Diabetic Blues

   Not long ago, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

   When my doctor showed me the results of my blood panel, I glazed over. I had been losing weight; 34 pounds of it slowly since March 2018, so how could diabetes have reared its insulin head [although I’m not on insulin]? Having gained back four pounds I attributed to the Holidays; my recent craving for Whole Foods’ Cardamom Citrus bread proved more difficult to explain.

   I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

   Perhaps if I chant it often enough, I’ll finally believe it. 

   The doctor immediately put me on a version of the Keto Diet from Duke University School of Medicine and medication. She also had me make an appointment with a diabetic nutritionist. No pasta, no rice, no bread, no wine. Immediately my Italian self went into a tailspin! 

   The next morning, I began taking the medication: 1,000 mg twice a day with meals. For the next 5 days I felt my body had been taken over by alien forces. It was like having a 5-day intestinal virus. It was brutal, absolutely brutal. When I met with the nutritionist, she informed me I should have contacted my doctor to have the medication changed, for it was the medication, not the Keto plan that turned my insides topsy-turvy. So much for listening to friends say it’s normal, it happens. Not it’s not, not 5 days worth.

   When I surfaced again, minus a few pounds I dragged myself to Whole Foods, I purchased foods compatible with the Keto diet. I engaged in a hardcore cleanout of my refrigerator and of the pantry. Now I keep avocados [to make my own avocado spread], Ezekiel sprouted whole grain bread [1 slice feels like 2], Whole Foods egg salad [It tastes even better than mine], firm tofu, chicken broth [I like making soup], Italian dried meats [prosciutto has always been my favorite], Kerry’s Gold butter [This is the real deal], Marcona Almonds [Thank you, Costco], La Croix Sparkling Water, assorted green vegetables [Roasted Brussel sprouts are the best], berries [Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are major delicious]. 

   Within this litany of foods, there is no refined sugar or liquid sugar, low-low-low carbohydrates, and guess what?

After 4 + weeks, I feel like a new woman!

I no longer crave pasta, bread, chocolate, or rice! The arthritis in my hands troubles me nearly no more! The osteoarthritis pain in my lower back has diminished greatly! As my bone doctor reminded me several weeks ago, I still can’t lift more than 10 pounds due to disc issues in my back [and the scoliosis, and the bone spurs, sigh].

   In fact, I had several guests over for dinner on a Saturday night. I served and cooked an entire Keto-dinner: homemade cheese crisps, an Italian charcuterie and cheese board, a roast chicken, roasted Brussel sprouts, homemade pesto over zucchini zoodles, red grapes, and fresh strawberries with whipped cream. We imbibed lime sparkling water that made us feel we were downing Virgin Prosecco. I should add that this was done with the guidance of my Keto cookbook, Simply Ketoby Suzanne Ryan. The other day at Costco I purchased Southern Keto, by Natasha Newton. It even has a recipe for hush puppies! I am so happy!

   Yesterday I had my diabetic checkup with my doctor.

   I’ve lost 12 pounds in 4 weeks.

   Viva Keto and a low-carb lifestyle!

   Ciao for now!

Summer Festivals

A blueberry clock, perhaps? - tangledpasta.net
A blueberry clock, perhaps? – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

There is nothing more quintessentially American than ubiquitous summer festivals. Quite of few of these annual festivals center around fruit, although there are those that focus on vegetables, corn is a dominant August vegetable.

Here in the Heartland in early August, we celebrate the blueberry. There is, however, one county not far from ours that has the audacity to hold its blueberry festival over Labor Day weekend, when there is not a fresh blueberry to be had. However, I am pleased to report that in the Michigan [a mere twenty minutes to the State Line from our abode, genuine August Blueberry Festivals abound. My daughter and I hopped into our roadster and headed for the South Haven Blueberry Festival.

This beach community is on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan, one of the Five Great Lakes. South Haven itself clocks in at less than one-and-a-half hour’s drive from our home. Although we have spent summers on Lake Michigan, we had never visited South Haven. Downtown was jumping, with pedestrians everywhere. We wound up in a picturesque park with a large clock overlooking the shady walkways. Since it was a blazingly hot and humid day, we welcomed the shade. We meandering and following our noses, we detected the scent of Italian beef in the air. On the other side of the park was a tent-covered area with a vendor selling Italian Beef Sandwiches slathered with roasted bell peppers and onions. Resisting this temptation, we moved on to booths of blueberries every which way: In quarts, 4-pound and 10-pound lots, pies, muffins, jams, mustard [actually quite good], syrup, salsa, and ketchup, of all things.

We purchased 4 pounds of blueberries, a 16-ounce jar of blueberry jam, and headed back to the “blueberry strip” downtown. Upon entering The Blueberry Shop, I tasted the blueberry coffee [mighty fine, even to this non-coffee drinker, although I am aware of the irony of that remark], while Anjelica taste-tested blueberry-covered pretzels [a winner, she decreed].

Happy with our blueberry tea, blueberry cocoa, and blueberry salt-and-pepper shakers, we headed off in search of lunch. Although we had hoped to garner a table at The Stray Dog, its two-and-a-half hour wait propelled us to another eatery a few blocks up the street: The Black River Tavern, overlooking the harbor. While the tavern was packed to the gills, a table for two had just opened. On the advice of our hurried, yet chipper waitress, we ordered a specialty of the tavern: Perch sandwiches. The perch had been freshly caught in Lake Michigan that morning, and may I say “Bravo!” to this cold-water fish! Fast food fish sandwiches pale dramatically after chomping down the enormous fresh perch ones at The Black River Tavern.

Sated, we moved on to the Black River Bookstore. This charming bookshop offers used books, along with new ones by Michigan authors. In the children’s section I came across the Camp Fire Girl Guide. As I thumbed through this well-worn copy, I was reminded of my book when I was first a Bluebird, and then moved up to Camp Fire Girl for twelve years, first through twelfth grades with my mother as the Leader of our troop. Carefully I placed in back upon the shelf for a girl to discover. After making a book purchase, we took a drive along the shore, parked the car, got out and watched the sailboats glide by the lighthouse. We may return to South Haven for a week or two stay on the beach next summer, and, of course, for the blueberries.

Ciao for now.