Archive for Food

Update: I’m (mostly) vegan now! How it will affect my blog and why it took me so damn long to take this path!

Before I start going on about why I’ve made this choice and explain the “mostly” part, I’ll just say

How it’s going to affect my blog

  1. I will be reviewing vegan stuff (obviously)
  2. I will not be deleting posts where I reviewed non-vegan things in the past since I don’t believe in pretending the past didn’t exist for various reasons
  3. I will be writing some posts about what it’s like transitioning.
  4. I will probably change the name of my blog again, but keep the format of writing reviews where I find things to complain about.

Now that that bit is done.. I want to add I’ve had this in my drafts for over two months. I’ve been very reluctant to tell others that I am vegan now because I don’t want them judging me and I don’t want to create uncomfortable situations with people who aren’t willing to listen and people who aren’t interested in learning. Just a warning that this will probably be one of my longest posts. I have only recently told some friends so I wouldn’t have to completely avoid social events or be stuck eating rabbit food. I also won’t be paying attention to any negative comments, you can make them, but I don’t give. You don’t have to read this after-all!

And now, let’s get this super long post started… I know I still won’t be able to say everything I need to say but at least it’s a start.

Why It Took Me So Damn Long To Take The Vegan Path

When I was a child, I remember I first wanted to become a vegetarian after seeing the movie Babe. I stopped eating pork after I saw that film, and probably would have gone further if I had more resolve, or if the people around me didn’t make it so difficult. I did like the taste of meat then. I don’t remember when I first learned meat came from animals, but I do remember being upset knowing that. I also remember trying to rationalize eating meat by convincing myself that all of the chickens I ate were boys (because they obviously needed the girls for eggs, right? WRONG), and all of the cows I ate were also boys (because they obviously needed the girls for milk, right? WRONG), and plenty of boys in school were mean to me, girls were nicer, so at least I wasn’t hurting girls (I know this was totally sexist and wrong, please do not judge who I was as a child that’s in the past). But alas, how very wrong I was. If I knew then what I knew now, I may have had enough resolve to have gone vegetarian around the age of 6 or 7.

Then when I was maybe 8 or 9 the first mad cow scare happened, and my mom wasn’t buying beef anymore. And I stopped eating beef, and have not eaten beef since, but I began eating pork again. There were other times I again tried to go vegetarian but it just didn’t work out, again, because of my own resolve lacking and because of those around me making it difficult. I was still never one to make fun of vegetarians, I always respected vegetarians for being able to do something I had wanted to do for so long. I didn’t quite get vegans and thought they were crazy when I first learned about people who thought taking milk and eggs hurt animals or was bad for them.

I first learned about the horrors of factory farms when I was in high school. I still didn’t eat beef, but had somehow convinced myself it was alright to kill animals, but that they should live happy lives before being killed. I begged my mom to buy free-range and organic animal products (I later learned these labels are LIES) but she wouldn’t because it was expensive. Sometime around then our family also visited a farm museum, it was either upstate or in Vermont. There I learned that on normal commercial farms as soon as hens’ egg production drops entire rows of them are sent off to slaughter, and that if the yolk is a pale yellow it means the chicken had a terrible diet. I was also told that in order to get milk, the calf had to be separated from its mother as soon as possible after birth, otherwise the cow won’t let anyone else milk her.  I didn’t like this, but it didn’t quite wake me up yet. There were a number of things stressing me out when I was in high school, my insane drive to work hard, all of the clubs I was in, and dealing with undiagnosed Crohn’s disease.

Later in college, I learned about factory farms again in some pamphlets from some group. They urged that even eating less meat would help cut down on factory farms (which is true), and I wanted to, but again, I didn’t want to start problems with my mom, I was also dealing with undiagnosed Chron’s disease at the time and there were a lot of things I couldn’t eat to begin with. I couldn’t drink the most widely available vegan milks (because carrageenan gave me flares), the same went for a lot of creamy dairy products, very fibrous food, and raw plant food. Plus I was weak and hardly had energy to do much. My dad told me to stop thinking about factory farms and all of the bad things happening it since I couldn’t make it stop, and because there wasn’t much I could eat to begin with. He also told me that the animal you eat lives on within you, and that the native americans thanked the animals they killed. I didn’t understand why they had to have such miserable lives, but I chose not to think about it. Stress would give me flares too. I know it’s no excuse, but I didn’t have the energy or capacity to try going vegetarian again, or to try and incorporate more vegan food into my diet.

When I finally got diagnosed with Chron’s and went on medication, things got better. Then I had some flares again, and my doctor put me on cimzia, a biologic medicine, and I’ve been doing so much better since. I can eat just about anything now (though I’m still afraid to try things with carrageenan in them, or eat too much of them), and I have energy to keep going all day at conventions and other things (I didn’t have this before). Maybe it’s been about three years that I’ve been doing better.

For the past year or so (last semester of my master’s degree), I’d gotten fed up of living at home and not having as much control over my life as I’d like. I’d gotten tired of asking my mom to cook more vegetarian food on occasion and not being able to cook things for myself because of how disorganized and cramped our kitchen is. Then, I think a couple of months ago (sometime this April) a friend posted this video to my wall on facebook, it was of a small child, perhaps 3 years old asking why an octopus had to die for food. Then for whatever reason, I decided to click one of the links in the description, and watched this video (warning, it’s long but worth the watch).  I don’t agree with everything the speaker said, but he made a lot of good points.

I realized that as children, just like we aren’t born racist, we aren’t born wanting to kill and eat animals either. These things exist because they’ve somehow become ingrained into society over generations and generations. We may have needed to go hunting in our nomadic days, and even sometimes after we settled down and learned farming techniques if there was a particularly hostile winter, other environmental conditions or warfare resulting in the destruction of crops. But in the society that we live in today, there’s no need for meat at all. All eating meat does is harm countless animals, the environment and even other humans. If land and water wasn’t being utilized to feed livestock, it could be used to feed people. It takes over 10lbs of grain to produce 1lb of beef. It also increases water consumption because you need water to grow the grain, and the cows need water to drink. Land in the rainforests is being cut down to raise cattle, and to grow food to feed them.

I really wanted to go vegan then. But I didn’t want to start problems with my mom… then I snapped around the end of April or the beginning of May and stopped eating meat. I had a small fight with my mom over it, and she’s forgotten once or twice, but I think it was worth it.  As good as any dish might look, thinking about what goes on in these factory farms (and for no reason at that) makes my stomach turn. My desire for most of these foods has gone because I realized I don’t need them, and that they aren’t worth the suffering they cause. I might miss the taste and texture of some foods, but at the end of the day I’ve realized that my appetite and whatever fleeting pleasure I might get out of the dish is not worth making an innocent sentient being suffer and die. I slowly phased out milk (in products, I’d stopped drinking it when I learned about the pus in it) and eggs over a month or so when I was adjusting to reading the packaging on labels. Now that I’ve finally moved out this month, my kitchen is vegan, and I’ve made the rule that I’m not allowing non-vegan food in my house. My fiance can eat what he wants when we go out or when he goes out, but in our apartment he’s vegan with me. That wasn’t forced on him, he agreed to it, doesn’t mind and us open to trying it with me. He’s told me he’d like to be able to reach the same mental state I have where he can give up non-animal products altogether. He does like animals too and wants to be nicer to them.

tl;dr – It took me so long to go vegan because in order to made a bit of an extreme life change you need to be at a place in life where you can think things over and are open minded enough to do so, you need to have full access to accurate information, and you need the resolve to do it. It’s experiencing an enlightenment.. it may be possible for everyone, but you have to work towards it until the conditions in your life are what they need to be and until you’re internally and physically ready in order for it to happen.

About the “mostly” part

The main reason is that I’m calling myself mostly vegan is because strangely enough giving up fish was more difficult for me than giving up cheese. I think because it’s easier to feel empathy for a cow than a fish. I still don’t really feel -that- bad for fish, but I know I don’t need them to die for me to live. I still may stray and eat fish a few times a year but it’s not my preference and I would not order fish when going out to eat. I would like to eliminate fish from my diet completely one day.

The second reason that I’m using the word “mostly” is because of super militant vegans on the internet (some of which will probably find this post and call me names), and ones I’ve known in real life saying that to be vegan you must not buy products that contain sugar that aren’t organic, because normal refined sugar is sifted trough bone char. So no, technically non-organic white cane sugar isn’t vegan. I respect those who abstain from it and companies seeking to use vegan sugar and sweeteners in their products. But I logically believe that they are not killing cows to make bone char for the sugar companies. If everyone stopped eating cows, their bones would not be so cheap, and that it would be cheaper for them to refine their sugar in a vegan friendly manner. And if one is to avoid this kind of sugar entirely, it makes going vegan more difficult unless you have tons of money, or don’t buy any prepackaged foods and make everything yourself from scratch. If going vegan seems too difficult, it may drive away many people who are curious or want to try. But if continuing to consume products with sugar in them makes it easier for people to not eat products that have obvious animal products in them like milk, meat or eggs, it’s still benefiting the animals. So yes, I still eat Oreos and spicy sweet chili Doritos despite their added sugar because it makes it easier for me to stay vegan (otherwise), at least until I find other snacks that are just as affordable and satisfying.

Other reasons are because I have mixed opinions on hunting. I have a greater issue with animals being farmed. I’d rather an animal (or myself, assuming aliens were eating humans) live it’s life free up until it’s death instead of living a comfortable peaceful life (like on a “nice” farm) and then experience a massive betrayal upon death. I might consider eating hunted meat as long as it was done so in an environmentally responsible way, but I would still rather not. I also don’t have an issue with eggs that come from rescued hens or chickens that are kept as pets that will still be cared for and loved even when they stop producing eggs. If some random animal wanted to eat my bloody tampons and pads I’d give it to them because I was just going to throw it away anyway. It’s not like an unfertilized egg is that different. Some vegans also abstain from honey, which I respect, but I’m ok with honey as long as the queen’s wings aren’t clipped, and as long as the bees are not killed off in the winter (I’ve read some beekeepers do this), but really only as a remedy for when there isn’t really anything else that will soothe a sore throat. Otherwise I’m in favor of embracing the 1/4 of Canadian blood that flows in my veins and using maple syrup everywhere I’d use honey otherwise 🙂

There’s also the bit about me still slowly phasing out things like shampoo, deodorant, and cleaning products that are tested on animals or contain animal products. Keeping the food thing in check is already not the easiest thing to do, and if I had to find new replacements right away I’d probably go insane and give up all together. As I find brands and products (as well as options I can make myself) that are affordable I’ll start to incorporating them into what I purchase.

The Good That’s Come Out of This

  • It does make a difference. Sure, my mom hasn’t gone vegan too, but she was willing to try more vegan dishes and was cooking slightly less meat when I was still living at home. My fiance’s sister tried baking vegan brownies because he told her I went vegan, and now his family loves those brownies and being able to lick the bowl without fear of getting salmonella from raw egg. Every vegan meal makes a difference to the animals. There are other little things I can’t quite recall, but people who care about you may make small changes for you. This is why I know I have to start telling more people I am vegan despite me still not wanting to.
  • I’ve tried a lot of new interesting food that I never would have thought to try if I didn’t do this! In some ways limiting yourself (though I hate to call choosing not to pay people to abuse and kill animals for you “limiting”), forces you to become more creative. Expect blog entries about some of my weird crazy delicious vegan foods.
  • I am one step closer on my life long mission to becoming friends with ALL the animals.
  • I don’t feel weird guilt whenever I get new information about how factory farming is screwing up the environment, harming animals or doing things like spraying pig feces on poor POC.
  • Winning arguments with hardheaded “logical” people. It takes a while, but if they’re a bit open minded and educated, and YOU are fully educated and able to answer their questions and refute their claims, you can get them to realize the only real reasons for eating meat are taste and that it’s what you’re used to, and that it does cause unnecessary harm to people, animals and our planet. Sure they might not stop eating meat, but at least now they won’t go around making false claims because they know they are false. (The teacher in me is always in favor of education anyway)
  • The enlightenment bit–  it’s hard to describe if you haven’t experienced it. I never knew how much power food had over me, or how even one person can make a difference without becoming a big activist. It might be the closest I get to nirvana in this lifetime, but at least now I feel like I’m headed in the right direction.

So yeah, that’s all I really have for now even though there’s a lot more I still want to say. I just can’t find a way to without this getting massively disorganized. If you know me personally and have read this in full, thanks, you really did not have to endure all of this rambling ❤

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Review: Ramen-Ya

I needed to celebrate being done with midterms this weekend. It was either going to be ramen or trekking to NJ for Mitsuwa. We didn’t want to go to Sapporo again (I’ll write them a review eventually) since we’d been there a bunch of times, and didn’t feel like going to Jersey, so we decided to try Ramen-Ya, a new place we read about somewhere online, or maybe a friend posted pictures of their food on facebook and it made me hungry, I’m not that sure now…

Shio Black with Chicken

Shio Black with Chicken

I got the Shio Black with chicken, and Scott got the Shio Spicy with pork. We also had some tofu vegetable gyoza but we were too hungry at the time to remember to take a picture. The gyoza were probably the best vegetable gyoza I’ve had, granted I haven’t had vegetable gyoza from too many other places. The edamame in them was especially nice. But let’s get back to the ramen.

Shin Spicy with Pork

Shio Spicy with Pork

We both opted for Shio because Scott said he heard good things about it. The pork version comes with thin noodles, the chicken version comes with thick egg noodles. The thick noodles that came with mine were really good, the broth was also really flavorful and good. The only topping I wasn’t crazy about is the egg, but I’ve never been a fan of hard boiled/poached eggs in ramen anyway. I also wish it came with bamboo shoots and that you didn’t have to pay extra for them. I also wasn’t exactly full when I finished my ramen, Scott was good though. I can’t talk about his noodles since I didn’t try them, but I did try some of his broth, it was too spicy for me. I also tried some of his pork chasu, it was nice and tender, and easily fell apart, but doesn’t beat Sapporo’s in my opinion.  I almost wish I opted for the pork version since I liked it better than the chicken chasu I got. I just wish there was some way I could get thick noodles with pork. Maybe if I overcome some of my social awkwardnesses I’ll be able to ask when we go back sometime. Scott said he loved his choice overall, that the broth wasn’t too salty, and that he loved how tender the pork was.

As far as the location goes, it was pretty small. We got there shortly after they opened so it wasn’t too crowded, but can see it getting pretty cramped when they’re busy. Still can’t wait to go back there again for another relaxed quiet ramen date 🙂

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Review: Potatopia

The other week when Scott and I saw The Tale of Princess Kaguya we had trouble deciding where to get dinner, then I got lucky and remembered Potatopia. I had heard about this intriguing place on the news some years ago. I remembered it being a build your own potato place that was relatively inexpensive for the area. And I remembered that I really wanted to try it.

Here’s how they work. First you pick your style of potato, they have options like baked, curly fries, au gratin, and more that I’m not fully sure of. Then you get to add unlimited veggies, two types of cheese and two sauces (or maybe more, I forget) to your potato. If you want some kind of meat (bacon, shrimp, vegan chili, etc), you pay extra depending on what kind you get. They also have prefixed menu items but I don’t see how that’s fun when you can build your own perfect potato.

Pictured below are the potatoes Scott and I got.


baked potato with butter, shrimp, garlic, onion, scallion, broccoli, mozzarella and pepper jack cheese with chipotle sauce.

I tried some of his. It was pretty damn good. Here’s mine.


baked potato with bacon, extra broccoli, scallion, red onion, garlic, corn, pepper jack and cheddar cheese with sour cream.

Mine was also really good. I forget exactly how much we spent, it was around $8+ a person, so it wasn’t cheap, but not too bad for the area. If I really felt like being cheap I wouldn’t have ordered the bacon and just loaded lots of extra veggies onto my potato, and potatoes are pretty filling to begin with, so it’s not like you’re going to leave hungry.. unless you were extremely hungry to begin with. You’re probably better off with Chipotle if that’s the case. And now for…

Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Like This

  • It’s in the land of hipsters
  • There’s not much room to sit
  • I have no idea what half of the potato styles are, and they offer no information on them on their website. I like to plan meals in my mind in advance and crave them for days before I get them. That simply isn’t possible here. Having the people who work there explain it to me when I’m under pressure to order because there’s a line doesn’t let me create ideal delicious combinations in my mind. It makes me default to baked potato because I know what that is.

All of those things aside I still want to go back. I just really wish it was easier for me to visualize their damn potato options without having to ask an employee right before ordering.

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(Un)real Candy

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a bzzagent, and occasionally get new products for free or at a discount in exchange for sharing my honest opinion of them with others.

My most recent bzzcampaign was for (un)real candy! I was really excited about this since I haven’t gotten a bzzcampaign in a while and because I love candy (even though I don’t eat it that often). What’s different about (un)real candy is that they don’t use hydrogenated oils, artificial dyes or preservatives. Their mission is to make candy less bad for you and maybe even taste better.

I got one coupon for a free 1.3 – 1.7 oz candy, and a several buy one get one free coupons. Using the coupons I purchased every type of (un)real available at my local CVS. The official names are (un)real 77,   8 and 54, but I’ll be referring to them as knock off reese’s, snickers and peanut M&Ms respectively.

Some one took the square root of a negative, things are no longer real. AWWW YEAH!!

I’ll start with the knock off Snickers.

nice, but needs more peanuts.

Now for the knock off M&M’s…

the natural dyes remind me of easter eggs for some reason

And I didn’t take a picture of the knock off Reese’s so I’ll share my opinion now. One thing I noticed about each of these candies is that they didn’t taste as sugary or sweet as their main competition, and all of the chocolate tasted more like dark than milk. I am a fan of this. I was also able to recognize most of the ingredients on the wrapper. I was delighted to see the dyes used for the chocolate covered peanuts came from beets, turmeric and red cabbage. Cane sugar and agave were the main sweeteners.

I could tell the difference between them and their competition, but my boyfriend couldn’t right off the bat. It’s probably because I eat more candy, or I might have more refined taste buds. Who knows? You’ll have to give them a try yourself if you really want to know.

Why You Shouldn’t Like This:

  • They cost a tad more than their main competition, and are smaller.
  • The number “names” for their candy are stupid and hard to remember.
  • (Un)real 8 needed more peanuts.
  • If they’re taking the “healthier” route, it’d be nice if they added some vegan options in there. Especially since I’ve found a lot of vegan knock off packaged foods are full of “questionable” ingredients.

Overall I did like these, and will be using the rest of my coupons on myself if I don’t give them away.  I prefer candy with less sugar. One of the things I’ve always wondered is why they couldn’t just make things like candy and soda with less sugar to begin with. I prefer it so much more to nasty fake sugar that has a godawful after taste. If you know me personally and would like some of the coupons, hit me up, if not… more for me 😀

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Prosperity Dumpling

I’d been meaning to blog about this place forever, but I had fallen out of the blogging habit. Now that I’m back in it, this place is getting the bets review ever.

Ladies and gentlemen, do you like dumplings? Of course you do! What kind of fool doesn’t like dumplings? Do you like delicious cheap food? If you don’t, get the hell off my blog and out of Chinatown.

Prosperity Dumpling, located on 46 Eldridge Street (take the  B or D train to Grand St and walk toward Chrystie St. until you hit Eldridge),  has the best cheap food that I know of.  I was getting my lunch here every day when I was working in Chinatown this summer. It’s just so delicious and so cheap, there’s no way I couldn’t eat there at every given opportunity.

Note the A rating in the window

When I say cheap, I mean that two people can eat a filling meal here for under $10.  The most I ever spent on lunch was $3. I am not fucking kidding, look at this menu.

click to enlarge, those prices are no joke.

This isn’t really a place you can sit down to eat in, there are a few stools and counters against the walls but you’ll be better off taking your dumplings to the park across the street and eating it on the benches there. Normally they’re just used by people pouring the complimentary soy sauce and sriracha sauce  on their dumplings before taking them elsewhere. And the sriracha sauce doesn’t make the food taste good, it’s delicious on it’s own, it just makes it better.  Prosperity Dumpling is definitely a hole in the wall. But we don’t care about that, I’ll get to talking about the food.

They’ve got three wok’s running at all times, one for fried dumplings, one for boiled dumplings and one for a Chinese pancake (more on that latter).

Fried Dumplings (5 for $1) 

These are usually the quickest thing you can get. If they’re ready in the wok, you’ll get them right away, if not, you have to wait for them to cook. But really, how can anyone argue with that price?? They only offer pork/chive dumplings fried. These are delicious, when you bite into them, they are full of delicious juice that will fall out if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Boiled Dumplings

They use another wok to boil dumplings, they change the water out after each batch or so that’s ordered. You can get 10 pork/chive or pork/cabbage boiled for $2, 10 shrimp for $3 or 8 veggie for $2.50. All of these are delicious. The pork ones again have that delicious juice inside them. In some ways I prefer them to the fried ones, but you always have to wait for boiled dumplings. The veggie and shrimp ones are great too, but they’re less filing. I don’t understand how the veggie ones are more expensive than the meat ones, but they’re  still damn cheap. I’d say the veggie ones are my favorite. They’re probably vegan, but if you’re a crazy vegan you probably would want to avoid this place since they do boil the veggie ones in the same wok pork ones have been boiled in. If you’re vegetarian you should probably be fine with them.

Sesame/Chive Pancakes 

I have always meant to photograph one of these but I always eat them before I remember.  It’s not a normal pancake, it’s more like a piece of fried bread they make sandwiches with. You can get it plain ($1), with veggie ($1.25) or with meat and veggie ($1.75). I’m not sure if they use egg or not, so I have no idea if the first two options are vegan, they’re definitely vegetarian though. But if you’re not a veggie and are gonna go for the meat, don’t waste your money on the chicken or pork, get the peaking duck. It’s amazing. Not as filling as 10 dumplings, but it’s one of the more unique things you can get there that you can’t get anywhere else. This is also something you can get very quickly, unless they’ve run out of pancake slices. But they’re always making more pancakes so that’s not really an issue.

Frozen Dumplings 

Now if you find you love their food so much, but can’t keep trekking to Chinatown, they sell their dumplings frozen. On my last day of work I bought 50 veggie and 50 pork frozen ($20 combined) because I knew I wouldn’t be going back there for a while 😦  They taste good at home, but not as good as they do when you get them from the shop. Maybe they need to be boiled in a wok? Who knows? I’m not a culinary expert XD

In the End… 

The only downside to going to this place is that it will make you a cheap ass. I used to not mind spending $5-6 on my lunch, and not being completely filled up by it. Now it pisses me off. If I can get something so delicious and filling in Chinatown for $3, why should I have to pay twice that for a meal that won’t even completely rid me of hunger?  Also since going there I bought my own bottle of sriracha sauce and now I’ve been putting it on everything (pizza, sandwiches, potatoes, etc.), I think it may be developing into a problem. Oh, and this place dashed some of the hopes I had of going “more” vegetarian. I love their veggie dumplings the best, but I need two orders to be full and that’s $5…. I don’t want to spend $5 damnit!!

I give this place 4/5 stars. The reason it’s not 5/5 is because they don’t offer fried veggie dumplings. Also their pork buns aren’t that tasty. I don’t recommend them.

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Review: Forks Over Knives

I first heard of this movie when I went to NYC’s first annual vegetarian food festival  way back in March. I was told it was a documentary about the benefits of a plant based diet. I finally got the chance to watch it when my dad found it on Netflix, we watched it and I thought it was very interesting.

The first thing I liked about the movie is that I don’t think they ever said the word “vegetarian.” “Vegan” was said only once, by a man being interviewed.What they do say many, many times is “a whole foods plant based diet.” It’s essentially a vegan diet but not in the way you’d think, no refined anything, no processed anything. That means all of those processed vegan meats and other processed vegan garbage is out.

They approach they used was research based. It was about two doctors and what they saw in their studies. One thing they found was that protein from animal sources can trigger cancer, eliminating it or greatly reducing it can reverse the cancer. They had a record of deaths occurring in a country in Europe due to heart disease (I forget which). Anyway, during WWII the Germans took all their livestock to feed the army and the people were pretty much forced to eat a plant based diet. During this time the number of deaths from heart disease dropped significantly, and after the war they went back up to their previous levels. Mostly they talk about the impact of the western diet vs. a whole foods plant based diet has in regards to diabetes, heart disease and cancer. They spoke with a woman who reversed her diabetes with the diet as well as a woman who reversed breast cancer with it.

What I found interesting was the athlete and group of firemen they spoke with. The athlete said he initially gave up dairy because of an allergy but then decided to give up chicken and fish to see how it’d go. He found that it worked great and he looks like he’s in excellent shape. The group of firemen started the diet after learning that one of their own had an insanely high cholesterol… it was in the 300’s, but dropped over 100 points after 3 weeks of being on a plant based diet. They also said about half of firefighter fatalities are due to heart disease, something that’s so easily preventable with diet. Keeping firefighters not only helps them, but everyone else who depends on them.

There were a few things the movie didn’t really touch on that much, like why they didn’t use oil, or why fish is bad. They didn’t really touch on all of the contamination in animal products. They didn’t give any recipes, and it seems that they were just eating salads. However, the film’s website does offer recipes. If you’re squeamish I recommend watching with someone who is not. Ask them to tell you when to open your eyes since there are numerous clips of surgery footage, mostly for surgery related to heart disease.

I’d recommend this movie to anyone interested in medicine, health or just improving their life.  I enjoyed it and thought it was very interesting. I personally could relate to it because I’m trying to improve my own health right now by changing my diet. One thing I’ll say about changing your diet for the better is that I didn’t expect it to be empowering at all. I gained control of my life when I began saying “no” to the processed foods I had developed low grade addictions to.  At first I was hoping it would be temporary but now I have no problem giving up the crap I used to eat forever if it means I’ll continue to feel great. It’s renewed the hope I have of arriving at the day when I’m able to go off my medication and live a Crohn’s-free healthy life.

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I Love This Bread

This is probably going to be one of my lamest posts ever, but I had to write it. I love this bread, I love this bread so much.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’ve stopped eating anything with yeast in it. I hadn’t had bread for weeks and was really craving some. I bought this *true* sourdough bread at my local health food store a few days ago. It’s Berlin Natural Bakery‘s sourdough spelt bread. I love it so much. My mom says its probably because I haven’t had bread in ages but this bread has such an awesome flavor. It has a nice distinct sourdough taste, but it’s not too strong. Adding to the awesomeness of this bread is the fact that it only has three ingredients: Whole Grain Spelt flour, water, and sea salt. It’s not the cheapest bread, costing about $6 a loaf, but it’s totally non-GMO and 100% awesome.

I also owe a lot to this bread. Today while in the drug store I had to walk past the snack aisle and of course I wanted a lot of that crap. But I refuse to cave. I told myself to be good, and that I’d reward myself with that awesome bread when I got home. The peanut butter and honey sandwich I had when I got home was so awesome.  I am so happy I have a bread fix now.

I was disappointed with the other breads Berlin Natural Bakery listed on their website, since this appears to be their only bread without yeast. My biggest disappointment is that they have yeast as an ingredient in their “biblical” bread. In Bible times there was no yeast -_-

I also bought another type of yeast-free bread.It appears to be made for someone who’s allergic to just about everything in addition to having celiac’s.

This bread also tastes awesome, and costs around $7 and has a similar sourdough taste to the other bread I mentioned, however they’re both different in their own way. This bread is less awesome because it has a lot more ingredients, but it’s still better than the typical bread you’d buy in a store. This bread is made by Food for Life. I’ve already mentioned my disappointment with them having yeast in most of their other products.. especially the bread that they decided to name after Ezekiel. There was no yeast in Ezekiel’s time.

Sorry for hating on yeast, but it is my personal belief that we are totally not evolved to consume it, as well as most of the crap in the western/first world country diet. I further believe that we’re not going to adapt to these news food items since the health problems they cause tend to kill people after they reproduce. In the case of obesity, it doesn’t seem to stop people from mating and producing children in the first place. Though it does make them less desirable as mates I suppose.

I seriously need to get sourdough starter and make my own bread…

In other news, I have *way* more energy after being on this no yeast, no sugar diet for a few weeks. It’s awesomely insane.That is all.

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Sugar and Yeast Detox

So as you should know by now, I have Crohn’s Disease. This past semester has been insane and because of my schedule it was near impossible for me to see the doctor. I was basically sick the entire semester, first with allergies and a sinus infection and later with stomach pains. I had to stop student teaching earlier than I wanted to due to the stomach pain and needing to be able to eat at certain times. After I stopped I was able to see the doctor, they drew blood and checked my stool for a certain type of infection. They saw nothing of interested besides my blood showing high inflammation. He had me get a CT scan to check for abscesses. Luckily I had none, but there were new areas of inflammation. Previously I had only had areas of Crohn’s in my large intestine and the very end of my small intestine. The bitch decided to expand. My doctor now wants to change my medication to an injectible one that treats the whole intestinal tract as opposed to just the end.

That was my wake up call. I had gone on certain food detoxes before when I was having flares only to go back to eating crap as soon as I started feeling better. Now I know you can’t just make a change until you feel better. You have to make a full on life style change. My change: no more refined sugar or yeast, no dairy products high in lactose, as few processed foods as possible, and high amounts of anti-inflammatory foods in addition to taking curcumin and artichoke supplements (both have anti-inflammatory properties) .

Now the only types of sugar I’m having are ones already occurring in fruit, honey, (real) maple syrup and possibly agave syrup once I learn more about it. It’s been really interesting. When you stop eating things with added sugar, your palate improves insanely. I used to always put butter or brown sugar on my sweet potatoes. When I first started eating them plain I wasn’t crazy about it, but after the second or third time I became able to taste the natural sugar that was already in it. I’ve also been reading labels on food a lot more. I’ve learned that they add sugar to *everything* and I have no idea why.

As for yeast, you may not know that as a society we’ve really only been using yeast for the past 100 years or so. Prior to that sour dough was used. You can find sour dough bread in just about any store these days, but you’ll see yeast in the ingredients. I’m not eating anything with yeast because there’s a theory that Crohn’s disease can be caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the intestine, and going without it has helped me feel better in the past.This is another difficult thing because yeast is in so many things it doesn’t even need to be in like hard pretzels, flat bread, some tortillas, soup stock and so many other places you wouldn’t expect to find it. What’s the most ironic is that yeast is in a brand of bread sold called Ezekiel bread because it’s based on the recipe that God gave to him in the Bible. They had no yeast in the Bible. It should really be called Ezekiel Inspired bread since they don’t follow the recipe given in the Bible.

So here are some things I’ve been eating

Breakfast – fruits, sweet potato, oatmeal, things listed for lunch/dinner

Lunch/Dinner – fish, rice, poultry, lots of vegetables, wraps with tortillas that have no yeast

Desserts/Snacks – baklava made by my mother with a lot less honey, these granola bar things my mom makes but now she’s been making them with no sugar, veggies and special peanut butter with no sugar in it.

In the end I’m still probably going to take the new medication just because I don’t want stress next semester to screw me over. But I can now say I’ve reached the point of where I am willing to permanently change my diet in just about any way to not need to be on medication for the rest of my life.

Already I’m finding that I miss a lot of things but I’ve also come to appreciate the things I can have a lot more. Plus I’m feeling a lot better.

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NYC Dumpling Festival 2011

So I’ve been insanely overworked and running around like a madwoman since I’ve started student teaching. It was on Thursday that I told myself I needed to do something to have fun and relax this weekend, originally I just wanted to go to the village but then Scott informed me that today the NYC Dumpling Festival would be taking place 😀

We arrived about 10 minutes early and waited on a nice short line to purchase our tickets. For $20 you got to sample dumplings from any four stands at the festival. It seemed a bit expensive to me at first, but I was happy to learn all of my $20 was going to help support the Food Bank of NYC.  Scott and I each bought a ticket, so our plan was to try samples from 8 different stands and share them. The first dumplings we tried were Tang’s veggie dumplings.

not only are they veggie dumplings, they're totally vegan!

These were whole wheat and vegan and were served with some sweet chili sauce. I didn’t taste the whole wheat in them at all and the sauce was awesome! These dumplings can be purchased at Whole Foods, which means I’ll probably never have them again, or at least for a very long time since Whole Foods is out of the way and damn expensive. Our next choice was Veselka’s Trio of Pierogi.

We got one potato/sour cream pierogi, one goat/beef pierogi and one goat cheese/arugula pierogi. I let Scott eat the one that had beef in it because I do not eat beef (he ate everything else that had beef in it for me also :)) He liked that one. The potato one just tasted like your standard pierogi to me, nothing special. However, the goat cheese and arugula one was the most delicious thing I ate at the festival! It was amazing and went wonderfully with the sauteed onions. It was a total food-gasm.  Our next sample was O Lavadar’s fried seafood dumplings.

I wasn’t too thrilled with these to be honest. I liked the sauce but the filling didn’t work with the outside for me. Plus I’ve never been crazy about deep fried foods in general. After that we decided to try Chinese Mirch’s chicken momo

These were simple chicken dumplings in a spicy broth. I really enjoyed this. I know this would be extremely delicious in cold weather. I liked the spice the broth left on the dumplings, it made me feel warm inside without setting my mouth on fire. But unlike Scott I didn’t drink any of the broth, since his tolerance for spicy things is much higher than mine. Anyways, onto our next two samples  Elsewhere’s lamb and potato dumpling (top) and miss Korea BBQ’s duo of mandu (bottom) The lamb and potato dumping was excellent. It was comfort food in a dumpling pastry form. This is another dish that I think would be more satisfying to each when it’s cold because it was pretty filling. The Korean BBQ sample consisted of one pork dumpling and one kimchi dumpling as well as a side of kimchi and marinated beef. I thought the pork dumpling was alright, but it wasn’t amazing. When I first tried the kimchi dumpling my inital thoughts were “wow, this is the best veggie dumpling I’ve had in a long time,” but then the spice hit me. It was too spicy for my tastes by Scott enjoyed it. The kimchi side tasted like sauerkraut only not. I like sauerkraut better, but I’d be interested to see what a fusion of kimchi and sauerkraut would taste like. And Scott said the marinated beef was nothing special.Our last dumpling sample for the day came from Ivy Bakery.

This was a spiced apple dumpling pastry. It was quite tasty but I was a bit disappointed they only gave us one and that it was as small as it was. But it was a nice desert to end with. With our final sample ticket we got two bottles of ginger ale from Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale.

I’ve had their ginger ale once or twice before and I must say that they are *legit.* With the normal one you feel the burn of ginger, which I find pleasant when I am ill because I feel like it’s helping to fight whatever sickness I have. Plus ginger is good for your digestive system. Scott and I split the pomegranate one which wasn’t as intense as the normal one. I took the jasmine tea one home with me and plan on trying it later tonight or tomorrow.

They were going to have a dumpling eating contest and set a world record for the most dumplings eaten in two minutes, but I’m not into eating competitions so I didn’t really watch. The dumpling cutting to set off the festivities was pretty awesome though.

basically, it's a giant dumpling, filled with normal size dumplings

Over all I had an awesome time and even got to find a few restaurants I’d really like to visit in the future. The few things we didn’t try were some pork dumpings and chicken liver raviolis. My two disappointments with this event were the fact that the dumpling mascot the event’s website led me to think would be there was not there and the fact that they didn’t have any samosas.

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Why You Should Understand Volume and Density In Real Life

I realize that I was born with a math teacher brain, which caused me to notice two things that led me to write this post.

The first thing was a commercial for Hershey’s new aerated chocolate.

My mother’s immediate reaction to the commercial was that it was a ripoff because you would be getting less chocolate. But I said that you cannot be sure of that until you look at the net-weight on the package and compare it to a normal Hershey bar, and see if there is any difference in price. I have no pictures, but during my most recent trip to CVS I noted that a normal Hershey bar’s net weight was 1.55 oz while the aerated chocolate’s net weight was 1.45 oz. For the same price you are getting 0.10 oz less chocolate with air-bubbles in it. Not worth it for me, but if you’re being calorie conscious this could be a help. But if you really wanted to be healthy you wouldn’t be eating a whole bar of chocolate in the first place.

Something interesting to think about is how we can use simple algebra to figure out how much more money Hershey makes on the aerated chocolate. Set up the following ratio:

(aerated/ normal) = 145/155 = x/100

Solve for x and you get 93.5. Which means the aerated chocolate’s weight is about 94% of the normal chocolate’s weight. Hershey would prefer you buy the aerate chocolate because since both bars are the same price, they make about 6% more. Keep in mind I’m not taking into consideration how much it costs to run the machinery that aerates the chocolate, but I’m assuming it can’t be much.

The second thing was the shape of the bottle of nail polish that Christal sent me! It’s the Funky Fingers nail polish pictured here with a few other bottles of nail polish in my house.

from left to right: sally hansen's quick dry, funky fingers, wet n' wild, NYC quick dry

Would you expect that nail polish bottles were set at some standard volume size and that these would all hold the same amount? They’re not. In fact they all have different net weights listed on the bottom. My mom’s Sally Hansen nail polish was the most expensive one there, costing $5. The NYC quick dry and Wet n’ Wild were each $2. And according to the internet Funky Fingers seems to retail around $2-$6 a bottle.. though I think the more expensive ones were just people trying to make a profit on e-bay.

Based only looking at the bottles I would have guessed the order from least to greatest would have been NYC, Wet n’ Wild, Sally Hansen, Funky Fingers. But looks are very deceiving, pictured below are the bottles arranged in order from least to greatest, based on the net weight written on the bottom of the bottle.

So the most expensive one has the least amount of product. A typical student would probably say you should buy the cheapest one that holds the most, but this is where the real life applications come in and taint the purity of math. You should buy the one that best suits your budget, and has a quality that you are satisfied with. If one brand requires more coats than another brand, you’re not exactly saving money by buying that one even if it has more product in it. It’s really a matter of what you want and how much you are willing to spend. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be mathematically knowledgeable about how much you are getting at the same time!

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