Sunday, July 26

Pestomania and Big Green Cooties

I loathe most vegetables.

When my big brother and I were kids, he used to tell me that I had "green and purple cooties". As far as I was concerned at age 5, which has not changed yet at age nearly-44, most green veggies are just Big Green Cooties.

I have recently given up on the idea that I will ever be able to force myself to eat foods I dislike. I can't tell you the number of times I have filled my refrigerator with nothing but healthy, beautiful produce foods, spent all my money on them and had no more for anything else. And then stood in front of the refrigerator until the hairs in my nose frosted up (to quote Erma Bombeck there), starving -- and then walked away hungry. Repeatedly. Until I was in a "health fast for days" and the produce was composting in the fridge. When you will literally STARVE rather than eat something, it's pretty apparent you don't like it and that mere 'suggestion', including 'driving hunger', is still not enough to force it down your throat.

Why on earth I ever thought that "just because I was on a diet plan" I should miraculously be able to eat Big Green Cooties is beyond me.

It seems evident that my primary weight gain and maintenance of that despite obviously insufficient calories over the years, aside from probably relating to thyroid/adrenals and other hormonal issues, is at least in part an issue of malnutrition. Massively insufficient protein, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, etc. for most of my life. My body's adapted to it somewhat -- by slowing my metabolism down somewhere below that of a tree sloth -- but that doesn't make it ok, it just keeps me fat.

So I asked myself what I can do to increase my intake of "things which are good for me."

I came up with the following list. This may or may not be a good list. I'm not suggesting it is a list for anybody but me. I'm just thinking out loud here because I have a blog and other people can be tortured by it I guess. I welcome any advice in the comments though.

My list.

1. Take vitamins. A good liquid multi is my base. A good (big dose, 4-10K iu daily) D3, E, K2, B-spectrum also.

2. Take minerals if not covered in the multi. Calcium, magnesium, potassium. (Did you know potassium deficiency has the same symptom-set as low thyroid and low oxygen?)

3. Take herbs where possible. The idea that I'm ever going to drink herbal tea regularly is right up there with the likelihood that I'm ever going to eat a lot of green veggies, despite what a charming fantasy that was in my head. I imagined me sitting down quietly with green tea each morning, with incense and classical music and -- ok, not gonna happen. So if herbs enter my body it's got to be in capsule form or as a spice, and really, how much spice can you eat anyway.

4. Take other supplements that my reading suggests might be useful. The research reports on capsaicin are mind blowing. Also I got cinnamon. And supplements such as gluten-ease for when I'm eating something with gluten or unsure if I am, and acidophilus for good-gut-critter well-being, etc.

5. Take supplements alleged to be important for thyroid. Lugol's Iodine Solution is famous but after further reading I decided that Carlson Lemon Cod Liver Oil and some Norwegian Kelp Tablets would do instead though I might add Lugol's later. Also, supplements alleged to be important for viral, parasite and bacterial immunity, such as apple cider vinegar. These are 'folk remedy' items but after seeing the number of testimonials regarding both I'm willing to extend some benefit of the doubt.

Which leads to the eating portion of the list...

1. Eat what I CAN eat in the 'green' category and eat a LOT of it.

OK let's see. What do I like?

A. I like Greek Salad. Mine, not anything bought. I chop to fingernail-size all ingredients: romaine lettuce; red or green leaf lettuce or baby spinach or all of them; green onions (scallions or spring greens) or red onions if you don't have those; tomatoes (paste like roma); peppers (of every kind and color possible); a few kalamata green olives; add some vinegar and oil (I use red wine vinegar and quality olive oil, though I once used avocado oil); then add some crumbled (I like garlic-herb type) feta. It is very different when it is all chopped small like that, vastly more moist, so that part matters. You let it sit in the fridge for quite awhile to 'merge flavors' which due to the small equal chop it does much more than anything normally called a salad.

I went off lowcarb several times when eating this because my now-ex-and-this-is-partly-why husband insisted on making (whole house overwhelmed with smell of it) and offering me garlic bread (in great quantity) with it, the ultimate accompaniament. But the salad is surprisingly decent. The feta and the vinegar and oil and the small pieces make it taste quite different than ordinary salad which I am generally not fond of. Please note the original Greek Salad should also use cucumbers, which I don't like and are carbier anyway, and often has those sweet pepperoncini peppers, and some people add herbs to their oil/vinegar combo. I find this best to eat when you have 'something else too' -- obviously, protein.

OK. So it means I have to eat a lot of it, because making it is a pain in the butt with all the chopping, so it's a lot easier to make a LOT of it and eat it regularly (also otherwise the remainder of your lettuce is composting etc.).

B. I like Everything-Salad-with-Chicken-and-Blue-Cheese (dressing that I make myself). This has basically everything that greek salad has except no olives or vinegar/oil and a larger size of ingredients, plus it adds anything possible -- cubed hard cheeses, nuts/seeds like pecan pieces or sliced almonds or unsalted sunflower seeds, cubed avocado -- and then adds bits of chicken either baked and chopped/shredded or stir-fried, and uses a yummy homemade blue cheese dressing, diluted/mixed with water to thin it out a whole lot.

It has the same rule as the Greek Salad: if I eat it at all, it's better to make a bunch of it and have it for more than one meal. Leave the dressing (and meat) off these until eating obviously.

C. I sorta-like Egg-Frittata/scramble. Basically just scrambled eggs but with chopped scallions and all kinds of peppers and roma tomato and sometimes some kind of meat. OK, I can eat that.

D. I simply adore Pico de Gallo. This is fine-chopped tomato, onion, peppers, fresh cilantro, with a little bit of lemon juice, salt and garlic, mixed together and let sit a bit in the fridge to blend. This is what you often get at mexican restaurants along with sour cream and guacamole on various plated foods. I have not actually tried making this to eat it on or in meats but I really should since I suspect I could eat it on nearly anything.

E. But my favorite food of all; if it could be categorized a food group, life would be better; is PESTO. Basil pesto. Versions of this vary in quality and taste for certain, but this may be the most wonderful food that ever saw green. You can usually buy this in containers in the deli, and you can freeze it for longer-term storage. It's not cheap, though I'm told Sam's Club has big economical containers of it. If you want to make your own, the ingredients are: fresh basil chopped fine; finely ground/powdered fresh parmesan or romano cheese; crushed pine nuts (in a pinch use some other kind of mild nut); minced or pressed garlic cloves; quality olive oil enough to make it thick-creamy but not liquidy, and some salt/pepper. You can eat too much pesto, if you try; your elimination habits will tell you their opinion.

My love for Pesto knows no bounds. Red pepper flakes may be the only 'supplement-food' I have ever loved as much or eaten on as many diverse things (meats, salads, eggs, etc.). So I thought I would record my few current foods that I use pesto in.

Have suggestions? Let me hear them! There are never too many ways to eat pesto!


Mix it in with scrambled eggs. If you are able to eat lowcarb wraps of some kind, put it on the wrap and then put your scrambled eggs-etc. (best with peppers/onions/cheese) into that as a breakfast pesto burrito. Yum.

Spread it over a plain hamburger.

Mix it in with the hamburger before cooking.

Use it instead of mayonnaise in any kind of sandwich, wrap, even if on lettuce leaves or flax bread or anything else. Pesto with turkey and provolone is wonderful!

Use it instead of red sauce on lowcarb pizza-style stuff. In fact the first time I ever had pesto was on a vegetarian pizza my friend (a chef) made me! It is wonderful. Yes it even works on the Deep Dish Pizza Quiche. As well as on the many other ways to make pizza-variants (from savory mock danish and bowl-muffin and flax-bread or flax-muffin options as base [I've seriously wondered about just dipping the Protein Powder Donut Holes, that's how crazy I am), to the lovely Cleochatra's innovative cauliflower crust) -- whatever works for pizza-ish stuff, works with pesto.

Make any kind of meat but chicken/turkey is good for this, and get it into small pieces (small-piece stir fry is ideal here). Mix pesto into it when it's done cooking. If you add chopped peppers and scallions and tomatoes it's really great, even better. If you add more greens you end up with the chicken salad I described above except with pesto instead of blue cheese dressing and eat it hot instead of cold.

If you're going to add cheese to anything that has pesto I recommend either parm/romano or, if it's a hard cheese, something lowcarb and a little bland like jack.

As a cold variant on the above, make chicken/turkey salad (you can add boiled eggs if you like) but use pesto instead of mayo (or in addition) and ditch any mustard/relish. So: small-chopped chicken, chopped hardboiled eggs, chopped onion, chopped peppers, chopped tomatoes are good to add, a little bit of shredded jack is good here, and pesto, stir really well and refrigerate. It's a good cold salad if you have a fridge at work and it has both protein-meat and greens and certainly plenty of herb in the basil -- what's not to love?

Mock danish is normally something like 2-3oz cream cheese (nuke till soft), 1-2 eggs, sweetener (any kind) and optionally spices (eg vanilla, cinnamon), mixed up real well and nuked for 1-3 minutes (depending on size & ingredients) until mostly-not-too-wet. Some people add a little almond or flax or coconut meal to this to absorb liquid (esp if using DaVinci SF as sweetener/flavor) and/or to make it slightly more solid. It ranges, depending on ingredients and ratios, from being like bread-pudding to being like a wet sort of cheesecakey-muffin. Some people actually grill that like a pancake instead. Anyway, this base recipe is one of those (like bowl muffins or the pizza quiche) that literally has more variants than you have time left in your life to try, and is totally up to your imagination. They can be savory not just sweet.

Once, I added chopped chicken, rosemary, and I don't remember what else or the detail but it was 'ok'. Tomorrow I'm going to add some diced pepperoni, tomato, green onion, jalapeno (hot) or anaheim (mild) and coconut meal and a tiny bit of cheese, and then spread pesto on the top like a big muffin and see how that tastes. I'm guessing it will be wonderful. I'll let you know!

If you have ideas for pesto foods that I have not mentioned, please share them!

P.S. And ideas for getting veggies down your gullet when you don't like them are welcome too. ;-)



kamafood said...

This is coming from someone who, as you mentioned, regularly fridge-composted veggies and starved, and who now eats veggies daily and without gagging.

You know how you wrote about chopping the veggies up really really small? That's the key. Mix the tiny veggies in with something else with a strong flavor. Bell peppers in your marinara sauce (if you do tomatoes) or taco meat, for instance. Blended spicy sauces, like curry, are ideal for hiding veggies, too.

I think I remember reading that you make smoothies sometimes. Drop a handful (not the whole bag, but a handful)of spinach in before you blend. Seriously, you won't taste it! All it will do is darken the color of your smoothie a little.

Another tip: covering your veggies with something that tastes good. Drench your cooked veggies in low-carb cheese sauce, or saute them with salt pork. Salt pork also makes veggies taste good, seriously. And if you like peanut butter and eat it, it goes great with celery.

The low-carb mashed potatoes made from cauliflower are vegetables.

Do you like sauerkraut? That's cabbage, a vegetable.

I'll keep thinking.

Jim Purdy said...

"the produce was composting in the fridge."

Yeah, I do that regularly. The only way I can stick 100% to a diet is to:
1. Not have any off-diet foods in my home.
2. Not go out to eat or buy groceries.
3. Not call for food deliveries.

Then, when I have taken care of 1, 2, and 3 above, there's just me and the produce. At that point, the produce starts composting, and I go on a fast.

Heck, it works. Fasting gets the weight off.

Mary Beth said...

Wow, someone who is just like my hubby. He has not been able to eat vegetables or fruits his whole life. He litterly gags. He would rather starve. We have talked to so many professionals about this and no one can seem to help him with this. I am serious, he will gag. It's a real problem. I have him taking green pills.

I hope you can conquer this. It's sounds like you are getting a handle on it somewhat. Good Luck.

David Brown said...

I try to maintain my health by consuming high quality produce of all sorts that I grow myself. Store bought isn't the same as evidenced by what happens to my metabolism in winter if I don't have my own leafy greens on hand.

The food I grow has high biological potency so less is needed to supply adequate amounts of nutrients required for metabolic activities such as cell replacement and tissue repair.

I call what I do extreme gardening because I go to extremes to enrich soil. For example, I dry plants, crinkle them up, and blast them into powder with a blender. The powder stores easily for winter and can be used to make a fertilizer tea. Boil four gallons of water, pour in a cup of plant powder, stir briefly, allow to cool. Makes great fertilizer for house plants or lettuce grown inside during cold months.

Another idea: Create a nutrient reservoir. Cut galvanized garbage can in half, dig hole 2 to 3 feet deep and insert top half of can. Dump kitchen waste, grass clippings, leaves, twigs, weeds, spoiled (composted) leftovers from the refrigerator, and anything else that decomposes into the hole. Periodically, sprinkle dirt and (if available) ashes on top of the organic waste material. In dry climates add water occasionally. There will be considerable biological activity as the hole fills but after the dust settles, you'll have an extremely rich nutrient reservoir. Squash and other vining plants, shrubs, trees, and anything else planted in that spot will grow extraordinarily well. Or you can scoop out material and top-dress lawn or garden areas.

You've heard it said that "You are what you eat." You also are, according to Michael Pollan, "what what you eat eats." Finally, it's important to keep in mind that you cannot be more than what you eat.

Orodemniades said...

Wow, um, I'm not sure what to suggest. It won't be gardening, though! ;)

Do you like soup? An easy spring soup is to saute leeks with some garlic, then toss in anything green - zucchini, broccoli, peas, add water or veggie stock, cook until done, then zhuzz up to the desired consistency. Add salt, pepper, sour cream and you're done.

Or, make stock with bones and plenty of veggies (carrot, onion, tomato, what have you), then strain and use as a savory tea or soup base. That way you get all the vitamin and more importantly, mineral goodness.

I still don't get why you don't like veggies? Is it the consistency? Do you prefer crunchy(raw anything)? Salty (organic celery is so salty I can't eat it anymore)? Sweet (red pepper, carrot, beet, fresh peas straight from the pod)? Clean (fennel, beet, jicama, green bean)? Earthy (mushrooms)? Acidic (tomatos, citrus, yogurt)?

Or do you prefer cooked veggies?


Anonymous said...

I like the soup idea - especially come fall and winter. You can make 'cream of broccoli' soup: sautee up some onion, and in a separate pot/pan - cook up some broccoli. Put cooked broccoli, the onion into a blender, and pour in some chicken broth. Put back into soup pot, heat through. Add in a wee bit of cream at the end, and voila - 'cream of broccoli' soup. Put some grated cheddar on top.

Also liked kamafood's idea - tiny veggies, smothered in marinara type sauce. Sometimes I'll cook up some andouille sausage or italian sausage, throw in mushrooms, all kindsa bell peppers and cover all that with Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes. It's "Italian dinner in a bowl" - but it's also got veggies in it.

Just thought of another one - one night I didn't 'feel like' forcing the veggies, and didn't much feel like cooking a lot either. I cut up some bell peppers into quarters - large pieces and threw them on the Foreman Grill. Both sides got nice grill marks on them and they were delicious. Had red/orange/yellow. Also grilled a medium slice of red onion. Ate that with my burger for dinner. I misted on some olive oil, but am also thinking it'd be good with some Italian type dressing or something. Even just grilled plain, there's something yummy about grill marks on both sides of bell peppers without the hassle of the BBQ, and no turning them over either.

Sauerkraut with corned beef is good sometimes too. If I see corned beef on sale - I'll grab one, throw in the crockpot and when it's dinner time, warm up some sauerkraut. Add mustatd, and dinner's done.


Fifi Dangerfield said...

Hi there. I saw your link on the 100 Day challenge site and just thought i'd pop by and wish you luck! We have soooo much in common being. I am 44, hate vegetables and love eating low carb!



Anonymous said...

You know, given the flavor profiles that you like, you should track down some recipes for gazpacho and experiment with that.

kamafood said...

A friend just sent me this recipe that she and her kid love. It's got some higher-carb veggies in it so you'd have to experiment, but maybe it could work.

Tomato sauce with hidden vegetables

1 med onion, chopped

I clove garlic, crushed

I TB veg oil

I large carrot, peeled and sliced

½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 cup diced zucchini

2 TB butter

½ white part of a leek, washed and sliced

1 cup chopped mushrooms

3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

One 14 oz can of tomato puree

1 TB fresh torn basil leaves

1 TB chopped fresh parsley

Pinch of sugar

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

½ cup mascarpone cheese (optional)

1 ½ cups pasta shapes

sauté the onion and garlic in oil about 2 min (starting to soften). Add carrot and sauté for 4 min. Add red pepper and zucchini and sauté until beginning to soften (2 or 3 min). Add the butter, leek and mushrooms and cook for 5 min. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 15 min. Blend in a food processor. Stir in cheese if using.

Contessa Kris said...

I don't have too much trouble eating veggies. Its all the prep time that I don't prefer. I always think anything with butter on it is always better. What about squash, cabbage, snap beans, avocados, jicama, celery (especially good with cream cheese and a sprinkle of your mentioned red pepper flakes), cauliflower mash or edamame?? Just ideas. I always like to try new things and anything that doesn't take me long to prepare makes me doubly happy. lol

Oh, by the way, I tiptoed over here from the forums. I'm 'ICanDoThis' on there.