My Food Style

Breakfast with Daniel: Big Flavor…No flares!

If you are anything like me, you are afraid of clowns and eat breakfast less than three times a week. We are not alone in our fears, nor are we in our eating habits. More than 20 percent of Americans just do not eat breakfast, which we all know is the most important meal of the day - especially if you have Interstitial Cystitis. Whether you eat a large dinner, or you just do not enjoy eating breakfast, there are many reasons why millions sabotage their morning fuel intake. If you're one who does not like eating breakfast, you can easily split it up into two smaller meals. Eat blueberries or a hard boiled egg at home (minus the yolk), and an hour or two later, sneak a pear and a handful of healthy nuts like almonds or walnuts.

On average, it takes the body 8 hours to digest a meal, in those 8 hours the body will extract up to 90% of the nutrients. These nutrients may carry you through the night and they may even provide you enough energy to convince you that you are not hungry by breakfast time. However, it is important to remember this is the best way to ensure your getting the vitamins and minerals you need to make it through the day.

When I skip breakfast, I will usually hit a wall that leads to extreme hunger, which then leads to a lack of discipline and ultimately leads me to stuffing my face as if I were the hot dog eating champion of the world. Okay, I do confess that sometimes it is salty food and sometimes it is sweet…nevertheless, it creates a craving for things that just are not good for me.

Not eating breakfast is as serious a problem as wearing socks with sandals. You may have your reasons for avoiding breakfast AND ignoring good fashion sense, but there is no reason to deprive yourself of a healthy morning meal that will not irritate your bladder. This is quick and simple! A healthy breakfast would consist of protein and fiber. You can get your protein from low fat meats, eggs, beans or dairy and the fiber can be found in vegetables, whole grains, and fruits. So throw away your excuses, suppress your fears (especially of clowns) and talk your kids into trying some breakfast before you rush them off to school.

The Tomato & Solving the Mystery behind Red Sauce

I have always been infatuated with the size and wonder of planes, how massive steal transports lift as if weightless from the gravity dominated ground and float above the clouds, and what better place to indulge in such fascination then the Denver International Airport. You might be asking yourself, “What do airplanes have to do with tomatoes? “ Well on a beautiful Thursday morning in 2001, aboard flight 409, I was the main attraction in one of the greatest messes in United Airlines history.

It was on that gloomy morning that I sat in yet another row of sticky black airport seats as I watched my chariot gracefully opened its canopy for me. I know hundreds boarded before me, but I believe cheap tickets are a great way to ensure that I get any seat I want, being a man who prefers the window; I cannot imagine being wedged between two strangers for hours constantly smiling as our elbows harmlessly fight for the armrest. I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and it is important that I have a little space. My strategy of being last to board proved to be a success, for I spotted a great window seat just a few feet from the exit. I noticed the direct eye contact from the flight attendant when she was discussing the emergency exits, and it seemed as if she was implying that I might have to act as a hero if something should go terribly wrong. I ignored her directions along with the red letters above my head, “EMERGENCY EXIT”, and within minutes, we were soaring gracefully over the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

The flight was heading toward San Francisco and I was on my way to meet someone very special, someone I wanted to look snazzy for, so with my black shirt pressed and crisp white corduroys I achieved style. The pants were a daring purchase, nobody at the time seemed to be wearing them and I wanted to make sure I stood out (lesson learned). I looked up to see the seatbelt light illuminated and the only thing moving about the cabin was the beverage cart. I love being the first one served and the first one off the flight, I guess you could say I was flying high (pun intended). I ordered a crisp can of tomato juice from the beverage cart, tomato juice always reminds me of a spoon full of my mothers pasta sauce. It was while I was sipping on my tomato juice, covered head to toe in astonishing fashion, when the unthinkable happened! The turbulence (there was none) sent my fingers into a spasm and I dropped a cans worth of tomato juice on my white attire. With my seatbelt still tightly fastened I jumped quickly only to be snagged back into my seat. I must have yelled pretty loud because within seconds I was surrounded by many people who thought my accident was more important than obeying the illuminated seatbelt sign above all of our heads. One woman, in her infinite wisdom, quickly doused me with her club soda and furiously began to wipe up my lap. I looked as though I had just endured a horrible response to a stand up comedy routine, pelted numerous times with ripe tomatoes. I rushed to the rear bathroom, passing hundreds of instantly curious people covered in grins and stares.

Therefore, for obvious reasons, I avoid tomatoes whenever I can, but those of you with IC shun this fruit for deeper, more severe reasons. If there were a way that I could enjoy tomato juice during a flight without possibly suffering the same outcome as before, believe me, I would. The same logic applies when dealing with the effects a tomato has on many in the IC community. However, there is a way to enjoy many dishes that normally involve tomatoes without actually digesting the ones that may cause you to flare up.

There are dozens of tomato varieties that exist today, such as; beef steak, roma, cherry, globe, plum, currant, heirloom, purple, and many more. Most of these tomatoes contain high levels of acidic properties, but there are a few that have considerably low acidic levels. For instance, the yellow cherry tomato is less acidic than its red counterpart is, and the flavor is bland. If you find that the yellow cherry tomato is safe for you to eat, consider making a salad of fresh asparagus, yellow cherry tomatoes and basil. Toss these ingredients in a little olive oil and salt and enjoy a perfect side dish.

In addition, homegrown tomatoes and organic tomatoes contain less acid because they are naturally “vine-ripened.” Other tomatoes are ripened using ethylene gas or special warming rooms, thus these tomatoes will never have the texture, aroma, and taste of the vine-ripened tomatoes. If you can enjoy the low-acid tomatoes, only purchase ones that are free of blemishes and avoid any that are heavy for their size and give to a little palm pressure. Store your tomatoes at room temperature in a vented paper bag with one apple. Never refrigerate tomatoes- cold temperatures kill the flesh and dull the flavor.

I am aware there is a large majority of people with IC that cannot stomach tomatoes no matter the ripening cycle or their organic qualities. A good alternative may be red bell peppers. I have received enough positive comments on this website - along with facebook - concerning the red bell pepper being safe to eat, that I have successfully integrated the red bell pepper into a classic Red Sauce without the use of tomatoes. This recipe for red peppers sauce can be found in our recipe section.

I spent twenty minutes and used five cans of club soda on my pants and never did returned to the front window seat, I remained in the back, close to the bathroom, where I was last to leave. It comes as no surprise that tomatoes have played a pivotal role in how I go about enjoying my travels, but they do not have to play a pivotal role in your food style. Therefore, I create this sauce to bring the heartiness and experience back to your kitchen. Therefore, the next time you set the table for a wonderful Italian meal be thankful your feet are firm on the ground knowing nothing will ruin your red sauce - or corduroys - not even turbulence. Does anyone else find it ironic that this mess happened on flight 409?

Curb the Carbs - How Lettuce Wraps things Up

If you have watched prime time television in the past few weeks you have probably been introduced to the latest craze of cheese stuck between two heaping pieces of fried chicken! Sounds pretty grouse, huh? This is the latest, and poorest, post Colonel Sanders concoction from KFC. The majority of fast food companies are creating campaigns directing hatred towards everything carbohydrate (more to swing favor away from McDonalds, and less about proactive solutions towards obesity) and the industry is doing everything it can too “Think Outside the Bun”. Let’s pretend for a moment that we are actually persuaded by these ridiculous catch phrases and you have decided to abandon carbohydrates altogether. How exactly would you eat ground turkey or ground beef without a bun, or grill a piece of chicken and not wrap it in a tortilla? The answer comes from the dark soggy confines of those hamburgers, smashed between sesame seed buns and special sauce; the crispy, light, and the often under appreciated piece of lettuce makes its comeback!

Interstitial Cystitis makes it nearly impossible for many people to eat carbohydrates, simple or complex, and because carbohydrates are found in almost everything from pasta to fruit, using lettuce is an excellent way to keep things safe.

For the recipe below simply use romaine, iceberg, red leaf, bib, or any leaf lettuce that when torn is the size of your hand. Aside from arugula and watercress, most greenery is virtually flavorless (why else would we douse it in salad dressing?) so we must pay special attention to the filling for our wraps, and for that I choose an Asian inspired chicken filling. Feel free to substitute the chicken with tofu, turkey, or you can skip the meat altogether and make it a vegetarian meal.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps – Serves 4

4 Chicken Breasts – grilled and then minced
2 Tbls vegetable oil
2 whole carrots (use 3 carrots for vegetarians) – minced
1 cup water chestnuts - minced
2/3 cup any mushrooms – fine chop (1 cup for vegetarians)
1 garlic clove - minced
½ of a cucumber (1 cucumber for vegetarians) - minced
½ tsp salt
¼ cup fresh basil - (1 TBL if using dried)
8 Whole lettuce leaves (romaine, bib, iceberg, etc)

Sauce

¼ cup brown sugar
½ cup water
½ tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp salt

Make the sauce by combining the sugar, water, oil, and salt in a bowl. Mix very well and set the sauce aside until you are ready to serve the wraps.

Add the oil to a large sauté pan over medium high heat. When the oil reaches its temperature pan fry the chicken for 5 minutes per side. When the chicken is cooked move them to a paper towel to drain, let the chicken rest while you cut up the vegetables. Drain the oil leaving 2 tablespoons in the pan to sauté your vegetables.

Cut all the vegetables according to the directions then toss them altogether in the oil and sauté for five minutes until the vegetables are tender. Add the sauce and minced chicken to the cooked vegetables and toss well.

Fill each leaf of romaine with equal amounts of the filling. Enjoy!

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