A journal of my experiences with breast cancer to inform those who are interested and to help any one else who might have just been diagnosed.

“[She] will have no fear of bad news; [her] heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014 Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia

Today I had my follow-up appointment about my Pap exam. It turns out that I have mild  Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia. This is an abnormal growth of cells on the cervix. It is a little like pre-pre cancer cells. In this stage (CIN 1), it often goes away without treatment, so she suggested that I return in one to two years from the pap test. If at that point, it has stayed the same, she might want to do a colposcopy and biopsy. If it has progressed to moderate (CIN2) that she might want to loop electrosurgical excisional procedure.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cancer Fighting Kitchen

Eat as Much as You Can

  • Almonds
  • Apples
  • Apricot
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Barley
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Bok Choy
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Butter
  • Cabbage, especially raw
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Chard
  • Cherries
  • Chicken
  • Coconut
  • Collard Greens
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Cucumber
  • Currants
  • Dates
  • Edamame
  • Eggplant
  • Eggs
  • Fenugreek
  • Fermented Veggies
  • Figs
  • Flax
  • Flounder (3 x's a week)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Grapes
  • Grapefruit
  • Green Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Green Tea
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kale
  • Kimchi
  • Kiwi
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lemons
  • Lettuce
  • Limes
  • Liver
  • Mango
  • Mint
  • Millet
  • Molasses 
  • Mushrooms
  • Muskmelon
  • Nectarines
  • Olives and olive oil
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Parsley
  • Parsnips
  • Peaches
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pears
  • Peppers
  • Pineapple
  • Pistachios
  • Pomegrante
  • Pumpkin
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Quinoa
  • Radishes
  • Raisins
  • Raspberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Rutabaga
  • Sauerkraut
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • thyme
  • Tomatoes, cooked
  • turmeric
  • Vinegar
  • Walnuts
  • Watermelon
  • Yogurt

Eat Sometimes

  • beef
  • brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • cashews
  • cheese
  • dark chocolate
  • fish, especially wild salmon (other than flounder)
  • honey, raw
  • milk
  • oatmeal
  • peanuts
  • pork
  • sourdough bread

Eat Sparingly

  • coffee
  • popcorn
  • whole grain bread
  • potatoes
  • chocolate, other than dark


  • alcohol
  • bacon
  • corn syrup
  • corn, including corn oil
  • deep fried foods
  • ham
  • lunchmeat
  • pepperoni
  • shortening
  • sugar, and things that contain sugar like soda
  • white flour

    Friday, November 7, 2014

    Two Year Anniversary

    Today I celebrated my 53 birthday and my second anniversary of my diagnosis.

    Friday, September 19, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Broccoli

    Broccoli has many good-for-you components...chromium, a mineral that helps keep blood sugar under control, vitamin C,  and calcium, to name a few. Broccoli is known for its cancer fighting compounds and may help lower your blood pressure.
    You can eat as much as you want of this vegetable without it affecting you adversely..

    Broccoli with Lemon Vinaigrette

    1 tea. freshly grated lemon zest
    2 Tab. lemon juice
    1 Tab. olive oil
    2 minced garlic cloves
    salt and pepper, to taste
    1/8 tea. crushed red pepper
    1 large bunch (1 1/2 lbs.) fresh broccoli, cut into 1/2 inch pieces or 16 oz frozen broccoli florets

    Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt,black and red peppers in a large bowl.
    Steam broccoli pieces in a steamer basket over boiling water for 5-8 minutes or if using frozen, according to the package directions.
    Add broccoli pieces to the bowl with lemon dressing and toss to coat well.

    Note: The lemon juice will cause the broccoli to discolor.
    1 serving is 1 cup
    85 calories, 5g protein, 10g carbs, 5g fiber, 4g fat

    Other ways to add more broccoli to your diet:

    For creamy soup without the cream, puree cooked broccoli, cauliflower and onion with salt and white pepper. Ad low-fat milk for a creamier texture.
    Add chopped broccoli florets to omelets, vegetable lasagna and pizza.
    Top steamed broccoli with a spoon of sour cream and some slivered almonds.
    Dip raw broccoli in Italian or Ranch dressing.
    Make a beef and broccoli stir-fry and serve over brown rice.

    Make a broccoli salad:
    broccoli florets
    slivered carrots
    sliced green olives
    diced pimientos
    chopped walnuts
    Italian dressing

    Do you have any favorite ways of eating broccoli?

    Tuesday, September 16, 2014

    September 16, 2014: Abnormal Pap Test

    My second pap test came out abnormal, too, so my doctor is sending me to a specialist. I am trying just not to think about it until my appointment on November 25.

    First Pap Test

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Fenugreek and a recipe for Curried Butternut Squash Puree

    Magic Of Fenugreek Seeds Or Methi
    Have your heard of this unusual spice? It is a popular ingredient for Indian dishes. And it is also very good for your health. It helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol,  helps prevents weight gain by preventing the absorption of fat calories, which is a definite plus for lowering diabetes risk. The antioxidants it contains also may help counteract some of the damaging effects of diabetes. 
    It only takes about 1/2 teaspoon of the spice a day to make a big difference, but since it has a strong, unusual flavor, it doesn't go well with all dishes. It goes well in any curry, dahls or other Indian-style dish and you can also make a dry rub for chicken, mixing it with equal amounts of cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric and celery seeds.
    Pureed Butternut Squash

    Curried Butternut Squash Puree

    1 Tab. olive oil
    2 medium onions, chopped
    2 tea ground fenugreek
    1/2 tea. turmeric
    pinch of cayenne
    4 cups cubed, peeled butternut squash (about 20 ounces)
    1 cup water
    1/2 tea. salt
    2 tea. lemon juice

    Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, 2-3 minutes. Add spices and stir until fragrant. Add squash, water and salt. Return to a simmer and cook, covered over medium-low heat for 25-30 minutes or until the squash is tender, adding water if necessary. Mash the squash with a potato masher and then stir in the lemon juice.

    One serving is 2/3 cup
    source: Magic Foods, Robert Barnett, Christine Pelkman and Denise Webb

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Avocado and a Recipe for Easy Homemade Guacamole

    You may have been avoiding eating avocados because of their 25-30 grams of fat! The fat is monounsaturated has the same effect on your system as olive oil and nuts. Avocados are rich in sterols, which are compounds shown to lower cholesterol, are packed with vitamins and minerals. Ounce for ounce, they provide more potassium than bananas.
    You also don't need to eat much at a time. Cut an avocado into five pieces and have one piece for 55 calories, which you can add to a sandwich instead of mayo, a Tablespoon of which almost doubles that amount of calories. Or, you can make this easy guacamole.
    guacamole and chili relleno casserole

    Easy Homemade Guacamole

    5 ounces Pico de Gallo
    2 ripe avocados
    1/4 tea. chili powder
    1/2 tea. cumin
    2 tea. lime juice

    Mash the avocados until it is the consistency you prefer. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until well blended. If you like a very smooth consistency, you will need to put it all in a food processor to blend.

    Saturday, August 23, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Apples and a Recipe for Curried Apple Slaw

    Will an apple a day keep the doctor away? Well, perhaps. Did you know...

    • researchers have discovered that women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes?
    • an apple has 4 grams of fiber?
    • apple pectin is known for its ability to lower cholesterol?
    • apples are loaded with flavonoids which reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease?
    • apples only have about 80 calories each?
    They are so fun and easy to slip into the daily diet, too. You  can eat them with peanut butter, or chop them in some plain yogurt for a snack, add thinly sliced apples to a sandwich. Applesauce is also good for you as long as you don't add too much extra sugar. Or, you can try this recipe for...

    Curried Apple Slaw

    • 1/2-1 tablespoon curry
    • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice 
    • 1 Tablespoon honey
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 half small red cabbage (about 2 cups sliced)
    • 2 granny Smith apples, peeled if you like, cored, and cut into matchsticks
    • 2 green onions
    • 1/2 cup  raisins (optional)
    • 1/2 cup walnut pieces

    Mix in a medium bowl curry, vinegar, lemon juice, honey and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add cabbage, apples, green onions and raisins. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and stir well. Just before serving, add the walnuts and stir again.
    source: modified from Hide The Cheese

    Saturday, August 16, 2014

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: What Is Working For Me

    So, what does the changes I have made look like in the day-to-day?

    1. You know your self and know what will and won't work for you. For example, I know that if you are dieting that a good, healthy breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, and you certainly are not supposed to skip it or you will be ravishingly hungry before lunch. Well, I know that my stomach doesn't even wake up until noon. I have tried to force myself to eat breakfast, and I have found that if it doesn't make me nauseous, then it jump starts my stomach and I become really hungry all day long. That dieting adage just doesn't work for me. Instead I don't eat anything until noon and make sure that I have planned a healthy lunch for then. It is harder to make good choices when you are hungry, so plan in advance.

    2. I drink either unsweetened ice tea, ice water or seltzer water with lemon

    3. For Lunch:
    • Protein: eggs, chicken strips, tuna, beans, tofu or 1 slice low-fat cheese and 2 slices of turkey, lean roast beef or ham.
    • Vegetables: soup or a salad with the protein on it or a side salad with a sandwich with as many vegetables that I can stuff onto it. Celery stick and carrot sticks or bell pepper rings are good side vegetables to have as well. Sometimes I will have a Tablespoon of peanut butter with them.
    • Acidics and Good Oils: Vinegar or lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing on a salad or on a sandwich (1 Tab. olive oil and 2 Tab. of lemon juice or vinegar is enough dressing for salads for both Steven and I.)  or about a Tablespoon of mustard 
    • Carbohydrates: If I have a sandwich, I will use 2 slices rye, sourdough or pumpernickel or 1 slice whole wheat bread, if I have a salad I will have 4-6 whole wheat crackers. In addition, I will have some piece of fruit such as 1/2 mango or a peach, 1 cup of grapes, apple.
    3. For Afternoon Snack:  I make sure I plan for a good snack for between lunch and dinner. A snack might be:
    • Fruit: 1/2 apple or a small pear
    • Protein: 1 Tab. peanut butter or 1 oz. Swiss cheese or goat cheese drizzled with lemon juice
    • Carb: 3 or 4 whole wheat pretzels or 6 whole wheat crackers  OR,
      • protein/carb combos instead of the protein and carb.
        • 14 oz. low-fat mixed berry yogurt with 2 Tab. Kashi Go-Lean cereal. 
        • 1 cup of popcorn with 8 almonds and 1 Tab. dark chocolate chips.
    4. For Dinner:
    • Carbs.:one or two servings of carbohydrates such as 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, potatoes or brown rice would be one serving, double that would be the two servings . No bread with dinner.
    • Vegetables: Fill my plate with non-starchy vegetables, even if I am already having a salad.  
    • Protein: I keep my meats as lean as possible: Lean beef, chicken, turkey, tofu, beans, fish, and shrimp.
    5. Evening Snack: Here is where I have what most people would have for a healthy breakfast.
    • Carbs: One serving: a mini bagel, 3/4-1 cup cold cereal such as Kashi GoLean, Grape Nut Flakes or Raisin Bran, hot cereal such as oatmeal or oat bran. Add flaxseed.
    • Protein: Three servings: Nuts and low-fat milk on the cereal, peanut butter, hard-boiled egg, nuts, plain low-fat yogurt, low-fat cheese.
    • Fruit: one or two servings, depending on the size: oranges, berries (on the cereal), nectarine, apple.
    • Treat: A little indulgence in dark chocolate chips or dark chocolate covered almonds goes along way for me to resist other sweets I might see around the house. A little prevention is good protection. I skip this if I have eaten them with the popcorn. If I eat chocolate covered almonds, I will count this as one of the proteins.
    Oh, and by the way, when I was last at my doctor's she went over routine tests with me and remarked that my cholesterol was very good -better than hers!

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Fish and a Recipe for Salmon-Wasabi Sandwiches

    Baked Paleo Salmon
    Baked Paleo Salmon from Original Eating

    Fish, especially those high in Omega-3's cut the risk of cancer, especially prostate cancer, lower the risk of heart disease and helps to stop inflammation in the body. The fish highest in Omega-3's are albacore tuna, salmon, mackerel, lake trout, herring and sardines. Because salmon and other fatty fish tend to store environmental pollutants like mercury into their fatty tissue, it is best to choose wild Pacific salmon or farmed salmon from Chile. Canned salmon comes from wild varieties. I have been trying to add fish to my diet at least once or twice a week. If you are having fish as your main meal of the day, a serving can  be up to 6 ounces, or 3 ounces for a lunch.

    Salmon-Wasabi Sandwiches

    6 Tab. mayonnaise
    2 Tab. rice wine vinegar
    1 Tab. minced or grated ginger
    1 1/2 tea. Wasabi powder or paste
    1 tea. mirin
    1 can (7.5 oz) salmon, drained and flaked
    2 Tab. scallions, chopped
    1 Tab. sesame seeds
    8 slices pumpernickle bread
    1 cup thinly sliced cucumber
    1 cup watercress sprigs

    Whisk 3 Tab. mayo, rice wine vinegar, ginger, Wasabi and mirin in a bowl. Add the salmon, scallions and sesame seeds. Mix well. Spread the remaining 3 Tab. mayo over one side of each bread slice. Divide the salmon mixture among 4 of the bread slices. Top with cucumber and watercress and lastly, the remaining bread slices. 

    Serving size is one sandwich.
    314 calories, 18g protein, 36g carbohydrates, 5g fiver, 12g fat

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Barley and a Recipe for Black Bean and Barley Salad

    "Hulled barley (right in photo) is a whole grain, meaning the three parts of the seed—bran, germ and endosperm—are intact, providing optimum nutrition. Hulled barley, as its name suggests, has had its inedible, outermost layer—the hull—removed. (All grains grown for human consumption must have their hull removed, if they have one.) Pearled barley (left in photo) is not a whole grain, since it has been polished (aka "pearled"), processing that removes the nutritious bran layer" -The Delicious Truth

    Because of its significant supply of solubble fiber, barley slows the stomach from emptying, keeping blood sugar stable and create a sensation of being full, which might help to control appetite. It can also possibly prevent colon and stomach cancers. A portion is 1/2 cup so it is good as a side dish or added to another dish, like this Black Bean and Barley Salad.

    Black Bean and Barley Salad

    1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
    3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
    1/4 cup cider vinegar
    1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1 1/2 tea. cumin
    1 tea. oregano
    1 clove garlic, minced
    1/4 tea. salt and pepper to taste
    1 can (15-19 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
    2/3 cup scallions, chopped
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
    lime wedges

    Combine the broth and the barley in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 minutes, or until barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Transfer barley to a bowl, fluff with a fork and let cool.
    Meanwhile, combine the vinegar, orange juice, oil and spices into a small bowl and whisk to blend.
    Add beans, peppers, scallions and cilantro to the barley. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat well. Garnish with lime slices. 
    One serving is 3/4 cup.
    230 calories, 7g protein, 29g carbohydrates, 7g fiber, 11g fat

    Sunday, August 10, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Peanut Butter and a Recipe for Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Trail Bars

    Enjoy Value-Packed Peanut Butter Year-Round
    More peanut butter recipes at Peanut Butter Lovers.
    Peanut butter is full of protein and has unsaturated fat. It helps tame cholesterol therefore lowering heart disease because of its fats (it is the same fat that is in olive oil) and sterols, which also fend off colon, prostate and breast cancers. Peanut butter is also a good source of resveratrol, the antioxidant that red wine is famous for. Peanut butter is also rich in vitamin E and is rich in the bone-building mineral boron.  It also have a gram of fiber in every tablespoon. All of these health benefits for about 20 cents or less a Tablespoon. Just watch to make sure they are not sweetened too much with corn syrup or sugar. Since it does contain almost 100 calories per tablespoon, you do still have to limit your portions, however, and use only 1-2 Tablespoons at a time. Here is a recipe for trail bars that are a bit more healthy than those you can buy in the store. Peanut butter stands in for the butter.

    Oatmeal-Peanut Butter Trail Bars

    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tea. cinnamon
    1/2 tea. baking soda
    1/8 tea. salt
    1/2 cup peanut butter
    1/2 cu firmly packed brown sugar
    1/3 cup honey
    1 egg
    2 egg whites
    2 Tab. canola oil
    2 tea. vanilla extract
    2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or almonds
    1/2 cup bittersweet and semisweet chocolate chips

    Preheat oven to 350deg. F. and grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with Pam. Whisk flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat the peanut butter, sugar and honey in a bowl with an electric mixer until well blended. Blend egg and egg whites with a fork in a small bowl. Add eggs to peanut butter mixture, along with the oil and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix. Mix in oats, dried fruit, nuts and chocolate chips. Scrape batter into baking dish in an even layer. Bake bars until browned and firm to the touch, 20-25 min. Let cool and then cut into 24 bars. 
    One serving is one bar.
    175 calories, 4g protein, 24g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 8g fat, 

    Saturday, August 9, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Stone Fruits: Peaches, Plums, Apricots and Nectarines and a Recipe for Upside-Down Stone Fruit Muffins

    Stone Fruits
    Like apples, citrus fruits and berries, stone fruits are the next healthiest fruit for snacking and adding to recipes. Apricots, which are close cousins to peaches, are the richest in beta-carotene, linked with protection from heart disease and cancer. Plums have several antioxidants, and all of the stone fruits have compounds that help keep eyes free of cataracts and have cholesterol busting soluble fiber and do not send your blood sugar racing too high. A serving size is one peach, plum or nectarine or two apricots. They are easy to add to oatmeal, smoothies, top pancakes or waffles, cold cereal or dried to trail mix or rice. Or, here is a recipe for muffins featuring stone fruits.

    Upside-Down Stone Fruit Muffins

    2 Tab. packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup walnuts
    12 oz. nectarines (3 med.), plums or apricots pitted and cut into 1/4 inch wedges 

    Coat muffin cups with cooking spray. Sprinkle about 1/2 tea. brown sugar into each muffin cup and put into an even layer. Sprinkle about 1 tea. walnuts into each cup. Arrange 3-4 nectarine slices, slightly overlapping, over walnuts and brown sugar. Cover and set aside. Coarsely chop the remaining nectarines slices and set aside. You should have about 3/4 left.

    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 1/2  tea. baking powder
    1/2 tea. baking soda
    1/4 tea. salt
    1 1/2 tea. cinnamon
    1/2 tea. nutmeg
    2 large eggs
    1/2 cup packed brown sugar
    1 cup buttermilk
    3 Tab. canola oil
    1 tea. vanilla

    Preheat oven to 400 deg. F.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices. 

    In another bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar until smooth. Whisk in the buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened, then fold in the reserved nectarines. Spoon batter into muffin cups. Bake 18-22 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned and the tops spring back when touched. Immediately loosen the edges and carefully turn the muffins out. Replace any stray nectarine slices and spoon any walnut pieces remaining in the muffin cups. Let cool.
    One serving is 1 muffin.

    202 calories, 5g protein, 32g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 6g fat

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: What I Have Learned About Losing Weight, A Researcher's Perspective

    Kale and Chickpea Salad

    As I promised last week, I will tell you about all the things I have learned about dieting and weight loss as they have come together for me. I have decided not to diet. Not to count calories. Not to weigh myself but to just monitor through how I feel and my weight checks at doctor's appointments. Instead I am trying to change my attitudes about food and myself. One step at a time, like putting one foot in front of the other, I am learning to walk the healthy life, but it takes time and practice before I will be able to run. Every tiny step, however, is a step none the less, and all those tiny steps add up over time. Here are the things I am working on, from a researchers point of view.

    1. Make better carbohydrate choices, and limit the portions of the less good carbohydrates. This is a lot different than going low carb. It is much more a "just say less" approach than a "just say no" approach. I am trying to eat more whole grains, especially whole pumpernickel bread, oatmeal and bran cereal, lentils and dried beans and some fresh fruits rather than potatoes, white breads and pasta, white rice, sodas, dried fruit. Some foods are in the middle, so I eat less of them than the best carb sources, but more of them than the worst carb sources. I just have to be careful of my portion sizes of these carbs. Those are wheatberries, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bananas, sweet potatoes and whole wheat and sour dough breads. The basic rule of thumb is that I make three of my carb servings whole grains and get 45 to 55 percent of my calories from carbs every day.
    2. Eat more fruits and vegetables. I know that this is an obvious, but I am trying to make doing this more intentionally. One strategy is to eat a salad with each dinner with a little lemon juice or vinegar and olive oil. Another strategy is to mix just about any vegetable(s) with every carb dish. Adding tomatoes carrots and spinach to pasta or broccoli to rice or strawberries to cold cereal means that I will be eating a little less pasta, rice or cereal if I keep the portions of the dish the same. I snack on fruits such as peaches, plums or apples or some raw vegetables and low-fat dressing or a homemade bean dip. It is very important to pack some fruits and vegetables every time I leave the house for an activity with the kids so that I don't find myself surrounded by people snacking without a healthy alternative. I have found that there are some exceptions to the eat fruits and vegetables rule and they are potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, bananas, dried fruits and juices. I do eat these, but I limit them, whereas other vegetables I eat limitlessly.
    3. Eat protein at every meal. I try to eat about 20-30 percent of my calories from protein. Every time you mix protein with carbohydrates, it lowers the blood sugar reaction of the carbohydrate alone. It helps keep hunger at bay between meals. I should watch portion control with the proteins, however. Small amounts of protein with each meal is much better than one large serving with dinner alone. I try to make sure that most often the proteins are soy, fish or shellfish, poultry, nuts, seeds, low-fat cheese, low fat milk and yogurt, eggs, split peas, lentils and dry beans. I make sure to limit ground beef, beef with fat, sausage, bacon, high-fat lunchmeats such as bologna or salami, hot dogs, butter and cream.
    4. Choose fats carefully. First I cut back on sources of saturated fats. I cut back on fatty red meats, butter and margarine, cream, full-fat cheeses, whole milk, mayonnaise and ice cream. Ice cream is still my major weakness, but I have cut my portions in half. I use olive oil as my first choice and canola as my second choice of oils. I often substitute olive oil when I would have used butter before. I also get some fats from the nuts, seeds, fish and avocados I eat. I also eat flaxseeds. I eat more non-meat proteins than I used to. My husband is vegetarian, so I am more often eating with him, rather than what the kids are eating.
    5. Add lemons and vinegar as much as possible. As, I have said before, making foods more acidic slows the breakdown of starches into blood sugar, so the blood sugar rises at a slower and more steady rate. I use vinaigrettes rather than creamy salad dressings. I use vinegar-based marinades for meat and fish. I use mustard over mayonnaise. I eat pickles pr gardenia with my sandwich instead of chips.  I eat sauerkraut and sourdough bread. I sometimes cook with wine and sometimes drink a 4 oz. glass of wine with dinner. I squeeze limes and lemons on almost everything!
    6. Portion control. This is the piece that I am struggling with right now. I grew up in a very dysfunctional family and sometimes I went hungry as a child. This has never left me. I have gotten much better about it over the years due to the loving care my husband has given me, but childhood traumas are slow to leave you and often leave traces that you don't know are there until they pop up suddenly. I 'used to panic whenever I felt hungry or even if we were getting low on groceries. I don't really have that any more. Making sure that I keep my blood sugar steady and making sure I get adequate proteins that can carry you through until the next meal help with this as well. I have started with looking at the recommended portion sizes on packages. For example, the serving size for peanut butter is two tablespoons, so I actually measure out two tablespoons when I use it. I am learning what appropriate serving sizes look like. Did you know that a serving of meat is about the size of a deck of cards, but the serving size of fish is about the size of a fat checkbook? A serving of cheese is about the size of four dice. After looking at what a serving size is, I try to visualize something that is about that size so that I can remember it the next time. The only thing I do not control the portions of are fruits and vegetables (with a few exceptions of particularly starchy ones such as potatoes and bananas.) 
    7. If calories have to be counted, make sure they are high enough that you lose the weight slowly. I found a neat trick to determine how many calories one should strive for in a day. If you are trying for a modest, slow weight loss that won't trigger ketones, simply add a zero to your current weight. As you lose weight, your calorie intake should reflect that change as well.

    Tuesday, August 5, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Oats and a Recipe for Oatmeal with Apple and Flaxseed

    Oats, no matter which type you use, is top notch for a source of soluble fiber. Oats can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, fight heart disease, boosts the immune system and may help reduce the risk of breast cancer by mimicking estrogen and preventing the natural hormone from triggering the growth of cancer cells. Oats are also packed with antioxidants.

    Oatmeal with Apple and Flaxseed

    2 cups milk or almond milk
    3/4 old-fashioned rolled oats
    1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
    1/3 cup dried cranberries or raisins
    1/2 tea. cinnamon
    1/4 cup flaxseed, ground
    1/4 cup nonfat plain or vanilla yogurt
    1/4 cup maple syrup or 2 Tab. brown sugar

    Combine milk, oats, apple, dried fruit and cinnamon in a heavy saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook, stirring often, until creamy and thickened (3-5 minutes).
    Stir in flaxseeds. Spoon cereal into individual bowls and top with yogurt and maple syrup. Leftovers will keep, covered, in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in microwave.
    One serving is 2/3 cup
    282 calories, 10g protein, 47g carbohydrates, 6g fiber, 7g fat

    Monday, August 4, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Beans and a Recipe for Cannellini Bean Dip with Kalamata Olives

    If you are trying to lose weight, just adding beans to your diet can help. They have a lot of nutrition in a relatively-low calorie package. The body can't even digest some of the starch in beans. Resistant starch, starch not digested in the small intestine, is used by healthful bacteria in the colon to produce short-chain fatty acids, which seem to protect colon cells. 
    Beans are full of folate (a B vitamin) which keeps the arteries clean and reduces the consequences of diabetes and lowers blood pressure. Foods containing folate help reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer probably because of folate's role in healthy cell division and repair of damaged cells. 
    A recent study ranked beans amount the top ten food richest in antioxidants, including variety of phytochemicals, such as triterpenoids, flavonoids, inositol, protease inhibitors and sterols.
    Nutritionists recommend eating at least 3 cups of beans a week and that is a lot of beans, so fitting them into the diet can be a bit tricky. We make bean dips and hummus. You can also mash beans and spice them as you like to use as a sandwich spread. Kidney beans, cannellini beans and chickpea are good in salads. And then there are chili and bean soup. If you pair beans with rice, together they make a complete protein. A half-cup of beans is about 105 to 145 calories. 

    Here is a recipe for a yummy dip that we use with celery as well as whole wheat pita, corn or bean chips.

    Cannellini Bean Dip with Kalamata Olives

    1 15 oz can of cannellini beans (or 2 cups cooked)
    1/2 tea. minced garlic
    3 Tab. olive oil
    2 Tab. water
    2 Tab lemon juice
    1/2 tea. salt
    pinch of cayenne
    1/4 cup sliced pitted kalamata olives
    1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Add more salt, if desired.

    Homemade Chips for Dip

    Cut each pita bread into 4 triangles and separate each triangle into two halves at the fold, or, if you are using corn tortillas, stack a dozen tortillas and then cut them into 4 wedges. 
    Spread wedges in a single layer on baking sheets (for the pita bread, put rough side up.) Spray lightly with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 400 deg. F until light golden and crisp, about 8-15 minutes.
    One serving us 6 corn chips  or 4 pita chips.

    Saturday, August 2, 2014

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: Why I will Not Be a Trim, Healthy Momma

    Following the Trim Healthy Momma diet seems to be the newest trend in dieting. So many of my friends seemed to like it, so I picked the book up at the library. After all, a diet that tells you that you can eat bacon and still lose weight sounds like a miracle, doesn't it? And, many of my friends have been amazed that they could lose weight quickly, sometimes within days. The Trim, Healthy Momma diet even claims that you will get the added benefits of lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglycerides.
    So, I opened the book and began to read. The first thing that struck me was the heavy use of Truvia. I have not tried Truvia, to tell the truth, but my body has not done well on other artificial sweeteners over the years, so it made me take a second look at it. I remember back about twenty-five years ago when I bought some Stevia leaves at a Renissance Faire and I enjoyed brewing the leaves along with my tea for sweetner, so perhaps Trucia, a zero-calorie natural sweetener derived from the stevia plant, according to Cargill's website, would be a good thing. However, upon researching it, I found out that the only reason Truvia can mention anything about Stevia is because Rebiana, one of the three ingredients of Truvia, is derived from a Stevia plant.. First of all, only half of one percent of Truvia is Rebiana, and secondly, Rebiana is not the same thing as Stevia. It is only a molecule of the stevia plant. Furthermore, Rebiana is actually 400 times sweeter than sugar, but you’ll notice that Truvia is only twice as sweet as sugar.

    The primary ingredient of Truvia is actually Erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol which is made by processing genetically modified corn, so instead of Truvia being thought of as refined stevia, it should be thought of a refined sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols are notoriously known for their unpleasant side effects. Our bodies do a poor job at digesting sugar alcohol, which is why they are low in calories, but because they aren’t completely digested, they hang out in our intestines where they are fermented by colonic bacteria. The by-products of fermentation include gastric distress, diarrhea, cramping, gas and bloating, which not coincidentally, are the main side effects of Truvia.
    The last ingredient of Truvia is listed as "natural flavors." What does that mean? That’s a good question, and your answer is as good as mine. As you may already know, the term “natural” is not FDA-regulated, therefore there are no standards when using this word.
    Truvia may be perfectly harmless for the vast majority, but there is no evidence that Truvia is either natural or safe, according to the Regulatory Affairs unit of the Public Health and Medical Fraud Research Cooperative. For me, I would rather cut out or at least reduce my refined sugar instead of just replacing it with Truvia. For some, honey, in moderation, or perhaps using the actual stevia plant leaves would be better than switching to Truvia.

    Okay, so I may or may not have convinced you of taking a second thought when switching to Truvia. Let us go on to the next thing I noticed when looking over the Trim, Healthy Momma book, the low carb and high fats. This is not a new concept, as it was popularized back in the early 1970's with the Adkin's diet (Diet Revolution).  The track record of that diet is that people found out that it turned out to be less effective and less healthy than originally claimed. Often the weight returned, as did the problems with high blood pressure. The Trim, Healthy Momma states that it is different in that it allows small amounts of carbohydrates and that they include sources of healthier fats, such as fish and olive oil, as well as the saturated fats. Are those changes enough?
    When carbohydrate consumption falls below 100 grams, the body responds by burning muscle tissue for the glycogen, or stored glucose, it contains. When those glycogen stores start to run out, the body resorts to burning body fat, but that is a very inefficient, complicated way to produce blood sugar. The body only tries to do this when it absolutely has to, like when its starving. Turning fat into blood sugar produces a bi-product called ketones. My oncologist specifically stated at my first meeting with him that I was not to go on a weight loss diet that encouraged the production of ketones. So, in my particular case, it is very important that I don't reduce my carbohydrates that low, but since it is a function that begins when the body is starving,  it makes sense to me that it wouldn't be good for anyone. According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the human brain requires the equivalent of 130 grams of carbohydrate a day to function optimally, and that is just a minimum. I would like to assert that I think it is at least as important to look at the type of carbohydrates we are getting rather as the amount.
    Many of the weight loss advantages of a low-carb diet may in fact be due to the extra protein. As I have said before, protein can really help with weight control. They curb hunger and so people consume fewer calories and lose more weight Two major studies of low-carb diets, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, looked at obese men and women who stuck with either a low-carb, high-fat diet or a low-fat, high-carb diet. Both diets were low in calories. In one study, which lasted six months, the low-carb diet seemed to win hands down, and that part of the study is what a lot of people who are looking at the diet  are looking at. The people on it lost nearly 13 pounds; the low-fat dieters shed just 4 pounds. 
    The second study reveals more information, however. This study lasted six months longer, revealed that results of this type of diet really don’t last. This study found that the low-carb dieters lost more weight in the first six months, but in the second half of the year, the weight came roaring back. By the end of a year, there was no significant difference in weight loss between the two groups. 
    In another study, researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle gave volunteers a diet that got 50 percent of its calories from carbohydrates. To start, the volunteers got only 15 percent of their calories from protein and 35 percent from fat. Then they switched. Carbs stayed the same, but fat was decreased to 20 percent of calories, and protein was doubled to 30 percent. The participants were allowed to eat as much as they wanted— but they ate less. Over 14 weeks, they lost an average of 11 pounds, including 8 pounds of body fat, thanks to the extra protein. 
    And about the butter and bacon, saturated fats directly impair the body’s ability to react to insulin, so following a low-carb, high-saturated-fat diet may help you lose weight in the short term, but it may also speed the development of insulin resistance. Eventually, that can lead to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and heart disease. So, it seems that you can't have your butter and bacon and have weight loss and good health at the same time.
    I am not a health professional, and what I learn is just from my own research, so don't take my word for it. I am also still overweight, so I cannot say that I am in any way an expert in weight loss. I can only tell you what I have learned and what I feel. Make your own reasonable and informed decision, but don't just take the word of one source. I can only tell you what I have learned that might be a better way, which I will outline next time, and why I will not be a Trim, Healthy Momma.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Carrots and a recipe for Dairy-Free Carrot Ginger Soup

    Wild little rabbit with carrot
    Carrots are an outstanding source of the anti-oxident beta carotene. These compounds help protect against oxidative DNA damage, a key event in the cancer process.It has been shown that carrots are great for reducing the risk of all breast cancer types with just three servings per week. Beta carotene and Alpha carotene can also be found in mango, papaya, red peppers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and oranges...orange fruits and vegetables.
    A serving of carrots is 1/2 cup cooked or 1 cup raw.

    Dairy-Free Carrot Ginger Soup

    1 Tbsp fresh garlic, chopped
    2 Tbsp ginger, minced
    9 medium carrots
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 cups vegetable broth
    1 cup plain soy milk
    1 small white onion, diced
    1 Tbsp agave or maple syrup
    1 tsp black pepper
    salt to taste
    optional: 1 small sweet potato, peeled/diced

    Heat oil, 2 Tbsp broth, onions, ginger and garlic in soup pan. Saute for a minute or two.
    Add remaining broth, soy milk, pepper, honey, and carrots. (sweet potato optional)
    Bring to a simmer. Heat until carrots are soft and will break with a fork.
    If soup seems too thick, add more broth to adjust consistency.
    Remove pan from heat. Wait a minute or two for soup to cool. Make sure your soup has cooled and that there is a small air vent at top when blending. In small batches, about 1 cup each, blend the soup to a thin puree. Blend longer for a creamier soup. Once all the soup is blended, re-pour into soup pan.Simmer the blended Carrot Ginger Soup until it is ready to be served. Re-heating the soup will lead to a thinner, less airy consistency. You may notice some ‘air bubbles’ in the soup right after the puree. To get rid of these air bubbles, just slowly simmer them away.

    source: Babble

    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Mesothelioma Awareness

    I was recently contacted by Cameron Von St. James, the husband of Mesothelioma cancer survivor, Heather Von St. James asking me to help spread the word about this aggressive form of cancer that affects the membrane lining of the lungs and abdomen.
    The primary cause and risk factor for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos and you do not have to have direct contact with asbestos, as in Heather's case her father worked with it and she had just second-hand contact with asbestos.
    Making a correct mesothelioma diagnosis is particularly difficult for doctors because the disease often presents with symptoms that mimic other common ailments. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, but treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy have helped to improve the typical mesothelioma prognosis.
    About 60% of patients diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma experience lower back pain or side chest pain, and there are frequent reports of shortness of breath. Lower numbers of people may experience difficulty swallowing, or have a persistent cough, fever, weight loss or fatigue. Additional symptoms that some patients experience are muscle weakness, loss of sensory capability, coughing up blood, facial and arm swelling, and hoarseness.
    Peritoneal mesothelioma originates in the abdomen and as a result, symptoms often include abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Fluid buildup may occur in the abdomen as well as a result of the cancer.
    Asbestos exposure is considered the primary risk factor for the development of the cancer. Anyone previously exposed to asbestos displaying any of these symptoms should seek medical attention from their doctor first, only to be referred to a doctor who specializes in the treatment of mesothelioma and thoracic oncology after receiving a positive diagnosis.

    Read another infomative post at Living and Learning with Our New Normal  and at Mesothelioma.com at: http://www.mesothelioma.com/mesothelioma/#ixzz38bPnNCcT

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss: Facts about Fiber

    Table on soluble and insoluble fiber. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
    Fiber is one of those things that we all know we need and yet may not know why since it isn't digested by the body. First of all, there are two types of fiber -soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water can can be found in oats, barley, beans and some fruits and vegetables. Insoluble fiber is found mostly in whole wheat and some fruits and vegetables. Both types are very good for you, but soluble fiber has even greater benefits.
    Soluble fiber, when it mixes with water, forms a gum, which forms a barrier between the digestive enzymes in your stomach and the starch molecules in all the food you have eaten during the same meal with the soluble fiber. It then takes longer for your body to convert the whole meal into blood sugar. This is why it is good to replace some of the carbohydrates you normally use for some of these fiber-rich foods. For example, if you eat a 1/2 cup of rice and a 1/2 cup of beans instead of a full cup of rice, you are reducing the blood sugar reaction of the carbohydrate and are getting greater health benefits.
    Oatmeal is famous for lowering cholesterol, but it may lower high levels of triglycerides and reduce blood pressure as well.
    Nutrition experts say to aim for 20 grams of fiber, both insoluble and soluble. A good goal for soluble fiber is 10 grams.

    Saturday, July 19, 2014

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss, Living the Healthy Life: The Magic of Lemons and Vinegar

    What do lemons and vinegar have in common? They both are sour due to the acetic acid in them, and they both keeps the effects of other foods eaten with them from affecting blood sugar levels...as much as 50%!
    Scientists are not sure why this happens, but they do know that they interfere with the enzymes that break apart chemical bonds in starches and the kinds of sugars found in table sugar and milk. They, in fact, keep foods in general longer in the stomach so they aren't digested as quickly. Acetic acid may also speed up the rate at which glucose is moved out of the bloodstream and into the muscle cells for storage. 
    I have written about many of the health benefits of lemons and limes before, but vinegar has similar effects. Just 3-4 teaspoons of vinegar can not only lower blood sugar, but it can make you feel more satisfied after a meal and it also fights bacteria and fungi.
    So, have a pickle with your lunch, or squeeze some lemon into your tea or salad and enjoy the magic of lemons and vinegar!
    Encouragement A little by little becomes A LOT #fitness  For more motivation, healthy recipes, weight loss tips, workouts, and more  http://www.fb.com/jenniferwoodfitness
    Add caption
    At my doctor's check-up today, she let me know that I had lost 20 pounds since my last visit, which makes a nearly 30 pound loss total.

    Saturday, July 12, 2014

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss, Living the Healthy Life: Is Fat the Bad Guy?

    good fats

    As with carbohydrates, I have learned that whether the fat is bad for you has to do with what kind or where the fat comes from. Like proteins, fat doesn't raise blood sugar so snacking on fat-rich foods like nuts is not so bad. Fat takes a while to digest and so slows the rate at which food leaves your stomach, blunting the blood sugar effect of the whole meal. Tossing your salad or drizzling your pasta with olive oil, adding nuts to your rice or using slices of avocado to your sandwich can help you lose weight because it helps make the meal more satisfying. Remember, real weight loss is long term and it has to be something you can live with.
    So, fat is not necessarily the bad guy. It may be if it is in butter, high-fat lunch meat, marbled steak, full-fat cheeses and ice cream, but if you switch those out for lean cuts of meat, chicken and fish, low fat milk, cheeses and lunch meats (such as turkey and lean roast beef) and instead get your fats from those in avocados, nuts, seeds, olives (including olive oil, and canola oil as well), fish and seafood, you will not only keep your heart healthy, but also lose weight and feel satisfied. 
    Seafood also contains omega-3 fatty acids which lower triglycerides, helping prevent blood clots, reducing inflammation and promoting a normal heart rhythm.
    good vs bad fats

    Saturday, July 5, 2014

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss, Living the Healthy Life: The Power of Protein

    Protein Power Pack @ Wawa Food Market
    I found out first hand the power of protein by accident one day. Steven and I had gone to one of my medical check-ups and it was late and we were both hungry. We stopped off at Wawa for gas, and so I went in and picked up what they call a Protein Pack, which included a hard-boiled egg, a mini whole wheat bagel, a cup of peanut butter, some salted almonds, some grapes and some apple slices. I could not believe how much better it made me feel.
    Protein Power Pack
    So, I had to do some research to find out why. Unlike carbohydrates, protein doesn't raise blood sugar. If you substitute calories from one of these foods for some of the carbohydrate calories, the whole meal will have less impact on your blood sugar because your body takes a while to break down the protein in the foods you eat, and this slows down the digestion of the whole meal including the carbohydrates it contains, making for a slower rise in blood sugar. 

    Not All Proteins Are Created Equal

    Of course, all proteins are not created equal so you have to be careful about your choices of protein-rich food. Saturated fats increase insulin resistance, which is bad for your blood sugar. Fish and shellfish are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for the heart. Beans, peas and lentils have the added plus of being rich in fiber.
    Some of the compounds our bodies make from protein's amino acids help regulate blood sugar, so including protein in a meal means that your body will handle the carbs in that meal more efficiently, so it is a good idea to include a source of protein in each meal.
    In diet studies, people on moderately high protein diets lost more body fat and less muscle. A moderately high protein diet might get as much as 30% of its calories from protein, which is a lot more than is in my usual diet. So, I began the idea of duplicating the protein packs for my snack at home. They have done a lot for making me feel better and less hungry, and they are so popular that now five out of the seven people in my family ask for them. They make me feel better and less hungry between meals. 
    Incidentally, the nutrition information on the back of the packs states that they have 660 calories, 43 grams of fat, 52 grams of carbohydrates and 28 grams of protein, so I needed to figure out the best way of keeping the protein up but lowering the calories, fats and carbs. First, I reduced the amount of peanut butter.
    I use little cups to measure my peanut butter in. I use anywhere from 1-2 Tab. of peanut butter and I use only half or a quarter of a whole wheat bagel, a hard-boiled egg (sometimes pickled with beets), about 10-14 nuts such as almonds, some fresh fruit such as apple or blueberries and a small square of dark chocolate, which of course is not part of the protein, but is a small treat that keeps me from wanting a bigger (and worse) dessert, and dark chocolate has its own health benefits (which I will go into in another post.)

    • 1-2 Tab. peanut butter: 94-188 calories, 8-16g fat, 3-6g carbs, 4-8g protein
    • 1/2 Thomas' Bagel Thins: 55 cal., .5g fat, 12g carbs, 3g protein
    • 1 hard-boiled egg: 78 cal., 5g fat, .5 carbs, 6g protein
    • 1 apple: 72 cal., .2g fat, 19g carbs, .3 protein or 1/2 cup blueberries: 42 cal., .5g fat, 21g carbs, 1g protein
    • 14 almonds: 85 cal., 8g fat, 2g carbs, 3g protein
    • 1 sqaure Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate: 66 cal., 6g fat, 6g carbs, .5g protein
    So, my homemade packs are about 420-544 calories, 27-36g fat, 42-47 g carbs and 14-15g protein and serve as a combination of snack and dessert.

    Improving the Protein Packs

    The best proteins are found in beans and peas, with lentils being the best and lima beans being the least good of this category. The next best proteins are nuts and then diary and soy drinks. Peanuts are the best for blood sugar and cashews are the least good. Low-fat yogurt with fruit is a good source of protein, but be careful about the added sugar in commercial yogurts. I was thinking that perhaps I could do better with my protein packs by adding 8 oz. nonfat yogurt and only half the fruit I had been using to the yogurt, it would add about 40 calories, but reduce the carbohydrates 15g instead of 21g (or the Wawa Packs of 52g) and add 10 grams of protein, for a total of 25g of protein, nearly as much as in the Wawa Packs.

    Portions control is also something that is to look at when you are making choices.

    Perfect Portions

    Beans, Lentils,Peas: 1/2 cup
    Beef, Chicken, Turkey, Fish, Lamb, Pork, Shellfish: 3 oz. twice a day*
    Eggs: 1-2
    Milk, Yogurt: 3 8-oz.(1 cup) servings of low-fat milk or other dairy products
    Nuts: 1 oz. (because they are so high in calories), which is about 20 almonds, 10 walnut halves or 45 pistachios
    Peanut Butter: 1 Tab. (because it is 100 calories per Tablespoon)
    Seeds: 1-2 Tab.
    Soybeans: 1/2 cup
    *That's only about the size of a deck of cards.

    Thursday, July 3, 2014

    Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss -Living The Healthy Life: All Carbohydrates Are Not The Same

    Whole wheat pasta cooked al dente, prepared with olive oil and beans or vegetables with a side of side of greens is a healthy choice that doesn't raise blood sugar too quickly. 
    I have been enjoying joining up in the discussions, Wibbly Wobbly Weight Loss – Living The Healthy Life! at Angelicscaliwags. She has started this discussion group at just the perfect time for me. I have been exploring a healthier lifestyle ever since I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2012. My goal is not to lose weight, but to be healthier, however I think that a healthier lifestyle will probably result in weight loss, however slowly. I began my research with foods that help prevent (or prevent the re-occurrence) cancer and recipes that feature these foods. Then I began to realize the many reasons why we eat what we do. 
    I grew up in a very dysfunctional family, and I didn't always get adequate nutrition. For years whenever the refrigerator became empty or my food supply low, I began to panic. Due to my husband's loving care, I have gotten over this, but I still get the same panic whenever I get really hungry. And yet, as my brother wisely put to me once, in order to lose weight, you have to leave the table before you are totally full. Thus, my struggle with portion control. 
    I have also been reading a lot about the typical American diet and blood sugar. I have learned that the American diet is full of foods that send us for a wild ride on the blood sugar roller coaster in which we eat fast-acting carbohydrates in order to feel better fast, but they run out quickly, leaving us feel like we are starving. All of this roller-coaster eating can lead to all sorts of medical problems, including diabetes and cancer. 
    To find out which carbohydrates are the best and worst took a lot of research on the part of scientists. Back in 1981, Dr Jenkins came up with something called the glycemic index. He had volunteers eat 50 grams of different foods and measured the volunteer's blood sugar over a two-hour period to see how high it went. As a control, he used pure glucose and assigned it the number 100. Using the information from this study, we found out that some foods such as potatoes and cornflakes ranked almost as high as pure glucose in terms of its ability to raise blood sugar.
    The only problem with this study was that he measured the same amount, 50 grams, for each food tested. This means that 50 grams of carbohydrate in bread is about one slice and on the other hand, 50 grams of carrots is about seven or eight large ones. The 50 gram measurement did not coincide with how we ate the foods.
    To solve this problem, scientists came up with a different measurement, called glycemic load, which took in account not only the type of carbohydrate in the food but also the amount of carbohydrate you would eat in a standard serving. By this method, carrots, strawberries and other low-calorie foods that are good to eat all have low GL values since the amount of carbohydrates they contain is low.
    All of this means that some starchy foods like white rice are easy for the body to convert to sugars, therefore raising the blood sugar levels in the body quickly, while those in beans, for example,  take a lot more work for the body to break down, and so  blood sugar levels are more level.
    There are four factors that determines which carbs are better than others.
    1. The type of starch. Starches are made of sugar molecules chained together. Some chains have straight edges, while others are branched. The straight-edged type, called amylose, are harder for your body to break down and turn into blood sugar. The branched type, called amylopectin, are much easier to break down because there are so many places for the enzymes that break down starches to get at it. For example, the firmer the rice, the higher the amylose and the harder it is for your body to turn it into blood sugar, making brown rice a better choice than white rice.
    2. The type of sugar.  The sugar in milk (lactose) and fruit (fructose) tend to be absorbed more slowly than other sugars since they need to be turned into glucose by the liver first.
    3. Heat...avoid overcooking starches. All starches are composed of crystals, which are broken down by heat, making them easier to digest. The more cooked the pasta is, for example, the faster it makes your blood sugar rise. One interesting thing, however, is that once the starch is cooled, it returns, in part to its crystal form, which is why hot potatoes have a high glycemic index, but potato salad's is slightly lower.
    4. Processing. Minimally processed whole wheat takes longer for the body to break down than white flour, making whole wheat pasta a much better choice than regular pasta, and wheatberries an even better choice.
    I have been using these principals to change my diet and it has helped a lot to lower my cravings, made it easier to practice portion control and has given me more energy.

    Saturday, June 28, 2014

    One Year of Recovery

    6.14chrisbday-1 One year ago today I finished my last treatment, radiation therapy. This marks my first anniversary....my first year of recovery. Thank you all for your prayers and compassion through this journey.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Onions and a recipe for Red Onion Soup

    Onions' sulfur compounds and flavonoids may help fend off several forms of cancer. These powerful antioxidant compounds also help fight some of the side effects of high blood sugar, not to mention heart disease. Onions even seem to boost HDL, or the "good" cholesterol. Evidence suggests that onions may help preserve bone and prevent osteoporosis, and because  the sulfur compounds are strongly anti-inflammatory, onions may also relieve the pain and swelling of arthritis. Finally, onions are one of the richest sources of chromium, a mineral that improves the body's ability to respond to insulin. Onions have very few calories, so add them cooked or raw to as many dishes as you can think of. Minced raw onions have the greatest health benefits. A serving is usually considered to be 1/4 cup at a time.
    Here is a list of onions and their cousins, ranked from highest to lowest level of antioxidants:
    Western yellow
    Northern red
    Empire sweet
    Western white
    Imperial Valley sweet

    Here is a recipe for Red Onion Soup to get you started.

    Red Onion Soup

    French Red Onion Soup
    3 Tab. olive oil
    6 large red onions, sliced
    pinch salt
    2 tea. fresh thyme (or 1 tea. dried thyme) or 2 tea. fresh marjoram
    1 cup red wine
    6 cups vegetable broth
    pinch of nutmeg

    In a large pot, heat the oil and add onions and salt and stir. Cook on med-low heat for 25 minutes to caramelize. When the onions have turned a deep golden brown. Stir in the herbs and deglaze with the wine. Add broth and nutmeg and simmer 15 minutes.

    If desired, you may serve with Parmesan Crostini floating on top the soup.
    Slice a baguette into 1/4 inch rounds and place on a baking sheet. Brush the top of each slice with olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 350 oven until lightly toasted and cheese has melted.

    Source: modified slightly from the recipe at One Bite at a Time, Rebecca Katz; Magic Foods, by Robert Barnett, Christine Pelkman and Denise Webb

    Monday, June 16, 2014

    1 1/2 Year Check-Up with Oncologist

    First of all, it was a good check-up and the exam went well. For this check-up, Steven and I had lots of questions for the oncologist, which was very different from my 1-year check-up in which we had no questions. I have developed a very itchy rash on my arms and I have been seeing a dermatologist for it. He has suggested a steroid cream to apply topically. The oncologist had told me that I was not allowed to take any steroids, but I was not sure whether this applied to topical steroids. The oncologist okay-ed the particular cream the dermatologist suggested and in fact, even okay-ed a temporary use of some oral steroids that the dermatologist wanted to use. He seemed to feel I was getting a good diagnosis and treatment from the dermatologist. So, I am good to go with the dermatologist.
    Next, we talked to him about the abnormal pap test results. We were worried because we had understood that the Tamoxifen that I am taking to prevent the re-occurrence of breast cancer might cause uterine cancer. It turns out that the kind Tamoxifen encourages is a different type than the kind detected by a pap test. It is a very rare form of endometrial cancer in which there is no test for. The symptoms are heavy bleeding. The oncologist is keeping in good communication with my gynecologist.
    Lastly, we talked about the possibility of switching from Tamoxifen to another medication (I believe it is called anastrozole) now that I seem to be post-menopausal. He said that he would like to see me in menopause for a full year before he would be comfortable with the switch and if I am not not reached that point by the time I see him again in December, that there might be the possibility of me getting shots to make sure that I am in menopausal so that I can make the medication switch.

    Sunday, June 15, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Turmeric and a recipe for Bombay-inspired Green Beans

    Turmeric, the spice that gives mustard its bright yellow color, is related to ginger, and is the most concentrated souce of the antioxidant curcumin. In a lab test, curcumin caused the death of cervical cancer cells and blocked harmful cell changes. In addition to its cancer-reducing qualities, curcumin could help stave off heart disease as well as damage related to high blood sugar, as it helps prevent blood sugar surges. Turmeric is particularly good for stomach ailments and colon cancer. Most recently, however, researchers have begun to look at whether curcumin may help to prevent Alzheimer's because it decreased the formation of amyloid, which makes up the brain deposits characteristic of people with Alzheimer's. Most of the studies with turmeric have used curcumin extracts derived from turmeric, so its hard to know exactly how much is beneficial. Usually a dish only takes about 1/8-1/4 teaspoon at a time, so use turmeric whenever you can. Here is a dish to get you started.

    Bombay-Inspired Green Beans

    1 1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 pound string beans, ends removed
    2 Tab. Olive oil
    1 tab diced shallots or onion
    1 tea. dry mustard
    1 tea. cumin
    1/4 tea. turmeric
    2-3 tea. lime juice

    Fill a large pot 3/4 full of water and 1 tea. salt to a boil. Add string beans and blanch for 3 minutes Drain and set aside.
    In the pot, saute shallots and mustard and cumin with the olive oil for 30 seconds. Add the blanched beans and 1/4 tea. salt and turmeric. Toss, squeeze lime juice over the beans and serve.

    source: modified slightly from One Bite at a Time, Rebecca Katz

    Friday, June 13, 2014

    Cancer Fighting Kitchen: Berries and a Recipe for Berry Salad with Berry Balsamic Vinaigrette


    Berries have a well-earned reputation for being especially rich in powerful antioxidants. Studies show that not only does a daily indulgence in berries reduce your risk of cancer, they also can help keep eyes healthy and reduce your risk of heart disease. Strawberries are surprisingly good source of vitamin C, giving even oranges a run for their money...a cup of strawberry halves provides just as much vitamin C as does a cup of orange slices. Berries are also full of fiber and red-blue natural plant compounds called anthocyanins that may help lower blood sugar by boosting insulin production. Since strawberries have been named by the Environmental Working Group as one of the "dirty dozen" ]fruits and vegetables most likely to contain pesticide residue, buy organic when you can.

    For the Berry-Balsamic Vinaigrette:
    1/2 cup fresh blackberries, blueberries, strawberries or raspberries
    2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    2 Tablespoons olive oil
    2 Tablespoon honey
    salt and pepper

    :Add all the ingredients to a food processor or blender then process or blend until smooth. Set aside (can be made ahead of time.)

    For the Honey-Roasted Walnuts:
    1/2 cup (raw) walnuts (could use Pecans)
    1/2 Tablespoon butter
    1 Tablespoon honey

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a bowl then add honey and pecans. Toss to coat then spread out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes, or until golden brown and fragrant (watch carefully so they don’t burn.) Sprinkle lightly with salt then set aside and let cool completely (can be made ahead of time.)

    To Make the Salad:
    1 bag spring mix lettuce or baby kale, spinach and swiss chard mix
    10 oz fresh blackberries (could use blueberries, strawberries or raspberries)
    3 oz string cheese (could use blue, chevre or feta cheese)

    Divide lettuce between plates then top with blackberries, cheese pieces, and honey-roasted pecans. Dress with berry-balsamic vinaigrette then serve.

    source: modified slightly from the recipe at Iowa Girl Eats.