Archives for: February 2005
I had two pieces of bread before dinner tonight. I cut the first slice and spread it with buttery spread just to see whether Sue and Ron's new bread recipe was as good as they said it was. I had no willpower. I cut a second slice.
Normally, when I fix something I think is delicious, I casually play it down. I have found that if I build my husband's expectations too high, he is disappointed. Tonight, however, as he walked into the kitchen, I said, "This is the best bread I've baked since I started the Blood Type Diet. He picked up a slice and took a bite as he reached for the next dish. His eyebrows went up, he smiled, and he reached back for a second slice.
Enough talk, you want Sue and Ron's recipe. Here it is.
1 cup warm water
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp Caraway seeds
2 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Â½ tsp salt
2 cups spelt flour
1 cup rye flour
1 Â½ tsp bread machine yeast.
Sue and Ron said that they made theirs in their bread machine on the sweet setting. I made mine on whole grain. Also I didn't have any caraway seeds. I sniffed around the kitchen and substituted 1 tsp of celery seed.
Long ago I blogged about making a buttery spread from ghee and light olive oil. It is in my archives and is called "Ghee that's good." It is delicious with this bread.
Sue highly suggested that I slice any leftover bread and freeze it to keep it from drying out. I did that right after dinner - partly because Sue recommended it and partly to keep away the temptation for a third slice.
Two completely unrelated events last night made me think of the Blood Type Diet.
Team Impact is a group of strong men. They are strong in two areas: they are body builders, and they are strong in their faith in Christ. They were at our church last night breaking blocks of concrete, bending steel rods, and talking about how Jesus has changed their lives.
One of them was telling how he got interested in body building. He said he was the smallest, skinniest kid in his class. He said he was "bones wrapped up with skin." He started out trying to do a few sit ups and push-ups because he wanted to look like a strong man. He worked hard building and strengthening his muscles. When he was 19 he won an Arkansas teen bodybuilding contest.
The thing that caught my attention was when he said it took years to get that first layer of muscle. I am very bony above the waist. I carry all my fat below my waist, and ironically I find it easy to build muscle in my legs. But my arms, neck, and shoulders are "bones wrapped in skin."
For a year and a half I have been trying to create some muscle in the upper part of my body. I can do a respectable number of knee push-ups for the first time in my life. I can't do a real push-up, but I'm getting closer. Now when I flex, I can see a tiny bit of muscle movement.
Hearing this strong man from Team Impact encouraged me. If it took a guy years of perseverance to build the first layer of muscle, I mustn't be impatient. My goal is not to be a body builder. I would just like to look nice in a v-neck sweater.
The second event that made me think of the BTD occurred on the way home from church. I had eaten my dinner early before we left for Team Impact. My husband and daughter took one car home to eat their dinner. I took the other car to the grocery store. As I shopped, I got hungrier and hungrier. I was thinking of all the things I could eat as a snack when I got home. At the same time I knew that I had already eaten plenty for the day, and that I it wouldn't be healthy to eat again at 10:00.
This became a real battle inside my head. I felt hungry, but I knew I didn't really need another meal. I wanted a snack (healthy of course), but eating late at night is not healthy and tends to add fat. I finally resolved not to eat, but to fix myself something good to drink. I fixed green tea with mint and added some vegetable glycerin and Â¼ teaspoon of glutamine powder (Dr. D'Adamo's recommendation for Type Os craving carbs).
It satisfied the hunger feelings. But the best part was not feeling sluggish when I woke this morning as I would have felt if I had given in to a late night spread.
My daughter left for school early this morning. I left for school after lunch. When school was out, I had a meeting, then she had practice, and then I had another meeting. We didn't leave the school until 8:15. She said, "I was at school more than 12 hours today. Maybe we should just pack our pillows and blankets and move in."
A day like this calls for good food and that calls for planning. For an after school snack I packed her a soy protein bar and some flavored water. For myself I packed a red raspberry spritzer.
For my daughter's dinner I packed pinto beans, rice, and turkey taco meat. For my dinner I packed lamb salad. It contained shredded carrots, romaine lettuce, fresh spinach, and sliced leg of lamb. I usually pour a generous amount of olive oil on my salad for dressing, but for lunch I had dipped okra in olive oil. Though olive oil is beneficial, there is a limit to how much oil is reasonable in one day. I mixed some of the lamb broth with a little olive oil. It made a nice dressing, moistening the carrots and adding a bit more lamb flavor.
We ate together in my classroom in between all the activities. I would much rather eat at home with the family around the dinner table. But when that is not an option the things I must avoid are:
Running out for expensive, unhealthy fast food
Grabbing snack food out of a vending machine to suppress hunger pains
Getting home hungry and trying to serve a hurried dinner late at night.
We're not serious about packing our pillows and blankets to school; but we are serious about packing good food.
I write excitedly about my successes in the kitchen. It is only fair to admit when I have a colossal failure. I found a recipe for quick and easy sourdough rye bread. It was all natural ingredients, and no wheat. It took two days to prepare the sourdough starter. Then I was ready to try the bread. It made the house smell wonderful while it was baking.
But it tasted terrible. The texture was doughy. It was not sweet enough, and it was way too sour. I don't think it's worth the time to improve the recipe. I drew a frowning face on that page in the cookbook to remind me not to use it again.
Besides, Sue H. and her husband have sent me a new spelt/rye recipe. She writes, "It's the first bread that has been light enough to use for sandwiches without toasting it. The problem is, of course, that one tends to eat too much of it!!" I can hardly wait to try it, and (of course) I will write my results in a blog.
What to do with the failure? The ingredients were all so Type A beneficial, that I hated to throw it away. I sliced in and put it on a cookie sheet. Right now it is in the oven on low heat drying out. I will convert it into breadcrumbs in my food processor. It should make a good coating for garlic chicken or oven fried fish.
Our bank made a mistake. Actually they made a mistake two years ago, which caused another mistake last year, which my husband caught today. It took all morning to get it straightened out.
In the moment of relief following the last phone call, I said, "No matter how much we want to trust these guys; no matter how much expertise they have; we are the ones who really care about our finances. In the end we're the ones who are responsible."
Then at almost the same moment we said, "It's like our health."
No matter how much you want to trust your health care providers; no matter how much expertise your doctor has; you are the one who really cares about your health. You have to take responsibility for yourself.
Sometimes the Blood Type Diet is challenging; sometimes it's hard, but I follow it because it is clearly working for me. It works better than the advice my doctor gives; it works better than the drugs the pharmaceutical companies sell, and it works better than any other nutritional program I have tried.
I don't want a world where another person or a company or (worst of all) the government seizes responsibility for my health. I'm the one who cares, and I show how much I care by what I choose to eat.
The stress of the morning left my shoulders tight and a knot in my stomach. After my husband went back to work, I mixed some concentrated cherry juice with club soda. Then because of the knot in my stomach I added a teaspoon of ginger juice. It tasted like cherry ginger ale - delicious.
I got several comments asking for the Spelt Bread by Sue H. That thread must have rotated off the forum.
Here is her recipe.
1 Â½ cups water
2 Tbsp soy milk
2 Tbsp oil
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Â½ tsp salt
4 Â½ cups light spelt flour
1 Â½ tsp Bread Machine Yeast (I used 2 tsp)
Place ingredients into the bread machine in this order. Bake on whole wheat setting. Makes a 2 lb. loaf.
Sue added this comment: This makes a nice light bread, but because there are no preservatives, if you aren't going to use it the day or day after it is made, I would suggest slicing it and freezing and then taking out a slice when you need it.
I made my batter into rolls, and froze the leftovers that same night.
Because club soda and seltzer water are beneficial for Type Os, I have enjoyed Knudsen Spritzers made with beneficial or neutral juices. Mango Fandango and Black Cherry are my favorites, but I don't indulge too often because they are a bit expensive.
Last week I looked for plain club soda. Most of the name brands had sweeteners or additives, but the cheap generic brand was just plain club soda. At home I mixed a glass of club soda with pineapple juice concentrate. It was delicious! The possibilities for beneficial drinks made from club soda and fruit juices are endless.
Friday night we had a friend over for dinner. I fixed salmon, broccoli, cardamom rice, romaine lettuce salad, and spelt rolls from the bread recipe that Sue H. posted on the Forum. My daughter made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for dessert. My husband loved the rolls. The flavor was great and they were lighter than any of the other wheat free yeast breads I've tried.
I wanted to serve a rice pilaf, so I started looking through my cookbooks. A recipe from the Herb Society of America caught my eye because it contained two Type A beneficials. It was attractive and it was delicious.
1 cup brown rice
Â½ tsp turmeric
Â½ tsp ground cardamom
2 Tbsp olive oil
Put all ingredients except the almonds in boiling water (follow package directions for the amount of water). Cook until done. Top with chopped almonds.
Saturday I took my "big sis" from college out to lunch to celebrate her birthday. She is a Type A, but isn't interested in the BTD. We met for lunch at 12:30, and I got back home at 5:00. Time just flies when we are talking.
We ate at a locally owned diner. I had never been there, but I selected it because I heard that they served fresh vegetables. I ordered a chopped steak with roasted onions plus spinach and butter beans. The butter beans were good. Everything else was outstanding. I wish I knew how they prepared their roasted onions. They were thoroughly cooked, but not limp, and very, very flavorful.
Today after church we ate at our favorite MSG free Chinese restaurant. I ordered beef and broccoli without sauce. The waitress rolled her eyes when I said no sauce. I'm sure she thinks I missed the best part of the meal. But I've learned the hard way that Chinese sauces are thickened with something (wheat or cornstarch perhaps) that will cause me to retain 3-4 pounds of water for several days. I'm happier with just plain beef, broccoli and rice.
There is so much variety and such good food on the Type O diet.
I've already written one recent blog about fat, and I was determined not to write about the same subject again so soon. But there's no escaping it - this is just a fat week!
For one thing I have been craving ghee. I have no idea why, but if I didn't rein myself in, I could eat ghee out of a bowl with a spoon. Knowing that there could be some underlying need for extra essential fatty acids, I've used more ghee and olive oil than I normally would. But as is typical with craving - a little more makes me want more and more and more.
Then there were some posts on the Forum lamenting that one day of eating avoids can lead a weight gain that lasts the rest of the week. I have occasionally experienced that. Since the weight goes away after 3-4 days of consistency on the BTD, it is clearly water weight and not fat. I know that intellectually, nonetheless when the scale is up and the clothes are snug - I feel fat!
On top of that, my Bible study has me in the book of Leviticus. These are difficult chapters to read with their incredibly detailed descriptions of Old Testament sacrifices. Usually when I read this part of the Bible, I'm looking for the big picture - the broad application that Jesus fulfilled those sacrificial requirements when he died on the cross.
This week all I can see is fat! For every sacrifice that is described there is instruction about what to do with the fat. The bottom line was - burn it, don't eat it. Parts of the meat were to be eaten by the person offering the sacrifice. Parts of the meat were to be given to the priests. But over and over it says burn the fat. Leviticus 3:17 says, "You shall eat neither fat nor blood." Leviticus 7:23 says, "You shall not eat any fat, of ox, or sheep, or goat."
In contrast, the same chapters speak highly of using oil in cooking. Cakes made with oil, wafers made with fine flour and oil, grain baked with oil - I'm getting hungry as I type!
How to conclude such a disjointed blog? The week has underscored some basic principles:
Your body needs essential fatty acids - do not be lured into a low fat diet
You do not need globs of animal fat. Choose lean meats and trim the fat.
Do not be terrified by a brief weight gain after indulging in avoids, the quicker you get back to beneficials and neutrals, the quicker your scale will return to normal.
There are certain themes that reoccur frequently in my blogs. Just for fun I started making a list, and I may post it sometime as a future blog.
On of the themes is that while I follow the BTD fairly closely, my family is much freer and looser with their compliance. They have seen noticeable benefits from changes I've made in the way I prepare their food, but they are not ready to give up all their favorite avoids. I do not want to push them so much that they rebel and reject the BTD.
This makes me a little more relaxed in the way that I shop for them. For instance, my daughter happily substituted protein bars for candy bars or packaged pastries. She carries them with her to sporting events and on field trips. She takes a bit of pride in the fact that she isn't eating junk food like her friends.
I don't worry about whether every ingredient in a protein bar is beneficial for Type As. As long as the first ingredient is soy or rice and the sweeteners are further down the list I know she's better off than she would be at a vending machine.
I have the same philosophy about veggie burgers. My husband and daughter gave up hamburgers easily and don't miss them at all. They both enjoy veggie burgers that have a hamburger-like texture and flavor. When I first started buying them, I checked the ingredient lists to be sure that they were primarily soy based. I knew to stay away from chickpea burgers.
Though I'm more relaxed when I shop for them, I was reminded again this week that I must stay diligent. I had received a coupon for a new brand of veggie burgers. Instead of being in the frozen foods, they were with the fresh refrigerated foods. They were bigger than most veggie burgers, and looked very appetizing. I put a package in my cart, but just before I walked away I remembered to check the ingredients. The first two were hydrolyzed wheat protein and whey.
These weren't veggie burgers! They were totally artificial! I don't remember which I did first wad up the coupon or put the burgers back on the shelf. It's a tricky balance - being relaxed enough that my family cooperates with the BTD, but diligent enough to keep harmful food off the table.
I think about a lot of things while I'm swimming. Today as I swam back and forth, I got to thinking about yesterday's dilemmas. I don't want to be an avoid extremist. By that I mean that I neither want to take avoids casually nor do I want to panic at the thought of an avoid.
Yesterday I gave avoids to my husband and kids for Valentine's Day because I knew they would like them. Today I found myself reviewing my decisions. Could I have done better?
If I had it to do again, I would still give my kids the Bible Verse candy. I so rarely buy candy, and this was such a cute idea. They know what I think about sugar. They made money when they were little selling me the candy they got at birthday parties and at school. I stored it in the freezer and handed it out at Halloween. I have watched them in situations where candy dishes are available. Both of them will take an occasional piece of candy, but neither of them has a sugar addiction. So I'm content with my decision on the candy.
I could have done better on the crab au gratin. There is a fish market where I can get monkfish, but I have to order it a week in advance. If I had planned, I could have substituted monkfish for the crab. That would have been beneficial for my husband. Since I knew I was giving him an avoid by giving him crab, I took shortcuts on the au gratin sauce and the breadcrumbs. If I had taken a little more time, I think I could have come up with a substitute for crab au gratin that would have tasted as good and been all beneficial or neutral.
A few weeks ago I wrote about making a green tea/lemonade combination for my family to drink. At the time I regretted that there was so much sugar in the lemonade. I got comments saying that several of you combine green tea with fruit juices. Since then we have had green tea with grape juice and green tea with pineapple/grapefruit juice. Both were very favorably received. I'm going to serve green tea with cherry/apple soon.
As I continue to live out the BTD lifestyle, and experiment with foods, I continually find ways that I can do better. Like Paul I'm "Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching for those things which are before, I press on toward the goal." (from Philippians 3:13 - 14).
For me, Valentine's Day is not a holiday linked with food. I became allergic to chocolate in the 2nd grade. I'm sure I got candy treats when I was young, but I have never associated Valentine's Day with big boxes of chocolate. My meals today were just like any other day (except that I didn't eat nuts because I had way to many walnuts and almonds Sunday afternoon).
However, I enabled my family drift away from the BTD for the day. I was in a bookstore a few weeks ago, and they had boxes of little Valentine hearts with Bible messages on them. Things like "God loves you," "Faith, hope, love," "Jesus cares," or "Trust and pray." They were so cute, and I knew they would make my kids smile. I mailed a box to my son and put a box on my daughter's breakfast placemat. Therein is the dilemma. By inserting a reminder of God's love into our Valentine holiday, I also inserted too much sugar!
My daughter babysat for a neighborhood family tonight. I was thinking of what I could fix for dinner that our daughter doesn't care for, but my husband really likes. One of his favorite meals is crab au gratin. It used to be common in restaurants, but it's not a popular menu item any more. He hasn't had it in years. Another dilemma: crab au gratin is a minefield of Type A avoids, but it would make him really happy. I fixed it and balanced it with a large salad. His eyes sparkled as he ate.
Two dilemmas - both times I opted to give happiness instead of health. I think there is a lot to be said for giving happiness, especially since I'll be serving plenty of beneficials tomorrow.
There's a little bit if child in all of us. If you don't believe it you should see my teenage daughter and my husband eat animal crackers.
My mom tells of making paste out of white flour and water when she was a girl. She and her sisters used it the same way we use glue and tape today, for art projects and sealing packages. There are some white flour foods that remind me of paste, and animal crackers are among them. My kids were fascinated by animal crackers when they were little, but whenever I would eat them them I felt like I had a mouth full of paste, so I rarely bought any.
I was at the health food store the other day, and saw among the cookies and crackers individual packages of Snackimals. Oatmeal-wheat free animal cookies, the package said. I glanced at the ingredients. Of the first three, two were beneficial for As.
They would be perfect for after school practices and sporting events. I bought a couple of packages. My daughter says they taste good, and she admits that it's still fun to see the animals. One day my husband was rummaging through the cabinet, and said, "You have animal crackers." He likes them too, especially the lions. So they are now often on my grocery list.
We were at an all day contest on Saturday. I packed snacks, fearing that there wouldn't be much healthy food available at the concession stand. (For the most part I was right, though they did have apples and bananas.) The first of my snacks to disappear were the animal crackers.
I have never eaten rack of lamb, but I've read complimentary posts about it on this website and I've heard it enthusiastically advertised by fancy restaurants. The other day I was browsing at the meat counter where I buy leg of lamb, and a rack of lamb caught my eye. Always on the lookout for something new, I picked it up.
I saw fatâ€¦and bonesâ€¦and more fat. I turned the package thinking there must be meat in there somewhere; but I couldn't see it. Here was a point of potential conflict between the BTD which rates lamb as beneficial for Type Os and other nutritional evidence that supports a lower fat diet.
I have the same difficulty when I look at highly marbled beef. I just can't believe that all that fat is good for me. I buy leaner roasts, like eye-of-round. I buy extra lean or super lean ground beef. I trim the fat off round steak and other cuts of beef before I cook them. The leg of lamb I buy is quite lean. The butcher probably trims it when he de-bones it.
I turned the rack of lamb over again. The urge for something new to eat was overruled by an instinct to stay away from so much fat.
At home I pulled Live Right for Your Type off the shelf to see if it dealt with high fat meats. There under Type O Meat and Poultry was this sentence, "Choose only the best quality, chemical- and pesticide-free low-fat meats." Good, there is no conflict after all. The BTD and dietitians agree that lean is better.
I suppose the only chance I will ever have to try rack of lamb is if someday I am at a fancy dinner and am given the choice of rack of lamb or pork tenderloin. Until then, I will keep to lean cuts of meat.
Yesterday my husband and I had something to celebrate, so we went out for a nice dinner, just the two of us. Outback Steakhouse is a remarkably Type O friendly place. It was in stark contrast to my birthday dinner last summer.
I cook roast, lamb, and chopped steak quite often. I fix London broil and round steak. But because we are a mixed blood type household I rarely grill top quality steak. It somehow doesn't seem right to buy an expensive cut of meat and eat it by myself at lunch. So, when my husband takes me out, I order steak!
Last summer I kept hearing great things about a popular steakhouse. The food was supposed to be fabulous and moderately priced. We went there for my birthday dinner. Three things raced through my mind when I opened my menu. Nothing was my idea of moderately priced. There was very little for my Type A husband to eat. A potato came with everything - and there were no substitutions.
We sat at our table uncomfortably sipping our water. My husband didn't want to be the first to say leave because it was my birthday. I didn't want to be the first to say leave because he was being sweet to bring me to such a nice place. Finally at the same moment we said, "Let's go." We drove to a seafood restaurant and had delicious fish with steamed vegetables. It was well prepared and well served. It was a lovely evening, even if it wasn't steak.
I got on the phone yesterday morning and started calling restaurants, cheerfully asking what substitutions were available for potatoes. When Outback Steakhouse said "sweet potatoes," I stopped calling. That was where we would go.
The salad was mostly iceburg lettuce, which was a little disappointing. But they had no trouble bringing me extra virgin olive oil instead of dressing. I had a nice steak with a delicious sweet potato. Broccoli or steamed mixed vegetables were other choices I could have substituted or the potato. My husband had a pasta dish with chicken and rye bread.
It was a good night to celebrate, and a very good steak.
When I read about ice storms, blizzards and sub-zero temperatures in other parts of the country, I am reluctant to complain about our weather. It has been chilly and damp for two weeks. We've had low clouds with rain or drizzle every day. It's not freezing cold, but the dampness makes me feel cold all the time.
I had to force myself to swim these past two weeks. I stood on the side of the pool putting my goggles on and asking myself, "Why am I doing this?" The water is the same temperature in the indoor pool as it is on a sunny day. But since I felt so cold already, the idea of jumping into the water was oppressive.
Of course once I got in and swam my warm up laps I felt great. Then I remembered why I was making myself swim. The exercise cleared my mind and energized me.
This morning I printed the February issue of our school paper. When I finished it wasn't raining, so I drove to my favorite park to run. I scrambled to the top of the hill and was hit in the face by a blast of cold, misty air. I shivered and again said, "Why am I doing this?"
I started running, avoiding the muddy spots on the trail. By the time I had run a half-mile I was feeling better, and I picked up my pace. Just before the one-mile mark, I broke a sweat. I had more energy with every step. When I reached the end of my route and climbed back to the top of the hill, the misty air no longer bothered me.
It sometimes takes an act of will to exercise. My Type O self is always glad when I force through my reluctance, my excuses, and my sluggishness. The feeling at the end of a workout is ample answer to the questions I sometimes ask at the beginning.
We have a friend at church who is having chemotherapy for a reoccurrence of melanoma. She will be hospitalized every other week. This week she is home. Families from church are taking dinner to her every night so that she can concentrate on getting rest and rebuilding her strength for the next round of chemo. Tonight is my night.
My husband visited her in the hospital last week and they got into a conversation about the Blood Type Diet. She and her middle school son are both Type O, and she was very curious about the concept.
My daughter and I have spent two days planning our menu. We want it to be beneficial and tasty. We don't want any avoids, but we don't want it to be so weird that it is a turn off.
Here is the plan: eye of round roast, fruit salad (strawberries, red grapes, grapefruit, pineapple), broccoli with olive oil, parsnips with maple syrup, kamut rolls, oatmeal cookies.
I will get the roast and the rolls cooking on timers before I leave for school. My daughter will bake cookies while I fix vegetables this afternoon.
If you are a praying person, ask God to intervene in this disease and bless Claudia.
Once in a while I get a glimpse of just how much my diet has changed since starting the BTD. Today my husband suggested going to a breakfast buffet after church. We used to do this every month or two. The kids loved the French toast sticks and bacon that I wouldn't buy for them at home. I loved hash browns; I never learned to make them as well as a restaurant does. I also liked the frozen strawberries with whipped cream. My husband always got grits because I rarely made them at home.
We haven't been to the buffet in a long time. When we arrived, my daughter took a look at the choices and realized that everything she liked was either starch or pork. She ordered a grilled chicken sandwich off the regular menu. The salad bar was open so I fixed myself a big salad. Potatoes are avoids, the strawberries are loaded with sugar, and the whipped cream is fake. I got a plate of eggs; everything else seemed to be avoid. My husband got all his old favorites, but his stomach is queasy tonight.
The defining moment came when I sat down with my two plates. My daughter said, "You're not cheating at all, are you?" "No, I'm not," I answered. "Good for you, she replied." The best part was that I really didn't even want to.
My personal Bible study this year is written by John MacArthur, and today's lesson was on the Ten Commandments. MacArthur makes an interesting statement, "People make a serious error when they speak about breaking the Ten Commandments. History amply displays the fact that people persist in breaking themselves on the Ten Commandments. They represent God's absolute and unchanging standard."
As I thought about it, I realized how true that statement was about natural laws as well. A frequent theme among us bloggers, and among contributors on the Forum is how we feel when we eat avoids. We are breaking ourselves on physiological laws.
If I eat pizza, do I hurt Dr. D'Adamo? No.
Do I hurt the rules and principles of the BTD? No
Do I change the way my body is made or how it reacts to food? No.
I don't break the rules, I break myself on the rules.
On a lighter note, I made the best turnip greens I've ever made. When I make ghee I make it in a spreadable form that I call my buttery spread. If you missed that blog, it's in the archives under "Ghee that's good." I made a new batch of ghee this week. Before I add the oil, I strain off the salt and milk solids.
I never knew what to do with what I've strained off. The salt is neutral, as are the milk solids. I only strain them because they are unsightly in my spread. And there's a substantial amount of tasty ghee mixed in. At the same time I was making the ghee, I was cooking turnip greens. So impulsively I dumped the strainer into the turnip greens.
Oh man, it was delicious. I had to stop myself from eating a third helping. I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day. It was as good to me the second day as it was the first. I have not tried this on my family yet - they sneer at turnip greens. But, next time I will see if I can coax them into trying a tiny taste.
My funniest and most frustrating MSG moments have been in restaurants.
There was the time we were on vacation in Maryland and our waiter didn't know what MSG was. He went to get the manager. The manager charged up to the table and said, "Who can't have MSG." We pointed at our son. The manager smiled and said, "My mom can't have MSG. If she gets it she can't breathe and we have to rush her to the hospital. You can eat anything you want in my restaurant - there's no MSG here."
Another time on vacation we had waited 20 minutes for a table. A slouchy teenager came to take our order. We asked about MSG. He didn't know what it was. We asked to speak to the manager. He said he was the manager. We sighed and walked out.
Once we explained the problem to a restaurant manager who was not familiar with MSG. He took me back in the kitchen and let me read labels to make sure that what we were ordering was MSG free.
Then there was the waiter who said, "It's in everything we serve." I knew that was impossible. He insisted that sodium was in everything. Clearly he was only hearing part of "monosodium glutamate," but we could not communicate.
Appleby's is wonderfully oriented to food sensitive people. Ask their wait staff about any menu item. They go to a computer and print out a list of ingredients.
We ate lunch at a restaurant I had thoroughly checked. That afternoon our son was sick. I called the manager, "OK what have you changed on your menu?" He insisted they had changed nothing. He said tell me everything your son ate. I began to list what he had ordered including the condiment bar where he added lettuce, tomato and cheese sauce. The manager stopped me - they had a new brand of cheese sauce and sure enough, MSG was in the ingredients.
As I said yesterday we have been dealing with this problem for 12 years. When we started only a few waiters were informed about MSG. Today, almost all of the chain restaurants train their wait staff about food sensitivities. Very rarely do we find a manager who does not know what foods contain MSG. We haven't left a restaurant because of MSG in years. They are all eager to please.
Many restaurants are eliminating MSG from their food. There are two Chinese restaurants where we live that are now MSG free. I was nervous at first, but our son has ordered many things and has never had a twinge of headache. Red Lobster used to use MSG in their seafood seasoning. They had enough customer complaints that they changed to a new recipe that is MSG free.
When I look at the webb site that is mentioned in the MSG thread on the Forum. I find a lot of good information. Most useful is a list of other food additives that contain MSG-like chemicals. The problem I have with the webb site is its conspiracy-like attitude. They seem to believe that food manufacturers and restaurants are out to trick you and hurt you on purpose.
In my experience, 12 years ago there was a lot of ignorance about MSG, but manufacturers and stores and restaurants tried to be helpful. Today people in the food industry are much better informed and many are eliminating MSG altogether.
When my son was a senior, our family visited several college campuses. One of my concerns was MSG in the dining hall. At two major universities, the servers had no clue about MSG. The managers however were well informed. They said, "Just have your son come see us when he comes into the dining room, and we will tell him what he can't have that day." My son pictured the embarrassment of going into the dining hall with new friends and having to check in with a food services manager before he could get his food. He was not happy.
We visited Texas Tech for a big recruiting event. We really liked what we saw that morning in our meetings. At lunchtime, the dining hall was crowded, so I sat down at a table while my husband and son went to get food. A few minutes later our son was back grinning from ear to ear. "Come and see this," he said. On the serving line the ingredients were posted above each food item. I wouldn't say that he chose the location for his higher education, because of the food, but God used that little incident to reconfirm that this university was indeed a good match.
I have been following a thread on the Forum about MSG. I started to post several times, but decided to blog about the subject instead. I have 12 years of experience with MSG. There was some useful information on the website, that started the thread. However some of the information on that site is out of date and some is unnecessarily alarmist.
When my son was in second grade he began to have severe headaches followed by vomiting. This was really scary. I couldn't help but think of things like brain tumors. But in between these episodes he was so healthy and normal. At first I treated it as a virus, but he never ran fever. After he vomited he would take a nap and wake up hungry and ready to play. I began to be more observant trying to see what might trigger the episodes. Most of them came on Sunday afternoons.
One Sunday night he was supposed to receive an award at church, but he was so violently ill that afternoon that he could not go. The next day I took him to the doctor. When the doctor heard that we had eaten Chinese food for lunch on Sunday, he said, "Go home and check the food in your house for MSG. I think that may be the problem."
That was the first I had heard of MSG, but I immediately began researching. This was in 1992 and we didn't have Internet. I spent a lot of time looking through magazine articles and books. I often read statements like the ones on the before mentioned web site that said food companies were hiding MSG in food and intentionally mislabeling products to sneak it in. This made me really angry, so I wrote an forceful letter saying that my son had a serious reaction to MSG and that if they could not give me a straight answer to whether MSG was in their food, I would immediately cease to be a customer. I sent copies of that letter to every restaurant we frequented and the company behind every packaged food that I bought.
With one exception I found the food companies to be extremely helpful. Naturally companies that used MSG defended it, but I found no deliberate deception. Many companies were very accommodating to people with food sensitivities. Some sent brochures showing which products contained MSG and other food additives. Some sent detailed lists of the contents of their spice and natural flavoring ingredients. Butterball would not divulge their ingredients, and I stopped buying their products. This was 12 years ago, hopefully they have changed their policy since then, but they lost me as a customer.
This blog is long enough. Tomorrow I'll share what I have learned about MSG in restaurants and watching labels for artificial ingredients that contain MSG as a byproduct.
If you are eating simple beneficial food prepared at home you don't have to worry about MSG. Just another advantage to following the BTD.