I apologize for the length of this. I have been out of town on business for an extended period and unable to keep the posts updated. This collects many of my thoughts for that time.
In my past I have often wondered about that sticky phlegm like congestion I would get after eating a meal. I know it’s a common experience. I eat and a few minutes into the meal I am having to clear my throat. I know some people who seem to have to do this all the time regardless of their age. I always attributed it to something I ate. I just couldn’t determine what food caused it. Maybe I experienced a food allergy or some fantasy gluten reaction.
Since my venture into the Fuhrman diet, I noticed that this did not happen anymore until last week.
Last week marked my first day out of town. I went to Virginia on business. I knew it was going to be a marked challenge in my efforts. I felt prepared for it.
I, the man who never cooks, made all my meals except for two. From Monday to Friday, I chopped, boiled, sautéed and saladized red cabbage, spinach, okra, radishes, bok choy, onions, peppers, celery and mushrooms. Before my trip I cracked whole wheat and whole oats. I roasted them along with flaxseed and vacuum sealed them in a bag. I made way too much roasted flaxseed to mix in with the other grain so I took the remaining 10 acres of roasted flaxseed and sealed them separately.
By the way, did you know that flaxseed pops out of the pan when roasted? It’s like popcorn without the fluffy white result or the microwave bag.
I also vacuum sealed a good supply of nutritional yeast. I had already had cooked soy beans and sealed them in one cup portions in the freezer. One of them came along with me. Lastly, a bottle of the most kick-ass balsamic vinegar anywhere climbed inside a sealed bag and kept me company the whole week.
The vegetables joined us after I arrived at my destination. I spent pretty much every evening, preparing for the next day’s lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast was a cinch. I soaked the cracked/roasted grain in a bowl over night and dished out a bowl of it each morning. Microwave for 90 seconds with a little added water and bam! Grain cereal so wholesome it makes that Quaker look like a perv.
I also took a magic mixing wand. Somebody gave my wife one of those wand mixers years ago. She felt sincerely grateful and imagined all it’s possibilities. She still has wand fantasies, but she has never used it.
I’m a guy and guys love tools. Absent my blender that almost causes the computer to reboot when I use it, this little cutter is a mobile marvel. Its portability makes it a must for on the road food prep. It makes soybeans into soy milk. All of this made my cereal pretty straightforward and easy.
The rest of the meals needed cutting and chopping and mincing before sautés or boils or salad tosses. It was a nightly 3 hour course in cooking without following recipes. I bought what I thought I would need and used it to prepare my meals.
I had to do this because I didn’t travel alone. I traveled with a colleague who is, unofficially, the head of our firm. The actual head of our firm which boasts a respectable 5 employees decided that the company he openly voiced hatred over and the boss he openly showed contempt towards were actually just misunderstood guys, and not complete Harbor Freight tools. So he announced he’d be returning to his old company on a Friday morning and was moved out of our office on by lunch.
We don’t really have a leader now, just four guys who know what we need to do to grow a business and make it thrive. It’s an anarchistic operation where our freedom to do what we need to do to make the business work is there. It’s as close to the Ronald Coase, Nobel Prize winning model I have ever experienced and I love it.
For the record, the company to where our ex-head returned was also my company. I shared the same sentiments. I left to join this venture. I will not return; I’m not into abusive relationships.
The new, sort-of head of our company accompanied me on my trip. I think of him as the head because he does the sales. Sales people are money makers, and ergo the bosses.
He is also a bit overly paternalistic. He has a deep sense of caring for others and concern for mankind in general. Vomit if you will, but he is genuine. His skill at sales comes from his absolute desire to serve the client.
Alas, that level of concern means that he wants to take care of everything including all expenses. He wants to book the flights and the hotels and pay for all expenses. It impedes on my sense of independence, but resistance futile. It’s a tad bit annoying, but I accept it as he handles the expense reports. I can do it, but it doesn’t jingle my bells.
I told him about my diet beforehand and that eating out would not be an option. I both prefer hotels with kitchens even before this diet. Kitchens provide options. Options are better than amenities. He insisted we go and buy my food so he could pay for it. It really came down to having one shot to get the food and do it in a way so I didn’t run out or overspend.
And I did it! I learned more about food in that week than I had in the all previous decades of my outsourcing my meals.
I learned that celery tastes salty. I don’t know if it is truly salty, but it hits those taste buds just like it is. So you chop it small and mix it in a soup just before taking it off its heat. I love it’s crunch and with enough of those uncooked pieces mixed in, you get good salty flavors. Cooked celery doesn’t taste salty nor does that salty flavor get mixed in the soup. If you’re needing a spoon or fork to eat something, use a stick of celery instead. Scoop the food up celery and eat it and the celery together.
I learned that all of the parts of the vegetable that you don’t normally use should be saved. Keep the outside leaves of red cabbage, the leafy tops of radishes, celery and bok choy. These tough, bitter and crappy pieces taste nasty, but when boiled for a long time, they become the flavor Avengers.
Boil them in as little water as you can. Use your mixer or your high powered blender to chop all the soft boiled pieces into a solution. Then add more water and boil some more. Reduce it down and you have a wonderful vegetable broth. Use this in place of any recipe that calls for water to sauté or boil.
I learned that mushrooms, and nutritional yeast are the baritones in a food song. They provide depth. It’s that second layer of taste that completes the palate. Nutritional yeast, balsamic vinegar, and liquid aminoes are my top three flavorings. All fit within the Fuhrman plan. I use at least one them to some degree in most my meals.
I learned that flaxseed creates a gelatinous substance when boiled. It also absorbs more water afterwards. The result in a thickening agent that increases the texture of your food. I cook a little and add my balsamic, a lot of it, and let is set. the next day I add more balsamic. When I am ready for a dressing, more balsamic.
I have learned you can overdo balsamic, but it’s really hard to do so. Where balsamic is concerned, less is less and more is probably just right.
I learned that broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage all have unique and very interesting flavors. I learned that bok choy not only scores very high on the ANDI, it has a mellow flavor that can stand on it’s own.
I learned that some vegetables are just fine if purchased frozen, but spinach is not one of them. Neither are onions or peppers.
I learned that when cooking with onions or peppers, less is less. More is probably just right. Like balsamic, they are tough to overdo.
I learned that cooked okra is in a weird world by itself. It’s like eating soft baby celery and soft baby placenta. It’s the one vegetable I think I can live without.
Finally, I learned what causes that phlegm like congestion after a meal.
I went out to eat twice during my trip. Once, I lunched with the client. I during this lunch I hold up ordering by asking about the menu and if they serve just a plate of steamed vegetables or what the salads are like.
“I don’t know, it’s Italian.” Is all the waitress knows. This is American speak for salt, oil, and sugar in red sauce. It means highly refined breads and butters and salads with feta cheese and olives and olive oils. Luckily the waitress was understanding and brought me a large chopped salad with a good mix of veggies and balsamic on the side.
I have quickly become a connoisseur of balsamic. This did not look like balsamic. It looked like cold gravy. Everyone knows a well aged, well made balsamic has a thickness to it. The best cling to the sides of the bottle when you turn them around. This wasn’t like that. This had the consistency of mayonnaise.
I put a small quarter sized dollop on my plate and dipped my greens in it. It tasted like a balsamic, but one mixed with Crisco. It wasn’t buttery. When I ate if, my mouth covered in Chapstick. I repeated this again just to be sure. That was enough. I finished the salad and felt it in my throat. I needed to clear it due to whatever that stuff is. It was just once, but it was enough to tell me that fat is one of the causes of throat coat.
The second time was on our last day on our way to the airport. We missed our lunch and got started late for an ninety minute long ride. We arrived at the area and I Yelped a little Indian diner. Indian cuisine is rich in vegetarian dishes. This place was no exception. They were serving a lunch buffet which my colleague liked as he was starving and loves Indian style food. I love it too. I took the dishes that indicated they had only vegetables and were not cooked in yogurt or other dairy.
They were made with fat, but not much. There was salt. I ate them nonetheless. I was starving. I had lots of greens that were also served, but I enjoyed the other dishes as well. I also felt the throat coat even with less oil. I suspect salt had a role in this. It goes back to the SOS.