Sept 11 - chips and salsa

Last year, my cardiologist told me to up my salty foods intake to counteract episodes of lightheadedness I was having from low blood pressure. I’ve been eating half a bag of sea salt potato chips a day ever since. Recently I cut the daily chips out of my diet though as something that wasn’t “necessary” while times are tight. But this morning an integrative nutritionist acquaintance of mine suggested my recent bouts with dehydration could be caused from not getting enough healthy salt in my diet. Totally interesting considering I’ve only had this problem since I cut the daily chips out. I don’t know for certain that my breakup with chips is the one and only cause, but I do know that I must be craving salt for a reason. So I’m renewing my vows with my potato chips and taking our relationship public. To celebrate, I bought a new bag of 365 Everyday Value Organic Classic Sea Salt Potato Chips from Whole Foods with their matching Thick and Chunky Salsa. A match made in snacking heaven.

Why this is healthy: The chips are made with organic expeller pressed sunflower oil and not corn or vegetable oil. Also, sea salt is a healthy way to get your daily salt intake, which helps you absorb water. The salsa is a super delicious, medium, chunky salsa with no sugar added unlike some popular brands on the market. Win-win.

What it Costs: Both the chips and the salsa were $2.99 each. Not shabby, Whole Foods. Not shabby at all.


Sept 11 - pic of the day
Between Houston and Bleeker on my way to work today.

I have so much planned for Every Lil Step this month, including my first two new columns: Healthy Me and Wishlist. I’ll continue to share some of the fun things I’m making in the kitchen with my Meal Plan series, and I’ll be back on track with my The Life You’ve Always Wanted updates next week.

And more new stuff is on the way!


A reusable water bottle has been on my wishlist for a long time.  While it might seem like a fairly easy purchase  to make, it’s been a while since I’ve thrown down even $25.00 dollars on an actual “purchase” for myself other than food. But after my recent bout with dehydration, I decided it’s time to do one better than my giant Smart Water bottles washed out and reused and invest in the real deal.

Right now I’m eyeing this Sigg bottle, which is now not only BPA free (a major concern for me) but also benefits the Jane Goodall Institute. So according to the website, $5.00 from each purchase of this particular bottle will be used to “provide funding to build rainwater harvesting tanks that will deliver clean water to students in Africa.”

I didn’t know anything about the Jane Goodall Institute until now, but I like doing good with my purchases, so this makes my very first Wish List post. Since I’m a budgeting girl, I’m going to have to hold off this month until I work the actual purchase into my October budget. But soon I’llbe sporting my new fave accessory of Fall 09 – a reusable water bottle.

healthy me header

Up until this point, I haven’t been one of those bloggers who puts it all out there like some of the other bloggers with Lyme who I admire. But yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting in my favorite hospital in a cold sweat on a bed of bloody sheets in one of the classic living with Lyme episodes I can’t wait to put behind me. So as much as I prefer to focus on the positive, I feel like it can’t hurt to acknowledge those less than bright moments that come along with living with and overcoming any chronic health condition.

Today I ended up at the hospital because the kidney pain I’d had for weeks had escalated to the point where I felt like I couldn’t honestly care about Rapper X’s upcoming album feeling the way I felt and the only responsible thing to do would be to finally get it checked out. All the taking it easy, detoxing, cranberry juice, yogurt, and lemon water hadn’t done anything to ease the pain, and  my daily calls to my general practitioner’s office had yielded only a Sept 17th appointment. I was doing my best to hold out until then, but at this point I’m so over living for the next doctor appointment the way some people live for the weekend. It’s one of the many times I’ve had to make the call on which symptoms/potential infections warrant the doctor and which I can treat at home, and I only wish I had the successful track record of someone of average health to make me more confident. As it stood, I gave in and made my way to the hospital to have it checked out on my time.

Say “Lyme” and half of the doctors you talk to will immediately shut down. Either they know nothing about it (“that means you got bitten by a bug, right?”). Or they’ve heard too much of the debate going on in our nation’s courts to want to get involved or make any decision that would look like they’re taking sides. All understandable reactions and all indicative of the place Lyme holds in the medical field right now. But difficult nonetheless when someone who has no choice but to live with this condition gets caught in the cross hairs. Once she saw Lyme listed in my records, the doctor that had been assigned to me decided there was no reason to look for any additional cause of pain. So we did the basic pee in a cup and take some blood routine in which a basic IV insertion went so wrong that both me AND the nurse nearly passed out. It was not pretty.

It’s episodes like these that finally made me want to learn as much as I can about the human body and health in general, if anything to be able to look at things objectively enough not to freak out but to remain calm when everything else is going haywire. Researching Lyme has helped me ask better questions, take more control, and offer better advice to those in the same boat. But as far as understanding it all goes, I still have a lot to learn and most of what I know is based on simple experience. Which is why I had to find out the hard way that I can drink at least 8 cups of water a day and still land in the hospital with “dehydration” (their diagnosis). And why I had to go through the aforementioned rogue IV episode and dirty my fave pair of jeans just to figure that out.

A lot of living with Lyme is acting as your own advocate and nurse rolled into one. How much pain is too much? How often do I need to check my own kidneys, liver, and chemical panel while taking all these prescription drugs? What side effcts do I put up with? What interactions do I risk? And of course there are the more frequent “smaller” decisions that take just as much mental energy: can I get on the train today when I’m feeling like this? Can I smile and fake feeling great in that big meeting today? Can I sit through this presentation without having to excuse myself at least once? Sometimes it’s these decisions and the little things I have to do to compensate for my choices (yes, I’ll take that meeting and I’ll wait until afterwards to have  lunch just in case I don’t feel well when I eat) that leave me mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted at the end of the day and which make the idea of marrying wealthy and retiring young so appealing. (I kid, I kid. But it totally is tempting, right?) 😉

Right now I’m nearing the end of my treatment, and all in I’m doing better than I’ve ever been. But just reaching this point has been a two year uphill battle through diagnosis,treatment, herxes, backsliding and forward climbing that has left me in major need of some time off to do nothing but mentally recover from what feels like a war to win my health. I have no doubt that I’m emerging victorious here, but as as the saying goes, I think a change could do me good.

This summer I’ve been finding my escape in daycations, staycations, lazy weekends, and the inspiring blogs of others who are doing all they can to live their healthiest lives possible. Which is why, on Every Lil Step, I break things down into manageable goals and take them one step at a time. Happiness, health, and spiritual wealth are possible if we just keep on keeping on. This blog entry is the first of my new “Healthy Me” column in which I’ll check back in, talk about my own progress in healing, and keep it real so to speak.

For those of you with no interest in reading about the small victories and minor upsets along the way, look for the Healthy Me header and skip right over. But for those of you reading who know what it’s like, maybe we can inspire each other. Until then…

Oh, and the kidney pain… that reached its peak (I hope) last night before bed after I’d downed probably 8 cups of water in the last two hours of the day. I woke up with sharp abdominal pain around 5:30 AM, continued to down glasses of lemon water and flush myself out as I tossed and turned for the next three hours, and felt better by the time I finally decided to start the day around 8:30 (late as usual these days). Was it just dehydration? Who knows. But I’ll be following up with my family doctor in that September 17th appointment to make sure it’s all good.


Link of the Day: I Heal Myself on All Levels by Louise Hay [via Eureka!]

Here it is. The long awaited, much-built-up (yes, I’m making up a phrase) tuna dinners from late August that I’ve been meaning to write about for weeks. Normally I wouldn’t revisit a meal this far out, but honestly I was so psyched about these two dinners that I can’t help but share them.

As you remember, I made a mean bean salad as part of my no cook week back on August 24th. It was so good, I made it twice. While I was making the bean salad, I couldn’t help but think how good it would be with a nice piece of fish. So on Tuesday, August 25th I whipped up a quick and easy tuna dinner using the leftover bean salad and it was a complete success.

This was also a super easy meal because I did most of the prep beforehand: That morning, I threw two tuna steaks that Steph had picked up at Trader Joe’s in the fridge to thaw, I boiled a cup of quinoa in two cups of water and threw it in the fridge to chill, and I had the bean salad that I was using as a topping left over from my no cook weekend.

I still haven’t mastered the technique of a medium rare tuna, so to keep things easy I  put the two tuna steaks in the oven at 300 degrees to heat slowly all the way through. Once the fat had risen to the skin of the tuna and it was cooked all the way through I pulled it out, topped it with the cold bean salad and made side salads out of the local grown green lettuce, yoga sprouts, slivered almonds, and quinoa with my signature healthy salad dressing of canola oil, salt, and pepper.

Aug 25 - tuna and beans

It was a delicious easy meal and one more win for the bean salad, which I plan to make much more of next summer (and maybe a warm version this winter as well).

The Trader Joe’s tuna steaks had made more than enough for two dinners and two lunches the next day, which inspired me to try a dish I’d never attempted before with the extra: Nicoise salad. I’m no French chef. And after seeing Julie & Julia this weekend (super cute, wish it was longer), I’m pretty certain I won’t be anytime soon. But Nicoise salad looked like something firmly within my skill set, so I decided to give it a whirl – to great results, if I don’t say so myself ;). I had so much fun making this dinner.

My version wasn’t *quite* an authentic Nicoise salad, but it got the job done on my schedule and within my budget, and tasted fabulous all the same. I started by boiling 5 eggs the night before to get a leg up on the work for the next day. Then I picked up 10 small yellow potatoes and a couple handfuls of fresh green beans from the Food Coop on my way home from work and threw each in pots of boiling water until they were nice and soft – then I set them aside to chill . From there I quartered two large organic beefsteak tomatoes and filled a large salad bar with Foxy Organics romaine lettuce to serve as the base of my salad. Once all of the parts had been prepared, I assembled the salad – starting with the chilled tuna in the middle followed by the quartered tomatoes and then half of the boiled eggs, potatoes, and green beans on either side.

my first nicoise

For the dressing I whisked together Napa Valley Naturals organic olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, and mustard seed in a seperate bowl until well blended and drizzled over the entire salad for one delicious and easy dinner.

nicoise oil

nicoise served
The Breakdown (Tuna and Bean Salad)

Where I Got It: Trader Joe’s, Flatbush Food Coop

What it Cost:

  • Trader Joe’s tuna Steaks about $7.00 each x 2 steaks = $14.00

The grand total: $14.00

What I Already Had:

  • Bean salad [prepared for my no cook weekend]
  • Trader Joe’s quinoa
  • Trader Joe’s slivered almonds

How Many it Served: Two dinners + two lunches coming out to roughly $3.50 a meal since the bulk of it was leftovers from previous dinners that week. Not a bad way to squeeze a tuna steak into the menu at an affordable rate.

What’s Left Over: Trader Joe’s tuna steaks are large enough to make three meals each, leaving me enough tuna to make the Nicoise salad the next night. This was the last of the bean salad, which had a good run leading up to this. The quinoa and yoga sprouts also lasted the rest of the week in various combinations (see Detox Diet in Action for another glimpose of this quinoa batch). And the Foxy Organics romaine was also the base of my salad in my spaghetti dinners later that week. The canola oil is still sitting happily on the shelf.

Why it’s Healthy: This meal essentially speaks for itself, offering up a nice dose of lean protein, omega 3 fatty acids in the tuna, complex carbs with the quinoa and of course a large serving of green leafy goodness, essential to your daily diet.

The Breakdown (Nicoise Salad)

Where I Got It: Trader Joe’s, Flatbush Food Coop

What it Cost:

  • potatoes $1.79 lb coming out to  $2.11
  • green beans $2.99 lb to $1.79
  • tomatoes $2.99 lb to $3.56
  • olive oil around $11.00

The grand total: $18.46

What I Already Had:

  • Trader Joe’s tuna steaks
  • Foxy Organic Romaine Hearts $3.99 [you’re getting used to these by now ;)]

How Many it Served: Two large dinner salads and one leftover lunch salad coming out to $6.15 per salad (and that calculation of course swallows the cost of the olive oil, making it a “free” ingredient for all my future meals).

What’s Left Over: The Napa Valley Naturals olive oil has been used on every salad since this and still has plenty to go. I ended up only using 6 potatoes in the salad, which left me with four leftovers that I used for lunch the next day. The rest of the ingredients were used up in the meal and were well worth it. 🙂

Why it’s Healthy: The tuna once again offers up a nice serving of omega 3 fatty acids alongside the healty benefits of the tomato (hello lycopene), potato (vitamins C and B as well as potassium and a nice dose of fiber), the lean protien, amino acids, and and vitamin D of the boiled egg, and the wealth of vitamins and minerals found in green vegetables such as green beans and romaine lettuce.


Link of the Day: HealthyTuna.com. Get lost exploring this great website all about tuna, including a ton of info on how it’s caught, why it’s healthy, and delicious recipes that I’ll be trying very soon.

Grateful for: Peaceful morning commutes, a short work week to recover from a long weekend, and delicious seafood at affordable prices!



Beach trip number 2 was a success, and a full recap is coming soon. For now, a pic of my fave beach accessories: Saltwater Sandals.

Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend!

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