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And what about chocolate - 6/21/09

At night after dinner we would always have a little treat for dessert.  There was always some kind of dessert available.  I remember boxes of Entenmanns’s Coffee Cake or those boxes of chocolate that contained miscellaneous chocolate pieces wrapped in gold aluminum foil.  I would bite into many of them before I could find the one I liked the best.  Most of them had liqueur in them, and I disliked those.  I would take a bite and once I discovered the bitter, gooey substance, I would put it back and try another.  I couldn’t understand how anyone could like those.   I liked the ones with hazelnuts.  The mixture of hazelnut and chocolate is something that I remembered from our trips to Paris; I guess the French really like that combination, and every time I would eat chocolate with hazelnuts it would bring back more than the memories of chocolate in Paris; I would also remember the smell of coffee and croissant, and the diesel cars passing by all day long. 

Every morning there would be something missing from the kitchen.  It was as if there was a ghost in the house.  In the beginning I knew my mother loved her chocolate with her coffee before going to bed.  My father would go make a cup for her every night – something he did every night till just a month before he died.  She seemed proud to have married a man who would do this for her.  I remember asking my husband for a cup of tea one day, and he just looked at me as if to say “why don’t you go get it yourself?”  It didn’t matter that I had a fever of 102 and needed to stay in bed.  I wondered how she got dad to do that.  And in the mornings, when I would go to the kitchen, I would notice many pieces of chocolate missing from the box, or the entire coffee cake just completely vanished.  There was no ghost.  It turned out that mom would venture into the kitchen in the middle of the night and munch on the chocolate or eat the cake.  She had a sweet tooth.  Though she liked the coffee cake, I think she liked the chocolate more.  These decorative chocolate boxes didn’t appear very often, and mom needed to find another option.  I remember the Lindt chocolate bars, and then Hershey’s chocolate bars.  There was always chocolate around.  One day my parents bought some little mint chocolate discs for their guests.  I remember grabbing a handful and eating them.  I remember eating too many of them and suddenly developing an aversion to this mixture of chocolate and mint, which I continue to experience it even to this day. 

I’ve known from the beginning that chocolate was a problem for me.  I must have inherited it from my mother.  The biggest clue was that I couldn’t stop eating it.  In college I would eat a pack of M&M’s a day – Sometimes the plain and sometimes the peanut.  I had headaches every day too.  I grew up with chocolate and it was just part of my life.  I couldn’t live without it, no matter how much it hurt.  I have even found a way to include it into my raw food lifestyle, thinking that if it was raw, then it must be good for me.  I just found out that it isn’t raw after all, and in the end I know it isn’t good for me at all.  So I quit chocolate as of today.

Recipes:

Dixie Chicken, Chicken-less Noodle Soup - From RAWvolution

I made the Dixie Chicken Chicken-less Noodle Soup from the RAWvolution recipe book for Passover last week. It was surprisingly delicious.

3 1/2 cups daikon juice
1 1/4 cups pure water
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup diced celery
1/8 cup grated carrots (can be sliced into rounds, but I prefer grated)
1/4 cup zucchini, peeled and made into noodles (use Saladacco or Spirooli)
1/4 cup chanterelle mushrooms. In a juicer, juice the daikon.

In a blender combine the daikon juice, water, lemon juice and sea salt and blend. Stir in celery, carrots, zucchini and transfer to soup bowls.

Tear the chanterelle mushrooms into thin strips and sprinkle on top of soup. (if you can't get fresh chanterelles, the dried ones with work fine too.)

April 10, 2009

The Trouble with Salicylates.

Sometimes eating the best diet in the world doesn’t always yield desired results. I am learning this now as I am finding that I may be allergic to some foods. A while ago I had NAET (Nambudripad Allergy Elimination Technique) treatments to rebalance my body and get rid of allergies. It worked as far as I could tell, and lasted quite a while, but sometime last fall I began to have symptoms suggesting things were not quite right again. It is possible to undo all the NAET work. Severe emotional traumas can create such a set back. Something like that happened to me last fall, but I didn’t connect that to my symptoms until just the other day.

My journey to raw foods began in 2002. Just before I became a raw fooder, it occurred to me that since I had a childhood allergy to aspirin, that I might be sensitive to foods that were high in Salicylates. The main ingredient in aspirin is acetyl salicylic acid. Many nutritious foods, especially those high in fiber, have high levels of this phyto-chemical; and under normal circumstances, it’s a great substance, however, some people are sensitive to it. I soon found out that there is a large community of salicylate-sensitive people. In addition, people diagnosed with fibromyalgia and ADD or ADHD need to avoid salicylates. Apparently, these aggravate the symptoms of this sensitivity, which vary as do symptoms of any allergy. In my case, the symptoms appeared on my skin as eczema-like blotches. As soon as I eliminated the salicylates, my skin condition improved. After just a few months of eating low salicylate foods, there was no trace of the skin blotches.

I discovered the raw food diet about 8 months after eliminating the salicylates. Even though I felt better, I knew that this wasn’t a long-term solution. Salicylate free foods have very few nutrients. This diet would have hurt me in the long term; I was sure of it. At the time, I was studying some nutrition courses and came across a course on the Food Revolution by John Robbins. I went to the workshop in Minneapolis. The professor was himself a raw fooder and owned the Ecopolitan Restaurant on the ground level of his Center for Functional Medicine. I spent three days there learning that raw foods were the human being’s natural diet and that if I ate raw foods, my salicylate sensitivity would go away eventually. I adopted the raw food diet immediately, and concurrently invested in NAET sessions to correct my allergies to certain foods and substances just in case. I was allergic to many foods, and after the series was over, I began to notice more improvements.

I want to say that the vegan raw food diet will cure any ills, but for the moment, I can’t. I don’t believe that it’s making me sick. I certainly would not switch back to cooked foods since I was much sicker while I ate that way. However, in being as in touch with my body as I am, I am realizing that things go wrong no matter what I do. I also experiment on myself with products I hear about that can detoxify this or that. As I write this, I am grappling with the possibility that my current skin problem could be the result of a Heavy Metal Detox (HMD) formula that I am taking. Maybe this symptom is just telling me that all the heavy metals are leaving my body. I can’t know for sure. In the meantime, I am going to schedule some NAET appointments to get back into balance. I will reduce my consumption of Salicylates; because that was the thing I did originally to fix my problem, and continue to feel confident that after 45 years of eating cooked and/or processed foods, it will take a long time, with possibly several bouts of detoxification, before I can feel completely clean inside.