Back to School

August 30, 2010

Blogging to fill the time between eating lunch and leaving my appartment. Seriously, if I left right now it would be a half hour (spent walking) before I was at a bathroom, and I would start to need one about 10 minutes in. So I wait at home, let it all sink in, then bathroom, then errands.

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Saturday was a driving day. At least four hours in the car, broken up variously, and that takes some intense planning for a Crohnsite. I  wanted to minimize eating while actually driving, which meant that before we left I had to eat a pretty substantial, protein filled lunch without going to the greasy or otherwise problematic foods. I ended up going with meatballs, which worked out well.

We had reservations at a great place in Stamford for dinner that night, and after an excellent meal, out came the desert menu. There was an almond cream tart with raspberries, and with very little hope I asked the waitress if the almond cream portion was cream with almond flavoring or if it was actually made from almond milk. And since I’m blogging about the experience you can probably guess that it was made with almond milk! Almond cookie topped with a thick almond cream and whole raspberries, topped with a mint garnish and a dark chocolate drizzle. (I wanted to paste in the menu description but it isn’t on the online menu.) You cannot imagine how incredible this was. I was in heaven.

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And now I’m back at school, armed with physical copies of my scripts so the pharmacies don’t give me a hard time, ready to take on the world. Or probably just my next semester of classes at this point. Classes now, world later.

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Ugh. I just typed this all up and then it erased it when I hit publish. Take 2.

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Even though it was literally a hundred degrees out, I did not have ice cream for dinner on Tuesday. I had sushi. (The power went out at my house so my family went out to dinner, and you don’t say no to sushi.) But I had ice cream right after dinner. I had a taster each of a ginger snappy thing and malted Oreo cookie (my ice cream shop calls Oreo ice cream “hydrox” for reasons unbeknownst to me), and eventually went with a micro (the real small, since “small” in ice cream shop speak seems to mean “lots”) of regular old non-malted hydrox. And with it, 2 Lactaid pills. One before the tasters, and one before the micro just to be safe.

Either it didn’t work, or I was in for a rough night anyway. I could not tell you. All I know is that today is the 5th day in a row the temperature has been above 90, and I will not be having ice cream again tonight, nor any other time soon. I’ll stick to my iced coffee with goat’s milk (and by the way, yum).

Side note on goat’s milk: I’ve had this in a few things so far and it’s scrumptious. Ooey gooey animal fat. I love it. In cooking, you absolutely cannot tell the difference. In other stuff you can definitely taste the goatyness of it. But it does not, as I feared, make your coffee/smoothie/whatever taste like chevre. The taste that separates goat cheese from cow cheese is in there, but the cheese flavor itself isn’t. I don’t know why I  thought it would be, but I did, and it isn’t. (Thank god.)

Final Report, Round Two

March 1, 2010

Today I feel: better than I have in a while. For the most part, things are going well, and midterms haven’t quite broken my spirit just yet. The avocado sushi and miso soup I had for dinner is treating me real nice.

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Since I’m procrastinating anyway, I might as well spend the time doing something productive. So here is my second “final report” on alt-milk, since in our quest to let my family try out the new milks I’d been drinking, my mom, sister and I ended up finding 3 new ones and ice cream, and then my Trader Joe’s got a new one in.

Hazelnut Milk – Yum! This one was very much like almond milk, only with the flavor of hazelnuts instead of almonds. Obviously. I think it was a little sweeter, but more or less comparable. Really good if you like the nutty flavor, which I do in most cases. I think I would consider this one more or less interchangeable with almond, except that I’m pretty sure my Trader Joe’s doesn’t stock it.

Coconut Milk – Very good, but only if you want a really strong coconut flavor! The milk is very light, and I imagine it would be really good for baking, anything sweet really. Seriously though, there would be no question that this is made of coconuts, even if nobody told you. No idea if my TJ’s carries it.

Hemp Milk – I have no idea how to describe this flavor. It tastes like something, but I don’t know what it is. Although I must admit I was really excited about it in a juvenile “haha I just bought hemp milk” kind of way, I can’t say I could have picked out the connection (which is probably because the milk is made from the seeds, not the plant leaves). I like it on its own (and in ice cream, more on that shortly), but it tasted oddly burnt in my latte, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t burn the milk while I was steaming it, maybe it just doesn’t heat well? Definitely would have it again, but again, they don’t sell it at my TJ’s, so it wouldn’t be a regular thing.

Whole Grain Milk – my new favorite! I just found this at my Trader Joes, and it looks like they just got it in recently. Maybe I’m just getting more used to the general taste of alt-milks, but it just tasted more normal than any of the others to me. Still sweeter and chalkier than cow’s milk, but very good. I can’t really describe why I liked it, which I think is part of the reason I like it. I can’t describe the flavor, but I’m also not searching for a name for the flavor, like I was with the hemp. Low key, doesn’t overpower other flavors, but still has some really nice body to it. I even happily drank a glass of it last night. A real winner.

Rice Milk Ice Cream – I loved this. Loved. As in cooking, the rice flavor was barely present, it was just very light (without feeling intentionally “low fat”) and had more of a plant feel vs. an animal feel, if that makes any sense. My dad didn’t like it much, he said it tasted woody to him, which I only got after taking a few more bites and thinking really hard. The only problem was that I got little chocolate-covered “bites”, and the package said the chocolate may have traces of several milk/animal products in it. Traces don’t seem to be an issue for me and I’m not vegetarian (I would die in a month, I’m pretty sure), but it bothered me on principle because so many people who want ricecream are highly sensitive to even traces either medically or ideologically. It seemed disingenuous not to keep the whole thing dairy-free/vegan/organic when the main part of the product sells on those terms. Anyway I digress, it was delicious. Will buy again, as soon as it gets warm.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream – Very good, again as long as you want it to taste like coconut. For me it tasted like it could just as easily be a normal ice cream (very light/low fat, but still dairy), and be intentionally flavored with coconut,  that’s how strong the flavor was. But it was even lighter than the ricecream. The one I got was chocolate chip cookie dough, and I must say I wouldn’t get that flavor again, because the cookie dough was too organic tasting (even though I have to eat some organic foods, I’m not generally a junkie and mostly don’t prefer the “I’m just a leaf” taste). But I wouldn’t say no to some coconut ice cream in July. No sir.

Hemp Milk Ice Cream – I guess I liked all the ice creams. Again, couldn’t pin down the flavor, but it was really good. I was going to say before that the flavor probably wasn’t compatible with coffee, but then I remembered that the hemp ice cream was a coffee flavored one, and the flavor combination worked perfectly! Hence the conclusion that it might not heat well. Or any number of other things that went wrong with the latte, who knows. I would buy this again if I saw it, but like with the hemp milk I feel like it’ll be harder to find than other alt-ice creams, so I’ll probably stick with ricecream mostly.

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I’m starting to have one major concern about milks as a whole, however: none of them has the sheer calorie content of regular milk, and I expect that while they have a lot of nutrients that cow’s milk doesn’t, they probably don’t have a lot of the ones that cow’s milk does, and that my body is used to getting. I’ve been losing a little bit of weight this month, but all the while stuffing my face with anything I can find! This past week or so I’ve been finding myself needing to eat more and more often less because my stomach is grumbling and more because my body is just lacking certain nutrients. Does anybody have suggestions for things to add to my diet to supplement what I’m losing by not drinking milk? I’ve just started eating eggs pretty regularly for protein, which helps, but I’d love some more ideas if you have them. Thanks!!

Final Report

February 19, 2010

Today I feel: alright. Bussing (does that have 2 s’ in it? It “bussing” even a real word?), so taking it easy in terms of food.

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Bus time is a good time to blog. Internet access and I can’t get up and go do something else? Check. Let’s go.

This morning I opened up a new quart of soy milk to make myself a cup of hot chocolate (caramel- yum…). I’ve come full circle on my milk search and decided to try soy again from my new perspective. Didn’t like the hot chocolate :(. The flavor of the soy was too strong and didn’t match the flavor of the hot chocolate at all (I don’t think it was the caramel, it’s not that strong a flavoring).

Here’s my final report on milk, by type:

Cow’s Milk – I thought I should include this just for the sake of completeness. Obviously, I like cow’s milk best. It tastes like love and childhood, and if the world were perfect, I would drink milk five times a day. But it has become extremely clear to me now that my body just can’t handle cow’s milk. I feel the effect before I’ve even fully digested it- the moment my body starts trying to break it down I have a big Crohn’s emergency. Too bad.

Soy Milk – The flavor is a little strong for my preferences, so I really only like soy milk in other things that either cover or really nicely complement the soy flavor, like coffee. That being said, it tastes incredible in coffee, and although I wouldn’t go as far as some who say that it tastes better than cow’s milk in coffee, it is undoubtedly my favorite alternate milk for my morning (or afternoon) brew. So it’s a good thing that this is the alternate that Starbucks (like most other coffee shops) keeps around.

Almond Milk – My hands down favorite. The nutty flavor is really nice and also light enough that I can put it in almost anything without being overwhelmed by it. Like the woman in Trader Joe’s said, it’s great for cooking. Also hot chocolate. But it also has enough body to it to stand up to coffee, and although it’s not quite as good as soy milk, it’ll do for waking me up before class. This is probably the best overall package for me, and the one I’ll be keeping in my fridge most regularly from now on. I’ll just have to be careful of friends with nut allergies.

Vanilla Almond Milk – Honestly, I would just as soon do without the vanilla flavor. It’s nice, but only when I specifically want the extra flavor. I use milk for too many different things, not all of which go with vanilla. Really good in coffee and hot chocolate.

Rice Milk – Ultra light flavor, but very thin. I like this best for cooking because it allows the flavors of whatever I’m making to come through unhindered. I also love it with hot chocolate. Like, love. But since I like my coffee pretty darned creamy, it doesn’t quite get the job done on that count. Other than that, it would be a draw with almond milk. I would probably get this if I was doing a lot of baking or throwing a dinner party with possible nut allergies. I still haven’t tried rice milk ice-cream, but it’s been a little cold. I’ll experiment with that in a couple of months.

That ends my milk search, so now I have to think about something new to blog about. The cogs are turning, and I’ll have something else up for your reading pleasure by next week.

Injustice is what it is.

February 9, 2010

I have a story. it is quick, but there is a little bit of background. The story basically goes that I was getting breakfast on my school meal plan this Monday morning (coffee, a banana chip muffin, and a banana), and they charged me $.37 extra for soy milk.

Now that’s not so bad if I was paying for this meal in dollars and cents, but I was paying for it with a “meal swipe,” which is a voucher for one of whatever each dining location on campus deems a “meal”. If you do out the math, each meal swipe in my school’s meal plan comes out to about $10. Some meals are buffet style, all you care to eat in a sitting, but most are a la carte, and you get an entree, a drink, and a side (ie chips or fruit). Entrees are the most variable, but usually they’re something like chicken and rice, a burger, or a salad bar bowl. My entree was a muffin. If I had gotten the same items at any coffee shop, it probably would have cost me about $5-7, depending on the place. Which leaves an extra $3-5 that the University gets to keep. Now. Why are they charging me extra (that I have to pay for separately, with cash) for soy milk in my coffee? Especially because I am drinking it, as are most other soy milk drinkers, because I cannot drink standard milk, not because it is so much more delicious and special. It would be awful for them to have a fraction of a dollar less extra money per lactose intolerant (or vegan) student’s breakfast. Because they aren’t already making enough money off of me.

I’m in the process of writing a letter of complaint to the school. Also, I am having fewer breakfasts with my meal plan, instead saving my meals for lunches and dinners, from which I suspect there will be less cash per meal going back into the school’s pocket.

The best part? The barista was as indignant as I was.

This was going to be a mini-post, but as usual I wax verbose. Apparently I cannot get anything said in just a couple of sentences. (except for that)

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I’ve been sick for the past week or so. Sorta. You know that “I’m about to get sick in like a day and a half” feeling? I had that for a week. Occasionally I’m able to put off getting sick by sheer force of will, and I just didn’t have the time for it last week. Then the weekend rolled around and I got a chance to sit down for a moment, and on came the sickness full force. Which was bad news for my throat and for my digestion. So little fun, I can’t even tell you. Anyway yesterday morning I woke up miraculously cured and now I’m all better! Mostly, you know how it is. But this time I got better significantly faster than I normally do. At 3:30pm I was too sick to get up and go to class, and at 8:30 the next morning I felt fine, which is especially odd for me because I usually feel worse in the mornings and get better as the day progresses. Anyway I’m thrilled to be back on my feet.

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Today is grocery day, and if you’re keeping up with my adventures in alternative milks, you know what that means: rice milk! While I was sick I wasn’t drinking any milk of any sort so as not to stuff up my nose (although I’m not sure, do soy/almond/rice milks cause congestion as well or is that just cow’s milk?), so I still have a good amount of almond milk to use up before I get started on the rice milk. I’m thinking Annie’s Mac and Cheese for lunch today, made with almond milk! I honestly have no idea how the almond taste is going to work with the rest of it, but I don’t see why it shouldn’t be delicious. The girl at Trader Joe’s told me almond milk is great for cooking, and she works at Trader Joe’s so she’s gotta know her stuff! I feel sort of silly for having Mac and Cheese with my almond milk, but so far cheese has been just fine for me, so long as it’s in small quantities. And there probably isn’t much actual cheese in there anyhow.

This whole blogging thing is not as easy as I had thought/hoped. I keep forgetting or not having the time to post. Bear with me though, I haven’t given up yet (Crohn’s patients do not give up easily).

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Today I feel: great! Keeping busy and still taking care of my body. I may have just been successful at fighting off a cold, but the jury’s still out on that one- I’ll keep you posted.

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My semester started again last Tuesday- it’s already insane, especially now that I’m working at the same time (and right now I may or may not be coming down with a cold; my body cannot decide).  But my Crohn’s has been behaving itself surprisingly well, and I think I owe that to soy milk. If you’ve been following my Twitter, this is old news, but I’ve recently realized that milk is a big problem for me and I’m currently experimenting with different alternatives. Naturally, I tried soy milk first, which worked out pretty well. I still haven’t worked up the courage to drink it straight, but it does the job in coffee. The only problem is that the taste is simply unfamiliar to me. Milk was always my comfort food, and I think a good comfort food is equal parts deliciousness and familiarity. The taste of soy is fine, and I’m adapting to it, but it can’t really replace milk in all its functions because it tastes so foreign to me.

It took (and is still taking) a huge amount of willpower to cut out cow’s milk, but I can see drastic results of it already. The times when I have not had any milk in my body have been rare in the past, so with nothing to compare to it was hard to see if it actually had a negative effect on me. Now it is obvious to me that it does, and I can (with effort) remind myself every time I consider cheating how immediate my body’s response will be if I do, and how much better I feel on the whole when I stick to it. This one change is making it a lot easier to rationally evaluate my food choices in all areas, because if I can give up milk, I can give up anything, right? I’m trying really hard to come to terms with the fact that having Crohn’s really does mean I have to alter my life in some ways that other people don’t, in order to stay healthy day to day.

I just bought a quart of almond milk (I’ve had the vanilla variety recommended to me on multiple occasions but I decided to start with the original) to try next, and after that I’ll test out rice milk, just to see which one I like best.

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A couple quick shoutouts- I just joined the Crohn’s Disease Support Network (the name is self explanatory), and although I haven’t gotten the chance to fully explore it yet, it seems like a really great resource for all you Crohn’s sufferers (and friends/family of) out there in the vast abyss of the internet. Another great resource is the Crohn’s Disease Forum (again, pretty easy name- it’s a forum about Crohn’s). I’m linking both in the side bar.