Monthly Archives: February 2015

Garden 2015: Starting seeds

My mom’s mom, and dad’s dad both had neon green thumbs. They could make anything grow. Growing up, my mom had a vegetable garden every year that I can remember. After Andy’s diagnosis, I knew that gardening was something I wanted to try my hand at. Nothing is healthier than eating something that was growing right outside your door just hours before.

When we bought our home 2 1/2 years ago, the biggest selling point was the half-acre yard. It had an herb garden, more fruit trees than we realized, and three existing garden beds. My first project was adding a few more beds. Five to be exact for a total of eight 4′ x 8′ garden beds. Over the next two summers I bought seeds, started seeds, planted seedlings, and held my breath. I had some successes–green beens and beets, hooray! I had some failures–why has that pumpkin been only 3 inches wide for the last 4 months? But I’ve learned something every year.

Heading into the 2015 growing season (Portland’s had a very mild winter), I wanted to share (and document) my garden process. I’m still tweaking things: Figuring out which vegetables I should plant for my zone, and which plants should be grown together and which should not.

I’ve been planning all week to get my seeds going, and today it finally happened. I’ll go into the specific details of what I started–and what I will be direct sowing–in a later post, but to give you just a hint, I started over 100 plants. It sounds like a lot, I know, but when you’ve got eight garden beds, there’s some room to fill.

Recipe: Mexican green cauli-rice

One of the things that most definitely had to change after Andy’s Diabetes diagnosis was how we ate. It took some time, but we’ve been able to create a completely new way of eating that is healthy and delicious.

One of our favorite side dishes is cauli-rice. It’s a fantastic substitute for standard white rice, and is endlessly customizable. Add cumin, turmeric, coriander, and a dash of cinnamon for a Middle Eastern flair. Scallions and a bunch of summery herbs (parsley, basil, maybe some dill) will give you the perfect partner for some grilled chicken or fish. But the one I make most often is a little south of the border. This is a great accompaniment for carnitas, grilled chicken cauli-rice bowls, or any of your favorite Mexican dishes. Enjoy!

1 (or 2 or more) poblano peppers, tops and seeds removed, cut into large chunks*
3 scallions, whites and light green tops roughly chopped
1 handful of Italian parsley, rinsed
1 handful of cilantro, rinsed**
1 TBL cumin seeds***
a pinch of salt
1 head of cauliflower
1–2 TBL olive or avocado oil

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade, pulse together the poblanos, scallions, parsley, cilantro, cumin seeds, and a pinch of salt until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine almost like a pesto without the oil.

Remove the blade of the food processor and replace with the shredder blade. Cut cauliflower into pieces and process through the shredder blade. (You’ll have a layer of green herbs and flavorings at the bottom with the snowy white cauliflower on top.)

Heat oil in a large pan over medium high. I usually make this in my 10-inch cast iron skillet. The shallow sides make it a little messy, but that’s just how I roll.  It works just as well in my 10-inch aluminum saute pan with higher sides.

When the oil is hot, dump the cauliflower and herb mixture into the pan and let it sizzle. Add another healthy pinch of salt and start stirring gently to incorporate the herbs throughout the cauliflower. This is where things turn really green. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning as needed–it will most likely need more salt. Possibly some extra cumin.

Continue to cook until the cauli-rice is done to your preference. Cauliflower lets off a fair amount of liquid and kind of steams itself. I like ours with a tiny bit of bite–nobody likes mushy rice. Just before serving, fluff with a fork to separate the cauliflower pieces a little.

Recipe notes:
* Like your rice a little more spicy? Replace one or all of the poblanos with the hot chile pepper of your choice.
** Cilantro isn’t a necessity here. A lot of people really can’t stand it. (Even Andy’s not a huge fan, but I sneak it in…) If you choose to omit it, add a little more scallions and parsley and maybe a pinch more cumin.
*** You may want more or less cumin. Adjust to your own taste. I prefer the cumin seeds because they keep the rice really green. If you don’t have them, ground cumin works just as well.

February 20th: Weekly meal plan

Hello! Here’s a peek at what Andy and I will be eating for dinner this week.
(Recipes will come later.)

– Deconstructed stufffed cabbage casserole
– Brussels sprouts gratin (from Wheat Belly: 30 minutes ( or less!) cookbook)
– Broccoli, cheese, and egg casserole (from Wheat Belly: 30 minutes ( or less!) cookbook)
– Roasted Brussels sprouts salad with fried eggs
– Picadillo over Mexican green cauli-rice
– Chicken ragu over cauli-rice with roasted rutabagas and browned butter (Both the ragu and rutabagas can be found on thekitchn.com.)
– Hodge Podge (clean out the fridge so nothing goes bad!)

A visit with the doc

It took a few weeks after Andy received his insurance rejection letter for everything to sink in and for him to get an appointment with a doctor.

(Before I go further, I should probably tell you a couple more things about Andy.
1: He was never a huge fan of going to the doctor.
2: He really doesn’t like to be told what to do. I mean really doesn’t like to be told
what to do.
3: Getting diagnosed with Type II diabetes wasn’t sitting too well with his psyche.)

Knowing these three things, I’m hoping you understand that when I say the doctor’s appointment didn’t go well, that it REALLY didn’t go well.

The doctor took one look at his insurance test results, gave him a handful of prescriptions along with a blood glucose meter (and all the accoutrement that goes along with that lovely apparatus), and instructions to go see a nutritionist. And that was about it.

He came home with his hands full of prescription slips, an angry “I don’t want to talk about it” look on his face, and no information on how we were supposed to fight this—no recommendations for dietary or lifestyle changes, nothing. He hadn’t even bothered to fill the prescriptions.

After a couple days I went down to the pharmacy, filled the prescriptions, and came away with a head full of instructions about how to calibrate the blood glucose meter and even more questions. Andy called the nutritionist only to find out that the first available appointment wasn’t for six weeks.

At this point I realized we were completely on our own.

I started doing research, borrowing books from the library, looking for that magic solution that would make this go away—like yesterday. The more I dug, the more overwhelmed I got and the more I prayed.

Staying positive in the face of a loved one’s adversity is exhausting. My soul was weary and distressed. God felt far away, but still I prayed. I didn’t know what else to do.

I’m  not going to lie and tell you that prayer made everything immediately better. Our journey was far from over. We fought, cried, dealt with frustration, anger, and fear. This was a very dark time for us.

If you continue to read our story over the coming weeks and months, you’ll see that things did get better. The light at the end of the tunnel got bigger (and sometimes smaller, then bigger again). Through it all, God was there. He may have felt far away, but he wasn’t.

February 13th: Weekly meal plan

Well, here goes. Our first official meal plan. I’ll add recipes later, but for now this is just a list of what we’re having for dinner this week.

- Cozy winter soup from Yummy Supper (leftover freezer meal)
– Garbage stirfry with curried cabbage from nom nom paleo
– Curried pumpkin soup (leftover freezer meal)
– Roasted pork tenderloin with roasted cabbage and turnips and homemade applesauce
– Turkey burgers with avocado, caramelized onion and spicy mayo
– Carnitas with flat bread/tortillas, Mexican green cauli-rice, and “fixins”
– HodgePodge (Basically your standard clean out the fridge meal. Usually, whatever we’ve got left plus a few eggs.)

The day that changed our world

In the spring of 2011 Andy bought into his father’s business. Andy had worked there for almost 20 years and it was the logical thing to do. In order to be a financially responsible adult, Andy also applied for life insurance. We were young, and at the time seemingly healthy, but one never knows.

A little background on Andy to set the scene: Since before we were married,  Andy referred to himself as a non-practicing smoker. He had been chewing nicotine gum for over 5 years and had an occasional (or not so occasional) lapse back to cigarettes. He was also what we like to call a “husky fella.” At 5′ 8″ and roughly 200 pounds, he was a pretty big guy. Not really one to go to the doctor on a regular basis, he was nevertheless “healthy”. He rarely got sick and aside from sleeping a little more than in months past—something we attributed to the stress on the job—we really weren’t concerned that anything would hinder his ability to pass the insurance blood test.

We were wrong. Shortly after his blood work, he received a letter stating that due to an A1C level of 14, his application was denied and he wouldn’t be eligible to reapply for two years. Andy wasn’t borderline, he was a full blown diabetic. With a—we learned later—frighteningly high A1C.

To say we were shocked, surprised, angry, confused—insert emotion here—is an understatement. If you’ve received an unexpected medical diagnosis, you understand. The only way to describe it is to imagine you’re on a roller coaster and just as you hit the peak of the loop-de-loop the ride stops and you’re left dangling upside down in mid-air. You don’t know if the ride will start again; you don’t know if you’re going to just fall. You’re simply stuck with your heart in your throat.

This website is our story. It is the story of how God turned our lives around and how in 4 short months Andy reversed his Type II diabetes and received the “all clear” from his doctor.

Please join us on our journey. We’d love to hear your own personal journey as well!

Liv~