Category Archives: food

Whine and cheese basket…beggars can’t be choosers?

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So, this post will probably be all over the place. I’m on a healthy dose of NyQuil right now for a nasty cold. Fair warning. I tried to ward the cold off with garlic soup, apple cider vinegar, a neti pot, and high doses of zinc and vitamin C, but it came on anyway, starting in my throat and moving its way down into my lungs. I think that if I had not used those things, I would be feeling a lot worse right now. I have to admit, I have also been keeping a steady regimen of pseudoephedrine, dextromethorphan, and ibuprofen going through my system along with the natural remedies. I have still to find a natural medicine that will stop me from coughing and open up my sinuses enough to allow me to sleep through the night (suggestions welcome!).

On a seemingly unrelated note, last week I was shopping at Earth Fare because I had a wicked curry chick’nnn salad craving. I’m mostly trying to avoid fake meat, because it is kind of creepy, but there was no talking myself out of this one. If you try to talk yourself out of something you’re craving for a week and you still want it every morning when you wake up, just get it. The craving isn’t going away.

There was none on the salad bar (forsoooooth!!), so I bought a few ingredients to try to make the deliciousness myself at home (I’ll put up a recipe and a picture as soon as I can connect my camera to the computer…it turned out great). I was feeling good about making good choices and buying fruits and vegetables, and as many organic products as I could get. I spent $29 altogether on various items, which would make about ten meals with the other things that I had at home already. That’s pretty good, right? Then…after being in the store a while, and counting up the price of my groceries, I began to get a guilty feeling about shopping in a specialty health food store. I could have saved several dollars if I had gone to the local discount grocery store, where all of the produce and cereals scream “genetically engineered” at me as I look at them. I could also have saved $1.50 on peanut butter if I had gotten it at the discount grocery, where I would have been unable to stop myself from reading the food label and finding “high-fructose corn syrup” and “hydrogenated vegetable oil” as the second and third ingredients, after peanuts. With the money I was about to spend on all this organic, animal-product-free, minimally-processed food, I could be buying 58 boxes of “2 for $1” macaroni and cheese, or 100 packs of conventional, chicken-flavored ramen noodles. Nutritionally, ramen and mac and cheese are pretty much null, but economically, those items would make more meals out of the $29 I spent.

Then I thought to myself, why am I not allowed to buy healthy food, just because my financial situation sucks big time right now? I held up my end of the bargain and busted my ass all through school; it’s not my fault the economy sucks. I still need to be healthy. How am I helping myself financially by knowingly allowing my health to suffer, by eating food that is barely food at all? What I don’t spend on food, I eventually will more than pay back in medical bills after I have a heart attack or get breast cancer at the age of 35. So I bought the damn organic groceries. And I liked it.

Since Wednesday night I have had a cold that makes me feel like Satan is kicking me in the face, chest, and teeth pretty much all the time. Which makes me wonder, what good were those antibiotics I just finished? And is this cold something that was caused by taking these antibiotics? Is this something I picked up at work? Did the antibiotics weaken my immune system? Because I feel worse now than I did when I had that supposed raging kidney infection. I’m also wondering if I ever did have a kidney infection at all, or if the CRNP at the health department just thought she’d err on the side of caution and throw me a bunch of antibiotics because I was at the health department, where people normally go to get rid of syphilis. Arrgh.

“You need to go to a doctor!” my friend told me yesterday. I probably do…simply for the reason that I have called in sick two days this week, and I get the feeling that having a note written on a doctor’s letterhead would be more effective in convincing my boss not to fire me than my simply coming in and explaining that I was too sick to stand up for more than five minutes at a time. The manager I spoke to today said, “Ohh-k?” when I called in and told him my situation…with an intonation in his voice that said, “Didn’t you just call in sick yesterday?” I also had had to drive up there earlier today to pick up my check, because today is the utility company’s cut-off date. I’m sure that word got around that I had been there earlier, and I’m sure that that fact could be used against me. Never mind that the job is so low-paying that I barely miss having my lights cut off every month. In the case of last month’s utilities, I had to miss two hours of work so that I could go to a church charity and beg someone to pay my utility bill for me. Literally. I literally begged them. And then I went to work feeling guilty for being late, at which time one of the managers reminded me that I’m still in my 90-day probationary period, and that I can be fired at any time. Thanks for that. Sincerely, that was just what I needed to hear right then.

Have I mentioned that the company I work for has more money than God? Why is God having to make up for what this company doesn’t pay its employees, then? If they paid me enough for me to cover my bills and get health insurance, I wouldn’t have to live in fear of them firing me. Seems kind of backward, does it not? Every time I come in a few minutes late due to babysitting issues, health issues, or some issue related to me needing to pay for something (like a flat tire, or gas) and being unable to, I have to feel shame, as if it’s my fault that these things are happening in my life, and that it’s my negligence that is causing them to happen. But it’s not my negligence. It’s life. People get sick. Tires wear out. Gas ain’t free. If both heads of the household have to work at the same time, a babysitter must be procured. Life costs money. And minimum wage is not enough to live on. I guess that’s the point I’m getting to. I’m tired of feeling like I’m the one who is failing when I am unable to stay on top of life and keep it running smoothly, due to a lack of money. And I’m tired of feeling guilty about things like flat tires, or my inability to find a babysitter who is willing to work for free three days a week or more, or wanting to be healthy just like people who have good jobs and health insurance. I know that this is true for millions of Americans right now.

Do you ever wonder how a store is able to keep its prices very low, when stores that carry the same items seem to be charging twice as much for that item? It’s because the stores that have cheap products don’t pay their employees a living wage, and they expend a lot of effort trying to see to it that they are able to keep everyone who works in their stores on part-time status with limited benefits and low wages, in order to maximize their profit margins. What they don’t pay their employees is made up for by the taxpayer in the form of food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8, and other welfare programs. These types of megabusinesses also drive smaller, hometown businesses to bankruptcy by undercutting their prices and stealing their customers, since they’re saving so much on overhead that they can afford to make less money off the same products. Think about that next time you go shopping.

*end rant*

Week One status check, or, I suck at being a vegan.

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Today has been an atypical Sunday. Normally Sundays subsist of catching up on sleep, drinking a pot of coffee, sitting on ass watching old episodes of Saturday Night Live, washing a load of laundry, and going to the grocery store to get something that requires zero effort to cook for dinner. But today…TODAY! I cleaned the entire house (with the help of the hubs and kid), cooked lunch, mowed almost our entire five-acre yard, got everyone’s clothes ready for morning, and cooked a dinner. A simple dinner that took very little effort, but I did have to do more than open the box or can. I even have enough energy to do the dinner dishes and update this blog. And all without a drop of caffeine.

And surprise, my knees, neck, and elbows, which normally creak and kill when there’s so much as a cloud in the air, don’t hurt.

I am happy to say that the first week of this vegan-like diet has proven to me that I am actually capable of producing my own energy. I thought that that was long gone, with my posters of New Kids on the Block. I’ve never not drank coffee; not since I was eighteen. And since twenty-one I’ve been a full-on java junkie…a barista once threatened to cut me off. I’m not joking.

I say “vegan-like” diet because I would make a very bad vegan. If there is a Memorial Day cookout, I will probably go, and after a couple of margaritas, I will probably not stick to veggies. Dude, I live in the south, and if the sun is out and it’s warm, you and your neighbors may not be grilling, but I bet you can’t drive more than a mile without someone grilling something, right there in your face everywhere. Every time I smell barbecued chicken, it’s torture. And last night, I was cooking some really tasty tofu chilequiles-type mess for dinner, but alongside it, I was making taco meat out of ground beef in the neighboring skillet, for everyone else. I didn’t eat any of the beef, and wasn’t really tempted, but tonight I used that skillet to make my “vegan” dinner. I just can’t see going out and buying separate cookware. I know some people do that…but man, I washed it with Dawn. There’s no meat on it anymore.

Also, I have made a couple of boo-boos. Did you know…

1) “Veggie Slices” cheese has casein in it? Isn’t casein the stuff in dairy that you’re trying to avoid in the first place? Hence your buying of Veggie Slices?

2) Dairy is hiding in places you would least suspect it…like bread. The other day, I bought a loaf of some Arnold whole-wheat bread that was on sale. As I was nom-ing a delicious sandwich, I glanced at the list of ingredients and there, in bold letters, it said “Contains Non-fat Milk.” WTH for?

3) O’Soy yogurt gets its live cultures from milk.

I am going to continue eating these products until they’re gone, however, because while I am aware of the unethical treatment of animals in dairy and meat farms, I would also feel dumb for throwing out twenty dollars’ worth of food just because it has a fraction of a percentage of dairy in it, when gas is four dollars a gallon. Eventually I hope to have the time and resources to successfully grow everything I eat, so that I can dine without the guilt of knowing that my food is flavored with the tears of baby cows…but until then, I guess I’ll just pay better attention to food labels before I make purchases.

But otherwise, I think that I have done fairly well at avoiding refined sugar and flour, and purposefully-ingested animal products. Next week, maybe I will have enough energy to keep the whole house clean, do my own auto maintenance, start a band, and write a book. 🙂

(Edit: Speaking of labels, I got halfway through the antibiotics I got at the health department for my kidney infection…then I thought to look it up on Wikipedia and found out that there is reason to believe that this medicine has a carcinogenic effect on humans. Why would anyone prescribe this for anything? So do I stop taking it, or what? What is medicine if it makes you trade one sickness for another?)

Poop…the cornerstone of every nutritious breakfast.

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And bugs, and antifreeze, and cardboard. Check it out:

Ingredient: Carmine. Also known as: Cochineal extract. Used for: red food coloring, often in juices, yogurts, and lipstick. Source: The crushed and squeezed bodies of beetles.

Ingredient: Cellulose. Also known as: Carboxymethylcellulose, CMC, cellulose gum, sodium carboxymethylcellulose. Used for: texture in breads and meat (or meat-like products), a binding and anticrystallization agent in store-bought frosting. Counts as dietary fiber in nutrition labeling. Source: wood and cotton lint. Next time there’s more people than food at the barbecue, just tear up the paper towels you drained the lettuce on, empty the dryer trap, and mix it all into the hamburger meat. I always knew there was some way to recycle that stuff!

Ingredient: Propylene glycol. Also known as: propylene glycol alginate. Used for: texture in dairy products and salad dressings, store-bought frostings (also helps to produce the water vapor in those electronic cigarettes I was talking about in an earlier post! Aggh!). Source: According to Dow, a manufacturer of propylene glycol, it is “a petroleum-based raw material.” It is very versatile, making it perfect for just about anything. More from Dow:

“Propylene glycol (PG) is a clear, colorless liquid with the consistency of syrup. It is practically odorless and tasteless. It is hygroscopic (attracts water), has low toxicity and outstanding stability, as well as high flash and boiling points, low vapor pressure and broad solvency. In addition, propylene glycol is an excellent solvent for many organic compounds and is completely water-soluble. These properties make PG ideal for a wide array of applications, such as:

  • Antifreezes, Coolants and Aircraft Deicing Fluids
  • Chemical Intermediates
  • Cosmetics and Personal Care Products
  • Flavors and Fragrances
  • Food
  • Heat Transfer Fluids
  • Hydraulic Fluids
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Plasticizers
  • Solvents
  • Thermoset Plastic Formulations”

You know what? Here’s the link to Dow’s info page on propylene glycol: http://www.dow.com/propyleneglycol/about/ …they can say it better than I can. There may be different strains that they use for making antifreeze and ranch dressing, but I”m kind of freaked out about knowing that I’m eating something that is one molecule away from being antifreeze. It’s like that poop burger they supposedly made in Japan.

There may be a lot of processing that goes into removing the doodoo flavor, and there has since been some speculation that the “shit burger” was a hoax (although nothing I’ve seen has proven for a fact that the feces burger was not a real thing). But you can’t take that back. LOL at about 1:34…look at the label on the fridge. It’s right there. I’m sure that once this hits the market, they won’t be calling it Potty Patties or anything of the like…they might even label it as health food that’s low-fat, high in protein, and doesn’t require the slaughter of animals, and market it to vegetarians. I wonder what kind of scientific word they’ll come up with to put on the label to disguise the fact that it’s poop.

Here is a link to a handy-dandy list of food additives, where they come from, and what they’re used for, for sometime when you’re bored and reading the back of the Doritos bag. http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm

I got into this post on food additives today because I’ve been doing some research, and thought I’d share. Yesterday at the clinic, my pap was smeared, but the CRNP told me that I needed to go to a real doctor (really.) about my uterus, since the results of the PAP would take three weeks to come back (really?!). She could tell immediately, however, that I had a bacterial infection of the kidneys. I’ve had no symptoms other than some occasional dull pain that I thought had to do with normal menstrual happenings (not that I have any menstrual happenings that resemble normal). What caused the infection, then? “Some food additives,” she said, “can cause bacterial infections.” Awesome.

Also, apparently refined sugar is filtered through burnt cow bones, or “natural charcoal,” to remove the color. http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2007issue4/vj2007issue4.pdf

So these are just a few of the things I’ve found out in the last day or so. It all just cements, for me, the notion that people should eat food that still resembles the form it came in originally.