No, not those kind of dates. It really is an annoying name for a fruit. Every time I want to talk about them, I feel like I have to explain myself.

Dates. I just recently discovered them. Around May 1st, to be precise, when I started my 30 Day Ayurvedic Diet Challenge, and No-Refined-Sugar Challenge. Dates are one of the few fruits I’m supposed to eat according to Ayurveda (along with figs, apples, pears and persimmons – that’s it), so I decided to buy some at Whole Foods. And I liked them. A little too much. I started eating 5, 10, 15 a day. Probably too many.

Last Saturday I was at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market and I came across a booth with SEVEN different kinds of dates. I bought a bag of Medjool (same as Whole Foods) I was shocked when I tasted them. They were SO MUCH moister and sweeter than the WF dates I’d been getting. The difference totally blew me away. I mean, I thought Whole Foods carried quality stuff. But these dates were AMAZING. No comparison. Delicious. I’ve been trying to shop at Farmer’s Markets more often, and I’m hoping that I’ll get to the point where I shop almost exclusively at FM’s. This date experience has really encouraged me to work toward this goal. I’m not sure if the bag I bought at the market was a pound or half a pound. I hope it was only half, because I ate the whole thing in 24 hours. I really don’t think I need to be ingesting a pound of ANYTHING in one day.

The funny thing is, almost every time I pick a date up (THE FRUIT), it makes me think of a cockroach. Obviously the resemblance isn’t strong enough to gross me out, but it’s still there. I actually believe that we should start eating bugs again. Yes, again. Do you realize that all primates eat insects? They eat bugs in Asia and South America. Our repulsion to eating insects is purely cultural. Insects are all protein, no fat. Insects are the most numerous life forms on the planet (aside from bacteria). They’re also cleaner than the other animals we eat – they don’t get the swine flu, or avian flu, or E. coli. You can’t get food poisoning from bugs. And I just did a little research on diseases – the only insects that transmit diseases are the ones that feed off of humans and human waste. Isn’t that kinda funny? It’s like we’re the impure ones that make ourselves sick. So yeah, the only disease-spreaders are mosquitoes, ticks, cockroaches and house flies. Obviously, these aren’t the kinds of insects I’m talking about. We’d be eating crickets, meal worms, cicadas, ants, larvae, worms. Insects are cleaner and cheaper and more eco-friendly than any other edible animal out there. If you had to do it, would you rather slaughter a cow, or “slaughter” a cricket? Animal rights activists don’t care about ants. And lobsters are arthropods, same as insects. Why is it ok to eat a lobster in the United States, and not a cricket? Why? Think about it. I mean, seriously think about it. Get past your conditioning and squeamishness and look at it logically and objectively.

I’ve actually given this a lot of thought over the past few years. My dad was a hobbyist entomologist. And today, I saw this brief article in Scientific American:

Maybe we’re moving in the right direction. I get the feeling that I’ve gotta step up my game though. I’m sure I’ve eaten an insect as a novelty, but if I really believe this (which I do), I’ve gotta walk the walk. Lead by example, right?

All right. I found one. A restaurant in Santa Monica that serves insects.
This article give a good overview, and pictures!

Scorpion pizza, yum! Who’s going with me???????

(I’m serious).

May Challenges update!

May 19, 2010

During the month of May, I took on a bunch of 30-day Challenges. Overall, I’ve been doing pretty well!

No Alcohol/Caffeine/Intoxicants Challenge:
In the past 19 days, I’ve only had drinks on two of them. May 7-9th I had planned a trip to New Mexico with my BFF, so I decided I would let myself “cheat” while there. Over the weekend I consumed two cups of coffee & four drinks. But aside from that, I have refrained from imbibing at nightclubs, Sunday brunches, birthday parties, on Cinco De Mayo, at dinner parties. I find the giving up of coffee more challenging in general, but at this point, I am really craving a glass of fine wine. Though I do appreciate the CLARITY and lack of hangovers or anxiety that go along with booze or caffeine. And the time I can put towards other pursuits (like writing) instead of having to recover or sleep in because I was up late partying. AND the amount of money I end up saving.
Last night my roommate and I got a 6 pack of non-alcoholic beer to go with a little feast we cooked. I had two, and it was actually pretty tasty, though it was a little odd drinking beer and not feeling any buzz at all. And I haven’t been drinking anything carbonated, beer or otherwise, so the bubbles made me feel really full and bloaty. Bleh. Well, that combined with the massive amounts of cheese I ingested. I “cheated” there too…

Ayurveda Challenge (No Dairy, No Citrus, No Acidic Foods, etc):
I love cheese. Love love love. Like, seriously. Robusto, Pecorino di Pienza, a nice dill Havarti, any kind of goat… mmmm. But my Ayurvedic doc says no dairy for me (fermented foods are acidic), so I’ve been staying away from it for the past few weeks. I’ve been resisting strong pizza cravings for this past week. I did, however, succumb to a wedge of Humbolt Fog last night……..and it was delicious. Humbolt Fog may be one of my most favoritest cheeses ever. Creamy, tangy, salty, YUM.
In general, I haven’t been eating dairy, or red meat, or sea food, or processed foods, or sugar. I HAVE been eating a lot of almonds, dates, apples, pears, and veggies: yams, kale, swiss chard, butternut squash & pumpkin soup, asparagus, artichokes, carrots, peas, etc. I’ve been trying to buy organics. I love eating a bunch of vegetables and not feeling full or bloated afterwards. However, I think I have a date addiction. W’NB! (See other blogs for definition of W’NB).

No Refined Sugar: I’ve stayed away from anything with sugar in it, except fruit. I’ve been eating tons of fruit. I have a serious sweet tooth, and I love cookies and chocolate almost as much as I love cheese. Bacon’s up there too. Wait, I’m not sure which I love more, cheese or chocolate…cheese or chocolate…hmmm that’s a toughie. Maybe cheese, just cuz there are so many varieties and ways to eat it. Anyways, during my cheat weekend in New Mexico, I ate, oh, three candy bars, a cinnamon twist pastry, some muffins, a bunch of honey, an incredible apple crisp with ice cream… Now that I think about it, I actually I don’t think I bought any cookies that weekend. So it’s been 19 days since I’ve had a cookie. I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than three. Last weekend I had some blueberry corncakes; they had syrup and powdered sugar on them. Considering how much sugar I usually eat (lots, every day), I am REALLY proud of myself on this. I’m sure stuff that I’ve ordered at restaurants has had some sugar in it, but I personally haven’t been buying most of the crap that I usually do. And I’ve even been good at work, despite donuts and a friggin’ CHEESECAKE PLATTER that was just left sitting out on the table for hours. I looked at it. Many times. But I did not eat it. (I just realized, that’s like a double whammy, CHEESE AND CAKE, united. Wow. I’m stronger than I realized).

On top of these I’ve kept up with my Blog-A-Day Challenge. I think I’m around 17:3. I’ve meditated every day, though two or three of the days I wasn’t able to hit the full twenty minutes. I let the Practice-Harmonica-Every-Day go for now – I couldn’t keep that up with everything else. Oh I also hit my Yoga-3-Times-A-Week goal last week.

OH and one of the 30-Day Challenges that I’m MOST proud of: I haven’t logged on to Facebook at work a single time this month. I’m trying to minimize Facebook as much as possible – I’d rather spend the time being productive, doing things that align with my life goals. I still check it occasionally on my phone, but I’m spending WAY less time there. So that’s a huge accomplishment.

Overall, I’ve been feeling great. Amazing, actually. I’ve been consistently super-happy. I’ve been clear-headed and focused and productive. I’ve been throughly enjoying life, and I haven’t been oscillating between ups and downs, highs and lows. It feels good. Most of these things that I’m avoiding give you a short-term high, and then a crash, or a hangover, or some kind of negative and opposite low. When you cut them out, you just stay high – provided that you’re doing other things that keep you there, like eating well, exercising, creating, meditating, reading, spending time with friends, laughing, getting lots of hugs – all of which I’ve been doing.

I still intend to write a long post on the various other WHYS that I do these Challenges, but basically it comes down to breaking old habits and forming new ones. Also, you don’t grow unless you’re challenged. I’m interested in growing. These Challenges are like games. I’d rather grow through self-imposed difficulties where I am able to exercise my ability to choose than to grow through some horrible events that are not of my (conscious) choosing. Like, say, cancer from poor eating or lifestyle habits, or a DUI, or whatever. Not that I might not get cancer anyways, since carcinogens are in our air and shampoo and water, and I’ve eaten crap food for most of my 31 years on this planet. But at least now I’m making choices where I can. I’m experimenting with my life. Some people think I’m crazy or weird because I’m choosing not to drink for 30 days. But it just depends on what angle you’re looking at it from. Mindless drinking, when you just drink because you drank before and everyone else drinks and it’s just expected (and believe me, it IS), is just as crazy. Everything is life is a choice. Everything. And for those few things that you don’t get to choose, that happen to you (cancer again), you can always choose how you react.

What a gorgeous day! 73, cloudless sky, slight breeze, & I’m sitting in the sunshine. I was gonna text that to my friend but instead I figured I’d turn it into a blog post from my phone while I’m waiting for a server…18 days to go on my Blog-a-Day Challenge!

There’s a spot called Bluebird Cafe about two blocks from my work. They recently added a huge patio, with trees between the tables & copius amonts of sunshine. It’s the perfect lunch spot – yummy food & some vitamin D (W’NB!). There’s also reggae. Usually I don’t like reggae but since today’s so beautiful, I don’t mind.

Though they have pretty good cupcakes here, but I’m resisting temptation, per my challenge (there was a cheesecake platter – A FRIGGIN CHEESECAKE PLATTER, WITH 5 FLAVORS – in the kitchen at work yesterday. Argh). For a minute I considered getting a smoothie – I asked, there’s just water, ice & juice – but I’m sure the juice has refined sugar. So not getting that either.

Lately, I’ve been eating a lot of almonds, dates, apples, pears, & figs. All of these are in my approved Ayurvedic foods list. Also been eating some smashed yams w cinnamin & nutmeg that I made a few days ago, pesto pasta, asparagus, & chicken. Last night I cooked kale for the first time in my life – I made kale chips!!! You just put some olive oil on the torn-up leaves & bake them on a sheet at 350 for about 10 mins. They get super crispy & actually taste pretty good! Though they end up flaking everywhere when you eat them since they’re so thin. They’re noisy to eat – it’s kinda like eating paper. Or a crinkly candy wrapper.

Also been drinking lots of water & tea, since I’m no-booze-no-caffeine. I did have some decaf coffee yesterday while I was getting a mani-pedi at Queen Bee. I know it has some caffeine, but they didn’t have any non-caffeinated tea, & they had one of those single-serving coffee makers! Those things rule!

My grilled veggie bowl is here. Nomnomnom!

Have you ever looked at what you’re eating (or drinking) and thought, “What’s in this??” A lot of what we choose to put into our mouths ends up making us sick.

For the month of May I’m attempting not to eat any processed food, refined sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or any other intoxicants (I hadn’t thought of sugar as an intoxicant until someone pointed it out…but it does affect your mood!). Also, no dairy, except for goat milk. I’ve been seeing an Ayurvedic doctor for a few years – he practically cured my mother’s Multiple Sclerosis, and I went to him for recurring sinusitis/bronchitis. I don’t get either of those anymore.

I’d need to spend a few hours going into detail about Ayurveda, but I like to describe it as the Indian version of Chinese medicine. Ayurveda is all about keeping your body in balance by eating the right foods for your system. Imbalances cause disease. The whole premise is that if you eat right and keep your body in balance, you don’t need doctors. In the same way that Western Medicine/science is finally figuring out why Buddhists have been meditating for thousands of years (thickens your brain & gives you all kinds of emotional benefits – that’s a whole ‘nother blog post too), scientific research is finally starting to back up the things that Ayurvedic wisdom figured out 5,000 years ago…when people didn’t have anything else to do besides sit around and figure the best things to eat for your system.  🙂

Anyways, here’s what I’ll be eating for this month, according to the diet perscribed to me (it’s different for everyone, and the diet gets less restrictive as you get more in balance). I’ve tried to roughly stick to these guidelines for the past few years, but I’ve never tried it 100%. It’s not about eating vegan, or even raw – for me, everything’s supposed to be cooked (though I don’t cook my fruit…):

Spinach, Green Leafy Veggies, Carrot, Celery, Cucumber, Zucchini, Green Peas, Leek, Beets, Asparagus, Squashes, Sweet Potatoes, Endive, Artichoke, Kale, Eggplant, Radish, Sprouts, Turnips, Onion (cooked), Bittergourd, Cilantro, Dandelion

Apples, Pears, Persimmons, Dates, Figs

Almonds, Almond Milk, Hot Low-Fat Goat Milk, Honey

Kidney Beans, Lentil, Mung Beans, Masoor Beans

Chicken, Turkey

Garlic, Ginger, Basil, Pepper, Sage, Salt, Thyme, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Clove, Coriander, Cumin, Dill, Fennel, Fenugreek, Mint, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Oregano, Parsley, Turmeric

Whole Wheat, White rice (basmati), Brown Rice, Corn, Oats, Spelt, Kamut, Barley, Buckwheat, Millet, Rye

Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Corn Oil

Popcorn, Puff Wheat, Rice Cakes, Rice Chewies

Tea: Ginger, Peppermint, Black Tea, Breath Easy, Burdock, Chamomile, Dandelion, Eucalyptus, EMR, Eyebright, Fenugreek, Licorice, Mint, Sarsaparilla, Throat Coat, Uva Ursi, Valerian

Read this Dan Millman quote today:

“You are the expert on your body and life — who knows it better? Listen to others’ views — then find out what works best for you. Life is an ongoing experiment. We only reach a conclusion when we get tired of thinking.”

So, I’m experimenting.  I got a psoriasis flare-up around Coachella; scientists don’t know what causes psoriasis but lack of sleep and acidic food/drink (coffee and alcohol) can be triggers. I’ve tried to make some small adjustments to my diet in the last few weeks but the psoriasis is sticking around. We’ll see if a month of this helps!