Thursday, January 27, 2011

vegetable glycerine has lots of potential

As I started my sugar-free journey, I had to figure out which sweeteners are a-ok by my standards. While I couldn't find any studies that say sucralose is bad for you, that -ose ending just doesn't sit well with me; it's still too closely related to sugar. Stevia is a great natural option. But then I discovered vegetable glycerine. Naturally derived from palm or vegetable oil, it has a sweet taste, with none of the chemical properties that raise blood sugar.

It's safe for your belly and your beauty. So I perfected* one recipe for each. (My camera is on vacation; you'll have to use your imagination...or make your own!) Update: See Maus modeling this recipe with beautiful flowers from J at bottom of post!

*Perfected for me. As I am learning quickly, homemade recipes have to be personalized.


Veggie Glycerine Hair/Scalp Moisurizer

Mix one part water and one part vegetable glycerine in a spray bottle. Add one or two drops of your favorite essential oil (depending on the size of your bottle). Lavender, rosemary and tea tree oils are all good for your hair, but I can't resist choosing mine based on smell, so I used cinnamon leaf. Spray on your hair while wet and let air dry.

**Note 1: The first time I did this, I got really nervous. My hair felt so sticky. But I slept on it overnight, and the next morning, my hair looked and felt normal, and was very easy to style.

**Note 2: Vegetable glycerine is a humectant, which means it will trap the moisture in your hair when it's wet. But don't apply to dry hair, or it will pull out that moisture and irritate your scalp. Ouch!


Sugar-Free Sunflower Brownies
*adapted from this forum

Ingredients:
1 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup corn starch
6 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. stevia (powdered)
a few liberal dashes of cinnamon (optional)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
4 tbsp. vegetable glycerine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend the sunflower seeds until powdered. Then mix with the other four (pr five) dry ingredients. Add the three wet ingredients and stir until just mixed. Bake in an ungreased brownie pan for 30 minutes.

**Note 1: My cocoa tends to be clumpy, so I would recommend sifting that into the dry ingredients. I will try that next time.

**Note 2: I suspect baking time depends a lot on your pan, so you might want to check with a toothpick partway through. I use a heavy stoneware pan.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

sometimes you've got to trust your gut

About a year ago I started to feel like something was wrong with me. Sometimes it presented itself as straightforward health and wellness issues. At other times, I just knew I didn't feel like the person I had been my whole life. My doctors would give me something to treat my symptoms, or even just refer me to another doctor for something else (forget looking at the whole picture). Then, about a month and a half ago, I got fed up with it. I started doing a lot of my own research and decided to make some major diet changes. What followed was an epiphany. Whatever the cause of my distress was, the solution was clearly diet. I needed to trust my gut (literally).

Inspired by my successes, I went to the doctor again tonight, full of hope that we might explore some of the possibilities together. Instead, I felt like he scoffed at my thoughts, gave me a thumbs up on the diet, and sent me out the door with another prescription. He did agree to run some tests, and I'll get the results next week, but that wasn't really the point for me. I believe in trusting your own instincts about your body, and my body has been telling me that I need more than just a prescription; I need a lifestyle. I have a lot of respect for the amazing ways that doctors help people. But with a slightly cynical chip on my shoulder, I am resigned to the fact that Western medicine treats symptoms, not causes. And I am endeavoring to manage my own health from now on, with the idea of prevention at the forefront. Get ready for a long blog post...

The main change I made to my diet was to eliminate sugar. That doesn't just mean candy. It means cereal. It means peanut butter. It means bread crumbs. (Check your ingredient labels, folks.) And I feel GREAT (all caps intended). Though I haven't lost weight, my body feels like it lost a layer of something off the top of it. My mood is amazing. I feel really confident and happy every day, like I haven't since I was a kid! My skin has undergone a transformation. I feel like I look glow-ier. And it has only been a month.

So here's where I stand. I believe that healthiness is the number one key to happiness. And I believe that healthiness comes from much more than a multi-vitamin (though I subscribe to that camp too). I would like to share with you the lifestyle changes I have been adopting to promote my own wellness. I realize this is a lot of information, and that not everyone will agree with everything. So please, dear reader, do not think I will be offended if you click away now. But I feel so passionate about this, because I think there is a lot of information that we don't have easy access to, that can make our lives so much better. And I'd like to share the things I'm learning, and I hope to share much more of it in the future.

Here we go...


My Healthy Lifestyle Principles


Exercise

1. Have an Active Daily Life. Being in the city makes this one easy. I walk at least two miles a day, at least five days a week. I don't have to work in the activity, because it's a part of my life. As convenience has made life easier for us, it has also made us less active.

2. Do Yoga. Yoga is good. And not just in a crunchy-granola way. I love exercise. And I can assure you, yoga is a workout. It makes you strong, flexible and relaxed. And the only thing you need is one of your greatest tools - your own body.

3. Lift Weights. Weight-lifting for women is very misunderstood. Far from creating ugly, bulky muscles, it actually creates strong, toned muscle and boosts your metabolism.

4. Dance a Little Zumba. Or find another fun exercise. This is the flavor of the month for me. Sometimes I feel ridiculous, but ultimately, I feel awesome.


Go All Natural

1. Buy Organic, Natural, Unprocessed Food. This is a hard one for me. Sadly, the cheapest food is the processed, subsidized stuff. But with a few key staples in the pantry and some smart shopping choices, this one gets a lot easier.

2. Use Natural Beauty/Home Products. A big thanks to T on this one. In fact, this got the entire ball of healthiness rolling. And this one is easy and cheap, thanks to an abundance of recipes for homemade beauty products. While I haven't noticed any miraculous changes in appearance, I feel much more in touch with my real attributes, including a tendency to have dry skin, which has been masked by my reactions to other products. Besides, if we can live without the chemicals, why not?


Find Your Diet

1. Don't Eat Sugar. There is one exception to this: natural sugar - the stuff you find in fruits and vegetables. Otherwise, I stay away from it.

2. Avoid Simple Carbs. These yummy foods affect your body much in the same way that sugar does.

3. Find Your Food Allergies. I picked a few things to explore, including peanuts. We don't usually see these food sensitivities, because we are always suffering from so many. By cycling suspect foods in and out of our diet, we can see which ones create symptoms (which can be very subtle). While I personally love my whole wheat pasta and tofu, gluten and soy are two of the biggest offenders in this category.

4. Drink Water. Enough said.


Get the Attitude

1. Make Time for Things You Love. Hobbies. Dates. Napping. I am a big offender here. I can get really wrapped up in my school/career. But at the end of the day, fulfillment comes from a lot of places. And making a fresh batch of sugar-free brownies is pretty fulfilling.

2. Believe that Everything is Fine. Whenever stress floats around the office, a co-worker of mine always says, "But everything is fine, right?" It is! We are lucky to be alive, have roofs over our heads and computers to blog on. We might have bad days, but that doesn't mean things aren't fine.

3. Live in the Present. This is another challenging one for me. I love scheduling out my days in detail far into the future and reminiscing about the past. And those things are totally acceptable...to a point. J and I really needed a walk a couple of weekends ago, and we ended up at the grocery store at 9:00 pm, with no one in sight and no money in our pockets. We walked up and down the aisles and enjoyed every minute of it. It was a great night, because we were present with each other.

4. There are No Wrong Choices. This is a philosophical decision for me. With a tendency towards anxiety and neurosis, I decided I needed to stop putting so much pressure on the decisions I make in life. Everything is a learning experience, and you can only do the best with what you have at any given time. I have no room for regrets. And with no wrong choices, the world gets a lot more exciting.

5. Be Grateful. It's easy to forget the wonderful things we have. Don't.


I'm still practicing doing everything I'm preaching. But that's part of the journey. I'm not putting any expectations on myself. I just wanted to ask you along for the ride.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

liebe schmeckt wie erdbeer-rhabarber konfitüre

Love tastes like strawberry rhubarb jam.

That's probably because I just had some. But I also just couldn't come up with anything better. Strawberries are soft and vulnerable. Rhubarb is crisp and fresh. Love can feel like all of those things and more. And if it were possible to fall in love with a flavor, this would definitely be my amour.

It's funny how much we deeply understand love from a very young age. And also how much we struggle to understand it our whole lives. I loved how this video helped me remember the simple beauty of love, as well as the negative ways we can influence little ones' perceptions of love through our own behavior.

As usual, any German sprechers are welcome to correct any mistranslations. Enjoy!




Love

In nursery school, there is a boy, who fooled me. He said, "Take hold of my knee." And then, I did it, and then he kissed me.

Well it begins first in school. And then you arrange to meet sometime. And then you build a relationship. And then, uh, perhaps you do a lot of homework together at home and...uh...

In the spring many birds fall in love, and that's why they chirp in the spring.

In the evenings they meet up perhaps with their love and go kind of to a park bench or something, in a very quiet area, and then kiss or something.

First...first, hand holding. (Kissing?) And then also kissing.

First you are free, then in love, and then you get married.

And then you have children. And then it begins all over again.

Love can also end when you argue...and that...for a week...or perhaps another month, you are pissed. And when I've lost a friend, I have this feeling...this feeling as if you're heart is dried up and become cold.

Yearning for someone can somehow make you act very strangely.

And when you are in love, you have butterflies in your stomach.

Some people can also fall in love with people from other countries. So, it must not always...yes...they can also come from various countries.

When an African and a German fall in love, then by all means, one of the two must first learn the language of the other.

Love is even more important than gold treasure. For me. And friendship also.

I think love is s***.

When you are in love, then you form a sort of heart-shaped head.

Girls can also love girls.

You must only look at the heart to see if they love, or if they don't love.

Some people don't notice...don't notice that they love each other. But their souls and their hearts...they notice. And then sometime, the hearts say so loudly, that you just know and understand, and then you begin to love and also to like.

Well, you can also be in love when you're...maybe 80! You can still fall in love.

But when you're a very rickety grandma, you can't cuddle anymore.

My mama always laughs, "No matter how old you are, or whatever time it is, you always play love. You can always fall newly in love again."

But when you've fallen in love, where can you see the love?

Love is invisible.

If I were to sample love, it would taste like tunafish pizza. That is my favorite dish.