Monthly Archives: January 2010

Fi-Fie-Fo-Fum Update

  • First of all, I am so very incredibly thankful for my friend Elizabeth (don’t know if she wants to be named here… she’s a family practice doctor who lives in Alaska).  She has totally taken up Fiala’s cause, and with her medical guidance and spiritual insight, we are making fabulous headway.  I would be so lost without her.  I keep thinking, “Why couldn’t another doctor, one of the many we’ve seen in this last year, have had the wisdom and care that Elizabeth has had?”  I don’t know the answer to that, but I am absolutely thankful to both her and the Father for sending her my way.
  • Fiala’s skin is 95% better.  I’m not sure if it’s the 2½ weeks of antibiotics (2½ weeks to go, still!  She’s now on Septra, which has worked MUCH better than Keflex) that has cleared up the staph, which has healed her skin… or, if it’s the Protopic + triamcinolone + Vaseline regimen.  Today was also the last day of a 5-day prednisone prescription (a.k.a. “evil juice” — it’s AWFUL).  Lots o’ meds.  However, I am so, so, so, so happy that she is not an oozy, itchy, scabby, miserable baby any longer.  I look forward to her being off of medication, though, and boosting her immune system via nutrition and supplements, and seeing if she can “hold” the healing while off meds.  Yes, I was hoping to treat everything homeopathically, naturally, but that hasn’t been possible.  Hopefully, she will have “just” five weeks of hitting the meds hard and then we can get her off of them.
  • Before Septra - Taken 01/14/10

  • After Septra - Taken today, 01/27/10 (With big brother Grant)

  • Fiala is officially weaned, at 15 months.  That’s both happy and sad.  I Freecycled the Boppy pillow, because she kept bringing it to me, asking with sweet hopefulness, “Nuh-nuh??”  And now, she just sadly shakes her head, “Nuh-nuh gah-gah.”  Nuh-nuh all gone.  😦  So, now, I’m not on the Total Elimination Diet, but I’m not going hog-wild.  I told myself I was going to get a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra to celebrate when I was able to eat real food, but I haven’t done that yet.  We actually ate out at a restaurant on Sunday, which then gave me an afternoon-long, food-related stomach ache, the first stomach ache I’d had in four months… (other than when we, apparently, got some bad black beans a few weeks ago)  So, I’m still going pretty slow.
  • Fiala is still on a restricted diet, but we are expanding it with some success.  She currently can eat lamb, turkey, buckwheat (though she’s sick of it), almost all beans, quinoa, gluten-free oats, every vege in the mustard family (broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens), every vege in the beet family (beets, red chard, spinach), blueberries (cranberries, too, but I super-limit those because we haven’t found any dried that have no sugar, and the fresh ones are way too tart!).  She also has had good success lately with organic apples, and I’ve been able to give her a little bit of honey.  Her favorite things are blueberries and raw broccoli core.  I also have her on a vitamin that she loves:  Children’s Chewables from Michael’s Naturopathic Programs.  It’s the only gluten-free, sugar-free, at-least-partly-whole food vitamin AND mineral.  And, it’s not crazy-expensive, bless God.  Looking at the list above, I guess that still doesn’t seem like a whole lot… but it’s SO BROAD compared to a month or six weeks ago.
  • In the last couple of weeks, she has had BAD reactions to prunes — I should have figured that out before I even tried them;  she had a bad reaction to almonds in the past, and they’re related.  She actually got hives in her diaper area everywhere the prune-poop touched. Even where a bit of prune skin had blown out the side, where it was touching her skin was a correspondingly-shaped welt.  So, everything in the plum family is out (peaches, apricots, plums, almonds).   And, she had a bad reaction to banana (gassy, fussy, red, itchy skin, and caustic poop).  STILL.  At this point, her diet is expanding more rapidly than it’s contracting, if that makes sense.  I am very encouraged.
  • SHE’S SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT.  Not every single night, but close to it.  Last night, she slept from 7:15 p.m. – 5:00 a.m., and the previous night was similar.  Most nights, she’s been sleeping at least one good 6-8 hour jag.  There have been a number of nights where she has a very hard time going back to sleep, and I’ve been up for 1½ – 2 hours with a fussy, crying, sad baby.  But, it’s definitely been two-steps-forward, one-step-back progress.  We moved her crib into the girls’ room (and moved Audrey, temporarily, into our room), and that — along with just saying no to nursing at night — has spurred the success, along with her general healing, which has taken away her itchy, restless misery.
  • When we’re off of Septra, we will address strengthening her immune system, via nutrition and supplements.  I’m having chicken-and-egg thoughts:  Was her immune system weak from the beginning, which led her to be so badly infected with staph?  Or is her immune system exhausted from fighting staph for what appears to be her WHOLE LIFE?  I’m holding out hope that it’s the second, and once the staph is gone, she will recover to great health.
  • Overall, though there are many readers on here who are homeopathic/naturopathic-minded like myself, I hope you will rejoice with me at the wonderful leaps and bounds we’ve gained in Sweet Fi’s health.
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New Domain!!

Waaalll…

A friend from church thought that I should have my own domain, so he went and purchased it for me!  www.onlysometimesclever.com or http://onlysometimesclever.com both work.  Thanks, Jesse!

I really don’t know what to do with it, other than to alert y’all that you don’t need the “wordpress” part of the addy any more.  Perhaps I will play with it a bit in the future;  I’m not even sure what I CAN do with it!  (I’m not really a “discover the possibilities!” kind of gal.)

If you have any tips, of course, send ’em my way.

Braised Lemon Rosemary Lamb Shanks with “Caramelized” Turnips

Four months ago or so, I would NEVER have even looked at a recipe with this name, let alone eaten it, let alone LOVED it.  I remember reading a restaurant review some time ago from local foodie Howard Seftel, and literally gagging when he mentioned how dreamy and “mucilaginous” perfect lamb shanks were.  However, times and tastes do change, and now, Howard, I understand you.

Shown with Red Quinoa

Whenever I make this dish (which has been probably eight times in the last couple of months), my eight-year-old son hovers, eyes wide, as I dish it out.  He is gleeful when I pop a turnip chunk or two in his mouth, and was literally ecstatic when I gave him a whole bowlful last night, hopping around, and running to tell his brothers of his luck.  When I eat this dish, I tell myself that I am going to portion out the turnips, eating them slowly, alternating bites with the lamb.  A few minutes later, as my lamb shank sits bare on my plate, no turnips in sight, I only mildly bemoan my lack of self-control.  Even if you think you don’t like turnips, I encourage you to try them this way!  If an 8yo, who is not a particular fan of veggies, delights in them, you can be assured that it’s likely that you will love them, too!

Lamb shanks are definitely slow food.  This easy recipe is edible in two hours, but perfect in three.  It’s worth it, though!

I say “caramelized” because the turnips end up having the appearance of being caramelized, but they really aren’t.  It is likely that this recipe would also work well with rutabagas and/or parsnips, but I have not tried either.

As they contain a great deal of bone, lamb shanks are among the least expensive cuts of lamb.  Here in the Phoenix area, I buy mine frozen from Lee Lee Oriental Market at only $3.29/lb.

(As always, this is a gluten-free, dairy/casein-free dish!)

Braised Lemon Rosemary Lamb Shanks with “Caramelized” Turnips
serves two

  • 2 lamb shanks, ¾ to 1 lb each
  • 2 medium turnips, cut into 1″ cubes (approximately 4 cups)
  • ½ lemon (zest and juice)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2″ long rosemary sprig
  • ½ cup water
  1. Measure water into a 10″ skillet.  Into it, place the lamb shanks, and sprinkle them with the zest of ½ lemon.
  2. Arrange the turnips around the shanks as evenly as possible.
  3. Sprinkle the turnips and lamb with fresh rosemary leaves and sea salt.
  4. Squeeze the juice of ½ lemon over everything.
  5. Bring to boil over high heat, cover, and quickly turn down to simmer on low.
  6. Check periodically that the water has not evaporated.  During that time, as the meat shrinks while it cooks, gently rearrange turnips so that they are braising in the broth as the dish cooks.
  7. After 2 hours, check the tenderness of the meat and lamb.  At this point, the dish will have been cooked thoroughly and will be edible.  However, you will get perfect flavor if you allow it to cook for another hour or so.
  8. Check the turnips, lamb, and sauce level at 15 minute intervals for an additional 45 minutes to 1 hour, for a total of 2:45 – 3:00 cooking time.  You do not want the water to run out entirely, though when the dish is done, you want a reduced, thickish, caramel-colored sauce at the bottom of the pan.  Also, you’re looking for the turnips to be totally infused with the taste and color of the sauce.  If there is not enough water, the sauce and turnips will burn, rendering them inedible (ask me how I know!  😦 ).  But, if the sauce is too thin, it’s won’t be rich and flavorful enough, and the color and flavor will not saturate the turnips.
  9. When the sauce is reduced and the turnips are a dark golden caramel color, the dish is done.
  10. Enjoy hot!

Braised Lemon Rosemary Lamb Shanks with Turnips (printable PDF)

Double-Red Quinoa

A while back, I ordered some buckwheat from Eden Organics via Amazon.  They mistakenly sent me a box of red quinoa instead.  As it is a food item, the customer service folks at Amazon said I could just keep it, in addition to refunding my money.  At the time, I thought, “There is no way I’ll eat all of this.”  So, I gave six of the 12 packages away.  Now, I’m rather wishing I had them back!

Easy to digest, gluten-free, full of protein and fiber, if you’ve never tried quinoa, now is the time to start!  Quinoa is nearly as versatile as rice, cooks up in about the same time as white rice, but with much greater nutrition.

Once my supply of Eden Organics Red Quinoa ran out, I’ve purchased Ancient Harvest Inca Red at a local grocer.  Expect to pay about $3.50 – 4.50 for a 12-16 ounce package.  Each 12 oz package has 2 cups of quinoa.

It is hard to believe how delicious a recipe can be, with only a very few ingredients.  I’ve been making this super-simple dish literally 2-3 times a week for the last month or so.  I’ve eaten it both as a side dish, and I’ve browned some ground lamb and stirred it in for a complete meal.  It also reheats beautifully for tasty leftovers.  (If there are any!  The first time I made this, I ate every last bite!)

I’ve tried it with collard greens in lieu of red chard, but I don’t like the taste nearly so well.  The delicate taste of the red chard combined with the nutty taste of the red quinoa is a perfect match.

Check the organic section of your local grocer for red chard.  I have been able to find organic red chard for the same price as conventional!  (At Sprouts, for anyone in the Phoenix area.)  With organic olive oil from Trader Joe’s, organic quinoa, and organic red chard, this is a super-healthy, clean, tasty whole-grain dish!!

Double-Red Quinoa
makes 4 side-dish sized servings

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or, to taste)
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup red wholegrain quinoa
  • 2-4 stalks of red chard (leaves and stalks)
  1. In a small saucepan, bring olive oil, sea salt, and water to a boil.  Stir in quinoa, bring back to boil, and turn down to a simmer.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, chop the red chard into fairly small pieces.  (I slice the large leaves lengthwise several times, then slice them crosswise into 1/4″ slices.)
  3. After 15 minutes, stir the quinoa.  There should be only a bit of water left in the pan.  If it is dry, add up to 1/4 cup more of water.
  4. Stir in the chopped red chard, and return to a simmer.  Simmer for five additional minutes.  After five minutes, there should be very little water left in the pan.  If it’s still quite “wet,” turn up the heat and boil until most of the water is evaporated.
  5. Serve hot!

Click here for a printable version:  Double-Red Quinoa

So, where have I been?

Fasting.

Fasting the internet, that is.

Many people from my church went on a Daniel fast for the first three weeks of January.  That’s basically a whole-foods vegan diet, like Daniel and his buddies did when they were taken captive into Babylon.

However, for me, excluding foods???  That’s a walk in the park.  Other than meat, the Daniel fast would EXPAND the foods I’m currently eating.  So, I had been considering other options, other things to fast.

On the 31st of December, I think it was, I was talking with my friend Elizabeth, who is a doctor… actually, it was more like SHE was talking to ME, giving me some guidance on Fiala.

As long-time readers of this blog will be aware, my dear baby, who is 15 months old today, has had a rough go of it for pretty much her whole life.  After the last doctor we spent lots of money on told us that he’d reached the end of his expertise, and he was advising us to go see a different specialist, my husband and I decided to just give the whole “doctor” thing a break for a while.  So, we had been without medical care for her for about four months…

In the meantime, I was spending time, pretty much daily, online, trying to find out WHAT was wrong with Fiala, and HOW to treat her.  Really, I became overwhelmed and fairly desperate and hopeless.

In that phone conversation, Elizabeth suggested, “I think you need to stay off the internet for a while.”  Though I didn’t really LIKE her advice, I knew she was right.  And, I knew that it would be a perfect fit for the discipline of fasting.

So, that’s where I’ve been:  Living life, sans internet.

Elizabeth and I have kept in close contact, via phone and e-mail…  There have been too many things to recount (though I may go back at some point and try), and Fiala is not altogether healed yet, and we still have a lot of unsolved, unanswered questions.  Still.  Overall, I am highly encouraged, and feel like God is leading us down the path to healing, and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, when previously, we were very much in darkness and floundering about.

God is good.  He is trustworthy.  He loves me and my precious daughter.  I look forward to posting more positive and hopeful writings about Fiala’s health in the near future.  🙂

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