For whatever reason I’m in a roasting vegetable type of mood lately, must be the cold weather settling in making me want to feel all warm and cozy drinking my matcha latte and binge watching new shows… like everyone else is doing. As of lately, me and a group of my best friends have decided to go on a Biggest Loser competition among our group. And quite frankly, it’s much needed because of this quarantine life that has gotten all of us eating and drinking whatever in sight and gym memberships to a halt. Of course, I’m very competitive and it’s gotten be thinking all sorts of creative and healthy dishes to make.
Let’s start with the most important meal of the day… breakfast! I love eating breakfast that are filling, satisfying, and most importantly flavorful. Let’s be honest, I’m not going on a diet to sacrifice flavor, that’s not an option. But, what I can do is to add more vegetables and fruits into my diet for that added fullness so that I don’t eat so much of what I don’t need to. So let’s be real, my breakfasts are huge and I don’t have the time to be eating mini meals or snacks during the day. I’m working from home just like everybody else, homeschooling my 8th grader, and a potty training toddler who’s walking around the house naked because quite frankly he just doesn’t get it yet (but that’s a whole other different story). So with that, I prefer to eat larger meals into the late morning sometimes at noon, of course I’m also intermittently fasting, so that I don’t need to feast for dinner until 5 or 6 pm in the evening.
Craving noodles but don’t want to eat a noodle soup in a hot and humid weather, a stir fry will be a better option. Minnesota is known for its below zero temperatures and snowy days, but what many don’t realize are it’s hot and humid summer season that can reach the upper 90’s and even beyond scorching 100 degree temperatures. Don’t let Minnesota fool you about what it’s known for, summers here feel like the Bahamas, literally. So for hot summers like these, here is an alternative to hit that noodle craving in a one pot dish.
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Drizzle more extra virgin olive oil in the same saucepan and add onions, red bell pepper, and celery to cook for 3-5 minutes. Tip: when cooking the vegetables, it’s best to cook the dense vegetables first to allow enough cooking time to soften before adding other soft vegetables.
In an effort to bring awareness to Mental Health Awareness Month and Tourette Syndrome Awareness Month, I thought that it would be a great idea to address questions that are asked often as parents raising a child who is medically diagnosed with ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, and Motor Tics Disorder. If you are interested in reading a background story of my son prior to reading this post, feel free to read my previous post A Parent’s Journey: Raising Micah.
As a disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Please take into consideration that these are responses from my own experience in raising my son and personal opinion based on personal research.
Growing up in my family’s household, there were two things that always had to be made and available 1) rice, and 2) pepper. There were so many pepper dipping sauces that I grew up eating, but this one in particular I came up with it myself to find a complimentary taste to my Spicy Chipotle Chicken Wings. The Spicy Tomato Pepper Sauce provided the right amount of tang from the tomatoes and an extra kick of spice.
This pepper sauce is good with just about any meat dish or even by itself as salsa with side of chips. Enjoy!
As a disclaimer, I am not a medical professional. This is my personal experience and I hope to give some insight to those who are experiencing this journey with their children, those who are going through this themselves, or bring awareness to teachers and others around people with this spectrum. Because my son is still at a young age of thirteen, I will not be posting any videos out of respect for his privacy but I hope reading this article gives you knowledge and ease in your journey.
I met my now stepson, Micah, at the early age of four years old when his father, my now husband – Justin, first started dating. From age four years old Micah had showed symptoms with the twitching of his nose, a small cough, and eye rolling – all of which I didn’t think was anything at the time. I associated all of these early stages of symptoms due to dryness in the air due to our severe winters here in Minnesota and thought air humidifiers, nasal spray, or even eye glasses would help minimize his symptoms. Micah’s mother at the time did have him on an asthma inhaler as well. But the one thing I didn’t understand was why his symptoms didn’t subside and was prevalent all year round.
Early on I had addressed to Justin and Micah’s mom to take him to get assessed for ADD or ADHD, but they didn’t think anything of it. Plus, Micah was too young to be assessed anyway until the fall semester of 2013 when Micah was seven years old. We had Micah’s first grade school conference meeting when his teachers told me, Justin, and Micah’s mom to “seek professional advice” for him – in other words meant “go get him checked out.” And that was when I had validation that I wasn’t the only one thinking that there was something more to Micah.
In 2014, Micah was medically diagnosed with ADHD. After the diagnosis we were all asked, especially from school teachers, if we were going to medicate Micah. After doing my research and reading Parenting Children With ADHD: 10 Lessons That Medicine Cannot Teach by Vincent J. Monastra, we were more concerned about his brain development, as he was seven at the time, and didn’t want any negative impact to his brain development and decided that it was not necessary to medicate him.
Seeking Other Professional Advice
In the Fall of 2015, Micah had turned nine years old and started showing other symptoms with excessive eye rolling, which I associated it with dry eyes, again, thinking it was because of the dry and cold winters that we had in Minnesota and thought eye drops would help with it.
Throughout my online research about behavioral issues that linked with ADHD, Autism kept surfacing as a possible spectrum with lots of overlaying commonalities with behavioral issues. Justin didn’t think it was necessary to get him assessed and he truly felt that Micah was not autistic.
The appointment with the Minnesota Autistic Center was finally scheduled and weeks prior to the day of the appointment Micah had developed another symptom that included repetitive high pitch barking, on top of his other symptoms. Through more research I discovered what a “tic” was and that it may be associated to Tourette’s Syndrome. But like anybody, I associated Tourette’s Syndrome with the mainstream of someone swearing uncontrollably and thought “well, Micah doesn’t have Tourette’s, he didn’t swear uncontrollably.” I wasn’t aware at the time that Tourette’s came in all types variations.
In January 2016, we went back to the Minnesota Autistic Center to hear the final evaluation of the assessment and were told that Micah was not autistic. It was at this point that I asked the specialist if it may be possible that Micah may have Tourette’s Syndrome with a response that there could be a possibility and an assessment with specialist in that area would be best.
Tourette’s Syndrome Assessment
Shortly after the final evaluation at the Minnesota Autistic Center, Micah developed a whole new set of tics that included all types of swear words. This point was very hard for Micah, he was bullied in school and kid’s were taunting him to say swear words as he would come home with a different swear word as his tics. There was a point that one of his tics was in a full form sentence saying inappropriate things.
Micah would be so drained from his day at school and from tic-ing all day that having him do his homework after school was literally torture. His whole body would shut down and be in a state of agitation. I have a video of Micah standing, head facing the ceiling with his eyes rolled back and his mouth open, body twisting side to side and his arms swinging uncontrollably. This is not a typical child throwing a tantrum, this is a child at their wit’s end. I’d admit there were days that I allowed for him to pass up on homework and not do it, even I knew that there was a capacity to someone’s ability to deal with things.
So besides doing homework in the evenings, our evenings were spent trying to calm him down by listening to music, watching shows on his tablet and even taking him swimming. All those things seemed to calm him down.
We met with a neurologist and followed up with brain scans and bloodwork to rule out if his tics were caused by a tumor or something else, which it wasn’t, so that was at least a good sign. So on April 19, 2016, at age nine years old, Micah was medically diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome and Motor Tic Disorder.
We were seeking medical treatment for Micah’s Tourette’s Syndrome to help ease his tics so that he could manage in school. Some people have asked as to why we didn’t treat the ADHD as well and we were told by healthcare professionals that treating both at the same time will only cause a person to be more aggressive – so we opted to only treat Tourette’s. At first we tried guanfacine but that caused Micah to have chest pains so we took him off of that medicine after a week. Then in May 2016, we tried aripiprazole, which is similar to abilify, which seemed to help little by little as we worked with the neurologist to determine the right dosage.
During this time we sought behavorial therapy for Micah which ultimately didn’t work as one therapist discontinued their service with us because they couldn’t help Micah and the other didn’t provide time flexibility as available sessions happened during the day while Micah was in school and Justin and I had work.
Jumping forward to December 2018, Micah was 12 years old and we were steady with the aripiprazole treatment and balancing his life at school. We had established a school IEP plan. He had been suspended a couple times up to that point. He had significantly gained weight as a side effect of the medicine. His vocal tics had subsided but his facial tics were more prevalent.
The Deal Breaker
In December 2018, while we were calling our usual pharmacist to refill Micah’s aripiprazole prescription, we were told that his medicine couldn’t be refilled and that we had to call and talk to his neuro-psychiatrist who prescribed the medicine. So we contacted the neuro-psychiatrist’s office which led them to contact to our health insurance company. Then got the run around that we had to talk to our insurance company to come find that there was a dosage issue that needed to be corrected by the neuro-psychiatrist so that it can be covered by insurance. This all took a process of about a week until we were able to give Micah his medicine again. The morning that Micah took his regular dosage of the medicine, he later suffered a seizure at school on December 20, 2018. Micah was taken to the ER in an ambulance at the Children’s Hospital.
We had follow up appointments with his neuro-psychiatrist and requested a referral from our primary physician to see a neurologist to determine if the seizure may have caused any brain damage. The neurologist we saw was of no help at all, there were no brain scans, and no determination if the seizure may have caused any brain damage. The neurologist stated that there was no correlation between the seizure and re-taking the medicine. As if it was all just a big huge coincidence when there was obviously a direct cause and effect.
We left the neurologist’s office feeling angry that we wasted our time and money for nothing to get done and no resolution as to why we were there in the first place – to figure out if he suffered brain damage from his seizure. We went from explaining our whole story again to this neurologist about Micah’s diagnoses and behavioral issues to him internalizing this information as a child throwing a tantrum and having misfits. You would think that someone in the neuroscience field would understand Tourette’s Syndrome but obviously not this individual.
The process of the allergy testing that we had Micah do was a grid-like tool that had at least 10 needles that consisted of various environmental components to be poked at the same time on his back. These pokes as described by the nurse and by Micah were that of like multiple pencil pokes at the same time. The allergy testing included three grids that consisted of over 30 environmental allergies.
The allergy testing resulted to Micah reacting to several components which were aligned with seasonal allergies and is highly off the charts allergic to ragweed. During the fifteen minute waiting allergy testing process, all of Micah’s tics surfaced and he was clearly agitated with streams of tears down his face and him squirmy his body. I had to hold his hands to keep him from scratching. As a result, the small bumps on his back were his reactions to those environmental components. So these allergies caused Micah to have an increase in tics, which now looking back, spring and fall time always seemed to be the season for him to act up in his behavior and tics.
The elimination diet proved that Micah was sensitive to the intake of any sugary processed food that caused him to have an increase in tics. At the end of the summer, Micah had lost about ten pounds and so many friends and family were shocked on how drastic he looked.
Micah has not been taking any prescribed medicine since he last suffered his seizure in December 2018. One of the most memorable thing that he said to us after being off of the medication for about a month was that he said, “I feel free.” That brought us tears and guilt as parents as we wished we should’ve done better.
The following are things that we are currently doing that is helping Micah:
Micah has been homeschooled since summer of 2019. The following are books that helped me navigate homeschool life:
Family and friends look at Micah now and they think that he’s medicated or surprised that he has Tourette’s Syndrome because they simply don’t notice the tics. The ADHD spectrum is definitely apparent but you look at him and he looks like a normal healthy thirteen year old boy.
Everybody’s journey is different and I hope that sharing our experience helps you on your journey and/or bring awareness to Tourette’s Syndrome and mental illness. I may not be an expert in the medical field, but I am an expert in my child.
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Happy Hmong American Day in Minnesota! As a first Hmong-American generation born and raised in St Paul, Minnesota – I am very proud of the values and the sense of community the Hmong community has provided in the Twin Cities.
Who are Hmong People?
Hmong (also pronounced as Hmoob) is an ethnic and mountain tribal nomadic group of people who originated from Southeast Asia – most commonly from Laos, then Thailand, Vietnam, and other parts of Asia. Hmong people were recruited by the CIA as allies during the Vietnam War, which was a war known on its own as The Secret War. As the war ended, the Hmong people sought refuge in Thailand and over the span of 30 years gradually sought legal residency in the United States.
According to CBS Minnesota, there are over 80,000 of the Hmong population alone in Minnesota. The Hmong community has multiple thriven flee markets and small businesses in the greater Twin Cities.
My Story About Egg Rolls
My extended family loved to gather and we loved to eat. We were always gathering at my late maternal grandmother’s house cooking, eating, and just hanging out. Of course, it was mainly the girls in the family that were cooking. I especially loved hanging out with my mom and aunties just peering over their shoulders and watching them make food. When I turned of a certain age my mother would have me start helping around the kitchen by prepping with washing and cutting vegetables and meats. Then later on I graduated to cooking and making dishes.
One of the dishes that I had fond memories of making were egg rolls. Cooking egg rolls in my family’s household was operated as a team. One would be peeling the wraps, the other would be boiling the noodles, the other would be cutting the veggies, the other would be mixing the filling, and everyone was wrapping. And many times this was all happening simultaneously because just cooking egg rolls by yourself takes a long time. So if you’re attempting to cook egg rolls by yourself, just allow enough time. Trust me.
I’ll remember the day when I perfectly wrapped my first egg roll, I was so proud of myself. Everyone knows, wrapping egg rolls is the hardest at first, but keep practicing and keep trying and you’ll perfect your wrapping skills.
In honor of Hmong American Day, I’m sharing a taste from my childhood. This recipe calls for fresh ingredients and to be eaten right away when it’s freshly cooked because it won’t stand a chance to be reheated or refried or re-anything. This is my go to recipe for every time I’m making egg rolls and I hope you enjoy it.
Feel free to take a picture and tag me on social media using hashtag #recipesbykayklalor of your meals.
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Chop cilantro and green onion, minced garlic, and diced onion and set aside on a baking sheet.
Grate carrots and set aside on the baking sheet.
Peel wraps to individual sheets.
Boil water, which will take 7-10 minutes.
Once boiling, place the Vermicelli Bean Thread Noodles in the boiling water and stir occasionally until cooked, which will take about 2- 3 minutes.
Once the noodles are softened, place strainer in the sink and pour the large pot in the strainer to drain the noodles.
Rinse the noodles in the strainer with cold water and use tongs to move the noodles around to distribute cold water to prevent the noodles from cooking further.
Once the noodles have been cooled, use a pair of shears to cut the noodles into shorter strands.
Leave the noodles to drain thoroughly in the strainer.
While the noodles are draining, place the ground pork in a large mixing bowl.
Add all of the fresh vegetable ingredients (cilantro, green onion, garlic, onion, carrots) into the large mixing bowl.
Then add salt, black pepper, oyster sauce, and the drained Vermicelli Bean Thread Noodles,
Separate 1 whole egg with an egg yolk in a small side dish bowl (which will be used later on for sealing of the egg roll wrap) and the egg white in the large mixing bowl. Then add 1 whole egg in the large mixing bowl.
Mix all of the ingredients in the large mixing bowl with hands and mix thoroughly. Now you have the filling of the egg roll.
Grab a sheet of the wrap and lay it on a flat on plate with the bottom corner facing toward you.
Then grab a spoonful of the egg roll filling and place it about 2 inches above the bottom corner of the wrap.
Shape the egg roll filling in a horizontal row.
Pull the bottom corner of the wrap up over the filling and do half a roll just enough to secure the filling.
Then grab the side corners of the wrap towards the center and then continue to roll from the bottom up.
Once near the top corner, dip finger in the egg yolk that was set aside and then smear the egg yolk on the top corner of the wrapper.
Continue to roll to create a seal of the wrap and set aside on a large platter.
Repeat to make 39-40 rolls.
Pour vegetable oil in a deep-frying pan on medium to high heat on the stovetop. Allow at least 1 to 2 inches of oil depth in the deep-frying pan. Also as a safety precaution, allow enough room for the top of the frying pan to rise for the difference in liquid volume when cooking the egg rolls.
While waiting for the oil to get hot, grab a large baking sheet and a cooling rack to prepare for setting cooked egg rolls on.
Once the oil is hot. Place 4-6 egg rolls in the deep-frying pan. (Tip: Don’t place too many egg rolls in a frying pan, this will change the temperature of the oil and may take longer to cook, and also soften the exterior texture of the egg roll wrap.)
Allow for the egg rolls to float then flip with using a tong. (Tip: Flipping the egg rolls too often and too soon will deteriorate the egg roll wrap).
When the egg rolls are a golden-brown color, use the tong to grab the egg rolls and place on a cooling rack
Repeat until all of the egg rolls are cooked. Place cooled egg rolls on a serving platter and serve with Thai Pepper Cilantro Sauce (more to come).
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Happy #NationalBeverageDay! In the midst of this quarantine life, I’m sure getting crafty with a mixed drink can help pass the time. I can say that I’ve had my fair share of Moscow Mules and none could ever beat this recipe that and my husband and I came up with. This drink will surely be your favorite as well.
I’ve make this drink for many of my friends and many of them have asked for the recipe. As simple as this drink is, what truly is the make or break of a Moscow Mule is the brand of the ginger beer – it has got to be the Bundaberg Ginger Beer (no sponsorship).
So enjoy this National Beverage Day tonight and drink responsibly, of course.
Happy Cinco De Mayo and also happy #TotallyChipotleDay! I have been perfecting this recipe ever since I discovered the chipotle spice when I was a teenager. It all started when my parents purchased a pre-made mixed spice from Sam’s Club that I fell in love with but they discontinued selling the item from their shelves and I just had to replicate it.
I have been making this dish for almost two decades now and it’s a classic dish that I turn to for potlucks, get togethers, and mainly a wow dish to amaze others. For the many requests for the recipe over the years, I’ve finally put together something for others to enjoy as I have over the years. Enjoy!
Add oyster sauce and all of the dry ingredients (basil, black pepper, chipotle, dill, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, salt, and thyme) and mix with hands. (NOTE: For better marination, place in refrigerator for 30 minutes or longer.)
Place the marinated chicken wings on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Bake in the oven for total of 1 hour (30 minutes on each side).
Optional: for an extra crisp, switch the oven to broil setting on High for 3-5 minutes on each side.
Welcome to 2020, I know many of you had New Year’s resolutions but did it include going on more date nights or connecting better with your beau. Now if you’re like me, married for almost five years with two children, a date night is a must, amongst everything else you’re trying to balance. So first things first, make the time for it! My husband and I chose the 15th of every month because it was the special day that we got married. So doesn’t matter what day the 15th it falls on, we make it our priority on taking ourselves out to reminisce our love and our spark for one another.
Figuring out what to do for a date night can be simple or adventurous. For this month our date night fell on a freezing cold Wednesday work night so we were limited on things to do outside. But as we both love sushi and my husband loves a good beer, we headed out to two spots in downtown Saint Paul here in Minnesota.
First stop was to Sakura Restaurant and Bar. First thing we ordered was sake to start the night.
I had a Salmon Skin salad that was very savory with no additional dressing. The natural juices from the Salmon Skin was enough to make the salad dish that much more enjoyable.
Next I ordered the traditional miso soup and my husband ordered the miso soup with clams. What was funny was that the Japanese waitress brought both of miso soup to us and only have my husband a spoon. I flagged one of the other waiters that I was waiting on a spoon and he said to me “oh, she probably thought you were Japanese because we drink the soup from the bowl”. Fun fact, I didn’t know!
Next to go in our tummies were the sushi rolls!!! We ordered the Spicy Tuna roll and Dancing Eel roll. Oh my gosh, best rolls I’ve had in a long time. The Spicy Tuna was truly spicy as they it should be as normally at other places it isn’t. The Dancing Eel had a nice crisp and crunch to the taste. So good, definitely will be seeing us as usuals to this restaurant for our sushi fix!
Next stop was to Bulldog that was 0.8 miles from Sakura, practically a 3 minute drive in the freezing cold. My husband loves the variety of beer that Bulldog offers. I, however am not a beer drinker so I opted for a Barone Merlot.
Luckily we didn’t stuff ourselves at Sakura and had room for more food! The great thing about Bulldog is that their appetizers are so delicious that they can be the only things you order and be happy with. It just hits the spot for bar food. I’m fan of spicy food so I had to order their Double-Smoked Bacon and Jalapeño with Ranch Cheese Curds. These weren’t as spicy as I expected them to be but definitely hit the spot as far as fried cheesiness goes. Most fried cheese curds that I’ve tried the batter tends to get soggy after a while, however, I must say that their batter for frying was really crunchy.
I love a good spicy chicken wing so I ordered the Fear the Reaper with Cajun Ranch Korean BBQ so for kicks. It was still a tasty chicken wing but not high on the spice meter.
My husband ordered the Jalapeño Popper Burger and ordered a Surly Axeman beer. I must say their list of beer is no joke.
We ended the night with good food and drinks in our belly. Make date nights happen, fall in love again.