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In praise of the parsnip

I invited some friends over for dinner this evening and a rather international lineup of my favorite foodies. On offer were spicy chicken with a Thai-esque peanut sauce, white rice, Greek salad, and a parsnip mash.

I love parsnips. I enjoy them fried, mashed, and roasted. I’ve even used them to make gnocchi. I told my friends that they weren’t beholden to try my parsnip mash and to not think they would hurt my feelings if they did try it and didn’t like it. All tried it and all liked it. Some even had second helpings. They remarked on how they would never have thought of buying and preparing parsnips but now they would because the parsnips I served were so tasty.

What’s wonderful about the parsnip is that it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and Omega Sixes but it’s low in calories and ultra-low in fat. There’s no cholesterol, either. I’ll cut up three or four parsnips, one potato, and boil them with about a half-dozen baby carrots. I then mash it all up with a bit of butter (the equivalent of one pat), a splash of half and half, and about a half-cup of plain cultured coconut milk. This feeds four adults. SO good and so flavorful that regular mashed potatoes no longer appeal. Parsnips have a slightly sweet, gorgeous earthy flavor that potatoes lack.

Food likely will consume (pun and irony intended!) a sizable portion (oops, I did it again!) of this blog. I enjoy cooking and I’ve had to revamp how I select and prepare food upon the advent of my diagnoses. My first rheumatologist was also a certified naturopathic practitioner and he believed in using diet to help control symptoms and promote wellness. Since I moved away, I’ve picked up where he left off and have done some research on food, herbs and seasonings, and diet.

Like anyone else who deals with serious illnesses, though, I’ve run into my share of snake oil salespeople and I can become hostile whenever I’m told a certain juice, supplement, diet, or even prayer method can cure me. The worst offenders won’t take a polite “no” for an answer and invariably will tell you that you don’t really want to get better if you won’t try their juice, supplement, diet, or what-not. The really evil bunch, though, will question your faith and beliefs and tell you that you’re not healed because you don’t trust God and aren’t praying correctly. I find that to be repugnant.

Rest assured that I am neither kind of zealot regarding food or faith. I will pass along recipes, flavorful substitutions, meal ideas, and any other helpful tips I think might interest others. I doubt I would ever pass along religion tips, though! I think that is an intensely personal matter. I do yoga and relaxation techniques for exercise and wellness but they have nothing to do with my religion. Yoga most likely will be the subject of some blog entries because I’ve found aspects helpful but exercise practices need to be discussed with one’s physicians!

Speaking of physicians and getting back to the topic, if you are taking warfarin or any other blood thinner, then refrain from eating parsnips until you speak with your doctor or coumadin clinic nurse! Parsnips are a good source of Vitamin K, which thickens blood. As does spinach and kale and, WOW, does green tea! I missed that in the info I was given at the coumadin clinic and my nurse was pulling his hair out trying to get my blood thin. I assured him that I wasn’t eating the foods on the hit list and was limiting my green leafies to twice per week. Finally, he asked, “you don’t drink green tea every day, do you?” Um, yes! (More on that another time.) Green tea is astronomically high in Vitamin K, it turns out. After my cardiac ablation proved successful and my cardiologist told me I could quit the warfarin, I was thrilled to get my green tea, green leafies, and my parsnips back. 🙂

I cook my Romaine!

Welcome to AutoImmusings!

I’ve been puzzling over how to start this blog and decided while cooking dinner this evening that this might be a good way. I was cooking Romaine lettuce. I’m not able to eat raw vegetables because I have Crohn’s Disease.  (Every now and then I break the rule in a stupid attempt to see if it’s really valid. It is.) However, I still need to eat green, leafy vegetables and I like them, besides. So, I cook them. (Hat tip to Chef Gordon Ramsay’s TV shows!)

Tonight, I cooked the tender leaves in olive oil with a tiny bit of butter added, in which I had already sauteed some chopped Anaheim peppers and green onion, and some assorted spices. Cooked Romaine can be quite delicious if you employ some creativity and take care with the process. Under-cooked is pointless and overcooked is inedible. Moderation and creativity are  important. (Sense a transition?)

Those of us who belong to the Auto-Immune family have to navigate life with a lot of care and creativity. I think that we need to reach out to each other, share what we’ve learned and brain-storm what befuddles us. AutoImmusings is my attempt to do just that, with some thoroughly off-topic musings thrown in for good measure. My passions are food, literature, travel, and education, which serve me well both within and without the auto-immune spectrum.

And, speaking of a spectrum, auto-immune manifestations run the breadth of it. From the day on which my internist first told me that the flu which seemed to recur with increasing frequency was  actually Lupus, he suspected, mydiagnosis has changed, been refined, or added onto several times. My first rheumatologist initially thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and then moved toward Systemic Lupus later. When the SCL-70 antibody showed up positive repeatedly but I remained asymptomatic, he told me not to worry. But the gastro-intestinal manifestations did emerge and are now prominent. Crohn’s Disease was also discovered in my small intestine. The best I can describe it now is a Lupus-Sclero overlap or mixed connective tissue disease with Crohn’s. It’s a lot to manage.

Indeed, it seems as though most of us do have more than one auto-immune disease or syndrome to manage. Lots of folks are stuck in a state of flux, too. As I’ve seen, it can take several years to understand and identify everything that is going on. The process can take a physical, emotional, financial, spiritual, and psycho-social toll. I’m blessed to have a wonderful internal medicine doctor in a place where the rheumatologists come and go and haven’t been all that impressive, besides. As I prepare to consult with another new one, I confided to my internist how disgusted I was with the last one. He took the fact that I looked good, wore jewelry and makeup and dressed nicely to my appointment as some sort of indication that I wasn’t really sick. “Didn’t he understand that I have to do that to keep my spirits up, that I do it for ME and not for anyone else?” I blurted out, rhetorically.

That’s one facet of living with “but you look so good!” diseases. There are many more. I generally try to see the funny side of it all but sometimes I give in to a lamentation or two. Not often, I promise. Oh, and shortly after my “rhetorical blurt,” I vowed to look like hell for my upcoming first visit with the new rheumy so she can get the full dramatic effect so expected from these diseases, hahahaha. We shouldn’t fail to disappoint! Would rags indicating my financial distress be over-the-top? 😉

I’m glad you’re here. Let’s cook our Romaine together!

Julia

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