Inflammation. Part one - inflammation & me.

Inflammation it seems is at the very root of many illness's and diseases, yet, it is not a topic often talked about enough. We all understand an injury and resulting inflammation during the healing process but what about other types of inflammation and how they effect the body?

I am really excited to be bringing you a series of posts on the very subject including guest articles by leading experts on inflammation, what it is, what it does, how we can deal with it and reduce it in the body.

This first post, I thought I would tell you a bit about why I am interested in inflammation.

Inflammation and me.
A bit over 2 years ago my life spun on its axis.
Before inflammation and AS with baby Violet, my youngest
With baby Violet healthy and happy 2011, lost all 26 kilos of baby weight feeling good.
Just after all the stress hit and starting to gain weight also, I though I was handling it, enjoying my work very much but my body was just beginning to unravel...
Many of you might already know that health, keeping fit, growing food, beautiful plant based wholefoods and living a vibrant life is so important to me and my personal journey so you imagine how upsetting it was to have been so in charge of my health and my body and then have it all fall apart. I gave up smoking 10 years ago and overcame fallopian cysts, I then had a baby - got huge and suffered post natal depression and then empowered myself and lost 30 kilos and kept it off for 5 years, I had a second baby and lost 26 kilos after her and felt just great and then...

My marriage of 12 years and 2 kids broke up after a very turbulent 12 months I had to say enough, for my kids. My grandad died, then I saw my dad and step mother for the first time in 18 years, you can imagine the emotions that stirred up, I even felt like a 13 year old girl again in so many ways...
Then I had an incident with someone I was working with, a good friend who I trusted and found myself having to fight for my integrity and name, for my rights, there was many tears and I had to take a lot of crap and it was ongoing for many months so the stress was indeed extreme and I was still dealing with a messy break up at the time too. My daughter no doubt channelling my off energy and reacting to her parents split began to be bullied at school as well, so suffice to say, it was a very dark time indeed for my little family and when I caught a hand, foot and mouth virus within weeks my whole body started coming crashing down.
I started getting hives for the first time ever in my life, for which a doctor prescribed prednisone which helped but caused me to gain 25 kilos and other side effects, my body was so inflamed my white blood cell count was through the roof and my blood pressure would have episodes of flying high. I then also hurt my neck and overnight found my vision filled with floaters and things, my life became one of headaches, migraines, neck pain, back pain, hip pain, chest pain tingling sensations, I developed sinusitis for the first time ever in my life, my blood tests were all over the place so doctors kept doing more and more tests, trying to figure out what the heck was going on....
At my absolute lowest point of my body health crash, pictured here with gorgeous friends. Yes, I am bravely sharing with you all! I just felt so awful in my own body, stress had taken over everything and my inflammation was extreme I found it so hard to enjoy life and even though I was drinking juices and eating really clean, wholefoods no alcohol, coffee, chocolate, sugar, gluten etc everyday felt like struggle. 
We still are really on a journey, but now we (doctors, specialists and I) know my body is most likely suffering from Ankylosing Spondilitis or AS as it is more easily termed (just awaiting more tests). AS is "a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton, with variable involvement of peripheral joints and nonarticular structures. AS is a member of the group of the spondyloarthropathies, with a strong genetic predisposition. It mainly affects joints in the spine and the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis. In severe cases, it can eventually cause complete fusion and rigidity of the spine" Wikipedia
It was described to me as a reactive form of arthritis which affects the spine, hips, neck, various tissues and joints (and all sorts of other joyful things) is an autoimmune disease, and often triggered by a viral infection when you have the gene, which I do and which is why until my body came crashing down with stress and HF&M I had only ever had mild symptoms my whole life.
It makes me think too of the possibly that had I not undergone so much stress all in one time OR been able to handle it better I might not have found myself, health wise, where I did and where I am now.
But I am shifting my focus onto wellness!

Isn't it interesting how STRESS can cause inflammation and weaken the body to a point that illness and disease sets in?
It reminds me of a story I read recently in the news about an elderly Sicilian man. He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer in his 40's. So he decided to return home to the little village where he grew up to die. Every day he would play cards, laugh and drink wine with his friends, he even planted fruits and vegetables that he knew he would no be alive long enough to eat and harvest.
50 years later he returned to Australia to ask the doctors why he was still alive, only to find they were all dead. He was quoted as saying friends, laughter and wine were the secrets to his recovery.

As a horticulturalist stress causing illness is actually something I should have already known, I see it all the time in the plant kingdom.
A stressed plant is always vulnerable to pests and diseases. Its like a beacon has been lit and they seem to get hit with so much all at once, but take away their stress, calm them down with what they need and a less harsh environment, treatments and love and a good percentage of the time you cam save them and many will even fully recover or mostly recover but maybe even stronger with a twist or visible reminder of what they have been through.

Looking into inflammation and the bodies ability to heal itself is becoming another element of my passions and I want to do everything I can to help others whose lives have also been effected too and share the knowledge, support, wisdom and above all hope I find with you all.
This is why I am SO excited to be doing a series of blog posts on inflammation with experts and information.

I now know, that no matter how well you eat and exercise, how fit you are, how many green juices and salads you eat STRESS causes INFLAMMATION that will reap havoc on the body and our health and happiness.

On my healing journey back to me, having an absolute ball cooking live at Sunshine Coast Show

With gorgeous friends again 10 kilos down and feeling better from reducing inflammation
Reducing stress and inflammation for a healthy, happy life - lets do this!!

Sign up to my blog >>>>>
On the right hand side you'll find the box so you can join with me in this series on inflammation and reducing stress.

Eat Beautiful. Live Well. Be Active. Stay Calm.

Love Bek XXX

Triple Chocolate Icecreams. Refined Sugar Free

There is some things that just never get old, like creamy, chocolate ice creams.
Just before our school holidays started and the gorgeous Sunshine Coast Spring weather hit, I started to play around with some different healthy ice-cream ideas for my kids.
They have already had so many times my Mango, Macadamia Honey Ice-Creams, Dairy Free Blissed Out Banana Splits, my smoothie icy poles and my many versions of banana ice creams.
So I wanted to do something different, new and exciting for them these holidays.
My oldest does not take to sugar well at all, in fact when she has some it takes her at least half a day to recover and she literally becomes like Hammy from over the hedge!
So sugar, is not her friend. And for me, on a healing journey of my own, its not my friend either so bringing together elements of things I already make and cook I put together these triple chocolate ice creams - and made many of them complete with a hard choc top too, and they are soooooo good!
And being on my own healing journey - a major part is living refined sugar free, as cane sugar is very inflammatory for everybody - mummy might have been seen on occasion not just having one with the kids in a family fun moment of an afternoon but also sneaking one of these out of the freezer to enjoy in a quiet moment in the garden too shhhh hehe ;)
They are really lovely - give them a go. Trust me Xxxx
Triple Chocolate Ice Creams
(refined sugar free)

Note: These ice creams have three components - I promise, all are easy and pretty quick to do. I got all three ready at the same time with a bowl and whisk, blender and a saucepan. X
Chocolate ice cream3 cups of a good cream (here on the sunshine coast I use Maleny Dairies)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla paste
2 teaspoons cocoa (I used dutch processed but you could use normal, cacao or even carob)
2 tablespoons stevia
Choc fudge flavour layer
2 bananas
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons nut butter (I use nut butters from my local health food shop, supermarket ones will contain sugar)
1 tablespoon stevia (or honey)
1 tablespoon cocoa (see earlier note)
Hard choc
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa
Tiny pink Himalayan salt
1/4 cup rice malt syrup
ice cream moulds
paddle pop sticks (food grade)
  • Have some clean ice-cream moulds or plastic cups ready to go and clear a good space in the freezer.
  • In a large bowl whip the cream with the stevia, cocoa and vanilla until nice and fluffy and whipped, set aside.
  • In a blender place all the choc fudge layer ingredients and process until nice and smooth, depending on size and ripeness of bananas you may want to use a little more or less water to get a nice consistency.
  • To make the hard choc you need melted coconut oil, so either your lucky and its warm enough that it is already runny or you will need to gently melt some like you would chocolate.
  • I like my coconut oil to be melty but slightly still a little whipped looking, so from runny coconut oil I place it in the fridge for a little while until it is still runny but very lightly crystallised around the edges, it just seems to blend better for chocolate like that and you need the coconut oil cool to touch for the ice cream creating step as well.
  • Mix your (cool) coconut oil with the rice malt syrup and cocoa and salt very well. It needs to be well blended.
  • In your moulds arrange the 3 components in layers as desired. My kids loved the ones I made that had a hard choc bottom, for these I just started with a small amount of the hard choc, then choc ice cream, then choc fudge then hard choc for a surprise centre then topped with choc cream. But you could do as many layers in any pattern you like, have fun with it!.
  • Cover the exposed tops with aluminium foil or cling wrap or similar.
  • Freeze until completely set.
  • To serve run the bases under warm water or sit briefly in a bowl of war, water until they are easy to remove.
  • Enjoy!
  • With some I also used a butter knife to mix the layers just slightly, running the knife back and forth through the mixture just a little.
  • TIP to make the ice creams look really pretty, make sure after each layer you wipe down the sides so once frozen you get a very defined layered look.
Tiddler Tips
  • I would probably use less cocoa and a mild, organic one and not something as strong as cacao or dutch processed cocoa personally. You could also try carob versions.
Eat beautiful. Live Well. Be Happy. Stay Calm.

PS if you make these - I would love to know! So please share your picture with me on facebook, twitter, Instagram or simply hashtag on social media #cookingwithbek or #beautifulfoodwithbek
Recipe and food photography copyright RebeccaMugridge2014
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