Snapshot + Recipe: Curry-Roasted Cauliflower with Lentils

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Curry-Roasted Cauliflower with Lentils

1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garam masala (or use more curry powder)

1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion
1 small piece of ginger root

Preheat your oven to 180°C.
Put lentils, halved onion, ginger, salt and broth in a pot and simmer until tender and mashable. (Red lentils will become very soft when cooked, almost like a puree.) Remove the ginger and onion pieces.
Melt coconut oil and mix with salt and spices. Toss the cauliflower florets with the spice mixture and bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned and tender. To serve, toss the roasted cauliflower with the lentil mash and sprinkle with sesame or sunflower seeds.
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Rewind. Relapse?

I recently thought about how very ironic it is that I, probably one of the world’s most impatient people, make my readers wait for months between blog posts.
I would apologize, but I’ve done that so often already and I probably won’t become a dedicated, dependable blogger in the near future so I’ll just congratulate you on your spectacular patience. I wish I were as dedicated to blog reading and writing, but I’m not. There’s a grand total of three blogs I read regularly, and I don’t even keep up with every one of their posts.

“So,” you’re probably wondering, “if she hasn’t posted anything in months, why is she writing this post now?”. Good question.

The truth is that the most urgent reason why I’m typing this right now is that exam period is fast approaching and I’m frantically, desperately procrastinating.
The other less urgent but no less valid reason is that a lot has happened between the last post and this one.

For one thing, there has been a change in the thyroid situation (see here and here for previous posts on the subject) – I switched to a different brand of levothyroxine, was prescribed 150mcg by my new GP and switched back to taking it in the morning. I feel a lot better and I believe it’s due to all of the above. I sleep better and subsequently feel more rested, I have more energy and I feel less depressed overall. The change has been significant enough that I’ve felt comfortable with taking up running again, and that’s improved my mood as well.

Another thing that has happened, that has been happening for quite a while now, is that I’ve very slowly slipped back into disordered eating. It’s not too obvious yet, and nobody noticed, but I’m very glad I caught myself. I am constantly ill at ease with my body, but I’ve managed to hold the disordered eating at bay for the most part… until now.
When I suffered from anorexia nervosa, I was the restrictive type – I did restrict my food intake, but I generally based my restrictions on the type and not the amount of food. I didn’t even count calories until I was taught to do so in inpatient treatment.
This is important because I now struggle with this – I don’t restrict foods as strictly as I did before (though I still don’t eat certain foods) but neither do I restrict the quantity… and that’s the problem, right there. I have major issues with portion control, which stem from my particular pattern of disordered eating. I am perfectly comfortable with not eating anything for 18 hours (from 8pm until 2pm), I won’t even be hungry, but I balance this with eating too much in the afternoon/evening. Now, you might think that this is something similar to ‘intermittent fasting’, which many people practice with great success, and you would be right. For me, though, this pattern is destructive. I’ve already caught myself feeling guilty about listening to my brain and eating something around noon a few times, which makes all kinds of alarms go off in my head.
There is some beautiful irony in this whole scenario, which is that this behaviour was never as strong as it is now, when certain members of my family are denying me certain foods (which they deem ‘weird’ and ‘not normal’) and rather strongly encourage me to eat what they believe is normal food.
It makes sense, of course – their behaviour leaves me with the distinct impression of having to hand over control of my eating habits, which I am not comfortable with at all. This is due to my eating disorder, yes, but also to the way I eat – vegan, high raw diets demand a certain level of mindfulness to be balanced and nutritionally adequate, which I am very aware of.

For now, I manage. I feel okay physically, I make a conscious effort to avoid thinking about food too much (it’s working quite well so far) and I just downloaded Recovery Record, a brilliant (free) app that offers support to people in recovery (get it here).

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As it is currently the last day of #NEDAwareness week, I encourage all of you to reflect on your eating habits now and then – even if you have recovered successfully, relapse is always a possibility. If you know someone who has suffered, is suffering or might be suffering from an eating disorder, offer them support and help them get the help they need.

Orange Cinnamon Rolls

This morning, I woke up and found myself face to face with a crane.

Once I had recovered from that surprise and had ensured that nobody was going to knock my house down or blow up the Earth in an attempt to make way for a hyperspace bypass, I noticed how disgustingly autumnal the weather looked.
You see, I don’t live in one of those places that are all gorgeous and colourful and balmy when the season changes.
No, autumn in my city is characterised by cold, grey, dark weather and constant drizzle, which turns the leaves to mush and moistens the dirt so it sticks to everything. (Preferably me.)
I despise rain and being wet or dirty, so it makes sense that autumn is not one of my favorite seasons.
The thing is… I may despise the weather, but I really enjoy the atmosphere that seeps into every corner when the leaves turn orange to mush. People seek closeness, warmth and comfort, be it in other people, in their homes or in food, and the air carries a subtle hint of melancholy and wistfulness.

I frequently find myself in a state of listlessness as the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, but there are things that I strongly associate with this comfortable, pensive autumnal atmosphere that are guaranteed to snap me out of it… such as baking, for example.
So, when I found myself sighing sadly at the weather this morning, I slipped into the kitchen and cozied up with a cup of coffee and some flour, sugar and cinnamon – is there a spice more strongly associated with autumn than cinnamon? I think not – and made these citrusy cinnamon rolls.

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Orange Cinnamon Rolls 

Dough:

  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup oil (I would not recommend coconut oil, but sunflower seed oil is great)
  • 3/4 cup soymilk (or almond milk)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups flour, as needed

Filling:

  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups almonds (blanched or not, your choice)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • seeds of two cardamom pods (optional)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp hot water, as needed
  • 5 tbsp orange marmalade

Mix the yeast, water and 1 tsp sugar and let stand until foamy.
Add the soymilk, salt, sugar, oil and half of the flour and mix to combine.
Add more flour as needed to achieve a smooth, soft, just barely tacky dough, knead for 5 minutes and let the dough rest for an hour (or until doubled in size) in an oiled bowl.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: place the almonds, sugar, cinnamon and cardamom seeds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.
(You may also chop the almonds/cardamom by hand and then add the sugar and cinnamon. It’s all fine.)
Transfer the almond mixture to a bowl and add the water and orange marmalade.
Once your dough has risen, punch it down to avoid large, irregular air bubbles later on, then let it rest for ten minutes.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough in the shape of a rectangle and evenly spread the filling on top of it.
Add more orange marmalade if you feel like it, then carefully roll it up, cut it into approximately 1-inch pieces and place them cut side down on an oiled baking sheet.
Let the rolls rest for another 45 minutes while you preheat your oven to 190°C/375F, then bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

(You can make a glaze for these from powdered sugar and fresh (strained) orange juice, if you like. I prefer them without, but to each their own.)

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#not dead

Am I the most unreliable blogger in the history of the internet, full of empty promises and lies, or do I just have a subscription to the worst luck imaginable? I’ll let you decide for yourself, but hold your judgement until I’m finished with this post.

So, remember when I told you about how I was going to flood you with recipes and blog posts back in July (in a post I deleted because I hated it)? Well, as you’ve probably noticed I didn’t follow through on that for various reasons. The most important and most paralyzing of those reasons was my health, which wasn’t, shall we say, optimal.
I previously wrote about how great I was feeling with the higher dose of thyroid hormones my GP prescribed me and how my symptoms were slowly going away. As it turns out, I had accidentally been taking 200mcg of levothyroxine instead of 125mcg. I was supposed to be taking one 100mcg pill and one 25mcg pill, but I placed one of the 100mcg blister packs in the 25mcg box by accident and didn’t notice until weeks (?) later, which means I’d been taking 200mcg for an indeterminate amount of time when I wrote that post.
I did feel very good when I wrote that post, especially compared to how miserable I was before, but when I resumed taking 125mcg per my GP’s recommendation (messing around with thyroid hormones can be dangerous), I fell back into that misery, and depression decided to keep me company. It was really bad. I won’t bore you with a list of all the symptoms I had, but trust me, it sucked. As luck would have it, my digestive system decided to run amok around that time, too.

On september 4th, I had an appointment with an endocrinologist. She checked my thyroid, drew some blood and sent me the results a week later (I might write a more detailed post about that), recommending I increase my thyroxine to 137mcg. I did, and felt pretty good about ten days later. The next day (and the days following that day), I felt terrible again. Then I got shingles, thanks to my disastrous immune system, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, a cold and a stomach bug went along for the ride.

Some time in between, I started taking my thyroxine in the evening (no food 2 hours prior to taking it, no food at least an hour after taking it; I usually don’t eat at all after taking it) and it’s helping a bit. It feels like my symptoms are cushioned somewhat – they are definitely still there, but they are not quite as severe as they were before.
It’s entirely possible that I am imagining this, of course, or it might be due to the rather alarming amounts of caffeine and carbohydrates I am consuming lately (because my stomach can handle them reasonably well), I don’t know.

All in all, I think the scale leans more towards the worst luck subscription…

Right now I’m recovering from the shingles/cold/stomach bug attack. I’m spending a lot of time in bed, sleeping or just resting, and the rest of the time I’m anxiously obsessing about my thyroid, school and various other things. Being sick always makes me terribly anxious because I have no way of working off my anxiety – exercising is out because my body really needs a break; studying is out because I can’t concentrate which makes me even more anxious; cooking is out because food isn’t really appealing to me right now and so on. I did manage to concentrate for a bit and read something, so that’s great, and I’m studying russian when I feel like it (in the evening, when all the caffeine I’m consuming catches up with me).

Anyway, I just wanted to let you know why I abandoned this blog for such a long time, I hope you understand.
I hope I will be able to post more frequently in the future, but the only thing I can promise you is that I won’t give up this blog anytime soon, no matter how long it might take me to update.

Thank you for sticking with me, I really appreciate it.

Why my thyroid is kicking my butt

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I might blog about my thyroid and why it’s keeping me fat.
I’m blogging about it now because I realized it’s something I really want to get off my chest and put out there, because there’s always the possibility that it might help or interest someone.

I have hypothyroidism, which means that your body doesn’t produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones. This lowers your metabolic rate (meaning you burn less energy) and gives you a whole host of unpleasant symptoms.

When I first gained weight, I chalked it up to depression and the occasional episode of overeating. I felt terrible, hated myself and had a couple of panic attacks before seeking out a new psychologist. Before I went to see her, I had to have a blood test and she got the results.

After months of unfruitful therapy (she accused me of various things and I was really pissed off at her because of that) and a total weight gain of about 30kg (in 6 months or so), she mentioned that my thyroid levels weren’t quite normal.
I went to see my physician straight away and he prescribed me 25mg of levothyroxine. I took it for a few months, still struggling with depression and self-hatred, and it didn’t change much.
I had another blood test. He increased the levothyroxine to 50mg. I took it for a few months. The weight wouldn’t budge.I had yet another blood test. I got 75mg of levothyroxine, which I’ve been taking until a few days ago, when I had one more blood test.
Apparently, my TSH has risen and continues to rise which isn’t good because it means I’ll have to get tested again and again until we figure out the correct amount of levothyroxine… having blood drawn is extremely stressful and traumatizing for me because I have an intense phobia of needles, so that sucks.
My physician also told me to make an appointment with an endocrinologist to check what might be causing my TSH levels to rise constantly. It could be an autoimmune reaction (which means that my body is destroying my thyroid) or a hormone imbalance or something else, it’s important to get it checked (with another blood test. Of course.).
For now, my levothyroxine has been increased to 100mg for 3 weeks, after that I’ll take 125mg. Those three weeks act as a buffer to help my body adjust.

The main problem I had with gaining weight is that I couldn’t control it. I rapidly gained an enormous amount of weight (shortly after recovering from anorexia, by the way!) and couldn’t do anything to stop it or even slow it down. I exercised, I ate healthy food in appropriate amounts and still gained weight at an incredible speed.
I’ll mention that I was a skinny person for almost all my life, with a minor episode of chubbyness before I became anorexic. I was entirely unprepared and terribly sad because I couldn’t exercise as much as I used to, I had to stop running because my body couldn’t adjust to the weight properly and my joints protested, I had nothing (!) to wear, … it’s traumatizing, seriously. In addition to that, the weight gain also worsened my depression immensely.

Most of you can’t imagine how much I hated myself at the time. I was afraid of leaving the house because everyone knew me as the skinny, spunky, fit girl who had just beaten anorexia, and now I’d gotten fat in a very short time.
It didn’t help that I’d been pulled out of school for a year due to my depression and had to return to school in september.
I was so scared that people who knew me from the three months I spent there before I left would mock me, make fun of me for not having any self-control and getting fat after being so skinny and fit.
(I was bullied as a child, by the way, so I know precisely how cruel kids (and teens) can be.)

You cannot imagine my anxiety, seriously. The only source of self-confidence I ever had was exercise and being fit, and now that had been taken away from me.
I was so scared that I even considered fasting for a few months before returning to school to try and get at least some of the weight off, but I was smart enough not to do so.

When I eventually returned to school, it went slightly better than expected because I knew a girl in my new class from the previous year (she’d chosen to retake the courses) and we became friends, but the people from last year did make fun of me behind my back (I noticed. Obviously.) and I was terribly ashamed of myself. The teachers were ‘nice’ for the most part, but I did notice that some gave me worse oral grades than last year even though I did just as well.

To this day, I don’t dare to wear anything with short sleeves. I don’t wear shorts, skirts or dresses. I pushed myself to buy slim jeans instead of baggy ones a few months ago and still feel very uncomfortable.

I’m incredibly touchy when it comes to thinspo and fitspo because there’s a nasty, irrational little voice in my head that is pissed off at ‘normal’ people for being too lazy to get off their asses and work the weight off, while I can struggle and burn off 1300 calories 4 days a week and it doesn’t change anything. It’s a horrible thing to think, I know, but I can’t help it.
I have episodes where I’m very depressed and sad and wallow in self-pity, then I work hard to motivate myself and I’m good for a couple of weeks, then I notice nothing has changed and I become depressed again. It’s damaging and dangerous and hard to break out of, but I’m determined to fight and eventually overcome it.

I have nothing at all against chubby or overweight (or skinny or muscular) people, by the way. I wouldn’t ever make someone feel bad about their body and am entirely in favor of all the body-love campaigns and movements.
This may sound cliché, but the whole ‘true beauty comes from the inside’ thing really hit home with me, especially as I gained weight.
People come in all shapes and sizes and humanity (or more accurately, society) should accept that and not make people feel bad for being different.

(I’m done now. Really.)

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Blank Canvas.

I just deleted all of my previous blog posts.

There’s no real reason for this, except me being unhappy with the direction this blog was heading in, so I decided to start over.
I will gradually re-upload all of my recipes as well as most of the photos and art I had previously posted on this blog and I’ll also post more of both in the future.

I’ll get to work on reconstructing all of this as soon as possible. In the meantime, enjoy a cup of tea and a mango scone (it’s on the house!) and please be patient with me and my fickleness.