Category Archives: food

trader joe’s in kc: it’s about dang time

trader joe’s is finally coming to kansas city, with two stores having their grand openings tomorrow. i’m as excited as everyone else is about this. there will once again be an alternative to whole paycheck, um, i mean whole foods (which was lost when whole foods bought up wild oats), with cheaper prices and of course the infamous ‘two-buck chuck’. i won’t be there this weekend because i’m sure the crowds will be *crazy*, but i plan to make my first of probably many visits sometime in the next couple of weeks.

as happy as i am about them being here, i have to say that although they may have for sale many organic and additive-free food items, they are still a part of the problem as far as the standard american diet (SAD) goes, and not a part of any real solution. just because something is organic doesn’t automatically mean it’s good for you. you can get organic potato chips at trader joe’s.  however, a potato chip is still a potato chip with all its attendant starches and toxins, whether it’s deep fried in soybean oil or canola oil or whatever conventional wisdom says is currently the healthiest oil. organic whole grain flour is still made from wheat, and whole grain or not, wheat is a prime contributor to the ‘diseases of civilization’, plus the gluten in wheat affects people more than we realize. organic packaged and processed foods, while appearing to be a ‘healthy’ alternative to conventional food options, are just a band-aid that doesn’t even begin to solve what’s wrong with the SAD.

what would begin to solve the problem? eating a diet consisting primarily of vegetables and fruits (found in the produce section of the store, not in the canned food aisles or the freezer section – or better yet, start growing your own or at least buy from local farmer’s markets and CSAs), grass-fed (if financially possible) meats, free-range poultry, good fats (such as lard and butter and coconut oil), and fruits. (in other words, a paleo/primal/WAPF based diet.) and obviously these items can be found at tj’s, but most people who shop there are probably going for the packaged goods, because of cost and convenience.

still, those points being said, tj’s in kc is a step in the right direction. i will check it out, and probably shop there regularly myself. but even when shopping in a regular grocery store (like cosentino’s downtown market, where one of the employees once told me they consider whole foods their competition – mmmkay), i usually stick with the produce and meat sections, venturing into other sections from time to time, but really not buying many packaged and processed foods. i do buy some things in glass jars though, like my coconut oil, but have no problem reusing those jars to store spices and other things. anyway, i’m looking forward to being one of many new tj’s customers.

however, if a place like this ever comes to town, i’ll camp out on the sidewalk the night before their grand opening. unpackaged looks like my dream grocery store, at least for buying spices and other staples in bulk.


my sugar demon

i am really struggling right now with this sugar addiction thing. yes, addiction. i believe that it is possible to have an addiction to sugar, and my belief is backed up by numerous articles and websites i’ve read online. (yeah, i know… but i saw it on the internet so it has to be true!) i can go for a few days without it and feel great and think that, okay, i can do this, i don’t want sugar ever again. then something will happen at work that triggers a need in me to make myself feel better by having a reese’s peanut butter cup or two, and next thing i know, i’ve bought a bag of reese’s miniatures, and ultimately, instead of feeling better about myself, i feel so much worse.

other than the sugar thing, i feel that my diet in general is pretty decent, although i’m sure conventional wisdom would beg to differ on that. the paleo/primal way of eating is the best for me and my continued longevity, i’m sure of that. i know i feel so much better, and move so much better, when i’m eating this way than when not. the thing is that about 90% of the time i *am* eating this way, the sugar thing notwithstanding. and that actually is not necessarily good for me, but only because eating sugars and starches with high concentrations of fat in the diet is what causes people to gain weight, and develop diabetes, cardiovascular issues, etc., ad nauseum. it’s not the fat i’m eating that is the problem; it’s the combination of the fat and the high carbs, and that is what i’ve got to get a handle on. it’s not even that the carbs are so high, because i rarely eat bread or pasta or potatoes anymore. the carbs are coming from the sugar fixes i seem to need daily, usually at mid-morning, and right after lunch, and then maybe once i get home from work, about an hour before dinner(!).

this is what i normally eat during a week (other than the sugar, that is). for breakfast each morning i have 2 eggs scrambled in butter. lunch is whatever i had for dinner the previous evening. dinner is usually something like one of these:

  • liver and onions (recipe adapted from here), with mashed cauliflower and butter
  • shrimp sautéed in butter and various spices with steamed spinach
  • pesto kale (adapting a recipe i got from here), with kale or spinach, broccoli, and sausage all starring, with an amazing supporting cast of spices, onion, garlic, peppers, and coconut oil.
  • a salad made with mixed greens, chicken or salmon, avocado, red onion, nuts, bacon, and a homemade dressing (olive oil, vinegar, and whatever else strikes my fancy) (kinda adapted from here)

sometimes i’ll mix things up by having tilapia with steamed broccoli and butter, or a bison burger topped with bacon and avocado, but usually it’s one of those meals mentioned above. also, in the fall and winter, i make a very decent beanless chili or a primal jambalaya using cauliflower rice. most of the time i’m happy with a meal consisting of a healthy protein, some sort of fat, and something green (or cauliflower, as the case may be). i feel good when i eat like this, especially when combined with my daily dose of cod liver oil, along with a probiotic. (and on weekend mornings, i add bacon to those two scrambled eggs.)

so why oh why do i sabotage the good eating like this could do for me by basically eating crap? and it is crap. i notice that, even as much as i love reese’s, they have a fake taste about them. it’s because they aren’t real food. they are made in a factory, using chemicals that supposedly taste like what they are trying to represent, chocolate and peanut butter. (of course i’m not sure because at their website, while they do provide ‘nutritional’ information, there’s no listing of actual ingredients that i can find. because they want me to think that i’m eating real chocolate and real peanut butter.) oddly enough, when i’m eating real chocolate, that is, dark 88% cocoa chocolate, i need two small squares, and i’m satisfied. that’s because it’s a real food. and when i have those two squares, i don’t obsess over when i’m gonna have a chance to have my next two squares. it ain’t no big thang, because i know that eventually i’ll have some at a future time. or i won’t. and it’s okay either way. but with reese’s, it’s like gimme more, gimme more. and because of that greed, that desperation, and the sneakiness and lies (i am lying to myself every time i convince myself that it’s okay, this one last time) behind it all, i really shouldn’t have any.

cold turkey is the only way for me. i’ve done it before, and have been successful for days at a time. i just need to wake up tomorrow morning, hop back on that wagon, and do it again, and when i have that shitty day at work, instead of running off to CVS for my reese’s fix, i need to call a friend, or type it out, or do something physical to work out whatever the issue of that moment is. otherwise, all the other things i’m doing for my own health and well-being are useless, as far as i’m concerned.

paleo gaileo

so i’ve been doing this paleo thing off and on (mostly on, but more off than i should be) for awhile now. i don’t know when i started exactly, but it’s been after my move to kc back in august. (before my move, i was working 7 days a week, getting free meals from trailside and otherwise doing the fast food thing, which is not good, but was what my schedule allowed – not that i’m making excuses or anything…) i’m seeing results because all of my pants are now officially too big, although i really can’t afford to buy new ones at this juncture. i’d like to put that off as long as possible, at least until before my trip to amsterdam next spring. however, i suspect i’ll have to break down in the next month or two and buy a couple of pairs as sort of a transitional thing. in the meantime, i’ll be making do, swimming in a sea of fabric as time goes on.

anyway, i really enjoy the paleo/hunter-gatherer/primal/low-carb way of eating. i’m actually eating more vegetables than i was when i was a vegetarian. my meals are certainly more filling and delicious. (not to go off on a tangent -but here it goes: people selling vegetarian diets often tout how vegetables are so very wonderful and you can eat so many of them to get that full feeling, as opposed to eating other items that are more calorically dense that you have to eat less of, and therefore you’ll be hungry more often. i’m calling bullshit here. the calorically dense foods often being referred to usually include items containing flour and/or sugar, or are otherwise processed. beef, poultry, and seafood are also more calorically dense than vegetables, but in addition to their other benefits – such as providing building blocks for our bodies – they also provide a satiety that you’re not gonna get from eating 3 pounds of lettuce or a loaf of whole grain bread in one sitting. eating a medium-size grassfed piece of beef with a couple of sides of vegetables is going to keep hunger at bay a lot more easily and realistically than eating a bunch of carrots dipped in fat-free ranch dressing. but i digress…) lately i’ve been on this kick, that i kinda stole from the idea behind chipotle, where i pick some kind of meat, such as chicken or turkey breasts or even ground beef, sauté some veggies fajita-style, add some cumin and chili powder, mix that all together, then top it with salsa and guacamole (or just a plain sliced avocado). heaven. it fills me up, and it’s good for my body, and i’m seeing results. a couple of weeks ago i was into (by ‘into’, i mean having the same meal 3x in a week) having a grilled salmon filet, with sautéed spinach and roasted asparagus. other times, i’ve been into having salads featuring a mesclun mix with grilled chicken, red onion, avocado, and chopped pecans, with homemade honey mustard dressing. and these meals, yes their vegetarian versions can be just as delicious, but it’s the protein that has made all the difference for me in so many ways.

i am all gung-ho about this although i actually don’t talk about it to people in my day-to-day life. i’m the kind of person, if i talk about goals, i seem to set myself up for failure. so, other than this blog, which i’m not sure my friends read anyway, i’m keeping it to myself and the results will speak for what i’m doing. however… as excited as i am about this ‘lifestyle’, i have one major major major problem: i still have a sugar addiction, and it’s only because i don’t cut sugar out cold turkey. i wake up every morning with the best of intentions, but then after work i go to cosentino’s grocery and they sell slices of tippin’s peach pie, right by the entrance, and i tell myself, this is the last time, and i buy the damn thing and take it home and eat it for dessert. or my roommate will bake bread from scratch and the smell fills up the house and how can i say no to smelly bread? 🙂 (ultimately bread, or any carbohydrate, turns to sugar as it goes through the digestion process. and sugar is sugar, whether it’s the cheap refined white stuff or honey or agave nectar or from a piece of fruit. it has the same effect on the metabolism – at least it does on *my* metabolism.) the worst thing is knowing that i feel so much more energetic when i’ve gone a few days without it, feeling almost invincible, then i’ll have a bad day at work and fall into the trap of thinking ‘this reese’s peanut butter cup will solve it all.’ and the cycle begins anew.

my other problem is trying to figure out breakfast. one thing that has worked for me in the recent past is making a crustless spinach quiche on sunday evening and intending to have that for breakfast. however, it usually ends up being lunch (which, if i planned better, wouldn’t be a bad thing). other things i’ve tried have inclued making paleo style muffins using almond meal and honey or mashed dates as a sweetner. however, just because something is paleo doesn’t mean that you should eat it all in one sitting. perhaps, i have other food issues that  need to addressed before i can trust myself to make half a dozen muffins and savor them throughout the week. the third option, the one i exercise most often but like the least, is grabbing breakfast at the hospital cafeteria. i usually get scrambled eggs and a couple of sausage links. this isn’t the cleanest way to eat (although it’s definitely the best out of all the other choices there) because: 1. i know i’m not eating real eggs. and even if i were, i know they were not raised organically or in a free-range environment, and 2. sausage? do i have to go into all that about the slaughterhouse floor? plus, this is all served up in styrofoam, that i am embarrassingly helping to contribute to the landfill.

sigh. i’m trying to make the best decisions i can at this point, but honestly need to step it up a bit. i read and/or listen to anything that mark sisson and robb wolf have to say, plus i check out blogs such as the clothes make the girl and primal kitchen chaos for inspiration from people i can relate to. in addition, for the holidays this year, i’m buying myself a kettlebell – yeah, you read that right, a fucking russian kettlebell. okay, yeah, my kettlebell will be much smaller, starting out at 15 pounds. my hope is that committing to a kettlebell practice will will motivate me to stop it with the sugar once and for all (well maybe not for all, but for a significant portion of the time) as i start to see *real* results.

i will not be going back to being a vegetarian, especially after reading lierre keith’s the vegetarian myth last year. there’s too much at stake for me (my health, my quality of life, my life), plus i think there are some real holes in the vegetarian idea that sustainability means not eating animals or wearing leather shoes.  i don’t want to go into that aspect of the choices i make daily, but i imagine at some point in the future i will. i’ll just end this particular post by saying that this is the way that most of humanity has eaten for thousands of years. diabetes and heart disease and inflammation were not issues back in the day. people alive then of course had other issues to deal with in order to stay alive, but it is the paleo/hunter-gatherer diet that gave them the energy and fortitude to deal with those other issues. i think such a way of eating could do similar things for many of us, right here and right now.

sunday in the kitchen

i try to make sunday a day of preparation for my workweek, as far as food goes. today while listening to the chiefs play, i’m doing some baking. sort of in honor of halloween, i’m making these paleo-esque pumpkin muffins (recipe below) adapted from a recipe at caveman food. my main adaptation, and what makes them paleo-esque instead of straight up paleo is the addition of semi-sweet chocolate chips. i can’t help it. in the past i have made what i think is a killer pumpkin bread using a recipe that included chocolate chips. now i’m trying to do the paleo/primal thing, but can’t imagine a pumpkin bread-type recipe without the chocolate chips. and i can’t afford cacao nibs right now, so the semi-sweet chips will have to do. anyway, these pumpkin muffins are primarily for me to have something decent to eat for breakfast, so i can stop going to the med center cafeteria and eating eggs that may or may not be real (if they are real, i’m certain they’re not local, organic, or free-range), and contributing to the landfill with my daily styrofoam collection.

i’m also doing an adaptation of this roasted root veggie recipe, so i can either have it for lunch or dinner most days of the week. and i’m roasting some asparagus. yesterday i sautéed some chicken breasts that i can use in various salads and dishes throughout the week. and i have a couple of salmon filets and steaks that i’ll work into my menus at some point. so, barring any disasters, i should be good to go on the food front for the week.

paleo-esque pumpkin muffins

makes 12 muffins

1 1/2 cups almond flour

3/4 cup canned pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3 eggs

1/3 cup honey

3/4 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/8 tsp salt

1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup chopped pecans

preheat oven to 350°f.

mix together all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips and pecans until smooth. fold in the chips and pecans. spoon batter into 6 greased muffin cups (i use coconut oil) and bake for 20-25 minutes.

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miscellany on all hallow’s eve eve

i just returned from city market for one of the last times this year and it is gorgeous out today, although it was a bit nippy when i first went out. there are still lots of locally grown veggies and fruits to be had, but the vendors are starting to dwindle in number. sigh.

so i’ve been thinking a lot about this asperger’s syndrome thing. i think it is highly possible that i do have it, and it is also highly possible that it is ‘just’ a border line case. really i do okay most of the time, but i have been paying more attention over the last couple of days of what annoys me, and how i come across to people and interpret their reactions to me, that kind of thing. i have found that i’m really annoyed by noise a lot more than i thought, but i don’t realize it unless i’m not listening to my ipod. i didn’t listen to it for part of my trip into work yesterday, and i realized that the sound of the stop bell on the bus is literally like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. i found that i would flinch slightly whenever someone would ring it. so maybe the ipod is more of a necessity and less of a luxury to me than i first considered. 🙂

my roommate had a dinner party on thursday night and while it was nice, i felt like i was on my guard. not for anything that anyone might have done to me, but just making sure i was doing or saying the right things (which is funny because i really didn’t say all that much). then after dinner, everyone was sitting at the dining room table talking, so i decided to go to the living room to work on some stuff (on cleaning up this blog, actually). well, everyone else moved to the living room too, and i was really wishing i had my laptop back. i felt like i was expected to be in the conversation, but i really had nothing to add to it, and i felt uncomfortable being there on the computer, so i just went to my room after a few minutes. i really don’t want to be anti-social, but that’s exactly how i felt the other night. and, i don’t think saying ‘well, that’s just how i am’ is acceptable anymore. i’ve known this about myself pretty much all along, but maybe this is why i have such a hard time with romantic relationships. i’m not an easy person to just make conversation with, but it’s not easy for me to put myself out there either. (i suppose that’s true for everyone.) i don’t know. i need to see what, if anything, my insurance would cover and see about at least getting a diagnosis, so i know what i’m working with. after 45 years, this social anxiety thing is starting to get a little old.

so tonight for dinner i’m going to make this orzo-asparagus-avocado-salad-thing, substituting sliced chicken breasts for the orzo pasta (some substitution, huh?). i am trying to cut down on the carbs significantly (although i bought a piece of carrot cake at city market from a certain amish vendor i always buy from, but i can’t say no to good carrot cake). i figure this salad will work just as well with protein as it would with pasta. i made it a couple of times last year using the orzo, and it was fab. anyway, i’m gonna watch a couple of movies this evening, and before that, will try to keep track of the mizzou-nebraska game today as i do other things around the house. and that is what’s on tap for my saturday. how very exciting. 🙂

i want what she has (or something like it)

this woman is my role model and her lifestyle is the one to which i aspire. yes, i want to raise veggies and chickens and bees and whatever in the middle of a big city (new orleans, perhaps? but even kc would be okay…) and write and read and bring other people along with me.

OBSESSIVES: Urban Farmer – on from on Vimeo.

won’t you take me to crunchy town?

it’s official, i’ve earned my hippie card: sunday night i made my own granola. it’s always been hard for me to find granola that’s perfect. i’ll find one that has all the ingredients i like (lots of nuts in particular), but then it will have a lot of dried fruit in it, which i really don’t care for. plus much of the granola i’ve seen, even in whole foods, has a great deal of sugar and unhealthy oils.
enter the cookbook super natural cooking, by heidi swanson. lots of excellent recipes, including this grain-ola recipe i’ve adapted to meet my needs. it even originally called for dried fruit and one cup of a kind of nut i don’t like (walnut). so i adjusted accordingly and came up with this version of heidi’s recipe:

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
¾ cup unsalted raw sunflower seeds
½ cup raw sliced almonds
½ cup raw chopped pecans
1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
¾ cups raw mild-flavored honey
¼ cup coconut oil

preheat the oven to 300 ̊f and set aside 2 rimmed baking sheets.

combine the oats, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and coconut in a large bowl. heat the honey and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat, whisk to thoroughly combine, then pour over the oat mixture and stir until everything is well coated.

divide the mixture between the baking sheets and spread into a thin layer. bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for about 40 minutes, until toasty golden brown. cool completely, then store in an airtight keeps much better in the freezer).
makes about 10 cups.

i had some with my morning yogurt and berries. and, oh yes, it’s nice and crunchy and semi-sweet and brown, just like me. 🙂