts, you would know that not only are we eating differently due to Craig's cancer treatment plan, but also, I am cooking for a first time ever and with lots of vegetables.

We have learned to embrace edamame beans, spaghetti squash, a variety of peppers,  beans, beans and more beans. We weren't allowed all vegetables as some interfered with the process of Craig's medication including eggplant, tomatoes and asparagus...basically our three favorite vegetables were forbidden during the one year treatment.

However, just recently while I was searching some new recipes, I stumbled upon a recipe/resource section on the site for Craig's treatment. Most of the recipes on the 1st 10 pages had tomatoes in the ingredients. I inquired with his doctors only to learn that although tomatoes were forbidden, cooked tomatoes were allowed!! UMMMMMMMMM, that makes a HUGE difference in our diet! We spent 7 months  indulging in olive oil on everything. Suddenly I can dress up our wheat pastas and pizzas with marinara sauce. (Insert loud "ahhhhhh" sung at a high pitch!)

So, given my inept domestic skills and our dietary restrictions, our dinners have been interesting to say the least! I recently took a dry run at making a Thanksgiving meal for Craig. Special note: Our Thanksgiving meals are catered every year. Yes, that is how pathetic I am in the kitchen. None-the-less, I made us a meal with all of the ingredients Craig and I could now have:
Turkey-check
Corn-that's fine
Waldorf salad-modified (raisons-cranberries forbidden)
Sweat potatoes-Minus brown sugar-added apples & honey
Green bean casserole-No mushroom soup..instead I mixed heavy whipping cream and parmesan.     Pulled that right out of my rump!
Pumpkin pie-wheat crust and homemade whipped cream with stevia!

Craig gave me an A+ for effort and an "A" overall. Not gonna lie, the wheat pie crust=not so good!

So as we prepare for our annual Thanksgiving meal this year, I actually have to so a little cooking for Craig and me. As my family engages in a catered meal, we will be dining with homemade, healthy, natural vegetables as our sides. No nap for us as we will be highly energized by the good eats!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Love your pets

Well, it has been many years since my husband or I have had a dog and now a first for us to have one together. Five years ago we became empty nesters and broached the topic of adopting a dog a number  times...until we watched, "Marley and Me." That movie was a deal breaker for both of us as we sobbed incessantly and then emphatically agreed we were not ready for a puppy.

Well, five years later, now that we have slowed down a bit and find ourselves home more due to Craig's illness, we started talking the puppy-talk again. It all came to fruition his birthday weekend when I stumbled upon a picture of an adorable 8 week old Terrier/bull mix from the shelter. We fell in love with the picture, and then again when we met her in person. She was one of 4 in a litter rescued from an abusive and neglectful home in a bad neighborhood. She had been malnourished and abused, but was on the mend. We knew the moment we met her that she was the one!

As I was signing my life away at the check-out of the shelter, I was asked about her name. Hmmm. I came in thinking I was buying a boy and had great names like, "Willy" and "Sammy" all ready to go. But this cute Petey-from-the-Little-Rascals-look-alike was a GIRL. I needed a name and a name that had meaning. I felt at the moment like the sky parted and a golden light shone down upon me as her name came to me: "Bella Eve"  BELIEVE! Our life motto is now our new best friend.

Bella Eve is quite the character! We have had her for only a few days and we just love her! She has been such an asset to our home bringing some positive change,  excitement and more laughs than usual! She has already gone shopping, taken several walks, met her neighbor friend dogs and taken car rides. She is adapting well. Of course, as a puppy, she is still peeing & pooping in the house, and biting, chewing and jumping up.. but these behaviors are diminishing by the hours. Despite all these minor puppy flaws, we sure do love our Bella Eve! We do BELIEVE she is a warm welcome to our family and home!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mind Over Matter: Love Cooking

Mind Over Matter: Love Cooking

Superheroes

I can't say that I ever had a favorite superhero as a child, but I certainly do as an adult: My hero is my best friend, my husband, Craig. You see, for one year, Craig has battled that epidemic of a disease, cancer, like so many others both young and old. His diagnosis came as a complete surprise as he was pretty health conscious and well-read on carcinogens. Heck, he wouldn't even use regular deodorant because it had zinc, a cancer-causing ingredient.  And forget diet and low-fat products, because of their deadly aspartame. He knew all the foods and products that caused cancer.

But, what he didn't know was LIFE causes cancer.  Cancer has no prejudices or concerns over one's eating style, let alone their lifestyle, income, race, religion or ethics. When cancer comes knocking on your door, it is there to stay for a while, or maybe longer, and you better just embrace it.

And, that is just what my great hero did! From the beginning of his illness his eternal optimism inspired many. He had lived for years with the mantra, "Believe," but this was the real test. Does he really believe? Even with this harsh prognosis? Yep, he still believed! When the doctor showed him his bone scan laden with cancer, he heard the mention of arthritis in one area and decided that was all he had...all over his body..including his cranium? Arthritis? Oh, my eternal optimist was at it again.

He believed he would get through this ordeal. He believed he would be cured. He believed God still had more for him to do here on Earth. So, he continued to plow forward with a positive, faithful approach. An outpour of love, support and prayers came from friends and strangers from everywhere. He believed.

He believed even when  the doctors from the two largest and very well-known cancer hospitals here in Cleveland said they couldn't do much for him, but basically keep him comfortable. He believed despite chemo not even being an option because it was too far advanced. He believed despite them  giving him a few radiations solely to keep him from becoming paralyzed by the cancer that had broken his spine in several areas. He just kept on believing.

He prayed.
He met with his  dear friend, our pastor, many times.
He believed
He remained positive.
He stayed optimistic.

And then a program from Panama kinda just fell in his hands. Thank you, God. The doctors there assessed his test results, diagnosis and prognosis and gave him a 97% of FULL RECOVERY. Not remission. Recovery.

He believed.
He began the treatment in April, five months after his diagnosis.
He had to change his lifestyle and diet to accommodate the medication. It was a BIG life change.
He believed.
He got stronger.
He got healthier.
He looked better and better.
He continued to believe.

Today marks one year from that cold, dark night that he was sent to the hospital immediately after an MRI showed his doctor something very serious. It has been one year since he was bed-ridden and unable to walk or sit without great support and help. He believed.

He recently had his 9th treatment from Panama.  He believes.
No complaints ever. No doubts.
My hero has emulated and lived the mantra, "Believe!" He has been a role model to so many throughout his journey. He has inspired the healthy and the sick....because, he believes.

It took me 40+ years to ever have a hero in my life. It was well worth the wait. "Cancerman" Believes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Love Cooking

Seriously? Love cooking? ME? Yep!  Anyone who knows me, knows the kitchen was a foreign room and cooking an unknown entity...until this past Spring. My husband's unique cancer treatment required a restricted diet....a VERY restricted diet...like, no white sugar, no white flour, no pork and VERY limited animal bi-products, no acidic fruits, limited veggies, no spices...oh the list goes on.

None-the-less, I embarked on the dietary journey with Craig and we cleared our pantry, fridge and freezer of all the forbidden foods...and hired someone to make our meals for us weekly. Pathetic, I know. But,  if you ever saw me in the kitchen you would understand. You see, the first time I made Craig a romantic meal for dinner, well, the romance turned into a night of hearty laughter due to my domestic demise. My homemade alfredo noodles kinda coagulated and looked more like a matzo ball, yet I doused it with alfredo sauce and served it with a pie server anyway. After Craig was able to suck the doughy concoction from the roof of his mouth, he kindly referred to my creation as "The damndest shit!" He then assured me that the only thing I ever have to make him for dinner was:  RESERVATIONS! And so began our years of eating out and me never cooking at home despite our  beautifully renovated kitchen.

So, here we were in the Spring spending hundreds of dollars for a friend to prepare our meals for us. Ugh! It was time for me to embrace my culinary fears and Love cooking! It  hasn't been 100%  pretty, case and point: noodles I kept in a crockpot for 4 hours, but Craig has been forever grateful. There are actually meals he craves and begs me to make for him, like my berry-buckwheat pancakes.  My energy balls, banana-peanut butter-strawberry ice-cream, cole slaw and pesto-wheat dough pizza are pretty awesome, too.

I have found myself in the kitchen each weekend preparing his weekly supply of homemade granola, a variety of ice-creams and a few dinners. It has gotten to the point where he actually bought me not one, but TWO aprons for Sweetest Day, and recently ordered the The Precision Induction Cooker for me to advance my culinary skills in the kitchen!!!   Gotta love it!

I love my husband. I actually love cooking now, too. My mother would be so proud. Miracles never cease:)