April Showers Pour

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So many things are flying through my head right now. I am trying to think of what to blog about. There is soooo much going on! This April is probably the craziest month of all time. There are at least 5 huge things going on at work simultaneously that I have my feet dipped into that will no doubt be putting me in overtime these next couple of weeks. I wrecked my car, then bought a new one all within 4 days. I fractured my elbow and while I am happily out of my splint, I am still healing and have my follow up appointment on the 30th. My new car payment has inspired me to look into consolidating my college loans, which I am going to apply for as soon as I get some spare time in my day. I am still trying to hold on to getting some household goals accomplished before this month is over in spite of my elbow setback. I’m hoping to paint my kitchen so that when our new patio glass sliding door is installed in May, it will give the space a brand new face lift!

I find myself wishing April away and looking forward to May. I instantly feel guilty afterwards and remind myself to embrace the moments, no matter how chaotic they are. I’m sure May will be just as crazy in its own way. It will be right before June which is a very busy time for me at work, I have two weddings to attend to and a trip to Atlanta with the family. I am so lucky to be feeding myself whole foods that give my mind stability during crazy times like these.

In spite of eating whole foods, I still had another nut-case fiasco two days ago, where I decided to finish a bag full of sea salted almonds with a spoonful of sunflower seed butter. Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as that other time I ate too many nuts. No doubt the urges to binge eat on something fat-dense was from little everyday inklings of stress growing on me. I can actually feel the anxiousness right now as I type. My husband is pacing back and forth in the kitchen while watching Jeopardy and it is making me so damn uneasy. That sounds so ridiculous, but it is true! And you know what? I really want to eat some fat-filled coconut butter and nuts.

That would just be a temporary distraction though. I am going to instead choose to stop typing, put my laptop away, and leave the room for some me time. Maybe run a bath? Ciao!

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Bubbly or Bust

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I just looked at the calendar to see when my Whole45 is finished and I have exactly 2 more weeks to go! I have been a little distracted with the past week and a half’s events to really notice how many days are left (I wouldn’t recommend people getting in car crashes and breaking their elbows just to help pass the days along in their Whole30). The Whole30 has certainly contributed to my easygoing attitude and peace of mind throughout all of the insurance company phone calls, bank visits, car down payments, medical specialist co-pays, etc, etc, etc. I haven’t really been paying too much attention to my elbow. I sometimes forget that it is still healing…that is until I extend it too far or too quickly. My body promptly lets me know that I’ve overdone it. I am able to use it more and more each day. Today I could rotate my arm further than I could before. I can also extend my arm a little bit more….although it still won’t unbend and straighten all the way. I’m making progress though! My next appointment is on the 30th; so I have plenty of time to unbend my elbow by then 🙂

I’ve also been able to get a fair amount of exercise in. If I’m not able to do an actual workout, I am making sure I am at least walking a few miles at lunchtime. I was able to modify the T25 workouts this past week and it felt so good to sweat! I wasn’t able to attend a spin class this morning at the gym because I had to work today. I am going to try and attempt a run outside tomorrow. The running will require my arms to move around a lot, so I will just have to make sure I ice it afterwards. I’ve been icing it about once a day or so and it has really helped with the swelling and the soreness, especially after a workout.

On my way home from work, I was really craving a Kombucha. I didn’t have anymore at the house and did not want to drive to the grocery store and shell out 4 bucks for one. The sunny spring day just had me itching for something bubbly to quench my thirst. After walking Lady and eating dinner, I was still unsettled. For a second, I instinctively thought about grabbing the nut butter and bananas when I realized what I really wanted was something bubbly to soothe my hankering. I then remembered I had a leftover can of La Croix from a case I bought months and months ago. It was in the deepest corner in the back of the fridge.

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In spite of the many months it has rested in my fridge, It totally hit the spot! I am noticing that my need for bubbles has been frequent with the warmer sunnier weather. Looks like I need to stock up soon since we are nearing the end of April. I bet it would be delicious mixed with Kombucha. That reminds me! I have a co-worker who makes her own Kombucha, and she is going to help me make my own. I am super excited to grow my collection of do-it-yourself experiments.

Splint-Free Glee!

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I am typing this blog post without the hassle of propping my left elbow on stacks of pillows in order to get my wrist angled just right in order to type on the keyboard. My left arm is free and air balling…kind of. It is still wicked stiff and bent at an angle at all times (my left half looks like a T-Rex). It is going to take time for my elbow to get back to the free mobilization that my right arm has. For instance, rotating my arm counterclockwise hurts like a mother. I also can’t extend it all the way out to straighten it. The doctor said that this is pretty much due to the inflammation. Most of the swelling has gone down, but now that it is out of the splint I can compare it to my other arm and still see a big difference in puffiness around my elbow.

So, this past week had ended on such a different note than it began. When I first got my splint, I could barely wiggle my fingers and had a hard time figuring out how to do things. I was especially clumsy in the kitchen. A few days passed and I was able to dice veggies (kind of….still clumsily), open twisting jars and bottles, open and close doors/cabinets, and I even folded the laundry and made the bed! I was able to listen to my body and improve my skills in the splint but I also felt really good about my recovery. My husband gave me a lot of crap for “getting cocky” though. But, I knew that I wasn’t in any pain and I just plain felt good.

My husband’s teasing caught up to me as I sat in the waiting room at the orthopedics office this morning. I just got my X-Rays taken and I was waiting for the doctor to come and give me the news. I was happy to have my splint off even if it would just be temporary. They had to take it off for the X-Rays. I asked the technician how my elbow looked and she just replied “Oh, you know-these things just need time to heal. The doctor will go over everything with you.” PANIC! I for sure thought that whatever the X-Rays showed would not be good news. My first thought was how I could get away without telling my husband he was right all along. I was working myself up so much while waiting for the doctor to come in that I almost started crying! At least it felt so damn good to scratch and pet my arm.

The doctor came in and told me he couldn’t even find where the fracture was in the new X-Rays! Seven days. He initially said the first visit that I would be in a splint for 2 weeks. Seven days was all I needed! The bone isn’t technically fractured now, but there is still plenty of healing to be done. I can still wear the sling if I need it and I will have to ease into doing things. I am hoping the inflammation will decrease now that I am able to ice it. My plan is to become more and more mobile with each passing day!

I have the Whole30 to thank for my speedy recovery. Not only has my body been obviously reaping the benefits of my diet, but my mind has been put at ease through the headache this past week has been. All I can do is give a thumbs up!

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Calcium-Rich Greens

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After writing my Got Milk? post, I went to the grocery store on a mission to buy produce that was specifically rich in calcium. It is great that I am eating all the right foods so that my body can heal as best as it can, but I wanted to try and do an even better job of making calcium more bio-available to my body in case it needed it. I know that cooked dark greens are great calcium-rich choices. I’ve always loved kale, but thought that straying from the usual and giving it more variety could do my body good. So I went back to my Southern roots: collards and turnip greens.

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Just one cup of cooked collard greens has 220 milligrams of calcium. Turnip greens have 99 milligrams of calcium per cup when cooked. Adding these rich greens into my meals along with my everyday cooked kale which has 93 milligrams of calcium per cup isn’t bad at all! I found these calcium milligram measurements on Eat Drink Paleo. I also picked up some broccoli and okra which also made the calcium-rich list.

For dinner last night, I boiled a pot of water and added the greens in it. I opted for the frozen bags because not only were they cheaper, but they are super splint-friendly in the kitchen. 😉 No chopping required, which means no ambidextrous skills needed from me!

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I let the greens simmer in the hot water for about 10 minutes and then drained them. While my greens were draining, I browned some veal that Hubs had put in the freezer a few weeks ago.

 

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I’ve never had veal. It was so juicy and tender; plus it smelled so good while browning on the cast iron.

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I removed the veal after it browned and cut them into slices. I then added the greens to the skillet and poured a cup or two of my home made bone broth in for the greens to simmer in. I also like to think that the nutrient dense bone broth enhanced my dinner to give me super healing powers.

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I then added the slices of veal back into the broth-simmering greens and covered it up for just a couple of minutes.

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Then dinner was served! I think pork would have been a perfect pairing with the cooked greens, but we didn’t have any in the house at the time. The veal was pretty damn good too! I have my second follow up appointment with the orthopedic specialist tomorrow morning and I don’t think I have ever been this excited to go to the doctor’s! I am really hoping I can get my splint off after tomorrow. That would mean it would come off a week earlier than the doctor said, but I am very optimistic about my recovery and from what my body is telling me, I am feeling great! Fingers crossed!

Bone Broth

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I have been waiting very patiently all weekend for my bone broth to brew. Since this was my first batch, I was a little intimidated by the challenge and I have been waiting for the right time to make it. Nothing like a broken bone to make brewing bone broth on the top of your agenda. Bone broth is exceptionally healthy for the body and is also known for helping with bone formation, growth and repair. Whole9 states:

“Bone broth is a source of minerals, like calcium, phosphorus, magnesium,  and potassium, in forms that your body can easily absorb. It’s also rich in glycine and proline, amino acids not found in significant amounts in muscle meat (the vast majority of the meat we consume). It also contains chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, the compounds sold as supplements to reduce inflammation, arthritis, and joint pain. Finally, “soup bones” include collagen, a protein found in connective tissue of vertebrate animals, which is abundant in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.  (The breakdown of collagen in bone broths is what produces gelatin.)”

See, why I was in dire need of some bone broth in my life? I had Hubs run by Whole Foods so I could pick up some beef bones last week; it was the very next day after my vehicle collision. I got about 2 lbs of beef marrow bones for 6 bucks. I figured for my first batch this would be perfect. I roasted the bones first, which was recommended by many on the Whole30 Forum.

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I didn’t roast them very long. Just long enough for me to dice and cut all of my veggies. This was also a great way to get ride of some prime real estate in the fridge, especially since some of my veggies were on their last breath.

veggiesbrothI chopped up onions, carrots, celery, garlic, parsley and ginger root. I threw some rosemary, bay leaf and red pepper flakes in there too.

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I added the bones, some apple cider vinegar, and filled the slow cooker up with water. I didn’t fuss with measurements; I just added enough water to fill it to the top. Many recommended to use filtered water, but I decided to keep it simple for my first attempt.

brothcookI covered my bone bath on Thursday night and didn’t unplug the crock pot until Sunday afternoon. There were many resources on how long to cook broth for. I’ve read where some only cook for 12 hours but also read that some say that with beef you can go up to 72 hours. I kept my cooking around 50-60. Unfortunately my crock pot may have been too hot at times. I came home Friday after work to see it bubbling, which probably wasn’t a good thing. I would then play around with my pot to change its settings between cooking on low and then turning it off. I could never get it to not stop bubbling after a while so I just settled with my bubbling bone broth. Besides, I still needed to buy a mesh strainer at the store since I didn’t have one!

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My bone bath “shrunk” when I took the top off finally. The water volume had definitely decreased. The smell was rich and warm though.

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I waited till the broth had cooled a little, but it was still very warm when I used my fancy new mesh strainer. I had to get Hubs to help pour the broth out of the crock pot since I only had one arm.

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The broth had the most beautiful dark color. I was quite surprised at how dark it actually was. You definitely don’t see broth like that come out of a package you buy from the store.

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After the broth cooled, the fat congealed on the top. It was super easy to skim the fat off the top. I was a a bit disappointed to see that my broth didn’t become gelatinous like many would say it would. I’m afraid my crock pot gave it too much heat. Afterwards, I did some trouble shooting to find that most broths made in a crock pot don’t gel because of this problem. I am comforted by the fact that though the broth didn’t gel, it is still super nutritious. I was also a little confused as to why the volume of my bone bath decreased so much. This was also probably due to the high heat of the crock pot. I am going to still write this first time project as a success though because the broth was so deliciously smooth and flavorful! I’ve enjoyed a mug at night after dinner which just makes such a good ending to the day.

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For more bone broth readings that I’ve used visit:

The Whole9 Bone Broth FAQ

Nom Nom Paleo’s Slow Cooker Beef Bone Broth

Wellness Mama’s Homemade Bone Broth Tutorial

Whole30 Forum

Rubies & Radishes Slow Cooker Beef Broth

 

 

Got Milk?

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Nope! My husband has been having a ball making fun of my “weak brittle bones” that I have which are due to the “obvious” fact that I don’t drink milk or consume any dairy. His sarcastic humor is undermined though by the amazing fact that my entire injury was simply just a hairline fracture in my elbow when it could have been so very worse. He likes to pick and get a rise out of me; but there is no way I’m eating cheese or drinking milk anytime soon. I found a great blog post on Eat Drink Paleo that sums up the Paleo Diet and Calcium very nicely. Not only does Irena give a nice list of food groups with their corresponding calcium milligrams; but she explains why eating a Paleo diet is already Calcium-friendly just in itself. The fact that I have not been consuming grains and legumes already helps my body absorb Calcium in my daily meals. She explains:

“There are also a few enemies to watch out for. Phytates or phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in grains and legumes (not a problem for paleo folks),  seeds, nuts and some vegetables. The body binds phytates to calcium as well as other minerals, which prevents their absorption. Soaking, aslo known as ‘activating’, nuts and seeds and cooking vegetables removes most of the phytates, making the calcium and other minerals more available to the body.”

This information regarding phyates was also clearly summed up in “It Starts With Food”. There is a great section on dairy in Melissa and Dallas Hartwig’s book. I can’t recommend reading this entire book enough! Just a few interesting points to take away from their dairy section regarding Calcium:

  • Our body’s hormones and anti-inflammatory status play a role in bone health.
  • Chronic blood sugar and coritsol levels (and systematic inflammation) all accelerate bone breakdown and inhibit the formation of new bone cells.
  • The US has one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world, despite having one of the highest calcium intakes.
  • Too much calcium can be a bad thing; this generally happens when we are consuming dairy, plus calcium supplements, plus calcium that is naturally available in produce.
  • Calcium is most bio-available to the body in produce.
  • Weight-bearing physical activity stress our bones in a healthy way so they respond by becoming more dense.

So, maybe that Got Milk? campaign should be changed to Got Real Food?! Thanks to the Got Milk? campaign, it is no wonder why we all think our bones are going to become brittle and dissolve the minute we stop consuming dairy.

By the way, I had the biggest crush on JTT when I was in elementary school! You better believe I would have made my mom go out and buy all the gallons of milk left in the store if I had seen this ad back then!

I have been getting plenty of veggies, but it looks like I can make more of an effort to focus on the more calcium-rich greens like collards, kale, cooked spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, and okra. I have included cooked collards, broccoli, and kale in my meals since my fracture so I am on the right track! Also, I didn’t realize how rich in calcium seafood and fish are! Sardines are pretty high on the list with 382 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams. I foresee a sardine recipe search in my future….I’ve actually never had sardines before. I will just have to add it to my Whole30 “First Timers” list!

In all seriousness, I have been very happy with my progress so far. I was told by many people that the third day after a vehicle collision is when your body feels the worst. I have honestly not felt bad at all. Yesterday (the second day) my neck was very stiff; but no pain at all. Not even in my broken elbow! I haven’t taken any of the pain meds prescribed to me….nor needed the huge bottle of Motrin I purchased just in case. At my doctor’s appointment with the orthopedic specialist on Wednesday, I was told my left arm and hand would continue to swell up before it getting better. It hasn’t swelled up any more since that day! I am 100% convinced that I am experiencing such a smooth post-collision experience(not only with my body but also with my mind) because of my Whole30 diet.

My next appointment with the orthopedic is on Wednesday. They are going to hopefully take another set of X-Rays to make sure my elbow is healing well. I am really looking forward to it! For now, my arm’s soft cast is apparently the perfect pillow for Lady ma’am…and I’m okay with that!

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Tomorrow’s one-armed adventures include finishing up my homemade bone broth, car shopping with my mom, a hair wash and trim with someone’s hands that aren’t my own, and getting a rental car!

Vroom, vroom, baby.

Curve Ball

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Well my week sure did get a huge curve ball thrown at it (you can thank my Red Sox-loving-husband for the baseball analogy)….maybe more actually like my whole entire month of April. I was unfortunately rear ended on Tuesday night coming home from band rehearsal. I am not going to get too much into the details because #1) I am kind of sick of talking about it and #2) it is difficult to type for me due to my fractured elbow. I will just say that while it was a pretty traumatic episode; it could have been very much worse and I am lucky to be at home typing this awkwardly with the right side of the laptop propped on a pillow and my left arm in a splint. I was given good news at the orthopedic specialist that my fracture should heal quickly in a couple of weeks and I won’t need a cast (Hallelujah!).

It is so crazy because right after my collision I didn’t think I needed to get checked out at the hospital. My left elbow bruised instantly and started swelling but my adrenaline was taking over. I then felt a bump on my forehead and started limping on my right leg and realized we better go to the ER just in case. Luckily we did because a few X-rays later showed a fractured elbow. I instantly thought of how lucky I was to be on this Whole30 program. Yes, finding out I had a broken bone sucked, but I took comfort in the fact that I was giving my body the best nutrients I could to help it work its magic! I also didn’t freak out like I thought I would about not being able to go to the gym to take high impact cardio and strength training classes during my body’s time of healing. My only plan is to give my body what it needs now: recovery through rest and nutrients. I can also thank the Whole30 for my peaceful mindset through this very stressful time.

So, what’s my plan? To keep on! I got up extra early this morning to give myself enough time to make my lunch and breakfast. I wasn’t sure how difficult it would be with one arm (more like one and a half since I can use my left hand). Chopping red leaf lettuce is difficult…or really any kind of produce. But the softer it is, the harder! Dicing the cucumbers for my salad was a bit easier since they are sturdier on the cutting board. I am learning to use my mouth as a second (third?) hand which works out quite nicely. I have always wanted to make homemade bone broth and now seems like the perfect time. I could definitely use the extra nourishment that the bone broth will have to offer. This is going to be my next “to do” task aside from all the insurance claims, doctor appointments, car shopping, etc. I made my husband take me to Whole Foods to pick up some beef bones while we ran errands yesterday. Now all I need to do is teach him how to put my hair into a decent looking pony tail….