Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Heredity of Illness

Here's a question for all you bright minds out there: how much of an influence do our families have on the illnesses we get? Some may say, "Well, a huge influence because many illnesses are hereditary." Are personality traits hereditary too then? And how much of an influence do those traits have on our health? And how do those personality traits interact with our environment to then lead to loss of health?

This is what I'm studying right now, and I feel like I just opened a can of worms I never knew existed. Health always seemed so cut and dry. But it's not.

For the past three weeks I've been going deep into who I am and who I learned to be from my parents and grandparents, and pinpointing what traits and habits are keepers and which ones are reeking havoc in my life (e.g., not being able to stand up for myself, eating canned food, being too accommodating, not making time for myself/my health). If you think you didn't learn that from someone, you're wrong. (And I'd really love to have someone counter this or vouch for it as well. Please share your insights.) Who would've thought that since my dad always has to be the last one at the party to help vacuum and take the trash out (even if it wasn't his party!!) that I'd be the same way? One of my brothers admitted he's that way now too. Curses. It's a fight to get myself to leave a party without feeling guilty that I didn't help clean up. All I hear in me head is, "You stay until the work is done."

I bet you'll be surprised at what you unravel as you think about how your personality type handles stress, your everyday decisions, and your environment, and how you learned much of that from the people you were raised by—either by adopting their ways or doing the opposite.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Gluten-free Vegan

It's official. It has been confirmed that my tummy would be better off without gluten. I'm allergic to wheat, oats, rye, and spelt. At first I thought, "Hey, no biggie. I've been prepping for this. I've been avoiding gluten for months now." But then I was informed my tummy also doesn't like quinoa and millet, which are gluten-free and in my special Mary's Gone Crackers crackers. Dang. And I love cooking millet and quinoa together and eating them with black beens and zucchini. They'll have to be for another day.

And then I was told to stay away from soy as well. I took this a little harder because, well, soy has become a key player in my daily meals. But now I know why my stomach hasn't been so happy lately. Really what it comes down to is feeling the best that you can, and if eliminating these foods will help me, I'm all for trying. So I gave away my soy ice creams (vanilla and gingersnap) and my bag of frozen edamame, and crossed tofu, tempe, soy sauce, tamari, miso, and practically every processed food off my grocery list. Why does everything have soy in it? That's a good question. Anyone have any answers to that?

I went to a birthday party on Monday for my friend Josh, and Josh's grandma asked me, "Can you eat cranberries?" She looked at the ingredient list on the bag of Oceanspray cranberries, and instead of it reading just "cranberries," it read "cranberries, sugar, something else, and may contain milk, wheat, or soy." What? Aren't cranberries just cranberries? What else could be in those cranberries if the factory is worried about all their other food products contaminating each other?

Sushi Salad

I crave this salad and have made several different versions, adding or subtracting veggies, depending on what I have on hand. Be creative. Make your taste buds happy while eating healthy!

2 cups cooked brown rice*
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 cup cucumber, diced
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 carrot, shaved with a peeler
2 small scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced or grated
1–2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup cubed tofu
1 tablespoon olive oil
Wasabi to taste

Place rice in a bowl and drizzle with rice vinegar. Once it has cooled, add the veggies, ginger, sesame seeds, tofu, and olive oil. Serve with wasabi on the side.

*To make rice exceptional, coat with coconut oil before cooking. This way it doesn't clump and has a smoother texture. 

Tofu Scramble

As of two weeks ago I no longer eat soy—my stomach just can't digest it like it should—but I snapped some pictures of a few of my favorite recipes prior to making this diet change. I didn't want to keep these yummy dishes from you, so even though I won't be eating them exactly as the recipes call for, I still wanted to share them with you.

If you aren't into tofu, replace with garbanzo beans—my taste buds actually prefer it this way. I always double this recipe so that I have plenty of leftovers. Enjoy!

1–2 tablespoons coconut oil, or olive oil
1/2 cup onion, minced
1/2 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 tub firm tofu, or 2 cups garbanzo beans, soaked and cooked
 Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a frying pan and add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until veggies are soft. Then add parsley and turmeric, and stir. Crumble tofu (or garbanzo beans) and add to pan. Stir some more. Continue to heat for about 5 minutes more, or until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.