Tuesday, November 13, 2012

(Kind of Deconstructed) Raw Apple Pie And Tysabri Infusion No. 5

So here is my raw apple pie recipe I promised last time I posted... well it's not "mine" per say; I found it on the net here at The Raw Foods Witch, so thank you Raw Foods Witch, I feel appropriately bewitched and enlightened by your recipe.  There is also another great page for making raw fruit pies here Steve Pavlina.com if anyone catches the bug for making delicious raw fruit pies.

I posted a photo of my first raw apple pie on Facebook and a cheffy friend of mine suggested that it was a "deconstructed" apple pie.  How very buzz-word of him and he would know of course because he is a chef, but I needed to look up exactly what that meant.  I like this definition best, deconstructed dishes take the foods that are normally combined in the dish, change their forms, and then plate them together in a different way. It's not just about taking the dish apart, but putting its elements back together.  So this raw apple pie is only kind of deconstructed, as it replaces the pastry with nuts, which isn't in the definition.  Nuts are a squillion times better for you anyways.  Check it for yourself.

Raw Apple Pie

For the crust, you will need:

2 cups of brazil and pecan nuts
1 cup of fresh pitted dates (these can be substituted with dried apricots, figs or raisins etc)
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
A pinch of sea salt

Place the nuts in a food processor and process until you have small crumbs.  Add in the dates and spices and process until the mixture is well combined and in very small crumbs.  (I like to process my nut mix until it is dough like, because it is easy to mould, but you might like yours more crumbly and if this is so, process less - experiment!)  Have a taste now to check your spice levels, I love cardamom so I usually add more.  Press the nut mixture into a 22cm diameter pie tin and place in freezer until firm.

For the filling, you will need:

6 large apples (if not large add extra)
2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and a little extra
1 cup of fresh dates

Peel and slice 4 of the apples and put them in a bowl with some lemon juice to stop the apples going brown.  Cut up the remaining 2 apples and place them into the food processor with the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the dates.  Process until smooth.  Combine the mixture with the sliced apples.

Remove your pie crust from the freezer and arrange your filling evenly in it.  Eat immediately or refrigerate.  Your raw deconstructed apple pie will keep for a few days in the fridge.  However it is so yummy you will want to eat it all at once.  My latest Japanese visitor insisted on eating it for breakfast, even though it doesn't seem all that breakfasty to me, but who am I to stand in her way... It's pretty darn healthy, even though the prunes add a whole lot of sugar; all the more reason to eat it for breakfast - all day to use the energy up.

Anyways moving right along.  I was infused with Tysabri yesterday.  I had a shocking morning in preparation.  I forgot my water bottle and head phones.  In weighing my options, I didn't think anyone on the ward would appreciate me watching a movie without head phones.  I realised I was sans head phones as I was driving past a friend's home.  I gave her a call hoping she would be home, but she was almost at school with her kids.  My heart sank, but then she said just come by and pick up my keys, go in get the head phones and drop the keys back.  It was a very streamlined event actually and only set me back by 15 minutes.  Thanks so much Jacquie.

By the time I got to the hospital I really needed a coffee, so that set me back another 10 minutes.  After I filled out all the paperwork and booked my appointment for February, I noted on the receptionist's watch that it was 9.30, half an hour past my slot.  I expected to be waiting forever.  I perused the magazines and rather than reading old news decided I would give in to the lure of Christian.  I got my book out and was shocked to be called straight into the ward.  I think I need to be half an hour late more often.

I was seated and the elderly gent sitting across from me was surrounded by 4 nurses.  He didn't look like he was having fun at all.  The nurse who was attending to me stated, rather than asked, if I would mind if the trainee nurses could assist.  I was like, oh yeah sure, but you know I have difficult veins, hoping it was loud enough that they would be put off.  The reply was, Merrill is the best person for putting cannulas into veins, you are in good hands.  Yeah right this was the women who stabbed a nerve in front of my kiddies last time.

The 3 trainee nurses wandered over and I decided to be chirpy and generous.  You have to start learning somewhere right?  Merrill followed with no intention of doing the cannula herself.  Leisha put her hand up and said she would like to have a go.  Everyone examined my veins and Merrill couldn't understand why no one had successfully put a cannula in my hand, as they certainly looked good.  There was a little bit of banter, but then I acquiesced, sure have a go why not!  Merrill started to give instructions and I thought this is a little anxiety inducing, put on your head phones and start your movie.  Impatient me said, oh don't be ridiculous doing that will just delay what is going to happen, just let them get on with it already.

All merit to Leisha, she followed Merrill’s instruction, ignored my negativity about hand cannulation and succeeded on her first attempt at putting the cannula into my hand.  No one else has ever done that, I usually get pricked at least twice and it the hand too, woo hoo!  The down side was that it was horrible listening to Merrill's instruction and more painful than any of the other places I have had the cannula inserted.  I was so glad Lesiha told me after the fact that I was her second ever cannulation!!

I remembered yesterday that no one, who is a nurse, wants to intentionally hurt you (unless you are truly awful I guess!)  They are doing their job and that job in my case, is inserting a cannula into my vein so I can have the medication I have of my own free will consented to have.  What they know about MS now is that early treatment is imperative for reducing damage, as damage is occurring regardless of whether there is any activity on your MRI or not... so you probably need some form of medication from diagnosis.  I find it tedious that some people carry on like pork chops about the medication they have consented to have to reduce damage and improve their future quality of life.  If you are not happy with your medication - research it, talk to an informed person about it, seek alternatives, get a second opinion OR learn to accept it.  I figure you can make life easy for yourself and get on with it, or dilly dally around, annoying the nurses, your neurologist or your doctor, lengthening the process and making life tougher for yourself.   Ok off my soap box.

Enjoy the apple pie!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tysabri and Thesis, Both Begin with T.

Canonymous" has given me the little push I needed to get a new post written.  In case you are wondering, check out the comment on my last post.  Thanks Canonymous!

So what has happened in the months since I last posted.  Well I had a bit of a melt down and decided to defer handing in my thesis.  I threw all my balls in the air, so to speak and had family or uni to left drop... and well it seemed rather impractical to drop my family so I decided on my thesis.

I think what happened was in the beginning, my research proposal went back and forth with ethics, putting me several weeks behind.  Then I collected too much data (albeit rather spectacularly); I interviewed too many teens and then had to transcribe too many 20-45 minutes interviews, which put me even further behind.  Then I started getting a bit manic and having trouble sleeping.  Then I started to get concerned my stress levels would adversely affect my new wonder drug, Tysabri's chances of working in the manner that I would like it to work.  That is... halting all new lesions 100 percent!!!  Then I checked my thesis plan and realised I couldn't really write up a first draft, including my analysis and lit review in one month even if had no family and no distractions... got all woozy, walked to school to pick up my daughter in shock, told some friends I thought I needed to defer and then came home and emailed my husband and supervisors.

The general consensus was divided in two, as it was in my head; think of your health and just get the blasted thing done.  The tipping point was my thoughts about Tysabri not working, which my neurologist later tells me, outrageous levels of stress should not have any implications on Tysabri's efficacy.  But just writing this now has highlighted the fact that MS could take my health and not return it.  Whereas what is another year in the great scheme of things?  If my health was stolen, I wouldn't (to varying degrees) be able to work anyway.

So anyways... Tysabri has been treating me well.  What I have noticed is that in the week after my infusion I have copious amounts of energy... well hmmm, copious??  Um, more than normal.  My normal.  That peters out to my normal again, which is not to fatigued levels, which is common in MS...  I am lucky on that front.

I have had a grand total of four infusions.  No one has been game to try inserting a cannula into my hands again, since the first infusion.  I try to drink two litres of water before my 9am appointments so  I have veins that are plump and ready to be penetrated, which on two occasions, since the first was successful, with only my last one not being successful.  It was a bit of a bugger actually, as it was during school holidays and my kids came to observe.  The nurse was showing a trainee nurse my veins and poked around for a bit in the same vein before I smiled sweetly, battered my lashes and said "ouch", when what I really meant was F**K that last move really F****N killed!!!  Of course I couldn't say any of that because Miss Six is allergic to needles... By allergic I mean, screams at the top of her lungs until blood vessels burst in her cheeks at the mere mention of a vaccination. Catastrophically allergic.  So ouch would have to do.  I added some cryptic explanation so Miss Six would not be able to translate it into, shitloads of pain.  The nurse kindly informed her trainee that perhaps she had hit a nerve, which is very painful and would now try a different location further up my arm!

What else you ask, have I been doing?  Well socialising with my family in a manner that is more than grunting, catching up on housework that is for sure (for procrastination purposes only), definitely not writing my thesis and having my hair cut short and lightened! (It's lighter now than the pic to the left).  I know I should be writing my thesis, but I have not even been writing my blog, which on the whole, is fun to write.  I have now broken the spell, so maybe I  can start writing my thesis again now.  It would have been due this Friday!  How incredibly horrific would it have been if I had deferred, but kept writing, only to have it all done by the due date.  Yeah well, DREAM ON sweetheart!

Since my last post I participated in something called Western Mudd Rush.  You can check out its page here... http://westernmuddrush.com/ The video on the home page is from the event I took part in this year.  It was good "dirty" fun and the team I was a part of and it’s camaraderie was the dog's bollocks!  

Ok.  Now I have a favour to ask.  During my infusions I have been watching funny movies on my iPad.  Several times people have asked me what I am watching because I am snickering so much.  I like to laugh in such a serious place... and I hope people get a kick out of me laughing and laugh at me laughing - surely it lightens the mood, right? (Or gives peeps the irrits).  The problem is I have run out of funny movies to watch.  Can you leave me some suggestions in the comments section please.  This will save me wasting time researching funny movies, instead of writing my thesis (ha)!

Oh and I have a little treat for you next post.  I am going to write about my raw apple pie, that some folks have asked after.  Cheers xx

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tysabri D.Day... Mostly Uneventful!

So a couple of weeks ago, I had my first infusion of Tysabri.  The decision to swap my MS medications was made in a meeting with my neurologist that lasted perhaps 15 minutes where I was without my most trusted sidekick, otherwise known as my husband. 

I predicted the change, but I didn't predict it would happen in a matter of days.  The previous night I slept for a grand total of 3 hours... so pretty much my head was spinning wildly out of control at the news.  I had previously given blood for some research, which tested for the JC virus so this was not a hold up. I could have been admitted for the infusion within 3 days.

However as my husband, Ryan was on the other side of the country and he was none to pleased that I would one, make this decision alone and two, attend the treatment on my own, I pushed my appointment back an extra 2 days.  As there really wasn't a decision to make, no other medications were on offer and the Copaxone was not working, he didn't have any input... although believe me, we rather "passionately" discussed it over the phone.  In hindsight I am glad I waited for Ryan to hold my hand... I would have been a sniffling mess without him.  We do all of my MS stuff together.  He is my hero, voice of reason and my rock.

So what happened?  Well once we made it into the Ivy Suite, we had some paper work to fill out.  Ryan filled out all the lines I missed due to distraction.  I was given a wristband since I was being admitted for the afternoon.  I felt a bit at ends... I wasn't sick, yet I was being admitted. Given the short notice I was slotted into a time not reserved for MS patients.  Instead I was with people getting chemo.  That certainly helped to put my plight well into perspective.

Finally after sitting around for an hour, we were ushered into the ward.  I got to sit on a very comfortable chair, quite reminiscent of a dentist's chair, except much cosier and without the horror of an approaching drill!  My nurse was a lovely young blonde woman, she checked my knowledge about what was happening and I felt like I was in good hands.

Finally the time came to put in the cannula.  I got my arm out ready, no problems, as I've had a million blood tests, given blood, had babies and been jabbed with vaccinations, not to mention injected myself daily for 18 months (or about 547 times).  When my lovely nurse reached for my hand I was a bit confused, but not concerned.  Apparently they like to put the cannula in your hand because it reduces the risk of pain and damage caused my movement at the elbow.

After a hot pack was allowed to do its work on my hand.  My lovely nurse started with the cannula.  She very gently held my hand.  I looked away because I really didn't need to see her sticking me with a big pointy thing!  After about 5 minutes though, with a little bit of stinging I looked over and asked what was happening.  Apparently the veins in my hand had disappeared in fright!!  They had collapsed.  She tried another vein to no avail.

Another lovely nurse was enlisted.  On her first attempt, all looked good.  They pumped in some saline and asked if I was in any pain, because if they weren't in the vein and pumped in saline I would feel it.  I questioned them about the pain, as I have quite a high pain threshold and thought well what if the pain I could be feeling I just brushed aside as a stinging sensation that I didn't need to be concerned about.  A shaky consensus decided that the cannula was in the vein and nurse number two wandered off.  Nurse number one turned up the saline drip and pressed on my vein and then suddenly I knew what type of pain they were talking about.  Attempt 3 failed.

Nurse number one left and nurse number two returned.  Note no more "lovely", they were still very lovely, but my anxiety had risen and I was no longer really feeling the loveliness.  This time she tried my other hand... still no go.  The veins in my hand refused to play.  Was I sending them an unconscious signal to be difficult?  I'd never had any problems with drips before... and when those were done while having my babies, the nurses took much, much less care.

After a break a completely new nurse arrived.  She was Scottish, chirpy and "lovely".  She decided against using my hands, instead going half way between my wrist and elbow crease.  My nerves had begun to get the better of me... so I was expecting some pain.  She asked me to hold my arm up above my head for a minute or so and then bam the cannula was in!  No problems at all.  Thank god is all I could say... I had started to have visions of them saying, come back tomorrow or you can't have Tysabri at all because we can't get a vein.

The rest is very uneventful.  They started the Tysabri infusion and I felt.... nothing!  I sat for 2 hours laughing with my husband watching Bad Teacher on our iPad.  I had a couple of toilet stops because I had drunk a litre and a half of water in an attempt to hydrate my veins open.

When we got home, I felt tired after the experience.  Yet I felt well enough, so we went out for dinner with the kids anyway.

Over the following week, I noticed that I felt incredibly fatigued (along with some major bruising on my hands).  I am not sure if the fatigue was the work of the Tysabri or all the late nights I was having and allowing myself to be tired after a week of my husband being away.  It didn't really feel like normal tiredness, but time will tell, as there is only two more weeks until my next infusion.

So how do I feel about having this major medication infused into my body?  Well mentally pretty good considering it has killed people.  Right now physically I feel well as well.  I feel good about the fact I no longer have to inject Mr C every day, not that I had a problem with injecting myself.  I feel really great that I am on a medication that other MS-er's on a Facebook page (I Hate Multiple Sclerosis) didn't note any horrible side effect in relation to my inquiring post and that nearly all of them said they had no new lesions, some of them for years.  Which means no disease progression - hooray!  Do I dare to dream?  Soon I hope.

Monday, July 16, 2012

D.Day Tysabri Infusion.

Last Wednesday I had an appointment with my neuro.  This was as a follow-up to my yearly MRI.  As I am highly impatient about these things... a week after my MRI, I went and collected my notes regarding what the MRI found.  The comment at the end was, "Several new lesions, at least five, have developed in the hemispheric white matter."  Now I have to tell you, this is the most new lesions my brain has developed since the beginning of being MRI-ed!  I turned to my husband in the car after reading this and asked, is it unrealistic to think I could have no new lesions in a year... considering I do actually have MS?

About a month before my MRI, my parents were over for dinner and as they were going off on an extended escape from winter in Perth.  We had a chat about my upcoming MRI and I remember saying, I think my medication will change.  I hadn't really thought about it until that moment.  But I guess subconsciously, I had been.  This was about two months prior to my neuro appointment.

My neuro said well, your current medication isn't working, you need a new treatment..  Good old, Mr C... I bet he thought it was a big joke every day when I injected myself and he floated around my system being completely useless.  My neuro didn't really give me a choice of medication, but he metioned Gilenya, but said it's newer, you have to remember to take it every day, it's pretty immunosuppresant, has some big side effects (lowers heart rate and increases blood pressure among others), has lots of little side effects and because it's new and they don't know the long term effects.  So Tysabri it is... it has the best results of all the drugs for MS currently.  I think my neuro likes to play it safe with me, as my MS is reasonably mild, he won't put me on more experimental, newer drugs, where risk could outweight benefit.  One side effect of Tysabri he mentioned to me was increased UTI's in women.  I thought, oh great, fab, just what I need.  He went on to say that they did research on this and found that because the women on Tysabri were feeling better they were having more sex and were getting more UTIs as a result... not due directly to the Tysabri!  So then I really did think, oh great!

Looking back... while I never actually thought about the reasons why I thought I would be changing medication.  I had noticed more tingling in different spots and it was just hanging around... more noticeable I guess. Lhermitte’s is a daily occurrence on waking for me now.  Sometimes I am very fatigued, heat totally knocks me for six and my brain doesn't work as quickly or cleverly as it used too.  I try my hardest to be calm about these things and not think about them too much, because it freaks me out and you know what... there isn't much I can do to stop it from happening.  So it's kind of a waste to worry... to get all worked up and not be able to do anything about it.  Well... there is stuff I can do and I do those things already, like diet, medication and lifestyle.  Well I am kinda failing on lifestyle right now because I am writing my thesis and it causes me all manner of stress and worry.  But I do try and combat that with exercise, yoga and relaxation.

So anyways today is the day for my first infusion at the hospital with Tysabri (or Natalizumab).  I feel like I am making a good and informed decision.  The medication is the best that is out there currently and I am JCV (John Cunningham Virus) negative.  I feel a little worried about allergic reactions...  I am not a very allergic person, so surely this is weighing in my favour.  But I think it is natural to feel worried and most normal people would be feeling concerned about starting a new, major medication which has caused severe permanent disability and death in people with the JC virus which has mutated into PML (Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy). 

PML is caused by the JC virus, which is normally present in many people; it's not an unusual virus at all and causes no symptoms.  It is kept under control by the immune system. Immunosuppressive drugs prevent the immune system from controlling the virus... and Tysabri is one of these drugs which specifically can let PML develop.  I, luckily do not have the JC virus in my system.  However lots of people with the JC virus choose to take Tysabri, because the benefits outweigh the risks.  The risks become greater if you have previously taken other immunosuppressive drugs, which is not me.  The latest research indicates my risk of developing PML without having the JCV and no previous use of Immunosuppressive drugs is < 1 in 111, 111.  I think that means I have more chance of having a car accident (1 in 600) or developing breast cancer (1 in 7) or committing suicide (1 in 100) than getting PML.

There are other side effects, like liver issues which I will be monitored for via regular blood tests. I am pretty sure I read that liver issues which develop due to Tysabri are reversible once Tysabri is stopped.  There is also joint pain, headaches and fatigue.  It is also reported on the internet that it can increase susceptibility to infections.  But my neuro says this is not the case... Tysabri makes you susceptible to a small specific group of rare illnesses.  But I guess I won't know what effect Tysabri will have on me until it's in my system.  I have two friends who's treatment is Tysabri and they love it.  So that gives me hope. 

Well I have to go now, because I have to change to go off to the hospital.  Sorry for any spelling errors or grammar problems, but I can't re-read right now as I am out of time.  Any of you who know me, know I like to add in things, like write a post when I have a spare moment so as not to waste any time... but in actual fact I don't really have the time to do anything.  Wish me luck.  I'll let you know how I go. xx

Ps, If you are on Tysabri, please leave me a comment with your feelings about it.  Ta.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Much Requested Kedgeree Recipe

So it seems a bit like I am writing a cookbook right now, right?  But I promise I'm not... not yet anyways!!! 

Not too long ago, I was at a family get together which are sadly occurring less frequently these days,  where we all brought dishes of food to eat.  I brought along my version - the lower saturated fat version, of Kedgeree.  A friend first cooked it for me and I requested the recipe from her... so it's only fitting I pass it on to those who have requested it from me.  And I'm no sneaky sausage... I haven't left out any ingredients so that my version is always the best... yours will taste just as yummy as mine I promise.

Original Ingredients

2 eggs
680g smoked haddock fillets, any bones removed
2 bay leaves
170g long grain or basmati rice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
115g butter
1 medium onion (or equivalent spring onions) finely chopped
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
2 heaped teaspoons of curry powder
2 lemons
2 handfuls of chopped fresh coriander

My Modified Lower Saturated Fat Ingredients

4 eggs - yolks to be removed and fed to your youngest child!
680g orange smoked cod fillets, any bones removed
2 bay leaves
170g long grain rice - cheaper than basmati
Macrobiotic salt (salt which is in it's natural unprocessed state) and freshly ground black pepper
115g of olive oil - not extra virgin as it's unsuitable to heat, experiement with the amount, as you could probably use less - much less, but not none!
1 medium onion finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic pressed through the garlic press - bugger chopping it!! I love garlic btw!
2 heaped teaspoons of curry powder
2 big lemons
3 handfuls of chopped fresh coriander - I love coriander as well!


Boil the eggs for 10 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Put the smoked cod in a frying pan with some water and the bay leaves and bring to the boil.  Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes until fish is all cooked.  Remove from the pan and when the fish is cool enough to handle, remove the skin and flake the fish into chunks, then set aside.

Cook the rice in salted water for about 10 minutes then drain.  Refresh it in cold water, drain again and put it in the fridge until you need it.

Warm the oil in a pan over low heat and add the onion and garlic.  Allow it to soften, but not colour for 5 minutes.  Add the curry powder and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the juice of one lemon. 

Cut the eggs into wedges.  If you are concerned about your saturated fat intake, remove the yolks and feed them to your kids, dogs, husband etc or dispose of in the bin... if not proceed with eggs wedges intact!!

Add the fish and rice to the pan and gently heat through, then add the eggs and coriander stiring gently as not to break up the eggs any further.

Put into a warm serving dish and serve with the second lemon, which you have considerately cut into wedges.  Serves 6 (or 4 with the option of seconds!!)  Enjoy.

It's such a tasty dish... you won't mind all the dishes it creates because there are A LOT... maybe schedule someone else to do the washing up duties!

Good luck with it. xx

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Wellness Presentation, Apple, Blueberry & Walnut Bread

So about a week ago now I had my first ever Juice Plus Wellness Presentation, a friend of mine, De and I have kinda, sorta gone into business together.  As she is the charismatic speaker, she did the nutrition presentation and she did a wonderful job, even if I do say so myself.  I am biased, because I love her to bits - she's passionate, energetic and relentless about her nutrition, fitness and health and that of her family and so, in this way (and several others) we are like minded.

Anyways moving along... I made a cake, from a recipe that I cut out of a magazine and put in my recipe book thinking... hmmm it's quite healthy, but how do I make it into a cake that I could eat, with low saturated fat - ie no eggs and dairy?

My low saturated fat version was a resounding success because everyone loved it, including my six year old daughter!  I experiemented with putting in my left over wet almond meal in it as well, because I really hate throwing all that lovely almond goodness in the bin or feeding it to my (ok, yes - deserving) chooks.  I'm not 100% about exact measurements of what I added, but I will give it my best shot ok...

Here is the orginal ingredients list

2 cups of plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup caster sugar
1 punnet fresh blueberries, or 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
2 peeled, cored and grated green apples
3/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
125g melted butter
2 lightly beaten eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp demerara sugar

Here is my ingredients list

1 cup plain flour
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raw sugar (could even use less, I will next time)
About 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
2 peeled, cored and grated red apples ('cause thats all I had)
3/4 cup broken up raw walnuts (I didn't have time to activate or chop them)
125g olive oil (not extra virgin as its not suitable to heat)
1/4 cup home made almond milk
1 tsp natural vanilla extract (you could use vanilla beans paste)
All the almond meal left from one cup of almonds after making almond milk (make sure there is not a drop of moisture left in the meal)
2 tsp raw sugar

AND for my egg replacement I did this with vinegar, water and baking powder:

Mix one tablespoon each of white vinegar and water in a glass.  To this add one teaspoon of baking powder and stir well until the mixture blends and finishes fizzing. Then just replace the eggs with it!  This can be used when you need to replace more than one egg in your cake recipes... apparently.

Check out this egg replacement page... http://chefinyou.com/egg-substitutes-cooking/  -  it's handy!

Method with my Ingredients  

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius (356 fahrenheit).
Light grease (I use canola spray oil) loaf tin (about 10 x 20cm) and line the base with baking paper.

Mix flours, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl together.  Add sugar, blueberries, apples, walnuts and almond meal.  Remember to reserve some walnuts for the top of your cake.

In a jug mix together the oil, milk and vanilla.  Gently fold into flour mixture until combined.
Add in your egg replacement and gently fold again until well combined.

Tip mixture into the loaf pan.  Top with reserved walnuts and sprinkle on the 2 teaspoons of raw sugar, although if you wanted you could skip the sugar on top.

Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes - after this time keep checking every 5 minutes until your skewer comes out clean (I can't remember exactly how long it took with the addition of the wet almond meal).

Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.  The recipe says cool completely before scoffing, but it was delicious when still warm.

I didn't heat the cake on the evening of the wellness presentation, but again the recipe says that the cake is delicious toasted with your favourite topping.

I'm no chef... but I am not scared to experiment in the kitchen as, for me partaking in a low saturated fat lifestyle there just isn't that many recipes around...  What's the worst that could happen?  Your kids hate it - so you get the whole lot to yourself or worse still, it's completely unedible and you chuck it in the bin and start again!!!   Personally I have never had this happen!  Do some research about your experiements - google is your friend and teacher and use your comon sense.

I have halved the sugar in this recipe and gone for the least processed sugar I had available.  You can pretty much half the sugars in all your cake recipes without a problem - at least I have never had any problems.  You could use unprocessed honey, maple syrup or any other NATURAL sweetner in its least processed form.  DO NOT let me hear that you have used an insecticide artifical sweetner - unless of course you want to die a slow and painful death.  No joke - look it up. 

I don't mind using a little sugar in my recipes, because I have made the cake or whatever myself and thus I know what I have put in it.  There are no mysterous numbers that we are supposed to believe are food.  I am making a huge shift away from processed food - they are killing us and making our kids sick and miserable.

Ok off my soap box and good luck with your yummy cake and cake experiments.  xx

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Health Information Online, Participants Needed

Are you a reader from Western Australia?  Do you have teenagers aged 13-17?  Do they look for health information online?  Yes, yes and yes?  Oh my God.... please read below.  I need your HELP!

Hi friends. As you may know I am currently involved in research as part of my Honours degree at Edith Cowan University. As an enthusiastic seeker of health information online, I have decided to explore the experiences of adolescents aged 13-17 years old, living in WA, who have sought health information online. Through examining where Western Australian adolescents are seeking health information on the Internet, by means of which devices and understanding what their experiences are of using the Internet for health information, this study will deliver information to health services to provide targeted health messages and improved delivery methods for health messages to adolescents living in WA. Participants are being recruited through this blog post, after which I will send you, the parent or guardian an information sheet and consent forms. If you allow your son or daughter to participate in the interview and answer questions about their online health information experiences, they will be asked to sign a consent form and participate in one to three, one on one Skype or in person interviews with myself lasting between 20-45 minutes in duration. Your adolescent’s participation is voluntary and if they choose to participate, they will be free to withdraw or not answer questions as they see fit. This research has been approved by ECU’S School of Psychology and Social Science Ethics Subcommittee. Once the study is completed the data will be stored securely at ECU and will not have any identifying information about your child. If you have any queries about this research project, are interested in finding out more or would like your adolescent to participate please do not hesitate to contact me by leaving a comment with an email address I can contact you on and I will send you a thorough information sheet about my research. Thanks for your time.

 If your teen fits this profile, please leave me a comment with an email address, which I will NOT publish.  And I will send you an information pack, complete with consent forms.  

I have to put it out there that I will be in no way counselling your teen... and I am not interested in the "why" behind why they have looked at the information online, but rather of their experiences of looking for health information on the internet.  This can have occurred at school or at home for personal reasons or for school.  I have a current Working With Children Check.

If you have any question feel free to leave a comment and email addy and I will answer asap.



PS, If you know of anyone who might be interested in taking part who lives in Western Australia, please refer them to this post.  Ta.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May Post

Well I thought I'd better get a post in for May.  Who would have thunk assignments and take home exams would take up all of my brain space... well I did, I think I was just in a state of denial.  I love to blog, but it is a hard thing to do when you have already been writing all day.  Academic writing also seems to suck the creativity right out of me - slurp!

But it seems to be worth the creativity been sucked out of me, as for my last assignment about suicide I received 80%.  Yay me!

Right now I am in the participant collecting stage of my honours research.  It is quite an anxiety inducing period.  What if I don't get any participants... what if I only get a couple of participants... what if I get participants who said they had looked for health information online, but haven't really.... what if my participants don't want to talk to me during the interviews!!  Well, those things haven'y happened so I will let them go.

I read about a girl who was diagnosed with MS at aged 12 today - World MS Day!  It made me sad and angry, but also inspired as she was just getting on with her life.  I think us older MSers struggle to come to terms with what having MS means more than younger people, who just seem to move on from diagnosis after the inital greiving period.  Anyways... I have no scientific proof about what I just wrote, but here is the link to the story.  http://www.mamamia.com.au/social/multiple-sclerosis-day-a-brave-and-heartwarming-story-from-an-incredible-woman/ 

Bye for now.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Back to Sleep Alter Ego - Run Run!!

I'm still here.  Just busy with uni assignments is all!

So I am really proud of myself today... yes, even at this particularly early hour!

My alter ego woke me up at 5am telling me that I was not at all motivated to get up and run and that it was toooo cold and that my ankles hurt tooooo much and that I was sooooo tired and that my circuit was toooooo long!  

My alter is getting too much air play these days I must admit.  Kinda cheeky that she woke me up so early don't you think?  Tends to happen when I have a lot on my plate.

But I dragged myself out of bed at 5.40 and ran for 32 minutes including one small hill and really enjoyed it, because it was cold, dark, quiet and my ankles didn't hurt! 

So take that alter ego.  Be banished back into the deep dark depths of my mind, far away from my conscious thought.

How does that work then, telling yourself you can't do it and then you do? 

So what I think is don't listen to the bullshit excuses you tell yourself and just get out and do that thing that you tell yourself you can't do! Because you will surprise yourself - without a doubt!

Saturday, March 31, 2012

My Mini Meltdown

So it's the end of March and I haven't blogged for over a month... I better get on it then.  I must add that although I'm not posting, I am thinking about it all the time.  Like the last time I posted I have been very, ridiculously busy at uni. 

Last weekend I had a mini meltdown.  My husband woke up on Saturday morning and suggested to my daughter who had just woken up and jumped in bed with us that we would go to Cottesloe Beach and see the Sculptures By The Sea.  I had been suggesting this as an expedition for a month, so at first I was like, yeeeeeeeeeeahhhhhhh!!!  But then the reality dawned on me that I had a million assignments all baring down on me and I cracked.  I ended up going to the beach, but it wasn't without tears and wailing, because I really wanted to be with my kids when they saw the sculptures for the first time, yet I had shitloads of reading to do.  At my husbands prompting I comprimised and took some reading to do on the train.  It wasn't ideal, but at least I got to do both.  I wasn't even paticularly disappointed when we figured out the reason there were no sculptures by the sea, was that the exhibition finished the week earlier.

The result of my mini meltdown was that I went and discussed my predictament with my lovely supervisors (entirely sincere "lovely" there!)  I am not 100% sure what made me think I could complete 3 units at uni, be a fulltime mum and wife, play house and look after myself... might have something to do with the encouraging words of the fourth year coordinator at the time of enrolment.  But anyways... all those balls in the air... I could see the hole I was about to fall into, I've fallen into it before with study, so I had a pretty good idea that if I kept on going the way I was, I was bound to fall in.  My supervisors both said to me, family comes first - drop some units.  So, academics are telling me to drop units, put my family first and look after myself - should I do it... yes!  And that is what I did.  So I am feeling a little more under control and just a little bit in two minds about sitting here writing a post rather than reading for an assignment.   

I have just submitted my research proposal and have decided that I will post the abstract from it for you all to read.  The abstract is technical way of saying summary!  This is what I have been working on for the last few months.  There is a program that the markers may run my proposal through, called Turnitin and if they were to do this my work would come up plagiarised - but at least will be copied from me!  Here it is:

In 2011, 95 % of Australian 15-17 year olds accessed the Internet in the previous 12 months (ABS, 2011).  Adolescents utilise the Internet for education, recreation and interaction, however they also utilise the Internet to obtain health information (Thurlow & McKay, 2003).  The objectives of this research is to ascertain where online Western Australian adolescents are seeking health information, by means of which devices and what their experiences are of using the Internet for health information.  A phenomenological qualitative design will be employed within a narrative framework so as to gain an in-depth understanding of the experiences of adolescents who have sought health information online.  It is proposed 15-20, 13-17 year olds will be required to participate in oral interviews via online (Skype) video calls, which will be recorded and transcribed. The transcripts will be reviewed and analysed from within an ontological social constructionist perspective. The research will generate understanding of how the delivery of online health messages can be better targeted at adolescents. 

Ta Da.  There you have it.  What did you think?  This is what my year will consist of... researching the online health habits of teenagers.  Hooray!!

Til next time... stay safe.