Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Feeling empowered

I spent over $70 at Eats today, so I'm hoping this commitment of my tax return actually clears up this terrible skin of mine. I bought Candida Clear: a combo of Pau D'Arco, Oregano Oil, Black Walnut & Caprylic Acid, a bottle of Acidophilus (a probiotic), brown rice flour, guar gum (a yeast-free leavening agent), and stevia (a natural sweetener). I also bought an awesome multivitamin complex that gives me a ton of energy- he had given me samples the last time I went, and sold me. It's called "Unbounded Energy" by New Chapter Organics. This stuff is AMAZING. If you live in Blacksburg, do yourself a favor and inquire about it and then ask for a sample. It works quickly, like caffeine, and makes you feel amazing.

I'm feeling totally empowered by my choice groceries- there are a ton of recipes I can make now using these substitutes. I'm going to knock out some schoolwork and then try to find some sweet goodies I can make... maybe some cookies or muffins. I'm thinking snickerdoodles or something else with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg. Mmmm.

I'm still making two huge sacrifices for awhile. The first is chocolate. I freaking love dark chocolate, but I'll have to give it up at least in this next month. The second is alcohol. I'll do my best to skip on the wine and whiskey for awhile. Hopefully my skin will love me for this and I'll be wearing shorts in no time.

Time to crunch out some serious schoolwork...


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Candida diet

Oh, drat. The foodie and wino in me are both frowning and very upset, as my path to healthy skin has limited my consumption of so many wonderful things for awhile. I've been trying to heal myself of eczema for the last three years, having success with a few changes.. particularly eliminating caffeine and soy and by identifying a few key food allergies- Goodbye strawberries! :(

I've read quite a bit about Candida over time, and according to many claims, sticking to this diet could heal my skin while improving my ability to focus and increasing my level of energy overall. That said, Candida is apparently over-diagnosed by holistic doctors, as the symptoms are extremely broad. Considering that I go through a bottle of Cortisone a week and that I've had about as many steroids as I can take and I'm STILL dealing with this project that is my skin... I figured, hell. How bad can this be?

For those unfamiliar, the Candida diet begins extremely strict, and then slowly you add in different foods and see how your body adjusts. The idea is to cut out things that promote mold growth, so no sugar, no yeast, no dairy (except organic yogurt, which promotes good bacteria). The biggies for me were- Bread, pasta, cereal, fruit, and milk, so I went seeking alternatives for three of the four.

Today I bought hemp bread and hemp milk, yeast and dairy free respectively, and no- there's no THC in these. I had read that hemp is supposed to curb sugar cravings, so when I saw these options I thought they'd be worth a try.

The vanilla hemp milk tastes a lot like soy milk (which I can't drink)- it has a similar, light nutty flavor, and is more dense than rice milk.. which is too watery for me. It was great over cereal, and I think it would be fantastic in a smoothie. Served very cold, I can drink it plain as well, although I probably won't. I have heard that the chocolate version is fantastic alone, but that wasn't available in Kroger.

French Meadow's hemp bread, made with hempseed, flaxseed, and pumpkin, is absolutely delicious. It's a very dense bread, and if you've had a sprouted-wheat bread or anything similar, the taste won't be too surprising. But alas!! My lack of education on this subject failed me, and it turns out despite claiming to be "yeast-free" the bread is not gluten-free... Damn. What am I going to do with this whole loaf of expensive bread, now? Still deciding how bad this is for me..

A few other new purchases..

Lundberg's Wasabi Rice Chips were on close out sale for $1.20 a bag. I grabbed two, and glad I did- these things are delicious! Unfortunately I plow through them.

Honest Tea has a wonderful Yerba Mate that's- hooray!- sweetened with agave! Bottled tea is usually overloaded with sugar, but this one holds true to the words on the label: Just a tad sweet. The other flavors are cane-sugar sweetened, which I'll avoid for now, but the low-glycemic agave works for me. If you're a sweet tea drinker this won't be sweet enough for you, but for me it was perfect. And I was thrilled to have something I can grab other than water to drink! They're also certified organic, which both makes my sensitive body feel better and satisfies my need to be kind to the earth.

Speaking of which, I've learned a little bit about organic wine this week. A very long (sorry my underage Eve, who was waiting in the car!) conversation with one of the nice men in The Vintage Cellar educated me as to the details. I came in seeking a sulfite-free wine in order to ease my allergic reaction, but learned that there's actually no such thing.. The process of wine naturally creates sulfites. That said, most wine production in the United States involves adding sulfites. The reality is, he said, you really have no good way of determining the amount of sulfites in a bottle of wine. That said, by choosing organic wine you are more likely to avoid extra chemicals (including sulfites) that contribute to allergic reactions. While they do carry wines that claim not to have sulfites, I ended up leaving with an organic Cono Sur Pinot Noir. An interesting fact: Many organic wines from small wineries do not actually say this on their label, because it is expensive to earn this certification and small wineries can't afford to do this. That said, if you go to a wine store like The Vintage Cellar, they can tell you which wineries (like Cono Sur!) are committed to creating organic wine. At this store in particular, they have all the little shelf labels for organic wines colored green, even if the winery has not earned that label. What does this mean? Organic wine for cheaper- because you don't have to pay for the government seal!

I've yet to taste this wine, so I'll report back once I do. I finally submitted to modern times and bought a screw-top bottle, which is said to be smart-sealing but is decidedly unsexy. I have not bought a Pinot Noir in awhile, having started to consider it too plain in comparison to the Red Zinfandels and Chambourcins I've grown to love alone or the Syrah or Chianti I often pair with food. But unwilling to censor my wine adventure, I let myself be talked into this bottle to try later in the week. It is a 2008, though, so my bets are I'm going to be wishing I had a decanter.. but a few minutes/swirls in a big fat red wine glass will have to do.

That's it for now. I'll post my attempts at gluten-reduced (free is too hard) meals in the upcoming days as I find the time around cramming out my last few weeks worth of schoolwork. Oh, summer.. come quickly!


Monday, April 20, 2009

Easy Poached Eggs with Hollandaise Sauce and Veggies

I'd never really attempted to make poached eggs before, because everything I'd ever heard or read made it sound like some extremely difficult task. I eat eggs in the morning, so my energy level was never enough to take on such a challenge.

But au contraire! The poached egg is no longer elusive. Here's how to make this morning's breakfast:

Saute chopped breakfast veggies in a pan with oil- I used green peppers, onions, and mushrooms, and left them in the pan on med-low while I made the other ingredients.

Turn a pot of water on high to get it to come to a boil.

Grab a blender, and add one egg yolk, dijon mustard and lemon juice (a tiny bit of each if you're like me.. and lemon pepper will suffice if you don't keep fresh lemons on hand), any other spices that appeal to you (I added thyme, basil, cayenne and black pepper).

Turn the water down to half, gently crack two eggs into the water (some people use a spoon so that they don't break in the process, but I find if you turn it down to half and quickly add the eggs this isn't necessary). After you drop in the eggs, turn the water back up to return to boiling. These will need to cook for around 3 mins, so hit a timer if necessary. If you cook too long you'll just have funny-shaped boiled eggs- you want the yolks to stay runny!

Put an english muffin in the toaster.

Heat two tablespoons of butter in the microwave for 1.5 mins or until hot. Turn the blender on high and pour in the hot butter in a slow stream.

Hopefully at this point your eggs will have been cooking for 3 mins, your english muffin is toasted, and your sauce is ready. Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggs and set on a towel (paper towels will do) to drain excess water. Then spoon vegetables on top of the toasted english muffin halfs, place the eggs on top of the vegetables, and top with the hollandaise sauce. If you want, crack some pepper or add a sprig of parsley or something as a garnish.

Add a mimosa and a cup of hot tea, and voila! Sexy, delicious breakfast.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Legal Issues for Music Venues in VA

Artists and venues alike in Virginia are constantly dealing with socio-political clashes which set huge barriers to the industry growth. Musical censorship is one of Virginia’s most established traditions. Local bars find it extremely difficult to establish themselves as “music venues,” because they have to constantly deal with an outdated bureaucracy.

Posting this to gather details on the specific legal issues facing venues in VA. It seems strange that the state wouldn't support this. It's healthy industry- it's service-oriented, it doesn't pollute the air, and it's a potential cash-cow. To develop this would increase tourism, which is more healthy industry...

Share the legal barriers you know of that VA venues run into- cite the laws if you know them. Trying to find out more on this.