Friday, April 24, 2015

Chocolate "recovery" milkshake; allergies and fibromyalgia

Chocolate milkshake
Robie Creek 2015, a mountainous half marathon, is now a thing of the past. I participated last Saturday but I have to say my whole body is still reeling from the experience. I will recover but as you can see by the photo below, I was suffering when I reached the 8.5-mile point at the summit. No wonder, I needed a chocolate "recovery" milkshake. I made and froze one ahead of time to have at the finish. It was delicious and I really earned it.

Reaching Adalpe Summit after 8.5 miles of uphill
You probably noticed I'm not smiling in the photo above. You think I would have at least pretended I was having fun. But beware of events that people describe as both "fun and torture." Read more about how I got into this event at:

 Here's my post-race reward---Chocolate "Recovery" Milkshake. I froze it ahead of time, packed it in ice in a small insulated lunch bag and placed it on the truck that carries your post-race stuff to the finish line.


1 cup milk of your choice, frozen into cubes
1/2 cup yogurt (you choose what kind; I use homemade, lactose-free yogurt)
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla powder or 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt
2 T. cocoa powder
stevia, to taste
1 T. seed or nut butter or ! T. coconut oil


Make your frozen milk cubes ahead of time. I usually keep a batch pre-made in the freezer. Combine the cubes plus all the other ingredients in your food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Pour into your container for immediate eating or freeze for later as I did. Serve with an extra dollop of yogurt on top.

Delicious topped with or without extra yogurt
I felt like collapsing like Misha after the race
I slept like Misha, in photo above, the night after the race. Fortunately, among other things, I had my allergies figured out beforehand. Allergy medications do not work for me, and allergy season in my area is worse this year. Luckily, I found and tried Aller-C, a natural remedy by Vital Nutrients. It contains Quercetin, a natural antihistamine. My healthcare provider indicated many of her patients who can’t or don’t want to take regular antihistamines have had good results.

She mentioned that this product starts working in several days which was a definite plus. Some natural remedies have to be taken long before allergy season to allow them to build up in your body.

A 100-capsule bottle sells for about $20 plus free shipping on Amazon with a minimum order of $35. You take two capsules two to four times daily or as directed by your healthcare professional.

Quercetin is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It belongs to a group of water-soluble nutrients, known as bioflavonoids. It is available as a supplement but is found naturally in many food sources, including apples with their skin, tomatoes, red and yellow onions, scallions, berries, red grapes, black and green tea, broccoli and citrus fruit.

Allergy season is no cakewalk for those with allergies but what if you throw fibromyalgia into the mix? The majority of fibromyalgia (FMS) sufferers have classic allergy symptoms, including runny nose, itchy eyes and congestion. They also have widespread, chronic pain in their muscles, tendons and ligaments, and many other symptoms.

Are allergies then a risk factor for developing fibromyalgia? No one knows for sure but one theory is that allergies, combined with genetics and/or immune system problems, could make you more prone for developing FMS.

Seasonal allergies seem to magnify the symptoms of FMS.  On bad allergy days, your pain may be worse; your digestive system may be more off kilter; and you may have less energy. Why? My theory is allergies cause inflammation in your body which simply adds to the load your body is already bearing.   

Many FMS sufferers get no relief at all from antihistamines or other allergy medications. In many cases, the medications cause all the side effects with none of the benefit.

Since FMS and allergies seem to go together, you need some kind of plan for dealing with the problem during allergy season. Here are some things I do as an FMS sufferer to reduce the affect of seasonal allergies on my other symptoms:

  • You may have to try several medications before finding the right one that works for you as FMS sufferers tend to be sensitive to medication. Beware of drug interactions if you are taking other medications.
  • If meds don’t work, try using a saline nasal spray and/or Neti pot or electronic nasal cleaning device, such as a SinuPulse. Consider herbal remedies as well.
  • I eat a clean diet, sometimes opting for organic fruits and veggies if possible.  Don’t venture into the unknown and try foods that may trigger symptoms. Many with FMS also have food sensitivities which are constantly shifting. This means new food sensitivities may appear at any time.
  • Getting plenty of sleep is at the top of my list. Sleep deprivation is not good for anyone’s immune system.
  • Stress can worsen FMS symptoms and allergies.
  • Exercise boosts my endorphins. I try to do something every day. (Note: Race to Robie Creek is a bit over the top.)
  • My healthcare provider recommended a natural product, called Aller-C by Vital Nutrients. It contains Quercetin, a natural antihistamine. She indicated many of her patients who can’t or don’t want to take regular antihistamines have had good results.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Probiotics are your best friend; mini-yogurt "pb" cheesecakes

Mini-yogurt "pb" cheesecakes, lactose-free
These mini-"pb" cheesecakes may not look like something that's good for your gut but they are made from probiotic-rich (lactose-free) yogurt. If you have fibromyalgia, you need to make probiotics your best friend.

Why do you need probiotics? Sixty percent of fibromyalgia sufferers have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and 70 percent have symptoms of IBS. These IBS-symptoms are usually triggered by bowel infections, such as an overgrowth of candida or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Both of these conditons result in an overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.

Studies show that SIBO occurs in 90 to 100 percent of fibromyalgia patients. Researchers believe that fibromyalgia is the result of SIBO and that treating bacterial overgrowth can significantly reduce FM symptoms.

Replenishing good bacteria in the gut by eating cultured foods, such as yogurt, is one part of a treatment plan for candida or SIBO overgrowths.

Misha says, "More yogurt, please."
Even Misha, the husky, pictured above, knows probiotics are not only good for him but can help those with fibromyalgia too.

I make my own yogurt to make sure it's lactose-free.

It's fairly simple to do. Here are the instructions

Once you have a batch made, there are all kinds of things you can make including mini-yogurt "pb" cheesecakes.

Yes, they have a little chocolate but they still are a healthy probiotic-rich treat.

Here's what you need for 5-6 mini-"pb" cheesecakes:

Optional chocolate "crust" and topping:

1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa powder
stevia powder, to taste


1 cup farmer's cheese (probiotic-rich and lactose-free0
2 cups homemade lactose-free yogurt or other plain yogurt
1/4 cup sunbutter, peanut butter or other seed/nut butter of choice
2 T. of Great Lakes grassfed gelatin (for thicker yogurts such as Greek yogurt reduce amount to 1 T.)
stevia powder or liquid stevia, alcohol-free, to taste

Here's what you do:

For the filling, process the yogurt, cheese, stevia and seed/nut butter in a food processor. Set aside while you prepare the gelatin. Place the gelatin in a small heat-proof mug or cup. Add 1 T. of water and stir until gelatin softens.

Place the cup with gelatin in a skillet, filled with 1/2-inch of water. Heat the skillet with mug on the stove on medium heat. Stir the gelatin until it dissolves. Then, turn off the stove and remove the cup of gelatin from the skillet.

Add the gelatin solution to the filling mixture in the food processor. Blend until mixed.

Ramekins with chocolate crust, filled and unfilled
Add a chocolate crust if you like before pouring in the cheesecake mixture. For the crust, mix softened coconut oil with cocoa powder and stevia. Pour a small amount into each ramekin. Place the ramekins in the freezer to harden the "crust" before pouring in the filling.

Reserve extra chocolate mixture for topping.

Pour in the filling, chill and then decorate the top with more chocolate drizzle, if desired.

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fibro sufferers' gut problems eased by sticking with healthy diet; plus Reese's sunbutter cupcakes

Reese's Sunbutter Cupcakes

Easter is a time to enjoy family, friends and your childhood favorite treats. But can individuals with fibro and associated gut problems still have an Easter favorite, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups? You can have something even better if you are willing to make this copycat recipe for Reese’s Sunbutter Cupcakes.

These cupcakes not only remind you of Reese’s PB Cups but are adaptable to accommodate most food sensitivities. For instance, you can use whatever seed or nut butter or type of flour that works for you.

Individuals with fibromyalgia usually have irritable bowel sydrome (IBS) and gut infections such as candida or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I have all of these problems but can keep my stomach problems under control (Hey, I didn't say perfect but manageable) by following a low fermentation diet. This means eating foods low to moderate in carbohydrates that are easily digestible. The amount of these foods eaten also is critical. See this post for additional information on a low fermentation potential (FP) diet.

When holidays or other occasions come along, it is important to not stray from your diet. For instance, you can't say, "Just this once I'll have a piece of cake and ice cream." My plan is to be prepared for these times by cooking something that will satisfy my cravings but not sink the boat, so to speak. 

 Easter is one of those times where temptation will be everywhere for you to abandon your diet. My copycat Reese's Sunbutter Cupcakes should help you stay low FP as long as you eat just one per day or share the rest with others.

Here’s what you need for five cupcakes:

1 T. pumpkin puree or applesauce (unsweetened)
3 T. almond flour or gluten-free flour of your choice
1 T. sunbutter, peanut butter or alternative of your choice
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. apple cider vinegar
Dash of salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. powdered stevia or alternative sweetener, to taste
1 egg or egg substitute
¼ cup yogurt or milk of choice

Cupcakes ready for filling and decoration
Here’s what you do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line five cells of a muffin pan with cupcake wrappers. Mix all the ingredients in a food processor. Pour the batter in the cupcake liners. Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove to cool.

In the meantime, prepare the filling and icing. Use an additional ¼ cup sunbutter, peanut butter or alternative of your choice, and mix with 1 T. softened coconut oil and 1 T. milk of choice. Pour this thickened mixture into a small Ziploc bag. Press the mixture to the bottom of the bag and remove most of the air before zipping the bag closed. Use a pair of scissors to snip off one corner of the Ziploc to make a substitute “pastry bag.”
Cupcakes and ziploc "pastry bag"

Once the cupcakes are cooled, use a knife to make a small hole in the middle of each cupcake. Fill each hole with the sunbutter/peanut butter filling. Use the remaining filling as icing for the top of each cupcake.

Cupcakes filled with sunbutter filling
As an option, you can decorate the tops of your cupcakes with Copycat Reese’s Eggs.

Copycat Reese's Eggs with chocolate glaze
Here’s what you need:

¼ cup sunbutter or alternative
2-3 dates, softened
1 T. softened coconut oil
2 T. cocoa + 2 T. coconut oil
Stevia or 2 T. agave or maple syrup

Reese's copycat eggs being dipped in chocolate
Mix the first three ingredients in a food processor. If too sticky, place in the refrigerator to firm up slightly. Shape the dough into 6-8 tiny egg shapes. Freeze for an hour or so on a plate lined with wax paper. Mix the cocoa and additional coconut oil plus sweetener to make the chocolate coating. Once the eggs are frozen, dip one at a time into the coating and freeze. Place one or two finished eggs on the top of each cupcake.

The finished product---yum!