Getting a Life

I haven’t been posting much lately, because I’ve been getting out more.  Before going natural, and until my body really began to right itself, the summer heat would keep me comfortably indoors in front of my fan most of the time.  Now, it doesn’t stop me, but I have had to make some adjustments for sanity’s sake.

When you become more active, little injuries and issues that you didn’t have when you were sedentary start to become more intense.  My big two are knee injuries and chafing.

A few years ago, when the size was probably giving me balance problems, I used to fall down the stairs when it was wet outside.  I’ve fallen a few times, but twice I landed on my right knee.  I also used to trip and fall occasionally while walking down the street, and once I hit my knee so hard it was impossible for me to get up.

At the hospital, they did an x-ray and nothing was broken, and in time, the pain went away, though I had trouble with it.  Now that I’ve been walking more though, it hurts almost constantly, especially when I go down stairs.  So I have a doctor’s appointment next month.

…but I can’t stop walking.  I have too much energy, and as soon as the sun starts to go down, I feel like a nervous chihuahua who wants to go outside.

On the chafing, as a busty woman, it has always been an issue, but now, it’s horrible.  I need the breast support, so I have to wear a bra, but it is painful.  Still, my inner chihuahua wants to go-go-go!

Looking back, it’s no wonder I was depressed.  I understand now more than ever the importance of a natural diet, and the deep changes that simply getting enough nutrition makes to ones personality.  I’ve said often that even though I’m only halfway to where I’d like to be weight-wise, if I never lose another kilo, I’ll still feel okay.  I’ve gotten a good bit of my old energy level back.

I’ve also recruited a few offline friends too.  They see my progress, and want to stop struggling to lose or maintain their weight too.

This brings me to another topic, things that make it difficult for people to change.  One huge issue that I come across a lot is family history of poverty.  When people have lived through times of deprivation, they often want to give the kids all the things that they didn’t have growing up.  However, instead of getting them healthy food, they load the kitchen with convenience food and candy.

Occasional treats are fine, but things have to be kept under control.  Parents should be careful what they buy.  There are many things that are great snacks or easily prepared that kids will enjoy very much, but not end up with liver problems or type 2 diabetes.  By giving them too much sugar and processed food, they’re not really indulging their kids.  They’re killing them.

I get an eerie feeling as I walk around Haifa, which has only gotten very unnatural within the past 10 years or so.  I look around and see many young people getting fatter and fatter, and the ones who aren’t fat, looking anemic and smelling funny.

Those of you who’ve been natural for awhile understand what I mean by smelling funny.  It’s that weird fishy, sour, dank, with a hint of synthetic vanillin smell people who eat too much fake food have.  In the winter, it’s tolerable, but in the summer, it can be like a nauseating cloud of garbage odor if you’re in a crowded or enclosed place.

Even worse, the attitudes people have about weight here have gotten worse despite the injection of phood into the grocery stores.  Young people are getting fatter, but expressing more judgemental attitudes about fat.

I see a bad transition happening around me that I hope to curtail.  Since a few of my friends have gone natural, I hope that this is the beginning of the reversal.  Fortunately here, healthy food is still cheaper than the junk.  I hope it stays that way long enough for us to turn the tide.

Food Fail: Parsnip Leaves

Searching for natural alternatives to “crack in a bowl” (soup made with Ukrainian vegetable stock powder), I set about to find parsnips.  They’re one of the ingredients listed on the packet, and responsible for the unique flavor.

Excited to find some at my local shouk, I peeled them, chopped the root up with the leaves, and put it in single serving bags in the freezer.  I’d heard such good things about what parsnips add to soups, and that they’re good roasted on their own.

Having learned my lesson from the buckwheat experience though, whenever I try a new food, I look around to see if there might be allergy issues.  I found out that parsnip leaves are actually toxic.  You might not get sick from eating them, but after handling or eating them, but when you go out in the sun, you’ll get a rash.

So, the roots are safe, but the leaves are very bad for you.  Next time I’ll know better, but it’s a shame that my current batch is wasted.

Fresh Hominy Experiments

Today I decided to see what I could do with fresh hominy.  I don’t have a food dehydrator, and it’s not sunny enough this time of year.  Besides, we have too many birds and bats, not to mention the cats, who can easily tear through a screen.  Elecrticity is way too expensive here to dry in the stove.

Up to now, I mainly used hominy I made at home in soups or just fried it.  For tortillas I use flour or masa de harina if I can find it.  Today I tried making tortillas with fresh hominy.

It worked well when I mixed pureed hominy with some wheat flour, but it didn’t work out well when I used just hominy, even when I tried to make them pancakes style.  What I did discover though, is that the hominy pancake batter makes a fabulous dressing/stuffing.

I put a couple of large eggs, 1/8 cup of lemon juice, a teaspoon of gray salt, and a cup of milk in a kilo of pureed hominy.  Then I pre-fried it in a large pan with about 3 tablespoons of fat.  Once it was gloopy like a spoon bread, I added about 2 cups of broth I had because I was stewing some meat today.  It was a nice use of the extra liquid.

Once the liquid was absorbed, I put the whole lot in a glass baking dish, and baked it at 145 Celsius for about 45 minutes.   It came out very nicely, and was a good cushion for the beans, meat, and vegetables.

I’ve noticed that this padding made from pureed hominy sucks up more flavor than regular cornbread dressing.  This is what I’m going to use to make cornbread dressing in the future.  It really does make a big difference.

Lessons Learned: Buckwheat Allergy

About a month ago, in my ongoing quest to eat naturally, I decided to try alternative grains. I don’t view wheat as a villain, but since I’m of African and Native American ancestry, some grains should be more compatible with my body than others. Since I’ve reduced my carbohydrates, what I get should be digestible and pleasant to taste. In that wheat is kind of so-so and neutral.

So I went to my favorite staple and bulk foods merchant, and got some buckwheat flour. A few days later, I made the most awesome smelling two loaves of bread I’ve made in my life with oat flour, buckwheat flour, and minimal wheat flour. I broke out the butter, and my family and I enjoyed it very much. I noticed though, that it tasted a bit peppery to me. I was warned that buckwheat has a “strong” taste, and I thought this was what they meant.

Four or five bites in though, my lips and throat were burning, and my esophagus began to spasm. After a very painful upchuck, I was still spasming, and I noticed that my skin was starting to itch. I went to the emergency room, and was told that I very likely have a buckwheat allergy.

Buckwheat allergy is not so common in the west, but is more common in Asia, where it is used more often.  Apparently, exposure to sobakowa from pillows and mats can “max out” a person’s tolerance if they have the allergy, and cause extreme reactions when they eat buckwheat, even if they don’t break out from touching hulls or fibers.  This is one reason it can be a surprise.  Someone who has used sobakowa pillows and tatami mats without a bad reaction would be caught unawares when eating buckwheat noodles.

So if you’re introducing new foods into your diet, make sure that you are prepared for the possibility of discovering new allergies.  Have a plan for getting emergency care quickly.