Tag Archives: what we are doing

December is here!

I love the Christmas season!! The tree is up, decorations are placed, and Christmas music is playing.

Today’s post is going to be a little different from what I normally post. I love blogging about our switch to a healthy diet and posting recipes that we are using to help Quinten combat Alzheimer’s. But first and foremost, I am a mom and caregiver. And as such, I spend a lot of time making our “good” time count. I work hard to make sure we are creating memories for the kids.

So, the other night an idea came to me that excited me so much I couldn’t sleep! Of course, it’s not working out quite as wonderfully as I’d imagined…but still….

The idea I came up with is something I’ve been calling The Alzheimer’s Advent Calendar. When the kids were little, we would purchase chocolate advent calendars from the Commissary. Of course, being the absolutely unorganized mom I am, the kids would often find them and devour all of the chocolate well before Christmas actually got here. My goal is always to have an Advent calendar. Maybe this year, it’ll actually work out. ;)My thought for this calendar is to have Quinten write out a card for each of the kids each night (5 times 24 is A LOT of cards!).

The first thing we did is head to Michael’s for crafting supplies. I found cheap little journals for $1.50 each after discovering my planned photo books were well over $10.

advent book

On each book, I found vinyl lettering for their names. I wish I’d gotten letters that were more pronounced since it’s hard to see the kids’ names.

And since each journal page was so flimsy, I am pasting a sheet of card stock into the books before attaching the notes from Quinten.

sample page

As you can see, Quinten  is having trouble with sentences.

With each book, I also added this:

note

Since we were on a roll, I decided to do a few more days’ worth.

Day two:

blog advent Day 2

These were boozy chocolates which are a tradition in our house. 🙂 They do resemble moose droppings in this picture though. 😉

Day 3

Day 3

Slim Jims. Yeah. Not healthy. But I am trying to live my life in balance (and not stress about every little thing) and this was something the kids traditionally liked. Funny thing though, they weren’t impressed by them AT ALL last night (one kid has figured out that nitrates are bad news for him and one of the girls was actually gagging after eating one) and requested the Paleo jerky that I’ve gotten before. I love that they are realizing these things on their own.

Day 4:

Day 4

This one is all wrapped up but inside is a Keurig cup. My kids love the Keurig coffees but we rarely have enough grocery money left over to justify a purchase since I can get a 5 pound bag of organic, free trade coffee from the health food store for a little more than the price of a box of the cups from Amazon. My sons who work early in the morning do buy their own so that they can have coffee before they leave for work. I am not sorry for raising coffee snobs. 😉

We’ve made up a couple more since then but I haven’t had a chance to retrieve them from my phone. I will post them as I am able to. Quinten is having a very, very hard time with these cards and I’m worried about the rest of the month. One of my kids has totally called me on the cards, saying that these are things that *I* would say instead of what Dad would and that he’s never gotten affirmation from Dad like that. 😦 So today, I am googling ‘words of affirmation for kids’ and printing out lists. I will then help Quinten choose the words he wants to say.

I am so, so sad that he is having such a hard time with this. I’ve been told that depending on where the damage from Alzheimer’s occurs, you will get different symptoms of the disease. For Quinten, it definitely is language and abstract thinking. It’s been such a long time since we’ve had a real conversation (probably pre-2008). This makes projects like this insanely difficult and makes important talks (like living will, etc.) difficult, if not impossible.

But for now, I will gladly help Quinten complete this for the kids. He may not have ever said these things to the kids (as evidenced by one child’s comments), but I know at one point he definitely did feel these things. And maybe my kids won’t appreciate the finished Advent book now but I do hope they will someday. And I hope that they can see past the hurt and realize that this horrible disease took Dad from them–it wasn’t Dad *choosing* to be this way towards them. And most of all, I do hope they know they are loved.

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So much for that….

So….the other day, I’m all like “WHOO!! I’ve lost 6.6 pounds by changing my diet in this first month of eating whole foods!!”

I have so much trouble losing weight that those 6.6 pounds are definitely an accomplishment. But tonight I noticed that Quinten’s pants were hanging on him and also noticed that those pants were the pants that were really tight a couple of months ago. So I had him get on the scale. Since his last appointment, he has lost 20 pounds! I’m trying to figure out why. I make sure he’s getting three meals plus snacks every day and that his portions are quite a bit bigger than mine. Besides cleaning up our diet, the only other thing is that we’ve stopped the Axona shakes…..but that’s only been for this month.

I’m searching google right now for suggestions but many of the articles talk about weight loss and late-stage Alzheimer’s. He definitely isn’t late-stage. I have, however, found several articles mentioning the fact that weight loss is common. Several of the articles have mentioned the increased caloric needs of Alzheimer’s patients due to their constant pacing. Definitely something to consider as I’ve noticed that he is pacing more.

I feel that I’ve done well in cleaning up our diets, now I just need to make sure I pack as much nutrition into Quinten’s meals as possible as well as increasing his meals and/or snacks. We haven’t had nuts in the house for the last couple of months and he was eating those like crazy for a while. Maybe I need to make up a trail mix for him.

Looks like more food changes for us!

 

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Alzheimer’s Recipe: Green Smoothie Mix

Another of Quinten’s neurologist’s suggestions for possibly slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s was to increase the number of green leafy veggies into his diet. I have not been great about getting him to eat them. I’ve found that salads seem to bother him and he’s had such awful belly issues anyway that I haven’t been as diligent as I should be. We took a break from the smoothies for a long time but I’m trying to get them back into our diets now. Here is how I do them:

Green Smoothie Mix

2 5 oz packages kale

2.5 cups frozen blueberries

5 medjool dates, seeded

3 bananas

Fill a blender (I use a Vitamix) with baby kale and about 1/2 a cup of water.

Blend, using tamper to push the kale down toward the blades. When you are finished it will look like this:

Continue adding kale and blending until you have used both packages of kale. At this point, I turn my Vitamix up to high and blend for a few seconds to make sure the kale is well blended. Pour kale into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Peel and freeze the bananas in chunks placed on waxed paper. The waxed paper is important. If it’s not used, you will end up chiseling the bananas from whatever you’ve frozen them to.

Once everything is frozen, it’s time to assemble the smoothie mix. Remove the kale from the ice cube tray. You may need to warm the tray up a little under warm water.

Divide the kale ice cubes, banana chunks, frozen blueberries and dates between 5 sandwich bags.

Place each of these baggies into a large freezer bag and freeze.

To use, place contents of one baggie and 1 cup of milk (we’ve used coconut and regular whole milk) and blend until smooth. One serving per bag.

What I really like about these smoothies is the amount of greens I can get into one serving since they break down so much. I’ve also done other greens instead of the kale such as spinach and leaf lettuce. I think I’m going to keep ordering a variety of greens to replenish my freezer stock.

Here are a few links to articles which talk about the importance of leafy vegetables for the prevention of Alzheimer’s:

Livestrong

ABCnews

Science Daily

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Alzheimer’s Recipe: Coconut Chocolate Squares

When I mentioned on Facebook a while ago that I used coconut oil to supplement Quinten’s diet with foods which have shown to improve symptoms, a friend mentioned that a friend of hers made “fudge” to help her mother.

We’ve recently made the decision to stop using the Axona after Quinten began complaining that it was burning his stomach. Since we have seen progression in his symptoms after adding the Axona, the doctor agreed that it would be a good decision to stop giving it to him. However, I still think coconut oil is a good idea so I’ve come back to the “fudge” idea again. I couldn’t remember what the proportions were so I did a Google search. I found the doctor who has been instrumental in researching treatments for her own husband who has Alzheimer’s and an article with recipes (I do not agree with a lot of what CBN puts out there but the recipe is easy to find).

In our quest to clean up our diet, I also wanted to make this recipe with the best possible ingredients I could afford.

 

I ordered the coconut oil from Amazon, but have also used coconut oil from Swanson Vitamins  as well. The chocolate is the chocolate I picked up from my co-op the other day. The brand is Alter Eco and I love that it is soy free and only contains 4 ingredients. It is expensive (I paid over $4 a bar the other day) but so, so worth it. Most dark chocolate makes me gag but not this one. I think it’s going to be my new chocolate bar to order in bulk. 🙂

The tray to the right of the chocolate is Wilton’s square chocolate mold. The mold is nice and flexible to get the squares out once they are solid.

Since I am using a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips, I like to weigh the coconut oil to match the weight of the chocolate.

 

I am a perpetual dieter, so already have a food scale:

 

Place the chocolate (chopped) and the coconut oil in a saucepan and melt over low heat. While you are waiting for it to melt, grease the mold with coconut oil.

 

The coconut oil will melt before the chocolate. Keep on low and continue to stir until the entire mixture is smooth. The mixture will be a lot runnier than you think it should be but, I promise, it will work out.

 

It look me several tries to get that shot–it was that runny.

Quinten requested macadamia nuts this time, so I roasted 10 on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until the nuts are toasted (about 10 minutes). Once they are toasted, I roughly chopped them.

And divided them between the silicone squares

Pour the chocolate evenly among the silicone squares and carefully place in the freezer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the chocolate from the silicone. You will need to push each square out. The heat from your hands will easily melt the chocolate. Quickly place each chocolate in a freezer safe container and store in the freezer.

I give Quinten one of these after breakfast every morning to replace the shake (Axona) he was drinking. I’ve read that some people are also giving them to their loved ones another one in the afternoon to keep their levels steady. Since it does melt so fast, I have Quinten place the chocolate in a sandwich baggie to keep the chocolate from melting all over him.

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Day 4

So far so good for the most part I think. The kids are complaining about the lack of food—but it’s really just the lack of junk food that they are missing. They can be found rummaging through the refrigerator and pantry often but when offered a piece of fruit or leftovers, they say they don’t want those. The girls, who are 15, have complained the loudest. They say teenagers are often like toddlers and I’ve experienced my fair share of tantrums and refusals to eat what is served for meals so far this week. {{Eyeroll}}.

I spent the weekend cooking. The girls have a 4-day school week so our Fridays count as part of our weekends. On Friday, I pressure cooked 2 stewing hens and used half of the broth for butternut squash soup. I used a variation of this recipe, blending the squash first and leaving the onions in pieces and adding in different spices.  I doubled (or tripled) the recipe. It was enough to feed us for dinner that night, lunch on Sunday, and individual portions for all seven of us which were placed in the freezer for another day. I used the meat from the chickens for sandwiches on Saturday. Since they were stewing hens, there was little meat.

While the squash was roasting, I made up some creamer for our coffees. Making homemade creamers was something I hadn’t thought of until I saw the idea on Pinterest. I loosely follow this recipe, using ¾ cup each of milk and cream (all organic), a little homemade vanilla (the rum bottle is actually vanilla), a pinch of sea salt, and 2 TB honey. The mixture fits into a pint-size mason jar.

Here are our meals and snacks for the last couple of days:

Day 2 (Friday)

Breakfast

Pancakes with coffee (extra pancakes were frozen).

Lunch

Peanut butter and jelly with carrots

Snack

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made with honey. We all thought the cookies were too sweet so I’m not going to link to the recipe. I will keep searching though.

Dinner

Butternut Squash soup with biscuits

Day 3 (Saturday)

Breakfast

Pumpkin Pancakes (I used this recipe but skipped the cinnamon roll swirl. I’ve tried a lot of pumpkin pancake recipes and this one is by far the best—even without all of the sugar in the swirl. I doubled this recipe and used organic ingredients, subbing coconut oil for the canola oil, pumpkin pie spice suggestions at the bottom of the recipe but doubling the cinnamon, and maple syrup for the brown sugar. I’ve always had to add at least a quarter cup more milk to the batter to get them to turn out. I doubled this recipe and froze the rest)

Coffee

Lunch

Chicken salad sandwiches. Our mayo is awful but I am going to use it up instead of throwing it out and buying something organic.

Dinner

Stir-fry using some of the round steak I picked up on Thursday. It was *awesome*! Usually round steak from the store is often like chewing shoe leather once it’s cooked but this one was nice and tender in the stir fry

White rice. I try to limit our consumption of rice products after news reports show that rice has high levels of arsenic in it. One report I read said that brown rice actually has higher levels of arsenic than white. I need to research it more but white rice is what I have on hand at the moment, so it’s getting used.

Snack

Chocolate chip cookies from the day before.

Day 4 (Sunday)

Breakfast

Eggs with bacon (Applegate farms) and a bit of the Kerrygold cheese I picked up from Sam’s Club. Coffee

Lunch

Butternut squash soup with toast and homemade plum jam (contains sugar)

Snack

Veggie smoothie

Dinner

Baked chicken with quinoa and green salad and an oil and vinegar dressing

Dessert

Caramel Popcorn (recipe coming soon)

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Day 1

Today was our first day doing 100 Days of Real Food “Social Security style.” Since we were out of so many things, it’s been fairly easy to stick with a whole foods diet.

Breakfast:

 

Breakfast was 2 soy-free organic eggs cooked in a little bacon fat and 1/2 an organic banana sprinkled with cinnamon. We also had 1 cup of coffee with grass-fed whole milk and a tiny bit of local honey.

After breakfast, I looked outside and saw this:

Yesterday we had gorgeous 70 degree weather and this morning we woke up with dense fog and drizzle. When I left the house, it was a whopping 41 degrees and didn’t warm up much until we were leaving town at 3:15pm this afternoon. It seems that my grocery shopping days often include foul weather. Whee!! Thankfully, it wasn’t icy.

Like a good girl, I packed our lunch so that we wouldn’t be tempted to eat in town.

Lunch today was 1/2 a peanut butter sandwich (Quinten had a whole) with honey on spelt bread and organic popcorn popped in coconut oil. The mason jars each have a tea bag in them, with back up tea bags behind them, and a thermos full of hot water on the left. The mason jar concept really needs a bit of tweaking–those puppies got hot!! I think I’m going to try to make coozies for them since I would much rather drink out of glass than plastic and loved being able to close it up.

Our first stop was Target. I needed a few toiletries and dog food and also picked up some organic peanut butter, a couple of packets of maple almond butter, a jar of organic spaghetti sauce (contains organic sugar), and a tiny bottle of maple syrup. I can’t find the receipt but it came to around $30 with a 5% coupon I had and the 5% Target debit card discount.

 

After Target, we went to Sam’s. Sam’s seems to be shrinking their organic offerings here. I ended up making two trips to Sam’s today because my spinach and kale order didn’t come in at the co-op. I ended up getting organic raspberries, organic carrots, mushrooms, grass-fed butter and cheese, and organic salad greens. I spent $37.65 here.

After Sam’s we went to the Dollar Store and picked up a drawer organizer for silverware. That trip was 3.18. We still had time to kill before meeting the person I ordered beef from so we went back to Target and ordered coffee and their Starbucks. Even before we decided to do this diet, I’d stopped ordering their sugar-laden “coffees” since you can’t even taste the coffee in them anymore. Quinten and I got brewed Thanksgiving blend coffees with a bit of half and half, no sugar. Total spent: $3.53

We sat there mostly in silence checking our emails and Facebook on our phones.

After Starbucks, we headed to the other side of town to meet the lady with our beef order. I am so happy to have found a place I can order grass-fed beef–especially hamburger. No more pink slime for us! Total beef order: $159.00

Are you getting tired yet? We were by this point. We had 3 more stops left after this, included that second Sam’s stop. After the beef we stopped at the health food co-op and picked up our special order along with a couple other items. We got 20 pounds butternut squash, 5 pounds bananas, 2 onions, 1 case grass-fed milk, 3 bottles grass-fed cream, 2 soda sized bottles sparkling water (we were thirsty!), 1 jar tomato paste, 1 jar fruit spread, and 2 bars dark chocolate. Total spent: 99.20

Our next to last stop was the bread store. Great Harvest Bread has terrific bread using the ingredients I used to use when I made bread for my family and the farmer’s market many years ago. I spent $22.79 here and brought home 1 loaf sourdough, 1 loaf white, and 2 loaves whole wheat.

My last stop was Sam’s for the box of organic salad greens. Not pictured are my Amazon orders. My orders were for toiletries, coconut oil, and organic kamut flour. I spent $46.41.

My goal was $400 for food and toiletries/paper goods. I spent $401.76. Not too bad. I just hope I’ve purchased enough to feed us for the week. Fingers crossed!

Dinner was cheeseburger pasta with hamburger, pasta, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut to sub for the pickles, cheese, and cream. It didn’t taste too bad but it sure wasn’t a pretty dish. We had this with the loaf of sourdough and butter.

 

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Blueberries

Blueberries have been found in abundance at grocery stores lately and that makes me happy. Along with adding coconut oil and decreasing the amount of sugar in our diets, we eat a lot of blueberries.

Blueberries have been in the news lately as the result of several studies which seem to suggest that components in them may prevent or reverse memory loss and dementia.

Here is a good article which explains the research:

Blueberry Benefits

Researchers say blueberries contain a wealth of phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. In addition, animal studies have shown that the polyphenols found in blueberries, anthocyanins, have been shown to increase signaling in brain centers associated with memory as well as improve how the brain gets rid of glucose, all of which may help slow memory decline.

In the study, researchers looked at the effects of drinking wild blueberry juice on memory decline in nine adults in their 70s who were experiencing age-related memory decline problems, such as memory lapses.

The participants drank about two and a half cups each day of blueberry juice made from commercially available frozen wild blueberries for 12 weeks. A comparison group of seven older adults drank a similar amount of placebo non-juice beverage for the same time period.

Researchers conducted memory tests, such as word association and list learning and recall tasks, at the beginning and end of the study.

The results showed that those who drank blueberry juice showed significant improvement on learning and memory tests compared to the placebo group. Source

One of the ways in which we get our blueberries is to have them in a green smoothie. The addition of the blueberries makes for one heck of an ugly smoothie, but it tastes really good. As soon as I can get pictures taken and the recipe typed in, I’ll post it.

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