Monday, April 29, 2013

Guardian News Says: News Is Bad For You

I find this news article from The Guardian ironic:

News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier

News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether.

 For me, this was a total Duh moment.  I thought to myself, who doesn't know that?  But I think the truth is that most people don't understand the concept that a constant stream of negative soundbites wrecks havoc on your mind and your sense of well-being.  That's why, for several years now, I haven't made it a point to keep up with the news.  I don't watch TV news (which is easy since we don't have cable), I don't read the newspaper, I don't scour internet news sites, and I even recently gave up my bad habit of reading celebrity gossip magazines. 

That's not to say I'm uninformed.  I read lots of informative blogs like Fat Head, Diet Doctor, and Mark's Daily Apple, and I listen to podcasts that interest me.  I check the weather frequently, I read magazines that interest me, and I'll sometimes listen to the news on our local radio station (and sometimes I ask Chad if there's anything interesting going on in computer/tech news he reads).  I pay attention to the things that are important to me, but I stay far away from the kind of negative news that does harm to my well-being.

The Guardian article is broken up into little sections, and I think the title for each section is a good description of why you should stay away from news.

News misleads.
News is irrelevant.
News has no explanatory power.
News is toxic to your body.
News increases cognitive errors.
News inhibits thinking.
News works like a drug.
News wastes time.
News makes us passive.
And my favorite one:

News kills creativity. Finally, things we already know limit our creativity. This is one reason that mathematicians, novelists, composers and entrepreneurs often produce their most creative works at a young age. Their brains enjoy a wide, uninhabited space that emboldens them to come up with and pursue novel ideas. I don't know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie – not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don't.

I like this because it explains so well the problem we lowcarb/paleo/primal folks are having with society, and how they can't seem to think outside their low-fat high-carb box.  They consume so much news that tells them the same thing over and over again, that pretty soon they can't even toy with the idea that anything else is possible.  I can't tell you how often I've heard people argue, "But I heard on the news..." when I'm trying to tell them about my way of eating.  Once they hear it on the news, they don't bother going out and doing their own research, and the idea is stuck in their head forever.  There are still people who don't eat cholesterol (or limit it as much as possible) despite the fact that dietary cholesterol has been openly redeemed of its once bad reputation.  Why do they still eat that way?  Because they remember reading or hearing on the news that it was bad for you back in the 80s (and journalists keep repeating the same old ideas from 30 years ago despite the fact that science has moved on). 

Friday, April 26, 2013


I'm really tired today.  Not just like "I want to go back to bed", but like "It takes real effort to walk across the room" tired.  A tiredness that sinks down into my bones.  And it sucks, because I'm a homemaker with stuff to do.

However, it does remind me of one thing that makes me happy.  Before I changed my diet to exclude sugar and grains and include lots of meat, I felt this level of tired a lot more often.  Not all the time, but frequently.  When I wasn't feeling bone-tired, I was feeling mentally tired.  You know what I mean; when you can't focus long enough to actually get anything done, and all you want to do is watch reruns all day long. 

It's funny how easily you can forget the way you used to be.  Once you're feeling full of energy and health, the bad old days just fade away.  I actually purposefully indulge in wheat and sugar once in a while just to remind myself of what I'm like when I eat those things, and it's not a pretty sight.  Chad did the same thing last weekend.  He had two large pancakes with syrup on Saturday morning, and I swear he was foggy brained and moody until Monday afternoon. 

So why am I bone-tired today, if I've been eating so well and taking care of myself?  I usually get a little tired around the time I ovulate (which I did recently), but not this tired.  Since Chad and I are trying for a baby, and tiredness is one of the very first signs of pregnancy, I'm hoping this tiredness means we have a little paleo baby on the way :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Low Carb Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Phew.  That's a long name for a recipe.

Kind of on a whim the other day, I bought some dark chocolate chips (Ghirardeli's 60% cacao; not as dark as I'd like it, but better than Hershey's special "dark").  Chad recently bought me Cooking With Coconut Flour and also Wheat Belly Cookbook, and I knew both had recipes for chocolate chip cookies in them! 

So yesterday, feeling kind of crazy hungry for chocolate chip cookies all of a sudden, I dug through both books to see what they called for.  The Wheat Belly cookbook calls for 4(!!) cups of almond flour, and I only had maybe 1 1/2 cup ground at the moment.  The coconut flour book was better; however almost all of the coconut flour recipes call for sugar.  I've tried substituting stevia in the past, but unfortunately, the sugar is essential for getting the properties of a cookie.  Anyway, this recipe called for a minimum of 1/2 cup of sugar, and I knew that with the chocolate chips added, it was going to be a carb bomb by the time I was done.  I'll probably try this recipe in the future, when I feel like I have some wiggle room carb wise, but for now I just put it away.

After that disappointment, I hit up Linda's Low Carb, my favorite low carb recipe site.  I like it because Linda personally tries every recipe and then rates and comments on them all.  Well, unfortunately, I didn't see ANY chocolate chip cookies in her recipes. 

I was feeling really desperate for cookies at this point, so I just punched in "low carb chocolate chip cookies" into google and hoped for the best.  Most of the results were ok, but included ingredients that I don't have on hand or would rather not use (like DaVinci syrups or protein powder). 

But there was one gem amongst the others.  It was... so beautiful.  A deep dish cookie, mixed and cooked in a bowl in the microwave.  More like a beautiful cookie cake than an actual cookie.

I remember Linda at Linda's Low Carb saying that she's successfully substituted almond flour for ground flax seed, so I used 1/4 cup of almond flour instead of 1/8 each almond flour and flax seed.  I also used butter instead of coconut oil because I <3 butter.  Who doesn't? 

This baby is big, though.  If you make it, plan on counting it as a large part of your meal, or maybe share it with a friend.  Since Chad's not eating anything sweet of any kind (except for fruit and chocolate), I had to eat it all by myself.  Not that I'm complaining! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

It's spring!

I'm a gardener.  To someone who doesn't garden, that's just a statement, like saying I like cheese.  But to a gardener, it's like a window into your personality, a statement about your very being.  Gardening is a part of who I am.

I'm not much of a flower gardener.  I try, I really do, but I can't connect to flowers.  They're too flighty, too delicate.  Flower gardening makes me feel like I'm working with a room full of drama queens. 

My true love lies with food-bearing plants.  Vegetables vines, berry bushes, fruiting trees.  There's something substantial about edible plants that really makes me love them.  You have to care for them perhaps even more than flowers, but they're not vain.  It doesn't matter if they're a little brown around the edges, or if they have holes all through their leaves.  As long as they're strong and healthy and happy, they'll give you something wonderful in return. 

Tomatoes and green beans are my favorites.  Even though I never used to like tomatoes, and have only just begun to start eating them regularly, I love them as a plant.  They're so hardy.  You could abuse a tomato plant, bring it near death, and if it had the right soil and plenty of sunshine, it would still spread half way across your yard and produce a bumper crop.  They're a plant that's almost impossible to kill unless you actually try to.  Beans are similar.  They're very hardy, totally unneedy plants.  One year, deer ate every single leaf from my bean vines TWICE and they came back, strong and healthy, each time and gave me an awesome supply of beans. 

So why am I writing about gardening on my low carb/paleo blog?  Well, because I think gardening totally fits into that lifestyle.  It's not just about eating better foods.  It's about reconnecting to your food, understanding the circle of life, and providing yourself with the highest quality foods you can.  Trust me, being a vegetable gardener can be a life changing experience if you let it be.  Caring for a tiny helpless seedling, watching it become a towering plant that you have to prune weekly just to keep it from attacking your yard, being there to see it take its own life forces away from itself and direct it into the next generation, and then harvesting the fruits of its labors, and finally having to pull the withered remains of this mighty life from the earth.  All in one season. 

But I'm rambling now.  The real reason I started writing this was because I have pictures!  I've been slowly working on my garden because spring is here, and vegetable season is almost here.  Because I grow almost exclusively heirloom varieties, and because they're nearly impossible to find locally, I start my plants from seeds in my basement.  Also, it's a lot cheaper to start my own seeds.

So far, I have cauliflower, red and green cabbage, broccoli, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and lettuce planted.  I also have some heirloom petunias growing.  I was really excited when I learned that heirloom petunias have a lovely scent which has been bred out of modern petunias. 

Here's my lonely winter garden, as seen from my upstairs window:

Here's my growing station in my basement.  My husband, who likes to think of himself as an amateur lightbulb expert, set it up for me.

 These are my onions, though I'll admit they didn't germinate very well.  I still haven't figured onion seeds out.  I'll probably have to buy some onion sets later on.

These are my brassica seedlings (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) planted in newspaper pots I made last fall.  I wanted something that would degrade if I planted them directly into the garden, and I think this is the real winner.  They're super cheap, for one thing, and newspaper breaks down easily.  I've tried peat pots in the past, and they never actually degrade.  I think they even restrict the plants' roots from fully expanding.

These are the cute little petunias I started.  They take forever to germinate, by the way.

These are one of the few hybrid plants I'll be growing this year.  It's a dwarf tomato called Red Robin.  They only grow to 12 inches tall, but despite that, they're very heavy producers.  I got two pounds of tomatoes off of two plants last year, and my mother-in-law brought hers inside and it continued to produce until Christmas!

I have other seeds planted, but they haven't come up yet.  This is a fun time of year, but I can't wait until I can get outside and really start digging in the dirt.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rosemary Parmesan Chicken Drumsticks

When I first started eating meat, I knew we couldn't afford really fancy meat.  We wouldn't be eating steak every night of the week.  So I did some research to find out what the cheapest kinds of meat were, and the first thing that I found was chicken drumsticks.  They were like 99 cents a pound at Wegmans if you bought the bulk packages.  Cool, I thought, I know Chad likes drumsticks.  But as it turns out, I didn't really like them very much.  They were hard to cook properly, and then difficult to eat.  So after that first package, we didn't buy drumsticks for quite some time.

Then on a whim last weekend, Chad picked up a pack and stuck it in the cart.  Seeing as it was like $4, I didn't argue.  If nothing else, I could use them for soup.

Well, yesterday I was feeling adventurous, and did a little research on how to make awesome drumsticks.  The first recipe I found was this one at Allrecipes.  It sounded pretty good, but I figured I could make it awesome with some tweaking.  Because that's what I do, baby.

And I was right!  After some changes to the recipe, I came up with something that was AMAZING.  I was in chicken heaven eating these.  Chad had two and a half drumsticks himself.  I managed to take a picture before they were all gone.

You ready for the recipe?

Rosemary Parmesan Chicken

6 chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1/4 - 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 ground black pepper
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 baking dish with bacon grease or butter and set aside.

Put a large pot of water on medium high heat.  Add about 1/4 tsp salt to the water.  Cover with a lid and bring to a rolling boil.

Meanwhile, combine the Parmesan, flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, and onion in a medium sized bowl.  Crack the egg into a separate bowl and whisk.  Set bowls aside.

Parboil the chicken drumsticks in the boiling water, three at a time, for about 5 minutes or until the water begins to boil again.  Chicken should look white instead of pink when you remove it from the water.  Set on a plate and let it cool for a few minutes while you add the other drumsticks to the water.

When the drumsticks are cool enough to handle, dip them first into the egg, and then into the Parmesan mixture.  Make sure to really get it coated in the cheese mixture.  I had to roll it around a few times before it was fully covered.  If you do it right, you should have just enough cheese mixture to cover all the drumsticks, with hardly any left over. If you need more, just add a little more cheese and almond flour, a dash of salt and a sprinkle of rosemary. 

Lay the chicken in the baking dish so that none are touching.  Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165.  Let cool for a few minutes and then enjoy!

 Nutritional Info:
Serving: 1 drumstick
Calories: 221
Fat: 14
Sodium: 426
Carbs: 2
Fiber: 1
Protein: 21

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Bumpy Road

Life doesn't always go the way you plan it.  I know this pretty well by now, but nevertheless, it always throws me for a loop when something unexpected happens in my life. 

Like, for instance, having someone turn left in front of our car at high speed, totaling our car and leaving us scrambling to buy a new one.  I think I was more dead weight than anything for my poor husband the whole week.  The accident left me mildly traumatized, and I found it hard to do even the most basic chores. 

Needless to say, the first part of my life that suffered was my diet.  I'm a stress eater.  When I'm under pressure of any kind, I try to ease my anxiety with food.  At first I tried to eat healthy foods, because I knew I didn't want to eat junk when my body and mind were already having problems.  But I couldn't stop myself.  Pretty soon, I found the sugar, and the rest is just a sweet blur. 

(Admittedly, I indulged in much smaller amounts of sugar than I would have back in my calorie counting days.  Today, I consider indulging as eating one or two servings of sweets a day, whereas in the past I've been known to inhale a whole bag of candy in an attempt to make myself feel better.)

I really hate when I lose control of my eating habits.  My brain is saying "hey, don't eat that", but my mouth is saying "shut up, you goody-two-shoes!  Can't you see I need this?".  The sad part is that it's never as good as I think it's going to be. 

And now that I've been eating junk foods for about a week, I've been finding it hard to get back into the swing of eating real food.  My sugar cravings are killing me, and I'm having trouble resisting food between meals.  Sigh.  I think for now I'll focus mostly on just staying away from sugar, and once the cravings go away, I'll cut out in between meal snacking again. 

The next time something like this happens, I'm going to try harder to be good to myself.