High Fructose Gross

I know that high fructose corn syrup has a new ‘it’s not so bad for you’ ad campaign but I can’t help but think it might be part of what is making me feel gross right now.

In part, I’m writing this to remember to bring healthy snacks to work, because I’m always starving around 4pm. Today I hit the vending machine and this is what I just ate:

Enriched wheat flour, riboflavin, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil with TBHQ for freshness (what?), contains two percent or less of soy lecithin, leavening, salt, natural flavor with other natural flavors.

Someone give me some kale, pronto.

Will Soup Save Your Life?

[image via shutterstock]

Will this “joyless vegetable soup” help you live longer? That, I don’t know. But it looks easy to make, so I’m in!

Lured by a simple soup recipe, (below via Gawker) the soup is simply not the most interesting part of the, admittedly long, article about David Murdock, a billionaire obsessed with nutrition.

He wants to reach 125, and sees no reason he can’t, provided that he continues eating the way he has for the last quarter century: with a methodical, messianic correctness that he believes can, and will, ward off major disease and minor ailment alike.

[You can read the full article here, at the New York Times Magazine]

Doctors are skeptical, saying genes may trump soup. But I say a little extra veggie soup can’t hurt. And so does Murdock. Here’s the recipe, as quoted in Gawker.

Murdock Recipe: Vegetable Soup

1 quart organic vegetable broth

4 cups diced vegetables, like: ½ yellow onion, 1 medium carrot, large handful kale leaves, 1 medium zucchini, 1 medium tomato, 1 handful spinach, 1 handful green beans

2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, like basil and Italian parsley

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, to taste.

1. In a medium soup pot, heat broth to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

2. Add onion and carrots and simmer covered for 2 minutes. Add remaining vegetables and simmer until just tender.

3. Add fresh herbs and salt and pepper, to taste. Serves 4.

Hiding Behind the Mat

I feel like it’s important to share this no-dairy journey, but I’ll spare you the play-by-play action. It’s only day deux and I’m not facing any particularly interesting challenges or feeling any special magic vegan fairy dust. I am happy to be on this path knowing I will feel better in the long run, and I’m really looking forward to feeling clearer.

In the meantime, life goes on. I’m currently looking for new health insurance (again!). I’m working with my daily practice and am considering taking this show on the road – adding some classes into the mix and considering taking up the teaching mantle once again.

It’s intimidating to think about going back out there. I’m afraid of rejection, of putting myself “out there” and it seems so much safer to practice at home and pontificate online.

I wonder, too, if I’m waiting to be “better” before I go out there. Waiting to have it all figured out – I have a perfect daily practice, I eat like a superhero! – to build myself up before I step out on the ledge. Even though I know damn well there is no perfect and that I just need to get out there.

Oh, man. Sometimes I hate those kinds of realizations. Because once you get there, there’s really no excuse to stay where you are without moving forward. Anyone want to come with me?

Lesson Learned. Again.

I’ve been pining lately – for a version of myself with clear eyes and skin, open breathing and open body. It’s the no dairy version of me. Remember when I stopped eating dairy and eggs? And I kind of complained that the changes were too subtle. I wanted SHAZAM! kind of changes. And eventually, the holidays came and I dove into a sugary vat of butter and eggs.

Well, guess what? SHAZAM! I feel like crap. I could go into all the seamy details, but for now let’s just say all that too-subtle opening and energy seems like a dream state and a good starting point. So here we go again. Day 1, no dairy. Again.

UPDATE: To keep myself honest, I plan on tweeting some of my yummy vegan food choices with the tags #febislovemonth and #veganlunch. Follow along if you like! I could use the encouragement.

Update: Chicken Dog

The universe is laughing at how dramatic I was about that whole thing. I thanked the chicken. I almost gagged. But when it was done, the house smelled like chicken soup, and I was really very proud of myself. And SO excited to feed Kaylee.

Well, kids, guess what? My dog don’t like chicken.

She ate the rice, she ate the vegetables, she spit the chicken on the floor and looked at me like I was nuts.

Seriously? Did I create a vegetarian dog? We’ll try again tomorrow. But if this dog doesn’t even like chicken, I may have to get her checked out.

Dear Dairy: Week 4 or I Can’t Believe It’s Not… oh.

Four weeks, people! Coming from someone who thinks of cheese as an acceptable substitute for, well, pretty much any other kind of food there is, I’m pretty proud of myself.

A thing or two snuck in under the radar. I ate a really delicious scone that someone brought for me as a gift. It was made with butter, but it was also made with love. It was good, but to be honest, it tasted a little like a giant, flakey pat of sugary butter. Really buttery. And then I kind of felt like my insides were painted with butter. You know, which is either good or bad, I haven’t decided yet.

After four weeks, I do think my system is running cleaner. It’s not perfect, and there are still things I want to experiment with and try. But, overall, I feel less bloated and less crave-y. Also, I know that ‘crave-y’ isn’t a word. I’m definitely willing to stick with a mostly dairy-less diet.

Anything less than completely black or white is difficult for me. Once a little bit of parmesan is okay, then why not eat some pepperjack out of a bag by the handful? But I am going to keep going for now.

There’s a lot of room for improvement in how I feed myself. I’m looking forward to cooking more (er, sort of) and relying on processed soy foods less. Green things look good to me in the grocery store, so it’s about time I figured out how to cook ’em.

Also, it’s World Go Vegan week, apparently. Who knew? New York has a whopping one restaurant participating. But the sites linked here have more information on how you can participate.

You know, or not. Frankly, in the middle of this month I somehow smelled some bacon, and, MAN, did that smell good.

Dear Dairy: Week 3

Wherein I discover some things and ask some questions.

I am slowly realizing how many foods secretly stash dairy products in the ingredient list. And that if you eat foods that don’t come in a wrapper, you can avoid the gruesome discovery of “milk products” while you’re reading the package and chewing.

Here’s the thing: that granola bar has whey in it. And even though cheese isn’t listed on the menu, it’s sprinkled on top of your taco. And when everyone is eating homemade potato and cheese frittatas, you damn well better find a way to make your oatmeal look appetizing or you’re going to fall, hard.

These are the pitfalls, so what are the benefits?

Well, I’m still kind of waiting on that one. My energy seems better (which could also be a product of the running and the yoga – but who’s keeping track?). But there’s none of this miracle cure I read about in other people’s success stories. The skin-clearing-weight-loss-lighter-than-air thing isn’t really happening. Am I asking too much? Or not doing enough?

My dad offers that maybe it’s not dairy. Maybe it’s gluten. Or sugar. Or a combination of these things that are effecting my overall. Or, and here’s my alternate theory, everything is actually already fine. And the fluctuations in weight and energy are normal – overblown in my mind because I’m focusing on them. Am I Gaslighting myself here? I feel as though I’m looking for a miracle – but I don’t even know what I’m trying to cure. It’s exceptionally possible that I’m trying to “fix” myself – emotionally, psychologically – by controlling my diet.

On the other hand, there’s the simple concept of going through life without needing to support the meat and dairy industries. That’s a pretty attractive lure in itself. It might help me in this experiment to stop thinking so much about myself. (Despite my obvious need to talk about myself all the time to strangers online, all this navel gazing starts to feel self-indulgent at a certain point.) And to think instead about the overall good that comes from avoiding a tacit support for industries whose practices are noted for cruelty – physically to animals, and economically to farmers and small businesses.

After week 4, will I continue? Will my mom, as she fears, have to construct me a separate salad without cheese sprinkled on top come Christmas? Or will I have jumped on another well-fed bandwagon at that point? It’s hardly a cliff-hanger, but, still, something to consider.

If anyone has any vegan wisdom out there, I’d be glad to hear it.

Dear Dairy: Week 2

I still don’t miss you cheese! But I feel like crap, to be honest. Is this detox? Or do I just feel this way coincidentally?

Greek yogurt is something I miss. The soy kind is soupy and simply a medium for walnuts, flax and berries. And on a brunch menu, my options are limited to carbo loading. At least until I learn to get a little more creative and eat greens for breakfast.

But aside from that, the eating part has been just fine. I’m trying new things. I cooked some really gorgeous brussel sprouts (as evidenced in an earlier post), and this week I even bought some Kale at the grocery store just because it looked so pretty. I asked a friend how to prepare it too, so it looks like I won’t just stick those purty kale fronds in a vase and stare at them all week.

I am craving green things, even though yesterday I ate only tan things like cereal and knish. Hmm, maybe that’s why I need the kale.

I am grateful for the boost I felt earlier in the week when my energy was up. I was running and moving well. I bought flax to sprinkle on my soy yogurt, like a real live healthy person.

But now I’m achey breaky and my everything hurts. My yoga is challenging because I feel as though I’m practicing inside someone else’s body. There are other factors of course: my cycle is a big one, and that ugly coughing thing that’s going around the office could be another.

The experiment continues, though, as I am assuming this is just ‘the hump’ that happens in any detox. I’m getting greedy for achievement, and find myself setting goals. Go 4 weeks, go until the end of the year! But that’s just the ego part. And I need to remind myself just to listen and take care of myself. The goal is simply to see how this feels.

I could use a good dose of the detox high right about now, though. Just as a moral booster. Maybe the kale will do the trick.

Cutting the Cheese

Since I’ve been home – back, uh, unengaged and living in my parent’s guest room – I’ve picked up some extra weight and acquired unhappy skin (some blemishes, a little extra allergic to bug bites, and once, a huge growing rash that took over my torso. Fun!).

I can chalk it up to stress and to life changes. But these are not strangers. The fact is, I’ve acclimated to the way my parents eat. Which is to say, with a lot of cheese. As a tenured vegetarian, I’ve always relied on cheese and dairy as a protein source. But I’m starting to question the whole concept. I even ordered Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet.

Digression: First of all, she’s so cute I’d probably buy whatever she sold. I’m a sucker like that. But truthfully, she just looks healthy and happy. I want what she’s having. And I’m pretty willing to give whatever-she-does a shot.

This morning, as I woke up with a quiche hangover – stomach aching, sinuses stuffed, throat gross – I thought, maybe my questions were answered. The bloating, the stuffiness, the inflammation. Could it be a dairy thing?

I’m not saying cutting out cheese is going to solve all my problems. And even though I don’t want to work at getting back in shape (I’m over Jillian’s 30 Day Shred. I’m over portion control failure.) I’ll still do it. But it would be nice if all the hard work were accompanied by feeling physically healthy. I wonder if this will do it.

So, I’m embarking on this adventure slowly, with trepidation. What is life without cheese? I love cheese. And eggs. And yogurt. But, at this point, I’m willing to give it a try.

Has anyone out there shunned dairy? A little, all the way? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I could sure use the support.