Growing ginger

I love ginger. The only way I could love it more is if I grew it myself.

And you *can*! and it’s really easy.

There are all the reasons ginger is good for you.

Which might be why I love it so much. It helps with migraines. It helps with nausea and motility issues. It also has broader anti-inflammatory compounds.  Now, I can’t say whether I fell in love with the flavor, or whether I learned that it helped me feel better and, well, I latched on to that and acquired a taste for it. Either way, I generally steep ginger tea for myself on a daily basis, and use it regularly in my cooking.

So last year I realized how easy it was to grow ginger.

First, let a piece of ginger get old enough that you get those points that look like they’re about to sprout. That’s good news.

 

Then cut one-inch chunks. Let them dry out at least one day on the counter so they don’t mold.

Plant in large pots and cover with 2 inches of well-drained soil.

And 2 weeks or so later, you’ve got sprouts! They grow until the temps drop down to 55 degrees, then you need to harvest or take the plants inside.

Water regularly, and the plants are pretty happy.

At some point, there will be enough ginger root to snag a piece or two to harvest. You can feel around to see how much is there…it depends on the weather.

Happy growing.

 

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POTS, Long COVID and Nutrition

black eyed susanSo…I just did a thing! I had my very first journal article published on nutrition for POTS, and long COVID It’s only the pre-print version that’s up now, but the images are at the end.

POTS? Wait, what? Don’t I always write about gluten-free and digestion? Well, 90% of people with POTS have digestive issues, and 4% have Celiac. An additional 6% are gluten sensitive.

POTS, or Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is a type of dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system (think fight/flight) where your heart rate goes up  more than expected with a shift to standing.

I developed POTS in grad school. And most likely had it as a teen. I was the kid who always drank pickle juice…and fainted whenever it was hot. At track meets, school plays. Blacked out a few times. You know, the “normal stuff”, right?🙄

But it got bad in grad school, where my resting heart rate shot way up, and of course, the doctors told me it was just anxiety. Srsly? My heart rate was always over 120 just walking around. And still I was dismissed, and I didn’t get return calls. I got to a point where I went to my doctor’s office and let the receptionist know I wasn’t leaving until he listened to me. Not my finest moment, but I was about 3000 miles away from family, had no car and was on student health insurance. After months, a wonderful NP took the time to listen, and realized some of the worst symptoms were linked to a medication.Comorbidites of POTS

That has forever informed how I work with clients, and in retrospect, I’m incredibly grateful.

I still had symptoms, but functioned for a few years, until I got really sick in 2003 with CFS/ME, FM, hEDS, Celiac and goodness knows what else. And I learned then the only way I could function was to lie down. E called it C-pose. I’d get in the house, get to the 1st carpeted area and collapse. Usually I couldn’t make it to the couch or bed. I’d do calls on the floor at work. I just needed to be horizontal. And I learned I had to salt EVERYTHING. But none of the doctors asked or noticed, and I didn’t understand this was a thing.

In 2009, a cardiologist clearly understood what was going on, but still missed the mark. I went after a few bouts of fainting. He told me to eat a bag of potato chips every day. I, of course, asked how many grams of sodium. He said, a big bag. And a big cup of soda.

Um….

My husband said it was worth taking a day off work to see my face.

Now, I like chips. But eat a bag of chips is not a diagnosis, nor is it a treatment plan.

Movement guidelinesSo fast forward. I have, for many years, flagged clients with POTS and helped them get to good practitioners, more fluids, salt, etc. But it’s mainly been since the pandemic I’ve gotten concerned. It’s been clear that many of my colleagues aren’t familiar with POTS, most resources are behind a paywall, and the # of people with POTS is growing rapidly…and it breaks my heart to think of more people going to HCPs and told it’s in their head, or getting the wrong treatment.

So, although I’ve never written a journal article, despite my raging migraines and vision impairments, it felt important. I submitted in January, and it wasn’t accepted until June, but I’m delighted it’s done.

Onward…

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Blueberry pie filling for 2 (nom)

picture of blueberry pie filling

Because, pie day. And because E says I’m not always the best influence. (Moi?)

Whatever.

So the recipe. We make it a bunch in the summer when there are gobs of blueberries everywhere. It also happens with the strawberry excess.

2.5 cups blueberries, divided. Can use frozen, too.

3 Tablespoons water

2 Tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

dash of salt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract, or whatever feels right.

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

dash cinnamon

Whisk water, cornstarch, sugar and salt until smooth in a saucepan. Heat over medium high with 2 cups of blueberries. With fresh it takes 2 min, for frozen, about 4 min. Stir continuously until the mixture boils. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup blueberries, extract, oil and cinnamon.

Pour into a 7 X5 pyrex or whatever heat safe dish you have. Let cool in the fridge, and enjoy.

Gluten free, dairy free, vegan, low histamine, a small amount is low fodmap…

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Sweet Potato Pie–Low Histamine, Low Fodmap-ish

Sweet potato pie!

Nom nom nom…

This is a reboot of a classic, if I do say so myself. I see a lot of people challenged with low histamine diets…and they are challenging! This recipe follows the SIGHI list with mostly 0s and a few 1s*. If you know what that means, I’m sorry, and you’re welcome.

Why I like it better than the original–roasted sweet potatoes are always so delicious. Wash and impale 2 big sweet potatoes, slather them with coconut oil. Put on a lined cookie sheet. Pop in the oven at 400 degrees. Turn them every 25-ish min, and when they smell amazing they are done.

Why I like “impossible” (ie crustless) pies. Because I don’t always feel like making a pie crust. Sometimes you feel like a crust….sometimes you don’t. Sounds better if you sing it.

Re: FODMAPs, 1/2 a cup of sweet potato is low FODMAP, but unless you’re eating more than 1/4 of a pie, this shouldn’t be an issue. Pro tip–more that 1/4 a pie per serving is generally considered unwise in most circumstances for optimal digestion. Coconut flour is also high for 3 TBSP, but 3 TBSP is half a pie, and if you’re eating a 1/2 a pie, well, again, probably not the best idea on a range of fronts. So while a low FODMAP amount of coconut flour isn’t determined, if you’re eating a 1/10th (or so) of pie, there’s a good chance it’s low-ish FODMAP.

My 2 cents–If you are following a low histamine diet, it’s a challenge, especially at the holidays. I do try to encourage people to experiment with higher #s ASAP. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

  • 1 can coconut milk, full fat.
  • 1/4 cup + 2 TBSP coconut flour
  • 2 Tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 2 TBSP tapioca starch
  • ¼ tsp vanilla bean
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 15 oz = 1 2/3 cups freshly roasted sweet potato
  • 2/3 c maple sugar (I imagine cane sugar would work, haven’t tried it, though)

Preheat oven to 325. Put the top ingredients in the Vitamix and let it do its magic. It will get hot, and takes about five minutes. If you don’t have a Vitamix or Blendtek, it’ll be yummy, just grainy.

Pulse sweet potato and maple sugar in a food processor. Pour into pan and voila! The separate mixing is because otherwise you get whipped pie, which is yummy, but the texture is just wrong for a normal sweet potato pie.

Bake for 20-25 min or until top is firm. Chill in fridge for 3-4 hours before cutting. (do not cut when hot). Stores really well in the freezer!whole pie!

*arrowroot and tapioca aren’t on the SIGHI list, but are generally considered low histamine on most resources.

Want to do a crust-ful pie? ok. Leave out the tapioca. Use a g-free crust of your choosing…any with a rice blend should work.

Enjoy, and have a great holiday season.

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My Twisty, Turny, Bendy Journey

It’s Ehlers Danlos Awareness/Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder (EDS/HSD) Awareness Month in May.

As a reasonably private person, I debated whether or not to share my hypermobility journey. I decided to, because I’ve been experiencing symptoms since I was 2 years old(!), had pain for 28 years (!) and actively looking for a diagnosis for 20 years (!) including seeing people who promoted themselves as EDS experts and who gave me often conflicting and incorrect info.

So…even in the best of circumstances, it is NOT easy to get diagnosed. Even for someone who is well-educated and extremely stubborn.

A very brief history–I had a bunch of dislocations as a child, then had muscle tears, knee problems, hamstring issues, shoulder problems, jaw problems, etc. And then the POTS stuff…but it only became really bad when I developed ankle instability 18 years ago which got bad enough that for a time I literally couldn’t stand or walk. That was when a doctor first mentioned hypermobility to me 18 years ago. I understood EDS and hypermobility as the same thing then (nope). Later, I was told that I could get gene tested if I wanted (again, no—the genes for hEDS aren’t identified). But I was told that it wasn’t a major part of my clinical picture, so it wasn’t worth pursuing (*sigh*)

Yet the mixed messages continued. I’d have some doctors or PTs who would say wow, you are the most hypermobile person I’ve treated. And then next dr, would say, well, you are hypermobile, but your score on the Beighton scale isn’t high enough. And I’d be scratching my head. Yes? no? Why different answers? What is going on here?

And when I had my most recent bout of intense bizarre symptoms, where the ligaments in my feet literally collapsed, leading to the loss of most of the cartilage in my feet and bone swelling, I wanted a diagnosis. Side note–most of my doctors did not believe me. I needed to get an MRI showing loose ligaments before anyone would believe there was a real problem, and my symptoms went on for ~18 years before my symptoms progressed that far. 18 years of going to doctors, begging for help. That is straight up appalling.

So–if I didn’t have EDS, what was happening? How could this be a mild form of anything?

I went to one of the top experts in the country, who explained that it didn’t matter if I had EDS or HSD, I needed treatment. He was clear that the label had nothing to do with the amount of impairment patients experienced. I’m extremely hypermobile, but just not as profoundly in the joints examined for the EDS testing.

And that made so much more sense to me….because what I’ve been experiencing is not mild. It’s just distributed in different joints than what is captured by the Beighton scale. And research has shown that isn’t the best way to measure hypermobility anyway.

So. There are not enough trained health care practitioners of any sort aware of EDS and HSD, and so much need. I am so grateful for all the EDS Society does to train and advocate. I am extremely fortunate that I *could* just go to an expert—there are far too few! I’ll be sharing a little more of my story, and a little more education on my website in the next month.

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Chocolate Almond Cup

I like beautiful desserts that look elegant but are easy. I’m not going to say I’m lazy, exactly, as much as I value my time and energy, and, well, both tend to be in short supply.

But I like pretty desserts, so here we go.

Chocolate almond cup
Yum! Chocolate almond cup

Mini tart pan—I imagine you could use something else, too!

If desired, line tart pan with wax paper for ease of cleanup.

Melt chocolate in a microwave safe bowl for 90 seconds, or until melted. Pour half into tart pan.

Scoop almond paste into a ball, and then roll out into a disk between two sheets of wax paper. Fit on top of chocolate layer.

Pour chocolate on top.

Decorate as desired.

Allow to harden, then gently press on bottom to release.

If low FODMAP, SPLIT with a friend! Monash allows .85oz almond meal, which is 24 grams—but the almond paste also includes sugar and water within that weight, so this is a best guess.

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Mint Lemonade Spritzer

Lemonade has to be one of E’s favorite things. Especially in the summer. I was trying to link to this recipe and then I realized it wasn’t on my blog. Had to fix that!

Mint Lemonade Spritzer
Mint Lemonade Spritzer

This version is FODMAP friendly. Of course, you can always change the sweetener. I always make this when E is holding martial arts class at our house, which means a 90 min workout during hot weather, so simple carbs are often a nice treat. As always, sweets are a treat…best in moderation. 🙂

  • 5 lemons, preferably organic
  • small handful mint leaves
  • 4 cups water
  • 12 oz plain seltzer
  • 1/3 cup sugar dissolved in 1/3 cup water

Wash the lemons. Juice 4 of the 5 lemons in the 4 cups of water. Slice the other lemon. Put the lemon juice in the water, along with the juiced lemon halves and the mint leaves overnight to infuse.

Make a simple syrup–easiest way is 1 minute in the microwave with 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup water. stir with a spoon. When it cools, pour into the pitcher.

Right before serving, add in the seltzer for some bubbles. This recipe makes about 6 servings. A single serving (one cup) is low FODMAP.

Enjoy!

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G-Free Meringue Bunnies

Gluten-free, Kosher for Passover, low FODMAP Bunny meringues!

The picture above is last year’s bunnies. This year’s bunnies are cuter…or at least, I think so. I finally posted the recipe and a “how-to” video on my website. Hop on over!

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enough

I spent a year letting go

I didn’t try to improve

Or work harder

Or longer

I didn’t go to many conferences

Or trainings

I didn’t speak

Or write

I just sat

Quietly.

I had migraines bad enough that I couldn’t see very much

And so that’s all I could do.

I worked some, but at a very different pace

I let go of pushing

I’d occasionally see posts about friends, and their big plans

New launches, and conferences, and papers

I felt joy for their new adventures

It’s great to be in the phase of growth

And yet I honor that each season has its cycle

Mine has required stillness and restraint

Sometimes trees grow beautiful flowers

Sometimes they sit in majestic silence

I’ve grown this year, in simply being able to value my non-doing self.

Because, who am I, really, if I’m not producing?

At last, I find the answer.

I am

enough.

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Contamination in Lentils :(

I’ll just try to stick to the facts here: I am extremely diligent about following a strict gluten-free diet. I do eat Amy’s products, and have for years.

Earlier this week, I was having a can of Amy’s Lentil soup, and something felt funny in my mouth…and it was a kernel of grain. In speaking to a colleague and looking online, I’m quite certain it is wheat or barley.

I’m extremely frustrated. I feel lousy and grumpy. I’m also upset professionally, as I’ve been recommending Amy’s for years. I also realize that there are many larger issues at play in terms of general contamination of lentils with wheat. It’s been an issue for several other companies, as one of my eagle-eyed clients discovered a few years back. Gluten-free Watchdog addressed this several times…this is unfortunately not a new problem with lentils. But it’s also not yet a resolved issue.

It’s a reminder to me of how much of a toll it can take to be strictly gluten-free. I have absolutely no problem not eating regular bread or asking questions or bringing my own foods, but not to be able to trust that items that are marked gluten-free are actually gluten-free…that’s a big stressor. Usually, soups are my go-to especially when I go on meditation retreats. The last thing I need is to feel like I need to scrutinize every single lump in my bowl.

So…check your beans, especially lentils. Support companies like Gluten-free Watchdog that keep the community safer. And keep writing and advocating as you can.

I’ve contacted Amy’s and will post their follow up here. Thus far, they’ve asked for the lot # and the grain itself. My hope here is to provide a reminder/nudge for awareness; this problem is not limited to Amy’s, and I’m certainly hopeful that this leads to better and safer practices.

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