Scan/Biopsy Update

Update time, friends.

Nick had both a CT and bone scan yesterday and we received the results today…the cancer is contained in his liver. All of the praises going up..what a relief and breath of positivity for the day!

We also received his biopsy results from his liver team at Mayo….the biopsy came back marked “moderately differentiated”, which falls within a criteria that University of Toronto would consider doing a transplant. This is certainly not a guarantee that Nick will be put on their transplant list…but it is a start. We now have the green light to go to Toronto for a transplant evaluation as they would like to see Nick. The surgeon in Toronto that Nicks liver team is trying to pair us with is booked out for over a month but the Mayo team is doing their best to make the connections and get us in as quickly as possible…their hope is within a week or two. We will also work on our own to get the ball rolling with U of T tomorrow in hopes of speeding up the process.

The liver team made it clear that they do not feel Nicks liver could tolerate any treatment during the waiting period or that the risk of complications of treatments would be worth what he could be jeopardizing; they think acting as quickly as possible on this transplant is what we need to focus on. So that, we will do. We are all in to make these next steps happen and are praying that Nick can be seen for an evaluation as quickly as possible.

All in all, our hearts feel bright and positive this evening; we are taking today as such a step in the right direction! Nick is feeling pretty good overall. He’s in good spirits and trying to stay up and going while also listening to his body when it needs a break. His appetite is amazing, which is so important, so just trying to keep him filled with all the good stuff.

Now, we come to the part where I crumble. Each of you. It’s not very often that I’m left speechless…just ask Nick;) But you all leave me without the ability to construe just how you have made us feel. We have read every single comment and card. We’ve felt every single prayer. Given thanks over every meal you’ve provided us. And literally cried tears when seeing each donation. I have absolutely no idea what a person can do on this earth to receive this sort of support, I just don’t. You have lifted us higher than we knew was possible and having you with us through this journey ahead is our greatest honor. There’s no thank you big enough. We feel your love and we hope you feels ours in return.

Hopefully more to come soon

Xoxo

Our New Journey

Friends, I am writing you today with a heavy, hope-filled heart.  We’ve had a lot going on these last few weeks, and I believe it’s time for me to fill our family and friends in on details.

Two weeks ago, my husband Nick was diagnosed with liver cancer.  It’s still difficult to say those words without feeling like every ounce of my insides are being crushed into a million pieces.  Nick went into the ER with stomach pains…which led to tests, hospital stays, procedures and scans that detected the tumors.  Just to go back a little bit, when Nick was 18 he was diagnosed with a cryptogenic cirrhosis, basically a form of liver cirrhosis that they cant tie reasoning to as this wasn’t due to hepatitis or alcohol use.  He was getting a physical to play hockey when they discovered his spleen was enlarged and this is what led to his diagnosis.  Aside from regular bloodwork and checkups, Nicks condition has been very simple to manage; he put it on the backburner for years and tried to just live his life.

Now, to get you up to speed on where things are currently.  Two weeks ago when Nick was diagnosed with cancer we started testing and care at the University of Minnesota, where Nick has been in the care of liver specialists for years.  After receiving his cancer diagnosis we met with GI/Liver Specialists and Oncologists in an effort to see what options Nick has for treatment.  Now, in a perfect world, Nick would be eligible for a liver transplant here in the US, but unfortunately he is not because of the sizes of his tumors; they are covering over 50% of his liver.  We also learned that surgery, radiation and chemotherapy would not be of options to him as his liver is too damaged from the cirrhosis to be able to handle those treatments.  They talked to us about one option in immunotherapy that Nick could try with caution as they told us it may cause more harm than benefit to him.  We were discouraged in every way.

We came down to Mayo in Rochester, MN on Tuesday to meet with a GI Specialist/Hepatologist for a second opinion.  They, too, agreed that Nicks liver could not handle surgery, radiation or chemotherapy at this point.  They felt that the immunotherapy would at least be worth a shot, though.  But they also opened up a new path of hope for us: a possible transplant in Canada.  What we’ve learned is that the US has very different guidelines for eligibility of a transplant than Canada does.  The University of Toronto is a very well respected institution that is willing to do more “high risk” transplants; the prerequisites being that (1) the patient needs to be fairly asymptomatic and in otherwise good health and (2) the tumors need to fit within a certain criteria, mainly with regard to their aggression of growth.  I am currently sitting in the waiting room down at Mayo while Nick is in for a biopsy to determine if these tumors are something that would allow us to be considered by the U of T for a transplant.  We feel we are in the right place right now, and we know these medical providers will do everything in their power to lead us in the right direction with the right people.

In the midst of all of this darkness, we have been brought such light by our amazing family and friends.  As Nick said the other night, “I don’t cry anymore out of fear and sadness, I cry out of gratitude for the people around us”.  It is absolutely paralyzing to feel this kind of support and through all of this uncertainty, we feel so certain that we have the greatest army in the universe helping us walk through this.  You know who you are, army,  and we feel you carrying us.  Nick is the most brave, strong person I have ever known, he can do this….and I will be advocating for him and holding his hand every single step of the way.  When we sat Georgia and Jude down to talk to them about all of this Georgias response was “my teacher tells us that when people are sick the best things we can do are pray, be patient and be kind”.  And bless her beautiful heart, thats exactly what we will do.

So now, we ask for prayers. Prayers for Nick, for healing, comfort and strength.  Prayers for our children, that they will continue to feel constant light and love and that worry not be in their hearts.  Prayers for the doctors and medical teams, that they will be filled with wisdom and knowledge so that they can continue to guide us to the best of their ability.  And prayers for a sense of peace and contentment in our hearts, so that we are able to face each day and decision with trust, clarity and unwavering hope.

This website is where I will continue to share updates on Nick.  For those of you that are here strictly for recipes, my deepest apologies as you may want to unsubscribe…we are shifting gears.  To those friends and family that are already following along, we felt this was a safe, simple place to keep you updated as many of you are already following along. I’ve set this page to private and welcome anyone and everyone to “follow” this page who would like to walk through this journey with us; just scroll to the bottom of this page and click “follow” to get my updates on Nick sent directly to your email box. Feel free to share this website with other family and friends that would like to stay informed and have them request to follow along as well.

All the love,

xo

Asian Sockeye Salmon Bowls with Coconut Rice

I don’t know about you all, but I’m constantly feeling challenged to figure out new ways to use salmon. It’s such a great protein to keep in the meal rotation, but it can start to feel so mundane after a while.

And I think I found a winner here with these Asian bowls. You know me and my condiments..were tight. I often get made fun of because of my obsession with sauces, dips and drizzles. And if you’ve ever seen my children eat…well, apple👉🏼tree. But you know what? Go ahead and poke, this girl ain’t backing down. Condiments can completely change a meal. They can take an ordinary protein or veggie and transform it into something so special and over-the-top yummy. Case in point: these bowls.

Super ordinary roasted salmon, broccoli and coconut rice. But when you put them in a bowl and pile on the tangy, crunchy texture of the pickled veggies REALLY stinking good things happen. And then, if that’s not enough, you drizzle on a sweet, barely-spicy Asian sauce and you’ve got yourself one extraordinary meal. See, condiments are LIFE!

The flavor combinations of this dish work incredibly well together..rich, bright and fresh all in one. Jude had 4 helpings of these bowls for dinner. 4! And I wasn’t far behind him…we totally love these and hope you do too!

Asian Sockeye Salmon Bowls with Coconut Rice

Note: be sure to use Tamari instead of soy if you are looking to keep this meal gluten free

Ingredients

For the Quick-Pickled Veggies

1 Cup Shredded Carrots

1 English Cucumber, seeded and diced

3 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Honey

For the Sauce

1/4 Cup Tamari or Soy Sauce

1/4 Cup Honey

1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar

1 Garlic Clove, minced

1 Teaspoon Sriracha

For the Bowls

1 Pound Sockeye Salmon Filets

1 Head Broccoli, cut into florets

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

Salt and Black Pepper

Coconut Rice, recipe here

Cilantro, for garnish

Directions

For the Quick Pickled Veggies

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes while you complete the other steps. Can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

For the Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a heavy simmer. Let simmer for 3 minutes, or until sauce has thickened and is reduced by almost half.

For the Bowls

Preheat oven to 425. Place salmon on one side of a large baking sheet and broccoli florets on the other. Drizzle both the salmon and broccoli with olive oil and season liberally with salt and black pepper, toss to coat. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes or until salmon is golden and cooked through, stirring the broccoli one time in between cooking.

Place coconut rice in serving dishes or bowls, top with broccoli and salmon. Add a large spoonful of pickled veggies to the top and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with cilantro. Serves 4

The Magic Green Sauce

It’s 60 degrees and sunny here, you guys! I just want to dance and scream and hug everything in sight! Can you feel my squeeze of excitement?!

We’ve been firing up the grill for dinners over the last week and boy does it feel good. Less mess in the kitchen, more fresh food, and QUICK…the grill is just so quick! And just as the grill has come out of hibernation, so has this magic green sauce. I know I’ve told y’all about it before in some way, shape or form. But this stuff has been made at least 5 times over the last week…I double the recipe in hopes of it lasting us a while but it just gets smeared, smothered, poured and drizzled so much that I can’t keep up! I need to get that herb garden going:)

There are so many uses for this sauce…it’s legit magical. Nick and I’s VERY favorite condiment. Drizzle it on any grilled meat or fish and you’ll never need a chimichurri again. Serve it with fresh veggies and you can say goodbye to ranch. It’s pure bliss as a vinaigrette for any green salad. Or over roasted or baked sweet or russet potatoes. And my kids fave: drizzled over a caprese salad. Georgia will fight you to the death for the last bite;)

We basically put it on all the things…like ALL! Its bright and fresh and transforms any basic prepared meal into something special. If I could force you to make just one recipe of mine…this one would be up there on the list!

The Magic Green Sauce

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Fresh Parsley Leaves

3/4 Cup Fresh Basil Leaves

1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro Leaves

1 Garlic Clove

1/4 Cup Cider Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Honey

2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard

3/4 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2-3/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions

Place the parsley, basil, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil, starting with 1/2 a cup and adding more if needed until you’ve reached your desired consistency-i usually go with a little over half a cup-and process until smooth. Serve at room temperature or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Slow-Cooked Barbacoa Beef

This is one of those staples we all need for busy nights, guys! Get it going in the slow cooker in the morning and by dinner time you’re left with tender, savory, perfectly seasoned shredded beef that is just waiting to be devoured! Honestly, it’s giving Chipotle a solid run for their money:)

Use it for salads, tacos, nachos, burritos, or our favorite: piled high on a tostada with queso fresco, pickled red onion, hot sauce and guacamole. So stinking yum!

Also sharing the super simple way we make pickled red onion over on my instagram stories today…so come follow along! You can find us @nourishedpeach

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Beef

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Beef Chuck Roast (approx 2.5-3 lbs)

1/2 Cup Vegetable Stock

2 Teaspoons Chili Powder

2 Teaspoons Smoked Paprika

2 Teaspoons Cumin

2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

3/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1 Large White Onion, peeled and halved

3 Garlic Cloves, peeled and smashed

Directions

Preheat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil to coat the pan and add your beef. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until a nice golden brown crust forms. Flip the beef and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Transfer beef roast to the bowl of a slow cooker and pour the vegetable stock over the top. Sprinkle the beef with chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Break the onion pieces apart and lay them on top of the roast along with the garlic. Cover and cook on low for approximately 8 hours or on high for about 5 hours, or until Beef is tender and easily shredded with a fork. Remove beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks. Discard the garlic and onion and reserve the juices for pouring on the beef as needed for moisture.

Our Favorite Granola

Hello friends, happy almost-spring! It’s raining and gloomy here in Minnesota…but I’ll take it, because it’s 39 degrees and the mounds of snow are slowly getting washed away. I’m beginning to see the light!

If you follow along on Instagram, you know that I shared some ideas on how we buy our yogurt and put yogurt parfaits together. And as I was talking about it, I realized I haven’t shared our go-to granola recipe as of the last few years with you. Shame on me!

This recipe is super adaptable…you can use whatever nuts or seeds your family prefers. You can also leave out the coconut or add in dried fruit like raisins or cranberries after it’s done baking if you’d like. The version I have below is our favorite…but I’ll be sure to add substitution options into the recipe so that you can create your own.

It’s also the PERFECT recipe for your kids to help with. It’s so easy and requires only measuring and mixing with your hands…my kiddos love to help with this! It keeps really well in an air tight container in the fridge for up to a couple weeks…and you can also freeze it too. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Our Favorite Granola

Note: you can easily add dried fruit to this..just stir it into the mixture right when it comes out of the oven. Also, if you prefer a sweeter granola go for 4 tablespoons of syrup…if you prefer a more mildly sweet version go for 3. If you’d like to keep this recipe gluten free, just be sure that the oats you are using are gf.

Ingredients

3 Cups Rolled or Old Fashioned Oats

1 Cup Finely Chopped Walnuts-or any combo of Chopped Nuts or Seeds

1/2 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Chips-you can swap out for coconut flakes

3-4 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup, see note above

3 Tablespoons Coconut Oil, melted

1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/2 Teaspoon Finely Ground Sea Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Spread in an even layer on your prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring halfway in between cooking. Remove from oven, cool and store in an air tight container in the fridge.

Chocolate Chip Cherry Bites

My kids are totally into making all kinds of snack bites like these lately. They’re such a yummy treat, are great for lunchbox packing, and best of all…the kids can literally make these from start to finish all by themselves….Just look at Jude’s work of art…I can’t handle how cute and homemade looking they are!

Chocolate Chip Cherry Bites

Ingredients

1 Cup Rolled Oat

1/2 Cup Flax Meal

1/2 Cup Peanut, Cashew or Almond Butter

1/3 Cup Pure Maple Syrup

1/4 Cup Chocolate Chips

1/4 Cup Dried Unsweetened Cherries

Pinch of Sea Salt

Directions

Place all ingredients in a medium sized bowl and stir until well combined. Form into tablespoon sized balls and store in the refrigerator.