An open letter to the FDA regarding Anatabine/Anatabloc

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Dear FDA,


Let me tell you a story.
My story is like so many others shared with me through my Anatabloc journals housed on my blog. I became ill with Crohn’s Disease at the young age of 26, an age when I should have been enjoying life as a new bride and the rigors of starting a home and maybe even a family. Instead I started the grueling merry-go-’round of tests, scares, steroids, surgeries and other meds. I have lived with this chronic inflammatory illness for almost 20 years now. And like many people who come here to my blog who share their health journeys, my disease has only progressively gotten worse. The medicines to treat this disease have gotten more expensive with potential side effects that are often worse than the disease itself. The pharmaceutical industry that you regulate is failing us. But don’t just hear my story. Read others here who have commented and posted their challenges and trials. I am not alone.

Let me add a chapter to my story.
It’s a chapter of hope- a small sliver of hope that grew and grew. A little over 2 years ago my doctor at the time insisted on my moving to auto immune suppressants. I was dismayed, but was told I had few if no other options. Yes, you have passed these drugs to be “safe” and many people use these to have somewhat normal lives. We all need to make our own choices in life, especially in our health. So after discovering the potential side effects of these drugs-particularly the affect on my ability to fight infections-I said no. But after continued lectures and badgering, I almost gave in. Almost.

My husband heard of this little pill made with Anatabine, and he read about other people with inflammatory illnesses that were on the path to wellness after taking it by supporting the body’s immune system. More surprising, it is an alkaloid found in nicotine plants and other vegetables. It was natural. But I don’t need to tell you what it is. Or maybe I do, because you are convinced that it needs to be considered a new drug or new food. At any rate, what did I have to lose? I was already looking down a list of choices that went from bad to worse in my book.

I will not bore you with the long list of benefits I have experienced over the 2+ years on Anatabloc. You can read my Anatabloc logs to understand my progress on it, and I kept a more detailed journal for a time and I would be happy to share it with your panel of doctors. But what started out as a sliver of hope became my lifeline. I’ve been sick enough to know when I am well-really well. I have been drug free for 2+ years, and forget I have Crohn’s Disease on most days.

But unfortunately, this chapter of my story seems to be ending, and I am concerned what the next one will be. But perhaps to share what the next chapter will be, I need to remind you of your story.

Your story started in 1906.
You are the FDA, put in place by us and paid for by our tax dollars. Your tagline is Protecting and promoting your health. A big part of your mission statement is the following;

“FDA is also responsible for advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines more effective, safer, and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to use medicines and foods to maintain and improve their health.

All due respect, if your mission is to focus on the health of our nation, then you must allow anatabine back into the hands of the people that need it most. Look around, the health of this nation is not stellar. Cancer, heart disease, obesity, genetic disorders and chronic inflammation is rampant and an ever growing problem in our population. The solution is that we all get on the cycle of expensive drugs instead of helping our bodies heal. Why? Because it’s profitable. Anatabine comes from nature. I wonder if all this hullabaloo is more about that fact alone – the fact that I can buy it at a retail store versus having to go to the doctor, get a prescription, fight my health insurance to pay some of what inevitably would be an inflated price, a price that probably needs to cover all the investing and drug trials that your agency will force to have happen-for something that’s found in tomatoes.

Please stop blocking something that has helped me-helped countless others-get on a road to health. After all, isn’t that what you are supposed to do?

I have been quiet during all the politics and mudslinging, I have been quiet as rumors started about Anatabloc being taken off the market. And truthfully, I wanted to stay quiet now. I just want to take my Anatabloc and live my healthy, happy life. The last thing I want is to get into this debate. But many have reached out to me who don’t have a voice-and now they are hurting again-and scared. They have asked me to be brave and speak up.
You have taken away our health. I don’t know anything about the complicated nature of what needs to transpire between you and the company that makes Anatabloc. The company and I have not made contact. But I ask you, please do one of the following (or both) quickly:

1: Reverse course, declare Anatabloc is NOT a new drug and allow its sale
2: Fast track its investigation and trials to get it into the public marketplace ASAP

We just want our Anatabloc back.
I am pretty sure I am not the only one.


#DONOTBLOCKANATABLOC

Thank you for your time.





RECIPE: Lemon Parmesan Roasted Potatoes Gratiné

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Have you ever been asked by a hostess to just "bring a side!"

Bring a side.

Should be easy right? 

Except usually it involves a vegetable or two, and the amount of people that either hate broccoli or green beans or cauliflower is in the hundreds of thousands.
But everyone loves potatoes.

And this is a great roasted potato dish that you can prep up until you add the last 5 minutes of toppings. When you get to your destination, pop it in the oven for the last 5, add the Parmesan and parsley and serve it all up hot and crispy. It's a hit!



Lemon Parmesan Roasted Potatoes Gratiné
Adapted from Food Network

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lbs. baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved
1 1/2 lbs. baby red skinned potatoes, halved
kosher salt
4 cups cubed sour dough bread (crusts cut off, toasted in a 300˚ oven for about 20 minutes until dried out and stale)
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp. dried granulated garlic
1 tsp. lemon zest
freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Directions:

Prep your bread for making bread crumbs (see ingredient note above)


Put the potatoes in a large stock pot of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil, and cook the potatoes over medium heat for about 7 minutes, until soft and just tender. Drain the potatoes.



Preheat oven to 450˚. 

Meanwhile, pulse he bread in a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Pulse again while adding the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic and 1 tsp. kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper. Pour the crumbs over the potatoes in a large bowl and toss well.



Arrange the potatoes cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast until golden and tender, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and Parmesan, and roast until golden brown , about 5 more minutes.

Serve warm.





RECIPE: Tarragon Infused Lemon Blueberry Jelly

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Ever have fruit that is past eating fresh, but not quite ready to be thrown away yet? And it's just a pint or so of fruit?

Well, put that guilt away my friend! Grab a clean glass jar and a saucepan and make yourself refrigerator jam/jelly.

It's so easy. and the jam or jelly keeps for up to 2 weeks. If you have an upcoming brunch, it is a perfect thing to serve with your toast or bagels! And you can be all fancy pants domestic diva-like announcing, "Oh, this is jelly I just jarred a couple days ago!" and bask in the oohs and ahhs of wonderment.

Seriously, pathetically easy. I like a firmer jelly, so I use gelatin in my fruit. You can use pectin, or nothing at all. Most fruit has natural pectin and combined with the sugar thickens up naturally. It depends on what you like consistency-wise. This little concoction includes gelatin and I infused fresh tarragon from the garden, as well as a healthy dose of chamomile tea to brighten the blueberries!

Good Morning!


Tarragon Infused Lemon Blueberry Jelly

Ingredients:
1 half package of Knox gelatin 
dash of salt 
12 ounces of very ripe blueberries 
1/2 cup sugar 
2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice 
1/4 cup tarragon sprigs tied in a bundle with cotton twine 

1 cup of strong brewed chamomile tea ( you won't use all of it, you will use 1/4 cup for the jelly and 2 tablespoons for the gelatin)

Directions:


Place 2 tablespoons of chamomile tea in a ramekin and sprinkle the half package of Knox gelatin over it to soften the gelatin- set aside.

In a medium sauce pan, cook the berries together with the tarragon bundle, sugar and the lemon juice and salt until blueberries begin to soften. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes the blueberries will be getting thick and popping and starting to look a little crushed up. 




Take a potato masher or pastry cutter and mash up the berries loosely. Stir.
As you stir add the quarter cup of chamomile tea and the gelatin and cook on low heat until the gelatin is dissolved and the jelly is starting to thicken.


Pull tarragon out of the pan. Let cool in the pan for 15 to 20 minutes then pour in a sterilized jar until cooled completely. Seal and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.


Back to School Tradition: THAT math homework night (you know the one.)

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It happens every year. The first school week, your kid coasts, and they think, "Hey! This is easy! Why was I so nervous? Why was I so worried?" Then week 2 hits, and the homework moves up to normal levels. And that one, infamous night, it happens. For your kids, it may be reading, science, writing? For our bundle of joy, it's math.

And what makes it worse, is that for me, it's math.

And you know how this night goes. The slamming of the pencil down on the table. The yelp of "I don't get it!" And the water works start as their hands go to hold their head in frustration. It's painful. Your heart breaks. And in a way, you relive your own "That" night again. It's like going back to school all over again for you, and it wasn't all roses then. And it's not all roses now.

Usually this all goes down as I am washing dinner dishes, because of course your child has procrastinated until after dinner to do her least favorite subject. Wouldn't you?

But I've done this before, and I'm getting to be a pro. It's gonna be a long night. So I dry my hands on a dish towel, and I put the coffee pot on with a generous helping of Starbucks Fall blend. I allow the rich and spicy scent to settle my nerves. I make a cup of chamomile tea for my daughter to settle her down, too. I pour my Fall blend brew into my favorite cup. And together we tackle divisibility and story problems.

The steam wafting out of the mug helps to calm my temper as she loses hers. I take deep breaths as I explain things. My patience helps her patience. Slowly, I see the light bulbs go off in my daughter's head. Is this the magic teachers strive for every day, that glimmer of understanding- and knowing you are a part of it?

I don't know. I am just a mom, not by any means a teacher. Teachers should be canonized. Maybe moms should be too. I don't know.

But as my daughter now finishes her math homework with more speed and confidence, with little help from me, I sit and enjoy my cup of coffee for a few minutes. I bask in the joy that we survived another one of our yearly 1st math homework meltdowns.

For your annual homework meltdowns, I recommend a warm cup of steaming yummy. It could be tea or hot cocoa. I recommend chamomile for your kid. It helps calm them down a little and is very soothing, especially if it's getting late in the evening.

For the mom that has so much to do AFTER homework (like me) I recommend Starbucks Fall blend. It's smokey and smooth. It brings a little joy to math-and that for me is a lot.
Learn about it here.

Please note: Starbucks Fall blend was provided by Starbucks. All thoughts, opinions and obsessions about Starbucks coffee are completely my own. Thanks!

RECIPE: Lemon Blueberry Filled Coffee Crumb Cake

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There are still blueberries out there, fellow foodies! It's not officially fall yet! But yes, I saw some woman post a picture of her garden in Calgary COVERED in snow yesterday. My heart skipped a beat. I am SO not ready for that noise. No, sir.

So let's be in denial together. Let's bake with all the wonderful, ripe produce at the farmers markets into delicious cakes and pies. And I urge you to start with this little cake, perfect for breakfast, dessert, or a nice snack to pull out for your next book club (wine) meeting.

Lemon Blueberry Filled Coffee Crumb Cake

Ingredients 

Crumble 
3/4 cup flour 
1/4 cup light brown sugar 
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon 
pinch of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice 
1/4 cup of honey roasted almond accents 
5 tablespoons of butter softened 
Batter 
2 cups of flour 
1 teaspoon of baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
1 stick of butter softened 
1 cup sugar 
2 eggs, room temperature 
2 teaspoons vanilla 
1 cup of sour cream 
Blueberry filling 
1 1/2 cups of right blueberries cleaned and picked through 
1 tablespoon of sugar 
1 teaspoon of lemon juice 
Dash of salt 
1/2 cup strawberry rhubarb jam (or other berry jam)

Directions:

Macerate the blueberries with sugar, lemon juice and salt while you prepare the batter.

In a medium bowl, mix the crumble (flour brown sugar, cinnamon and salt) with a fork. Crumble in the softened butter to the dry ingredients. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top until you have a nice, crumbly texture. Finally add the almond accents and toss to combine and set-aside.


 Now work on the batter. In a small bowl mix together the 2 cups of flour baking soda and baking powder and salt. In a larger bowl with a stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until creamy. Alternate your dry ingredients with the sour cream until the batter is nice and creamy. 



Preheat oven to 350˚. Spray an 8 x 8 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour half the batter on the bottom. Dollop the berry jam evenly on top of the batter. Next fill the pan with the waiting blueberries and all of their juices. Finally pour the remaining batter on top of the blueberry filling evenly.

Take your crumble and sprinkle on top of the batter. Evenly bake on the center rack for one hour until cake is puffy and golden and toothpick comes out clean. You'll have some blueberry juice on your toothpick from the filling so don't be alarmed about that. You don't want wet batter on your toothpick. Let cake cool for about 15 to 20 minutes before cutting, allowing the berry filling to set.



RECIPE: S'more Cookie Bars

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I know, I know.

It's pumpkin spice this and apple spice that. It seems after Labor Day, everyone is so anxious to get on the fall bandwagon.

But summer is not officially over yet, peeps!

And I am going down fighting. Here in Chicago, summer started late, so Mother Nature owes us.  I refuse to put my fall decor up until October. So there.

And lets celebrate our rebellion by making my newest family favorite, these ridiculously delicious S'more cookie bars.



S'more Cookie Bars
Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction 

Ingredients

1/2 cup butter, softened 
3/4 of a cup light brown sugar 
1 teaspoon of vanilla 
one egg 
1 cup flour 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs 
1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
1 1/4 cup chocolate chunks 
7.5 ounces marshmallow cream 
Crumble 
1/2 cup mini marshmallows 
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs 
2 tablespoons of melted butter 
2 tablespoons of flour 

Directions 

Line a 13 x 9 Pyrex pan with parchment paper and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl toss the dry ingredients, set aside. In a large bowl or stand mixer cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy, then add the vanilla and the egg and whip until creamy. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients on low. 


Press two thirds of the graham cracker mixture on the bottom of the pan making and even crust with the palm of your hand.


Next, heat the marshmallow cream in the microwave on half power for 30 seconds or so until it has softened and can pour out of the container without much fuss. It helps to use a spatula that's been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray to help get the rest of marshmallow cream out. Pushed and spread the marshmallow cream evenly across the crust.



 Sprinkle with the chocolate chunks.


Mold the remaining crust dough into flat disks and place them over the chocolate chunks in areas. Don't be worried that you're not covering everything. It's okay if some of the chocolate chunks peek through.

Bake on the middle rack for 25 minutes until things begin to melt and get golden.


Meanwhile make the crumble by mixing the graham cracker crumbs with the flour and the melted butter by using a fork and your fingers. Pull out the pan for a minute and sprinkle the bar cookies with the crumble mixture and top with the mini marshmallows. Bake in the oven for the last 10 minutes of baking. Bake only until the top marshmallows you just sprinkled start to melt and the crumble begins to set.


Take out of the oven and cool for 10 minutes then pull the parchment out of the Pyrex dish and place on a cutting board. Flatten the paper and cut the bars into squares while it's still warm then let the bar cookie set and cool completely. Store in an airtight container for one week-but they won't last that long!




Back to School Tradition: An Ode to Back to School Eve

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'Twas the night before start of school,
and all through the house,
my youngling was packing
as I yelled at my spouse.

The clean backpack was packed,
by the doorway with care,
with prayers that her day,
would not be a bear.

My child will be nested,
all snug in her bed,
Thank God for Melatonin-
to help rest her "off-schedule" head.

And I with my coffee,
'cause the night is still young,
It's the Fall blend from Starbucks,
so warm on my tongue.

Every year it's the same,
as we get a little older-
the school backpack getting heavier
for my little one to shoulder.

So after the supplies are labeled,
and lunches prepped correct,
the laundry is folded,
tomorrow's outfit perfect,

I sip my coffee in peace,
and make a mamma bear prayer,
in the quiet of night-
in my favorite chair.

Help my daughter be brave,
let her classmates be kind,
let her teachers be open,
to guide her creative mind.

Tomorrow we'll spring from our beds,
morning chaos will ensue,
but tonight in the quiet,
I have one wish for you.

May your child's day be bright,
with a year full of hope,
Happy Back to School Day to you-
with much coffee to help cope!

If you too wish to buy some Fall blend to help the Back to School roller coaster, here is a link about it:
http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/seasonal-favorites/fall-blend-2014

Please note: Starbucks Fall blend was provided by Starbucks. All thoughts, opinions and obsessions abut Starbucks coffee are completely my own. Thanks!
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