Monthly Archive: September 2011

Mosque slash Cathedral

A little background for this photo…


Mom: Stop walking and look like you’re having fun.

Having less than 24 hours in Cordoba made for an exhaustingly packed schedule, so that’s why our enthusiasm doesn’t completely leap off the page. 


After lunch, we headed to the Cathedral (Great Mosque), which is basically the reason people go to Cordoba.


This is the Patio de los Naranjos, a courtyard of orange trees inside the mosque.  [For the rest of this post, I’m going to use the terms Cathedral and Mosque interchangeably because it has been back and forth under Catholic and Islamic control so many times in history I don’t really know what to consider it]

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It’s pretty.


Random tidbit (that you didn’t ask for): the grooves in the ground to collect rain water were invented here.  Or so the story goes. 

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Can’t you see how thrilled we all are with the history lessons?  Never thought buying my mom a kindle would backfire – but apparently Rick Steves makes ebooks.  Lucky us!


This is the entry.  I got turned away the first time I tried to go in because my shoulders were exposed…but I ran to our hotel (less than a block from the courtyard’s entrance) to grab a scarf.


My lack of posing can be blamed on the fact that I stopped watching America’s Next Top Model back in cycle 5.  And when I say stopped watching, what I really mean is Kyle has banned Tyra Banks from the apartment.  I don’t blame him though, she’s pretty annoying.  My statuesque look isn’t great either.  I’ll work on it.


These photos will never capture the impressive grandeur of the cathedral’s inside.  It’s like seeing art in a book vs. seeing it in real life.  It blows your mind when you realize it does, in fact, exist.  And it’s so much cooler live!  And then your jaw completely hits the floor once you realize it has been around for-eh-ver. 


The Muslims had some style.



I really loved the arches and stripes…although it was odd to see them with all the crosses.  There were a LOT of crosses.  I felt like the Christians went overboard when they (re)conquered Cordoba and transformed the church into their own place of worship.


Seems weird (yet surprisingly tolerant) that they left the conflicting symbols and decor of both religions.




The mosque slash cathedral was definitely worth the day trip.  It’s quite the sight and I’d say we spent a good hour+ checking it out.

After we left, we wandered in no direction, taking photos all the way… 


I’m not sure what the deal with my dad’s hide and seek photography is all about…he either thought he was hired by National Geographic prior to the trip or that his being in unique positions translated to equally interesting subjects on film. 


Oddly, I have a lot of pics similar to the above.  But even more similar to the one below. 


After we walked from one side of the bridge to the other – and back again, we decided sangria was pretty much the best idea ever. 

We went back to the hotel to got a deck of cards first, and then we plopped down at a cute outdoor cafe for happy hour.  After 2 pitchers worth of cards we decided it was high time to mobilize ourselves for dinner.


It just so happened that our time in Cordoba aligned with the weekend of the May Crosses festival

“Every spring Cordoba bursts into bloom with special festivities for the month of May.  It starts off with a parade known as the “Battle of the Flowers” and is followed by the Patio Contests.” 

I won’t go into the history behind the monthly celebration, but it’s a big deal.  People travel from all over to see the beautiful display of colorful flowers, stone mosaics and ceramic decorations.  All the courtyards are open to the public, revealing a visual feast of flora and fauna.  We saw so many gorgeous patios!  Given the timely celebration, where else would we go to eat?


We were uncharacteristically decisive.  By 9:30 pm we had bread, wine, and first courses.

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I got my same lunch order, salmorejo and tortilla. as main courses.

The salmorejo was excellent (I gave the egg and ham on top to my dad).  The tortilla looked good, but upon first bite I sensed something was “off”.


It’s atypical for my stomach to be so immediately reactive, but this was definitely not normal. 

I ate half and then cramping took over.  Needless to say, I wound up in the bano later that night.  The rest of the meal was fun though.  We chatted up (all three of us sharing our future hopes/dreams/plans with each other) and the hours passed by.


How cute is the restaurant’s patio entryway?  I think the pots on the wall look is adorable.  It’s definitely a Andalucía thing.


The inside of the restaurant was just one big open courtyard with no roof – just the sky and a loose partial awning.


Now.  The real drama occurred when I attempted to shower back at our “quaint” hotel.  Ugh.  This place was 2 stars but even that’s a stretch.  The nozzle wiggled out of the holder like a crazy a$$ snake as soon as water pressure started up.  And so I held the thing, alternating hands as I cleaned myself.  On it’s own, this isn’t so terrible; it’s a Euro thing that I’ve dealt with before.  But.  The door was broken and so only 3 of the 4 sides of the shower were enclosed.  Not ideal to say the least.  Did I mention it was 1 foot by 1 foot in area?  So cramped!  I may have flooded the bathroom.  It’s really a good thing we were only spending one night in Cordoba because after that first shower attempt, I may have opted to stay stinky rather than go for a second attempt.  

Addendum: I forgot to mention the texture of the towel.  If sandpaper had a cousin in the linens department, this hotel was their number one customer.  Air drying please!

Euro showers: which do you prefer – a nozzle that detaches or a wall mounted one?  Or maybe you’re a bidet person?  Ha!


Once in a while I get really into citrus. 


You know where this is going right?


Yeah buddy!

Composting your peels is great, but here’s an even better way to use them…

Orangettes (v, gf)


  • orange/tangelo peels (1 orange & 1 tangelo)
  • dark chocolate (Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark Midnight Reverie 86% cacao)
  • 1 tbsp sugar (NuNatural’s NuStevia pure extract)


Peel your orange/tangelo. 


*In case you’re not familiar with the tangelo, it’s a hybrid of a tangerine and a pomelo (or a grapefruit).  They have a tangerine taste, but are very juicy.  Tangelos also tend to have looser skin and are thus easier to peel than oranges.  They are easily distinguished from oranges by a characteristic "nose" at the top of the fruit (see above).


Once you’ve peeled them, thoroughly remove all the white pulp and slice them into thin strips. 


Boil them in water for 10 minutes, drain, and add cold water.  Repeat this boil and blanch method for a total of 3 times. 


Finally simmer the peels in sugar water for ~45 minutes (or until the peels look transparent).  I used NuNaturals’ stevia rather than sugar, which worked well because the sweet flavor cut through any remaining acidity from the citrus.


This isn’t exactly a professional chef setup, but you do what you can do, right?  I thought I was pretty clever for managing to balance my baking cooling rack in the sink – allowing the peels to drip without dirtying the counter as they dried out. 


They took a fairly long time to dry, but eventually (a few hours later) they were ready for the chocolate. 

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I melted two squares and then things got very messy…


I am sure there’s some really fancy shmancy tool just for glazing chocolate on orange peels…but let’s be real, I used a wine bottle as a rolling pin this past weekend…clearly this was a make-it-work kind of project.


For the record, I am totally ok with kicking excess chocolate off my fingers.

After dipping each peel piece into the melted chocolate, I set it on tin foil and then put it in the fridge to set.  Yum!  Way better than compost, that’s for sure 🙂


I have been completely lagging in showing off my work eats.  Packing up my food for the hospital is an art form, but it’s one I’ve perfected.  Blogging about them, however, takes more time and I’m always exhausted when I get home from 12+ hours on my feet.  And of course, there was the unexpected drive down to Newport Beach this weekend…so I’m definitely behind.  Not to throw excuses at you, I’m just saying, I have weeks of hospital food stored up.  How excited are you!?  Ha!

Here what’s to follow: on-the-go meals that are (no) FODMAPS or (low) FODMAPS as indicated.


Breakfast: Oatmeal with pumpkin, chia seeds, mashed banana, NuNaturals stevia.


Lunch: Leftover protein pesto with baby carrots and Glutino GF pretzel twists for dipping.


I’ve had Glutino pretzels before and because of what happened on that fateful day, so long ago, I haven’t bought them since.  It’s pretty easy to guess what happened…family sized bag…cross country flight…salt addiction.  You know, the usual Elise routine.

Glutino makes the absolute best GF products.  I love ‘em like crazy, and you’d never know they were without wheat.  I may not be an expert in gluten free living (yet), but I’ve tasted my fair share of snack foods and these are actually better than regular pretzels.  They are so so so good.


What’s especially nice is that they are also vegan.  So many GF products compensate for the absence of gluten with eggs or dairy, but tons of Glutino’s goods are vegan in addition to gluten free.  I love how dedicated the company is to making quality products (that taste exceptional) for people with food allergies.  They are so on top of it.

Thank goodness this was a snack sized bag because there was no stopping me.  Mmmm…


Snacks: Chocolate Chip Cherry Torte (new!) Larabar, Ghirardelli Sea Salt Soiree and TJ’s candied ginger, and fresh grapes & strawberries.



I don’t really know where grapes stand in terms of FODMAPS (strawberries are fine), but as long as I don’t eat six pounds in one serving I think I’m ok.  Best to bring them to work portioned out, otherwise shoveling down half a vineyard’s crop is entirely likely to happen.


I had the last few squares for dessert later that night.

Next up?


Breakfast: Oatmeal with pumpkin, banana, cinnamon and NuNaturals stevia.


Lunch: potato salad with Yukon gold potatoes, cashew faux-mage, vegan mayo, carrots, zucchini, red & golden beets, and salt & pepper.


Normally I may have thought of adding onion or garlic, but those are FODMAPS no-nos.  In fact, they are commonly considered one of the hardest things for IBS people to tolerate (makes sense that I have a bit of an aversion to them).  A few sources say that powdered forms of the two are ok, but since I’m not a huge fan anyway, nixing them didn’t exactly break my heart.


Snack: banana slices, strawberries, & grapes, carrots, corn nuts, and Candle Cafe’s oatmeal raisin cookie.


I’d be lying if I said I didn’t break into this guy on the way to the hospital.  It was 6 am and I wanted a cookie – what can you do?


It was not a sweet cookie, that’s for sure.  Definitely tasted “healthy,” which makes sense since it’s low in sweeteners (maple sugar is the only thing it had, if I recall correctly).  Still yummy for sure.  As if you had any doubts.

And then…


Breakfast: Bakery on Main Nutty Cranberry Maple Granola with banana and vanilla soy yogurt.

*There are trace amounts of honey in the granola, but not enough to cause any GI reactions.  I’d also like to note that I, personally, have experienced no problems with soy either, so tofu and soy yogurt are foods with FODMAPS that I have reintroduced without issues.


Lunch: spinach, carrots, quinoa, seitan, and avocado.


A lotta lotta avocado.

I guess I don’t have any pics of the snacks I brought with me?  If I had to surmise (who says surmise?), Larabars, corn nuts, and carrots were probably involved.

Starting again.


Breakfast: oatmeal with blueberries and quinoa granola.


This is still the most popular post on HHH.  I don’t think I can ever outdo this recipe.  It’s just that good.


Lunch: rice with pine nuts, tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, corn, live oil, red wine vinegar, parsley, salt & pepper


A rice Provencal of sorts if you will.  The pine nuts and olive oil truly make this meal, otherwise it’s just a sh!t ton of veggies and rice.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that…


Snacks: dried fruit and nuts mix, carrots, candied ginger, Ghirardelli’s chocolate.


Never in a million years did I think I’d finish all these nuts.  But I did.  Friggin’ salt.  It gets me every time.  I’m a sucker for the sodium I tell ya.

See?  The elimination phase of FODMAPS isn’t that hard.  It just means getting crafty with the carbs that I can enjoy – like rice, quinoa, potatoes, millet, and oats.

Next week I am beginning my first challenge phase.  I haven’t decided which to begin with, but it will probably be whichever group has apples (because I miss them the most).  I have to plan it out first, though.  I will recap the elimination phase in the coming week though.

I have to say, I’m a bit nervous to move forward since I’ve been feeling so amazing with the current plant-based elimination phase…but I know it will be good to learn how I react to higher amounts of foods with FODMAPS.


Did I mention I’ve been researching this like crazy too?  Scientific journals are blowing up with this stuff right now.  It feels pretty great to be at the forefront of something that could make a huge difference in the lives of so many people who live in pain.

Which group of FODMAPS would you reintroduce first?

Protein pesto

Admittedly basil isn’t my favorite herb.  Over the years, you may have noticed how infrequently I make Italian recipes… This isn’t a fluke.  Garlic, oregano, rosemary, onion, and other such flavors just don’t whet my palate. 


But I do have a thriving basil plant.  And I do enjoy raw pates.   So it would only seem natural to find a way to unite these two things.  Right?


My goals in making a raw pesto were the following:

(a) to make it only minimally reminiscent of a true pesto

(b) to make it protein packed

(c) to make it delicious


The best way to up the protein content in pesto without altering the flavor is using hemp

Hemp is available in 3 forms: seeds, powder, and oil.  The above are (raw) seeds, which come straight from the plant and have omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids as well as all 10 essential amino acids.  In other words, they are a complete protein.  They are also alkaline forming, with extremely high levels of vitamins, minerals, quality fats, antioxidants, fiber, and oh, did I mention they are FODMAPS free?  Small and mighty!

The benefits of raw hemp seeds are numerous, but the best thing of all is how digestible the protein is.  Since it’s raw, it’s own digestive enzymes are intact; and since it’s got a high pH, it doesn’t place much strain on the digestive system. 

So now that you’ve gotten the deets on hemp, how about a recipe?


Protein pesto (v, gf, raw)


  • 1/2 cup soaked raw pine nuts (20 mins – 1 hour is sufficient time to soak)
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw hemp seeds
  • 1 bell peppers (I used ~10 baby bell peppers)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice (or the juice from half a small lemon)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp water (add/subtract depending on desired consistency)


Drain pine nuts and then add them to the food processed with the fresh water and pulse.  Be more conservative with liquids at first if you plan on making a pate/dip as opposed to a sauce.  You can always add more water to thin it out later.


Next add all the other ingredients, except the walnuts, and pulse some more. 


Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.


Once it’s pretty well blended, add in the walnuts.


Pulse, pulse pulse away.

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It really won’t take long before you have this gorgeousness.


Let’s zoom, shall we?




If I said this pesto is the best-o would you roll your eyes?  I figured as much.  But really.  It’s damn tasty. 


It’s delicious on top of pasta…or with a beastly salad.


Leftovers for lunch the next day were hardly available.  It was SO good.


Spinach, (steamed) kale, carrots, and protein pesto.  Shake ‘n bake grub. 


There are a million variations of this recipes – sundried tomatoes, miso, apple cider vinegar, and nutritional yeast are all FODMAPS friendly additions.  But this recipe is pretty fantastic as is. 

Do you like pesto?  Have you ever tried hemp?

PS Don’t forget about the giveaway!!

A health relapse

Last Friday was a wonderful work day because the entire time I was looking forward to my weekend.  Kyle and I had fun plans that involved good food, family time, and lots of relaxing. 

But things took a turn in the afternoon.  Because I was at work, I didn’t get the voice message or email until my lunch break: G-ma’s at the hospital.

For those who don’t know, my Grandma is not your average Grandma. 


[June, 2011]

She works.  She (attempts to) beat me in cards and darts.  And, as much as we all hate to admit it, she pretty much rules the roost. 

Finding out that she was in the hospital was scary, and I called her right away to see what was wrong.  Without going into too much detail, my G-ma occasionally has episodes of A fib (an irregular heart rhythm) and although sometimes she’s completely asymptomatic, other times she feels really weak and dizzy. 

Apparently the day before she went to the ED because she wasn’t feeling so hot, but she finally convinced her cardiologist not to admit her (that fact alone should give you any insight into her pushy get-it-done personality).  So she was discharged home…agreeing to return the next day for an EKG.  The next day she was still in A fib, but she felt ok so they started her on a new med (a blood thinner to prevent clots) and (again) sent her home. 

I figured this was good news.  She felt ok, she was being medically managed, and all was good.  However, when I called her on my way home from work to check in, I got a different vibe.

One minute we were chatting away, and the next minute she was throwing up.  I can’t even tell you how helpless I felt.  My phone battery was red and beeping at me, and my G-ma had just set the phone down so she could run to the bathroom.  I was in agony.  Do I continue to listen to her retching and hope it ends soon so I can talk to her and find out what’s going on, or do I hang up on her and call 911 myself?  I’m not used to mobile nursing…I was screaming through the phone…picturing the worst…it was horrible.  The seconds felt like hours, but she came back on the phone and I immediately told her to call 911 and I would be on my way.  

At that point I called my cousin (who was already on her way to my G-ma’s) to give her the scoop before my phone died. 

[At this point, I’d like to apologize to the people driving behind me.  Because I was unable to pull over – but am petrified of multi-tasking on the phone while driving – I just stopped while I scrolled my phone book finding my cousin’s number.  I’m amazed I didn’t get arrested for blatantly ignoring the driving/cell phone laws of the road]

Once I got off the phone with my cousin, I called my mom, my aunt, and then my G-ma again.  Then my phone died.

I got home from work around 8 pm and hardly remember anything about the next hour.  Whirlwind!  I showered, grabbed a Larabar, threw random clothes in a bag and was off to Newport Beach.  It’s a good thing Kyle dropped his plans to drive me (God bless my husband) because I was a mess.  The hour long commute to the hospital was the world’s slowest trip.  By the time we arrived in the ED, I think I was in A fib.


All smiles!

Shout out to nurse/reader “Mighty” who took care of my G-ma (she will be talking about you for the rest of time – seriously). 

Our party of four kept growing and growing as my aunt and uncle arrived. 


Good thing her hearing aids were out because we were definitely a rowdy bunch. 

Despite my G-ma’s protesting, they eventually did admit her.  We stayed until she was settled in her room (2 am), and finally went back to her place for a family sleep over.  It occurred to me on the way back home from the hospital that I had been awake for 22 hours straight.  So it makes sense that I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. 

You’d think I would have slept like a baby, but I woke up long before my alarm went off. 


After some groggy conversations with my G-ma, my cousin and I formulated our game plan.  She showered and I went to Vons for the essentials: Starbucks and almond milk.

I had no appetite and the caffeine was certainly not necessary (my heart rate was already sky high), but there’s something about routine that helps soothe me in times of stress. 

After “breakfast” we all went back to the hospital to figure out the next steps…


No offense to the hospital staff, but their indecision was ridiculously frustrating.  Especially for me.  Being a cardiac nurse, it was hard to not express my opinions, but I also know how pushy medical people can be super annoying (and result in adverse care for patients). 

And so it continued…to cardiovert or not to cardiovert, that is the question.


At least my G-ma had an iPhone full of Finn photos to keep her preoccupied. 

Given the glacial speeds of the hospital up to this point, I figured there was no way they would discharge her that night.  So at my G-ma’s insistence, Kyle and I left in the afternoon to swing by San Clemente.  Our weekend visit to Kyle’s parents’ house was already off course, but we figured we could still salvage it with a nice family dinner. 


I almost fell asleep on the car ride there, but shortly after we arrived I went on a run through the neighborhood, which left me feeling reinvigorated. 

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A glass of white wine was the next step in stress management.  Followed by kitchen time with the “soul sistas.”


It was so great to meet Carol and Cristi in person.  The joy of cooking with others is wonderfully therapeutic (as well as fun).


Here’s a preview of what we made.


More on that later though…

Before dinner, my cousin texted me letting me know they were in fact discharging my G-ma that night. 

I immediately stopped drinking (good think I was only a few sips deep), and told them I would come back to Newport after eating to spend the night with her.  Don’t think I’m trying to sound like a martyr here.  Given my knowledge of cardiac arrhythmias and patient care as it relates to funky heart rhythms, I trusted myself and myself alone to be there with her. 


With all the new meds she was on, I took vitals and checked on her throughout the night (hence the above PM caffeine loading). 

The next day she woke up weak and sans appetite.  She eats like a bird anyway, but this was different.  She wasn’t hungry and said all the food tasted like sawdust.


She had one bite of the bar, two bites of oatmeal, and a few sips of OJ.  In other words, 6 calories.  Teasing aside, this is really atypical.  And it didn’t help that she had reflux after skipping her antacid pills for the past few days.

As you can see, she has an air tight system in her medication regimen.


I promise, I’m not a horrible granddaughter.  I’m allowed to make fun of her for this because I do it to her face too.  🙂

She napped the day away, while I continued taking her vitals and feeding her nibbles whenever she would accept them. 


I enjoyed a Trader Joe’s wheat free berry muffin that Kyle’s parents sent back with me the night before.  They spoil me so much.


These muffins are excellent by the way. 

Aside from my G-ma’s health relapse, I also had my own issues. 


Over the weekend, I used up the last of my NuNaturals stevia packets, and somehow the hideous blue and pink packets made their way into my coffee.  I felt the effects immediately, and kicked myself for relapsing.  Not only are the fake sweeteners completely unhealthy, but they aren’t FODMAPS friendly either.  My GI system needs stevia and my taste buds need NuNaturals.  And now I need rest.