Tag Archives: diet

Cooking Without Fat: Indian Curry

diet, cooking, Indian curry, low-fat cooking, eggplant, yams, food, healthy eating

The great veggie goodness, before the chicken and mushrooms were added.

I’ve been doing a diet to kickstart my body into losing weight. This means eating low sugar vegetables (no beets, corn, carrots), low sugar, whole wheat grains (no potatoes, bread or white rice), low sugar fruits (no tropical fruits) such as berries or apples, white meat only (skinless chicken breasts, fish) and no fat at all. That means no olive oils, no nuts or seeds and no fatty meats. The warning with this type of diet is you have to do it under a doctor’s supervision because we need fat to function, both for nerves and our brains. By day four you can start to feel shaky or nauseous because the body is missing the fat and going into ketosis. You have to take potassium tablets while on it (available with a prescription) and it is only short term, two weeks at most.  Anorexics, if you normally feel shaky, nauseous, tired or foggy, it means you are starving yourself to death. Stop, before you die and damage your body permanently.

In some ways this diet hasn’t been a big challenge. I normally do a no fat, no grain lunch. This usually consists of a piece of meat, such as a skinless chicken breast, in seasoning, cooked in the microwave with a bit of water, plus some form of vegetable. Either a salad with lemon squeezed on or something like broccoli or bok choi. Sometimes I’ll add some avocado, which is a fat but a good one.

The challenge has been cooking, where I’m not using a microwave. I have a cast iron frying pan and find that if I put it on a low to medium heat I can start with cooking my vegetables a bit. Of course you don’t really “stir-fry” and have to watch for sticking, but I found it works okay for doing eggplant that takes a bit of time. Last night I decided to make a curry. Normally I would have used a pre-bought curry sauce but I realized that these have a lot of oil in them. No curries with coconut milk, which I love because it is high fat, though also a good fat.

The curry needed to simmer with the spices I was adding so I decided to use a pot on low heat. I chopped up yams (my carb for the day) and put the chunks into the pot with chopped onion, garlic, chive tops and Thai chili. The onion has enough water in it that this prevented burning. The key to cooking without fat is to never put the heat too high.

Indian curry, cooking, no fat diet, vegan, vegetarian, diets

The finished result. Worth using a spoon to get every drop.

I wasn’t sure how the baby eggplants would do if I just tossed them in to the pot, so I cut them in chunks, put on a grill, sprinkled with salt and stuck them into the toaster oven on broil to get them going. In the meantime, I added green beans, the last of peas in the pod that were too old and starchy, and celery.  I added curry powder, basil, cayenne, rosemary, dried chilies,  salt and pepper. I meant to add a touch of lemongrass powder but slipped; it turned out okay though. Because the curry powder can be a bit bitter I put in one sugar cube.

Once this was all mixed, I added half of a large can of tomatoes. That was my base sauce. By then the eggplant was browned and softened and I added that in. I let everything simmer for about twenty minutes until the yams were softened. Then I added sliced mushrooms and chunks of chicken breast. The eggplants break down to give a thicker base and adding the chicken at the end kept it tender.

There are probably gourmands out there shuddering at my culinary abuses but it worked. I had a tasty curry with enough for four servings. Without the chicken this would work for a vegan or vegetarian meal, and adding in some healthy oil isn’t a problem. I like my foods spicy so you can see I used three different types of hot in this.  I’m a concocter more than a cook and it’s why I could make my apocalypse diet work, because I could adapt. The recipe, as it is, follows.

LOW TO NO-FAT INDIAN CURRY

Garlic
Chive tops
Thai chili
White onion 2-3 slices, chopped
2 medium size yams
4-5 baby eggplants, chopped into chunks (any variety will do)
1 stalk celery
Green peas (optional)
2 cups green (string) beans, chopped to one inch size
6-8 mushrooms (chopped or sliced)
Skinless chicken breast cubed
2 cups canned, peeled tomatoes
½ tsp rosemary
1 ½ tsp basil
3 pequeno chilies
1 tsp lemon grass powder
½ tsp cayenne powder
1 ½ tbsp curry powder
1 sugar cube
salt & pepper to taste

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 73-76

 

food, eating, diet, zombies, apocalypse diet, brains

If only I could make these for my Zombie Salon. Creative Commons: xsomnis, flickr BrettMorrison gallery

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 73 (Mar. 13):

Originally I predicted I could make it till March on the food in my place without buying any, and I have. I’ll make it to the ides of March but will I make it beyond? Anyone want to place a bet on which day I’ll capsize? I said I’d stop when there was nothing but condiments and alcohol, but I am becoming heartily sick of this diet. I miss my veggies. While there are a few veggies and frozen fruits left, I can continue but I won’t last long when they’re gone, not too mention the nutritive balance will be out the window. Right now I’ve at least been getting proteins, carbs and veggies though the portions have changed.

Breakfast was! Yes, molasses banana bread. That sucker keeps going but there is only one more slice left. And lunch was Apocalypse Pottage. Dinner was a simple fair of the last of my hearty pea soup.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 74 (Mar. 14):

I missed breakfast this morning and I’m thinking about zombies, not for food yet. Seriously, if I don’t like red meat and am averse to eating humans, zombies will be very far down on the list. I’d be chomping on every bush in the vicinity first. But how else could I deter the rage infested, virus-filled hyper-diseased zombie? Well obviously, do a better job of boarding up the place. If I’m going to hammer up boards I’m not nailing those boards on straight but driving the nails in at an angle so they can’t be pushed out. Better yet, use screws. If it’s the press of numbers there’s not a lot I can do. I’d also head for the country, where there are fewer zombies. I’d get the biggest mofo truck I could manage with a winch and a huge grill so I could ram anything out of the way. A flamethrower would certainly be helpful for fricassee zombie, and of course the spiky, all encompassing clothing. No going out without a crash helmet and hazmat suit. Let’s see a movie that actually has people acting intelligently in it.

And speaking of zombies, the creeping crud is attacking me. A cold sore has started and anyone who has ever had one knows you start to look like a zombie when your skin bubbles and blisters. So I had my pseudo clam chowder for lunch. Someone gave me a big bran muffin and I was only going to eat half but it was so tasty I ate it all. But not feeling very hungry, for dinner I had a bowl of good ole Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, which I found in the cupboard. There’s enough salt in that thing to keep a pasture of cows happy but the noodly goodness is an old comfort food.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 75 (Mar. 15):

Today, the ides of March, it felt like zombies had been clawing their way out of my throat. I had a doctor’s appointment in the

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Supposedly flaming zombies isn't a good thing but I'd like to believe they wouldn't see through the flames, nor smell anything but flaming zombie. From: jadedviewer.blogspot.com

morning so I got up for that but then came straight home. My mother used to give us hot water with brandy, lemon and honey when we had colds. Of course there was little brandy but my scratchy throat determined that I would have a giant mug with hot water, a liberal dollop of brandy, a squeeze of slightly dessicated lemon, and maple syrup,  since I have no lemon. I drank that and then went back to sleep.

While I was hungry when I awoke I was also feeling slightly queasy. I ate half a bowl of the roasted garlic and potato soup, which severely upset my stomach. The weird thing is that I can do raw or fried garlic but if it’s roasted it gives me terrible gas. I have two more containers in the freezer but the reaction was severe enough I’m seeing if my neighbors would like it. Which means, the larder will empty even sooner. I’ve been looking forward to using the panang curry with some canned crab but that’s a bit too spicy for a sore throat. I ate the last piece of molasses banana bread, and had another cup of the hot brandy toddy but a skin had formed in the maple syrup and fell into my cup. That slimy thick, snotty texture was truly disgusting and I had to fish it out. Blargh!

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 76 (Mar. 16):

The creeping crud and I are in a headlock. I’m not sure who’s winning. I’m feeling rather hungry having had nothing but soup for the last couple of days. I have some Ryvita crackers, rather tasteless, but I munched one down for breakfast. Lunch was the last of the Apocalypse Pottage made with beets, tomatoes, barley and tuna. Tonight I’ll probably do up some rice noodles and a bit of fish sauce, tuna and garlic, and maybe red cabbage.

Keeping with the zombie theme, I’m having a Zombie Salon, because I want peoples’ brains. Which means, I’ll have a few people over to actually discuss topics other than sports and the weather. Since I have lots of vodka I’ve offered up martinis. Not sure if I can do a zombie themed martini though. I’ll report on that in the next update.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 67-72

tomatoes, cooking, pilaf, curry, food, cooking, recipes, Apocalypse Diet, zombies

Not hearts but canned tomatoes, one of my lifesaver vegetables so far into the Apocalypse Diet. Creative Commons: wwwbittersweetcook.com

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 67 (Mar. 07):

People have been asking how much money I’ve saved, how much weight I’ve lost. First, this isn’t a real diet since I was allowed to eat whatever is in my place. But I have had smaller portions. I’m the type of person who could crash at the top of a snowy mountain and it would be months before I would have to eat my fellow humans, because my body can hang on really really well to its weight. I don’t change weight a lot. Throughout this, I’ve continued to work out but the carbs have gone ups while the vegetables have gone down…slightly. I don’t weigh myself (see previous posts on eating disorders) so I think I might have lost five pounds, but that’s about it.

As for saving money, I think I spend around $40/week on food. That doesn’t include dining out. So if we look at that amount I’ve saved probably around $200. Not phenomenal but then I had bills to pay so “saving” isn’t quite right. The  money just paid some of those bills.

I’m in rinse and repeat cycle. Breakfast, the molasses banana bread with margarine. Lunch, previously frozen pseudo (no milk) clam chowder. Yes, by the time I get home after working out at 6 pm I’m usually starving.

I had one precious tin of tomatoes left. I took half the tin, mixed it with onions, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper and added in some shrimp and mussels to make a sort of pilaf. I added the rest of the rice from last night, and some engevita yeast for a slightly cheesy taste.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 68 (Mar. 08):

Rinse and repeat, molasses banana bread for breakfast. Lunch was the rest of the rice pilaf with shrimp and mussels from last night.

brains, zombie food, eating, diet, apocalypse diet, end of the world

Can you say grainzzz? Brains made from edible foods by Sara Asnaghi. Now that's zombie food I could eat.

That’s quite filling. I’m beginning to think I might not make it past March. 16th as I’ll be out of most foods, but we’ll see. There are still soups in the freezer and still tins of tuna.

Dinner was the last of the gyozas in the freezer, fried up with some soy and hot sauce. I also found a prehistoric package of  “dessert topping mix” by Weight Watchers. It’s a pseudo whipping cream so I whipped it with water and vanilla and it was ready. Then I took some of the frozen berries and a bit of coconut and mixed it together for dessert.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 69 (Mar. 09):

In my cupboard are jars of flour; chickpea, rice, potato, which I have had for half of forever. While I could take one of those package mixes and still bake a cake I think I’ll try a concoction at some point that will use up these dinosaurs.  In the meantime, breakfast has been the same as all week, banana bread.

Lunch was the chicken barley bean soup, and dinner was going over to a friend’s.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 70 (Mar. 10):

I was running around all day and didn’t really eat, besides two pieces of artichokes in oil, until 5:00. I was so hungry when I was out on the Drive, buying cat food that every food place I went by was a challenge. “Oh maybe I’ll just buy two slices of pizza; that sushi roll looks really good; falafel!; maybe some smoked salmon; I could just buy a cookie… And on it went, but somehow I made it home and cooked up pasta, with some of the canned tomatoes, garlic, curry spice, some tamarind, fenugreek, fennel, salt, pepper, chili peppers and the last carrot and prawns. Oh and I added some engevita or flake yeast, which is high in vitamins and adds a bit of a creamy cheesy texture.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 71 (Mar. 11):

Leftovers of the curry pasta from yesterday. Supper was a small bowl of homemade pea soup, and then popcorn with engevita yeast later on.

pottage, gruel, barley, food, cooking, recipes, apocalypse diet, diets, zombies

Apocalypse Pottage; my desperate yet hearty concoction of the last of many things (with a sprinkle of flake yeast).

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 72 (Mar. 12):

Breakfast was another piece of banana bread with margarine though it was um…garlic banana bread because I forgot to clean the cutting board which was last used to chop garlic. Not too terrible though. Lunch was a bowl of my vegetarian nut chili.

Okay, what do you get when you mix the following ingredients: canned tomatoes, barley, quinoa, sesame seeds, garlic, a soft beet, olive oil, turmeric, dill, cayenne, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a can of tuna? Gruel, pottage, goulash? That is in fact what I made tonight and I’m beginning to think I have a sense of what gruel was in the Dark Ages. The turmeric offset the barley from the red of the beets and tomatoes. The hot sauce offset the sweetness of the beets. It wasn’t bad at all, which is good because I have another two days’ worth of it.  Maybe I should open up the Apocalypse Restaurant and serve Apocalypse Pottage.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 61-66

zombies, food, zombie food, eating, end of the world, apocalypse, dietseating, zombie food, apocalypse diet, food, cooking

Zombie food pyramid for a well-balanced diet. Creative Commons: http://www.geekstir.com

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 61 (Mar. 01):

I’m entering month three of the Apocalypse Diet. The fridge drawers are nearly empty, the freezer is mostly stocked; carbs, proteins and veggies are all running low. I think I’ve now entered the creative stage. Be prepared for bizarre pairings (mussels and beets, anyone?).

Breakfast was a brownie and lunch was my spicy vegetable peanut soup, one of my freezer stores.

I wasn’t that hungry for dinner, weirdly, so it was a small handful of almost nonexistent crackers and a bowl of quinoa with the thawed berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries) that I found in the freezer, and a drop of almond extract. Oh and yes, the last brownie.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 62 (Mar. 02):

Well, I have found out I’m anemic, which has nothing to do with the diet. I’ve tended toward anemia all my life but it’s actually been a few years since the last bout. I’m on supplements now to bring up my iron intake since drinking the blood of my victims is just too gross, and zombie blood is putrid. Some of the things that have iron are molasses, broccoli, sesame seeds, certain seeds…and I’m going to have to look it up but as we know, my cupboard is getting rather bare. I have lots of sesame seeds and molasses though.

Breakfast was the last of the almond butter, nearly the last rice cake, and a sprinkle of the last chocolate chips. Lunch was avgolemono soup. I had the last handful of fresh hazelnuts in the shell, plus a few crackers and calamata olives. A friend came over later with a pizza so that was the real dinner, along with the last of the lemonade and vodka added, though it was a rather meh drink.

Apocalypse Diet, banana bread, recipes, cooking, baking, molasses, food, end of the world, iron in food

Molasses Banana Bread, dark and tasty

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 63 (Mar. 03):

Lunch, the leftover pizza of course. And now for the great banana bread with molasses experiment. I didn’t have any sugar except for cubes and while I could have tried maple syrup I have a lot of molasses sitting in my fridge, which has been there since dinosaurs roamed. I managed to use up one container but still have a second. I like my banana breads as bread, not cake, so I looked for the lowest sugar recipe (2/3 cups) and substituted the same amount in molasses. They say to add 1 cup of molasses for every 3/4 cups of sugar but I left it the same. Recipes also state not to substitute more than half of the sugar, but I did it all, under duress from the zombies banging against the walls. I thought this was due to how the bread would rise. I also like my banana bread nutty but the only nuts I have left are hazelnuts so I chopped up about 3/4 cup of those.

I added extra baking soda as required. I now have little shortening or flour left but there are all those wee jars with different types so the next baking experiment will involve them. I waited for the bread to bake and it rose perfectly, When I pulled it out of the oven I cut off the heel while warm and put margarine on. It was good! The substitute of half the sugar is about the taste but if you like molasses cookies you’ll like this bread. It’s strongly flavored but still light and very tasty. I actually had two pieces and I’m now full. Molasses is also high in iron so this will help with my anemia.

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Shrimp, carrots, onions, garlic and some dried basil on quinoa. Holy hot and tasty.

I found a packet of holy basil seasoning paste, and one of panang curry mix. The second calls for coconut milk so I put it back, but I mixed the seasoning with the last of the prawns, onion, carrot and garlic, chopped up the parsley, and ate it on quinoa. How’s that for a mashup?

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 64 (Mar. 04):

Roasted garlic and potato soup, plus two slices of molasses banana bread. Supper was the leftover shrimp and basil seasoning dish with quinoa. And then popcorn with margarine and engevita yeast, popped in a pot on the stove.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 65 (Mar. 05):

Breakfast was a good sized slice of molasses banana bread with margarine. Lunch was chicken barley bean soup, and a slice of chocolate cake for someone’s birthday. After working out I was really hungry so I had penne pasta with sundried tomatoes, garlic and a mix of mussels and clams. There were a few squid bits in there but because they were frozen I didn’t fry them properly and they were like an old boot. I chopped up the rest of the parsley and added that with some parmesan cheese, and ate the whole thing.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 66 (Mar. 06):

It seems that Noah could easily have kept enough food for 40 days and nights if I’m still going on Day 66. Breakfast was the banana bread again and almost clam chowder but after last night, I had to vary it. I had the spicy vegetable peanut soup. Tonight, well I think it’s time to have the last of the Brussels sprouts, with garlic and oil and parmesan, and a side of rice.

To recap after my first month on the Apocalypse Diet, I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I can take home the leftovers but this isn’t a stop-gap so no ordering pizza.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. Someone can give me food, for in the post-apocalyptic world we might want to trade or eat together in safety once in a while.

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Apocalypse Diet Summary: Days 25-31

zombies, food, apocalypse, eating, diet, hunger, food culture

How long would you survive in the Apocalypse before having to eat this? Creative Commons: Daniel Hollister

Welcome to the Apocalypse Diet, where I have not bought any food since the new year began, unless I went out for dinner, which doesn’t count. I’m living off of the food in my place and blogging about it. I’ve hit what I think is the second stage; boredom. I’m not quite at stage III, which is the truly creative part, but living in the stretching out of veggies and protein, eating frozen homemade meals and recycling the ideas, ad nauseum.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 25:

What I’m truly missing is the fresh veggies. I tend to eat a lot of them. Sigh. Today was the nonexcitement day of two cookies and four crackers for breakfast, defrosted pollo en mole with rice for lunch, and defrosted not quite turkey shepherd’s pie for dinner. When I got home I realized that my cat might well have eaten a few zombies because I never overfed her and she’s still pudgy and glossy. I had a cup of instant hot chocolate (with Frangelico) later in the evening. I don’t like hot drinks so you know it’s either really cold or I’m desperate for sweet or both.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 26:

Zombies and people need good teeth to chew chew chew, so I had a dental appointment for breakfast. The almond milk, not quite successful clam chowder for lunch with a few crackers filled me up. It’s tasty even if it’s too watery. Dinner consisted of meeting up with a friend and having two ciders and an ahi tuna plate. So yummy from Biercraft and smothered in black sesame seeds with wasabi aioli and a bit too salty cooked spinach.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 27:

More mole with rice for lunch. Went for a couple of drinks after work and ate a bit of someone else’s calamari. I wasn’t that hungry because of the mole and yes, some chocolate peanut butter cups someone had a work. So dinner, or the evening actually involved nothing. I had two cookies and that was it. Sometimes I just don’t feel hungry.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 28:

Saturdays are always weird days of eating for me. I often don’t eat until half the day is gone. I still have this container of Dan-D-Pak Crunchy Peanut Snax Mix. They’re Chinese (or you can find them in Chinese markets) and have white sesame, black sesame, wasabi and seaweed crunchy coatings. A small handful of these is around 100 calories and while peanuts are pretty oily it’s not a bad sort of lunch.

I didn’t really eat and did work out so I was quite hungry by the time I went for dinner with a friend. I had chicken puttanesca on the Drive at the Libra Room. I go to the Libra Room quite often but usually for drinks so it had been a while since I had dinner there. Puttanesca is made with tomatoes, black olives, anchovies, capers, garlic (of course) and chilies. With a bit of cheese and generous portions of chicken this was a tangy, tasty meal. In fact, of all the Italian restaurants on the Drive I have to say this was the best puttanesca I ever had. Everything was blended so perfectly that I could taste each ingredient. Even the cheese stood out. I highly recommend it and for $15 I had enough for dinner on Sunday as well.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 29:

Sunday, another day of odd eating times. I had the leftover pasta for lunch and wasn’t that hungry for dinner so it was a

Engevita yeast has a cheesy flavor and can enhance meals. healthysupplies.co.uk

handful of the crunchy peanuts. A couple of my lemons were starting to looking sinister, so I made avgolemono, a Greek lemony soup often made with egg and orzo pasta. It turns out I had two recipes and one used rice, which is the style I made. I still have fresh parsley as well, and a lot of eggs that have to get used up. I had a small bowl and then froze the rest.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 30:

I had some of my vegetarian chili today, made with nuts and seeds and no meat. I was actually overfull with the 500 ml I ate. But somehow, I was hungry again for dinner which was pasta with artichokes, sundried tomatoes, garlic, carrot, onion and scallops. I mixed in a bit of grated parmesan and some engevita or flake yeast, which as a cheesy taste.

Apocalypse Diet (AD) Day 31:

Here we are, at the last day of January. One month of the Apocalypse diet completed! Since I’m writing this during the day, I’ll have to post what tonight’s dinner was tomorrow. Breakfast was the crunchy peanuts, again. Lunch consisted of the last piece of chicken (besides the whole one still in the freezer) the last of the very wilted chive tops, garlic and the gai lan, which is still surprisingly green. I nuked these with some spices and water. Yes, no starch is evident as this is a throwback to my pre-Apocalypse style of eating lunches.

I’m pretending that an apocalypse takes place (maybe it’s a supervirus, massive alien abductions or an evil plot), which stops the supply lines (but for the sake of staying healthy and clean, the hydro-electric power and water are still working). Since the Mayan calendar actually shows the ending of one age and the beginning of another, maybe it’s now the Zombie Age (we’ve already had the consumer age).

I am documenting how long I can live on the food in my place, without shopping. Here are my rules:

  1. I cannot buy any food at all.
  2. If going out for dinner, it’s a bubble outside of the experiment. I will not be going out for dinner often.
  3. When I start to run out of proper nutritionally balanced foods I will take vitamins.
  4. When I become bored or am on to only condiments and alcohol, I will end my experiment.
  5. I believe I’ll be able to eat relatively healthy at least until March.

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Healthcare and Privatization

Obama, like his Democratic predecessor Clinton, is trying to bring in healthcare reform in the US. There have been ferocious campaigns against it with people attacking the nationalized healthcare systems in Canada and Great Britain. Although our (Canada’s) system is not ideal, let’s compare a few things.

I have many many friends in the US. Some of them work for companies or must work for companies with good health plans. They may, even with these health plans, pay for various services and medications on top of the allotted amount. One friend had to drive two hours to a neighboring city to see a doctor who worked for that particular health insurance company. I have another friend, a doctor, who actually couldn’t find work because the insurance company she was with disappeared and the others needed no doctors. She didn’t want or couldn’t afford the overhead of starting her own practice so remained out of work. You never hear of a doctor in Canada who can’t find enough patients.

I have friends where both worked but their health plans only covered their two children. I know a woman who had ovarian cancer and after the surgeries and care owed $30,000 USD. I have a friend who is epileptic, who only by the grace of once being a coast guard, gets her seizure medication covered. I have a friend, a writer and reviewer, who is diabetic, with complications. He told me once, years ago, that he paid over $800 a month in health insurance. He is now in danger of losing his home because of his health issues. I have friends whose jobs don’t have health plans or very limited ones. They sometimes can’t get the simplest of tests done and what is a minor health issue can become life threatening.

The US health system is expensive and limits or ignores those who are of lower income. They get little help or often die because they cannot afford to treat their illnesses and injuries. And any time a person is injured, whether by their own fault or not, and even if they know it, they must sue everyone in sight to cover the costs of the health care. Suddenly no one is responsible for their own common sense and well-being. There are those who will take advantage of the system but many who are genuinely ill and injured must sue so that they can get better. And that drives up the costs of everything. It clogs up the court systems for years to come and we hear of ridiculous cases, such as the one about the guy who sued his yacht insurance because he had given his ex-girlfriend herpes. (I kid you not.)

Canada’s system isn’t perfect. We do have waiting lists for surgeries and MRIs. There are provincial governments like Alberta’s (under Ralph Klein) and BC (under Gordon Campbell) that have been whittling away at our health services, knocking out this and that and letting in privatization. Campbell took away chiropractic, massage and physiotherapy services (which were only covered for a specified number of visits) and decided that podiatrists and optometrists weren’t essential to one’s health. Of course, things like foot or eye problems affect people more as they age and affect seniors, so we know who suffers there.

But when I found out there was a class action suit against a pharmaceutical company for deadly affects of a drug (one I had once been on), I went to my doctor and requested a battery of tests to make sure I didn’t have any problems. My cost–0. Earlier this year I was exhausted. My doctor sent me for thorough blood tests. Again my cost is nothing. I can get X-rays or other tests or should I take ill I will still owe nothing. My friend who spent a year in the hospital, before dying, also owed nothing.

Surgery is free unless it’s cosmetic. What is not covered is dental. Why on earth it was seen to not be essential to health back when medicare was being form, I can only guess at. So people often want jobs that do have medical benefits for dental, eyes, physiotherapy and chiropractic, medicine (some is covered in BC if you have to spend over a certain amount). Not everything is free. And it can be hard to get a doctor because we don’t have enough. Some leave and go to the US to make more money. And yes you could wait a very long time for an elective surgery.

Some people in the US are fighting the medicare proposal. Do you really want to have to mortgage your home to have surgery, take out a loan to have a child, or suffer silently because you can’t afford it? Because the US already has private practices it is highly unlikely that these will go away. It’s unlikely that people will lose their health care benefits through their jobs. But what it does mean is that people will be able to get aid without having to suffer or bankrupt themselves. It does mean improving the overall health of the country.

Yes it could be expensive, and is costly in Canada. Our government needs to try harder at changing the system so that preventative health care is the first step, and that takes education. But it will burden the system less later as a person ages. People need to also take responsibility for their bodies and try to treat them better. Diet is a huge thing and with North America burgeoning with childhood obesity it would be the best way to head off higher costs and overtaxing any medical system.

One thing is for certain, a medicare plan wouldn’t hurt most people and would help them. It’s too bad people are so paranoid about it in the US. It could definitely alleviate a great deal of suffering if not all.

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Glasgow and the End of the Journey

Today is Canada Day and I’m off travelling out of town. So here is the last of my journey to Ireland and Scotland from Fall 2007.

Our last day in Glasgow started with the museum and then we went off to St. Mungo’s religious museum. Housed in the oldest standing building in Glasgow, it was a fairly bland exhibition and the building wasn’t that interesting. So we walked up the street and over to the Glasgow Cathedral, but it was late in the day and it turned out it closed at 4:00. The guy was really just locking up so he said you have five minutes.

I zoomed around taking pictures, without actually really looking at the place. The Cathedral is supposed to be one of the few gothic cathedrals in Scotland, especially one that is whole and still used. It was built in 1471 and really is a fine example of gothic architecture. I wished I’d had more time to actually look.

Ireland 2007–Glasgow

After that we tried to find our way back to Will and Erin’s. Unfortunately I’d forgotten their phone number. We also got lost because a helpful lady had told us what bus to catch back but it turned out there were two buses with the same name and a different ending, thus splitting and going varying routes. Which meant backtracking.

My sister was done. We had to walk about three blocks to catch another bus, after doing a partial return route. She thought we’d been walking for hours when it was less than ten minutes. 🙂 A very drunk Scotsman chatted with us (we had to catch a bus outside a pub, of course) and it turned out it was the other bus stop across the street from the pub. So he was a very drunk, yet helpful Scotsman.

So we finally made it back, with Will and Erin wondering what had happened to us. The next morning we flew out on Air Transat but not without issues. My sister had called them several times before she’d left and confirmed how many bags she could take on the plane, and on carry-on. She confirmed with the person on the phone and asked about leaving from Scotland. He confirmed with his supervisor that yes, she could take a bag and her camera bag as well.

Well, it turns out they have their own rules. My sister ended up paying overweight baggage because of it and was rightfully furious because she had to pack one bag into everything else. My recommendations: don’t fly Air Transat if you’re flying more than two hours. The seats are small even for someone 5’4″. If you need a special diet, they’ll lose it or muck it up badly. And someone travelling with you will probably get a special diet they didn’t order, as I did. They’ll tell you one thing and do another and not be the least helpful or apologetic for it. The seat selection (if you want to sit with the person you’re flying with) cost extra so that super cheap flight turns out not that cheap in the end.

Europe and Great Britain especially have tighter baggage allowances and the airline won’t always know what it is or get the info confused. The attendants on Air Transat were very nice and helpful but everything else convinced me I won’t be flying with them again.

At least the return trip was more pleasant. The plane wasn’t completely full so I went and chatted with this Scotsman, Ian MacIntosh who lived in Calgary. That way, my sister and I both had extra room.

Over all, Ireland was a great trip. The trip was from Sept. 26-Oct. 16. I want to go back and explore more of western Ireland and some of the south. I think I’d fly into Wales and then from Wales to the west of Ireland. Of course I’ll have to buy a camera again, but that’s a tale for tomorrow…

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