Food Crimes: Lavender Misdemeanors

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I like lavender, I do. In calming oil, in the vapor misting at the yoga studio, and in my shower gel. I have a few bushes in my yard, love to pick a sprig or two for the patio and to bring in the house to scent the air.  When I travel, I have a roll-on oil that I put on my scarf. Not only does it calm me, but it masks any odors left behind by previous travelers or brought on by the snugly conditions on airplanes.

lavender4I am not ignorant to the lavender cookies, ice cream, drinks and everything else floating around shopping aisles at the local markets and calling to me from the bakery store windows.

When I went to San Juan Island, I discovered there’s a lavender farm with, I think they said, 40 different varieties of lavender from all over the world. It’s absolutely beautiful.

Lavender has a light floral scent, not at all over powering, and it’s lovely to look at. It’s lavender3musk reminiscent of the sweet earth on which we thrive.

But, I have recently discovered, I’m not a fan of lavender infused food. While they are beautiful creations, the lavender macaroon I tasted at a nearby bakery was barely flavorful, made with a synthetic extract barely hinting of the purple flowering plant. The made-for-me lavender cupcake was moist and not overly sweetened – both of which I appreciate – and I ate it, liked it. But, ultimately, decided, what’s the big deal?

Overall, I’m not a fan of cross-over and maybe that’s what’s tripping me up. I have no lavender6desire to scrub my pores with chocolate scented exfoliate nor spread a mocha cappuccino mask over my hands, I don’t want a minty fresh eye gel or an apricot foot cream.

I desire separation. I don’t want to be tempted to lick a pineapple-coconut shower spray, and I’d prefer my cake not to reek of argon and tea tree oil.

Enjoy your fluff and fold mango laundry detergent and your vanilla frap leave-in conditioner; night-shade dryer sheets and white chocolate cookies are good enough for me.

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Food Crimes: How PSL Saved My Life.

We’ve all had those days. For one reason or another, we didn’t get enough sleep, on the verge of exhaustion, or worse – near ill, but we need to make it through, we need to show up and be functional.

Enter: Caffeine. psl3

Every day I read a different article about caffeine, it’s good, it’s bad, tea has more, coffee has more, they have antioxidant effects, people live longer, live shorter. No one study has definitively come up with one right answer.

But here’s the truth:  Too much caffeine can cause anxiety.

psl2See me two months ago for my first set of anxiety attacks. There’s a lot going on right now, but I’m usually the queen of calm. But too much caffeine and not enough physical exercise, and the onset of anxiety happens.  I know this because my sisters have anxiety and the first thing their doctors said is “cut out the caffeine and chocolate.”

Well, before I let a doctor tell me to cut out chocolate, I decided to ease back. During the summer, I’d been drinking three or four cups of tea by 2pm and sometimes an added cup of coffee by 4pm.  I know some people drink coffee all day long and are not affected; it’s what you’re used to and what your body can take. Mine decided too much was too much. I cut back to one cup a day. It wasn’t too hard. I actually still had two cups made from one tea bag; my way of cheating.

Then, school begins. Not related to caffeine, or coffee, psl1tea, chocolate or any guilty pleasures, but to a new schedule and my body trying to get used to it – I spent one night tossing and turning and getting up and laying down, breathing deep and keeping my eyes closed, but to no avail – I ended up falling asleep around 4 in order to wake up at 6am. I felt zombie-like.

I made it through my first class, but had another class to teach after an hour of office meetings.

Enter: PSL.

pslStarbucks sent me an email (yes, me personally, about their early release of Pumpkin Spice Latte), but I ignored it, telling myself I was off the hard stuff. I didn’t need any espresso and sugar to get me through the day, just good healthy food and clean, clear water. Besides, it’s far too early to imbibe on pumpkin anything.

But, see, it was one of those damn dirty lies we tell ourselves. When our next sleep is off on some unknown horizon, we must continue to function. My car turned, almost automatically into the Starbucks parking lot, and I found myself in a mist, floating to the barista as they handed me an iced-grande-half-caff-PSL-no whip.

The mixture of caffeine and sugar, the delishness of it all, kept me awake so I could earn a living, not fall on my face in front of 30 some students, and hold worthwhile conversations (I hope), with my colleagues.

Good, bad, friend or fiend, crime or not, caffeine isn’t going anywhere. Thank goodness.

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Food Crimes: Always Ask a Local

What I learned traveling is to not settle for the food that is offered to most tourists, but to ask a local. By doing this, I’ve eaten at the most wonderful places.

Recently I visited the San Juan Islands; while browsing the shops, I began to grow hungry, so I asked the clerks for a recommendation. They all said Mike’s.

20180819_192147I wandered the streets on the hot day, pleasantly surprised when I arrived at Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar and read: The Islands Tallest Waterfall.

I had images of a cool mist wafting over with the breeze. I entered and asked for the patio. Even more surprised when the waterfall was a mere four feet from the ground.  An island joke – it is actually the tallest!

Being too late for lunch and too early for dinner, I had the place nearly to myself.

20180818_161700Famished, I ordered the Tomate plate. A vegan version of caprese salad. I began with that. Farm-fresh, warm tomatoes: Mmmmm…. delish.

Another secret to eating a good meal is to ask the server for suggestions: 20180818_163559(0)

The Pulled Jackfruit Tacos, she told me, were only on the menu for a limited time, a summer special edition. I was not disappointed.

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For desert: a vegan berry cheesecake.

This is the best meal I’ve had in quite a long time!

On the way

I like to ask locals their ideas for activities as well. The next day, a woman recommended I visit the small town of La Conner.

I ended up at the WaterFront for fish and chips where the server introduced their special: Guinness battered Fish. I opened the menu and asked her what she liked best. She pointed to another plate of fish and chips. This, she said, we make fresh here.

Their special came in a bag and was deep fried. It might have been good, but when I travel I want to get a flavor for the area as well as a fresher, healthier choice.

In Florence, a side street tattoo artist led me to a grande deserto: authentic tiramisu.

Lost and found at a skate park in Paris, teenage skaters pointed out a corner cafe serving Galletes.

I’ve gotten lost in every major city of every country I’ve ever traveled too. This is where you meet the locals, eat the best food, and have the most authentic experiences. Get off the beaten path and explore! Ask the locals for food and other ideas.

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Food Crimes – Sugar: The other white treat

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A little sugar never hurt anyone. The problem is that it’s in EVERYTHING!  Don’t believe me – read your labels.  If it’s not listed as “sugar,” it’s listed as:

  1. Beet sugar
  2. Blackstrap molasses
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Buttered syrup
  5. Cane juice crystals
  6. Cane sugar
  7. Caramel
  8. Carob syrup
  9. Castor sugar
  10. Coconut sugar
  11. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  12. Date sugar
  13. Demerara sugar
  14. Evaporated cane juice
  15. Florida crystals
  16. Fruit juice
  17. Fruit juice concentrate
  18. Golden sugar
  19. Golden syrup
  20. Grape sugar
  21. Honey
  22. Icing sugar
  23. Invert sugar
  24. Maple syrup
  25. Molasses
  26. Muscovado sugar
  27. Panela sugar
  28. Raw sugar
  29. Refiner’s syrup
  30. Sorghum syrup
  31. Sucanat
  32. Treacle sugar
  33. Turbinado sugar
  34. Yellow sugar

Or other lovely pseudonyms.1981741_1648171295220103_7816513440544216227_n.jpg

If it were so harmless, why would it need aliases?

Some of the products you find sugar hiding in, besides the obvious, are canned goods, like corn and beans, whole grains, like bread and oatmeal, and especially “low fat” goods.

Too much sugar is bad for us. It’s been linked to memory and learning problems (in animals); some studies seem to relate Alzheimers to high sugar intake.

The truth is, no matter how much we like it, we can make healthier choices in the foods we eat.sugar crime

Secret Squirrel Food is one of my favorite sites for desserts. Not all of them are completely sugar free; some recipes use dates or other substitutes, but they are whole food choices which are healthier, in my opinion, than plain white sugar.

Well and Good Eats is guilty of some serious foodporn on Instagram. Check it out.

sugar crime1And PeanutButterPlusChocolate  are the winners for limiting the sugar to my sweet tooth.

Never say never.  Just say not so much!

 

Food Crimes: Inside Nutella

Did you know a woman sued Nutella and WON? nutella3.jpeg

She claimed Nutella falsely advertised the product as a healthy choice. She fed it to her child, believing in its healthy benefits.

I’m not fan of nutella or their advertising. I’ve seen the commercial in which a woman is spreading nutella on toast as an announcer says something to the effect, “get your children to eat breakfast again.”

Chocolate for breakfast?!  I’m in.  Uhm. Or not.

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My thought was always of the sugar and oil in the product and I’d never consider it something to feed my children for breakfast let alone a healthy alternative to anything.

Nutella claims it’s made with nuts. And it is.  They certainly have alluded to the fact that the product is healthy, but numerous companies are guilty of this type of advertising, and some are worse with their “lower sugar,” “fewer carbs,” “cautionbuyerbewarehigher protein” claims.

I’ve always considered food shopping like car shopping: Buyer Beware.

The company paid out 3 MILLION DOLLARS in the class action lawsuit.

It’s good that companies are held accountable, and more should be. But until that time, it really is buyer beware. READ LABELS!

We don’t need to deny ourselves something chocolate and nutty, we just need to make better choices. Here’s a few healthier versions of Nutella.

Homemade Nutella

Vegan Nutella

Better than Nutella

Let me know what you think!

ENJOY!