Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I gave up Diet Coke and sugar free gelatin

I eat healthy food - with one exception.  I love Diet Coke.  Once I gave it up for six years, only to fall back into my bad habit during the first few months of going low carb.  My doctor, who was supervising my journey into a ketogenic diet to control the effects of bi-polar disorder, pointed out that I couldn't expect myself to be totally without sin in my diet; if Diet Coke helped me to stay the course, then drink a few.

A few?  I know not the meaning of that phrase.  First it was one each market day while I closed out the register.  That meant four a week in the summer, three a week in the winter.  Skip to current consumption, four years later.  I was up to a case (24, not 12) most weeks.  If I was being good, maybe I could get an extra couple of days out of the case.

My friends chided me about it.  They pointed out that it was "poison."  My reaction was to think they needed to butt out - and I would pop open another can.

The other day I saw a list of signs of aspartame poisoning.  I had at least one symptom in EVERY category on that list. Click this link for a list of symptoms of aspartame poisoning.  The worst of it was my body pain.  I blamed it on arthritis, although in a family full of arthritis, I had seemed to be the one who was spared until recently.  I began taking Celebrex and got some relief, also from the bursitis in my hips.  But then I found that I was having to add Tylenol For Arthritis to the mix once a day, then twice a day, and finally getting up in the night because the pain was so severe, to take a third dose, the max allowed in a 24-hour period.

After reading the list of aspartame poisoning symptoms, I poured the remains of a Coke down the drain.  I could no longer deny it - I was poisoning my body, and it's the only one I've got!  The few that were left in the fridge went into an out-of-reach space in a cupboard.  I need them there.  That seems to work better for me than completely purging them from the house.  Maybe later, but not yet.

So how am I feeling?  The pain got better almost immediately.  But it was still there, and I always hobbled for a few steps when getting out of bed, or after a few minutes in my computer chair.  This morning, I got out of bed and started walking gingerly towards the bathroom, and then realized "no hobbling necessary."  Wow!

Okay, so I am confounding this by also beginning yin yoga (See more about yin yoga here.) But there is no way that two days of yin yoga could be responsible for this new freedom of movement.  In fact, I was able to get considerably deeper into my poses this morning and did not have to come out of them due to pain.

I am thankful for friends who nagged me.  They cared more about me than I was caring about myself.  Thanks to all who scolded.  It was a measure of love, not judgment.  :)

Update to my blog - a new mistake about to happen

I am clarifying the first paragraph only on my previous blog, based on information of which I just became aware when perusing the net for information on fat intake and health.  I spoke of Ancel Keys's chicanery in presenting data that led many to believe that eating saturated fat would lead to heart disease.

First, here is the link to the Raw Foods SOS blog (written by Denise Minger) that dealt with Keys, if you care to plow through a lot of data. The truth about Ancel Keys.  I swallowed the current conventional wisdom that Ancel Keys was mistaken in saying there was a correlation between fat consumption and heart disease.  HOWEVER . . .   If you take the time to read through this well-written blog, you will see that in fact there was a correlation between the two.  But remember that correlation is not causation.  And the blogger goes on to rip apart the methodology, including the data collection, concluding that we do not have to become vegans to be healthy, and in fact should not look to such a diet to improve health.   

What the author showed when combing through this data is that it focused only certain types of heart disease in looking for correlation.  When mortality rates were used (which to my mind is a pretty good way to measure overall health), in fact, those who ate more fat could expect to live LONGER.  Again, remember that correlation is not causation.  The author points out that countries whose population eat a lot of fat in general are more wealthy -- which means better healthcare, better food in general -- and so confounds any conclusions on the matter.

Enough said.  My apologies for not doing the diligence that the the writer of Raw Foods SOS did.  I appreciate her work.  Check out this blog!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The new mistake about to happen . . .

Dolly and Smarty Pants
When Ancel Keys (wrongly, history has proven) stated that fat was our major dietary health problem, the world listened and changed the way they ate.  Alas, it led to MORE disease, not less.  It is very sad that his very own data disproved his hypothesis and yet his conclusion was to eat less fat, especially saturated fat.  And so we got Snackwell cookies and the like, products that touted "heart health" by replacing fat with sugar.  Let's look at Keys's own data.  First, be aware that he started with 22 countries, and simply tossed out the data from any country that messed up his trend line.  (Browse "Seven Country Study" and check it out.) So by "scientific" chicanery, he used data from only six countries that fit his neat little line.  Still he ignored the data surrounding those remaining six data points!  Japan, Italy, Great Britain, Australia, Canada and the US were the remaining six countries.  Of those six countries, some of them showed improved heart health as they ate MORE fat.  The US of course wasn't one of them.  Since the only food that correlated neatly with chronic heart disease (CHD) was SUGAR across all 22 countries, perhaps it was the fact that in the US, the population was getting much of their fat in sweets.  You don't see Finland or France on that list.  They eat their fat on their meat and fish, and had their data been included, they would have produced embarrassing outliers!

So we are living with the results of that flawed study, but the trend does seem to be shifting away from low fat, and definitely encouraging fewer carbohydrates.  Mainstream medicine acknowledges that insulin resistance underlies almost all of our Western diseases.  Sugar / carbohydrates contribute to insulin resistance and in fact saturated fat's bad rap is diminishing, although I still cringe when I hear of a recipe re-do that removes the fat to make it "healthier."  Bottom line is that the very information we were following for so many decades was actually harming us, not helping us.

There seems to be a new trend towards vegetarian diets.  Such a diet may work for some, but not for all.  In fact, the majority of people will do better with at least some meat in their diets, and people with neurological disorders such as clinical depression, autism, anxiety, mood swings, diabetic neuropathy and epilepsy would do well to consider a ketogenic diet, or at least one leaning that way.  A ketogenic diet is very high in fat, very low in carbohydrates, and includes meat.  Follow this link for more on that.  Use of ketogenic diets in treatment of neurological diseases.

I was a vegetarian for around 15 years.  My health suffered.  When I lost my second tooth, I started reading something besides The Vegetarian Times.  I read Life without bread on a trip to England, was pretty sure I had discovered my problem - a vegetarian diet is pretty carbohydrate loaded - got off the plane and had bacon and eggs (no toast) for breakfast and never looked back.  No more dental problems, mood swings tempered, weight lost, blood pressure reduced.

Well, the latest guilt trip being laid on us omnivores is that we are contributing to global warming by eating meat.  It is time to rethink the problem before we make another mistake with even more consequences on our health and our planet.  While I commend people for searching for healthier lifestyles, if you don't want to be a vegetarian to save the planet, you don't have to. Eat meat without guilt, but not factory farmed meat. That goes for the vegetables too. Support small local farmers who use mulch instead of the plow, use animal manure instead of chemical fertilizers and don't plow up thousands of acres for GMO soy and corn.  The vegetarian who is pointing her finger at me because I kill animals to live is more than likely eating vegetables and grain from factory farms.  Factory farm wheat and spinach and tomatoes should not go unnoticed.  Three of her four fingers are pointing back at her. 

I am very, very tired indeed of listening to people 1) rail against cow farts, 2) claim that animals drink so much water that would better go to thirsty humans, and 3) suggest something so extreme as eating up the existing animals since they are already here, and then NO MORE ANIMALS.  Do not allow them to breed, make them go extinct, they have nothing to offer!  Oh, my, Dorothy, we aren't in Kansas anymore!!!

Let me address these three points here.

1.  Cow farts.  First, grass-fed cows offset their flatulence by increasing carbon sequestration through plowing up the soil with their hooves, urinating and defecating.  In fact, it is a net gain.  Factory farm animals don't even get the chance to go outside and do what should come naturally to them.  Second, plowing ground for the vegetarian's beloved bread, tofu and spinach produces more CO2 than cow farts.  I don't hear anyone screaming that we should quit plowing, the first step in raising wheat and corn and soy beans.  Or maybe we should fill in all of our wetlands, which produce plenty of CO2.  Read this for more on that:  It's about halfway down the article.  Flatulent cows vs. plowed fields

2.  Yes, animals drink water.  I have seen figures on how many tons of water a cow drinks before it is butchered for meat.  Have you seen any of these massive several-ton cows?  I haven't either.  They urinate! What goes in is water, what comes out is fertilizer.  Same with the grass and hay.  A pastured cow requires one acre to live and produces enough fertilizer for three acres.  Such a deal! 

3.  I am sad to hear when an animal goes extinct.  Most thoughtful people would agree with me.  And yet I hear from well-meaning people that we should EXTINGUISH meat animals!  Just get rid of them because they are destroying the earth.  I am not even going to write the obvious next step. 

Here we are on the cusp of making another serious mistake.  Instead of pointing the finger at the omnivores, examine the reason you don't like it.  If I have it right, it is because you believe that eating meat contributes to CO2 in the atmosphere, which in turn leads to global warming, and therefore people of good conscience should give up meat.  Just like Ancel Keys believed the problem with heart health was saturated fat, he couldn't give up that hypothesis even when his own data did not support it.  And now, those who believe that eating meat is wrong need to go back a step and remember why, to check out their hypothesis, which I understand to be that if we remove animals from our food chain the earth will limp along fit for human life a bit longer.

Factory farming of spinach, corn, beans and tomatoes is just as pernicious as factory farming of animals.  We must stay focused on the real problem - the mass production of food at any cost and our reluctance in the US to pay a fair price for good food that pays a living wage to the farmers and those who work the land.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I hate to buy furniture.  Most of what I have are hand-me-downs, stuff I inherited from my mom and dad, my grandmother's music cabinet, my great grandmother's Limoges China (well-worn, no value except to me).  Thirty years ago, I bought a sofa, have hated it for 30 years.   Prior to that, I bought a hide-a-bed, which was my bed and my living room furniture.  That was in 1968.  I have recovered it four times, most recently when I moved, and it has passed the test of time.  Comfortable, too.  It resides in the spare bedroom upstairs, which serves as a guest room when I have stay-over company.  (How is it that I can move 15 times, but not be able to bring new furniture into my life?  I guess I just have a thing about new furniture.)

I purchased a slip cover to cover the sofa in my living room, but I don't know why.  It is akin to pouring perfume on a pig.  On top of hating how it looks, it is uncomfortable to sit on, although you could have fooled my son and grandson on Thanksgiving Day.

Jim and Joe

While deciding whether to open the box with the slipcover, I actually hit the furniture store yesterday.  Not only did I find a sofa I liked, I got a new coffee table, two end tables, and a corner unit just so I could show off some beautiful urns that had a place of honor at the farm, but that now sit on the floor in a corner, hidden from view.  They deserve better.  I took off my shoes in the store and lay down on the sofa to make sure I could watch TV while supine and have plenty of room to cuddle with Ayn Chee.

Ayn Chee

Furniture is to be delivered on Wednesday.  Hopefully it will not go back on Thursday.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Preparing for Yule . . .

We will be celebrating Yule here at the new house.  Our fire will be down by the river.  How lovely that will be!  Our city doesn't object to outdoor fires so long as they are recreational, so we will be providing sticks with marshmallows.  I'm sure the Sun God won't mind!  They will make a good appetizer, before we trudge back to the house for our potluck.  I'm making a ham from one of the Berkshire hogs I raised on the farm.  They are so huge that I never roasted one - too much just for me.  I will be happy to share with the group.  Looks like there will be about 15 or 20, plenty to take care of that ham.

My grandmother always made Lebkuchen for Christmas, and I have her recipe.  I can only imagine the expense involved, with all of the spices.  My mother's family was not rich, so I'm sure making the cookies for Yule put a crimp in the food budget, but they were a "must."   My mom taught me the finer points of making them.  

My daughter Valerie always said she didn't like them, but while she and I and my granddaughter Abby made cookies this week, Valerie and Abby were both dipping into the Lebkuchen.  Ah, yes, that German blood came to the fore!!
When I went out on the internet to look for pictures, I'm thinking that mine are as pretty as any out there! Here is a picture of my version.  My mom's were cut a bit different.  They were oblongs, not diamond shaped like mine are.  But we must all put our own twist on our holiday traditions, right?  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cleaning up - the hard part of making cookies

I made Lebkuchen tonight, a wonderful German cookie that my mom taught me to make.  I inherited her cookbooks, and the Lebkuchen recipe has her handwriting all over it.

The smell of these honey spice cakes is so lovely, and so evocative of Christmases past for me.  I follow a low carb diet, so I make these for family members, for the church raffle, and to sell at my booth at the market.  But the smell is carb-free, so I am enjoying them very much.

I allow myself one cookie on Christmas morning, dunked in coffee, of course.  There is no other way to eat Lebkuchen.  And they are best if they are allowed to age a couple of weeks.  They will be prime on December 25!

But alas, they are MESSY cookies to make, and now it is time to clean up the kitchen.

Sifter for powdered sugar glaze

Sink is full . . .

Ugh!  The dough is really sticky, so this will be fun to get clean.

Finished product

As soon as glaze is dry, the last cookies will go in the box.  Yum!!

Monday, December 8, 2014

The soap room is done. Hurrah!

The soap room is FINALLY done.  The contractor promised the construction end of things would be done by August 1.  Then I could have moved things a bit at a time, bringing stuff from the farm each day I came in for market.  Good plan, bad execution.  He didn't even begin to execute the plan until I was moved in.  But it is all behind me now.

I am quitting for the day, just need to take a little time off, but tomorrow morning I can hit the ground running - everything in place, all labeled.  At the farm, things were strung out all over - in the barn, in the spare bedroom, in the furnace room, in the family room, and in what I called the soap room, but it was only a small portion of it.

So here it is.  I'm sure with use I am going to move things around, but for now, everything has been unpacked, and every drawer and door has been labeled so I don't lose track of things.  I am really looking forward to working in this area, and it will be nice to have the office right around the corner for making labels and placing orders.

There are still some big boxes of lotion jars, but I have enough moved to totes in the soap room so that getting to them is a twice a year exercise. The rest are hiding behind a screen.

Here are the pics.

Hutch from Salvation Army put to good use!

Need a little room for cleaning supplies, the rest are lotion containers.

Work area.  Raw material behind doors and under sink, plus some jars.

Finished soap, bulk ingredients, production records and more.

Old buffet top holds enough molds for a batch of soap.  :)

Bread rack works great for curing soap.  One batch just fits on one tray.

Big, BIG boxes from barn hiding behind the screen.