Sunday, December 15, 2013

Splurging in The Country of Control

Since I am unable to digest and absorb most (typical) American foods, I sometimes feel as if I am on a diet.  But who wants to be on a diet?  As a malnourished (thin) person for most of my life, I have had the pleasure of being able to shun diets.  I've been able to say that they are not good for us; they don't really work; they create a sense of scarcity; they cause rebounding and bingeing; and on and on…  And yet the word diet itself is really harmless -- it means what we eat.

Our culture today has caused the word "diet" to mean that cruel device we torture ourselves with, but it actually means what we put on our plates, our diet.  My diet is mostly breakfast.  I love my breakfast: steamed greens (dandelion and mustard greens, the bitter greens to help my liver), some kale or chard or collards, and some purple cabbage for color and fun.  I cover my plate first with ground flax seeds (almost two tablespoons worth for fiber) and then I add raw sauerkraut (for pre-biotics) on the side with two or three sardines.  (My husband eats the same thing but adds a tablespoon of chickpea miso.  We are soy free.)  We put a dash of olive oil on our mounds and dive in.  (I cover mine with over 450 billion bugs -- probiotics made by VSL#3 without which I would disintegrate!)  Afterwards he has Greek yogurt with cherries and honey. I have plain blueberries for the antioxidants.  This is breakfast.  We eat like Royalty in a Very Strange Country.  The Country of Control.

Why do we eat this?  Because my mother died when I was nineteen, and I am still angry about it.  Because it is terrible to lose a mother.  Because it is hard to live a long time without one.  Because the week I became a mother, it was inferred (by several doctors) that I had lung cancer.  Tests were done.  And I took the possibility of death to heart.  So for years now (over a decade), I have been terrorizing myself (and my husband) saying, we have to be as healthy and responsible as we can possibly be, because we are parents now!

So we eat everything we think we are supposed to eat, and we actually like to eat it, but it probably doesn't keep us alive.  It probably doesn't protect us from whatever future is out there waiting for us, and yet we cling to it.  I cling to it.  I believe that this "diet" is part of what keeps me healthy and alive for my son.  If I die young, he won't be able to blame the Doritos!  And since I can't control much else, I control my diet.

How do I do that, you ask?  Isn't it hard?  When I stray from my diet, I get sick.  Profoundly sick.  So no, it isn't really hard, because the consequences are so awful.  (Not the consequences of a few extra pounds or a hangover, which are not great either, but Celiac Disease and Ulcerative Colitis consequences are painful, embarrassing and potentially deadly.)  But I still sometimes feel deprived and need a little something to ease my cravings.

Tonight I had a few dates.  The sweet kind with 18 grams of sugar in each!  Last night I boiled some water and thinned some cashew butter (two tablespoons) with a teaspoon of coconut oil and had that over my blueberries. (Technically my blueberries are a splurge alone so this is really super decadent for me.)  Once in a while, I'll have some cantaloupe!  If I overdo it, I get sick.  Not the fun kind of sick, the sick that involves blood, ruined clothing, accidents…  I have great respect for the digestive system, because mine demands it.

I am glad I can still digest my amazing breakfast.  I am grateful that I am still here.  I am four years older than my mother ever was.  I try to give myself a break, cut myself some slack, indulge in a few bites of gluten-free pizza every once in a while, but mostly I want to be around for my son, so I usually let him have the rest of it and enjoy every bite of my bitter greens.  I recommend a dash of Umi Plum Vinegar with some olive oil to dress them up.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Organic Chicken Broth

Why make my own organic chicken broth?  It's cheaper than buying it.  Many brands add sugar!  I go berserk with sugar, so that can't happen.  But even if I search for the organic kind that doesn't add sugar, it is really easy to make and free with the chicken that I buy already, so I hope this inspires you to do it yourself.  It's 730pm, and I'm blogging about it, so it can't be that hard.

So I buy organic chicken, because it's actually cheaper for me to buy the one that's already cooked at the store than to cook a raw one myself, plus my oven has been broken for over a year now, and that's a different story.

So I buy rotisserie organic chicken from Fairway for $12.99, and for an extra $1.00 they will throw in two sides.  I get green beans and broccoli rabe.  I checked with the store, and their squash has added sugar, so I can't buy that.  I don't buy peppers that aren't organic, so I can't buy the regular broccoli side because it comes with pesticide-peppers, and I won't eat that.

Do I sound like a freak about sugar?  The thing is that once I have some, I crave more, and on and on it goes.  Sugar messes terribly with my intestinal flora, and since I have Celiac Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, I can't afford to mess around with my flora.  In fact, I spend a lot of time and effort cultivating good flora (the only garden I can't show off)!  So sugar is out!

So for $13.99 I get three to four meals a week, for all three of us.  I mostly eat green stuff (broccoli rabe, kale, chard, spinach, brussels sprouts, etc), so the chicken is not even half my plate.  I might have six to eight bites.  And I love organic potatoes!  Who knew the regular kind is sprayed heavily?  Environmental Working Group ( knows, and I love what they do!  Check them out for which items to get organic and which to buy regular.

My son will have one drumstick and a salad and call it dinner.  Sometimes he won't even touch the potatoes.  My husband eats his chicken in a sandwich for lunch and goes light for dinner.  He does the King-Prince-Pauper Diet where you eat a lot in the morning and then lunch and burn your calories all day... so for dinner he has a grapefruit and some almonds.  

Now that it's almost winter, and we're back and forth to Vermont to ski and snowboard, we like soup, so I'll make broth with the chicken I get at Fairway today.  They have a lot of flavors (plain, latin, barbecue, etc).  We like the herb or the lemon garlic.  They post all their ingredients, so it's easy to know what you are getting.   After putting the groceries away, I bone the chicken.  (I save the drums for my son, but everything else -- boned!)  If there is garlic, I press it out of its skins and save that too!  All the bones go into the crockpot and get covered with water and set on high.  If you add a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, the calcium in the bones will be released into the water.  After four hours on high, the bones are soft.

All the chicken goes in a freezer baggie for our trip to VT.  The sides go in baggies too -- easier to carry and takes up less room in the cooler.

I got home from the market around 2pm.  After dinner (6pm) I turned off the slow cooker and let it cool.  After an hour of cooling, I strained the chicken into mason jars (5, plus a lot spilled), and don't forget to leave a lot of room in the top of the jar if you freeze your broth.  You don't want the jars to burst!  I leave a finger's worth of space before the neck.  Once my jars are cool, I will freeze a few and put the others in freezer bags to take to VT -- easier to carry!

So now I have two drumsticks for my son, about three pounds of chicken (out of a 5 pound chicken) for dinners and sandwiches, and five jars of broth for soup bases, plus two sides for $13.99.

Meshugunah, our dog says, thank you for the chicken skin, Mama!  (She'll turn 16 next week -- that's 112 years old in human terms.)

Monday, December 2, 2013


I recently logged on to my old blog -- I haven't been here in years!  And I have over a thousand views.  This shocked me.  I had no idea that anyone was really interested in what I was writing (back then I was writing a lot about adoption, because that was what I was living).  Well, that got me to thinking, maybe I should just do this.  Maybe people will be interested in what I have to say.

I have to say that I have been working really hard to turn my life back on.

A little background here -- I used to be a playwright with an MFA and teaching credits loving my NYC single life in an amazing apartment in Chelsea, and then my grandmother died, and then my father died four days later, and then as I was grieving all that, and trying to move to pay my father's estate taxes, and then 9/11 happened, so yes, we're talking history here, and I moved uptown, way uptown to where I can see the Harlem River meet the Hudson River, and I fell in love with my gorgeous new 'hood called Inwood (which is in Manhattan, even though many NYers don't believe me), and I met my husband, and we got married and had a baby.  And then we couldn't have more, so we adopted a little boy from the Congo.

Long story short, we unadopted our little boy from the Congo.  Even though he was (and is) amazing and wonderful and lovable, he could not live in our family because everyone in a family must be safe in their home, and our older son could not be kept safe with our little one around.  Izzy is now living with his new family, and he is fine.  There are no little ones anywhere near his age for him to compete with, and he will thrive and be loved as he deserves.

Turns out that many adoptions don't work out (almost 25% according to Child Welfare Information Gateway), and I have spent the past twenty months or so trying to grieve our loss and move toward living in a family that I love in a joyful, positive way.  We have been healing and helping each other to let go of the worst of the reality of what we lived through.  And this holiday season, I am finally feeling as if we are done with all that.  Maybe this year I will send out holiday cards once again (I didn't last year -- I couldn't).

So here I am, still married to the same amazing man, still mom to the same amazing child I birthed just over a decade ago, but no longer working to get back to my playwriting -- instead I am actually doing it!  I am happy to report that I completed two full-length plays this year, and three short plays, and I am sending them out to theaters/directors/friends, whoever wants to read them, let me know!  I am thrilled to get feedback!  (Wish list -- I could use a group of writers interested in sharing and caring uptown on a monthly basis!  I am even happy to host us.)  

What I want to do with this blog is write about many different things.  I am thinking FOOD (cause I love it, and I want everyone to know how to eat more healthily and with ease, because cooking can be simple if you get prepared and have some tips).  I am thinking KIDS (because I have one, and I ponder issues relating to him all the time, like how can I protect him from everything without denying him his independence???  I am thinking HORMONES -- I have been reading Dr. Sara Gottfried's book, The Hormone Cure and loving it!  On Day 3 of my Vitex and Vitamin C solution, because apparently I have high cortisol, low progesterone and high estrogen, and I will be working on all that as I move closer and closer to the big M of menopause, and I want to do it as JUICILY as possible!  And other stuff will crop up, so please keep reading and responding, and I will try to stay on top of my NEW BLOG!