Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cranberry Orange Muffins

The first week of my new lifestyle change has not gone as well as I had hoped.  I have been having an immense amount of jaw pain for the past week, maybe week and a half.  Last week I started grinding my teeth in my sleep, which is something I had not done since I was a child!  I felt like I used to feel when I would get my braces tightened, years ago.  Every single tooth felt like it was mildly loose, and my jaw was a bit sore.  Originally I thought it was the effects of having eaten more nuts and pretzels than I usually do in my every day life, but after speaking with a dental hygienist I was informed that it sounded like I was grinding my teeth.

After a couple of days, my teeth stopped hurting, but my jaw was still in pain.  I tried putting wet towels in the microwave and holding them against my jaw, which actually felt's just not something one can do all throughout their day since microwaves aren't portable.  On my way home from one of my jobs the other day (yes, I'm a workaholic), I couldn't take the pain and stopped by my other job on the way home, which happens to be a therapeutic massage clinic.
The 30-minute focus massage on my face was very painful.  There are a couple of different ways you can do a TMJ massage, or get it done on you. TMJ occurs as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and/or surrounding facial muscles, which I have not been professionally diagnosed with, but dangit that seems like what I've got going on!  The massage therapist I had that day only did one form of TMJ massage, where he massaged the muscles in my cheeks, chin, jaw line, and neck.  The other way to do TMJ massage involves the massage therapist putting on gloves and massing inside of your mouth.  Both types are painful, but can be effective.

The pain has been so bad that I haven't had the will to exercise.  Hopefully next week I'll have less TMJ pain and discomfort, or at least get used to the pain so I can carry on without the limitations it causes.  I know in my case it probably has to deal with my anxiety and stress levels.  Oftentimes I do not even realize that I'm stressed or having symptoms of anxiety until I get a full blown panic attack.  I've been wanting to start going to therapy to see if we can curb some of it or at least get me to the point where I know I'm stressing out, because it's almost always over little things that aren't going to make a big impact.

During this painful week, I had purchased some fruit that I intended to use for healthy snacking, so I decided to make cranberry orange muffins.  I didn't have fresh cranberries, so I used craisins, which turned out okay, but I think I would have preferred the strong tartness of fresh cranberries more-- note to self, for next time! These muffins were rather tasty, but I feel like I could do better next time, seeing as this was my first attempt at making these muffins!

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar (or equivalent of whatever sweetener you so choose)
1 Halo orange
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1/2 cup orange juice (I used what I had on hand, which was full sugar Minute Maid OJ)
1/2 cup organic extra virgin coconut oil (or butter or margarine)
1 cup craisins


Cut the orange into wedges and place in blender along with orange juice; blend until pureed.  

Add the egg and oil and continue to blend.

In large bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder; create small dent in the top of the dry ingredients.

Add sugar to wet ingredients and stir with a spoon.

Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  

Add the vanilla and mix until blended.

Stir in the craisins.

In either a greased muffin pan or a muffin pan with cupcake liners, fill cups 3/4 the way.

Bake in oven (preheated) to 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Muffins are ready when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Enjoy with a cup of coffee!

Let me know how these turned out and how they tasted!  Did you make any adjustments to the recipe to suit your own tastes?  Any comments are more than welcome, below!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Don't Call It A Comeback, I Been Here For Years

Today felt like spring, and with spring comes new beginnings.  I deleted all my previous posts on this blog and I'm starting fresh.  I was never consistent with anything on the original blog, so I decided that with my new lifestyle change, that I will be consistent in my posting.  Let's start with a re-introduction!

My name is Jasmine, but most people just call me Jaz.  I am very particular about nearly everything, including the fact that I get very angry when people spell my name "jazz" like the musical genre.  Why?  I couldn't tell you! Now, on to the reason we are here today, starting fresh!  My lifestyle change!

In 2010 I suffered from a massive stroke; i was 24 years old.  I had three blood clots in my brain and after three days unconscious in the hospital, untreated (I was just pumped with fluids, the doctors thinking it was a drug overdose causing my comatose state) my brain began to hemorrhage, or bleed.  After a month in the hospital and a month in recovery I, miraculously, was almost back to normal.   

After finding out that I have a Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase compound heterozygous genetic polymorphism, abbreviated to MTHFR A1298C C677T (yes it's a mouthful, and yes it took months for me to get it down perfectly!), I had to make some changes to my life.  Everyone always asks if it was my blood pressure or cholesterol that caused me to have a stroke, but no, that was not the case.  MTHFR is a lot of different things, it can cause many different chronic illnesses and autoimmune diseases, amongst other things, but one of the main things it is, in my case at least, is thrombophilia.  Thrombophilia basically means that I get chronic blood clots.

Like many other twentysomething year old women, I was on  The Pill at that point in  my life, unaware of my MTHFR mutations.  Nearly every form of birth control pill will tell you that "if you or anyone else is your family has ever had a blood clot, do not take (insert brand name here)".  I was not educated in my family history, had I been, I most likely wouldn't have been misdiagnosed.  My grandmother on my father's side died from a stroke, my great-grandma on my mother's side died from a stroke, and my paternal aunt, Aunt Beverly, suffered a stroke in her thirties.  Red flag! Red flag!  

After my stroke I was put on blood thinners for six months.  During that six month span, two months after the stroke, I developed a Pulmonary Embolism.  For those of you who don't know what that is, it is the number one cause of sudden death.  You can develop a blood clot in any area of your body and if it dislodges and travels through your veins and winds up in your lungs, that is a pulmonary embolism.  

Pulmonary Emboli, or PE, as those of us who have had them or work in the medical field like to refer to them, are horrible little beasts.  I never realized before I had one, but apparently the air you breathe in and out travels through your veins.  When there is a blockage in your veins in your lungs, it makes it difficult to breathe.  I only had one PE, so I was lucky.  Along with having difficulty breathing, you can also get light headed, dizzy, faint, become fatigued 90% of the time, or drop dead.  

Like my stroke my PE went undiagnosed.  I was making weekly trips to the Hematologist (blood doctor) by this point in time to check the levels of my blood-- basically they check to see if my blood thinners are working-- and I was seeing the nurse practitioner each time I went.  I told her my symptoms, that I was becoming rather anxious a lot, I felt like I could never catch my breath, even when I was laying down, I was having sharp pains in my back and in my chest on one side. and for two weeks she continuously told me that she would continue to monitor the symptoms.  

After going over two weeks still not being able to breathe and not knowing why, I demanded an appointment with my doctor instead of the nurse practitioner.  He immediately wrote me a prescription for a CT Scan, which I was unaware you could write prescriptions for such a thing, and sent me to the hospital.  Not having insurance I decided not to go.  A week later I received a phone call from my doctors office, asking what my scans showed, and I had to confess I hadn't gotten them done.  The nurse who called me told me I needed to go that day and get it taken care of.  

I called the hospital to see how to go about scheduling a CT or whether I could just walk in and I was told I needed an appointment.  The woman who I was on the phone with asked me my symptoms and I told them to her and she told me to just come and they would fit me in, because those are not symptoms to be ignored. Begrudgingly, I went to the hospital and got my scans, and as I was waiting for my results I was told to call my doctor immediately.  After calling my doctors office, I was told to come in immediately.  I went in and was told that I had the PE.  Obviously the first thing i did was google it, and that is the last thing you want to do when you have a PE!  The first thing I read was that it's the number one cause of sudden death in America, so for the next two months I barely slept, thinking I was going to drop dead in my sleep... I tend to have a flair for the dramatics at times, I admit haha!

Since my second clotting episode (that we know of) happened while I was on anticoagulants, I was informed that I would not be on the Coumadin for six months any longer.  I was now to be on them for life.  The thing with Coumadin is that everything you consume or do can effect it.  I can't start taking a new vitamin or begin a new workout regimen without having to make an additional appointment at my hematologists, to monitor the change in my blood levels. 

The biggest thing that will mess up your levels easiest is your diet.  Vegetables are the enemy.  Almost all veggies, and I'm seriously talking about 90%+, have vitamin K.  Everyone always asks if I can have bananas and I tell them, you're confusing vitamin K with Potassium, which is the letter "K" on the periodic table of elements hahaha!  Vitamin K works against blood thinners, because one of it's main purposes is to promote blood coagulation.  People with thrombophilia don't need any help with that!

Any doctor will tell you not to change your diet and to just adjust your medication to your diet, not vice versa.  I continued eating veggies and getting my blood checked, and my blood was reading therapeutic every time, it was great!  Except that, one month later is when I was diagnosed with my PE.  From that moment on, I made the decision to keep my vitamin K to a minimum no matter what the doctor says.  I'm just way too paranoid- but really, can you blame me??

After removing most veggies from my diet, I gained a decent amount of weight, and I'm now trying to get myself back to a healthy weight, and a better hourglass figure. Most importantly, I want a big, fat Beyonce booty.  That is very important to me!  I know this means there will be many squats in my future, but I can handle that (I hope!).

Basically this blog will follow my journey to a healthier life, and I'm really excited about it.  I'm trying to exercise regularly, and eat more healthy foods.   Ideally, I would like to be eating only whole, and organic foods.  Currently, that's not feasible, organic food is like three times the price of the antibiotic ridden chicken!  My job doesn't pay that well, all of my money would be going towards food!  I know I am my own big investment, but goodness, that's a lot of money for food.

Well, now it's nearly one in the morning, so I should be getting to sleep now!  I took a Benadryl, so hopefully I sleep well!  I hope you're looking forward to more entries, coming soon! Also, I hope you enjoyed my ramblings of the evening!  Goodnight y'all!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Jamaican Rum + Cupcakes = :)

Wow so I definitely have not posted a blog entry in a good six months   All the planning and excitement of my birthday distracted me back in April, and my birthday and party wasn’t even until the end of May.  But let me tell you, it was freakin' awesome!  Then, in the beginning of August that marked my One year of survival from the thrombotic and hemorrhagic stroke I suffered in 2010, which was a super exciting occasion :) I had two celebratory dinners, one with some friends at Carrabba's, which, i LOVE their Spiedino de Mar (scallops and shrimp lightly breaded in Italian breadcrumbs, sauteed and drizzle with lemon butter sauce) it's amazing...  Mmm...   Then, another night, with other friends, we went to Mimi’s CafĂ©, which I generally love because it’s the only restaurant that serves pot roast and steamed white rice, but the pot roast was extra fatty and not so awesome on that night; bummer, but whatever, it was still nice.  In  September I was busy baking cheesecakes and putting all the profits towards St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital– I raised $1,031 in five weeks!   I was unable to participate in the festivities last year, because I was in the hospital and then in recovery, so I had to make up for lost time.  As you can see, I have still been baking, just not blogging about it, whoops :) So we’ll get back in the swing of things with some fall based baking, soon.
Today I’m not doing any sort of seasonal baking, but I do, however, need to make some Appleton’s Cupcakes.  A month or two back, I had a friend ask me to make some Vanilla-Rum cupcakes for her sister’s baby shower (I know, rum cupcakes at a baby shower are not the norm), so I did, however, she then forgot to tell me when she needed them and so I created the recipe for nothing.   I bought the rum for nothing, we all know I do not drink– and if I happen to indulge, it’s going to be a good Riesling or Moscato, not liquor   Oh, how I love a good German wine...
Okay, enough getting sidetracked, it’s someone’s birthday today, and that is the kind of treat he wants for his birthday.  He is turning 13 today, but don’t fret, when you cook and/or bake with liquor it cooks out the alcohol content, so no one will be getting a buzz off these.   I call them Appleton’s Cupcakes because I use Appleton’s Jamaican rum in them (along with some rum extract).  I use the “gold” or dark rum, not the white, since I feel as though the flavor doesn’t have as strong of a presence as the gold, and since that’s where most of the flavor is coming from (the rum), it needs a strong presence.

Appleton’s Cupcakes

3 Cups All-purpose flour
2 Cups granulated sugar
3 Teaspoons baking powder
1 Teaspoon kosher salt
1 Cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt (sour cream)
1 Cup unsalted butter
½ Cup of Appleton’s Dark Rum (or any other dark rum)
2 Large or extra large eggs
4 Yolk from large or extra large eggs
2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon of vanilla bean paste
1 Teaspoon rum extract

Preheat the over to 350 degrees; then set out all chilled ingredients so they can become room temperature.
Using a flour sifter, whisk or sieve, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set to the side.
The bowl of your standing mixer (in a bowl with a handheld mixer) put the (room temperature) butter and sugar and cream together for ninety seconds or until white and fluffy.  
Add the Greek yogurt and mix until incorporated.
Add the eggs and egg yolks to the creamed mixture and beat until just incorporated.
In three additions, add the dry ingredients, mixing well after each addition.
Finally, add the Rum, extracts, and paste and beat thoroughly.
Fill 24 paper-lined cups about 3/4 full and bake for approximately 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the cupcakes comes out clean.
After letting the cupcakes cool for about five minutes in their pan, remove them and let cool completely on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.  
For an even more prominent rum flavor, you can brush the tops of the cupcakes with more rum before icing them :)
Since I am never satisfied with icing I make from scratch, I didn’t even bother, with these :) There’s no shame in my game, I admit I took a large can of Vanilla Buttercream Icing and put it in a mixing bowl with a half teaspoon of rum extract, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, and two tablespoons of rum and mix together with my stand mixer.  It makes the icing fluffier, tastier, and it goes with the theme of the cupcakes   Simple, too.  One day I will actually take the time to perfect my icing, but that day has yet to come.  I really just don’t have the patience to do it, currently, and I don’t feel like wasting the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar.  Eff that mess, this works just fine!
So since I’ve slacked so much in the past half of the year, I will be trying to do at least two or three blog entries a week... but we’ll see if I remember to do that, haha, keep your fingers crossed for me!