Thursday, January 29, 2009

Better Breakfast

Welcome to Better Breakfast. This journal is all about food - in my world, that is.

To start out, let me just tell you that I have been diabetic for 12 years, insulin-dependent for about 5 (not sure about that; I'll have to look it up later if anybody cares). I am not out to get on a soapbox, just to share my unique (?) experience so that perhaps someone will benefit, perhaps me. I realize this will be far-fetched for most people, but it may help a few to know that I actually do this and love it.

I have been through a long struggle to minimize dependency on medication. I struggled not only because I hate the dependency, but I sensed that the medication was not a ticket to splurge, that living sensibly would be good for me and make a difference in the long run.

I have discovered some key practices that have dramatically reduced my need for artificially injected insulin. As bonuses, other discomforts (in addition to direct diabetes-related symptoms) vanished, such as low energy, feeling of fragility, border-line asthma, dandruff, acne, inflamed knees and elbows, a terrible tickle and cough that all through my 30's and early 40's prevented me from entering a store or a meeting or a movie without a load of cough drops and a (hopefully) discreet spit bag. In their place, a feeling of being 18 again appeared (I'm 48). The following practices, I'm certain, will benefit all people, not just diabetics. Even if they can only follow some of them, sort of. After 12 years of practice, I am pretty much able to do them consistently; I found as time went on, it became easier and easier and easier.

Practice 1 Eat your meals within 20 minutes. If you cannot do that, stay within an hour. Don't eat for 3 hours. When you first feel like you're getting full, even if you haven't touched the main dish you intended to have, QUIT! You can eat the other stuff later. If you do continue to eat, your appetite will willingly expand and you will be hungry again and you will eat at least 3 times too much. Learn to stop when you hear the first bell (listen to your body - the first time).

Practice 2 Shoot for 63% alkaline-forming foods. Look this up on the web; plenty has been written about it.

Practice 3 I made a quantum leap in curing the munchies (which are caused by malnutrition) when I started to eat raw greens. I had never done this before. My favorite is organic collard greens. BUT YOU HAVE TO EAT AND CHEW SLOWLY FOR IT TO BE ENJOYABLE. TAKE YOUR TIME, OR IT WILL BE YUCKY AND MAY NOT SET WELL.

Practice 4 Never overeat. Never never never never never. When it's time to reward yourself, give yourself a blue ribbon and stick it on the fridge and go outside and dance to celebrate.

Practice 5 This one will kill you or it will make you leave my blog now and forever. Never eat after 6:00 p.m. But hey, do you want to win this fight and enjoy life? It's nowhere near as bad as it sounds, for what you get out of it. All of these practices are really what we should have been doing all along anyway. Read on for more killers (keep in mind, I do these, and I do not struggle or feel deprived - I love life, especially when I feel great! Also keep in mind: I'm not hungry!):

Practice 6 Never consume white flour, straight or otherwise.

Practice 7 Never consume sugar or any of its substitutes. I don't even eat honey. When you don't use these things, you don't miss them. Sugar, fat and salt: you only need or miss as much as you are used to eating. Stop cold, and you don't miss them at all. But although I have sometimes cut out fats, I currently do not limit my intake of them. I do not agree with people who say to cut them out completely. I eat butter, raw cream and milk straight from the cow, coconut oil, nuts. As for salt, I have never paid attention to my consumption. I am not a heavy user. My brother may have gotten his thyroid problems from avoiding salt and not getting his Iodine. I'll leave that research up to you.

Practice 8 Never eat GMO, preservatives, additives. In short, never eat anything out of a wrapper, bag, can or bottle that has a list of ingredients, some of which you don’t have on your shelf at home. Bread is one of the worst offenders. Don't even talk to me about a Twinkie. This also prohibits meats with nitrites or nitrates. Personally, I pretty much stay away from EVERY thing that has a list of ingredients that I did not personally make myself.

Practice 9 This is optional in my book, but get all your dairy raw, and get all your beef grass-fed. You sufferers of arthritis and such will greatly benefit if you follow this. Personally, I stay away from pork. I was never a big beef eater, but do not believe in eliminating it. I love fish. My wife hates it. I eat it. I love turkey. I eat chicken done right.

Practice 10 Eat Millet!!!!!!!!!!!! It is like the only unsprouted grain that is alkaline-forming in the body! It is a high-protein, superb replacement for rice! It's great! I cook mine in a rice cooker.

Practice 11 This is not essential for some, maybe, probably, but for me, it is very key: Never eat any bread made from any grain that has not been sprouted. Unsprouted, unless it's millet, it is acid-forming; sprouted, it is an alkaline vegetable. And as much as possible, make sure the bread you eat is also raw. I sprout my wheat, barley, spelt, millet, what-have-you and then I send it through my twin-gear juicer and dry the long "worms" that come out in my food dehydrator at about 105 degrees F. They naturally raise and come out surprisingly similar to ordinary bread sticks. Sometimes I mix in something like kale as well, which results in a very appealing and interesting texture. This kind of bread won't jack your sugar like ordinary whole grain bread. And what I say about white flour or bread goes for noodles too.

Practice 12 As much as you can swing it, it is worth it to eat organic produce. Not only do you not have to worry about chemical sprays, the quality is so vastly superior, you will just have a much better appetite for wholesome foods, because organic farmers care, and it shows. For example, I would never think of eating collard greens from the regular grocery store - too yellow. Ickkk! And too small and thin and wilted. Double Ickkk!! The ones at the organic store are like elephant ears, dark dark green (ummmmm!), and thick and juicy. You get my point. Also, some people, like cartoonists, like to perpetrate the stereotype that you're liable to get a wormy apple or such from the organic market. In reality, I get wormy, buggy and spoiled produce of all sorts from the standard grocery store; I have never ever seen anything like that at my organic store - it's as if the farmer raised each leaf or fruit individually, tending it every day. SO WHY DO THEY SPRAY IT THEN, IF IT'S GOING TO BE WORMY AND BUGGY ANYWAY?????? Oh, and for you who never grew up on a fruit farm: Fruit in regular grocery stores are a joke, especially when they say stuff like "tree-ripened," which means they left it on the tree until they picked it, nothing more. "Tree-ripened" or not, they have little or (too often) no flavor at all. Compared to fruit actually fully ripened on the tree, the comparison is like gourmet cake to cardboard. (Sorry, couldn't think of a better comparison; I wouldn't eat cake or cardboard.)

Practice 13 For diabetics like me, a brief out-of-breath workout of about 10 minutes right after you eat makes a huge, HUUUUUUUUGE difference in the effectiveness of your insulin or whatever. I usually do at least some vigorous workout.

Practice 14 I am not recommending this, just admitting that I do not keep a regular diet or schedule. I eat when I can or feel like it and I eat what I feel like eating, as long as it is between 6 am and 6 pm, and is within my rules of what. Exercise, same thing. Sleep? I try not to be irregular, but I am.

Practice 15 Generally tend not to make it fancy. The simpler and more single you can make it, the easier it will be to hear that first bell that it's time to stop. Also, your appetite, if not given too much of a smoke and spices screen, is designed to tell you what nutrients you need, as well as how much. So the simpler you keep it, the better that little honey of a device can work. That's why, for example, I usually eat a bowl of beans, not a bowl of fancy chili. But I'm not really tempted by such things any more, I love what I eat so much. And as long as I get my raw veggies, I never get the munchies.

Practice 16 Love the good more than the bad. Otherwise, the junk will be your reward and dieting will always be a doomed struggle of discipline. Did you know 'love' is a verb? You never fall into love. It is always a decision and is built by you. Sure, you can be enticed, but it always begins with your decision and permission.

So that's the practices, now for what I had for breakfast. Actually, for breakfast, lunch and dinner (the title was spur-of-the-moment). I tend to eat any of my typical meals at any of the three traditional times of the day. Like my dinner salad for breakfast sometimes. My sugar has the most tendency to climb during the morning, so I benefit by eating something like a salad then, and I enjoy it and it sets as well as in the evening. So the following "dishes," I eat anytime. Also note, these are the kind of foods that, once you get used to them, you will never get tired of; you will be able to enjoy them far more than you ever enjoyed a snickers bar or whatever your favorite commercial food or snack was. Moreover, unlike the commercial stuff, you will find them to be enjoyable beyond the tongue: they will feel powerful (in a good way) and good as they pass through your entire system!

My favorite salad:
One leaf of white swiss chard (essential ingredient)
2 or 3 leaves of romaine
one celery stalk
about a half-cup or cup of diced rutabaga (essential ingredient)
tofu or chicken optional
a little collard green optional
some broccoli
a dab or two of healthy mayo - mix it up well (you decide what is healthy) (essential ingredient) Not too much Tuscan Italian Dressing (Annie's Naturals) (essential ingredient)

What I had this morning: Cold millet from the rice cooker with cold winter squash (buttercup, maybe?), seeds and all, covered with cream straight (except it was cold, not warm) from the cow. YUUMMMMMM!

baked yams and pecans are good.

baked yams and coconut oil or butter are good.

Here's my favorite raw vegetable juice:
2 very large carrots or equivalent
maybe a chunk of yam
about a 4th of a beet
couple handfuls of wheat grass (won't work unless you have a twin-gear or wheat grass juicer, not a champion)
about yay of broccoli
sometimes, beet greens, but usually don't have them on hand
stir it up and it's a sick looking purpley green color. YUMM! Look forward to it every day!

black beans (I like to cook all my beans from dried, in a pressure cooker. I used to try to eat them all sprouted and raw, but that was a bit much for even me), millet and mustard.

I love kidney beans, red and light red. Love baby lima's and navy.

I have tried incorporating nutritional yeast (the yellow yeast) in my "cooking," but I keep forgetting it on the shelf. They tell me it's good.

Love to eat cheddar cheese with fresh ginger root, and optionally, my bread and coconut oil. My wife says ginger is not a vegetable, it's a spice. But I eat so much of it, it's like a vegetable to me.

I eat frozen, nitrate-free turkey dogs from the organic store. I have found them to be quite tasty and go well with my raw collard greens, but only if I eat them either frozen, or thawed a bit in a cup of already-warm water. To microwave or fry or boil them is to produce something kind of yucky.

For about two or three years straight, I had the same thing for lunch every day: 2 collard green leaves and 10 or 20 almonds to go with it. It made my fingernails very thick. My fingernails grew so fast, it was quite a bother to keep trimming them all the time.

I like cream and sometimes cinnamon on my rice-cooker millet.

I am the only person I know who has been able to sprout naked spelt and millet. For spelt, soak it for just an hour, not 8. Then just let it sit. It only works if the spelt is fresh enough and the temperature is right. Too cold, and it won't sprout. Too warm, and it will mold too fast and not sprout. I'm not sure what the temperature was when I got it to work. And who knows what factor the humidity and such played. For millet, soak it, let it sit, don't rinse it again. But the longer you wait, the less fresh and appealing. I usually only let mine go a night and a day and I put it into the fridge.

I eat wheat grass. Chew it right up and swallow the whole thing. Best thing for memorable bowel movements you'll ever find. Yams are pretty good for that as well. Those, along with not over-eating.

I do a lot of sprouting of seeds. My favorite are broccoli, radish, alfalfa.

When I eat any kind of soup, I love to throw some kind of raw greens on to blanch just before I eat it, such as chard, seaweed, any kind of lettuce (including iceberg) or sprouts. I usually throw in a raw egg as well.

I eat eggs, fixed any old way.

The thing that really jacks up my sugar the most is grapefruit, unfortunately. Meanwhile, I can always eat an orange without taking a shot.

I love to eat cranberries, straight out of the bag, frozen or not. Unfortunately, I've developed quite an allergy and get a bad rash. I can't stand the overly-sweet taste of Craisins.

I love to eat unsweetened baker's chocolate. I eat it straight, or with soaked almonds, or raisins, or peanut butter, or apples, or apple cider, or best of all, baked winter squash!

I love peaches, plums, prunes, apples, but I particularly love grapes and persimmons. I realize I may be misspelling some things; I'm too lazy to look everything up. I am fond of cherries and strawberries, but they are a caution for my sugar. Also love watermelon.

At the farm, I used wonder at the Rome apples. My mom said she liked them, but I thought how bland they were for such a pretty apple. I liked the Jonathon's. I liked the tart and flavorful ones. Well, now that I'm an old sugar shy coot, I am just like my mother: Romes are my favorite by far. They don't hurt my sugar and they don't hurt my teeth. Love 'em!

Don't eat white potatoes that much; they don't bother my sugar like some people, but I don't miss them that much. Eat a lot of yams.

Here's one of my peeves: What happened to the tangerines I loved so much under the Christmas tree as a kid? What are all these "Clementine’s"? They are okay, but I don't like the taste as well as the old school. And the old kind were ALWAYS as easy to peel as it was to spit on the sidewalk. Clementine’s are sometimes kind of easy to peel and other times very difficult. I HATE it when industry shoves things down our throat that we do not prefer. Like GMO. And King Korn Beef. And soy that gives you hives. And cream that tastes like.....not cream. Who gave them the right to change our world permanently? Freaking Frankensteins.

I have what to me is the most killer recipe for a banana shake. Make it thicker, and it is ice cream. No dairy. No sugar. To me, it is about 3 times more enjoyable than real ice cream. I'm not sure I want to share it right now - might want to capitalize on it some day. But I will say, peel and freeze your bananas (not too green, not too ripe) and see what you can do with them - they are greeeat!

Even before I was diabetic, I enjoyed what I called a "bowl-rrito." It's like building a Burrito Supreme, except you do it in a bowl, without a tortilla. Replace the tortilla with rolled oats or rolled barley - dry. Throw in every other thing you would for your burrito. Don't forget the sour cream or the sour cream substitute. Mix it up.

Always loved berkershmeasly, or however you spell it - that yogurt, fruit and oat thing. I have seen recipes that tell you to tenderize the oats in some way. Not me - I like to know they are there! I just throw the good old fashioned kind in dry.

Cottage cheese and peaches or pears was always good too.

Canned sardines go well with mustard and the millet. Try to get the kind packed only in spring water, nothing else.

I like tuna salad: tuna, raw spinach, iceberg (some people act as if iceberg lettuce is a junk food - isn't that funny??? Like it could hurt you) lettuce and mayo. Sometimes I'll throw in some sprouted wheat or something like that, reminiscent of the tuna sandwich bread I used to know.

Want to try something other than the "raw sprouted bread" I described above? I used to sprout my wheat fairly long and then dry it in the oven so I could grind it up, and then flatten the dough out on a cookie sheet and bake it like normal. But first I would pull and mix the heck out of it till it was like taffy. The stuff that came out was very very tough and chewy, but moist - kinda sorta like a brownie, especially if I scorched it a bit. So chewy, I lost a couple of teeth, or crowns. But boy, I loved it! So did people at work.

I do stir fry. I do it any old way I please. To me, cooking is just like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich: you've done it so much, there's no recipe - you just know how you like it. Even if it's always different! So I throw in what and how much my instinct tells me. This pertains to vegetables, meats and spices.

Speaking of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, did you know that once you get your brain past it, jelly and fruit in general usually doesn't go as well with peanut butter and bread as vegetables do? May I present (though I did not invent it) the vegetable sandwich! Wow, are you in for a treat! Talk about a tasty cure-all for the munchies!!!!!!!!! It's simple: take any raw vegetable or vegetables (perhaps some cooked) you think you might like to try and put them into a sandwich without meat or cheese, but with mayo or such. Keep experimenting until you find your favorites! But what about what I said about bread? Well, it isn't raw, but to make a really great sandwich as I describe here, you will do well to use one of the commercially available sprouted grain breads. They are usually in the frozen foods in the health or organic section or store. Or you can invent a way to make your own sprouted loaf of bread, but you may not find it as nice for sandwiches. Or, forget the sandwich and do like I usually do: just eat your raw sprouted whatever and your raw vegetables and fats as finger food. But if you do the sandwich, don't forget the milk! -If you do milk. Or whatever.

Here's how to bake squash if you want it to be really yummy, not bland and blah and tasteless: Get a thick, sharp, sturdy knife and cut the thing as perfectly in half (make the cut as straight as you can) as you can. Leave the seeds alone (I love to eat them after it bakes; I eat every part of the squash except the petrified stem! Sometimes I peel them like I would a sunflower seed, sometimes I don't bother, just chew them right up). Place the two halves cut face down into a cake pan and add about a 1/4 inch of water. Now bake the thing. You won't believe the difference in flavor compared with just throwing the thing into the oven dry or steamed or whatever.

Why would you add sugar and syrup and junk to something that is already pretty dang sweet?? Leave those yams alone!! Just scrub them and throw 'em into the oven! Then maybe more people will like them!!!

One of my all time favorite things is canned (or bottled) plums with the peeling still on, and a bit of the juice, plunked in the middle of a dish of cream. Oh man, that's pretty!

I never eat this any more, but I grew up in a family where oatmeal was done right. So right, that it happened to be about my very ecstatically favorite treat of all. My junk-food eating bride was sick the night before we were married; I made this for her and she still fondly remembers it 20 years later: 1/2 or 3/4 cup of old fashioned rolled, or steel cut oats or barley. Twice as much water. 1/4 tsp salt. boil. simmer till creamy (depending on your results, maybe go a little heavy on the water to get more creamy). While hot (don't dilly dally - this stuff doesn't keep its heat), put into bowl. Tablespoon (give or take) of clover honey (ours was always crystallized). Mix it up but not too much. Now pour the old-fashioned (I say old-fashioned because I mean it can't have ANY crap added or freaking ultra-pasteurizing and processing done to it) whipping (not whipped) cream into the bowl in a thin steady stream until the cream begins to come up and puddle in another spot on the surface of the oatmeal. Now dip your spoon into that puddle, get just the right mix of oatmeal and cream, insert into mouth and go to heaven. Used to do this every day before school, but half the time it was home-made wheat mush instead of oatmeal, which I loved almost just as much. We made it from our own fresh-ground wheat, water and salt.

Here's one I still sometimes enjoy that my mother fixed for me on occasion. She called it "Sweetchies." Boil raw, dry wheat berries in plenty of water and some salt, until just before they pop (one variation is to use less water and let them pop and get all mushy). Now with them and plenty of their juice in a bowl, add milk or cream and bananas. Surprisingly good, unique flavor! My dad ate this every morning without the cream or bananas. It's all he had for breakfast for like 20 years or something. I found I could eat unlimited amounts of this that he ate without increasing my blood sugar at all, when I was first diabetic and not on insulin. Haven't tried it lately, but I know it is very slow compared to bread, and as long as you aren't staring at something else fancy to eat, it really can be enjoyable. I suppose you could sprout it first, then cook it, and it would be a little different, but even safer to eat.

Well, I may expand, update or refine this later, but this gives a pretty good snapshot of how one diabetic/healthy-old-guy-wannabee does it.

Love, and Hope,