Saturday, 28 March 2009

Eating and Loving Life

I am in danger of stressing myself over what I've stopped doing and eating. I've recently been eating things I shouldn't ( I had coleslaw and potato salad the other day, both made with mayonnaise ( FAT ! Processed ! ) And I've had a box ( 3 Bars ) of Green & Black's organic nut and seed cereal bars in a week ! I also had a little bottle of red wine at the weekend (OK , I confess, 1 and 1/2 in total- over 2 days. ) I know I eat better than a lot of people judging by what the supermarkets stock, but it doesn't stop me worrying. Most people don't have cancer living in their body. Perhaps I should alter that image. I'm hoping it's NOT LIVING, just taking up a little space, and perhaps dissolving away as we speak. But a lot of the things that I was doing to support my immune system and give me a feeling of fighting it with some tools have been lost over the last few months. They are my supports - things like taking supplements, juicing deep breathing, meditating, praying, etc. I think the anxiety just makes things worse. I've been seeing a counsellor at The Haven, and she's suggested that I need to be a good girl, and that it's possible that I'm doing all these things to be a good girl. Maybe there is an element of that, and I certainly don't feel I'm being adequately rewarded for that. (Total remission would be adequate reward .) But the real point of what I'm doing is to stay alive !!!! A lot of the health care professionals seem to miss this point. Are they uncomfortable with my twistings and pullings trying to get off the hook ? Anyway, I emailed Daria about not sweating what she eats and it struck me I should be talking to myself. So listen to yourself, Jill .

Do not beat yourself up over what you are or aren't doing at the moment. There's more going on in your body than you think. I have read 2 books that both suggest that the mind controls the body in ways that we don't yet understand and that the medical profession are slow to take on board. One was by Bernie Siegel. I can't just at this second remember if it was 'Peace Love and Healing ' or 'Love, Medicine and Miracles'.and the other was by Carl Simonton called 'Get Well Again'. Another I read just this summer was written by Bruce H. Lipton called 'The Biology of Belief''. These books all suggest that our brains can override whatever we put in our bodies. So you can eat a healthy diet, but if you are stressed and unhappy you won't necessarily get the benefit. And you can eat rubbish but if you're happy and relaxed the body will still be healthy. We have a place called The Haven Breast Cancer Centre nearby and one of the professionals there told us about a laboratory using rabbits. Some rabbits were noticed to be in better health than the others and investigations were made to see why this should be. All were given exactly the same living conditions. It turned out that the rabbits that were doing so well were cared for by one technician. When asked how she fed the rabbits she replied that she fed them the way everybody feeds rabbits. She picked them up, gave them a stroke and a cuddle, and then put them down and fed them. Needless to say the other technicians didn't realise this cuddling was part of the feeding process and simply put the food down for them. Clearly there was something in the handling of the rabbits and the care expressed that had a beneficial effect on the rabbits over and above just the nutrition contained in the food. My memory has lost some of the detail of this story, but I think you get the message. So what I'd say is don't get too hung up on what you can or can't eat, and should or shouldn't do. It's not the whole picture. These books and one called 'Molecules of Emotion' by Candice Pert (which I haven't myself read.) all suggest that our mental outlook also contributes greatly to our health. So if you're not eating the most healthful diet (because of chemo or any circumstance for that matter) concentrate on its positives - because it's convenient, or it's what you can get down, or you'd feel punished harshly if you didn't have it. We are all aiming to eat better, but I have on more than one occasion overwhelmed myself and slid back many steps only to have to pick myself up and start climbing again. It's much easier to take slow, small steps and not slide back again. I myself get quite down when I'm overwhelmed and know only too well what a dangerous place that can be. Depression is to be avoided and is a difficult place to climb out of.

Bernie Siegels books are very kind and uplifting and encouraging and his meditation Cd is very relaxing and soothing. I also have the books and Cd's from Carl Simonton who runs his own Simonton Centre. They are very encouraging and strongly suggest visualisations to kick your bodies immune system into gear. I have started listening to them again at night before I go to sleep.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Sprouting Seeds - The Basics

I have sprouted seeds on and off for years now. I had intended to start again after my chemotherapy ended, but after doing some reading on Max Gerson and his therapy I read a little sentence somewhere that put me off. Max Gerson believed that there is an immature enzyme in sprouted seeds, particularly alfalfa I believe. ( My memory may deceive me on this point. I can't remember the exact source and it would be too much trouble to go and find it again. )However, after talking to various nutritional experts, both at The Haven Breast Cancer Centre in Leeds and London, and to Pat Reeves, and in reading further, I have come to the widely held conclusion that it is better by far to eat sprouted seeds regularly. They are full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. and more modern cancer therapies advocate their use. So I'm having a fresh start with the seeds. I've purchased a state of the art seed sprouter , the Easygreen, to show my commitment, and because it hastens the whole process, and because it saves me some effort. I have a plan for the coming weeks and it involves using these seeds in recipes, so I need a good supply. The sprouter I've ordered (from Life Extension if the information's of any use to you ) was recommended by Pat Reeves, my nutritional therapist. She showed me hers and I was impressed. The apparatus is quite expensive - though they have recently come down in price. (It's genuine because I looked only a couple of weeks ago. ) - but it will save time on a morning when I don't have any extra to spare. I'm quite excited about my 'present' to myself.

I have used the stacking square trays that are specifically meant for seed sprouting in the past, and have been very successful with them and will probably continue to use them. I've also used jam jars, and again have recently gone back to using these - particularly for soaking seeds overnight prior to putting in the trays, since my friend Rosie told me I should be doing this. (It removes the enzyme inhibitors from the seeds. ) And I learned from my gardening class that these inhibitors are what stop the seeds from germinating immediately. The water in the soil gradually removes these chemicals and this process ensures that the seed has ideal growing conditions before it germinates. It's fascinating learning about seed germination. I learnt that some seeds require a cold spell before they germinate, some a warm and a cold and a warm period again. Some require burning to get them going. Some take years (peonies take 2 years before they germinate ) It's a wonder some plants thrive at all, but they are all just waiting for their own ideal conditions.

I have been amazed by the variety of seeds available for sprouting recently. I was in the garden centre at Harlow Carr recently and came away with lots of Thompson and Morgan seeds specifically meant for sprouting. It is unwise to use the seeds meant to be grown in earth. Those seeds - the vast majority - are often sprayed with chemicals and fungicides to prevent mould and mildew and rotting. Seeds I've recently found in the garden centre include :-

  • aduki beans

  • alfalfa

  • broccoli sprouts

  • black eyed peas

  • beet

  • basil

  • buckwheat

  • cress

  • green peas

  • lentils

  • mustard

  • onion

  • radish

  • red cabbage

  • rocket

  • snow peas

  • sunflower

  • salad sprouts mixed

  • sandwich mix

  • wheatgrass

That gives me a few to try !! There are many suppliers on the Internet which I will probably be making more use of, but I do like to browse actual seed packets and have something in my hand when I come away. I also collected some parsley seed from my own plants last year, and can see no reason why I couldn't sprout them. Except that they are notoriously difficult to germinate. Folklore has it that it will only germinate for the one who wears the trousers in the household .... I'll let you know.


  1. Soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight in fresh, clean, filtered water.

  2. Drain, rinse, and drain again. Leave either in a glass jar covered in muslin / clean kitchen cloth, or transfer to a seed sprouter.

  3. Rinse regularly, but a minimum of morning and night. The muslin over the jar acts as a sieve to contain the seeds so that you don't wash them away. Alternatively, if using a seed sprouting tray made for the purpose the water will automatically percolate through and you just empty the bottom tray. The water should be clean and fresh and preferably filtered. As the enzyme inhibitors have been soaked away from the seeds you can use this rinse water to water any other plants you are growing.

  4. Germination rates vary between seed varieties, and even between seeds of the same variety. ( I find beets to be particularly independent little fellows !! ) Some can be eaten within 2 to 3 days, others take 3 - 5 days, or longer. Check on the packet for instructions. I get a kick out of watching them germinate and grow and it's the one kind of gardening that can be done year round.

First crop from the Easygreen Sprouter :-

The seed germinator looks much like an incubator, and that's just what it is for plants, but unlike a heated propagator or incubator, the temperature is on the cool side. It is water in the form of a fine mist which is the most important element. It comes with a timer and mine is now set to come on at various intervals 7 times within each 24 hours.

The unit comes with 5 seed trays and I have scattered the following seeds :-

  • basil - slow to take off (3 days and no signs of life yet ) and the seeds clog the drainage holes. They have developed a jellylike substance that surrounds them, and look a bit like fish or frog eggs.
  • broccoli - just showing sprouts at 3 days.
  • beetroot - no sign of sprouting at 3 days
  • broccoli - just showing signs of sprouting at 3 days
  • lentils - showed first signs of sprouting at 2 days , but looking better at 3 days

A word about nuts and grains

Nuts should also be soaked to remove enzyme inhibitors. Ideally they should be soaked for 4 to 8 hours. I put mine in a cereal bowl with a saucer over the top and put them in the fridge. Once soaked I rinse them and try to use them fairly soon, but I think that they could be left for a little while to sprout. I have also dehydrated them afterwards. Is that defeating the object ? I don't think so because the enzyme inhibitors are gone and they won't need soaking for quite so long the second time. Once soaked they are lovely and moist and sweet. I think it was either Pat or my friend Rosie who said that nuts are dried and should be thought of in that way. You soak them to make them more easily digestible. I haven't yet tried sprouting grains, but will be soon. Such grains as quinoa and buckwheat can be sprouted, but I believe they only need sprouting till they have a tiny shoot no longer than the grain. I'll let you know when I sprout them. They don't need cooking if they have been sprouted and contain all their enzymes and nutrients. I should think that they are more alkaline than their cooked counterparts, though this is just an educated guess and I've seen nothing that says this. ( so I could be talking through my bottom !!)

Happy Sprouting !!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Eating Plan

Wednesdays eating plan is as follows :-

I've had juice and porridge for breakfast and have just made a large salad of avocado, yellow pepper, cucumber, mange tout, cos lettuce, and broccoli florets for lunch along with a chamomile tea. For dinner the plan is to have courgette pasta with pesto sauce, guacamole and salad.

Thursday's plan for dinner is Veggie Nut Crumble and salad.

Fridays plan is for Simple Veggie Burgers and salad, though we will also get in Fish and Chips for our guests. Friday night has been fish and chip night in our family for ages and ages.

The recipes are all coming out of Pat Reeves book " A Living Miracle ". They are very simple and don't require sprouting or dehydrating and sound quick and easy to prepare. I'm saving some others for next week when my seeds have time to sprout. I've also tried one of Pat's recipes for nori rolls using nuts and vegetables. The consistency and mouthfeel was surprisingly similar to rice sushi. I used too much lime juice, but I've learned and they are definitely worth trying again.

I don't want to plan any further ahead at this stage. I'm going to an art workshop on Saturday and Sunday with Carole-, my sister in law and a vegan lunch is provided. We'll just see how we feel when we finish each day. I'll post later with my results.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Who Has Stress Today ?

I seem to have picked a particularly bad week to post my eating habits. Are all weeks the same as this ? I honestly can't remember. I thought I ate more healthily than this. The truth is we're having friction with our resident teenager. My daughter is an angel. She is thoughtful, fun , mature and kind beyond her years, gifted at school, and a pleasure to have in the house. I am VERY proud of her. But occasionally a little devil who I think is called Hormones comes to stay with her. At these times we spark off each other and neither of us can seem to say anything right, and looks - don't even think about looking at each other !!! I know everyone goes through it, but sometimes it gets unbearable. That's what this week has been like so far. Tomorrow's always another day and I just can't wait for things to settle down again !! Unfortunately it is impacting on how I cope and what I eat, and how much energy I have to prepare and plan food choices. How do others cope because I'm sure I'm not alone. I don't usually talk about it because I think I'm being disloyal, but it's not. It's just normal life. I'm reassured when I talk to others and feel a lot better when they soothe me with similar experiences they have had. It's so much easier to be open and let people help but I still feel this tug of fearing I am disloyal. Isn't life a dance ? Offsetting our own best interests and those of the ones we love the most ? I'm actually a very private person which everyone who knows me would confirm, and I'm a little frightened of spilling too much to the whole world thinking I'm in the privacy of my sitting room - just me and a keyboard. How do you strike a balance of connection with others whilst protecting the privacy of those nearest you who you share your life with ?

Instant De-stresser
This technique - I collect these things and am always grateful for new ones - was given to me by Steve my Macmillan Nurse.

Breathe. It's a breathing exercise. Breathe in through your nose . On the exhalation pay attention to what is outside your body -

  • it can be the feel of the chair you're sitting on, the heat of the sun, the coolness of the breeze, or the proximity of a loved one.
  • the sound of birds singing or conversation in another part of the room or any sound you can perceive
  • the smell of hyacinths, lilies, or coffee - whatever you notice
  • the sight of your surroundings could be brought into sharp focus- colour, texture,light and shade.
  • the taste and mouth feel of something, perhaps your cup of tea or a mint, in your mouth.

Concentrate on just one sense but give it your full attention. The theory behind it is that it overrides your brain and all the worries it is concentrating on. You overload it, and by multitasking you are forced to choose what you concentrate on. It's powerful stuff and it works. I've tried it , and strangely, I really quite enjoy the experience. It feels wonderful because you concentrate on something pleasurable ( though if you have a bad taste in your mouth it'll either make your perception of it worse, or still work, but be more a masochistic pleasure !! I don't know, and I don't feel any urge to try ! ) It is a sensuous experience and can feel like quite a luxury at a time when you may need that most. Try it out yourself and let me know about your experience . I think of it as quite akin to a gratitude journal ,but unlike a journal , as it's title implies, it's instant, takes only a moment and requires no office supplies or paraphernalia, and can be done anywhere at all. You can do it as unobtrusively as the occasion warrants, so as long as you remember it you can use it in any situation. The trick is to remember these techniques at the times of stress when you most need them. I admit that there are occasions when they would work, but my mind is elsewhere and the help is temporarily unavailable. But for when you do connect with the storeroom in your mind these techniques are invaluable, or so I have found.

Tuesday / Wednesday

I'm having a difficult week and my eating plan isn't quite going to plan. However, I've committed to this and I'm determined to be truthful. After all, how else could this blog be of use to motivate me if I cheat when I write on it ? So here's my days eating for the past two days and my sorry excuses.

  • breakfast :- I didn't have breakfast. My weaselly excuse ? Chris, my husband had accidentally put on two different suits before leaving the house - the jacket of one and the trousers of another. Having an important meeting in the afternoon, he couldn't be seen in this odd combo and asked if I could meet him halfway and deliver his jacket. He's a busy man who works hard to fund my drug habit ( essiac, vitamins, enzymes, vegetables for juices, and other weird and wonderful potions ! ) and I offered to go into Leeds. However, he was happy to meet me half way, but it still threw my morning schedule out and I did without my breakfast of champions.
  • lunch :- I had a GREAT, FANTASTIC, LIFE ENHANCING lunch at my friend Rosie's. She went to loads of trouble and made me and Sue, her sister in law and my new friend a three course lunch which was out of this world and which I'd expect to get at the SAF Restaurant in London, which I've only heard about, or at any Michelin starred restaurant you could name. I am so Lucky to have Rosie cook for me and act as my mentor in all things raw. I took a photo, but will keep you waiting till I can figure out how to post it !!! Anyway, you're wondering what I had. We started with a cold tomato soup. This was followed by guacamole mousse in an aubergine pashmina (my description ), noodles (I can't remember the vegetables, but will ask Rosie ) coated in a wonderful sauce (who knows what secret ingredients were in there, just Rosie's wonderful alchemy of flavours based around avocado ) and salad. It was divine. For Dessert - what decadence ! we had raspberry cheesecake ( made with raw nuts ) and raspberry coulis adorned with pomegranate seeds. This was followed by gunpowder and ginger tea I think. It doesn't matter what's in Rosie's food it is always special and life giving. And very, very elegant. Are you drooling? I am just remembering it. I think this made up for not having breakfast and I probably enjoyed it more because I was hungry. And there was loads ! I'm ashamed to say I stuffed myself. If you're reading Rosie, Thank You. We had a great time, the three of us putting the world to rights and I couldn't have had a nicer afternoon.
  • Dinner :- Not even close to how great lunch was. I had a little cooked wheat pasta - that's what I threw together for my family - with raw-ish pasta sauce and a large salad. Quick and easy and I did have a lot more salad.
  • Juicing :- Sadly I didn't juice for the second day running because my morning schedule was unexpectedly changed.

Wednesday :-

  • breakfast :- porridge with seeds, apricot kernals, cinnamon and apple.
  • lunch :- OK. I admit it. I didn't have lunch. I stayed in all morning, firstly having an email argument with D&A, both mine and my daughters optician, about replacement lenses for Rosie. She's dropped, damaged, and I think lost her last pair of contact lenses and I needed her to have new ones - so that she can see at school. (she's also been in a dreadful mood lately and this could be contributing to that. Heaven knows I'm in a bad mood when I can't see !! ) It was akin to road rage ! Well, slight exaggeration ! But I wanted to make my feelings known - they wanted to charge me an exorbitant amount when I feel we're already paying a fortune yearly - £240 a year! Am I mad or is this a lot ? Is a replacement pair too much to ask ? Anyway I sent off a heated email. Then I saw my Macmillan nurse, Steve who is fantastic and I was calmed the moment he walked in the door. We chatted and I felt better - Oh and he gave me an INSTANT de-stresser and I'll post about it later. Anyway, when he left I got ready and went out without eating. Why did I rush out ? What sorry excuse have I got ? I went shopping. Retail therapy, except it wasn't really therapy. Rosie needed jeans for the weekend ( and a warm sweater but I'm not going into that ! Teenagers !) So I spent the afternoon hunting for a selection of jeans for her to try. Personal Shoppers do not have an easy job when they're shopping for the tastes of the fashionista's !!! I think they must earn every penny. I did manage to get two pairs out of the many I brought home which passed muster. And that, dear friends, is why I missed lunch.
  • Dinner :- dinner was a fiasco. I was exhausted and there wasn't a great atmosphere in the house, so I comfort ate in every sense of the word. I wish I could lie and say I had raw pasta and salad, or even soup, but the truth is I had warm tomato bread from Morrisons supermarket - just out of the oven, and a piece of fish that I stuck in the oven, along with some organic peppers and cos lettuce. Very very easy, very very satisfying, but I can't honestly say it was particularly life giving, and couple that with stress and I have to admit it wasn't my best day.
  • Juicing. Again no juicing. The carrots are rotting in the fridge ! So I can't say I don't have / can't afford the produce. Oh well Tomorrow is always another day.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

What's the recipe today , Jim ?

There was a radio presenter called Jimmy Young on BBC radio 2 some years ago who used to have a recipe section and his catchphrase was.... "What's the recipe today, Jim." and it just popped into my head as I started this post. The plan is to record what I eat this week and see where I am with my healthy eating plan. So here goes :

Monday :-
  • breakfast :- Porridge with fruit and seeds. No time to juice as my daughter missed the school bus and I had to take her in.
  • lunch :- Hummus, salad, sweet chilli jam and olive sandwich on wholemeal bread. Possibly the best sandwich in the world !!! I spend Monday's at Harlow Carr learning how to garden and there is a little sandwich shop nearby who make The Best Sandwich I have ever had !! It's a treat and I don't have one every week (because of the chilli jam, and because if I'm organised I bring a salad I make myself ).
  • dinner :- Mashed potato, peas, and prawns. I'm trying to eat more raw food, but I was in Waitrose trying to find organic peppers and thinking of what to have for supper, and just thought of this great simple recipe I used to make ages and ages ago - in another life! - I think I needed comfort food last night and it worked a treat. Anyone with teenagers will understand that once in a while a mother needs some comfort and if the way to get it is through a little mashed potato, then so be it.
  • throughout the day I drank water and 'Vitalise' pukka tea, and took vitamin C.

I will keep posting an update this week and it might clarify what I'm doing and where I can improve. So keep watching this post as I'll edit it each day.

Oh, nearly forgot !! I went into the garden centre yesterday - lethal - and bought lots more packets of sprouting seeds to restock my fridge while the seeds are fresh in . I'll fill a few jars and soak some today to start them off. I also bought some more wheatgrass seeds, though there is a cheaper way - buy in bulk ! - so I can get them started off for when I use up the grass that's still growing. It's the forward planning that I find difficult. I lack concentration and just can't seem to think further ahead than a day or so. It just seems too much trouble for my poor head.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Some Interesting Podcasts

I have found some interesting podcasts on itunes which you can download free of charge. I download them onto my ipod and I can listen to them at any time and anywhere. I'll list some of my favourites here. They're in no particular order. There are others I subscribe to , but in honesty there just isn't enough time in the week to listen to them all.

TED Talks - TED stands for technology, entertainment, and design. There is both a video and an audio version and I subscribe to both. This is , in my humble opinion FANTASTIC !! I feel in touch with the world, and in a positive way. I don't read the papers or watch the news, because by and large it is so depressing. So this is a way of being informed about what's going on in the worlds of technology and design, and in a very positive educational way. Have a look if you haven't seen it yet. It's terrific.

Listen To The Lancet Oncology- a monthly podcast which has highlights of the current issue of the magazine. I did subscribe to The Lancet podcast, but found little that I wanted to listen to. I always read the 'podcast information' before listening so that I don't waste my time and so that I don't expose myself to something that is not beneficial.

All In The Mind - a podcast about the mental universe - the mind, brain and behaviour. This is a fascinating podcast by Natasha Mitchell for Australian radio, which focuses on the workings of the brain. I find it very positive and uplifting. It is amazing to learn how the body works and how strong our urge to live and survival skills are.

Dave Weekly Vodcast - This is a humorous and lighthearted weekly video podcast from Dave tv.

Learn To Meditate - From the Meditation Society of Australia

Raw Pirate Gourmet - I like this couple ! These are video shorts and I would call it raw food for idiots - me being the idiot ! They make it easy and do-able, and inviting, and I feel that I can do what they've shown me.

The Renegade Health Show - This is another video podcast that is presented by an enthusiastic young couple who introduce you to the raw eating lifestyle. It has a home made feel, but what they lack in polish they more than make up for in enthusiasm and passion.

Rawkin Radio- Revvell P Revati hosts this podcast where she interviews people who have adopted the raw eating lifestyle. There are some really interesting speakers, and it is a motivational and inspiring podcast for times when I forget that there are people in the world who eat this way.

Sotheby's Private View - a video podcast on the visual arts because man does not live by bread alone !

Universal Everything/ Forever/ Feed- an installation artwork from the Victoria and Albert Museum . Effectively a screen saver, but pretty and relaxing to have on screen.

We Like It Raw - There's an interview with Kris Carr, cancer survivor, and other interviews, again on the raw eating lifestyle.

Meditation - Overcoming Stress - a podcast by Roy Masters

Meditation Oasis - by Mary and Richard Maddux

Personal Growth Podcast - which has excerpts from various classic and contemporary self development audio books.

Stand Up Comedy -

Jonathan Ross -

Best Of Chris Moyles -

Steve Wright In The Afternoon -

Ultrawellness TV - Your Guide To Lifelong Vibrant Health And Vitality -

There are many more - many on science and humour, and many other subjects. It's amazing how much information is freely available on itunes.