Recipe: Chia Pudding

 

So my new “lifestyle” means that I have to start experimenting with all kinds of new foods and first up on my list was chia pudding.

Chia pudding gets a lot of hoopla on the foodie blogs that I have been checking out lately so I was excited about trying out a chia pudding. A lot of the blogs said that the chia seeds have a texture that is very similar to tapioca and I absolutely love the tapioca bubbles in bubble tea so I figured that I would like chia as well. But unlike my past experiments, I didn’t let myself go too crazy with my first chia pudding. Instead, I decided to go with something a little simpler than most of the recipes out there and I chose an almond milk chia pudding. It covered all the bases that I was looking for; it was sweet, simple and I had all the ingredients. It was a four ingredient pudding that was super easy to put together and I just had to be patient and wait for it to “bloom”.*

So I took out my favourite mason jar and combined all the ingredients and just waited for it to be ready.

This is the recipe that I used this time around.

Almond Milk Chia Pudding Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups of unsweetened almond milk

½ cup of chia seeds

A sprinkle of cinnamon

A tablespoon of brown sugar

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a mason jar and let set in the refrigerator for 2 to 12 hours.pudding

Now, I am nowhere near being a patient person so I checked on the jar every half an hour waiting for it to be ready to eat. But just like the recipe said, it took almost twelve hours for the pudding to be ready.

So I waited and checked and waited and checked and finally had some.

The next morning when I woke up.

I scooped up some pudding as soon as I woke up and had it cold right out of the fridge. The taste of the pudding itself was very delightful. It was creamy and sweet with a hint of cinnamon. It was absolutely a soothing combination that was comforting but the texture just through me off.

It reminded me of frog’s eggs. I have watched a lot of Kratt’s creatures and have become very well acquainted with the reproductive processes of amphibians and the look of the pudding reminded me strongly of an episode about reproducing amphibians. And then the actual texture of the pudding, reminded me even more of frog’s eggs. The outer layer was mushy and slippery and when you bit through the seeds you hit a crunchy centre. It felt like I was committing amphibian infanticide.

I have to admit that the first bowl was difficult for me to eat. It took some getting used to. I had to add some contrasting textural elements to the pudding before I could really start enjoying the pudding. It needed some crunch and chew before it truly became enjoyable. I took some to work today for breakfast. I added some frozen fruit to the portion that I took to work and that really made the pudding more enjoyable. Amphibian infanticide aside, I will be making this pudding again. The next time it will be made with coconut milk and dried pineapple, and I am really looking forward to that.

*as N would say.

It’s not a diet, it’s a lonely lifestyle

I have been doing some research on my new medication on the manufacturer’s website and I found the list of foods that I should be avoiding while I am on this medication.

It is three pages long, in 10 point font.

I cannot have any dairy, any soy, any gluten, any green drinks or pop, any reconstituted juices, any salmon, any swordfish, any king fish, any shark, any strawberries, grapes, nectarines or peaches from California*. I cannot have any raw leafy dark green vegetables, raw cabbage, excessively sugary foods, deep fried foods, or processed foods. And no kimchi or wasabi.

I can only have 5ozs of cooked leafy green vegetables but I cannot have it less than 4 hours after taking my medication or 4 hours before taking my medication. Alcohol and coffee are ok as long as it is in moderation.

Now this list presents a problem.

My typical breakfast consists of toast with butter, both of which are now not allowed because of the gluten in the bread and the dairy in the butter. Or a granola bar, which is also not allowed because it counts as having excess sugar.

My lunch is usually a soup of some sort but I load it down it leafy greens and broccoli. This cannot happen anymore because the primary component is the greens.

Dinners usually have brussel sprouts or some leafy green in it with some sort of chicken or fish. No more brussel sprouts for me and limited fish options.

So this week I have had very little variety when it comes to the things that I eat. I have been basically eating chicken breast, roasted peppers and cucumbers all week. I have tried to restrict myself but I got the list after I had gone grocery shopping and a lot of the things that I am not supposed to eat, had been pre-purchased. This week I am going to buy less of my restricted things and see what alternatives I could find for me to eat because chicken breast, roasted peppers and cucumbers every day is a bit much.

Wish me luck!

*I can have strawberries, grapes, nectarines and peaches that are product of Ontario but the varieties from California are treated with a chemical that conflicts with my medication.

There’s something in your ear

So I got a call from the school today.

I am not sure about other moms, but when I see the school’s phone number pop up on my call display, the first thing that I think is “I wonder who is around to pick up the sick child”. And that is not me jumping to conclusions, the secretary knows me on a first name basis and she only ever calls because one of my children have gone to the office because something is hurting and they want to come home early,

Now in Mat’s defense; he has only ever done this twice and both times have been for a legitimate reason. One time he had a fever and was falling asleep on his feet and the other time it was because he had a sty and it was bothering him.

The office usually calls about Maks.

The office staff knows Maks on sight now and he is only in grade two. When he gets stressed out about something it manifests itself in stomach aches and there are times when he cannot function because he has stressed himself out so badly that he is in physical pain. I have gotten used to these calls and so has the office staff. After many times of this happening, I don’t go rushing to the school anymore. Instead, I tell the staff that Maks should return to call and if the “stomach ache” is still there in an hour or so, then call me back. After an hour, it usually goes away.

This call was different.

Maks had an earache and it was really bothering him. It was so bad that he asked the teacher to look into his ear and see if it looked off. So his teacher looked in his ear and there was something shiny lodged in there.

So she sent Maks down to the office.

Maks walked in and the secretary assumed that he wanted her to call me because his stomach was bothering him but he told her that he was not there because of his stomach, he was there because of his ear. This was something new for Maks so the secretary used a magnifying glass to look into Maks’ ear and saw that there was something in his ear. She repositioned him in the office, focused a light into his ear and saw that there was a tiny blue bead lodged in his ear.

This was new.

So she got a pair of slim tweezers and being really careful not to touch the sides or the back of his ear, she pulled the bead out of Maks’ ear. She said that it was a really small bead, a little bit bigger than a piece of glitter.

Once she got it out, she showed Maks the bead and asked him how it got there and he had no idea how it got into his ear. She told me that he was just as surprised as she was. She figures that he will remember after he has had some time to think about it.

So by the time he gets home, he should have a pretty good story for me.

One and not the other

Last year, Maks decided that he was going to win the principal’s award. His year started off really badly. The transition from day-care to public school was difficult. And it took Maks almost the entire school year to finally get the hang of things. He was failing pretty miserably at both the French and English curriculum and he hated school.

But then it all clicked.

Around February he decided that he had it in him to do this school thing and he would be able to do it really well, if he wanted to. So he put his head down and really started working. His reading improved and he went up seven levels. His French improved greatly and everything else fell into place. Then one of his teachers told him that because of all his hard work he may end of winning the principal’s award and that motivated him even more.

His effort toward the end of the year was incredible. He tried so hard to do everything that he did really well. By the end of the year he was a solid B student, which is pretty awesome considering he was failing at the beginning.

But he didn’t end up winning the principal’s award.

To say that he was disappointed is an understatement but he took it all in stride. He knew that he had an uphill battle from the start and he was just really glad that he had come out of grade one as well as he had.

After all the work and disappointment of last year, I vowed that this year I would down play all the awards. If he won one, it would be great but I would not be emphasizing the awards assemblies this year.

Now fast forward to this Monday. It never occurred to me that the kindergarten classes would be eligible for the awards and it never occurred to me that Mat would end up winning one in kindergarten.

But he did.

And he was super-duper excited about it, as he should be. He earned it and I am super proud that he won it.

But Maks is also super sad because his little brother has ended up winning an award before he has. And even though it is not the principal’s award, the disappointment from last year has come back in full swing. He is discouraged because he does not think that he is good enough to win awards and that is really bringing him down.

I feel for the kid and I have let him know that there are many awards to be won, he just needs to keep on trying his best and one day he will be recognized for all of his hard work. I know that he is hearing me but I am not sure how much he believes me because his brother is winning awards now.

I don’t like competition in general. The idea of one person winning and all others losing bothers me. I don’t want my boys competing against one another. I don’t want them competing against anyone for that matter. The only people I want them to be better than is the person that they were yesterday. I want them to keep being better at being themselves.

I am thinking that at the end of this school year, I present each boy with an award for being an outstanding student this year. I am hoping that by showing them that they are both phenomenal at being themselves that it will encourage them both to keep working hard and take away some of the pressure that these blasted awards assemblies is putting on them.

Award Winning

The boys school have a monthly award ceremony. According to the school handbook; these awards assemblies are to encourage the kids to follow the seven golden rules* that the school lives by and the kids that live the values get recognized with the an award. To make it even more special, the parents of the kids being recognized are invited to attend the awards and take pictures with them. They try to recognize a couple of kids from each grade each month and change up who wins so that it is not always the same people. And at the end of the year, there is the principals award. That one is the most coveted because it is for the student that has improved the most during the school year and you get a pencil along with your certificate. That pencil is a huge deal.

In general, I don’t put a lot of emphasis on these awards. I tend to just glaze over them when I see the ceremonies on the calendars. I know that the school thinks that they are important but I don’t want to discourage either boy because they are not one of the ones to win an award. Perhaps it is negative thinking on my part, but don’t get me wrong; I have very good kids. They are both intelligent, sweet, caring, and solid B students but they do not win the awards. I don’t want the boys to feel bad if they don’t win because in the grand scheme of the world, not getting a certificate is not a big deal as long as they are trying their best; and that is all that matters.

But my entire line of thinking was thrown out the window on Monday when Mat won an award. I got an email from his teacher on Sunday night letting me know that Mat had won the character award and would be presented with his certificate on Monday at 9am. This is something that came right out left field. So I had to hustle things up and make sure that Millhouse was available to be at the school at 9am to get Mat’s picture taken. He won the character award because he is always kind, polite and follows the rules.

When he woke up on Monday morning, I let him know that he had won the award and he was blown away. He thought that because he could not write his numbers past ten that he would never win an award because the other kids in his class that had won awards, had won them because they could write their numbers up to twenty. So finding out that he had won an award was just something he didn’t quite believe.

At the awards assembly, he was the very last child called up for his award. And according to Millhouse, he could tell that during the ceremony Mat was starting to get antsy. I asked him about it afterwards and he said that he thought that they had made a mistake and that he was not going to get his award because it was taking so long for them to say his name. But at the very end, they said his name and walked up in his quiet, nonchalant way to get his award for being of good character.

I am super-duper proud of him. He really is a truly sweet boy who tends to be on the shy side. But winning this award has given him a little bit of confidence and has encouraged him to come out of his shell, just a bit.

I guess that is what these awards are about.

*I forget what the seven golden rules are but it has to do with being kind, polite, proactive, enthusiastic, and having good grades.

Following instructions is not my forte

So I am now on medication.

And if things go as the doctor has planned, I will be on this medicine for the rest of my life. Given that I don’t like taking medicine in general, being told that I have to be on pills for the rest of my life takes some getting used to. But given all my other options, I am happy to do this.

That being said; it turns out that I don’t follow instructions very well.

This new medication is very specific about what I can and cannot eat while I am on it. And it turns out that everything that I like; I cannot eat within four hours of taking the medication and in some cases, not at all.

And I found this out the hard way.

So according to my doctor; I cannot have dairy products, anything high in calcium, anything high in iron, anything with magnesium and anything with high levels of iodine. So that means I cannot have brussel sprouts, kale or spinach for breakfast, which I sometimes do. I cannot have smoothies or yogurt for breakfast, which I sometimes do. I cannot take antacids at 3am, which I sometimes do.

But on the first day I took the medication, I managed to break all of these rules. I have to take the medication as soon as I wake up and then continue along with my day. So on the first day I woke up and took my medicine at 9am. I then proceeded to make an over easy egg and hash with the leftovers from the night before. The leftovers consisted of a large amount of brussel sprouts.

Strike one.

And then we went about our day and I put together a pretty impressive lunch. The lunch consisted of roast beef with loads of roasted veggies including brussel sprouts, jerk chicken, roasted chicken, and a macaroni pie that was loaded down with milk, eggs and loads & loads cheese. And I had a little bit of everything including the brussel sprouts and dairy dense macaroni pie.

Strike two.

After lunch we went out for haircuts and ice cream. I refrained from having any ice cream because my tummy was starting to bother me so when I got home, I chewed on some antacids hoping to settle my stomach.

Strike three.

Holy dizzy spells Batman. My world literally starting flipping upside down. I was exhausted but every time I closed my eyes, I would experience these crazy dizzy spells. It got so bad that I could not lie down or close my eyes. I was semi sitting in bed trying really hard to keep gingerale and gravol down.

The dizzy spells lasted about an hour before the Gravol finally started to help. And then I googled what was going on. Turns out all those warnings on the prescription label are fairly accurate. If I screw around and eat all the things that it tells me not to eat, then these dizzy spells are one of the consequences. The other consequences are nausea, headaches, hair loss (!!!) and insomnia.

Yikes! That is some seriously serious stuff.

So guess who is going to be following the prescription label to a T from now on.

Two doctors’ appointments in the same week & the week is not over yet

So on Monday the doctor’s office called and said that they had left me a message while I was in Trinidad and they needed me to come in to see them that day. So I organized myself and headed in that afternoon. When I got there the doctor said that they had figured out my diagnosis but he would not be able to treat it. He would need to send me to a specialist because this was not his area of expertise and there were a lot of different options for treatment so he needed someone who was well versed in this to have a look at me and figure out what would work best. This all makes sense and I am just happy to be getting somewhere.

So he had his secretary sent off my file to the specialist and told me that they would call me when the specialist came back to them with my appointment. Given how quickly things had been moving up to that point, I didn’t believe him when he said that I would hear from the office on Tuesday with the appointment details. I figured I would wait until the end of the week and then call to see if they had heard anything about an appointment and harass them like that moving forward. He also had me do more blood work so that he could send the most recent blood work to the specialist. He figured that the more information that he gave them the more likely I would get an early appointment. Again, another good thing.

Now the thing with the first four times that I did blood work was, it always came back as normal. Which is what caused the majority of the confusion in the first place. They couldn’t figure why things were happening but nothing was changing in my blood. It is obvious that stuff is going on but my blood work has yet to fall outside of the normal range of things. So I had to keep doing the tests and they would keep sending them all over the countryside, trying to figure out what is going on.

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon….the doctor’s office called!! Yay!! But it was not for an appointment with the specialist. Nope, that would be too easy. They called because my blood work had come back as “abnormal” and “concerning”* so they needed me to come in. By the time they had gotten a hold of me yesterday, the office was already closed so I am going in today. The first thing that I am going to do while I am there is have them define what abnormal and concerning mean so that the next time that they call and say that, I know what they mean. Also, I will find out if this new development means that I don’t have to see a specialist anymore. Because I wouldn’t mind that. Based on what my doctor said I really didn’t like any of the options that the specialist would have given me.

You see how complicated all this is. And how complicated it keeps getting. I can handle complications. Millhouse cannot. I knew it would only be a matter of time before all this flipping and flopping got to him. It happened last night.

If you ask Millhouse, the chicken biryani tried to kill him. I know better. I know that by asking him to take on more things with the boys, to deal with me being out of commission more than he is used to and asking him to step up more would finally get to him and it did. When things get to be too much, he gets sick. That’s just how he deals. And as it stands, I was just waiting for this to go down. I was in the shower last night and I was wondering how and when it would actually go down. I figured that he would stress himself into getting a chest infection to something related to his asthma but he managed to go one further.

He managed to give himself a stress induced stomach flu meets regular flu meets absolutely no sleep anxiety attack. It was an interesting night. I am pretty sure that he is going to be out of commission for the rest of the week. But it all depends on how today’s appointment goes.

I’ll let you know how the appointment goes.

*their words. My words were way more colourful.

Carnival won this year

My sunburned chest is my badge of dishonour for Trinidad Carnival this year.

As always, my Trinidad carnival experience was phenomenally wonderful. From the moment I landed, I loved it even with all the other negative things were buzzing around the periphery of brain during the trip. There were so many things that were buzzing around my head this trip, that there were times where it was overwhelming.

But I needed this trip. Because of all those things buzzing, I needed this trip.

I needed to remind myself of who I am. I get lost sometimes trying to be the person that everyone else needs me to be that I forget who I am. It is hard to remember who I am when I am not who everyone else wants me to be.

Carnival helps me remember.

So I go when I can.

This year like all the other years I have gone, it was great. The fetes, the food, the music and atmosphere were just what I needed them to be.

And then things got hot.

In my current condition, just like the cold and I do not get along; heat and I do not get along and I didn’t realize this until the second day that I was on the road. Normally, I relish the heat. I covet it; I shun sunscreen and water and just soak up as much sun as I possibly can. After spending months and months in the cold, I just crave sunshine and heat and I get my fill when I am on the road for Carnival.

This time it worked against me.

My body reacted in a way that it has never reacted before. I was swollen from my shoulders to my fingertips. It hurt to bend my arms in any way and just having them hang by my sides hurt. It felt like my bones were expanding under my skin not just water retention but actually blowing up like a balloon would blow up. My skin was stretching; the veins were dark purple and visible like a road map under my skin. My joints did not look like joints; they were misshapen, lumpy and impossible to touch. I was nauseous and light headed and there were times when it was just hard to breathe. It felt like I was covered in a fleece blanket and I just kept getting hotter and hotter and more and more swollen. The more swollen I got, the harder it was to breathe, keep my head up or keep my food down.

No matter what Tru did (and she tried everything) I just could not get cool. She made sure I drank cups and cups of coconut water, she poured water over my head and shoulders, and she put ice cubes on my back and neck. I am so grateful that she was there because she jumped into action and pulled out all the stops to get me better. But the weather was just working against me.

I was burnt all over my chest, back and shoulders. But it was like no sunburn I had ever had. It was a combination of heat rash meets sunburn meets unbearable achiness. I couldn’t make it the day. I gave up just after noon.

I cried.

I felt awful because I ruined sh*t by getting sick.

When we got back to the hotel, I resigned to the fact that the sun had defeated me this year and I wallowed. I slept for a long time and then had some soup. Even though I have been back since Thursday, the swelling lasted on and off until yesterday. My shoulders have finally gone back to normal and don’t hurt when I move them. The heat rash is still there but the sunburn doesn’t hurt anymore.

So things are going back to the way they were.

Tuesday reminded me that there are things going on in my life that I cannot completely run away from.

But Carnival reminded me that no matter what is going on in my life, there are laughs, smiles, and happiness just waiting.

And I can be me.

Divide & Conquer

Dinner has always been my thing. I make dinner. I get home from work and I make dinner.

That’s always just how it worked.

No one else in the house ever really wants to make dinner and if they don’t like what I make then they just scrounge up something else or buy something on the way home.

But now that my hours have changed, I don’t get home as early as I used to. I now get home closer to six than five and that makes putting together dinner a bit trickier. Especially when there are hungry children involved. Hungry children are comparable to hungry lions, only I think that hungry lions can be pacified easier than hungry children.

When hungry children come home, they must be fed or else meltdowns happen. And these are not regular meltdowns, they are hungry children meltdowns. The kind that cannot be reasoned with until food is presented. Sometimes snacks work to buy me some time but most times, the snacks are not enough and they just serve to reinforce just how hungry the hungry children are and they must be fed right then. And this was so very hectic especially on days where things were not working out as planned to start and another meltdown would push me over the edge of sanity.

And that is a real concern, not an over exaggeration on any part.

So I have handed the dinner making responsibilities over to Millhouse for during the week. Lately Millhouse has discovered the wonders of the slow cooker and uses it at least once a week, if not more. I showed him a couple of easy go to recipes and he has been tweaking them to his liking and putting together dinners. He will put together the protein and the carb components of dinner and I will put together the vegetable component when I get home. This means that when the hungry children get home from school, there is food ready for them and they can eat right away. Most days this also means that by the time I get home, there is no food left for me because Millhouse only makes enough for the hungry children and the boys have eaten their fill and I need to put something together for me. So I will put together the vegetable portion and the boys will eat that as their before bed snack and I will add something small to my serving of vegetables and have that for dinner. But that is no big deal because at least I am not all stressed out because I need to make food magically appear out of nowhere as soon as I walk into the house.

I still cook on weekends. I make a lot of food on weekends so that during the week I can have leftovers when I get home. And this helps out so much because then I am not hunting as much for food for me to eat.

Giving up weeknight cooking was not something that I wanted to do and at the beginning it was hard. I like cooking. I am good at it. People like my food and I like making things for people to eat. Nothing else gives me the same kind of happiness that cooking gives me but I just could not get dinner on the table on time so this had to be done.

Hot & Cold

For the last three months I self-diagnosed myself as going through early onset menopause. I based my diagnosis on WebMD and the fact that I was having off the charts hot and cold flashes. Now I know that my track record when it comes to self-diagnosis has been less than stellar but I was pretty much sure that I had gotten this one diagnosis right.

Turns out that I hadn’t.

For all intents and purposes, I am not going through early onset menopause. I have other hormonal things going on that are causing the crazy ass hot and cold flashes.

And I mean that they are crazy ass hot and cold flashes.

Throughout the day, I will get so cold that I get goose bumps; start shivering and my fingers will go numb and tingle. Now it should be noted that under normal winter conditions, I am not a happy camper because the cold and I don’t get along. I am miserable for October to May, as a general rule. Those around me have just come to accept this. And since this winter is particularly an artic hell, I figured that all my super coldness was just because it is currently colder in Ontario than it is on Mars. So I layered up more than normal (think three coats and two shirts) and started wearing fingerless mittens at work so I can type but my hands would stay warm.

And I am not joking. I look like a freaking penguin most days but I am warm.

Until I get so hot that I nearly pass the eff out.

Now the constant state of cold is one thing and I could handle it if I didn’t get these nausea inducing, light headed hot flashes.

The hot flashes usually follow the extreme cold flashes. So I will be going along as normal when all of a sudden, it gets really cold. It gets so cold I feel it penetrate all my layers. So I bundle up even more. And I am good for about half an hour.

Then things start to get hot. Like really hot. Like I cannot breathe hot and every orifice and gland in my body is sweating so much that I am going to be soaked in seconds hot.

That kind of hot.

And yes, I do sweat that much. My arms, legs, back and stomach just start to warm up on their own and I get to this uncomfortable point of hot where I need to shed just about every layer that I had put on 40 minutes earlier and drink something cold, like right now. And then when I finally end up shedding all extra layers, I start to get cold all over again.

Repeat cycle.

And now imagine this cycle at night.

This goes on all night long. There are points in the night where I am shivering and others where I am sweating uncontrollably. There is no real middle ground. I just grab sleep when my body isn’t overheating or freezing.

Now sometime over the next little while, I should be told a definitive answer as to what in the blue blazes is going on with me. And whatever that answer is, I am hoping that they also tell me how to deal with these blasted hot and cold flashes.

At least until menopause starts, at least.