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We ALL have them.  Its those little things that we do that make us, well, us.

My newest quirk is a little hard to explain.

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Well, actually, its easy to explain, just harder to Explain.

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Those things?  Yeah, those are part of my new daily habit.  Unsalted Kerrygold butter, MCT oil and locally roasted fair-trade coffee.

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The special butter is for various reasons.  You can read about the nutritional value of grass-fed butter vs. grain fed here, here and the importance of good butter here.

MCT oil takes a bit more explaining because I bet many people aren’t familier with it.  MCT stands for Medium Chain Triglyceride Oil, basically a fat that doesn’t have a long chain of fatty acid esters of glycerol.  It is found most commonly from Coconuts and Palms (Coconut and Palm oil are both MCTs)  There are lots of articles out there that extoll the virtues and uses of MCT oil in the athletic community, bodybuilding community and the low-carb (Adkins) community.  This blogger wrote a fantastic post with lots of links to studies regarding MCT oil and its usefullness.  I HIGHLY suggest taking a look if you are interested in more information.  I don’t care about the use of MCT for bodybuilding and I love rice, flavoured pasta and potatoes far too much to ever think about low-carb anything.  The BIG upside for me is that MCT’s are not digested by the liver or bile salts in general, they are absorbed directly and can be put to use in the body.  As someone who no longer has a bile concentrator in my body and who has been suffering with the digestion of nearly EVERY form of dietary fat, just let me tell you what a godsend discovering this has been for me.

You could also use coconut oil if you don’t have or want to try MCT oil.

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So now we see the addition of the third and final ingredient:  My own Port Townsend roasted coffeeMade in my fantastic vintage Regal Poly-Perk.

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Yes.  I am blending the coffee, MCT oil and 2 tablespoons of butter together.  On High.  For 30 seconds to a minute.

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This is the result:  Creamy, frothy and perfectly hot, thanks to the speed of the Vitamix.

How does it taste?

Well, thats where my quirk gets quirkier.

Its amazing.  Creamy, smooth and perfect.

And this coming from someone who has ALWAYS had at least 2 sugar packets in a regular diner cup or at least 2 tablespoons of Coffeemate in her home-brewed mug.  For years I have been saying that my concession to “fake” food was Coffeemate but no longer.  I don’t need the sugar and don’t miss it.  As for the flavours, I have tried vanilla and almond extract and both are lovely additions.

Before you wrinkle your nose at the idea of butter and an oil in your coffee, stop and think.

Do you take cream/half-n-half/milk in your coffee?  Butter is simply whipped cream.  Or over whipped cream, depending on your POV.

Oil?  If you put Coffeemate/International Delight or ANY other non-dairy creamer in your coffee, you already are putting oil in yours.  A highly processed oil and most likely a trans fat.  Mine is simply better for you.

Now for the big question:  WHY?

Because I figured I had nothing to lose when the nutritionist at work told me about it.  She told me that drinking this “Bulletproof Coffee” helped her feel full while she was IF-ing and/or low-carbing.  Considering that I often fast by accident (get ‘too busy’ at work for lunch and go for 10+ hours), the idea of something that would help give me energy without a sugar crash or processed food binge was very appealing.  Let me be very clear though:  I DO try to eat and have healthy choices around if I take the time to eat them.  I just have no sense of time and it passes me by without me being aware until I am ‘starving’ with an hour before I get to go home and make dinner.  With the sun shining these past few days, I have totally taken my lunch breaks and enjoyed the sun, and the lunches, immensely.  I don’t generally skip meals on purpose.  Just usually.  On accident.

However…for the past week, this coffee has totally carried me through from 8am to 3pm with NO hunger and complete ability to resist the candy and snacks that have been out tempting me at work.  I feel alert, boundless energy and really enthusiastic about life in general.  Granted, this could be due to the increase of Vitamin D but I’m going to give the coffee its due.

Interested?

Do your own research like I did.  There are tonnes of blogs about different peoples trials of buttery coffee.  There are just as many articles out there about the benefits of grass-fed butter and just as many of those about MCT oil and Coconut oil.

Think I’m nuts and that this is just another fad in the food world?

Possibly.

If you discount the yak butter tea that has been drunk in Tibet and China and Bhutan so long that it has “Traditional” in front of ‘recipe’.

I just know it works for me.

Try it and let me know what you think!

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What do all these foods have in common?

1) They are all yummy.

2) They are all foods that I like.

3) They are all in season and available at my local farmers market.

4) They are all in the same family: Nightshade Family

Some people have problems when eating those foods in the nightshade family and sadly, I am one of them.  From experience, it is the alkaloids in the nightshades that causes my arthritis to flare and my sore hands are the testament to that.  What does this mean?  That I seriously limit my intake of the three foods above and also eggplant…off-season.  While I lived in Alaska, I had nary a ripe tomato so while they are available in the market or from my own plants, I indulge during the season and deal with the stiffness and soreness in my hands.  The most difficult part of it all?  That I am 31 and have arthritis.  Darn that perfect genetic storm of Nana and Grandma!

In honor of my sore hands, I give you a recipe that I created yesterday:

Stuffed Pepper Soup aka Sore Hands Soup

1 onion, diced

1lb mild Italian sausage

2 sweet peppers, diced

1/2winter squash, your choice, diced

1 14oz can stewed tomatoes

water

Bay leaf

Vegetable bullion cube

2 cups cooked rice

 

In a large pot, warm a small amount of olive oil over low and slowly cook the onion to brown.   Add sausage and cook completely.  Add peppers and squash and heat to slightly softened.  Add can of tomatoes and 2 cans of water, bullion cube and the bay leaf.  Cook over medium for 1 hour to let flavours marry.  Turn off heat and add rice, stirring to mix and let sit for 10 minutes to soften rice and warm thru.  Serve and enjoy!

We LOVED this lunch and, despite my sore hands today, I’ll have the leftovers for my work dinner tonight…with a Ibuprofen/Acetaminophen chaser!

But its ok because I put him there.  This lovely rubber duckie is actually a tea duck, no, not a special breed but a tea ball…See:

He was part of my Easter box that my mum and sister sent to me and I just love him.  Very cute and makes me smile every time I use him.

In other news, that tea duckie is in a travel mug because I have to go to a A&P2 lab in a few minutes but I thought I’d leave you with a few photos of what we’ve been up to:

Skimming stone and thinking better of fetching them…

Finding inspiration everywhere, including bathroom stalls…

Posing for family pictures…

Trying not to get pounced on but loving to play together…

Working on knitting super secret projects being held for ransom…

And enjoying life in general, especially these past few beautiful days!  Running in the sun is fun and I’ve got 8 days until my first race of the season.  I’ve got quite the container garden going now, complete with tomatoes and basil.  If only mozzarella grew in pots we’d be totally set!  School is going great and we’re over half done, 2/3rds actually!

Lots going on and lots more to do today.  Enjoy it!

Lucky me, I had to pick M up from the airport on the 30th and since we were so close to Seattle, and niece S wanted to go in anyway, we went to Uwajimaya, a HUGE asian supermarket. I found so many yummy things, a very cute present for M for Christmas and had a fun ferry trip back across towards home.

 

I have a few fond memories that many would call…odd…to say the least.  One of my most treasured memories is making calamari with my mum.  Now, I’m sure that some of you may have bought the pre-breaded calamari rings and either fried or baked them yourself but I am talking about making-from-scratch-including-the-dissection.

For some reason we had bought a box of squid (I’m sure I saw it and begged for it because it would be ‘fun’ to make it ourselves) and spent an afternoon cleaning, de-quilling, de-beaking, creating rings and making a squiddy feast.  I remember how she showed me how to do the cleaning so I would not burst the ink sacs and my curious mind actually focused on looking at the entrails and I won’t even talk about how excited I got when I cleaned a female squid full of eggs!  We made two different dishes and they tasted all the better because it was the whole experience that was savored.

Trust me, I do have a point here and it all links together:

 

This Holiday season, make a savory food memory with your kids.

Make a savory dish together that is partly fiddly, possibly hard to gather the ingredients for and required steps to make.  Include them in all the steps and take your time.

Do they like calamari?  Trust me, making your own from scratch is a fantastic memory.

Someday, when they are older, they might buy their own squid so they can repeat the experience themselves.  I know I did.

Last night, I went to a BBQ on the beach.

(Toasting the perfect marshmallow)

((Only in Alaska do you have a BBQ on the beach in June wearing sweatshirts, jeans, tennies, wool sweaters and coats!))

We ate lots of good food.

(My Buddy and I, the Grill Queens)

We laughed a lot and it was fun.

(My Nelson Lagoon Family)

I shall miss them terribly.

The End.


One of the main people who has had an influence on my tastebuds was JL, the mom of the family I worked and lived with in Bellevue, WA.  She is an AMAZING cook and I was very glad to learn from her.  The biggest upside?  The family is Korean which means that my food palatte just exploded with fun new foods.  Over the months that I was with them, I learned not only how to order in a restaurant but also how to decipher the labels at the Asian markets, both of which have been a HUGE help for me now that I am so far away from JL and her family.  Every once in a while, my head spins as I remember some of the amazing meals that I shared with the L Family:

Kimbap (Korean-style rice roll, kinda like California rolls) from the Grocery store.  The kids and I would pick up one after shopping and eat it on the way home in the car.  Perfect for little hands and simply popping into your mouth on the way.

Yakgwa…a deep-fried, honey soaked cake that I fell in mad, mad love with that was best when fresh, all soft and sticky but was still yummy and amazing when slightly dried out.  I searched every month for this sweet treat when I was in Anchorage and never was able to fidn it at my local Korean Grocery store but I FOUND IT this last time…and bought 2 packages and promptly threatened M with pain of death if he didn’t save and savor each and every bite or inhaled them.  Mine.  All Mine.  Unless I share with you.  Seriously, I nearly cried when I remembered how happy TL (the eldest child) and I would get over finding fresh yakgwa at the store…I miss her so much and I’ll think about her and how she is so darn grown up now

Kalbi was always a favorite, and who could blame me?  Very thinly sliced beef short ribs marinated in soy sauce, garlic and sugar and hen quickly grilled?  Heaven. On. Earth.

Jjigae (soup) in all its various forms…Kimchi jjigae, Sundubu jjigae (soft tofu) all served still bubbling and spicy…yum!  There was a restaurant that we would go that had the best Haemul sundubu jjigae (seafood tofu soup, mostly made with fish eggs) that I learned to love after a few tries.

Japchae made in J style was always something that I had a hard time turning away from…

Pajeon, a pancake-like food with lots of veggies in the batter.

Naengmyeon, a cold soup with buckwheat noodles, sliced cucumbers, carrots, hard boiled eggs…I searched for ages before I found the package that I recognised at my Korean Market and I am so glad to have it again in my pantry.

All the various Panch’an…oh Lordy…a little of this, a little of that…sweet, spicy, savory, soft, crunchy…little dishes of everything possible to complete the meal and nearly everything made with a dollop of gochujang to give it that peppery kick with a sweet undertone.  And Kimchi.  Always Kimchi and always different varieties of it.  And Kim, that lovely, crunchy seaweed seasoned with sesame oil and salt that is so addictive.

And then there are the dishes that don’t have official names…there is this world shattering chicken dish that JL would make with just chicken, potato, ginger, soy and something else…bring it all to a simmer on the stove and let it go…sweet and sticky and heavenly…I need to get the recipe from her!  The killer Black Cod that was so simply broiled…buttery and amazing.

I think the only Korean dish that I never really loved was Bibimbap.  A dish with nearly everything in it, raw egg cracked on top and then all mixed together to eat.  I don’t know why I never took to it…maybe I like eating everything separately too much 🙂

JL and the entire L family have been such a sustaining influence on me and my life…not just food-wise but they are always in my thoughts…and I’ll think of them even more when I make and eat duk gook (not quite the recipe I will use) for dinner tonight 🙂

Ending a relationship is never an easy thing.  Sometimes its easier than others, like if you KNOW that its a bad relationship, but other times, its much, much harder to first admit and then make the change that is needed.

One of the hardest relationships that I have ever had to examine is the one I have struggles with nearly daily.  I hate that I struggle daily against my needs versus my lusts.  I hate that I have become one of “those people” who aren’t happy with where they are and yet still stay there and struggle instead of having the guts to just walk away and start anew.  I hate that I even have to think about this relationship now as it used to be one whose peace and steady nature I took for granted.

I’m talking about my relationship with food.

I’ve taken the last few days to think about this relationship…where it was, where it is, where I see it going…and the one constant is that the food itself is constant.  Nothing changes unless I make the change in the recipe or volume of consumption and, for that, I am extremely grateful.  Sadly, I have been the one who has changed.  MY point of view, MY relationship, MY goals.  So much has changed in me that I am feeling like I need to “Take a break”.  But wait… I made the choice a long time ago that I was never going to deny myself the foods that I really wanted and I stand by that plan.  I’ve never been a calorie counter and I’ve always had a love of good cheese, creamy butter, flavoured olive oils and all sorts of “bad” foods.

However…

I will not consume a block of cheddar just because I can.  I’ll weigh the chunk if I’ve cut it from the block and remind myself that the stronger the cheese, the less I’ll want to eat.

I will not eat the entire bag of Sour Patch Kids just because I’m on an airplane and gummy candy on a plane is a ritual I’m not willing to mess with.  I’ll save half for the return trip or put the remaining into a jar in the cupboard out of sight.

I will not feel guilty about throwing away half a bag of food that has gone stale.  I’ll buy a smaller bag next time or just skip it all together because I obviously didn’t want it all that badly.

I will not eat from the bag.  I’ll ‘dirty’ a bowl or plate instead.

I will not pretend that I don’t want those chips, ice cream, cheese, cake or candy.  I admit that not only do I want it but that I can wait until Friday to have it or I can only have 1 piece to tide me over.

I will not scoop with abandon.  I will remember to measure portions I’m not sure of and I will remember that no matter how good it smells or tastes, I do NOT have to eat it all right now.

I will not swear off carbs, red meat, skin-on chicken thighs, baked goods, chocolate, chips, all white foods or anything with fat.  I will remember that I love to eat all foods in moderation and that nothing is “bad”.  Except mushrooms.  And even those have their place.  I’ll also remember that if I tried to do the above, I’d need to move from AK because there is no way I could afford to eat only fruit and veggies while living here and I would be 20 kinds of foolish to try.

I will remember that I am NOT breaking up with food and that my decision to watch what I consume is much more than “Don’t eat that, it will make you Fat” because that kind of thinking would quickly drive me mad.  I’ll focus on enjoying each and every bite that I want and deny myself nothing.

I will remember that while I really like the adage, “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”, I strongly disagree.  Why would I want to be thin and only eat cardboard?  Butter tastes so much better than margarine AND it has the benefit of being not being insanely processed.

I will remember that creating a new goal and plan for myself requires me to think of possible sacrifices and my willingness to make those.  If I’m not willing to do something then, obviously, that is not going to be the plan for me.  I put a great deal of value in the ritual of cooking and eating with M and no dress or jeans on earth is going to make me want to give those moments up.

I will remember that my original plan was to be a solid size 10 and I was a 10 sliding to an 8 last June.  Now, 9 months after hitting my goal and 14 months after consciously making the decision to change my habits, I am solidly in an 8 in both my ever comfy mid-rise jeans AND in a low-rise version and am wondering how far I WANT to go.

I will remember that having the Courage to look at myself is exactly that: a courageous act.  And it takes even more sisu to see, perceive, and act on change.

Now…if only I can figure out what I want the next change to be…

Topic #55

If you could have anything to eat right now, what would it be?

Bonuses: 1) Assume price is no object. 2) If you could eat this food with anyone alive or who has ever lived, who would it be? 3) Find and share a photo of what you’d like to eat or the person from #2.

 

If price were not an object…hmmm…nope, I would still pick the same food:  Pizza…Pepperoni pizza, specifically.

Not particularly Brothers Pizza…I don’t think that I’ve ever had it, to be honest, but a heart shaped pepperoni pizza is just right up my ally.   Fresh from the oven,  hot and melt-y, spicy and tomato-y and cheese-y…please excuse me while I wipe the drool from my keyboard…but oh, that sound heavenly right now. I miss fresh, hot pizza and I promise, its one of those things that will be first on my list of indulgences when I get to Sitka in a few weeks.  Oh how I have missed Pizza Express 🙂

 

I would want to eat my pizza with my friends and family.  All of them.  So that is a lot of pizza needed.  Really, there is no specific person to enjoy my pizza feast with because there are so many people that I would love to enjoy a meal with.  I want M to meet my Mum, sister and BIL and my adorable nephew, my uncles and aunts surnames of Austin, the entire community that I lived and worked with in Bellevue, WA, many of my HS chums, friends from college…oh my list just goes on and on…and then there are also my friends who I want to catch up with because its been years since I have really had a chance to sit and visit with them…I’m telling you, its a HUGE list.

Part of my pizza party is about getting to see and visit with people so much more than anything else.  I know that there is little chance for my entire family to ever meet M which makes me wish for it more than anything else.  I also miss M terribly right now…its been nearly 8 weeks since I saw him…so all I want is for us to be able to sit down over a simple, hot and delicious meal and relax and chat and just hang out.  I know that there are a few people that will be hard to see again because of geography getting in the way and that makes me sad and wish for just a few hours of relaxed conversation over a pint and slice to just touch base in that way that bonding over food makes possible.  In December I had a blessed few hours with Brightonwoman and her family and it was the relaxing with pizza and root beer in the comfort of a hotel room that really makes me miss the easy comfort of visiting with friends on an easy Friday night.

Some people might want the fancy for their special meal of choice…but for me, its pizza with my family and friends.  With the beverage of their choice to hand and napkins…lots and lots of napkins.

In the beginning there was Real Food and SisuGirl saw the food and it was good.

So she decided to blog a bit about real food, cooking basics of beans and whole grains, subsistence foods and their gathering and prep and enjoying every.last.bite.

Here is the first of what I hope to be an ongoing feature in my adventures.

For someone who has always loved food, this blog has had a noticeable lack of food content…

and that shall be remedied…

starting….

NOW:

Real Food Flowchart brought to you by Darya Pino, PhD, aka : SummerTomato

Her Healthy Eating Tips are amazing; I really, really love her entry about How to Start Working Out When You Don’t Like To Exercise and, quite frankly, I haven’t yet  disliked a single entry she has written.  When I read thru her site I find that she has written the way I think about food and exercise…which means that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel here 🙂  Many of her Recipes look amazing and I may even make her Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon for myself and M in my effort to find a way that he would enjoy the brussles sprouts.  Honestly, if he doesn’t like them, I don’t think I would be too put out to eat them all myself.

One of her best articles, IMHO, was How To Eat Healthy Without Being a Buzzkill.  For someone who lives a rather solitary life, like me, we don’t generally have to think about how we eat around other people because we just don’t get the chance to do it often.  For the other 90% of the population, you might be able to use these tips and not just be like me : grateful that you don’t have situations like these!  In this article she shares some common sense, witty and intelligent quips that will help keep the person trying to change their Healthstyle sane and allow them to participate in social situations.