Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bigger Picture ... And A Recipe

We had the oh-so-rare opportunity to function as a family of four this week. This almost never happens simply due to our swing-shift parenting / work schedule. Somehow, though, James and I both had Good Friday off, so we headed into Seattle to the aquarium.

The octopus was quite lively and, try as I might, I couldn't get the girls to do goofy I'm-so-scared poses. "Look, he's going to wrap you in his arms, show me a frightened face." And they just couldn't / wouldn't. They were too happy to be at the aquarium, for starters, and to have all four of us in one place, well, what's not to like?

Somehow, this photo reminds me of how I feel when I have an impending mammogram. Just going about my day, pretending it is all normal, while making checklists. Well, if they find a lump, be sure to cancel hair appointment because A. how can afford cute hair with a $3K deductible and B. why bother with cute hair if it'll fall out due to the chemo that I'll need to undergo for the lump that hasn't been found?

Or, deciding I'd better get my tired buns to the boot camp class because it's always better to have toned arms in any situation. Or little bargains, whispered to the universe: if I get a clean mammo, I swear I'll be better at carb counting/not yelling at B&C/doing more volunteer work/stressing less/weeding more.

I've been having mammograms at least 15 years and I can count on one hand the number of times the tech shrugs, smiles and says "nothing to see here, no need for follow up [read: extra painful] images or meeting with a doctor. just go home and we'll see you in a year."

And that happened today. Hallelujah and praise baby Jesus and Ganesh and anyone else who lent a hand. Yep, I feel about this happy.

A long time ago, I used to celebrate with PiMS cookies. I remember, vividly, the first time I saw them in the store, without glasses on, that I thought, "hmm, that's pretty direct marketing, PMS cookies. alrighty then." With a crisp and almost unnoticeable (wheat) cookie on the bottom, a PiMS unified chocolate and orange in a perfect, perfect way.  I've tried over the years to recreate a PiMS, to no avail.

However, I took a raw twist and this is the closest I've gotten.

Blender or food processor
Silicon baking mold …. Or mini cupcake pan lined with cupcake liners

2 cups cashews, soaked
4 tablespoons orange marmalade, sugar free
120g / 4 oz Enjoy Life chocolate chunks
50g / 2 oz coconut oil

1. cover cashews with boiling water and let soak for at least two hours.

2. drain water from cashews and set aside the water for use in blender.

3. put cashews in blender or food processor and process until creamy smooth. Add in the water you set aside, just a tablespoon at a time. Stop blending when you've got a pudding-like consistency.

4. Spoon cashew batter into silicon baking mold or cupcake liner.

5. Put 4 tablespoons of orange marmalade in a cup and add 2 tablespoons of water and blend well.

6. Spoon thinned marmalade on top of each mold / cupcake.

7. Put chocolate chunks and coconut oil in microwave safe dish and push “melt” button on the microwave. What, no melt button?  Then microwave for about 45 seconds on 80% power and give it a stir.

8. Spoon melted chocolate on top of each mold / cupcake.

9. Place in freezer for a few hours, til they are set enough to stand on their own.

10. If you put them in the freezer, always best to give them about 5 – 7 minutes to thaw. Hint: don’t try to speed the process up and put them in the microwave, you’ll just end up with a soupy puddle.

makes 32 servings.

Nutritional Info per serving:

76 calories / 6 fat / 1.5 protein / 5 carbs

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sex Ed -- Now?

At the girls’ 5th-year checkup, the pediatrician gave us a to-do list for the next 12 months: exercise daily, eat leafy greens, fish oil, probiotics, multivitamin. Check! Done it all, thank you. Teach them about sex, and get the book “It’s So Amazing” as a teaching tool. 

Whaaaaa… ? <insert needle scratching album here> They know where babies come from, they know I
grew them in my belly, they know that a doctor helped remove them from my belly, they know that my feet were gi-normous, even after doing hot yoga. (Yes, you can do hot yoga with buns in the oven.)

But s-e-x? The mechanics of it? Now? For reals? 

Last week, Bernadette tried to pee standing up. Thankfully, I caught her just in the nick of time and she was mad. 

“But Andrew pees standing up.” 

Well, Andrew has a penis, you know that. 

“But I want to do what Andrew does!” 

Well, the penis on boys is sort of like a garden hose for tinkle so it makes it easy for them to pee standing up. 

Charlotte jumps in “Remember, we have girl bits!” 

Yes. And the tinkle hose is on the inside, so we sit to tinkle. 

Bernadette complies. But her brow is furrowed. “Mom, is it true that all boys have penises?” 


“Are you sure?” 

Yes. Why, even Charley the poodle has a penis and he’s a boy. 

“Does daddy have a penis?” 


“Are you sure he does?” 

Charlotte leans in to whisper. They giggle. 

Yes, honey, mommy is sure daddy has a penis. 

“But how do you know he does? Sissy and I don’t think daddy has a penis since we’ve never seen it.” 

L’sigh. I just know he does, hon. 

“But how do you know he really has a penis?” 

I usually wait until he falls asleep, then I peek under the covers to make sure it is still there. 

“You shouldn’t do that mommy!” 

Because … 

“Because you told us it isn’t kind to be sneaky like that.” 

The doctor recommended we really cement their s-e-x ed prior to kindergarten, lest other children mis-inform them.  Here they are, with identical twin friends Camilla and Isabella, scootering to drop off school reg paperwork. Nope, I'm in no hurry on that front. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Racial Change

I’m 22 and a fresh faced Texas gal moving to New York City. I’m a planner through and through and couldn’t bear the thought of moving to NYC, living in the Y until I found a great apartment. That sounded like a horrible idea! 

(Especially because I had already spent a week at the Y on a job interview stint. I’m a very heavy sleeper and usually need at least two alarms to roust me. Apparently the Y walls are quite thin as my mornings started off with the gi-normous former linebacker banging on my door, “Yo, bitch, turn off the dang alarms or I’ll knock this door down and do it for you.” ) 

The guy that I nursed a mega-mega crush on in my PR class was moving to NYC and! he had an illegal sublet in Brooklyn and! he was willing to share. Our rent was $360 – total. So $180 per person. Perfect!  I imagined living on a tree-lined street, around the corner from the lovable Huxtable family.

Roommate and I would fall in love and our bitty apartment would be a story for generations.

Imagine my surprise at seeing stripped cars, figures huddled over oil barrel fires, boarded up hovels. Like Prior Husband, I was a big believer in signs – and the fact that my
new address was once the summer home of the Underwood Typewriter family was all I needed to put on rose colored glasses and try to blend in. (Rose colored glasses were of no use when roommate fell in love with a lithe french ballet dancer.)

Naivete only takes you so far when you are the only white chick for miles. And even harder when the natives see me not as a whitey, per se, but a sign of gentrification and higher rents. 

About a month in, I found the local laundromat. They offered drop-off service,  which seemed like a great idea. But then, surrounded by Queen Latifahesque African American women, suddenly a whitey droppin’ off her skivvies seemed just a teeny bit plantation-ish. (I was living in the Underwood mansion, after all.) 

The change-making machine was on the fritz so I very nicely asked the attendant to make change. 

“Sorry, honey, we all outta black quarters and the machine don’t take your white quarters.” 

Huh. Did not know there was such a thing and, I swear on a stack of allergen-free chocolate chip cookies, I did not catch the sarcasm and/or the racial tension. 

“Okay. Where do I get black quarters then?” 

“You go next door to the bank and you tell Shaniqua that I sent you. Be sure to tell her you’ll need black quarters.” 

Well, that’s convenient … a bank next door. Huzzah. 

And, yes, I really did go into a bank in the heart of Bedford Stuyvesent (home to Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing movie) and say “Hello, I need to buy black quarters.” 

And, no, I never went back to the laundromat. In fact, when my parents flew to New York to help me move the hell out of dodge, they were astonished at all the laundry hanging to dry in the bathroom. 

“You know there’s a laundromat right down the street, right?” 

And as a lovely techno-p.s., I did a google maps street view on my humble abode, 361 Washington Ave. Apparently the gentrification was a smashing success. Still has the green trim around the windows and still has the full sized window above the door, which was super handy for the burglars. 

361 Washington Ave. 2nd floor was my first NYC home. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Little Signs of Love

“Of course I can help you pull out the balloon catheter.” 
(inserted by doctor in an attempt to start labor) 

“I knew you’d be hungry [after an 8-hour dress rehearsal] so I made extra bacon.” 

“I’ll take the day off work so you can go to the Korean spa.”

“Here’s that black quarter you’ve been look for, hon.” 

For whatever reason, most young girls dream of finding their prince. I can’t blame this entirely on Disney since I didn’t grow up watching Cinderella on the telly. Over the years, men have confessed that they, too, have hoped for someone magic to appear. Prior Husband, when pressed about why he was reluctant about marriage, said he yearned for a Big Sign that it would have a happy ending – pink puffy clouds, lilting violins, church bells (the last item being particularly odd coming from a Jewish man). 

I remember BFF Frannie asking me one day, mid-divorce, to summarize my relationship hopes in 20 words or less. She thought it’d be helpful for me to have a sound bite for all those dates I was going to go on. The best I could come up with was: I wanted to be a priority in someone’s life, top dog. And, oh!, I yearned for kindness.

It felt vague and floofy at the time …  and yet I can honestly say that James is the most kind person I’ve ever met. And we are each other’s top priority, hand’s down. When I mentioned that finger puppets were often a good way to express feelings, he jumped on board readily. So much so that when we married, our finger puppets had matching outfits and their own photo shoot. 

And what does your spouse / partner do that makes your heart sing? 

The black quarter? Tomorrow...  

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lobster, Foil and Nail Polish All Have This In Common

When I was diagnosed with celiac in 1998 (Feb 18th, 10.30 am to be precise) I remember the doctor being very chipper. "This is a great diagnosis to get. No pills, no follow up, no fatality rate. Just shop differently at the supermarket, voila!, there's your cure."

I don't think depressed is the right emotion -- more of a shell shock. I'd wander the aisles and read labels and then get super mad and sad and then I'd buy foil, find a cute nail polish and pick out lobster tails and go home. Because at least lobster, foil and polish are all gluten free.

I remember, vividly, sixteen years later, calling the pharmaceutical company that made my oh-so-magic anti-convulsant pills to see if they were gluten free. "We've always used potato starch. Especially with the high prevalance of wheat allergy in the epileptic community, the company felt it was the only conscionable way to go. We even built a separate manufacturing facility a while ago."

Huh. When would that have been, mr. chemist? "Oh, golly, back in 1974 or 1975." Alrighty then.

My anger would come out at inappropriate moments. A mother with a rashy child, talking about rashy child's bad bowel problems, buying tater tots that were coated in wheat and my deep desire to help her make a better freezer section selection. Having fantasies of vandalism in the salad dressing aisle. A particularly unpleasant conversation with a pharma rep who informed me that, while, yes she had told me that the antibiotic was technically gluten free that the logo adhesive was gluten. "But it's a pinhead amount, ma'am, it doesn't matter."

So when I got the news that (what are they again, the new allergens?) eggs, soy, yeast and whey needed to go ... and that I'd want to keep carbs under 20g, I wandered the aisles again. Mainly in search of a protein shake and an energy bar that'd travel well in my purse.

Lunch and dinner were do-able. But just as it was with going gluten free, damn!, breakfast was a killer. Especially for those school mornings that feel rushed.

Raw recipes to the rescue!  I have two new favorite breakfast items on the menu.

#1 Coconut Porridge

1 cup coconut milk* 
¼ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened) 
1 teaspoon vanilla 
1 T almond flour 
1 T flaxseed 
pinch of salt 

Heat the milk in a small sauce pan and add in remaining ingredients, cook on medium heat until it reaches desired thickness. Sweeten with sugar-free jam and/or stevia. 

Nurtitional information: 
270 cal  / 9 g carb  / 26 g fat  / 5 g protein

*I usually use So Delicious Coconut milk as it is lower carb and lower calorie than what you'll get in a can. 

For extra fun, add 1/4 - 1/2 cup of a grain free granola, like Lydia's Apricot Sun Cereal  -- 1/4c adds 7g of carbs, a price I'm willing to pay! 

#2 Key Lime Pie

Grain Free Vegan Pie Crust 
(Heather, this one's for you!)

½ cup almonds 
½ cup pistachios
½ cup cashews
¼ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
4 dates, de-pitted 

I use this to make about 10 little cupcake sized pies … so divided by10: 
142 calories / 9.6 g fat / 4 g protein / 10 g net carbs  

If you are wanting to keep it lower carb, then just use 2 dates instead of four and then add a tablespoon of melted coconut oil … then it works out with this nutritional breakdown: 

124 calories / 9.6 g fat / 4 g protein / 5 g net carbs 

Key Lime Pie Filling 

2 medium/large avocados
6 tablespoons honey
3/4 cup lime juice
¼ cup stevia
3 tablespoons melted coconut butter
lime zest, to taste

Put all filling ingredients into food processor or hardy blender, blend til smooth. Pour on top of crust in cupcake liner. Place in freezer. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and let thaw for about 15 minutes.

div by 10 = 112 calories / 7 g fat / -- protein / 11 net carbs

LOW CARB filling

2 medium avocados
1 T honey
7 T stevia
3 T coconut butter
½ cup lime juice
lime zest, to taste

div by 10 = 81 calories / 7 g fat / -- protein / 2.5 net carbs

Nutritional information: 
Low carb crust + low carb key lime filling = 
205 calories / 16 g fat / 4 g protein / 7.5 net carbs

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bernadette’s Horrible, Terrible, No Good Day

It’s books and TV that say there’s a good twin and a bad twin
But after a day like today, there’s some truth to that fiction. 

It was the first day back to school and Charlotte only ate egg whites. 
Bernadette devoured mushrooms and yolks (and a lozenge stolen out of sight).

Their mum wanted just a few minutes after school to check email, 
10 seconds prior to crime
And, okay, a quick peek on Facebook. That’s when things started to derail. 

First, B stole lip gloss, tarting up her lips and the ends of her hair. 
Then she grabbed nail polish and settled into mum’s favorite chair. 

Mum could smell polish and commanded “Put the nail polish down.” 
“But I’m not using any, just looking,” B said with a frown. 

Mum sighed a long sigh, just ten minutes she needed, why is that such a feat?
“But I want pretty nails,” said B, precisely as the polish spilled all over the seat. 

“Darnit, dangit, you bad little girl! You ruined my chair, you stubborn mule!” 
Said Charlotte, quickly, “Look mommy, I didn’t break the rule.” 

No time for tears as an appointment loomed and there was polish to clean up 
B insisted on bringing – and then losing – her new favorite toy, the talking pup. 

A return trip to the doctor’s and the pup was still there, paws crossed. 
Charlotte said “I didn’t bring my pup, I’d be too sad if he got lost.” 

At snack time, Bernadette furtively stuck icky sticky tape to the table 
“Dear Ganesh, help this girl be obedient for five minutes, I know she’s able.” 

What’s that? Out of cookies? Well, then time to fetch the big mixer
“Remember B, eyes only, no fingers…” too later, the blade had bit her. 

The punishment was severe or well-rounded depending who you asked 
For mum felt there needed to be several parts, to cure the sassy lass. 

First there were harsh words and a fear of not getting some food
And second, B’s day was given to her sister, who was always so good. 

And thirdly, the penalty appearing easy to those who have never tried.
“B, your job is to take this t-shaped cushion and put it in the cover, back inside.”  

They both struggled, the good twin and the naughty one, trying with all their might.
“Remember, if you fail this mission, then for you there’s no dessert tonight.” 

10 seconds after the crime
“This is so hard, I guess it’s no dessert for me,” sighed B. 
“If she breaks a rule again, will you give the day to me?” asked C. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Whey With Words

I keep telling myself, pledging a solemn oath that I will write more. And then, like all those people that don't come and take yoga, I've got a zillion things that get in the way.

More specifically: eggs, yeast, soy and whey. In my (ridiculous? heroic?) ongoing why-aren't-I-thinner-already? quest, I finally found a doctor that was as outraged about my weight as me. I had plumped up 22 pounds in about four months at the end of 2012. I re-upped the calorie counting, went to 5 or 6 days a week of exercise and in six months I had lost three pounds. I had bloodwork done, everything is perfect (which, of course, made me weep) and the doctor (young and thin, no less) smiled meekly and said "This is really common for women your age."

I find a New Marvelous Doctor who is a fellow twin mom and she ordered both a blood glucose test, the fun three-hour one. And a food allergy test. She's a firm believer that once you figure out what you're allergic to, then (direct quote) "The weight just falls off."

For starters, I'm severely hypoglycemic. Most normal people have a blood glucose level around 80. They drink the bucket-o-sugar at the glucose test, the blood rises slowly to about 120 and then bellcurves its way back to 80.  My blood glucose was more like a hockey stick. Started at 80, bucket-o-sugar and my glucose slid from 80 to 60 to mid 40s.

Since my body isn't actually using sugar, it looks around for storage and then just dumps it all into the fat cells. Poor me. Poor James, actually. He can attest to what a barrel of laughs I am around 9.45 when he has to (regrettably) inform me that the chef is running late.

New Marvelous Doctor recommends I cut carbs to around 80g/day. I had been hovering around 120g, so that's sort of shock, mainly a long slow sad farewell to my BFFs, fruit.

But wait, there's more less! A week later, the food allergy test comes back with the news that in addition to wheat, barley, oats and rye, I'm also allergic to eggs, yeast, soy and whey.

Which is exactly how I woulda described my eating pattern if she had asked nicely. Eggs and yeasty GF bread (thank you, Udi's!)  for breakfast if we wake up on time, Designer Whey protein shake for us three gals if we are running late. Miso Soup for lunch. Or those great fake soy noodles with zero carbs.

Now, New Marvelous Doctor strongly suggested I see a nutritionist and I said, pfffft, I use Calorie King and MyFitnessPal and a gram scale to get portions right, I don't need no nutritionist person. But the news of (what are they again?) eggs, yeast, soy and whey going away ... I got the first appointment available.

Admittedly, I had pretty high hopes pinned on this lady. I needed someone to hand me a little booklet with a menu plan and, oh!, a primer on cooking without eggs. I'd also need some tea and sympathy.

Instead, nutritionist wanted to remove an additional 75+ foods to "really detox" me. I just kept having a vision of either A. a ridiculous pointy funnel with pizza and beer and PIMS cookies at the top and tiny dribbles of beans and turkey legs and bibb lettuce at the bottom and B. John Travolta in the Boy in the Plastic Bubble and how very much all I've ever wanted to be was to be normal and this food intolerance pathway ain't normal. Is the Bubble Boy still alive? (answer: no.) C. Prior Husband.

Prior Husband was type 2 diabetic and really struggled with, ahem,  appropriate food choices. Even after I rolled up my sleeves and counted his carbs for him and made him cute heart shaped tuna sandwiches for lunch, I learned that he was actually trading his lunch at work for pieces of chocolate cake. And, trying to not sound sanctimonious, I'd give him this pep talk: "food is just fuel, hon, it doesn't matter what's on the plate, really." I'm thankful right now that he's not still my spouse as I'm sure he'd replay that pep talk. A zillion times.

Anyway, when the Evil Nutritionist gave me my new new  list of the top 6,875 foods to avoid and I saw avocados, bacon, tea, stevia, watermelon, arugula, kale, coconut oil, all nut butters... and <drum roll>  chocolate, I had a little emotional mushroom cloud. And then a few days later, I met friends for drinks. And I ordered a hard apple cider to go with my bacon cheese burger.