If You’re Not Celiac…Why Are You Gluten-Free?

image1-2I get this question at least 3 times everyday. Whether it be from people in my everyday life (coworkers, family, friends..), my blog followers, or those in the grocery store trying to make a conversation. I am NOT gluten-free because of celiac disease, a gluten intolerance, or IBS. I am gluten-free because of a medical condition I was diagnosed with last year, Adenomyosis. If you do not know what in the world Adenomyosis is, you are not alone. I had no idea what this term meant, and as I’ve discovered, a lot of doctors don’t know either.

Screen Shot 2018-03-13 at 5.21.10 PMAdenomyosis (pronounced ad-uh-no-my-O-sis) can easily be broken down to Adeno-(gland), myo-(muscle), and -osis (condition). Adenomyosis is defined as the presence of endometrial glands that appear within the tissues in the muscle of the uterus (adenomyosis.org). The displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — thickening, breaking down and bleeding — during each menstrual cycle. An enlarged uterus and painful, heavy periods can result (mayoclinic.org). It is often misdiagnosed as fibroids but can appear with other conditions such as ovarian cysts, prolapse and even gynecological cancers that can cause pelvic pain. 

Adenomyosis is a chronic condition with no known cure beyond a hysterectomy.

Symptoms

Like all conditions, symptoms vary between patients. Some women feel no pain, while others have most of the well-known symptoms. Adenomyosis can present itself in the following ways:

  • Heavy, prolonged menstrual bleeding (bleeding that can last up to 14 days plus)*
  • Severe menstrual cramps (as if you are in labor or constipated)*
  • Large blood clots*
  • Sudden stabbing pains across abdomen at any time*
  • Sudden and unexpected vaginal discharge 
  • Severe abdominal pressure and bloating*
  • Severe nausea, acid reflux, changing/unpredictable bowel habits*
  • Enlarged Uterus*
  • Pain/lack of sensation during intercourse*
  • Tilted uterus – associated pain in small of back
  • Painful orgasm and associated lengthy cramping
  • Sharp internal vaginal/cervical pain on sitting down*
  • Pain radiating down one or both thighs/legs
  • Rectal pain 
  • Frequent urination*
  • Iron Deficiency*
  • Hormonal imbalances – very high levels of estrogen*
  • Extreme fatigue – needing to sleep during the day*
  • Rapid weight gain*
  • Water retention*
  • Mood swings*
  • Infertility – failure to conceive with IVF intervention
  • Miscarriage – multiple miscarriage/complication

I put * next to the symptoms I have. Please note that these symptoms need to be happening for a long period of time, and are not something that comes and goes. These symptoms are also not always just related to adenomyosis, so if you feel something isn’t right, it is best to talk to your doctor. You know your body best!

Diagnosis

Adenomyosis is typically found in middle-aged women who have had children, however, it can be rarely found in women in their 20’s, even if they have never been pregnant. This can make diagnosis difficult, especially when you are like me and do not fit the typical criteria. I went through 2 years of appointments and tests, and 17 doctors, before actually being diagnosed. Not to mention, the amount of doctor’s who mentioned adenomyosis but then said it was impossible because I had never been pregnant. It took years of “you’re just being over dramatic” “let’s try more hormones and more birth control” “this must be related to your stress and anxiety” and “let’s test you for std’s” before I found one doctor who finally told me the tests she wanted to perform were specifically for Adenomyosis. There are 3 main ways doctors look for Adenomyosis:

  1. Laparoscopy – using a laparoscope, surgeons are able to access inside of the abdomen and pelvis without large incisions.
  2. Gynecologic Ultrasonography – the patient starts the appointment with a full bladder to allow better visualization of the pelvic organs. Typically, the ultrasound is performed both transvaginally and regularly for maximum coverage of the uterus, its lining, and muscular wall.
  3. Magnetic Resonance Imaging – better known as an MRI.

Most doctors will perform multiple tests to truly diagnose you. In my case, I was lucky to find a doctor who would not cut me open (I was a dance major in college and could not afford to be out of practice for 2 weeks). I instead had multiple ultrasounds and MRI’s that determined my diagnosis. My doctor said judging the size of my uterus, the thickness of my uterus’s lining, and the fibroids seen; this would be my new normal.

Treatment

Treatment plans are different for everyone, but I will share mine to give you an idea of what works for my body. My doctor and I spoke about my desire to keep my body as holistically healthy as possible, and luckily she agreed to go beyond the narcotics and surgeries that were previous prescribed.

A huge part of my life is what I put into my body, and how seriously I take my diet. I am on an anti-inflammatory diet path, as well as beginning to limit soy. This means I am gluten-free (did you know gluten is one of the main inflammation causing foods?) I also limit my dairy intake, only eat healthy fats, and really try to focus on non-processed foods. I also do my best not to eat meat unless I know it is from a source without added hormones. Knowing what I put into my body is a huge component to making sure I am not feeding my Adenomyosis.

We are also still trying to figure out a hormone treatment that works well with my body. There has been a lot of trial and error when it comes to birth controls and managing the estrogen levels in my body. So far, we have not found a great match, but I know better than to give up.

I also use essential oils to help control pain, muscle strains, and stress. I have tried acupuncture which provides pressure and stress relief. I also never underestimate the power of a good heating pad, bubble baths, and rest. If I am truly hurting, I push through as much as I can, go home, take a bath, and turn on Grey’s Anatomy reruns.

I will also have to go through physical therapy because of the severe muscle cramps that have now damaged my lower abdominal and pelvic muscles. However, my doctor does not want me to do that until we figure out a hormone treatment. Because you know, one step at a time.

Why did I share my story?

I chose to share my story for a few reasons. One being to raise awareness about adenomyosis, and another because I want my readers to know who I really am. This is a major part of my life and I am not ashamed of it. I am strong, and I refuse to ever let my condition take away my positivity. Trust me, having adenomyosis is anything but glamorous, but it is something I have present in my body and I have learned to not let it take over. You can be stronger than your chronic conditions, and you can have something that doctors “feel bad about diagnosing so young” and still live an amazing life. I push through the pain because it won’t kill me. I push through the bloating and bleeding because I have things to accomplish. And I push through having a chronic condition because I am determined to have control of how my adenomyosis is present in my life. 

 

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Green Monster Pizza

IMG_5750Finally, I am back to getting some time for recipe testing. The past few weeks have been very busy, but I am glad to be writing again. I will have a lot more content soon. My recipe today was inspired by my love and wanting for pizza, but not wanting something greasy or loaded with cheese. I am trying to be really good to my body for wellness and health reasons, but I do not deprive myself. I am traveling this weekend, so I know there will be plenty of times to indulge then, so I did not want to indulge today. I was pretty excited with the outcome of this pizza, and shocked that it fulfilled my craving and that I got so many nutrients in! Also, this pizza traveled well (I had it for dinner at work and it held together great!)

You might be questioning the recipe when looking at the ingredients. There are no tomatoes, no pepperoni, and a lot of greens! As my wonderful friend Ryan would say, this pizza is on the Emilee diet (putting kale in EVERYTHING!) So what did I do to make it taste more like pizza and less like salad on bread? I incorporated some of my favorite pizza flavors, olives, basil, and crushed red pepper. This gave me some pizza flavor without overloading on greasy or unhealthy toppings. Not that tomatoes are unhealthy, but they are higher in sugar, carbs and acid. I also wanted to experiment with a sauce different than the usual pizza sauce…and wow, I am glad I did!

Green Monster Pizza Recipe

This recipe yields enough ingredients for one 8-inch pizza. You can adjust for your pizza size needs! I also want to note, you can use any kind of dough that you please. Mine is a frozen, corn-based crust because I am gluten-free, but you can choose your own crust adventure (maybe zucchini crust for even more greens!!)

Ingredients

Sauce

  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1/2 cup your favorite herb (I used basil, but parsley would work great too!)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Toppings

  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used a fiesta blend because it’s what I had, but any cheese works great, including vegan!)
  • 1/2 cup steamed broccoli
  • 1/2 cup steamed kale
  • 1/4 various bell peppers, steamed and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to the appropriate temperature for your pizza crust. Mine was 425 °F, but times will vary.
  2. Place your crust on parchment paper on a baking sheet. This calls for easy clean up!
  3. In a blender or food processor, combine sauce ingredients. The water will help the kale and herbs get incorporated with the avocado.
  4. Spread your sauce all over your pizza crust.
  5. Time to add your cheese! Sprinkle the desired amount (I won’t judge you if 3/4 cup is not enough!)
  6. Next, take your steamed broccoli and kale and arrange on the pizza.
  7. Now comes for those bell pepper slices and black olives.
  8. Drizzle with olive oil for an extra crispness on the veggies.
  9. Cook to the time recommended for your crust. Mine was 12-15 minutes.
  10. Take your pizza out of the oven and let sit for 2-5 minutes.
  11. Enjoy!!

 

Lunchbox Salad Recipe

Hello everyone! For those who follow me on Instagram (@wellnessandwelldrinks) you know that I eat dinner at work. Lately, people have been asking me how I do this, especially because I do not have a fridge or microwave (I work at a dance studio if that makes more sense), so I am limited to options. I also do not like to wait to eat until I get home (around 9-9:30pm) because I go to bed early. If I eat right before bed, I tend to get a stomach ache and my body doesn’t get the proper chance to continue to burn calories. So, I try to eat my dinner between 5pm and 6:30pm because that is what is best for me.

What do I bring for dinner? Well, I am a huge fan of kale (as we all probably know by now) so I like to bring a kale salad. For this post, I am going to break down the recipe I most use piece by piece, but I will also offer replacements to create different flavors of salads (thats how I avoid getting bored with it!) Read below for the recipe!

Lunchbox Salad Recipe

This recipe is going to be written a bit differently than my usual recipes. I’m going to go step by step and show you how I build my salad.

  1. Kale. About 2 cups, chopped. Remember to always wash and dry your kale IMG_5411
    before using it. Lately, mine has had dirt still on it, which I don’t want to eat. Not to mention your kale was sitting in a store or the farmer’s market where others possibly touched it or something else did. Wash away all possible impurities or contaminants! I do not like buy prepackaged kale because I don’t typically eat the steams when it’s raw. So, I prefer to cut my own. But please do whatever is best for you! This is my preference, but if you like eating kale your way, do so! You are still eating kale after all!
  2. Basil. About 1/2 cup, chopped. I love fresh herbs. I IMG_5412like to chopped them up and add them to my salad because I think it adds more flavor. This is a great tip for those of you who aren’t kale lovers like I am. It will give you a different flavor and allow you to still eat kale, but with ease. Basil also has great nutritional value as well. It is not just for pizza or pasta! Put your chopped basil in your container with your kale and mix it around a bit!
  3. Avocado. 1 medium, cubed as best as you can! Avocados will always be one of my IMG_5413
    favorite foods. I love how they add healthy fats, add a creamy texture, and make my tastebuds soar from bliss. As a Californian, they are a staple to my life. Dramatic? Maybe a little. Delicious? Absolutely. Try squeezing a bit of lemon or lime juice on top to avoid having brown avocados in your salad. If needed, season your avocado pieces with salt and pepper.
  4. Quinoa. 1/4 cup, fully cooked and cooled. A healthy alternative to rice, and surprisingly a delicious addition to salads. I do not eat too IMG_5416
    many carbs, mainly because I am gluten-free and a majority of gluten-free products are even higher in carbs (not even the healthy kind). However, quinoa offers more than just a health carb option, it also contains protein and makes your salad a bit hardier. Vegetables can be filling on their own, but there is nothing wrong with adding a carb to your salad, especially if it is a meal. Plus, eating quinoa is better than croutons or those yummy, but greasy tortilla crisps.
  5. Chicken. 3/4 cup, chopped and cooled. Or 1 breast. I love chicken breast; it is so img_5417.jpgversatile, low in calories, and has so much protein. I personally do not eat a “full breast”. I take the chicken breast and cut it in half to make 2 thin breasts. I started doing this in college to make my chicken last longer, but also because it cooks so much faster! Less than 5 minutes on each side which is great for my busy lifestyle. My chicken marinated in 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper before I cooked it in a skillet with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. This adds flavor without too much added sodium.
  6. Dressing. I like to make my own dressings, just so I always know what is going inside of my body. Also, store bought dressing a lot of times has added sugars and carbs. For this salad, I mix 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, and cracked pepper. Yum.
  7. Pack and enjoy! Don’t forget your ice pack.

Alternative flavor options:

  • Kale, cilantro, avocado, quinoa, and black beans with a salsa verde dressing
  • Kale, parsly, tomato, quinoa, and chicken with a pesto dressing
  • Kale, dill, avocado, quinoa, and chicken with a honey dijon dressing
  • Kale, mint, watermelon, feta cheese, and onion with a balsamic dressing

HIIT Treadmill Workout – Booty and Legs

I have never done a HIIT workout, but I have been doing a lot of research. I want to make a statement before I begin: I am not a personal trainer, nor am I saying this workout is the only way to workout. In fact, I try new workouts all the time because there are so many ways out there. I am doing what my body needs, and if this isn’t for you, that is okay!

What is HIIT? High Intensity Interval Training. HIIT alternates between high-intensity and low-intensity exercise and can be used with both anaerobic (weights) and aerobic (cardio.) Physiologists have found these kind of workouts burn fat more accurately and allows you to exercise at very high intensities for a longer period of time verses exercising at a steady rate. Another benefit of HIIT is called the “afterburn effect” that increases your metabolism and burns more calories for up to 24 hours after your workout.

Why am I considering switching to HIIT? I love long cardio sessions. I am not someone who gets bored doing cardio, and I don’t have a hard time pushing myself. I love spending an hour on the elliptical or going on a 3-mile run. However, I have started noticing that those workouts are not helping me lose as much weight as I would like. Instead, I’ve been maintaining my weight, so I am in need of a change. I want to stretch myself and push myself like never before. I want that afterburn effect because I want my body to continue to burn fat so I can gain muscle. After my 35 minute HIIT cardio session, I did an easy 10 minute stair master workout to get up to 45 minutes of cardio. I then did my free weight exercises, booty workouts, and a quick stretch…and I was still sweating like crazy by the time I got to the car. I felt confident after my workout and really accomplished. I am going to try HIIT all week and see how I feel afterwards!

HIIT Treadmill Workout – Booty and Legs

I designed this workout for myself after doing a ton of research (I love research so I had a lot of fun with this!) I wasn’t sure how it was going to go, but now that I know how wonderful it is, I thought I would share it with you! I kept it on my screen and left my phone on the treadmill so I could reference it as I went. There were times I thought I was too tired, but I pushed through! I burnt 350 calories and had a distance of 2.5 miles!

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 5.47.00 PM

Try this out and see how you like it! Comment below with any information you have about HIIT or workout suggestions.

 

Kale and Lemon Immune Boosting Soup

IMG_5089.JPGI have a confession...I love soup. I love making it, I love eating it, and I love how many vitamins I can shove into one bowl. My family has been feeling sick on and off and I work with children/families, so I am exposed to a lot of germs. I need as many vitamins as I can get! Sometimes I make enough soup to share and freeze leftovers, but lately I’ve been making a fresh bowl of soup daily. It does not have to be complicated or simmer for a lengthy time to be delicious, especially when it’s a vegan soup! Meat tends to need more time in the pot, but herbs and veggies breakdown a lot easier. I also do not always need complex, flavor-building soup. Sometimes you need something simple, quick, and easy! I like to use as fresh of ingredients as possible, but if you prefer dried herbs or pastes, use what is best for you! Now, let’s talk about the benefits from this recipe!

Kale: this low calorie, non-fat, fiber rich, leafy green helps aid digestion, and helps promote iron absorption (hello vitamins B and C!) It is also a great source of vitamins K,  A, B1, B2, B3, B6,  and E. All the nutrients, and a great alternative to spinach or collard greens. If you are an avid reader on my blog, you know that I eat around 3-4 cups of kale a day, so I am personally a huge fan.

Garlic/Onions: Ah, the Allium family. Garlic, shallots, chives, leeks, onions..oh my! I love the flavors of all alliums, but garlic and onions are by far used most in my daily life. They help with cold and flu relief, as well as provide great anti-inflammatory benefits due to the vitamin C and manganese content. While you can get heartburn from both of these ingredients (my grandmother could not stand garlic), when eaten in moderation, you should be okay. I typically do not have side effects, so I eat a lot of garlic! Again, modify for yourself.

Ginger: I’ve been a fan of ginger for quite sometime now. I love ginger tea, ginger chews, and fresh ginger in soup. Ginger is typically known for its relation to relieving stomach pain. Whether it be motion sickness, nausea, morning sickness, or just an upset stomach, ginger is a great option to try! It is also known to help relieve cold and flu symptoms, as well as help reduce inflammation.

Lemon: Fresh lemon juice has so many great benefits. Again, a great source of vitamin C (do you see the theme here?), but lemon juice also promotes weight loss, aids digestion, and can help promote hydration. When making soup, add your lemon juice in when serving. Just like with all vegetables and fruit, it is best to consume them in the rawest form possible (if safe) so you can really get the nutrients than can be cooked out.

Kale and Lemon Immune Boosting Soup Recipe

I made a single serving for this soup, so feel free to double, triple, or make as much as you want! It’s easy to digest, low calorie, non-fat, vegan, gluten-free, and filled with immune boosting goodness!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup ginger, chopped in large pieces
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups kale, chopped
  • 1/2 fresh lemon, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Pour water into a medium sauce pan. Add onions, garlic, and ginger. Bring to a boil and continue to let it boil for 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium low for 10-15 minutes covered.
  2. Remove ginger if you do not want to eat it in your soup. Personally, I do remove it at this point, but if you want to consume the pieces, go for it! Remember to remove the skin before cooking if eating.
  3. Add your kale. Let the kale cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Pour your soup into a bowl. Pour lemon juice into the soup and give it a stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Enjoy and try to keep the germs away!

Activated Charcoal Lemonade Detox

IMG_4923This drink might look a bit scary, but it tastes like lemonade and has some pretty amazing benefits. I will start by saying to check with a doctor before incorporating this into your diet, because activated charcoal can negatively interact with other medications (including birth control). Most health professionals recommend waiting 2-3 hours after taking your medication before consuming activated charcoal.

Activated Charcoal Benefits

You’ve heard of masks and face washed with activated charcoal, I’m sure! However, you can actually buy it in a pill form. I started using activated charcoal about a year ago when I was working in a classroom with kids. It is known to help fight the stomach bug and although I am unsure if that really was the reason I did not get sick, I am going to swear by how this stuff makes me feel! If I am bloated, in need of some relief due to eating something not agreeing with my stomach, or trying to avoid a nasty hangover from too many tequila sodas, I take a few capsules and soon, I am good to go.

So, how does it work? Well, charcoal, or carbon, is extremely absorbent and alkaline. Activated charcoal is carbon that is exposed to steam, so it has a negative charge that effectively bind it’s millions of mini pores to the positive ions of toxins. It then is able to draw to toxins out of the body, up to 100 times its weight. In a literal sense, it sucks up all toxicity and safely carries it out of the body. In fact, activated charcoal is often used in hospitals on patients who have overdosed on medications or who have severe food poisoning. I always keep a bottle of this at home, and in my purse.

Lemon Benefits

Fresh lemon juice is not only hydrating, but energizing. Health professionals say drinking lemon water first thing in the morning is one of the best things you can do for your body. It will kick start your digestion, and can relieve constipation. Although lemons are acidic, when lemon juice is consumed with water, it can alkalize us. Aka, your immune system will thank you! Not to mention, lemon water tastes delicious.

Activated Charcoal Lemonade Detox Recipe

This recipe yields about 12 ounces (one tall glass in my household) and should be consumed immediately after making for the best benefits.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon (3-4 capsules) activated charcoal

Juice from 1 lemon

10 oz of water

1 tablespoon of honey (optional)

Directions

  1. In a glass, combine water and honey. Stir until the honey is evenly distributed.
  2. Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the water. I like to roll the lemon on the counter for about 10 seconds to get the juices flowing. I also like to remove as many seeds as I can before squeezing to avoid too much of a seed issue.
  3. Cut or open the activated charcoal capsules into the glass and stir until it is evenly distributed. Be careful, because it does stain!
  4. Drink and enjoy!