Sunlight in the Kitchen

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Here’s something you probably didn’t know about me:

As much trouble as I’ve had with chronic pain over the past ten years, I’ve had almost just as much trouble with digestive issues.

I haven’t written about those issues yet for a few reasons.  For one thing, they’re embarrassing.  Really embarrassing.  I’d much rather talk about running injuries and muscle pain.

For another, I wasn’t sure how many different topics it would make sense to talk about on one blog.

But digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, are actually pretty closely related to fibromyalgia.   From the time I’ve spend interacting with other bloggers, it seems like most people with fibro have some digestive issues.

I happen to know a little something about all of that.

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In the past ten years, I have been through six gastroenterologists, four nutritionists, and four pelvic-floor physical therapists.

I didn’t find any answers at all until I met my fifth gastroenterologist in 2011.  Even then, what really made the difference is that I had started doing a lot of my own research about what I thought might be causing my issues, and this doctor was open-minded enough to humor me.

At that point, I finally started to figure things out.  None of my issues turned out to be terribly rare, or even hard to diagnose.

It was simply that I had fallen through the cracks– that I was a young, relatively healthy-looking woman, and that the first four doctors I saw found it easier to write my problems off as being caused by stress, rather than ordering some pretty basic testing.

The fact that I had fibromyalgia made it even more likely that these doctors would write me off, because pretty much every medical person knows that these issues are so closely connected.

But just because there are connections between fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome does not mean that treating one will automatically treat the other.  And just because a patient has fibromyalgia does not mean there cannot be other causes and contributing factors to her IBS.

So I have decided to start sharing my experience with digestive issues with others.  To raise awareness about the basic things that most gastroenterologists and other health professionals already know, yet don’t always bother to investigate with their patients.  Once you know about these potential issues, and the tests that can be done to diagnose them, you can begin to take charge of your own health.

I have decided to write about these issues on a second blog, simply because I don’t want to completely overwhelm the people who are already following this one.  I plan to post a lot of recipes/cooking inspirations on the new blog, which I know might not interest every single follower here (and that’s totally ok!).

I hope you will check out my new blog, Sunlight in the Kitchen.

**Strawberries photo courtesy of Sharon Mollerus**

Surprisingly good whole-wheat pumpkin bread

I adapted this recipe from the Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread I found on allrecipes.com… but the extra nutritious twists are all mine!

The first time I made this recipe, I accidentally doubled the amount of pumpkin I used (don’t ask).  The thing is, it actually turned out great!  Although people generally associate pumpkin with desserts, it’s actually really good for you.  It adds some extra fiber, and it has a ton of Vitamin A– one medium slice of this pumpkin bread gives you 150% of your daily value.  I think the extra pumpkin also helps to make this bread extra moist.

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I love pumpkin. Look at that bright color– the more orange the vegetable, the more Vitamin A it has.

This recipe makes two generous loaves.  This bread is healthy enough that I feel totally justified in having it for breakfast every day.   Three people can definitely go through two loaves in a week; if it’s just you, just pop the second loaf in the freezer until you’re ready for it.

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 cans of pumpkin (approximately 3.5 cups)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup water

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 3.5 cups whole wheat flour (you can use white wheat or regular white too)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • raisins or nuts or whatever you want to put in

You will need two large bowls to make this recipe.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

First mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, salt, and baking soda.  When these are well-mixed, add the flour and sugar.

Next, combine the wet ingredients in one bowl.

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Wet ingredients.  Apparently my new eyeliner made it into the picture as well.  Guess I got a little too excited to start cooking!
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Wet and dry ingredients ready to be mixed.

After the wet ingredients are mixed, then slowly combine the wet and the dry ingredients in the same bowl.

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The batter is almost ready to go.

Add as many raisins as you would like; just eyeball it.  I personally throw in a ton of raisins because I cut way back on the sugar in this recipe.  (I guess this doesn’t exactly make it a low-sugar recipe, but it’s healthier this way because at least raisins have some extra nutrients that plain sugar doesn’t).

Pour the batter into two greased and floured loaf pans.  I’ve made this recipe with both 8 x 4 and 9 x 5 inch pans.  You’re fine with either one; they’ll just give you loaves of different heights.

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And into the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately one hour.  I start checking them by sticking a wooden chopstick into them around 50 minutes, but sometimes you have to cook them for about 70 minutes total.

Let them cool, and enjoy!

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Done.
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The dog runs out of the room every time someone turns the oven on. She’s learned to be afraid of it because every time my dad cooks he sets off the smoke detector.