Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Acupuncture! Finally!

I was referred to an acupuncture clinic put on by a local school. And I went!

The place was awesome; it's called Five Branches, and I found both the administrative staff and my acupuncturist to be helpful, knowledgeable, and totally unscented.

The acupuncturist was an intern, a week from graduation. We talked about my health for a while, he took my pulses, looked at my tongue, then stuck some needles in me. I wasn't nervous until he was prepping the needles and rubbing alcohol on various points of my body. I asked him if he would warn me before sticking me and unlike the dentist of surprise sticks I visited recently, he readily agreed and very respectfully gave me plenty of warning for each insertion. It was a breeze, really. I felt a few of the pricks when they first went in (heh), but they hurt much less than when I jab myself with a sewing needle. And then he had me lay there for a while, so I tried to relax and every now and again peeked at the long, thin needles sticking out of my hands, feet, and stomach. If I'd had a mirror available, I could have seen the crown of needles on my head, but alas, the room was mirrorless.

He came back in and popped the needles out and I was on my way. He recommended I come once a week, or as often as possible. I hope to be able to make it that frequently, but getting off our mountain isn't so easy for me. Why no in-home acupuncture Five Branches? In fact, why no in-home medical care for everyone who needs it? Y NO?

State and federally provided health insurance don't cover acupuncture, so we're paying out of pocket. The clinic does offer a good discount for those of us on Medicare though, so that's a bright spot. Also, the clinic was nicely lit, and there was a sign in the lobby asking patients to refrain from wearing fragrances. I love those signs!

I haven't seen any definitive difference yet, but I really wouldn't expect to after only one visit. I'm so glad to be finally trying acupuncture! It's such a controversial field of study, I can't help but be intrigued by whether I'll see any changes. I'll definitely be updating as far as further appointments and results.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Gooeyness, Creamyness, Deliciousness, and a Rant

A vegan equivalent to eggs benedict isn't just a fantasy. It's real, and it's delicious.

I made another quiche this morning. This time I didn't have any artichoke hearts and not a whole lot of spinach, so I was forced to branch out. Besides the small amount of spinach I did have, I ended up adding some well-chopped broccoli, cauliflower, yellow carrot, and a few heaping tablespoons of fake parmesan. Now, when the quiche first comes out of the oven, it's super creamy and thick, and reminds me of a hollandaise sauce. That's where the benedict inspiration strikes. Hungry for lunch, and unwilling to wait the time it can take for the quiche to completely cool and set, I ran with it.

I had some apple-smoked fake sausage in the fridge that I cut into slices lengthwise and laid across half a piece of naan. I broiled this until it was warm and crispy, then smeared some fresh-from-the-oven still-gooey quiche over the top of it and broiled for a few more minutes.

It didn't taste a whole lot like traditional eggs benedict, but the mouthfeel was creamy and the flavor was savory and salty in the most perfect way. Mm.

I would also like to share my recent pinto bean revelation. I like to make them from dried when I can, but wondered why my beans never came out as nice as canned. The texture was never quite creamy, they would go from hard, to soft and a little grainy, to mushy. I had a different experience altogether the last time I made them, though, and let me tell you what I did. I soaked the dried beans overnight in cold, salted water. I did not boil the water, and I did not rinse the beans after soaking. I cooked them the next day until they were soft. They came out perfectly cooked, with the skins nicely intact, and the loveliest creamy texture, even nicer than canned.

Now please allow me a moment of complaint. Yesterday, I shared my dinner plans with a neighbor and he got super rude. It went like this:

Me: We're grilling hot dogs tonight! I've got an urge for a chili-cheese dog and we got all the ingredients vegan! I'm excited!

Him: Oh. (face-making)

Me: It'll be good!

Him: That's an oxymoron.

Me: What is?

Him: "Good" and "vegan". Those don't go together in a sentence.

Me: Aw, don't be closed-minded! That's sad!

I was trying to stay jovial about it, but it still devolved into him calling vegans rude and angry, and me saying I've met way more rude meat-eaters than vegans (CASE IN POINT), to which he replied that he was happy for me??? Which I guess is sarcastic, but I'm too old to give a fuck frankly, so I gave up and let the other meat-eaters nearby (who had heard this bizarre exchange) school him for me. And later that evening, one of them tried a vegan chili-cheese dog and proclaimed it delicious! SO I WIN! :D

I'm proud of my mostly vegan diet; I don't hide my preference for avoiding animal products, and I can get excited when I tell someone about some tasty dish I made entirely from plants that I perhaps could not have even conceived of in my pre-vegan days. It's a thing that makes me happier. Now, I don't shame others for consuming animal products (I'm only mostly-vegan myself, anyway) or intrusively inform people about my morals regarding their diet, but it sometimes seems like an impossible request to ask some meat-eaters to give me the same respect. I got comments as a vegetarian, but now that I am rejecting the cheese and ice cream, it is really being taken personally.

Happily, there are so many more people who don't make weird comments, who don't make fun of me, who ask perfectly polite questions or who simply ignore our dietary differences, because it's no one's business but our own what we eat, amirite? Those people are delightful, and if you are one of those people, we should be friends.


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Dentist

I went to the dentist and it was awful.

I've been putting of the dentist for years. Too many years, it seems, because I have quite a few cavities. Many people I've spoken with recently say that going to the dentist is torture, and I would agree, but I very much want to challenge these people get their cavities filled with a migraine. My dentist had to stop after one filling because my shaking and crying was making it difficult for her to work. For the record, I would have withstood at least one more, but I can't help my body's reaction to extreme pain. I was recommended to sedation dentistry, but I don't know how much that costs, or if denti-cal will cover it. I believe firmly that they should, but what's right and what's covered aren't at all the same things.

The dentist could have done a few things to improve my experience. I told them I was nervous because I had a migraine and that I was somewhat needle-phobic. I asked the doctor to warn me before she stuck me. She didn't. Instead, she told me to close my eyes, then poked me repeatedly while grabbing my cheek hard and speaking to me in a soft, gentle voice. That last part was fine, actually, but without any warning, I couldn't help but feel frightened by the surprise needle in my mouth. Despite my best efforts at remaining calm, I could only take four stabs before I started panicking.

If she had warned me before starting, or counted down the number and the durations of each stick, I honestly think I could have dealt with it easily by breathing and forcing my muscles to relax. This has worked pretty well for me in the past, and as long as I felt I could trust the person doing this awful thing to me (ie blood draws, pap smears, vaccinations) I would get through it with minimal tears and we'd all part friends. But by ignoring my simple requests, she obliterated any natural trust I might have had; and even after my initial, very evident panic, she totally dismissed my repeated pleas for warning of what she was going to do in my mouth. She insisted it would make me MORE fearful, and I would tense up MORE at her warnings. I couldn't get her to listen. She made it clear I couldn't trust her, and I couldn't relax.

She came back a while later, after the novocaine had kicked in, and started work. As I already mentioned, there was shaking and crying. I don't know if I can explain what it feels like to have a drill grinding in my tooth with a migraine. The dentist tried to stop early on, said we should reschedule for when I don't have a migraine. With tears streaming down my face, I sobbed that I ALWAYS have a migraine, it would never go away, and if she could do the work, I could take it. Then I put my head back and opened my mouth, ready for the torture. She finished the one cavity she'd started, then disappeared into another part of the building, probably to drink herself into a stupor.

The poor thing had spent most of my polishing and prep telling me about how far dentistry had come, and how the needles are the worst part. I had tried to tell her that wasn't my real issue, but I don't think she was at all prepared for how intense it would get. While she worked, she tried soothing me with that soft voice again, and it was rather nice, "You're doing great, darling, we're almost done." Near the end, even softer than her other reassurances, she said once, "You are a very strong woman." At the time, if I could have laughed, I would have. I didn't feel strong, not even an iota. I was a complete wreck and wasn't aware of a thing except the impossible pain coming from my head, my boyfriend's hand in mine, and her voice. But looking back, I am a fucking badass. Who willingly lays back and allows an unpredictable stabber to inflict pain at a level beyond explanation? Me. At the time I thought the dentist was patronizing me, but in hindsight, I think she meant it.

But yeah, sedation dentistry. It's another ball of worries, but I think it's the better option for me, and for my poor dentist.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Food Photos

I hate my current cameras. I have a point and shoot and the camera on my smartphone and both are just terrible. There is hope for the future of my photography hobby, but for now, we will enjoy the best I can do. Which is a little blurry.

I snapped a shot of one of my macro bowls.

Except it's a macro plate, I guess. This one is pretty kale heavy, but excessive garlic powder and those seared mushrooms cover any bitterness nicely. Also featuring brown rice and chickpeas.

I was so proud of this pizza, I joyfully took a before-cooking pic:

but then I ate it before it occurred to take an after shot. It was gorgeous, and tasted incredible. Under those portabello mushroom slices is a layer of savory pesto. This dish is one of those that saved me during my intense IC diet, and I'm just so happy I live in a world where just a handful of ingredients can transport my heart to a place of bliss. I mean, portabellos and pesto. There is no happier combination.

I've got a wee garden going in our yard!

I've already had to do some pest control, and I'm afraid the deer are going to trample our pathetic fence as soon as they notice those fresh, tender baby greens, but I'm also hopeful for a summer filled with fresh kale and chard, and maybe more if we get our butts in gear on raised beds.

We also have an accidental potato patch in the compost bin.

I knew this would happen when I tossed green potatoes in there, I don't keep it nearly hot enough to kill the sprouts. The plants aren't growing a whole lot of potatoes so far, there isn't much sun where they are, but it's pretty amazing to watch them try.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Chickpeas Mostly, But Also: Hot Dogs and Cheeze

Vegan quiche remains half my diet.

I exaggerate, but I have been eating a piece every morning. Scrambled like eggs, on top of toast, or most recently, sandwiched with some daiya cheddar on a biscuit. They were totally reminiscent of McDonald's breakfast sandwiches, but way better. They were so good, it was painful to finish them. The biscuits weren't vegan, so it's not something I want to eat often. I need to find vegan biscuits.

Speaking of vegan junk food, I've got the biggest craving for hot dogs! I'm going to get some veggie ones and indulge the craving, since it doesn't come around often. I missed being able to eat soy, it gives me so many more options. I'm really looking forward to a chili dog with cheeze, but I've never met a hot dog topping I didn't like. It's gonna be a party.

Not being able to eat soy did introduce me to Quorn, so I guess there was a bright side. I adore their chicken bites. Most recently, I used them to make ramen a legit meal, with the help of some chopped bok choy.

The last Whole Foods I went in had Miyoko's, that cashew cheese I'm always raving about (occasionally here, constantly irl). That's my favorite snack right now, eaten with an apple or a pear, the smoked farmhouse is simply heaven.

I made an accidental hummus dressing today. I meant to make regular hummus, but neglected to strain the canned chickpeas before dumping them in the processor. The extra liquid made it way runnier than is appropriate, so I went the salad dressing route with it. I've got two heads of green leaf I need to use up, so I grabbed a bunch of leaves off one of them and peeled a few carrots, tossed it in the dressing (which was 1 can of chickpeas and their water, some peanut butter, pesto, and lemongrass (i'm still a little afraid of citrus)). I wasn't feeling like having a salad plain, so I wrapped it all up in a tortilla! I love salad burritos!

I made asparagus with dill, lemongrass, and garlic powder for dinner tonight. And I scooped some vegan quiche on top of it! No wait, hear me out. The quiche was fresh from the oven, and before it cools, it's very rich and creamy and runny, so eating it with the asparagus was almost like a chunky veggie hollandaise sauce. OMG I need to make a vegan eggs benedict pronto.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hiking with a Migraine: I Recommend Not

Had my first truly disabling migraine while hiking alone, and while it didn't last long and I made it home fine, it was a harsh reminder of how badly things can go.

It was a new trail, I'd only been on it once before and I'd been pretty distracted by dogs and conversation so I didn't quite remember the terrain accurately, so it was steeper than I'd anticipated.

The sudden, sharp pain was bad enough to make me worry about being alone in the forest, but brief enough that I kept going without thinking about it too hard. I was far enough out that no one I knew would hear me if I yelled (and we don't always know who else is hanging out in these woods) so I wanted to get as close as I could to my people before the migraine decided if it was coming back and if so, how hard. The path was very clear, for that I was grateful because at the first possible fork, I had to stop and think for a frightening moment, my brain refused to remember going up the hill I was faced with. Luckily, the old synapses weren't totally migraine-fried as it was only a few seconds of uncertainty before I recalled: of course I didn't hike up the hill on my out, I'd hiked down it. "What goes down must go up," I reassured myself as I started the climb. My head didn't like it, protested every footfall that seemed to echo from my feet to my eyeballs, but I made it home without further incident and decided that I wouldn't be traveling any more unfamiliar trails unless I KNEW I was well enough.

Unfortunately, that resolution only lasted a week before I found myself traversing an old logging road on a bad day. So it goes: I walk the dogs, we wander, I see something that piques my curiosity and shortly thereafter I'm kind of wishing I wasn't so damn curious all the time. At least satisfaction keeps bringing me back!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Enchilasagna, Pot Pie, and a Very Tasty Burrito

Today I felt like using some glass baking pans, so I did.

I love enchiladas and I've been making some variation on them for years. Of course, I never follow a recipe, and they come out different every time, especially now that my diet is such a careful thing. I'm still slowly introducing IC trigger foods, but haven't been brave at all about acids or chilis yet, so these enchiladas are rather mild. And I was feeling too lazy to wrap, so they became more of a enchi-lasagna for all the layers, and yeah. Improvisation is the most essential ingredient in my kitchen.

I lined a large glass baking dish with corn tortillas and some bell pepper sauce I made with my little chopper. Over that, I spread a bean and corn mixture I whipped up with three cans of different beans, a can of corn, and herbs and spices to taste; salt, chili powder, oregano, basil, garlic powder, and a touch of cumin and cinnamon. Over that, another layer of tortillas, another of sauce, then beans, more tortillas, and the last of the sauce. Bake at 400 until bubbly, about half an hour.

At the same time, I used the last pie crust in my freezer and made some pot pies. First, I roasted the vegetables for premium flavor (I used a frozen medley of broccoli, carrots and cauliflower). Once done, I chop the veg and mix them with some salt, pepper, sage, basil, flour, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Toss that in a baking dish with a 1/4 cup of veggie broth, cover with pie crust, poke it and bake at 425 for twenty minutes. Then, cover and bake for another ten or so, til it's all brown and bubbly. I normally make a gravy for the filling, but again, lazy. It's good without!

You may notice more spices being added to my foods! I certainly do! Still, small amounts, in moderation, but I'm so excited to be eating a little more freely.

Hilariously, after making all that, I was super in the mood for leftovers for dinner. It was a roasted chickpea burrito with cabbage, bell peppers, and pesto brown rice. It felt a little boring as it was, so after I wrapped it up, I fried it in a cooking-sprayed pan, turning so all sides went brown and crispy.

Anybody like these posts? I'm enjoying writing about my food, and hopefully with practice I'll get better at it, but any suggestions? Requests? You can always email me at peinahpets@gmail.com if you aren't a commenting kind of kid but have thoughts to share.

Happy Eating!