Sundog –noun 1. parhelion. 2. a small or incomplete rainbow.

Posts tagged “paleo diet

Tashi! :D

Life sure does move fast sometimes! It’s been another long while since I posted and much has gone on. I think it’s time I share what it is that I’ve been up to which has been keeping me away from more frequent updates.

Gupta Amygdala Retraining Program is a process by which many can heal from chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and a few things they don’t list on the website. For example, I’ve also been using it to heal my PTSD.

Jeremy and I began the program mid-September this year. After three months following it diligently, the results are quite amazing. On the other hand, it can be a lot of work and you really need to commit yourself to doing it every day. Is it worth it? Heck yeah! 🙂

Coming back from a long-term illness can be very challenging. Especially considering how far from normal our lives had taken us – living in a tent for nearly 10 years, extreme social isolation from being fully housebound, extreme physical degradation from being mostly bedbound. It all adds up to situations that need healing in their own way.

We’ve been living indoors for sometime now and enjoy our current apartment. Swimming 1-4 times a week, occasional hikes, weight lifting, and frequent evening walks are taking care of the physical reconditioning. I’ve begun volunteering for a dog rescue at their adoption events and will be helping a cat shelter next month during their spay/neuter clinic which is all healing the social aspect. Life is beginning to be on the move again!

Speaking of the cat shelter… we adopted a 2 year old cat three weeks ago! Yay!!! Through an odd sequence of events I found out I don’t have a cat allergy as I thought I did, within a week we had adopted Tashi. Here she is a few days after coming home with us: Tashi a few days after being adopted from the shelter.

I am loving having a cat around the house. She has been a shelter cat for a lot of her life, though she did have one home at some point. Her first home had a 4 year old and she spent a month hiding under the bed from it, so they decided to take her back. I’m happy to have her here with us instead.

Tashi playing with paper ball.

She suffered from at least one nightmare a day for the first two weeks, but then someone gave us some amazing stress reducing drops that are basically water with minerals and an electric charge to combat stress. I add one drop to her water each day and she hasn’t had a nightmare in a week! We are really enjoying seeing her personality come out as she grows more comfortable and confident in life with us.

Tashi is a Tibetan name meaning good fortune and auspiciousness. She is a talker with many different chirps, meows, mews, and just plain odd noises. I’m hoping she will learn to be more of a lap cat as right now she is uncomfortable being in a lap even though you can tell she wants to climb onto it. When in a loving mood she’ll gaze at it and shift her weight forwards then change her mind, but for now it is too much for her. She loves lasers, catnip, and playing with various homemade toys. We also have a homemade cat scratcher made from cardboard boxes we had lying around… aka free!

Having Tashi come into our lives is just one of many examples of how much healing we have seen since starting the Gupta Retraining Program. Our improvements really are incredible and tremendous.

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Paleo Sweet Potato Pie Recipe!

I’ve had a lot of requests for the pie recipe from my birthday and so here goes! I found it online at a forum posting here , but then we modified it as we went along. The main changes are no honey (our sweet potatoes are sweet enough) and baking dishes used.

sweet potato pie lit candle

It is paleo friendly, gluten free, and dairy free recipe for dessert, side dish, or an after workout snack!

Paleo Sweet Potato Pie:
– Sweet Potatoes (equal parts potato to milk, adjust as needed)
– 1 can Coconut Milk (I used full fat)
– 2 Eggs
– Spices (we used cinnamon and cloves, anything used for pumpkin pie would work for this)
* Often times yams are called sweet potatoes – I don’t know how those would work as we used actual Japanese Sweet Potatoes grown locally. Canned sweet potatoes are also an option.

Wash and dry the potatoes, then toss them naked and unpoked into a 375F oven to bake. We don’t use foil, just a cookie sheet on the rack below for drips. Start checking them after 1 hour, they should be soft to squeeze like with russet potatoes. Ours took about 1.5 hours to cook due to size.

After potatoes have cooled, remove the skin and mash them. The skin can be eaten or saved for cooking with later. Unlike russet or other potatoes, these are not part of the nightshade family and so are safe to eat.

We never measured the sweet potato volume, just added milk until the consistency seemed right. If you’ve made a few pumpkin pies, you’ll know the type of consistency to aim for. Otherwise I’d suggest aiming for equal parts potato to milk as the original recipe called for one can of sweet potato to each can of milk.

Add two eggs per can of milk, we doubled the recipe so had 2 cans of milk and 4 eggs.

Add spices to taste. Traditionally used spices would include cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice – and never forget the love!

We do not have a pie pan, but instead split the mix between two small rectangle baking dishes. Seemed to cook up just the same as it would have with a pie pan. The original recipe called for oiling the dish and coating it with your choice of flour (they used almond flour), but this proved unnecessary for our pies. Plus we lacked a paleo friendly flour.

In a preheated oven, cook the pie at 425F for 15 minutes then lower temperature to 350F.

Cook another 35-45 minutes. Ours were ready at 40 minutes.

They were good warm, but also very tasty cold! Enjoy!


One Month Later…

What does a month in Maui look like? All of these pictures are from today, exactly one month since we landed here.

We wake up to greet the morning sky brightening off our lanai (porch).

Jeremy waters the sunflowers he planted less than three weeks ago.

Stepping into our slippers (Croc sandals) we head out for groceries and the beach.

Wait a minute! We forgot Jeremy's AAA Hawaii card, just in case!

Hop into our car, turn on the stereo for some reggae, and off we go!

We get to Mana Foods as they open. For $83 dollars we have all the organic, locally grown veggies and eggs we need for over a week. Our grassfed, organic beef will be purchased from a local guy tomorrow. Veggies in picture: 4 red leaf lettuces, 3 savoy cabbages, 3 broccoli, 2 cucumbers, 10 sweet Maui onions, 6 sweet potatoes, 1 jicama, 8 kolrabi, 1 bunch of rainbow kale, ginger, and 1 leek.

We tried a new beach this morning, Baldwin Park Beach just outside of Paia. It is only 20 minutes from home and was a great place for swimming.

I had to be a little careful at the beach as the sunburn at the top is from two days ago. Luckily my Mexican heritage has already turned my burn to tan!

After a short swim we headed home to some tasty fruit. Each day we take a small walk and pick fruit from the organic trees on the property where we live. Clockwise from top: 1 Papaya, 2 Limes, 2 Jamacian Passionfruit (lilikoi), 1 other type Lilikoi, 2 Guavas, and in center 1 Mango. Bananas, Oranges, and Avacados are also here but they are between ripe batches.

Time for a nap! Our bed is made of several blankets for padding, another for the pillow plus a coat, and a few to keep warm with while sleeping. It's basically the same type of makeshift bed we had used the last 10 years of tent life, but a bit nicer with a flat floor and fewer bugs. At some point we hope to have an organic bed, but for now it's not affordable.

After my brief nap, I had a bit more energy and made dinner for us. Paleo meatloaf with assorted veggies. Tasty!! For some strange reason I often day dreamed of meatloaf the last few years, though I had never made it in my life and ate it rarely as a kid. This was a fine way to end my adventures today with one last new experience in the kitchen.


Take a Deep Breath, Now LEAP!

Today is my last morning with a computer before it too is packed away in a cardboard box and sent ahead of me towards my new home. Over the past four weeks, I have evaluated each aspect of life I collected around me – weighed and determined if it was valuable enough to warrant shipping or if I would finally part ways with it to lighten my load.

It is surprising how little I chose to keep.

I have always been a packrat by nature. This enthusiasm to keep things that might one day be ‘useful’ has still persisted even living in a tent year around, but what is useful here is not always the same as what is useful indoors in Hawaii. Certainly the sharp axe used to split small logs will be left behind, while our amazingly comfortable camp chairs have passed inspection and are already at our new apartment.

I find as our camp dwindles in clutter, a great deal of contentment begins to infuse my being. It is as though I am washing away a decade of grief and pain caused by a dramatic loss of health, family, and nearly everything I once was.

The woman who sits here today is a very different person to the one who walked into this exact camp site 7 years ago. Before now, I had never lived in a single place longer than a few years. How odd that I finally found the stability in housing I always longed for by living in a tent.

Am I scared of these new changes to come? You bet I am. It is all unknown – this will be the first time Jeremy and I will live outside of a tent on our own while ill.

But I am also hugely excited. Despite the fear, I will be stepping out of darkness and into the bright world beckoning me the last several years. I will walk with my head held high, the strength and courage I found in these dark years supporting me when my knees are weak with fear.

And so this is my last post from a tent – as always I am full of hope and determination to see myself and Jeremy walking forward into our future instead of looking back at our past.

Good bye tent. Hello Maui!


What is Healing?

What is Healing? I have pondered this question many times.

Recently, I have begun to see signs of deep physical healing at long last, but why? What has changed?

I now sleep 12-15 hours a day. That’s a 10-12 hour night and one or two naps during the day. Until last November, I could sleep no more than 9 hours a night and never napped. How can this be good?

As well, I have seen signs my digestive system is healing. The same amount of digestive enzymes I took two months ago is now too strong. I have reduced them by 25%. This means for the first time in 10 years my body is producing more stomach acid instead of less. Until you’ve suffered from long term digestive problems it is hard to understand how large of an impact quality digestion (or lack of it) can have on your entire health. This is actually an impressive improvement for me.

But what does digestion have to do with me sleeping over half the day away?

There are a lot of mumbo jumbo scientific words I could toss around right now to describe what essentially comes down to a simple concept. Inside each one of us is an ‘on/off’ switch. It toggles between the flight/fight response and being restful/calm. This is part of the autonomic nervous system.

In CFS and MCS, evidence shows that some of the cause behind these conditions is likely the flight/fight response being stuck turned on. This means the body is always ready for a lion to try and eat you so it only worries about keeping you alive another day, not what will happen after that. To do this, it supercharges some systems – like making you run faster, but this has a price. It has to take away from other systems – like digestion and immune functions, because they won’t matter if the lion eats you.

In other words – sleeping more and digesting better means my ‘on/off’ switch isn’t stuck on flight/fight anymore. It means my body is finally able to put energy toward healing instead of running away.

But why has this happened now? What is so different today compared to the last 10 years?

I think this question has a few answers. There is the obvious one – I’m taking herbs and vitamin supplements that have been slowly tailored to my specific needs and it took 10 years to figure those needs out. We are also spending a considerably larger sum of money on those supplements now compared to when we were trying to build our house and pinching pennies from every place we could.

But that answer is boring. The intriguing answer is much harder to define because it isn’t a pill that is popped or anything which can be seen with the eye. Nor is it the excellent diet we’ve been eating since going paleo. Though paleo is making good progress in lowering systemic body inflammation, providing materials for building muscles, strengthening joints and ligaments, and it just plain tastes better!

No, I think the main answer lies in the emotional and spiritual healing I have been discovering for almost a year and a half. I have been practicing EFT, reiki, qigong, meditation, and learning to listen with my heart as well as my head for guidance. Gradually, these techniques have been re-balancing my turbulent body, mind, and spiritual energies.

I’ve been releasing trapped emotional energy by letting go of old fears; learning to fully let go of painful past events and forgive those who caused them, including myself; and in general finding an inner calmness I have rarely known before now. It is a lot like time travel, change the right thing in the past and the ripples have an impact on the future. Although I can not go back in time and change what happened, I can change how my body reacts to those memories. Over time this is positively changing how I react to similar events when they occur.

Stagnant body energy is balanced through meditation and movements which directs my body’s yin and yang energy into healing pathways. This energy flows through each of us and everything around us – plants, trees, earth, sky…

Basically, I’m learning to harness the power of the Force!

I suspect this is the key to my flight/fight response beginning to turn off at last, thus allowing physical healing. No matter how many pills I took to support and heal my body, it could do little good if my body’s own healing systems had been turned off by a wonky ‘on/off’ switch.

As I find an ever deepening sense of peace in life, my body is waking from its shadowy slumber into the new day of better health.

What is healing? I still am not fully sure, but I do know there is no simple answer. The human body and mind are a mysterious place, no less grand than the mysteries of the Universe itself.

Some have a path we are meant to follow. I think great sickness and tragedy has led me to mine and though it sounds odd, I am grateful.


Paleo Cookie Pancakes!

With the holidays upon us, seemed a good time to share our recipe for Paleo Pancakes. These are a bit different than many similar recipes online as we designed them to be high density protein with a good dose of veggies – basically, a balanced paleo meal for times without the ability to cook. Turned out, they are tasty anytime!

Better yet – they taste a bit like cookies!

They are a sugar free, gluten free, organic, ready to go meal.

I’m sure the hemp powder we use can be substituted for other nut flours, we just needed the big protein gains during cold times without cooking.

Paleo Cookie Pancakes:

1 cup mashed squash
1/2 cup hemp powder
1/2 cup walnut flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
6 eggs

Lots of cinnamon (to taste)
Light cloves
1 tbl ginger powder
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Mix the hemp and walnut flour with the coconut milk. Mix in the mashed squash. Add eggs and mix well. Add spices or substitute for pumpkin pie spice.

It should have the consistency of thick pancake batter. Can add a few chopped nuts or berries to the batter for texture and bursts of flavor.

Scoop 1/4 cup of mixture onto a hot skillet or griddle, use plenty of butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking. Cook on a low heat, they burn a little easier than other pancakes.

Flip each pancake when the bottom side firms up, like normal pancakes. Cook some more until done!

These tend to be thin, but fluffy due to the egg content. Two pancakes each makes a filling meal for us. I did not write down how many the recipe makes, but its around 9-12 cakes.

We usually eat these plain, but for special occasions (like birthdays) we’ll put a little vanilla ice cream on top. Wow they are good!

It would be easy to substitute many of the ingredients. The squash helps balance the acidic nut flours, helps provide carbohydrates, and keeps the pancakes moist. Bananas, pumpkin, yams, etc would all work well in its place. There are different types of nut flours, you can experiment with finding the one that suits your taste buds the most.

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!


Winter is on the Way

I had intended to post back here more frequently, but my health has been up and down, especially the last few weeks.

We have gotten our winter preparations well under way. October saw us finish changing out the leaky tarps over our tent – a project encompassing two years while letting the new tarps off gas. There has been a great deal of catching up on other small projects around camp. Mostly projects that were unable to be done during our steep decline in health over the last year.

October also saw the end to my six month long sinus infection. It took a combination of antibiotic and antifungal treatment simultaneously, along with a few other additions to help with sinus drainage. I saw an initial surge in energy after I was done with treatment, but this has ebbed somewhat as other influences have sapped my reserves.

A majority of our state medical coverage is ending on December 31st this year. This has changed some of our plans for winter prep as we have had to fit in dental appointments while we still can. The good news is that cavities I had a few years ago have healed themselves. For more information on remineralizing your teeth, a good start would be an article by Stephan Guyenet at Whole Health Source called, “Reversing Tooth Decay.”

Our main struggle right now is with different viruses making homes in us. It feels like each week sees us with a new cold or flu bug. This could be a good thing if it is caused by our bodies waking up to the viruses it is host for. Or it could be a bad thing as our immune system is too weak to fight any of them off. Only time will tell the story.

I do have to wonder how much of our slump the last several weeks was caused by too much birthday fun. With both mine and Jeremy’s birthday’s falling less than two weeks apart, it can get particularly festive around here. It could be that too much ice cream lead to another Candida yeast overgrowth in our guts. Having cut all sugars for three weeks is helping lower many of the symptoms I would attribute to this possibility.

The weather has suddenly shifted from a warm Indian summer into a cold Fall. At its coldest point last night, it was the same temperature as you would find in your refrigerator. Come December, we will be living in your freezer – next to the ice cream perhaps!

I am looking forwards to the colder weather, because it will kill off the molds that have been plaguing me since spring. On the other hand, it also brings smoke from chimneys and wood stoves that is aggravating our asthma and making breathing more difficult at times.

It is a rollercoaster time for us right now, each up comes with a down shortly after. I am thankful to have any up swings at all, as this was not happening most of the last year. With some luck and a good amount of hope, we will see next year bringing more ups than downs again.