Thursday, February 28, 2013

Salt when you Travel

Maybe it's just the places where I eat, but restaurants seem to be putting less and less salt on their food. If you're not home, it's a bit of a problem if you find yourself low on salt: lethargic, nauseated, having a headache--kind of like having a cold, but without the congestion. What to do?

  • Grab a bunch of salt packets at fast food restaurants. 
  • Get a personal salt lick. Weighing in at five to seven pounds, it can double as a free weight and a weapon that would sail through TSA inspections.
  • Sears, of all places, sells salt pinch tins.
  • My choice is a pump salt mill produced by Vic Firth. It's the size of a small flashlight and heavy for its size. It'll fit in a small purse and it doesn't look like it would leak or get caught on anything.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Paleo Lifestyle

Well, your media collection looks shiny and costly
How much did you pay for your laboratory testing
And how much did you pay for your conference admission
Is it you or your mom who needs the paleo prescription?

Now Vibrams for running and trails with clean dirt
And freezers for organs that you haven't even heard of
And how much did you pay for your Crossfit subscription
That proves that you care
That you're living like a cave man?

How do you afford your paleo lifestyle?
How do you afford your paleo lifestyle?
How do you afford your paleo lifestyle?

Parody of Rock'n'Roll Lifestyle by Cake
Illustration from

Friday, February 22, 2013

Stimulation to De-Stress

I constantly hear about ways to relax--but what about stimulation? Most of us go to school and study a lot of subjects we're not interested in, or have routine jobs, housework and commutes. Maybe we hear more about relaxation because highly sponsored things like TV, movies, and shopping are more passive than stimulating. We all need something fun and exciting--something with flow. A few ideas that have worked for me:

Get a dog. Mine is half Australian shepherd, and she squeals when I come home, hollers when we're leaving the house, gets me out of bed, runs on the treadmill, rolls in the snow and swims in the river. Now she's trying to catch flies. Even if you have a small yard and a full-time job, the life you'd give a dog would probably be better than the one it has at a shelter.

Go kayaking or rafting. Worries vanish when you're looking for the next wave or waterfall.

Take up dancing, preferably something you can do at a club, not just at a studio. For that matter, just take the classes at a club: you'll save a ton of money.

Find new music. If you've been listening to the same music since high school, isn't it time for something else (or find a new variation on an old theme)? I find most of my new music on YouTube (Polysics, Fergie, The Hives, Liam Lynch, Scotty Vanity).

Talk to random people.

Go to a strange city (do it! do it! do it!)

Take a part-time or temp job if you have the time. Taking incoming calls, planting seed trays, moving appliances--these were some of the most fun jobs I ever had. At the least, you'll make some rainy day money. (Go to school instead and you might end up with student loans and half a degree.) I know community service is more fashionable, but think of a job as something that is so important that someone is willing to pay for it.

Do some gardening. Digging, feeling the sunshine and fresh air, working up a sweat and watching your plants grow is satisfying.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Low Carb/Paleo in Downtown San Diego

As you'd expect, there's no lack of good restaurants in San Diego. I didn't go to as many as I wanted to: I was hungry only once or twice a day, even though I did a lot of walking. Since I was doing so much walking, I ate more carbs than I normally do.

Grand Central Cafe at the YMCA Building, Broadway & India. So-so food; a little pricey for the lack of quality. I ate here a second time only because I didn't want to walk elsewhere in the coldest rain I'd ever been in. (I don't recommend their noisy hotel, either.)

Burger Lounge. Best burger I've ever had, anywhere. Excellent salad, too. According to their website, "Our beef comes from one farm, grown by a small company where the animals are well treated and never spend time in a corporate 'feed-lot'. Their diet consists of tall green grass from beautiful Kansas prairie land. This is what nature intended cows to eat and nothing more. No hormones, no antibiotics, no grain, no corn, just beautiful green grass." I ate al fresco in Little Italy at Cedar & India; there is also a Burger Lounge in the Gaslamp Quarter (528 5th Avenue) and one on Coronado Island (922 Orange Avenue). They also have a mobile kitchen, but I suppose it's too much to hope for that they'll be driving it to Denver.

A music box dancer pays homage to fine food during Carnevale.

La Villa. If you're a foodie and a wine aficionado, this is the place for you. They serve local vegetables and regional pastured meats; the waiter/bartender was up on the wines as well as the food. I had the carpaccio appetizer: the greens, shaved cheese and lemony vinaigrette harmonized to make it a delicious dish. Little Italy, 1646 India Street.

Spaghetteria. This unfortunately named restaurant with a home page photo that looks like the contents of a can of Chef Boyardee is really a gem.The Sunday night I was there, a good band was playing lively standards, the place was hopping, and there were several meat and fish (mostly fish) dishes on the menu. The stuffed pork was filling and tasty (but a little dry) and the house red wine was just right--not too sweet, not too dry. The waitress confirmed that the pork dish didn't have any flour (but she still asked me if I wanted any bread). It came with a bunch of rice, which I mostly ignored. Little Italy, India Street between Fir and Grape.

Dublin Square Irish Pub early in the morning. Perhaps the maddening crowds were nursing hangovers.

Dublin Square Irish Pub. I was out walking early one morning and smelled bacon. I walked for blocks looking for the elusive bacon, but the wind kept shifting. I ended up at Dublin and ordered corned beef hash and eggs. The waitress confirmed it didn't have flour, and agreed to substitute salsa for hollendaise sauce, which probably was thickened with flour. A little carby, and at $12.95, a little spendy for breakfast, but there was so much food that I had to box up some of it. Strangely for an Irish restaurant, the salsa (actually green chili) was some of the best I've ever had, anywhere. Gaslamp Quarter, 544 Fourth Avenue.

Wendy's. Hey, it's cheap, it's open early, the coffee's good, and you can get 500 calories for less than five bucks--just get a egg, cheese and sausage sandwich deal (it comes with potatoes and a drink) and throw away the bun. First and Broadway next to Spreckel's Theater.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Waking Up in San Diego

I just got back from a trip to San Diego that wasn't at all what I thought it would be.

It started with skin care products. These used to be my crack cocaine, especially when I was on a low-fat diet. I thought I was past that, but a dealer found me on the street and got me to drop what used to be a mortgage payment (before I refinanced). At least the stuff she sold me worked.

Spending such an embarrassing amount of money on skin care was a wake-up call to be more stoic and less of a hedonist. The weather and hotel set the mood. It was so cold, cloudy and humid that I wore my long down coat and alpaca gloves. The hotel was the noisiest room I've had since I lived in a military dorm. Some of the guests let their doors slam shut with a BOOM!; my room was across the street from an all-night construction site; and very late one night, someone on the second floor pulled the fire alarm for no discernible reason, sending everyone out to shiver on the front steps for half an hour.

Earplugs not included.
The first couple of days, I walked all over downtown, the harbor, the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy taking pictures. It was cold and my knees and right foot hurt from so much walking, but there was nothing to do at the hotel (no TV in the room, and guests didn't gather in the unheated lobby). I'd have stayed in my cozy  room with a book, but "This is the California where it is easy to Dial-A-Devotion, but hard to buy a book."(1) The library the hotel clerk found turned out to be a law library. I wanted to go home.

If you're unhappy in San Diego, you can go elsewhere for a few dollars. That's what I needed--a getaway from my getaway. I got on a train called the Coaster and went to Oceanside, an old little beach town. The sun came out, my shoes came off, and I waded out into the ocean with a couple of guys. It was like stepping into snow. For a few hours, we waded and sat on the rocks in the sun. The guys left and I found a coffee shop with greeting cards, pictures of the area from the turn of the last century, and a shelf of free used paperbacks. I took Mission of Honor by Tom Clancy.

For all my walking around, I wasn't hungry more than twice a day, sometimes once. The much-heralded Gaslamp Quarter was mostly gingerbread buildings and party animals. I preferred Little Italy: less fru-fru, more trees, and sidewalks stamped with dates going back to the 1920s.

Little Italy, San Diego: Fru-Fru Free Zone, Except During Carnevale
Unexpectedly, it was easy to find low-carb fare in a place associated with pizza and pasta. La Villa served local vegetables and regional pastured meats. Lounge Burger served the best burger and salad I've ever had (their meat is grass-fed and they offer gluten-free buns), and even a place called Spaghetteria had a filling stuffed pork dish. I needed it after skipping lunch and going sea kayaking.

Man v. Nature: Kayakers at La Jolla
When I booked the kayaking trip, I was thinking of paddling in the sunshine, watching animals frolick in the sea caves of La Jolla. In reality, you put on a wet suit to keep from getting hypothermia, drag your kayak into snowy-cold water, get in and paddle through the breakers, heading straight into them so the waves don't roll you out of your boat. There were six of us in the group, including the guide, a 30-ish couple from Oklahoma, a woman from Washington DC and her son, who looked to be in his late teens. The guide and I were the only ones to make it out past the breakers, the white-capped waves that crash into the shore. He said he admired the determination of the others (they tried to get out there nine times), but hoped the experience would be a wake-up call for them to get into better shape. The woman and her son eventually made it out to the open water; the couple from Oklahoma didn't. Earlier, the wife mentioned she walked all the way to the Spreckels Theater from her hotel and her feet were sore. According to Mapquest, assuming I remembered her hotel correctly, it's a 0.72-mile walk. She's too young to think that's a long walk.

After I dragged the kayak to the shore, I got in and the guide pushed me off. I paddled and corrected to keep going straight into the waves. A big white wave hit me in the face and gave me a mouthful of water. I finally got past the waves and sat on the open water--a big, cold, frightening ocean--hoping our guide's promise about being unable to drown in a life jacket wouldn't be tested. After he joined me, we couldn't get close to the sea caves: the waves there were too big and would have crashed us into the rocks. But we could hear the sea lions barking and saw one swimming close up. Between the cold, the motion, the good-looking guide (even if he was a vegetarian), and being a little scared of the ocean, I got overexcited and slightly queasy. I had almost made it to the shore when a wave tossed me out of the boat.

In spite of the cold and my sore knees of the first couple of days, I had a good time in San Diego. I went to Balboa Park, the Maritime Museum, saw the movie Lincoln, went to the Carnevale in Little Italy, and saw the New Shanghai Circus. Anyone who thinks they'll get muscle bound from strength training should see these strong, graceful performers. Any woman who works out with dinky little weights to keep from getting big muscles should be inspired to break out the 20-pound barbells. All the acrobats came out to greet the audience after the show. None of them was taller than I was (I'm 5'-4"); the women, some of whom bore the full weight of a couple of other performers, were tiny. They were all trim and toned, but nobody looked like Mr. or Miss Universe.

I'm satisfied that I was able to be happy in the cold, face up to something scary (the kayaking) and find a lot of things to like. But I'm very happy to be back in my quiet home.

1. "Some Dreamers of the Golden Dream" by Joan Didion. Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, 1968.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bacon Liver Kebabs and Fries in 15 minutes

Unless you live next door to McDonald's, you won't get faster fast food. Hat tip to Tess over at Tess's Paleo Journey for the idea of bacon-wrapped liver.

2 T lard
1/2 small sweet potato
1/2 bell pepper
1/2 pound liver
2 strips bacon
4 mushrooms
2 T olive oil

for mayonnaise:
1 egg
1 cup light olive oil or grape seed oil
1 t mustard
1 t lemon juice
few dashes of savory spices (e.g., herbes de Provence, Mrs. Dash, etc.)
dash salt & pepper

  1. Put the broiler pan 4" from the flame and preheat the broiler.
  2. Heat the lard in a medium sauce pan on medium-high heat. Peel and julienne the sweet potato into 1/4" wide strips.
  3. Trim any film or tough bits from the liver and cut it into strips 3/4" x 3/4" x 3" long. Use a very sharp, thin knife if you have one.
  4. If the mushrooms are large, cut them into two or three pieces. Toss them in the olive oil and skewer them.
  5. Put the sweet potato and liver trimmings (the bits you don't want) in the lard and cover.
  6. Skewer the liver. When the kebab is full, wrap a piece of bacon around it in a spiral, starting in the middle.
  7. Put all the kebabs on the broiler for three minutes, turn, and cook another three minutes. If the fries aren't ready, put the kebabs on a plate and cover them with foil.
  8. Check the fries from time to time; take them out when they're done and salt them. Cover with foil if the kebabs aren't ready.
  9. Meantime, cut the pepper into strips and make the mayonnaise.
  10. Feed the fried liver bits to your dog, cat or other meat-eating animal.


Break the egg in a blender and add the mustard, spices, lemon juice and salt. Turn on the blender and add the olive oil until it starts to pool at the top. Use or refrigerate immediately.

Vitamin D & Acid Reflux Redux

Long-time readers may recall my sinus infection that just wouldn't die. Over six months, I took antibiotics, long naps, a decongestant that gave me an allergic reaction so bad I stopped to wonder if I'd wake up the next morning. It finally ended when I came up with SWAMP and took megadoses of vitamin D, Mucinex and salt.

It's February and once again, I've been fighting off a cold for a few weeks. While SWAMP consists of taking 50,000 IU of vitamin D for two days, I've had to take 40,000 IU for the past several days to keep my cough from getting worse. I'm not the only one who's taken large doses like this long term. Jeff T. Bowles, a layman, wrote and self-published a book called THE MIRACULOUS RESULTS OF EXTREMELY HIGH DOSES OF THE SUNSHINE HORMONE VITAMIN D3 MY EXPERIMENT WITH HUGE DOSES OF D3 FROM 25,000 to 50,000 to 100,000 IU A Day OVER A 1 YEAR PERIOD (caps in original) about his research and experiences. Bowles is a little crazy, and his problems (mostly bone and joint pain) are much different from mine. The book badly needs an editor. But it has some of the freshest thinking I've seen in a long time and Bowles has clearly done a lot of reading on the subject. He suggests (based on reading Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox and an article on vitamin D toxicity by Chris Masterjohn, he recommends taking vitamin K2 if you're going to take large doses of D3. With that in mind, I think that SWAMP can be done, if necessary, for longer than two days when necessary.

The other part of SWAMP is taking Mucinex and salt. Several days ago, the convenience store in my building was out of Mucinex, so I bought Su-Phedrine PE (phenylephrine HCl). I had to double the dose to get decongested (I used to take two regular Sudafeds, often, before going low-carb and wheat-free). I finally realized today that this was causing my acid reflux to return, since nothing I was eating or drinking should have caused it. The drug is a methylxanine, and according to,

Methylxanthines increase gastric acidity and may also relax lower esophageal sphincter, which can lead to gastric reflux into the esophagus. Therapy with products containing methylxanthines should be administered cautiously in patients with significant gastroesophageal reflux. also lists nervousness, bleeding, loss of appetite, headache and confusion as side effects (I've had them all), among others, including raised blood glucose concentrations. It would be nice if this were mentioned on the box. I've also noticed the side effects are worse when I'm under more stress.

I'm going back to Mucinex (guaifenesin), which doesn't cause any reactions in me.