Sunday, March 30, 2008

snow, wheat and the seven days of the week

Sunday there was pasta and all its gluteny goodness.
Monday there were soba noodles with wheat in them and pasta at lunch.
Tuesday. Hmm. I thought I should retest wheat. So I did on Tuesday and Wednesday and without going into the details of my digestive system I can tell you that something was up. I suspected wheat sensitivity. All that time I though it was soy and I am completely fine eating soy now. I guess this proves that self-diagnosis is not a good thing.

Thursday I briefly saw my ND and she confirmed what I suspected. Wheat cannot be a close friend anymore. I'll keep it as an acquaintance, but we won't be hanging out on a daily basis.

Thursday night I went out with some friends to a pub where I could eat one thing on the menu. Guesses? Yes, the veggie burger. I flashbacked to my days living in Victoria when we'd go out after work to the pub and I'd order the veggie burger because it was all I could eat. That night though not only was I the only one sipping Perrier at the table, but I was faced with the veggie burger on an enriched wheat bun. Way to start my new non-wheaty days. Not a big deal really. I had a good time and the fries were really good and the pub is in a fantastic location. It's right where the Pitt River meets the Fraser and the view is incredible. I hope we go back there again in the warm weather just to sit out on the patio and watch the rivers. I'm told you can sometimes see seals come up river this far.

Friday I was in the process of reintroducing corn so db made burritos and I made more of the Mexican Millet from Veganomicon (honestly I'm not getting paid for mentioning this book as much as I am).

Saturday night db and I made pizza together. I made a rice flour based crust while he made his regular wheat crust. It was fun making our own pizzas together. We prepped everything just before 8 pm and then we powered everything down and lit a couple of candles to join in on Earth Hour. That cats were a little confused with the darkness and thought maybe they should start settling in for the night. Just after 9 pm we left the candles going and just put enough light on in the kitchen to assemble our pizzas and bake them. It was delicious.

This morning I made pancakes from what else? Veganomicon! I made the Blueberry Corn pancakes and substituted all-purpose flour with Buckwheat flour. Despite its name buckwheat is not wheat; there is no gluten in it. Buckwheat does seem to make pancakes quite fluffy so these puffed up very nicely and we had mixed berries in them.

I'm also reintroducing sugar into my diet today to see if I react to it. So it's the first time I've had maple syrup in a while. There was very little affect really.

db thought it'd be a good idea to show how he stacks his pancakes and how well these puppies actually stack.

Finally, here's a little footage of what I woke up to Friday morning when I was contemplating going out for run. It only lasted about an hour, but it was a shocker nonetheless. Incidentally, I did go out for my run.

The bottom video was trying to show the tulips close-up being beaten down by the snow, but the tulips are doing fine and the snow didn't last long.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I'm waiting.

I did recently catch a news story about Subaru introducing its electric vehicle (EV) in New York city for test drive. There's also a story here where I read a little more about it's testing in North America. It's getting closer right? The EV is coming?

With the recent news about the iceberg breaking away from an Antarctic ice shelf, I just hope that it's not too little too late.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who Killed the Electric Car Again?

This morning I hear on the news that the locally made Dynasty Electric car company has sold its manufacturing and design to a company in Pakistan that will build the cars there and then import them back into the US. The full story can be read here. The reason for the move? Government regulations that will not permit these vehicles to operate at speeds higher than 40 km/h so they can run on highways.

It's one of my dreams to drive my very own electric car (or solar powered of course) and my government is making my dream more difficult than it should be. I'm making notes on who killed the electric car and who's taking action on climate change.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

rootin' for the gluten

New to the diet this week are soy and wheat. These are the "big" foods for me. These are the foods that are part of my everyday diet that were a big change for me when I started the elimination diet to find out if I have food allergies.

When I sought out another margarine other than Earth Balance since E.B. contains soy I couldn’t find one. Every other margarine I checked contained whey or gelatin or milk solids. Yuck. Oh and now I know why “I can’t believe it’s not butter” can call itself that, it’s because one of the first ingredients is buttermilk! Okay so big deal I give up margarine. It’s been a week and now I don’t even care if I eat it ever again and this is coming from the person who was an Earth Balance junkie. Score one for the diet (actually two since I’m now off the bean as well).

Friday I introduced soy back into the diet with some soymilk in my Vega smoothie. I don’t usually drink soymilk ever, but having shopped for the detox we were a little low on soy supplies and I needed to put it back in my diet somehow. db drinks soy every day so we had the milk on hand. For dinner I added a little cubed tofu and spinach together for a quick sauté on the side with my root veg soup (db was sick so we had to pass on the planned stir fry and I made some soup for us instead). So far there’s been zero reaction. Saturday was the same.

Sunday was wheat day.

Wheat didn’t worry me too much even with my lack of enthusiasm when I quickly tired of starting my day with rice cakes, almond butter and hemp seeds. Time for oatmeal goodness and…uh oh…no maple syrup. Okay plain oatmeal and fresh berries works with a little rice milk (by the way check the rice or almond milk ingredients for soy. I should probably make my own like my sis does but…I’m not there yet). That worked quite well actually.

With no bread in the house (db was too sick to bake and didn’t bother last week since I wasn’t eating bread anyhow) I made muffins for breakfast and ate several while watching the St. Louis Chicago game. They were fairly small muffins and St. Louis lost in overtime.

Sunday night pasta would be my next wheat meal. Rice pasta is yummy. I’m enjoying it, but db isn’t as keen and is “rootin’ for the gluten.” I made the good ol’ durum semolina in a simple tomato sauce. db had seconds. He felt much better today.

I feel fine. I did notice a little heavier feeling after my meal, but no adverse effects so far.

Next I think I will get to the corn. I still haven’t gone back to sugar and I think that one might be the key.

I’ve got 19 days to go.

Happy Anniversary Prima

The 21st was the fifth anniversary of Prima joining the family. Five years ago we decided to adopt her from Abbey Cats and drove up to Richmond Hill to visit her at her foster home. She was very affectionate and came right up to us. She had a little red collar with a tiny bell on it so the other cat in the foster home could hear her coming. It wasn't a hard decision (it never is) and she came home to whoville with us.
When we opened the carrier she ran under the couch where she stayed for several hours. I worried that she might never come out, but she eventually did and was so affectionate and has remained the same since. Well to be honest she took over the house really. Someone has to be queen, right?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

So what will the vegan eat now?

So today is Day 4 of my diet. I start reintroducing the forbidden foods on Friday when I can eat one type of food two times a day for two days and record how my body reacts. By then I should be over the caffeine withdrawal and will be able to tell how my body reacts. At first I thought coffee would be the first thing I’d want back, but now that I’ve weaned myself off it I don’t think I can go back. I’ll go back to decaf eventually but I think caffeine is something I should do without. If you read about my days below you’ll understand why I’ve come to this decision.

Shopping has been relatively easy since I have pretty specific foods I'm craving that I know I can eat (avocados, rice crackers, hummus). db and I shopped on Sunday and spent even more time reading labels than usual and once again I was reminded how prevalent corn and soy are in our diets. Fortunately I don't have much of a sweet tooth so I'm not really craving or missing sugar at all. The fruit I eat is sweet enough.

How spoiled we are in North America to have so many choices. Really we have limitless choices of foods and this just amazes me even more when people still ask me "what do you eat?" when they find out I'm vegan. It's astounding the number of bad foods that are on grocery shelves that are so much a part of the industrial food production. I can find any variety of chips, frozen dinners, colas or sugary cereals, but I don't want those I just want to get more than one or two choices of apples when I know there are probably 15 or more varieties grown in BC alone.

As for reintroducing the food, I think I’ll start with corn since I suspect that will be fine and I can get back to snacking on tortilla chips and making enchiladas.

So this is how my diet went so far:

Day 1

I want my f***ing coffee!!!

Gone is my morning ritual of turning aromatic beans into a fine grind and measuring it into the espresso machine handle that automatically applies the perfect pressure to produce just the right crema atop my shot of espresso. Instead I made herbal tea that turned out to be a bit too ginger strong for me. The rice cakes with almond butter, hemp seeds and sliced banana were delicious. I started my supplements as prescribed by my ND and was feeling okay.

Two hours later the headache started and I knew I was well into caffeine withdrawal. I thought I’d go out for my 11 k run anyway and would probably feel fine once I got going. Wrong! I’ve never felt worse running. Chugging along I felt like someone was pulling me back and I was fighting the resistance. My legs ached and I felt like I had no strength in my hamstrings to get me up any slight slope. Usually I look forward to the hills, but the hills became impossible. I turned back and ran and walked home. Not a stellar performance.

I was worried about the evening because I was meeting Wandering Coyote and Red Jane for dinner. Even though we were going to a vegetarian restaurant I knew that I’d have to let go of the rules of the diet. That was fine. I can live with that. I tried to find solace in my steamed brown rice. The food was good and it was great to see both WC and RJ, but I was in my caffeine withdrawal fog and didn’t feel fully present (sorry WC and RJ). I think my energy was pretty low, which is part of Adrenal Fatigue and then being sans caffeine on top of it pretty much put me in the fog.

The upside? I slept a deep sleep. I had one of the best nights sleep I’ve had in a long time.

Day 2 (really Day 1 of the diet because of Day 1’s dinner)

Still no coffee??? And I have to go to work?

Again I felt fine for the first couple of hours in the morning, but the headache returned. It wasn’t as severe as Day 1 but it was still there and again I felt like I was walking in a fog, not fully present. Granted I can feel that way at work on the best of days, but Day 2 on Saturday was a fog with time standing still. I finally broke down and took advil that contains caffeine, but it took the edge off. I still had a headache, but at least it was quieter.

My commute home seemed endless and I’ve never been happier to arrive home (okay there was the time I had to spend the night in the woods and that may have been the one time I was happier to be home).

db made an amazing pizza with a rice crust. It was heaven.

Again I slept soundly.

Day 3

Latte time?

We discovered that db could not make me the tea latte because almond milk contains soy lecithin.

It’s true I’m an addict in withdrawal and am feeling so messed up without my daily shot of espresso I don’t know how long I’ll have enough energy to do anything.

I accepted the fact that there would be no latte and watched db delight in one of his peaked perfections of creamy soy latte excellence. That was satisfying enough. I did make us a nice brunch with home fried potatoes to go with my almond buttered rice cakes and hemp seeds. I watched db load up the earth balance and realized I didn’t miss wheat I missed the stuff I put on it,
the earth balance buttery spread, the vegenaise and all that good stuff.

Of course I love db’s bread and it’s delicious, but I’m okay without it.

Still feeling foggy and as the day went on I tired out quickly. I spent some time at a friends place learning how to turn a pen (making a pen out of a wood blank using a lathe). Unfortunately the wood I chose was a bit prone to chipping out and that’s what it did. The first time I was able to salvage it, but the second time I realized that it was over and I’d have to start over, but next week since I already spent a couple of hours on this one pen. It doesn’t usually take so long, but I was learning and we did have to try and fix my initial chipping before going on. Anywho…I enjoyed using the lathe and turning a piece of wood.

db made rice pasta that was very good. It breaks down a little easier so db missed being able to twirl his durum semolina spaghetti around his fork. I think the rice pasta would work better in a short pasta like a penne or a fusilli.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Elimination Diet Challenge

So I saw the ND today. She was great and we sorted through my various health issues and I've started on a new plan to improve my health. She went over my blood test results with me and suggested  that I do have a type of anemia. My iron is low as is my B12. Now my "traditional" doctor didn't see a problem with the iron and B12 levels, but the ND suggested that the prescribed guidelines for high and low levels is not a set rate. In other words, if I'm on the lower level as far as she's concerned it's too low and needs to be dealt with. Another area that she brought my attention to was my red blood cells (is this getting too personal? Maybe, but so-be-it.). From what I understood my red blood cell size is larger than normal. So the dizziness or lightheadedness I've been experiencing is most likely a symptom of anemia. There are several other indicative symptoms but there's no need to go into my whole history with everyone here. 

Finally I feel like I'm getting to the root of the problem and can now treat it. It's such a great feeling. For once I left a doctor's office feeling better. I didn't get to leave without a B12 shot. Waaahhh! I hate needles. I mean I really really hate needles. I stop breathing when I see a needle (not a sewing needle thank goodness or a knitting needle). Anywho...I had the stupid shot in my hip and now it's a bit sore. I'll be stopping back once a week for a bit for a regular B12 shot. I asked her about the B12 patch, but she hadn't heard about it. I'm not even sure if it's in Canada yet. She thought it was a good idea but really felt the shot was the best option for immediate treatment. So I'll just have to deal with that.

I've got some new supplements and one of the things we discussed was having an allergy test. However, when I learned that the blood test she does cost 300 dollars I opted for the elimination diet as a way to test for allergies. I'll do the blood test when I have the extended health care plan (if ever). So...tomorrow I'll start my elimination diet. Being vegan it really isn't a huge change for me since many of my foods are on the "foods to include" list. The big one will be removing wheat from my diet since I eat bread 82 times a day and we have pasta almost as much. The big hurt will be eliminating caffeine. I can't even fathom what that's going to be like. Well, actually I can since I once went on the McDougall Program that required no caffeine and I became a herbal tea drinker. I remember three days of headaches and crankiness and about a week before I felt "better." db has promised to make me a tea latte with my unsweetened almond milk. He's also ready to research a new gluten free pizza crust so I can still enjoy pizza night. We bought some rice pasta that promises to be "Not Mushy" so that's promising. Between the supplements and the diet I should start to feel more energetic. 

I do have dinner plans tomorrow but eating in a vegan restaurant should make things easier and I decided for this one night out I'm not going to be too concerned with food for one dinner. Being decaffeinated I just hope I can stay awake through dinner. 


Originally uploaded by sparkegiano

signs of spring.JPG

signs of spring.JPG
Originally uploaded by sparkegiano
here are the signs of spring. The crocuses have popped up everywhere throughout the garden.

stuffed pepper.JPG

stuffed pepper.JPG
Originally uploaded by sparkegiano

plated stuffed peppers.JPG

plated stuffed peppers.JPG
Originally uploaded by sparkegiano
finally, here are some photos related to my last post. This is the stuffed peppers with Mexican Millet from Veganomicon.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Last week was a busy week. That usually means that work is eating up most of my time and I suppose it does. Three consecutive days of running around the warehouse does tire me out. There's also the day when I tend to the phones and web orders which is a lot of work for one person, so by three o'clock I'm pretty much worn out.

The upside of the week?
  • Creole Stuffed Peppers and Mexican Millet from what else? The Veganomicon. Photos should follow once I can finally upload them. I'm having trouble loading photos right now.
  • The long slow run (or LSD). Even though it was a tough run, I still felt great knowing that my training is coming along and I can feel my fitness improving each week. This is definitely good.
  • The crocuses in the garden (once again photos should follow). We spent a good chunk of time in the garden Sunday doing the big spring clean up. I'm pretty determined to do as much of it as possible so that our homeowners (m&d) will be reluctant to bring in any landscapers.
  • The St. Louis Blues. We went to the hockey game Saturday night. Yes the Blues lost and yes it was a deciding game for the team with regards to hopes for the play-offs, but it was actually a great game and I really felt it could go either way. db and I were sitting close to a fairly rowdy crowd and we were booed pretty heavily in our Blues jerseys. However, on our way to the game at the skytrain station this guy with a pretty serious mohawk saw db's Blues hat and went up to him and shook his hand. It was quite funny. So now we'll just enjoy the rest of the season for the Blues. Ah well, there's always next year.

Monday, March 03, 2008

cats and heaters part two

This is one way to keep warm. This is actually a very very unusual sighting to see these two together on the same chair! I don't know how it happened. I can only assume that Gigi was dead asleep when Prima perched herself on the edge. Is it a stand off or are they starting to like each other?

Like Gigi, Prima loves the heater. Here she is close...


...closest. I thought the best way to see her would be from the other side. She's quite content here.

Spring Garden

I know it's not "officially" here, but as far as I'm concerned it is spring where I am. I'm so pleased to see that my crocuses came up and the tulips are doing really well, moving along much faster than I thought. My other spring bulbs, aliums, hyacinth, and daffodils are also coming along. The only spring bulb I can't locate is the dwarf iris and that is probably because I can't remember where I planted them nor can I find the notes I made on where I planted them.

It's nice to see the garden coming to life. Every now and then we have a dog visitor to the house and I think she's been doing a little digging so I'm not entirely sure if all of the pelargoniums made it. Maybe they've just been "transplanted." Time will tell. Another concern/disappointment is that there doesn't seem to be any sign yet of my Siberian Iris while another variety next to where I planted it is already coming up. I just bought a small book on Irises and read that it is best to soak the Siberian Iris root overnight. Oh well. It's part of the trial and error or gardening right?

db and I started our seeds yesterday as well. Of course it's mostly tomatoes and I have no idea where we're going to put them all, but we'll manage.

We're supposed to have very nice weather the rest of the week so I thought I'd make tomorrow pruning day and tidy up what I can.

Sunday, March 02, 2008



Movie coupon # 1.
db's valentine gift: a set of handmade movie coupons. "Redeemable any time!"
Persepolis was on my list of must see movies for some time now.

Based on the graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis is a story of Marjane, a young Iranian girl growing up during the Islamic Revolution. Her parents fear that her outspoken nature and bold behaviour will lead her to greater trouble than she may be aware of. They send her to Vienna to continue her eduction, but her coming of age years are difficult for an Iranian girl living alone and away from home. Just when she thinks she may have finally found happiness, it is pulled out from under her and Marjane eventually returns home. The story does not end here, but suggests a continuing journey for a young woman who is trying to find her place in the world after having lived through revolution and war.

This is a powerful narrative. Intrigued by the concept and was drawn in by the black and white visual style that uses the dark and light to effectively enhance the strong narrative. Persepolis takes a very complex political history of a country and is able simplify it without hiding the truth so that the little girl Marjane can understand. Her family is aware that they must explain to the precocious young girl what is going on around her while she also learns about her familial history, the grandfather that was imprisoned and her uncle that lived in exile who was arrested upon his return. This is Marjane's story and she carries the narrative with her dominating personality suggesting leadership, a "prophet" as she refers to herself in the film when she's a little girl, that draws us closer to her. We can't help but feel attached to this character as she struggles with her independence and identity.

I don't know if I can describe the visual style. It is probably best if you watch the trailers or click on the link above to get an idea of how the film looks. Can you guess that I thought the film was fantastic?