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Friday, March 30, 2012

Feed Me

Wednesday night I was subjected to one my worse dining experiences yet. Well, there was the time about 15 years ago at a Bennigan's when I saw a cockroach scurry past my table. My waitress killed it within a few feet of my plate of food. But back to Wed nite.

All week long I had been looking forward to my meal at Employee's Only. I had recently finished production on three commercials for Frontline Plus. The production company was taking out the entire ad agency team to celebrate a successful production.

Over the past years, I've consumed many ah-mazing cocktails at Employee's Only. I had never eaten one single bite. Who needs food when you have alcohol? After viewing the menu online, I saw some salads and veggie sides. Just to be safe I called the restaurant and asked if I could get a veggie plate for my main.

The response: "No."

Really? Isn't the guest always right? I was just doing the kind thing and giving them the heads up. They already serve veggies. How hard is it to place them all on one plate? I came to discover that this was the impossible mission.

Cut to Wednesday night. Trays of cheeses, patés, and charcuterie were being passed around as I patiently waited for my arugula salad. The waitress appeared midway through the appetizer course to take everyone's main course requests. I re-gave my order for an arugula salad and then the veggie plate as my main. Thirty minutes later plates of sirloin, salmon and pasta were placed in front of each guest.

However, not a single morsel for me. I asked the bus boy if he knew the whereabouts of my salad. Five minutes later it appeared. I dove in to the arugula, fennel and preserved lemon mix. Tasty and just what I needed. Having watched eight others enjoy rounds of apps and main dishes, I was famished and annoyed.

I kept expecting each time the waitress approached for her to place my veggie plate before me. Minutes ticked by. No plate or dish was presented to me. The bus boy appeared again. I asked about my veggie plate. Two minutes later I was brought a small dish of swiss chard. It was either steamed or sautéd. I was hungry and even more annoyed.

Finally, the waitress looked my way. I asked her why it took so long for me to get my appetizer salad and what happened to my veggie plate. She said she thought I wanted them together. Huh? I'm not sure what gave her this impression since I precisely asked for the salad first and the non existent veggie plate second. Needless to say she didn't care. The rest of the party didn't care that they were being happily fed while I wasted away in a state of starvation.

The good part of the meal was that it was free because it wasn't worth paying for.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What A Nut

It's so much easier to spot the villain in an empty room. Over the past week my sinuses have really cleared up. No more mucus draining 24/7, which means some of the inflammation has calmed down. My sinus cavities are like vacancies where fresh air is free to move in. All this clear breathing and good feeling makes it so much easier to tell when a specific food isn't agreeing with me. Before it was like EVERYTHING I ate caused a major upheaval throughout my body but especially my sinuses.

Yesterday morning I played with fire. I reached into the fridge for the jar of almond butter. I spooned a nice wallop into my smoothie. Hit the high button on the Vitamix. Then I sipped. I sipped a bit more and then– choke, cough, choke! Not a typical reaction to a smoothie. Something was bothering me. Since I had consumed the other ingredients without as much drama, I figured it was the almond butter.

Almond is one of my sensitivities. I was hoping I could now handle it. But that's not the case. No wonder I used to be so sick. I love almond. Almond cookies and chocolate covered marzipan used to my two of my favorite treats.

I spent the rest of the day with thick mucus handing out on the back of my throat. Annoying. Hoping to feel better in time for my production wrap dinner at Employee's Only tonight.

Next week I visited Dr. Firshein with the results of my ALCAT test. I'm wondering if he can make desensitizing drops for almond. Fingers crossed that almond and I can mend our broken relationship.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Split Pea Coma

I've been fighting sleep for several days. The weekend was really hard. I ended up giving in by taking a 30 minute nap Saturday and Sunday. I asked myself, "What's wrong with me?!" As I was waking from yesterday's nap I had a flashback to when I used to get the split pea soup from Hale and Hearty for lunch. This was at least five years ago. Whenever I ate the soup, I'd find myself fighting to keep my eyes open as I stared at my computer screen. 

All last week and through the weekend, I had been eating this split pea soup. It is delish. Afternoons can be hard enough to stay alert through. But last week was unusually tough. I'm not sure if I suffer from a food sensitivity to the peas or if they're just sleep-inducing. I found this post on natural sleep aids. Split peas make the list. 

As much as I loved the soup, I think I have to say no to it for awhile. This week it's spicy carrot soup. I hope the orange stuff keeps me amped-up all week long. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Measuring Allergens & Tiny Buddha

This morning during my visit with Dr. Firshein I asked him about the ELISA allergy test. I had read about how this screening tests hundreds of foods on PURE2RAW. He said it's different from the skin scratch and IgE blood panel tests. First of all he explained exactly what each of these two tests does.

The skin scratch test actually reflects exactly what your body is allergic to at that moment in time. While the IgE test reflects the body's potential to have an allergy to a certain food or substance. If the potential is there, then it's only a matter of time until the allergy manifests itself.

The ELISA test also known as ALCAT measures the potential for your body to have a delayed reaction days or weeks after ingesting or coming into contact with an allergen. The great thing about the test is that it measures hundreds of foods at once. The not so great thing is the price and the fact that some health insurance companies do not cover the test. I'm hoping mine doesn't fall into that group.

These days I am doing dramatically better. I'm reacting less and less to the foods I eat. I've overhauled my diet. I've kicked most of the junk, all animal-based foods and coffee to the furthest reaches of the universe. However, I'm still having some congestion, wheezing and mucus. Obviously, something is continuing to stir up trouble. Since I want answers, I opted for the $595 ALCAT which tests 200 foods.

According to their website, the ALCAT test measures food intolerences. Symptoms of food intolerences can include migraines, chronic fatigue, IBS, Attention Deficit Disorder, Eczema, asthma, arthritis and fibromyalgia. I have asthma, a tiny bit of arthritis in my hands and left knee, a pinch of Exzema and in the past some delightful IBS. Geez...I'm a disaster. Definitely not dating material. Thank God I'm married.

Just how much of a disaster I am will be determined in two weeks when I get the results from my ALCAT.

While at the doctor's, I also had acupuncture applied to my sinuses, adrenals and knee. Once again my left knee is feeling a bit off. I think this past weekend's yoga class didn't help. The usual teacher was away. The substitute had the class do a move, that if one did it wrong, could aggravate knee issues. Thanks for that bit of helpfulness. Did I mention this was a Basics class? Is it really necessary to put basics students through advanced moves that could hurt them? I can't wait for the regular teacher to return.

During my chat with the doctor his office got very warm. He opened up the window. As he raised the blinds I caught sight of a tiny head that was holding the window open about two inches. He raised the window up, relieving the tiny head of its job. I commented that I liked the tiny head. The doctor laughed. Then he explained that it's supposed to keep all evil spirits away; not that he was superstitious or anything. The two inch security system looked kind of like this:

While I do enjoy watching Ghost Hunters, I'm not particularly fond of evil spirits. So, I'm thinking of adding a two-inch head to my wellness arsenal. Anyone else considering this?

Monday, March 19, 2012


Friday I received the results of my blood test. I had retaken the test since my results from Feb were scary awful. Also, I hadn't fasted before the Feb test. I had been at the doctor following up on allergy related stuff when he suggested I get a full blood panel. The nurse hadn't thought the fruit smoothie I drank before the test would affect things. Boy was she wrong.

For the past ten years my cholesterol has hovered in the 170 to 188 range. I've never had an awful reading. Since I've given up all animal-based foods I expected my cholesterol numbers to be sparkling. The results:

Total Cholesterol: 153
HDL Cholesterol:   82
LDL Cholesterol:    64
Triglycerides:          34

Wowsers! I've never seen such great numbahs in my life. If anyone is considering giving up meat, fowl, fish, and cheese for health reason or dramatically cutting back, I strongly encourage it.

Also, my sodium was in a normal range at 140. Back in Feb it was 153. My doctor asked if I had exercised before my test back in February. I had visited the gym that morning. She said exercise can cause an elevated sodium reading.

Another interesting number I found on my results is ph. Mine is 7.5, which means I'm alkaline. Many books I've read on wellness have stressed how a plant-based diet makes one more alkaline. And when you're more alkaline, you're less likely to get sick. Other than my allergy flare-ups, I haven't been hit with any week-long colds this year.

There has definitely been a learning curve with figuring out what to eat as a vegan. At this point, I feel like I've really hit my stride. I can easily figure out what dishes to make to have for multiple lunches and dinners. I know what items I need to keep stocked in the kitchen. And which chocolates are vegan.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Move Over Clearasil. Aloe Vera to the Rescue

Two weeks ago my partner at work got hit in the nose with a hockey stick. Big time ouch. I asked if he went home before going to the ER. I had a feeling about him. He said he went home, ate a sandwich (not sure what kind) and then went to the ER. He had a few stitches for about week and then a yucky scab.

I noticed that his nose seemed to be healing rather nicely. Was it the sandwich?

He attributed his beautiful recovery to the Aloe Vera plant. I immediately begged him to bring me a slice of his plant. When he forgot to do so the next day I began texting him 24/7 reminders.

For a little over a week I've been slicing off small filets of my aloe stem. Next I rub the clear inner meat over my Bermuda triangle of zits. I haven't really seen much change yet. Patiently waiting...

I have read about women having scars from breast surgery. Their scars healed beautifully by applying aloe vera topically to the scar over a series of weeks.

Fingers crossed my face transforms from flawed to flawless ASAP.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bermuda Zit Triangle

It began with one hidden under my chin. Then a second sprouted within plain view. Now a third is growing just under my lower lip. The Bermuda Zit Triangle. The first two have run their acne course, leaving behind huge red round areas on my otherwise light skin.

Now my most disliked thing to do is to look in the mirror. Every time I go to the bathroom (which is often since my body doesn't absorb water.) I'm faced with the mirror. There I stare at the trio of red splotches.

I called the cosmetic derm who I've seen off and on for many years. Her next opening is May 4th. A girl can't wait. I called another doctor. The charge for the laser procedure to eliminate redness is $800. Choke.

I usually pay $250. Nothing to sneeze at. But $800 will cause me to sprout another zit. Also, it usually takes two visits to scare away the redness.

Should I buy some scratch offs? Or wait for a UFO to whisk me away from my world of acne?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Numbers Game Continued

Friday morning I visited Dr. Rein for a physical and blood panel recheck. She reviewed my blood results from my test taken in early February. She said my cholesterol break down was good. She wasn't worried about my overall cholesterol level number. However my sodium level did cause her to take notice.

My sodium level has been high for a good year now. I'm not the kind of person who adds salt to meals. When I cook I usually add no salt or very little. I explained that I'm always very thirsty, and that I drink water constantly throughout the day. I also told Dr. Rein that only drink water, green tea and fresh juices. I broke up with coffee and most alcohol last year. The doctor wondered a loud if my body is having trouble absorbing the water I'm drinking. She said this could be caused by a hormonal imbalance and a blood panel will give her more insight.

Also, my blood pressure was a bit elevated. She had me take a few deep breaths. Then she measured again. The number had dropped slightly but was still a bit high. She said this could have something to do with the high sodium level.

Needless to say I left the doctor's office famished. When I woke up that morning I had felt wiped out. Going without food first thing didn't help. So, I took my first official sick day since I began my new job last June. I emailed my partner, boss and the producer I'm working with. Not one wrote back with an obligatory, "Feel better." So much for niceties.

I spent part of the day in bed reading a book. The other part traveling to SOHO to get my hair cut and highlighted. I only get my hair done four times a year. But each quarter, I dread it. It's such a time suck. The cut, color and commute take about 4 hours. There are so many other things I could do with four hours than sit in a chair in a basement salon. I'm a slave to this beauty ritual.

Saturday was my bday. I took an Iyengar yoga class in the morning. Then came home to fresh artwork by my son and husband, balloons and UliMana Dark Chocolate Truffles. Woo-hoo! My son tried to eat one. Guess he couldn't handle the chocolate intensity. He ran to the trash and spit most of the candy out. What a waste!

We all went out for a birthday lunch at Le Pain Quotidien where I had the gluten-free vegan quiche. I had tasted this dish a few weeks ago and couldn't wait to return for my own plate. I could have easily eaten three slices of the eggless quiche. I want the recipe.

We continued our eating tour by visiting Chelsea Market next. I was really eager to get a juice from the Lucky Duck Takeaway. When we reached the market I had to go to the bathroom. The line was easily 30 people long. No joke. A fresh juice was out of the question. Instead, I bought my son a 2-pack of Lucky Duck's raw oreos. For myself, the Chocolate Crispies.

My son hated his $6 oreos. I ended up buying him a 49 cent lemon lollipop that made him very happy. Metal note: my son has cheap tastes.

I ate about half my bag of Crispies then spent the rest of the day very congested. Too bad. The Crispies were really tasty. Buckwheat is one of the ingredients in the Crispies as well as the quiche I had earlier in the day. It's also one of my food sensitivities. So, possibly I should avoid this ingredient. What to do with the other half of the bag of Crispies?

At one point in the afternoon, I pulled out my phone where I found many missed calls and voicemails. As I tried to retrieve messages, my phone's screen faded to black. I tried to revive the device but no luck. I walked into a T Mobile store where I was informed that the company no longer makes batteries for my model of Blackberry. WTF?! Happy birthday to me.

From there I returned home defeated to an evening of laundry. I felt really poopy and crabby. Not the festive mood imagined when it's your birthday. My sweet husband ran out to a generic cell phone store and got me a brand new battery. I spent the evening googling high sodium levels. All night I wondered if I have Diabetes Isipidus.

Sunday morning my phone was recharged. And after a Basics Yoga class so was I. So this is what turning a year older feels like.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Acupuncture To The Rescue

I had my third acupuncture treatment two weeks ago. For me, acupuncture isn't an immediate BANG of relief. It seems to take a couple of days for the treatment to slowly kick in. I usually forget that I even had needles placed on various points all over my body. But about five days after, I find myself full of energy. I feel like I've downed several espressos. 

Another plus is that many health insurance companies cover acupuncture treatments. Give yours a ring to find out. 

I have no idea how acupuncture works. It's been around 1000s of years so there must be something good going on with these needles. 

I found this one explanation online to help explain this ancient healing technique:

The Eastern Explanation for how Acupunctures works is that the life energy flowing through the body which is termed Qi (pronounced chee) can be influenced and balanced by stimulating specific points on the body. These points are located along channels of energy known as meridians that connect all of our major organs. According to Chinese medical theory, illness arises when the cyclical flow of Qi in the meridians becomes unbalanced or is blocked. 

Keeping one's energy flowing correctly seems to make sense. Think about when there's a bottleneck near a tunnel. What happens?  Pretty much nothing as all movement comes to a screeching halt. The same thing is happening in your body.

All kinds of things can cause energy blockages. For me, rain seems to be one.

Last week's rainy days brought on lots of mucus flowing down the back of my throat. Then the sun came out Sunday. The mucus dried up. Since then I've been feeling pretty good. Seems that there's a connection between my mold sensitivity and rainy days. Rain simply helps mold grow. 

I'm already thinking about getting a fourth acupuncture treatment later in the month. I want to keep the good times rolling along. 

Have you ever tried acupuncture? Would you consider giving it a try?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Veg Fest 2012

This morning I arrived at the Vegetarian Food Fest shortly after 10am, when doors opened. I was greeted by an incredibly long line. Not to worry I figured since I'd purchased a VIP pass through Living Social. I walked to the entrance where I was informed that the VIP line was indeed the one I had just bypassed. Begrudgingly I shuffled to the back of the line. More like VUP. Very Unimportant Person. Regular admission was $5 and I paid $15. What was I supposed to expect for an extra 10 bucks?

A little before 11am I finally made it into Veg Fest Land. The first booth was Whole Foods where I picked up a small reusable bag and two pouches of Pop Chips. Perfect snack for my four-year-old who I've cut back on his gluten intake.

I missed the first speaker but I was able to catch Gena Hamshaw from Choosing Raw. She spoke about the gastro issues that subsequently lead her to a vegan diet. While her blog features the word raw she's not your typical raw foodie. She abdicates a mix of cooked and raw. She also sees juice not as a meal replacement but more like a nutrient packed snack. Let's face it it's easier to drink half a pound of spinach than eat one. Having followed her blog for over half a year, I really enjoyed hearing her talk. She offered lots of great advice to the crowd who were full of questions.

After Gena, I made my way around all the vendors. I collected some samples of Lentil and Hummus chips. My son approved. I tasted the most delish Coconut Bliss flavor, Ginger Cookie caramel. The jury is  still out on how coconut affects me, so a sample was the perfect size. But I'd love an entire carton.

I was a breath away from buying a box of truffles from Chocholistic. These raw goodies are packed with tons of super foods like chlorella, maca, lucuma, chia seeds and more funky healthy stuff. I had asked my husband to get me some Ulimana truffles for my bday next weekend. So I managed to walk away without purchasing the chocolates. Hope he comes through.

The most unreal but beautiful food I saw was Caviart. It's highly colorful caviar that's made from seaweed. The stuff real caviar would feed on if it turned into fish. The pic below looks like fish eggs but it's not!

I tasted like little balls of sea water. Probably nice rolled into sushi or sprinkled into another dish. Maybe even good on a bland cracker. Too strong straight up. But pretty.

I sampled a plain and a strawberry marshmallow at Sweet & Sara. I bought my husband and son each a S'mores bar. I've had Dandies marshmallows before which are tasty but contain a lot of soy which is a questionable allergen for me. While Sweet & Sara marshmallows are super sugary they're a good alternative to Dandies. Once I placed my order it seemed like everyone else around me couldn't pull out their wallets fast enough.

There was one vendor with vegan jerky. The two men saddle up looked like they had just downed several rounds of ribs. This was definitely their table. The vegan jerky tasted meaty and had a chewy, meaty texture.

I collected lots of great coupons while walking from table to table. Geez. Now I really sound like a lame mom.

Even though the line to get was off putting, once inside the fest I felt like a happy vegan. I heard one guy say, "I could never be vegan." Couldn't he have said something not so cliche such as, "I could never be a French speaking minotaur."?

Friday, March 2, 2012

10,000 Steps

Yesterday I snagged a free pedometer at work. It was part of a giveaway during social media week. The goal is to take 10,000 steps a day. This is the number that ensures you're adequately active and leading a healthy physical lifestyle.

Shoot, 10,000 sounds like a lot. I wasn't sure if my walking would meet the daily requirement.

This morning after getting dressed for the gym, I clipped the pedometer to my waistband then headed out into the chilly morning. By the time I got back home after working out, the device was already registering over 5000 steps.


Later in the morning, when I arrived at work I had hit just over 9,000. Since I started my job last summer I got in the habit of getting off the subway a stop early. Also, when I leave my apartment in the morning, I have two subway stations nearby. I almost always walk to the one that's further away.

The pedometer is a great device to remind you to keep moving and it also proves how easy it is to get your numbers up. Sure we all have our lazy days. Even if you can't find a freebie, I highly encourage purchasing one.

The device displays the following url: I visited the site and discovered plans to develop a Low Line in NYC. How sweet would a permanent underground oasis park be? Sounds like a good place to take my pedometer for a spin.