Friday, November 27, 2015


So much of the sentimental chatter around Thanksgiving in the US has to do with being with FAMILY, and SHARING....  We have this Norman Rockwell or Currier-and-Ives vision of an extended family clustered around the dining-room table, oohing and ahhing when the huge turkey is brought in on a platter the size of a bistro table, looking more like a plastic prop than something actually edible -- and the last observation tends to be depressingly true, because to make a roast turkey look like that, the breast-meat WILL be horribly overcooked and dry.

Then there's the oh-so-traditional occupation of watching fucking FOOTBALL after the feast.  GRRRRR....  So some stupid twentieth-century display of barbarism became the arbiter of WHEN the feast-of-thanksgiving should begin and end?  To hell with the convenience of the people doing the actual WORK of the day, so that the couch-potatoes and do-nothing guests can enjoy their vicarious-conquest emotion-and-sloth-fest in all its ingloriousness?  ...I don't think i really NEED to turn myself loose in describing my contempt....

From my critique, above, you might think that i'm shockingly un-thankful and anti-traditional, but you'll be missing the nuance of my discussion:  i AM thankful indeed, and i appreciate tradition, even if my view of it is slightly ... uh ... untraditional.  ;-)

I have a great deal to be grateful for, despite or even perhaps because of a frustrated life.  I'm very fortunate in the comfort i'm enjoying in my "old age," and in the support of my husband and daughter.  And anyone who has read my blog for awhile has learned that i'm very keen on history, both "recent" (including about the last three thousand years, but concentrating on the last couple of hundred) and truly ancient history (back to hunter-gatherer times).

So my Thanksgiving Day yesterday was informal and not very traditional, but nevertheless heartfelt.

First, NO TURKEY.  ;-)  I like turkey, though J was never was very fond of it.  In my birth-family, we always had turkey not only for Thanksgiving but for Christmas dinner ... but we never had it at any other time, save in restaurants.  It was therefore an Annual Treat.  After replicating this pattern for over a decade after my marriage, i started thinking that this was not very fair to "the founder of the feast" and our kids -- why make something that everybody didn't really LOVE, just because we usually did it?  In casting about for a worthy replacement, Christmas Dinner became all about a TRUE delicacy, a roast prime rib of BEEEEEEF!

When we started having much smaller Thanksgiving Day assemblies, turkey went out the window too.  We played with goose and various other less-usual meats, and are settling on duck when it's just the two of us.  The recipe for Unsightly But Delicious Duck in Dana Carpender's books is the preparation of choice.  Yesterday's cooked unusually quickly, and totally fell apart before the last stint in the oven, but that did not damage our enjoyment of it one particle!

In beginning the preparation yesterday morning, my general plans started falling apart almost immediately.  I couldn't find the can of pumpkin that i just KNEW was in the pantry!  (In fact, i believed that i had not one but two.)  Okay!  Some of J's outstanding mincemeat filling (with honest-to-god real minced MEAT) was in the freezer from last year;  we got it out to thaw.  Besides, who needs pumpkin when you've got some gorgeous baby Japanese sweet potatoes to bake ... except i didn't ... in choosing the nicest-looking baby sweet potatoes i accidentally picked up garnets instead.  [sigh]  Oh well, i'll bake those tiny little sugar-bombs, taking care not to get them overdone, which is rather disgusting....

Ooh, then i meant to make a loaf of flax-bread, but while sitting down after making a bite of brekkie i noticed what a beautiful day it was, cool and sunny, and i sat down in the new sunroom with a window cracked and the fireplace going, and watched our "traditional" annual viewing of "Miracle on 34th Street" while drinking mimosas....  :-)  The afternoon drifted pleasantly on, and we watched the two Despicable Me films after Mo34S.  I managed to get the duck in the oven at about 3:00, the hour at which we tend to feed the dog.

During the poking around i did, trying to find the canned pumpkin, i came across a leaking can in the pantry (BOO), but also a small can of jellied cranberry sauce, and a carton of cottage cheese in the fridge, which needed using.  When God closes a door He opens a window, right?  ;-)  I added my altered version of pineapple-orange-cottage cheese salad to the menu.  Spent a whole quarter-hour chopping canned mushrooms and cobbling together a whole-food version of green-bean casserole, chilling the cranberries, making the salad, and preparing the sweet potatoes for the oven.  Decided we had enough food and didn't need a composed dessert on top of everything else.

Dinnertime rolled around and we ate side-by-side on trays in the sunroom, watching Shrek.  Thanks to the addition of therapeutic quantities of magnesium in my supplement line-up, i was not stressed by the multiple changes-of-plan in our dinner, but actually enjoyed making changes on the fly!  I had some leftover poultry gravy in the fridge, to which i added the minced cooked liver from the duck and a little more of the collected juices (i nibbled the heart and gizzard away during the course of the afternoon), and it provided the perfect sauce to the already tender and juicy meat.  As predicted, we were quite full after one plate-ful of the dishes i provided, and didn't miss having a formal dessert at all.  I didn't even top off the meal with coffee or port!

Altogether, we enjoyed our untraditional Thanksgiving Day feast, not least because it was NOT the collection of bickering relatives, NOT one group grousing that they worked hours making a meal which people hurried through in 15 minutes so they could be in time to watch the kick-off, NOT bearing with brainless nattering about politics and religion and sentimental BS thanking Jesus for something he had no hand in (Jesus and a few of his followers made some contributions to civilization, but he sure as hell didn't provide the dinner).

No, J and i had an unusual feast of things we don't treat ourselves to very often.  We have leftovers that we actually WANT to eat, not a vista of meal after meal of gradually-degrading junk.  We had a pleasant and cheerful day of comedy and humor and a sense of indulgence even if it wasn't "wicked" by objective standards.  We had a Thanksgiving Day for which we can honestly give thanks.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

vive la France!

Let's have a digression from our usual topics, to express our sympathy and sorrow about the disgusting assault on Paris yesterday!

France was the first ally the USA had, and i always get tears in my eyes, thinking of how her people risked their families' lives, assisting downed American pilots during WWII.

To me, the best of American culture is largely a melding of English and French influences, with valuable additions from the Spanish, Native American, Germanic/Scandinavian, and many others.

Not least important, the best cuisine in America -- that of New Orleans -- is based largely upon the French, with NA and Spanish contributions.

The most rousing scene in "Casablanca" was when Laszlo (not a Frenchman) leads the orchestra in La Marseillaise when the Nazi officers begin singing their objectionable anthem.  THIS is how i feel right now.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

the fad fad

In an age when such large proportions of our populations are sick and/or overweight, when the medical industry is more interested in prescribing pharmaceuticals than counselling about proven health-enhancing habits, when media sources of advice for improving well-being are mostly wrong and very contradictory, people have to do their own "research."  We read countless sources of information that we think might possibly help, and tweak our own practices to try to get it all better.

The world at large calls our trials of low-carbing, gluten-avoiding, fast-food-eschewing, processed-junk-refusal, and farmers'-market-frequenting ... FADS.

Sometimes they're called CRAZES.

If someday i go on a murderous rampage, i think i'll go after ignorant health advisors even before i go after the lawyers and politicians.  ;-)

Yeah, those FADS -- we see people who were PERFECT followers of conventional wisdom fail miserably, and then when they go on Atkins, effortlessly lose significant amounts of weight.  We see them go on fasts and manage to discontinue medications.  We see people drop problematic dietary items, and intractible DISEASES go into remission.  But oh, we mustn't consider doing them ourselves -- we mustn't follow one of these "extreme" practices for more than a couple of months, say the "experts" -- because they're FADS which are untested.

Right.  A multi-year, many-participant, expensive-food RCT!  Why oh WHY is nobody doing these studies???!!!  Why has nobody yet proven the existence of God?!

The ultra-conservatives in American politics didn't invent the system of code-word use to subtly slam ideas they don't like, but they were far from being the first.  Don't have evidence that those ideas are actually BAD, but want to manipulate your ignorant voter-base?  Use words like "everybody knows" and "short-term gains" and ... "fad," "craze."

Whole-food eating is a fad.  We're crazily not eating things which we know make us feel bad.  We're parroting and slavishly following these DANGEROUS regimens which clear up our allergies and bowel complaints cuz bread is SO NUTRITIOUS....

Anti-science is a big problem in America on so many levels.  Anti-GOOD-science even more so.

And don't get me started on how i feel about using the word "movement" when it comes to a LOT of people following a "fad" like the removal of problematic food additives.  (It always makes me think of BOWEL movements....)  ;-)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

THIS kind of shit...

100,000 times more potent than metformin!!!


This sort of thing makes me very VERY angry.  All of us here realize how potent diet is in bolstering health, but bitches like this, who claim that eating an occasional curry is equivalent to a CURCUMIN experiment, make everyone look stoopid.

No wonder most of my friends don't believe certain foods impact health.  Frauds and grifters dominate the conversation with their ravings about the benefits of junk and unrealistically-necessary quantities of medicinal substances.  Resveratrol, raspberry ketones, acai, blueberries, cinnamon, turmeric....

If these shills REALLY had the well-being of their fellow humans at heart, we'd get rational, practical, PRACTICABLE recommendations, with caveats for those who might have trouble with their suggestions.

NO.  We get blanket raves for dangerous exercises and worthless "supplements" of things NOBODY needs.  Hypothetical tweaks that were never tested.  Extrapolation of the results of one group to entirely different and inappropriate groups.

When reputable INDIVIDUALS present these promoters, they're lending a mantle of respectability where it is not deserved.  It doesn't matter whether or not they're on our LC or clean-food team -- if they're not being scientifically straight, they're the enemy of the message, and i resent it.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

more highway musings

We're on the way to Texas again to do some grandparenting.  :-)  As observed before, when you're traveling -- especially when you're traveling with pets -- low-carbing actually requires some preplanning and/or voluntary "diet vacationing."  This time, i decided for the latter.

Of course, i already know what the downsides are to eating a higher percentage of carbs, and "bad" carbs at that.  But i also already know that fasting significantly ameliorates them.  ...Which leads me to this nutritional thought for today:

Kitava is not an example of victory for carbohydrates.

Those people, as i've heard it said, eat one meal a day comprised mostly of yams, coconut, and fish, late in the day, and then abstain from food until the next day's dinner.

So you see, my highway habits reflect a very old practice, albeit one on the other side of the world.  ...Hmmm, maybe my visit down south should include an experiment in which i spend extended hours in the sun, and a lot of fish and sweet potatoes?  ;-)

*  I'm adding Dr. Fung's blog to my list on the right, he being the modern-most advocate of fasting for health ... or should i rephrase that to say "fasting for health through knocking insulin back from pathological levels to physiological ones"

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

yet another thyroid-suppressing supplement you may want to avoid

It's happened to me more than once -- hell, it's happened to me a LOT.  A darling food or supplement in the ancestral-health world not only didn't help me, it was an outright obstacle to my well-being!  Green leafy vegetables, fermented foods, high-fat dairy....

At the top of the list, i reluctantly add fish-sourced omega-3 oil supplements.  Yep, the CLO everybody raved about is great for preformed vitamin A and extra D in the wintertime, but i don't believe anymore that "balancing PUFAs" did a lick of good for me.  "Contrarywise!"  :-)

I discontinued daily CLO use this past summer, and concentrated on getting plenty of sun for my vitamin D intake.  My multi already contains it, too, as well as "both kinds" of vitamin A, and i've been making an effort to eat liver at least every fortnight.  On a couple of occasions when special restaurant meals have contained something fried, i've come home and taken some CLO, though, to do that balancing thing.  In those cases, i've noted but not considered significant that on some occasions my hypothyroid symptoms have flared up badly -- was it mystery ingredients in the restaurant food?  Was it excess omega-6?  Was it mere coincidence, having to do with stress or allergies?  I was suspicious but not convinced.

Well, with the coming of cooler fall weather and less time spent outside in the sun, i decided to start the daily CLO again.  Immediately, the low-metabolism hypo symptoms made themselves visible.  I find it harder to believe that the extra PUFA, even "healthy" omega-3, is NOT driving this situation.

The FitBit my husband bought me for my birthday even backs up my perception:  my resting heartbeat is even better than temperature readings for showing me how my metabolism is responding.  Having had to change my principal thyroid-support supplement (fucking FDA...), the dose-adjustment has been much easier.  Heart-rate in the sixties, dose is too low;  in the upper seventies, perfect.  When i supplement with CLO, the HR drops like a stone.

I noted a couple of years ago that a mouse study showed lower thyroid-hormone-receptors on cell walls in the high dietary presence of PUFAs, moderate levels with MUFA predominancy, and the best with SatFats.  My own self-experimentation seems to mirror their findings very well.  My on-again-off-again use of cod-liver oil confirms it to me.

The only technically-essential fatty acids in the diet are the PUFAs, but they are available in adequate quantities in ANY protein-sufficient paleo-style diet.  There are more PUFAs and MUFAs than we need, merely in pastured/grass-finished animal products from eggs to beef.  I believe firmly that if we eat good-quality "paleo" protein regularly, we have NO need for supplementation of PUFAs.  Trying to increase one's omega-3s?  Probably one big hairy mistake.

Your liver will thank you -- it hates PUFAs too, no matter what kind!

Monday, November 2, 2015

odd realization

It occurs to me that my increasing appetite for mineral water this year was a marker for my diminishing magnesium supplies -- perhaps my body sensed that drinking San Pellegrino was a very pleasant way to get the mineral i needed?

Funny, i don't tend to crave chocolate as some people do, ostensibly when they need a magnesium boost.  Nor do i often get a yen for nuts and seeds, although the salt on them DEFINITELY calls my name (mmm, Penzey's grey sea-salt!).  At one time when i was doing Atkins pretty strictly, i experienced some cravings for greens, but it's been a long time since i had that urge.  Our bodies' intelligence about nutrition seems to evolve as our experiences change.

But a few days ago, when i was taking at least double the RDA of magnesium by way of experimentation, i lost my interest in mineral water.  Yesterday, after a decadent brunch at the Tower Grove Park's lovely Piper Palm House, and a lively hour of housework, i sat down to a big bottle of SP on our new patio ... and then i had a bath ... and then i sat down and demolished ANOTHER bottle....

It may be hypothesized that when i stopped losing excess water via stool, i had less NEED of water in general, but it's not that i DRANK LESS, rather that i drank less mineral water specifically.  It must also be noted that with the cooling weather, i'm also drinking more coffee (decaf), which is also a magnesium source.  Definitely confounders!

There are cravings we should obey, and those we shouldn't -- when it comes to foodstuffs with a minimal down-side, like a juicy ribeye, cooked greens dripping with garlic-butter, or a good mineral water, i think we're the loser if we say no!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

the latest in poop....

One of the refreshing things about our community here and in our blog-lists is, nobody thinks it's "gross" or weird to talk about poo.  Naturally, when we were kids, it was considered a not-nice subject, but when we grow up it should be just looked on as another aspect of life, without an "ewww factor" ... however, to many adults it still has that.  Television advertisements for products wanting to cash in on the "elimination problem" market tend to talk about it in coy terms that remind me a bit of "Keeping Up Appearances"....  [evil grin]

Wooo's recent blog-resurrection, interestingly enough, mentions her trial of a new probiotic product at just the time i was looking into what i can do about that famous side-effect of magnesium supplementation.  When one has loose stools long enough, one's microbiome becomes depleted, so i wanted to do a little replenishing of my supplies.  The last brand i tried, featuring a popular-in-Japan variety of clostridium, just didn't impress me, so i started reading about her experience with Elixa, and other stars in the market.

Inspired by her historic experiences, Wooo has some interesting hypotheses concerning gut-bugs -- she finds that she has less bloating and discomfort when using substances which "sanitize" her innards, like vinegar, bleach, coconut oil, antiparasitics, and metformin.  This is directly in opposition to the claims of many in the ancestral-health world.  She IS a fan of fibrous vegetables, so it's not like she is a ZCer who doesn't need bacteria that break down cellulose.  The probiotic she recently tried caused increased bloating for her, and it touts itself on containing huge quantities of an unusually-broad range of "beneficial" microorganisms.

She has some good points.  If "germ-free" mice are lean and healthy, why are we in a rush to populate our colons with a microbiome which our own lean and healthy great-grandparents did not have?  And we should not forget about our small intestines, either -- a diet higher in starchy vegetables, which the carb-apologists love, also feeds SIBO, which is not a fun thing.

I believe that the paleo blogosphere jumped into this microbiome thing before enough data was even available.  The best sources say that we just don't know enough yet to be claiming some of the things we hear as truth, when it comes to intestinal bacteria.  I've said for years, myself, that just because the last hunter-gatherer tribes of Africa have certain gut-bugs we don't, does NOT mean we should rush out and try to procure them -- our lifestyles and food environments are just too different.  And just because our healthy friend has other things we don't, doesn't mean we should ask THEM for a specimen, either.

Very often in the health-sphere, more is not better.  Having "more" can make things tricky -- more variety means more potential complications, and more quantity can take "hormetic" to "toxic" pretty fast.  Other adages i like are "start low and go slow," and "less is more."

I picked up a probiotic four days ago with only a few bifidobacteria varieties in it, and my poop quality is improving nicely.  Gone is the early-morning urgency i was experiencing even before increasing magnesium.  I still have more bloat going on than i like, but ... hey, i eat in restaurants a lot, and you just don't know what goes into a lot of dishes....


There's "poop" of the figurative kind to report, too -- my one-year anniversary of putting a tablespoon of gelatin (or collagen hydrolysate) in my coffee passed without comment last month.  Yes, i'm still using it, and yes, i'm still delighted with what it has done for me.  As promised in "Nourishing Broth" and many other sources, my hair and nails are very strong and fast-growing.  As promised NOWHERE, i swear it's diminishing my grey!  In other busy-and-stressful periods of my life, i used to see fountains of silver hairs sprouting from my crown;  despite this last year's craziness ... i HAVEN'T.  Many causes are proposed for hair-greying, and both carnitine and copper in the diet are included;  for years i've been consuming significant quantities of the former, though, with no apparent progress.  Over the last year I've admittedly increased the latter through my love-affair with oysters.  Do I credit gelatin or oysters, then -- or maybe it's both...?

Skin:  i'm not sure.  I don't really perceive much difference, if any.  Maybe a little less wrinkling?  I abstain from expressing an opinion.

When I started gelatin, I noticed right away that my meat-craving was diminished.  I've come to believe pretty firmly that our ideal diets should include MUCH more glycine than most of us currently get.  For a few years I've had the ambition of simply increasing the frequency of bone-broth-based soups in our menu plans, but I rarely get around to it.  Taking that tablespoon of collagen-hydrolysate in my first cup of coffee every morning is something that's MUCH easier to do!  I don't have to dissolve it in cold water first, as I did with gelatin.  The big green canister from Great Lakes sits beside the coffee-maker with a measuring spoon on top, and the coffee-spoons are right there too.  I sometimes put even more in an evening beverage, or in my evening vitamin drink.  We've been buying the two-pack from Amazon;  maybe buying it by the case, like I do coconut milk, would be better?  Hmmm....  ;-)