Archives for: July 2004
Ok, we can stop with the rain dance. At least for now.
We have had so much rain, we even had a flash flood in our neighborhood, not uncommon here but not an everyday occurrence either. My son and I went down to the creek a couple blocks away to see what it looked like with real water flowing through. Not a smart thing to be near a stream during a flood but it sure was amazing!
About a week ago we had had 8 inches of rain in 30 days and we have had more since. In 2002, the yearly total of rain was only 8 inches. Climatically, the weather pattern has shifted to such a degree as to put a permanent end to the drought. However, it will still take years to fully recover.
And now the plants in my yard are drowning. Bushes, and even small trees have adapted to drought conditions to an extent that they cannot handle all the rain.
If there is one thing you can say about Colorado weather, it is: dramatic. One of my earliest memories here is how bright the sun is, the deep azure blue of the sky, and the clouds often seem so close to the ground; like you could just reach up and touch them. And the intensity of the weather always amazes me. Cracks of thunder that reverberate in your sternum, flooding so sudden like a faucet turning on and then off a few minutes later, blizzards whipping up out of nowhere, sun so blazing hot - forget about frying an egg on the sidewalk, you could fry one in the sun on your arm! And the wind storms... now those are the worst.
Not a place for the timid of heart.
Weather has always affected me. For good or ill. I never knew I had Seasonal Affective Disorder until I was in graduate school walking down the street in Boulder, CO in January when I suddenly realized that it was the middle of winter and I was not depressed. I looked around me and saw that even though it had snowed the night before, the sun was shining brightly in that beautiful blue sky, the Flatirons were draped in soft capes of snow; how could anyone feel depressed here? Back in Michigan, winter meant endless days of cold, drab weather. In college, I spent a winter afternoon literally searching for color: I was determined to find some color in all that gray, I NEEDED to find some color in all that gray.
And it all came together for me on that street corner in Boulder.
As did the realization that my dream of moving to Seattle was not a good fit...
With this dramatic shift in weather we have now, I also notice shifts happening inside myself. I’ve been feeling out of sorts lately, not quite sick, but certainly not like myself either. I seem to have lost my balance and don’t quite know where my ground is anymore, a most distressing experience for any B.
Standing on slippery rock.
Then yesterday, I was stung by a B, a yellow jacket really. How painful! And part of a much larger story that I will save you from for now. But I think the experience was quite apropos in a lesson/gift from the universe sort of way.
I’ll bee sure to savor the meaning.
That is the name of a bakery here that is gluten-free: no wheat, rye, spelt, barley, or oats in their products.
The owners of the bakery, Pam and Rick Hasty, opened the bakery about two years ago. After their daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease, they spent several years creating and perfecting recipes for baked goods sans gluten. The bakery is the result of all their hard work. But we’re the ones who really get to benefit.
I don’t know about you but I sure miss having fresh bread that is BTD friendly, or at least mostly friendly. They use many types of grains in their breads such as amaranth, quinoa, millet, teff, tapioca, sorghum, flax seed meal, potato flour, etc. but the primary ingredient in almost every recipe is brown and/or white rice flour. And this bread is anything but dry and crumbly - so moist I can hardly believe it!
The bread choices keep growing too. Just today I picked up some Jalapeño/Cheddar bread. There is also Cinnamon, Cinnamon Raisin, Rice/Garfava, a whole line of Montina breads - a new flour based on an old grain, Indian wheat grass.
But that’s not all. They also carry crackers, croutons, hotdog and hamburger buns, cakes, cookies, pies, muffins, focaccia...all gluten free. My favorite are the cheddar crackers - made from rice flour and almost completely B BTD friendly, except for the xanthan gum, one of the last ingredients.
But you can’t buy their products in any of the large health food stores in town, they only sell to small, owner-operated stores, one of the many, many reasons to shop at locally owned markets. You can find things there, especially fresh things, that you can’t get elsewhere. Local businesses tend to do business with other local businesses. It’s a good thing.
So seek out and patronize the local businesses in your area that cater to healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Get to know the owners and let them know what you are looking for in food choices. You never know, they might create a recipe just for you.
After an energizing breakfast of turkey sausage and granola with yogurt and fresh pear, I was eager to hit the trail before it got too hot. I opted to hike in the cañon, on a trail that is mostly shaded forest before switchbacking up a steep slope. Dragging my sons along with me, we got to the trail by..oops..midmorning. Unfortunately, Colorado is already blazing hot by then. Ah, well, we decided to brave the heat.
And boy I am glad we did. The trail follows a creek for quite a ways before rising sharply above it. We have had several inches of rain in the past few weeks and the creek was a-roaring with water; there are many large boulders that weren’t even visible there was so much water and also signs that the creek had overflowed its banks recently. Just two years ago this creek was mostly bone dry and only a trickle of water in spots. I am mesmerized by the sound of rushing water over rocks, I could sit on the bank of a mountain stream for hours and be lost in the sound and beauty of it all...
Hitting the switchbacks and the boys needed much prodding to continue, but they soon caught their second wind and were running! up the slope. I tire easily climbing in the hot sun and the trail had many washouts from the recent rain which made for treacherous going in spots. But, oh, the views of the cañon were magnificent. I just can’t describe how beautiful it is in here. My youngest son heard a description of a hiker talking about the experience of mountain hiking as feeling physically worn but rejuvenated in spirit, somewhat like a meditation, and my son said, “That’s what hiking feels like to me.” Me too. If it was just for the exercise, I probably would choose something less aerobically intense.
The mountains are my sanctuary.
Toward the top of the slope, just when we feel overheated and want to turn back, we round a corner and, surprise, there is a waterfall cascading off a huge rock face. The waterfall has never been there before, a special treat from the recent rain. We quickly climb to the top and reach the source of the waterfall, usually a small trickle of a spring, now flowing with water. We rest for a few moments and hear thunder quite close by. Not wise to remain on a cliff face with lightning nearby. We descend without incident before the rain hits, having time to wade a little in the creek before heading home.
Physically worn but rejuvenated in spirit... my kind of church.
When I started the Blood Type Diet, I was thrilled to learn that I could still eat eggplant, beneficial, even, for secretors. But my favorite eggplant recipe was eggplant parmesan and I almost always prepared eggplant that way. I hadn’t much luck in using eggplant without tomato sauce, in stir fries and such. That is until I remembered this little gem of a recipe that I had found in a book years ago, a book about the making of maple syrup, of all things.
The recipe is called Eggplant Szechwan, and everyone who has tasted it just loves it! I always get asked for the recipe, so I will share it with you. First, start with two medium or one large sized eggplant. Although the classic egg shaped jewel-toned eggplant looks pretty sitting in my vegetable drawer, the best for eating (I think) are the cream colored ones or the long thin Japanese eggplants, use more eggplants when cooking with these types as they tend to be smaller. Peel the eggplant(s) and cut into julienne strips. Place the cut eggplant in a colander, and sprinkle about two teaspoons of salt over the eggplant and let sit for about half an hour to 45 minutes, with a plate underneath the colander to catch the juice. This leaches out the bitterness of the eggplant. Rinse the salt off the eggplant and drain on paper towels.
Heat up a skillet to not quite medium heat and sauté the eggplant in olive oil, just enough so the eggplant will not stick to the pan, about 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Remember that eggplant will absorb all oil when sautéed so go easy on the oil to avoid greasy eggplant. Remove the eggplant to a bowl. Next, sauté in a little bit of olive oil a tablespoon of minced garlic and a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger root. Add one quarter to one third cup vegetable broth (I often just use water with a little Herbamare or other herb salt), 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1 tablespoon tamari, a dash or more of cayenne pepper to make a sweet/sour sauce, and adjust to taste. Then add 3-6 chopped scallions and simmer a couple minutes. Next, add the sautéed eggplant and continue to simmer until the eggplant has absorbed most of the sauce. Remove eggplant from heat, place in a bowl and pour about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar over the top. Sooo delicious!! Can be eaten warm or cold.
Pridefest was today and a friend asked my family if we would march in the Gay Pride parade as part of PFLAG (parents and friends of lesbians and gays). I had never marched in a parade before, and it was quite fun. About 12,000 people attended Pridefest and only 2 protesters demonstrating, so quite the success for this cowtown. I even got to sing on stage as part of an impromptu chorus - great fun!
I ran into a friend there who also hikes and has begun “bagging fourteeners” as it is unfortunately called and hearing her process, struggles, and triumphs with it was quite inspiring and hopeful. She is helping some other friends train for peak climbing and asked if I would like to join them. Of course I said yes. She claims to be a slow hiker and gets altitude sickness when climbing fourteeners (peaks over 14,000 feet. In a blog last week I said there were about 30 peaks in Colorado over 14,000 feet, there are actually 55...) but she likes the mental challenge of it. I’ll keep you posted on my progress...
Chicken, corn, tomatoes, peanuts, buckwheat, lentils, sesame seeds.
The BIG avoids for all Type B’s, with the exception of tomatoes being neutral for non-secretors.
Chicken, corn, tomatoes, peanuts, buckwheat, lentils, sesame seeds.
I don’t know about you, but I have reactions to almost all of them.
Chicken - I had given up chicken even before I read ER4YT because I had heard through the health network grapevine that chicken was bad for people with Type B blood. Many, many years ago, I had bloodwork done through a naturopath and since my protein levels read in the very low range, she suggested that I increase my consumption of meats, especially chicken. So I did. I was vegetarian at the time, and the increase in protein helped but the chicken just did not feel right. So giving up chicken was a piece of cake.
Corn - Ahh...corn... of The Big 7, corn is the most difficult for me to let go of completely. And it is the one that I have the biggest reaction to. My blood sugar swings dramatically with corn, especially if I have it two days in a row. I know I will feel the effects when I eat corn but sometimes the temptation is just too great. And corn is in almost everything! Cornmeal, corn flour, corn starch, corn syrup, corn oil... Corn also has a high rate of rancidity. Once corn is ground, it has a shelf life of about a week. So that slightly bitter taste in corn products is corn gone bad. I didn’t realize this fully until I made corn bread from freshly ground corn several years ago and marveled at the difference in taste. That alone is enough of a reason to avoid corn products.
Tomatoes - I grew up eating lot’s of tomatoes, especially fresh from the garden. We sometimes ate tomatoes like you would an apple. And always stewed tomatoes that my mother canned for dinner in the winter. As a teenager, I suffered from terrible eczema on my hands and as an adult, on my face. It wasn’t until I gave up tomatoes that my eczema cleared up completely...and then I made the connection. Even today, if I have a meal heavy on the tomatoes, the eczema begins to reappear on my face. I realized early on that what I really miss about tomatoes is the color. So I substitute other red vegetables in recipes calling for tomatoes, red pepper works quite well, and add vegetable broth to make up for the juice the tomato provides.
Peanuts - Peanuts are another food item that I had already given up prior to converting to BTD, using almond butter instead. It has been so long since I ate peanut butter that I decided to try a spoonful the other day. It just sat there stuck to the roof of my mouth, my mouth didn’t know what to do with it and my body refused to swallow the foreign substance. Smart body. I spit it out. Peanuts are another of those food items that are in sooo many products. Please, DO read those food labels!!
Buckwheat - My former favorite pancake recipe in the whole wide world was Buckwheat Banana Buttermilk pancakes...they were sooo good! And I always felt crappy after I ate them and could not figure out why. Now I know. Buckwheat is one of those grains that messes with my blood sugar levels - spike and plummet. Also, I gave up soba noodles, one of my favorite pastas as well. But I do feel much more balanced and energetic when my blood sugar is stabilized so it is worth it.
Lentils - I also ate alot of lentils prior to converting to the BTD, especially in the years I was vegetarian. I ate lentils several times a week, in soups, stews, and as a quick “complete protein” complement with whole grains. I suffered from so much fatigue during those vegetarian years, due, in a large part to all those legumes I was consuming in the name of health. I still notice a drop in energy in the rare times that I eat lentils, and I make sure that my next several meals are 100% beneficial to counter their effects.
Sesame seeds - I do not miss having sesame seeds in my diet with a few exceptions, like gomasio or using tahini in sauces. I have found sesame seeds quite difficult to avoid, though. They seem to be in everything! One of those foods that most manufacturers think are healthy for everyone, I guess.
So, there you have it.
Chicken, corn, tomatoes, peanuts, buckwheat, lentils, sesame seeds.
The Big 7.
Do yourself a favor and avoid them whenever possible. And when you can’t, notice what effects they have on your health, through your energy levels, sleep, digestion, etc. Paying attention to their effects will help in avoiding them in the future. And so does telling someone about it.
Thanks for reading.
A quiet day at last...
Finally, with a good night’s sleep under my belt, I awoke ready to face the day. Sleep is essential for me to be at my best, and when I haven’t slept well in a few nights, it really wears on me during the day.
Made Norwegian pancakes served with fresh organic blueberries (a special treat) and strawberries - yumm! for me and the boys to break fast with.
Then out to the yard for a bit of weed pullin’. It rained quite a bit while we were gone-yea! but that also brings vegetation in unwanted places-boo! So the fam spent the day getting at least a portion of the yard under control. It wasn’t so daunting with all of us pitching in.
Lunch was turkey hot dogs sans bun, organic cherries and rice crackers. The Man and I made pizza for dinner. We use the dough recipe from Cook Right but we make it with all whole spelt flour instead of half white spelt, half whole spelt. We top our pizza with basil pesto, which we buy by the case and keep in the freezer and then thaw for when we need it. I don’t like to freeze many foods but pesto deteriorates rapidly in the refrigerator. On top of the pesto went chopped onion, steamed veggies - carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, summer squash...and olives, my biggest nemesis- more on that later. Everyone likes mozzarella cheese so we added that too. I also marinated some beef fajita meat (skirt steak) in a BT friendly teriyaki sauce for the carnivores, well, omnivores. A very satisfying meal I must say.
I do need to eat snacks during the day and today I had a couple pieces of delicious rice cinnamon rice bread spread with organic cream cheese, tamari almonds with dried cranberries, rice crackers, and frozen pineapple. I have resorted to frozen organic pineapple because the fresh ones are almost always rotten in the center.
While I am rattling on about my food choices, let me just say that I cannot overestimate the value of keeping a daily food log. The days that I actually write down what I eat makes a huge difference in what I choose to eat. I guess it ‘keeps me honest’. If I know I have to be accountable for my choices, food that makes it into my mouth is most often consciously chosen. It really does make me think,” Now, do I really need this corn chip or is there a better choice right now?” I know it is a commitment to keep a daily log, and I do not do it every day, but I am amazed at how compliant I am when I do.
My first hike upon returning home from vacation was with my friend the mountain goat. She is getting in shape for leading some day hikes in a nearby mountain town. We went on a trail that I have often heard about but never tried. It is rated fairly easy since it doesn’t have much elevation gain, but I found it quite difficult. I have since taken my family there and they thought it difficult as well. We have hiked trails rated moderate to difficult that we found quite easy. Go figure. This trail has some beautiful over looks on unspoiled redrock formations that are breathtaking. It also has a side trail that climbs to an ‘intermittent waterfall’. I thought all water in Colorado was intermittent, but this waterfall was indeed magical. It was set back in a small canyon, and was a small trickle of a stream that spread across the surface of a huge rock face about a couple stories high covered with green moss, a rarity here in the Southwest. The waterfall reminded me of those desktop Zen water fountains where the water flows over a a slab of sandstone. Very peaceful and relaxing.
One of my (very) long-term goals is to get in shape enough over the next few years to join the Fourteener’s Club, a hiking club that hikes the Peaks in Colorado over 14,000 feet. There are about 26 mountains here over 14,000 feet, most of them accessible to the summit by trail. It is a big dream for me, but it is something I always wanted to do.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs. I truly appreciate all the questions and positive comments I have received.
Yes, we all survived our journey through America’s Heartland...just. It was quite an experience, four very long days of being on the road. And we had car problems the entire way which doesn’t make for a relaxing road trip. But, thankfully, no major mishaps. I had visions of being stranded in an Iowan corn field, but that was not to be.
Being back in Michigan, the land where I was bred, born, and raised was an odd experience. Most of my family lives in Michigan and always has. When our relatives arrived here from the Netherlands a couple generations back, they all, on both sides of the family, stepped off the boat and took up residence in MI. My parents still live in the old farmhouse that my father grew up in, that my grandfather helped to build. You would think I would feel some sense of connection to the place, some sort of ancestral tie to that area.
But I don’t.
And I never have. As a young adult, all I wanted was to get out of there. And I never really understood my longing to be elsewhere. It wasn’t that I was trying to escape a tragic childhood or upbringing. Michigan really is a beautiful state with nice, friendly people living in it. Maybe it’s a B thing, but for some reason, I feel no connection to the place I am from.
Except for that Lake.
There is something about Lake Michigan that touches me like no other place on Earth. It is magical to me, more so than any ocean I have been to. I do feel a connection to that Lake that I can’t explain. So it was quite wondrous to spend time there at the cottage. Due to an infestation of zebra mussels, the Lake was the cleanest I have seen it in about 15 years; and although that is not the best for the eco-system there, it made for enjoyable swimming. The sunsets over the Lake were stupendous...and the mosquitoes were quite numerous. They didn’t bother me much but the A’s in the family really suffered. My sons really did go fishing and my oldest caught a beautiful Coho salmon, about five pounds that found it’s way on the grill that night. What a luxury to eat freshly caught fish...
I was able to successfully navigate my way through the maze of chicken, corn, and tomatoes that are always in abundance at my family’s meals, which meant I ate beef at most meals, and some turkey. The only downfall was not being able to find pesto in the grocery store so I did have my brother’s famous tomato sauce on spaghetti (spelt and rice). I was able to drink raspberry leaf tea every morning which helps my stomach accept food easier when away from home. And it was difficult to stay away from wheat. Wheat doesn’t bother me too much if I eat it occasionally, but when I am having wheat every day I really notice my energy level dropping and I begin to feel sluggish and foggy. It is somewhere between a neutral and avoid for me so I avoid it when I can. We did make the mistake of not going to the health food store before heading back home and so we didn’t have any good bene’s for the return loop. We stopped in Omaha for the night and found a few organic fruits and veggies at the grocery store which was a pleasant find on the road.
All in all, it was nice to spend time with my parents, my brothers and their families, but is also great to be back home breathing the thin air again.