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!

The New Year Hath Begun

Snow Photo

Light breaks through the winter landscape for January 2018.-www.tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi |@MaryAnnaVioli

Knock on wood: five days into the New Year and so far, I have avoided tripping, increased illness, and damage to myself in general. Not only does the temperature remain well below freezing, several mishaps befell me as the previous year drew to a close. Yet I remain confident the weather will warm up to at least above freezing in another week or so, and that I will rebound.

After having spent a wonderful day in Fort Wayne with my aunt, uncle, and cousin visiting from L.A., I drove home in a snow sleet storm. The conversation lively, the food excellent, and the tea and coffee at their home warmed my heart. Their company offered a sweet post-Christmas get together. Later, driving at 40 miles an hour, I didn’t make great time, but I managed to drive us home safely while enduring white out conditions.

As the morning broke, I found myself as sick as could be with a vile virus. Between the terrible cold weather and my overall malaise, I dosed myself with over-the-counter medications in the cabinet. In the wee hours of the morning, I stepped into the bathroom, and promptly tripped over something. I catapulted into the side of the porcelain bathtub on my right shoulder, and then crashed onto the tile floor on my right hip. Failure to turn on the bathroom light, my negligence in not stepping into sturdy slippers, my lack of vision wear, plus items left on the bathroom floor, combined to form a perfect storm of catastrophe. I had taken sinus and congestion medication before retiring for the night, which resulted in fuzzy thought processes, or lack thereof. Or I simply chose not to put away items.

At the risk of sounding like Lazarus, I was in tremendous pain, unable to get off the bathroom floor. EMS guys managed to hoist me up and into a straight back chair. After checking me over and evaluating my walk, they determined nothing had been broken. They suggested taking me for further evaluation at the hospital, but the winter wind whipping around outside held little appeal in my mind to venture out. The EMS personnel and the three firemen offered kind words and compliments about our Christmas decorations and outdoor lights. After they left, I spend the remainder of the night attempting to sleep in a recliner.

Thus, I remained inside during the blustery New Year’s weekend, making use of a heating pad and drinking copious amounts of green tea. It turned out that Coco Chanel, our little black and white cat, had developed a proclivity for the heating pad. Whenever she now sees me plug it in, she races to pounce upon it. We now share it. Last night I had a glass of wine with a slice of Whole Foods pizza. I have imbibed enough tea and water. I am still smarting over not having been able to toast the New Year with a glass of bubbly. Perhaps it is not too late to toast the New Year. Tonight I will fill my glass with the gentle fizz of Prosecco and ring in the New Year. It’s never too late!

Ciao for now.


New Year’s Eve


This delicious chicken noodle soup I made could also work for a post-New Year’s Day repaste. – tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Tonight’s menu is planned: The Barefoot Contessa’s Fettuccine with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms, Romaine salad with Tuscan olive oil-based dressing, vino bianco, and much good cheer. Finding Italian Truffle Butter is no mean feat; in fact, the only grocery that sells it in this area is Whole Foods, whom I would like to commend on yesterday’s samples of Saint Andre’s Triple Cream French Cheese, served with sun-dried tomatoes. This is one of my favorite French cheeses, so I naturally had to purchase a wedge, particularly since it was on sale, as was the Italian Truffle Butter.

For months I have wanted to make again the Barefoot Contessa’s Fettuccine with White Truffle Butter and Mushrooms recipe, but, alas, Whole Foods didn’t restock the 3.5 ounce Italian Truffle Butter. Now that it has magically reappeared, I will likely buy another. The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe calls for only 3.0 ounces, but I figure what the heck: it’s New Year’s Eve; let’s eat it all! I even viewed the video of Ina Garten making her recipe on the Food Network to make sure I am on track with concocting this delicacy. At the price of the truffle butter and Cremini mushrooms, I don’t want to pull a faux pas with the recipe.

In between times today, we will nosh on cold shrimp and a mild cocktail sauce. On New Year’s Day, a friend is coming over to dine with us. I’ll serve herbed pork tenderloin with baked potatoes topped off with a yogurt and low-fat sour cream, brussel sprouts, and fresh-baked ricotta cheese cookies for dessert. We might as well start 2017 off with nutrition in mind!

I’ve never felt the need to go out and get all liquored up on New Year’s Eve. Why usher in the New Year with a nasty hangover? Instead, I plan to watch a movie that takes place on New Year’s Eve: After the Thin Man, with William Powell, Myrna Loy, and  a young James Stewart. Before the movie spins on the DVD, I’ll be listening to Lena Horne crooning, “What are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” a sultry rendition that always draws a smile to my face.

With my New Year’s Eve plans in the works, I happily anticipate toasting my daughter with a glass of bubbly at midnight. May your New Year’s Eve be a safe and satisfying one too.

Ciao for now.

Post-Thanksgiving Reflections


By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Thanksgiving Day let me escape the flooded kitchen disaster. I awakened knowing I didn’t have to spring out of bed to bake and cook felt liberating. I needed only the Whole Foods apple pie and the bottle of Prosecco to our hosts. Our friendship has been an enduring one for over 25 years. The day was filled with banter, cheer, flowing drinks, a delicious dinner, and food we later grazed on into the night.

Entering the kitchen that night didn’t bother me much, probably because of all the alcohol I had imbibed. The morning after proved another story: the kitchen remained in peril from the water disaster. I contacted a service that works 24/7, except holidays. My kitchen emergency got squeezed in the schedule. It felt like the cavalry was on its way.

Growing up, my father always kept a dozen live chickens. He believed in the healthy power of fresh eggs. In addition to their regular mash, the chickens ate potato peels, their own eggshells, and bits of bread, you name it. There was little need for an in-sink disposal. With this latest crisis on my home front, I’ve thought about how composting might be an improvement on the electric disposal. Dependency on electronic devices makes me chafe more than ever. The Magliozzi Brothers’ “Car Talk” program on NPR, even in podcast form, has widened my knowledge of cars. Ray Magliozzi, and his late brother Tom, talk about how in the 1970’s people could still work on their cars. Now, with the computerized gizmos and programming of cars, consumers are forced to take their vehicles into a mechanic. That rang in my ears as I wept over an enormous car bill this week.

Are we to be at the mercy of technicians for automotive needs, for household plumbing, electric, and media issues? Since I am not a plumber, electrician, mechanic, or computer engineer, the answer is a forlorn, yes. I envision if I marry again, I should marry an individual who can fix things, like a mechanical engineer. Perhaps the alternative is not to have all the kitchen appliances and disposal, or the computer devices we depend upon.

Forego all those shiny electronics? I’ll have to take it under consideration.

Ciao for now.


A Memorable Thanksgiving

Pumpkin orange candle surrounded by various Autumn items

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

On this cloudy, chilly Thanksgiving, the weather fails to dampen my spirits. Not even a backed-up double kitchen sink that flooded last evening, nor the non-stop deluge of rain yesterday, nor the three-hour wait to retrieve my daughter’s car that malfunctioned in a city an hour away, nor my damp jeans that the umbrella failed to keep dry could deter my Thanksgiving happiness. These unexpected events prevented us from traveling out of town for Thanksgiving, but that did not prove to be an insurmountable obstacle.

Unfortunately, the seals on the garbage disposal were kaput, rendering the running water and the dishwasher, which is filled to the limit, off limits until Monday. My daughter’s #4 cylinder and valve have been replaced, the cylinder head completely cleaned, as was some other under-the-hood stuff. My car even got a new pair of windshield wipers, which gave me a clearer visibility driving in the rain: I could see! Upon arrival home, I changed out of my rain-soaked jeans and into comfy, flannel lounge pants, and then drank herbal tea.

After the erstwhile plumber attempted to detour the kitchen sink’s water, and then realized the under-the-sink flooding situation once the cabinet doors were opened, it was several rolls of paper towels to the rescue. I kept saying, “It’s only water!” as if repeating this would make the water go away. On the upbeat side, we cleaned out everything under the sink. I will now have room to store appliances that clutter the countertop!

Although I could not make neither my family-famous coconut cream pie, nor my Silver Palate crackling cornbread, we struck out again in the rain last night and drove to Whole Foods. Our contribution to Thanksgiving dinner is an apple pie and a bottle of Prosecco, the Italian champagne. We are sharing Thanksgiving with our good friends, my plumber with the M.B.A. and his family.

This morning I received happy news: My dear friend sent me a photo of his newborn niece. She was born last night, in Washington, D.C., shortly before midnight. Now that is a blessed, special Thanksgiving gift.

Ciao for now.


The Un-Valentine’s Weekend

David Bowie’s song rather captures my Valentine’s Day this year.-tangledpasta.net

By Mary Anna Violi | @MaryAnnaVioli

Friday evening I left work with a spring in my step, for it was Valentine’s weekend. My daughter had decided to come home on Friday evening instead of Saturday afternoon. I zoomed over to Whole Foods to purchase shrimp for linguine with shrimp scampi. Picking out three fresh lemons to enhance the flavor experience, I had plenty of garlic on hand. I then sampled Brie cheese on some kind of high-end cracker. Before the Brie cheese, I struck up conversation with a delightful man whom, it turns out, knows someone I know. It was so much fun talking with him that I wished I had another thirty minutes to spare. Excusing myself, I then speed-shopped through the pastry area, where I picked up Valentine’s Day vanilla cupcakes for dessert, and a box of hot cross buns to complement an egg breakfast.

My daughter greeted me at the door and we had a happy reunion. I fired up the stove, and placed a large pasta pot on a burner for the linguine. She started to heat the butter, olive oil and garlic for the shrimp. In the meantime, I sliced a fresh lemon into narrow rounds, removing the seeds. The kitchen hummed with activity as my daughter put together a salad. As I stood stirring the pasta, waves of an odd sensation came over me. I shrugged it off and focused on the al dente nature of the linguine. As I served up the shrimp scampi, linguine into pasta bowls, queasiness overcame me. Choosing to ignore it, I sat down with my daughter to dinner.

I made it through one tiger shrimp and two small forkfuls of pasta.

It was then my body was overtaken by a school of piranhas, or so it felt.

The remainder of the night was akin to “The Exorcist”.

First, my temperature soared. Later, it plummeted. I wore my soft North Face gloves and socks to bed. My daughter covered me with extra blankets. Valentino, our big black cat sprawled across my feet to help warm me. It was a night that resulted in little sleep on my end.

Throughout the night it snowed. The next morning offered a winter wonderland with blustery winds and massive icicles hanging down from the house past the windows. I showered, thus lessening my ghoulish look. Throughout the day, my daughter brewed me pots of chamomile tea. I dined on buttered toast, warmed chicken broth, and applesauce. Our original plan had included eating sushi at a favorite Japanese restaurant. Unfortunately, sushi was beyond my digestive capabilities.

Now Valentine’s Day itself has dawned. It is 4 degrees above zero. The only thing that appeals to me is yet another cup of chamomile tea. I told my daughter I would make it up to her next weekend. At least today we can watch David Bowie’s “Valentine’s Day” video from 2013.

Ciao for now.


Vicarious Pleasures 1

The squirrel ia a metaphor for my sometimes cluttered mind - tangledpasta.net
The squirrel ia a metaphor for my sometimes cluttered mind – tangledpasta.net


By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

I have a secret that brings me vicarious delight each day:  I read www.people.com.  Why would a well-educated, gainfully employed, loving parent, well-read, and all-round intelligent person read such a publication?  Here is why I read it:  It’s mindless.    The biggest decision I have to make when the webpage appears is, “Do I want to look first at the photos of the day, or read salacious gossip about some purported “celebrity”?”  That’s the depth of the read and the photos.  Yet, like my cup of green tea, I turn to the people.com site to clear my head of weightier decision-making, giving myself over for ten minutes to the latest spin of the day on people I will likely never meet, and, when all is said and done, really have little interest in knowing.  This is probably why reading this fluff helps me de-stress, decompress, and tune out for brief moments.

In Nora Ephron’s last book, I Remember Nothing, she mentions that she has no idea who anyone is in People Magazine.  I am getting to the point where I agree with the late Nora.  Since I rarely watch television [I view most programs and films via Netflix], and haven’t viewed a reality program since the first Bachelor, the vapid cast members and lightweight subject matter make me feel as if I am experiencing my brain cells deteriorating.  Besides, if I want to catch up on whatever or whomever, I can read about it online at people.com.

In long grocery store lines, I used to thumb through the latest hard copy issue of the weekly rag to see its glossy photos; however, now that I shop primarily at Whole Foods, I gravitate toward the pithier Whole Foods readings.  Besides, WF is far too sophisticated to scatter about its kiosks such lowbrow reads like People.

Don’t judge me.

Ciao for now.