Archive for September, 2009

Visiting a Friend

    Last weekend I traveled to Benbrook, TX to visit a dear friend who retired and is moving out-of-state to a new community. One of Lynn’s primary requirements was that she be able to have her two beautiful Ragdoll cats with her. Arabella and Sophia, admittedly spoiled, are beautiful and affectionate. Arabella is curious and outgoing while Sophia is shy and sensitive to light and noise. We just could not get a picture of her incredible clear blue eyes.

Arabella - Queen of Everything

Arabella - Queen of Everything

Duchess Sophia - So Very Regal

Duchess Sophia - So Very Regal

Casual Friday - Not Just a Catch Phrase

Casual Friday - Not Just a Catch Phrase

    *A clever custom table design – easy to clean top and scratching post pedestal!

    We alternated between eating well, sorting, packing, and playing with crafts in a marathon two days that left both women and the cats totally worn out. We had dinner at our long time favorite Chinese restaurant and I cooked fettucine Alfredo the next evening using Tinkyada pasta and sauce from scratch. Lynn and I both follow a gluten-free diet and I brought Butterscotch Blondies and Sunshine Breakfast Loaf baked from recipes in Ricki’s cookbook. I promised Lynn a copy of Sweet Freedom as a housewarming gift when she moves into her new apartment next month.
    After sorting through items inside the house and outside in the barn I returned home with a trunk and back seat full of treasures to be re-sorted and donated to the local charity where I volunteer. It made it easier to part with these treasures knowing that they would find good homes and support a worthwhile cause all at the same time.
    While central Texas has been in severe record-breaking drought this area has had all of the rain that we needed and more as evidenced by the unusually lush plant growth.

Toadstools - a Bumper Crop

Toadstools - a Bumper Crop

    We took time for tea and beads. She crafted earrings for me; we both prefer tiny pierced earrings which are difficult to find. Make-them-yourself is a perfect solution for someone with artistic abilities (hers, not mine). We also made decorative beaded collars for Christmas tree ornaments. We concluded that when she begins to teach this as a class that the students should have kits for their first project. Picking out of bead colors, counting beads, and planning the sequences takes a LOT of time. It is a more effective use of time to learn the stringing technique and then graduate to planning your own design.

Mom

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Loving your Liver, Part II

It has been several weeks since my first post and I am down 16 pounds. Yes, I am excited but a number doesn’t tell the entire story. I am now eating a new way…something I knew was healthier but didn’t know quite how to get there. I live near DC which has made available incredible resources and information to restore my health, including classes with a whole foods chef and attending Meetups with a local whole foods advocate group. I have learned that eating gluten-free was only the beginning for me…that I still used GF foods to model the Standard American Diet (SAD) and I still was not getting healthy. I now eat whole and raw foods in a way consistent to my personal preferences, but have room to explore this new domain. I eat very plainly for now, since I am in transition, accomplishing healing in a two-prong approach: good food and good supplementation. I am taking whole food-based supplements that are nourishing specific organs, liver and adrenals, and allowing the body to naturally repair.

In my last post I mentioned Dr. Berg’s book, The 7 Principles of Fat Burning. I currently eat a hybrid between the Liver Enhancement and the Ovary Diet (my body type). I do this for premenopausal PMS symptoms, depression and fatigue. A little more protein at almost every meal helps to keep my blood sugar level on an even keel but since I am still healing, I keep the framework of the Liver Enhancement diet. It took a few weeks to figure this out but it is working great now. I now document the cycle day where I am in the month and if in the “PMS Zone”, Day 14 until start, I add protein (eggs and fish) and up the serving size of Liver Enhancement proteins (beans, lentils and fermented/cultured dairy, such as cottage cheese, raw milk cheddar and goat’s milk yogurt). If Day 1-14, then I follow the full Liver Enhancement diet, including the cranberry drink and the supporting supplements. Alternating these seems to work with my body’s physiology: I have reduced PMS symptoms, have almost nonexistent depression and have increasing energy plus I continue to lose weight. What more can I ask?

What is important for me to note is that I no longer am eating sugar, grains, starches or non-fermented dairy. Removal of these from my diet for optimal health has become quite clear. It wasn’t enough to be gluten-free…I had to find what worked best for my body. My taste has also changed and I enjoy the difference of the new foods. My recommendation is that even the best nutrition advice needs to be tested out and tweaked for performance on an individual basis. I did want to feel better and lose weight but I am gaining a perspective and a respect for myself and my body that only consistent, dedicated interest and effort can bring. I feel more hope and have more patience that I will have what I so keenly desire: peace of mind. It is very stressful to know that something is wrong or off and try things to help but with poor results. Keep looking for your best answer…there are people and resources out there to help.

Rita 🙂

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Sweet Freedom and Butterscotch Blondies

    Sweet Freedom arrived in the mail while we were on holiday. While I was un-packing, doing laundry and catching-up I was reading and contemplating what-to-bake-first. Ricki re-posted her Butterscotch Blondies recipe over the weekend and, yep, the aroma of cooling blondies is filling the house right this minute.
Some of the things I love about this book:
1) The recipe size is just right and doubling is easy if you need more
2) Simple ingredients are detailed with weights and measures pre-converted
4) Ingredients are listed in mixing order with very clear instructions
3) Layered flavors and textures tease the taste buds so that a smaller serving satisfies – yea!
5) Useful hints and warnings are included along the way
6) Every single recipe could find a place in my life
    My gluten-free conversions are not always a sure thing but these blondies came off without a hitch in spite of substitutions on top of flour conversion. I tried to use amaranth because it has so much to offer but its earthy background note just doesn’t work with sweets. Next time around sorghum will fill that spot and I’ll post the gluten free recipe.
    These Butterscotch Blondies will be the perfect introduction to Sweet Freedom for the local library staff. Sweet Freedom deserves to be on the library shelf as an inspiration for folks really working on their health – and for those who want to hold on to the good health they already enjoy!

Butterscotch Blondies Cooling on the Counter

Butterscotch Blondies Cooling on the Counter

Mom

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Gluten-Free in Branson, MO

    We spent the recent Holiday in Branson, MO. The last couple of years have taught us a great deal about getting me through a trip without becoming disabled by illness. These are the essential steps that we take – it’s all about planning ahead.
1) Bring safe food from home – traveling by car we bring a cooler.
2) Research restaurant menus on the internet along the planned trip route.
3) Choose accommodations that feature a refrigerator and microwave in the room.
4) Research and stop at major grocery stores along the way –
Wal-Mart Superstores dependably take care of the rural and remote areas.
5) Pack medications to alleviate symptoms just in case.
    We did all of the above and it worked out well. Only one restaurant was a bit tense about my refusing a salad that I had ordered with no croutons. The same salad was refused again after having the croutons scraped off and I explained that appearance was not the issue. Fortunately someone in the kitchen realized what was up and prepared me a lovely salad that was served with grace and apologies.
    There were two stellar restaurants during our stay. One is The Pasta House Co., a chain based in St. Louis with very few locations outside of Missouri. Not only is all of their food wonderful but they have gluten free pasta available – we had dinner there twice! Their house salad is so very good and they generously post the recipe on their web site, The Pasta House Co. Special Salad
    A more local restaurant, in adjacent Hollister, is at The Keeter Center in Dobyns Dining Room. The facility is part of the work/study program that is the cornerstone of the college’s programs and philosophy. There I enjoyed a delightful house salad with pear honey dressing topped with grilled chicken and a side of sweet potato fries. We toured the fruitcake and jelly kitchen and purchased some apple butter. There were fruitcake tasting samples which I regretfully passed up. A batch of fruitcakes had just come out of the oven and the whole building smelled of spice. We also toured the basket making and weaving facility. The students seem quite accustomed to tourists wandering through their campus and asking questions.
    We also made a planned stop at a Braum’s soda fountain, grill, and grocery store which features Don’s favorite ice cream of all time, their version of Cookies and Cream. Every now and then I wonder about how many grilled chicken salads I have eaten and how many other gluten sensitive folks default to that very same selection.
    That was the exciting culinary part of the trip. The ragweed was in full bloom and part of the time I consoled myself by making up a song about it to the tune of ‘Home on the Range’ on the return trip.
Mom

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Sweet Potatoes – Breakfast, Snack, and/or Dessert

     My younger daughter, Teresa, once commented that I had a sweet potato addiction. She may not have been wrong. Over the years I have definitely consumed my fair share and possibly more. But would you rather be enamored of donuts or a little treasure with a nutrient profile like this?
Kcal=100
Vitamin A=430%
Vitamin C=37%
Fiber=4 grams
Fat=0
Glycemic Index=10

    Sweet potato shopping can be disconcerting because there is seldom any consistency in size. In addition, depending on the growing season, there are considerable variances in moisture content. All of which make it difficult to calculate cooking times if you are baking, boiling or microwaving them whole and unpeeled which conserves more of their natural goodness.
    Do not allow yourself to become lulled into complacency by a series of relatively consistent sweet potatoes as I once was. One day the timer on the microwave went off and I opened the door to a mushroom cloud of black smoke. Anxiously peering through the gloom the sweet potato seemed to be OK – until it was discovered to be a featherweight, empty shell. Now that is scary food . . . . .
    One of my favorite, and of course, simplest ways to grab a sweet potato fix is to microwave one that has been thoroughly scrubbed and punctured about 6-8 times with a knife (let’s not even re-visit the exploding sweet potato dilemma). Place the sweet potato on a saucer or paper towels to catch the syrup that bubbles out while it is roasting. Begin to check status after 3-4 minutes depending on the size. When it is fully cooked it will be soft enough that it gives like a ripe avocado. It can take up to 6-8 minutes for one that is three inches wide – or more, depending on the heat generated by the particular microwave. Run the knife into it to double check. Remove it from the microwave once it is tender and allow it to steam for about five minutes while you round up your seasoning.

For those of us with the terrible-sweet-tooth syndrome these are my most favorite fixings:
Vanilla
Cinnamon
Sweetener

Breakfast, Snack and-or Dessert

Breakfast, Snack and-or Dessert

    Mash the sweet potato in its skin. Season with a few drops of vanilla (it makes it taste like you added marshmallows), a sprinkle of cinnamon, and your choice of sweetener. Add a cup of hot tea and slowly savor your healthy breakfast, snack, or dessert.
    I re-purpose small dropper bottles and fill them with various flavorings – it saves time and oops! And I keep cinnamon and allspice in old salt shakers for the same reason. They come in handy for jazzing up  small servings of tea or whatever.

Mom

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