Monday, February 11, 2013

Walk MS 2013

"Why do you choose to participate in Walk MS?"

Le sigh

They ask that question every year and it should be easy to answer. I should be able to talk about how awful my experience has been with MS...but it hasn't been that bad. Sure there were a few really shitty days, sure I've been annoyed and angry and frightened by my symptoms. But that isn't every day. Some days I am fine and nearly forget I have it....nearly is that key word.

I think... NO... I know... I walk because I don't get it. Not get it as in receive, I mean get it as in I don't understand. The most basic thing about it 'What causes MS' is still a mystery. Sure there are theories and some REALLY good ones in my opinion, but that's it. How do we live in a world where 1 in 700 will get this disease and we don't know what to do to prevent it!?

One in 700 doesn't seem that bad... so let's put it this way:

Picture you went to the superbowl... lucky bastard.
In case you didn't know, the stadium can seat 73,208 people. For this math we aren't filling it with just men, or just women, or just southerners, or just notherners or even former Canadians. We're gonna fill it with a generic cut of the population.
If we did that, it would mean that 104 people in that stadium have a multiple sclerosis. That's 2 charter buses full of people. I'll wait for a minute while you mentally watch those people walk off the bus.
Quite a few people, huh?
The odds are different if you have someone in your family with MS. It's a 1 in 100 chance if that's the case. So now let's fill that stadium with people who have a loved one with MS.  To make it easy we'll move them all together into one section. There, sitting before you, waiting for you to tell them why they were moved into this new section are 732 people. Yikes!
Now go explain to those 104 or 732 people that you don't know why they have Multiple Sclerosis or what they can do about it. Better yet, stand up in front of that group and tell them they can lower their likelihood of having an episode by an average of only 30% if they choose from current pharmaceuticals on the market... oh and be sure to mention that the majority of these are drugs are injections they have to give themselves.

I wouldn't want to face that crowd.

We can do better. We can give that group a better answer. We can tell the estimated 400,000 people in the US that there is something BETTER to help them. We can give hope to the 200 people that are newly diagnosed each week.

We can walk for them.
So THAT is why I am walking this year. I want others out there to have hope. Yes, selfishly I want hope too. Statistics say that there will come a day when I will need support, when I will need to choose drugs and, damnit, I want better options. All of that starts with research, and research ain't free.

If you live in the Seattle area I'd love for you to join my team at the South Sound Walk MS on April 13, 2013. We love virtual walkers too and welcome you to join in spirit or simply donate to help bring hope to those living with multiple sclerosis.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fat-Free Sweet Pepper Poppers

This is an easy and healthy Superbowl snack that doesn't taste healthy.
Your whole gang will love these!

Fat Free Sweet Pepper Poppers
1 package fat free Cream Cheese
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
30 baby bell peppers
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350. Chop the top off of the peppers and remove any lingering seeds. Set aside. In a small bowl, blend the cream cheese with the seasonings. In a separate bowl place panko and lightly season with salt and pepper. Use the scoop method here, it really makes it easy. Take one pepper, and scoop up the cream cheese like dip. Then press the top of the pepper that is filled with cream cheese into the panko so that it is lightly covered. Spread the peppers evenly in a baking dish. Spray lightly with olive oil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Serve warm.

The exact calories in each popper will vary based on the amount of cream cheese it fits. But let's see here...a single tablespoon of fat free cream cheese is only 15 calories and a baby bell pepper will be around 15 plus the sprinkle of panko on top would add a max of 10 40ish. One big Sweet Pepper Popper that can fit an entire tablespoon of cream cheese would set you back 40 calories. Hmmmm I bet we can all use this option on the table for game day.

What other healthy treats are you bringing to the table this year?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Tom Kah Gai = Feel Better Now!

I saw a great quote the other said "Trust those who seek the truth, but doubt those who say they've found it." The truth is that I haven't found it, but I am always looking. I've been posting for a while now about the evils of saturated fat, so I thought I'd take a moment to talk about the opposite.

For every post I find about Dr. Swanks approach and the research he's done showing a correlation between saturated fat intake and MS, I find others with interesting and equally scientific claims.
  • Roger Macdougall's approach was to cut out gluten after finding that gluten increased his exacerbations. 
  • Dr. William Crook found an association between patients with MS and Candida. 
  • Other studies point out the low incidence of MS in tropical areas and suggest that coconut oil may help those suffering from MS. 
My point here is that no one knows with 100% certainty what causes MS and what fixes MS. I bring this up because I was really worried about sharing this recipe. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this soup. I dream about this soup. I'm pretty sure I could eat it every day.
Because of that somewhat inappropriate love, I refused to look up the nutritional data. I couldn't ruin that relationship. Instead I spent hours researching and preparing to justify this soup to those of you on the Swank Diet.  I was worried it would be really high in saturated fat because of the coconut milk.

However, when I decided to put on my big girl pants and confront the data I was pleasantly surprised.
This soup is low in calories, low in fat, high in nutrition and absolutely delicious. One word of warning though... no two. One, those of you on a low sodium diet should steer clear of this soup, or try it without the fish sauce. Two, this is incredibly addicting.

Tom Kha Gai
Translation: Chicken Galangal Soup
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups leftover shredded chicken
2 inches of galangal* – peeled and cut into discs
2 stalks lemongrass – cut into 2" segments
3 cloves garlic – chopped
2 shallots, crushed
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
2 cups of mushrooms - halved
1 can baby corn - drained
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Splenda light brown sugar
4 kaffir lime leaves – bruised lightly**
1 fresh serrano red chili - halved lengthwise
Cilantro, mung bean sprouts and Siracha for garnish

In a large saucepan bring chicken broth to a boil. Add in lemongrass, galangal, garlic, and shallots with half a cup of coconut milk. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and relax while it simmers for another 10 minutes. Add in mushrooms, leftover chicken, baby corn, fish sauce and brown sugar. Bring to a boil again. (Do you sense a trend?) Turn the heat to low. Add in the chilies, kaffir lime leaves, and the remaining coconut milk. Simmer on low for the final 10 minute stretch. Stir occasionally. Serve soup topped with cilantro, bean sprouts and siracha.

I thought about adding this picture earlier in the post...but then I had this weird inner monologue that went something like this: HEY! You have all those * things on the recipe. Perhaps people will be motivated to read farther. Perhaps they'll look past the recipe to see what they should know about galangal. Do people read entire posts? Or do they simple see a good picture, skim the recipe and race to the store? What if people go to the store without knowing this picture is here? What if they are unable to describe what they need to the non-english speaking people at the Asian market? Hmmmm maybe I should put it earlier in the post. Naw, screw em. It'll be a reward for the readers out there. PS: Thank you.

* Galangawha? This recipe introduced me to 2 of my favorite ingredients. Galangal has this incredible bite to it. It's similar to ginger...but not close enough to use as a substitute in this recipe. It can be found at most Asian markets in dried or fresh form. If you don't live close to one of those you can also order it on Amazon. In fact, you can order this really cool Thai bundle that includes all the things you need for this soup by clicking here. (I might love Amazon too much.)

But back to galangal. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. Here are a few things it claims to help alleviate:
- indigestion and stomach complaints
- seasickness and motion sickness, including nausea
- ulcers and inflammation of the stomach
- rheumatism
- colds, flu, and fevers
- dementia
- bad breath
- diarrhea
- poor blood circulation, especially in hands and feet
- tumors (anti-tumor effect has been observed in mice)
Pretty cool, right?! I bought way more of it than I needed even after the double batch I made. The good news is that it freezes well and is nice to add to tea.

** FYI- a kaffir lime leaf has 2 segments to each leaf. To bruise the leaves you should literally imagine it is skin and bruise it in a similar manner. I had to look it up the first time I made this. ALSO, the internet told me to add remaining leafs to a bath for a totally luxurious smell...maybe I didn't add enough. It seemed like a waste. Instead of the weird bath suggestion I recommend making a tea. Add a small piece of galangal, 1 kaffir lime leaf, a 1" segment of lemon grass and half a lemon to a mug of boiling water. Let it steep and enjoy. It seems to give me a burst of energy so I would suggest not drinking it before bed.

Wow, so after all the notes you are still here. I'm surprised.
The only obvious reason is either you are bored at work, or (perhaps) you are a fellow nerd.
So here it is, your moment of nerdness:
This nutrition data is based off of 6 servings which is a very large portion.
Calories                       145.4
Total Fat                          3.4 g
    Saturated Fat               0.5 g
    Polyunsaturated Fat     0.4 g
    Monounsaturated Fat   0.9 g
Cholesterol                    50.1 mg
Sodium                      796.9 mg   <----- Woah Na!
Potassium                   409.9 mg
Total Carb                      6.1 g
Dietary Fiber                  1.3 g
Sugars                            1.4 g
Protein                          21.0 g
Vitamin A                3.2 %
Vitamin B-12          8.0 %
Vitamin B-6          28.1 %
Vitamin C             11.1 %
Vitamin D               2.2 %
Vitamin E               0.9 %
Calcium                 3.2 %
Copper                11.9 %
Folate                    5.5 %
Iron                      16.5 %
Magnesium           16.1 %
Manganese           33.0 %
Niacin                   50.1 %
Pantothenic Acid   10.2 %
Phosphorus           23.2 %
Riboflavin                8.9 %
Selenium               24.5 %
Thiamin                   6.4 %
Zinc                        7.5 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. 

Not bad right?! We love this soup so much that there are rarely leftovers. Next time I'll be making and freezing extra soup so we can have it on hand the minute a cold starts to appear. 
What are your favorite feel better foods? 

Monday, January 7, 2013

You are a process

It's Day 7 on this resolution band wagon. Are you still riding the "I CAN DO ALL THE THINGS" high that comes with the societal hype to make changes? 

I buy into this hype every year. Every single year I make goals, and I break goals, and then I make new ones. It's normal, and for the first time in my life I don't feel guilty about that. These changes in commitments come from re-evaluating your priorities. This last year was indeed an epic year for me. There were awesome changes and painful ones too. Don't tell anyone, but I think I grew up a little.

The growing pains were harder than I have endured in years. In times like that, when unexpected things happen, you adjust your goals. Maybe it isn't to the degree of a New Year's Resolution but it is equally powerful. It can go from cutting out all processed foods, to allowing the convenience to carry you through a frantic or depressing time where you may not have eaten if you hadn't shifted. It's not lazy, it's re-prioritizing, it's survival.

It sounds like I'm making dramatic excuses for my actions. I'm not. I'm trying to explain why I'm not angry at myself.  I'm trying to show you that you don't need to face your New Year's Resolutions with guilt. You are exactly where you need to be right now. You have it within your power to change things you want to change in your own time.  The societal pressures associated with resolutions allow us to meditate on where we want our priorities to be in the new year. Be honest with yourself. Throw down your superhero cape and find out what your focuses need to be to make you become a healthier you. Be realistic.
If I read one more "I'm gonna lose 50 pounds by June" post I might puke. Set realistic, smaller steps that will help you be better in all areas of your life for the long term.

You are a process, not a finished product.

Enjoy yourself. Appreciate all the things you have done for yourself. Get excited about the things you can do to improve yourself.  But never, ever, ever make goals that beat yourself up over the path that led you to this moment.

In the still lingering holiday spirit I want to wish you all a wonderful year of accepting who you are, accepting the path that led you here, and wisdom to know where to set your priorities throughout the year.
Thank you for all your support. May 2013 be exactly what we need it to be.

-The One They Call Hypo

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