Gluten Free – Celiac Not A Cop Out

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I know several people with Celiac’s disease. Previously thought to be a figment of one’s imagination, research ahs concluded that it is indeed very real and can have significant debilitating effects on the patient. The short version is that Celiac’s disease is a person’s allergic reaction to eating foods that contain gluten. These foods are what are basic in most people’s diets – wheat flour, dairy products, and a number of carbohydrate based foods. Gluten free products have recently appeared on the supermarket shelves, but as usual, they are expensive.

Not everyone who has chosen to go gluten free suffers from Celiac’s disease. To some it is just a fad, a new diet that will supposedly make you more attractive or healthier. Unfortunately, this group seems to have their head in the clouds, not realizing that their need for attention takes away from the real problem those who are allergic to gluten face. Sometimes I don’t understand people. Part of it is what I wrote in my last post about vaccinations. Are people so self-absorbed that they cannot see beyond their own world? This may be a residual frustration from my last post. Still, if the fashionistas would draw attention to the problem rather than themselves, their quest to be fashionable would actually benefit someone other than themselves.

One problem with any dietary restriction is that these people are not able to fully enjoy the benefits of being an American and the many food choices that have become a part of our culture. For those who eat what they will, whether it is fashionable or just plain lust, people with Celiac’s are ignored because, well, it doesn’t affect them. It is a self-absorbed attitude that seems to be increasingly pervasive in the American culture. No, I am not singling out the youth because I see enough of that in my own generation.

There are people I know that say going gluten free even when they do not have Celiac’s has improved their health. One person has a thyroid condition that has abated because she opted for a gluten free diet. Others have stated that back problems, muscle aches, and a general tired feeling have stopped once they stopped eating foods containing gluten. Like meditation, I may not think it is for everyone, but if it works for them, it is worth a try.

Personally, I have not tried any gluten free food. I do not have Celiac’s disease (that I know of) and have the liberty to feed my face whatever it wants. I doubt that I am alone. And I also doubt that there are people who eat gluten free foods just because they can. It might taste better or simply be a different taste. This is America. But let’s not forget that some of thee things we enjoy, other people are unable to.

Sexy Mixer

So my friend just bought a new KitchenAid mixer after reading some reviews online and getting sold on the idea of having this amazing hand mixer. The way she goes on and on about it. This sexy mixer idea came to mind and I couldn’t help but write it down.

I see a beautiful creature on the counter. It has a round, luscious body – curvy and sexy. It is a female, of course, all rosy pink with sleek skin and a shiny crown on top with a sweet little ornament. She is happy and content with her life as she gets considerable attention, usually once a day. Some might say she is obese – but not me. She is perfect as is.

She winks at me from afar. So attractive this one. They don’t make them like this much – a special one-time, one-place being. Her coloring is exquisite and feminine and her cool pastel surface beckons to be touched. You can pat her, but don’t get too fresh. She could be fragile with too much handling.

You can change her attire when you want. She doesn’t mind. She has a variety of accessories and loves them all. They give her a new look, and what woman doesn’t relish the thought. In fact, she requires a change of tune now and then just for variety. You can slip something on her with ease. She will coo with delight.

She told me the other day that she had learned a lot of new things – tricks of the trade really. I should check them out. I am more than intrigued. How alluring she is, and what a tease! I am not always the one to hold her hand and turn her on. But I am ready, willing, and able. I know the fruits of passion.

She has a mate next to her. A little guy, but I am not threatened. He isn’t that useful around the house. Once in a while he can go for it, but we like her best in my household. When someone comes over, I show her off just for the fun of it. She is likeable to be sure.

That’s why she is always there and never relegated to a private place. She is a public person without fear of gapes and stares. She does like to be admired, of course, like any gal. Parts of her are a little tougher, however, and made of different stuff. She has a dual nature in essence. What I like best is her neck–strong like a man. She could take a beating, but not by me (or anyone I know!). I will protect her forever, as long as she graces my life. I value her friendship and try to let her know.

She enriches the world with her gifts and pleasures. She offers wonderful treats. She can transform almost anything, spinning it into a new realm of existence. She changes whatever she touches magically and mysteriously. It is in her nature and her purpose.

I won’t send her packing, this one. People tell me I don’t even realize how much she offers and that I should explore her more. Inside and out. She loves to be clean and I comply and happily assist. She loves a bubble bath with scented soap. Come and see her in all her glory at her best.

Cooking by the Fire

This is really crazy nuts, but I had to cook in my fireplace one night. My stove went on the fritz and I had fresh fish on the counter next to a nice cold bottle of French white wine. A tossed salad waiting for its dressing was in the making and the most divine garlic bread was on the broiler rack with considerable anticipation. There was no question of calling a 24-hour repairman at their steep rates.

I was not going to miss this meal! The fish was fresh-caught and expensive from the best market in town. I used pricey endives in the salad, and the wine—don’t ask. It was a splurge but I was celebrating a very important occasion with a good friend, and we would both be crushed if the evening did not come to fruition.

You don’t mess around with electronic appliances, even the non-digital ones. This is why you get a warranty when they are new. A stove may never break, but if it does like mine, you won’t kill yourself fixing it. I certainly wasn’t going in there with my bare hands. But I was going to cook someway somehow. I had to be get out of the box for a moment and take an imaginary brain ride.

I do own an iron skillet my grandmother sort of bequeathed to me for making pancakes. I love hers so much that I keep it in on a lower shelf. So I lit the wood stove in the lounge room and let it sputter into a full flame existence. I didn’t feed the fire to keep it modest. The fish went into the pan with a little olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper after a coat of soft butter. Lemon wedges and parsley sprigs were to be the final garnish. A restaurant it wasn’t, but it would look darn close when the various elements were “plated.”

I’ve seen old movies and read books about pioneers. How hard can this be? It wasn’t. The fish didn’t take long although the bread was a bit dark and overly crusty on top—but still edible. No worries about the salad that didn’t need to touch a lick of flame. I did try to grill some vegetables but ended up with a sautéed version using the iron pan. There is too much flame in a fireplace for grilling without protection at the front and sides. I was worried about drippings, but there wasn’t any real grease to cause a major situation. I was very, very careful! I used a barbecue mitt (given as a Christmas gift with Santa on it!) even though I don’t own a grill.

Not that I would do it again. I was panicky the whole time. But it tasted great and was certainly a new accomplishment. I am not a cook and had planned a simple-to-prepare meal fortunately. Not a lot of sauce or spices. No need to get close to the pan to stir or glaze. Just heat and eat.

World Poverty – Beggar or Borrower?

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As Americans we have it not good, but great, when it comes to food. There is no doubt about it. We are asked regularly beginning with ads on television and popping up in our web browsers on the Internet to donate money to combat third world hunger. Many Americans see this as helping beggars who are not industrious enough to work to feed themselves. Many choose to contribute in the form of donations to international organizations such as World Vision, who has been around for quite some time and has an excellent public reputation. Of recent vintage is the concept of microloans, money that an individual can actually loan to someone in a third world country to finance growing crops for food the help people feed themselves.

There is an experience I would like to share about World Vision and the problem of donating. I was sponsoring a Peruvian 7 year old girl named Rosalinda. World Vision allows you to correspond with your child through translators, though the mail can take weeks before you get a response. Beyond your monthly contribution, you can send a single payment of a minimum amount that can be used by your sponsored child for clothes and other basic necessities. This is all arranged through World Vision. I had done this several times, and I received a picture with Rosalinda standing next to all the things she bought. New jeans!

Unfortunately, out of nowhere, I was informed that the child I was supporting has changed – with no explanation. The explanation came from Rosalinda in a letter, telling me that World Vision had withdrawn their support of their village, so sending support was no longer possible. To be fair, it is understandable that there are places so remote or dangerous to get to that this sometimes is necessary. But the least I expected was being informed by World Vision instead of a sad 7 year old.

The lesson in this story is that while donating money to reputable charitable organizations is a viable option, everything is not as it seems. Even with vetting the possible charitable organizations, there are things you may discover that you are totally unaware of. It is not as if these realities are intentional deceptions by the organizations, but as Americans we tend to be a bit naïve when trying to help others.

The alternative solution to help ending third world hunger is through microloans. If you have $25 that you can spare, you can actually receive interest on the money you send. The way it works is fairly simple. Go to a web site such as kiva.org and create a contract with someone who agrees to pay you an agreed upon interest rate for the loan. The money can be used for food, clothing, or a number of other available resources lenders need. You can also choose to lend to a group or individual, male or female.

The advantage is not in the return on investment, but that you get to choose exactly who will receive the money and how it will be used. Many people feel more involved with the microloan process, knowing that they have a direct hand in the outcome. Kiva is only one of a number of microloan programs that can be found on the Internet.

But there is another advantage to using microloans – the fact that you are helping people help themselves. Those Americans who believe that third world people are simply looking for a handout can sign up for microloans and decide for themselves who and what they want their money to go to. In a way, the establishment of the microloan program takes away the excuses for people getting involved and being part of the solution instead of standing on the sidelines.

Food For Thought – What Should I Eat

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I once had a friend who said there are two types of people in the world: those who eat to live and those who live to eat. I hope I am somewhere in the middle. As an American, I love to eat. The wide variety of cultures and peoples that make up this country bring to it some of the most distinct and best food on the planet. Stores are packed with ethnic versions of foods not seen here 30 years ago. The American diet seems to be breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, supper, snack, midnight snack. It’s not that we are focused on food, but our lives are fast paced and we burn lots of calories. Now I really wonder if you believe that.

Yet over my life time I continue to get more and more suspicious of all the nutrition and dietary fads that now are everywhere. Adkins Diet, the Paleo Diet, gluten free, transfat free. It is really beginning to get maddening that whatever I do it will either be wrong or change in another year. I tend to stay in pretty good shape and watch what I eat, with the exceptions of Super Bowls, New Years Day, and the requisite holiday celebrations. But after three decades of trying to do the right thing, I am starting to believe eating is not a luxury but a necessity. I need to stop feeling guilty about what I eat and start being smarter about how I live.

They say you are what you eat. If that is the case, then I am mostly vegetable with a thin layer of fat and not much meat. But that can’t be right last time I looked in the mirror. I am reasonably sure that a significant part of me is preservatives, which may make me live longer. I have watched my salt intake but still end up with a good amount of preservatives in my food. Now they say that is bad, but at this point it is hard to tell based on what the doctor said at my last physical exam.

Which brings me to the point of just exactly is it we are supposed to eat and what are we to avoid. Who should I believe? The government once had a food pyramid but now has something that looks like a rhombus. I think. The First Lady is trying to replace high carb lunches with stuff any kid in their right mind would throw in the garbage. And they spend money to do a study to discover not only that kids are filling up school lunchrooms with the new dietary plans, but that the reason kids throw the food away is because they think it tastes crappy. Surprise.

Some argue a government control thing with this, but I don’t agree. It’s just the First Lady being National Mom. Now as for those corporations, that is another story. It seems pretty clear that they have more control over what most Americans eat because they manufacture it. Salt is a natural preservative, and cheap, so companies load down their products with salt. That contributes to an increased risk of heart disease, which doctors then give you a prescription medication to counter its effects. Then they tell you to eat less salt. Someone is chasing their tail here.

One alternative is to go all natural. No preservatives, home garden grown, mercury free, salt free. That seems like a good plan but the problem is that where can most people find these foods? Forget WalMart. Farmer’s markets are a great idea except in most places they aren’t year round. The main source of natural foods will be local specialty stores or healthy sections n the local supermarket. Stop and think about that for a second. A place where you buy food to eat has a healthy section. Then what is all the other food supposed to be?

But the bottom line for most people is the bottom line – price. Who can afford a $5 jar of 16 ounces of peanut butter once a month? The better you try to eat, the more it costs. If I turn that logic on its head, if you are poor you will die sooner from malnutrition. If you noticed, a reduced fat product costs more than the regular version. What corporations are saying is, if we have to put ingredients that are actually good for you instead of fat, you will pay more for it. It’s peanut butter, not caviar.

The more I think about this eating thing, the more I realize it may not matter at all. I have no major health problems despite the fact that I have changed my diet 20 times over the last 21 years. I can climb several flights of stairs without getting winded and maintain a normal blood pressure level despite my job. Personally, I think I have been had by the diet gurus and nutrition experts. Time to go get my fat enriched ice cream and top it with the necessary quantity of double chocolate sauce.