Sunday, July 22, 2012

shun hatred

I'm frustrated by the conversation I see about the Colorado shooting--it seems to me to miss the deeper point.

My preference would be strict gun control--at least as strict as the licensing and registration system for cars as well as a ban on automatic and semi-automatic weapons.  But I live in the south and gun control here is a divisive issue.  It is also a technological fix--we can't make people less violent so let's limit their access to weapons.

Could we agree instead on working towards a society where hate and violence are shunned, not glorified?  I am sure some people will immediately think that shunning haters only adds to the isolation that is part of the story of most mass murderers.  Certainly not all isolated people turn to guns.  I would argue that violent TV, movies, and comic books populate the imaginations of those who do.  I'm not a big believer in censorship, but could we please censor violence as much as we do sex?

More important, I wish these violent events would inspire us to forswear hatred. Conservatives and liberals both fall into demonizing their opponents.  It seems to me that hatred is becoming more and more socially acceptable,  and that is taking us in the wrong direction.  What if hatred and excessive violence became as socially unacceptable as racism?  That isn't perfect--racism is certainly still a problem--but even a veneer of broad-based social disapproval makes it harder to take pride in hatred.

What if we took loving our enemies more seriously?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

dawn effect and fasted exercise

I have always eaten something before exercising, even 5:30 am masters swimming.  I have a cast iron stomach--the only time it ever bothers me is if I catch the stomach flu.  When I first started training for triathlons, I ate a little carbohydrate and protein before morning training, something like an orange and a couple of pieces of cheese.  Even after I went low carb, I was prone to feel out of energy and irritable if I went too long without eating (though my blood glucose was not problematically low).

I also had read that for some people with type 2 diabetes, morning high blood glucose (the dawn effect) would just go higher and higher until the person ate something to stimulate the body to produce insulin.  The liver would release glucose, but the body wouldn't be able to use it until it got that insulin.  I never tested that myself; it matched all my assumptions about eating before exercise.  And when I was training for racing, the approach I took worked well for me, as it fit into my fueling strategy for racing.

Now that I am following the primal way of eating, I have been paying attention to the arguments for not snacking and realizing that I'm not hungry.  I am less and less prone to that running out of fuel feeling.  So I decided I would do a test and see if my blood glucose went high if I exercised without eating first.  My test was swim practice-- 1 1/2 hours of swimming starting at 5:30 am.  I tested after my warmup and an hour or so in after some hard swimming.  I first tested the way I had been doing it, and then five days later I tested without eating first:

July 5
5:00  120 waking
5:25  115 before exercise, just after eating melon
6:05    93 after 1/2 hour of warmup
6:45  105 after swimming hard
7:30  125 1/2 hour after finishing workout
8:30  137 just finished slowly drinking my breakfast smoothie
9:40  119 to see if it came down

July 10
5:15  116 waking
5:50  100 after 1/2 hour warmup, no food
6:30  106 after swimming hard
7:40  120 after showering and driving home
8:20  130 after slowly drinking my breakfast smoothie

So there certainly doesn't seem to be any harm in fasting exercise for me.  I felt a little less energy, and a little strange when the food hit me afterwards.  But my body will adapt.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Making kefir

I decided to try kefir instead of yogurt because it has more different probiotics and I didn't want to keep buying starter.  Kefir is also more convenient because it cultures at room temperature, using lumps of probiotics and yeast that are called grains.  I bought a kefir kit, but I found the strainer that came in the kit has too small holes, it is too hard to get the finished kefir through the strainer.

As with yogurt, I have been making my kefir with fresh raw milk from a source that I trust, without heating the milk first.  With my raw milk from Jersey cows, the kefir sets up as firm as yogurt, and once the culture is going well a quart takes about 8 hours in this warm summer weather (my kitchen is in the high 70s or even 80).  Raw goat milk makes a much thinner kefir with whey forming on top, instead of on the bottom as with cows milk, and takes longer.  I use it in a breakfast smoothie so it doesn't matter how thick it is, but it is harder to tell when it is done.

My kefir grains seem to do fine spending most of the week in the refrigerator in some milk, though the instructions recommend keeping them at room temperature making more kefir all the time.  After I left them in the refrigerator for almost three weeks when I was away, I restarted them by rinsing them and putting them in about a cup of fresh low-temperature-pasturized milk on the counter, changing the milk every 24 hours for a couple of days before going back to my usual quart of raw milk.

If you are thinking of getting into making kefir, make sure that you have a source of milk that is organic and not ultra-pasturized.  And make sure you want to use kefir regularly; it isn't something you can make now and then when inspiration hits, the grains need to be used most weeks.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Yellow squash and sausage casserole

1-2 lb yellow squash, sliced very thin
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 onion
2 eggs
8 oz sour cream
6-8 oz grated cheddar cheese

Preheat over to 350 and grease two 8x8 or one 9x13 pans. Salt the yellow squash and put it in a collander to drain. Saute the sausage until done, breaking it up.  Remove from pan and saute the onion (my sausage was very low fat so I used olive oil) until golden.  Beat the eggs in a bowl and beat in the sour cream.  Mix in cooked sausage, cooked onions, 1/2 the cheese, and sliced raw squash.  Distribute into pan(s), press down well, and top with remaining cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbling a little around the edges.  Run under the broiler to brown if needed.