Category Archives: medical

I can use coconut oil for WHAT?

Recently I’ve heard a lot of hype about coconut oil. This miracle product has been touted as the best thing since sliced bread, with all the attributes of a great snake oil. A variety of sources explain that coconut oil is good for you and useful for anything from cooking to baking to moisturizing to cleaning your shoes. I thought I should give it a try. I picked up a small jar at the local health food shop (small jar around $17) but then I couldn’t decide what to do with it. Too many choices! It sat  in the pantry for a few weeks but still I couldn’t decide what to try first. Part of the problem was the versatility. I mean, you can’t exactly cook with a jar of something that you’ve dipped your hands in. Are you supposed to split it into a number of jars? How do you cope?

small jar

Let me tell you how I handled my dilemma. I bought 2 large jars at Costco, put one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. (These jars each cost about the same as the  small jar.) I have just started doing a bit of cooking with the coconut oil and it works well for sautéing. I haven’t tried any baking yet. I feel a bit conflicted since coconut oil used to be lumped together with palm oil as a “bad” tropical oil. Isn’t it overwhelming trying to keep up?

coconut oil from Costco

I divided the bathroom jar into 2 containers for now. I wanted to try it on my face as a moisturizer so I put some into a small container. It  is weird  use such an inexpensive product on my face when I’ve been suckered into spending a small fortune on teeny tiny jars from cosmetic companies over the years. What am I doing to the country’s economy? I have to say, so far so good for my new face cream. I worried that it would be too greasy, but it soaks in to the skin almost immediately and creates a wonderful matte finish. The coconut scent seems to dissipate quickly. As a body moisturizer it works very well. My only complaint is that the oil is in a solid form. It is difficult to remove from the container – a lot more trouble than pumping out  lotion. I do like the way it melts when it touches your skin and of course it then spreads easily. My chiropractor has admonished me in the past for not using coconut oil on my skin. His logic – the skin is the largest organ of the body, so why would you put something on your skin that you wouldn’t eat? The only way this seems important is if I’m out with friends and we are attacked by cannibals. Then, if my luscious layer of body fat is not enough to tempt them into devouring me immediately, they’ll no doubt be sold by the delicious taste of my coconut oil coating. (If I’m eaten first I won’t have to see my friends suffer.)

both jars

Hopefully I won’t run into cannibals any time soon. There are still a lot of things I need to try with my coconut oil.

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chicken peanut stew

Cold weather is stew weather, and here’s a recipe based on one I found on Epicurious. I made a few changes and rewrote the bizarre instructions and I think it turned out really well.

browning sweet potatoes

veggies and broth

cooked chicken

roasted peanuts

cut up tomatoes

almost ready

finished dish with rice on top

Chicken Peanut Stew

2 medium white onions, sliced

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 hot chilies, cut in half, seeds and ribs removed

One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced

2 bay leaves

6 white peppercorns

4 cups water (or part chicken broth)

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each cut into 3 pieces

2 cups unsalted peanuts

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes

4 tomatoes, cut into quarters, or 2 cups chopped canned tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound spinach, tough stems removed, washed

Combine the onions, carrots, chilies, ginger, bay leaves, peppercorns, and water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the chicken thighs, and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is simmering, toast the peanuts in a small dry sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown and fragrant. Let cool, then grind 1 cup of the toasted peanuts in a food processor to a smooth paste. Set aside.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the cooking liquid and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to the food processor; discard the bay leaves. Puree the vegetables until smooth and return to the broth.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the potatoes and sauté until they are golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat.

Bring the broth to a boil. Add the peanut purée and the remaining cup of whole peanuts and whisk until well combined. Add the tomatoes, chicken, and potatoes and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and season with the salt. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted. Serve with rice.

The picture above shows the stew with the rice on top because  I forgot to put it into the bowl first. The spinach isn’t totally wilted because I put it in the serving bowl instead of in the pot. The photo below shows what it looked like the second go round, with the rice where it belongs. The stew was much thicker the second night, but you could add chicken broth if you want more sauce. I love the way the spinach wilts in a few minutes after it is added to the hot stew, and I think you can put loads in and enjoy all that green goodness.

more typical presentation

black rice package

For those of you not familiar with black rice – you must try it. I think of it as brown rice on steroids, and I mean that in a good way. Nutritionally there is only a slight difference, but taste-wise and texture-wise I think it is much more interesting. Most of the available varieties I’ve seen are from Thailand. My bag is nearly empty so I’ll be stocking up soon. You need to try it. Seriously.

Thought I should mention that this is post number 200. I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed! (Not impressed with the photos on this post, so you’ll have to take my word for the yummy factor on the recipe.) Oh, and since I mentioned my knee the other day, I should say that it is on the mend. I was not very mobile for about a week and discovered that I’ve hyperextended my right knee. I’m going out on a limb (get it?) to say it is a mild injury that will heal in 2 – 4 weeks with proper care. I have to stretch, ice and be gentle with it while it heals. Apparently it’s not a good idea to sit away from your desk with your legs extended straight out in front resting on the desk, with a computer and/or a cat on your lap. Who knew?

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thumb and hand progress

My left hand is obviously much more talented than my right. It is taking to physio like a duck to water. My range of motion after less than a week of exercises was nothing short of miraculous. Strength building will take a lot longer as the thumb joint continues to heal, but I’m feeling very optimistic about the process. I’ve worn my splint full-time, except for time out to do exercises. The next step is to wear the splint when I’m doing anything physically demanding or possibly dangerous to the joint. I should do my physio exercises every hour or two. Do you have any idea how tedious that schedule is? I just have to remind myself how it is very worthwhile. It is very worthwhile. It is very worthwhile. Got it.

I attended my first yoga class since January and was pleasantly surprised how easily I could adapt poses. Class was excellent and I’m looking forward to regular attendance. My body and my mind both need to attend class. How fortunate that they usually work as a team! Not always, but usually.

Here’s what my hands look like now – not much to see but they feel pretty darn good. My left palm is still a long distance off the table compared to the right.

hands after surgery


The left hand is still somewhat swollen but continues to improve. The incision is healing nicely. Dr. Beveridge does lovely work.

left hand incision

right hand incision

I am able to do things that require flexibility as long as the strength and pressure requirement is low. I think I’ll start posting less often about my hand, as the rest of the recuperation process is slow and uneventful. I’ll just keep working on it and comment on occasion.

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proper splint

First of all I want to mention something about my appointment last week at the cast clinic. Once my cast was removed, my surgeon asked me if I still had the last splint. He meant the splint that was made at the hospital, immediately following surgery. My mind went back further to the splint that I’d had for my right hand. I was so confused, because what good would a right hand splint do for my left hand? I did not have the splint from surgery, because as soon as it is removed for a cast to be made, it is thrown into the garbage. Doesn’t this seem like a lack of communication somewhere? Oh well.

In order to meet with occupational therapy to have a proper splint made, you must have paperwork created at the cast clinic when your cast is removed. This can take a long time if there are no appointments available. I was able to circumvent this by booking an appointment to have a splint made for my right hand before I went to have my cast removed, as I was still seeing O.T. Then I only had to wait 3 days to have a proper splint. Thursday I was at the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre for my appointment with occupational therapy. I met with Joanne and she made me a splint for my left hand. (of course by then she had the paperwork to approve a splint for my left hand. It was only a little confusing – much like this post.) It is easier to wear something with velcro closings and not a giant tensor bandage wrapped and pinned in place.

The splint is made of heavy-duty plastic that is extremely pliable when heated. It looks like something that would be fun to create sculpture with. Since they don’t give it away, I had to settle for the splint. The first photo shows how well the incision is healing.

hand healing nicely

cotton sleeve for under splint

forming the splint

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