• Spiced Cashews and College Life

    Comfy Belly: Spiced Cashews

    A new year. There’s new hope, great potential and an opportunity to change things up, or continue the good stuff. It’s so refreshing. Just eat it up. And maybe spice it up.

    Comfy Belly: Spiced Cashews

    Here’s a recipe to spice up your life a bit and it works with any nut or seed, or combination of both. I use cashews, but feel free to swap in your favorite nut or seed, or some combination. If you’re avoiding spices with heat, you can easily eliminate the cayenne pepper from this recipe.

    M and A 2012

    One of my boys has had a good first quarter at college. I’ve been asked by many how he’s doing, so here’s a summary of the last quarter of 2012.

    September The dorm installation goes well. The large refrigerator and microwave is in and being used by all 3 guys in one tiny room. One of the dormmates has an electric rice steamer as well. Sharp knives and ovens are forbidden in the rooms. In the sea of excitement, my son forgets to follow up with the disability office. He will not find out until a few months later that he could have registered early for classes, been able to have a private room and other accomodations due to his Crohn’s. No matter. The social allure of the dorms, old and new friends, and the vast possibilities completely take over his thought process. He does make a trip to the University health office to submit his prescriptions for Humira and methotrexate. He hasn’t had a single flare since being on both for one year (starting senior year of high school, September 2011). The medication has stablized him completely, without any hiccups. The only sign of inflammation is sporadically on his face in the form of acne. He mentions to me that he tends to break out when he has dairy, sugar, or grains. We are grateful that he has made it to college in one piece. The years of missing weeks of middle and high school are behind us. My one remaining memory is his months of detoxing along side his preparation for the SAT. He took the SAT college admission test while in a complete flare, living on chicken soup and fruit/nut mixes. I still can’t believe he managed to pull it off.

    October  He is playing a sport for the first time in 2 years thanks to continuous physical therapy sessions during the summer. He’s experiencing the bonding and comradery of team sports once again with the varsity Ultimate team, and while he’s probably the weakest player due to his inactivity for 2 years, he is inspired. We meet him one weekend to dine and buy him new cleats. He is tasked with explaining his routine to dormmates, and a few watch as he injects the medication into his lean thighs. It’s an eye opening experience for some. Not sure he has met any diabetics in the dorm, but they would relate. The only issue left is food. He’s struggling to find food he relies on, and gluten-free options are not obvious to him. He eventually talks to one of the food prep folks in the dining hall and they bring out some Udi’s bread to make him a sandwich. He begins to notice that they occasionally make gluten-free and grain-free entrees but not enough to sustain him. Most of the time he is living on roasted chickens, Odwalla smoothies, fruit, veggies, and any home-cooked stuff brought back after quick holiday breaks. I dream of a home-cooked meal service that would cater to his needs, but I’m a firm believer in him driving these things and he’s eager to take complete control of his life. He’s losing a bit of weight, but he feels fine so I attribute it to his increased athletic activity coupled with his determination to avoid gluten, sugar, and dairy. He does ask for a refill of his GFCF pills and I gently mention that those are not a free ticket to eating on the Ave (noodle/Pho heaven for University faculty and students).

    November I get a text message that he’s in the health office and they’re testing him for mono and a few other things. He’s had a high fever for three days, hasn’t eaten, and his throat is swollen beyond anything he’s ever experienced. He says he can barely drink a cup of water. Up until now our only communication has been sporadic texting so I know that it’s not to be taken lightly. I offer to pick him up and he immediately accepts.  Once home, he is infused with chicken broth, green tea, and throat coat tea with lemon and Manuka honey. Within 24 hours the fever goes from 104°F to 101°F. He sleeps most of the weekend and then goes back to school due to exams. He is carrying a slight fever and two weeks worth of stews and soups. My three words to him are “sleep, sleep, sleep” please. I mention to him that he’s on immunosuppressors and what his dormmates fight off in 2 days may well take him a week or more with the appropriate amount of fluids, food, and sleep. Children’s Hospital also suggests he stop taking all medications until the infection has subsided. This scare has propelled him to make an appointment with the disability office. As for the food issue, we are going to give food delivery a try and he is going to become more proactive in his search for food. We also talk about using the kitchen more often, and future housing options that include a full kitchen.

    December While he wasn’t able to finish up the Ultimate season due to the raging infection, he does meet with the disability office and finds out that he can register early. He takes full advantage of this offer and has renewed energy to finish up the quarter, build a new PC, and spend his break planning his next moves. He is cooking up all kinds of stuff, including his own beef jerky, poker games, gaming tournaments, and playing soccer and frisbee shirtless in the wet, chilly Seattle weather.

    January We visit with the Children’s GI deparment for a check-up and all seems ok. He’s due for a bone scan, blood test, and a weigh-in. As I suspected, he lost some weight and grew a smidgen, but that’s about it. Nothing extreme, which is quite welcome. I have been dubbed his “annoying guardian angel” because I ask all kinds of questions in the doctor’s office, and he would rather get in and out as quickly as possible. We’re hoping to reduce the methotrexate if blood tests look good, and we found out that they are experimenting with fecal transplants. Our GI doctor doesn’t feel there’s enough research to consider the worm therapy for his patients.

    He’s back at school today, a new quarter, a new year, and so much ahead of him. We’re staying with the Humira plus methotrexate for now to insure he can have a solid year of school under his belt, and maybe a little residual growth. He’s even talking about studying abroad. His nurse and GI doctor have asked him to consider being a camp counselor to younger children with Crohn’s and Colitis. Onward.

    Comfy Belly: Spiced Cashews


    Posted in Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free, Low-Sugar, Paleo, SCD, Snacks, Vegetarian  |  10 Comments

    10 Responses to Spiced Cashews and College Life

    1. Levi says:

      Good to hear your son is ok. The opportunity to be a camp counselor seems like a great learning and leadership opportunity.

    2. Wow these cashews look delicious. I think I want something more savory so I might omit the sweetness and just do the spices. And I agree with Levi, glad to know your son is okay.

      • Erica says:

        Thanks Joshua. Hmmm. If you remove the maple syrup, you may have to use something else – maybe an egg white, so that the spices stick to the cashews. It is quite tasty. Another option is to reduce the maple syrup by half. Just wanted to add that you can probably sub the syrup with about a teaspoon of oil and then roast in the oven. They should stick – I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m going to test it soon with pumpkin seeds.

    3. Penny says:

      Your notes about your son brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing your and his experiences. My soon-to-be 15-year- old son is at a prep school as a boarder this year, twelve hours away. (Wonderful school and opportunity.) At home we maintain a gluten-free and mostly grain-free diet to deal with chronic asthma and allergies. Off at school, he also has struggled to find safe foods and has wavered in his allegiance to his diet protocol. He’s come down with four intense colds this fall and came home for Christmas break with a high fever. His skin, too, flares up horribly and then calms back down when he’s home and eating “clean.” They both will figure it out! Hard to stand by and watch them as they do, however.

    4. Jill says:

      I truely enjoy your blog 🙂 I was diagnosed with Crohn’s at age 11…. and remember being in college with flares. I’m all grown up now, with 2 beautiful children… and a very strong character. Your son and I , are lucky to have strong and wonderful moms 🙂

    5. Katrina says:

      This recipe looked so wonderful that I had to try it! I did not want the sugar from the maple syrup so I substituted Orange Almond flavored coconut oil and I added raw almonds to the mix. It turned out really well!! I mix it with dried cherries for a sweet trail mix with a kick!

      Thanks for all your recipes!

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