Archives for: August 2004
Maybe its the recent chill in the evening air, or the distinct yellowness in the leaves, but the other day I found myself thinking about...Thanksgiving. And Thanksgiving always makes me think about one of my favorite deserts, pumpkin pie.
Pumpkin...that beautiful rounded and oh so orange vegetable that heralds everything Autumn. And Thanksgiving and Pumpkin Pie - the two just go together, don’t they? I think it must be hard-wired in to the American psyche.
When I first started the BTD several years ago, I just ignored avoiding some of the avoids for me, like pumpkin and cinnamon, which I didn’t use frequently or in large amounts. But now, getting shall we say, a bit long in the tooth and feeling the stirrings of my menopausal journey beginning, my dance with compliance (and it is quite the pas de deux for me) is taking a new turn.
Since pumpkin is beneficial or neutral for everyone EXCEPT Type B secretors, which I think is highly unfair, by the way, I realized the time had come to make some substitutions in the time-honored tradition of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. I have a recipe from “Laurel’s Kitchen Caring” that substitutes winter squash for the pumpkin and since I’m at it, I decide to throw the baby out with the bath water and make the pie sans cinnamon. Here’s what I used for ingredients:
2 cups cooked butternut squash, mashed
scant 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
freshly ground nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon
1 can evaporated milk
Mix all together (I blend by hand first, and then in blender until smooth and custardy) and pour into unbaked spelt pie crust. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes and then lower temperature to 350ºF and continue baking for another 45 minutes.
Results?? Quite splendid, if I do say so myself. The texture is a little softer than pumpkin pie so I will add another egg next time. I have noticed, and I know it’s not just my imagination, that eggs have been getting smaller, so I usually increase the egg in recipes. Also, I was a little heavy handed on the ginger; trying to mask the absence of cinnamon, I think, but still sweetly aromatic without the cinnamon. Not the same as pumpkin pie but certainly an acceptable replacement.
My role as mother/cook is calling as I have another favorite simmering on the stove, Turkey Rice Soup, that I am making from some fab turkey thighs that were available at the local natural food store. I’ll post that recipe sometime if anyone is interested...
Out of all the suggestions for a healthy, exuberant lifestyle based on BTD principles, the one that has brought the most satisfaction, well being, and balance! to my life has been following the exercise recommendations for my blood type. And although I do strength-training and yoga weekly, my passion, as many of you know who read my blogs, is for hiking.
I feel very blessed to live in a region where there are a plethora of amazing hiking trails accessible to the public for free. All trails are rated based primarily on elevation gain and steepness of grade: easy, moderate, and difficult, and even sections of trails are given a rating so you can choose the intensity of your hike. Hiking can be enjoyed alone or with others, clearly half of the hikers I see are solitary and anyone can hike, children through octogenarians. Don’t let the trend toward fancy, expensive hiking gear stop you, just a pair of sneakers and a water bottle will do. So if you relish time spent out-of-doors, find a nature preserve near you and enjoy the Great Outdoors.
This summer I spent quite a lot of time hiking with my sons. Although I enjoy the time I spend hiking with my women friends, there are many unique experiences to hiking with boys.
They have their own matchless pace on the trail, a slow walk tempered with frequent bursts of running. My youngest son (A) likes to be in front leading, unless hiking up a steep incline, then he drags behind amidst lots of complaining. The oldest (O) climbs up large rocks and then jumps off them several feet high onto the trail. Sometimes, I just can’t look and stifle a many “Be Careful!!!”. He never seems to weary.
They also like to rename things in typical boy fashion. Without them I would have missed the pleasures of Horse Poop Trail and Toilet Seat Rock (Gee, I guess it really does look like a toilet seat!).
I also did much more rock scrambling with them in tow than I would otherwise; great strengthening workout for all muscle groups and joint stabilizers.
They tolerate, and dare I say enjoy, Mom’s frequent exclamations to pause and notice the natural world: “Just look at the beautiful hue of blue in that flower”, or “ did you ever see such grace in the form of a rock?” I think they do.
On our last hike together before the start of the school year, the boys expressed a desire to continue hiking on the weekends - on both days even! I have made a conscious effort to share with them my love of the natural world, how are very humanity is dependent on its survival, and by protecting the soul of the land we are indeed saving ourselves.
If this is all they ever learn from me, it is enough.
Last weekend, I began to feel the dregs of summertime cooking. Tired of fresh, but simply prepared meals, I decided to make a couple of quiches for dinner. My sons requested a quiche with bacon in it, and since I use spelt flour for the pastry (spelt flour makes a flaky, tender crust, by the way) and omit the cream, I acquiesced on the bacon. The other quiche was broccoli with lots of freshly minced garlic.
A few hours later, having eaten both types of quiche, I began to feel the familiar pangs of indigestion. I was taken aback - I had never experienced any type of discomfort with bacon before, and hadn’t consumed any other avoids in my meal. Several digestive enzyme tablets later, I pieced together the puzzle; it wasn’t the bacon after all. No, it was the garlic.
The last several years, I have been noticing in the back of my mind that I am developing an intolerance for garlic, particularly fresh garlic. I say ‘back of my mind’ because I don’t want to admit this is true. I use fresh garlic as a flavoring in many prepared dishes and also medicinally for respiratory infections, among other things. One of my favorite beverages for congestion is what my naturopath calls a “hot toddy” - juice of half a lemon, one clove freshly minced garlic, a pinch of cayenne pepper, all in a mug of boiling hot water and sweetened to taste with honey. So warming! So healing! So not to be anymore! I’ve been in denial for quite some time but now I need to come clean: I can no longer eat garlic as freely as I’d like.
So, what is it in garlic that I react to? Now that is a good question. I wish I had an answer for you... and me!
Not one of my herbals, and I have several, mention any type of reaction or toxicity associated with garlic. Not one. Hmmm... They do expound freely on the glories of garlic, however, and all its many healing properties. A search on the web yielded similar results. And yet, in all the websites devoted to indigestion or GERD, garlic was at the top of the list as a causative for indigestion. Am I missing something here?
I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say its the allicin that is “created” in garlic that gives rise to digestive ailments. Garlic contains a sulfur-based compound called allin and an enzyme called allicinase. When a clove of garlic is cut, the allin comes into contact with allicinase and makes allicin, a pungent compound responsible for garlic’s odor and lovely bite. This is why and an uncut bulb or clove has no smell. The interesting part is that the amount of allicin produced is directly dependent on the amount of cutting the clove has received - sliced garlic has the least, minced garlic the most. This also affects the flavor; slicing garlic produces a mild flavor since only a small amount of allicin is produced, mincing provides more allicin and thus, more flavor. Heat breaks down the enzyme allicinase which is why roasted garlic has such a different and mild flavor.
Now you know more about the chemical properties of garlic than I bet you ever dreamed you would! I have noticed that the longer garlic is cooked, the less pain and bloating I experience. This of course translates into less flavor, less medicinal properties, etc.
I have decided long ago that it is always best to listen well to the messages my body sends, and this case is no exception.
And so, Dear Garlic, I bid thee adieu and fare thee well...
An uncharacteristic cold snap has brought a few days of rainy, gloomy, and chilly weather. As the temperatures plummeted, so did my health and mood; and not necessarily in that order.
I really dislike that “off” feeling, you know, not quite sick but definitely not well either. You know your body is working something through: glands swollen, scratchy throat, digestive disturbances, lethargy...but not quite sick enough to spend time in bed. Just an all around blah feeling with nothing to do but wait for it to pass.
So I’ve been drinking ginger tea, spending time indoors reading, practicing stillness...
Perhaps my body is just letting me know it needs some down time.
I have been keeping up with the Olympic coverage and I agree with Linda Wells that the women gymnasts bodies look unnatural. In fact, I think the whole sport of women’s gymnastics has lost its beauty, elegance and grace in the name of strength and power. The gymnasts have difficulty even executing a simple pirouette! But, remember, this commentary is coming from the heart of a dancer so I naturally miss the dance elements.
Even though I enjoy watching people excel in sports, and many deserved kudos to our Olympic athletes and Lance Armstrong among others, what I want to know is this:
Is there anyone out there who can beat Ken Jennings???
I can’t wait to find out.
I recently realized that it has been quite some time, years actually, since I studied the beneficial food lists for B secretors. I know the avoids quite well, thank you very much, but hadn’t thought much about emphasizing the beneficials, let alone the 70/30 ratio of bene’s to neutrals that is considered optimum. So, I got out my dog-eared copy of Live Right to review the beneficial listings and test to see if any of my usual foods were actually beneficial. And I prepared myself to fail miserably.
Surprise!! Not only were most of my favorite foods in the beneficial category, almost ALL of the foods I consume on a regular basis are beneficial. I hadn’t realized that. Then I reviewed: of the beneficials, which ones don’t I eat. Hmmm...some interesting findings here...
Of the beneficial fruits and vegetables, the only ones I never eat are collard greens and papaya; I don’t know how to cook collard greens and I just don’t like papaya. All the others are regulars with the exception of shitake mushrooms, mustard greens which I love but aren’t often available, cabbage, which I use on occasion... and beets.
Now beets are an interesting story. I enjoy beets quite a bit but I live with a family of males whose urine turns red after eating beets. Every time I prepare beets for a meal, I tell the menfolk, “Now remember, if your pee is red in the next day or two, it is from the beets".
They never remember.
After several times of frantic-looking faces in the day following beet consumption, and constant reminders, “You had beets for dinner last night... remember?”, I’ve decided it’s just not worth the stress.
The only oil I buy is olive oil and I use it for all baking, cooking...everything. I thought I wouldn’t like the distinctive olive taste in baked goods, but it isn’t noticeable.
Grains, beans, and nuts: I eat all of the beneficials; I even eat black walnuts when my father brings me a bag he has gathered, although this is admittedly a rare occurrence.
Dairy: I do have difficulty with goat’s milk and goat cheese; I think it is an acquired taste and I am making numerous attempts to acquire it... All the others are high on my list except farmer’s cheese, paneer (what’s that?), and kefir. Now, I don’t know why I stopped buying kefir. I really do like it. When my boys were toddlers, I put kefir in juice bar molds and froze for delicious yogurt pops...sounds good, doesn’t it? I just might have to take that up again.
Now we come to meat and fish... The only beneficial meat I eat is lamb. And of the plethora of beneficial fish, I eat salmon, halibut, and sardines, and sometimes cod, sole and mahimahi. I can take amnesty in my lack of fish consumption, living far from the ocean there just isn’t much fresh fish for sale, and the fish that is available has not seen the water in several days. But I really do feel the need to experiment more with beneficial meat, like rabbit and venison... particularly after my last blog on the glory of protein.
Well, there you have it. I sure learned something. Without thinking about it, the BTD has become a way of life, structuring my choices from backstage. I remember making small choices along the way... learning how to substitute spelt for wheat in recipes, figuring out what vegetables my type A husband and I CAN eat together and emphasizing those in meals, eating oats or millet for breakfast instead of boxed cereals, ground turkey for beef... but I don’t remember when it coalesced into a whole.
So, if you are struggling with making BTD changes to your lifestyle...Take Heart! It’s the small changes that add up over the long haul. And perhaps some day, you too, will realize that the BTD has become a way of life without much effort.
That is my name for this end of summer time of year; when the shadows begin to lengthen, the light from the sun softens, birds have stopped singing so exuberantly in the early mornings, leaves are just now becoming flushed with tinted yellow on their edges... I remember an interview with beloved children’s author, Tasha Tudor, a few years back. She lives, writes, and gardens on a secluded piece of property in the woodlands of New England. The interviewer asked her what is the first sign that heralds the end of summer where she lives. Tasha thought for a moment and responded, “The song of the crickets begins to shorten.”
I envy her. I thought then, and still do now, how marvelous it must be to live so closely tuned to the natural world.
I try to savor this shifting of the shadows season; it passes by so quickly.
And on its heels comes ”back to busy-ness” for me.
My children return to school this week, work is gearing up with promoting our new season, many performances to attend, functions to schmooze at, endless networking, grants to write, meetings, meetings, and more meetings... all of which challenge my compliance with this blood type diet I have chosen to embrace in my life. Remember... it is always a choice.
I have found, and perhaps you have too, that I am able to resist tempting avoids when my protein needs are adequately met. I need protein. Good, high quality protein. My body sings when I have enough protein. And I need protein frequently, not large amounts, but at least at every meal and one or two protein snacks during the day. On the rare occasion that I find myself needing protein with no ”good” protein available, I eat what I can get. Yes, even chicken. My bodily needs for protein outweigh my desire to be compliant. But I do make every attempt to ensure that this is indeed a rare occurrence.
So, I am going to take time now to make sure I have available fast, easy, and portable sources of protein. My favorites are tamari roasted almonds, small containers of yogurt, usually vanilla or lemon flavors, the sugary fruit-at-the-bottom ones are too sweet for me and the sugar seems to nullify the boost from the protein, and cans of sardines packed in olive oil - even though I like the brisling variety, the skinless and boneless type is kinder to the breath which the general public will thank you for.
And I will be sure to relish this favorite season of mine. Maybe, if I attend closely enough, I’ll hear the change in the cricket’s song.
I had to drop off some artwork for work at a graphic artist in Manitou Springs this morning, which is just a mile or so from the Barr Trail trailhead. Barr Trail is the trail that ascends Pikes Peak. It has been almost 15 years since I hiked on this trail, but since I was in the area, I decided to give it a whirl.
So, after a high protein breakfast of two turkey sausage patties, yogurt with fresh peaches and 1/4 cup ground golden flax seed, a piece of Ezekiel toast spread with all time favorite Four Fruit Conserve and a mug of my new found love, ginger tea, the boys and I headed off for our errand, and then our climb.
Barr Trail has the greatest base to summit climb in all of Colorado with an elevation gain of over 7000 feet. It is 11.65 miles long. One way. And the first part of the trail is considered one of the steepest sections with 13 awesome switchbacks.
We began hiking late morning which, temperature wise, is not the best. It was ‘melt the soles off your shoes’ hot out there. Because of the heat, I promised the boys we would only climb up for an hour before turning back.
So we began, counting the switchbacks along the way. There is no other word for it but grueling. Yet I didn’t really notice how steep the climb was until reaching a clearing and realizing how high up we were.
At exactly one hour from starting, we just finished the last of the 2 miles of switchbacks. From there the trail levels out for a bit, passes under a rock tunnel, traipses through an open grassy meadow... much more pleasant and less of a grunt.
However, we choose grunt over pleasant and turn to go back down the grueling trail. Usually, it takes only half the time of the ascent to descend, this trail took much longer. Going down, I really felt the steepness, a thigh burner for sure.
At the bottom of the trail I saw a sign announcing the days of the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon races were about a week and a half away. Yes, there is a 26 mile marathon that covers the ascent and descent of Pikes Peak, the Ascent race just runs up the mountain. Most male marathoners make it up and down the mountain in about 3.25 hours, women in about 4.5 hours. I can’t even wrap my mind around that one. Check out pikespeakmarathon.org for info on this amazing race.
Back at home and we have a late lunch of turkey hot dogs with pickle relish and Lowensenf, a German hot mustard that will burn new openings in your sinuses, all wrapped in a spelt tortilla, Yum!! And my head feels oh so much clearer too! I also have a Ginger Gold apple from Austin Farms, a local organic orchard. So wonderful to eat a really fresh apple again that hasn’t been in storage for months.
The rest of the afternoon I spent back at the computer. We’re gearing up for our new season that coincides with the start of school mid August and I am working on going to press with the brochure. After hiking, I feel perfectly content to sit at the keyboard for awhile... Ah, the sweet joy of stillness.
Postscript... In my last blog I mentioned hiking at Horsethief Falls. At the start of that trailhead I saw a man taking a picture of himself in the parking lot. I immediately recognized him as Steve Garufi who has a blog called Colorado Guy and his website is, you guessed it, coloradoguy.com. Anyway, being the obnoxious boor that I am, I yell out “Hey, Colorado Guy, How’s it goin’!” He graciously smiled at me and said the hike up the falls is beautiful (which it is). Anyway, true to form, Steve has pics from his hike at Horsethief Falls posted on his website. So you can see pictures of Horsethief Falls and Horsethief Park taken on the same day that I was there. How’s that for timing!
OK, so it isn’t that exciting but I thought it was pretty cool.
Gee, I sure hope so. Wisdom is hard to measure in oneself.
Yes, today is my birthday and, as is my nature, tends to cause much somber pondering and reflection.
I have not been exactly looking forward to this one. You see, I am 43 today, beginning my 44th year on this planet. And I have had 3 friends die of cancer. All were 44 years old at the time of their deaths. I believe all were diagnosed with cancer around the age of 43. One from breast cancer, one from lung cancer and the other from pancreatic cancer.
Although, I don’t have any indication that cancer is part of my future, one really never knows for sure, does one?
My friend who died from breast cancer challenged all my beliefs around cancer. At the time, I thought changes in diet and lifestyle, living completely by macrobiotic ideals, would cure any cancer. She was very healthy by the standards at the time: vegetarian for 20 years, engaged spiritual life, fulfilling relationships, etc. And she tried all the alternative treatments available, macrobiotic diet, IV vitamin C therapy, other injection treatments, all to no avail.
By what I believed to be true, she shouldn’t have died. But she did.
I am no longer as naive as I was back then. I don’t think anything can protect you from disease; reduce the chances or likelihood, probably, but protect... no. Not even the blood type diet promises protection. I remember a quote from someone years ago that went, “If you eat only healthy, organic food, drink only pure water, exercise and meditate regularly, get plenty of sleep, but do so from a place of anxiety you are in no way maintaining your health.” That phrase has stuck with me all these years. I now measure my wellness by the amount of anxiety I feel, my willingness to challenge myself in all ways, the sense of ease and flow I feel within my bodymind. That is my definition of health.
Now on to brighter musings....
On Saturday, hubby took me out on a rare date (no kids) for a pre-birthday dinner. A wonderful little loaf of freshly baked bread, still warm, arrived on the table. I asked my husband to cut me a piece and as I was taking my first bite he said, “Well, is it worth the wheat?” I chortled at this comment and he responded, “That is the question, isn’t it?” Oh my yes, isn’t that ALWAYS the question when debating avoids. So easy to avoid at home, so tempting elsewhere. And in this case, no, it wasn’t worth it. I did order the rack of lamb that came with a small salad (removed the tomato and onion slice), wild rice (no, not worth it) and lightly steamed asparagus, carrots and snow peas. The lamb was served with tomato butter. I had no idea what that was and being the curious sort, did not asked for it to be removed. The tomato “butter” was just pureed tomato (definitely not worth it)! I scraped it off the meat.
I always order a pot of herb tea when eating out and in this case had peppermint. Warm tea is so soothing and even when eating compliantly I sometimes have trouble with restaurant food, usually due to anxiety or feeling a little tense in restaurants. When in a state of balance, restaurant food doesn’t bother me much... another health indicator.
Sunday, we went on a lovely hike in the high country, at about 10,000 feet. In the past, if hiking above 8000 ft. I would, after a while, begin to feel lightheaded. This hike felt like I was climbing in my own backyard, no dizziness or feeling lightheaded at all. The trail climbs to a secluded mountain meadow called Horsethief Park. Legend has it that horse thieves used the meadow as a hideout. Many trails here follow mountain streams and this one was no exception. We followed the stream to Horsethief Falls, an extraordinary cascade down a granite face. Water sliding like liquid poetry. I went to sit by the falls and noticed some more falls above it, climbed to those, and again, more falls above. I never did get to the top of all those falls. We also began the ascent to Pancake Rocks, a sandstone formation that looks like a towering stack of pancakes. As it was late, we did not make it all the way up but savored some fabulous views of the valley on the way. And absolutely no noise of civilization whatsoever. Then, and only then, can one really hear the song of the wind. It has such a beautiful voice in the trees...
I could go on forever, you know, trying to describe the serenity and unsurpassed beauty I see in the natural world but my words really cannot contain my experience...at least not yet.
From death to life... full circle.
....... ahhh.... ginger...
I have recently rediscovered my old friend.
Fresh ginger root, well rhizome actually, has long been one of my favorite spices. I was feeling “under the weather” recently and had a yen for ginger tea. I have been drinking it practically every morning since.
I love the smell of freshly grated ginger on my fingers and always put my hands to my face to breathe in that refreshingly aromatic scent... and I have learned after that first whiff it is best to rinse it off my hands for if the juice gets into eyes... oooh... yowser!
I use a nub of ginger, freshly grated, about half the size of my thumb to make a nice cup of tea. Use the smallest holes or blades on your grater to make a fine, juicy pulp. Although ginger has a reputation of being a soothing and warming beverage, it can also be an irritant to the stomach if too much is used. I find that often happens when using the pulp in a beverage mixture, so I use a garlic press to extract only the juice and discard the pulp. Or you can just squeeze the pulp with your fingers into your mug...and inhale that marvelous scent on your fingers... ahhh...heaven.
To sweeten the tea, I like to use honey, the tastes blend together well on my palate. A trick that my naturopath taught me is to brew a pot of ginger tea with a little licorice root for sweetener, so beneficial for most B’s. The licorice does tend to nullify the ginger and take the “bite” out of it , so this is something to try if you don’t like the sharpness of fresh ginger. On the topic of sweeteners... I read on a label of fructose that even though fructose is still identified as fruit sugar, most fructose is made out of corn syrup... so B’s beware!
Ginger, honey and juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon is an excellent tea for colds, digestive and menstrual cramps. Ginger is also good for promoting circulation.
When I was attending homebirths, we used ginger in perineal compresses. Fresh ginger root was part of the “birthkit” the parents-to-be needed to assemble prior to the birth. Toward the end of the first stage of labor, we would get out a saucepan, fill it with water, cut up the ginger root and simmer it on the stove. Oh.. it filled the house with such a lovely aroma... and we would soak cloths in the liquid for warm compresses on the perineum. It did promote circulation which helped reduce perineal tears during second stage. And all the women remarked how wonderful the ginger compresses felt.
Ginger is also a universal beneficial for all blood types (neutral for AB secretors). So if you have a mixed blood type family like myself, you can use ginger without restraint! Try it in bean dishes, stir frys, casseroles. We substitute powdered ginger and a touch of cloves for cinnamon in our granola recipe... I like it better than the cinnamon version which me being a cinnamon lover is really saying something.
Ahhh.... ginger... good to see you old friend.
My oldest son (O) has spent the past 10 days with his grandmother excavating on the Western Slope. She is a member of the Colorado Archeological Society, and volunteers in the summers at active sites. Last year they retrieved a partially flinted Folsom point - a spearhead of the Folsom peoples who lived in the region about 10,000 years ago. It was quite an exciting find for them, and also fun for my son to do fieldwork for actual scientists and hang out with college students.
So, for over the past week, I have been absent my partner in carnivorousness (yeah, it is a word - I looked it up). I didn’t think much about it until it came to making meals for the A’s, both my husband and youngest son are blood type A.
Now, my husband is such an A... we knew from reading the blood type descriptions that there was no other blood type he could be, and of course when he was typed, our perceptions were deemed accurate. He has thrived on a vegetarian diet since he was about 13, been practicing yoga since the age of 12 which turned into a daily practice around the age of 16. In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times he has NOT done his morning yoga in the past 17 years that I have known him. He is the type that if we had to leave the house at 5 AM to catch an early flight, he’d be up at 3 just to make sure he gets in his hour of yoga to start the day. It seems essential to his well-being. I’ve learned to live with it.
I noticed, much to my chagrin, with just the veg heads in the house that I tended to make meals with them in mind, catering to their needs and forgetting my own. Like making a big pot of black bean soup for dinner. Or choosing to prepare salmon for my son when what I was really needing was some heavier protein that day. Since my O son will be leaving the nest in a short couple of years, this was quite the enlightening experience. It felt almost too indulgent to prepare food/meat for myself only. Don’t know where that’s coming from but certainly something worth excavating.