Tuesday, February 07, 2012
So you all know (if you've read a few blogs of mine) that I have a great college friend who is a raw vegan. She's beautiful, vibrant, and healthy and we completely disagree as far as food and food politics (veganism is the answer versus sustainable omnivory; abolishment of factory farming versus reforming it, you get the idea). Anyway, the fiancee and I went to Raw Vegan Dinner Night at her and her boyfriend's place and had a delightful mexican meal finished with chocolate pie and "ice cream" and after a bit of thought I realized that, but for the absence of animals, the raw vegan cuisine we enjoyed was 100% Paleo. No grains or legumes because they must be cooked. No dairy because it comes from a cow.
Well, I was just checking around for some recipes because I'm not a college student with a thousand constructive things to do besides search Internet recipes, and I found these brownies:
Being a sucker for all things chocolatey, you KNOW I'm bookmarking this bad boy.
So how do I justify searching a raw vegan recipe database when by all accounts I'm as anti-vegan and pro-meat as it is possible to get?
I feel like, as pilgrims searching for the ultimate nutritional wisdom, we pigeonhole ourselves whenever we accept any nutritional dogma as truth. Suddenly we restrict ourselves to seeking out food and literature that has already been classified as low-fat, or low-carb, or Paleo, or vegetarian, et cetera. This is especially true with diets that challenge conventional wisdom. In that respect, I think that raw veganism and Paleo/Ancestral/primal diets are sisters and comrades in the marginalized crusade against the Standard American Diet, and as often as we bash raw vegans for dehydrating everything and not eating animals and the raw vegans bash us for cooking vegetables and eating cows, we could do well to take the best from each other even when we agree to disagree.
What do I like about raw veganism?
They skip the grains and legumes because they have to be cooked in order to get any nutrition from them.
They skip the dairy, which in many paleo circles is considered inflammatory and unnecessary.
There is a lot of high-fat cooking with plenty of coconut oil, avocadoes, and NUTS.
They do awesome things with VitaMix blenders, and who doesn't love a VitaMix?
It's all about eating close to nature.
So what's the difference?
In a nutshell, bacon. Bacon sums up all the differences between raw vegans and ancestral dieters.
One must cook bacon (emphasis on "raw").
One must acquire bacon from an animal.
Bacon is comprised of meat and animal fat.
So there you go. I have ranted a bit and found you a raw brownie recipe that is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and requires no cooking. IF that isn't justification enough, well, four-letter-words.
Sunday, February 05, 2012
I have achieved the unthinkable.
In one afternoon, I succeeded in creating homemade mayonnaise, baba ghanoush (correctly seasoned, this time) and flax "crackers" with which to consume the baba ghanoush.
What's that, you say? Pics or it didn't happen, you say? Very well:
Mayonnaise in its purest form is just about paleo perfect. Provided that it is made with lemon juice or a gluten-free vinegar (which is most vinegars that I've ever used) and a healthy oil (NOT canola, soybean, corn, or vegetable oil), it's brilliant in its simplicity. Its impossible to find a mayonnaise in a chain grocery that isn't made with at least one of those oils, usually soybean oil. Even the purportedly healthier olive oil mayo is still full of soybean oil and at least three preservatives. Anything made with an egg today shouldn't last until 2013, kids.
I made my mayo in my blender. I've tried it with a processor, but it just didn't seem to "grab" the emulsion with its horizontal blades and I ended up with a really thin egg-and-oil soup. Not mayo. This time I put my acid (lemon juice), ground mustard, and egg in the blender, whirled it until it turned that bright, happy yellow color, and then I disassembled the lid of my blender to open up the hole in the middle so I could pour the oil in through the top. THIS MUST BE DONE RIDICULOUSLY SLOWLY OR YOU WILL SCREW IT UP. I did get splatters of partially emulsified mayo on my glasses, hands, and counter, but after about half the oil made it into the blender it shifted from thin and liquid to thick and creamy. By the time it was done, the motor on the blender was just about hot enough to start cooking the egg. My blender is such that you can pop off the bottom and take the blade out for super cleaning, so I just let the metal bits cool and opened the bottom of the blender for easy dispensing into the tupperware container.
Moral of the story: find a homemade mayonnaise recipe you trust and make it in the blender. Try searching any paleo recipe site or blog for interesting oil combinations.
My baba ghanoush:
I've tried making this twice out of Paleo Comfort Foods (which incidentally has a mayonnaise recipe in it, too). The first time, I didn't understand the necessity of limiting tahini in such a recipe. It's seriously an acquired taste, and I think I could eat it straight only if I were Israeli or Indian or something, and tahini was a cultural staple. It has a flavor all its own, and it can quickly overpower other flavors if you aren't careful. The second time, I oversalted the finished product. Plain and simple. From now on, measuring spoons + salt = happy Kristina.
THIS TIME I measured everything carefully and used a recipe out of my stepmother's Maximized Living book (it's a nutritional plan endorsed by some doctors that is pretty well based on ancestral diet principles, except that it doesn't really talk about limiting legumes or dairy unless you're on the "advanced plan," which is a reflection of the Whole30 cure for inflammation. Maximized Living endorses stevia and xylitol as sweeteners.) This recipe differed from the one in Paleo Comfort foods in that it used cilantro and cayenne pepper. It's everything baba ghanoush should be.
My final cooking project tonight was flax crackers, also out of Maximized Living. I took 1 c. flax meal, blended it with 1.5 t. garlic powder, a few teaspoons of my favorite dried herbs, and 0.5 t. salt, and added 0.5 c. water to make it doughy. I rolled it onto parchment to one-eighth inch thickness and baked it at 400 until it dried out (almost 20 minutes) and it looked like this:
Then, once it cooled, I broke it into pieces. Some of the edges were nice and crispy, but other parts were soft and about the consistency of pita bread. I ate those pieces first with my baba ghanoush! My only concern is the super high fiber content of the flax seeds. Flax meal is touted as a great supplement for anyone experiencing a digestive halt, and baba ghanoush is basically an eggplant smoothie. This may portend a fibrous catastrophe, so for the sake of politeness I ask that you please do as I have done and limit yourselves to perhaps seven 1.5 inch pieces of cracker/bread or else you will likely earn a ticket on the Digestive Express Train.
I am pretty darn excited about this. Ketchup is next on my list of things to make from scratch, and I think barbecue sauce will follow from that. However, I have biology homework, biology lab homework, an organic prelab and postlab, reading to do for organic, Roman literature, and Aristotle, and three quizzes/tests to prepare for.
At least my studies are now fueled by eggplant dip and flax crackers!
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
I'm crazy hungry, so I went to the store and bought balsamic vinegar and mozzarella cheese to make insalata caprese, which you see here:
Now, don't go thinking I went out and got awesome looking new plates just because this one doesn't look like all my other food porn plates. That is a plastic Hercules plate from the Disney Store. Now you know.
I'll be attempting a fresh batch of blender mayonnaise today. I only have tried it in my mini Cuisinart processor, and it failed, so here's to the blender!
Monday, January 30, 2012
For anyone who doesn't know what this Whole30 hubbub is about, here's a link to the whole thing: whole9life.com/2012/01/whole-30-v201
I'm trying to decide how to continue Whole30ing after this cycle is over. I pretty much bombed after the first week for various reasons, and last night and today I have deliberately broken the rules since I'm getting blood work done tomorrow and I thought it might better reflect my "usual" eating habits to do so. I feel like crap, by the way.
Here's the ways in which I screwed up the Whole30 experience:
I added dairy back in when I decided I couldn't handle "normal" digestive activity.
I ate WAY too much fruit.
I ate the fruit as dessert, which, while it is an effective substitution strategy and a heartily recommended diet tip, it defeated the purpose of avoiding added sugars. Duh.
I did not follow the MealSimple template at all. Instead, I just winged it and usually wound up not getting enough fat/protein with my snacks and not staying full as long as I wanted after meals.
Last week I bought Larabars and they became a series of desserts. Clearly, I need to find another emergency food.
I bought organic dark chocolate the week before that.
When I got sick I bought orange juice (fresh squeezed, not from concentrate) and I drank it.
I did not plan ahead and spent a lot of time and money at the grocery store.
I have no desire at all to eat bread, pasta, rice, beans, or potatoes. I'm basically free of the hold of starchy carbs.
The chocolate made me feel ill, which I guess is a good sign of how I don't need it.
Throughout the entire Whole30 the only added sweetener I used one teaspoon of honey in my Greek yogurt last week.
I did not have a single alcoholic beverage, although that's not exactly my guilty pleasure.
I discovered that of all sweet treats, the only one that truly has its hooks in me is ice cream. Chocolate ice cream. I haven't missed cookies or cakes or pies. I desperately wanted ice cream and I haven't had any.
I don't particularly crave cheese. I have eaten it, but I'm not being controlled by any dairy-seeking monsters.
I'm getting very comfortable eating this way, to where I could probably 90/10 it.
I lost about 6-7 lbs, but I can't measure myself since I'm bloated from the grain-based carbs I have intentionally poisoned myself with for my upcoming lab work.
My goals for the next round are getting the fats into my meals, getting the protein and veggies into my snacks (fruit and nuts are the go-to for portability and palatability). I can't decide what to do about the dairy, since I think I'm lactose tolerant, it's a cheap and filling source of fat and protein, and because it seems to combat the onslaught of fiber from all the vegetables. I kind of want to know what would happen if I did go a whole month without it, but I can't see the trouble with dairy for someone who tolerates it. Also, I want to make it through the WHOLE Whole30 without making a stupid decision like having chocolate in the house. Bad move!
Anyway, I haven't decided the best way to do it. I really, really want to see some spectacular changes and the only reason I didn't was because I screwed it up. Should I do another Whole30 (correctly this time)? Should I split it into Whole15s or Whole21s to permit more freedom? Should I call it a Whole15, feel good enough to go another week, and then call it a Whole21? Regardless, I'll be cycling through it at least once more before my sister's wedding.
I might start with a Whole14, enjoy my Valentine's dinner with the fiancee (yay, fondue!), and then get back on board with another Whole30. I have nine weeks before my sister's wedding and I'm determined to look good for it because she wants everyone to look good and because I am just as vain as the next person. I think Whole14-15 is a good template because two weeks without succumbing to temptations sounds way easier than thirty days, and it's only one dinner date for heaven's sake.
I have my Whole30 Success Guide with recipes in it, I have Paleo Comfort Foods, and I have The Paleo Solution which is ALSO full of recipes (although it's a little skimpy on the animal fats). I have tons of eggs, tons of veggies, and we'll be out of strawberries soon (I love them but they're derailing me in the fruit department!). I can't imagine how I could possibly not complete this properly for two weeks.
I think, presently, I'll assume a Whole15 attitude in order to trick myself and take it from there. I think the momentum of the first week will carry me through the second, and if you take two Whole15s they basically add up to a Whole30 while the brain is still stoked that it's only a two-week streak. A little self-deception is well utilized, I think.
Comments and suggestions are welcome.
Monday, January 30, 2012
I saw the ortho this morning and we went over my MRI.
I have a very small tear in the acetabular labrum, which in non-medical nerd speak means a tear in the cartilage that lines my hip socket. There's no telling what caused it since I don't really remember a particular trauma to it, but it's small and it can be fixed! I start physical therapy next Tuesday, and I can exercise as long as I stay low- to no-impact. Swimming is in, elliptical is fine, bike is fine, running is absolutely out of the question, and I can go to ballet as long as I stick to the non-jerky movements and don't jump or bounce. Exercise will be important, just as the PT exercises will, since mobilizing the joint will increase blood flow to it and help speed the healing process (cartilage has no blood supply of its own).
The fact that my glutes on the left side are unresponsive is just muscle weakness and not a weird nerve thing. That's a relief and if that's not a prescription for unilateral squats I don't know what is.
The doctor also pointed out that labral tears can refer pain to the SI joint, so even though the SI joint hypermobility isn't disputed, some of the pain I've felt and attributed to SIJD may have actually been referred pain from the hip joint. That's a relief, too, since it means the SIJD isn't as bad as it has seemed for so long. My SI joint hypermobility is just part of my genetic package. All my joints are hyperflexible, right down to my ankles. When the doctor demonstrated this with my elbow, my mother almost laughed herself out of her seat when I admitted I thought that was normal and everyone else was just stiff. The moral of this story is simply what I already know: I have to stay on top of strengthening the surrounding musculature and then my joints will basically self-adjust if they move. If I don't stay proactive, then they'll just go out and I won't be able to get them back in without an OMT (osteopathic manipulative treatment).
MUCH relief is had. I'm really, really glad I saw this orthopaedist, and I'm glad it's something we can fix.
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