The Greatest Finger-Poking Crowd This Side of Anywhere

Once a year, when the year is still new, an amazing group of winter-loving folks gathers in the wilds of Central Ontario. They travel by plane, by train, by bus, and by car, just to be together. They travel from the West. They travel from the East. They even travel from countries other than Canada. They carry backpacks and suitcases, duffel bags and tote bags, and the contents of each person’s luggage looks remarkably similar. There are, of course, snow boots and snow pants and warm winter toques (it is Ontario in January after all). And there are, of course, sleeping bags and pillows and cozy pajamas. There are also a few things in everyone’s luggage that make this gathering especially unique. Every single one of these winter-loving folks travels with insulin, test strips, lancets, and insulin pump supplies or pen needles. Every single one of them carries what would appear to the average citizen to be an inordinate amount of snacks. Between the granola bars, the juice boxes, and the glucose tablets, these people are well-prepared to be snowed in for the weekend, or even for a full fortnight; they certainly would not starve. These people are drawn together by one considerable commonality, and it is this final aspect of their luggage that, in some ways, defines the entire weekend. Every single person – no matter their career, athletic ambitions, gender, age, personality, or favourite number – has type 1 diabetes. Not one of them is defined by the disease, but it is what brings them together at this event they’ve trekked across the country to attend: Winter Slipstream.

Winter Slipstream. Have you heard of it? Everybody – whether they have diabetes or not – should know about this event. Just watch this video and you’ll understand why.

Diabetes may be what brings us together, but Winter Slipstream is so much bigger than a disease. Winter Slipstream is about being inspired and uplifted. It’s about marvelling at the beauty of our country and playing in the snow. It’s about reaching our goals and dreaming big. It’s about not feeling like the odd one out when you’re cranky and have a parched throat because your sugar is 17.2. It’s about not feeling guilty because you need to take a quick break from snowshoeing to treat your reading of 3.1. It’s about confidence. It’s about laughter. It’s about not shying away from the miserable aspects of this disease, and it’s about telling the miserable aspects of this disease to take a hike. It’s about taking a hike. It’s about celebrating ourselves for slogging through every single day, even though diabetes tries its damnedest to get us down. It’s about learning from one another, and being empowered by one another.

I’ve written about the organization behind this event before. As its tag line says, Connected in Motion really is “breathing fresh air into diabetes education.” In my nearly-eighteen years with this disease, I have never felt so welcomed, or taken so much confidence and strength from a diabetes group. These people like to have fun, they like to describe each other with terms like “diabadass,” and they love to be outdoors. What better way to take on your diabetes than to go skiing across a frozen lake with 44 other diabetics? What better way to learn how snowshoeing affects your blood sugar than to tromp through the woods with a group of well-seasoned, and novice, type 1 snowshoeing friends?

Since its inaugural year, I have wanted to attend Winter Slipstream. From a distance, I have known the people involved in its inception and evolution and, for quite some time, I have wanted to meet them – face-to-face and pump-to-pump. Amongst other things, living on the far side of the country has been a significant impediment. This year though, things fell into place. My schedule was wide open at the end of January and, after fleeting deliberation, I registered for the Slipstream. I exchanged excited emails with Chloe (the contents of which read something like, “Yaaahooooo!” and “Yeeeeehaaw!”).

I trekked to the wilds of Central Ontario – toque, sleeping bag, and insulin in tow – and I was finally able to connect, in person, and in motion, with this necessary piece of my diabetes puzzle: the greatest finger-poking crowd this side of anywhere.

Posted in Diabetes Awareness and Education | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Big Delicious Oatmeal

On these cool, fall mornings, no breakfast compares to a big bowl of delicious oatmeal served with a splash of milk.  It’s warm, it’s hardy and, depending on how you load it up, it’s jam-packed with nutrients.  If you’re gluten-free (like me), make sure that your oats are pure, uncontaminated and certified gluten-free.  Only Oats is a great gluten-free oats company out of Saskatchewan.

Creating the perfect bowl of oatmeal has become my latest culinary passion.  When I roll out of bed in the morning, ideas for that day’s oatmeal are already on my mind.  The oatmeal is my canvas, ready to accept whatever flavours I decide to throw at it that day.  My favourite “bowl template” includes a hardy combination of fresh fruit, dried fruit, nuts, spices, a bit of sweetness and, if I’m feeling really indulgent, a handful of unsweetened coconut flakes.

Daniel loves anything with banana.  I love the earthy, crunchy, slightly sweet blend of pecans and coconut.  Really though, with oatmeal, it’s hard to go wrong.

In the past few weeks, two of my flavour combinations have risen to the top of our oatmeal-grading chart: Raisin Pear Pecan and Maple Banana Date.  If you aren’t a fan of oatmeal, please consider trying one of these.  Trust me.  I’m sure you’ve never imagined that oatmeal could taste this good.

Today, I am sharing with you one of my favourite pages from my food journal – the ‘Big Delicous Oatmeal’ page.  I’m confident these recipes will make you happy.

One cup of regular oats makes two big (delicious) bowls. The measurements below aren’t exact.  Go with what you think looks right.  Play around.  Change it up.  But mostly, enjoy.

(As for carb values – depending on how much fruit I toss into the pot, a bowl usually clocks in somewhere between 50 and 70g.  I find that with the fibre in the oats, the fat in the coconut, and the protein in the nuts, my sugar stays pretty steady after enjoying a bowl.  I do ‘double bolus’ for the honey or syrup component though.  This adds an extra 5g of carbohydrates per bowl.)

Posted in gluten-free, Recipes | Tagged | 1 Comment

Blogging and Logging

And just like that, it’s fall.

I’ve been singing a song in my head lately.  The first line goes something like this: “Summertime, and the blogging was pitiful.”

Summertime.  Where the heck did you go?  Suddenly, there’s a chill on the wind, yellowed leaves dance across the street, and almost every day rain clouds settle over the city.  At this time of year, the clouds don’t stay.  They simply darken the skies for a few hours, a drizzly reminder of the wet, coastal winter to come.

Not yet ready for the rain, I find myself reflecting back on summer.  I’m pleased to announce that summer 2010 was most-definitely a good one.  So good, in fact, that this blog was shamelessly pushed to the wayside.  Now though, the hiatus is over.  I’ve made an autumnal “back to the grind” resolution.  You’ll be reading my words – and seeing my photos – far more than you have in recent months.

Blogging wasn’t the only victim of summer neglect.  My logbook sat in a corner, collecting dust, most of the summer.  Although I diligently check my sugar upwards of a dozen times a day, change my infusion set regularly, and measure my food with as much accuracy as possible, I wasn’t recording any data.

From June to September, my logbook contains a sorry scattering of blood sugar readings.  As any PWD knows, it’s near-impossible to notice patterns in blood glucose without sufficient data.  As for records of carbohydrate intake, basal rates and physical activity?  They’re even worse.

Despite the sorry state of my logbook, my control has still been good.  My current A1c falls within my “goal range” (huzzah!).  However, without a slew of numbers to analyze – and upon which to base basal-tweakings – achieving and maintaining good control is a bit of a guessing game.  Okay, it’s not a bit of a guessing game.  It is a guessing game.  While logging takes time, it does make this whole “having diabetes” thing a whole lot easier in the long run.  And that’s important.

So, I’m jumping on the logbooking wagon and buckling in for the ride.  If any PWDs out there have found themselves in a similar situation of logbook neglect, I welcome you to join me.  Together, we’ll hope that this ride follows a straight path over flat terrain, as opposed to that dreaded roller coaster track.

Blogging and logging.  Autumn, here I come.

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D-Feast Friday (The From-Scratch Era v.3)

Today is D-Feast Friday and, across the diabetes online community, a huge recipe swap is underway.  Folks are opening wide their (virtual) kitchen doors, welcoming us into the heart of their homes and sharing their favourite dishes.  If you’ve spent any time on my blog, you know that I love food.  So, of course, I am participating.

My D-Feast offering is a recipe that I sincerely hope you will all try.  Coconut brownies with dried cherries and chopped hazelnuts and almonds.  Chocolate, coconut and cherries.  How can you go wrong with a combination like that?!  Plus, these brownies are gluten and grain free.  Omit the nuts and substitute vanilla for the almond extract, and you’ve got a nut-free recipe too.

In her description of D-Feast Friday recipe submissions, fellow diabetes blogger Lorraine asks (and answers), “Does it have to be low carb? Not necessarily since we know that everyone’s BGs react differently to food.”

Although sweet, these brownies are surprisingly low in carbohydrates (for brownies, that is!).  This is because the only “flour” in the recipe is coconut, and coconut is extremely low in carbs.  I find that 1/18 of this recipe makes for a good serving size.  Although, if you want to go all-out-impressive with your dessert course, I would cut the brownies into nine squares and put a big ol’ scoop of vanilla ice cream (or whipped cream) on top.  Decadence at its finest.

The carbohydrate information I’ve included is based on the specific ingredients I used.  Your ingredients may run a bit lower or higher in carbs so I suggest using my value as a guide only.  Also, my carb count does not account for fibre.  I am of the camp that subtracts grams of fibre from total CHO.  If you do otherwise, please determine your own carbohydrate value for your recipe.

But enough with the disclaiming.  On to the brownies!

Coconut Cherry Brownies

1/3 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pure almond extract
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used equal parts hazelnuts and almonds)
1/2 cup coconut flakes
80g dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350’.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Once melted, stir in the cocoa powder (I find a rubber spatula works well for this job).  Remove your butter-cocoa blend from the heat and allow to cool.
While the cocoa mixture is cooling, beat together your eggs, sugar, salt and almond extract.  Once mixed, stir in the cocoa mixture and blend well.
At this point, add your coconut flour.  Whisk the batter until smooth.  (To avoid lumps, you may want to either sift or whisk your coconut flour with a wire whisk before adding.)
Once smooth, gently fold in your nuts, coconut flakes and cherries.
Pour your batter into a greased 8″ square baking pan.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Let the brownies cool and then slice into squares.
Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy!

Makes 9-18 brownies.

Total CHO (entire batter) = 236g

Posted in Diet and Nutrition, gluten-free, The From Scratch Era | Tagged , , | 1 Comment