Choosing Raised Garden Beds

After much experimentation over the years, I’ve decided that raised garden beds are my preferred way of growing vegetables. Why?

  • They reduce weeding by about 80%. There is no “edge” for grass to infiltrate, and when planted intensively (like “square foot gardening”), the garden plants shade out most weeds by July 4th.
  • They eliminate the need for rototilling.
  • It’s easy to fill them with good soil, and maintain its fertility.
  • Open-bottom beds let plants’ roots “forage” below the ground level for nutrients and water.
  • They add to the beauty of the garden! Any set of similar beds will make a very tidy-looking garden. The beds themselves can be decorative though your selection of materials, shapes, sizes, and accessories.
Photo of wood and metal raised garden beds.
4×4′ wood raised beds and 4′ diameter steel fire pit rings combine to make an attractive front-yard garden. 2′ tall fences keep out rabbits and woodchucks. Wood chip mulch eliminates mowing and weeding around the beds.

If you are thinking about building or buying raised beds, here are some things to think about:

  • Standard bed sizes are rectangles 4’x8′, 2’x8′, 4’x4′, and to a lesser degree, 3’x6′. If you choose among these sizes, you’ll also have a larger range of fences, trellises, screen covers, cold frames, etc. to choose from to use with your beds.
  • If it’s your first time gardening,  I recommend no more than 64 square feet of garden beds (e.g., two 4’x8′ beds). That’s enough to feel like a “real” garden, but unlikely to overwhelm you in your first year.
  • Round beds look delightful, but are a pain to fence and mow around. You also lose 3.5 square feet of growing area compared to a square bed of similar width.
  • Most people can easily reach across 1.5-2′ (18-24″). If your bed is up against a fence or wall, don’t make it more than two feet wide. Up to four feet wide is fine if you can work the bed from both sides.
  • Plain untreated pine 2″x8″ boards are great. They will easily last 8+ years (in Michigan…probably not in the deep South due to termites), and they are thick enough not to warp and bend. Cedar is overkill.
  • Use 1/4″ x 3″ lag screws to hold the 2″x8″ planks together. Regular deck screws aren’t sturdy enough.
  • The cheapest, easiest, best-quality approach is to order “garden blend soil” (top soil + compost) from a local nursery, who will deliver it by dump truck. Fill beds to the top; the soil will sink a couple inches. Plan around 1/2 cubic yard of dirt per 4’x8’x8″ bed. When in doubt, order a bit MORE dirt.
  • Also acceptable is 4-6″ of horse manure topped with 4+” of dirt. Heap the bed; the manure will settle by half within a few weeks. Squash will LOVE this; tomatoes will likely develop blossom end rot the first year. After the worms have had a year to work the soil together, an you have sowed, planted, and pulled out a season’s plants, this will be absolutely amazing soil for anything you want to grow.
  • If you set an 8″ tall bed frame directly on sod, and fill it with at least 6″ of dirt and manure, it will kill the grass underneath. No need to first dig out the sod, lay down cardboard, etc.
  • For wood chip paths, lay 3-4″ of wood chips on corrugated cardboard between beds.  Be sure the cardboard overlaps at least 6″ on all edges. This will kill most grass and weeds, except those with extensive root systems.

See my other posts on Starting a garden from scratch and What should I plant in my first garden?

Using the Polar H10 and A360/370 for Recovery Training

Yesterday, I reviewed the Morpheus Recovery Band. Today, I’ll talk about a suite of Polar devices/apps.

I’ve been using the Polar H10 chest strap the longest, both for morning heart rate variability (HRV) readings and for tracking exercise. I started using the Polar A360 in October for wrist-based heart rate tracking. The A360 isn’t made anymore, but the A370 is very similar and has nice new features like all-day heart rate monitoring and GPS. Then I also need two free apps: Polar Beat (for the H10) and Polar Flow (for the A360 and bringing all the data together). I know it sounds kinda clunky, but in practice, it’s pretty simple. Here’s how I use this.


My current goal is to recondition after a long illness. One of the problems with adrenal fatigue is that if you overdo physical or emotional stress, you can knock your recovery back days or weeks. It took me a year to figure out that 20 minutes of gardening, sweeping the deck, or moderate exercises like a few pushups and situps constituted “entirely too much exercise.” I would wake up feeling good, overdo it, and get knocked back to the couch for several days. It was incredibly frustrating because I rarely felt good two days in a row. For, like, two years.

So I wanted a way to quantify how much work I was doing and have some data to help me understand how much was too much. The key data I needed were my morning heart rate variability (HRV) scores, and some way to measure how much energy I was actually expending not just during workouts, but during daily activities, chores, walking to meetings, etc.

Polar H10


I’ve already talked about measuring my HRV. I largely did that with the H10, though Welltory also let me measure it with my finger on my phone. (I ended up abandoning Welltory – it seemed less accurate over time and didn’t give me much uniquely useful info.)

For exercise tracking

  • Use with the Polar Beats app. Start the app, tell it what kind of exercise you are doing, and press “Start.”
  • If you leave the app open, you can see your heart rate moment-to-moment.
  • Five “zones” are color-coded from 1-5 based on your maximum recommended heart rate (220 minus your age).
    • For me, Zone 1 (50-60% of max HR) is 88-105 bpm because my max HR should be 176.
    • Zone 5 is 90-100% of your max (158+ for me), and I avoid it like the plague at this stage of my reconditioning.
  • Building on what I learned from the Morpheus band, Polar Zones 1-3 are recovery, Zone 4 is conditioning, and Zone 5 is overreaching. In practice, I am a little lower – I think my conditioning zone probably starts around 130 bmp, which is 75% max or “Zone 2.5” and I don’t like to go above 150/Zone 3.5/85% max right now.

Polar A360/370

polar-a370-white-600x600The 360 and 370 work basically the same way. You can use them as a wrist-based HR tracker for exercise, though it is not sensitive enough to track HRV (use the H10 for that). It is supposedly very accurate for walking and jogging, but less good for weightlifting and cycling. It also has an all-day activity monitor, and a sleep monitoring feature I’ve not used much at all.

The reason I got it is because I wanted to see my HR during exercise on my wrist, not my phone – I often use my phone to play workout videos and can’t see both apps at once. I also wanted to be able to track exercise on the fly during the day – e.g., walking to a meeting, or giving a presentation – because I suspected that many of my daily activities were more strenuous than I’d realized. It works great for this – I can see the same fitness zones on my wrist that I had been getting from the H10, and I regularly set it to record my activity while I’m at work.

You track day-long activity on the Polar Flow app. This will also take in info from Polar Beats, so if you do use the H10 for certain exercises, all the data gets collected into one place and count toward your daily activity. What’s slightly confusing is that “activity” is broken into different “zones” than training. Here’s a table…

Polar Training Zone

Morpheus Recovery Zone

HR range (BPM are for age 44)

Polar Flow Activity Level


Total rest


·        Resting + sitting



50-60% max


·        Low



60-70% max

·      Low-Medium intensity (breakpoint around 65%)



70-80% max

·      Medium-High intensity (breakpoint around 75%)



80-90% max

·    High intensity



90-100% max

·     High intensity


Galloping heart



Polar_Flow_Analyze-1_0_0To keep things simple, I mostly just look at the Polar Activity chart during the day. On “good” days, when my morning HRV reading is 8-10 on Elite HRV and 7.5 or above on HRV4Training, I go for 15 minutes of “high intensity” activity (HR above about 130). On days my HRV reading is around 6.5-7.5, I avoid high-intensity activity entirely but generally try to get in some low-medium intensity activity around Zone 2/HR 105-120. On days when my HRV says I’m overtaxed, I really try to rest as much as possible, including having my husband drop me off in front of my building at work, always taking the elevator, and going to bed an hour early.

I can’t say for certain that my rate of improvement has increased through 2018, but I can say that I am MUCH better able to handle physical activity now! in Feb. 2018, I was pleased that that my edge was to do 20 minutes of gardening on Saturday AND Sunday. In September, my edge was 3.5 hours a day of vigorous t’ai chi, on a Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. I don’t think I’ve come close to pushing past my physical boundaries since then (3 months), though I am learning the toll stress takes on my HRV scores. But that’s another post. 🙂


Using Morpheus for Recovery Training

In a previous post, I talked about basic concepts of recovery activities. I wanted to update you with a couple new months of data gleaned from two additional tools: the Morpheus Recovery Band and the Polar A360/370 fitness monitor.  I’ll review the Polar tomorrow.

About Morpheus

The Morpheus band and system are the only gizmos I know of that actually calculate how much a particular workout helps you recover, or knocks you back. Joel Jamieson, the creator, has done a ton of work around active recovery and avoiding overtraining. Probably 95% of what I know about recovery training came from his info. So I was very excited to try this tool.

You take a morning reading with the Morpheus band (on arm or leg) and get a baseline score and your set of target heart rates. There are three zones: recovery, conditioning, and overtraining, each with a heart rate range based on your age and your current state of fitness.  Then you exercise – using the Morpheus band, or another HRV monitor such as the Polar 10 chest strap – and at the end of the workout, it calculates your recovery points. For me, I was always trying to maximize recovery points, and generally avoid negative recovery point (a sign that you worked really hard – which is great for hardcore athletes but not good for people desperately trying to avoid overexertion as they recover from a long illness).

What’s awesome

  • Recovery scores were super-helpful! I learned that my body is “recovering” at much higher heart rates than I’d imagined.
    • My max recommended heart rate is about 176 (220-age), so I’d thought a good “recovery” heart rate maxed out at 110. But no – I was reliably seeing high recovery scores up to about 125-130bpm. And critically, I was seeing higher recovery scores at 125 than at 110.
    • I did take with a grain of salt Morpheus’s recommendation that on good days, I would be recovering up to 143bpm – that felt like way too much exertion for me at this point in time.
    • What I thought were good “recovery” activities (seated yoga, light t’ai chi) actually were calculated as “rest” and had little or no impact on my recovery scores.
  • The upshot is that I dramatically increased the intensity of activity I was doing, and continued to feel better.

What’s OK

  • Morning baseline readings were also helpful, but I was already getting very similar information from my chest strap and Elite HRV/HRV4Training apps. All of them seemed to agree pretty well.
  • The daily suggestion of HR zones was less useful than I’d expected, because they were nearly always the same. On a good day, the breakpoint between recovery and conditioning was about 143. On a bad day, it was about 135, which was not a very meaningful difference to me. In addition, this corresponds pretty well to the Polar zones 1-3 for recovery, 4 for conditioning, and 5 for overload.


  • The app doesn’t let me easily track HRV changes over time. It’s very much a “what should I do today” sort of device.
  • The app gives no information on LF/HF readings, which are useful for understanding how my parasympathetic system is/is not engaging. I don’t want to give up that info, so every morning, I was taking 3 simultaneous readings with two different devices.
  • The band is impossible to use during exercise. It was constantly slipping off my arm, and I don’t even sweat heavily. So I had to use my Polar chest strap during all exercise, but the Morpheus strap for the initial morning reading.
  • You can’t just take a reading to see how you are doing “right now,” except for once a day in the morning. There were many times when I’d come home from work, and want to get info on how much my day had taken out of me, but it’s not set up to do that. That info was somewhat reflected in my next morning’s reading, but it didn’t help me narrow down non-exercise stressors.
  • The app and community were definitely focused on high-performing athletes and avid gymgoers. No one could really answer questions I had from the perspective of someone in deep recovery mode.

The Verdict

I ended up returning the Morpheus during its 60-day no-questions-asked return period. I do still occasionally miss the recovery score readings, but I wasn’t willing to pay $150 to keep having them – especially since I seemed to be able to track that data solely with my Polar chest strap.

Turkey recipes

Thanksgiving is my “chosen family’s” annual get-together. We have settled into a routine where everybody has a typical role in the big feast, and we rotate in and out of the kitchen throughout the day.

A photo of the printout of the photo of the original Thanksgiving feast schedule  

I cook the turkey and thought it was time to write down my method. Start with a bird that has not been “enhanced with a solution of…” salt water, vegetable oil, and chemicals. We are lucky to be able to get non-frozen turkeys near us, so that’s what we use.

Prepare a mix of 1 Tbl salt and 2 Tbl poultry seasoning. Prep branches of rosemary by breaking them into 6” Monge single branches. (I grow a rosemary plant each year that pretty much just gets used for the turkey.) Take out any bits and bobs from the cavity. Loosen the skin by running your hand between the skin and meat  – you may need a couple strategic slits on the thighs. Then rub the entire surface of the meat (under the skin) with the herb/salt mix and place the rosemary between the meat and skin.

Place a turkey roasting bag in the roasting pan, then wrestle the bird into the bag. Loosely close the bag and poke a couple holes. Bake at 350 for a little less time than they say on the roasting bag instructions.  I think a 20-lb bird needs 2-2.5 hours. Critical: determine doneness with a meat thermometer! Breast = 165; thigh = 180

Remove from oven, open bag, and let rest while you make gravy and stuffing using the drippings and juice from the bird. Gravy is just 1/4c turkey fat, 1/4c flour to make roux, then whisk in 1c turkey juice and usually about a cup of water depending on how salty the juices are. It shouldn’t need any other seasoning, because the turkey itself was seasoned. I use a baster to get all the juice/fat into a mason jar. Once it separates, it’s easy to use the baster to get the fat or juice you need just by targeting the right layer.

Leftovers ideas:

Chop remnants of veggie tray and nice cubes of turkey. Sauté with onions and fat of choice (drippings from well-seasoned turkey?). Add gravy + water, or make roux and add stock. Simmer on stove 20 mins. Top with – or serve over – mashed potatoes. Or top with cornbread batter (you bet you want sage and rosemary in there) and bake about 30 mins.

Layer turkey with butternut squash slices, onions, and apples. Can top with thinned-down gravy, if desired. Bake 40 mins. Top with stuffing and bake another 20. Serve with cranberry sauce on the side.


Finally…GOOD frozen green beans!

I have finally achieved edible frozen green beans from my garden!!! All previous attempts were leathery and dehydrated and went straight to the compost.

Here’s what I did:

  • Grew Fortex beans. I also grew Jade II but I haven’t tried those yet.
  • Rinsed and cut into bite-sized lengths. (Ok, tbh I don’t remember if I actually rinsed them…)
  • Put them into vacuum bags RAW. No blanching!
  • Sealed on the “low” vacuum setting.
  • To cook: cover with water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, cook 3 minutes. Drain.
  • Dress with olive oil, garlic powder, and popcorn-worthy levels of salt.

Might also work in regular frezzer bags – I think the keys are the raw pack and reheat method.

Eureka! Just extended our favorite garden veg into the winter!

Recovery Activities

See Part 1.

My exercise goals for the last couple months have been:

  • Prioritize recovery and stress reduction over building strength
  • Continue improving resilience (i.e., recover faster)
  • Learn what each workout zone and especially recovery feel like
  • If energy is good (judge by feel and HRV numbers), THEN alternate “long slow” and “strength/cardio” workouts. NO set frequency or schedule, to avoid overdoing it/guilt.
  • Work on posture and breathing to increase available energy

I take an HRV reading every morning and compare that with how I feel. I use a Polar 10 chest strap gadget and the Welltory, Elite HRV, and HRV4Training apps simultaneously (I know, I know…I’m comparing them…gimme a break) to determine my morning HRV.  If most signs point toward needing to take it easy, I rest or do a recovery activity in zone 1 (or low zone 2 since it’s often hard to stay in zone 1). If both are good, then I do exercise in zones 2-3. If I feel great, I aim for zones 3-4, but no more than 2x/week at this point.

I wear the Polar chest strap during my workouts (and sometimes just during regular activities, like canning or giving a presentation at work). Its app shows my heart rate AND the zone I’m in from moment to moment, then tallies up my time in each zone per workout and day/week/month. Here are some sample activities:



HR range

Activities Aug. ’18


Total rest –

Feels stretchy


·        Sitting, sleeping

·        Seated yoga


Active Recovery –

Easy motion; often hard to stay this low


·        Gentle sun salutations; seated active yoga

·        Tai chi warm-up

·        Walk to meeting


Light – base fitness – feels like “I’m actually doing


·      Flowy tai chi

·     1 flight stairs

·     “Taking a walk”

·     Giving Reflex

·     Weeding

·     Slowest elliptical


Steady state – improve aerobic – feels like I’m working hard


·     Brisk walk

·     Moderate elliptical

·     2 flights stairs


Tempo – speed/stamina – breathing very hard


·    Mowing flat

·    Cardio workout


Max – increase max performance – starting to worry


·     Mowing slope


Galloping heart




If you want to try this at home, there are tons of gadgets and apps out there. You absolutely need something that can measure heart rate variability – most FitBits and whatnot don’t do this, even if they can track your heart rate. Welltory and I think HRV4Training can actually measure HRV using your phone – so that can be a good way to get started. I use the Welltory phone measurement about 15% of the time. It sometimes chokes for no apparent reason, but when it works, it seems to be pretty accurate. I have also wanted something on my wrist that would show HR zones, so I can use my phone to play my workout and let me see my HR zone on my wrist. However, I haven’t found a wrist tracker I like (I have tiiiiiiny wrists) and after a couple months, I’m pretty good at knowing by HR zone by feel. So I just watch the workout video and check my HR zone once in a while, or after I’m done.

I’m also going to give Morpheus a try. It seems to be geared exactly for what I’m trying to do. Might be overkill – but there’s a 60 day trial, so why not? It varies your zones day-to-day based on your current recovery state, which sounds more precise than just saying “zone 1 is always 88-105bpm.” I have days when chopping kale in the kitchen puts me in Zone 2 and days when I can’t get into Zone 2 by speed walking, so it would be nice to have something that knows what “recovery” should look like today. I’ll let you know how it goes when I’ve had it for a couple weeks.

Active Recovery

The last three months or so, I’ve been reading about and doing a lot of “active recovery” activities. Between reconditioning after my long illness and just dealing with the day-to-day stress of the current administration’s assaults, I realized I really needed to develop my ability to bounce back without overdoing it and just making myself more tired. The two concepts I’ve found to be fruitful as I look into this are Heart Rate Variability (HRV) and Active Recovery .

I wanted to share some things I’ve found helpful. Maybe you will, too.

Background Concepts

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) refers to the amount of time between your heartbeats. If your resting heart rate is 60 beats per minute, that doesn’t mean your heart beats exactly one time per second. The time between the first two beats may be 1.00002 second, then .99998 second, then 1 second, etc. The amount of difference the time between your heart beats is your HRV. There are actually a bunch of different measurements that go into an HRV number, but that’s the basic idea.

Generally speaking, the higher your HRV is, the healthier you are. There are apps and devices that let you measure this easily at home. The apps also often have some indication of a “stress score,” based on other measurements taken at the same time. I’ve found looking at my HRV and stress scores to be very helpful in showing me how my body is doing, including:

  • What activities help me recover faster, and what activities wear me out
  • What type of activity I should pursue on a given day: rest, gentle exercise, or vigorous exercise
  • How to better tell how I’m doing from how I feel (it’s not always clear!)

I’ll go into more detail on these later.

Once I was able to get a handle on what I needed (rest/recovery/training), I needed to figure out activities for each of those needs. Rest is pretty easy – read soothing books and sleep a lot. The other two are harder, because they can overlap.

Enter “active recovery.” This is the idea that very gentle exercise can be more beneficial than straight rest in certain circumstances. I found a lot of work on active recovery coming from athletic trainers.  They are generally working with healthy people who are trying to take their performance from “very good” to “exceptional,” so I take their specific training regimens with a huge grain of salt. But their guidelines have been working well. The super-short version is, when you do active recovery, you want to keep your heart rate between 50-60% of your maximum heart rate (or “Zone 1”). For me, that’s between 88 and 105 beats per minute. (HR zone info here.) For other kinds of training, you aim for other zones. I use a heart rate tracker and app while I’m exercising so I can target the right zone. It’s actually pretty hard to stay in the recovery zone, because when I’m tired, sitting at my desk and going to meetings can put me in or above the recovery threshold! No wonder I was having trouble overdoing it…

The other piece of recovery training is that breathing is incredibly important. I’ve come to appreciate yogic breathing and meditation in a whole new way. Likewise, body alignment and energy flow activities have also been super helpful.

Tune in for tomorrow’s installment where I’ll go into agonizing detail about those. 🙂

Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Menu

For background, see Adrenal Recovery, Pt. 1

For the week, prepare:


  • Meaty:
    • 2 meatballs
    • On a sprouted bun: 2-3 oz of burger, pork tenderloin, baked turkey breast, or chicken thigh
    • Grass-fed, no-nitrate beef hot dogs (Applegate natural)
    • Salt-n-garlic beans or steamed carrot sticks as a side
  • Veggie:
    • Calabaza queso on corn tortillas
    • Raw carrot
    • Eggs are great, if you can have them
  • Avocado toast + protein


Soup, stew, etc.

Pan dinners

Baked/Pressure/Big Batch

Super Quick

To have on hand

  • Calabaza queso, Zucchini butter, or Baba ganouj
  • Triscuits
  • Nuts/Kind bars
  • Meatballs, Grilled chicken thighs, and/or hot dogs
  • Coconut bars (omit honey but keep choc chips – 1 g sugar per serving)
  • Sweet potato wedges
  • Praeger’s veg patties (check varieties)
    • Cali burger
    • Greens burger has some potato flakes mid-way down the list; lowest carb option
    • Asian burger has some potato flakes way down the list
    • Bibimbop burger has some potato flakes way down the list; higher carb
    • Others have too much white stuff and/or egg

Freezer-stocking meals

Dining Out

  • Japanese
    • Agedashi Tofu
    • Miso
    • Edamame
    • Yakitori (sauce on side)
    • Hand rolls and brown rice on rolls
    • Chicken Terriyaki w/o sauce
  • Chinese
    • Get brown rice or don’t eat rice at restaurant
    • Moo goo gai pan
    • Hunan chicken
    • Chicken and vegetables
  • Session Room
    • Sub corn tortilla for slider bun
    • Chicken tacos
  • Qdoba
    • Burrito with brown rice
    • Tacos
  • Great Plains
    • Burger, 1/2 wheat bun, sweet potato fries
  • Noodles & Co
    • Chicken Veracruz salad
    • They don’t have ww noodles anymore, and most stuff has a lot of sugar.

When NOT to use an Instant Pot

Look – I know you love your Instant Pot. I love mine, too, even more than the stovetop pressure cooker I had before (quieter and less mess). It lets me cook brown rice in about 30 minutes without watching (and failing to prevent) the boil-over mess I’d otherwise have. The pulled pork, turkey, and pot roast are divine. But at some point, we need to STOP THE INSANITY and quit using it for things that really don’t need it – or worse, that take longer and yield worse results than doing it stovetop.

Here’s your rule of thumb: If a recipe says it needs under 10 minutes at pressure, don’t use the Instant Pot for that recipe. Once you factor in the time to come up to pressure (even if you use a quick release), it’ll be faster cook cook it stovetop. Also, if your food needs to reduce or evaporate, don’t use the IP.

Strawberry-rhubarb sauce – stovetop (top) vs. Instant Pot (bottom)

Case in point: strawberry-rhubarb jam. I found lots of recipes for strawberry jam in the IP online that all said “1 minute at pressure; release after 15 mins.” I had a big batch of strawberries and rhubarb thawing to be jammified, so I split the batch between the stove and the IP and turned both on at the same time. By the time the stovetop version was completely done, the IP hadn’t even come up to pressure. It took about 20 minutes longer in the IP. And of course, since it hadn’t been evaporating during cooking, it was still as runny as fruit juice – not a nice thick sauce – so then we had to bring it to a boil and simmer it for 10-15 minutes. Which is all it took on the stovetop to begin with.

Here’s my “why would you bother with the IP?” short list, with stovetop times listed (including heating up):

  • Quinoa (15 mins)
  • Couscous (5 mins)
  • Quick oats (2 mins in microwave, right in your bowl)
  • Asparagus (5 mins)
  • Green beans (7 mins)
  • Spinach (2 mins)
  • Brussels sprouts (7 mins, and ye gods why would you steam them, anyway, when you can pan-roast them?)


Adrenal Recovery, Pt. 1

tl;dr: link to recipes here

In 2016-17, I was pretty sick. It started with pneumonia and got worse from there. At some point, my doctor diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue – basically, I’d been stressed out for so long my adrenal glands couldn’t keep up their usual endocrine dance. Some people debate whether adrenal fatigue is  “real” diagnosis, and I’m not interested in arguing. I do know that by following these suggestions, I did feel better, and when I didn’t, I felt much, much worse. It took me about 2 years of alternating small improvements and plateaus to feel mostly healthy.

There’s a lot of material out there about the condition, and if you think you have it, I hope you’re working with a health care provider. What I want to do here is share the guidelines I followed and the recipes I relied on so if you are going through the same thing, you don’t have to expend your limited energy finding recipes.

My Guidelines

As always: your mileage may vary. Listen to your body and your health care provider. The guidelines my doc gave me were:

  • Reduce or eliminate the source of the stress.
  • Find something to smile about, laugh at, and enjoy every day.
  • In bed before 10pm and nap as much as you want (without disturbing nighttime sleep). 2x reclined rests during work day.
  • Gentle exercise only – don’t tire yourself.
  • Drink 2 liters salted water (a big pinch of real sea salt and maybe a squeeze of lime in a glass of water), rehydration solution, and/or broth daily
  • Don’t eat allergens (for me, dairy, eggs, and beans – luckily, soy and wheat are OK)
  • Don’t let blood sugar crash

That last one is where the recipes come in. For me, this is what it means to not let my blood sugar crash:

  • Have protein, fat, and complex carbs at every meal.
    • Aim for 20+g protein at breakfast.
    • Don’t go hog wild, but don’t fear carbs, either. You need that easy blood sugar.
  • Eat snacks as needed – including getting up in the night to eat if I wake up hungry.

I also figured out two years into this that I had a gut full of candida, which was making it very hard to keep my blood sugar steady and to sleep through the night. So, when treating that, I also added the usual anti-candida rules:

  • No white rice, white flour, white pasta, white potatoes, fruit, or sweeteners of any kind
  • …except a 5g sugar treat each day to keep me sane, e.g. 8 dark chocolate chips.


Of course, it takes energy to feed yourself well, and that’s just what you don’t have. So having a plan help. When possible, I’d prep this stuff once a week:

  • A vegetable-heavy soup in good broth (usually eaten as mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack)
  • A big batch of turkey-beef meatballs or grilled chicken thighs (usually eaten at breakfast or middle of the night)
  • And if possible, a big batch of cooked vegetables or freezing some pre-made meals to have for lunches

And then dinners were from this list, which I keep adding to under the tag “good_carb”. I’m going to sort/link some specific recipes in my next post.

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