Ingredient of the Week

A few weeks ago, I recognized an all too familiar feeling of tiredness and weakness that’d been hanging over me like a heavy cloud. I’ve been dealing with iron deficiency issues my whole life, off and on, and I could tell that I was yet-again running too low on the mineral. Times like this one, when the deficiency isn’t too extreme, I just start taking some iron supplements and up my intake of iron-laden proteins that I’m not always the biggest fan of. So this time around, instead of ordering a big hunk of meat every night for the next few weeks, I decided to look to one of my favorite but easily forgotten sources of iron: cream of wheat!

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photo via: quemas.mamaslatinas.com

Cream of wheat always brings me back to my childhood, when my parents would heat me up a bowl in the mornings, with a touch of sugar and milk swirled in. My sister and I loved having cream of wheat for breakfast, with its savory-sweet smell and comforting warmth filling our bellies. Not only is it a yummy and filling breakfast, but it’s also very nutritious. Chock full of vitamins and minerals, with iron being its top bragging right, this classic breakfast is anything but simple. While I enjoy eating it plain, the same way that I did as a kid, ever since I decided to add it back into my eating regimen, I’ve been playing around with some fun toppings to give my breakfast an extra kick. I usually resort to adding a sliced banana, slivered almonds, and a bit of honey to my cream of wheat, but after browsing through these recipes that I randomly found, I can’t wait to mix up my routine a little more!

What do y’all think about cream of wheat? Have you tried it before?

Protecting Your Pup

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This past Sunday, I was given the one of the biggest scares of my life. When reading what happened, many of you may think that I should feel pretty good if this was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through, but at the time, I’d never felt so helpless. On Sunday night, Father’s Day, I found myself carrying my 6-month-old puppy, Fitz, into the vet emergency hospital for the second time that day. Leading up to this moment, Fitz hadn’t been eating his food for a few days, but showed no other signs of sickness until he started vomiting that morning. I was surprised that he could even vomit at all, considering how little he had eaten, but he managed to do it about five times that day.

That afternoon, I took him to the only vet office that was open on a Sunday, which was an emergency center. The doctors gave Fitz some anti-nausea medication and fluids to give him some nourishment, and told me to keep and eye on him in hopes of improvement. However, a few hours later he vomited again, prompting me to take him back to the emergency vet. While gathering my things to take him, Fitz laid down on the hard floor away from me, which was unusual behavior for him. I noticed that he wasn’t being responsive at all, aside from his tired eyes following me around the room. Knowing that this wasn’t just tiredness from a rough day, I immediately picked him up and ran out the door, still in my pajamas. Luckily, the vet office was open for 24-hour assistance and less than a 5-minute drive from my place. When we got there, the assistant immediately carried Fitz to the back, since he couldn’t walk, and left me in the waiting room with the weight of the world pressing down on me. Seeing my puppy, who was just as significant to my life as a child would be, in that pathetic state was the most awful thing to witness. Also, not knowing how this happened and how he was doing left me in a shattered state.

When the assistant returned, she told me that his blood sugar was so low that they were surprised he was still able to stand. They were shocked by his sudden health decline, stating that “Fitz was an entirely different dog just a few hours earlier”. With no clear idea of what was going on and heavy concern for Fitz’s health, they kept him overnight on an IV to raise his blood sugar and take some tests. What I hoped would only be a nightlong episode ended up turning into a weeklong nightmare. Fitz stayed in the hospital and endured numerous tests all week. I was a mess that week, spending the days scouring the Internet for answers and crying my eyes out.

When I was finally able to take him home with a stable blood sugar level and otherwise healthy disposition, the doctors still didn’t have an answer to what happened to him. They had narrowed down their theories to a few possibilities including the ingestion of a toxin, a liver shunt, or some sort of congenital vascular system disorder. With this information, I took Fitz home with every possible cautionary step in place. I had instructions to immediately bring him back to the hospital at any sign of sickness and then a follow-up ultrasound and bile acid test to check his liver and surrounding organs again. His follow-up appointment is Thursday, and I couldn’t be more ready and nervous to see his test results. If they aren’t normal, his prognosis won’t likely be so great. I’m praying every minute and crossing every finger for good results.

Now that I know how difficult, emotional, and taxing it is to have a very sick child (or puppy), I can’t help but be the most paranoid mother out there. Dogs are the most forgiving creatures, and I feel so lucky to still have my pup giving me the most unconditional love there is. Now please, go hug your baby.

For all of you doggie owners out there, I’ve gathered a few tips on keeping your pup healthy and how to notice any signs of sickness.

Signs of sickness (other than vomiting and diarrhea):

  • Loss of appetite
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Seclusion
  • Not himself/herself (ex: not excited to play or go on a walk)

Toxins (via ASPCA and Humane Society)

  • Poisonous Foods:
    • Avocado
    • Chocolate
    • Raw bread dough
    • Ethanol/Alcohol
    • Grapes and raisins
    • Hops (in beer)
    • Macadamia nuts
    • Moldy foods
    • Onions and garlic
    • Xylitol – this is a HUGE one because it’s in so many things such as sugar-free gum, candy, and many other sugar free products
    • Coffee and tea
    • Walnuts
    • Tomato leaves and stems
  • Poisonous Plants (not all listed because there are over 300):
    • Holly
    • Mandrake
    • Apple Tree
    • Apricot Tree
    • Azalea
    • Baby’s Breath
    • Begonia
    • Bird of Paradise
    • Black Walnut
    • Ivy
    • Buttercup
    • Lily
    • Carnation
    • Cherry
    • Daffodil
    • Dahlia
    • Daisy
    • Elephant Ears
    • Gardenia
    • Geranium
    • Grass Palm
    • Hibiscus
    • House Pine
    • Hydrangea
    • Mistletoe
    • Morning Glory
    • Mushrooms
    • Oleander
    • Peony
    • Periwinkle
    • Poinsettia
    • Rose of Sharon
    • Tulip
    • Wisteria
  • Other toxins:
    • Acetaminophen
    • Antifreeze
    • Batteries
    • Medications
    • Blue-green algae
    • Detergents
    • Fertilizers
    • Fluoride
    • Hand Sanitizer
    • Ibuprofen
    • Lead
    • Mouse and rat poison
    • Mothballs
    • Nicotine
    • Pesticides
    • Tobacco
    • Human vitamins and supplements

Are you guys freaked out yet? Please keep your babies safe and make sure they are protected from these things!