Three Bean Salad
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was thinking about trying alternative therapies for my menopause symptoms. I am currently on a low-dose of estrogen and progesterone. I have been taking this medicine for about 4 weeks and I must say that it has helped my hot flashes and my mood. I am only having a few mild hot flashes at night and I feel less like I could hulk-out at any moment! I still feel quit a bite of anxiety and a general discomfort in my brain. So, I have decided to give acupuncture a try.
Acupuncture seems like a low risk experiment, and after listening to a recent BBC Radio 4 program on the placebo effect, I feel it could really help me. Without getting too much into the weeds here, scientist are looking into prescribing placebos to patients (and telling them it’s a placebo) because the act of a doctor telling someone that something will help them, does make them feel better. Dopamine is released by the brain when we have the expectation of something getting better and the dopamine causes us to actually feel better. I am not a scientist, but reading about the placebo effect is fascinating and in several of the articles I have read, acupuncture is seen to have similar effects on the body.
I had my first session last Friday. I met with the acupuncturist for about ten minutes and we discussed why I was there and what aspects of my health I would like to see improve. The three health improvements I am looking for are; reduction in hot flashes (hopefully none), reduced symptoms of anxiety and better sleep. The acupuncturist said he would help activate my body’s ability to regulate my hormones in order to level them out. Now, I am not sure if this is possible because other than the medication I am taking, I no longer have the ability to produce estrogen? Then he said that he would also focus on helping me heal from my recent surgery.
I sat in a large room with leather recliners (it’s a communal setting), soft calming music and the sound of crashing waves. As he placed the needles, there was no pain. As soon as he walked away I got a hot flash. Since I rarely get hot flashes durning the day I thought, “ok, this is a good sign. Something is working, my body is responding to the acupuncture and the symptom I am hoping to improve is being activated.” Then I tried to clear my mind and relax for the next half and hour. About 20 minutes in, I started to get cramps! I kid you not, I was having the same cramps I had before my surgery. The pain was not quite as intense, but I was struggling to sit there quietly. When the acupuncturist finally came over to take out the needles, I explained what was happening and he said it was great, because it shows him I had a blockage and he removed it, so my body can start to heal. I was thinking, “I need you to put that blockage back because this fucking hurts!”
I drove back to the office almost in tears. What in the good googly-moogly could possibly be causing this pain. I have had everything removed, there is nothing there to cramp. So, I guess I am having phantom-womb pain? I went to the bathroom in the office and had a good cry, rocked myself back and forth like I did when I had endometriosis and questioned my original assessment of acupuncture being a low risk experiment. The pain went away after about an hour.
I decided to see if I would have the same issues this week and had my appointment yesterday morning. No pain! I had a hot flash, but no pain. I do feel more relaxed and last night I had one of the best night’s sleep in months. I am going to keep to a once a week schedule for the time being. I am so fascinated by the fact that my body (or brain) had such a strong reaction to the first treatment. The pain I experienced was so intense and yet…what was causing it?
Do you believe in phantom-pain? Have you experienced it? What are your experiences with acupuncture?
This week I have created a Three Bean Salad. I like sour and tangy so my recipe includes banana peppers, olives and red wine vinegar. Also, I have swapped honey for sugar in the dressing. If you are less excited about sour tastes, you could use a more mild-flavored vinegar such as apple cider or rice vinegar.
*A quick note about the beans. I used canned organic pinto beans from aldi and they were kind of mushy. I am currently on the lookout for canned beans that hold up better in this salad. Any suggestions?
Three Bean Salad
Author: Jodi Boatman Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 3 Minutes
Total Time: 18 Minutes Yields: 8 Servings WW: 5 Freestyle Points
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
1 TBSP honey
2 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/2 TSP Italian seasoning
1 TSP garlic, minced
1/2 C olive oil
1 TBSP Trader Joe’s Aioli garlic Mustard Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
15.5 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz bag frozen green beans
1/2 C green olives, chopped in half
1/2 C banana peppers, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped small
1/2 medium red onion, chopped small
Parsley for garnish
To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a medium jar with lid and shake until emulsified. Set aside.
To make salad, cook green beans according to package. Add canned beans and green beans to medium serving bowl. Add olives, banana peppers, peppers and onions. Stir in dressing. Refrigerate for at least two hours to allow the flavors to develop.
Garnish with parsley and enjoy.