Namecheap.com
Tox-Sick Followup

Here’s a followup to my last post on the incredible book Tox-Sick.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Hi, again, Dear Readers:

OK, so. . .I apologize for being away so long. I’ve been writing, all right–but on Upwork, the freelance platform that lets you connect with people just about anywhere for paid freelance work. (Shameless self-promotion: If you need something written, I can do that for you. Get in touch either on Upwork, if you hire there, or via heatcagekitchen-at-gmail.com) I’ve written a few things, but mostly web copy a couple of regular clients, one of which is an IT company on the east coast. (I can raise my rates once I gain some traction.)

The Knitting Bowl

I’ve also bid on other types of jobs, and was hired for one, a product review for a knitting bowl. Who the heck knew there was such a thing?

Isn’t it cute? Yes, I actually have one. It’s pretty nice.

The bowl was given to me for free and I was paid a little for the review. I figured it would be fun, and I’m now using it to hold little things on the dresser with some of that blue sticky rubber stuff on the bottom holding it in place.  BF must keep his paws off it–being a woodworking/building kind of guy, he wants to fill in the spiral with wood putty and stain it! But if you’re someone who knits or is looking for a knitter’s gift, click here and you can go see it and maybe get one if you want.

I’ve also written an article on magnesium and high blood pressure. Reminded me that I need to get back on that stuff. If I can get a back link, I’ll post it for you to read.

And because I’m earning a little money–not a fortune, yet–I’ve finally been able to order a replacement drip tray for my Cuisinart Griddler/waffle maker. Woo Hoo! Now we can waffle bacon and eggs, soon as the part arrives.

I did offer to make some waffled mac & cheese for BF the other night, but after the waffled brownie hot mess, he smiled, hugged me and said, “step away from the waffle maker, please.”

Valentine’s Day

Our V-D didn’t work too good, because it fell in-between paydays and we were both a bit under the weather. So, we postponed our “Valentine’s Day”  until last week, when we headed to a popular local seafood eatery. It’s one of those kinds of places with laminated menus. . .no candlelight here. It was pretty good, but BF tends to be a bit nervous when we go somewhere and it’s time to order. In Cracker Barrel, I can order a nice chicken or shrimp salad with no croutons; when they bring crackers, I decline them. But I ask a lot of questions, and still don’t get what I want in some places.

This particular evening, I ordered grilled shrimp with sweet potato fries and a trip to their small but pretty good salad bar. (It’s more of an accessory, and not like Sweet Tomatoes.) I figured that would be good, and about as “junk free” as I could get. Then after asking questions and thinking I was ordering something pretty safe, the waitress says, “and it comes with hush puppies and. . .”

Whoa! Back up the truck!

It doesn’t say that on the menu, not that I saw. I don’t want all that rubbish–I want SALAD and un-coated, cooked food, please.

BF was a bit horrified, but managed not to show it. I explained to him, and later to the waitress, that I’m not used to ordering something and discovering it “comes with” all kinds of things I don’t want and wouldn’t order. I didn’t have that experience in Houston, and I don’t understand asking for something and getting something completely different. Fortunately, I was able to get away with just those hush puppy things and BF took them in his styrofoam “doggie bag.”

I dove into the salad bar, piling up lettuce, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced black olives, broccoli, and a tablespoon or two of the dried golden raisin and cranberry mix. No croutons or dressings, since most have trans-fatty acids and kill the taste of the food (not to mention do a number on you.)  Just a bit of salt. BF had a “salad,” too–consisting of two tablespoons of lettuce, a cup of some kind of salad dressing and croutons. No matter how I explain it, in his furry little head, he “ate some salad, too.” Later, he claimed the lettuce made him gassy.

No flowers-and-chocolate routine, because I specifically asked BF not to do that. I guess a card would have been OK, but I didn’t think that much about it. I just don’t want him going broke thinking he’s going to be in the doghouse if he comes home without roses, fancy jewelry and a heart-shaped box of candy like you see on TV. He can get into the doghouse all on his own. But there was a little sugar-free chocolate involved.

Detoxing myself

I also want to tell you how I’ve been trying to find ways–cheaply–to detox since reading Tox-Sick. I’ve finished the e-book twice and returned it to the nice library that I borrowed it from. Soon, I’ll get a hard copy so I can refer to it whenever I want to (and maybe get my cave man BF to read it himself one day.)

The first one is toothpaste, as I mentioned last time. Here in the local Walmart, I have only found one non-fluoride toothpaste, and that’s Tom’s of Maine. I’ve bought it before, but of course, BF refuses to use it, since it “tastes weird.” (Dude–you’re weird!) I’ll keep looking, but you know that Amazon has a selection of, well, absolutely everything.

Sodium Laureth Sulfate

Trader Joe’s has a small selection of health & wellness products. I’ve used them occasionally and known about them for a while. Britta and Carli Garsow of Twinspiration recently reviewed a few. But I knew what I wanted when I went in there last week–the Tea Tree Tingle Body Wash.

I’ve used it before, along with bars of their tea tree oil soap. But after reading in Tox-Sick about an ingredient called sodium laureth sulfate–avoid it any way you can–I knew that I could find something to replace the accumulated Avon stuff I’ve been using up for a while.

The ingredient list. Look at what’s there, and what’s NOT there.

That bottle is $3.99 for 16 ounces, and as you can see, has NO sodium laureth sulfate.

None! Not a drop.

I have to go look again, but I didn’t see any SLS in Dove body products, which are available locally at <cough> Walmart. I’ll also check out Dove’s shampoo and conditioners. I used to use Dove, but one day, somehow, switched to Tresomme. I didn’t see any SLS in Tresomme conditioner, either, but again, more research as I run out of things that I would like to stop using.

Trader Joe’s carries Tom’s of Maine as well as their own brand of fluoride-free toothpaste. Next trip, I think I’ll stock up on their body wash and toothpaste.

They’re not all the same

I have tried the natural, aluminium-free deodorant from Trader Joe’s. Much as I was hoping for a less-toxic odor prevention, the TJ’s natural deodorant left me smelling like a locker room after this year’s OT SuperBowl. At work, no less, after a walk through the Houston Tunnel–not good. Tom’s of Maine has one, and I’ll try it soon.

I considered getting BF a tube of TJ’s shave cream, but I couldn’t get him on the phone because he was disassembling a leaking toilet at the time. (It wasn’t the AC, and we were thankful for that.) Maybe next trip. (Toilet’s fine now.)

What about BF?

BF, of course, thinks this is all a bit bonkers, especially we have two types of toothpaste in our bathroom now, while he chews on his Tums and drinks milk while taking an OTC proton-pump inhibitor. When he took a whiff of the TJ’s body wash, he turned up his nose and said, “it smells weird.” That’s what I get for living with a cave man.

I had a water filter on my shower in Houston, and maybe I can talk him into that at the Casa. I haven’t mentioned the whole-house reverse osmosis filter again, either.

There is only one small square of carpet in the house, and that’s in the bedroom closet. Hopefully that’s old enough that it’s not out-gassing anything now, and we’ll be safe from that. But no more carpet, please.

In the matter of cans. . . .

Remember the slow cooker pizza sauce? I showed you the non-GMO product in cans that did not contain BPA. I’m looking for that all the time now. It’s pretty easy in Whole Foods, because most everything they sell is like that. But in Walmart. . .keep your eyes peeled! I’ve long told BF that any food product thing sold under their “Great Value” brand is suspect, and I avoid buying them. But sometimes, that’s all they have, for things like olive oil that isn’t extra-virgin. They even have some “organic” products, but I don’t know how “organic” they actually are; I never checked.

In fact, I noticed that the last can of GV cannellini beans I bought and used not only didn’t taste that great, they were hard, like they weren’t completely cooked. So no more of those. I’ll stick with Winn-Dixie’s or Bush’s.

BPA hurts men

Friend of the bog JKH, LK’s sister, is a big proponent of NO cans at all, ever. This makes sense, because the BPA can affect her teenage son’s development. BPA, (or by it’s full name, Bisphenol A) the chemical that’s in a lot of cans and plastic stuff. (Here are more tips for avoiding it.) Of course, completely avoiding canned foods is difficult in the real world, but. . . I do try. (Keeping BF from rampaging through Walmart on payday wielding his debit card like a sword helps.)  While I use up the cans of things I brought from my kitchen in Houston, I am now seeking out cans that don’t contain BPA.

I explained to BF that BPA is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor, and that it could “turn you into a woman.” As usual, he dismissed my comment as, er, “nonsense.” (Never mind what he really said.) No, he won’t be able to get pregnant, but the xenoestrogens (synthetic estrogen compounds) can cause some issues with “feminization” in males. (Think “man boobs.”) Even the National Institutes of Health knows about this.

BF doesn’t get why I don’t want to use his aluminum pots and pans with half the Teflon scraped out, preferring to use my own uncoated stainless ones, or one of the seasoned cast iron pots we have. But there are gender-bending  endocrine disruptors are in those nonstick pots, too. And yet. . .I’m “fussy.”

Teflon, the great kitchen innovation.

Remember what I said last time about low-fat being nonsense? The flawed “logic” behind Teflon and other nonstick coatings is that you can cook without using fat. Problem: real fat (butter, olive oil, coconut oil) is what keeps you alive, sugar can and will kill you. So can Teflon, or at least cause a few problems. These chemicals leach into your food. Reducing chemical exposure best you can is what you’re after.

Well, anyway. . . .

We were out of popcorn

The other night we used the last of the HEB popcorn I brought from Houston. Yes, the 4-pound bags I bought or $2.64, and I had two unopened bags from our last trip in October. We emptied out the last one the other night. BF has become very fond of my version of microwave popcorn, as I described in The Popcorn Post last year. What I have been doing since moving here is to put a little coconut oil in the bowl with the kernels, popping it, pouring a little melted butter, then olive oil, on it, then seasoning it with some of Paula Deen’s House Seasoning and tossing. It’s just kosher salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder. I’ve been making and using that for years, but only grabbed it one night for popcorn and discovered that it’s pretty darn good.

Then one night, HE tasted it. Now that’s the only popcorn BF will eat. I suppose that’s good, because it’s so much healthier than the chemical-laden microwave popcorn he was buying. But now I make more, because BF has fallen in love with it.

The Orville Redenbacher Affair

Out on a milk run, I asked BF to get more popcorn, since we were now out. This is what he brought home:

Yes, he did.

The first thing I looked for was the “no BPA” on the label. Nope. But it is gluten free!

Thank heavens!

Hint: this is raw popcorn, and it was gluten-free a long time ago. Like, when it was discovered. Like the first time someone made salsa, OK? That too is gluten-free. But I digress, I guess you have to look these days, because you never know.

No GMO!

That’s nice, but. . .as I mentioned in The Popcorn Post, raw popcorn has not been genetically modified. However, Conagra is apparently part of a non-GMO project–which I haven’t yet read about, maybe next week–so they put it right on the label, just like the Hunt’s tomato products.

So what did I do? I decided to call Con Agra and ask them a few questions:

Someday they’ll regret putting a phone number there. . . .

I was told by the nice lady who answered that not only does this jar not have BPA in it, NONE of their products do, anywhere. That made me feel better, but I still made BF buy me a nice glass jar with a clamped stopper at Hobby Lobby the other day so I could fill it with popcorn and make it look nice in the pantry.

Do you give your babies popcorn?

The warning, however, was a surprise to  me. Are people giving babies and toddlers popcorn, requiring that warning on the label? Seriously? Doesn’t anyone teach new parents how to feed babies anymore? That really reminds me of the warning labels on hair dryers and curling irons telling you not to use it in the shower. Someone has actually done this, somewhere.  I hear comedian Bill Engvall say, “heeeere’s your sign . . . .”

Jambalya, crawfish pie, filet gumbo. . . .

OK, so, despite my best efforts, I have not been able to avoid “real Louisiana food.” I had quite enough of it as a kid, and I just don’t care if I never have it again. I don’t lay awake at night wishing for jambalaya like I would for something from HEB with Hatch chiles. BF likes to make a quick version of what he calls “jambalaya.” From a rice package, and he adds in more rice.

We were out of the stuff he usually uses the other day, so he pulls from the pantry a box of this stuff, local brand Tony Chachere’s. You can get this in Houston, and I’ve bought the TC seasoning. But then, I read the ingredients. . .oh, HELL NO.

He really didn’t look.

After explaining to the BF, again,  that I’m allergic to soy, he paid attention and put it back in the cabinet. I really won’t eat it, I’m allergic to soy. A quick search for “gluten free jambalaya mix” the next day showed me that Zatarain’s was indeed gluten free, by virtue of no gluten in it.

That’s a little better

Granted it’s not a perfect solution, and it’s one of the rare occasions that I’ll eat rice. But it’s not loaded with wheat, soy, and the industrial sludge known as “vegetable oil.”

But I did, at his request, make him some brownies from a box Friday night. It called for a half-cup of industrial, I mean, vegetable oil, which, of course, is nearly always hydrogenated soybean oil.

Talk barbecue to a Texan?

Then there was the trip to BF’s favorite BBQ place in Hammond, which happens to be up the street from the only Starbucks around. Everything is a sandwich, or you can get some BBQ in. . .styrofoam. UGH. I passed on a cup of water because it was styrofoam, only to discover that the food was served in it. He couldn’t understand “the big deal.” I told him I’d like to stop being poisoned. Styrofoam leaches chemicals into whatever you put in it, especially something like coffee, and the compounds stay in your system forever. Next time he will be dropping me off at Taco Bell, which is a little further up the street, but on the way to Starbucks and that place. They use paper.

Besides–that was the most tasteless BBQ I’ve ever had. I’m a Texan, for heaven’s sake! It just didn’t taste like anything but shaved meat in a bland sauce. Sorry, Honey, it’s true. I can do infinitely better than that. But if that’s what he likes, I’m not going to argue, I’ll just get that lovely Power Bowl at Taco Bell.

The Safe Haven With Food

This is not to say that I’m a paragon of virtue–far from it, Dear Readers:

What happens when you’re working in Starbucks on Sunday when the library is closed and you get hungry.

Now and again, I’ll try something new:

What happens when you’re working in Starbucks and you’re still hungry.

Yes, she did, and it’s pretty good:

 

But ‘s not every day, honest. And they don’t have the salad bowls here, nor in Baton Rouge, even near LSU. In fact, I was told yesterday that there’s only one store around that has salads and sandwiches–and that’s down in New Orleans.

Sometimes, it’s either eat what you can forage, or don’t eat anything. We sometimes have to forage.

Since Starbucks’ primary stock and trade is brewed coffee, they lose money when I come back and say, “Bartender!” Because they have to make me another decaf. (They’re really nice to me in the Hammond store, though, and a few of them know me.) The cup gives me a ten-cent discount, and I’m a Starbucks Rewards member, so refills are free as long as I’m there. And I don’t do that every day.

La Casa

Cleaning up is another area that I have tried to improve as well, but we’re limited by availability. I still use original blue Dawn for dish washing (we don’t have a dishwasher like I had in Houston), and there are steel wool soap pads under the sink for the occasional need.

Combining two households means that we have a lot of stuff under the sink, even though I left a whole bunch of it behind when I moved. (That wasn’t my choice.) I still have some of those Martha Stewart Clean products, even though you can only get it online now. (Amazon doesn’t even carry them anymore.)

Catmandu and Kismet

I used to have cats, and my two were kind of old when they passed to the Rainbow Bridge. (Jezebel the step-kitty was actually the GER’s cat, and about 8 years old when she went.) Kismet, the tabby, well, I don’t know why, but he just stopped using the litter box one day. Bribing with treats only meant he’d walk in and walk out of the litterbox, waiting in the bathroom doorway for it. He didn’t get it that he’d have to, um, “produce” to get a treat, and would sit there for hours, just waiting.

I went looking for something to get the cat smell out of the carpet, and somewhere, I found Biokleeen’s Bac-out for pet odors.

Fast forward a few years. . . .

Now I live with two dogs and a cat, and the dogs. . .well, BF’s solution to dealing with the dog accidents has been Lysol’s multi-surface cleaner, and I think it’s this fruity Tangerine Mango scent stuff he likes. He pours it over the area and leaves it for a while, then mops it later. It leaves behind a strong chemical perfume smell that covers the odor but doesn’t get rid of it. Dogs know this and can smell past the Lysol. And it’s not healthy for man or beast.

Then we ran out of Lysol

I went under the sink and found the Bac-Out and sprayed it all over the offending area. We use less because it’s a spray, and it removes the odor from the spot. (Of course, there’s the matter of the dog’s learned behavior, but that’s another matter.)  A quick mop, and it’s gone until the next time. I don’t know where I found the first bottle, but in addition to buying it on Amazon, you can get it at Whole Foods and a few other places. (I picked up another bottle last trip to Baton Rouge, we needed it.) The spray bottle at Whole Foods in Baton Rouge is $8.99, and the non-spray bottle, which I used to refill the spray bottle, is $8.49.

Over time, I plan to change the things we bring into the house so that we aren’t using as many toxic chemicals inside for us as well as the fur babies. Eliminating nasty toxins is the goal. But it’s also a matter of what we can get at Walmart or Winn-Dixie, or have to drive to the Hammond Target to find.

You can’t do it all at once

If you’re interested in detoxing, of course, read that book! Tox-Sick explains the science and reasoning, and gives a good understanding of why getting rid of toxins in your body, your home and your life is so important. But you know most of us won’t be able to do everything all at once. Cycle things out and change what you bring in. Make educated choices about what you eat, drink and use, and go from there.

I asked BF to please not buy the Lysol again. . .we have the Bac-Out, and it removes the odor instead of just overwhelming it with perfume for a while. Just gotta keep an eye on him in Walmart.

Coming soon. . . .

Something delicious from the Crock Pot, and it was easy! Mostly. I did manage to cut my finger when the knife slipped dicing the onion. And. . . .

Something deliciously chocolate from. . . Texas? Oh, yes! Stay tuned.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras. *yawn.* I’ll be at Starbucks, the library is closed.

I’ll try *not* to be so late again.

Until next time. . .Enjoy!

 

 

Grazing, grazing. . . .

Good evening, Dear Readers:

Well, I’ve had a busy day, not all of it good, and I don’t feel like doing anything else. And then I remembered that I hadn’t written a blog post in a while. Good heavens, more than two weeks! My apologies.

Now, did you make it to McDonald’s for a free coffee? Not bad, is it? I brought my own Sweet N’ Low, and nobody cared. They put the cream in the coffee FOR YOU, and I had my back turned when I added sweetener. Drank my happy coffee all the way home. Twice. It’s pretty good, just be aware of the sugar/Equal thing, and bring your own if you want different. The small coffee is regularly $1.39, and I think the larger is about 20 cents more; I didn’t look too close. But if you need a coffee, and there’s no Starbucks nearby, (or like my family, you hate Starbucks), it’s pretty good. I might have a coffee there more often, and as my late grandmother would tell you, “Don’t knock it.”

I’ve got a lot of things going on, so I’ll fill you in some of it. First, Neighbor K and I are getting up early and walking. When I say “early,” I do mean “early.” As in 4:00 am Central Daylight Time. I am not joking–we get up and go walking in the 4:00 am hour. And walk for 30 to 45 minutes. She takes out the Daft Pug for a quickie and then we start walking. We’ve seen some, shall we say, interesting things on our early morning treks, as well as had a really good early start to our day. She goes to work, but sometimes, I go back to sleep.

I’m working on not doing that anymore. But I have gotten lots done when I get up and stay up.

We started last Monday, and while I got up and went, she didn’t sleep well that night, so I was on my own. I didn’t waste the chance, though–I went back inside, did morning prayers and chanted for a while, then went out about 5:45 and walked. Last lap involved me dropping off my hand weights and going straight up the street to McDonald’s for a free decaf on the last day. (I’d walked there on Sunday too, but didn’t walk 2 or 3 miles beforehand.) Last Friday it rained when a cold front came through, so I did the same thing I did Monday, and the rain was over by 5:45 am.

Second: the New Orleans Saints won yesterday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I’m only a real football fan when the Saints are in the playoffs on the way to the Superbowl. I was, indeed, in shock when they went the last time, so I just wait for it to happen again. They’ll play the Houston Texans this week, I think, so we’ll see what happens.

Irony: a lot of folks who came to Houston after Katrina stayed after Katrina. I see a split loyalty at that game, and probably a lot of torn emotions. But I’m not a football aficionado, so I’m not so worried.

In other news. . . .

You remember years ago there used to be the SAVE Club, where every month you’d get a box filled with new and different products for you to try? (I got them for a while in the early 80’s for a while, right after I got married–the first time.) They were about $10, if I remember correctly, and they sent coupons and new and interesting products like Simple Green cleaner and. . .ramen noodles. Yes, I’m not kidding. At the time, ramen noodles were a new gourmet item, and were at least $1 a packet. Hard to believe that they’re now about a quarter, (in health food stores they might be more but healthier ingredients) but times change. I can’t find any info about it on the web, but I’m sure it was called the SAVE club.

Then in in 2000, there came StartSampling.com, and getting curious, I discovered that I still have an account and can still earn points and stuff. I haven’t thought about that site in years, until just now. I donated a bunch of my points after 9/11. In fact, the account still had the GER’s house as the address; I’ve since updated that. Oh, dear. . . .

Now, in 2014, there are so many subscription boxes to choose from. Makeup. Jewelry. Dogs. Cats. Clothes. Handymen/Handywomen (tools and such.) “Favorites” picked by minor celebrities. (I got Cosmetique a few times, too.) Even a monthly box for. . .cyclic needs, if you know what I mean. I kid you not. Check out FindSubscriptionBoxes.com if you’re interested in seeing more of these. You can also find lots of info and pictures on these subscriptions on Pinterest.

I haven’t thought about this kind of thing in years, and had no idea it had expanded so much.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why are you bringing this up, Amy, and what does this have to do with all things foodie?” Well. . . .

You like to have delicious nibbles? Looking for something new? Then Graze.com is the place for you.

https://i0.wp.com/d29heo999a0e0g.cloudfront.net/6cdf1fbd589176c3d0722f70b669fc22.jpg?resize=201%2C63&ssl=1

No, I did not get paid for this. I’m just passing along info. But it’s great!! Neighbor K said she was considering giving them a try, since she got a flier at work for them. I told her to go for it.

My flier came from a magazine a week or two ago, and said that the first box was free. Woo hoo! You can cancel at anytime, and even speed up or slow down the delivery of the boxes, all online.

How could I resist? I sent for one. It arrived on Saturday. Oh, boy! (Oh, and they fit right in the mailbox.)

What's inside?

What’s inside?

Carefully I turned it over and popped open the package:

What you get when your package arrives.

My Graze treats are here!

Inside, you find:

Surprise!

Surprise! (Well, it’s always a surprise, that’s the fun of it)

Take a closer look:

Take a closer look.

Four delicious choices!

Graze.com wants to revitalize snacking with healthier choices like the ones you see here.  No GMO, no HFCS, no artificial flavors or colors, and no trans-fat, either. They were about a cup of each, I think, selected according to what I told them I prefer–gluten free, of course, and one or two other criteria. However, there are 90 different type of snacks, and you can “like,” “love,” or “trash” them. You tell them what you like and they send you healthier, portion-controlled snacks from what you would like and what you tell them. You can get a box weekly, bi-weekly, or more often, just go online and tell them, it’s simple.

You can read more about the people and the company here.

Graze says it’s not a good choice for folks with allergies, because they can’t guarantee everything to be allergy-free. Be forewarned if you’re allergic.

The packaging is all made from recycled materials, including the literature that comes with it. Don’t just toss it, recycle it all! However, for those of us who like to garden, take a look at what else you can do:

Portable planting! (With the empty plastic containers in it.)

Portable planting! (With the clean, empty plastic containers in it.) Start your seeds here.

All of these little snacks were great–because I nibbled them all day on Saturday. Yeah, yeah, I know–but I also cleaned up the HeatCageKitchen garden, and dug up some roots of the “houseplant gone wild” that me and Neighbor K battle occasionally, plus did housework and laundry. The maintenance guy cut most of that mess down and took it away, but I dug up as much of the root system as I could and took out another weed that was masquerading as a plant in the monkey grass. So, I was workin’ it, and nibbled off and on. See what I did?

And now, it's neat again.

And now, it’s neat again.

I lost the strawberry plant that was giving me those weird little frankenberries, and I will need to dig through those white buckets on the left to see if any garlic actually grew. Basil’s gone, but as you can see, there is a large Meyer lemon on the tree on the right starting to turn yellow, and I’ve got not only a new little bell pepper at the top of the pepper plant, but another little Hatch/Anaheim chile pepper on that plant. I trimmed the mint down, but with watering, it will be overgrowing again soon. (Closeups in an upcoming post.)

Yes, the snacks were very good. The Super Berry Detox was nice and sweet, and so was the Toffee Apple, although it had sugar in the small amount of toffee sauce. Never had that before, much as I like apples. I won’t be buying goji berries anytime soon, but if they send it again, no problem. The nuts, well, they were nuts, and I like just about everything but chestnuts, so no complaint there, either. The salt and vinegar taste is a little strong next to the unsalted ones, but I got used to that, too.

Once you try them, go back to the website and tell them that you “like,” “love” or “trash” them. They’ll send them occasionally, regularly, or not at all based on that little rating system and how often you elect to get a “nibblebox.”

Oh, yes, well. . .I went to cancel it, and the second shipment is already on its way. I’ll cancel it after that’s done. I’ve “snoozed” them so they don’t come for a while. Or, I could just keep snoozing it and get one occasionally if I want one. I’ll think about that for a while.

You’re probably wondering how my my little “nibblebox” cost, aren’t you? Well, the first one is free, and subsequent boxes are $6.99. That makes each snack about $1.75 each. If you work in an office, how much do you spend getting something from a vending machine? Is anything in that vending machine as healthy? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. (With all due respect to folks who run and service said vending machines, some of us prefer healthier fare, we’re not judging you.) You can have the box sent to your office, or to your home, and the little sealed plastic packets fit nicely in a purse, lunch bag, briefcase or desk drawer. You can also gift a box to other people at any time from your online account–they get a box in the mail, there’s a gift card with it, it doesn’t cost extra, and they’ll be happy when they see that you sent it.

How cool is that? Don’t know what to get for a birthday or a special occasion? With a week’s lead time, you can send a tasty “nibblebox” and the recipient will know you care.

Oh, and the holidays, including Christmas, are coming, so keep Graze in mind, OK? They are soon planning something called the “Big Box,” consisting of 5 larger, resealable bags of different snacks; those are $25 a box. But you have to join the waiting list for that–but when they’re ready, that’s also a good thing for a holiday gift.

Now, if you’re interested in trying out Graze’s neat “nibbleboxes,” here’s what you do–go to the website and where it says in small print under the “Get Started Now” button, “have a special code? enter it here,” you put this code into the popup field: AMYO2RN7B. Why would you do that? That’s the code on my packing slip to give to friends to get your first and fifth box for free. No kidding–fifth box is free if you decide to keep going with it. Within a week, you could start nibbling!

Now I don’t expect that hundreds of people will try to use the code, but I figure a few might consider it, so I’m putting it here for anyone who might like to try a “nibblebox.” Not sure how many times it will work, either. I think I get points or something, but mostly I figure a few of my readers just might be interested, so why not?

Again, no commitment, and cancel anytime. But you just might like it, too. What would be wrong with that?

Well, it’s getting late, and the 4 am wake-up alarm happens before you know it.

I’ll try to write again real soon, so I can tell you about the delicious baked pear, and a few other things. Oh, and more gluten-free stuff, too.

Happy Snacking!

 

 

Gluten-Free Updates

Happy Friday, Dear Readers!

The weekend is here, and I have some updates to share with you on gluten free stuff. You may be interested even if you’re not doing gluten free and just eating healthier.

Of course, if you’re not eating healthy, well, reading is entirely up to you. But first, updates and articles of interest.

I’m still walking. And walking. And mostly wearing myself out. But I like walking, so I keep at it, although I may take a dip in the pool later this evening instead. I think I’m gaining weight, but Neighbor K says no. She’s nice that way.

Wanna see the HeatCageKitchen garden? The little pepper is bigger than two golf balls, there is no change in the chile pepper or Meyer lemons, and I’m getting little red franken-berries again in the basket.

My little baby!!

My little baby, and more growing behind it.

 

Not really a "Hatch" chile, since it wasn't grown in Hatch, NM. But close.

Not really a “Hatch” chile, since it wasn’t grown in Hatch, NM. But close.

 

Yes, they're strawberries, even if they don't look to spec.  And yes, I know what it looks like.

Yes, they’re strawberries, even if they don’t look to spec. And yes, I do know what that looks like.

 

Basil, Oh My Basil!!

Basil, Oh My Basil!!

By the way, that’s SEVEN stems of basil growing. Two didn’t make it after the last harvest, so I pulled them; but the rest that were cut down are now re-growing leaves. Another Pesto Saturday will be coming soon, at least one more, and my freezer will be storing it for a cold winter day. Maybe me and the GER will be enjoying a pot of Pea And Pesto Soup, and he will finally understand why I like it so much.

While this isn’t food related, I saw an interesting story today in the UK’s Daily Mail, an interesting mix of real news and the celebrity nonsense. Mixed among today’s numerous stories about the K family and the late Robin Williams was this story about a couple of sisters and their company, Sword And Plough, not only doing some great recycling, they’re making it in America and employing veterans. The kicker: one is active duty Army! If you’ve got a student going to college soon, they make some fantastic bags and things from, no kidding, military surplus fabric that would have otherwise been wasted.

Their messenger bags look fantastic, and if I were in the market for one, I’d be getting the Coast Guard Blue model. The messenger or tote bag would be a great gift for a graduate or someone just starting their first job, and the rucksack would be an awesome Christmas gift for someone who likes camping, hiking and outdoorsy stuff.

Think about it–recycling, classic well-made designs, creating jobs, helping American vets, all in one fell swoop!

Also in Today’s Daily Mail, an article about bloggers who create healthier versions of favorite treats that are supposed to do miracle things. Dunno about the miracle stuff, but they’re certainly healthier. While they do use “raw” ingredients, one I don’t know about is “Organic Greens Complex.” Never heard of it, but since I stand little chance of ever looking like Australian Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr, I’m not too worried about it. If I can find it, maybe I’ll try a couple of these recipes and let you know the results.

However–one thing I notice is the high starch content of the dates and bananas. Yes, bananas can create a great fake-me-out ice cream, but the sugar content may be higher than Blue Bell. If you’re diabetic and/or trying to lose weight, you have to pay attention.

Then again, one picture that gets passed around on Facebook has a picture similar to the one you see in the article, and it says, “What do you call vegan brownies that are raw, sugar free and gluten free? COMPOST.” I cringe when I read it, but I know that some alternative foods are not very tasty. (Skinny Cow comes to mind.)

Later I’ll give you a super-secret HeatCageKitchen healthy chocolate treat I’ve never told anyone about, not even Neighbor K. Sit tight–it has three ingredients and doesn’t take long at all.

I get a LOT of different emails, and some are health-related, while some I just don’t know how they showed up. One I get and actually read occasionally is Doug Kaufman’s Know The Cause. Kaufman and his staff of writers talk about different health topics, primarily the problem of fungus in humans and how it affects disease, including things like cancer. If you’ve read my posts on the Yeast Free Diet, you’ll be at least a bit familiar with it and the mycotoxins put into the system by Candida Albicans, you’ll understand.

This particular time, would you believe it, is a short article on Apple Cider Vinegar. No kidding, maybe I should have waited on that one. But you can click on the link and read it; not long at all. But if you’re interested in learning more about the fungus among us, Know The Cause is a great place to start.

Faithful reader Aunt Kathy passed along another gluten free comic she found this week, this one from Six Chix.

GlutenFreeComicSixChix

Remember, of course, that I also know the GER, who says, “Oh, I love gluten!” He also loves coffee and breakfast from a gas station. One of these days, right?

Larabars now has a new version of granola, and it too is gluten free:

Granola nibbles for the gluten-free set.

Granola nibbles for the gluten-free set. As you can see, I couldn’t resist trying one of them before I got home.

 

Out of all three, I think I like the Cocoa Coconut the best. But that’s just me, and they were all good, too. They were 10 for $10 at Kroger, but I only bought the three. Parents, this is something you can feel good about packing in your kid’s lunch bag, you know? They get a treat, and you don’t have to worry about what’s in it–particularly if s/he has allergies.

Now, if you’re health conscious, gluten conscious, or just careful about what you’re eating, you know you have to read labels, and not just once. Today’s “healthy” snack may have been changed to contain high-fructose corn syrup, and if you didn’t notice it, you’ll have a surprise if it makes you sick or you suddenly have a sugar rush you weren’t expecting.

No kidding–I once went to the grocery and asked Neighbor K if she needed anything; she asked if I would get her a bottle of honey. No problem, and she gave me a $10 or $20 to cover it. As I was picking a brand, I turned over one bottle to discover that the first ingredient was. . .HFCS. I’ve never been careless about reading labels again.

If you want to go gluten-free, I strongly suggest reading Dr. William Davis’ Wheat Belly books first. That will give you a good primer on the subject, and you’ll know what to look for. (Incidentally, Dr. Davis has another book coming out soon on total health. More if/when I get it.)

Of course, that’s a lot of work, and you have to know a little about what you’re doing, and educating yourself is key, whether you’re gluten-free or not. Now, the federal government is getting into the act, and if you’re going to call something gluten-free, you have to follow their rules.

Oh, yes, the government sticking their beaks in this one is going to help immensely, isn’t it?

Listen up: almonds are gluten free. Fruit is gluten free. Tomatoes, bell peppers, Hatch chile peppers, garbanzo and cannellini beans, coffee, Sweet ‘N Low and milk are. . .gluten free. Why? Because gluten doesn’t come anywhere near it. Ever. Do we really need rules for this? Learn what you’re doing and read the labels.

Now, many call this gluten-free thing a fad, and there are some who will call it “dangerous and unhealthy.” How can leaving something out of your diet that can cause harm be “dangerous?” If you’ve read Wheat Belly, you know exactly why–the modern GMO 42-chromosome wheat grain can cause havoc in even otherwise healthy people. Sugar is also well-documented as a harmful substance, and causes a host of health issues, including inflammation. All carbohydrates break down into sugar in the blood stream, including, but not limited to wheat, so you see why wheat can cause problems, along with a lot of other things that become, one way or another, sugar as an end product.

It’s probably not a “beer belly,” but a “wheat belly.”

Then again, like the GER, not everyone understands the whole gluten-free thing. Thanks to the esteemed Wall Street Journal, they keep on top of these kinds of things. It’s not a craze if you have that gluten allergy, trust me–I know people who have it, and they have to be careful. And I disagree–everyone can benefit from gluten-free, they just don’t know it yet. Again, starting with Wheat Belly is the way to go; Dr. Davis explains everything well.

OK, enough of that. Who wants a cupcake?

Looks tasty, doesn't it?

Looks tasty, doesn’t it?

I started getting Facebook feeds from Elena’s Pantry, and one day, this popped up. Made with coconut oil and flour, they’re also good for folks with a nut allergy (which, thankfully, I’ve escaped–I love just about all nuts.) With the holiday season coming soon, this may be a good recipe to have in your back pocket for parties, especially children’s parties, where allergies are more prevalent.

Elegant Elena Amsterdam has written three books: one on Paleo cooking, one book on gluten free with almond flour, and another book of  gluten free cupcakes made with almond and coconut flour. I do not yet have these books, but they ARE on my wish list, along with Bruce Fife’s book on coconut flour. I haven’t written about coconut flour yet, because I really don’t use it much, and it tends to be more expensive.  I have a small amount in the fridge now, because I don’t use it much; usually for the cupcakes or something else from Babycakes and Babycakes Covers the Classics.

And now, for the first time ever, a healthy chocolate treat that’s easy to make has three ingredients and tastes awesome. This has been a HeatCageKitchen secret for some time, discovered by accident, but I’m releasing it now, and may include it in the cookbook, if I ever get around to writing it.

Coconut chocolate

The setup:

IMG_0836[1]

The coconut oil is liquid because it’s on a top shelf on my pantry, which is warm in the daytime. That makes it easy to tell the weather. In the winter, it’s hard as a rock.

Incidentally, this is the kind that actually tastes like coconut oil, not the somewhat refined stuff that has the taste taken out. You want that coconut flavor in the chocolate; it’s wonderful.

So you pour out about 2.5 to 3 ounces of melted coconut oil into your container. This just happens to be a pinch bowl from Cost Plus World Market, and I just measured it with water. To the bottom rim is 3 ounces.

Melted coconut oil

Melted coconut oil

To this you add about two tablespoons of cocoa powder, and gently mix with a fork:

Mix the cocoa powder in one tablespoon at a time

Mix the cocoa powder in one tablespoon at a time

Now this is the subjective part–longtime readers know of my preference for SomerSweet, Suzanne Somers patented erythrytol based natural sweetener and rejection of the toxic types like Splenda and Equal/Nutrasweet. However, if you’ve got something else that works as well, like a stevia blend or something similar to SomerSweet, go for it. Two tablespoons, one at a time.

IMG_0839[1]

SomerSweet also tends to clump when you add it into something, so that’s when the fork comes in handy. (That’s about the worst thing I can say about it, really.)  After that, stash it in a safe place in the freezer for a little while and go answer your email, or walk a dog like I did. (Neighbor K’s lovable pug, of course.)

When you come back and open the freezer, this is what you get:

Ahhhh. . .chocolate.

Ahhhh. . .chocolate.

Break it up into pieces, very carefully, either with a spoon or the point of a wide-bladed knife, so you can eat it. I recommend a spoon, because if you eat it with your hands, the coconut oil will melt at body temperature. THAT, ladies and gentleman, will be a mess beyond compare. If you don’t believe me, try it. Don’t gripe to me when you have chocolate on your keyboard, your cell phone, your doorknob, your dog and your iPad,OK? You have been warned.

Ready for some chocolate???

Here we go!!

Here we go!!

Rich, satisfying, healthy, and oh-so-sweet.

Next post I’m planning on writing about chia seeds. . .mostly because I have a batch in the pantry to use up, so I’m going to try a recipe or two I found and report on them. If you have any questions before then, you can now email me at heatcagekitchen@gmail.com, and I’ll try to answer them in the blog post.

It’s Friday, and the weekend is here.

Enjoy!!

Blasts from the Past

Good evening, Dear Readers:

This being Memorial Day weekend, many people are getting ready for the first official holiday of summer–even if they’re still dealing with Old Man Winter. Sorry about that!

I’ve had an up-and-down week, and now I’m a bit cranky. While I was happy about the six interviews I had this week with some good feedback, yesterday my browser crashed, and I had to install something else. A couple of other things have gone wrong, making it worse. Then I went looking for something and could NOT find it no matter how hard I tried. But I found it today, just in time for summer.

Please remember that Memorial Day is not about cookouts, beach trips and parties. It’s a remembrance for the service men and women who have fought and died on behalf of America. While there isn’t anything wrong with having a barbecue, the real meaning of the “day off” is somber. There are a number of men and women who didn’t come home, and many more who are stationed overseas and won’t be able to make that barbecue. While I do occasionally comment on Facebook that I love the Marines–and I do–the day is not just a “day off.” Thank you to all the US service personnel who work everyday for the defense and betterment of this country.

Now, if you are planning a barbecue, I can offer a little something–a quick-to-make barbecue rub from the pages of Martha Stewart Living magazine, August 2002. (I kept thinking it was earlier in the year.) It wasn’t in the recipe section–it was a Good Thing, so that recipe wasn’t on the website (not that I could find.)

Me and the GER had started dating, and we were doing the entertaining at each other’s place. He used a barbecue rub that had sugar in it, and while I consumed it, I was lucky enough to find this recipe for the next barbecue. I have been making it every since, and always have some in the pantry. In a bowl, combine the following:

  • 1 cup chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Keep it in an airtight container at room temperature.

This rub is not hot, and best of all–no sugar or weird chemicals! It gives a wonderful smoky flavor to beef, chicken, pork (especially baby-back ribs) or anything you want to put on the grill. Don’t know what it would do to, say, pineapple wedges, but that’s your call if you’re of a mind to do that. Couple it with some sugar-free barbecue sauce and you’re in business.

After I’d moved in his house, though, for one 4th of July I’d bought some baby-back ribs at Central Market, did the rub and sugar-free barbecue sauce, and he said they were the best ribs he’d ever had! Of course, he also asked me to get some sausages while I was at CM, and I got some of their delicious chicken sausages, which he in turn burned to a crisp. GRRRRRR. . . .

Yes, it’s good. Even the GER likes it. I haven’t decided if I’m going to do the barbecue thing, but if I do, I’m just going to get some chicken leg quarters and put them in the toaster oven, even though I have an Old Smokey charcoal grill. It’s great, I just don’t feel like messing with it. Maybe for the 4th of July.

I also happen to have some fresh thyme, so I want to use it to make more of this stuff. The rub lasts forever, long as you keep it in that airtight container.

Now from another blast from my past. Don’t worry, it’s not an ex-husband. That’s a different blog, right?  🙂

When you’re unemployed, you have a lot of time to think. This can be an asset or a liability, especially when you’re on your own. Recently I signed up for a free month of Amazon Prime. I needed something, and with the free shipping it was cheap.  This week that trial period ended, and yes, I remembered to cancel it–I put a reminder on my calendar. Gone until the next time I can sign up for it–like, when I need something with free shipping. Might be a while.

This week I remembered a cookbook I bought when it was new, and wondered if it was even available. Well, surprise, it sure is. My original 1982 copy was falling apart and really beat up, and I tossed it. Today its replacement arrived. It’s got a bit of cover wear, but the pages are clean and the binding is tight. Almost new, and for $4, and no shipping, it was definitely a bargain.

The old book is called The 20-Minute Natural Foods Cookbook by Sharon Claessens. It was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned, and when it was new I was married about a year. . .the first time. Ms. Claessens actually had several cookbooks in the 1980s, and one in 1997. I had this one and her 1985 Lose Weight Naturally Cookbook, which I used until the mid-90’s, when someone asked me for it and I never saw it again; I probably gave it to her, I don’t remember. I had some favorite recipes in that one, but I’m not buying it again.

No, I’m not on an 80’s kick. While I do listen to online radio stations (i.e. Pandora, iHeartRadio) that feature 80’s music, I also listen to classical piano, jazz piano and smooth jazz. While I’m driving, it could be any toe-tapping stuff, but mostly Def Leppard and The Monkees. I don’t want to fall asleep, either.

See, my parents were avid readers of Prevention magazine, back when it was about health and wellness, and didn’t have many pictures in it. I subscribed and loved it, but I dropped my subscription about 1999, when it was clear the magazine became more about prescription drugs than actual health and wellness and the recipes were becoming awful–frozen hash browns and canned salmon? (They now have a sex column, but nearly every magazine does, except Martha Stewart’s magazines. For now.) But I got on Rodale’s main mailing list, and I got every mailer for every new book out there; never mind how many I bought, and some, I still have.

This book I received today was a favorite, even though many of the recipes use a lot of bread and wheat flour. Pita bread is, far as I know, normally white bread, and in the early 80’s, well, healthy ingredients were difficult to find, especially in New Orleans. Whole Foods was a little bitty store in the French Quarter the size of a 7-11. I don’t remember how I finally found something called agar-agar, which also goes by another name I can’t remember. That’s a vegetable gelatin used to thicken up stuff in a number of her recipes. I was so happy the day I found it, and made that Blueberry Peach Pie on page 110, or the beautiful Strawberry Pie on 111 that’s pictured on the front cover.

Now, what to do about the Prebaked Granola Shell that goes under the pie? Well, I think since it’s only a half cup of whole wheat flour, I can likely replace it with ground flaxseeds and have much the same result. Maybe I’ll try it this summer–assuming I can find agar-agar, or whatever it’s alternately called. It’s available in health food stores and Asian groceries. I have a health food store nearby in Nassau Bay, and a Hong Kong Market about 10 miles in the other direction. There are a myriad of health food stores in Houston, I’m sure someone knows what it is. When I get ambitious enough to make this again, I’ll go looking for it. Right now. . .nah. Even though the fruit part of the pie is really delicious.

I think I can Wheat Belly-up some of the recipes that call for flour. Maybe not all, but some. But that’s why I have Dr. Davis’ books.

Irony alert: Rodale also publishes Wheat Belly.

I should point out that there are no pictures IN this historical, 32-year old book like cookbooks you buy now. There is a (dated) picture of the author on the front cover with the Strawberry Pie, some stuffed bell peppers, some drinks (I’m guessing the Citrus Medley on page 102), roasted chickens, bread, muffins, and some assorted green stuff. It’s a very plain layout with recipes divided by type, preparation time and meal (breakfast, lunch, etc.) Some are 20 minutes or less, like the Pineapple Frappe, some take longer, like soaking beans or baking bread.

I made the Lemon Squares on page 165 many times, and to this day, Neighbor K saves me one when they are leftover from an activity at work. Granted, the ones Ina Garten makes are good, too, but this recipe was. . .my first. However, I’ve never made that Walnut and Raisin Pie on page 164.

Mark Bricklin was the Executive Editor of Prevention at the time, and he described the changing times that were happening.

Wait–what’s a typewriter, again?

Because stay-at-home women were becoming less common, healthy, home cooking was becoming less of a reality. From the foreward: “There must be a better way, we think every night, but the solution seems forever to elude us.” This book, Mr. Bricklin opines, is “the ‘better way’ we have all been seeking. It is a bridge between the reality of our frenzied lifestyle and the ideal of honest, natural foods that taste good and are good for us.”

Mark Bricklin still writes for Prevention, too, but I only found one article on the website. He’s promoting the idea that diabetics should avoid fat, but doesn’t say anything about the very starchy white-flour buns that you get in a fast-food place. DUH–diabetics need to watch their SUGAR, and that bun is basically a sugar overload. I see nothing’s changed much there.

OK, enough of that. . . .

Some of my favorite recipes included Pineapple Chicken Mozambique, which is also on the back cover of the book, and Chicken with Cashews and Snow Peas. Another favorite is Spaghetti with Garlic Salmon Sauce, which is how I started buying canned salmon. Mind you, it was REALLY expensive back in those days, like $5 or more or so a can. It also calls for red salmon, as I am noticing, but I’ve always bought pink salmon in the can, especially since it’s like $2 or $3 now. . Add 3/4 pound of whole wheat spaghetti, egg, parsley, olive oil and 10 cloves of garlic, and you’re ready to fight off vampires. Actually the garlic isn’t strong since you cook it first, and you don’t crush it. Maybe I’ll make it again soon for old times’ sake with some gluten-free pasta.

Oh, I remember this one, Turkey with Peppers and Tomatoes. I made that once for The E Man, and I called it “Wild Turkey Surprise.” I couldn’t resist. Maybe I’ll make that again sometime, maybe for lunch, or when the GER comes over for dinner. Maybe I’ll tell him it’s “Wild Turkey Surprise, too.” And –guess what? It’s gluten free!! Oh, wait, no it isn’t–you dredge the pounded turkey breast in the flour. OK, use something else, like almond flour, garbanzo bean flour or regular gluten-free flour, and now it’s gluten free.

I never tried something called “Creamed Tuna and Peas,” and all these years later, I still won’t. Anything called “creamed,” no thanks.

I also learned to make mayonnaise with this book, although today I prefer Suzanne Somers’ recipe in her first cookbook. There are many recipes for sauces, dressings, side dishes, desserts, and make-ahead stuff like brown rice and cooking beans.

Since it’s getting on summer, here’s another blueberry recipe I liked from page 110.

Blue Gingham Yogurt Delight (Makes 2 servings)

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup blueberies
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Dash of grated nutmeg
  1. Place chilled yogurt in serving bowl. Wash and add blueberries.
  2. Quarter banana lengthwise, then slice into bowl. Pieces should be similar in size to the blueberries.
  3. Add honey and vanilla, and stir to combine. Dust with a little nutmeg and serve

What to make first? I dunno–whatever I feel like making that uses ingredients I have already.

This book has over 300 kitchen-tested recipes that are simple, pretty healthy, and most that I’ve ever enjoyed are also tasty. Sure, it’s old, but when you just want some food, do you care how old the recipe is?

That’s all for tonight. Please have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going coconuts!

Hello, Dear Readers:

It’s been a busy week. WordPress is once again telling me to get with it, so here I go. Just so happens I have a topic that I’ve never really written about before: the humble coconut.

The humble coconut!

Delicious and tasty

You’ve seen them in the grocery stores, thinking about buying one even, but wondering about cracking it open and extracting all the tasty bits. But there’s more to it than that twiggy, fuzzy exterior and white flesh.

You might be familiar with the stuff you get in the baking aisle, too–but that’s got plenty of sugar in it, since it’s made for recipes like this one for Lamingtons, which, yes, I made many years ago. Know what? I gave my bud the GER some of them and I do seem to remember he enjoyed the heck out of them, as did the rest of the recipients. I do remember them being VERY tasty too. But I only made them once.

I’ve mentioned before my new favorite sweet, Mounds bars with dark chocolate (not Almond Joy, which has milk chocolate), but I can’t say that I consume a LOT of coconut. I like it, but I can get sick of it, too. For a while I was making some coconut “cookies” with unsweetened coconut, beaten egg whites and SomerSweet, but I soon got sick of those, particularly since they tend to soften and get gummy if you let them sit for more than a day. But the dried stuff keeps in the pantry pretty well.

This week, the esteemed Wall Street Journal ran a story on the benefits of coconut oil. The article called it “better than butter,” but really, that’s primarily if you’re allergic to milk, I think. I say that because both are healthy fats, and the only difference is lactose, or milk sugar, and the fact that butter must be refrigerated. So allergies not withstanding, what’s the difference, right?

I was first introduced to coconut oil about ten years ago when I was living at the GER’s house. I forwarded him an article about something and there was a popup ad from Tropical Traditions, an online purveyor of oil from The Phillippines. He didn’t read the article–he thought I was asking him to buy some, pulled out his credit card and bought a five-gallon bucket of it! Back then it was $65, now it’s doubled in price. But it has a very long shelf life and a high smoke point like olive oil.

Having read that it could replace butter, I, um, well, put it on whole wheat bread and sprinkled Splenda on top. (I know!!) But I got sick of the coconut taste very quickly and stopped doing it. Didn’t know I could fry with it, bake with it, all that, and when I moved out, all I took was a small jar to use on my hands. Not sure what the GER did with the rest of it, I guess he used it up. (I don’t have room for a five gallon bucket anyway.)

Tropical Traditions also makes a number of different personal care products, including hair care. I know this because I got some last time I went to Dr. Davis’ office in The Woodlands. Trust me, you do NOT need much of it! No odor either, so you don’t smell like a tropical drink.

You can also check out their recipe section for all kinds of ways to use coconut, coconut oil, and alternative versions of everyday foods. While I have not tried any of them yet, perhaps I need to go back and look at it again. I think it’s been a while. This one for flourless chocolate chip cookies looks good, but my guess is you’ll have to order the coconut cream concentrate from Tropical Traditions. Chocolate Orange Truffle Pie? That might be good. There’s even a section of gluten free coconut recipes. I need to go look at that soon, too.

Don’t forget, coconut oil features prominently in my favorite Yeast Free Brownies. That’s primarily why I keep it around! (SomerSweet works well in them, too.)

If you’ve heard about coconut oil here and there but don’t know if you want to try it, well, there are a number of factors to consider. This oil is solid when the temp goes below about 75 degrees–that’s why you can replace butter with it in many recipes. If you put it in the fridge for a long time, you can break a window with it. No kidding–if you’re going to cream it with sugar (or like I do, with SomerSweet), you have to let it sit out for a bit so that it’s not “frozen.”

This article really doesn’t tell a whole lot about coconut oil, just gives you a brief overview. But there’s so much more to coconuts.

Oh, and they’re not actually a real “nut.”

One thing you might not know is that coconut oil features prominently in Dr. Hotze’s Yeast Free Diet program for a couple of reasons. First, it’s plant based, so no milk sugar (lactose) to feed the yeast while you’re trying to kill it. Two, the health reasons stated in the article–medium chain fatty acids and all that. Third–something you might not know–is that coconut oil has anti-fungal properties that help with the killing of the yeast in your gut. (It also works in gluten-free cooking and baking, but more on that later.) So it’s healthy for a couple of reasons, not just the no-dairy thing.

I am not dissing dairy. Far from it. But if milk/dairy has you saying “shiver me timbers,” coconut oil can help you out. Yes, I know, unless you’re allergic to coconut.

If you’re interested in doing a yeast cleanse, you can find Dr. Hotze’s cookbook on the subject here. The book describes how and why to do a yeast cleanse, lists the prescriptions you need as well as how long to take them. You don’t need to be a guest at the Hotze Clinic to buy the book or do the program. The two prescriptions, Hypo Nystatin-A and Fluconazole, are readily available at pharmacies nationwide; you just need a doctor to write you a prescription. You’ll need a 90-day supply of the first, and 3 weeks of the second. (I had one doctor give me one month of the first and one week of the second; that’s like taking antibiotics just until you feel better, not the whole prescription.)

I’ve done the yeast-free diet many times. The first time had me swearing, because I was so hungry! But–that was because I didn’t have the instruction book and wasn’t ready for it. I know I need to do it when I start getting heartburn. I don’t GET heartburn from eating stuff like tomato sauce and chili. If you do have that problem, or other alimentary issues, consider it. And, actually, Dr. Hotze’s website has this quick primer on yeast overgrowth so you can learn more and see if it would work for you.

It probably can’t hurt. I say that as someone who has done a couple of rounds of yeast free successfully; those prescriptions aren’t harmful, either. Anyway. . . .

I can’t personally vouch for this, but there is a lady who began giving her husband coconut oil when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Dr. Mary Newport gave her husband coconut oil, and quickly improved. That’s not to say it’s a definite CURE for Alzheimer’s (or anything else, for that matter), but if you go to her home page and scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see her husband’s “clock test” and how he improved in 37 days from coconut oil. Unless you are allergic to coconut, this probably couldn’t hurt–but it’s a matter of using your own judgment.

Remember, I’m not a doctor/nurse/medical person, just a patient who reads and pays attention. I only present information, and it’s up to you to review it before use. I present info because there might be one person somewhere who happens to read it and it was the very thing they were looking for. Happened to me once or twice, too.

Anyway. . . .

I’d forgotten about Dr. Newport until I read the comments in the WSJ article, which are quite interesting. (No funny stuff this time.) However, be forewarned that many doctors still ascribe to the “all fat is bad” mantra, which explains many modern illnesses.  Don’t get me started. I don’t follow the “healthy new trends” anymore because many are bogus and none seem to be particularly helpful. I’m someone who used to eat white flour pasta because it was “healthy and low fat,” OK? Guess what? Healthy, it ain’t.

Anyway. . .

Now, some time ago I bought a bag of coconut flour for one of the Babycakes recipes, and have only used it for a couple of things (including the infamous Pineapple Upside Down Cake.) One of my writer friends told me about a book specifically for coconut flour and gluten free stuff, called Cooking with Coconut Flour: A Delicious Low-Carb, Gluten-Free Alternative to Wheat by Bruce Fife. There is actually a second book by Bruce Fife, but I don’t yet have either one of them. However, the friend raved about it, since she’s also diabetic, and interested in solutions.

When I put the first book on my wish list, I also found this one, since I’m also a fan of almond flour. Oh, and there’s one by the same author for just cupcakes. I don’t have either one of those yet, either. One day.

Oh, wait–this wasn’t supposed to be a gluten free blog post. It was supposed to be about coconuts. OOOPS.

I have only once had a can of coconut milk in my pantry, used for a slow-cooker recipe from Everyday Food. It was a curry or something. Made it once, never again.

I have also seen coconut water, but I dunno what that is or what it’s for. There are so many beverages with all kinds of things thrown in that I don’t want anything but a cup of tea, for heaven’s sake.

Now, if you’re wondering about the cost of coconut oil, well, it’s not like Wesson’s hydrogenated oil, the trans-fat kind of thing. I was in HEB a couple of days ago and can show you this:

Two different brands, two different prices.

Two different brands, two different prices.

I’ve been buying LouAna’s coconut oil for several years. I called the company one day and it is NOT hydrogenated, although it has no coconut taste. When I started buying it, the price was, no kidding, $1.98 a quart. As its popularity has grown, so has the tab. I mean, overnight the price kept going up to where it is now. I’ve seen it as much as $7 a quart in Kroger.

Remember too that the one next to the LouAna is the kind that you get in a health food store–extra virgin organic, and all that. Central Market has its own brand, as does Kroger, but it may be repackaged Tropical Traditions for all I know. With more and more people looking for healthier options and alternate ingredients, it’s available in more and more places, as well as online. Even if you live out in the middle of nowhere, if you can get mail or UPS, you can get some.

And you thought coconuts were just for tropical drinks!

Now you know more than you did before on the benefits of coconut. Next week there might be a new weight loss pill made from coconut, but I’d rather just eat it.

Oh, I forgot about them coconut-breaded shrimp at Joe’s Crab Shack, too. Those were really good. (It was a long time ago.)

So there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen, a quick primer on the various uses and benefits of coconut–beyond what the Wall Street Journal told you. It’s not just for candy and daiquiris anymore, so enjoy some when you can, if not for sweetness, for its health benefits.

Happy Dining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skip to toolbar