Two years ago yesterday, Scott and I pulled up to an empty apartment in Denver with our moving truck. You can read more on our crazy story of how that came to be here, but today I’m going to mention something I haven’t before. Along with that move came something else, something I wasn’t sure existed and ended up changing my life. I was sick. Not an I don’t feel well and need to take a pill for 2 weeks kind of sick. A real sickness where something inside of me was eating away at my health. I began losing wait, my hair was thinning, the stomach pains grew more severe, and the dizziness began. Two weeks after moving to Denver I hit publish here on Faring Well for the first time. In the midst of the increased nausea, fatigue, pain, exhaustion, and my thinning frame – I kept my head held high in this space and wrote and cooked as if nothing was wrong.
Eight months later, countless doctors visits, blood tests, and treatments done, I finally stumbled into a naturopath’s office who actually listened to me. She helped me narrow down the possibilities to a vicious parasite, something no western medicine doctors had previously considered (surprisingly). My red and white blood cell counts were so low she advised me to wear a mask whenever I left the house. I shrugged off that last part, feeling as though I had made it this far without an infection, and decided to embrace the parasite cleanse (and picked up some iron supplements too). A month later to the day, I woke up and for the first time didn’t feel progressively weaker. This decrease in strength was something I had experienced for so long that the absence of it brought me to tears. The following day I hopped on a plane and headed to NYC for the Saveur Blog Awards, positively beaming. Something, anything, had shown to have an effect on my illness.
I began to feel stronger day by day, and after several months could see the color coming back to my skin and my hair growing out a bit thicker at the roots. I also started to gain weight, something I struggle with mentally as you know from a previous post. But I kept at it, trying to put my health first and figure out how to more fully equip my body’s defense system against parasites, amongst other things. Here I am a year after beginning recovery. I hit my healthy goal weight a few months back, and now having surpassed that goal, I’m on the flip side – trying to figure out how to slow my body from still gaining weight, healthily. It’s been almost four weeks since my last run due to the slow healing of the pinched nerve in my lower back, and I’ve begun to have other digestive issues and allergic reactions to foods that never bothered me before. Sigh.
(Side note: I’m seeing a new doctor here in California who found another parasite and has ordered several other tests. I am in the midst of doing them now alongside taking a few homeopathic remedies that were prescribed. Fingers crossed!)
But if you can wrap your head around this all with me and come full circle, I’m actually sitting here writing this post with my heart full of joy. Despite my struggle with this new-to-me body at times, with the weight gain and chopping off of my long (and once healthy) hair, this bout with sickness and injury has lead to such wonderful discovery. A re-uniting with food, and how it heals and brings excitment into my life. A challenge to discover new ways to exercise and push my body like I had’t considered before. A new flow, a new normal (or no normal). I’m able to see the limitations I put on myself in the past. How I chose to run and only run because I new it would make me thin. Now it no longer does, I’ve plateaued and have to seek other forms of exercise (which has been tough, but also very fun). I look forward to running again soon – but for the joy of it, and as just one of the many forms of exercise I hope to do in order to stay healthy.
The last big limitation revealed to me is in the realm of food. As a food blogger you would think I have a very exciting “eating life”. But to the contrary, with the mental limitations I put on myself (many of these being valid due to physical upsets different foods have brought me) I’ve eaten a very bland and predictable diet. With the occasional bite of something created for the blog from time to time to sooth a craving and test my work. Granted I have wanted to sink my teeth into every recipe I make on repeat, but I was scared. Scared of what my body might do with more than just a bite or small portion. Scared of how my body might look. Constantly passing the plate to my husband to finish for me. But today, friends, I’m confessing this to you and saying NO MORE. Food is nourishment. It is exciting, it is fueling, and it is healing. Today I sit down and eat the food I prepare, by making sure that I create something I can eat without consequence. I am teary-eyed thinking of how I have enjoyed the nourishment and happiness that comes from exploring foods that make me feel incredible the past few days. This is how I use to be – before the sickness, before the bland repetitiveness formulated out of fear.
I have more to say on this all, but need to stop here for today. In the end, this is a cheery post I am writing to you. My sweet readers who melted my heart the other week with your comments and uplifting messages. For any of you suffering from illness, whether it be mental or physical, here is me giving you a hug today and lifting you up. May your struggles reveal a gift, specific to you, as mine have done for me recently. And hear this: even in the midst of pain, in the midst of healing when you are still hurting, you can see the glimmer of light in it all. Even if it is at times dim. I have, and still do, experience light and dark moments throughout this healing process. But the light are beginning to outweigh the dark. On the outside I always radiate happiness, but on the inside a battle ensues. I’ve let the dark win for too long, and am taking back my body and mind – one hour at a time. I’m excited to share with you the meals that come from this major life shift, starting with this one today. See the notes attached to the recipe below for more details, and be well folks. – xx
Ps. I started a new mini series called “kitchen scraps” if you missed it, see the first and second posts so far. And you can watch me make my new favorite bulletproof golden milk on Nom today at 12pm PST too if you’d like to tune in!
FALL ROASTED VEG + CREAMY BALSAMIC & SAGE HEMP SAUCE
Makes 2 snacking servings of vegetables, and 4 servings of sauce.
creamy balsamic & sage hemp sauce
1/3 cup raw hemp seeds
1/3 cup filtered water
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 large, fresh sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 small garlic clove, or 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
Fill a saucepan on the stove with an inch of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot and cover. Bring to a boil while you trim and slice the brussel sprouts in half. Place the sprouts in the basket, cover, and reduce heat to medium-high to keep the water simmering. Let steam for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and set aside. Trim the ends of the delicata squash and slice in half. Use a large metal spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice each half of squash into 1/2 inch thick pieces and place on the baking sheet, evenly spaced.
Scrub the sunchoke under running water to remove any dirt, and pat dry. Slice into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick pieces using a mandolin or very sharp knife. Evenly space on the baking sheet as well.
Now add the steamed brussel sprouts to she sheet in the remaining space, squeezing as many in as you can (and popping a few in your mouth as you go for a little snack).
Lightly spray the vegetables with this avocado oil (or lightly drizzle with oil of your choice, toss, and re-space again on the sheet). Sprinkle the vegetables with sea salt, and pop them in the oven. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes without flipping or stirring. The edges of the squash and sunchoke should be golden, and the brussels’ slightly crisped.
Place the ingredients for the hemp sauce in a high speed blender. Blend on low, increasing to high and letting run for 10 seconds (or longer if using a standard blender). The sauce should be creamy and smooth.
Serve the roasted vegetables warm from the oven with a side of sauce for dipping, or drizzled on top. Extra sauce can be stored in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to one week.
NOTE: Thanks to my sweet friend Jeannette from @shutthekaleup, I have discovered a way to love roasted brussel sprouts (YAY). The secret she taught me was to give them a quick steam before roasting! It truly gives the sprouts the most wonderful texture. Sunchokes are another vegetable I have fallen for this week. They remind me of parsnips in both flavor and texture, and cook up like little potato rounds. Lastly, what would a fall roast be without my favorite delicata squash. It’s subtle sweetness and creamy baked consistency balances out the other two vegetables perfectly. And this sauce – this sauce! If nothing else, give it a whirl and be prepared for your taste buds to throw a little autumn party.