Friday, December 31, 2010

It's Party Time!! (Baked Buffalo Wings!)

We're all getting ready over here for a night of partying. Of course, one of the main components of any party I am going to attend is: FOOD. In order to not overwhelm the hostess each guest has volunteered to bring a dish that can please the masses. Our contribution this year? Bob's Baked Buffalo Wings.

About a year into our marriage I asked my husband to list all of the foods he would really like to be eating that I had not been cooking for him. He responded, "All the things I want are bad for me, so I don't think you want to hear them..." I assured him that I wanted to hear of all of his wishes and desires so that I could make him happy and look for a way to make his greatest food loves a part of his long, healthy life. One of his great loves was, of course, Buffalo wings, however, he had only been exposed to deep-fried, greasy mini heart attacks covered in a spicy sauce. I decided there must be another way and set off to finding it! What I have found has become my husband's favorite wings, which is why I call them Bob's Baked Buffalo Wings! The wings are delicious and, I think, a much healthier option for wing lovers than the typical fried wings.

Bob's Baked Buffalo Wings


    • 1 lb chicken wings
    • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 tablespoon salt
    • 1/2 cup Frank's Red hot sauce
    • 1 tablespoon Earth's Balance buttery spread (you can use butter or margarine if you are so inclined)


1. Fill a large pot half way with water. (Make sure you have a lid for this pot!)
    2. Add the first 4 ingredients.
      Important note about McCormick's spices: They do not add gluten to their single ingredient spices (Read here for more information about their gluten and allergen policies.)
      3. Bring water mixture and wings to a boil and then boil for 15 minutes. (During this time you may want to get out of Dodge! Put the lid on the pot, if you can without it overflowing, because the steam this mixture kicks up can be quite powerful!!)
      **An interesting, and accidental, discovery: if you want some KNOCK-YOUR-SOCKS -OFF fiery-hot wings, extend this boiling time (I did this once while my husband went out to the store so the wings would be fresh out of the oven when he came home and we were teared-up, hysterical laughing, and talking about the wings for weeks!)**
      4. Put the wings on a sprayed cookie sheet, or some other oven-safe dish. Make sure the wings are not on top of one another. 
      5. Bake wings on "Broil" (high) for 15-20 minutes on each side. (The longer you keep them in, the crispier they get, but watch them as you get close to the 20 minute mark, or longer, so that they don't burn. 
      6. While the wings are in the oven, get a sauce pan on the stove top  to combine the Hot Sauce and buttery spread over a medium heat. Stir continuously until butter melts and is evenly mixed. (The longer you cook the sauce, the thicker the sauce). 
      **Also, if you wish to play with the sauce's hotness scale, simply play with the "butter" to hot sauce proportions. More "butter" = milder; more sauce = hotter.**
      I swear by that Frank's Red Hot Sauce!! (But you can use your own favorite hot sauce if you like.)
    7. The last step is the most fun!! Find a container that you can safely put wings and sauce in to shake up. If you have to do it in batches, so be it, but have fun shaking what your Mama gave ya!
    My Lock & Lock container is perfect for this job!!

    This batch is ready to go! We're ready to party! My husband is out foraging for bleu cheese for the dairy eaters that are sure to be at the party tonight and I am off to chop some celery sticks.
    I wish I could just give one to you right now!!

    I wish everyone a wonderful, healthy, happy and delicious New Year!

      Thursday, December 30, 2010

      Quinoa: The Mother Grain

      See more info at EcoLibrary
      Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-WA, has been on my radar for quite some time. It is an ancient grain-like food from the Incas, prized for its ability to increase the stamina of their people. Although quinoa is often thought of as a grain, it is actually a green leafy plant like spinach or chard. What has become popular, commercially, is the seed of the quinoa plant, even though the full grown plant can also be consumed.

      Quinoa Is Awesome

      The quinoa seed is an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium and fiber. It has served as a gluten-free grain. It is simple enough to prepare and getting easier, by the day, to find in mainstream stores. However, possibly most importantly, the quinoa seed is one of the very few complete proteins available to us. This means that the seed contains the correct balance of the 9 essential amino acids the human body thrives on.

      Learning all of this in my quest for a diverse menu of healthy meals to choose from, I began exploring quinoa as a possible addition about a year ago. At first, I had great difficulty finding it outside of health food stores or shopping online. Then my own grocery store began to shelve it and now they even have red and black quinoa as well. Since it has become easy enough to acquire that I can now. realistically, include it in our weekly meals, I have started exploring some ways to prepare it.

      I had practiced the basic preparation of quinoa, adding various ingredients, preparing it much like a rice dish as a side to my dinners, or creating warm quinoa dishes for a quickie lunch. During November, I discovered a great recipe for a breakfast quinoa dish - a hot apple cinnamon quinoa cereal that was absolutely delicious. However, regardless of the preparation, my husband still was uncomfortable with the texture of the dish. I had all but given up on sharing quinoa with him when I found out about a technique I had not yet tried: Toasting the quinoa.

      Toasted Quinoa

      Toasting quinoa is not a recipe unto itself, it is a preparation of the seed that gives it a rich flavor and does, in fact, change the texture as well. The technique is simple, all you require is:
      • rinsed quinoa seed
      • a pan
      Put the rinsed quinoa into your pan on medium heat. Either shake the pan or stir the quinoa continuouslyfor 15 minutes. The quinoa should turn a golden brown color.
      The smell of the toasting quinoa was similar to that of popcorn.
      When the toasting is complete, take the pan off the heat and allow the quinoa to cool. This quinoa can now be stored in an air-tight container for up to one month and used in any recipe you would use regular quinoa for.

      Quinoa Pilaf (Now Toasted)

      I am happy to say that my first experiment with this "new" quinoa was a wonderful success. I prepared a simple quinoa pilaf from the back of the box of quinoa I purchased (Ancient Harvest Quinoa) and my husband actually liked it! He noted the difference in the texture and thinks toasted quinoa may be the secret he has been waiting for. My cousin, who has been staying with us for the holidays, also tried the pilaf and enjoyed it as well. It was her first ever experience with quinoa and she called home to Miami to tell her fiancee about it. Needless to say, toasted quinoa will be a mainstay in our house and for that reason I really wanted to share it with you as well!

      Here is the recipe for the pilaf, if you are interested in giving it a go as well:
      (*Note: This made A LOT of quinoa pilaf! You may want to adjust the recipe before diving in with all 6 cups of your quinoa!!)


      • 1/2 cup Diced Carrots
      • 1/2 cup Onions, Green
      • 1/4 cup Celery, raw, diced
      • 1/4 cup Diced Green Peppers
      • 1/4 cup Red Peppers
      • 6 cups Ancient Harvest Quinoa
      • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
      • 2 clove Garlic
      • 1 cup Almonds, Sliced
      • 1/4 tsp Oregano


      Sauté chopped vegetables in olive oil until clear, yet crisp: stir in oregano. Add sautéed vegetables to cooked, hot quinoa, mixing well. Add salt to taste. Dry-roast almonds in heavy skillet until lightly golden. Add almonds and mix. Serves 6-8. Quinoa pilaf served as a side dish with fish or chicken is delicious. Vary the pilaf using your favorite vegetables, or by cooking the quinoa in chicken, fish or vegetable stock instead of water.

      Question for Commenters: 
      What are your great recipes/uses for quinoa? Now that I finally have my husband back on board, I am ready to experiment!! 


      Tuesday, December 28, 2010

      My Unintentional Blog-Vacation

      The holidays came! I thought I would easily blog my way through them, but I was very, very wrong! There was just way too much going on!
      Grown-ups playing with puppets.

      Dogs destroying 5 minute old Christmas gifts.

      Babies loving old buttons MORE than all the shiny new toys under the tree.
      Babies wondering why aunts won't just hand over the cracker instead of toying with her just to get a picture!!
      A bunch of grown people trying to be Micheal Jackson, thanks to the Wii.
      A serious couple's battle for MJ dancing bragging rights.

      Cousins practicing their Wii bowling techniques.

      "Little" brothers falling asleep in ridiculous positions on an ottoman at 4 in the morning.
      And then...
      20.5" of snow, plus wind and cold.
      It is still out there...
      and I was out there with it,
      but I am back!

      The blog-vacation is over. Next year I will have to prepare better for this time of year!!

      Monday, December 20, 2010

      My Gluten-Free, Dairy-free Baking Helpers

      One of the things I have always loved doing during the holidays is baking. Whether it is for my own guests, or to bring to a party as a shared yummy treat for everyone to enjoy, it is the one thing over the past couple of years I have felt confident in contributing. Since going gluten-free AND dairy-free, I truly thought this was one holiday tradition I was going to have to replace. The whole idea of finding a replacement flour combination that could stand in for my typical All-Purpose Flour AND finding suitable replacements for the milk and butter in all of my baking adventures seemed utterly impossible! I had decided that I should resign myself to a life of pre-packaged gluten-free/dairy-free baked goods, since this "new" type of baking seemed largely out of my depth.

      Then, one day, while shopping around in my Stop N Shop, my eyes fell upon some packages from Cherrybrook Kitchen. I can't be blamed - their boxes are simply adorable! I grabbed a a box of brownie mix, a box of sugar cookie mix and a yellow cake mix with chocolate icing. I thought, Maybe I can't bake from scratch, but at least I can have something freshly baked! To be honest, the mixes hung out in my cabinet for a while, because there was still something mising from grand plans: WHAT SHOULD I USE FOR BUTTER?

      Enter Earth Balance buttery spread and buttery sticks. I kept scouring the Internet for dairy-free butter substitute suggestions, and Earth Balance was the one that came back with the best reviews. I decided to give it a go. I bought it right before Thanksgiving to use for myself and I was pleased with its taste AND texture. I began to think I might really be on to something...

      So far I have made both the brownies and the sugar cookies. They were both a great success! Whenever milk was needed I used (my favorite) the Pacific Hazelnut milk. I made the brownies for just my husband and I, at first sure that gluten and dairy eaters would have no interest and then sure I didn't want to share any because they were so delicious! I brought the sugar cookies to a Holiday party this weekend and everyone cheered them on (my husband thinks it is the addition of the hazelnut milk that puts them over the top... I think he might be right).

      With two pre-made mix baking successes under my belt, I decided that maybe, just maybe baking from scratch might not be too difficult, IF I could find the right gluten-free ally to aid me in my endeavor. I thought of one company that I already trusted to get me the ingredients I needed: Bob's Red Mill. Bob's Red Mill doesn't just carry gluten-free stuff, but their selection of gluten-free mixes, flours and other baking supplies is like no other that have been readily available to me. I purchased the Gluten-free All purpose flour a little while ago thinking I could use it in any recipes that called for flour, last night, however, I decided to see what they had on their website in terms of baked goods recipes. The selection was amazing! When I got to the site I was in awe of all they had to offer in terms of recipes, information and also other products that I haven't even seen in my store yet. (I informed my husband that a Bob's Red Mill gift card wouldn't be a bad idea for a last minute Christmas gift for me after this find!) One of the most useful bits of information for me was the Xanthan Gum Use Chart given on the site:
      The xanthan gum is very important to the process. It is my understanding that it serves as a stand-in for gluten providing much of the texture we rely on gluten for in recipes.

      I searched for a recipe to use for another holiday party we will be going to tomorrow. I settled on the Gluten-free Oatmeal cookies since I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand (as long as I replaced the raisins with chocolate chips). I just finished baking them and I nearly made myself sick (I was under the impression that I had to try at least one cookie from each freshly baked tray that came out of the oven!!). Here is the recipe, from Bob's Red Mill, as I adjusted it:
      Just a couple from the batch.
      Gluten-free Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
      • 1-1/2 cups Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour 
      • 3 cups Gluten Free Rolled Oats 
      • 1 cup Earth Balance Buttery sticks
      • 1 cup Brown Sugar 
      • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar 
      • 1 tsp Vanilla 
      • 1 tsp Baking Soda 
      • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt 
      • 1 tsp Cinnamon 
      • 2 large Eggs* 
      • 1 tsp Xanthan Gum 
      • 1 cup Semi-sweet Chocolate chips (**Contains some dairy... I will regret this later!)
      Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter and sugars together until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs; beat well. In a separate bowl, blend flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and Xanthan Gum. Stir flour blend into wet ingredients. Add oats and raisins and mix well. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto un-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool one minutes then transfer to wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

      I hope the gluten and dairy eaters enjoy the cookies, because now I have a ton of them and I can't eat them all myself!

      I am happy to have had this success with the new products I have found. I now feel brave to move forward and try to switch some of my old favorites over to gluten-free, dairy-free goodies I can enjoy!

      My Allies in the Baking Battle:

      Saturday, December 18, 2010

      The Journal for the San Fransisco Medical Society Talks FOOD

      I truly like my primary care doctor. He is thorough, patient and takes the time to explain what is going on in my body, in layman's terms, when I am sick and how things should be working when working properly. He has taken the time to discuss diet with me, but always within a conversation about my blood cholesterol levels. Beyond discussing how to reduce cholesterol, I can't really think of any other food conversations. I never really thought too much about that until I saw the dramatic change in my health since seeking the guidance of a nutritionist.

      As the months have passed I have become increasingly curious about the lack of nutritional advice from my current primary care doctor, and all those before him, as well as any other medical specialists I have seeked out. Then I learned, not too long ago, that Nutrition is actually a minor part of the education program leading to a medical degree. However, as super-bugs are on the rise and human resistance to the effectiveness of many of the go-to drugs on the market has some in the medical field rethinking this current state of affairs.

      The November 2010 issue of San Fransisco Medicine, the Journal for the San Fransisco Medical Society, was dedicated to the topic of food. Each of the articles is written to doctors, for doctors, in order to get the discussion of food back into the doctor's office, just as Hippocrates always thought it should be!
      "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food" ~Hippocrates
      I know, personally, food has been one of the most effective "medicines" I have used in the past two years of treatment of my rare disease. The journal addresses issues as what nutritional advice a primary care doctor should be imparting, nutrition and cancer, sugar politics and health, an introduction to nutrigenetics, and even an article on how doctors can take action in agriculture policy (just to name a few of the articles). 

      I hope to have the opportunity to read a number of these articles and post about them here in the near future, however, I am sure this week is about to get even more "holiday-hectic" than the week I just finished, so bare with me if it takes a little longer than normal!

      I hope you are remembering to think their way to healthy during this season!! (I have to keep reminding myself, but I am squeezing it in!) Stay Well!!

      Question for YOU: Does your primary care doctor give you nutritional advice?

      Wednesday, December 15, 2010

      What Was I Thinking?!

      A couple of days ago I wrote a post to my readers asking them a bunch of questions. Strangely, it has skyrocketed to become my MOST POPULAR post EVER to date and, yet, only one person responded. When faced with a parallel situation in my classroom, I try to model the behavior I am looking for, so the intimidation factor is lost. Today, I will do the same.

      Since I wear many hats in my search for sustenance: foodie, food politician, environmentalist, gluten-free & dairy-free eater, blogger, and the unfortunate hat of IIH & Crohn's disease sufferer, I will venture to answer all of these questions. My readers, on the other hand, should select whichever they identify with most. Here it goes...

      My Interview With Myself...
      As a Foodie:
      • Have you had the opportunity to try any of the recipes posted on the blog thus far?
      Yes, I have tried them all, which is what led to me writing about them in the first place.
      • Have you been hoping to see a particular recipe, or ingredient, tackled on Searching for Sustenance? If so, what is it?
      YES! I have been really hoping to transform some of my favorite cookies (Grandma's greek cookies, for example) into Gluten-free/Dairy-free goodies. My traditional tastes of the holiday have gone missing and while I am squeaking through this first year without them, I know I will crack eventually.   
      • Did you participate in the meatless Mondays challenge? Or do you eat meatless regularly, anyway?
      I participated, and I am still working on a way to incorporate meatless meals into our regular program.
      • Who (and how many) do you cook for?
      Most of the time, I cook only for my husband and I. Since this occasionally gets boring, I sometimes cook for my furry children, Buffy, the beagle and Champ, the ShihTzu. During the holidays. I could be cooking for tables up to 6-8 family members. 
      • What is your greatest kitchen success?
      Oh no. Did I ask this? I don't know. Well, I had two instances where I cried for joy after cooking. The first was (don't laugh) French Toast. It was shortly after my mom had passed away and she was the only person who ever made it for me. I had no idea what to do (not being much of a morning person, I was never in the kitchen when she made it). I pulled out the Joy of Cooking (YES! I USED A COOKBOOK!!) and made French Toast for myself. It was amazing, it was just like mom's. 
      The second was a similarly emotional story about my marinara sauce. I tried to make it numerous times after my mom passed away, for my brother, for my fiancee, for other family members, but I kept messing something up. Then, one night, in frustration, I tried making it again for myself. I did it. It was a quiet, beautiful night and I am pretty sure Mom was in the kitchen with me then. 
      • What is "your Everest" - recipe, ingredient, technique, etc. - in the kitchen that continues to plague you?
      I have already written about this. I want to make perfect eggs. Eggs that could be photographed, put on TV and still be delicious. My eggs are ridiculous looking.
      As Food Politician:
      •  What is your major food issue? (genetically modified foods, local foods, organic foods, food safety, farming laws/regulations, or something else...)
      My major food issue is food TRUTH. I want my food to be true to itself - I want corn to taste like whatever corn is SUPPOSED to taste like and I want it to have all the vitamins, nutrients and minerals it is supposed to have in it. I want to the truth about how food is brought to my plate. If I am not getting my food directly from a farm, if I am relying on someone else to bring it to me, then I would like them to be transparent enough that I can find out the truth of the process and where the food comes from for myself.
      • How do you try to enact change?
      By telling people about what I learn (both face to face and through my blog), writing to my representatives (I am pretty sure Chuck Schumer is about to add my e-mail address to his personal e-mail directory) and President, signing petitions and supporting organizations that fight for the causes I believe in.
      • Is there a certain topic you would like to see addressed here on Searching for Sustenance? 
       Well, IS there??
      • What is your go-to source for all news and updates in the world of food politics?
      I have a bunch. I have a gadget for Marion Nestle's Food Politics blog on my homepage, so I always see what her latest topic is, but I am also on the mailing lists of many of the sites I have written about in the Take Action blog posts.

      Fellow Tree Lovers:
      • What is the environmental issue at the forefront of your mind RIGHT NOW?
      'Tis the season for me to worry about waste. Every year around the holidays I am personally plagued by all the "traditions" that hurt us in the end: the buying of STUFF, the WRAPPING and PACKAGING of STUFF, the AIR POLLUTION from the excessive traffic (I live near a Shopping Mall), the ENERGY WASTE from the glowing lights to celebrate the season, the list goes on.... I contribute to some of these ills, but each year TRY to think of what I can to do to create NEW traditions.
      • What can WE DO to help fix it?
      For now, since everyone but me seemed to have finished their shopping, rethink your wrapping! Or shave an hour off the time your lights are on (this will save you on your electric bill, too!). 
      • Where can WE GO to support the cause?
      I don't know if there is one place in particular to go to support THIS cause... I will look into it.
      • Do you see the future of our planet as one of filled with hope, or one that is hopeless?
      I am an optimist. I always see hope.
      • If you could enact one MAJOR change right now, globally, what would it be and why?
      Wow. I wasn't joking around with these questions, now, was I? If I were some magical being that could enact one MAJOR change right now, I would somehow transform EVERY motor vehicle on the planet to run on some more sustainable energy source than oil.

      As A Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free Peep:
      • What are the reasons that you are following a gluten-free and/or dairy-free lifestyle?
      I was told by a nutritionist that I was sensitive to both. Since I am looking for ALL ROADS to health, I decided to follow this one to see where it took me.
      • How long have you been doing so?
      Since the end of June 2010.
      • What have been the most difficult parts about it? What have been the best parts about it?
      The difficult parts about it: people don't understand, going out to eat is difficult, going to other people's houses for food is difficult. Best parts about it: I lost 30 pounds and I feel SO MUCH BETTER!!
      • What is the best tip you can think of giving someone who must start out on your diet restriction?
      Don't cheat. You will never get to know how beneficial it can be for you, if you don't give it 100%.
      • How has the Internet helped you with your diet?
      I always have my iPhone with me everywhere I go. If I am not sure if something is gluten-free, I just type into Goolge: "Is ______ gluten-free?" I usually get a number of sites where the question has been asked and answered and I can know right away whether or not I can eat whatever has been offered to me, rather than saying. "No," investigating later and finding out I went hungry for no reason.
      • Where do you for the latest and greatest information concerning your diet?
      Currently, I have been building a bunch of relationships on Gluten-free faces which has been helpful. Also, there are TONS of gluten-free bloggers out there, as well. I follow a bunch on twitter.

      As A Blogger:
      • How long have you been blogging?
      Longer than I have been documenting. I have had a number of blogs created for my students, I have at least three other personal bogs that I started and didn't really continue on.  
      • What is your blog and what is its topic?
      I have two active blogs right now, this one, about my search for good food and all types of sustenance. And I have Math Daze, which is a blog about, well, Math (I AM a math teacher after all!!).
      • Do you blog for fun, finances, or a mix of both?
      Maybe someday it will be for both, but right now, it is still  just fun!
      • Do you have more than one blog? If so, why?
      Yes. It would be weird for me to start writing about math in the middle f this blog. The topics don't mesh well.
      • How did you get into blogging?
      I was looking for a way to extend the classroom conversation about the topics in class. Especially in my AP Statistics class - 45 minutes, was not long enough, so I thought, if I could get the kids to get on their computers to write about the Stats, that would be better than nothing. (Holy Cow! It turned out to be A LOT of WORK!!)
      • Are you on blogger, wordpress, somewhere else and how did you make that choice?
      Now I am Blogger. I don't remember what my school blogs used. I am really curious about WordPress, though.
      • What is your favorite blog network/community?
      I've got to give the love to BlogFrog! Best Blogging community I have found so far!!

      Fellow IH (PTC) or Crohn's Disease Sufferers:
      • How does food help/hinder your condition?
      I have become less symptomatic in both diseases since going gluten-free and dairy-free.
      • Do you have "trigger foods"? If so, what are they?
      Gluten hates me, in general, but if I have any oily and/fried foods, I find that can trigger the Crohn's (duh!).
      • Have you made any changes to your diet/nutrition since being diagnosed? If so, what were the affects?
      Stopped Gluten and Dairy in June 2010.
      • Have your doctors ever given you specific advice about nutrition and its relation to your condition(s)?
      Nope. Just, "maaaaybe losing some weight will help.... maybe."
      • Which do you believe bears a greater influence on your symptoms/condition as a whole: your nutrition or the medicines prescribed to you? 
      Not sure. Today is my first day decreasing one of my medications (YAY!), so let's see how this goes. I want to say nutrition, but I am pretty sure it is a balance between the two. Problem is, if you go to a medical doctor, they only talk meds and if you go to a holistic or a nutristionist, they only talk food/nutrition. It is difficult to find the person who can balance them!
      • What one thing would you like people, not familiar with your disease, to know about it?
      For IH (PTC): even if I LOOK fine, that doesn't mean I FEEL fine - my brain is getting squished!! 
      For Crohn's: Sometimes I really, really DO want to enjoy that super yummy treat with you, but I KNOW that if I DO, my night is ruined... please don't call me a "party pooper" (you don't even realize how punny you are!) if I say no! 
      • Tell us where you've been going to get all the breaking news about your condition.
      For IH AND there is an AWESOME support group over at!
      For Crohn's

      Now, if you haven't already done so, get over to the What Are YOU Thinking?! post and let us know YOUR TAKE on these questions!! The reason WHY that post is so popular is because EVERYONE keeps checking in to see what you have to say!!

      Sunday, December 12, 2010

      What are YOU Thinking?!

      In early March 2010, after a stream of passionate thought and a need for some personal action this blog was conceived. It is now nine months later and, after this gestation period, I think it is due time to see what, in essence, was created here.

      I know of only one way to accomplish this goal:  
      I am aware people have come to this blog for many different reasons, so I will break this interview down into subgroups.

      YOUR JOB: 
      ANSWER THE QUESTIONS YOU IDENTIFY WITH MOST IN THE COMMENTS SECTION OF THIS POST! (and, if you have a blog, please share it with us so we can come visit it - ESPECIALLY if it relates to the topic your are commenting on!!)

      Fellow Foodies:
      • Have you had the opportunity to try any of the recipes posted on the blog thus far?
      • Have you been hoping to see a particular recipe, or ingredient, tackled on Searching for Sustenance? If so, what is it?
      • Did you participate in the meatless Mondays challenge? Or do you eat meatless regularly, anyway?
      • Who (and how many) do you cook for?
      • What is your greatest kitchen success?
      • What is "your Everest" - recipe, ingredient, technique, etc. - in the kitchen that continues to plague you?

      Fellow Food Politicians:
      •  What is your major food issue? (genetically modified foods, local foods, organic foods, food safety, farming laws/regulations, or something else...)
      • How do you try to enact change?
      • Is there a certain topic you would like to see addressed here on Searching for Sustenance?
      • What is your go-to source for all news and updates in the world of food politics?

      Fellow Tree Lovers:
      • What is the environmental issue at the forefront of your mind RIGHT NOW?
      • What can WE DO to help fix it?
      • Where can WE GO to support the cause?
      • Do you see the future of our planet as one of filled with hope, or one that is hopeless?
      • If you could enact one MAJOR change right now, globally, what would it be and why?

      Fellow Gluten-Free or Dairy-Free Peeps:
      • What are the reasons that you are following a gluten-free and/or dairy-free lifestyle?
      • How long have you been doing so?
      • What have been the most difficult parts about it? What have been the best parts about it?
      • What is the best tip you can think of giving someone who must start out on your diet restriction?
      • How has the Internet helped you with your diet?
      • Where do you for the latest and greatest information concerning your diet?

      Fellow Blogging Buddies:
      • How long have you been blogging?
      • What is your blog and what is its topic?
      • Do you blog for fun, finances, or a mix of both?
      • Do you have more than one blog? If so, why?
      • How did you get into blogging?
      • Are you on blogger, wordpress, somewhere else and how did you make that choice?
      • What is your favorite blog network/community?

      Fellow IH (PTC) or Crohn's Disease Sufferers:
      • How does food help/hinder your condition?
      • Do you have "trigger foods"? If so, what are they?
      • Have you made any changes to your diet/nutrition since being diagnosed? If so, what were the affects?
      • Have your doctors ever given you specific advice about nutrition and its relation to your condition(s)?
      • Which do you believe bears a greater influence on your symptoms/condition as a whole: your nutrition or the medicines prescribed to you? 
      • What one thing would you like people, not familiar with your disease, to know about it?
      • Tell us where you've been going to get all the breaking news about your condition.

      People Who Knew Nicole the Human Being, Before Finding Out About Nicole the Blogger:
      • In what capacity have you know Nicole, the Human Being? (family, friend, colleague, classmate, former student, etc.)
      • Is this your first visit to my blog? If so, what's up with that?!
      • Are you a typical blog-reader? If you are, what blogs do you read/follow?
      • Does it surprise you at all that Nicole is a blogger? Why or why not?
      • If you have been to this blog before, what posts drew you here?
      • Are there any topics you would like to see in Nicole's blog Searching for Sustenance?

      ***If you feel you do not identify with any of these groups specifically, then please feel free to pick and choose questions from all over the place to make up your own FREESTYLE INTERVIEW!***

      What one question do you have for Nicole, the chick behind the Search for Sustenance?

      Saturday, December 11, 2010

      Win A Foodie Blogroll Giveaway

      The Foodie Blog Roll Contests: Winner!

      I am SO excited! On an otherwise slow day in my blogging life, I just checked my e-mail to find out that I WON a giveaway from The Foodie Blogroll that I entered this week. How COOL is THAT?!

      Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you to know that this is the first week I ever entered one of their contests. It was so simple, I thought, why not go for it? I went to their Contests Page selected the contest(s) I was interested in and picked an action to follow. Most of the actions were about spreading the word (posting to twitter, Facebook, or writing a blog post), but the easiest action to take for most of the contests was merely to post a comment on the giveaway page. In the case of the contest for The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking I think that's all I did, but that was enough!

      I can't wait to try it out!! SO EXCITING!!! (I get really happy when I win things!)

      So, what are you waiting for? If you are reading this, you have been brushed by my luck on this day - go over to The Foodie Blogroll website right now and enter next week's contests - you could be next!!

      Thursday, December 9, 2010

      Dr. Oz and the GMO Debate Part 3

      In the first part of The Dr. Oz Show Segment on GMO foods, the discussion began about non-GMO food labels and a short education of what GMO actually means. In the second part, Dr. Oz began a discussion with three expert panelists discussing the viewpoint of both proponents and opponents to the GMO debate. Here, we will take a lok at the third and final part of the segment.

      Dr. Oz Takes the Conversation International and Then, Back to Labels
      Genetically Modified Foods, Pt. 3 (The Dr. Oz Show video clip is 4 minutes and 11 seconds long)

      Dr. Oz continued to probe the one proponent of GMOs on his panel, Dr. Pamela Ronald, by taking a look at the international community. He raised a pretty good question.
      Why are GMO crops banned in a number of  European nations?
      image from The Dr. Oz Show originally aired on 12/7/2010
      This is the point where I always start to take sides. Perhaps I am being naive in some way, but why would an entire country ban a farming practice if it was safe? Dr. Oz asked this question - I just wished some scientist from one of these countries could have been there to answer. All we can do is speculate.

      And then Dr. Michael Hansen, piggy-backing off of Dr. Ronald's statements about using the best science for determining GMO safety in part 2, piped in and said what someone needed to say during this entire debate:
      "One thing that should be pointed out is that we do need more science... in this country... the FDA does not require any extra safety testing at all."
      This, of course, had me thinking, again, about that pesky Food Safety Bill and whether or not it truly was up to snuff. I am going to have to go back into that one and see if there are any things I would like to speak out about before it makes it to the House of Representatives. 

      To finish the segment, the conversation turned back to labeling and what the benefits are and what the drawbacks might be. They each can be summarized quite simply. The labeling of GMOs benefits us with informing us, we then have the opportunity to use our "capitalist vote" to decide what types of food we wish to support and, ultimately, consume. The drawbacks of any labeling system are two-fold; (1) who does the labeling, and (2) the limitations of the labeling process. Even the Non-GMO Project we looked at in Part 1 of this series, clearly states on their website that they can not guarantee that the products labeled non-GMO are 100% GMO free.So we are left, once again, making a leap of faith, only this time, when armed with a label the leap should be over a puddle, not the Atlantic Ocean!

      My Final Thoughts About The Dr. Oz Show's Panel on GMOs

      First of all, I am extremely happy that Dr. Oz devoted a segment of his show to this topic. I wish it were the entire episode, but there was a lot of info in this half of the show, regardless. When I first found out about this show, I was excited at the prospect of hearing Dr. Pamela Ronald's viewpoints, but, due to lack of time I feel my curiosity is not yet satiated. I think, due to this fact, Tomorrow's Table is going to be on my reading list. I am also curious about Dr. Michael Hansen's work and will be on the lookout for more word from him, as he seems to be a rational man opposed to GMOs, rather than an extremist opposed to GMOs (I believe there is a significant difference).
      For now, personally, I am still going to try to maintain a GMO-free diet when possible on my search for sustenance. I have two chronic conditions, one of which is idiopathic (unknown origin) in nature and I don't believe I have the body or the time to waste waiting for science to decide which way to go. So, unless some GMO seed is going to cure Intracranial Hypertension or eradicate Crohn's disease from my family tree, I'll take my genes unmodified, thank you.

      Resources, Links & Further Info:

      Dr. Oz and the GMO Debate Part 2

      After Dr. Oz introduced GM (genetically modified) foods to the audience, as well as some of his concerns about them in Part 1 of this segment of show, he introduced the three expert panelists invited to speak on the topic of genetically modified foods.
      •  Jeffrey Smith, author of two books on the subject of GM foods,
      • Dr. Michael Hansen, who works for Consumer Reports and has studied GM foods, and
      • Dr. Pamela Ronald, a Plant Pathologist and author of the book and blog of the same name: Tomorrow's Table
      Dr. Oz also mentioned that he extended an invitation to someone in the Monsanto company, but they declined, providing a statement, of which he shared this bit:
      image from The Dr. Oz Show episode originally aired on 12/7/2010

       Part 2 of Dr. Oz's GMO Segment - The Debate begins
      Genetically Modified Foods, Pt. 2 (this video clip is 5 minutes and 29 seconds long)

      As Dr. Oz began to engage each of the panelists in their viewpoints of the place GMO foods have in our world and in our diets, he paused to give voice to the major questions raised by the proponents and opponents of this technique of food/crop development. I think it is very important to take note of them, here, again:
      image from The Dr. Oz Show episode originally aired on 12/7/2010.
      What struck me as this graphic hit the screen was the question marks. So often, being exposed to extremist views in a topic of debate, it is easy to forget that they actually belong there. Are these benefits? Are they always true? Are none of these things possible with non-GMO food? Why does it provide a cheaper food supply? How do they improve the lives of farmers?
      More questions rose the more I let these settle...

      image from The Dr. Oz Show episode originally aired 12/7/2010
      And then the opponents' questions hit the screen. Where is the evidence of each of these harmful effects? I have heard them all before, it is one of the reasons I avoid GMO whenever possible, but when I heard about them, there were no question marks. I began to wonder, what is the flip side to this story, sure Monsanto did not show, but what does Dr. Pamela Ronald have to say? I would like to hear both sides to the story and then make my decision.

      I had really high hopes for this episode when I first heard about the panel of GMO experts - for once, I thought, I'll be hearing both sides of the story, even if it is on a short segment of a show! However, I was disappointed by the seemingly one-sided nature of the show (even if it did lean in my direction). Jeffrey Smith spoke of all of the things that he learned through his research for his books (he worked with doctors and scientists, he is not one himself). His claimed that evidence was found to for all of the maledictions in the graphic above, he actually said at one point that all doctors should, "prescribe a non-GMO diet to all of their patients." When he was done, Dr. Oz asked Dr. Ronald to chime in. She claimed that all of Mr. Smith's evidence has been refuted and listed a number of websites (bioforitifed,org, and to go to in order to see those studies. I thought to myself, "Here we go. This is going to be good," and then Dr. Oz cut her off! I was shocked. He said people don't want to hear about websites, "...they think either you're full of it, or Jeffrey's full of it." That's true.

      Her response was spot on, she said, "...Science does not make policy, but we need to make policy based on the best science..."and then got in one more dig that Mr. Smith is not a scientist.

      The question in this debate: WHAT IS THE BEST SCIENCE?

      I agree with Dr. Ronald. I understand the suspicion of Jeffrey Smith's results, but what about Dr. Hansen?

      Books written by people on the show:

      Wednesday, December 8, 2010

      Dr. Oz and the GMO Debate Part 1

      On the December 7, 2010 episode of The Dr. Oz Show, the topic of genetically modified foods was addressed and some excellent questions were raised. If you missed the show, don't fret, the show has put the video segments on their website for all to see and share in three parts. I decided to also approach my blog discussion in these three parts, as dealing with it all in one post would be an incredible amount of information to digest in one sitting.

       Genetically Modified Foods, Pt. 1 (video clip is 4 minutes 34 seconds long)
      Dr. Oz's intro to GMOs and the Non-GMO Project

      Dr. Oz began his show about genetically modified foods by saying the fact that we hadn't noticed the "Non GMO product" label on the bread he displayed bothered him. Well, Dr. Oz, it bothered me too. I am a label looker! I am constantly searching for evidence of a food-stuff's value and I had never seen the label he showed before the airing of his show! I immediately took note of the website on the label and got to investigating.

      The Non-GMO Project

      The label to look for.
      I am still trying to figure out how I missed this one. Here's a blurb from the Non-GMO Project website explaining who they are:
      The Non-GMO Project is a non-profit organization, created by leaders representing all sectors of the organic and natural products industry in the U.S. and Canada, to offer consumers a consistent non-GMO choice for organic and natural products that are produced without genetic engineering or recombinant DNA technologies.
      It sounds like a great idea, in fact, it sounds like exactly what I've been looking for, so, I asked, "Where the heck is it?" The website is very useful to this end as well as it provides links to find participating products sorted by brand, category and/or name. They also provide a link to find participating retailers by location and/or name.

      While this is a step in the right direction, it is important to know how the non-profit organization determines which products get the label. In the Understanding Our Seal portion of the website, a brief explanation is given. I will summarize even further:
      • every ingredient is tested, but not necessarily every product.
      • testing happens at various stages in product development.
      • the test must indicate that the ingredient is below 0.9% GMO, which is evidently in line with the European Union laws.

      Finally, if you are impressed, perhaps you feel that you will not buy GMO products now that they are labeled and you are informed. When asked the same question, 80% of the studio audience at The Dr. Oz Show said they wouldn't. The non-GMO Project wants to hear that commitment from you - they provided the Non-GMO Consumer Pledge on their website.

      Before We Get Into the Panel & Part 2

      While you are making that commitment, you may also want to do your part to stop new genetically modified foods from making it to the market. I have written about various opportunities to contact your representatives about genetically modified fish and organizations to follow for the latest information in the "food fight",  let today be the day you take one of those actions!

      Next up: From The Dr. Oz Show - Genetically Modified Foods Part 2: A Panel of Experts on Both Sides

      Monday, December 6, 2010

      Gluten Free Pancakes, Anyone?

      After reflecting on my meatless Mondays experience and realizing I starting slipping when it came to treating myself right for breakfast and lunch each day, I decided to learn from it. I woke up, got my butt to the kitchen and made myself some über-yummy gluten-free pancakes!
      Taking time for me is worth the work!
      Sure, I have a bunch leftover, but I am going to see how they stand up in the freezer. Maybe I can have pancakes some other morning without breaking my whisk (don't worry, it was aging and cheap... I knew it was going).

      Extra special thanks go to:
      R.I.P. whisk... I am sure I will still use you until we find a suitable replacement (hopefully with a more comfortable handle!)
      Now... what the heck  should I have for lunch?!

      What I Learned from Meatless Mondays

      As Monday is upon us again, I am, omnivore again, reflecting on the five weeks that passed and how they changed my vision of my consumption in my future.

      I began this challenge to honor those vegetarians and vegans that eat a restricted diet all year round. When I learned that November was World Vegan Month, it seemed there was no better time to take the leap. So I decided, after months of talking about what's the right meat to eat, where to find it and how much do I really have to pay for it?! I dedicated my husband and I to five meatless Mondays - not a tall order, but some change for us.

      My husband and I had spoken of going vegetarian in the Spring when we first saw the film Food, Inc. and when I had just finished reading Eating Animals. However, as my health waned in the months that followed, survival seemed to be our only concern. When I finally saw a nutritionist, her call to order was cutting out gluten and dairy, so any other restrictions seemed to cause too much of a learning curve all at once. Five months later, we were a little better prepared for the task at hand.

      So How Did It Go?

      Total transparency here: if it weren't for this blog, I don't think I would have made it. As each week passed I knew my husband's resolve was failing, had I not (1) written out a goal for myself, and (2) posted it publicly on the Internet, I think I would have eventually acquiesced and given my husband some meat on at least one of three Mondays that I can recall.
      • There was one week when my mother-in-law invited us over to dinner just as I started to prepare our meal. I would have said, "No problem, if you want to go over there, I can stop what I am doing and save it for some other day."
      • There was, of course, the horrendous reaction to the idea of black bean burgers which broke my heart. I nearly told him to pick up chopped meat on the way home with his burger buns! Then I thought, "No... My blog! How could I write that?!" So I stood my ground and let him "suffer" (if I remember correctly, I believe that turned out OK).
      • Of course, there was week five. When I started this I was excited about the fact that November 2010 was such a Monday-packed month, however, after dealing with the meatless Monday GRINCH all month, I dreaded the final Monday's reaction. If not for the blog, I probably would have said, "OK, Hon, you did a great job - four Mondays is a typical month, so you are off the hook!"
      What I Learned
      One of the benefits I really hoped to gain from this experience was to expand my horizons as a cook. To learn more recipes, techniques, or just get some ideas for meals of our future. I did succeed in learning a lot, both in the kitchen and out. Here are some lessons learned:
      • Planning meals, or meal types is fun for me. Having the limitation of a meatless dinner really made me think every Sunday night and Monday morning. I enjoyed the experience, but understand that a lot of what it possible is the fact that I am home on medical leave. This labeling of Monday night dinners has inspired me to think about labeling every night of the week so that I don't get caught in a coking rut!
      • Eating gluten filled foods really messes me up. Unfortunately, when I tried the Gardien Sante Fe product on meatless Monday #2 I did not read the label (forgetting that the first time I tried it was BEFORE I started eating gluten free). While I did not enjoy the experience, I am very happy it happened while I was not working so I could truly understand how gluten affects me. This helps me express myself more clearly to doctors as well as friends and family who are curious about the seemingly sudden need to go gluten free.
      • I need to take care of me a little bit better. I noticed (I don't know if you did too) that, as the weeks went on, my breakfast and lunch were not as well thought out as dinner. Now, is this because I was spending the day planning dinner? Maybe. But that is still no excuse. There is a distinct difference between my well though-out breakfast of week one with gluten-free cereal, a large glass of water and a bowl of mixed berries that I cut for myself and my week five breakfast that I "worked through" eating an apple and following it with some more grab-able fruit for "lunch."
      • Eating vegetarian is very filling, satisfying and nourishing. I did not feel like I needed meat.
      • Due to my dairy-free restrictions, many of the things I eat are verging on vegetarian, anyway.
      The Food, Nicole! Tell Them About THE FOOD

      Alright, let's get to it.
      • My absolute favorite Monday of meals was probably week three, even though I didn't have lunch. I made the apple cinnamon quinoa breakfast and vegetarian chili for dinner. I have already used both of those recipes again, so I have to give it props for that. 
      • Week 2, although it ended with my gluten consumption got me to do something I have wanted to do for a really long time - write down the recipes for my mother-in-law's potato salad and for the black beans.  
      • Last week was a personal favorite with lentils and macaroni with a new twist I hadn't tried before. I know I will be making this one again, I just wonder if it will be for me alone, or if my husband will join me. 
      • My least favorite of them all would probably have to be the black bean burgers from week four, but I think with some spice adjustments they might make a reappearance (I am thinking about having a burger showdown for my husband - black bean vs. beef vs. salmon vs. turkey, ok, ok I KNOW too many "vs.", I'm working on it!!). 
      • Finally, it isn't fair for me to throw week one into the competition - the marinara sauce that has been passed down in my family has a special place in my heart and taste memory, I doubt that any flavor could surpass it if I were asked, but I am aware that I am completely biased!
      I am so happy that I participated in this meatless Monday challenge. I am aware that many do meatless Mondays all year round and that many have meatless lives, but, for now, this is where the Riveras stand with their commitment upheld at five meatless Mondays in the month of November. Shall we go for more? It remains to be seen. Maybe we'll be complete mavericks and go meatless on some other day of the week, but tonight, although the rest of my day might be meatless, there will be meat on our table.

      Saturday, December 4, 2010

      Dr. Oz This Week: Panel About GMOs

      I am always on the lookout for more information on genetically modified foods, seeds and animals in my search for healthy, safe foods to eat. I am displeased with the current state of our food industry that sells many GM foods without labeling them at all. I believe that if the public was made aware during the purchase process how much of their food actually did come from a GM product, then they would, in fact, be energized to take action on this topic. I have written before about shopping guides you can use to avoid buying GMOs, actions you can take to stop new GM foods from making it to our tables and how my eyes first began to open to these horrors. However, I am still no expert and, in my endless calling as a life-long learner, I seem to have found two new resources today in one glance at my computer screen.

      Tune in to The Dr. Oz Show on December 7, 2010

      Here is the first announcement that caught my eye on the Foodie Blog Roll website today:

      "The nation will be watching when Jeffrey Smith takes the stage at the Dr. Oz Show this Tuesday, December 7th, to share the health dangers of genetically modified foods with Dr. Oz and his audience. Rounding out the non-GMO side of the panel for this segment will be another outstanding non-GMO advocate, Dr. Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union. Dr. Pamela Ronald, a pro-GM scientist who has been proposing that organic foods include GMOs is also included."
      This panel sounds fascinating. Jeffrey Smith is a well-known expert in the field of genetically modified organisms, having written the book Seeds of Deception and Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods. Dr. Michael Hansen has also been outspoken against GMOs concerning allergy risks and unethical acts of Monsanto. Dr. Pamela Ronald also seems to be a super intriguing guest - a Professor of Plant Pathology, married to an organic farmer. I just discovered her blog Tomorrow's Table, and am curious about her views. Her specialization seems to be in genetically modified rice, using genetic to help the rice survive flooding. I won't only be tuning in to this episode, I will be recording it on my DVR.

      An Opportunity to Win A FREE Book

      Along with the notice about The Dr. Oz Show on the Foodie Blog Roll site, is a contest to win a copy of Jeffrey Smith's book Seeds of Deception. I have not yet read the book myself, so I can not give you a quick review, but I can say that I am entering the contest and if I don't win, I am going to get this book. What this book and The Dr. Oz Show offer are more perspectives on this topic. I find it important when learning things to hear about them from as many perspectives as possible in order to come to my own truth.

      For now, there are two ways to see if this book is for you:
      • Check out the book's web page, and
      • Check out the author on The Dr. Oz Show this Tuesday

      I imagine there will be more to discuss later in the week on this topic, but for now it would be great to hear from you!
      Where do you fall in the GMO debate? Is it on your radar yet? Have you picked a side yet? If so, what is it and why? I am, as I mentioned above, intrigued by Dr. Ronald's perspective and am wondering if anyone else feels the same way. Thanks.
      Other Book By Jeffrey Smith:

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