Find Out What Jen Finds

My journey on the spectrum of life … and the lessons I learn along the way …
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about Moods (part 2): natural relief is simple

  • August 22, 2012 2:51 pm

Finding relief from my moods naturally has been very simple. However, Simple is hard to do in an overly complex world. Simple is also much slower than I’d like, especially in today’s “microwave” world where we can’t go/do/think/talk/play/eat fast enough. Simple is really more like a crock-pot: Get your stuff together, have Patience, reap your reward with something that brings great Pleasure. I think the difference in the processes is that the former has Pleasure in mind first – before I’ve had time to Get my Stuff Together. And forget about Patience! Make me to wait for my Pleasure and I might have to give you a piece of my mood – despite the fact that “you” might be an inanimate object. Sound familiar? (please say yes.)

In the latter process, the Pleasure or Joy truly is a reward because even though we know how yummy and tender a crock-pot meal will be when we set out to make it, we still beam with Excitement when we cut into the meat and it falls apart, we moan with Joy when that first bite just melts in our mouths. The Patience part can still be hard for some of us who are tempted by the aroma, but we know that it will be worth the wait once it’s ready (plus it’s still uncooked – gross).

Mood relief has definitely been a crock-pot process – much longer for me, so my hope is that I can shorten the process time for others. But it does take time. I was on the “culprit” medication for 3 years. I am giving myself 3 years to be off of it for me to expect to be back to “normal” (after that I just might lose my Patience!). I have about 8 months to go!! But I already feel more and more like my old self every day for the last 6 months! I speak in terms of detoxing off a prescription, but the fact to remember is that my moods began before meds (thus the “need” for meds). But with the research I’ve done and the experiences I’ve had, I’m confident that I’m on the right path to healing and have put The Brothers on the right path to health. I still learn something new everyday, but everything seems to be flowing in the same directions and I can’t wait to slow-cook these bad moods right out of my life!

So let me just tell you the answer first, and then backup and detail the solutions that might also work for you like they have worked for us.

Consider the following cycle:

Mood Cycle

(That’s an original Google Drawing right there, folks. Be impressed. I might copyright it, so don’t go stealing it without sharing my blog with 10 people. Or buying 10 copies of my future book that I promise to write one day.)

This is truly a cycle and it can be either positive or negative. And depending on circumstances can be a downward spiral. Bad Day –> Bad Choices –> Bad Food –> Bad Mood –> Impulsive Choices –> Impulsive Eating –> Impulsive Beliefs (Fear) –> Wimpy Feeling –> keep–> spiraling –> down –> ward –> until –> you –> burn –> out.

It’s hard to pinpoint where on this cycle we enter. The tricky part is that “Choices” can involve both mental AND physical. First you think it, then you do it. But “Choices” can also involve neither. For instance, you don’t have an opinion on a topic, therefore you might be complacent. And “Choices” can also just involve one of the two. Like, you don’t think before you act. Or, you think about it all the time, and never make a move. I believe it really depends on our Habits because our Habits are like our masters that we blindly obey. Mental Habits are automatic thoughts/associations (like I think YUM when I hear the word “chocolate”) while Physical Habits are automatic actions (like I put my keys on my desk when I come home (in theory)).

Instinctively, I want to jump from “Choices” directly to “Mood/Attitudes/Beliefs” (perhaps a bad Habit?). I tell myself, “I just need to get over it. God has given me so many blessings, why can’t I just buck up and appreciate them? From now on, I CHOOSE to be happy/joyful/thankful/fill-in-the-blank. And to celebrate my new great attitude, I think I’ll sit on the couch and eat some of this comfort food over here so it won’t be so painful.”  Sound familiar? (please say yes.) Wrong direction, Jen! Derailing! Back it up!

What doesn’t seem intuitive me, but I’m quickly learning to be true, is that if I direct my Good Choices in the direction of what I do for my Body, my Mind follows suit, naturally. And something about the natural flow of that soothes my Soul. Bottom line, we must take better care to nourish our bodies. Maybe even, I daresay, make it a higher priority than nourishing our minds. Because when we nourish our bodies, we give life to our minds. It’s hard to nourish a dead mind…in my opinion, at least.

The good news is that we can make a U turn at Choices whenever we want (and as often as we need to) and get going in the proper direction. Good Choices –> Good Food –> Good Mood –> Better Choices –> Healthier Body –> Healthier Mind –> Healthier Spirit –> Stronger Person!!

In upcoming posts, while I’m sharing some strategies that are working for us, I’d also like to debunk some myths about nourishment. I know from our experience, nourishment is not hard to find and it doesn’t break our budget – two common concerns I hear from others. I’d like to share how we find our food and how we afford it. What are some other myths or obstacles that hold you back from taking better care of your body? Please share your comments and feedback!

about Avocado: it’s a Superior Food when it’s organic

  • April 27, 2012 10:31 am

So far my favorite food item since starting my current eating plan is AVOCADO! A Super Food to boot! I always have liked it, even as a kid, but never really bought it unless I was planning to make guacamole or it came in the sushi I was eating. To recap, I’m tweaking my already gluten-free diet (since 2007) to also be diary-free (soooo hard), and other limitations – all to reduce systemic inflammation, which has caused me chronic pain, break-outs, and has put my autonomic nervous system on high alert. Yes, it’s hard, but it’s worth it when I feel normal, like a productive member of my family and society, and I’m not afraid of what I might say or do out of pain or an impulsive fight or flight moment of sensory mayhem. AND…and…and… the best part – I don’t have to take medications – one of the triggers I feel got me into this mess to begin with. I just have to watch what I eat!

This eating plan has also encouraged me to go organic in everything I can, so I splurged and got the organic avocados…actually I sent The Hub. I would have wavered by the 10 for $10 sign posted for the “regular” avocados for too long, and he just gets what’s on the list. Go Aspies!

Well Oh.My.Goodness it was the Best.Move.Ever.

  • They were bigger. Which surprised me because organic apples are tiny compared to some of those monster apples at the store. But the larger size made me feel better about spending 3x as much – almost guilty even because organic ended up being all around the better deal.
  • Believe it or not, they don’t get overripe as fast either. That was also contrary to my previous belief about organic.(Organic bananas last longer too if you cut them at the stem and not break them off at the bunch’s “hub.” fyi).
  • They weren’t as bruised on the inside. Or even at all! Fortunately for me, bruises are just as yummy, but definitely an eye-sore.
  • They taste so much better. Just more flavor. It wasn’t necessarily sweeter, but richer, creamier, and more avocado-ier.
  • They have a much firmer consistency. “Regular” avocados I could only scoop the flesh out with a spoon. I never understood how to dice avocado because they were always so mushy – which was fine for guacamole.

I do believe that all avocados are Super Foods. But I have definitely been won over by organic. I keep them in a brown paper bag until they turn black and “give” in to a gentle squeeze. I like the outside to be black (no green skin allowed – I also do not like green bananas – so if you like green bananas, you might like green avocados) before I cut into them. Unfortunately, this gives them time to get overripe, bruised, and mushy. But this hasn’t been a problem with the organic variety.

Why does organic make a difference?

My belief – which is swayed by reading Michael Pollan and about Joel Salatin – is that organic produce is not hindered by chemical pesticides. Because they have to fend for themselves, they are bigger and better for us naturally. They don’t become “lazy” or “wimpy” foods, but they develop their own immune system (such as thicker skin to prevent bruising or keep pests out) to survive instead of relying on man to do it for them. So they become Superior Foods! (Organic meats on God-intended organic diets in God-intended environments follow this same concept. But that’s probably another blog post for a different time.) Furthermore, the nutrients they develop to fight off diseases are passed on to us – the consumer – and their nutrients help us to fight off diseases too. Thank you, organic super foods! You truly are Superior Foods in my book!

A friend told me to put them into the fridge to stop the ripening process, so that’s what I did and yes, it worked! The avocado pictured below was bag-ripened for about 2 days and then refrigerated for about a week.

Isn’t it beautiful?

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I used a regular knife to halve it, but spoons don’t work so well to scoop out the flesh since it is more firm. I’ve heard of avocado knives before, but found a very functional substitute – the butter knife! It slices them thin and gently “scoops” them out without disturbing the rest of the fruit!

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Here I layered the slices atop a quinoa cracker and topped with some fresh alfala sprouts – direct from the sprouter. I think the sprouts needed a little more sun – they weren’t too green.

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The only thing that would have made this snack more perfect would have been some tomatoes…

about Mug Cakes: a little variation and flavors, please

  • April 14, 2012 7:52 pm

Updated on 4/17/12: Added pictures, courtesy of The Hub, and a warning!

Please refer to my previous post for the Basic Millet Mug Cake recipe.

The Hub wanted in on the mug cake action and since he isn’t on the same diet yet, I made his a little indulgent.

Stage 3: Chocolate Mug Cake

Simply add 1 Tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa (or cacao) to the basic recipe. And follow the rest of the directions.

This is Stage 3 because of the caffeine in the cocoa. For The Hub, I did substitute 1 Tablespoon Grade B Maple Syrup instead of stevia. He seemed quite happy with the results. That would be “Stage 4″ though. Ahem. I know. There is no Stage 4.


Stage 2: Spice Mug Cake

I mixed the following spices in a tiny tupperware container to make sure I had the right ratio.

1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Then I added 1/4 tsp of the mixture to the basic recipe. I think I could have added 1/2 tsp though.


Additional Mix-ins and Toppings:

I’ve had success with these thus far. Try one or more of the following:

  • 1 tsp of finely shredded coconut, unsweetened
  • chopped walnuts (or almonds or pecans) – I mixed these in and I think it made the cake a little lop-sided, BUT it did not affect the taste. I think I will chop them finer next time.
  • 1/2 tsp of whole flaxseed – Be sure to chew these up to get the omega goodness out of them. I recommend sprinkling these on top either immediately before you cook it, or immediately after it is finished cooking.

Update: Spice Mug Cake Results

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Before nuking it. I also added a little bit of coconut and some chopped walnuts.

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Right after “baking.” We tried to get a picture of it rising above the mug inside the microwave, but failed.

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Light, moist, and fluffy texture!

WARNING! Non-egg replacers result in a dense, tacky, oatmeal-like texture. Bleh! I do not recommend!

Future experiments may include pumpkin or zucchini. Any other suggestions?

Still trying to find a bread-like cake for sandwiches, but no such luck. I ended up going to the store and picking up a box of Quinoa crackers and a box of Buckwheat crackers. They are pretty big and wafer-like, so it was sort of like toast.