I read an article the other day with a headline that screamed something like “Supplements cause Kidney Failure.” I can’t remember where I read it, probably either Drudge or Google News. I am suspicious of news reports like these, because I have watched for years as the FDA has looked for an opportunity to seize control of the vitamin and herb market. Any time I see such an article, I suspect it has been placed to influence public opinion in the government’s favor, and I suspect that it is based on excessive greed of supplement companies.
I read the article, and I was right on both counts. There are several documented cases of people using weight loss supplement concoctions that have resulted in kidney damage. This particular report focused on an extremely obese teenager, who is now on dialysis. The article pointed out that the supplement the teenager had taken was not required to have FDA approval. It also talked about supplements designed to change hormone balance, which can also have serious side effects.
I didn’t save the article, not intending to bore you with my strong opinions on the subject, but this morning I open my email, and there was a newsletter, bragging about - - you guessed it - - another weight loss supplement, guaranteed to work.
Aside from wanting the supplement market to remain free and unencumbered by prescriptions, my attitude about this subject is influenced by the one time that I fell victim to it. Long ago, in the early 80s, I was checking out at my favorite health food store, when I saw a poster. It showed pictures of extreme body types, and said that by taking a glandular supplement you could change your hormone balance and change your body type. I did not like my pear shaped body, and I bought the supplement.
It did change my hormones, but not the way I had hoped. My periods stopped. I was terrified, and went to my doctor. He laughed at me and gave me several reasons why glandular supplements wouldn’t work. He was not convinced by my personal experience. I threw away the rest of the bottle, and a few weeks later my cycle returned to normal. But the experience caused me to accept my body as being the way God had made me. While I keep in shape, I no longer try to alter my body type.
If you are overweight, my advice is exercise more, eat less, and focus on beneficials rather than avoids. Do not fall victim to marketers who are paid big bucks to detach you from your money.
If you wish your libido were like it was when you were younger, my advice is to exercise more, lose some weight, and be kind to your spouse. The last is particularly important, and more effective, in my opinion, than any amount of supplement or prescription medication.
I want to have free commerce of vitamins and herbs. I want supplement companies to have lots of motivation to do research and find out more about how our bodies work. I want no government interference in this part of the economy.
However, I also wish that supplement companies would do a better job of policing themselves. There is plenty of profit to be made from giving our health a little boost in a natural way. I cringe when they rush to market a blend calculated to appeal to the compulsion to be thin and sexy. And I cringe doubly when those blends cause someone serious harm.
This week I had a photo shoot at a senior living facility. They brought in two speakers from a group called Brainstorm Mind Fitness to talk with residents about brain health. It is a five week class. I was asked to take pictures during session two for a local newspaper. It was a fascinating seminar. I wish I could go back and hear all of the sessions.
They identified five lifestyle areas that impact brain fitness:
Brain healthy nutrition
Management of stress and depression
I’ll share two things I learned.
In their work with the elderly, they find that it is hard to motivate many of them to adopt an aggressive 30 minute or hour exercise program. Some are overweight. Some have disabilities. Some are used to being sedentary. Some deal with pain. In the seminar, they quoted research that said three to four exercise sessions during the day of just 10 minutes is just as valuable to brain health as one long exercise program.
This ties in with a personal conviction that I have not disciplined myself to put into practice. I usually exercise in the morning with a friend. We work out for about an hour. Then I come home and often spend most of the rest of the day at the computer. Quite often I sense my body saying - "get out of the chair, move around." All too often I respond “In a minute” and a minute turns into another hour of computer work.
I know my knees and my shoulders get stiff with so much sitting, but that hasn’t been enough motivation to change my behavior. Perhaps knowing that my brain would benefit from 10 minute exercise breaks will get me out of the chair for a few sit-ups or leg lifts.
The Brainstorm presenters had several nutritional supplements on display.
One of the presenters and I began talking about Vitamin B12. She was adamant that B12 be taken in a sublingual form. She prefers drops, but said a tablet of lozenge was ok. She said to look at my bottle. The B12 that starts with methyl is the better form. I got home and checked my bottle. Rats, I have the form that starts with “C”. I’m not going to toss this out, but the next time I order, I’ll get the more beneficial form.
The only product they recommended that I disagreed with was coconut oil. I’m still not convinced that a highly saturated fat, containing few EFAs, is good for me. When Dr. D changes his mind about coconut oil, I’ll change mine.
The book club came to my house last week for our January meeting. I knew that after Christmas, none of the ladies were going to want to eat desserts or party food. Some people put on a few pounds at Christmas and are eager to take them off. Some people resolve to shed unwanted pounds in the New Year. No one wants to overindulge in January.
I went on Pinterest looking for cute, healthy, winter snack ideas. I made little snowmen out of mozzarella cheese. There was a cute picture of little winter characters made by cutting strawberries in half and filling them with white stuff. I used whipped cream, which tasted good, but collapsed too quickly. One of my friends suggested cream cheese - that would hold up better, but would still be avoid for me. Perhaps a stiff meringue would work. I know I will make both of these fun winter snacks when BC is a toddler.
I baked gluten free ginger bread with black strap molasses. It was very spicy, which some of the ladies liked, but others did not.
The biggest hit of all was roasted vegetables. I made three pans, and there was hardly enough left for my husband to have some for lunch. I roasted carrots, green beans, and zucchini. I also roasted acorn squash in ghee and maple syrup. I peeled the squash and cut it into strips. I put enough ghee and maple syrup in a baking dish to coat the bottom, added the squash strips, and rolled them so they were coated. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Most of the ladies like coffee, so I made a pot of coffee. But what to fix on a cold day for ladies, like me, who don’t drink coffee?
Every year at Christmas the town of New Braunfels has Wassailfest. It is within driving distance from our Hill Country home, so we have gone several years. Local shops compete to see who has the best Wassail. I have found that I am very opinionated about the flavor of wassail. I do not like it when it is made with orange juice. Another popular ingredient is Tang. That tastes terrible to me, and if the first sip has a hint of Tang, into the trash it goes. I like my wassail spicy, but I don’t like finding ground cinnamon at the bottom of my cup.
I didn’t set out to make Wassail for the book club. I bought frozen 100% cranberry apple juice and was going to serve it warm. When I mixed up the juice and looked at how much was in the pan, I worried that I didn’t have enough. On impulse, I put in a can of frozen pineapple juice plus the recommended amount of water. Also on impulse I tossed in 6 cloves.
As the ladies served themselves, I heard comments like “Oh, wassail!” “This is really good.” “Best wassail I’ve ever tasted." I tasted some for myself. It really was good. I wish I could enter my accidental recipe in next year’s Wassailfest.
My nephew, his wife, and their three daughters came to visit for New Years. They live a very busy, high stress, fast paced, urban life. They didn’t want to go anywhere or do any excursions. They just wanted to hang out in our living room. Walking to the mailbox a half mile away was a treat to the littlest great niece. Deer running cross the yard was the only thing that motivated everyone to jump out of their chairs. The baby bunnies, who have stayed completely hidden since I nearly ran over them with the lawn mower in November, made a cameo appearance. It was a wonderfully relaxing three days for us as well as them.
Our niece (Type A) talked about how her favorite fast dinner was roasted vegetables. I’ve eaten roasted vegetables in restaurants and they are delicious. I’ve looked into roasting vegetables at home, but it seemed complicated and time consuming.
Yesterday for lunch I put two big turkey tenders, one cup of millet, a can of MSG free chicken broth (plus enough water to make 1 ¾ cups) and 1 tsp of poultry seasoning in a covered casserole dish and put it in the oven. It was done in about an hour.
Then I asked her to fix roasted veggies her way while I watched. Oh my! It was fast. It was easy. It was delicious.
She sprayed two big cookie sheets with cooking spray. She sliced baby carrots in half, cut an acorn squash into cubes, and chopped up some broccoli. I got whole frozen green beans out of the freezer. She put the carrots and squash on the cookie sheet, sprayed the top of them with more cooking spray, and sprinkled them very lightly with salt. Into the oven they went at 400 degrees.
After 15 minutes we added the green beans and broccoli to the cookie sheet. Again she sprayed the top of the vegetables with cooking spray and sprinkled a little salt. In 15 minutes they were all done.
HH loved them. This will definitely become part of our regular menu.
I have only used cooking spray for baking, so I buy the neutral, less expensive canola. She uses EVOO cooking spray for roasted vegetables. It’s now on my grocery list.
We were going to have Cod and Quinoa for lunch. I opened the Tupperware container where I keep my rice and the measuring cup that goes with the rice cooker. There was a weevil in the cup. Oh no!
I look around in the rice and see two more of the little critters. I put the top back on the Tupperware and put it in the freezer. I washed out the cup, checked the quinoa for weevils (weevil-free thankfully) and started it cooking.
There were two more sealed bags of rice that had been bought about the same time. I pulled them off the shelf. Both were filled with healthy, active, hungry weevils. This was getting gross. Put both of those bags in the freezer - it’s the quickest way that I know of to kill the little pests. I began taking things off the shelf where the rice was stored. I saw several loose weevils, so I wiped down the shelf with an antibiotic wipe. I did not find weevils in any of the grain except the rice. Just to be safe, I put all grain and legumes in the freezer.
This all made me remember a story a missionary told me several years ago. She was working in Western Europe. They had a wonderful modern lifestyle, but their church planting work was hard. Most people were not interested in God or spiritual things. It was an affluent time, and the people were happy to enjoy life. One day some colleagues who served in Africa came to spend a few days on their vacation. My friend and her colleague went to the grocery store together. The colleague began to cry.
She said, “You have no idea how fortunate you are to have a grocery store. I go to an open air market every morning and buy food for the day. Then I spend the next few hours picking the rocks and bugs out of the rice and the beans.”
Later, they were talking about their ministries. My friend and her husband told about how easy it was to become discouraged in Europe. But the colleague and her husband’s eyes lit up when they talked about their church. The people in their African city were eager to know about God. Because of their poverty, they longed for the hope of a better world, and they responded to the message that God cared about them.
Later today I will pick through the rice in the Tupperware and pick out the weevils. I’ll rinse the rice before I cook it. The two unopened packages will be returned to the grocery store for a refund.
I find myself wondering how weevils get into and out of sealed packages? And how in the world do they get inside Tupperware containers?
Our lunch was delicious. The quinoa cooked perfectly in the rice cooker. I seasoned the Cod with one of Mrs. Dash’s salt free blends. I also ate left over black beans with collard greens. HH had Cole Slaw and grapes.