Monday, September 30, 2013

Of Monsters and Vegetables

A couple of years ago, I grew a narwhal in my stomach.  It wasn't the nice, gentle unicorn of the sea that we're all accustomed to, but rather a monster with the teeth of an angler fish, raptor claws, a body covered in cactus spines, and a spiked tail like a stegosaurus.  That is to say, it hurts.  After many disappointing trips to doctors and specialists, some of whom decided I was crazy, I chose to call this narwhal Firemonster just to give it a name.  Then I decided I was going to have to go to medical school if I wanted an answer.

I've since stumbled upon another possible solution, as I seem to be too lazy (and poor) to go to medical school at present.  I'm going to try the Whole 30 program.  If you've never heard of it, Google it and be sad for me.  (Or if you're too lazy for Google, just know I can't eat the foods that are worth eating for at least 30 days.  And, no alcohol.)  Perhaps I'm starting off a little pessimistic, but I don't believe this will turn into a permanent lifestyle.  It's really just an informative tool so that I can learn if something I'm eating is feeding the Firemonster and making me miserable.

There are a few things about the next 30 days that worry me a lot.  First of all, I'm a baker.  This means that I love sugar, and I love only going to about three different aisles in the grocery store.  I'm rubbish at making lists or planning things out, so the idea of having to plan all of the meals has me stressed to begin with.  I even did a practice run at the store and ended up wandering every aisle in frustration, wondering how real adults do this all the time.  Also, I seem to have forgotten what pineapples look like.

Yep, I'm screwed.

This is the part where I come running out of my apartment, waving my fingers in the air, and yelling, "I am not a cook!"  My baking skills are pretty top notch, and I would hope that they could be translated to other areas of the kitchen.  I intend to channel the culinary badassery of Julia Child, but in reality, I'll probably end up more like the Swedish Chef, flinging food and utensils around while muttering incomprehensibly.  

Hey kids, it's time for tangential storytelling!  Speaking of the Swedish Chef, I have to put the blame on him for my childhood disgust of vegetables.  Have you ever seen Muppet vegetables?  They look horrified, and who can blame them?  They were always about to be murdered.  My parents thought I was picky, but I was just in mourning.  Somehow, I hadn't yet associated meat with anything cuddly, and seeing a cow or chicken wandering around outside didn't jam that image into my brain like seeing a tomato with a face etched into a permanent scream.  If Toddler Me had the vocabulary and access to Wikipedia to know what a fruitarian was, she would have been totally into it.  

"Mom!  Someone killed the carrots!"

So here's my tip for all you parents out there:  stop anthropomorphizing food.  Bananas in pajamas aren't cute; they're incredibly creepy.  If you're having a difficult time getting your little one to eat their veggies at dinnertime, keep in mind that they could be grieving.  Only yesterday they learned how much Larry the Cucumber loves his lips, and now he's dead.  Yeah, that's not traumatizing at all. 

And now back to my original point.  I've been reading about the "carb flu" associated with giving up all of these foods.  Some people have horrible headaches, while others become very irritable and snap at the smallest provocation.  (I apologize in advance if I call your mother a hamster or throw an avocado at your face because it happens to be the only projectile I have within reach.  It's like the anti-Twinkie defense.)  Some people report having cravings so intense that they dream of them or even hallucinate eating forbidden foods.  Then they actually believe they have eaten it and feel guilty for breaking the rules.  Maybe if I take an Ambien, I can sleepwalk to the nearest 7-11 and hallucinate my way through a pint of Ben & Jerry's AND a winning Powerball!

All of the foods I have to give up are foods that I love in ways I can't even begin to describe.  I'm afraid that I can't even make it for 30 days without sugar or dairy or grains, and I'm wondering if it sounds even the least bit petty that I may consider life no longer with living if I discover an allergy to any one of those things.  With many friends and family taking out bets against me, I'm terrified that I'm going to fail at any moment, and I'll be found face down in a gallon of ice cream.  Or maybe I'll just completely lose it, and I'll be kicked out of HEB for causing a scene when someone complains about me for lovingly stroking all the wheels of Brie while bitter tears run down my cheeks, and the stock boy will try to pry the cheese from my fingers as I scream, "Why, God, why?" at the top of my lungs.   

I guess if this doesn't pan out, I can still go to medical school.


  1. @that Nixon joke.... so much yes. Here's to hoping that your amazing sense of humor gets you through the next 30. ;)

  2. Wow, I've never thought of veggies as characters that have personalities that should be mourned after being beheaded, dismembered, boiled, skinned, disemboweled...oh dear Lord the horror of it all. I guess I'm just gonna have to eat candy.

  3. 1. Veggies are delicious. There are so many yummy meals that you CAN eat. Focus on that.
    2. Avoid all isles at the grocery store-shop the perimeter. Just buy foods that rot in a few days (and maybe some nuts) and you'll be a on a good track. f
    3. Remember that this is about making you feel better! Most of the foods you'll be able to go back to eating, but hopefully you'll find one that's been causing so much distress.
    You can do this!

  4. I discovered a delicious kale soup, but it uses beans (pinto and cannellini). But you could possibly find another substitute, or you may find the mushrooms are enough. I'll omit the beans from the recipe here though:

    About 2 cups of veggie broth.
    1 bunch of kale - pull the leafy bits off and discard the stems (just a personal preference, though - they probably have lots of fiber and are good for you).
    1/2 carton of fresh white mushrooms chopped into quarters. Again, I like to remove the stems.
    1 tbsp of Adam's House Rub (it's just salt, pepper, and garlic, and is sold at my fancypants HEB).
    A dash of cumin. I hate using imprecise measurements, but it really is only a few shakes. No more than a 1/4 tsp.

    Bring the broth to a boil. Dump everything in. Cook until the kale leaves are an intense, dark green and the mushrooms are tender. Enjoy!