"The researches of so many eminent scientific men have thrown so much darkness upon the subject that if they continue their researches we shall soon know nothing."

- Artemus Ward

“If you aren’t confused about health and nutrition, then you haven’t studied it long enough or deeply enough.”

- Matt Stone

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Orange Marmalade

One thing cool about living in Florida is having my very own citrus tree in the yard. The lawn guy said it was an orange tree. My neighbor said he thought it was a lemon tree because of the thorns. Eventually I determined it was a bitter orange tree.

It was absolutely laden with ripe and juicy fruit, But FULL of zillions of pits. And the juice is, well, bitter. I guess that's why they are bitter oranges. One thing said about bitter oranges is that they are:
prized for making marmalade, being higher in pectin than the sweet orange

So with so many fruit dropping to the group I decided I HAD to try to make marmalade. Above are the peels of the oranges simmering in sugar water.  I have to say that making marmalade is a very MESSY process. What a wreck it made of my kitchen. But I persevered and made two batches.

And I must say they are beautiful! And taste good. And made from my very own fruit plucked off the tree. Good thing I only have one tree though. Even as it is about 90% of the oranges are just rotting. What a shame. But I don't know what to do with them all. I'd love to have an avocado tree too though. :-)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Meeting Matt

Matt Stone is one of the the brash and iconoclastic young men of the nutritional blogosphere. I've been a follower of Matt's for years and witnessed his various morphings from one eating pattern to another. But I can understand that. I've morphed a lot myself over the years, as witness the quote from Matt I have in my blog's header. I fully realize that the more and more I learn the less and less I feel I know.

I don't always agree with Matt. In fact I often don't. And as one of my friends says, nutritional advice from a young and healthy man, based on what works for him, is not likely to be of much help to a metabolically-damage post-menopausal woman! :-)

Sure he's worked with other people, but so have others out in the blogosphere, so I read lots of different blogs. But Matt's, whether I'm following his current advice or not, is always sure to entertain.

So after all the time of following his blog it was great fun to get to meet Matt tonight, as he is spending the night at my son's house in Jacksonville Beach, passing up on his way further north for Christmas. In person, at least in the persona presented to me, he was a very polite and almost reserved young man. But he mentioned some upcoming events that sounded interesting, and I'll have to try to keep my ears to the ground for more details.

In other news I attended the holiday pot luck dinner of the St. Augustine Art Association and I brought these  as my pot luck contribution, and I have to say they were so awesome it was hard not to keep them all to myself! I didn't bother with any maple syrup. They were excellent just as is.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty Paleo cookies

I love being able to have my grandson visit and spend the night. When he was here last time I wanted to bake cookies with him! Such a grandmotherly thing to do. But I don't keep wheat in the house anymore and won't eat it or feed it to my grandson while he is here. I wanted to make gingerbread men but realized I no longer had any cookie cutters that shape, and ended up with only hearts and circles.

I don't measure anything when I make these things, so can only tell approximations. Recipe was:
- glob of softened coconut oil (about 2-4 tbsp or so)
- about a tsp each of ground ginger and cinnamon
- a pinch of salt
- some coconut flour (couple tbsp or so)
- some blackstrap molasses (maybe a tbsp or a bit more)
- an amount of almond meal to make the dough a rollable consistency

I rolled this out and we cut them and baked them at 350 for about 10 minutes.

We rolled them very thin, almost like Moravian cookies. So a couple of them burned a bit. But most came out nicely crisp and gingery, and only mildly sweet. My grandson was fascinated with the process and enjoyed eating a couple.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Farm Fresh Eggs

Well one of my hobbies has helped me solve another issue down here in Florida! I'm a birder, and a bird feeder, and I made a visit to the closest Wild Birds Unlimited store to buy a bluebird house after seeing bluebirds in my yard! Seeing bluebirds was awesome. But best of all the store had information there about a local farm selling farm fresh eggs! Wow, just what I'd been looking for. I called the number and spoke to Manny, the farmer, and he invited me right on over to the farm for a tour, just a few miles down the road.

He gave me directions, which were good. But of course the sign was also hard to miss. I was there on a Friday but it was before 4 PM, but Manny said I could come right in anyway, and he would give me a tour so I could see the chickens myself!

They are not totally free-roaming as the predators would get them. In fact Manny and his wife lost their first two sets of chickens to predators. But they are kept in large open-air coops where they have plenty of room to move around, plenty of space to roost and to perch. They get fed a natural diet, including plenty of access to bug and worms and other forms of protein that chickens need to help make their eggs nutritious.

There were even a few big old roosters strutting their stuff among the hens, and crowing away. Manny and his wife sell at various farmer's markets, but also from the farm on Tuesdays and Fridays, and the farm itself is actually closer to home for me than any of the markets they sell in. But when I told my son and DiL about them it turned out they had already been buying their eggs at the Nocatee Farmer's Market!

The eggs were $5.50/dozen for Jumbo, $4.50/doz for large, or $3.50/doz for small/medium. I went for the small/medium since I'd read somewhere that eggs all mostly have the same sized yolk, and the size difference is the result of more white. And since the yolk is what I want, and I don't care about the white, why pay more for extra white? :-)

Manny said he occasionally gets someone who stumbles in, and says "Why should I pay you these prices when I can get eggs for $1.29 at Walmart?" but those folks are rare, and by the time most people find him they are already well educated on the benefits of eggs from properly nourished and healthy chickens.

This was a great find, and a fun place to visit. I look forward to going again, though I bought two dozen eggs my first visit, so don't have to go again immediately. LOL.

P.S. Now down 130 pounds as of this morning.

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Kitchen

One of my serious dislikes about my new home was the kitchen cabinets, as shown above.. I thought they were *seriously ugly*. But if they have been functional I could have painted them or done something to them to live with them. But they were also pretty useless. A very small number of cabinets. Only *one* base cabinet with a single drawer. Lots of "dead" filler space on either side of the stove. I have a nice high ceiling in the kitchen with plenty of space for cabinets, but the cabinets were short and stubby. So I decided to just bite the bullet and have all new cabinets put in right away, before I even bothered trying to unpack any boxes!

I ended up working with Oxley Cabinets of Jacksonville. They were great to work with and were very affordable. I got new cabinets to replace my old ones, new countertops, and I added "stacker" cabinets on top of the new replacements, and additional cabinets on the blank wall of the kitchen which gave me much more storage space as well as more countertop! I also got cabinets on either side of the stove rather than dead filler.

What a difference in looks. When I saw how lovely it was turning out I couldn't even bear to reuse the old stainless steel sink I had before. I didn't like it in the first place, and it was dingy and dirty looking, so I went out and bought a cast-iron sink enameled in white and I love it so much better!

Best of all I got to finally unpack all those boxes that had been cluttering up my kitchen for 6 weeks now, and was able to set up a table and chairs. I also replaced the light fixture over the table, which had been hideously ugly before. So for the first time since I moved in I was actually able to sit at a REAL TABLE and eat a meal!

So here is the breakfast I made for myself to celebrate. It was great sitting there and eating it while I looked out at the birds in the yard. I saw a red-bellied woodpecker, which is a new yard bird for me. I used to get red bellies at my old New Jersey home, but didn't know if I would see them around here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

*** 125 ***

125 pounds. That's how much weight I have lost from the highest recorded number in my doctor's office to what my balance beam scale registers today. It hasn't been a fast journey, but it continues to be an ongoing one, and my way of eating is often changing too. Currently I avoid grains as much as possible, especially wheat. I avoid all high-PUFA vegetable oils. I avoid anything low-fat or fat-free.

Other things shift around here and there. I'm eating more fruit these days and finding it a wonderful addition to my lifestyle without causing any negative effects that I've noticed. Sure fruit has fructose which has been much vilified of late. But I think the bad effects of fructose are the ones seen from intake of things like high fructose corn syrup or agave syrup. I have more problems accepting that natural fruit itself is so bad. I guess I hold to the statement made by Dr. Robert Lustig in his famous "Sugar: The Bitter Truth" where he said:
When God made the poison [fructose in fruit] He also made the antidote.

I still can't figure out what to do with the oranges on my orange tree though, way too bitter to eat. Surely they must be darned low in fructose, yet there must be something I can do with them.

Meanwhile my scale keeps inching down, and I keep feeling good. And what does the little guy above have to do with all of this? Nothing really, but I saw him out in front of a cafe this morning when I was out doing some errands. I liked his sentiment. I *do* like bacon. In fact I had some for breakfast this morning. Yum. It'll still be a while before I have a figure like his though. :-)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What kind of citrus am I?

One of the cool things about moving to Florida last month was finding I had my very own well-grown citrus tree in the back yard. But what kind of citrus tree is it? The tree was loaded with fruit, but they were all still immature and green. The lawn guy who came to give me a clean-up estimate said that is was an orange tree. I was pretty excited about that.

But then my next door neighbor told me he thought it was a lemon tree. He said that he had helped the previous owner trim the tree one time, and he remembered that it had thorns. And he said that lemon trees have thorns and orange trees don't. So is it a lemon tree?

I checked, and sure enough it does have thorns. Ouch, not so easy to harvest the fruit. And the fruit is beginning to ripen, and it appeared that the fruit WAS turning yellow.

But I checked again today, and found that some of the fruit have gone beyond yellow and begun to turn a strong orange color. So is it an orange? One fruit had turned a very orange color, and had fallen from the tree, so I thought perhaps it was ripe, and brought it inside and cut it in half.

It was quite orange on the inside too. It sure *looked* like an orange and not a lemon, thorns or no. So I gave it a taste. Euwwwww. Talk about SOUR. This thing was the most sour citrus fruit I'd ever tasted! But it didn't taste like a lemon either. The taste was .... indescribable. Just sour.

Well, could it still be an orange? The lawn guy said that orange trees need to be fertilized with lime in the spring to grow sweet fruit, and my tree was not fertilized this year because the house had been vacant for a year before I moved in. The lawn guy says he'll fertilize for me this coming spring.

But in the meantime, just what sort of fruit do I actually have? And is there anything I can *do* with the dozens and dozens and dozens of fruit ripening on the tree?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Coming up to date

Not long ago my son posted this on his own blog:

My knowledge about nutrition continues to shrink as I continue to prove myself wrong. At this point in my research on health and nutrition, here's what I think I know-
  • Polyunsatured fats (vegetable oils) are bad, and natural saturated fats are good (especially coconut).
  • Artificial flavors (HFCS, MSG, Aspartame, etc.) make you eat too much.
  • Fresh and whole is better than stale and processed.
  • Calories matter. Get enough, and let your body throw out what it doesn't need.
  • Nutrients matter. Get the most nutritionally dense stuff you can find.
The end. Anything that used to be on that list about macronutrients, ratios, carbs, etc. was merely the pretense of knowledge. Anything that used to be on that list about losing weight has been methodically crossed off.

Yeah Brock, I know the feeling. It's one of the reasons I have not posted here lately myself. I'm trying to pursue the foods that *heal* but seem to have less and less surety about which foods those are! I do agree with most of Brock's list - PUFAs are bad, natural saturated fats are good, fresh and whole is better than stale and processed, etc. It's all true. But *which* fresh and whole foods? That depends a lot on who you listen to. :-)

But actually one of the biggest changes in my life has been a non-food one. And this is finally finding a holistic nurse practitioner who is willing to prescribe natural dessicated thyroid (Armour brand) for my Hashimoto's condition, and not the synthetic T4 that my FORMER endocrinologist said was the *only* thing she would ever prescribe. Well that and STATINS (AKA the Medication of the Devil) for my high cholesterol - total cholesterol of 295 though I had high HDL and low triglycerides. I told her I was positive that my high cholesterol was the result of impaired T4 to T3 conversion by my thyroid, and that giving me a medication that included T3 would alleviate the situation. But she told me that was nonsense.

I told her that there has never been one single study that showed statins had any benefits for any women at all of any age, and she told me that was nonsense. I told her that wanting to give me statins for the high cholesterol was like trying to stop a flood by throwing sponges into the water, without any consideration about where the water was coming from in the first place. And she said nothing at all. I told her flat out that nothing on earth would make me take a statin. I'm surprised she didn't fire *me* as a patient, but I'm sure she wrote me up as a non-compliant one.

So I decided I would never see her again. And somewhat later I was lucky enough to hook up with Elaine Hardy after getting an email out of the blue from a woman I had known back in the late 90s from the old alt.support.diet.low-carb usenet group. She was a patient of Elaine's and said she had finally gotten switched to Armour after 30+ years of feeling like crap on Synthroid.

So I've been on Armour for about 10 weeks now. I have more energy. I've lost 10 pounds after being stalled for a long time. And my total cholesterol dropped, in 6 weeks, down to 196. So THERE to the endocrinologist who said that the idea of Armour lowering my cholesterol was "nonsense".

But I've also been eating a bit differently too. I'm finding that eating 5 small meals a day controls my blood sugar better than two large ones. Sort of a bummer actually, as by temperament I would much rather eat 2 large meals than 5 small ones. A small meal just leaves me so unsatisfied - psychologically that is. But so far it's working better so I'm trying to make it work.

I'm also eating different foods as well, and trying to incorporate more of the Ray Peatian ideas, such as daily gelatin, and more fruit. Whole fruit that is. I still have no interest in drinking fruit juice. But I've been eating 2-3 whole fruits a day and really enjoying them! I especially love my clementines and typically have one with my breakfast.

Ray says to avoid berries as the seeds are not so good for you. But I'm not sure I'm willing to slavishly follow every dictate of any one guru. Ray says it's fine to eat Haagen Dazs ice cream too, but even a small serving of sucrose makes my blood sugar go through the roof, with readings close to 200 when eating Haagen Dazs. So no juice for me either, but the fruit is great.

And of course I had no idea that Ray would say "no berries" when I planted my raspberry bush 5 years ago, and right now my berries are at their peak of ripeness. Pictured above are berries I picked yesterday. And I'll eat them and enjoy anyway, with some freshly whipped cream. Within a month I'll be moving to Florida, so will never get a raspberry crop from this bush again. I suspect my home's new owners will just rip the bush out. So I'll enjoy these berries while I can.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Caribbean dinner

My sister and I are in North Carolina this week, visiting with our third sister and her husband. We all went to dinner two nights ago at a wonderful Caribbean-style local restaurant called Calypso North. We enjoyed the food so well that we decided to have a Caribbean night at home too. So last night I made this Caribbean Chicken for dinner! Sister Amy found the recipe we used here, except that we didn't use any potatoes in the recipe. It was absolutely delicious! I'll have to try it again some time. It might be good too with pork, or shrimp.

We had it with coconut-lime rice, which was also tasty, and as a side dish we served these fried plantains.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jersey Shore Birthday

It was a wild, windy and blowy day today, a perfect day to go to the Jersey Shore! It was my sister's birthday, so I drove to the shore with her and my niece to celebrate. This is just the way we like the shore - off-season, wild, windy, few people around. Even though it was raining I did run up to look at the jetty at Manasquan Inlet. Wow, the waves sure were crashing over the top of the jetty. I got pretty wet too. :-)
I even got my sister and niece to come up to look at the jetty with me, though they decided they would rather go further down the boardwalk where they could get a cup of coffee, and we all went into the Arcade and played Skee Ball , a traditional favorite.
After that it was lunchtime, and we went to our favorite restaurant and got a great corner table overlooking the Manasquan River. We all had seafood and it was delicious. I did succumb to a couple hush puppies, alas. But my scallops were wonderful.
Then we drove home along the shore, and my sister and niece indulged me in allowing me to drive around several ponds and inlets to look for water birds. And there were plenty, including Canada geese, brants, mute swans, mallards, muscovy ducks, hooded mergansers, common mergansers, red-breasted mergansers, ruddy ducks, northern shovelers, black ducks, canvasbacks, scaups, American widgeons, American coots...plus plenty of gulls, mostly ring-billed, but a few herring gulls, and quite a few great black-backed gulls also. Not to mention pigeons, mourning doves, starlings, robins, house sparrows, cardinals. All in all, quite a "birdy" day.

Then time to go have dinner at my sister's, and we finally got to cut the cake I made yesterday. I really enjoyed it, and love the peanutty hint of flavor that the peanut flour gives it.

The only problem was that the cake really was awfully flat and dense. It *tasted* good. But the first time I made this cake recipe the cake came out really light and fluffy, just like a standard wheat cake. The only difference between the two times was that I never use almond milk, so I used coconut milk in the recipe, but this time I went out and bought the almond milk the recipe called for. But I can't see why that would make the cake flat. It tasted good anyway, or at least it did to me. My sister's family mostly wanted the cake they bought at the bakery. :-)