Adrenal Fatigue Recovery Menu

For background, see Adrenal Recovery, Pt. 1

For the week, prepare:

Breakfasts

  • 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

Dinners

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.
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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.

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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.

Method

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.

Big Batch Burrito Bowls (Freezer Meal)

Yields 6 portions

This seems like a lot of prep, but it actually comes together pretty quickly. The secret is that few of the individual parts need to be *cooked* before assembling the bowls in freezer containers…just mixed or lightly heated.

For the rice (cook the rice first; it’s the part that takes the longest and you can do other prep while it cooks):

  • 1 c brown rice
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 c minced cilantro

Cook the rice in your usual way. Allow to cool. Add lime juice, salt, and cilantro to taste. Mix well.

For the beans:

  • 2 cans black beans, mostly drained (leave a little juice to make it saucy)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 Tbl dehydrated onion

Mix everything together in a bowl. No need to heat.

For the TVP:

  • 1.5 c textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 2 c water
  • 1 packet taco seasoning mix

Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 mins or so. Note, if you don’t like TVP, you can omit, or sub more beans, or brown a pound of ground beef, turkey, or pork with the taco seasoning.

For the veggies:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced (you can also add hot peppers, if you like)
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 2 c corn kernels (cut from 4-5 cobs of corn, or frozen)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt

Sautee the onion and pepper in the olive oil until the onion starts to go translucent. Add remaining ingredients and cook until crisp-tender (a little undercooked).

To assemble:

Use 3 cup flat containers. Fill each corner with one of the dishes. Put a hefty dollop of salsa in the middle. Cool, seal, and freeze.

 

Why do I need a root cellar?

I’ve been gardening for about 15 years now. I’ve gardened at home, at a neighbor’s house, at a community garden, in full sun, in half-shade, in the ground, in raised beds, in containers of all sizes, in a small greenhouse, on the windowsill, under lights, and in the weedy strip between two parking lots. I’ve gardened for joy, for science, for security, for reducing my carbon footprint, and for taste. I have explored all kinds of ways of extending the homegrown food season, from  lights to row covers to that greenhouse I mentioned.

And what is the #1 piece of equipment I recommend if you are serious about growing your own food? A cool storage space, like a root cellar.

Why? Root cellars:

  • allow you to eat locally-grown food pretty much all year long
  • are very low-maintenance – much less work than a greenhouse
  • are perfect storage for high-calorie, nutrient-dense crops like root vegetables
  • if you have a bad garden year, you can stock them with food from the market
  • unlike a greenhouse, they let you take the winter off from gardening
  • unlike canning, prepping food for the root cellar takes very little time and energy
  • zero ongoing energy costs for storage

Ways to do cold storage

Cool storage, for winter squash, sweet potatoes, and onions, can be up to 50 degrees, so a cool corner of a basement can work. But true cold storage, for root vegetables, apples, and cabbage, needs to be around 35-40 degrees, but can never freeze. This space will need to be vented to the outdoors (this assumes your winters get down to freezing). Some options include:

  • Large buckets or tubs layering crops between peat moss or wood shavings, stored in an attached garage or unheated breezeway
  • Wall off a corner of the basement that has a window that can be opened/closed as needed
  • Bury a fridge (with a vent installed) in a hillside – see instructions in Anna Hess’s book $10 Root Cellar along with some other DIY ideas!

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt

Every year we make big batches of strawberry jam and raspberry jam, 95% of which gets used to flavor Scott’s homemade yogurt. Today was strawberry jam day, and as per usual, we were wondering about quantities and comparing relative ease and price of different types of jam. Raspberry takes a lot less work than strawberry because there’s no hulling or slicing, but raspberries cost twice as much per quart (seriously, $8 a quart now!). Blueberry would be a nice compromise, but Scott’s not a huge fan, and he’s the one eating it, so, no.

As it turns out, I had 2 pints of rhubarb compote in the fridge – jars that didn’t seal from a massive batch I did a couple weeks ago. I’d been intending to re-can them today, and I thought…rhubarb yogurt? We immediately dished up some plain yogurt, added a dollop of rhubarb and…you know, not half bad! We then decided to gild the lily and add a couple scoops of strawberries to the rhubarb and – perfection. Added a nice bit of that berry sweetness and brightness – the rhubarb on its own is a fairly subtle flavoring.

Advantages:

  • Rhubarb is incredibly easy to grow, and pests don’t bother it, so it’s basically free.
  • Rhubarb takes a lot less prep than the strawberries.
  • You don’t have to cook it nearly as long since you’re not waiting for pectin alchemy to happen.
  • If you want a rhubarb cobbler or pie, just pop open a jar.
  • It tastes really good!

Strawberry Jam Recipe

For each pint of jam:

  • 4 c. sliced strawberries
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 Tbl. lemon juice

Stir all together in a pot or big frying pan until it’s jammy. Then can it (15 mins water bath).  You can safely do three or even four batches in one big pot (make sure the pot isn’t more than half full because it will boil up at one point).

Rhubarb Sauce Recipe

This is how I make it to eat straight. This is good in a dish as dessert, baked with a crumble topping for cobbler, used instead of applesauce in baked goods or on meat. I also want to try making a BBQ-ish sauce by adding some roasted hot peppers and onions (and maybe a little tomato paste). For each pint of sauce:

  • 1 lb. rhubarb, washed and sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups sliced)
  • 2 Tbl. maple syrup
  • 1/2 c. sugar (might need more to taste)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Simmer all ingredients until it purees itself. Take the vanilla pod out before canning. Leave extra head space when canning; it expands like applesauce. 15 mins water bath.

Strawberry Rhubarb Yogurt Sauce

For flavoring yogurt, I might try this next year:

For 8 pints:

  • 7 lb. rhubarb, washed and sliced into 1-inch pieces (about 7 quarts)
  • 1 quart strawberries, washed and sliced
  • 8 c. sugar
  • Does it even need lemon juice?

Simmer until saucy. It won’t set like jam, but if you’re stirring it into yogurt (or eating it as cobbler or pie), who cares? Water bath 15 mins in pints.

Instant chicken pot pie

In our house, chicken pot pie is topped with mashed potatoes, not pie crust.

I tried layering this in a jar to get the “mashed potatoes on top” look, but the seasonings all stayed at the bottom and the potatoes had sifted down, anyway, so I ended up stirring it all together. Tasted fine…hits the warm and soothing notes well!

  • 1 c. freeze-dried potato “dices” (and their attendant potato powder)
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried chicken
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried green beans
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried corn
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried cauliflower
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried bell pepper
  • 1 Tbl. freeze-dried onion
  • 1 tsp. chicken bouillon granules
  • 1/4 tsp. Mrs. Dash seasoning mix

Rehydrate with 2 c. water.

Nearly Instant Chicken Vegetable Curry

If you use quick-cooking brown rice, you’ll need to simmer this in a pan for 10 mins or more, rather than pouring on boiling water and waiting. I used canned coconut milk (cream), but apparently you can get it in powder form, too. Using that and instant white rice would make this a good camping food candidate.

  • 1c. “instant” brown rice
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried chicken
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried cauliflower
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried green beans
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried spinach
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried zucchini
  • 1 tsp. freeze-dried onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 c. canned coconut milk

Rehydrate with 2 c. water

I couldn’t stop eating this one, and it’s the only recipe I’ve made that can rescue Auguson Farms freeze-dried chicken – stuff tastes like cardboard in everything else and seems to stick in the throat. This is saucier, spicier, and cooks longer, so it really helps the sub-standard chicken.

Instant Cajun Mashed Potatoes

Ok, so this one was supposed to be sort of a hash made with cubes of potato, but the freeze-dried potatoes were more than half potato dust with a few cubes. So the texture came out like “mashed potatoes with stuff in,” but it was really tasty.

  • 1c. freeze-dried potato dices
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried sausage crumbles
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried zucchini
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried corn
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried bell pepper
  • 2 tsp. freeze-dried onion
  • 1/2 tsp. Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

Rehydrate with 2c. water.

Freeze-dried meal recipes

Our area sees a lot of power outages. Maybe more in another post about longer-term thoughts on dealing with them, but in this post, FOOD! During our last outage, I realized how much it mattered to be able to make a tasty, familiar meal at home. I tried a camping meal I had around, and found it to be heavy on the starch and salt and low on the…food.  Not to mention it’s hard to find many of those without dairy, eggs, or beans. But the convenience of “just add water” was undeniable, so I started experimenting with building my own vacuum-sealed, freeze-dried meals assembled out of components I bought separately. These are basically freeze-dried versions of things we eat at home – though with white rice instead of the brown we’d usually have.

So far, here are the ones that have passed muster. All recipes make a normal dinner-sized serving. That means my husband eats the whole thing in one sitting, and I eat maybe 2/3 for dinner and 1/3 of it before bed. 🙂

Freeze-dried sausage, greens, and rice

Place in a 1-quart vacuum bag (preferably the kind with a zipper), in this order:

  • 1 c. instant white rice
  • 1 Tbl. no-salt “broth powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbl. freeze-dried onion
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried sausage
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried spinach

Freeze-dried salsa fry-up

Place in a 1-quart vacuum bag (preferably the kind with a zipper), in this order:

  • 1 c. instant white rice
  • 3/4 tsp. chili powder (the spice mix, not straight cayenne)
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (smoked salt is great!)
  • 1 Tbl. freeze-dried onion
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried ground beef
  • 1/2 c. freeze-dried corn
  • 1/4 c. freeze-dried spinach
  • 2 Tbl. freeze-dried bell pepper
  • 2 Tbl. freeze-dried tomato

Directions

Flatten ingredients out a bit, then seal with vacuum sealer. Mark on the bag what it is, when you sealed it, and “Add 1.5c water.” When you’re ready to eat it, boil 1.5c water, unseal the bag, pour in the water, zip it back up, smoosh the ingredients around, and put it someplace that will retain its heat (in a small cooler, in the microwave, wrapped in a towel, etc.). It will rehydrate in maybe 6-8 minutes. You might need to add a bit more water if it’s still looking dry.

Notes

  • At 2017 prices, these cost $6-7 each. About the same as Mountain House, but way less sodium and way more veg.
  • The assembly order was chosen to trap the spices within the other ingredients, or else the whoosh out of the bag when you vacuum seal it.
  • Be sure you are using freeze-dried, not just dehydrated, vegetables. Dehydrated veg really need to be simmered to cook up, and never rehydrate 100%.
  • You could probably sub chicken bouillon granules for the broth powder and salt, but I am not sure how much to use. Maybe 1 tsp?
  • “Instant” brown rice isn’t really instant – it needs to be kept boiling for nearly 10 mins. – so it won’t sub well into these recipes.
  • I think these are pretty flavorful, but YMMV.
  • I’ve been really happy with the quality of ThriveLife products. Their chicken, for example, is WAAAAAY better than Auguson Farms chicken (which tastes like cardboard to me.) Most of their items only have one ingredient – like “Green beans” or “Chicken.” You have to buy online through a local “consultant,” but shopping is easy and you  can get small or large vacuum-sealed cans. Small cans yield about 7 servings.

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