All previous excuses aside, it has been darn hard to get back in the swing of my blog since our move back to CA. I am very sorry!
While I've talked about how it was a crazy two-part move, my working again, etc. There's been one more thing that has put a big old wrench in how I run this blog, and led to me needing to pause and think about what I want to do: last winter I was diagnosed with PCOS, or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Now, one might think that with the word "ovary" in the name, the big issue is with reproduction...and for some women, this is true. Many women have very serious infertility issues with this condition. Since my partner and I are planning on no more children(or, possibly, no more biological children), this is not a big problem for me. However, it is an endocrine disorder, meaning that it messes with hormones, and from there can cause all sorts of weird (and often seemingly unrelated issues).
In my case, I am insulin resistant, and seem to have some major issues with carbs(especially white sugar and flour...the latter to the point that I suspect an allergy might be at play as well), as well as some physical issues that can cause me some embarrassment(among other things, male-pattern hair thinning and hair growth other places that women don't usually have issues, as well as bouts of pubescent-level acne). I have also spent the last nine years, pretty much from the point where I could no longer afford to follow a rather radical raw-foods vegan diet as a college student, overweight, often seriously so. Nothing seemed to work, including eating very healthy, and exercise often left me sick and in pain rather then energized the way it should. Left to my own devices, I slept all the time. 10 or more hours of sleep and I'd wake up tired--I was that worn out! As you can probably imagine, this was hard to cope with, especially because a common response from others was the assumption that I wasn't trying hard enough, or saying I was sick for the attention. There were many times when the number of small things (not fitting clothing I did three weeks previously, issues with my hair being particularly limp and lifeless, being tired and even having muscle pain all the time) left me with not enough spoons. This blog was a godssend. It helped me stay sane, and kept me moving on days where I didn't want to get out of bed.
Now, here we are...diagnosis, research, major diet changes, medication, and a little over one hundred pounds lighter then I was when I found out I was pregnant with my son three years ago! I still have bad days...ones where I don't want to talk to anyone, or leave the house. Those, thankfully, are reducing. And when I get them, I usually have more resources and reserves to cope.
With this blog, though, I have a quandary. The Victorian stuff and retro American cuisine stuff I tend to focus on is PACKED with the very things I can't eat, especially white flour and sugar. It's everywhere! In the bread and baked goods, in the jam and marmalade and curd. What should I do? I literally can not eat those anymore, and let me tell you, that is tough in American culture. Will it still be GG's Kitchen if I don't do those, or if I focus on healthier alternatives that I, personally, can consume? While I'm still happy to provide links elsewhere, this would mean a major overhaul of the sort of content I provide. I would love thoughts and input.
If I were to get rid of those, then the sorts of baked goods I would feature would be primarily wheat-free(often gluten free). They would rely on other cultures, not Central Europe, U.K., and American history. I would also look for things that used honey as a sweetener(especially raw or unprocessed), agave nectar, and yes, even sweet-leaf and other more natural artificial sweeteners (nothing creepy like SweetNLow). I'm finding that now that my sweetness threshold has lowered, many mincemeats and raisin fillings require no additional sweetener at all. I would love to hear input about this. Please leave your thoughts, if so inclined.
In the spirit of these changes in my life, I would like to share our new go-to trail mix at home. I've been finding that a lot of mixes use sweetened dried fruit, very cheap chocolate or other candy, and nuts that smell past their prime. Savory mixes often have little crackers and hydrogenated oils. It blew me away discover just how fast and easy it was to make my own, with exactly what I want in it. I find that it averages 12 snack backs if you use a half-cup measure, and ranges at around 20-35 grams of carbs, about the same as most slices of bread, but could be higher if you use more fruit, or cheaper quality chocolate.
1 lb. Nut mix. Get something you like, but I've found a mix better then one nut. If you want them fresh, get raw nuts and either put them in as-is, or roast them in your oven at around 350F for 10-15 min (watch them closely). Stir often, and pull as soon as you're smelling toasty nuts. Cool before mixing with the other ingredients, so that you don't melt the chocolate. You can dry roast them, or toss them in a little butter and salt first(add cinnamon or ginger for a real treat), or even with soy sauce and sesame oil for a savory version.
1/2 lb fruit mix. I prefer unsweetened fruit, as that's a lot of white sugar getting added. Raisins, dried pit fruit and apples cut in small chunks, stuff you have dried yourself. If you can find them, you can even add unsweetened dried cranberries if you have other very sweet fruit and it can be a nice tart tang. If you want to do a veggie blend, something like Just Tomatoes (including their other veggies) is awesome!
One good quality 2-4 oz. bar dark chocolate, if going sweet(maybe even if you're going savory...chocolate and chilis make a winning combo). What do I mean by good? High chocolate content: Something like Hershey's is mostly sugar and other ingredients...that's why it tastes so waxy. You want chocolate that would be bitter eaten alone, but the fruit and other ingredients sweeten. It is worth spending the money, trust me. And since it's worked into the mix, a little goes a long way. Something like this , although if you can, looking for terms like organic, sustainable, and fair trade are good for all the same reasons they are for a cup of coffee.
Other things that could be added sweet or savory:
- Unsweetened dried coconut.
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Cut-up beef jerkey
- Some sort of seed cluster similar to this over at Mark's Daily Apple.
- Nori seaweed flakes.