I'm going to take you on yet another adventure into the world of medicine. Except this time, it's the world of natural medicine, and...

Journey Into Natural Medicine

I'm going to take you on yet another adventure into the world of medicine. Except this time, it's the world of natural medicine, and it's not for Sebastian (yet), but for me.

As many of you probably know, I love to run. Running brings me peace. Few things can de-stress me the way running does. For the past 6 months, I've only ran a handful of times because each time brought excruciating pain in my knee. Not the I'm out-of-shape kind of pain, but the, oh-my-god-stop-now-before-your-knee-breaks-in-half kind of pain. My knee has given me lots of trouble most of my life, I even tried arthroscopic surgery when I was 17. It didn't seem to help, just made my knee weaker. I've continued to run over the years, not increasing distances until the last 4 years. It would hurt every now and then but usually a few days of rest and I'd be back at it. After having Oscar, I jumped back into running and cycling a bit too aggressively I think, and by spring, my knee started to get progressively worse. I took the summer off from running and just tried cycling, but my knee continued to decline. I spent several months only walking and doing yoga with still no improvement.

Friends and family started to ask, why don't you go to the doctor? I've been through the medical system enough times in my life between my own health issues, Sebastian's, and other family members, that I have a pretty good idea what they can do for me. Expensive MRIs and X-Rays (that will tell them little) and over-priced physical therapy (none of which my insurance will fully cover), drugs, and more surgery, and then more drugs. Since none of that sounded appealing, I started researching natural remedies for knee injuries. I read a fair bit about the anti-inflammatory diet. Being the foodie that I am, it appealed to me that I could simply change my diet and all my aches and pains would go away. But researching these days is frustrating. One article tells you to not eat this but eat this, while the next says the opposite. I cut back even further on the little bit of arguably unhealthy food I was eating without much change. I even tried gluten-free, but only made it about 3 days before I was starving, crabby, and more frustrated. The more I read, the more it seemed to me that you can eat all the best foods, but none of it matters if you're eating the wrong food for your body. I figured it would be worth my time and money to find out exactly which foods my body wasn't liking.

Luckily for me, a naturopath moved into the office down the hall from mine, so I stopped in for a chat and found the rates for the food intolerance test and doctor visits fairly reasonable (since of course my insurance will not cover any "alternative" medicine). I scheduled my exam, drilled the doctor with tons of questions on it's validity beforehand, and decided it was worth a shot. I also have to note that this is the first doctor I've ever been to that did not weigh me. Fascinating. Maybe because I was there about knee pain and not to lose weight? Still, every other doctor on the planet always wants to waste their time on "the number", so it was refreshing to not go through the normal stress of stepping on a scale. Anyways, the doctor also recommended a free consultation with a physical therapist. Not the typical kind, but a gym here in town that does boot-camp type classes, personal trainers, chiropractors, massage, etc. Since this place doesn't do a lot of insurance work, their rates were less than half of what we paid at the in-network place for Sebastian. I figured it was worth a shot as well.

Right before Thanksgiving, I received my food intolerance results. 14 things showed up on the test as having a reaction, only a few with high reactions (eggs, yeast- bakers and brewers, and whey), and the rest with moderate to mild reactions (milk, sugar cane, kidney beans, soy beans, green beans, oats, almonds, cranberries, mushrooms, and garlic). The recommendation from the doc is to try to avoid them all (plus all alcohol, yep FML) for 6 weeks, then we'll slowly introduce each one back into my diet and see if my symptoms come back. Aside from the knee pain, I'm also hoping to help my chronic headaches and occasional digestive discomfort.

At this point you're likely going, wait a second, how could food be making my knee hurt? The theory is if you have an intolerance to a food you're eating, it creates inflammation in your digestive track that can then increase inflammation in the rest of your body, potentially causing many problems. If you've ever talked to anyone who's ever suffered from a food intolerance, they'll tell you how amazing they felt after removing the offending food from their body. I know many people have their skepticism about food intolerance, which is understandable because it's a difficult thing to prove as there are so many factors at play here. But I am willing to be the guinea pig and document my experience for you all.

I started this post right after I got my results and failed to finish it. So now I am over 2 weeks into this diet and 3 sessions into physical therapy, and my knee is already showing improvement. Of course since I'm doing both at the same time, I won't know which one is really doing the trick until I'm done, but honestly I think they are both helping. More details about what the hell I am able to eat and how crazy intense this physical therapy is in my next post.

Random Picture that has nothing to do with this post, but it just cracks me up


This year for Thanksgiving, I decided to forego the traditional pies, and a variety of other traditional recipes, in place of healthier ones...

Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake

This year for Thanksgiving, I decided to forego the traditional pies, and a variety of other traditional recipes, in place of healthier ones. Part of this was just because that's how I roll, and part was because I'm on a very strange diet, which I will share with you the whys and what's in my next post. I've made this one with berries several times with success, so wanted to try it with pumpkin. And it did not disappoint.
I'm definitely not a food photographer
A note for anyone who hasn't tried a raw, vegan cheesecake...it doesn't taste like real cheesecake, but it tastes damn good and is much healthier, especially if, like me, you have a dairy intolerance. So here's my version adapted from the berry one and this pumpkin one.

(Mostly) Raw, Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake with Coconut Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cups dates (buy pitted or remember to remove pits yourself. My food processor makes a horrendous noise if I forget to remove the pits.)
  • 1/2 cups nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts, whatever you like)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 cups cashews (soaked overnight)
  • juice of 2 medium lemons
  • 1-2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2ish cups pumpkin (I cooked mine first but they say you can just soak it for a few hours if you want to keep it raw)
  • 1/3 cups maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1/3 cups coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • pinch of salt
Whipped cream
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk or coconut cream (refrigerated)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


The night before:
  1. Soak the cashews overnight (or at least 5 hours). 
  2. Put your can of coconut milk/cream in the fridge overnight. 
  3. If cooking the pumpkin, I sliced it into quarters, place them on a foiled and oiled cookie sheet and bake at 375 until tender (40 minutes to 1 hour, depends on the size of your pumpkin). Peel and refrigerate until cold.
At least several hours before you want to eat it:
  1. Throw nuts and salt into food processor or high-powered blender and blend until well ground.
  2. Add dates and blend until it's well mixed and binds together when pressed.
  3. Press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan if you have one (it's on my Christmas list, so I just used the only round pan I had, but you could make a square cheescake, why not? Make sure it's a fairly deep pan though.)
  4. Next warm up the coconut oil (I just microwave for 30 seconds or so- not the raw way but I'm impatient) and pour into food processor along with maple syrup, cashews, lemon juice, vanilla, and spices and blend until well mixed.
  5. Add the pumpkin and blend again until thoroughly mixed and as smooth as possible. This may take many minutes of blending. Pour this mixture on top of the crust and even it out. 
  6. Place the cake in the freezer until solid (a couple hours at least).
  7. Open the can of chilled coconut milk/cream and scoop out the hardened cream into a bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip the coconut cream until fluffy. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  8. Remove cake from freezer and let warm up at room temperature until easily cut. Or struggle to cut it and get brain freeze when you take a bite.