Category Archives: Uncategorized (’til I think of something better)

A report on my “dairy free” week

I want to report on my recent, voluntary week of a dairy-free diet. It was interesting, challenging even.

First off, I didn’t plan very well. That became evident very quickly. I thought I kind of had. I moved anything dairy out of sight. I even decided it would be an egg-free week too. But what I didn’t do to any great extent was plan what I would eat. I typically have some kind of dairy every day – cheese, yogurt, and milk are the main ones. But there’s others occasionally (ricotta cheese, sour cream, butter, parmesan or romano in the plastic canisters; cream cheese and ice cream rarely). Dairy is a big group!

What no dairy for seven days did was force me to come up with substitutes and that was the big takeaway. If you’re eating less cheese, maybe you’re eating more vegetables for instance. Eating less eggs, maybe eating more whole grains. I sure wasn’t going to eat crap in place of no dairy, not when I was thinking about it so much.

Because I am already mostly vegetarian, it was a week of vegetables, home-made soup, beans, fruits, pasta, breads, whole grains, nuts & seeds, and fish (one can of tuna, two small frozen whiting fillets, and canned salmon in a soup). The only place I messed up was when I cracked open a little jar of pesto and had that with a couple meals, only to remember later that it has cheese in it! Right there on the tiny label, Romano cheese. I just wasn’t thinking. I didn’t eat any candy or chips or crackers and stuck with stove-topped popcorn and home-made cookies that aren’t full of junk for snacking and treats. I did make wonderful little dates/walnuts/coconut treats (recipe coming in future post, super easy) that someone had just posted on Facebook although I made my version just a bit healthier. (I am not one of those people who claims to have no sweet, salty or fatty cravings.)

The dairy free week made me think about how many meals I make. Even if it’s two a day most days, just to be conservative, that’s easily 700 meals a year!!!  I don’t know why that never occurred to me before. It’s work to put together wholesome, non-toxic, nutrient-rich meals from scratch on a daily basis. And I like variety (I don’t want to eat the same things every day, not even for breakfast).

The no-eggs was challenging too. Although I love eggs and with no repercussions would eat them daily, same as cheese, I try not to over-indulge. If I’m going to guess, I expect I  eat 12 (a carton) every month or 6 weeks.  On night 6 my week of no dairy or eggs I had a dream that I made scrambled eggs just for me USING 8 EGGS. In real life, I eat only one egg at a time, whether it’s adding one egg to a recipe (even if it calls for 2 or more), or adding one hard-boiled egg to a salad, or making one scrambled egg for toast or a sandwich. ONE. Only one. Dream-me was going to scarf down 8 in one sitting!

So far as feeling better or seeing any big changes, I didn’t notice anything in particular; I felt normal, regular. My allergies (to molds, dust, etc) seemed about the same, no worse. My energy was okay, nothing amazing. (Typically, if you’re going to try out a vegetarian or vegan diet, 3 weeks is the suggestion.) For me, one week of trying something – whatever it is – seems sufficient to “re-wire” my brain. I mean, that breaks my habits and makes me sufficiently conscious of them.

All said, I’ve decided to cut back on cheese. While my previous limit was no more than an ounce a day (based on something I read as “okay”) I didn’t measure it and kind of guessed. And even though I predominantly chose lower fat varieties, they’re still pretty fatty. I’m not wholly anti-fat but I haven’t seen anything convincing to negate the conventional wisdom that saturated fats contribute to the top killer of Americans, namely heart disease. I certainly have older relatives who either had or died of heart disease. Also, I’d gotten into a habit of frequently buying packaged shredded cheeses and I have to say I was never comfortable with the “anti-caking” or other preservatives that many brands contain but I kept on eating them because they were convenient and tasted good. I think I can do better now.

The little grocery store closest to me sells store brands of sliced provolone, Monterey jack, and Swiss cheese in 8 ounce packages. There are no weird additives. Each has 12 slices per pack, so each portion is well under 1 ounce. They cost more per pound than the cheeses I usually buy but I really like the idea of knowing how much I’m having (rather than guessing and probably “rounding” in my favor). This means I’ll put one slice per home-made pizza, one slice to go in a big salad, or one slice for a grilled cheese.

If I buy a block of cheese, I can cut it into portions to freeze. I’ve done this before but not so much with the idea of measuring or limiting portions. If I cut 8 portions from a one pound block to freeze, I’ll know that each one is no less than a two-day ration. This gives me a guideline. I keep improving my diet over the years and I feel good about this. I think it’s the righ.t direction. Particularly as I noted above, in that it forces me to come up with other/better substitutes. It sure isn’t las if I’m in danger of eating too many vegetables.

(p.s. THIS week is my self-imposed Amazon-free week. No shopping, no looking at the site, no Amazon.  I have my reasons for this, one of which is simply breaking a habit. This one might be harder than cheese, not sure!)

 

NOTE: Please forgive 1-2 days’ delay in responding to comments; I definitely want to read them.

 

 

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This is not a resolution

So. For the next seven days I’m going dairy-free. I am a “mostly vegetarian” with NO plans to become a vegan. However, I’m curious what, if any benefits I might get from cutting back dairy. I don’t over-consume (my cholesterol level is in the desirable range) but I am careful. My rule of cheese-thumb is no more than one ounce a day, a suggestion I once read. Left to my own devices with no repercussions I’d definitely eat more cheese as I suggested in this short and surprisingly (to me anyway) popular post. And milk, yogurt, etcetera? Oh I like them very much too.

I do hear/read a lot of good things about the vegan diet and while I am not onboard I don’t think a seven-day experiment is too onerous. I have miserable allergies plus tend toward winter lethargy (definitely affected by seasonal lack of daylight) and I’m simply curious if a dairy fast will help either. IF I saw some difference I might be motivated to eat less dairy but we’ll see. I have read that you’re supposed to give a vegan diet a three week trial (certainly vegan advocate Dr Neal Barnard says so, sigh; he just wrote a WHOLE anti-cheese book, which I did not read). Three weeks without cheese?? Noooo. Oh, and “cheese substitutes?” Pricey of course, not buying any, not now anyway.

I think the biggest issue, for a middle-aged lady who wants to maintain her bones, is the calcium  Dairy products pack lots of calcium. I DO take calcium supplements and eat other foods which have calcium, but those “other foods” are meager in their calcium comparatively speaking. Sure, broccoli has calcium but c’mon! It ain’t no dairy product in the calcium cage matches!

In preparation for a dairy-free week, last night I fixed my favorite food of all, popcorn, and added chili powder and a Mexican blend shredded cheese. Oh my. (I like to make “theme” popcorn sometimes to shake things up.)

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This is before I stirred it. I wanted you to see the lovely toppings.

 

My plan is to report back how The Week of No Dairy went in a later post.

 

NOTE: Please forgive any delay in responding to comments due to internet issues (that or I keeled over because my system went into some kind of cheese withdrawal shock).

ALL SALES FINAL (you’ll eat those carrots and like em!)

Last week I posted a sign I saw in the small, local grocery store I patronize. I’m back with a new one from the same place, of a slightly different ilk. I have to preface this by saying that while I do very much appreciate this particular store, largely for its convenience and good price/sales, the produce section is often dismal. For example, I might find Romaine lettuce that’s not old-n-rotty® on every third visit. Two weeks ago I reached into the zucchini bin and my finger went right through one of them. Ewww. (I used to joke privately, and not too charitably, that the store’s motto must be “We will sell no produce before its time.”)

They also have a discounted produce bin. Honestly, it’s usually pretty scary. A large, chain grocery store would put this stuff in the garbage, but not this store! Despite myself, I usually glance at the discounted offerings because once in a very great while I find something worth buying. (Although now that I think about it I’m not quite sure when that last would have been…)

On the weekend I walked through produce and noticed a new, handwritten sign on the discounted bin, the one in the center.
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In case you don’t understand ALL SALES FINAL they break it down even further.

 

Gee, that doesn’t sound too friendly. But what it really says to me is that customers have been trying to return this sad produce. Um, I don’t get that at all because it’s not like the store hides the shape these discounted vegetables and fruits are in (unlike some of the “regular” produce, which sometimes gets turned over by staff to hide icky spots, ahem). I mean, hell I took two quick photos of reduced items just to show you.

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I THINK those are carrots of some kind

 

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If I’m not mistaken the tiny white spots on the potatoes look like MOLD

 

I’m with the store on this one. I figure if you buy something out of this bin you can’t claim you didn’t KNOW what you were getting. It’s hardly fair to bring it back saying it was bad; you bought it bad.

Short Thought 196 (liquor bottles)

When I find a bottle, typically a liquor or beer bottle, tossed on the ground somewhere, and I’m in the general vicinity of a trash can or on my way home, I’ll pick it up and carry it with me to throw away or put in recycling. I want to squash the opportunity for some asshole to come along and smash it, putting bike and car tires at risk as well as pets and children who don’t know better than to avoid broken glass.

Here’s the thing though. I carry any such bottle very deliberately. First, I’ll empty out whatever contents might still be in it and then I typically hold it upside down and away from my body so as to project: This isn’t MY bottle, no sirree, in case anyone is wondering. Just a good citizen here, not a person strolling down the street chugging on a 32oz Colt 45 in the middle of the day.

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Short Thought 193 (sorry)

I’ve been thinking about apologies lately, both ones I’ve personally been offered in the past as well as those I’ve heard in the media.

You know what’s a lousy apology? “I don’t remember doing that but if I did do it or you think I did, I apologize.”

This suggests a few things to me, none promising:

a) the apologizer remembers damn good & well but was hoping it would be forgotten.

b) the apologizer doesn’t remember because they were high or drunk.

c) the apologizer doesn’t remember because it was no big deal in their mind and/or they act that way all the time.

Pullover conundrum

When I’m watching a TV show or movie and a character is putting a shirt on they first sort of roll up the shirt and stick their arms through the sleeves and then pull the neck opening over their head. Once I started noticing this, it seemed the predominant method for donning any kind of pullover UNLESS the scene was being played for comic effect (whereupon the character gets the shirt stuck on his or her head and proceeds to stagger around crashing into walls and knocking over lamps). Usually it’s a smooth two-step move though, and the character hardly breaks rhythm. They make it look cool.

This is not how I put on a pullover. First I pull the shirt over my head and then I wrestle into the sleeves. I’d have never given it a thought but for noticing how actors do it onscreen. It made me think there are two distinct schools on the proper way to get into a pullover – and maybe an adult just does what they were taught as a child. (I know my mother had me put the shirt over my head first).

It further occurs to me as I write this that the onscreen method is probably deliberate so that the actor’s head is visible most of the time and he or she can go right on talking. In any event whenever I see someone do the arms-then-head method I think to myself “I should try that” but invariably I forget to and I remember only as I am contorting into the sleeves. And no, I am not so demented as to take the shirt off so I can start over doing it the other way.

So. How you YOU put on a pullover? If you’re not sure feel free to get back to me on this after the next time you put one on. I’ll be here.

Say hello to my (steamy) little friend

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Whenever I find something good I like to share it. I don’t know about you but by this time in winter, when everything feels so bone-chilling and dry, I crave warmth and humidity. Not having enough moisture in the air makes it feel colder than it is so if you crank up the heat and still can’t get warm, that is often the reason. You need the right mix of humidity and heat to be comfortable. Beyond the comfort factor, allergies have been a life-long issue for me and the dry air does me no good.

People hole up in the bathroom for long, steamy showers or take hot baths to compensate. That’s all very nice and once upon a time I would’ve done it too. However, where I live (and have lived a long time) there is a big-ass WINDOW right in the shower and it gets COLD. I cover up the window with plastic in winter but still, that doesn’t make a huge difference. My point being the shower isn’t somewhere to linger – and hot water is very drying on the skin too. As if you’re not feeling dry-n-scaly enough by February.

I’ve had humidifiers before but they need a lot of baby-sitting whether it’s cleaning or buying new filters. When I googled the difference between humidifiers and vaporizers I was happy with what I found. Humidifiers typically put cool moisture into the air (although there are warm-mist humidifiers) while vaporizers boil water and pump out lovely steam. Vaporizers can have oils and medicinal scents added so they are often used when people, especially kids, are sick. (When I was a kid we had a glass vaporizer for when we were sick. Now they are plastic. I don’t know how you boil water in plastic but you do.) And even better, since the water is boiled it’s less likely to harbor bacteria meaning the unit needs less cleaning. YAY.

I got this Vicks vaporizer recently and instantly took to it. I love the wonderful, steamy, warm mist this baby cranks out. I stuck my face into the steam and breathed deep, getting sinus relief and a facial in one. I just stayed there awhile. It felt heavenly. Where have you been all my life, steamy friend?

My room is small and initially I steamed the heck out of it. The humidity gauge I used to see how well the vaporizer worked shot up to 90%! In fact the windows were covered with water, the mirrors fogged over and the sides of my Ikea cabinet were dripping. It then occurred to me that since Ikea furniture isn’t exactly wood but some kind of composite, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Oops. I mean I’m not trying to create a moldy environment just a more humid one. I’ve subsequently dialed back my vaporizer output in order not to rot out my furniture.

A vaporizer may not be the beach, or an island vacation, or a heated indoor swimming pool, or a clear mountain lake in July, but for this time of year when the pickins’ are relatively slim, it feels awfully luxurious to me.