Sunday, May 29, 2016

Last Minute Chicken Tacos

Our family spends most of our time preparing food or cleaning up from food.  Food is, when it comes to time spent working on it, the center of our lives, and I think that's the way it should be.  But everyone has times when they've just come home from a trip and don't have anything planned for dinner.  Or the day flew by without getting to do the advance steps in a recipe, so now the recipe just can't happen in time for the meal.  Or it's been a crumby time and everything feels like it's going wrong and the last thing you have effort for is to make another dumb meal!

Here is our go-to meal for those times.  It's tastey and easy and fast.  It was introduced to me by my sister-in-law, though honestly I don't know why I didn't think of it before!  I usually have everything else on hand and just run out to grab a chicken, lettuce, and avocado from the grocery store, and dinner is practically done.

Last Minute Chicken Tacos

One whole rotisserie chicken (one of those hot ones from the grocery store)
Jar of salsa
Head of lettuce
Can of black beans
Lime juice
Garlic Powder
Fat free cheese
Avocado (if your fat allowance can handle it)
Fat free tortillas
Fancy night! Beans and avocado in bowls!

First, set the chicken on a plate to cool while you do everything else.  Rinse and chop the lettuce.  Slice the avocado.  Pour the beans and salsa into serving bowls if you feel fancy (not likely on days like this!).  Then peel the skin off the chicken and peel the meat off the bones, breaking any particularly big chunks up.  Pour some lime juice in the bowl with the chicken chunks, sprinkle some cumin and garlic powder in, and use your hands to gently mix it (these kinds of chickens can easily disintegrate into gross chicken mush if you stir them too violently, I guess since they've been cooked so thoroughly; ask how I know!).  Taste and add more lime or spices if desired.  Then, dinner is ready!

Sauté the tortillas in olive oil if you want.  Otherwise, stack on the layers and enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Dreaded Blood Draw...

I'm not sure who dreads our biannual blood draws more, Monica or us parents.  I thought it was bad to hear your baby cry as you hold her so tight, willing it to be over soon, and feeling so sorry that she is hurting, but young kids are even worse.  When your child can recognize the lab, based on the waiting room and white lab coats and the chairs, and can start being scared and screaming and panicking when you just walk in the vicinity, that's the worst.  Even if we talk it up beforehand with Monica, and she plans to be brave, sometimes it seems she just can't help but try to run away, which, if you ask me, is even more heart rending than a little baby's cries.
You wouldn't want to make me cry
I imagine every kid is different.  I learned pretty early on that shots and blood draws only hurt for a few seconds, and even then were more of a 'pinch' than real pain, and haven't struggled with them personally.  I religiously give blood, and although sometimes I turn away and don't look, and sometimes I use deep belly breathing to get through the anticipation of that poke, it's certainly not anything that gives me anxiety.  My husband on the other hand feels something viscerally wrong when he gives blood, and although sometimes he can meditate his way through the experience, more often the thought of blood leaving his body makes him queasy, if not unconscious on the floor.

I certainly pray that Monica will end up being more like me than him, especially so that as an adult, she can experiment with her diet and see what effects different foods have on her triglycerides.  It's a big interest of mine to discover what helps her to overcome her reaction to run when she sees that lab chair.  This is what we've tried so far:

Preparation - When you check in, make it clear that you are willing to wait in order to get the best 'peds stick' on shift that day.  A little anxious waiting in the waiting room is still SO much easier than multiple pokes into a little squirmy arm.  For afterwards, make sure you have some snacks (fasting is hard on little bodies!), an extra fun Band-Aid or two (sometimes they run out!) (or a regular band aid and a permanent marker to draw a smiley face, ha, been there!), a sticker, a temporary tattoo, whatever will distract your kid as fast as possible afterwards.  Monica hates the coban that they like to put on needle stick sites these days, so we don't even allow that to be put on her anymore.  I hold the cotton ball in place until she stops bleeding, and then we require a band-aid to hide the evidence.

Gifts - We had success with a set of dolls that Monica helped pick out, and she got to choose one doll with every blood draw.  She admitted that she's looking forward to her next set of labs, so that she can get the next doll in the set!  Though I'm sure the doll won't be that appealing when she's actually waiting for her name to be called, oh well.  You could even wrap up a present, and have the (one handed) opening of the gift be part of the distraction during the blood draw!

Is there anything more alluring, exciting, and distracting, than an unopened box?
Movies - Monica really likes to have an ipad or dvd player positioned just right, to block out what's going on to her arm in her field of vision.  It doesn't have to be much of an interesting show, just anything that she can look at!

Distraction - Basically anything that we can think of for a distraction is what we are working towards.  For Teresa we will wave a new toy, preferably a noisey and visually interesting one (and even better, a toy that the clinic provides so that it's brand new to her, too!), since she's too little to understand much of a movie or a wrapped gift.

Knowledge - I'm hoping that, as Monica matures, this will be the major incentive.  This last blood draw was the first one where we tried to teach her WHY we check her blood every 6 months, what kind of numbers (we talk on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being triglycerides of 1,0000, and our goal of 500-700, or 5-7.  Monica was at 5!  Hurray!!) we want, and what those good numbers mean (we don't have to worry about her getting sick!).  But again, not sure it will help when she's sitting in that lab chair!

Perspective - I wish I could remember how I came to realize that shots and blood draws just don't hurt that much!  I mean really, falling and skinning your knee is WAY more painful than a needle stick, but I don't see kids afraid of running down the street!  I've tried to allow Monica to see me get my blood drawn or get my flu shot, and show her that it doesn't hurt me enough to even make a face, let alone cry.  But at this point, seeing me get hurt like that is too scary, as well.  Maybe someday she'll be able to watch.  Or even better, working in the medical field as I do, maybe someday I can have a colleague could show her how to give me a flu shot or something herself!  And with active participation, realize #1 that it doesn't bother me much at all, and #2 how hard it is to draw blood sometimes!

Things that haven't worked:

Talking it up days beforehand - whoo, this was a mistake with such a little girl!  She was anxious and unhappy for DAYS instead of just an hour.  Oh well.  Never again!

Candy - I'm not positive, but I think her triglycerides might have been a little higher than they should have one time when we started feeding Monica jelly beans as soon as she sat in the lab chair to distract her.  Sugar hits the blood fast and is turned right into triglycerides sometimes!  That's why it's important to fast to get the best numbers.  So hold onto that candy until the needle is out!

What other ideas do you have?  What do you do to make blood draws easier for you or your child?

Monday, May 16, 2016

My Favorite Links

My goal these days is to post once a week, so what do you do when you want to read up on more LPLD stuff, but I'm not due for another post anytime soon?  Check out my other favorite resources!

Justine at the good life has a little boy with VLCAD, very long chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency.  She has to limit his intake of fats and increase (moderately) his intake of medium chain triglycerides via palm kernel oil and coconut oil, so a lot of the recipes are really similar to those for LPLD and I've definitely been inspired by some of her stuff!  She even does the fancy nutrition facts for each of her recipes, pretty swanky!  And that reminds me, I need to buy some powdered peanut butter on her recommendation...

If you're looking for something to share with your primary care physician on LPLD, there is FINALLY a good resource!  NORD has a physician guide for LPLD now, and I'm telling you, it is GOOD!  I've seen a lot of web sites that were secretly put out there by drug companies that make LPLD sound even worse than it is, I guess to make you feel more helpless and like you need their expensive solution.  This web site is NOT like that!  Very reasonable in its approach, and helpful.  Check it out!

For those of you getting frustrated with your or your family member's LPLD, nothing feels better than knowing you are not alone.  My friend Quinyang has been able to put together a nice little group on Facebook (my own Facebook support group attempt never got a single member that actually had LPLD in it, ha!) with good posts and discussions.  I enjoy interacting with others in the same boat, even if it's just on the internet!

Monica trying to look sophisticated at her Little Flowers tea - lots of moms made food she could eat!  Hurray for community!
If you like to read other people's stories, I find RareConnect the best for that.  I am always amazed by the triglyceride numbers folks have at the time of diagnosis (if you have access, there was a case report just written in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal, Pediatrics in Review, on an 11 week old boy with TG's of 43,000!! wow!), or the ages of diagnosis, or the creative things people do to make the diet more tolerable.  I am still hoping to hear more good things about a woman with LPLD who was due to deliver a few months ago, and was planning to breastfeed - I would love to have more hope for my girls having kids of their own one day, if that's where God calls them!

What about you?  Do you have favorite web sites on LPLD?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Low fat chocolate cupcakes!

I am in love with a new recipe.  You have to LOVE chocolate, deep dark rich chocolate.  But my girls do!

Skinny Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

The only thing I changed was using coconut oil instead of the vegetable or canola oil listed in the recipe.  If you consider the full fat of the recipe, it comes out to 3 g of fat per cupcake.  If you count coconut oil as half the fat, then it's only 2 g of fat each!

Glorious low fat chocolate cupcakes in the oven

I LOVE it when I make a recipe with Monica and she can lick the bowl.  Isn't that the most perfect goatee?  Haha.

So many cupcakes!  The ones in the back with the lovely cracks across the top were in the top of the oven, the ones in the foreground were in the bottom of the oven.  Go figure.  It all gets covered with frosting anyway!

The frosting is certainly unique.  Basically just honey and cocoa powder.  Wha??  Right?!?  But it's a deep dark rich chocolate frosting, with really no hint of the milkiness of milk chocolate.  Interesting!  And tastey!

Ready for Monica's birthday celebration at school!

Kindergartener approved!

The recipe in the works!

Happy 6th Birthday Monica!  It seems we've finally found a chocolate cupcake recipe that works well!!!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Surprising Non/Low Fat Life Savers

Sometimes is just feels good to reflect on little things that add flavor or pop or excitement to your food, that are NON-FAT!  Glorious.  So, in that vein:
  • Ketchup!
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • SO MANY salad dressings! (we've recently fallen in love with thousand island)
  • Many pasta/marinara sauces
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Air popped popcorn
  • Mustard
  • Vinegar
  • Soy sauce
  • Fruit leathers
  • Pretzels
  • Soda
  • Merengue cookies
  • Fruit!  All fruit!  Grapes, bananas, pears, kiwis, strawberries, apples, pears, yum!
  • Juice
  • Jelly, preserves, jams
  • Honey
  • Marshmallows
  • Candy corn
  • Candy canes
  • Jelly beans
  • Peeps (marshmallow candy)
Hot cocoa pored over snow.  Also fat free!

I think that if I had LPLD, I would embark on an adventure to make my own sauces and perfect them.  Did you know there are all sorts of gourmet mustards out there that you could experiment with making for yourself?  And my favorite hot dog place in the world has the most AMAZING ketchups and other condiments.  And vinegar!  All the amazing vinegars in the universe in all their twangs and flavors, I've heard it's not hard to make your own vinegar, but so far I haven't had any luck with cheap boxes of white wine.