Sunday, August 19, 2012

Healthy Raw Breakfast

About a year ago I found out that I had a severe Candida infection. I'll spare you the gory details, of which there are many, and say that after many unsuccessful treatments by traditional doctors, I ended up taking matters into my own hands. I did extensive research on the disease and found that it is best treated by a very specific diet combined with various natural anti-fungal supplements. I don't pretend to be an expert on the subject, but I have learned a lot over the last year about Candida and how to take care of myself so that my symptoms stay away and I don't feel miserable.

While I have gotten much less sensitive to foods, I am still on a gluten-free, sugar-free, yeast-free, fermented-free diet, which pretty much eliminates all traditional breakfast items. I also try to minimize "animal proteins" in my diet - yes, the girl who raises chickens to eat has to be careful not to eat too much meat. *sigh* Breakfast was one of the biggest hurdles for me as I adjusted to my new lifestyle: I'll eat salads for lunch and dinner until the cows come home, but veggies for breakfast??? That felt a little too hard-core. But I have to say that after over a year of eating this way I actually look forward to my big bowl of steamed zucchini and kale with roasted almonds on top. This diet is one of the reasons I've become so devoted to my garden. Eating so many vegetables has made me very aware of the taste difference between kale I buy at Safeway and kale I grow in my garden and eat minutes after it is picked. The same goes for pretty much every single veggie out there - the freshly grown organic stuff is miles tastier. Plus, I am saving quite a bit of money by growing my vegetables rather than buying them. A single packet of kale seeds, which grows several months worth of kale, costs less than one bunch of organic kale at the supermarket.

Now, I never intended this to be a Candida blog, but I have realized that much of my inspiration to "live off the land" have come because of my journey to get healthy. They are somehow intertwined, and sometimes I can't talk about one without including the other. Before I had Candida, I was not at all interested in cooking. I made recipes that were easy and relatively healthy because that was my job and, well, we had to eat. After Candida, every meal became a challenge and adventure. I realized that if I was going to be able to eat things that actually tasted good and didn't make me sick, I would have to create my own recipes using the foods that I don't react to. Adding to the challenge were my meat-and-potatoes husband and a couple of young kids who would be eating what I cooked. I've learned about vegetables and other foods I never before knew existed: kholrabi, sunchokes, amaranth, adzuki beans, dulse... and I've become someone who actually loves cooking and looks forward to it every day. So I guess in a few small ways, getting sick has been good for me.

All the recipes I post here on the blog are recipes I can eat, unless I specify otherwise. That means that they are gluten free, sugar free, lactose free, yeast free, and fermentation free. As my friend Pamela has said: "If Heather can eat it, I can eat it." And I hope you can eat it too. I know I'm not the only person struggling to find yummy healthy foods to eat, and I'm hoping that I can help inspire you to not only eat some new foods, but to try growing them as well. (I just found this recipe, pictured above, for chia seed porridge, and it is on the menu for this week. Looks super yummy!)

P.S. In case you are wondering, this is the e-book I found to be most helpful in treating my own case of Candida, and this website has been invaluable in my ongoing quest to stay healthy.

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