Healthy Food, Sweet Tooth

Oh, Honey!

Check out these delicious and clean-eating recipes without refined sugar.

*This article was also published in April 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident


Banana Affair
Peel one side of the banana off and make a cut going down the middle, like a hot dog bun. Stuff the banana with almond butter (peanut or cashew butter works too) and dairy-free chocolate chips. Top with coconut flakes and pop it in the oven just long enough to warm up and melt the chocolate, while toasting the coconut flakes. Top with cinnamon and drizzle with local honey to finish this mouth-watering melted banana from heaven. I tried a banana similar from the @Eatqual vegan food truck and ever since have been making my own versions.


Boujee Bread
Any baguette or sprouted grainy bread of your choice will work.  Cut it down the middle and add a small about of Earth Balance (dairy-free) butter. Next, top with fresh raspberries (blueberries, peaches, or jam will also work) and top with brie. Warm it up in the oven until the brie melts. Top with local honey, cracked pepper and fresh basil or sage. This is the perfect sweet and savory treat that will also impress a house guest. 
 
Smoothie Bowl
Blend ice with frozen berries, almond milk and acai. Make sure the consistency is thick, but I always fill the bowl and put it in the freezer to thicken it up more. When ready, use whatever you have on hand in your kitchen: top with fresh fruit, chia seeds, granola, coconut flakes, nuts, seeds, cinnamon and of course local honey. This is great to eat in the morning to start your day off but I also enjoy it in the evening instead of ice cream. 
Health, mental health

The Invisible Diaries Podcast and Show

I am so excited to announce the upcoming launch of a show with my dear friend Amber, called The Invisible Diaries! The show will be shedding light on invisible illnesses. We are going to interview guests as well.

If you are interested in being on our show, please emails us at theinvisiblediaries@gmail.com and introduce yourself.

Instagram and Facebook Daily Topics

  • Mental Health Monday – Mental health awareness, support and education
  • Teach Me Tuesday – Education, information and learning
  • Words of Wisdom Wednesday – Quotes and inspiration
  • Thankful Thursday – Focusing on the good and finding balance
  • Favorites Friday – Favorite things and product highlights

Stay tuned and follow us on social media for updates on our official launch!

Health, Travel

Travel and Self-Care Tips for Staying Healthy

*Published in March 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident

Traveling is good for the soul and while it can be therapeutic and fun, it can also be exhausting. Packing for a trip can be stressful. We never want to forget anything but there is always something, right?! Making a list can help you stay organized.

I always suggest packing a small health kit incase you get sick. Being sick when away from home is horrible. The last thing you want to do at midnight when you spike a fever, is to run out to a store in an unfamiliar town. I always make sure to cover everything from fevers to an upset stomach. When you are traveling, you get exposed to a lot of germs. Bringing 1000mg vitamin C supplements will help boost your immune system. I take 2-3 with each meal to prevent getting sick.

Always bring a good book. Watching movies can drain your phone and sometimes it is a nice break from that addictive glowing device. I also pack snacks. Think about this: it is late at night and you get the munchies. Having granola bars, cup of soup, fruit or muffins, will be convenient and affordable so you aren’t stuck with jet lag insomnia cravings.

Packing tea is always helpful too. The plane and any restaurant or hotel will offer hot water but the tea options are not always great. Buying tea at a coffee shop gets expensive. Ginger tea is great for inflammation and digestion. Peppermint will sooth an upset stomach and both lavender and chamomile are relaxing. Herbal teas have many beneficial uses that can help keep you comfortable on your trip.

I always bring Wildling Apothecary CBD oil. It is amazing for insomnia, anxiety, pain, inflammation, relaxation, headaches, skin and digestive issues. Wildling Apothecary’s Energy Sprinkles are crucial for traveling too. When we travel, we tend to burn the candle at both ends. This alkalizing greens mix helps stabilize the mood, keep electrolytes up, reduce illness, improve detoxification and increase energy.

In case you get a headache or just want to freshen the stagnant airport air, rubbing peppermint essential oil on your temples will help. It also calms the mind, keeps the mosquitoes away, soothes sunburns and relieve IBS. Peppermint oil is also great with shower steam for respiratory relief.

Banana Bag Drink is a powder you mix with water and drink to stay hydrated. It is loaded with vitamins and will prevent dehydration.

So, before you pack all of your favorite shoes and far too many clothes, make sure you leave room for self care products that will assist in keeping your immune system in good shape and allow time to relax. Most people get sick after a trip and you don’t have to be most people with these travel hacks.

Healthy Food

Sweet Thai Chili Tacos

*Published in March 2019 issue of The Beachside Resident

What you will need:

  • Your choice of protein: chicken, shrimp, tofu or veggies
  • Corn tortillas
  • Sweet Thai chili sauce
  • Gluten-free soy sauce
  • Turmeric
  • Cashews
  • Fresh basil
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Honey (or maple if vegan)
  • Asian slaw mix
  • Sriracha
  • Ginger

Directions

Sauté your choice of protein. I chose a vegan chicken substitute. Add turmeric, onion and garlic powder, and gluten-free soy sauce in the pan, cooking on medium heat. In a separate pan, lightly toast your cashews. Put the toasted cashews aside and use the same pan to heat your tortillas. When your protein is cooked, deglaze the pan with Thai chili sauce.

Asian Slaw

You can use an asian slaw pre-mixed bag or make your own. I usually get the pre-made bags from the store and throw away the sauce. The sauces are loaded with corn syrup and I prefer my homemade spin. For my sauce, I mix a little ribbon of Sriracha, equal parts of honey or maple syrup, gluten-free soy sauce and a pinch of ginger. Mix everything together and set aside.

Putting it all together

First, place your warm tortillas on your plate or in a taco stand, and partially fill with your protein of choice. Top with asian slaw, toasted cashews and fresh basil.

Recommended sides

I love either jasmine rice, quinoa and kale, or fried rice, topped with black beans. I also enjoy serving mini vegetable spring rolls as a side. This dish is Mexican-Thai fusion so it is fun to get creative and blend two different cuisine styles into one delicious dish. Have fun and enjoy!

Health, mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Rare Disease Day

It is Rare Disease Day so obviously I am jumping on this moment to raise awareness. I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and a rare type, called cardiac-valvular EDS or cvEDS.

Hypermobility is very common with EDS. There are many, many other health issues that fall under the umbrella due to this collagen defect. Imagine your joints are like rubber, frequently popping out of place from even just a hug or rolling over in bed. Sometimes these joints stay out of place or wear down. It is a painful disease to many.

This does not only affect joints but can also affect your organs.

We are all different and we call ourselves Zebras because in the medical field, doctors and nurses are trained that when they hear hooves to look for horses not zebras. This mentality has caused me to go undiagnosed and medically neglected for my entire life, up until I had genetic testing last year. Despite my heart issues and frequent ER visits, being young and seemingly healthy has had me labeled as drug seeking or having anxiety attacks.

The reason why is because EDS and dysautonomia (dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system) does not show up on routine blood work. I have never done drugs, besides cannabis, and even after open heart surgery and a broken sternum I did not even finish my pain meds prescription. I have been treated as if I were an IV drug user, because in my area that is the only reason someone of my age would have this extent of damage to their heart. I am so incredibly thankful to now be taken seriously with a diagnosis, but it is bittersweet because this syndrome is progressive and for me, my heart is always at risk. In my recent echo, I have developed a dilated aortic root. This is beyond scary to me because EDS, especially cvEDS comes with aneurisms. Dealing with this type of diagnosis as well as chronic pain and illness is mentally exhausting.

I am passionate about awareness is because it took so fucking long to be heard. I suffered for so long not taking proper care of myself and not knowing the correct treatments. I have been called a hypochondriac by exes and have hidden behind a mask for years. I want others to know they are not alone and I want medical professionals to see us.

mental health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Are You Still In There?

When bad days turn into weeks. When your strengths are suffocating. When your dreams drift too far. When nothing seems fair. When tears turn into fears. When you get lost. When you feel defeated. When you stop feeling. You aren’t alone.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

The Grey Area of the Medical Field

The grey area is a state that doesn’t live on one side or the other. It is nomadic and intermediate; the blurry line.

The grey area is where many undiagnosed, dismissed and neglected health issues live. For some, they got tossed back and forth between doctors and never really helped by any, or are just getting by with the small crumbs of progress over a span of time.

The grey area is also the wait. It’s waiting for the inevitable, irreversible and impending progression of a particular diagnosis. It’s knowing a risks but having no control or peace of mind. Sometimes you float in between acceptance and anger.

The grey area is where the people who don’t fit in the one-size-fits-all category call home.

Many of us only know the grey area, constantly hoping someone will understand us or send out a rescue team to bring us in.

Awareness is for us, in the grey area, looking to fit in somewhere, to make sense, to have answers, to not be neglected or alone.

Share your fire until it lights up the sky, defining a new meaning and growing into a new path where those who were once lost can be found.

Healthy Food

Vegan Buffalo Chickpea Nachos

If you are like me and enjoy convenient food but still need something fresh and healthy, this recipe is for you. It only takes about ten minutes to throw together. This may be a nacho recipe, but you can also make a burrito and taco version. I absolutely hate finding a recipe that is two pages long with an hour of preparation and 27 ingredients, leaving me wondering why I didn’t just go out to eat.

What you will need:

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas
  • Vegan sour cream
  • Hot sauce
  • Garlic salt
  • Onion powder
  • Vegan butter or oil (coconut, avocado or olive oil)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Spinach
  • Onions (optional)
  • Avocado
  • Lemon pepper

Directions

Drain and rinse a can of organic chickpeas and put the in a pot on medium heat. Add Earth Balance vegan butter and Cholula hot sauce (or your choice or hot sauce) into the pot. I also add a little onion and garlic powder. While that warms up, put your favorite corn chips on your plate and chop up some fresh onions, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions or whatever fresh veggies you enjoy on your nachos. I love shredded spinach because it is a good source or iron and has so much more nutritional value than iceberg lettuce.

When the buffalo chickpeas are heated up, pour them over the corn chips and top them with your freshly chopped onions, avocado, Tofutti sour cream, spinach and salsa. I sprinkle a little lemon pepper on my avocado. If you don’t like too much spiciness or heat, you can use sriracha and honey instead.

End result

Now, you have a gourmet vegan meal that took you only ten minutes to make! This recipe is very versatile and can be created with whatever you have stocked in your kitchen. So, if you are out of chips but have tortillas or lots of spinach, make a taco or salad instead.

My method behind cooking and creating meals is not strict or by the book. I encourage you to relax and cook to the beat of your own drum, get creative and maybe even blast a little music.

Health, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

The Cycle of Grieving a Chronic Illness

The Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief was pioneered by a Swiss-American woman named Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Her book On Death and Dying elaborates more on this theory and her studies. Her model of the five stages were my inspiration but I put a twist and my own touch on the stages in the perspective of living with a chronic illness.

For chronic illnesses, this model is not linear. It is a circle that loops back around, over and over. Identifying these feelings helps to not feel alone and to make sense of what we are feeling, that it is actually normal. If you don’t have a chronic illness, maybe you want to understand what goes on in the mind of someone who does, and thank you for that!

*Photo by Winship Photography

Shock and Denial

One moment you are thumbing through what to wear in your closet, the sun is shining through the window and the entire day is ahead of you. The next, you are rolling out of bed in agonizing pain after waking up at least six times throughout the night; this is your norm. Perhaps you have lived with chronic illnesses for most of your life and it has always been your norm, only you have been dismissed by doctors and left without answers.

When you finally get a name or answer to your health issues that were ignored for decades, while you were labeled as a hypochondriac by people you thought cared about you, it can be a shock.

There are times when I go into my doctors office and beg for another set of labs. “Please, test me for metals and maybe my vitamin levels again. I know my thyroid is perfect and my electrolytes are beautiful but I can’t accept that I am stuck with this pain forever. Maybe, just maybe there is something else,” I said to my doctor last week. Usually, I get the results and they are perfect or maybe a few small flags but nothing to be causing my body to feel like I was thrown down a flight of stairs just before getting trampled on by a stampede, when all I did was sit at my desk or get ready for bed. That’s denial, my friend. It’s like you finally get that answer you have searched for and you want to light it on fire and ask for a redo.

Denial is also working full time when your body should not work at all, but you have bills to pay. So, you work all day until you literally collapse in bed, too tired to shower, muscles spasming everywhere and every atom of your existence is in agony.

Denial is smiling and listening to your friend’s conversation while your vision fades and your hands and lip go numb but you don’t want to say anything because it’s normal for you and you want to be normal for them.

 

Anger

There are moments you are doing something mundane, like brushing your teeth, and you just start sobbing.

“Why me?

You question everything, combing through your past and present to investigate where you went wrong or what if you had taken better care of yourself when you were younger.

“Why me?”

Why, though? Why, when you are such a fighter and you were always so positive and you did everything by the book and still, here you are, suffering. It isn’t fucking fair.

The cherry on the cake is when people tell you that maybe exercise would help but when you exercise, your heart rate skyrockets and you get chest pain and bronchial spasms and feel like passing out. Or, “you need to heal your childhood traumas” gets thrown at you for the 5th time but you have done nothing but read inspiring self-help books, healing and even see a therapist. “Maybe if you changed your diet or took this supplement…” Sure, nutrition is important but what haven’t we tried at this point? Even after two solid years of eating clean, cutting out preservatives, processed foods, dyes, additives and fillers and eating a strict anti-inflammatory diet, juicing, supplements, etc. the changes are minimal.

Yes, there is some relief and my migraines are minimized but that doesn’t put a fucking dent into this mountain of health issues. I have tried all the protocols, diets and supplements and will probably continue trying new ones throughout this cycle of grieving. Maybe Karen could help her arthritis if she stopped drinking her diet coke and did yoga, or Steve could lighten up on the drinking and late-night fast food binge, but we are not all Karens and Steves.

There are moments when I am pissed. I am furious. I am exhausted and in pain, and I am so very angry. But these moments pass and I continue to fight and be positive. Let us move through the steps and keep your advice to yourself unless it is requested. We don’t live in this stage but we visit it often.

 

Bargaining

“I promise I won’t eat anymore chocolate peanut butter cups in my car, on the way home from the grocery store. I am going to juice every morning. If I do better, maybe I will feel better? I will be more spiritual, more positive and even do yoga.”

That is the sound of bargaining for a better outcome. Yes, lifestyle changes are important to our health and especially balancing stress. Don’t confuse this with not taking responsibility. Be responsible! But know that this roller coaster of being disheartened and motivated is the pattern of grieving. We often think that maybe we didn’t try hard enough and part of the denial aspect is thinking that maybe if we tried harder there could be a solution.

The individual is clinging to the threads of hope, however thin and worn the fabric may be. Breakthrough treatments in medicine or intervention by a spiritual being or force are seen as a source of a temporary suspension of the inevitable outcome.eCondolence

 

Depression and Anxiety

Depression is the feeling of impending doom, but that feeling sticks around, even when you are happy. It slithers into your existence and it isn’t always tied to a memory or life experience, it just exists. Even on a good day, that feeling can hang around. You can hide it and you can pretend it isn’t there, but it’s the nervous butterflies in your stomach that grow into your chest. Positively thinking it away is not a thing. Depression is not always a mentality that you can control, it’s also chemistry.

Though depression and anxiety do not discriminate, they can be more prevalent in the disabled or chronically ill community.

Imagine building up your goals and life-long dreams. Your ambitious personality and positive mental attitude kicks ass and you have the world at your fingertips but you keep getting knocked down due to uncontrollable circumstances, like your health. Sure, you can dust yourself off and try, try, try again! However, it’s fucking hard and it sure gets old when decades go by and you watch your peers buy houses, new cars and live successful lives. Meanwhile, you try to figure out how you can afford not having income for weeks or months at a time as you recover from surgery, balancing which medications you can afford while making sure there is enough money left over for a cheap dinner. You then start over, just to ride the big wave till you crash again.

It can also be lonely, even when you have supportive friends and family. It’s a place that not many people understand. It’s an unpaid full-time job. It’s exhausting. It’s scary. Support groups are very helpful; finding a community of people with similar health issues helps you cope, not feel alone and also educates you on your illness.  

Anxiety is an issue as well because having a chronic illness can be traumatic. For example, I had WPW Syndrome and my heart rate would get in to the 250s. I have also had many scary arrhythmias so when I hear the hospital heart rate beeping sound on a TV, it gives me major anxiety. It is a trigger for me, as well as fast rhythmic tapping.

Acceptance

Put your warrior paint on! You have your medical records organized, tests and labs done. You are making progress with answers or even starting new treatments. You got this! Or maybe you don’t, but you have just accepted the cards you are handed and will make it work. This stage varies for many and is a sliding scale. For some, it could mean you are managing. For others, this stage comes and goes, varying on what condition your health is in. Again, this process is not linear… it’s a scribble!

You might visit the land of acceptance often. Maybe you have a beach house here or maybe you are planning a vacation here but more than likely, you never retire here. We are nomads of this grieving process. We jump around, visit, flip flop between two stages and circle around.

Acceptance is the best place to be. It’s when we feel really positive, and not just faking it. It is when we fight for awareness and advocacy. It is when we make progress or actually have a less painful day. It’s when your treatment is manageable and you’re coasting.

These are the five stages of grieving your chronic illness. Keep a journal, see a therapist regularly and join support groups. This ride is tough but you are not alone. It’s important to manage your mental health as well as your physical health.

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http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

tel:1-800-273-8255