Saturday, April 30, 2016

Masa Balls For Passover


Why was this night different from any other night? Because homemade corn tortillas were on the menu during Passover. Not that I adhere to the dietary laws of Passover. As a non-practicing Jew, I usually pass right over them. My everyday diet is punishment enough. But this year, what’s permissible to eat during those eight days of menu mehs includes what's known as kitniyot—corn, legumes, rice and seeds—that were forbidden for centuries. 

Mazel tov! Jews are free from the shackles of an 800-year ban on innocuous foodstuffs! But who passes Passover amendments, anyway? Ruth Bader Ginsburg? They don’t call the badass Supreme Court Justice Notorious RBG for nada. If she bangs her gavel and proclaims it okay to eat tortillas while commemorating our liberation from slavery in Egypt, then who am I to argue? Bring on the masa (as long as it’s not GMO corn. I’m pretty sure Moses wouldn’t be down with that). But if it's not her, who are these grain and legume authorities nulling sacred Passover practices, and why change the laws now?

First of all, matzo is made of flour and water—but not just any flour. It must be ground from wheat, barley, spelt, rye or oat that has not been allowed to ferment and rise. During Passover, leavened foods, known as chametz, are forbidden, and while Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern European descent were prohibited from kitniyot, the same rule didn’t apply to Sephardic Jews from Spain and the Mediterranean. 

Rabbis can’t really agree on why kitniyot was forbidden in the first place, but one theory is that since these foods were stored in the same sacks as the chametz grains, people may have worried about cross contamination or that both types of grains may have grown in the same fields. In any case, it’s likely that worrying was involved. And kvetching, too, since Ashkenazi Jews have been complaining about this rule for generations. 

So last year, some influential rabbis with the Conservative movement argued that kitniyot should be allowed, so they lifted the ban. But inquiring minds want to know why. Was it Big Grain lobbyists? Citizens Kitniyot United? A Passover super PAC? Did the Koch brothers convert to Judaism?

Some rabbis suggest that some traditional concerns surrounding kitniyot are simply no longer problems. Now that we buy our grain in supermarkets in sealed packages that are carefully labeled, any fear that a bit of wheat flour might make it into cornmeal or rice flour is mitigated.  

Rabbi Elliot Dorff, chair of the movement’s law and standards committee, said “It was not a wise custom to begin with, and in our day, when you have Jews of Ashkenazi descent married to Jews of Sephardic descent, it gets really hard to figure out what to do in your house.” He said there was also another reason behind the decision: the rise of vegans and gluten allergies. “I think that’s why it came up now as opposed to a generation ago,” he said.

It just goes to show how market trends can become movements that impact more than the marketplace. Voting with your dollar can help change 800-year-old laws. I can't wait for next year's Passover. I'm thinking sustainable gefilte fish will be having its moment. 




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Saturday, February 20, 2016

8 Tips for Traveling with Food Intolerances


Are you gluten-sensitive, lactose-intolerant, egg-abstinent, grain-averse, meat-opposed, GMO-outraged, or just one of those new-fangled orthorexics? You’re not alone. Since I discovered food intolerances were causing my fatigue, thyroid problems, acne, headaches and joint pain a few years ago, I've been sitting all high and mighty at the top of my food pyramid like a banished queen. But food sensitivities and unpopularity be damned. I have palaces to go and rice cakes to eat—even if I am flying solo.

If you're traveling with food intolerances and dietary restrictions, there are ways to relieve your angst besides shock therapy. All it takes is a little forethought. Will you be driving or flying? Will you have a kitchen? A car? Are you leaving the country? Will there be a Whole Foods salad bar on your Fijian island? With these eight tips for traveling with food intolerances, you'll be able to keep calm and carry on.


1. Carry food and pack provisions.
If you’re flying, pack a few items in your suitcase for breakfasts, snacks or stand-in meals for when you're in a pinch. And make sure to carry enough food with you to eat while you're waiting at the airport and for the duration of your flight. You don’t want to have to choose between turning into a starving, shaky shrew and eating something that’ll turn you into a convulsing Linda Blair. A cooked whole yam is a convenient hand-held, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, vegan snack. Sure, you’ll be the only one on board clutching a yam, but you won’t care when you're happily sated from that nutrient-dense, beta-carotene bad boy.


2.  Bring a cooler.
If you're taking a road trip, a cooler full of snacks and provisions will be your salvation. On my last trip, I packed gluten-free bread, a tub of hummus, ripe avocados and pre-washed fruits and veggies. I didn't even need a kitchen to make filling breakfasts on the road (make sure to get a room with a fridge and access to an ice machine). You can always re-stock at grocery stores along the way. I also packed a box with handy items like bananas, rice cakes, energy bars, packets of nut butters, honey, tins of sardines and canned rice-stuffed grape leaves.


3. Research restaurants online.
You know all the time you spend reading Yelp reviews and perusing restaurant menus online? Well, channel that time suck into your destination meal planning and you'll be prepared. If you use good key words, you might find just what you're looking for. When I was passing through Sedona at mealtime, I googled “organic food Sedona” and found an organic, vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO restaurant that royally catered to all my queenly proclivities. You can also look for health food stores, co-ops and local farmers’ markets to pick up fresh produce and regional specialties.


4. Plan your cheat days.
It's maddening to be wandering through a foodie wonderland with your lame rice cakes, unable to partake in the local delicacies. But only you can decide if eating something you’re sensitive to is worth the risk. It's your body, and you should know if you're going to grow a third eye. But if you're going to succumb to temptation, try to do it on a low-impact day. For instance, if you expect gluten to turn your stomach upside down, don’t eat it before you go bungee jumping, skydiving or zip-lining. Better yet, save it for dinnertime and sleep it off.


5. Carry remedies with you.
Sometimes an offending food will announce itself to you even when the menu didn't. We're simply not privy to every ingredient when we're out and about, so bring your meds and holistic remedies, and have them especially close by on a cheat day. Whether it’s migraine meds, an inhaler, Immodium, skin ointments  or gluten defense digestive enzymes, be ready to quash the offenders like you're pulling the mike plug at a Donald Trump rally.


6. Learn to negotiate the menu. 
When you've got multiple food sensitivities, it can be hard to find anything on the menu—especially if you're trying to go with the flow of your fellow travelers. If you don’t see an entrĂ©e that caters to your diet, ask if you can make substitutions (free of charge) or order a few a la carte items. When I was at a teahouse in Denver, I was treated like a queen with a special vegan, gluten-free high tea that I ordered in advance. It cost the same as the regular high tea, and my tolerant companions weren't so tolerant when they saw that my offerings were more regal than theirs. 


7. Learn to communicate in a foreign language.
If you don’t want to turn into Linda Blair on an international flight, call the airline in advance and order a special meal. From vegan and vegetarian to gluten-free and kosher, they offer several choices to keep your head from spinning. Once you arrive at your destination, how will you announce how special you are? You can buy laminated translation cards that come in 60 languages with very specific messaging for food and drug allergies and dietary restrictions. Need to say you can’t eat gluten in Swahili, peanuts in Portuguese, eggs in Estonian or shellfish in Fijian? No problema!


8. If you loved a restaurant, go back.
Think you should be adventurous and try a new restaurant for every meal? If you got weak in the knees from a certain Mediterranean hottie one night and you’ll be in town for a while, why not hook up again? Maybe it’ll be even hotter the second time. Not to mention the hottie will probably have some pretty savory friends. But don’t get too attached. Remember, you're leaving town, you heartbreaker.

Related Link:
My Therapy Session with Dr. Sigmund Food (Food Intolerances)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mindful Meditation for the Midsection

My stomach is a needy little bitch. Every hour, like clockwork, her desperate cries for a nosh are like whines inside a minivan: Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? But I noticed that when I’m away from home, the hourly clock doesn’t strike. This revelation told me that maybe it was more than grouchy gastric juice at work. Maybe my mind was the bitch.

So I started meditating, thinking mindfulness would lead to stomach fullness. I would ask myself if I’m really hungry or is it just an emotional need to indulge my digestive system. But eventually I became so mindful, my mind started asking my stomach all kinds of nosy questions. For instance:

Mind: Are you really hungry?
Stomach: Mind your own beeswax. When you read something, do I ask you if it’s something you really need to know?

Mind: Did you know there are hungry people all over the world who don’t have the option to eat every hour?
Stomach: There are a lot of illiterate people, too. Maybe you shouldn’t read so much.

Mind: Did you know that in 2020, there won’t be enough food to feed everyone on the planet?
Stomach: Then I better fill up now while I have the chance.

Soon, I realized my mindfulness needed to be more mindless. Since it was clear I needed a tutor to learn how to stop thinking, I went to different meditation classes and downloaded different apps to learn how to turn off my brain. There was MM (Mindful Meditation), TM (Transcendental Meditation) and TMI (no meditation). But worrying about "going under" just made it harder to go under. Maybe I need Viagra for my void because at $15 a session, I want my void to go all hour long.

I'm thinking there should be an app for extracurricular noshing called Mindful Meditation for the Midsection. Hell, I could write the script in my head while I’m trying to go under.

You are feeling full.
That grumbling sound is all in your entitled little head.
That jittery feeling is from the organic, fair-trade, shade-grown double espresso.
It’s been 60 whole minutes since you chewed. Boo effin’ hoo!

Lately I’ve been wondering if the fact that I’m not as hungry when I leave home is actually real. Could that jittery feeling I associate with hunger actually be an endocrine disruptor from a toxic chemical or allergen in my environment? Endocrine disruptors can be found in cleaning products, paints, carpets, cosmetics, personal care items, pesticides, air pollution, etc. They can make you feel hungry when the hunger hormone, ghrelin is released by endocrine cells in the stomach’s lining that stimulates the appetite. And at home, my nose runs a lot, yet it stops when I leave. But there are so many things in our environment that interact with each other, it may be impossible to know what's making me feel the need to nosh.

Whether it's my stomach, my mind or my hormones, I figure meditation can't hurt. But at this rate, by the time I get to my happy place, it'll have condos and a strip mall. In the meantime, I better get to work on that app. it’s been an hour since I’ve eaten, and I’m famished. 


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Bernie Sanders Schmear Campaign



I, like hordes of others, feel the Bern. With his thick Brooklyn accent, rolled-up shirt sleeves and bare-bones language, Bernie Sanders has the cajones to say what no other politician dares: “If the Koch brothers and the billionaire class hate my guts, I welcome their hatred. Because I am going to stand with working families.” 

Right on! You tell 'em, Bernie! However, it begs the question: How are the billionaires planning to bring him down? How low will they go to eat him alive? So I did a little digging into Bernie's past and came up with six ingredients that they might use in a "schmear" campaign. Introducing the billionaires' Bernie slanders.

The Bagel

The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is not a U.S. citizen.

The Spiel: Bernie Sanders would be the first Jewish president. His father was an immigrant from Poland whose family was killed in the Holocaust, and his mother was born to Jewish parents in New York City. It was common for Jewish immigrants that moved here after the Holocaust to change their last names, and Sanders’ original family name was Glassberg. Hoo-boy! Are the haters gonna love this! 
The Billionaire Backer: Donald Trump
The Campaign: With the Donald leading the charge, the birthers will accuse him of being a citizen of Poland and residing in this country illegally. Trump will pledge to evict all American citizens of Eastern European descent and to have a fence built around the U.S. by election day. While he's at it, he'll build one around Poland, too.
The Copy: This man is not who he says he is. What else is Bernie Glassberg lying about?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders: show us your birth certificate!

The Cream Cheese

The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is too old.

The Spiel: With hair as white as Philadelphia cream cheese (and just as thick, without the guar gum), at age 75 (upon inauguration), Bernie would be the oldest president to take office. But there were other Philadelphians with white hair too, namely, George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. While Reagan left the White House at the age of 77, Bernie, at the end of his first term, would have a longer shelf life at 79.
The Billionaire Backer: The Koch brothers
The Campaign: The Kochs will have their 1%-fat cronies who own the major health insurance companies dig through Bernie’s medical records to find a smoking gun. If they don’t find a pre-existing condition, don't worry, it'll still be covered. A TV spot will show a close-up of an x-ray of a heart with clogged arteries. Pan back to see it's sitting on a bed stand next to a telephone, a glass of dentures and a hearing aid which the camera zooms in on. The phone rings, and we hear a voiceover.
The Copy: It’s 3 am. Iran just deployed a nuclear weapon. There's a phone ringing in the White House. Shouldn’t someone answer it? 
The Tag: Bernie Sanders. He can't hear you. 

The Lox

The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is a socialist.

The Spiel: Smoked salmon is popular in both Jewish culture and in Scandinavian countries. And Bernie calls himself a “democratic socialist” like in Scandinavia, which advocates a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system. However, when Bernie was in college, he was a member of the Young People’s Socialist League—the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party of America. However you slice it, he will be branded a radical.
The Billionaire Backer: The Walton Family (owners of Walmart—not John Boy and company) 
The Campaign: Full-page ads with a picture of Bernie standing next to a different leader in each ad: Karl Marx in a factory, Stalin in a gulag and Mao in a rice field.
The Copy: Bernie Sanders wants to take away your home, your car, your clothes and your big-screen TV. Can we really afford a President Sanders? He's bad for business and bad for labor.
The Tag: Bernie Sanders. Never low prices.

The Onion

The Schmear: Bernie Sanders hates Israel.

The Spiel:  While Sanders appears to have a pro-Israel stance, when you peel away the layers, it’s not so clear. Though he lived in a kibbutz for a few months in the 1960s, earlier this year, he was the first Senator to announce that he would skip Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress. And in 1988, Sanders didn't mince words when he condemned Israeli attacks on Palestinians as “reprehensible.” That’s enough to make a poor billionaire hawk cry big, onion tears. 
The Billionaire Backer: Sheldon Adelson
The Campaign: A TV spot filmed inside a Jewish sanctuary shows an empty energy bar wrapper next to a torah on a pulpit, and we hear religious, cantorial music with a voiceover.
The Copy: Once, Bernie Sanders ate an energy bar before sundown on Yom Kippur. Can we trust this man to support Israel when he won’t even fast on the holiest day of the year?
The Tag: Think you know Bernie Sanders? Not so fast!

The Tomato
 
The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is a womanizer.

The Spiel: While Bernie Sanders is no tomato-chasing lothario, he did have a child out of wedlock (hey, it was the '60s). Sanders married his college sweetheart Deborah Shiling in 1964, but they had no children and divorced in 1966. His son, Levi Sanders, was born in 1969 to Susan Campbell Mott. In 1988, Sanders wed Jane O'Meara Driscoll and considers her three children his own. While he would be only the second divorced president in history (Reagan was the first), he wouldn’t be the only president to sire a love child. Thomas Jefferson, Warren G. Harding and Grover Cleveland did, and rumor has it that William Henry Harrison and John Tyler did too. At least Bernie didn’t hook up with one of his slaves.
The Billionaire Backer: Donald Sterling
The Campaign: Different TV spots with present-day Bernie and a different slutty, young woman. We hear a slow, sexy song with lots of groans (think Barry White) and a voiceover. 
The Copy: In the 1960s, Bernie Sanders fathered a child out of wedlock. Will he be up to his old tricks in the White House?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders. Just another horny democrat.

The Capers

The Schmear: Bernie Sanders is a criminal.

The Spiel: While attending the University of Chicago, Bernie was involved in many protest activities in the Civil Rights Movement, including the March on Washington. As a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, he coordinated sit-in protests against segregated campus housing, for which he was arrested.
The Billionaire Backer: Wall Street CEOs of Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase
The Campaign: TV spot with Bernie in a prison uniform in solitary confinement.
The Copy: This man has a criminal record. Think he's too big to jail?
The Tag: Bernie Sanders belongs in the big house, not the White House.



Hang in there, Bernie! Us 99 per centers have your back! 


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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fashionista Farmer: Santa Fe Print Edition, Part 2


If you saw my post from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market featuring prints charming, then you must be chomping at the bit to meet the Royals. What constitutes fashionista-farmer royalty? Is it organic, fair-trade, non-GMO, gluten-free, cruelty-free, rainforest alliance certifications? Nice try, but no. The farmers must simply display their wares with artistic flair, a sense of style and be farmstand eye candy. And for bonus points, their clothing must be color-coordinated with their products. Yep, I make the rules around here, and that’s what constitutes fashionista-farmer royalty. If you beg to differ, please take it up with the authorities by filing a formal complaint at the Bureau of Fashionista Farmers. In the meantime, eye some candy.

Mixed Greens and 50 Shades of Gray
Both provocative and high in folate, the man in gray and his matching ensemble was Prints Charming-certified.


Salve-y Lady 
This herbal salve seller rubbed me the right way with her originality.


Chimayo Red-hot Couture 
His clothing may have been half-baked, but his shades, hat and tablecloth provided the sizzle—along with the chile, natch.

Multi-hued Hot Couture Ensemble
Between her chile print apron and his hot, red shirt, they proved to be worthy chile-istas.


Earth Mother Ensemble
Her sage wisdom shone through with a retro, herbal-forward sensibility.



Karl Lavender Field
His many products went on like lavender fields forever. He even grew his own shirt. 


Aqua and Taupe Scone Ensemble, Sans Gluten
In addition to baking gluten-free, she gets bonus points for her fully baked color vision.


Beet Scone Ensemble, Sans Gluten
She also gets bonus points for matching. I hope the scones taste as good as the ensemble looks.


Hemp-glassed Baker, Sans Hemp
I didn't see hemp listed as an ingredient, but he still gets points for his whacky vision.


Batik Chic Baker 
What a pleasing pastry presentation, down to his coordinated shirt. Kudos, baker dude!


Cafe Accompaniment in Pink
He even matched the bacon, but regrettably, not the breakfast burrito. 

Which is your favorite fashionista farmer?

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