Tag Archives: diet

Eating To Prevent Inflammation

When you have a back injury like the one I’ve been dealing with the past few months, inflammation is an issue. Ice packs and anti-inflammatory medications can help, but the more I’ve read the more it seems that diet also plays a part in keeping inflammation low.

I started reading about this after a conversation with a friend who has been having similar problems the last few years, and while the list of foods not to eat was pretty intimidating, I was glad to see that a lot of what I already do to reduce the amount of sodium I eat every day also means there are a lot of issues I’ve already avoided.

Of course, there’s usually room for improvement, but the foods I couldn’t eat overwhelmed me pretty quickly. Luckily, some more research turned up this image (from Dr. Andrew Weil’s website – check it out, the graphic there is interactive), which reduces things down to an easy-to-read pyramid – and to be honest, the foods all look really good!

dr. weil's anti-inflammatory diet

I like that the list includes both wine and chocolate.

Later, my friend also sent me this pic, which outlines a handful of foods that are good for lowering inflammation. Good news again – I like them all!

Reducing arthritis and inflammatory pain

Aside from the raw apple cider vinegar, I would be totally down for throwing all these in a curry.

It’s not often that you find a diet that both might help your health AND looks easy to stick to — more or less. (Excluding dairy is turning out to be my big stumbling block, as I take my coffee with milk and am a big fan of cheese). I thought it was worth posting this information here. If anybody else has tips on good foods or their experience with trying this kind of diet to help reduce inflammation, I’d love to hear about it.

Butchery, Part I: I’ve Got A Bad Feeling About This…

2012-01-03 19.11.59

A few weeks ago, I went to Boston and had a lesson in how to butcher a pig. Not exactly what you’d expect from this city girl, right?

But we’ll begin at the beginning, and it started because of pernil.

A friend shared some of her mother-in-law’s with me the week after a major holiday, several years ago. It was melt-in-your-mouth awesome. A while after that, I ran into a recipe on reddit, and a few months after that I made my own low-sodium version with pork shoulder from that great foodie mecca of Western New York, Wegman’s.

Flash forward to mid-January, 2013. Walking through a nearby grocery store, I spotted pork shoulder for the first time in a Manhattan supermarket. (Trader Joe’s doesn’t seem to carry this particular cut of meat.) Unlike the pork shoulder at Wegman’s, though, this was the real deal: bone in, skin on – the shoulder of a pig. Six pounds of pig shoulder.

2013-01-13 16.32.25Thinking back to the pernil, I got excited, and paid eight bucks for a lump of meat the size of my head. Headed home, tried to fit the thing in the crock pot – ready to try making BBQ’d pulled pork, this time…and it wouldn’t fit.

I had to cut it in half, first.

I’ve never cut through pig skin before, and it says something about me that this may have been the first time I’ve ever had such a, erm, close relationship with a piece of meat that wasn’t poultry. By the time I got half the pork shoulder severed and the other half back in the fridge, I was starting to wonder whether I’d ever be able to eat bacon again.

But I kept going. The pork stewed in the crock pot for a couple hours. I took occasional pictures. My roommate and I made uneasy jokes about pig skin, humans, eating meat, and the zombie apocalypse.

When the cooking was over, the trouble started.

If you’ve ever cooked extremely fatty meat in a crock pot, you’ll understand when I say I probably shouldn’t have added the BBQ sauce to the mix before cooking the meat. Because I didn’t, the result was a watery mixture of sauce, meat and fatty oils – from both components. That was okay. I got out a couple of forks and started shredding the meat. (Also a bad idea; in retrospect, I should have drained the sauce off first.)

2013-01-13 17.01.53Things were basically cool, up until the moment the fork dragged up a piece of half-melted pig skin, strung together with a couple inches of meat. And maybe a tendon. Or something.

My stomach rolled.

But I kept thinking about the original reddit pernil recipe, specifically the part where he talks about honoring the animal that gave its life so you could eat, and I kept going. Picking out chunks of half-liquified pig skin, trying to scrape the shredded pork off the skin and back into the sauce. I tasted some.

I had not picked a good BBQ sauce. Also, there was still WAY too much fat in the sauce.

2013-01-18 00.32.48I managed to eat a spoonful before I realized this – unlike my famous steak tartar incident by the seine (remind me to blog about that, some time) – was not a culinary battle I could win.

With three pounds of frozen pork shoulder in the freezer, this was going to be a problem.

Luckily, a work friend was talking about making pork tacos the next day, and happy to take the rest of the pork shoulder off my hands. Guilt somewhat alleviated.

But now I had an ethical quandry on my hands, of the low-grade variety prone to plaguing the dietarily privileged: how could I justify eating a meat I couldn’t even prepare myself? It sounds nuts, I know. But it tickled at the back of my head for days following the pork shoulder incident. I’d spent time, recently, talking to hunters. My cousin and his wife (cousin-in-law) ran a free range organic farm back before they got married, and mine is the kind of family where, while we’re all omnivores, we have been known to trade emails asking “Is it ethical to eat meat?”

So when a friend posted on Twitter about a Boston restaurant and the pig-butchery-lesson they were giving away as a contest prize…I entered.

And won.

Which was when I realized: in March, I’d be butchering a pig.

And I had no idea if I was ready for it.

To Be Continued…

“Oil Pulling” – What the Eff?

Late last night on Twitter, my friend Yoli (we met at the beach cleanup last summer) recommended a battling my current batch of The Ills with a technique called “Oil Pulling.”

After going to bed around ten thirty last night, I woke up at five with gross phlegmy ick, saw her tweet, and read this line: “Within 30 minutes of doing it, I thought I was in an episode of X Files with the neon stuff that came out of my nose.”

Sold and sold and SOLD.

I did some quick reading and saw that some people had good results using olive oil, which I had in the house (my sesame oil was, regrettably, toasted). Somewhere, someone said “put some peppermint oil in to help with the taste,” which was a lifesaver because olive oil on its own tastes really gross. I only managed to swish the oil in my mouth for about 5 minutes before I had to spit it out.

I didn’t get any X-Files horror effects, but my nose definitely did some extra dripping and I for the rest of the night (woke up again around 20, and moved on to battling the ills with Emergen-C, tea and juice.
So I’m declaring oil-pulling  a win, and preparing to head out for multi-vitamins and chicken soup.ten am) I could take a deep breath without sending myself into a coughing fit.

Related:

Jerry-rigged Low Sodium Ramen

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After the other day’s thoughts about how hard it can be to find low sodium non-perishables in a storm, a discussion with a friend led to the above awesome idea: use the ramen noodles, chuck the seasoning packet (or save for the salt-starved in your household) and use a no-sodium alternative bullion.

This is probably one of those obvious things everyone else was already doing, isn’t it.

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Heart Healthy in a Hurricane?

While I can hardly call my diet during Hurricane Sandy a healthy one, it struck me just how hard it is to find low-sodium foods that last and don’t require refrigeration.

Part of me thinks, well, it’s okay, because it’s just for a few days (in best-case scenarios) and besides, portion control is more effective when your available food gets limited. The other part of me just wants a frickin’ can of soup in my cupboard.

What’s a sodium-conscious person to do? Ramen, Campbell’s, Lipton – even Progresso’s so-called heart healthy/low sodium line has more sodium than I’d put in my body in one sitting if I had my head on straight. (Given that I ate a chocolate bar for dinner last night, it seems unfair to declare I have it on straight now.)

Since we have a potentially worrisome nor’easter blowing in this week, I’m trying to decide how to handle this. Buy no-sodium bullion and commit to a thin broth for a week? Load up on rice and pray the gas keeps working? At least it’s autumn in the northeast, so there are plenty of apples and long-lasting root vegetables easily accessed.

But it does make me wish there were more (legitimately) low salt options I could keep aside for emergencies.

A Healthy Lifestyle – Lived Sustainably

When I started writing this blog, one of the big topics I talked about was maintaining a low sodium diet. Where am I with that, these days?

I’ll be honest. The whole fitness-eat-right-take-care-of-yourself thing is harder to sustain than you’d think. Or maybe it’s exactly as hard as you think; maybe you’re more realistic in this department than I am.

The point is, I’m trying: I still eat my zero-sodium bread, I don’t add salt to the food that I cook – but sometimes the demands of life get in the way. And as I get busier, my conscientiousness about my diet gets less of my attention. So I pick up a slice, I stop in at McDonald’s for a burger, I eat half a carton of ice cream, I hit the gym once a fortnight instead of three times a week. It’s showing.

Time to re-up my resolve, and keep actively striving for balance. Wish me luck.

The Leather Skirt Diet

What’s the Leather Skirt Diet, you ask? It’s the diet that consists of “whatever will make me fit into the leather skirt” I’m wearing for a thing next week.

When I first ordered the leather skirt, I knew I was taking a chance. Getting it off the internet, no clear size guides giving waist measurements. But it fit. Not only did it fit, but the price-per-wear is already, like, a dollar. Because I have not stopped wearing it since it got here.

This has brought a new aspect to the Leather Skirt Diet: whereas the initial plan was, “run was hard as I can on the elliptical every day until the event,” all of a sudden I got scared. Because if there’s one thing that’s worse than a black miniskirt that’s too small, it’s a miniskirt that’s too big. This goes double when the fabric is leather.

A loose leather miniskirt is, how shall I put this, pointless.

So a few days ago, the leather skirt diet changed a bit. Now it was about maintaining. I mean, yeah, there are a few pounds that can go (and in case anyone’s worried, I put back on the weight I lost while sick and then some) and that’s safe, but at least I don’t have to be worried about the skirt not fitting. This was good timing, because it was around the same time the skirt showed up that I got a package of goodies from my mom.

In other words: MILLIONS OF COOKIES.

So far I’m enjoying the whoopie pies, and will bring the other cookies to work tomorrow. Because love them though I might, as we get into the home stretch before the event Thursday night, they may have to fall off the list of “Leather Skirt Diet” food options.

We shall see.

While out with my friend yesterday we joked about writing different kinds of novelty diet books. I’d write “The Leather Skirt Diet,” then she’d write the “Artichoke Dip Diet” (or whatever it was – if she sees this, maybe she’ll correct me in the comments), and then sooner or later (as many of our conversations do) we had devolved to a level of ridiculousness the likes of which I shall not inflict upon my dear readers. Suffice to say by the end of it we were laughing hysterically and a fully-fleshed-out idea for a series of e-books where we would pick goals and write diet books about them, but the diet books would be actual reflections of what we were eating, rather than aspirational “plans” that might or might not work.

Other than that, my weekend involved glorious weather in Manhattan, chilling on the Hudson, and getting a seriously amazing foot massage for like twenty bucks from a place where they thought I had fallen asleep *so they let me keep lying in the chair* till I opened my eyes. My feet feel so relaxed now.

What’s everybody else been up to this weekend?