Tuesday, September 2, 2014

flowers and food


Just one clump of flowers survived the bank-clearing operation.

I pointed out the young leaves to the man with the brushcutter, and asked him to cut around them. He nodded. Then as he got closer to them, I pointed out the leaves again. He looked at them closely. I agreed that yes, it would be very easy to confuse these plants with the wretched bittersweet growing right next to and all around it, but that it was very important to try. He did a good job, and the buds are becoming blossoms. I am so happy to see them!

And I'm not the only one.

I don't know the name of this flower, but it was growing here when I bought the place.
It has thrived and spread and made me happy every year since.
I was thrilled to see a few stems bravely poking up this Spring!
It would have been very sad if it had been completely lost to the snowplow.

Soon the survivors should be moved a bit farther from the driveway.
Maybe sometime this Autumn? 
If anyone knows what the plant is, and if digging it up is a good idea,
please speak up in the comments!
I'd appreciate it very much.

Coconut custard pie, hot from the oven...
this is what happens when I think about not eating sugar.

Earlier this evening I started writing a wandering ponder about food and health issues, and a couple of dietary programs I've been reading about. And I was hoping for your input, because I'm not sure I should (or could) do a strict elimination diet. But in the process of all that meandering, at one point I suddenly lost the entire page (hello again, new laptop!) and only later discovered that I has accidentally published it. So if anyone saw the page of fragmented goobledy-gook, I apologize for that frightening glimpse into the way my mind works. 

And now I'm starting over, with less meandering.

Briefly: I'm considering doing the "Whole30" program, which is a 30-day elimination and "whole food" diet, to see if changing the way I eat may help with some chronic pain issues. It's kind of a tough program, in the sense that I already have a simple diet, yet Whole30 eliminates a great deal of what I eat. Which I suppose is the point.

Whole30 was created by the authors of the book It Starts With Food, but there is no pressure to buy their book; the Whole30 program and online resources are free. It is set up to guide people along the 30-day process, and there is a forum where people post recipes and so on.

I can already see that following the diet would mean spending a LOT more time thinking about food, every day. Also, making at least a couple of trips to the "real" grocery store, an hour away. And getting in the kitchen and cooking daily instead of when I feel like cooking. And so on.

For the first time in my life, I can really understand the lure of healthfood/spa-type places, where people go to deliberately relinquish control of their own decisions. Because if all I had to do was wait for some lovely person to bring me platters of "compliant" food, I'd eat it and be (probably) pretty happy. Confession (although no surprise to those of you who have read some of my "recipe" posts): I am so lazy when it comes to food. I like to cook when I feel like cooking. I like to eat when I'm hungry. And I eat mostly good things, and mostly organic: vegetables, homemade kefir, juices, homegrown eggs, etc. I don't eat a lot of sweets or "junk" food...unless I start thinking about it. For example, a few weeks ago I had an encouraging conversation with some friends on ravelry who have had great success lowering their arthritis pain levels by totally eliminating sugar from their diets. And at that time I said, "I don't use much sugar, but maybe I should try eliminating it completely."

And whammo. I have been craving sweets ever since.

So...I'm a bit anxious about what might happen if I suddenly eliminate, among other things, all sugars, all shelled legumes, all grains, and - gulp - all dairy.

On the other hand, I feel like an awfully whiny and entitled wimp to even think how "hard" it would be to eat "only" the things on the very extensive and healthy-sounding list of acceptable foods.

But...one of the most rigorous eat-for-health people I know (also one of the fittest and happiest for all the years I've known her) told me she had done a strict elimination diet years ago. "It was really hard," she said. Then she frowned and shook her head. "It was really, really hard. Whew."

So...I feel that I'd be foolish not to explore this avenue, but I also feel some trepidation about it. If any of my lovely readers has experience, pro or con, with an elimination diet, I would love to hear about it!


  1. I believe that for some people, joint pain can be relieved by eliminating nightshades -- tomato, potato, pepper, eggplant and other such family members. One of my friends flatly refused to eliminate tomatoes, she being an Italian cook, so she never found out if it would work!

    But the notion of eliminating a single food is excellent, for about a month. As long as later you introduce it in tiny quantities back into your diet, so as not to set up a lifelong inability to process it. This is the bit a lot of practitioners fail to mention.

    I have a kind of useless, negative personal finding. I eliminated dairy for a month, just on general principles, to see if I did as well without it as with it. After a month my energy was on the floor, dragging myself around, using only substitutes, almond, soy, all that. So I thought, oh well, and resumed milk. Bingo. In 24 hours I was fine again. So I think I simply showed it was essential to keep dairy! useful in a backwards sort of way.

    1. For me, that would be really useful info, as eliminating dairy makes my usual "menu" look pretty sparse!
      I did gluten-free and soy-free for 8 months a few years ago, and saw no change except becoming cranky about how much time and money I spent on acquiring GF products. That's part of my hesitation now.
      One difference in Whole30 is that even substitute foods (Paleo Pancakes keep coming up as an example, so they must be pretty popular!) are not allowed. Part of the idea is changing how you think about food, not just changing what you eat. The authors call substitute foods "Sex With Your Pants On," which is a clever way to frame a restriction. Don't know how amusing it would be by Day 15, though.
      Thanks very much for your comment, Boud! Much appreciated.

  2. Interesting post, and yes, I did see your one from yesterday. :-) What I am more concerned about is that plant, now that we have solved the bug issue! Happy Tuesday, Quinn - hope it all falls together for you...and off to look for pie - you don't know how much I love coconut AND custard! XOXO

    1. I strongly recommend the recipe linked above! SO easy! :)

  3. Good Post. So True on the pie thing!
    A person I know went gluten free. The next time I saw him, I was utterly amazed at how good he looks. Gone is the puffy dough like flow to the skin, and he feels better.
    For years, I rarely bought sugar, maybe average 5 pounds of sugar in a year. I still didn't feel well, ache less or lose weight. I cut down snacks, no butter, and such. No change. Again, no sugar, gluten almost free, and more fruit and vegetables. Finally a change. But not enough. The only thing that helps me not ache so much is serious exercise, and a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables. I recently failed on dairy free. Its not easy to give up yogurt. I'm trying again because I firmly believe there's a reason we are weaned as babies. I can have anything I want, but in moderation. Pizza every other month. Limits on everything especially pasta and canned tomato products. I won't give up black bean chili. I didn't have ketchup for almost 3 months. I didn't miss it like I thought I would. Main snack now is frozen Bing cherries, blueberries, and water.
    Whatever you do, I think you'll know when you find the best balance for your system.

    1. For years I bought sugar mostly for the hummingbirds, but then I started baking...
      Frozen Bing cherries sound fantastic! I'm still eating frozen grapes as favorite treats (thanks to Boud's suggestion!) and I plan to be freezing more apple slices in a couple of months. But cherries - wow, I'll have to try that!

  4. About your flower, I love this kind of detective work. Is there any chance it's a penstemon? I know all the books say it's a western wildflower, but there is a Mass. version of it, and it's in the pink range, too, take a look here and scroll down to page 7: http://www.wildflower.org/collections/collection.php?start=60&collection=MA&pagecount=10

    1. Good try! It's not that, but I laughed because for a couple of years I've been (wrongly) calling another one of my plants a penstemon. Could have sworn the person I got it from told me that was it's name. Maybe she meant it's personal name, like Betty Penstemon, the Amsonia plant.


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