Friday, 23 January 2009


Today (Friday) I made my way down the street for another visit to see my Herbalist. As I'd left with plenty of time to spare I popped into the local sewing shop first, to drop off a pair of jeans that needed mending. I also managed to pick up some squares of felt in Christmas red and green, as well as a rather royal looking purple, all of which will be very useful for finishing ornies in the Prairie Schooler style. :0) As there was still a little time to kill - and I wanted to keep out of the rain - I next headed into the Hospice book shop, where I managed to find.....

Yes, another Barbara Erskine book to add to the pile. LOL Enough time killed, so I headed to Earth Energies.

What a very positive consult it turned out to be! First I gave Jan my food diary sheets and she was really pleased with how my diet was going and the variety of healthy foods I now eat, so it was good to know that is definitely on the right tracks. Next we discussed how my health had been: some days I buzz with energy and get lots done but others aren't so good - on the whole though, there are a number of definite signs of improvement already. Emotionally I feel there are improvements too..... I'm still prone to the occasional off-day but realised whilst discussing it with Jan that I don't seem to be thinking so much of the things that would trigger off bouts of depression/grief/anger. She said I was also coming over as being more confident and positive which, when I mulled it over, I felt was true. Hormonal balance and problems with my monthlies were also talked about and Jan felt this was all linked to the rest: pelvic congestion due to the Candida, which was causing a build up of toxins in my liver - all of which contribute to the high blood pressure etc.

After asking how I felt about tackling the candida and my saying it was time to go for it we discussed how this will be done. The herbal remedy is the first thing: it's now reformulated to include a couple of anti-fungals but will have more herbs to help balance my hormones and to relieve the pelvic congestion and monthly problems. I still have to take 5mg, in water, before each meal but the other remedies are now re-jigged: there's a Chromium Complex tablet after breakfast; then 2 Candaway capsules to take part way through my evening meal (these are full of anti-fungals - a real Candida killer) and the Acidophilus (good bacteria replacement) now has to be taken last thing at night with a glass of milk (has to be taken 2 1/2 hours after the anti-fungal things and can't have it with hot things as they would kill it off, defeating the whole purpose of taking it). It's also the best way of taking them, as it allows everything to work while I'm asleep, so hopefully more toxins and dead Candida will be eliminated first thing. Sounds good to me. I also have to keep my system well flushed through so I have to up my water intake to at least three 500ml bottles full a day and have at least four herbal tea drinks as well. If I thought I was peeing for England before goodness knows what I'll be like after doing that! LOL

Other useful info I got was the name of a coffee alternative (dandelion coffee), which I need to hunt down in a health food store, and details of a proper Candida diet cookery book.

Two other things that Jan did were to weigh me and to take my blood pressure........ and that's where the really good news comes in. When the Nurse at my local GP's weighed me, back when all this first started, I was 15 stone something (can't for the life of me remember those flipping pounds!) and my blood pressure was high and all over the place - so I cut out the take-outs, reduced portion sizes and started eating healthier foods. When Jan got me on the scales on my first visit I'd dropped to 14 stone 9 and my blood pressure reading was 150/97 -whilst the bp was still up those first steps did some good weight-wise. Today, just one month later, my weight was............... drum roll please........... 13 stone 12 and, to cap it all, my bp was down at 136/89. If you add on what I lost before seeing Jan then it has to be at least 1 whole stone lost. How's that for a result? I was so pleased I could have done a Happy Dance all round the consultation room! ROFL

I know there's still a fair ways to go yet and that I will probably feel worse, health-wise, before I feel truly better but this is such a good boost after so much sadness and negativity I can't help but be pleased for now. So please forgive the crowing. LOL

After paying my bill, receiving my new tablets and next bottle of medicine and making the next appointment it was time to tackle another hurdle: a trip even further down the High Street to go to the Post Office and post a couple of parcels. I did it, no problem. :0) On the way home there was a stop off at the grocers to buy some more sugar-free ginger biscuits for DH and some Twinings herbal teas for me - a mix of minty ones this time. A final stop at Tesco for some bits for tea and, as I was celebrating, also treated myself to the latest Cross Stitch Crazy magazine - really couldn't help myself when I saw the Newton chart in there. I'm a sucker for that cute little guy! :0)

After I'd put things away and had my dinner it was time for a trawl on Amazon to find the recommended recipe book:

While I was there I spotted a few more and, after having a good look at them, decided to add this second book to the order as well:

Am hoping they will help me add a few new and interesting meals to my repertoire. ;0) Before all the health problems kicked in I used to really enjoy cooking and baking - it's good to get that enthusiasm for food back, not just for eating it but also for the planning, choosing and cooking. DS enjoys cooking too, so we often potter in the kitchen together, with me doing the prep while he's Chef. It works well - he knows not to give me any lip when I've got a sharp implement in my hand. ;0) LOL

Well that's the end of the news....... and the end of a long and busy day, so that's it for now. Time to be in bed. I had thought we'd be going to the first Mind, Body and Spirit event of the year but realised tonight that I messed up the dates and it was last weekend. Oh well, guess it's the Universe's way of making me save some money and that it's not the right time for another reading. I know Aureen is in at the clinic tomorrow so I may just ring first thing and see if she can fit me in for another Reiki treatment.

Have a good weekend all. :0)

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Before my SIL, Helen, passed away in March 2007 - not long after her 40th birthday - an operatic friend of hers came up with the idea of a recipe book to be printed and sold as a fundraising effort for Treetops Hospice in Derbyshire. As Helen not only loved cooking (as well as singing) and had received much help from Treetops and their staff she was very enthusiastic about the idea and saw it as a way of giving back a little of what she had received.

As big trees grow from little acorns, so this small seed of an idea grew and, when we visited MIL and FIL at the New Year, we held the final result in our hands:

Inside Helen's Book are not only tributes to Helen but 33 assorted recipes under the headings of: overtures; curtain up and finales. Each one was collected from her operatic friends and colleagues, as well as there being a contribution from both Senor Jose Carreras and Miss Jo Brand. There's a little about each contributor below each recipe. The best thing is that, thanks to some very generous donations/help with the printing 100% of the cost of the book is profit for Treetops. :0)

There are some very tasty recipes in there (many of which I currently can't try - oh, well) though I do fancy the sound of the butternut squash soup........ but without the crusty bread. LOL

MIL and FIL are delighted with the book, have endorsed it and, due to the publicity it's been receiving, they even have people they know phoning them up to ask if they can order a copy! Helen would be so happy at how this is going and at how much will eventually be raised by it.

It's good to know that something so positive can come out of what was such a devastating loss. :0)

Friday, 16 January 2009


Since starting the new diet I've been eating all kinds of healthier foods and one of the mainstays of mealtimes for me are whole grains, instead of the usual potatoes or pasta. Whilst grains are better for you they can be a tad unexciting so I've been experimenting a little on different ways to cook them, to make them more interesting. I thought I'd share a couple of things with you.

Cous Cous - though my DH will eat it on occasion my DS likens it to eating sawdust. LOL

Measure out the amount of quick cook cous cous you want and put in a bowl, along with 1 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a crushed garlic clove. Give it a quick stir before adding the recommended amount of hot fluid (I usually add hot water but you can use vegetable or chicken stock) and leave it to stand as per packet instructions. Stir again, fluffing the grains with the fork - then serve as an accompaniment to fish or meat. Very simple but it does add a little more taste. :0) A sprinkle of ginger, paprika or cinnamon would give it a little added kick too.

Brown Rice - again DH will eat it but DS doesn't like it.

This rice takes much longer to cook than Basmati, so it needs a bit of planning, but the nuttier taste makes it well worth it. Boiled brown rice can be a bit boring so I downloaded a baked rice recipe from the net and adapted it to meet the food restrictions I have to follow. Here's what I came up with:

Ingredients: 1 cup of brown rice; 2 1/2 cups of veg stock (Kallo yeast free cube used, from Health Food Shop); 1 onion, finely chopped; butter, for frying onion; paprika.

Method: fry the onion in the melted butter until just going soft; add the rinsed brown rice and saute until onions start to brown; add stock and bring to boil; add paprika, to taste (or you can use ginger or cinnamon or curry powder - whatever your preference) and stir. Transfer all to a lidded casserole dish then bake in the top of the oven at 350 Degrees or Gas Mark 4 for around 1 to 1 1/2 hours (depends on your oven). Stir a couple of times during cooking - ensures everything stays mixed (rice sinks to the bottom and stays there otherwise). Serve with meat or fish and veg or salad.

I got really inventive the other day and made an eggy stir-fry mix as a filler to tortillas - an easy and quick meal for two before we went to see the Pantomime at our local theatre. I enjoyed it so much I shall be having it again. :0)

Ingredients: a pack of garlic tortillas (get mine from Aldi); a pack of Chinese Style stir fry mix (Tesco - enough in there to fill six tortillas); 3 medium eggs; 2 slices of cooked sandwich ham; milk; butter; black pepper.

Method: tear the slices of ham into smallish pieces. Next break the eggs into a bowl, add milk (to suit your taste), a little black pepper and whisk. In a frying pan melt the butter, then add a third of the stir fry pack to the pan; saute, stirring continually, until everything is warmed through; add half the ham pieces and fry until everything is warmed through thoroughly; pour in half the egg mixture and continue stirring - this isn't an omelette, so the aim is to scramble the eggs and combine them through the veg and ham. Meantime heat two tortillas, which should be sprinkled with a little water first, in the microwave - about 1min 25secs on High in a 650w oven. Share the mix between the two tortillas and wrap. Repeat all steps for the next two tortillas. Eat warm. :0)

There will be a third of a pack of the stir fry veggies left over for another day - or you can add another egg (or two) to the bowl, along with a little more milk, and another slice of ham and make up enough for six tortillas. Or, if you're really hungry, you could just split the pack between two of you and really stuff those tortillas! LOL A variation for those without dietary restrictions: add a little of your favourite cheese, grated, to the pan just before adding the eggs.

Butternut squash was new to me until recently and here's one of my favourite ways of cooking it.

Ingredients: 1/2 of a large butternut squash; 1 red or yellow bell pepper; 1 large red onion; 8 or so small cherry tomatoes (or 4 slightly larger ones, cut in half); around 5 garlic cloves; extra virgin olive oil; dill seeds; ground black pepper. A large, reasonable deep baking sheet or roasting pan.

Method: peel and deseed the butternut squash then dice into about 1cm chunks and spread over the baking sheet. Next top and deseed the pepper, chop into approx 1" pieces and spread over the squash. Prepare the onion and slice it into small wedges and spread that over the mix. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them into 3 or 4 pieces (depends on the size of them) and dot the pieces throughout the veg mix. Wash the cherry tomatoes and pop those on top of the mix and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the dill seeds, to your preference, and grins a little black pepper over that. Pop into the top of a pre-warmed oven at Gas Mark 6 (sorry, don't know the electric oven settings). It usually take around 25 - 30 minutes to cook through but you can leave it a little longer if you like the veggies a little crispier around the edges. Enjoy!

I shall keep on trying out different recipes and experimenting. Who said a healthy eating regime with dietary restrictions had to be boring? LOL

Tuesday, 6 January 2009


It was my second visit to the Herbalist back on the 30th December. I took in another filled in questionnaire with me, on which I'd had to mark down grading scores for symptoms I have and how they affect me, and from that Jan was able to add up the points to 187. She'd expected me to be somewhere between the 150 and 200 point mark, from the information I'd given her the first time, and it was further confirmation that I do have the candida fungus in my gut. It also gave her a chance to assess how I was doing after my first few weeks on the herbal medicine and how well I'd settled into the changes to my diet.

Apart from a glitch over the festive season, when it was two roast duck dinners with all the trimmings two days on the trot (Christmas Day and Boxing Day) and a weekend with a tuna melt pannini and two cappuccinos I'd been doing OK. When Jan questioned the two cappuccinos in one weekend I gave her a big smile and told her the reasoning behind that was that I hadn't had one the previous weekend so....... and laughed. She saw the funny side and laughed too then reminded me that it didn't quite work like that. No worries, as I told her: though I'd enjoyed those things at the time I wouldn't be doing it again - I'd felt a bit off by Monday and it was actually a relief to go back to the plainer food again. I guess something must be working then. :0)

The upshot from that consult is that I'm now on acidophilus capsules once a day (replacing the dying candida with good bacteria - thankfully the chronic indigestion I had when first starting them is now easing), as well as the Chromium Complex and herbal medicine. I've also started the full-on candida killing diet which I'll be on for the next two weeks, which means no:
Sugar, dextrose, glucose, maltose or artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharin, nutrasweet, canderal etc; Honey, molasses, jams, preserved fruits, fruit juices, canned fizzy drinks; Sweets, cakes, chocolate, etc; Dairy products: milk, cheese, cream, buttermilk, sour cream; Bread, rolls, pitta bread,croissants,doughnuts etc; Stuffing,rusk (in sausages etc) or breadcrumbs; Marmite,Bovril,vegemite,oxo, and most other prepared stocks; Processed meats and fish; Peanuts and pistachios; Alcohol; Mushrooms or fungi (guess that means the magic mushrooms are out then ;0) LOL); Vinegar, pickles, ketchup, chutneys, relishes, salad dressings, horseradish, mint sauce, mustard, HP sauce, soya sauce; Gravy powder; Fruit; Malt,malted drinks, malted cereals; Monosodium glutamate (E621), Sodium sulphite (E221) - a preservative, used as a decontaminating agent in fresh orange juice, and during sugar refining ; Food supplements - unless advised by practitioner; Anything that may have been fermented;
Tea or coffee.

Bet you're thinking that doesn't leave much to live on - I know I did at first. LOL But what I can eat is:
Wholegrain cereals (good job I like porridge oats!); Soda bread, ryvita crackers, rice cakes, oat cakes, matzos, some chapattis (check ingredients); Beef, lamb, pork, poultry, fish, seafood; All vegetables and salads except mushrooms; Almonds, cashews and pecans (so can use nut butters); Seeds and pulses - ie. Sesame, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chick peas and lentils; Eggs; Herbal and fruit teas, cereal coffees; Olive oil - contains Oleic acid which has antifungal properties - add to salad as a dressing; Garlic - sliced finely on cooked vegetables or crushed and added to salads (there ain't a vampire within a 10 mile radius of me! LMAO); Yeast free bread (so far I've only found some tortillas); Vegetable juices - especially carrot and beetroot. After the two weeks I can reintroduce the berries on my porridge and the mid-afternoon apple, plus have kiwi, papaya and mango.

Basically it's returning to a more natural, Stone Age style diet which is far better for us than the mostly processed foods most of us eat.

I think it's remembering to read packet labels of ingredients before buying anything that is the biggest pain, as that makes food shopping a rather longer business these days, although doing it online in the comfort of your own home makes things a little standing around involved. LOL On the other hand, I've discovered: I like fennel as a veg; butternut squash is tasty too; beetroot tastes much sweeter when left in it's skin, cut into wedges, sprinkled with a little olive oil and then roasted on a tray in the oven (Yum!); though brown rice takes longer to cook it's worth the extra effort, as it's got more flavour; I can have a sandwich without using bread - Aldi garlic tortilla wraps make a very tasty alternative when you can't have anything with yeast in it; I don't have to have meat and two veg swimming in gravy and, yes, you can get through a cold winter whilst eating salads instead of stodge......... although I do seem to be feeling the cold more at times but the Damart cardi and thermals are helping that. ;0)

Jan kindly gave me a couple of recipe sheets: some for yeast/sugar free scones, biscuits and the like, so I shall be getting back into the baking again soon, and some for other foodstuffs....... although I think I'll be giving those buckwheat pancakes a miss, as they sound rather nasty.

I go back to see Jan again on the 23rd of this month and she'll then change the herbal medicine to one that will have more anti-fungal properties, to really start sorting things out. Am hoping that doesn't mean yet more indigestion, as that's been bad enough already, and it's pretty scarey when it starts hurting enough to make me wonder if I'm about to have a flippin' heart attack! Still, all this will be well worth it in the long run. :0)

Lynn: if you've ever had a blood test for an under-active thyroid which has come back normal (which is what happened to me a few years ago), then it's pretty likely you have candida problems because the symptoms are just about identical. Don't expect a GP to take it seriously though, as most of them don't recognise it as a problem, let alone test for or treat it. Jan told me that when cancer specialists open up patients with colon cancer the vast majority of them are usually riddled with candida fungus - yet it isn't recognised as a contributory factor.
That's where alternative therapy practitioners come in: they seem to be the only ones who recognise it as a genuine health problem and offer treatment for it.

Jane: are you still thinking about having Reiki treatment? If so I will try and remember to ask at the Clinic how you can find a reputable/qualified practitioner in your area and let you know.