Nothing I Make Ever Looks Like the Picture

There’s nothing I enjoy more than spending a bunch of time and using a ton of expensive ingredients, only to end up with a shameful embarrassment of a food.  I have decided to post these failures more often, because if the internet can’t laugh at me, who will?

This past weekend, I was invited to a “cookie party” and decided to bake grain free gingerbread cookies.  The recipe? Paleo Gingerbread Cookies by Bill Staley and Hayley Mason from The Food Lovers Kitchen. If you haven’t seen their cookbook, Make it Paleo, you should check it out, because it’s a great book full of amazing photography.

These are their gingerbread cookies:

© The Food Lovers Kitchen

Cute, right?

My first mistake was probably using blackstrap molasses.  The batter was very dark and sticky, and it was almost impossible to cut out shapes.

Not chocolate.

I had to keep it in the fridge for much longer than the recipe said, but the batter was still warming up too fast when I rolled it out, so I could only get 1 or 2 hilariously deformed shapes out of it before it turned into the mush pictured above.

My boyfriend had the brilliant idea of covering the rolled out batter with ice packs, and only uncovering small parts at a time to cut shapes.  It worked very well, and I was able to get several disfigured men into the oven.

Then I burnt them.

I mean, seriously, what is this?

“SOMEBODY LOVE ME.”

One of my friends pointed out that this is basically the botched Ecce Homo painting of gingerbread cookies.  Although, it did taste like it probably would have tasted good if it weren’t burnt.  (That’s right, I ate it.)

In summary, let’s compare:

ORIGINAL.

Potato Jesus Cookie

MINE.

I’m basically Martha Stewart you guys.

I changed my blog name.

As you may have noticed, I changed my blog name and domain! Formerly lifeiwant.com.

The old name was always meant to be temporary until I thought of something I actually liked, it just took me over a year to think of something.

This name came up several months ago when someone congratulated me on relinquishing my vegetarianism and becoming an omnivore, and I just replied “omnomnomnivore”, which I then realized was stupid but hilarious and perfectly fitting for my blog.  I found out later that it’s already the name of a Threadless t-shirt, but oh well.

Whoop-dee-doo.

Living Well with Hypothyroidism

A post on Stop the Thyroid Madness led me to this woman’s blog post about how well she feels taking natural thyroid hormone vs. levothyroxine (Synthroid).  I thought it might be a good time to review how I’ve been feeling.

When I started this blog, I was feeling pretty awful.  I had been taking Synthroid for about 8 months, and my doctor told me that my TSH was normal, so any symptoms I might be experiencing weren’t actually symptoms, they were psychological problems.  Here are a few of the biggest symptoms I was experiencing:

  • Extreme fatigue (at its worst, I was sleeping about 18+ hours a day)
  • Serious depression, mood swings, anxiety, and general crankiness
  • Choking feeling / pressure and occasional pain in my neck
  • All-over soreness like I did the hardest workout of my life the day before, and constantly aching joints
  • Heart palpitations
  • Inability to exercise (as soon as my heart rate went up, I would get dizzy and feel like I was going to pass out, or my hands would go numb)
  • Inability to do my job (as a photographer, I didn’t have enough energy or strength to be on my feet for hours at a time, and I couldn’t book things in advance because I didn’t know how I would feel)
  • Weakness, especially in the upper body
  • Weight gain and a complete inability to lose weight no matter how hard I tried
  • Getting a cold/flu every few weeks
  • Daily headaches and frequent migraines
  • Dry skin, hair, and nails; nails that break like they’re made of paper and a ton of hair loss

It took four doctors to find someone amazing, several months of playing around with my dose of Thyroid, cutting gluten 100% out of my life, and then following a primal diet, to finally get my list of symptoms down to this:

  • Occasional fatigue or general “blah” feeling
  • Occasional mild depression/irritability

Both of those things usually happen after I eat something I’m not supposed to eat (like grains or sugar).

There might be a few other little things, but overall I feel amazing, and I’m so grateful I finally found a solution.

Last year on my 27th birthday, I said: “I bet by next year I will be feeling the healthiest I’ve ever felt!”  And it was true.  High five, past self.

How the Paleo Diet Changed My Life

Last time I really posted, I talked a little bit about struggling with eating meat again, and my doctor recommending that I try a primal/paleo diet.  That was in July, almost 4 months ago.

I’m happy to report that I had the best summer in as long as I can remember.  Here are a few positive changes since I begrudgingly started eating meat again:

- I’ve lost about 20lbs since that post in July.  I’m now within my ideal weight range.  The best part is, it has been virtually effortless.  I can’t tell you how many things I’ve tried over the last 6 or 7 years that promised the weight would “just melt off,” and I was left despising food, hating myself, and feeling like a failure.  It feels good to eat whatever I want and lose weight.

- I have never enjoyed food as much as I do now.  I enforce a strict policy of never feeling guilty about anything I eat, and that has changed my entire perspective on food.  Food is not an enemy, it’s not my nemesis, it’s delicious and amazing and I’m going to enjoy every bite.  Food makes me happy.

- I have more energy in one day than the last several years put together.  Not only do I not need my daily 4 hour afternoon nap anymore, I virtually can’t nap even when I try.

- I’m happy and I feel healthy.  Most of my hypothyroidism symptoms are gone.  No more depression and mood swings (mostly).

- Last but not least, jeggings.  6 months ago, this word made me cringe and unleash a barrage of mockery.  Truth is, I was too self-conscious to wear tight clothes, and now I live in them because they’re the most comfortable pants in the world.  Where have you been all my life?

I recommend this to everyone, especially if you have been struggling with chronic health and mental health issues.  Give the 21-day challenge a try.

I’m a Meat Eater?

I mentioned back in May that I was planning to start eating meat again.  And then I didn’t, because:

I’ve had bits and pieces.  My 90 year old grandmother in England cooked us a pile of bacon in May, and I ate half a piece.  In June, I ate eat half a piece of BBQ chicken for dinner.  Whoopdeedoo.  Basically, I decided I could just keep being a vegetarian for a while longer, because I’m a big baby and meat is yucky.

Over the last few months, my health has been a complete roller coaster.  Last time I saw my doctor, he gave me some probiotics to take for a month. They made me feel awful.  I was exhausted, depressed, lethargic, I couldn’t concentrate on anything – just a huge mess.  I stopped taking them and I felt better.  Then a few weeks ago, I forgot to bring my vitamins and supplements when I went away for a long weekend, so I didn’t take anything except my thyroid medication.  I felt amazing!  Obviously, I have been reacting to something in one (or more than one) of my supplements, and now this is the best I’ve felt since being diagnosed 2 years ago.  I’ve been going to the gym, working, and not taking any naps.  Amazing!

Now that I feel better, I’ve been noticing how much of an effect food has on how I feel.  Namely, my body doesn’t react well to carbs – which isn’t unusual for thyroid patients.  Eat a potato, sleep for 3 hours.  Eat a gluten-free bagel for breakfast, no energy for the rest of the day.  Something had to change.

Last week, I told my doctor all of this stuff, and he recommended a high-fat diet.  He told me to research primal/paleo eating.

Paleo is something I’ve read a little bit about since my parents were told in December that they were both gluten intolerant.  I bought them Make it Paleo for Christmas.  But I had this idea in my head that Paleo meant I would have to eat a ton of beef and it would be really gross, and then I would picture that scene from Game of Thrones.

This past weekend, I spent a couple hours looking at every single recipe in my parents’ book, and it turns out it’s amazing.  Everything from scrambled eggs and veggies to coconut flour waffles to amazing salads.  I ended up eating bacon and chicken this weekend, and you know what?  I enjoyed it.  And I have more energy.

It’s really hard to change something I’ve been doing since I was 19 years old, but so far: a) I feel better, and b) I can actually go to restaurants and travel and find things to eat.  Overall, so far so good.

Instagram Party + Lemon Orange Frosting

On Wednesday, my boyfriend turned 30 (!).  We had a party last night.

1 & 4: I trimmed my basil plants and had no idea what to do with the trimmings, so I shoved them in mason jars and spent the whole night asking people, “wanna smell my basil?”

2 & 3: Dan made taco dip – we counted 7 layers.  It included homemade guacamole, homemade salsa verde (which was SO GOOD it’s almost a shame he put it in a dip), and lettuce from my garden.  I love saying that.  Lettuce.  From my garden.

5 & 8: I made sangria. I am no sangria expert, but it was delicious!

6 & 7:  These cupcakes… omnomnom.  They are Gluten-Free GoddessVanilla Cupcakes topped with That’s the Best Frosting I’ve Ever Had (note: it is).  I would like to point out that even though I made a gluten-filled cake, everyone went for the gluten-free cupcakes.  “They taste normal!” was the most common response.

I also wanted to share this frosting recipe.  Every year, Dan demands a boring white cake from a box.  I’ve offered to bake something from scratch, but no, it has to come from a box.  He agreed that I could make the frosting, so last year we came up with this together (I mixed, he taste tested).  Then we lost the recipe, and we were sad.  A few weeks ago, Dan found it (in his recipe book… fancy that) and it’s exactly as yummy as we both remembered.

Lemon Orange Frosting

3 tbsp orange zest
3 tbsp butter
3-4 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
About 2.5 cups icing sugar

  1. Add orange zest to butter and mix with a hand mixer until creamy.
  2. Add 3tbsp lemon juice.  Slowly add icing sugar while mixing until you achieve the desired consistency, adding more lemon juice if desired.

It makes enough to cover a 13×9″ cake.

Balcony Garden Update

This is what my garden looked like 1 month ago.  Here it is today (iPhone photo edition).

Bonus: how many cats can you spot?

My tomatoes are taller than me (I’m 5’9″)!  The first fruits appeared earlier this week:

Yummy.  This is where you can tell I have no idea what I’m doing.  Do I trim the plants so they’re not so huge?  Let them grow?  Who knows!

Right now my table is covered in Hidcote Lavender plants that I am going to plant at my parents’ new house.

This is the other side of my balcony.  Squirrels have been digging in my railing planters and getting dirt everywhere.

Also crazy: my lemon cucumber plant!  Some of the leaves have white spots – I’m not sure what that’s from.  It’s also starting to take over my gold nugget cherry tomatoes:

I don’t know if that’s bad – should I cut it back, or let it grow?  It hasn’t grown any cucumbers yet.

Purple beans spotted!

It’s getting a bit overwhelming now that everything is growing to massive sizes, but also fun seeing as how my plants are usually half-dead at this point in the summer.

Happy Victoria Day

Happy long weekend!

Today, I “finished” setting up my balcony.  (“Finished” because I can never stop moving things around.)

There’s also 4 different types of lettuce in another box behind the basil, but squirrels keep stealing it. :(

I hope everyone had a nice long weekend!

Happy Anniversary

Today is my 1 year anniversary of being gluten-free.  It’s also the 1-year anniversary of this blog!

Day 1
1 Week
1 Month
6 Months

Things have improved a lot in the last year.  I have a new doctor who doesn’t treat me like a hypochondriac, I’m able to exercise and work again, I’m not sleeping 18 hours a day.  But I still don’t feel great.  I know that getting better is a process, and it takes time.  My doctor has been doing a lot for me, but I’m also looking for things I can do on my own.

That’s why I’ve decided to start eating meat again.

I became a vegetarian on Christmas day, 2005, though my mom would tell you I was born a vegetarian.  I’ve always hated meat.  As a kid, I would go to great lengths to avoid the meat on my plate.  I could tolerate chicken (but really, I think I just liked BBQ sauce) and turkey, but steak and fish grossed me out.  My parents told me I could stop eating meat when I did the research into what I needed to eat to be a healthy vegetarian.  Finally, in university, I decided it was time and I haven’t had meat since.

For the last year, I’ve been a gluten-free vegetarian.  It’s not so bad when I’m at home, but it’s hard to travel or eat at restaurants since most of the gluten-free options are meat based.  Lately I’ve been reading about the effect of soy on people with thyroid disorders.  Many doctors recommend thyroid patients cut soy out of their diets, and I actually had an ALCAT test tell me I’m intolerant to soy.  But while it’s hard being a gluten-free vegetarian, it’s even harder being a gluten-free soy-free vegetarian, so I haven’t stopped eating it.

I still believe that a vegetarian diet is fine for a normal, healthy person.  I am not a normal, healthy person.  If eating meat will help improve my situation, I’m going to try it.  Even if thinking about eating meat makes me make this face:

Tomorrow I’m headed to the UK for 12 days.  After that… meat time?  (That doesn’t sound right.)