Healthy Smoothie For Breakfast

While everyone was still dreaming in bed early this Sunday morning, I got up early to do some chores as usual, and then whipped up smoothie for everyone!

Orange + apple + fresh coconut water smoothie for the girls and hubs.  Avocado + milk + orange apple coconut shake for moi!

There were a total of 3 bottles +  1 glass of fruit smoothie and a glass of avocado milk shake.  This would have cost at least RM60 if we were to buy them from juice and smoothie bars outside.  But my cost is not even RM20!  Can you see how much profit these juice and smoothie bars reap??  This always gets me thinking that I should  open my own health food and juice bar too some day!

 

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Blueberry Smoothie

With two big punnets of blueberry that I lugged back from New Zealand, I made blueberry smoothie (blitzed with other fruits) for everyone everyday for over a week!

Here, I made orange + apple + blueberry smoothie.  I had to add a teaspoon of boysenberry honey, to be blitzed with the fruits as the blueberries were a tad sour.  I bought the boysenberry honey from Honey Centre in New Zealand.

 

The above Blendtec jug could yield 5 glasses of smoothie.  That is why I so love my Blendtec as I can dump in all the fruits that I want into the jug, blitz the fruits for less than a minute and everyone in the family gets to gulp down their fruits at the touch of a button!  So easy!

I froze the apples and blueberries for about 2 hours in the freezer for the icy kick that the girls love!

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Cass’ MRI Scan At HKL On 30 December 2014

On 30 Dec 2014, Cass went for an MRI scan of her urinary tract and kidneys.  The scan is to see if there are any hidden abnormalities in her kidneys.  We know that her right kidney is duplex.  And she had a Grade 3 Kidney Reflux on the right side, which has since been fixed with a surgery when she was 13 months old.  But all the doctors and surgeons that we have been seeing are baffled as to why she is still leaking pee as all the scans that she had done over the past 5 years showed that all is well now.  The urologist whom we are seeing now is suspecting that her left kidney (which is the good one) may have a hidden duplex kidney that cannot be picked up through all the scans.   Cass had gone through two MAG 3 scans, two MCUG scans and countless numbers of ultrasound scans over the past 6 years.

If this MRI scan report fails to show hidden abnormalities in her kidneys and urinary tract, she would have to go for a CT scan with contrast.  This is the scan which I am most reluctant to let Cass go through as it has radiation.   Cass had to go through a CT Scan when she was 13 months old, when she was in the hospital after her Ureteral Reimplantation surgery.  She had a complication from the surgery, where her small intestine was kinked and all the X-rays, Fluoroscopy scan and CT Scan failed to show the kinked intestine.   I am very uncomfortable to have to let Cass  go through another CT Scan, as I am very worried that this will increase her risk of cancer due to radiation.

On the day of the MRI, we were given a ward at the pediatric unit.  It was planned earlier by the Urology Surgeon  that Cass would be sedated  but at the eleventh hour, I had this strong guts feeling that Cass did not need the sedation (via IV).   I had confidence that Cass would breeze through the MRI without a fuss.  I was so right!  So I talked to her doctor on duty that day (a young Chinese doctor in training). She was very understanding and amiable.  She too felt that Cass did not sedation by looking at Cass’ composure and nonchalance over the whole procedure.  She told me that she would still follow me to the MRI unit with a stretcher, oxygen tank and sedation meds just in case Cass needs to be sedated during the MRI.  From the pediatric ward, we had to take an ambulance to the MRI unit. It was my first time on an ambulance and so was Cass!

My sleeping beauty tried hard not to fall asleep while waiting for the 2pm MRI scan but hard as she tried, she succumbed to her weariness and took a 1-hour nap!  Cass woke up at 6am that morning to eat as her fasting would begin at 10am.  I was hoping that she would stay awake and only fall asleep during the MRI but…. sigh….

 

Waiting for the ambulance to arrive to bring us to the MRI unit.  See the stretcher and oxygen tank behind Cass?  That was on stand-by for Cass IF she needed a sedation during the MRI later…

 

I did not manage to snap a pic of Cass during the MRI.  But it looks similar to the picture below.  Her body was strapped and had layers of plastic and sponge on top of her body.  Her hands had to be placed above, next to her head.  A set of headphone was placed on her ears.  I was given a set of headphone too but I did not wear them as the sounds of the machine were bearable to me.

The  loud and annoying noise emitted by the MRI machine did not bother Cass much but the position of her hands did!   Half way through the MRI…

Cass – mummy, can you bring me a tissue? (she said this very calmly)

Me –  for what?

Cass – to wipe away my tears

Me – why are you crying?  Are your hands painful? (She had been complaining that her hands were painful from the position.  She had to lie as still as a log for over an hour).

Cass – yes my hands hurt a lot.  Can I put my hands down?

I  then wiped her tears away with my hands.

The radiologist and doctor heard our conversation from the PA system outside the MRI room and asked Cass if she was OK.  When they found out that her hands hurt, they stopped the MRI and repositioned her hands by placing them next to her body.

 

Finally after an hour in the clamorous tunnel (that’s what Cass called the MRI machine), a vial of contrast (dye) was injected via the IV line on Cass’ hand.  The contrast is to ‘light up’ the kidneys and urinary tract.

I think Cass behaved really well during the MRI procedure.  She was very cooperative by not flinching and fidgeting throughout the MRI procedure.  I don’t think any 6YO can be that cooperative for over an hour in a confined space, in an icy cold room with loud disturbing noises.  I held her hands, stroke her face and hair and talked to her throughout the procedure.  The presence of a child’s mother / father in such a situation helps to calm a child and I think that it is important that a parent is allowed to be in.  I was with Cass in all the scans and surgeries (when the GA was administered) that she went through over the past 6 years.

Cass fasted for exactly 7 hours that day as we had thought that she would be sedated via IV.   The fasting was in vain as she did not need it after all. My brave little soldier!

This is Cass after the MRI, taking a hungry bite while waiting for the ambulance to bring us back to the pediatric ward.

 

 

Back at the pediatric ward, Cass ate again while waiting for the nurse to remove the IV line from her hand.

 

My motherly instinct was again spot on.  Cass did not need any sedation after all and because she was not sedated, we could go home immediately and she did not have to be in the ward to recuperate!

I am so very proud of you my darling Cass. She is truly endowed with Herculean mental and physical strength.  I pray that all will be OK with you.  I pray that you do not need any more surgery or CT scan.  I pray for God’s blessing and a miracle on you again.

 

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The Right Legal Advocate: Your Best Tool for Disability Claim Approval

It’s nice to know there is a government agency that will help you if you are disabled and cannot work. Still, because Social Security is a government agency, there are some procedures and protocols you must observe to access that help.

Although it isn’t true that the Social Security Administration denies all first-time disability claims, they do reject nearly seventy percent. That’s hard to hear if you are applying for benefits because you cannot work. The application process is a lengthy one and that denial, on top of months of waiting, can be devastating when you need the income. Sometimes claims are denied because your disability isn’t long-term, and you will soon return to the workforce anyway, or while you cannot do the work you were performing at the time you became disabled, you can still do other jobs. The fact is the SSA has written criteria for conditions and for levels of disability. Still other claims are denied because the procedures to apply were not followed.

You need someone to help you navigate the system and who understands the “language of disability.” More than that, you need someone who can prove that your disability fits into that designation. Legal experts such as the professionals at the Parmele Law Firm deal with disability and understand its legalities and limitations. They know, for instance, that just re-filing your application will not help your case. You must appeal the denial, and the appeal must happen within a limited time frame. Appealing a denial is advantageous to you because you want to get your case before a court, where it will be heard by a judge. Legal professionals who are versed in Social Security Disability can argue your appeal and have the best chance of winning.

Lawyers, and professional Disability Advocates, usually charge on a contingency basis, which means if they aren’t successful in getting benefits for you they are not paid. In addition, they can charge no more than 25% of back benefits, with a maximum of $6000. That means you can truly afford the professional help you need. Although there are advocates who are not lawyers, legal professionals like the Parmele staff have the best understanding of cross-examining witnesses and court protocol.

Beyond understanding procedures, you need someone who understands pain and empathizes with clients. You want someone who believes in your case, and who believes in you.

 

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Badly Constipated By Traveler’s Constipation!

It’s been eight days since we arrived in Auckland and I think I had only pooped thrice! Yep, my worst traveling nightmare came true and this disorder has never once left me alone whenever I travel – near or far!

I have taken everything that is supposed to beat constipation but nothing seems to help. My diet here has been pretty high in fiber. I start off my day with psyllium husk, followed by smoothie made from a combo of fresh berries, orange, green apple, celery or parsley, avocado and baby spinach. Then I have a slice of high fiber bread and more fruits. But still I am badly constipated and darn bloated! I have been taking Forlax – the laxative that Cass has been taking and it only helps me evacuate the following day. And the next day will be another day of bloating and constipation again.

I admit that I have not been drinking as much of plain water that I normally do when I am in KL, for fear of using toilets when we are traveling. And to top it up, I think I have a sluggish bladder ever since Cass was born. I have had three C-sections and I developed incontinence after the birth of Cass. Thank God it was only for 2 days.

Traveler’s constipation—a most unwelcome side effect of any getaway, courtesy of travel-induced changes to your diet, weird timing of your meals, and limited access to restrooms. Here’s how to prevent this uncomfortable disorder.

Take your probiotics
Start popping probiotic supplements a few days before send-off. These healthy bacteria, found in foods like yogurt or kefir, can help reduce gas and bloating, issues that usually crop up because you consume less fiber and exercise less on holiday than you do at home. Your best bet may be probiotic capsules, which can have up to 10 times more probiotics than fortified foods.

Chew these before takeoff
Swallow some activated charcoal tablets before flying the friendly skies to help absorb gas, suggests gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond, MD. All that gum chewing and candy sucking you do to pop your ears could cause “jet bloat,” she says. The higher the altitude, the more the gas in your body expands.

Pack your own food
You know nothing backs you up more than a greasy (and admittedly delicious) truck stop snack, but the discomfort it will cause you later simply isn’t worth it. Whenever possible, pack a whole-wheat sandwich, a bag of trail mix, and easily portable (and fiber-filled!) fruits like apples and bananas.

Drink up
When you arrive, drink plenty of water and consume at least 25 grams of fiber on a daily basis to keep things running smoothly. (Check out these easy ways to get more fiber.)

Take advantage of the hotel breakfast
“Eating stimulates the reflex that causes stuff to move forward in the gut,“ says Joanne A.P. Wilson, MD, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC. And when nothing moves, you won’t go. Give your system the kick it needs early with breakfast, even if you eat it on the beach.

Beware of laxatives
If you need to get things moving but don’t want a laxative-induced accident far from home, bring along milk of magnesia or prune juice, or sip on hot tea for a gentle, safe way to give your system a kick.

Make it an active trip
Experts agree that when you’re active, so are your bowels. Try that tandem bike, hit the slopes, or even walk along the beach in the morning—just be sure to drink plenty of water while doing it.

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Lunch Today – 5 December 2014

Cass is such an easy-going child.  She is not as persnickety when it comes to food, unlike her 2 older sisters.   She will even be happy if she is given just Honey Stars or bread for lunch or dinner!  But would I do that?  Only if I am super duper busy and unwell to cook.

Today is the first day that Alycia and Sherilyn are away.  With just Cass, cooking for her is such a breeze!

This morning, I bought a piece of chicken keel to boil radish soup. Yes, only 1 piece of chicken keel vs. 4-5 pieces if I were to prepare soup for 2 more kids.

Actually,  I ain’t in the mood to cook anything today due to sleep deprivation (I got up at 4:30am to prepare A & S for their early morning flight) but I forced myself to make a trip to the mini mart to buy chicken for the soup as well as some veggies for tonight.   I had to finish cooking all the perishables in the fridge before we leave for Auckland on Tuesday.

For lunch, I blanched some Japanese colorful noodles (which tastes like ‘min sin’) for Cass.   The colors of the noodles come from vegetables.

Seasoning for the noodles is pretty simple and just a few — sesame seed oil, a dash of organic soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, fried onions, seasoned Korean seaweed and some radish soup.  The turmeric chicken was left-over from dinner last night.

 

 

And my baby girl noshed away this bowl of noodles in a jiffy, as though it was some tasty, MSG-laden noodles from a Japanese restaurant!

Tonight’s dinner will be grilled chicken drumsticks, blanched veggie and radish soup.  No wonder friends of mine with just 1 child are so free!   Cooking for just 1 child is sup sup sui!!  *feeling proud of smug*  HAHA!

 

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Runner’s Knee

A few weeks ago, I had a sharp pain on my left knee cap each time I squatted down.   Sometimes there was a cracking sound and the knee felt cold and numb. The pain went on for about 10 days. The funny thing is that when I did my usual run in the morning, I did not feel the pain. The pain only came about each time I squatted down.   I was really upset and worried, fearing that I may be in a similar situation as the mil who has pain in her knees. I thought that my knee cartilage needed help or that I may have developed a mild osteoarthritis of the knee. I googled for an answer and found out that I had Runner’s Knee. So much for my love for running all my life, I have now succumbed to Runner’s Knee!

The hubs advised me to pop his Glucosamine tabs but I was reluctant. I eased the duration and intensity of my run each morning. Instead of running 5 rounds each morning, I brisk-walked 3 rounds and jogged 2 rounds at our condo jogging trek. I also spent some time doing knee exercises before I started running. On some mornings, I just did 4 rounds of brisk-walking and 1 round of running. After approximately 10 days, the pain was gone when I bent my knees! I was so relieved! Now that it is the school holidays, the timing is right for me to use the gym.  I now spend half an hour on the air-walker every morning.   Air-walking does not put so much pressure on the knees as running and jogging. I can also increase the duration of my exercise and sweat more when I work out on the air-walker.

What is Runner’s Knee
As the name suggests, runner’s knee is a common ailment among runners. But it can also strike any athlete who does activities that require a lot of knee bending — like walking, biking, and jumping. It usually causes aching pain around the kneecap.

Runner’s knee isn’t really a condition itself. It’s a loose term for several specific disorders with different causes. Runner’s knee can result from:

Overuse. Repeated bending of the knee can irritate the nerves of the kneecap. Overstretched tendons (tendons are the tissues that connect muscles to bones) may also cause the pain of runner’s knee.

Direct trauma to the knee, like a fall or blow.

Misalignment. If any of the bones are slightly out of their correct position — or misaligned — physical stress won’t be evenly distributed through your body. Certain parts of your body may bear too much weight. This can cause pain and damage to the joints. Sometimes, the kneecap itself is slightly out of position.

Problems with the feet. Runner’s knee can result from flat feet, also called fallen arches or overpronation. This is a condition in which the impact of a step causes the arches of your foot to collapse, stretching the muscles and tendons.
Weak thigh muscles.

Symptoms of runner’s knee are:
Pain behind or around the kneecap, especially where the thighbone and the kneecap meet.

Pain when you bend the knee — when walking, squatting, kneeling, running, or even sitting.

Pain that’s worse when walking downstairs or downhill.

Swelling.

Popping or grinding sensations in the knee.

 

What’s the Treatment for Runner’s Knee?
Regardless of the cause, the good news is that minor to moderate cases of runner’s knee should heal on their own given time. To speed the healing you can:

Rest the knee. As much as possible, try to avoid putting weight on your knee.

Ice your knee to reduce pain and swelling. Do it for 20-30 minutes every 3-4 hours for 2-3 days, or until the pain is gone.

Compress your knee. Use an elastic bandage, straps, or sleeves to give your knee extra support.

Elevate your knee on a pillow when you’re sitting or lying down.

Take anti-inflammatory painkillers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like Advil, Aleve, or Motrin, will help with pain and swelling. However, these drugs can have side effects, like an increased risk of bleeding and ulcers. They should be used only occasionally, unless your doctor specifically says otherwise.

Practice stretching and strengthening exercises if your doctor recommends them.

Get arch supports for your shoes. These orthotics — which can be custom-made or bought off the shelf — may help with flat feet.

 

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Going Green And Raw

I have been going green and raw for the past few days.  Firstly, I am not feeling 100% up to the mark, no thanks to the flu bugs  loitering in our home. No matter how hard I try to eat clean, I somewhat succumbed to the virulent bugs.  But the good thing is – the infection is a very mild one and definitely does not warrant medication.    Secondly, I am trying to steer clear of oily and heaty food to up my immune system.  We have an overseas trip coming up in just 2 weeks.   The girls ain’t following exactly what I eat but are sticking to non-oily, non-spicy and non-fried food.

Today’s lunch is salad with eggs (organic) again! :)

Besides stuffing myself full with greens, I have also been working out hard at the gym the past few days, sweating it  out really well and I am so happy that I am finally picking up the momentum again since months ago.  I have not hit the gym for almost 2 months as during school-going days, I would be too early for the gym. The gym is only accessible at 7am and I am always done with my run at the condo’s jogging trek by 6:50am.  Besides sweating buckets, I have also been getting a good dose of morning sun the past few days.   The morning sun shines right at me as the position of the air walker that I normally work out on faces the morning sun directly.

This Hakka Lui Cha was my lunch yesterday.  As you can see, the composition of this healthy dish is mainly veggies, chick peas and peanuts  in blended mint broth.  While I gobbled down this bowl of green stuff,  my girls ate soupy noodles with eggs and minced pork.

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Pork Bolognese With Fennel and Bay Leaves

I made a big pot of pork bolognese sauce the other day.  I used part of the sauce to whip up a penne pasta dish for the girls’ dinner and kept a portion in the freezer.   I used the thawed portion for making cheat pizza (from wraps) last Sunday.  How handy was the frozen pork bolognese on a day where we could not do any cooking!   We were having some renovation works done to our wet kitchen, thus have not been able to cook for the past 5 days.  My girls commented that my cheat pizza with pork bolognese tasted way better than the ones sold at restaurants!  Getting compliments like this spurs me to keep cooking and gradually, I have developed the  love to cook, albeit only simple menus.  I have never really liked cooking out of  sheer laziness and lack of time but it is out of love for my girls that I cook no matter how busy I may be :)

My pork bolognese sauce tasted incredibly flavorful this time as I had thrown in a handful of dried basil leaves and a packet of fresh fennel herbs to cook with the sauce.

 

 

Fresh fennel…

 

 

 

Fresh fennel emits a very aromatic flavor to your food. Its green, feathery fronds look a lot like dill but the fennel herb has a much stronger aniseed flavour. It can be used to spice up your sauces, meat and salads. If only I have a garden, I would fill my garden with pots of fennel, basil, peppermint and an array of herbs :)

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Health Freak Mommy’s Breakfast – 4 November 2014

This is what I had for breakfast this morning…

Roasted pumpkin wedges, carrots, aubergine and garlic with olive oil and salt. And I ate them cold.  Straight from the fridge and I like it this way :)  In fact, I like food eaten (certain food, not all) straight from the fridge.  I wonder if anyone has this quirk like I do!

I do not normally eat this sort of stuff for breakfast but today, I am feeling crabby.  My aunt flow is giving me superdy duperdy painful stomach cramps like miscarriage kind of pain, with heavy pressure at the lower abdomen area since yesterday.  Darn the fibroid in my uterus.  It is causing me heavy aunt flow with blood clots too.  This month is really bad.  So bloody, so much blood clots and the pain is really crap!

Anyway, whether I am feeling great or in pain, life has to go on.  While I ate breakfast, I read the newspapers and went through the clock with Cass.  She is sitting for her final exam today and tomorrow.

What did you have for breakfast today?

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