Lately my diet has been less than ideal. I made the mistake of stocking my pantry with snacks, a practice I normally avoid because I have little to no self control when it comes to the sweet and salty. So while my taste buds have been in heaven indulging in sweet potato chips and vegan chocolate cookies, my body is starting to say, “Hey, what’s going on here?”
This morning I decided it was time to cut myself off from the snacks, but I didn’t want my taste buds to go into shock either, so I set out to make the healthiest unhealthy breakfast possible in hopes of both nourishing my body and prompting my tongue to shout “Hell yeah!” And, I think I succeeded.
The plan started with a container of leftover pumpkin puree waiting in the fridge. When I saw the new loaf of cinnamon raisin bread sitting next to it, my neurons started firing. Yep, I was going to make pumpkin french toast with the raisin bread.
Next I thought, “Well, I can’t exactly slather the toast with maple syrup.” That would simply cancel out any healthy aspect of the breakfast. I decided to make a banana blueberry topping instead, which paired delightfully with the pumpkin.
Unlike french toast made with eggs, the vegan versions are a little more of a time commitment because the bread needs to soak in the batter for about 15 minutes, which turns out, is the perfect amount of time to make banana blueberry topping. I started by mixing up the french toast batter (recipe below) and then started soaking my bread. While that was stewing, I made the topping. By the time the topping was done, my bread was ready to fry, which also gave the topping time to cool (it tastes the best if it sits for about 10 minutes).
I licked my plate clean this morning and felt utterly satisfied. All that fruit and carbs gave me awesome energy for a sweat inducing kickboxing workout after I’d digested for a bit. And, I wasn’t famished after the workout either but still felt fairly full, which was a nice sensation considering I’m usually starving by the time I finish kickboxing. I guess that means my breakfast selection was an utter success!
- 2-3 pieces cinnamon raisin bread
- 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup flax milk
- 1 tbsp arrowroot starch
- generous sprinkle of cinnamon
- generous sprinkle of ginger
- pinch of ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp vanilla
- canola oil
Mix batter ingredients together until well combined. Submerge bread into batter, making sure to coat all sides. Let sit for about 5-7 minutes, then flip bread for another 5-7 minutes. Preheat a thin layer of oil in a skillet (non-stick works best. These babies stick!). Fry toast until golden brown and crispy.
**The batter is enough to make probably 5-6 slices so if you want to make 2 servings, you don’t need to double the ingredients.
- 3/4 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 sliced ripe banana
- A few drops of vanilla
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp arrowroot starch
Combine over medium heat until it starts to boil, then reduce heat to med-low and stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
This breakfast is blissful on its own but to make it even more amazing, pair it with a hot cup of chai tea. Now that’s what I call perfection. Thanks for stopping by The Juice Box Diaries! Stay tuned for more recipes, stories, and workouts ideas!
I’m wearing a tank top, and it’s December 1st.
For the past four years, those two halves of that sentence would never have met, since I went to school just outside of Boston, a particularly chilly city. Even today, one of my friends posted a picture on Instagram of the snow outside her apartment in Mass. I, on the other hand, basked in the 70 degree bliss in St. Louis, my hometown.
Maybe it’s boring to write a blog post about how much I don’t want it to get cold, but that’s all I could think of as I strolled around Creve Coeur Lake this a.m. I shed my jacket after about an eighth of the 3.7 mile trail and felt shocked that today is the first day of December.
My mom accompanied me to the Lake this morning as part of our fun and FREE activity adventure. I mentioned our new pursuit in my last post. Basically, we’re putting our heads together in times of insane boredom, and instead of spending money to entertain us, we’re pocketing our savings and finding alternative, free solutions. Last time we visited the library and today we went on a long walk in a beautiful park. We got in a great workout, busied ourselves for an hour, and didn’t spend a dime. Who needs a gym membership?
I realize that our visit to the Lake this morning was only possible due to the insanely abnormal weather and I know it’s a temporary gift. The sky still looks as gray as concrete and the trees look dead, their branches still and black like frost-bitten fingers. I can sense winter’s onslaught on the horizon. So, I couldn’t let the warmth go unappreciated. I savored the spring-like afternoon with a bowl bursting with my favorite spring vegetable: spinach.
Vegan Spinach Salad with Crunchy Chicken
- Generous handful of spinach
- 1-2 green onions, chopped
- 2 Gardein chipotle lime chicken strips
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
Bake chicken strips according to package directions. I always do the ‘short on time’ method. Mix together dressing ingredients in small bowls and toss with spinach and green onions. Slice chicken strips into pieces and mix with spinach mixture. Voila! Super fast and super easy and super yummy!
**Note, measurements are an approximation. I didn’t actually measure anything when preparing the salad.
I loved this salad and wished I’d made double so I could keep chomping on it. Even with the Gardein chicken strips, it’s very nutritious, which was hard to believe because it tasted so good! Next time you feel like rebelling against winter, this is a great salad to turn to because the chicken strips give that hint of warmth to combat chilly wind, but the spinach and green onions remind you exactly what you love about a sunny, refreshing spring or summer day.
I haven’t blogged in 3 days, sue me. But since I’ve dedicated this month’s posts to National Diabetes Awareness Month, it’s a good sign that I haven’t had much to write about. In other words, I haven’t had any crises or enraging interactions to spark any diabetes-related writing. But it hit me today that most of the time I talk about my diabetes, I’m either complaining or venting or painting a dramatic picture of the disease at its worst. So I thought I’d write a post about a typical day with type 1 diabetes.
As soon as I open my eyes in the morning, I roll over and grab my purse from the side of my bed. It’s where I keep my glucometer, lancing device, and test strips so I can check my blood sugar. Once I have my number, I think about what I want to eat for breakfast and then dose my insulin accordingly. In order to combat Dawn Phenomenon (which basically means that I have higher blood sugars in the a.m. and require more insulin), I’ve found that I need to take my insulin between 20 & 30 minutes before breakfast for optimal results. So I bolus through my insulin pump and proceed to get ready for the day before heading down to the kitchen for food.
After breakfast, my mornings usually run smoothly, blood sugar wise that is. However, if I exercise or up my physical activity in any way, I do find that I’m low around lunchtime. Otherwise, on days like today, my sugars are great at lunch. Like my morning routine, I check my blood sugar, figure out what I want to eat, dose it, and bolus. The same goes for any snacks and dinner too.
When it comes to figuring out how much insulin to give myself, my pump helps a great deal. I have the carbohydrate to insulin ratio already programmed into my pump, and depending on the time of day, my pump automatically uses that ratio to calculate my dose. All I have to do is input my blood sugar, the grams of carbohydrates, and click ACT on the front of the screen, and I’m good to go.
For example, tonight at dinner my blood sugar was 139 and I was planning to eat 60 grams of carbohydrates so my pump calculated that I should take 6.2 units of insulin. 6 of those units covered the food because my carb to insulin ratio is 10 : 1 and .2 units covered the slightly elevated sugar.
Besides checking my blood sugar for snacks and meals, other times throughout the day that I might check are if I exercise or if I don’t feel quite right, like if I’m high or low. So the number of times really varies, usually averaging about 6-8 checks a day. Also, the last thing I do before I go to bed is always test my blood sugar. That means that diabetes is the first and last thing on my to-do list everyday. Oh well, that’s just the way it has to be. And that’s my typical day with type 1 diabetes.
Even though I’ve painted this picture of the disease as relatively simple, I’d like to clarify that there are many more aspects type 1 diabetes that I didn’t touch on here, like changing pump sites, taking shots, battling bad blood sugars, managing prescriptions, going to the doctor, getting eye exams, dealing with complications, etc. But at least for today, I didn’t have to worry about any of that. I’m thankful for my routine day, even if it was a little boring.
The last thing I want to leave you with tonight is to say that my mom and I are starting a new pursuit that I might talk about from time to time in future posts. We are going to figure out fun and FREE things to do around town in hopes of saving money, conserving resources, and taking advantage of what is already at our fingertips. Today’s free activity was to go to the library and check out a new book, which by the way, I’m super excited to start reading!
My mom and aunts have been bugging me to read the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon for months, so I’m finally giving it a shot. Apparently it’s hot and violent. Sounds like a good time to me!
After my angry post yesterday (which the title, Type 1 Diabetic vs. Caremark, basically explains it all), I needed to focus my energy today on something a little happier, like a recipe!
I’ve searched for the perfect vegan pumpkin pie recipe for the past 3 years. I’ve tried the kind with silken tofu, but am always disappointed. Halfway through eating a slice I get a little grossed out. I’ll just say it:
I don’t think tofu belongs in pies.
I’ve also tried different combinations with yogurt or nuts and every time I can’t understand why the recipes don’t measure up to good ole traditional non-vegan squash pies. Either they don’t set right or the flavor or density is off. I’ve also eaten several different store bought vegan pies, both frozen and fresh, and haven’t found that ooey gooey creamy treat that satisfies your craving for sweet, decadent, and nostalgic goodness.
Even though it’s a little late for Thanksgiving, I decided to test out my own recipe today and see what would happen if I took matters into my own hands. I threw those tofu recipes out the window and went back to basics, taking my mom’s advice to base the recipe off a non-vegan traditional one. I also took pointers from the Ener-G recipe, though switched it up to better suit my tastes.
I’m delighted to report that my pie turned out great. I’m pleased with the texture, the flavor, and the overall yum factor. Though I’ve changed the recipe below to include a touch more sugar than the pie I made (to satisfy the masses), I’m confident that this vegan pumpkin pie recipe will not disappoint even the pickiest omnivores.
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
- 1 pie crust (store bought or homemade)
- 1/4 cup potato starch
- 3/4 cup coconut cream
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1.5 cups pumpkin puree
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1/8 tsp cloves
- 2 tbsp egg replacer (powder)
Mix together coconut cream, almond milk, and potato starch until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Pour into pie crust (batter will be thick). Bake at 350 for about 50 min. Let cool at room temperature, then chill in fridge for several hours or overnight. Can serve room temperature or chilled.
The pie rises a bit, so don’t panic if it looks taller than the crust when you first take it out. The filling eventually smooths back down as it cools. Enjoy!
Since this post is severely shorter than most of my other ones, I’d like to just take a moment to remind everyone that we have one more week left in National Diabetes Awareness Month. So far, it’s been a whirlwind these first three weeks of November. I’ve dealt with bad insulin, followed by severe low blood sugar, followed by diabetes-related bullying, and battled insurance companies and pharmacies.
But even though I’ve shared more about my type 1 diabetes on my blog this November just because of the awareness month, I’d also like to point out that all that I’ve posted these weeks is just a taste of what we really go through each and every day. Diabetes is not a walk in the park or a laughing matter and I hope I’ve succeeded in shedding light on that through my past entries. You can visit my archives page to see more November posts for Diabetes Awareness Month.
Thanks for visiting The Juice Box Diaries! Stay tuned!
I’m not usually one to publicly complain about my bad customer service experiences. Sure, I might comment to my family or friends when something irritating happens, like being on hold for an hour or speaking with an unhelpful call center representative, but I usually let it go without a second thought. However, the past few weeks I’ve been dealing with a series of particularly troubling exchanges with CVS Caremark and I need to vent.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my blood sugar testing strips were running low and concluded that it was time to order more. Per my insurance company’s mandate, I have to go through Caremark for my “maintenance prescriptions,” basically meaning, if it’s not a one-time purchase. So, I called Caremark to order more strips.
I decided that I wanted to change the type of strip that I use from the One Touch Ultra to the One Touch Verio because I’m not the biggest fan of One Touch Ultra–they require too much blood and I end up wasting half of them because I have trouble filling the strip all the way. Anyway, when I called Caremark, I asked specifically if I needed to get the prescription from my doctor first or if the pharmacy could call my doctor for the new script. The gentleman on the phone assured me that Caremark could get the new prescription without a problem.
He took down all of the information, during which I clarified that I did NOT want the One Touch Ultra strips like I’d ordered in the past but wanted a new order of One Touch Verio. He confirmed this with me, quoted me a price, and that was that.
Over two weeks later, I finally received an email saying that my order had shipped. Though I felt slightly annoyed that it took so long for the order to go out, I knew that the delay was most likely due to my doctor taking a long time to send the prescription. Plus, my doctor’s office gave me some One Touch Verio samples to use while I waited for the shipment to come in.
I deal with many diabetes supply companies, and have never had problem with waiting so long for an order. Minimed, for example, will overnight an order free of charge if you need an emergency supply. Plus, all of their products are shipped using 3-day shipping. They know that delays in supplies to type 1 diabetics can be life-threatening and have structured their company policies around that fact.
I guess I assumed that since other companies care about their customers, that Caremark would also follow that same model. After all, it’s in their name. So since my package shipped on a Friday, I assumed I’d have it on Monday or Tuesday and Wednesday at the latest. When Wednesday rolled around and I still hadn’t received my test strips, I started to panic. I ran out of my sample boxes on Wednesday morning, thus, I needed those strips ASAP.
I called Caremark to ask if they knew why my order hadn’t arrived yet, at which point I found at that they took 2 days to process the prescription after receiving it from my doc and sent the package via standard mail, a 7-day shipping method. I tried to explain how ridiculous it seemed from my perspective that they took so long to process the order, considering I’m a type 1 diabetic and rely on those strips for my life. I also couldn’t understand why a pharmacy would ever use 7-day shipping for anything.
But at that point there wasn’t anything Caremark could do because they said that after an item ships, it’s out of their hands how long it takes to be delivered. Plus, the next day was Thanksgiving, meaning I couldn’t have an emergency stash overnighted. The only solution was to get my insurance company to approve a 14-day supply that I could get from the local pharmacy, which was a headache in itself, to hold me over until the mail-order arrived.
My shipment finally came on Friday and I assumed the fiasco with Caremark had passed. Boy was I wrong!
I opened up my package this morning to find that Caremark had sent One Touch Ultra strips, not the One Touch Verio ones I had ordered. Incredibly annoyed, I called Caremark to tell them they had sent the wrong strips. The woman on the phone looked into it and said that my doctor had sent the prescription for the One Touch Ultra strips which is why they sent me those ones. When I explained that I’d specifically requested that I wanted Caremark to ask my doctor for One Touch Verio test strips, the woman then said that they don’t request new prescriptions from doctors.
This news flabbergasted me. I had been told the exact opposite when I’d called three weeks earlier to place the order. The woman told me that when they sent the fax to the doctor requesting the new prescription that they simply looked in my order history to see which strips to ask for. Guess what, I’m already aware that I had used One Touch Ultra strips in the past, which is why I called for the new prescription. If I’d wanted One Touch Ultra strips, I would have just refilled that existing prescription.
So I asked the woman what steps I needed to take in order to return the One Touch Ultra strips and get the prescription that I wanted. She told me that because Caremark had filled the prescription “in good faith” that there was no way to return the boxes. And, if I wanted a different strip filled, I’d have to have my doctor send a new prescription, which would then take 4-5 days to process and then another 7 days to ship. Plus, I’d have to pay for them again and my insurance company would never approve another order.
I asked the woman point blank why a company would ever take 4-5 days to process a type 1 diabetic’s prescription, and of course her only answer was that they deal with thousands of them a day and so it takes time. Well here’s my answer to that: during those 4-5 days that you take to process my diabetes supplies, I could die.
At that point, the woman said the only thing I could do was talk to their prescription verification department to make sure Caremark had indeed filled the prescription the doctor had sent. Though it sounded like a waste of time, I agreed since she clearly wasn’t set on helping me find a solution that would suit anyone’s needs other than Caremark’s. So she transferred me. And guess what…I waited on hold for 30 minutes until finally giving up. Plus, I hate listening to jazz music run on a loop in my ear.
So what am I going to do? I’m going to use the One Touch Ultra strips that I hate and feel utterly thankful that my mom’s company decided to switch to using a different mail order service starting in January. And, I’m going to tell everyone I know just how disappointed I am in the service I received at Caremark. Come on people, type 1 diabetes is hard enough. We don’t need yet another complication to our already complicated lives.
Tonight as I watched Nicholas David sing his soulful rendition of Lean On Me on The Voice, I couldn’t help but get choked up. It’s one of those songs that each and every one of us knows and attributes a particular memory to, whether a memory of a loved one or of a friend or a place or a feeling. I hear that song and my vision clouds with memories of Camp Sweeney, a diabetes camp in Texas that I went to when I was a teenager. We’d sing Lean On Me at the end of every campfire and it brought us together as a community of kids all inflicted with the same tiring, demanding, and relentless disease.
I can feel the hands of my bunk mates on my shoulders now, standing in circle together, the Sweeney Five playing the song in true Sweeney style. We yell the lyrics at the tops of our lungs, echoing the famous words with comedic additions, like,
for (Sweeney five)
it won’t be long (short)
till I’m gonna need (elbow)
And at the end of the song, we just stand there, literally leaning on each other, and knowing that no matter what, we have each other’s backs. We’re connected by something bigger than ourselves and no matter what, we will always be family.
Camp Sweeney is one of the few experiences that have made me thankful for my diabetes diagnosis. I realize that I’m usually complaining about this disease on The Juice Box Diaries, and rightfully so because it’s tough and, honestly, sucks. But if I’m going to have extra sweet blood, then I might as well make extra sweet lemonade and take a second to think about what diabetes has given me that I can feel thankful for.
It’s taught me an amazing sense of responsibility. It’s made me more aware of keeping my body healthy. It’s challenged me, making me stronger. It’s allowed me to meet amazing people and gives us an instant connection. It’s given me passion to share my story with others. It’s instilled an awareness of others in me, letting me accept people in a deeper capacity and dismiss their ‘flaws’ more easily. And it brought me to Sweeney, two summers of my life that I’ll cherish forever, basking in the fondness of the moments I spent alongside my friends and fellow campers, all sharing that desperate desire for a cure while feeling unbelievably thankful that such a rotten diagnosis could lead us to each other.
I could go on and on about how amazing my time at Sweeney was with anecdotes of our Alpha-Beta rivalries, our all-camp moonlight hikes, our trips into town to go bowling and see movies, and our dances in the gymnasium, which is where I first slow-danced with a boy, most likely to a Rascal Flats song. But to tell you the truth, unless you’ve been to Camp Sweeney, I guarantee you won’t be able to fully appreciate it. So I’ll simply leave you with a few pictures and let the smiles on our faces do the talking. Remember, it’s National Diabetes Awareness Month right now, and on this 19 of November 2012, I’d like to be known that type 1 diabetes isn’t always a curse.