Iris and Lapis – A Wedding Story

Wedding rehearsal began on Saturday with a brisk introduction to the formalities of the ceremony by my cousin’s rockstar priest, Father Jim. The bridal party then headed over to the perfectly manicured backyard filled with lush grass, hibiscus and a decadent patio belonging to the parents of the groom.

For the ladies, Sunday morning began bright and early with hair and makeup beginning around 9am and taking 7 hours to  beautify our already gorgeous bridesmaids. Everyone looked beyond stunning. Arriving at the Church fashionable late, the wedding was spectacular with a large crowd of family and friends.

The wedding reception was held at the Brownstone (yes, the NJ housewife’s Brownstone) and was an absolute blast! Even my Grandfather got up to dance. The center of attention at these affairs is always my little cousin Nick who end up dancing like a maniac the entire night with a crowd of amused fans forming a circle of cheers and applause.

In honor of my cousin Joey (the bride’s older brother) who was killed in action in Afghanistan in late March, the best man, who was Joey’s best friend carried an American flag out during the introductions in support and love for my cousin. 

It was an incredible night celebrating love and sharing the joy of welcoming Mark, the groom, and his family into ours.

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Food Combining

Post from My New Roots. View the article here.

You asked for it. I just hope you really want to know.
I haven’t posted anything about food combining before for a couple reasons, the first and most glaring excuse being that I don’t strictly follow these rules myself. The second reason is because my goal here at My New Roots is to get you excited about eating a raw brownie instead of a regular brownie, which I feel is such a huge step in the right direction, that throwing another caveat into your new, healthy lifestyle feels cruel. Just when you thought you had it all figured out, here comes another rule?!?  I know. I get it. I struggle with this one a lot (hence the not doing it part).
Judging by the number inquisitive emails piling up, lots of you want to know about this food combining. So what is it exactly?
Food combining is a centuries-old way of eating for optimal digestion and assimilation of nutrients. Food combining centers around the idea that meals should be kept simple in order to be digested properly by enzymatic action – the natural way our body works to break down food and absorb nutrients. As different foods require their own unique enzymes (even foods in the same basic category, such as wheat and barley), too many different foods in one meal confuse the body and it is not able to produce all of the necessary enzymes simultaneously. This leads to a whole host of digestive issues, starting with belching, heartburn, intestinal gas, abdominal pain and swelling. As benign as these symptoms seem, they are just that: symptoms of a larger problem. If you are experiencing these digestive “upsets” on a regular basis, you should definitely consider food combining. After years of ignoring these signs that your body is delivering, you can begin to experience far more serious problems and irreversible damage.
When food is not digested properly, many issues arise. For one, when we eat too many different foods at one sitting, the body has a difficult time digesting through enzymatic action. Instead bacterial digestion takes over, leading to the aforementioned issues, but also creating poisonous bi-products. Secondly, when undigested food leaves the stomach, small portions can pass through into the intestinal tract, become trapped in crevices, and putrefy, producing toxins. Food that the body cannot utilize wastes energy and overworks the organs, which will eventually lead to organ malfunction. Undigested foods are also perfect breeding grounds for unfriendly bacteria that further cause fermentation to occur. Thirdly, tiny particles can pass into the blood stream, causing allergic reactions.
The last reason, and one that definitely motivates me, is that food which we do not digest completely, cannot be broken down into parts that our bodies can assimilate. If I choose to invest extra money in organic foods for the higher nutrient levels, isn’t in my best interest then to eat in way that actually allows me to unlock those nutrients? I think so!
In North American food culture, we’ve been conditioned to eat a “balanced diet”, yet somehow this term has been misinterpreted to mean a “balanced meal”. We throw all kinds of stuff on one single plate, pour a big glass of milk on the side, with the best intentions – to cover all our nutritional bases. Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly accomplish what we were aiming for.
If we look to our ancestors, and in fact many cultures around the world, individual foods were eaten alone, or combined with only one or two other foods. Such primitive eating patterns were practiced for thousands of years and are the foundation of our digestive capacities. Simple dietary plans are simply best, especially for anyone with compromised digestion, in a weakened or stressed condition. Eating simply is also a way to preserve vitality and maintain strong digestion into the later years of life.
There are two ways of food combining. The first one I’ll present, Plan A, is the “light” version, and designed for people with normal digestion and without any serious health conditions. The second, Plan B, is one that ideally should be followed by everyone, but especially those with poor digestion and major health problems.

Plan A – Food Combining for Better Digestion {click here to download a PDF}
This plan for food combining is relatively simple and follows eating in a specific order for satisfactory digestion. This does not mean that all of these categories of foods should be eaten in the same meal; it means that the categories should be eaten in a specific sequence. The best-digested meals are in fact very simple ones, including a maximum of three foods per meal.

1. Protein // Eat proteins first. Although we’re pretty used to digging in the bread basket before our steaks (or legumes, nuts, seeds…) it is best to eat protein foods first as they require the most digestive enzymes in comparison with those required for plants and starches. When you eat protein-rich foods after starches or other food, your stomach acids will not be sufficient for their digestion. Protein foods can be combined with cooked or raw green and non-starchy vegetables.

2. Starch // Eat starches after protein foods, or omit protein foods altogether and eat only starches. Starches can be combined with cooked or raw green and non-starchy vegetables.

3. Salad // Eat raw vegetables, salad and sprouts after proteins or starch. These foods contain their own enzymes and digest more rapidly than proteins and starches.

4. Dessert // Eat sweets last. Desserts include fruits, dried fruits, and any foods containing concentrated sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or molasses. Because of their relatively simple carbohydrate structures, sweet foods digest very quickly.

Plan B – Food Combining for Maximum Digestibility {click here to download a PDF}
This plan is similar to Plan A, but a little more restrictive for people with compromised digestion, in times of sickness, or for those wanting to prolong heir strong digestive powers.  Refer to the graphic to see which foods can be combined in one meal – they are directly connected by a dotted line.

1. Eat high protein foods, starchy foods, and high-fat foods in separate meals // The macronutrient groups that we are all familiar with (carbohydrates, protein, fats) are best kept separate when eating, and should not be combined at all in Plan B. Rice and beans? No. Pizza? No. Steak and Potatoes? You get the idea. However, all of these categories combine well with green and non-starchy vegetables, respectively. Green veggies actually aid the digestion of starches, proteins and fats, so having eggs with steamed spinach is a great idea; eggs on toast not so much.

2. Fruit and sweet foods should be eaten alone // Although we all love dessert to end a meal, fruit and sweet foods have relatively simple carbohydrate structures, meaning they digest very quickly. While the sugars in the cookie you just ate on top of dinner have already broken down, the other foods in the meal sit and ferment. Crazy as it sounds, it is best to eat dessert first (at least 30 minutes before a meal), or wait 4 hours after. Enjoy a piece of fruit first thing in the morning as a terrific cleanser, then wait half an hour before eating a full breakfast.

Plan B: The Exceptions
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, so just to confuse inform you further, here are a few more conditions to eat by:
1. Foods that are high in fat and protein (cheese, yogurt, kefir, nuts, and oil-bearing seeds) are okay to combine with acidic (sour) fruit. Examples: tahini and lemon dressing, almonds and sour apples, yogurt and strawberries.

2. Drink dairy milk alone. When milk from animals is consumed with other foods it tends to curdle, insulating itself from digestive enzymes. Curdled/fermented milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and buttermilk do not cause this problem and can combine well with green vegetables.

3. Eat melons alone. Melons digest very rapidly, and will cause any other food with which they are eaten to ferment. Proscuitto and cantaloupe = digestive suicide.

4. Celery and lettuce can be eaten with fruits.

5. Lemon, lime, and tomato can be eaten with green vegetables.

As I said before, I am not so strict when it comes to food combining. I enjoy eating a banana with my morning grains, I like butternut squash and chickpea soup, and I love raw brownies! You should see my breakfast smoothies: I jam just about anything edible into that blender and whizz it up, without batting an eyelash. Fruits, veggies, nut milk, algae, chlorophyll, bee pollen, avocado, flax oil, …basically something from every single food group because I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it won’t digest properly – I’ve been taught for so long to eat as much good stuff as possible! Doesn’t that mean all in one go? Argh. I too struggle with being a more health-conscious individual.

So where does this leave us? Well, I am going to continue on my path with greater awareness of these principles, and use them as a guide whenever possible. I will still drink my green smoothies once in a while, but maybe commit to proper food combining at least one meal a day. That feels reasonable for me right now. Start small. I love how I am talking myself through this in front of you.

In the meantime, I went back about a year in the archives and dug up a few the recipes that are a pretty good fit with food combining principles. There are many that can also be tweaked just a bit to suit the plan you choose to follow. No, the raw cashew dreamcake was not on that list, sniff, but I suppose it should be saved for special occasions anyway.Not Tuesday breakfasts.

Wild Mushrooms on Toast
Roasted Sesame Winter Slaw
Chanterelle Soup
Roasted Roots

Lemony Leeks with Chickpeas
Spicy Roasted Broccoli with Almonds
Carrots with Mellow Miso

Grilled Corn Salsa
Tarragon String Bean Salad
Black Rice Salad
Asparagus Ribbon Salad

Sources:

Pitchford, Paul. Healing with Whole Foods. Berkeley, California: North Atlantic Books, 2003.
Haas, Elson M. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Berkley, CA: Wiley, 2006.
Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. New York, NY: Penguin, 2003.
* Charts modeled after those found in Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford *

Hoof Abscess

Poor Ozymandias.

About a week ago my sweet, sweet horse developed an abscess in his front left hoof. I brought him out of his stall on a gorgeous sunny day in hopes of a nice long training session in which we could introduce a few more obstacles. He is like a sponge. Incredibly intelligent and way ahead of the normal 4 year old learning curve. As we exited the stall his limp was dramatic and he held his head low. I stopped abruptly and checked his leg for heat, swelling, anything to give away an injury. Noticing nothing wrong I continued to walk him to see if he was simply stiff. As we headed up to the cross ties his limping abated and he seemed to walk it off. However once tacked up and in the ring the pressure of the sand caused extreme discomfort for him.

My trainer immediately brought out the hoof testers and determined it was an abscess. An abscess is an infection within the hoof. Bacteria enters the hoof through a wound, bruise or simply a softening of the hoof due to rainy weather. Once infected, pressure is put on the hoof causing pain until it is eventually pushed out through a soft spot in the hoof, often the coronary band. Treatment is soaking in Epsom salts and wrapping with an Epsom salve to draw the infection out the bottom of the hoof.

First aid for an abscess. Image courtesy of GVEquine.com.

We led Ozzy back inside for soaking, which he did not enjoy. Warm water and Epsom salts are not his thing. We were forced to hold up his other front leg in order to get him to stand still and even that only lasted for about 5 minutes before he thought it wise to jump on three legs out of the water.

This is the type of bucket we used for soaking. Low, rubber feed bucket. Image courtesy of HorseChannel.com.

After soaking, my trainer taught me an interesting technique for wrapping. She is not a fan of Ichthammol which is a drawing salve that is commonly used to help draw out the abscess. She prefers an Epsom salt salve, Kaeco Epsom Salt Poultice. She cleans the dirt and debris from the entire hoof, smears a generous amount of the Epsom salt salve on the bottom of the hoof and then wraps a baby diaper on the hoof. She goes over this with VetWrap and then duct tape creating a water tight boot.

Applying the Epsom Salt Poultice.

Wrapping hoof in diaper.

Applying the duct tape boot. My trainer wrapped in VetWrap before this step.

For the next few days, Ozzy has suffered through more soaking and new wrapping as well as being stall bound. The abscess popped out of his hoof about two days ago. I have maintained the soaking in Epsom salt and wrapping to ensure the infection is completely drawn out and healed. His impatience has grown to an all time high. He was incredibly fussy this morning kicking out and rearing twice in the cross ties trying to get us to leave him alone. Only one more day then back to training.

Rosetta Stone – Italian

I know I mentioned on my Bucket List the intention of learning Italian while residing in some beautiful Italian city surrounded by handsome men, stunning architecture and delectable pastries. However, with a vacation to Italy coming up mid-July, I am inspired to start practicing my language skills a bit earlier than anticipated.

While in Kabul, Kyle picked up a variety of Rosetta Stone languages levels 1-5 for $80 a piece. This bunch included Italian, French and Arabic for myself. With Italy in July and academic finals complete, I start learning tonight! The pressure is on. The goal is conversation in Italian by my trip July 18th. Wish me luck!!

Bachelorette Party – Lucky Chengs

An evening at Lucky Chengs, the “Drag Capital of the World!”

With a group of 14 stunning ladies, we headed to the 10pm show for a large crowd of rowdy women and men in lace and sequins.

The show was very amusing consisting of various interactive stints rather than a performance. Beginning with providing volunteers with lap dances (including our bride-to-be) part of which involved the dancer’s head between my cousin’s thighs and her bum in my cousin’s face in a mini handstand that involved quite a bit of grinding. This was of course after the balloon man created a very large vagina hat, clitoris included, for my cousin.

The night continued with a prefix meal at $32 a piece of what I imagine was supposed to be Chinese or Asian Fusion cuisine. The food was horrendous. Though I still managed to eat my money’s worth. Go for the show, not the food.

The show continued with selecting one member from each table to compete in a contest which was not immediately described. Of course we all nominated the bride. Then a gentleman was chosen from the crowd. It was then revealed that the ladies had to compete for best lap dance. The guy chosen was very very lucky. After the first girl went, two chicks quickly ran back to their tables in hopes of escape. Luckily they succeeded and another girl was chosen along with a young man who resembled Harry Potter. The competition winners came down to my cousin and Harry. Harry put on a spectacular, sexual performance with stroking and all sorts of kinky stuff. He seemed so meek and innocent. His efforts paid off and he won.

After a belly dance of some sort, the show concluded and we parted for the evening. The night was great fun and a wonderful chance to spend some time with my cousin and meet her friends.

Dark Shadows

I would like to begin with a quick belated Happy Mother’s Day! I spent the entire day hanging out barefoot in the grass in upstate NY with my mother, brother and grandparents. Weather was spectacular and the dogs were in country bliss.

On Thursday night I was lucky enough to catch Dark Shadows with two gorgeous ladies. The theater of choice was a small, retro theater that is perpetually stuck in the early 90s. The beauty of this – Classic outdoor box office and no crowds, despite it being opening night.

Every trailer I witnessed for Dark Shadows had me erupting with giggles and fits of laughter. I was previously unaware of the existence of the 70s TV show, but my mother quickly educated me proclaiming its seriousness and the ill-fitting humor of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton have ruined a show she knew and loved. She has refused to see the movie. I have yet to see an episode, but with all 160 episodes on Netflix Watch Instantly I will be checking in shortly.

The actual movie was a lot of fun. Good natured and entertaining with bits of amusing anecdotes and a licentious and violent sex scene. Worth the trip to the theater and definitely lived up to my expectations. I recommend it.

Newborn Filly

While cruising up the long, gravel driveway to my stable, passing through green pastures of grazing horses, I saw the owner running from the upper field to the barn. The moment she saw me she yelled, “We need help!”

Knowing the pregnant mare who was due to give birth the day before was in the field stretching her legs, my mind immediately went to the worst possible outcomes. The mare had tried to roll and was struggling to get up. By the time I and the stable hands made it out to the field, she managed to get up and was immediately brought inside to the birthing stall. Her water broke in the field and within 10 minutes she was having massive contractions and beginning the birthing process.

Never having witnessed a birth before, besides those gross videos of human mothers from health class back in high school, this was an incredible experience for me. Especially with my ultimate goal of becoming a veterinarian. This spurred my interests exponentially.

The actual birth was a pretty quick process. The mare struggled a bit as the baby was gigantic, but with the help of my trainer and the owner, the filly was born healthy and happy.