Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cooking with Gusto

As I have mentioned to many of you, my main job this summer is to cook dinner for my husband each night.  I find something to do with my day:  gym, yoga, beach, reading, doing classwork.  Then at around 3:30 or so I begin to plan out my culinary adventure for the evening.  We have both been enjoying this tremendously.

It took me a while to admit it, but I have been battling a chronic illness now since November.  It's IBS and nearly one in five Americans lives with it.  I wasn't sure what was going on for the longest time and even after a doctor gave me a preliminary diagnosis, I did not want to believe it was true.  It's diagnosed by ruling out other, more dangerous things.  If there is no sign of the scary stuff they just shrug their shoulders and say, maybe IBS?  And the worst part, besides never really knowing for sure what's going on, is that there is no known cure and you deal with it for life.  Mostly what it has meant for me is tummyaches everyday with varying levels on the pain spectrum.  Not fun.

About two weeks ago I was so frustrated I started trolling the internet for more information on web-boards to help me find some relief, either through lifestyle, diet or maybe herbal remedies.  I found information on all of these options.  But the single most helpful information I found was from a woman named Heather Van Vorous.   She had this great cheat sheet for basic dietary rules on her website and best of all:  a cookbook.  This woman has suffered with this illness for most of her young life (over 20 years) and has found ways to manage her symptoms mostly through diet.  In her own words: "Most typical American meals, whether home-cooked or in restaurants, were simply intolerable.  What I needed was a way to bridge the gap between knowing what to eat and how.  I wasn't about to sacrifice my health, nor was I willing to forego great food, so I had to find a way to create recipes that were both safe... and scrumptious."

Well, let me just say this has changed everything for me.  First of all, I can now manage most of my symptoms now, too.  I still try things on the no-no list because it's still hard to believe I can't continue living my life as I have for 30+ years.  I gave up coffee.  (COFFEE!!) And I have to say that it has been worth it.  I still drink caffeine but from Yerba Matte and Green Tea Lattes.  Second, I have to tell you, the recipes this woman has created are OUTSTANDING.  I have become a very good cook using the recipes in this little manual.  If you don't believe me, come over for dinner some time.

Last night we had leftover Vietnamese Lemongrass Ginger Chicken (which was almost better than the first time - and after the first time I told the Mr, "This is the best meal I have ever prepared.") with Rice Noodle Salad with Shrimp and Mango.  Today I made little pizzas with cherry tomatoes and tofutti cream cheese in the toaster oven (Amazing! - and my own interpretation of one of Heather's dishes) along with Smoky Sweet Potato Soup.  

So basically we are both in culinary heaven over here.  I love eating great food and knowing I will feel just fine for the rest of the day.  It's tremendous!  And the Mr sure enjoys all these homemade delicious delights.  I'll have to take some pictures of dishes next week.  They are divine.  And I mostly feel great these days.  I refer to Heather a lot in conversation about food.  As in, "This one is from Heather." Or "Heather recommended this."  Or "Heather said so."  If you hear about her in a later post, now you will know my new friend.

I wish you delicious meals eaten with great gusto wherever you are.  Bon Apetite!

1 comment:

Vicki said...

Well, Dear Daughter --
I'm sorry to know that you've been dealing with IBS. (Grandma Schad suffers from it, too.) And I'm so proud of you for meeting it headon, so to speak. Your resourcefulness and creativity are refreshing, and we're glad you're feeling better. (How nice that you have this "expansive" summer schedule in which to explore your options.) I can only believe Ben will benefit from your cuisine, also. Love you both so much! Mom