Tag Archives: reality check

Paleo tweaks

Found a great tweak to my go-to coleslaw recipe. Coleslaw is my favorite way to eat cabbage, although the stir-fry cabbage I made last week was pretty amazing. (This, from someone who had a sort of okay-I’ll-eat-it-because-it’s-a-vegetable-and-vegetables-are-supposed-to-be-good-for-you attitude.) The coleslaw sauce recipe came out of a gluten-free cookbook, and was so simple to remember: equal parts mayonnaise, sugar, and white vinegar, whisked together. I ‘d add a pinch of salt and a little white pepper to that. Creamy coleslaw perfection.

Okay, so how to make this Paleo friendly? Homemade mayo, check. Raw apple cider vinegar, check. Sugar?

I thought about stevia, but didn’t really want to go there. My past experience experimenting with the stuff didn’t seem too promising for this recipe.

Trying to go completely sugar free… but finally broke down (don’t want the cabbage in the fridge to go moldy from sitting there) and tried honey in the recipe today, as in (for a wedge of cabbage, shredded)

1 TBS mayo
1 TBS raw apple cider vinegar
1 TBS raw honey

It made for a flavorful dressing — didn’t even need the salt and pepper. The honey was very strong, and can probably be cut down to a teaspoon or a little more. And of course I’m not eating as much honey as is there in the sauce because when the coleslaw is gone, there’s still sauce left on the plate. So while it’s not exactly cutting out sugar, it is cutting way down, and substituting raw honey (which has its own health benefits).

You can read on, or ignore the rest, which is mainly medical musing and a little background as to why I’m doing this “Paleo” way of eating, or trying to, anyhow.

***

Feeling my way here… I’ve been in a lot more pain lately, over and above (don’t you love redundancy?) what the water kefir has been suppressing…

(Digression: How do I know what the water kefir is suppressing? Because of what happens when I don’t drink it, if I didn’t get around to harvesting the latest brew and due to our busy schedule, have to run out the door without my morning cuppa.)

Anyhow, have begun trying to eat according to “Paleo autoimmune” guidelines, more than I was when I was just following Paleo guidelines. Something that I hadn’t cut out before were the nightshades (specifically tomatoes and peppers — I can take or leave eggplant), nuts, and eggs. The earlier stuff involved in transitioning to Paleo-style eating as defined by Robb Wolf  and other people I’ve been “listening to” (as in, reading books and websites), well, that wasn’t so hard, considering that our kitchen has been gluten-free for over a year now, and over the past months I’ve been experimenting with dairy alternatives as well.

As a matter of fact, I had been eating a lot more eggs lately, especially since cutting out GF oatmeal and other GF grains. Eggs are relatively cheap protein, and since we get free-range eggs from friends with chickens they ought to be fairly healthy. However, the increase in joint pain this past week makes me wonder — am I reacting to the increase in eggs in my diet?

Need to get a handle on this so I can function again. In case I didn’t mention it before, I tried the medical route the last time my joints, especially my knees, were this painful. All the doctor wanted to do was throw — what are they called? NSAIDs? — drugs at the problem to mask the pain, and then when the damage had progressed far enough do knee replacement surgeries.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad the medical people are out there and available with some sort of “solution.” I’d just like to avoid drugs (I looked up the side effects of what he prescribed. Scary.) and surgery if at all possible. I thought that the water kefir would be enough — it was enough, for months. But something has changed and so I’m changing my attack plan.

If something in my diet is causing the pain, and it’s as simple as changing my diet to eliminate the pain (or cut it way down to manageable levels once more), well then, I’d much rather do that than take pills which significantly increase my possibility of stroke and heart attack and I forget what else.

Have been egg-free for only a day — oops, no I haven’t. Mayo has egg in it. Will have to investigate homemade eggless mayo, if such a thing is possible.

Sigh. And yet, it’ll be worth it, if it works.

Selah

According to Wikipedia:

Selah (Hebrew: סֶלָה‎, also transliterated as selāh) is a word used 74 times in the Hebrew Bible that means GOD HAS SPOKEN.  – it used 71 times in the Psalms and three times in Habakkuk  – and is a difficult concept to translate. (It should not be confused with the Hebrew word sela‘ (Hebrew: סֶלַע‎) which means “rock.”) It is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like “stop and listen”. Selah can also be used to indicate that there is to be a musical interlude at that point in the Psalm. The Amplified Bible translates selah as “pause, and think of that”. It can also be interpreted as a form of underlining in preparation for the next paragraph.

I used to wince at red lights. Okay, I’d more than wince. I’d complain, usually inwardly, but sometimes aloud. “Oh, no!” you’d hear me say. “Not another red light!” And truthfully, sometimes it seemed (or seems) that I’d hit one red light after another. “These lights are so badly timed,” I’d grouse. I’d fret about poor fuel efficiency. I’d worry about being — not just late, but — later.

I have a bad habit of being too much of an optimist, not allowing extra time in transit for such things as red lights, construction, traffic jams, and that’s the kind of thing that makes you late. I’m getting better…

Anyhow, back to the topic at hand. One day, while sitting at a red light, it came to me. Stewing was a poor use of my time. Did it get me anything? (Other than aggravated, that is.) No. Obviously.

What if I were to use red lights profitably? How could I use them profitably?

Give thanks in all things. While it may seem silly to you, it came to me (while sitting at a red light) that I could be using red lights as a time to praise. To meditate on Scripture. To contemplate my blessings. To give thanks. (See 1 Thess. 5:18 and Eph. 5:20)

The idea of “selah” seemed to fit. I’d heard a definition of “selah” in a sermon some time ago; the preacher had called it a time to pause and reflect on what had just been said (in the Psalm we were reading), or the deep breath before the dive into the next section, or both.

Practicing “selah-ness” at red lights has totally changed my driving attitude. Now instead of an “oh, no!” reaction to a yellow light announcing a red soon to follow, I (usually) am reminded that God is there in the midst of my busyness, my hurry. It’s a sort of tug on my spirit, a signal to slow down and think about what’s really important.

I’m sure it’s done my blood pressure some good, too.

Glad it’s Friday!

Coming off a nasty cold (as is Middlest — I think I caught hers). Finally feeling some energy again. So, today will be something of a catchup day. I have to be careful not to overdo and consequently relapse. Add to that the fact that it’s so chilly, it’s hard to stay warm short of turning the heat on again. (And we did turn the heat on earlier in the week, funny thing to do in May but when you have sick people, you’ve got to keep them warm!)

The weather all week has been more like March than May. After the summery weather early in the month, we were all ready for summer, but summer, it seems, is not quite ready for us…

Have you been reading the 30 Day organizing series at The Happy Lil Homemaker? I just stumbled across it this morning. Just might be the thing for the month of June. Will let you know.

Gluten free? Be careful…

While perusing magazines in the orthodontist’s waiting room yesterday (emergency appointment; Youngest has been miserable with the latest adjustment last week, scarcely able to eat — doing much better today, am thankful to say!), I picked up the March issue of Everyday with Rachel Ray.

I subscribe to very few magazines, but I’ll occasionally pick up an issue of Rachel Ray’s cooking magazine at the store, especially if I’m hungry, going through the checkout line, and the recipes look good. (Musical scrap of an old advertisement floats through my distractible brain: Don’t shop when you’re hungry! No! No! No!)

Back to my train of thought. The March issue looked good, certainly, and I may well seek it out next time I’m grocery shopping, and snap it up. I adapt some of the gluten-containing recipes, and others are naturally gluten-free.

Imagine how pleased I was to see an article for a buffet meal for friends that was gluten free and allergy friendly!

In the old, carefree days, before we discovered severe gluten sensitivities in some of our family members, I might have cooked up this menu and invited gluten free friends to dine, blithely assuring them that the magazine said it was safe for them to eat, as the recipes were gluten free. (Thankfully, our celiac friends are very careful and don’t just take people’s word for it…)

You might think Chicken Cordon Bleu rolled in a cornflake crust would be gluten free, wouldn’t you? After all, a lot of GF people can eat corn products, like corn tortillas or cornstarch. Cornflakes ought to be a no-brainer, right?

Unfortunately, no. When I cleared out all the gluten-containing foods from the pantry (to keep our GF family members safer, from cross-contamination and accidental self-poisoning) and removed these foods from my shopping list, my beloved cornflakes had to go. (There’s nothing better in berry season, than cornflakes with fresh-picked blueberries and some lovely raw honey drizzled over it all…)

On rare occasions, I will still buy cornflakes in boxes that are marked “gluten free,” but they cost more than my old standby brand, so it’s a rare treat. Usually in blueberry season.

The problem with a lot of cereals seems to be the malt flavoring, which comes from barley, which contains gluten. This has, sadly, reduced the list of cereals we can use. Former favorites like Rice Krispies and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are off our list. (Rice and Corn Chex cereals are a decent substitute, though they don’t make very good “Rice Krispie Treats” as far as we’re concerned.)

If you decide to make a gluten free meal, and you’re new to GF cooking, be very careful. Read the ingredients list. Look at the labels on the ingredients for the words “gluten free.” Ask an experienced GF friend for help in maneuvering through the maze of ingredients that are out there. Don’t just assume something is safe to eat because a recipe claims it’s safe.

For more information on finding gluten free cornflakes, check out this article at about.com.

Very glad it’s Friday

Still fighting whatever bug is trying to get hold of me. This morning I doused my oatmeal with a dollop of honey and fair amount of cinnamon. I read somewhere on Facebook that cinnamon/honey in a 1-to-4 ratio is a great remedy to knock out a cold.

Eldest is giving me vitamin C every hour, and I’ve also had kefir and kombucha (not together) already this morning. If remedies can do the trick, I’m pretty remedied-up. (Except for elderberry. I need to remember the elderberry syrup that’s in the fridge.)

What’s your favorite way to avoid the bugs?

We’re back!

…back from a grueling, exhilarating, five-day adventure also known as a Speech and Debate Tournament.

It is the best of days, it is the worst of days. (Wait, did someone already say that?)

A load of laundry is started, breakfast is on the stove, with the makings of more good food in the works. The Giant Schnoz, fully convinced that No One Else Will Do when it comes to taking her outside, feeding her, etc., is growling-and-wagging hopefully at my elbow. (Growling-and-wagging is a time-tested Giant Schnauzer technique. The growling is meant to show seriousness, with wagging thrown in to show it’s not that kind of seriousness, but a more cheerful — though urgent — kind.)

(Pause to feed aforementioned dog)

And now, fed, she has taken the top off the treat jar, and so it must be time to give her the daily pill that resides in a bottle in the treat container. She likes her pills. She really does. That’s why they’re usually sealed up tight with the rest of the treats. Someone left the lid loose, and so I must go and see to the administration of the pill, and then make sure the treats are sealed in a manner that is safe from opportunistic Schnauzers. Be back in a minute.

(Pause to dose dog and secure future doses, along with various and sundry dog treats.)

Um. Where was I?

Speech and debate note: “Um” is a filler word, a distraction, undesirable in the extreme, along with “ah” and the misuse of “like” and oft-repeated phrases which become distractions when they dominate a speech, such as “Now…” and “Moving on” or “Moving along to my next point” or “All in all,” or even “extremely” or “very.”

 We drove nearly four hours to get there, which makes a three-day event into a four-day (and if you’re sane and drive back the day after the tournament ends, a five-day) event. The trip was well worth it.

 Imagine a venue packed with suited students, trailing file boxes on wheels, filling the place with energy and excitement.

Speech and debate note: Debaters, as a rule, wear suits, looking like young professionals — a convention of teen lawyers, perhaps, or youthful business people at a high powered conference. Speech participants who are not debaters, while not wearing suits, are conservatively dressed. They look good. They look sharp. Partners often wear matching outfits that complement each other — shirts of the same hue, for example, or identical ties, or even more creative combinations like the young man whose tie matched his partner’s shirt, while his partner’s tie matched his shirt. Subtle, but not without impact.

 The gym is the student lounge, in a manner of speaking, a staging area where competitions are announced and posted, where meals are served, a place to hang out in between events, to talk, laugh, practice, even engage in goofiness. (I heard about, but did not see, a mock debate that was described to me as the epitome of silliness.)

Another largish room is devoted to the judges and staff lounge, set up with tables and chairs and a steadily stocked refreshment table. This is where judges can work on their ballots, before (filling in competitors’ names, reading over the rules for the event) and after an event.

Speech and debate note: There are two kinds of judges in an NCFCA tournament: Parent judges and community judges. Parent judges are just what they sound like, parents of competitors who fill in where needed — because an awful lot of judges are needed. Dozens. Hundreds? I wouldn’t be surprised. Community judges are recruited from the surrounding area and are essential to the tournament. The whole point is communication. The students have been working for months to polish their skills, and if they can get their point across to a community judge, essentially someone who comes in off the street (though there may be Toastmasters in the mix, as well as lawyers, pastors,  salespeople, and others who speak for a living, there are also mechanics, and waitresses, and dental assistants, and cashiers, and stay-at-home moms, and people from all walks of life), then they have succeeded. So next time someone whose kid is in a speech and/or debate club asks you to be a judge at an event, please do!

 The remainder of rooms are smaller, from classrooms down to offices, even closets, anywhere you can squeeze a judge, a timer, and one or two speakers at a time. Ideally, you’ll have a table for the judge and timer, and if it’s a debate round, two tables, chairs and a lectern at the front of the room, plus a few chairs for spectators. In one of our daughter’s debates, everyone (four debaters, a judge, a timer, and a watching parent) sat around one table. Not ideal, but they made it work).

Speech and debate note: There are two types of debate in the NCFCA. One is called Lincoln-Douglas Debate and involves one-on-one debate, two students debating a moral issue that changes each year (This year, the resolution is that a government has a moral obligation to assist other nations in need). The other is called Team Policy Debate where two teams of two partners each debate a policy issue. (This year, the resolution is that the United Nations should be significantly reformed or abolished.)

 Speeches include a variety of events, taken from literature or written by the students, dramatic or humorous, informative and/or entertaining, prepared and memorized ahead of time, or made up on the spur of the moment, depending on the requirements of the particular event.

 Over the three days, students perform their speeches or debate their resolutions, judges watch and fill out ballots, ranking the competitors. Some competitors are eliminated, some move on, through semi-final and final rounds, culminating in the final event, the awards ceremony where the winners in each category are announced.

Speech and debate note: …well, not quite the final event. After the awards ceremony came the “ballot party” where many of the competitors went to a nearby Dairy Queen to read the judges’ feedback, compare notes, celebrate or commiserate, exchange autographs, eat and talk and generally have a good time to cap off the tournament. It’s a way of prolonging the time with friends old and new, a little longer, before everyone gets in their cars and scatters to the far corners of three states.

(See the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association website for more information about the organization behind the tournament.)

This tournament was a lot like others we’ve attended, popping with energy, inspiring and exhausting. An added complication was the stomach bug that started going around on the second day, and caused some competitors to miss the last day (or even interrupted events, in two cases I heard about). Quick action on the part of the organizers probably kept the bug from derailing the tournament. Competitors were urged to wash their hands frequently, and the usual competitor-judge handshakes were suspended.

What was amazing to me was that this tournament was sponsored by a club that was just formed a few months ago. It was beautifully organized, well run, and I can’t say enough about the sponsors and those who came to help make it all happen.

Speech and debate note: Besides the competitors, parents, and judges, there are an awful lot of behind-the-scenes people who make it all possible. Hats off to these, too many to name, and many of whom I either never saw, or only saw in passing as they were hurrying from one task to another.

And now we’re home, having spent a fair chunk of yesterday traveling home and then unpacking and settling down. Today is a day to do laundry, to regroup for a new week, to begin to catch up on everything that was set aside during the days we were preparing to go and the days we were away.

Oh, and a time to tend to a needy Schnoz who really, really missed us (she said so, in no uncertain terms), and to tend to a sick kid, who, tournament over, has succumbed to a nasty respiratory bug. You know how you can fight something off when you’re in the middle of an important endeavor, and the adrenaline and excitement keep you going, only to crash in the end?

Yeah, that’s about the size of it.

However, even with the exhaustion and illness that has her down today, she’d do it all over again. (And will, most likely. There are three more qualifying tournaments in the season, followed by Regionals. Nationals? Still a dream away. But more on all that, later.)

There’s so much I want to say…

Part of the problem of trying to keep a blog (at least for me) is just getting to the keyboard. We have five people sharing one computer at our house at the moment — that’s a lot of competition.

Of course, this situation helps me in my resolution that actually conflicts somewhat with the wish to regularly update my blog. I’ve cut way back on my computer time since September. I’m getting more done in other areas of my life, but my blog has suffered.

I often think of something to say, write long, thoughtful blog posts in my head, contemplations of real life as I’m going about my business, but then I get to the keyboard and it’s all gone. Poof. Vanished into the ether.

And then there’s reality. I mean, blogs and homekeeping hints and homeschooling seem so trivial against the backdrop of the terrible events this week. The mall shooting was at a mall I used to visit on occasion. Haven’t been there in years, but people I know were there; friends of ours were in the food court at the time the shooting started.

Then in the same week, tragedy in an elementary school. I don’t have to say any more about that. You’re probably up-to-here with the news reports, and no real answers. At least I am.

Last night we went to a Christmas program at a local church. They’ve been putting it on for 25 years, a gift to the community, with three choirs, handbells, and an orchestra. It was beautifully done, polished, colorful, and joy-filled — though there were traces of tears. I wiped away a tear when the children’s choir came out with its mix of mischief and sweet song. One of the soloists in the adult choir choked up during his song, but made it through almost to the end. Somehow, leaving off the last few words of the song about the coming of the Christ Child, “When Love Was Born,” and having the orchestra finish out the phrase that everyone in the audience was thinking (having heard the refrain throughout the song), was even more poignant and meaningful.

You know, tragedy can make the everyday feel futile, and yet… The everyday tasks, the being faithful in little things, seeking the Lord, praising Him in all circumstances, that is what this life is all about. I’m afraid the bustle of life has caught up with me, and there is a lively conversation now going on just a few feet from me, and the dog is nudging my elbow, and so I can’t put down all the lovely ponderings that were going on in my head a little earlier. So all I can recommend is that you meditate on this idea. I’ll try to post more, later.