Oh how I love Annie Leonard and her educational video series The Story of Stuff. I just now caught this installment she did about the story behind bottled water. If you’re concerned about the future of our planet, your own health, your bank account, or your future grandkids, you may want to watch this video. It’s not long and it’s very easy to digest, so you have no excuses (especially if you’re reading this blog right now instead of working).
There! You’ve now been educated. So what are you gonna do?
My guess is that most of us who see this will still continue to buy bottled water out of convenience. I’m certainly aware of the horrible consequences of this behavior, yet I have one sitting on my desk at work as we speak. Yes, I’m guilty too, not at all preaching. But I’m eager to make a change, and I hope you will too. After all, the choices we make today will affect what kind of world our grandkids live in. So let’s suck it up and make some positive changes for their sake.
Well, I am afraid I haven’t been as “update-y” as I intended to be re: my gluten-free journey. I’m now 11 days into my 14 day anti-gluten trial and I have to say, the results so far are quite wonderful.
Changes I’ve noticed:
1. More energy. Overall, I’ve had a lot more energy than I am used to. This means I’ve been more productive and less ready to take a nap the second I get home from work in the evenings.
2. Better mood. I’m still a girl, which means the occasional mood swing is still in effect, but in general I have felt much more happy and personable. I’m pretty friendly as it is, but all-around I feel more pleasant.
3. Clear-headed. In a way, it kind of feels like the fog in my brain cleared out. This could be due to the increased amount of fruit and vegetables I’ve been eating, but it’s worth noting regardless.
4. Less sugar cravings. I’m still in love with chocolate covered caramels (which thank GOD are gluten-free), but I have been wanting much less sugar than before. I’ve also noticed that I am less prone to snacking on junk in between meals.
5. Different sleeping patterns. This is a weird one. I’ve noticed myself staying up later and waking up earlier with more ease. Monday morning, I was up bright and early at 6:30am, UNHEARD of for me. These past two days, however, it’s been difficult to wake up, but I think it’s because I’m fighting off a swollen gland and my body tends to ask for more sleep when that happens. I’ve read about some people having more restful sleep and less vivid dreams when giving up gluten, but my dreams are just as crazy as ever. I’ve always been an intense dreamer.
6. Much less tummy aches! Oh my gosh, totally a big one for me. Digesting food is soo much easier than it was two weeks ago. I no longer feel like I have a rock in my stomach after eating a meal (that was for Julian. “Meal. MEAL.” I hate that word.) and I don’t feel so bloated. That alone is worth giving up pasta and bread.
At first, I wasn’t quite sure what I could eat, but was happy to discover that rice and potatoes were still on the menu. I have been careful to learn which ingredients are safe and read labels on all food I buy and prepare (no wheat, barley, oat, malt, etc), and got over my embarrassment of asking waiters at restaurants about gluten-free options. There have been a couple melancholy moments when realizing I can’t eat things like chicken fingers, waffles or crumb cake, but all in all, living without wheat hasn’t been that hard. Then again, I have been living alone and cooking for myself during this time, so that could be a big part of it. I am dreading the moment I have to eat at someone else’s house and can’t eat whatever it is they’re serving. How do you tackle THAT?
- I need to find more gluten-free snacks. It took me months after going vegetarian in 2006 to find “safe” snacks and meals that I didn’t have to think about in-depth. I’ve been eating a lot of fruit, nuts and vegetables if I need sustenance in between mealtimes, but I’d like to find more gluten-free options. I did find some great websites that listed common snack(and junk) foods that are gluten-free.
- I’m proud of myself for trying new things. I’ve never had quinoa before, but last night I made this AMAZING dish with quinoa, chicken broth, chicken, peppers, onions and garlic. It was SO delicious and get this – I found the recipe on the back of the box of Trader Joe’s quinoa. Did you know that it is basically a perfect food? It has all NINE essential amino acids. I also bought gluten-free pasta and crackers from Whole Foods but have yet to try them.
- I totally failed at the apple cider vinegar daily dosage. I haven’t even opened the bottle. I’m honestly scared because I imagine it tastes like bile. One of these days I’ll work up the courage.
- There are a ton of amazing gluten-free desserts. This has been one area where finding gluten-free options is not hard at all. Earlier this week, we celebrated my girlfriend Tracy’s birthday at The Little Next Door. French food = EXTREMELY HARD TO RESIST. Thankfully they had not one, not two or three but FOUR different desserts for me to choose from. I had the most incredible chocolate custard with caramel, almond and fig topping. Can you tell I like chocolate and caramel? Just FYI, creme brulee is also gluten-free. And flourless chocolate cake, of course.
So, will I keep it up?
I’m definitely going to finish out my two week trial. After that, I’m not really sure. I am definitely loving the way I feel, but I’m not sure if I’ll last forever. I’m not sold that I have a full-on wheat allergy, but I do think that it irritates my insides more than the average bear. I might extend the trial by a week or two and then eat a little gluten to see what it feels like after going through a detox. That will be the real indicator.
For the last several years, I’ve been fascinated by learning about nutrition, dietary habits and food manufacturing. What’s good, what’s bad, what’s true and of course, what’s false. With so much information already out there and new studies/findings being published every day, it’s impossible to feel like you are educated enough to make good decisions about what to eat, but I sure like to try. For example, I just recently learned that fruit, as wonderful it is, is best eaten alone, since it requires so little digestion compared to most other foods we eat (think about eating a chicken breast and then some fruit, having your body trying to break down the chicken breast while the fruit sits in your tum, rotting before your other digestive organs have a chance to extract the nutrients).
I’m of the belief that we should be eating as close to the Earth as possible, with as little processing and unnatural additives as possible. Michael Pollan’s Food Rules booklet has some great bits of advice along these lines, one of them being “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Think about all the crazy foods we’ve invented in the last 50-100 years, thanks to the wonders of preservatives, additives and high-powered food manufacturing. Back then, everything was organic. You ate what was available to you, and much of the time, that was whatever you could grow, pick or harvest yourself. I believe today we call this “eating locally.” Another one of Pollan’s rules was something along the lines of, “If you can’t picture it growing, don’t eat it.” Haha! Makes perfect sense when you think about it. Here’s a great interview with Pollan about the book, filled with more awesome advice. One of my favorite parts of this article is when he talks about french fries and junk food. Fast food has taken the work out of preparing labor-intensive foods, like french fries, and given us easy round-the-clock access to these unhealthy foods. If you had to make your own junk food, I guarantee you’d be eating a whole lot less of it.
Anyway, I’m rambling, and quite off-topic, because I just want to make a public declaration that after a good bit of research, I’ve decided to give the gluten-free lifestyle a try for the next couple of weeks. I’m not sure if I am one of the 3 million Americans who has celiac disease (wheat or gluten allergy), but my Mother has been allergic to wheat her entire life, and given my own issues with tummy pains, I figure I might as well give it a go and see what changes may happen in my overall health. I’ve read and heard such phenomenal things from people who gave up wheat at the recommendation of their physician or nutritionist or at the simple suggestion from a friend. Might as well see what happens, right?
However healthful eating gluten-free may be, replacing wheat with sugar, heavy fats, salt, etc. isn’t exactly a recipe for success, so I’ll be attempting to keep that low as well (though it may be tough – baby steps). I’m also gonna try to take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (diluted) a day, which has been said to aid circulation and ward off diabetes, cancer, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
I’ll be checking in along the way and will ultimately post a ‘wrap-up’ when my two weeks are up on August 8, 2010.
To get inspiration for living gluten-free, I’ve been reading The Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef and Cannelle et Vanille, two awesome blogs. Do you know of any others that I should be reading? Any other tips or information you want to share with me as I embark on this challenging-yet-potentially-beneficial journey?
My heart is racing, I’ve got butterflies in my stomach, I’m breathless and squealing. What is causing me so much excitement? It can’t be a new guy in my life (yanno, married) so what is it? THIS, my pretties!:
Last night I ordered my first (and if it’s as good as the reviews say it is, my only) KitchenAid Stand Mixer.
If you would have told me at age 17 that I’d be getting this excited over a kitchen appliance, I would have smacked you silly. Just kiddin, but I never thought I’d see the day that my inner housewife (love that I can use that word now) would be flaring up so much over something that would be used to bake (or cook, or juice, or make pasta, or sausages…..) Every woman I’ve known who has one of these has raved about its durability, usefulness and just all-around amazingness. One look at the reviews online and you’ll see that sentiment echoed by thousands of happy shoppers.
A tip for anyone in the market for one of these INCREDIBLE stand mixers – buy from AMAZON, not Williams Sonoma, Macy’s, or any of the other retail outlets. These are originally up to $400 a piece, and though the high-end retailers and dept stores offer discounts of up to -$100, I got mine brand new (from KitchenAid) for only $219 on Amazon. Free two-day shipping too, because we have an Amazon prime account (well worth the $80 a year).
I can’t wait to see how much easier this baby is going to make my mixing, baking and blending. Ahhh!
Do you have a KitchenAid mixer? Tell me how it’s changed your life.
While the rest of the country was watching USA make a solid, but not-quite-good-enough effort at the World Cup (as if I would know), I was squirreling away in the kitchen trying my hand at baking whole wheat rolls from scratch. The end result, I would say, was magnificent! There are few things quite as gratifying as knowing you can hold your own in the kitchen.
I got a little (a lot) frustrated at one point (“I can’t get this gunk off my HANDS!!!”), but then I quickly remembered that baking is not only supposed to be an outlet for stress relief, but a PROCESS. So I took a few deep breaths and what do you know, with enough flour, my sticky mess actually turned into honest to goodness bread dough.
An Irish tea towel from my grandmother, who is not Irish.
My culinary sidekick and live-in photographer also did a swell job at calming me down, as he usually does, and turned out to be quite good at making clover-shaped rolls.
I wish you could smell this photo.
Before freezing the buns, we made sure to taste test a couple of them fresh from the oven, with butter. Good news – it tasted like bread. Only better!!! The recipe, if you’re interested in trying it out for yourself, is from The Frugal Girl. Bon apetit!
I need to seriously limit my posts that contain the date in the title. It’s kind of irritating and not very pretty, one after another. So what’s on the agenda this weekend? A little BBQ with friends, finishing LOST once and for all (so we can get back to normal life), trying my hand at baking rolls from scratch, with a lot of errand-running and relaxing in between. Sounds like a plan! We love plans!
Summer in Paris – Ah, I already miss it!! I really hope to go back sometime soon when the weather is warmer. Despite our honeymoon being in mid-May, the weather was cold, cold, cold. And rainy. And cloudy. What’s the point of bringing cute clothes if you’re covering it up with a coat the whole time? These photos make me happy.
Ever stop to look around at your wonderful life and think, “something bad is definitely going to happen soon.” You’re not alone. Jon Acuff wrote this spiritually-driven piece about that belief and why we should stop worrying and simply enjoy the goodness in our lives.
American Migration Patterns – where are people moving to and from these days? These illustrations are awesome, and very interesting. Sidenote: I am jealous of all the people getting out of LA.
Why I Quit A Six Figure Job – don’t get any crazy ideas, I’m not quitting my job. But the pros & cons measured in this quick and to-the-point blog post do a great job at illustrating the benefits and draw backs of working for yourself vs. working for someone else. I want to add an important note here: the reason this guy COULD quit that job? He has two years worth of living expenses saved up. He also seems to live a pretty low-maintenance lifestyle, something most of us could try and imitate a bit more. (Thanks for tweeting this, Chris!)
4 Tips For a Less Stressful Morning – I could definitely take some of this advice! I tried the playing music bit and it really did help! So does taking a few minutes to do something that is totally not “getting ready to head to the office.”
THE LITTER BOX. This isn’t cool and/or pretty, but it’s still worth posting for any cat owners who have ever experienced their kitties boycotting the litter box. Seeing as this is one of the BIGGEST reasons people banish their pets to the animal shelter (or worse), it’s worth taking a look and seeing what you can to to rectify the situation before resorting to extreme measures. HINT: CLEAN THE DARN LITTER BOX MORE THAN ONCE A WEEK. Would YOU want to use a port-o-potty for a week straight? Thx!
Abandoned Hotel photos – before and after. This is so cool! I am obsessed with looking at old, abandoned (and might I add, sometimes hideously designed) buildings in LA and wondering what they looked like back in the 60s, 70s, or 80s (or even before!) when they were hip and happening. Even in a young city like this, there’s still so much history. So curious!
My girlfriend, currently living in Naples and about 17 months pregnant, sent me these PRECIOUS baby photos from a local photographer. If you don’t love babies and cute things, don’t bother looking. If you do, enjoy.
Conventional, Organic, Local, Whatever. Just eat it! Let me summarize this brilliant article for you – the benefits of eating product FAR outweigh any risk of contamination by pesticides. It beats the alternative, which is avoiding fruits & vegetables and snacking on chemically-ridden processed foods. (P.S. Thanks to my sister-in-law Jes for finding this one!)
Jacaranda Trees in LA – one of the little pleasures about living in this region. The bright purple flowers always brighten my day for these few short weeks.
One of the ways I try to keep my spirits high and focus on the good things in my life (ahem) is by doing a roll call of things I love every Thursday. It may seem silly and a little hokey at first, but I promise, it really does make you happy! Give it a try on your own blog, or even on a piece of scrap paper, a note on your iPhone – even a mental list will do. Yeah!
Adding a second piece to my Le Creuset collection – a red grill pan. Can’t wait to use it this summer!; Sleeping in; tumblr photo blogs, my favorite place to find pretty/inspiring/cool pictures; watching the entire series of LOST – now that the show is over, we have begun streaming it from the beginning on Netflix and are currently about 2/3 the way through the 2nd season; the way I can detect the smell of French fries from yards away; tickets to see Miike Snow – one of the only artists I’d travel 45 minutes to see; Band of Horses’ new album, Infinite Arms (can you tell I am grateful for music in my life right now; pushing myself to have productive days at work, even when I really don’t feel up for it; a new pink orchid on my desk thanks to Danielle; pineapple and grilled chicken quesadillas (srsly – you have not lived); moving to a new desk at work with a WINDOW! (yes, this is what my life has become); plans to decorate said desk and make it “Sarah-fied”; Bill Murray requesting to be my friend on FourSquare; banana chocolate chip muffins; cutting my Twitter following list down to 87 (from over 200) – it’s SO nice to actually read the updates now!; booking our tickets to Nashville for Kayla and Tyler’s wedding next month, not excited about travel, can’t wait to see these two get hitched; Trader Joe’s candy (specifically choc covered sunflower and pomegranate seeds, dark chocolate caramels, mmm); ordering my first pair of TOMS (I took this as a sign that I needed them in my life); watching my 401k grow (saving is quite addicting, one of the more beneficial addictions, I’d say); getting comments from you fine folks on the blog – it really does make me so happy.
And just because I love ya, here are a couple songs to enjoy this fine Thursday:
- What’s Your Excuse for Not Saving? Great post by my girl FB about the lame justifications people make for spending frivilously instead of investing in their future. Just FYI: you do not NEED a mansion, a gardener, a luxury car, a weekly french manicure or a $500 pair of shoes. Especially if you are in debt.
- LA Tech vs SF Tech – My favorite line has to be: “However, while both crowds love to love the city of San Francisco, San Franciscans love to loathe Los Angeles, which is understandable in some regards. Traffic here is tragic, and this IS where buttock implants were invented.”
- Six Word Memoirs by famous authors. My personal favorite is Frank McCourt (author of Angela’s Ashes, Tis, etc): “The miserable childhood leads to royalties.”
- Award-winning cookies – perfect for Oscar parties, which I am hoping to partake in this coming weekend! Check out the Best Actress selection below. Wonder if they taste as good as those women can act? Also adorable, Oscar statue cookies!
- Empty bellies do not beget genius. – Brilliant piece by the bold and beautiful Gala Darling on female body image and why you should say “screw you” to the pressure to be stick thin.
- I Want That Hoodie So Bad. I really do. It has nothing to do with the fact that my fiance designed it and that it’s modeled after his latest sketch, which you can see below.
- Gummy Worm Chromosomes – if learning about DNA was this delicious, I might have taken a more passionate interest in biology in middle school. Imagine me as a biologist. Solving medical mysteries. Mixing things in a lab. Not wearing makeup. All jokes aside, I did briefly consider a career as a veterinarian – until I realized it’s harder to get into vet school than it is to get into med school. And that my heart would break everyday watching animals suffer.
- ChatRoulette is all the rage these days. Even Ashton Kutcher is on it, and one math student in Calgary took a screenshot of the convo he was having with Mr. Aplusk. I can see the appeal of the site, that randomly connects you via videochat to people around the world, but I don’t see why I would use it. It would have provided hours of fun in college, though.
- Butch Cupcakes – this bakery in NY designs cupcakes with men in mind, because everyone deserves to enjoy a nice cupcake, but how masculine is it to eat a pink cupcake with heart sprinkles? Camo or wood-grain patterns are so much more macho.
- Another new study about how awesome Boulder, CO is. This particular one states it is the happiest city in all the US. Apparently Boulder knows how intellectual, healthy, bicycle-friendly and clean their city is, because I found a hefty list of credentials on their website. Proud, maybe. But I’d still move there in a heartbeat.
Lauren, who is in Hawaii this week, requested we play this loudly in our office on repeat. For the record, this is on the wall of our office:
I thought this video of two koalas bickering was super cute at first, until one of them provokes the other and it breaks out into a nasty fight. My maternal/animal-lover instinct kicked in and I wanted to scoop up the babies to protect and calm them down. Then I realized, they’re just like kids… fighting and picking on the other for no good reason.
My Little Ponies performing musicals – LIVE! MLP hold a special place in my heart, even if this is extremely strange.