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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

USA-Made Consumables vs *Healthier*?

(The original title for this post was "Could Our Food Be Healthier" but I want people to know I am going to be making comparisons. I love my country but I do wish some of our food was healthier.)

Why look outside the US?

For the longest time, I have been using some cosmetic items made in countries other than the USA. Mainly, I use a daily application of German-made Nivea cream. That's not because I was ever worried about ingredients other than that the German-made Nivea ingredients work better for my skin. Same thing for the occasional toners and the like from Korea and Japan. However...

Them Eggs, them eggs, them room-temp eggs...

Maybe two or three years ago, I started hearing more online about the differences in food ingredients and standards. I think the very first time, I paid attention to this was when a family member received a gift of some eggs from a friend who has their own chickens. I was so surprised to learn that those eggs didn't have to be refrigerated. What? I didn't even want to mess with those eggs until that crazy period when eggs cost more than gasoline... Afterward, I read that eggs in a lot of places outside the USA don't require refrigeration. (Actually, I should have remembered this about fresh eggs from years spent with my chicken-owning grandparents!)

What about that catsup, aye?

Just about two or three weeks ago, I saw something about a woman who was shocked at the differences between American-made and Canadian-made ketchup. Again, what?

Of course, I had to look into this. And it's true. Here are the ingredients for American-made Heinz ketchup:

  • Tomato Concentrate from Red Ripe Tomatoes
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Corn Syrup
  • Salt
  • Spice
  • Onion Powder
  • Natural Flavoring
And for the Canadian-made version:

  • Tomato Paste
  • Liquid Sugar
  • White Vinegar
  • Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Spices and Spice Extracts
  • Garlic Powder
  • Natural Flavor
As soon as I saw this, I was confused. I mean, is there a reason that our version has to include the corn syrups? Is there something about shelf-life maybe - or maybe just ease of production? It seems to me that adding unnecessary ingredients costs more and maybe even adds to the production process. 

Since I got the ingredient lists from ChatGPT, I went ahead and asked the thing about reasons for the differences. This is the answer it (her? he?) gave:

Yes, there are several reasons why the ingredients in American-made and Canadian-made Heinz ketchup might differ:

  1. Regulatory Differences: Each country has its own regulations regarding food ingredients and labeling. These regulations may dictate which ingredients can be used, their quantities, and how they are listed on the label. For example, one country may allow certain additives or preservatives that are banned in another.
  2. Consumer Preferences: Consumer preferences and tastes can vary between countries. Heinz may adjust the formulation of their ketchup to better suit the flavor preferences of the local market. For instance, the use of high fructose corn syrup, which is more common in American products, might be replaced with liquid sugar in Canada due to consumer preferences or regulatory differences.
  3. Supply Chain and Sourcing: Differences in the availability and cost of ingredients can also influence formulations. Heinz may source ingredients locally or regionally to ensure freshness and reduce transportation costs. This could lead to variations in the ingredients used in different countries.
  4. Marketing and Branding: Sometimes, companies may adjust their product formulations or marketing strategies to align with local cultural norms or perceptions. This could involve highlighting certain ingredients or aspects of the product that are more appealing to consumers in a particular region.

Overall, these factors contribute to the differences in ingredients between American-made and Canadian-made Heinz ketchup.

Top of Form

I'm no genius but it occurred to me that there is nothing about Item #2 above that would cause any problems with Item #1. Or am I missing something? 

As a matter of fact, the more I look at #2 on that list, it's as if the Canadian customers are getting what they want while we Americans... maybe never bothered to ask about???

Now, since I have always been able to find the German-made Nivea online (Amazon), I checked up on the ketchup. Yep, it's there. I also noticed that there is an American version with a different list of ingredients than the "regular" one. This one is called "Heinz Simply Tomato Ketchup"(with no artificial sweeteners). This is the ingredients list shown on the product page:

  • Tomato Concentrate from Red Ripe Tomatoes
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Onion Powder
  • Spice
  • Natural Flavoring
So... Wait. What? 

I think my brain just stuttered because, if I'm seeing the list correctly, there is an American version of the ketchup that is as "good" as the Canadian version - if a consumer knows to look for it.

And I have a follow-up question: Why isn't the healthier version the only American version? Are there just folks out there who happen to love and prefer corn syrups and the problems they can cause?

Makes a body wonder

What else is going on with our food (for no good reason)? And why haven't we been paying attention and speaking up? 

I have never been bright enough to be the only person to think about this. Why hasn't anyone been speaking up? Are we all so busy fighting over politics and checking up on TikTok-
I just remembered. I first saw the ketchup story on a TikTok reaction video!!!

I don't know about the rest of y'all but, as for me and my house, I will be checking around for healthier versions/alternatives to the products for feeding this body. The Simply version of ketchup is around $4 for a 20-oz bottle at Walmart right now and even cheaper (both Sub and Save and 1-time buy) at Amazon for under $5 for a 31-oz bottle. The Canadian version is also available online.

Just for giggles, I asked that AI about some other pantry staples. I wanted a quick idea of some other things made outside the USA. This is what I got:

Certainly! Versions of pantry staples made in other countries may vary from those made in the USA due to factors like regional taste preferences, cultural influences, and regulations. Here are some examples of how pantry staples might differ between countries:

1.      Pasta: In Italy, pasta is often made with durum wheat semolina, giving it a slightly different texture and flavor compared to pasta made in the USA, which may use different types of wheat.

2.      Rice: Varieties of rice such as Basmati rice from India or Jasmine rice from Thailand have distinct flavors and textures compared to typical long-grain or short-grain rice found in the USA.

3.      Soy Sauce: Japanese soy sauce tends to be lighter and sweeter compared to Chinese soy sauce, which is typically darker and saltier. Each country may also have different varieties of soy sauce for specific uses.

4.      Olive Oil: Olive oil from Greece or Italy may have a different flavor profile compared to olive oil produced in the USA, depending on factors like the type of olives used and the terroir of the region.

5.      Canned Tomatoes: Italian canned tomatoes are prized for their rich flavor and are often used in pasta sauces and other dishes. They may differ in taste and texture from canned tomatoes produced in the USA.

6.      Tea: Varieties of tea from countries like China, Japan, India, and Sri Lanka have distinct flavors and characteristics based on factors such as growing conditions, processing methods, and cultivars.

7.      Cheese: Different countries have their own traditional cheeses with unique flavors and textures. For example, French Brie, Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano, and English Cheddar all offer distinct taste experiences.

8.      Chocolate: Chocolate made in countries like Belgium, Switzerland, and France is often prized for its high quality and rich flavor compared to some mass-produced chocolates in the USA.

These are just a few examples, but they illustrate how pantry staples can vary depending on where they are produced. Exploring international versions of pantry staples can be a great way to experience different culinary traditions and flavors.

Top of Form

So, I already knew about the chocolate. It's not a necessary daily item for me (especially not since I'm wearing all those corn syrup pounds on my rear!) but the one thing I have known about is...

I use this stuff in place of salt quite a bit. Yes, I know it's a gravy but it works really well as a basic seasoning. I will sprinkle a bit on air-fried potatoes (like I need to be eating potatoes), on cooked and raw veggies, and on some meats. 

And, of course, I have fallen in love with Celtic Sea Salt. It's delicious and because the taste lingers on the tongue, I don't use very much of it at all.

When I find any more healthy(er) American products or affordable products from 'outside', I will try to remember to share. In the meantime, take care of your minds, bodies, and spirits. I remember something I was told when I first got sarcoidosis: Be your own advocate. And that's great advice because your health is not as important to anyone else other than yourself.



Saturday, February 17, 2024

Onion Honey Tea

Growing up, I was the product of parents and grandparents who believed in a lot of natural remedies. My paternal Big Mama made everyone get a morning dose of either castor oil or cod liver oil. (I know for sure she'd made us drink one of those if we dared get constipated.)

My maternal grandmother was not alive for long past my own birth but my mother knew all the people who, like her, had grown up on home remedies. 

When I was struggling with that Flu-monia and the neverending cough, I was popping Mucinex DM and sucking on cough drops like they were candy. When I finally went to my GP for a regular checkup recently, she prescribed Albuterol and Pulmicort inhalers. Apparently, several of her patients had been suffering from this broncho-something or other ailment that's been making the rounds. With my weakened immune system, it had just hit me a little harder. The Albuterol was prescribed to help with any wheezing attacks I might have and the Pulmicort was for daily use until further notice. Here is where things get irritating...

My insurance won't cover the Pulmicort until I go to a pulmonologist (which will cost me a higher out-of-pocket office visit fee, as does any visit to a specialist). My insurance suggested ever so casually that  I could just buy the medicine myself - for the small fee of 900+ dollars. 

Pulmicort is the med my doctor wants me to take on a daily basis for a while and I cannot afford to pay for it out of pocket. However, the Albuterol for the occasional wheezing and stronger attacks is something my insurance did cover.  Two days after the appointment, they sent me 4 inhalers. Four inhalers that I would maybe only occasionally need. That makes so much sense someone ought to write a book about it... ~sigh~ Got me over here, talking in italics like a crazy woman... (I am making an appointment with the pulmonologist. As soon as I find one.)

In the meantime, thank God above, my cough has gotten lots better. Probably because I have the Pulmicort I was given to get me through for a while. The cough is only better but not gone. While I was cursing in italics about the insanity of my insurance coverage, I remembered something.

Years and years ago (when I was around 13 or 14, so many years ago), there was a woman who lived next door to my auntie. Her name was Miss Addie and she had a little house that was surrounded by her garden. And she had everything in that garden of hers. The front yard was full of trees with bushes running along the side of the fence and lining the little walkway to her door. Apples, crab apples, pecans, walnuts, and one little bush that had berries I didn't recognize. The sides and entire back of her yard were so full of herbs and berries and plants that it was tricky to navigate through them. 

Miss Addie was old (I don't know how old but I know people teasingly called her Methuselah's big sister). I do know that she was the daughter of slaves or former slaves. My mother told me that Miss Addie had learned all about the herbs and plants from her mother and grandmother before her. Whenever women in town had menstrual cramps or were going through "the change", they went to Miss Addie for remedies. She made teas, poultices, and bags of herbs for various ailments. If you had a headache, Miss Addie had something for it. If somebody's child had a fever, Miss Addie had something for that. Toothaches, muscle cramps, rashes - Miss Addie seemed to have a garden prescription for anything and everything. If someone in our part of town got sick, the church prayed and Miss Addie prescribed.

One of Miss Addie's remedies for coughs, colds, and the like, was onion tea. I do recall vaguely that she had variations of the remedy (depending on what type of cough or cold, maybe?) but I specifically remember the onion tea because of hearing Mama talk about it more than once as I grew up.

Of course, once I thought about that tea, I had to go searching for a recipe. And, what do y'all know but I made myself a jar of onion tea.  May God bless the memory of Miss Addie because I will be hotdanged if the tea doesn't seem to be helping. I've only had 2-days and 1 night's worth (one cup twice a day and I had some before bed last night) and I'm getting more sleep because the coughing isn't waking me.

You know I had to be desperate to even think of making onion tea in the first place. I can't remember if I ever had any of it when I was young so I wasn't excited to think about the taste. But I was desperate. 

I can't recommend that anyone else drink the tea (I'm not a medical pro) but I can tell you how I made mine.

The Recipe(s)

These are the ingredients I came up with after looking at several recipes and other sources:

  • 1 medium to large onion quartered with the skin on. (Red is said to be more antioxidant but white or yellow will work. I had a yellow onion.)
  • 5 to 10 cups of water. (I'm sure you can add more if you want.)
  • 3 cinnamon sticks. (Thankfully, I keep these in my pantry.)
  • Some clove buds. Recipes varied on the amount so I used 10 buds.
  • (optional) Apple to sweeten the concoction. (I didn't have apples but I had some frozen fruit that had pieces of peaches which were the sweetest of the bag of strawberry, pineapple, or mango pieces.)
  • Garlic is another ingredient that is recommended but I've pickled all mine so...
  • Honey to sweeten or Lemon for flavoring. (I used honey.)
There are 2 fairly simple recipes I found. This is the first:
  • Excluding the honey, put all the ingredients - including the skin of the onion if it's clean or organic - into a pot and bring to a boil for 5 minutes or so. Then reduce this to a low simmer for up to 20 minutes. (Make sure to keep the pot covered so you aren't evaporating your water!)
  • You can either cover the tea in the pot and leave it to cool before straining out the onion and skin. (I guess that the reason you don't want to leave the onion in is that it could make the tea start to taste too strong. This is why I also removed the cloves. I did leave in the cinnamon sticks.)
  •  This can go into the fridge for up to 3 days (but I would keep checking to make sure it's not going rank). If you have any left and the tea is still good, you can freeze the remainder. Suggestions are to use ice cube trays to freeze before bagging or covering the cubes for storage. Personally, I immediately vac-sealed my freshly cooled tea into portions and put it in the freezer after setting aside about 10 ounces to sip on. Who the heck knows when onion tea "goes bad", and how do you tell??? Of course, as with anything, be very careful about sanitation and contamination. Use your common sense, folks. I'm just sharing a recipe!
The second method, which seemed to appear online more often than the method above (which is the one I used)  is:
  • Quarter or even thinly slice your onion (with or without the skin) and steep it in a tightly sealed container for several hours or overnight. 
  • When ready to drink, add any fruit or sweeteners then. 
  • Storage seemed to be the same as for the first method.
this is beginning to simmer
I used the first method mostly because I wanted to be able to drink a cup of tea sooner. Also, I like the idea of heating the ingredients.

One other thing I did was to save the strained onion. I want to see what it tastes like after being steeped with the other ingredients. I haven't tried it but I need to do so soon because it's just stored in the fridge in a bit of the tea.

The Result

I should have realized when I was making the tea that it didn't stink up the kitchen. Still, I wasn't prepared for the taste. Surprisingly - stunningly - this tea is actually pretty tasty. 

Actually, when I did a taste test before adding the honey, the tea came off as super bland. I tasted cinnamon and cloves but almost none of the onion. When I added the honey, the cinnamon, cloves, and fruit flavors popped out more brightly but the onion stayed way in the background. I have a feeling that adding an apple will really jazz this up! I really like the taste of the tea as it is. Of course, I like cinnamon, cloves, and honey anyway.

this is after 20 minutes simmering
Once I thought about it more, I wasn't that surprised that onion had mellowed. I guess it's like when raw garlic is strong and kind of hot but gets all buttery and mellow when roasted.

After the first "dose", I don't know if there was much of a difference. Remember, my cough had started abating already. But I do think that after the first couple of days, something was working. I didn't wake up coughing but a couple of times (and that might have been due to the dry air). During the day now, I'm not coughing as much - hardly at all. Strangely, after the first day, my voice was still super hoarse. I thought that would go away quickly.

Overall, I am glad that I remembered the tea and looked it up. Apparently, it's good for more than a cough or cold.  Remembering that I am not any kind of medical professional and am only using the resources online, here is what I found that could be beneficial about this tea. As a matter of fact, Chat GPT listed the same things I found everywhere else and sums them up well:

"Onion tea might sound a bit unusual, but it actually comes with some surprising benefits:
1. Immune Boosting: Onions contain antioxidants like quercetin, which can help strengthen your immune system and ward off illness.

2. Digestive Health: Drinking onion tea may aid digestion and alleviate digestive discomfort, thanks to its fiber content.

3. Anti-inflammatory: The antioxidants in onions have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate conditions like arthritis.

4. Heart Health: Onion tea may help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease.

5. Respiratory Relief: Some people find relief from respiratory issues like coughs and congestion by drinking onion tea, as it can help loosen mucus and clear the airways.

6. Hydration: Like any tea, onion tea can contribute to your daily fluid intake, helping keep you hydrated.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or concerns." (ChatGPT response)

When I was searching for the recipe, I found variations I might give a try. One version of the recipe called for adding garlic. I saw a recipe somewhere in a magazine that mentioned using a little vanilla in the tea. Yum! When I looked further into the use of garlic, I found recipes for "garlic fermented in honey". Since I love, love, love garlic, this sounds intriguing.
Here are some recipes from online:

These are some variations suggested (again) by ChatGPT:
"Here are some basic variations of onion tea you can try:

1.Plain Onion Tea: The simplest version involves slicing or chopping an onion, boiling it in water for about 10-15 minutes, then straining out the onion pieces. You can add a bit of honey or lemon for flavor if desired.

2. Onion-Ginger Tea: Add a few slices of fresh ginger to the boiling water along with the onion. Ginger adds a warm, spicy flavor and brings its own health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties.

3. Onion-Cinnamon Tea: Drop a cinnamon stick into the boiling water along with the onion. Cinnamon adds a sweet and aromatic flavor, and it's believed to have various health benefits, including improving blood sugar control.

4. Onion-Garlic Tea: For an extra immune boost, add a clove or two of crushed garlic to the boiling water along with the onion. Garlic is known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties.

5. Onion-Honey Tea: After straining the onion tea, stir in a spoonful of honey to sweeten it naturally. Honey also provides additional health benefits and can soothe a sore throat.

6. Onion-Mint Tea: Add a few fresh mint leaves to the boiling water along with the onion. Mint adds a refreshing flavor and may help with digestion and nausea.

Feel free to experiment with these variations and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Enjoy your onion tea!"

Again, do your due diligence. For the last time, here is some ChatGPT help regarding just some warnings:
"Onion tea is a natural remedy that some people believe can offer health benefits. However, like any herbal remedy, it's essential to be aware of potential side effects. Here are some possible side effects of drinking onion tea:

1. Digestive Issues: Some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating, gas, or upset stomach after drinking onion tea. This is because onions contain fructans, which can be difficult for some individuals to digest.

2. Bad Breath: Onions are notorious for causing bad breath due to their strong odor. Drinking onion tea can exacerbate this issue.

3. Allergic Reactions: Individuals who are allergic to onions may experience allergic reactions such as itching, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing after consuming onion tea.

4. Blood Sugar Levels: Onion tea may affect blood sugar levels, so individuals with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar closely if consuming onion tea regularly.

5. Interaction with Medications: Onion tea may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, by affecting their absorption or effectiveness. It's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before consuming onion tea if you're taking any medications.

6. Skin Irritation: Applying onion tea topically to the skin may cause irritation or allergic reactions in some individuals.

As with any herbal remedy, it's essential to use onion tea in moderation and be mindful of any adverse reactions. If you experience severe or persistent side effects, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.
Talk with your medical care team. Think about your own sensitivities to the ingredients. Most importantly, make sure nothing interacts badly with any of your medications. As I said, I am only sharing a recipe that I tried.


Sunday, February 11, 2024

I'm Going to try Wet Salt

(I'm sorry if some of my posts about food and my diet changes are out of order. My brain is still wonky from the latest round of the kicks.)

Salt is one of those things I have always worried about. Being black, I grew up hearing about the illnesses old people called "salt" (meaning high blood pressure) and "sugar" (meaning diabetes). It's only since I got sick myself and started paying closer attention to food and nutrition that I learned something important: salt is not always (or sometimes the only) cause of HBP. 

Our bodies need and use a variety of nutrients. For some people, potassium is not a big deal, or phosphorus, etc. That's because their bodies (or rather, their internal organs) can process them. Sarcoidosis messed with my kidneys big time. I must watch certain things (salt, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, etc.)

Here's the thing. I like to eat. Also, I can (if I say so myself) throw down in the kitchen. Put my foot in it. Wreck those pots. Et cetera, et cetera. (I had to touch my countrified roots for a moment there!)

I have been very careful with all the things I need to be careful with. I also drink enough water to launch a toy boat about 3 times a day. But, apparently, I have been sleeping hard on the salt game. I thought I was hip because I knew about Himalayan salt 10 or 12 years ago (then again, I was stupid enough to get a salt lamp for some reason)... Well, guess what? There are some other salts in this game.

I have forgotten where I first heard about Celtic Sea Salt (to my shame and horror, I think it might have been on a TikTok video). At any rate, it snagged my interest and I dug around and found this video:

So we have the Himalayan salt that I know about but I had never heard of Redmonds or the Celtic sea salt. To be honest, I wasn't that interested at first. I was just traveling a rabbit hole out of boredom. Until I started learning more about the Celtic salt. It's lower (from what I am learning) in sodium, potassium, and phosphorus than the table salt I've used. As a bonus, it is supposed to have a delightful flavor.

Because of my dietary restrictions, I have almost cut table salt out. And that is hard because, like the Bible teaches, salt is flavor. Not being irreverent at all but Jesus did say to his followers:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot." (Matt 5:13)

 And, you know what? Trampled underfoot is exactly where some unsalted foods belong...

Here is a PDF* that covers details about the Celtic salt (and the other forms of it). The salt I'm buying is on page 3. I love that the lady in the video went into detail about the differences between the 3 types of salts she spoke on. 

Anyway, I love the idea of being able to use a salt that might even be potentially beneficial. And I am going to be downright lazy and copy and paste those benefits from a Chat with AI (with my emphasis on some points):

Selina Naturally Celtic Sea Salt, like other high-quality sea salts, offers several potential benefits:

1. Rich Mineral Content: Celtic sea salt is harvested from coastal regions and tends to retain more minerals than table salt due to minimal processing. These minerals, like magnesium, potassium, and calcium, are essential for various bodily functions.

2. Balancing Electrolytes: The electrolytes in Celtic sea salt can help maintain proper fluid balance in the body, which is crucial for hydration, nerve function, and muscle contraction.

3. Better Flavor: Many people prefer the taste of Celtic sea salt over regular table salt due to its natural, slightly briny flavor. It can enhance the taste of dishes without overpowering them.

4. Improved Digestion: Some believe that the minerals in Celtic sea salt can aid digestion by promoting the production of digestive juices and enzymes.

5. Supports Hydration: Proper electrolyte balance from Celtic sea salt can aid in hydration, especially during physical activity or hot weather, by helping the body retain water.

6. Potential Health Benefits: While more research is needed, some studies suggest that the minerals found in Celtic sea salt may have health benefits, such as supporting bone health, reducing blood pressure, and improving cardiovascular function.

Remember, moderation is key when consuming any type of salt, including Celtic sea salt. It's essential to balance salt intake with a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Preach! (Just kidding. Keep in mind that I am not any sort of a medical professional and am so addle-brained that I walked around looking for my phone today while I was talking on it.) 

Now I remember where I first heard about Celtic Sea Salt (?) - I saw a video of a lady advising us to replace our morning coffee with a bit of this salt. And I do think it was a video of someone reacting to a TikTok. What a world we are living in. People are making money by just reacting to other people's videos reacting to - yeah, I got lost in that thought.

Anyway. I decided to try the Celtic Sea Salt. The first problem I ran into was pricing confusion. Of course. Buying the product from the official website is a ton cheaper than buying from Amazon or Walmart online - until you add in the shipping costs. The official site had prices like 8 bucks for a pound of fine ground (for table use) while Amazon was charging anywhere from 20 to 30 and above. Insane, right? Yep. But when I added in the shipping costs from the official site, I was able to find something cheaper from Amazon. I think it was going to rack up to almost 30 bucks from the site and I found a pound of the salt on Amazon for $20 and free shipping. (So not really "free" shipping, is it???)

Whatever. I have ordered some of this salt using my $10 Amazon Shopper rewards for the month. I think that it might be worth it if I can have salt of any kind added back to my foods. I'm already eating my low-fat burgers without bread of any kind. Can I get a smidge of salt, please?

In the video above, the lady gave a heads-up about the texture of the Celtic salt. Good thing. I sure would freak out getting a bag of damp salt. 

By the way, I have a call in to my nephrologist to talk about this salt. My GP is really pleased with my blood pressure and the new dietary "lifestyle". I'm hoping my kidney doc will be impressed at the changes I'm making. 

Of course, when I get the salt and have a chance to try it on a variety of foods, I will post about it all. And, yes, I do know that anything I eat or season my food with has to be used in moderation. Absolutely, but I praise God that I might have found a salt I can use at all without all the anxiety. 

While I wait for the salt to arrive, I am going to have to find a way to make air-fried kale taste like it's meant for humans...



* About the PDF. The version of salt I got is the Fine Ground, not the Light Grey. I should have gone with the coarse and just ground it at home. The nutrient content is slightly different and the grey version has slightly lower sodium and sodium chloride content.

P.S.: On the subject of TikTok... one of the reaction videos showed a Tok (?) creator who seems to think that pink sea salt is (get this) the remains of petrified giants. I will tell you how tired was when I watched the video - I started to think the dude might be on to something. LOL


1. I have no medical training so don't trust anything I say that could affect your health.

2 I am not (nor will I be) compensated in any way for products mentioned in this post.

3. Before you make any serious life changes based on anything I say - remember the phone incident.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Doctors and Fear

 Before I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis, I had never been seriously ill. When I was a kid, I did have some kind of repair surgery on my kidney. Since then, though, the only problem I had was undiagnosed high blood pressure. Being young and always under 115 pounds, I didn't think I could have HBP. That, folks, is one of the reasons it's called a silent killer.

Anyway. Once I started having my blood pressure treated, I had no more serious issues. Good thing, since I have always had a fear of doctors.

When I began treatment for sarcoidosis, I trusted all my doctors, nurses, and other medical caregivers completely. To be fair, at the time, I had some of the best doctors one could ask for. However...

Recently, when I was reevaluating my eating habits (I've put on weight from being laid up with that "flu-monia" I blogged about), I realized something. I should not be taking the vitamin D pills that I have. 

There are a couple of things that I've had hammered into my head about my health (as regards sarcoidosis and CKD). One is to watch my intake of sodium. phosphorous, and potassium. The other is to watch my calcium intake. 

  • Calcium (High calcium levels can damage kidneys)
    • Vitamin D supplements (this vitamin affects calcium retention.)

Well, for the longest time (at least 3 years), I have been taking a daily vitamin D tablet -  250mcg (10,000IU). I have always had this on the list of medications that I present every time I go to a doctor's appointment. Why has no one on my care team ever sounded the alarm on this?

Of course, I immediately stopped taking the vitamin. Also, I am going to be asking my care team about this whole thing.

I really, really count on my doctors a lot - or, at least, I did. For one thing, I have some sometimes serious cognitive issues. I have trouble remembering things and there are times when I really have trouble with comprehension. For instance, just to maintain my blogs, I have to keep notebooks of information and I have to edit and re-edit posts on Word docs before I actually send a post "live". The same thing goes for anything that requires near-complex thinking.

This situation makes me question whether I can count on my care team to really have my back. I am not questioning their character or kindness. My thinking is that they are overwhelmed with patients and sometimes things slip through the cracks.

My confidence is shook. I already keep a notebook to remind me about things to do with my overall health. I'm starting another one to document every single thing I do as far as food and medicine and how I feel from day to day. I need to keep track since I can't count on anyone else to do so.

I'm going to pass along something a social worker said to me when I was being released from the hospital after being diagnosed: "Be your own advocate". At the time, I lived with family and they did that. Now, it's up to me again.



Saturday, February 03, 2024

Obsessed With Pickled Veggies (Because I'm Fat)

UPDATE: After a convo with a neighbor, I wanted to add something to this post about sodium content in vinegar. I made a rookie mistake and used the wrong type of vinegar the first time around. It was "seasoned" and did have sodium. I have since realized I should also use non-seasoned vinegar. I purchased some more vinegar (rice, red wine, white wine), and none of them contain sodium. The same goes for ACV. Read the labels before buying any. 

Another tip I am following is to skip adding salt to my home-made pickling recipes. I thought that it was a must to add salt. I do still add a bit of sugar.

A preamble:

I'm so mad at myself. I have gained some more weight. I realize it might be because I have been laid up sick but, still. I am not happy. So I am really going hard on changing up my eating routine. Well, mostly, I am just finding ways to cut out carbs. I've said goodbye (for now) to my homemade pizza dough and I will not be re-stocking the delicious little potatoes I love to air fry. So, for a while, I will be blogging mostly about how I am preparing food and my meals. Now, on to the first food post...

Pickling veggies is one of those things I wish I'd been doing forever. Seriously. It's so dang easy.

So far, I have pickled onions (red and yellow) and red cabbage. All it takes is your choice of vinegar, some water and seasonings (salt and sugar at a minimum), and some clean jars. I went with rice vinegar and of course, I included some garlic for my seasonings. I love me some garlic and the next thing I will pickle is a big bag of garlic cloves!

Since this was my first time pickling anything, I followed the directions from this dude.

He was funny but got right to the point. I like that he gave some pointers about choosing between different vinegars. You know I have now subscribed to his channel!

Here are my first results. Like I said, I will either be pickling a whole jar of garlic or adding several cloves to the other veggies I pickle. 

I can't quite catch the vivid color of the cabbage.

What I like about having the pickled veggies is that they can be used as condiments or as snacks on their own. While I have been under the weather, I haven't been much for fixing meals. It's nice to be able to snack on some of these tart veggies.

One mistake I made was to try using the same vinegar for both veggies. This rice vinegar is not strong enough to affect the cabbage (or else it takes a while longer???) so I had to add some Apple Cider vinegar to my bigger jar of cabbage. The rice wine though is my favorite flavor overall.
(this is "seasoned" & has sodium)
Another thing I like about pickling veggies is that I can save some things before they have a chance to go bad. I always end up with a little more cabbage or some onions left before I can use them up. Now I can just pickle them and get at least another week or more from them. Of course, I am going to be vac-sealing some of these jars and I have to pay attention to possible spoilage.

I don't think that my onions are going to last long enough to spoil. I cannot stop nibbling on them. Because I am not eating my usual carb-loaded snacks during the day (and because I am sooo sick of boiled eggs), I love chomping on the onions.

By the way, I am so slow that it took a couple of days for me to realize that the vinegar is sort of doing the same thing to the veggies that lemon or lime does to the ceviche shrimp I loved when I lived in Alaska. I mean, I know that pickling is not exactly like doing a ceviche prep but you know what I mean. 

Anyway, I will have to talk next time about what I haven't been doing with my Foodi all this time...


Saturday, January 27, 2024

Fighting This "Flu-monia" (Includes a Recipe)

 Well, it is almost 3 in the morning and I am wide awake That's because I have been doing nothing but sleeping for the past few days. I was so sick, I thought I was going to have to go to the ER. Seriously. So I am really happy to be feeling (cautiously) better.  Earlier today was the first time I've been up for longer than it takes to hit the bathroom. I ate a little something and took a quick wash-off in the sink. I'm not ready for standing in the shower yet. But I'm feeling SO much better.

Keep the prayers coming though. I still have the cough...

Anyway, I am breaking the forced blogging "fast" by talking about food. I was not able to able to enjoy any food until the meal I had earlier and I had to go easy on my tummy. The only good thing to come of this recent flu-monia or whatever it is, is that I lost 7 pounds. (Is it wrong to be kind of thrilled with that?)

Okay, back to the food talk. Since I'm not really up to being on my feet too long, my meal had to be easy and quick. I decided to do French toast (sort of) in the waffle iron. It came out surprisingly good. My recipe:

  • a slice of thick-cut white bread
  • 2 small eggs
  • a couple tablespoons of milk
  • some brown sugar
  • a little vanilla paste (thinned with a bit of the milk)
  • a pinch of Ceylon cinnamon
  • a pat of butter
I mixed the ingredients and dipped the bread in it. I used the butter to coat the iron before I "waffled" the coated bread. (I also made a couple slices of bacon in the waffle iron. It's a simple, heat-and-cook situation.)

What I liked was not having to flip the toast like I do when cooking in a pan. Instead of syrup (because I have none), I sprinkled the top of the hot toast with some more brown sugar. This recipe is going to be a repeat for me. The bacon wasn't as crisp as I like but that's because I got too wiped out to let it cook longer. I can't wait until I can give it another try.

I am now in love with the idea of cooking things with the waffle iron. Mine is a small and cheap one but it's good enough for what I need. Because my iron is so small, it's perfect for portion control.

When I shared the news that I was up and eating, my little brother warned me not to plan on doing a lot right away. The last time I felt like I was kicking whatever this ickiness is, I relapsed quickly.  I've been calling it the "flu-monia" because of the symptoms. My rheumatologist is over 2 hours away so... If I spike a temperature, I will seriously hit the ER. I really, really hate the hospital. Just thinking about hospitals gives me anxiety.

I am hoping that I really am on the mend this time. If so, I will be back to update the blog. But, first, I have to get my sleeping schedule back to normal!


Tuesday, January 09, 2024

Thoughts , Prayers & Whine :-)

I thought I'd better come over and post an update and say that I will certainly be welcoming all thoughts and prayers sent my way. 

For the past few months, my sarcoidosis has been kicking my behind! That's why posting has been sort of erratic. If it weren't for the drafts I save up, I would have almost nothing to post...

Not to whine but - well, okay, maybe a little bit - I've had COVID again (which I thought was going to kill me), then a cold followed. Oh, goodie. My big fear is that I'll get something respiratory and die in my sleep. Seriously, breathing can be a struggle with sarcoid. Anyway, most of the cold symptoms when went away (as in the chills, itchy throat, and aching head), but it left behind this crazy cough! I can't hardly sleep or do anything because of this cough. I heard from someone that it might be that 100-day cough. Whatever it is, it is the worst. I can barely leave the apartment because I don't want to get too far from the bathroom toilet or the shower.

I love these guys!

I told my rheumatologist about the cough when I saw him in November. When I told him I'd already had it for a couple of weeks, he didn't seem too concerned. I still have the cough (it's slowly getting better) but I'm hoping that my upcoming infusion will help. Please, Lord, and thank You.

Because whining is so much fun, let me keep the train rolling...

The cold had me so hoarse that I couldn't talk sometimes. My voice is finally coming back but it's still raw-sounding.  I already have a "throaty" voice so I don't want to end up sounding like a man-ling! LOL

I just wanted to post to explain the erratic blog upkeep. I'm hoping this gets better soon because it's starting to wear me down. I had serious bouts of the blues last week. And, oh, yeah - even better, I'm having trouble finding a dentist to treat me with my "pre-existing condition". Between the coughing and sleepless nights, I am afraid to complain about how badly my teeth hurt.

But, as a reminder to you all (and myself), life is still a blessing. 

We have all made it to 2024 when many others did not. I know that many other sarcoidosis sufferers have lost their battle so I am grateful for every single day. No matter where each of you are in life, be thankful that you are here to fight another day. It sounds trite, but, seriously, just keep your head up.

When someone asks in passing how I'm doing, I'm tempted to let them have the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Then I remember that I am blessed and just say that I am fine. Unless we are friendly. Then they do get the truth!

Also when trying to make it to the bathroom!

If you are healthy, be thankful. If you are sick, keep fighting. 



Saturday, January 06, 2024

**REVIEW** Egyptian Magic All Purpose Skin Cream

(I just realized that I didn't publish this back in Sept or Oct of 2023 so... here it is.) 

This is one of those products that has been hyped hard - and for years. I think I first saw this about 7 years ago. I never bought any because I have other creams and balms that I love. However, when I had about 12 dollars left on a gift card that was expiring, I decided to use it on this. 

tiny jar
For the tiny 1.5oz jar, the price I paid (with tax) was almost $15. That is a little bit insane. 

For some reason, I didn't pay attention to the size of the jar and some other details when I ordered this. Other than the price, the writing on the jar is a little bit creepy for someone who is not a pagan... (The backstory of the brand is really weird, just in case you think I'm being silly!)

Just reading a tiny snippet of the backstory got a little weird for my Christian self. Weird, or funny...

"The Story of Egyptian Magic begins in 1986 at a Chicago Diner when an elderly man approached Westley Howard (The name Mr. ImHotepAmonRa was then known as)..."

Then I took a good look at the front of the jar...(There are reasons some of us don't mess with a lot of popular symbols.) 

I'm pretty sure a Wiccan wouldn't be thrilled using holy water

 What the Beelzebub Crowley is that all about?  🤨 I'm not trying to buy a jar of something whipped up by the dark arts.  🤣I was just wanting to see what all the hype was about a product with some basic and interesting natural ingredients. 

Anyway... After I finished getting over the symbolism and general weirdness, I opened it up to take a look. If nothing dark and wicked flew out, I would give the product a try. 

What this looks like is a slightly yellow-tinged version of any petroleum jelly or CeraVe ointment I've used.  Some reviewers say that there is a smell of beeswax but I got zero scent from it. The texture is more solid than pet jelly and I had to scrape some out with my nail. However, it quickly warms with body heat.

I do have psoriasis that pops up in the form of dry and scaly patches of skin on my palms and ankles. Usually, the symptoms are mild and I just get super-consistent with OTC ointments (currently CeraVe). If the symptoms are worse or prolonged, I go all in with a prescription cream followed up with OTC ointments. Lately, I've had some mild flare-ups on my palms. 

With my psoriasis showing out for the past couple of days, I decided to try this cream. I applied it pretty sparingly (considering the cost) and gave it about ten minutes to soak in. It only took about 3 or 4 minutes to absorb. I guess my skin was drier than I thought!

It hadn't taken but a tiny bit to treat the dry patches on my palms so I decided to see how the cream would work on my face. The absorption took a bit longer than it had for my palms but not a full 10 minutes. In about 7 minutes, I could tell that my face was softer and not oily in the least.

Is this good? It seems so. It did help with the dry patches on my palms. It worked as good as the CeraVe and in about the same amount of time. It also was similar to CeraVe on my face. Maybe this cream was a tiny bit more moisturizing overall. It absorbed much faster than CeraVe. 

The price of this is the deal breaker. While I like the effects just slightly better than CeraVe, this cream is just too pricey to use as often as I would need to.  I will probably never buy more of this. A few other users in their reviews swear that the long-term use of this cream did wonders for their faces. That's kind of the same for any good ointment. Consistent use is the key.

Yes,  I do prefer the ingredients in this over anything else I've used so far but, still, that price...Once I used this jar almost all up, I decided it was definitely not worth the price. I have Nivea which works better and if I need something a little more healing for my psoriasis breakouts, I can use the CeraVe Ointment. Both of those products are worth their prices. 

I guess I don't have to worry about the backstory of this product. Not at that price and size.



Monday, January 01, 2024

Find Your Own Joy

As 2023 was winding down, I talked with a younger family member about life and happiness. It is my opinion that, in a way, happiness - joy - is a social construct. Let me explain.

Of course, happiness is a real thing. My opinion is that we either have our own joy or adopt what we are told is joy. Society has hijacked 'joy' and given it definitions that don't work for everyone. According to society, joy seems to be having a lot of money, possessions, attractiveness, power, etc.

I don't have a lot of money or possessions or power and I am living in a middle-aged body that has seen better days. However, I am sometimes giddy with joy. Some people who know that I am a Christian might think that my joy is all based on my beliefs. A lot of my joy and contentment does come from my personal faith. But not all of it.

I wish that more people would take the time to decide what joy means to them. Forget social media or social trends or whatever your family and friends think. Learn your own definition of joy and happiness.

Some of the things that make me feel joy and contentment are basic. Looking around at the good things in people and the world - in spite of all the bad - makes me happy. When I wake up in a safe place, knowing that I have food to eat, water to drink, and family and friends who love and care about me - all these are immensely important to me.

For a long time, I had the habit of looking at what I didn't have as compared to others. I've grown older and wiser and have learned to be so thankful for what I have by looking at what some people don't have. 

There was a time when I looked at the rich or powerful and compared my life to theirs. I made assumptions that they had to be happier or more blessed than I was. 

It sounds trite and pithy but I have to say that happiness comes from gratitude. If you are grateful for what you have - no matter how little it might seem to others - you can find joy.

Anyway, as I talked with my relative about all of this, one thing dawned on me. If money, power, attractiveness, etc brought joy, then why aren't all rich, powerful, and beautiful people always happy? Why do some of them need to drink or do drugs? Why do any of them commit suicide - or murder? 

Simple, right?

I don't know if any of this is making sense. I just wanted to remind everyone to stop letting anyone define joy or happiness for you. Find what makes you happy. Know why it makes you happy. 

Again, this might sound very trite and basic but I do think it's important. And, yes, my faith does play a big part - the biggest part - in my joy. That's something I talk about on my other blog.

I hope that 2024 is good to you. I hope that you learn to be good to yourself.



Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Dried Fruit Tea Is Everything

For anyone who likes fruit tea, here is my 'recipe':

  • Find a good quantity of dried fruit (I found this brand and it's more affordable than this brand made specifically for infusion). If you like adding sweetener (the brand of fruit might be sweet enough on its own) I suggest using honey. I use a natural honey or a creamed honey. However, dried fruit (depending on the mix) is pretty sweet on it's on. 
  • With dried fruit, you have to steep a lot longer than with regular tea. I generally start drinking mine after 15 minutes but I notice it tastes better and better as it continues steeping.
  • I use about a tablespoon of dried fruit (it will depend on the size of the pieces) to about 10-12 ounces of boiling water. 
  • Sometimes I will use more water and add a bag of another tea.  I sometimes like adding a bag of Raspberry Zinger or hibiscus tea.
The fruit I am using is of such good quality that I can eat all of it after I've finished the tea. Some of the pieces still retain a lot of their flavor. I love eating the bits of coconut because the steep has softened them.

Love the coconut and raisins

When I started drinking fruit infusions, I was using a Korean brand of fruit tea. It was good but not as good as this Oregon Farms brand. For one thing, it was almost $20 for a jar ($1.62/oz)...

...while the Oregon Farms is $0.71/oz.  It's also fresher. The Korean brand was in smaller bits and not all of it was edible after the tea was finished. Another downside is that I had to use more of it to get a good flavor.

I like everything about this dried fruit mix. The seller was also good about communication when I had questions - before I even made a purchase.

The labeling is good. I like knowing the ingredients, nutrition facts, and the lot number. There is even an expiry date on every bag.
And I love, love, love the ingredients.
I enjoy eating the 
raisins & coconut afterward
What I like about making tea from dried fruit is that, uh, I'm not crazy about eating dried fruit out of the bag but I do like the taste! Weird, I know...  Also, I could not find a good tea made from real fruit. the keywords are "good" and "real fruit". Tiesta Tea's Maui Mango tastes awesome but it's a bit stingy on the fruit and the fruit size. Also, there are too many pieces of bitter rind to eat all of it. It is at least $1.60 per ounce and can be as much as $3.00+ per ounce.

The Oregon Farms fruit not only looks plump and fresh but tastes as good as it looks. 

The Korean brand also looks good but it's not as fresh feeling compared to the Oregon Farms brand. 

As I mentioned at the start, the Oregon Farms fruit is even more plumped (of course) and delicious once I finish the tea.

Even though I use a specific brand, that doesn't mean that you can use another or one with a different mix of fruit. I suppose some folks might even dry their own fruit for longer storage. I can offer a couple of suggestions:

  • Make sure you look at the calories/nutrients. I have to watch out for this!
  • Make sure that you are not allergic to (or might have problems with) anything in the mix. 
  • Try to use boiling water of at least 200F. I finally have a kettle that is consistently that hot. (The hotter the water, the better the steep).
  • It helps to have a cup/mug that holds the temperature long enough for a good steep. I have several mugs and thermal cups but the one I use is my favorite for this tea. It's the right size and it keeps the water super hot. As a matter of fact, I have to open the lid to let it cool down enough for me to start sipping. (The mug is this cheap-o one that I can use with my Yeti lid!)
  • If I don't eat my fruit right away, I save it to add to the next brew.


-- Free

DISCLAIMER: I am not receiving any compensation of any kind from any of the brands mentioned. I am no medical professional so I'm not making any claims.