Month: November 2017

Gluten-Free Without Celiac

pasta

This morning, I read an article from Business Insider discussing the peculiarity of a gluten-free diet being so popular—including “faddy” ones like the South Beach diet. The article suggests it may be the result of its trendiness.

The massive popularity of a gluten-free diet interesting fact I hadn’t considered much. But I can share my experience with following a mostly gluten-free diet without celiac disease. My opinion is that the popularity of gluten-free diets is more than a trend:  I think many people simply have gluten sensitivity and would and do benefit from a diet with less of it.

I have been mostly gluten-free for some weeks now. I knew that gluten might be causing me some digestive trouble, but I wasn’t sure. Finally, I had the courage and discipline to give it a go. Preparation was the key, it turns out. A gluten-free diet is very accessible for me here in Toronto. I have easy access to wheat-free bread, pasta, flour, and pastries (in a pinch).

Before this experiment, I sometimes got stomachaches when eating high-gluten foods like pasta and almost always when eating bread. It wasn’t consistent, but and even when I did not experience pain, I still experienced digestive discomfort in the forms of heaviness and bloating.

One of the improvements of a gluten-free diet has been the sensation in my stomach following a meal. My stomach feels as neutral as my knee or elbow with a meal that would have previously felt as though it were squarely “sitting” in my tummy.

Moreover it seems that when I do eat a large amount of wheat, like sliced bread or a plate of pasta, after having avoided it in my diet for so many weeks, I experience a more pronounced feeling of discomfort and pain.

Knowing that pain is a signal from my body regarding distress, I don’t think the mild inconvenience of a gluten-free diet is too great a price for otherwise potentially damaging or unduly distressing my organs. This decision allows me to experience greater levels of wellness and comfort in daily life. It is an act of kindness towards myself that has no harmful effects I know of.

If you are considering this or another dietary change for health, my message to you is that you are worth it. If something is hurting you, give it up both literally and figuratively (letting go of your love/attachment for things like bread if you know they are not good for you). Your body does so much for you every single day and you can make small changes to help it along its path and to put yourself more squarely in the way of living a life of love and kindness towards yourself. It has a ripple effect: the more I am kind to myself, the more I realize the value of kindness.

Pie Bars and Turmeric Latte

Yesterday, I baked Vegan Richa’s sweet potato pie bars. In the recipe, she mentions that you can actually make them with pumpkin puree filling, instead of sweet potato, and that’s what I did.

They turned out amazing and were easy to make, so I do recommend them. I had everything but pumpkin puree on hand, so I went to the shop to get a can.

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As much as I would like to not eat any sweets, I invariably snack here and there. So instead of grabbing a cake pop like in my last post, or a muffin, or some other baked good from outside the house, I’d like to have something healthier around. These were sugar free and gluten free. And quick to make.

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I am going to freeze the leftovers of these and maybe report back on how well they freeze.

In other news, I have been trying to lower my caffeine intake to give my nervous system a break and potentially help my skin. I still drink my morning coffee, but sometimes that one cup turns into two or three pretty much just because I like having something warm to hold.

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I could swap out those subsequent cups with tea, but today I tried a turmeric latte. It’s supposed to be very healthy. I made golden turmeric paste (out of ground black pepper, turmeric powder and coconut oil) and voila: you mix it with your choice of milk and sweetener and it turns into a “latte.”

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I also added pumpkin pie spice and some honey (and then stevia because the honey wasn’t sweet enough). I blended the mixture after heating it, for a better consistency.

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It is surprisingly very good! I was ready to commit after reading some of the health benefits here, expecting nothing tasty, but it tasted great and very creamy (thanks to the coconut milk and oil I guess).

This website is where I got the recipe for the paste. She explains why it’s good for your and why you should add pepper and oil to the turmeric powder to make it more bioavailable. I haven’t independently checked any of these facts, so if you know of information proving otherwise, please let me know about it, as well.

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Would you be willing to try a turmeric latte?

If yes, I recommend you mix the ingredients separately—enough for one cup—rather than make a full batch of paste the first time. I didn’t consider that I might actually dislike it and waste a heap of turmeric. (Luckily that’s not the case.)

 

The Ivanka Effect and Sugarcoating

I may just be affected by an “availability bias” here, but has anyone else noticed that young women are now speaking more eloquently all of a sudden? I have a problem with this because I think that while articulating your thoughts well can signal a higher degree of consideration, maybe intelligence, it doesn’t make you right or good. It doesn’t automatically legitimize your views or make them more civilized and acceptable.

I don’t have a direct line to all young women, of course, but it’s a trend I’ve picked up on by watching Youtube. I don’t have cable TV and frankly haven’t watched any shows on Netflix in some time (are there any you recommend? Nothing scary), but I’ve still watched a lot of Youtube videos on topics that interest me for entertainment. In that time, I’ve noticed a higher degree of “poise” in the way some young women speak. Enough to think this is a new trend.

At the same time, I’ve seen articles here and there attacking Ivanka’s poise, eloquence and smarts, trying to prove that she is actually none of those things. I personally think she is all of those things, and I think she is absolutely on the “wrong side.” Her silence speaks louder than all her words on many topics and her defence of her father is abhorrent considering his racist, sexist rhetoric and more.

While attacking Ivanka to prove that she’s not eloquent or poised, these articles are subtly suggesting that eloquence and poise put a person in the right. But I think overall they actually fail at what they are trying to do. Sure, she has made a handful of mistakes, but can you really argue that she is well spoken? I wouldn’t. Her mouth is not a printing press; what comes out is not always going to be perfect, but all things considered it still nearly is most of the time.

And it’s problematic to try to fight her stance in politics by suggesting that this is not true and not instead focusing on the fact that choosing well-structured sentences, a certain tone of voice, carrying yourself with confidence, these are all rhetorical devices as much as anything. They have to do with how you present your message, the vessel of the message if you will, not with what your message is. You could be an envoy to Satan and use these things and look and sound very good, but you wouldn’t actually be good. 

So I have nothing against appearances, but I have a problem with equating them to telling the truth. You don’t have to be poised to tell the truth, and that matters a lot more! You can shout it and cuss it and if it’s true, it wins over an articulate falsity many times over.

Little Black Bag (Matt & Nat)

This post is my little reward for submitting an assignment that has given me a lot of grief the last week. It’s funny that something that should make me feel good really doesn’t. It should be intrinsically rewarding to finally accomplish what you set out to do and laboured over for over a week, but it doesn’t…because I am a bit of a perfectionist. I rarely ever “finish” or “submit” anything feeling like I am actually finished. I never feel like I have given it my best, and it bothers me.

So instead of feeling good or sensing relief when I press send for work projects (usually books I have proofread) or school assignments (usually papers), I feel a drop in my stomach and a slight bit of despair. I am working on changing that.

This morning, I was supposed to go hiking for a 20 KM hike with my group. It was only three of us who were scheduled to go, and I was supposed to meet the leader at the subway station to drive the two of us up. Unfortunately, after a few wrong turns I was 10 minutes late. I didn’t have her number to call her, and when I arrived she was no longer there.

I already had my work things with me so I headed to a Starbucks to study and got a solid 2.5 hours on some work and school projects before I needed a bit of a physical break from the screen and the books.

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The Starbucks was at a Chapters, and they carry Matt & Nat bags, so of course I headed straight for those. How adorable is this little shoulder bag? It’s so cute, such a classic-looking but also trendy (at the moment) style. It’s also a really convenient size.

I am trying to scout a gift to get myself after I finish this term. I really like Matt & Nat bags because they are cruelty-free and also really good quality. I have had one before. I can see myself using this bag, or one like it, on a daily basis and while I would prefer an ox blood or burgundy colour to go with my black coat, I know that that colour wouldn’t carry over into my Spring and Summer wardrobe as seamlessly as a black bag would (or not at all, really).

So this bag is a contender. It’s a little more expensive than I remember it being (it’s priced $150). I could pick up just a wallet, but I really want my “gift” to be something I can see and that will remind me of why I got it. A piece of jewelry could be an alternative to the bag, I guess. A pair of earrings, maybe, or a pretty pendant.

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This is the cerise colour of the same bag, which you can find on the Indigo website.  You can find tons of other Matt & Nat bags on the Indigo site, so definitely have a look if you’re interested. There is a similar-looking but smaller two-pocket bag that goes for $95.

In a few days when I get a chunk of time, I will check Winner’s and Marshall’s to see if they carry anything similar or maybe cuter at a lower price point. What colour would you pick for a shoulder bag like this one? I am looking for an everyday item and most of my coats and outerwear items are black, so I have to consider that, as well.

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On the way out I picked up the snowman cake pop from Starbucks. I love their cake pops but rarely eat them. It was great. I absolutely love how it feels and tastes just like unbaked batter (maybe it is?). Maybe they should be called cake batter pops instead—or just batter pops. This one’s filled with vanilla cake, yum!

Back to my to-do list now. Thank you for letting me share a part of my day with you!

 

 

French or Spanish?

How useful is a second language in getting a better job? I speak four, but the other three are not very useful. Italian is spoken by Italians, Farsi by Iranians, and the other is spoken by still fewer people in a region of Iran. On the other hand some languages are either useful or relevant, depending on where you are. For example, French is Canada’s second official language and speaking it would open doors to employment in the French-speaking part of Canada or just companies that do business all over the country. Many communications positions require French bilingualism.

And well Spanish is the language of one of the other colonial powers of the world—there are tons of countries where Spanish will get you by. So of course that’s useful, and many businesses that have branches in south America, or just that do business there, will consider Spanish an asset. I have yet to see it as a requirement on a job posting, but I’m sure speaking it when you apply to a technology or mining company that does a significant portion of their dealings in south America will make your resume stand out.

Speaking Italian gives me an advantage in learning Spanish, but because I felt French would get me farther, I signed up for the French Rosetta Stone last month. I got a three-month membership, planning to finish the programme and after that expand my knowledge through movies, in-person meetups or clubs, one-on-one tutoring, etc. More immersion type stuff.

I have to say that being a complete beginner and following Rosetta Stone is often really difficult. It’s really boring and difficult to engage in it because you walk away each day feeling like you’ve made such little progress that it wasn’t worth the time it took. On the other hand, I do trust the method and as someone who’s learned three languages from scratch, I can attest that it is as near to an immersion experience as possible. Except that it’s in a vacuum, and you’ll need to be very, very good at motivating yourself in order to do it.

There are 20 units and I am only on unit 2 so in this month I’m ashamed to say I have done quite little. I used to do an hour a day, repeating certain parts I wasn’t sure about (this wasn’t necessary in the end because there is a ton of repetition and overlap, so you’re covered going through each lesson just once).

I’m going to update you on my Rosetta Stone progress when I get to the intermediate level of French. Have you tried to learn a second language to increase your employment prospects in the past and how did you do it? What language did you learn and was it as beneficial as you anticipated?