Zucchini is one of those plants that overloads gardens. I was gifted some recently, and didn’t make zucchini bread. Plus a tribute to the late Suzanne Somers, RIP.
Hello again, Dear Readers:
It’s been a month, and I apologize. I’ve got several things to tell you, but I’ll have to limit that in this blog.
Finally, fall has arrived, and the temperatures have gone below 100 degrees every day. So far, our highs have been in the mid-80s, but we’ve had some chillier weather than that. It doesn’t last too long, but it’s enough to make us turn the heater at night sometimes.
Following last month’s trip to Trader Joe’s, one of my copywriting clients’ project managers BN told me that she was able to get some of Trader Joe’s coveted pumpkin spice body butter. She lives in coastal Florida, and apparently near a Trader Joe’s that’s not near LSU or other place with college students. I am so jealous! Well, OK, just a little jealous. I am enjoying the body scrub, though.
Much has happened since my last post.
Come and Knock On Our Door. . . .
By now, you’ve heard the sad news that Suzanne Somers has passed away from an aggressive form of breast cancer. She was an actress, author, gourmet cook, health advocate, entrepreneur, and businesswoman. I was a huge fan, and I still am, but did not know the lady personally. Long-time readers know that I have and love all her cookbooks, along with several of her other books. I know there are a few of her books that I don’t have, but I should probably get and read. We don’t have Half Price Books here, so I can’t get them cheap anymore.
She passed one day before her 77th birthday, holding her husband’s hand. Her family was at the house to celebrate her birthday with her. They had a beautiful heart-shaped purple cake made for her with lots of white piping.
Her husband and business partner of more than 50 years, Alan Hamel, and her son, Bruce, along with family members, lit candles and blew them out in a short video posted to Instagram on her birthday (Monday October 16th. ) Just prior to the birthday cake video, Alan and Bruce did a 14-minute interview with Entertainment Tonight about her passing, her legacy, her love of cake, and how they will move forward and keep her legacy going. If you have a few minutes, give it a watch.
Many people only know Suzanne Somers as an actress, primarily as Chrissy Snow from Three’s Company. The show is still in reruns, and there is currently a channel on streaming service Pluto TV that runs the show 24/7. I’ve watched a few of them this week. If you’re interested, you don’t have to register, you can start watching either live TV or on-demand on your smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop, smart TV, or Roku. (You may be able to watch it on an Amazon Fire Stick, but I don’t know.)
Note: Pluto has plenty of classic TV shows to watch, including a channel of The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson. Hint: He’s still funny, especially if you remember the events he’s talking about in his monologue. I haven’t seen one yet where Suzanne Somers is on, but there are three on YouTube, plus a number of more recent clips.
Of course, there were more acting roles later, plus stints in Las Vegas, a Broadway show called The Blonde in the Thunderbird, and most recently, a stint on Dancing With The Stars in 2015. Never mind that she was a headliner in Las Vegas, danced and sang on TV and in USO shows, not to mention the legions of her longtime fans like me who repeat-dial voted for her on the show. She was voted off rather quickly, which I thought was, well, not nice. But her performances are all on YouTube, and her partner on the show, Tony Dovolani, also spoke with ET after she passed.
The Business of Suzanne Somers
Beyond her acting, She was also an author of 27 books, many of them best sellers. The last one I have was her book called Two’s Company, on her 50-plus year long relationship with her husband, Canadian talk show host Alan Hamel. She discusses a wide range of topics related to their relationship, including the business side of being “Suzanne Somers.” It’s truly a family business with nearly everyone involved in some fashion.
Over the years Suzanne sold a wide range of products on her website besides the obvious. For several years she had some lovely violet serving dishes named after her granddaughter Violet. She had small kitchen appliances, including a bread maker, a hand mixer (I still have mine and it works great), an ice cream maker, a small countertop convection rotisserie oven, a stovetop pressure cooker (this was before the Instant Pot) a deep fryer, an ice shaver, and several other things I can’t remember now. They are well-made, of course, but they still remind me of Suzy Homemaker appliances.
The books, the famous (or infamous) Thighmaster (yes, I have one), the 3Way Poncho (I have a few, and they are still available from some vendors as well as resellers eBay and Mercari) and a wide range of food, supplements and other products on her own website, SuzanneSomers.com. Her products aren’t cheap, but they aren’t rubbish, either. I was a big fan of SomerSweet, but as I wrote about several years ago, that’s gone now, and Swerve can be used in its place.
I’ll be making my birthday cake from Suzanne’s Desserts book this week. Instead of SomerSweet, of course, I’ll be using Swerve. And we’ll have a slice to celebrate the lady who did it all with grace, right up to the end.
So, last week, BF came home with a bag full of great big zucchini and two crookneck squash, and said, “T says hi.” That’s one of his car guy friends, and apparently knew I would appreciate them. Because BF doesn’t eat anything called squash, including zucchini, spaghetti, or acorn, my favorites, and will let me know about it immediately.
I can only wish I had such an abundance of zucchini that I had to give it away. But I’m happy to accept the wonderful gift of excess from those fortunate enough to have such a nice garden surplus. One of these days, I keep telling BF, we’re going to have a fantastic garden from which we enjoy a great harvest.
Here’s how it ties into the late Suzanne Somers.
My first thought was to make some zucchini noodles from Suzanne Somers’ Fast & Easy book (the purple one.) I haven’t made that in a very long time, and it’s simple. Cut the ends off the zucchini, then use a vegetable peeler to make long, thin ribbons. When you get too far in to keep using the peeler, just thinly slice the remainder with a sharp knife on a cutting board until you’re done. Cook in a skillet with a little olive oil, salt and pepper until they’re just done. Delicious.
You can cook as many zucchinis this way as you like at once. Eat them as is, or add them to any kind of pasta sauce you like. Fast & Easy was published before the veggie noodle makers became popular, and in a later book she uses zucchini “noodles” made from her own Su-Chef appliance. It wasn’t available for long, apparently, and it isn’t even available on eBay or Mercari, but I did find a picture.
I Thought About Her
As I took the book off the shelf, I wondered how Suzanne was doing. I remembered that she’d been ill again, but I was sure she would be getting better. Is she writing a new book? There probably won’t be any more cookbooks, I thought, but an important topic, for sure. But I knew it would be an interesting subject, well-researched and well-written, like Tox-Sick. Admittedly, I didn’t get her last book but will source it for my shelves soon.
The next day, BF sent me a message on Facebook Messenger that she’d passed away, one day before her 77th birthday. The breast cancer she’d been fighting for more than 20 years finally overtook her.
The next night, I made a Cappuccino Chocolate Chunk Cheesecake from Get Skinny on Fabulous Food, page 246.
For breakfast one day last week, I made some of Alan’s Fried Eggs In Onion Nests on page 115 for us to enjoy with breakfast. Hint: open the windows and turn on your exhaust fan before you get started cooking the onions.
I also want to purchase Served By Caroline Somers, Suzanne’s daughter-in-law, chief chef, and right-hand-gal in the business for thirty-plus years. Her stepdaughter, Leslie Hamel, is a fashion designer who designed the 3Way Poncho, as well as hundreds of Suzanne’s red-carpet items and many pieces of her clothing lines. I own a few 3Way Ponchos and made some from a Simplicity pattern published shortly after the released. There’s some fabric in my stash that will be perfect to make a couple more.
The Rest: Zucchini Sotolio
I only cooked that one zucchini on Saturday night, because I had a plan for the rest of them. I’ve done this before, but just never quite got around to posting the recipe. This recipe is *not* from Suzanne Somers, but from TV chef Giada de Laurentiis. It’s on page 226 of Giada’s Italy: My Recipes For La Dolce Vita, called Zucchini Sotolio. It’s not difficult, and it’s a great way to make those garden extras last a bit longer.
First, you cut the zucchini into 1/3” rounds. Drop them in the colander, sprinkle salt over them, and let them sit for ten minutes.
But because I was sitting with BF, it ended up more like 30 minutes. But the salt seasons them nicely.
While that’s going on, boil up 1½ cups of water and 1½ cups of apple cider vinegar in a big pot.
Now, open up a window, (or turn on the exhaust fan) because it’s going to smell in your kitchen and your house if you don’t. Trust me on this, I speak from experience here. Especially with someone around like BF who can’t stand the smell of vinegar at all.
Add in your sliced zucchini and turn the heat down to a simmer:
Cook the slices for about five minutes, until they’re cooked but not mushy and overdone.
If you have as much as I was given, you’ll need to cook them in batches.
Then take them out:
And put them into a bowl.
You may find they’re still kind of watery, so you might want to drain that off too. Add in the mint leaves, basil leaves, chopped garlic:
And a tablespoon more of apple cider vinegar:
Toss the zucchini to mix in the rest of the ingredients. Leave them to cool for a little while.
And here comes the fun part: cover them with olive oil:
The recipe calls for extra-virgin olive oil, but I didn’t have enough. So, I just used regular olive oil.
When you have enough oil, pack them in jars or just store them in the fridge in a tightly sealed container:
This is a container I like to use for the freezer, with a rubber gasket in the lid and snapping closure tabs.
This delicious recipe will stay in your fridge for about three weeks. Serve them at room temperature. Giada says that having a jar or two of this around means you’ll always have a “quick side.” It’s also good as a starter or part of an antipasto spread. Got eggplant? It works here too, just grill the eggplant first. (No, I still hate eggplant.)
Here’s the recipe if this looks like something you’d like to try soon.
- 1¼ pounds zucchini sliced into ⅓ inch rounds (about 3 small zucchini)
- 1¼ tsp kosher salt
- 1½ cups apple cider vinegar plus one tablespoon for the end
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (Amy's note: optional)
- 2 to 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil (Amy's note: I used regular this time)
- Place the sliced zucchini in a colander that is set over a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt and toss well to combine. Allow the zucchini to sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 1½ cups of water with 1½ cups of apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the salted zucchini to the pot and return the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked through but still has a little texture. Drain the zucchini and place it in a large bowl.
- Add the remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar, the mint, basil, garlic and red pepper flakes to the zucchini, and toss well. Add enough olive oil to cover the zucchini and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Pack the zucchini in jars or a storage container with a tight-fitting lid, making sure the zucchini is fully covered with the oil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Serve at room temperature.
Fancy another cuppa?
I’ve got another tea blog coming, but I’m not saying anything just yet. But it will be interesting—and very strong.
Intermittent fasting–have you heard of it? If you’re curious or interested in trying it, I’ll attempt to break it down here. It’s not “just another diet.”
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
Yes, it’s still 2020. I’m sorry, nothing I’ve tried can fix that.
No, we haven’t tried the Apple Jack Daniels. But it’s not yet 2021, is it?
Got a couple of things to tell you about. And, it was my birthday!
The Birthday Cake, Again
So nearly every year since 2002 or 2003, I’ve made this delicious cake from Suzanne Somers’ Desserts book. Of course, I have to fiddle with it, because there is no more Somersweet and I have to use Swerve Sweetener instead.
Unfortunately, mine never comes out quite as neat as the picture:
This year’s cake came out better than last year’s, the second time I made the cake part. I only make it once a year, so I don’t practice a lot. The buttercream and the ganache are pretty standard, but the cake is a bit fussy.
The only ingredients are:
- Baking Soda (just a pinch)
- Vanilla Extract
Whip the eggs into a frenzy:
That’s pretty much it–no “gluten-free” ingredients, and yet it is truly gluten-free. Of course, once I was done, there was some cleaning to do.
BF decided he’d rather have the brownies I made him from scratch a week or so ago, and they are definitely not gluten-free. He was also given some of these:
I cut my cake up into 16 slices, so I’ll have it for a while.
Also made it to Starbucks for my free drink: a Venti Iced Decaf Cafe Americano with a heavy splash of cream and some sugar-free Vanilla syrup.
Later that night, we stopped at the local JC Penney for a trip into Sephora for my birthday gift:
Last year, a storm passed through, and JC Penney was closed after a massive power outage, so I never got my gift. Turns out you can go anytime during the month of your birthday. I’ll remember that.
All in all, it was a nice day, but no cold front this year.
Farewell, Sweet Tomatoes
You’ve probably heard that one of my favorite places in Houston, Sweet Tomatoes, has closed all their locations nationwide. They were also called “Souplantation” in some parts of the US. It’s just one of the many side effects of the “pandemic” that has cost billions in lost. . .everything.
Note: these pictures from Sweet Tomatoes were all sourced from a Google search.
On a side note, gourmet kitchen stuff store Sur la Table has closed up about half of their stores, which includes the one in Baton Rouge. It was part of a “restructuring” thing, but of course, I can always order online. Pier 1 Imports is now online-only, like Wayfair and Overstock.
I’ve written about Sweet Tomatoes before, and I just loved all the variety of things they had.
Their website has been taken down, and all the buildings are now just empty. Their pantries and perishable ingredients were cleared out months ago. I hope the workers were able to take home everything instead of throwing them away.
I loved going there when I was in The Woodlands, especially before or after visiting Dr. Davis at Woodlands Wellness or when I was attending a concert. Wish I could have taken BF there–he would have enjoyed it, consuming less salad and more of the “other stuff.” I love salad, so it was just the best place for me.
Last week we had dinner at the local La Carretta with BF’s family, and I mentioned it to his sister. I asked, “If I say, ‘Joan’s Broccoli Madness,’ do you know what I’m talking about?” Indeed she did–BF’s sister and brother-in-law went to Sweet Tomatoes many times in Atlanta and were also sad to see it go.
We tried explaining it to BF, but he just didn’t get it. He went on to tell his sister that I was still trying to do him in by making him eat quinoa.
It was, if I remember correctly, about $15 for the all-you-can-eat nature of the place. Of course, my thing was THE SALAD.
Joan’s Broccoli Madness
If you never had the pleasure of going, I’ll give you a visual.
When you walked in, a very long salad bar greeted you, with some specialty salads like Joan’s Broccoli Madness at the front.
As I mentioned in my previous post (without pictures, unfortunately) I never forgot the salad with cherries in it. It was one of the most memorable visits, all by myself, before a concert.
After the prepared salads, there were fresh greens, other vegetables like tomatoes and cucumbers, proteins like egg and chicken, then salad dressings followed by toppings of all kinds. You could choose from cheeses, bacon bits, dressings, nuts (ranch dressing with sunflower seeds are still my favorites) raisins, dried cranberries, chow mein noodles, and other crunchy things. I loved it all.
Get to a table, put down your salad, and go over to the prepared food area where you could choose from:
- Soup Bar (including a turkey chili I loved)
- Potato Bar
- Pasta Bar
- Pizza Bar
- Bakery Bar
Many of their baked items were square, from the cornbread to the blueberry muffins and brownies. It was one of those little things that made Sweet Tomatoes unique.
Even the interior was comfortable, with a very interesting tomato-pattern carpet:
I was thinking about Joan’s Broccoli Madness the other day, and guess what? There are recipes online for this deliciousness from:
They’re pretty much the same recipe, and I hope to make it soon, possibly for Thanksgiving.
Louisiana’s Answer: The Salad Station
OK, I’m not going to lie–The Salad Station isn’t exactly like Sweet Tomatoes, they don’t have a carpeted dining area, nor do they serve Joan’s Broccoli Madness, and that’s OK. But when my birthday was looming this year, I asked BF where he was taking me. “I don’t know yet” was his answer.
I have long wanted to try The Salad Station–especially since there’s no chance of ever going to Sweet Tomatoes ever again. Every time I brought it up, he said, “but there’s nothing for me to eat.” He was wrong, of course, and had bacon and ham on his salad, while I chose boiled shrimp. Because I don’t have to mess with them.
We’re not talking about flying to Beverly Hills–or even Houston–for an exclusive restaurant. It’s just a ride to Hammond, although we could have gone to Denham Springs, Baton Rouge, or any other location. I talked BF into it, and he said, “whatever makes you happy.” Awww.
Salad Station does have many of the same qualities as Sweet Tomatoes, but they are smaller. Like Central Market and a few other places, you buy your salad by weight–it’s not “all you can eat for one price.” That’s OK too. However, BF was surprised when my salad was weighed–it was twice the size of his. But as you can see, BF has a markedly different definition of “salad.”
Their salad bar is wide open as it was before, and they require you to wear your mask while you’re there. (Everyone in Louisiana does.) They also have thin plastic gloves you’re required to wear while choosing ingredients. Not a problem, and we took them off when we sat down to eat.
Yes, this does segway into the main topic of the blog post.
You’re probably thinking, “get to the point of the blog, will you?” I am.
I’ve been doing Intermittent Fasting for a few weeks now. I started right before my “breathing emergency” last month but had to quit while I was on Prednisone. A couple of days after I took the last pill, I went back to IF, and have been doing fine since.
Amy’s Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, nurse, scientist, or other type of healthcare practitioner. I’m a blogger who writes about different topics, occasionally diet, health, and wellness. I’m by no means an expert on these things. Should you choose to pursue IF or any other thing I’ve written about, please do some additional research before you start, or speak with a health care provider who can guide you.
Additional disclaimer: I’m not an MLM representative, and not trying to sell anything with this post. There’s no sponsorship to this post, no products to buy. I’m just passing along information. You can buy a book or two, and there are Amazon links here, as there are in many of my blogs. But should you choose to begin intermittent fasting, you don’t need to spend any additional money on it. Books are available at your public library, including online, for free, if you choose.
How To Eat On IF
Intermittent Fasting isn’t really a “diet,” and doesn’t require any special foods, supplements, shakes, or other financial outlays. You can find plenty of info online, particularly on Pinterest. Like any subject, there is “good” information and “bad” information, equally accessible. (I’m a copywriter, ask me, I know!)
Fasting has its roots in many religions, including Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. (That “fish on Friday” thing is Catholicism, but I think that’s been made optional.) There is “wet fasting,” where you drink water and maybe a few liquids as well as “dry fasting,” where you consume nothing, including water. If you decide to do any kind of fasting, I highly recommend doing some reading first, either from the library or from online searching. Just don’t assume you can stop eating and drinking and figure you’ll detox and lose every excess pound you have. NO–hydration is important, the body needs water for its many processes. I’m not a fan of “dry fasting,” and do not recommend it.
Intermittent Fasting’s basic premise is that you “wet fast” for a specific window of time during your day, generally overnight, or whenever you get to bed. Easy, right? Then you enjoy food during your “eating window,” which is also a specific period of time.
What period of time is that? YOU figure that out for yourself. If you work evening or night shifts, then, of course, your eating window will be when you’re awake, and the fasting window is when you’re asleep.
Easy, right? Well, there’s a little more to it than that.
Getting Started With IF
I have these books on the subject:
- Intermittent Fasting For Beginners, Amanda Swaine
- Intermittent Fasting For Women, Lori Russell
- The 21-Day Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss Plan, Andy De Santis, and Michelle Anderson
No, I haven’t read them yet.
The first three books were gifted from Callisto, some of the last physical copies before they went digital. Stephanie, on the other hand, wrote four e-books during the lockdown, this being one of them. When they were published, she mentioned them in her regular weekly emails, and they were 99 cents each at that point. I bought all four. Her book on IF is the one I read first–in less than an hour if I remember correctly. Much like her cookbooks, Stephanie lays it out as if you were sitting with her in Starbucks and talking about it.
You can do IF with your CrockPot, too.
So how did Stephanie do with it? In a nutshell, she’s lost the last few pounds she was trying to shed, and she looks great. I mean, she already looked great, but now she looks even better.
I also joined a Facebook group called Intermittent Fasting For Women, which is not affiliated with Stephanie’s own Facebook group (I’m also in that, link in her blog.) There are over 360,000 members around the world focused on one thing: fasting intermittently to lose weight that won’t come off any other way. Very encouraging, and if you ask a question in this big group, you’ll get many different answers to it.
Many of these women show pictures of their results, but I’m not posting any pictures in my underwear on Facebook. Some have small amounts of losses, but they’re visible–all depends on how they’re doing IF, how long, and how much exercise they get. Some show considerable results, like the ladies who are quite large and have shrunk down to a tiny size 6 (or less.) Many become absolute bombshells after losing weight. In fact, sometimes when I see these pictures, I comment, “bombshell alert!” One lady who posted is about 63, and she looks fantastic. Another lady who is 72 is no longer using her “Bumblebee” chair to get around (although she is using a cane.)
I’m not there yet.
What To Eat On Intermittent Fasting
Well, that’s the $64K question, isn’t it?
Of course, it’s best to eat as healthy as you can. Many people find that keto is a good thing for them, and as I always say that I eat “keto, mostly,” since BF likes to make jambalaya or red beans and rice occasionally. But some folks may decide to eat paleo, low-carb, or simply eat what they’ve always eaten, just changing the times of day they eat.
Then there are those who eat the same foods that they ate before but at different times and maybe different amounts. They lose too. They may eat a few Oreos or a candy bar along with salads and grilled chicken during their eating window, but ONLY during the eating window, and maybe decrease the amounts, or increase your fasting window during a “treat day.”
Everyone has an idea and offers advice. But the most prevalent thing I’ve seen is, “You do you, and what works for you.” If having a little sugar-laden French vanilla coffee creamer isn’t stopping your weight loss, go for it, in moderation.
Drinking water is encouraged since you need it. Not the excessive soft drinks BF chugs down on a daily basis. In my case, I’m still drinking the lime water all the time, along with coffee, occasionally tea, with pink sweetener and cream in the last two.
Here’s the thing: there aren’t any “special foods” you need to eat on IF. Do you like keto, paleo, or low carb? Go for it. Want more gluten-free, dairy-free, or sugar-free foods? That can work, too. You can count calories–but I don’t, and neither do a number of other IF devotees. And if it doesn’t, try something else, add exercise, increase your fasting window, or whatever you want to, and wait for the results.
Unlike the popularly advertised diet plans on TV, you don’t need to buy any brand, type, or style of food. It’s great that so many celebrities have lost weight with the diet plan thing, but that’s not what IF is about.
The key is: You do you.
My Current IF Results
I’ll be perfectly honest here–I haven’t dropped what feels like 915 pounds in a matter of days. That’s not happening any more than riding my bike for 30 minutes once and being in top shape for the Texas MS 150 tomorrow. I did the hCG diet for about a year and a half–I lost weight, but even the hCG diet doesn’t work like that either. But in my case, my current results are:
- The scale hasn’t yet gone down, but remember–there’s water weight, and “weight” fluctuates anyway, particularly in women. I don’t get on the scale often because it can be discouraging.
- I’ve noticed some “shrinkage” here and there, but I’ve not yet gone down to smaller clothes yet.
- Although I did fill up the bowl at The Salad Station just like I did at Sweet Tomatoes, I didn’t finish it like I used to. I credit that to Intermittent Fasting. I took about half of it home for the next day, then had a sliver of cake when we got home an hour later, then my “fasting window” began.
My current exercise consists of the occasional walking tours of Walmart, along with regular use of the Thighmaster set, and slinging around a kettlebell weight, the latest of which is 20 pounds. I’m trying to get to the point where I can get a half-hour of yoga, HIIT (“High-Intensity Interval Training“), or bicycling in place in my day.
While in Academy after dinner, I did check out the availability of heavier kettlebells. (They seem to be difficult to find in some places.) Right now I’m lifting a 20-pound (padded) Bionic Ball kettlebell, but I want to eventually lift more. I told BF that if I start swinging around a 40-pound kettlebell like a roll of paper towels, he’d better be on guard.
Nah–I’m not going to swing it at him. I just like poking him in the ribs now and again. Trust me, it works both ways.
Honestly, IF is not terribly difficult once you get into a rhythm. You just have to remember not to have a nibble of something before bed, or you’ll break the fast and it won’t work. And Stephanie’s book is HIGHLY recommended. It’s not a long or difficult read and is very informative.
And The Cat
I loved my felines, Catmandu and Kismet, who have long been gone for many years. Our current apex predator, Tab E. Cat, is all about BF, and couldn’t care less what else is going on as long as he can curl up with him. He only likes me when I have food.
Until one day.
I did try to do IF while on Prednisone, but it wasn’t happening, so I quit for the duration of the medicine. One of the drug’s side effects is that you can become very hungry. I did, and just didn’t bother with IF for a couple of weeks, but sticking closely with keto as much as I could.
One night, about 11:00 pm, my stomach was letting me know it wanted something–fast. I went into the fridge and found some sliced roast beef that BF was using for sandwiches. (Notice I said “was.”)
Taking out a couple of slices, I went to talk to BF, who was now curled up in bed with the cat. The beast was nestled under his left armpit. Upon seeing and smelling the roast beef slices, Tab E. Cat looked up at me, opened his eyes, walked OVER BF’s chest, and up to me, completely ignoring him. He meowed, giving me that wide-eyed cat look that said, “oh, that looks delicious, I’d love to have some!” I gave him a small bit to avoid getting clawed. BF was shocked, and said, “great, now I’m chopped liver.”
Only when there’s food involved, Honey.
Until Next Time
Whether you’re looking to lose for the holidays or get a jump on next summer’s bathing suit season, Intermittent Fasting may be just what you need to start shedding extra pounds you didn’t intend to have. It just takes a little information, understanding, and planning to get started–and not a lot of money. Will it work for you? Try it, on your schedule, just don’t expect an overnight transformation.
Are you Tox-Sick?
Hello, again, Dear Readers:
The holidays are all over now, thank heavens. Have you considered getting “healthy” for the new year? We all do that, don’t we? Before you get too involved in your new diet/gym membership/exercise plan/other expensive resolution, I have a book for you to read, if you haven’t yet. It’s an eye-opener, and will make you think twice before you have a cheat again. I’m not kidding.
Enter The Resolutionists!
When I was at Boeing, there was a small fitness room for employees. Not a whole lot, just some treadmills, spinner bikes, free weights and a few other weird torture machines I wouldn’t go near. There was one TV, and whomever got there first got to watch what they wanted. We had basic cable available, and boy, did people get upset with me when I was watching The Food Network!
This time of year, people are all about “eating healthy” after the rich, heavy foods of the holidays. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you understand what constitutes “healthy.” Bread, pasta, pizza, potatoes, rice, and all the rest of the starchy stuff, along with sugar you didn’t know you were eating are going to derail any “diet” you start. Ever seen Advo-Care? Last time I saw those direct-marketing things, they were all loaded with sugar. Reading labels, as I’ve long mentioned, is key to whatever is in that stuff you’re eating.
Sugar is still sugar
Look at it this way: if you’re going to a party, or something bigger like a wedding, and you eat cake, candy, etc., you KNOW you’re getting sugar, right? If you’re diabetic, you know to avoid it, or if you’re otherwise watching your intake, then you have that cake/ice cream/candy/dessert knowing exactly what it is. But finding out it’s in tomato paste, or some other non-confection you’ve bought is more than annoying, especially if it’s labeled “healthy,” “natural,” or “organic.” Yes, there is “organic sugar,” even if it’s coconut or monk fruit sugar, so it has to be taken into consideration when you’re talking grams of sugar.
But what if you’re doing all the “healthy” things, exercising, drinking more water, getting enough sleep and still not losing weight? You wouldn’t be the only one. Or you start feeling ill and don’t get better despite antibiotics or other prescriptions your doctor gave you? Is it “all in your head?” What’s going on?
We’re all Tox-Sick, that’s what.
Before I go on, I want to issue my standard disclaimer on all things I write about that are health-related:
I am not a doctor, nurse, scientist or other medical professional. I am a patient who reads and pays attention.
Ms. Somers has a number of best-selling books on health and wellness under her belt. Like Ms. Somers, I’m primarily interested in keeping myself healthy and well, and not spending the rest of my life on the pharmaceutical drug train. While drugs have their place, there is too much emphasis on “better living through chemistry,” that is, a pill for literally everything. It’s one thing when I get sick with a throat bug. But I want no part of toxic, dangerous and expensive prescriptions that I would be told to take the rest of my life when there are actual treatments for debilitating illnesses. Many chronic conditions have organic causes, but are simply managed with drugs that are not a “cure.” I’ve seen way too many people go down that road, and it’s not for me. That’s why I’m a pain in the backside about these things, and I avoid the SAD, or “standard American diet.”
That includes the boxed stuffing mix or macaroni cheese mess I’ve made for BF–at his request. He doesn’t see that, or the sodas he drinks all day long, as a reason he suffers with chronic heartburn. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We all need to know this
I don’t know what made me think about reading Tox-Sick, but I’m SO glad I finally did. I got it as an e-book from the library and downloaded it onto my tablet. (Sshhh. . .nevermind *which* library; the free Kindle app makes it easy.) Transfixed from pretty much the first page. Environmental toxins are causing all manner of health issues, destroying the intestinal system (“gut”) and modern medicine hasn’t kept up.
Aisles are filled with of over-the-counter medications in drugstores, grocery stores and places like Walgreen’s, Walmart and Target. Other stomach problems? Other kinds of meds can help. But the standard allopathic methods only mask the symptoms–they don’t deal with what’s causing the ailment in the first place.
What’s in this book
Tox-Sick doesn’t discuss medical conditions that have established protocols and treatments. It’s more about the kinds of illnesses that we suddenly see a lot more of, such as peanut allergies in children. I never met anyone who had a peanut allergy when I was a kid–but that was sometime ago. I was talking to a lady on Facebook yesterday about something else, and she mentioned that she was born with a heart defect. That’s not the kind of conditions Ms. Somers discusses in this book.
The Doctor Joke
There’s an old joke that used to go around:
Patient: Doctor, it hurts when I do this!
Doctor: Well, don’t do that.
It’s sort of like that. But it’s really not funny.
Do you know someone who takes a lot of sick time? Someone who never really feels “right” but teams of doctors can’t find anything “wrong?” Or is it you? Have you been given the nebulous term “chronic fatigue?” Have you been called a “hypochondriac?”
You may be Tox-sick.
No, you’re not crazy.
I know, Charlie Sheen claimed the same thing.
You’ve heard the comment about people who drink a lot as “pickling their liver.” Actor Larry Hagman was a serious alcoholic who received a liver transplant later in life. Your liver is quite important, as any doctor will tell you. In fact, on his daily radio show, Dr. Hotze frequently mentions that when you take a pharmaceutical drug, even OTC (over the counter), your liver has to detoxify it. That’s true of something as simple as aspirin or as heavy-duty as a cancer drug. It’s also true of any other substances you may ingest, such as fluoride from tap water or from your dentist. Even if you’re not a drinker, don’t smoke the occasional you-know-what or ingest dreadful things you shouldn’t, your liver, GI tract and brain is under assault from everything from various environmental toxins, chlorine and fluoride in the tap water to inhaled allergens like mold.
Your liver can only do so much. Until it can’t.
And then you’re sick and nobody can tell you why. Your blood tests “are all normal.” Your PCP sends you to any number of specialists, who run various tests and you start hearing that “there’s nothing wrong with you.” Some may even imply you should see a psychiatrist, because it’s “all in your head.” It is if it’s a headache, of course, but if one of them gives you a psych referral, just toss it. Talking about why you don’t feel well is NOT going to solve the problem. Neither is an antidepressant.
You’re Tox-sick. You just don’t know it yet.
Suzanne Somers delves into the topic of illnesses caused by environmental toxin overload and the problems it caused her husband, stepdaughter and two of her granddaughters. They are not “mysteries,” they are illnesses with a specific cause and treatment. She knows where to find these doctors who do the kind of cutting-edge medicine who successfully treat these conditions. Her investigation into environmental illnesses led her to find an entire arena of issues that can be cured, but usually aren’t.
How many times has this happened to you?
You go to the doctor and spend five minutes with him or her and leave with a prescription. Headaches? Here’s a pill. Rash that won’t go away? Here’s a cream. Weight gain? A (dangerous) diet pill. Mood swings? Go to a psychiatrist, get prescribed a dangerous antidepressant, stay on it forever.
Your symptoms have become the diagnosis. “We can’t find anything wrong with you, so maybe you need a psychiatrist.” Because they don’t know where to look. And then it’s just a straight path to the drug train station, starting with the first antidepressant or statin drug.
It happens every day in America.
That’s no way to live
I’ll repeat what Ms. Somers says in a few of her books: pharmaceutical drugs have their place, for things like infections and curable diseases. But a drug you stay on forever, “managing” your condition? Not so much. But medicine hasn’t kept up, and it’s highly likely your doctor hasn’t, either.
Toxins not only make you sick, they can weaken your system.
Make Friends With Your Gut
BF chews Tums a lot, especially at night. He also takes an OTC generic form of Zantac, called Ranitidine, every night with a glass of milk. No kidding. He does not see the irony, nor does he understand that he’s feeding the yeast buggies in his gut while tamping down the acid they bring up through his alimentary tract into his esophageal area. But he’s not the only one. I’m told his brother, sister and father all have “acid reflux.” And they drink soft drinks all day long. His father drinks diet sodas because he’s diabetic. (EEEWWW!!!) It’s a shame, because there’s an easy fix, and the benefits go beyond ending the acid assault on your throat. But BF refuses to give up his Cokes, and drinks whole milk because it’s “healthy.”
BTW, any kind of sugar, including lactose, or milk sugar, feeds the yeast overgrowth in your gut. Same with wheat and other grains, that’s why I gave up wheat all those years ago. And the junk food BF eats sometimes throws gasoline on them. He does not believe me.
What nobody tells you is that taking acid-killing drugs also causes malabsorption of nutrients from food—they block stomach acid. The yeast cells come up through the stomach and up to the throat, bringing the acid with it and burning your throat. Dr. Davis is the only doctor I’ve ever been to as a patient that didn’t look at me like I’d lost my bloody mind when I mentioned yeast overgrowth.
It doesn’t work that way.
Now, think about this: if, while “aging,” our bodies produce less of our regular hormones and other things, why would acid production go UP? Parts wear out as you age; they don’t go bonkers except in unusual cases. You go to nearly any doctor in America and tell them you have heartburn, and they will insist that you have “excess acid,” then give you a pill to take. Seriously? At no time, unless you insist, will they take a blood test for yeast overgrowth, (or go to a doctor who will) but it’s a frequent cause. You just know you’re taking a little pill and it goes away for a while.
Yeast Isn’t Just In Bread
I’ve written many times about the Yeast Free Diet, and why you should consider it. (The Green Willow Tree has two articles one yeast overgrowth here , and sells OTC detoxing yeast killers as well.) An important part of starting your detox is getting your alimentary system in good working order. Much of what’s called “leaky gut” and “acid reflux” is an overgrowth of Candida albicans in the intestines and the damage it causes.
If you’ve ever taken antibiotics—and let’s face it, who hasn’t?—you may very well be suffering from yeast overgrowth. Probiotics, along with yeast-free eating and either a prescription for anti-fungals or an OTC preparation, can correct the balance and make everything work like it should. Probiotics are also important to re-build the good intestinal flora to keep everything in balance, and get you on your way to no longer being Tox-sick.
It starts in your stomach
Ms. Somers also discusses HCL, which I’ve taken before. Didn’t do much for me, but at some point in the future, I may try it again. I did offer it to a neighbor before, who was suffering with heartburn, and it seemed to help, but she stopped it. But as Ms. Somers points out, since she took radiation therapy for breast cancer, she will have to take HCL for the rest of her life. Oh, you didn’t know about that? Yes–radiation knocks out your stomach acid production, so you’ll have to supplement with HCL so you can properly digest food. They don’t tell you that when you’re doing radiation, and she found out the hard way.
Low-fat is NOT where it’s at
Are you still doing low-fat diets? Stop. Immediately. Low-fat diets are like filling your tank a quarter of the way and expecting your car to take you from New York to Los Angeles on it. Fats, REAL fats, are what humans need to continue to run the system. Whether it’s olive oil, butter, coconut oil, whole milk cheeses, nuts, meats or things like avocados, you need fat to STAY ALIVE.
Fake fats, along with sugar, hydrogenated anything and other fillers, just do nothing. You might “lose weight,” but without nutrients to rebuild your cells that your body is made of, you’ll also lose bone, hair, and even energy. Eventually the body starts “holding on” to whatever nutrition it gets–that’s why crash diets help you lose weight for a while, but then the trend reverses and the weight comes back. (That’s from Suzanne’s first diet/health/cookbook.)
Years of low-fat and fake foods have made us fatter than before, and decimated the gut.
Fat is what keeps you alive. Sugar can kill you.
NOTE: this is not a license to eat everything in sight, but fat also provides satiety. You can’t over-eat fat.
I say this as someone who might have accidentally eaten a few of BF’s cookies the other night. But I wasn’t feeling great either, and of course, after some “comfort food,” I felt worse later. DUH. And then there are the rare occasions where the Bell rings a little too loud and I find myself crunching on delicious tacos with a couple of packets of Diablo sauce. (This week.) I got through 5 years of Tulane at night while working a 40-hour week with the help of Taco Bell and PJ’s Coffee. Since then, these are rarities, including my favorite Starbucks, even when I had a full-time job. But to their credit, Taco Bell now has the Power Bowl Combo that are devoid of taco shells.
We all have times when it’s fast food or starve. There is an entire population of this country that doesn’t know how to eat anything but fast food. And there are healthier options at many places now. But fast food not something that should be in your regular diet.
A real-life example
The other night, BF was heading into town for a few things, and I asked him to bring back unsalted butter. When he returned, he brought me Country Crock instead. (I have a less polite name for it.) I asked, “why did you buy this instead of butter?” BF: “it’s the same thing.” Amy: “Do you need a chemistry lesson?”
This is what’s in a pound of Land O’Lakes Unsalted Butter:
And this is what’s in the Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Original he brought home:
To be honest, Land O’Lakes also makes “spreads and margarines.”
There’s a lot more ingredients in the margarine than in the butter. Still, to their credit, Country Crock is made with fewer ingredients and nothing hydrogenated. Margarine has improved since the last time I bought it, back in the 1990’s, I think. But I still want butter.
I really did buy Diet Parkay Margarine back in the day, because I didn’t know any better. They call it “Light Parkay” now, and it’s made with milk now, so it says. But. . .it’s still not real butter.
Another real-life example
After reading about fluoride in water and toothpaste, I immediately returned two tubes of Crest toothpaste and replaced it with Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free toothpaste. BF wanted to know why, so I explained it to him–fluoride is TOXIC. If you don’t believe me, check the side of nearly any toothpaste sold in the US. There is a black-box warning telling you to call your local poison control center if you or a member of your family swallows it. Did you know that?
Fluoride is a neurotoxin. Exposure should be minimal. (Thanks, Dr. Hotze.)
BF doesn’t like the taste of Tom’s, so he’s back using the Crest, under protest from me. But I make sure I point out that he’s putting extra toxins in his system that he doesn’t need. Again, he doesn’t believe me.
This is why you’re Tox-Sick.
Becoming Tox-sick is not just one specific thing–it’s a lot of compounded factors that over time suddenly manifest in things like cancer, heart disease and other serious conditions. Just eating the wrong foods damages the gut, weakens the liver, damages the heart, so the rest of the system takes a hit. Chemical out-gassing in your home’s carpet and new furniture can sicken you and your children. Eventually, the brain is affected as well, and you’re sick, but nobody can tell you why. Your symptoms become the diagnosis, and you’re told you have the nebulous “chronic fatigue syndrome.”
In the case of Alan Hamel, aka,”Mr. Suzanne Somers,” it was a matter of standing water in the unfinished basement of a rented house that caused mold contamination that severely sickened him. Nobody knew it was there, and once discovered, they moved out of it very quickly. Months of detoxification treatments helped Mr. Hamel feel well again, and he’s still healing from the damage. Her granddaughters were both in a school building that made them ill; one was bitten by a tick and developed Lyme Disease. Their journey back to health was hard on everyone.
Ms. Somers explains that she’s since heard from quite a number of people who were forced to move out of their dream home because of various environmental toxins, including black mold. Like the others, they didn’t see the black mold, so they didn’t know it was there. You may have mold living in the HVAC air vents, and the first time you turn on the heater when it gets cold, you’ve been hit with mold spores. Cleaning those vents is important!
Please read this book now and defend yourself
I say that because I know that this time of year, people are cleaning up their diets for a while and exercising and drinking more water and doing whatever is the new “healthy” this year. What happens if you don’t lose that weight? You could be Tox-sick, overlooking a health problem you don’t even know you have, and maybe your regular doctor won’t test you for. It’s like that with thyroid patients–they do the standard TSH and say, “your thyroid is just fine!” Been there, done that.
The Herxheimer Reaction
A few times in the last few years that I’ve lost weight, I’ve noticed that I get “hot.” The first time it happened, I called Dr. Davis and asked about it. The nurse at the time called back and said that because I was losing weight, excess estrogen that was stored in the fat cells was suddenly being released, and causing sort of a “synthetic hot flash.” I’ve lost about 20 pounds since I’ve been here in Louisiana, and yes, I tend to take my jacket off or change shirts because it’s a “hot shirt.” Sometimes I get hot at night. But I’m losing weight now, although not as fast as I was on the HCG Diet, so I’m getting the “hot” feelings.
Why do I mention this, and why should you care if you’re male?
Toxins are also stored in fat cells, and if you start detoxing and/or losing weight, the same thing can happen. Lose the fat cells, lose the toxins (and the excess estrogen, male or female.) It might not be a “synthetic hot flash,” though–you might find yourself with nausea, headaches, or some other symptom that makes you wonder what kind of bug you’ve picked up. If you’re doing the yeast-free diet or some other kind of detox or cleansing, it’s likely your body clearing toxins and stuff out of your system. This is known as the Herxheimer Reaction, or die-off. Oh, yes, I’ve had it–one day thought I wasn’t going to make it back to my desk at work before I could choke down the Alka-Seltzer!
Read. This. Book. NOW.
Reading Tox-sick will not turn you into a hypochondriac. Rather, it will arm you with the knowledge that you need to find out why you’re not getting better, why your doctor can’t figure out what’s wrong with you, or why your child or grandchild isn’t “right.” You will learn how to clean toxins from your system, and defend yourself from the toxins we can no longer avoid. Conversations with top doctors like Dr. Sherry Rogers, Dr. Stephen Sinatra and the late Dr. Nicholas Gonzales will help you on your path to true health, and do more than just “lose weight.” Get rid of the toxins and the weight may go away on its own. But don’t go back to eating junk food, either.
Don’t you want to be healthier this year?
I hate to see anyone suffer needlessly, especially when help is available. Detoxing is not just about drinking water for three days, eating lots of kale and fasting. Tox-sick is about clearing out the bugs, toxins and other stuff that’s keeping you ill and in Part 2, defending yourself daily against environmental onslaughts that are everywhere.
What am I doing now to keep from getting Tox-Sick?
Whatever I can, really–I already avoid processed food, with rare forays into the “bad stuff,” like the cookies the other night. Butter, not margarine. Switching toothpastes, too. Sticking with what I’ve been doing for years, best I can. I’m also going to re-read this book before the e-loan ends again and taking notes to go forward.
We’re not at the point where we can put in a reverse osmosis filter (“you want a WHAT?”) eat completely organic or even get grass fed beef here. But I plan to do more gardening than I did in Houston, and hopefully grow some of our own produce organically. I hope to eventually get back on all vitamins and supplements I was taking before I moved out of Houston so that I can continuously defend my system from toxins and the occasional bugs that go around.
Of course, I’m also butting heads a little with BF who thinks it’s all “hocus pocus.” We’ll get there in the end.
I’ve only scratched the surface
Honestly, there is so much more than I discussed here. Please read this book for yourself, your family, your friends, and, yes, even your pets. Cats and dogs can get Tox-sick from mold and toxins too, although that’s not covered in this book. And if someone you know is suffering from a “mystery illness,” give them a copy of Tox-sick, or at least, tell them about it.
To your health and wellness in 2017!