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Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

How To Survive Your Sugary Corporate Event

In Unprocessed Sugar on September 24, 2010 at 1:21 am

Hello, I’m a corporate drone.

If there’s one thing that all people in large corporations like, it’s eating food. We use it to celebrate everything and anything. We use it as a conversation point, we use it to brag, we use it as an excuse for being late… you get my drift.

Sooner or later, there is always a potluck. And with this potluck, comes the most delicious looking brownies you’ve ever seen. The temptation to eat these will be strong, but the following 4 tips will make you stronger.

1. Remember that you’re better than these people. In all ways. This doesn’t sound important, but it is. We’ve already established that corporate sellouts like desserts. Well, the only thing they like more than desserts is assimilation and that means they’ll undoubtedly scrutinize you for not eating processed sugar. Going into this knowing you’re a superior human being, will allow you to care less and prevent you from falling prey to their hive-mind peer pressure.

2. Carry a napkin. I learned the following technique from children in bad family movies. See, it’s impossible to turn down your co-worker’s jello and fruit concoction without hurting their feelings. Now you don’t have to! Simply turn away and regurgitate the food into a napkin. Then place the napkin in the nearest garbage can, pocket or purse. Problem solved.

3. Label your contribution as “vegan.” This works best if your food actually is vegan. Best case scenario, you’ll instantly find a clique of other people on extreme, restricted diets and will become e-mail pals. Worst case, you eat two dozen ginger cookies by yourself. It’s really a win-win.

4. Pretend you like couscous. Consider this a mind-over-matter thing, where you are really stoked about everything you can possibly eat. If your coworker brings a spinach salad, that’s your new favourite food. Generic vegetable platter? Yum. And honestly, there is no better meal than crackers and cheese.

With these four tips, you can easily forget about food at your next corporate event and focus on things that really matter, like discussing the new coversheets for the TPS reports.

(Disclaimer: If any of our readers happen to be co-workers of mine, I swear I didn’t follow any of these guidelines at Tuesday’s potluck. And the ginger cookies really were vegan. Seriously.)

But, it makes the medicine go down…doesn’t it?

In Unprocessed Sugar on September 12, 2010 at 7:42 am

Just between you and me, I thought the easiest part about this month was going to be staying away from refined sugar.  I thought I’d be mostly concerned with avoiding sandwiches with fluffy, pure white, delicious gluten-ey bread or accidentally ordering a beer with dinner.

I have a scandalous secret, an ace up my sleeve that I figured would give me the upper hand among my friends.

I’ve never really had a sweet tooth to speak of.

I know. I know!  I mean, I like gummy bears, for sure… and every now and then I indulge in a torrid love affair with a piece of dark chocolate… but those are rare moments, blips on the radar.

The past week has been just fiiiiiiiiine.  There have been those surprise moments when I find out, for instance, that there’s sugar in the chicken sausage I bought from Trader Joe’s, or in my favorite brand of dried fruit…but for the most part my willpower has been downright impermeable.  There’s a whole roll of untouched cookie dough in my fridge and I have a bowl of chocolate sitting on my desk at work for people who stop by to say hi.  It doesn’t even phase me.

Then, something happened yesterday that I couldn’t explain.

I spent ten solid minutes staring at a piece of dark chocolate trying to think of a *good* reason not to eat it.

I have one haunting image of my orthodontist shining a bright light over my face, twisting my braces on tight warning me that if gum or candy got stuck next to the metal, I could ruin my teeth FOREVER.

Forever is a huge meaningless word to a fifth grader, but nothing, not even forever-ruined teeth, could be as scary as Dr. Levine CEMENTING METAL TO MY TEETH.  How is that NOT more damaging long term (emotionally, if not physically!) than something sweet and tasty and comforting like sugar?

Scary words like “obesity” and “diabetes” were fading out somewhere in the back of my head and they seemed kind of meaningless.  My rock-hard will was crumbling fast.  If I have that one piece of chocolate, is it really going to hurt me all that much?

Why do all the warnings about sugar have to be so dire?  Why is it Dr. Levine’s scowling face that’s in my head warning me to be good OR ELSE, and not a healthy happy picture of someone showing me how good you can feel when you eat well?

My best guess?  Probably because people who want me to eat sugar, own sugar plantations and are willing to put money in to ads like this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

Somehow, I dug up some more willpower and avoided that piece of chocolate.  Not because it’s going to kill me, but out of principle.  I made a deal with myself for this month, and I’m going to try and stick to it.

I also realized, I need to do some more research into why exactly sugar IS bad for you.  I have a lot of unanswered questions like:

What *is* the process that makes processed sugar?

Why exactly is sugar bad for me (other than being bad for my teeth and obesity mumble mumble)?

Is it possible in America to cut out processed sugar completely?

Where should I draw the line for myself personally?  Should I let myself have pure cane sugar? Raw sugar?  Or is there something innately wrong with sugar cane all together?

So.  I guess it’s time for some research.

Brass Tacks…

In Gluten-free, Unprocessed Sugar on September 6, 2010 at 9:44 pm

…And How To Git On Down To ‘Em

“Brass Tacks,” in addition to being an awesome name for a Big Mature Grown-Up drink, are what I need to address before I go any further in my participation with this blog. Namely: As a gluten-and-processed-sugar-tolerant gal:

1) Why am I here?

2) What would I actually be missing out on if I started cutting sugar and wheat-y stuff from my diet?

3) What kind of product substitutes are waiting in the wings if, in a moment of weakness, I should ever decide to give gluten and unprocessed sugar the boot?

1) “You may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?”

LJR: Hey! I am smart and cool and take fun pictures and write a neat blog and had an awesome idea and you can participate in it!

Me: Hey! I am a righty who sleeps with a stuffed walrus and think an awesome idea in which I can participate sounds great!

LJR: Wanna go gluten-free for the month of September?!

Me: No.

LJR: Seriously, though.

Me: No.

LJR: Wanna go sugar-free for the month of September?

Me: WHAT?! God no! No way in Tartarus! No no no.

LJR: *let’s me in on the blog anyway* *invents cool blog name*

Me: *eats cheeseburger and milkshake* *feels ill* *refuses to admit lowering sugar and gluten intake levels might help in any way whatsoever*

If I had an ironic hipster mustache I’d’ve twirled it completely off by now.

2) “You may say to yourself, My God, what have I done?”

I could, however, agree to join the blog and focus on freaking out about the sugar and gluten content of various foods and beverages, even while continuing to eat them like the big ol’ sugar-eating, non-gluten-intolerant weenie that I am.

It’s just this thing I do.

After doing some hasty pre-freak-out research it turned out if I went gluten-free I’d get to spaz about no longer being able to eat most cereals, breads, pastas, and pretty much every other damned thing. Pretty much every other damned thing except stuff that’s low in wheatiness and often, incidentally, high in sugar.

Freak Out City. Population: Me.

3) “You may ask yourself, Where does that highway lead to?”

So in the totally unlikely event I opt to have a go at this month long trial of sugar/gluten-free living thing… then what? What am I left with? Carrot marinated tofu? Time to get down to business.

First Google stop: “Gluten Free Cocktails.” I figure if you can drink away the pain of giving up Toppers’ Cool C-B-R Grinders and Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes for a month you’re  already a step ahead.

Top Result: The Gluten Free Kitchen’s Gluten Free Alcohol page. We owe you a debt of gratitude, GFK. For realsies.

Apparently, should one find oneself in a gluten-free zone, one can drown one’s sorrows in a pint or two of ale from the winners (and losers) of the Gluten Free Beer Festival (the link is dead but the concept rocks on). Among them: Bard’s Tale Beer, and Passover Honey Beer from the Ramapo Valley Brewery.

Then there are ALL the wines from the LaRocca Vineyard. Yep. Sulfite free too. (James: You’re welcome for the awesome birthday gift suggestion for your sister.) And of course, there’s good ol’ Woodchuck Cider. Mm-num-num.

The booze page at GFK even lists vodkas, rums, tequilas, mixers, etc. that are gluten free, for all y’all liquor-preferring folks. For instance: Me.

And I know, I know: There’s a lot of sugar in those bevs. For real: I know. But let’s tackle one vice’s worth of research at a time here, folks. I can only handle so much “what’s bad about good food” Googling per day. It’s like the Exodus International of Eating, and I stand by the fact that I was born to eat this way.

But next time? Next time I promise to boil the gluten-free-goodies down one more level into the eats ‘n’ treats that also make the sugar-free cut.

It’s not a hard and fast promise, but it’s out there.

Gluten-Free Lobster (Almost)

In Uncategorized on September 5, 2010 at 7:32 pm

So Amber and I (John Fox) had some killer Lobster last night at Newport Seafood. It was one of the best things that has ever entered my mouth.

So technically, it was gluten free because they didn’t bread it, but unfortunately, they cooked it in the same oil as they fry all the bread in, so it might as well have been glutenified. Amber got major bad belly. 😦

Score:

Gluten Free Diet: Zero

Lobster: One

Gluten for Punishment

In Gluten-free, Unprocessed Sugar on September 4, 2010 at 7:29 am

Today was day three of the September challenge to cut processed sugar and gluten out of my diet… and the first day I’ve been almost entirely successful.

It’s hard to go cold turkey on this project simply because sugar is in SO MANY things that you just don’t THINK of.  For instance, I was eating dried cranberries all day on the first day when I finally looked at the ingredients.  To my chagrin, the ingredients list had more than just “cranberries” on it.  Ingredient numero dos?  Azúcar.  Grr.

Yesterday, I straight up cheated with no apologies at my friend’s birthday party.  There was cheesecake.  Delicious caramel and Skor bar covered, ginger snap crusted cheesecake.  It was so worth it.

Today, I was determined to stick to the challenge.  This was extra tricky since I spent the day in airports and eating out on my trip to the other coast to visit my sister for Labor Day weekend.

Usually when I travel, I try to find healthy things to eat just so I don’t feel greasy and gross sitting on a plane sitting between two strangers.  It’s hard enough to find a decent turkey sandwich or an unwilted salad.  But today, my work was cut out for me.  In an airport lined with Starbucks and McDonald’s, how do you even START looking for natural sugar and gluten free products?

I’ll admit, I DID start at Starbucks, and here’s what I found:

I picked up this little snack box with cheddar cheese, carrots and grapes (I threw out the ranch dressing) and ordered Earl Grey Tea with steamed milk.  Topped that off with a generous dose of honey.  THEN, I headed over to a news stand and picked up some raw almonds (which have become a standby already these past few days). And it was all SO good.  See?  Airport food CAN be healthy!

Dinner was even more challenging, and I think I didn’t *quite* hit the mark.  My flight had a hitch in it’s giddy-up and blew a generator mid-air forcing us to turn around a bit and land in Denver.  I was crucially bummed, but decided to make the best of the situation.  I called some friends of mine who happen to live near(ish) Denver and we headed out to dinner.  We stopped at a BBQ joint near the hotel and dined on BBQ chicken, brisket and pork ribs.  I was all but diving my face in a vat of BBQ sauce before I realized there’s almost definitely sugar laced up in there. Eep.

*sigh*

I sure did give it a good try.

Thankfully, this little guy is all natural sweetness

So we skipped dessert 🙂

I think that, after the cranberries and BBQ incidents, it’s time I started doing some more research into exactly HOW many of the foods I like have sugar in them.

When gluten tastes too good…

In Gluten-free on September 4, 2010 at 5:56 am

When gluten tastes too good, you think, “Why not? Just a little…”

You munch and enjoy and then, (if you’re allergic to this protein-binding substance) the dire nature of your carefree choice kicks in. You’re royally screwed.

So binge! Why not? It’s lovely and self-indulgent and oh-so satisfying.

Until tomorrow.

And Sunday.

And Monday.

Ah, it was a beautiful few hours, just me and gluten. If only the punishment fit the crime.

So you beautiful gluten-sacrificers, commit! It’s icky and hard and sometimes that beautiful beer seems like too much to resist. But do it if you don’t want to have a fuzzy brain, cramping stomach, aching back, and indomitable bowels for several days. Here are some substitutes for you:

Instead of beer, drink a dry English cider. Aspari is a favorite of mine and it leaves a nice long finish not unlike a good IPA.

Instead of a sandwich, make it a little salad. Pull the bread off and mix it up on your plate. And if you’re still hungry, eat some rice crackers or beans.

Instead of flour corn tortillas, opt for corn. But be careful, some corn tortillas are bolstered with wheat flour for fluffiness. Check the ingredients or make your own! They’re fun. Maybe a lesson is to come…

Instead of cookies, opt for ice cream or just plain dark chocolate. A little goes a long way.

Those are just a few tips for now. Good luck and enjoy the still beautiful world of gluten-freeness that swirls around you!

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