Another Week

It’s been a week since superstorm Sandy touched down in the greater tri-state area and wreaked havoc. A week of working from home, running as much as possible, and trying to keep up with the news while simultaneously trying to keep my tears at bay. It’s hard to believe that places I grew up and know so well have been forever changed; and more importantly than that, the friends and family that have had their lives changed as well. As I mentioned last week, I was lucky enough to retain power through the storm and not to suffer any damages myself. My office, as well as my parents, however, haven’t had power since late Sunday, with reports of it not coming back until the end of this week. While it’s easy to get angry at a lack of heat and power, in the grand scheme of things, it could be much worse.

That being said, even though our oven isn’t working, I’ve been cooking up a storm. My most recent creation was vegan buffalo lasagna. All my GI woes have gotten a little better, and while going gluten-free didn’t seem to make a difference, my doctor has suggested I lay low on dairy. I’m still eating dairy, just a lot less. At my last appointment when trying to figure out why I wasn’t getting much better, I just so happened to mention that I loved cheese, and I watched my doctor immediately scribble that information on his legal pad, with exclamation points to follow the statement. Things have been going better, but I’ve also upped my medicine, so we’ll see what happens when I start to dial the medicine back. So, to cater to my new reduced dairy diet and vegetarianism, this particular recipe is dairy and meat free! You can use regular cheese and dressing (and of course add in chicken), but you should give this version a try!

Vegan Buffalo Lasagna
– Serves 4 –  

1 block firm tofu
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 cup Frank’s red hot
1 cup vegan Ranch dressing (i.e. Follow Your Heart)
8 oz. vegan shredded mozzarella cheese (i.e. Daiya)
9 “no boil” lasagna noodles

1. Press the tofu to get out as much water as possible.
2. Meanwhile, combine the Frank’s and ranch dressing together in a bowl.
3. In a separate large bowl, break up the tofu using a fork until it resembles ricotta cheese.
4. Add in the nutritional yeast and 1/2 cup of the dressing mixture, stirring to combine.
5. Take 4-6 tbsp of the dressing mixture to generously coat the bottom of your slow cooker.
6. Layer 3 no boil noodles, followed by 1/3 cup of the tofu mixture, and a 1/4 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat.
7. After adding the last 3 noodles, pour the remainder of the dressing mixture, being sure to coat everything. Top with the remaining cheese.
8. Cook on high in the slow cooker for 2 hours.

The Results

Can you think of a better way to spend part of your birthday than a trip to the doctor (specifically the gastroenterologist)? Clearly I can’t, because that’s exactly what I did on Thursday afternoon. This was just a follow-up to all the tests I had back at the end of May/beginning of June, but it was a trip to the doctor on my birthday, nonetheless. Thankfully after blood work, an endoscopy, colonoscopy, and HIDA scan, my doctor had some rather good news for me, which I told him better be the case since it was my birthday and all.

Birthday brownies from co-workers… good thing I’m not lactose or gluten intolerant!

The appointment started as they always do, sitting in his amazingly fancy office making small talk while he reviewed my file. He began by reading off the results; no lactose intolerance, no celiacs, no colitis… the list continued, and I started to worry. Of course, not having any of these issues was great news, but at the same time I started to fear he was going to tell me that he couldn’t find anything, and I was out of luck. But then we got to my gallbladder. Turns out my eye isn’t the only lazy body part I’ve got, and my gallbladder functions just on the cusp of being considered active and normal – basically, it gets the job done, but not well.

A little anatomy lesson for you

So what does this mean? For me, my lazy gallbladder likes to leak out some of the bile it creates to help breakdown my food, in turn acting as a laxative. There’s no need for me to go into more detail than that, because I know you’re all smarty-pants. Also, my B12 and Vitamin D are a little low, and I have a bit of a hiatal hernia. It basically just causes heartburn every now and then – nothing a Pepcid AC can’t cure! As for the gallbladder condition, it’s called Habba Syndrome, and can be managed by simply taking a pill before I eat a meal (i.e. breakfast, lunch, or dinner). I was also told to stay away from rich and heavy foods, which I already do for the most part, but may need to indulge here and there. If for some reason this doesn’t help (though my doctor is confident this is the issue), we’ll do one more test to confirm I don’t have Crohn’s (which we had thought it was a few months back).

My prescription was filled yesterday, and I had my first set of pills last night. I have to play around with the dosages to see what works best, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that this will help alleviate my “issues,” as I like to call them. In the meantime, I’m going to continue guzzling all the fro-yo and cheese I can.