Archive for May, 2009

Your Inner Lab Rat

    If you don’t recognize your inner-lab-rat and take responsibility for it then by default you are leaving it to the captains industry. Some of them are benevolent, some are avaricious, and some are blasé but most of them just want your money. Focus groups provide information about target population groups that is then used to design campaigns that trigger our inner-lab-rat to respond. Industry bombards us with slick advertising, selective information out of context, and outright deception by magazine, email, voice mail, snail mail, you tube, television, and radio.
    The internet has given those of us who pretty much mind our own households and families the ability to sift and sort through whole libraries of information and we have come to some alarming conclusions. There is something wrong with our food supply, some of us are having major self esteem issues, our whole nation is getting fat, and our green planet is rapidly dying on us.
    Where to start; with the one unit that we have some control over, ourselves, our own inner-lab-rat. It comes as a surprise to most of us that there is not a one-size-fits-all health plan out there waiting to be discovered. We read and we try out different plans, medications, workouts, dietary choices and we become our own lab rat by discovering what works and what doesn’t. If you try something and you feel better then you keep going. If you try it and it doesn’t help then you move on. It does get discouraging at times. The good part is that we are using what we are learn to build communities of caring responsible individuals to plot our own way back to where we thought we were before we realized what was happening.
    When Rita was stricken with Candida she thrashed her way through literally hundreds of options before she found what she was wanting – which was a treatment plan that did not take a couple of years. Along the way she determined to leave behind a stressful career in technology and focus on caring for people who have problems similar to hers. And that is why she is taking classes and working towards a degree in nutritional counseling.
    While learning along with Rita the realization hit me that I too had suffered from a lifetime of gluten intolerance beginning at age seven with iron deficiency anemia, an achy gut, severe thyroid deficiency and that my beautiful daughter had inherited all of it from me. I had learned hit-or-miss over the years to take care of my inner-lab-rat by experiment but having some solid information has brought me light years into the present.
    Rita and I confer often even though she lives in Virginia and I live in Texas. The internet has given us that ability. You may have noticed that some things that work for me do not work for Rita and the reverse is also true. We are re-thinking, re-balancing, selecting different options and sharing with others the tidbits of information and the foods that we have chosen that work for each of us. And some of the recipes that I publish are designed to share with others who have more or different issues than our own. We had a comment recently that our blog appeared to be anti-dairy. Believe me, that is not the case. I may be lactose-intolerant but cheese of all varieties and yogurt are very much enjoyed.
    Rita and I appreciate others that help us along the way, be it those who are practitioners, those who test-taste and critique our recipes, and especially to those who put so much time and thoughtful information into their own blogs.


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Shopping at the farmers market can raise a lot of questions if you are more accustomed to super-market produce. Fresh carrots seem to be more tops than carrot and I had always thought of that as a waste. Now, as a veteran of Rita’s vegetable broth assignment, it made sense that if you can put them in broth then just maybe you can eat them. An internet search turned up some very interesting carrot information and inspired me to try it in salad as a stand-in for parsley. A quick nibble was reassuring as to taste. It was a bit astringent but not terribly bitter, very much like parsley. And according to other resources this ‘bitterness’ factor has many healing properties.

I really needed to have a salad for lunch anyway after a breakfast mostly (blush, there goes that sweet tooth again) of Ricki’s Sexy Cowgrrrl Cookies. Ricki has some incredibly tasty, creative, nutritious recipes on her Diet, Dessert, and Dogs blog and if she saved some of her best for the cookbook – you really need to have this cookbook, Sweet Freedom, publication May 2009.

Wednesday Afternoon Salad
Head of romaine; washed and chopped small
One carrot from a bunch of carrots; washed, carrot sliced, top minced
Leftover chard leaves, a handful, chopped small
Leftover leek tops, the tender pale green middle section, sliced thin
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted in the microwave
2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (it came in a bottle)

Put it all in a bowl, greens on the bottom and tomatoes, leeks, and walnuts on top if you are taking a picture, otherwise it doesn’t really matter. Eat slowly to savor the various textures and flavor. Could you pick out the taste of carrot top? It really tasted to me like there was parsley in the salad. There will be no more wasted carrot tops in this kitchen!


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Mushroom Croutons

    A potluck supper is exactly that. Sometimes there is an abundance of desserts and appetizers and not much else. Sometimes everyone is inspired to bring baked beans or macaroni and cheese. The planning committee this time made a great to-do about how we always run out of meat at the end of the line so guess what – nearly everyone brought meat. There were a few bean casseroles, a macaroni and cheese casserole with bacon, tomato and onion, and two salads! One of them was this salad that I made up at the last minute from what I had bought at the farmer’s market and when the bowl turned out to be only partially full, a raid on the pantry. I had forgotten fresh tomatoes and mushrooms so those came out of the pantry as well – talk about the-mother-of-invention! It was so gratifying when several people remarked on how much they enjoyed the spinach salad.

Hodge Podge Salad
Large bunch of fresh spinach; washed, stems removed, and torn into bite-sized pieces
Bunch of carrots; washed, tops removed, and shaved into strips with the peeler (don’t peel them first)
Bunch of leeks; washed, tops removed (saved), and sliced crosswise into thin rounds
Celery; tender center stalks including tops, washed and sliced thin
Can of black olives; drained and patted dry
Julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (who hasn’t sometime forgotten fresh tomatoes?)
Light balsamic vinaigrette dressing (it came in a bottle)

And finally:
Mushroom Croutons
8-oz package of fresh mushrooms, sliced
(in this case, a can of mushroom pieces, 8-oz drained weight, drained and patted dry)
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Onion powder

    Cut the mushrooms, fresh or canned, into fairly uniform pieces so they will cook evenly. Lightly oil or spray a skillet, add the mushrooms, turn the heat to medium high, and sprinkle the mushrooms with salt to draw out their moisture. As they heat up and begin to cook in their own juices adjust the heat so that they continue to give up moisture but do not scorch. As they cook keep stirring and add the garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper. The garlic and onion powder will absorb a small amount of the juice and begin to form a coating on the mushroom bits. They are ready when there is no discernable moisture remaining in the pan. Add the mushrooms to the salad.  Toss while adding a moderate amount of dressing depending on the size of your bowl. Use enough to lightly coat the salad without pooling any in the bottom of the bowl. Add tongs and serve.


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