Jalapeños in the fridge.

I’m super annoyed right now.  I’m annoyed that they closed work and schools today, and nothing is happening – thanks Leon, you super storm, you.  I’m annoyed that my internet is slow and just deleted my recipes for jalapeño poppers (baked) and mango chicken (also baked).  Since I didn’t write the recipes down, I’m going to choose to remain annoyed and not re-type them.  And yes, I am keeping the title of the post, just to further my annoyance.  The point is that I have a bag of jalapeños that I must use tonight.  So make up your own recipe for that, and add mango cheese.  Just imagine what we have now all missed because of my terrible internet.  Thanks, Time Warner Cable.

I’m annoyed that I’ve been doing P90X3 for 3 weeks and haven’t lost a pound.  I’m annoyed that the Shakeology I have grown to love in the span of a month is so expensive.  Now I must have it, so there goes $120 each month.  I’m annoyed that my boyfriend barely does the exercises right, and his arm muscles are growing rapidly.  I’m annoyed that being a female means, no matter how hard you try, you’re likely to not be as strong as a man, or make as much physical progress as quickly as a man.

I’m annoyed that my friend Kim’s birthday was this weekend, and that she died of breast cancer at age 25 – much too early.  I’m annoyed that I sat there and watched her die, as I got healthier and healthier, now nearly 4 years of cancer freedom.  It’s annoying.  And it’s unfair.

That being said, a day at home isn’t the worst thing, and maybe I should take this as a sign that I need to get off my computer and do something non-digital on this non-snowy snow day.  Maybe I should paint, or make a really complicated recipe that takes hours.  Or maybe I should clean my house.  Or I could take a nap and wait for the annoyance to pass.

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Posted in Thoughts

Fitter. Happier. More productive.

Positivity is the word of the week for me.

I am having a lot of trouble, both at work and in my personal life, adhering to the commitments I have tried to make, both to myself and to others.  Can I contact all of the sponsors for our event?  Can I workout daily?  Can I eat in the way I know is best for me?

Unfortunately, the answer to all of those questions is “no.”

I’m not sure what do to, at this point.  I feel pulled in many directions, and I feel exhausted and unfulfilled.  I’m really confused as to my next step.

Change jobs?  Or merely change my perspective?

This post is already boring me, so I’d like to share a fantastic recipe for pecan pie.  I’m my brother’s “best man” (I like to call it “bestie”) for his wedding in August.  On top of my BM duties, I was also asked to provide 100 pecan pie tartlets for the reception.  I tested 6 recipes…

pecan pie recipe

After eating these delicious treats, the pies looked like this…

pecan pie recipe

Destroyed.

After much searching and evaluation of my likes and dislikes for pecan pie (my favorite dessert), and here is the recipe for the best of 6, taken from www.keyingredient.com.  I plan to tweak, retest, and post the PERFECT pecan pie recipe soon.  My crust is different.  I also added bourbon.  Stay tuned…

Ingredients

Serves 8 to 10
Regular or mild molasses tastes best in this pie. Use your favorite pie dough or our Single Crust Pie Dough recipe.
Ingredients
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon molasses
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ teaspoon Salt
6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
cups toasted and chopped pecans
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie shell (see note), chilled in pie plate for 30 minutes

Directions

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat sugar, syrup, cream, and molasses in saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes. Whisk butter and salt into syrup mixture until combined. Whisk in egg yolks until incorporated. 2. Bake Pie: Scatter pecans in pie shell. Carefully pour filling over. Place pie in hot oven and immediately reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake until filling is set and center jiggles slightly when pie is gently shaken, 45 to 60 minutes. Cool pie on rack for 1 hour, then refrigerate until set, about 3 hours and up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before serving.
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Posted in Recipes, Thoughts

Avocados do not a mousse make.

I watched Giada the other day, and was shocked and astounded that she would defile such a luscious fruit by adding chocolate to it and calling it a mousse. Really not okay.

Then I thought to myself, wait a second.  Giada may be a genius.  I mean, if this tasted good, it is SO healthy.

She has her own recipe, but I just got the ingredient list and did my own thing.  And this is what I did.

Two avocados, 1/4 c. of semisweet chocolate, 1/4 c. cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp. agave, and 1/4 c. coconut milk (canned).  Blended it in a food processor.

chocolate mousse healthy recipe

Then it looked like this:

chocolate mousse healthy recipe

Then I put it into ramekins for a couple hours and chilled it.  And it looked like this:

chocolate mousse healthy

And it was delish.  Now, I’m pretty sure I forgot vanilla.  I think Giada added vanilla.  And I’m pretty sure it would be even better with either a nut of some kind or a dried fruit.  Or caramel.  Or any number of exciting additions.  BUT, it is a great base for any kind of chocolate mousse you could ever want.  And the best part?  It’s SUPER healthy.  For a dessert.

You know about why avocados are so good, right?  Good for your heart, good for reducing inflammation, good cancer fighter, makes your skin lovely… I could go on. I worship avocados. Eat them, if you don’t already.

So how’d this dessert do, really?  Let’s see…

  • Calories: 192
  • Carbs: 22g (WHAT???  SO good.)
  • Fat: 15g
  • Sugar: only 14g
  • 10% vitamin C, 5% iron, 2% A, and 1% calcium for the day.

For a dessert, this is no joke good for you.  I’m making this once a week.  At least.

You’re welcome.

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Posted in Recipes

News. Always News.

Just when I decide to “move on” – so to speak – I have a non-normal report from my most recent MRI.

In better news, I think I got the weird Natalie Dormer (aka Margaery Tyrell) crooked smile down. What do you think?

Cancer Survivor Game of Thrones

Me

natalie_dormer

Natalie

So I’ve spent the last 48 hours looking up everything I can about “hyperenhancing liver lesions.”  Having very bad luck.  Or perhaps my doctor just doesn’t use the words most people use for whatever these things on my liver are.  Mostly, I’m finding sites for those training in radiology to recognize different types of spots on MRIs.  Not all that helpful for me.

So let’s say they are lesions.  To my mind, a lesion indicates damage.  Which indicates an action to damage said damaged organ.  Which tells me that my liver is damaged.  Which is not cool.  Because the only thing I am aware of that damages the liver is drinking.  And I have to tell you, since all this cancer stuff started in 2009, I haven’t slowed down on drinking.  Despite all of my new healthy behaviors: better eating, more exercise, more positive thinking.  I still drink.  Between 3 and 5 drinks most nights.  A lot of times, that’s wine.  Other times, it’s whiskey.  Sometimes it’s two drinks.  Sometimes, it’s 7.  I was doing some reading.  CNN says that more women are drinking than ever.  It also says that women often lie to their doctors about how much they drink.  I am one of those women.  I tend to say that i drink 2 glasses of wine, maybe twice a week.  Not so.

So this liver stuff has me worried.  So here’s to day two of not drinking.  Guess I have to find something else to do with my time.  Any ideas?

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Posted in Thoughts

Savory Turkey PANCAKES

What?  First of all, turkey is boring.  Secondly, pancakes are not supposed to be even remotely healthy, right?

This morning, I really wanted pancakes.  I really, really, really wanted pancakes.  But I try not to completely waste an entire meal on something without much nutritional content whatsoever.  I have read The Paleo Diet  and Wheat Belly, and it generally speaks to my sensibilities about the best way to eat a lot – which I like – and not gain weight.

So, how can I feel the “fun” of pancakes, with at least some healthy parts?  Turkey pancakes.

Turkey is great because…

  1. High protein, low saturated fat;
  2. High in vitamin b, zinc, and potassium; and most importantly,
  3. “Turkey is a very good source of the trace mineral, selenium. Selenium is of fundamental importance to human health. It is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function. Accumulated evidence from prospective studies, intervention trials and studies on animal models of cancer have suggested a strong inverse correlation between selenium intake and cancer incidence” – so says DieselTurkey.

What else shall I put in turkey pancakes?  Spinach is always my go-to, when I’m not sure.  It tastes great, and has TONS of vitamin A, along with vitamin C, magnesium, iron, B-6, and calcium.  What else could you want?

So here’s the recipe.  I accidentally ate it before getting a photo.  Will try to do better next time.

Turkey Yumminess:

  • 4oz. ground turkey
  • 1/4 c. diced onions
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • salt & pepper

Cook all that in a non-stick pan (that you can use for the pancakes – I hate cleaning multiple pans) until the turkey is cooked and yummy.  Take it out of the pan and set it aside.

Pancake Batter:

  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • egg white from 1 egg
  • 1/4 c. greek yogurt
  • 1/4 (ish) c. water

Sift the dry ingredients together, then add oil, egg, and yogurt.  Slowly adding water, whisk until blended.

Put a tiny bit of olive oil in your pan and get it hot.  Pour 1/4 c. of batter into the pan, then drop turkey on top of pancake batter.  Throw a couple of baby spinach leaves on top of turkey onto pancake, and push them into pancake so it sticks.  Flip when ready.  Put finished pancakes on a bed of spinach.  Drizzle it with just a bit of PURE maple syrup.

I put this all in MyFitnessPal, and this is what I get, per serving:

  • 415 calories
  • 23g protein
  • 37g carbs
  • 91% vitamin A
  • 21% calcium
  • 25% iron

Not too shabby for a pancake breakfast.

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Posted in Recipes

Day One Thousand, Three Hundred, and Sixty-Five

cancer survivor boomI am done counting days since I was diagnosed, so this is the last annoying day-count title.  I will always look back on August 28, 2009, as one of the worst days of my life, but I am moving on, and quite nicely, I would like to add.  I am changing the format of this blog to reflect my changing nature.  I am no longer defiantly fighting cancer, nor am I overly focused on its existence in my life.  I am, however, working very hard to make myself more healthy than I have ever been, and more happy.  This blog will focus on what makes me happy, and what keeps me healthy.  No more doom and gloom.  No more overly-self-reflective junk.  Just me.  Happy healthy me.

One of the things I have been really focused on lately is weightlifting.  A few great resources for folks, especially women, interested in weight lifting, but either a) don’t know where to start or b) are afraid to “bulk up.”  Which you won’t, by the way.

Here are a couple of helpful links:

Now, I’m not saying I’m superwoman now or anything.  As you can see, I’m still little ‘ol me.  However, I am stronger than I have been in at least 10 years.  I have a very small upper body, so any muscles on my arms is a feat.  If you look realllllly closely, you can see them in the pic.  I have actually gained about 5 pounds, but don’t have any difference in pant fit, or “bulk,” as some might call it.  That can only mean I am adding muscle and not adding fat.  So I call that a win.  Would it be helpful to put my weightlifting routine on here?  Pictures?  Videos?  Let me know!

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Day Eight-Hundred and Six

Cancer survivor, over two years.

Yes, it has been a while.  Again.  But I’m here.  I have something I wrote for a few events for which I recently had the privilege to speak.  That speech is below.  More another day.

Being diagnosed with cancer was one of the most terrifying, and most liberating events of my life.  On August 28, 2009, when I was told that I had colon cancer, I thought that my life was over.  I was certain that the disease had spread all over my body, eating away at the life I had left.  That day was one of the worst days of my life.

At the same time, that day gave me something I would never expect.  It gave me hope.  The sky looked different from that day on.  The trees were greener and the air was cleaner.  Food tasted better, and I wanted to live to experience all of the wonders that life had to offer.  From that day, I knew I would live to see the day that I did not have cancer.  I had to.

At the time of my diagnosis, I was working at a prestigious boarding school, as both an English teacher and Communications Director.  I was forming a career, and I had started graduate school for English.  I was even married.  I had it all, or so I thought.

Once I was diagnosed, I was forced to step back and examine my life and the choices I had made.  Why was I married?  Why was I teaching?  Did I love my life?  Those questions proved much more difficult to answer than I had hoped, so I decided to make a change.  One of my first small steps toward recovery was to begin belly-dancing classes – I found this mode of exercise doable during chemotherapy, and it reminded me that I was a woman, not just a cancer victim.

Once I could see the end of chemotherapy on the horizon, I had to get involved.  I knew that I owed my support to others going through this journey.  In March of 2010, I participated in my first event with the American Cancer Society, called Cupcakes for Cures.  This is an annual cupcake baking competition, and I won first place in the gluten-free category.  Once that event concluded, I was asked to take on the job of Volunteer Coordinator for Relay for Life of Asheville for the 2010 Relay season, and I happily took on the task.  Next thing I knew, I had actually found meaning and purpose through this horrible disease that I thought was going to kill me.

I finished chemotherapy in April of 2010, mere weeks before Relay for Life.  In June, I had quit my cushy job, was getting separated from my husband, and was starting over in a new city.  I worked with a new nonprofit organization in Wilmington, called Women of Hope, as the Communications Director.  Through this organization, I was given the opportunity to participate in many fundraisers and support groups for women with cancer.  I modeled for the first time in my life on a runway in front of about 200 people.  I attended monthly support and educational meetings.  I also ran my first, and probably last, half marathon.

I am now getting close to finishing graduate school at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington.  I am working toward a Masters degree in Public Administration, which will allow me to help build up and work with other nonprofit organizations that are helping those in need.  At present, I work for various nonprofits in the Cape Fear region, focusing on building their capacity to continue to function through education and coordination, despite this time of economic difficulty.  I have dedicated my life to helping others who truly need help; now that I know what it’s like to need help, myself.

I still have days where I am reminded that I had cancer, and may again someday.  I still have days of anger at the scar from the port on my chest, or at the neuropathy still occasionally present in my hands and feet, or at the fact that I may never be able to bear children.  I am angry that I still owe money to hospitals and doctors, and probably will for the rest of my life.  I am angry that cancer has the power to steal people’s lives from them with little warning, and for little reason.  I will never get over the “why me?” and the “what did I do to deserve this?” kind of questions, but I can roll with the punches and accept my new life for what it is, and gain inspiration from my challenges.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I knew no one with cancer.  Cancer was one of those things, a white noise in the background that I wasn’t supposed to have to deal with, but I did deal with it, and for that opportunity I am grateful.  I am grateful for the strong people I have met, and I look forward to continuing to give support and strength to those experiencing a similar crisis in their lives.

Some people associate cancer with negative words like evil, fight, and even tragedy.  I associate it with other kinds of words, like hope, freedom, inspiration, and life.  Yes, life.  Cancer gave me my life back.  It reminded me that my life is mine and I am to do with it exactly what I want – not what I am supposed to do, or what someone else thinks I should do.  Without cancer, I would still be married, unhappy, overworked, and unfulfilled.  I am grateful for the second chance I have been given and will spend my life helping other survivors see cancer as a challenge, not a defeat.

I want to help those who want to DO SOMETHING with the cards they have been dealt, to make other people’s lives better.  I am finishing a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management, so that I can be a part of making this world a better place – not simply living in it.  And guess what?  None of this would have happened, had I not been, yes, inspired and, yes, liberated by cancer.  I want to encourage the survivors in this room to do the same, and to help others see that cancer is not always a death sentence.  It can present the chance for inspiration, liberation, and hope; it can be a light at the end of a tunnel.

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