Hey kids! I’m in a great mood today, following a miserable day of laying in bed thinking I was going to die. All my own fault, of course.
I’ve been playing around with cooking the past few weeks and it’s been a good time. One of the things I’ve discovered is that a lot of fattening foods can be made into healthier versions by substituting the bottom or top half of a dish with a fake-out. For instance, cauliflower pizza crust is fan-frickin’-tastic but since most of the recipes online call for a crazy amount of cheese in the crust which is not where I want my cheese, I spent a full week tweaking the recipe so that it’d be low-calorie on the bottom yet hold together for picking up. Took a few tries but I got it in the end. I’ve kind of OD’d on pizza but I’ll be back!
I did the same with chicken pot pie, another dish I had never made before and would only buy as a rare treat due to the high calorie content, but by using substitutions…extreme happy dance. I also found substitutions for pasta; cabbage is a surprisingly fantastic base for meaty tomato sauce and shirataki noodles at 40 calories an 8oz package, while somewhat strange, work very well once you rinse and dry-fry them in preparation. I also found a great low-cal alfredo topping recipe to adorn regular pasta (like I say, I’ll sub one side of a dish but not both). Hell, I even bought bacon for that one and I haven’t bought a pack of bacon in years. Also, cauliflower not only makes a great crust, it’s a wonderful faux rice as well, thanks to this little food processor that has changed my life for the better.
I’ve also been into making single serving desserts: one person cakes, brownies, cookies, all this stuff I used to call off-limits…so fun. And the coolest part is that as soon as I started this cooking deal, I lost a couple pounds without even trying.
But on to the poisoning…
My pièce de résistance of cooking has been my sugarfree gummy candies. I started making them because I love gummy candy and I saw some online recipes for it. Most of them use jello or kool-aid as a flavoring which I’ve avoided but the main player in all of them (as well as in commercial ones) is unflavored gelatin. As it turns out, gelatin is crazy good for us! Not just for the hair, skin and nails but for joints, too. In fact, collagen supplements (ex. Neocell) are all the rage now but it’s just highly refined gelatin. Now before anyone goes off on where gelatin comes from, no hooves or horns are involved, it’s bones and hide and the stuff I get is from grass-fed cows.
I use stevia in my gummies which is a natural sweetener and flavored extracts and oils so the only calories are from the gelatin itself, which makes it a really low-cal treat: 5 oz of candy (a batch using 1/4 cup of dry gelatin) comes out to 100 calories for the whole thing! And it’s good for you. Fabulous.
I’ve become such a little factory, I now have an army of flavorings, an array of food coloring and some candy molds to do it up right (though I don’t bother with the molds any more since it’s just me eating them and I’m lazy). Licorice, spearmint, orange, cranberry, blackberry, cherry are just a few of the flavors I’ve made so far. I keep them in a tupperware in the cupboard because I like them to get a little harder on the outside and until this last weekend, that worked fine.
I had a houseguest for a few days, Tony, who agreed that they were tasty (though maybe he was just being polite, he’s an especially nice guy). But something weird happened with a couple batches I made while he was here – after a couple days they “sweated”, got sticky and wet. I couldn’t imagine why, these things were in the cupboard in 2 separate containers (spearmint was in a ziplock due to its powerful flavor) and I’d been making them a couple weeks at this point, yet this was the first time I’d seen such a thing. But I’m a pig so I ate ‘em anyway.
On Saturday, I had some weird stomach pains that I attributed to eggs I’d had at a diner. It went away and I forgot about it. But then Sunday while at a taxidermy demonstration, my stomach started hurting again, though it wasn’t for queasiness of the presentation (skinning and stuffing a chicken is surprisingly non-gory, except when the taxidermist lady nipped into an organ by mistake, but I digress…)
I got home from the thing and had to lie down the rest of the night while horrible waves of pain attacked my innards and when I awoke the next morning, there was no relief, just as awful. This lasted until early yesterday evening. Finally, this morning, a realization came to me.
Both these gummy candy batches had been made with a new bottle of stevia that unlike my previous bottle, was alcohol-free. Alcohol is a preservative. So what I think happened is that the gelatin started breaking down and the resulting moisture-filled closed containers became a home for bacteria, which ended up in my gut. Doh!
Needless to say, my next batches of gummies using this stevia will be stored in the fridge and when the bottle’s done, it’ll be back to the alcohol kind, thank you very much. That is, whenever I can stomach the idea of making them again, but I’m such a pig, it won’t be long.
This is kind of comical in a sick way, but I had a couple more “challenges” recently. In March, my running (what little I was doing, around 30mpw) started deteriorating pacewise. Each week was slower than the one before. I didn’t care that much at first, nothing was hurting and my parts seemed to be behaving normally, plus any expectations I have now about what “normal” is has long gone out the window, but after the 3rd week, when I saw a real trend, it seemed a good time for a blood test to see if my iron levels were at fault.
To my relief, all my iron numbers had dropped (always wonderful to have something clear to blame shitty running on). Back in November, because the ferritin number then was strangely high, I had stopped taking the more powerful iron supp and had switched to a regular RDA of iron – seems I need the higher amount as a regular thing, lesson learned. But this was just the precursor to what happened next…
The week of the blood test, I’d been waking with a sore throat and at the end of the week, I went to NYC for a fantasticly fun whirlwind trip where I got to hang out with 3 sets of old friends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in 13 years, it was just an incredible visit. When I got back home, I was sick as a dog, lungs full of crap…bronchitis. Ended up taking 17 days off. 17!!!! When I look at my running charts from the past year, it’s ridiculous, all these open spaces with forced time off. Crazy.
But I’m happy to say, I’ve been back on the road since April 10th and running feels really good right now, maybe it helps that it’s spring, but I feel like my body’s acting right again in every way. I’m plopped back into yet another rebuilding process, but on the positive side, it came at a good time since it allowed my iron to restore while I sat on my ass instead of depleting it further. And unlike my runs that for the past few months were constantly littered with stretch stops to ease the SI/hip thing, that’s finished completely. It’s a beautiful thing.
I won’t say anything about it from my point of view, it’s just heartbreaking and horrible. But I will bring your attention to my dear friend Kat’s fundraising page, she’s raising money to help buy prosthetic limbs for the victims so if you have some moolah to spare, please send it her way, such a truly great cause.