The Complicated Traveler

Travel for me means planning for all of life’s unknown

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Curly Locks And The Three Lighthouses

As a dessert rat, many generations removed, I find the idea of lots of water – added into the idea of colors that do not involve any degree of brown – absolutely fascinating.

Growing up in the southern most part of New Mexico, even our green is brown.  Dirt everywhere and even the plants blend into the dirt, though they do on occasion turn a very pretty dessert green.  It is kind of like olive drab, but not.

So when the opportunity arose for a chance to go to Maine I was more than happy to say, “yes, please”.

As we began our decent into Portland my head was on a swivel. Everywhere I looked there was water.  Ocean, bays, rivers, as we turned into our final approach I had water on both sides, I’d look left there was water with little blobs (I presume they were islands), when I’d look right there was more water and more blobs.  As we got closer to the main land old battle armaments were visible, as well as…lighthouses.

Every little cove, every shore, somewhere along its water attachment was a lighthouse.

The houses that came into view were magnificent, old and new architecture, both weather worn and quintessentially sea side homes.  It put me in mind of the fictional Cabot Cove from Murder, She Wrote.

Now one thing you have to understand is that I have curly hair.  I have the kind of curl that puts Goldie Locks to shame, only mine are brown very tight ringlets.

Remember my talking about being a desert rat?  Well, I now live in Colorado which means that the air is even dryer than New Mexico.  This is my hair in the dry Colorado air.

These curls are present in the dry high desert air of Colorado. This is why you will rarely see me with my hair down. It curls itself into knots.

These curls are present in the dry high desert air of Colorado. This is why you will rarely see me with my hair down. It literally curls itself into knots.

If you know anything about humidity you’ll know what humidity would do to hair such as mine; hence the title of the article.

I got sidetracked, back to the story.

After a much needed nights sleep, I was up and at’m, I had places to go and things to see.  Though we had landed in Portland we were staying in the Lewiston/Auburn area. It is a magnificent and quirky place.  Lots of different food types to be found, and being a college town awesome coffee places. But I digress, this story isn’t about coffee…it’s about lighthouses.

Sight Seeing

Coffee in hand…check.  Camera charged, and memory card in place, easily accessed…check.  Full tank of gas…check. Phone plugged in and music ready belt out…check.

It was time to see the shore, the sea, to feel the salty sea air as it tightened the redish brown ringlets of my hair and fill my lungs with more moisture in one breath than I’d feel with the same lungful of air during a downpour at home.  It was time to let the inner Columbus out and go exploring.

With map in hand, Siri set to get me there by the long scenic route, I was ready to see whatever I might see.

Getting on the 295/1 wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, since I had planned a quick detour to L.L. Bean (I was in Maine after all, one must pay homage to the local home store) and since I was going the back way the speeds weren’t that high, and since I didn’t know where I was going, exactly, I set the cruise control and let the locals pass me.  I did take a few unplanned detours, when you find a road sign naming the road as runaround pond you kind of have to go find that pond. While I did find it, and I couldn’t see how any sane person could indeed ‘run around it’. Yes, these are the crazy things that pass through my mind on any given day. It was still beautiful country side.  Farms dotted the dirt road, horse owners were out working the beasts, and signs proudly advertised a particular Farms farmers market.  I can’t even imagine buying all of my produce from the farm that grew it mere hours after it had been picked.

I still don't see how you are supposed to run around this pond.

I still don’t see how you are supposed to run around this pond.

Finally, I was back on my way, Taylor Swift welcoming me to New York, when I saw a lovely river languidly flowing along side of me. When the public parking area came into view I pulled in, and went for a little hike to the waters edge.

Home's on the river bank, only viewable because the trees were still bear.

Home’s on the river bank, only viewable because the trees were still bear.

Every body...

Every body… “waiting, just around, the river, bend.”

As “Just Around the River Bend” ran through my head, I stood and listened the lapping of water, and reveled in the homes that could be seen on the opposite shore.  Only seen because the trees along the banks had yet to leaf out.  Serenity filled me, calmed me, coursed through my veins and excited me at the prospect of seeing the northern Atlantic Ocean.

Back in the car and continuing on my quest to find L.L Bean.  Finally successful in my quest of finding L.L.Bean, I had to take a moment to really take all of L. L. Bean in.

Now understand I’m come from Cabella’s and Bass Pro Shop ville. Those places are huge! But when compared to the sheer size of the first L.L. Bean…they are tiny.   Three different buildings, all covering several blocks were in front of me.

I saw a Paul Bunyan sized snow/water shoe and headed straight for it, walking past a building that boasted archery classes as I went.  Success! I found the retail store. The one that sold shoes, jackets, and dog bowls; a three story shoppers paradise.

Inside I found very helpful natives who were more than willing to take a minute, or twenty, and talk about their state and all the wonders there were to see.  Armed with that, and nothing else – I was proud of myself for not buying a single thing while I was there.  I headed back to the highway to finish my quest for the sea and the beacons that guard her shores.

But first a quick stop at a rest area was in order.  Remember the afore mentioned coffee?  Inside I found a wonderful lady who had an even more detailed map for me, and even drew me the line that would get me to all three of Portland’s lighthouses. It was at this moment I realized I was about to meet the Three Bears of Lighthouses.

The Lighthouses

Baby…  First I arrived at Breakwater “Bug” Light lighthouse.  This is Baby Lighthouse.  It is small, it is tiny, it is so compact that you’d find it hard to believe that it is a light house.  Because let’s face it, it’s not what you think of when you think of lighthouses.

Breakwater

Breakwater “Bug” Lighthouse Baby lighthouse

Baby  was built in 1875 and modeled after a grecian monument, and is made out of cast iron.  It is a strong and mighty little thing.

It was very useful during WWII when the shipbuilding industry was booming in Portland.  It guided vessels as their entered or left Portland’s harbor.

You can read more about this lighthouse here. It is a wonderful place for families with smaller children who need to get out and run around.  It’s park is small and intimate, and a great place for kite flying.

Momma

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, up close. Couldn't get up on it, to look around, but the views from the point were amazing.

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, up close. Couldn’t get up on it, to look around, but the views from the point were amazing.

Next you come to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, a caisson style lighthouse.  Bigger than Bug light, but still not what you would think of when thinking of a lighthouse; for me anyway.

What made me think of this as Momma is that it is near Southern Maine Community College, so education is important. And being a proud home school graduate, we all know how important education is.

Also Spring Point is surrounded by the remains of Fort Preble, so the old battlement walls can be seen, and through them the shores across the bay.

This brings to mind the momma bear mentality mothers are known for, along with the nurturing you expect as a home school kid of the mother teaching her children with the college so close.

This lighthouse is not easily traversed.  You have walk along the breakwater (sea wall in my language) to get to it, and some of the boulders have some substantial gaps to be jumped over.  But for older kids who have some energy to burn it would be a great experience to see just what the keepers would have to go through to check on the lighthouse each day.

The surrounding areas of Fort Preble would be OK for smaller kids to enjoy while their older siblings went scrambling. Lot of views to see through old armaments.

There is a little maritime museum between Bug and Spring point lighthouses.  Inside they give a brief history of ships and the men who worked on them. You will also find a small store, I got some cute books about Maine for my niece and nephew.

Finally, Papa

So pretty. Papa lighthouse

So pretty. Papa lighthouse

Here is the lighthouse I see in my dreams.  It the picture perfect ideal, complete with keepers cottage, of what a lighthouse should be; in my estimation.

It gives one a feeling of strength and stability, which if you remember the fairy tale of old it is the very essence of that Papa.

Portland Head Light  marks the entrance into Portland’s harbor.  It is attached to Fort William, or what’s left of it anyway, by parks.   For a family looking for a no kidding day out with the entire family (young and old) this is the place to be.  The keepers cottage has been turned into a place you can get food (provided there are no restrictions on what you can eat).

While I didn’t even try to go and get food there, my pamphlets told me about the food and the store that were located inside what used to be the keepers quarters.  There were simply too many people around the building for my taste, so instead I stayed outside and enjoyed the sunshine while I could.

Surrounded by a state park, with access to the ocean, picnic tables, room for kids to run around, and ruins of a fort that so long ago kept our northern shores safe, you can’t help but stand in awe of the history all around you.

If you are looking for a great place to visit, filled with history, and yet calm and serene, Portland’s lighthouses are a must.

The Mainea of Maine

One of my favorite things to eat are bagel sandwiches. When we first got to Augusta, Maine and I began looking for places I could eat Bagel Mainea popped up several times, and each time I figured it wasn’t worth my time to call. Where I’m from most bagels have soy in them, why I don’t know – but they do, and thus they are a delicacy I simply cannot indulge. Finally after a couple of days where hubby found me drooling over the photos of all the bagels, he talked me into calling them.

Bagel Mainea table markers so they can bring you your food. This is my favorite.

Hallelujah they do not use oils of any kind in their bagels, and to make it even better…they use real butter on their toasted bagels. (Cue the hallelujah chorus sung by angels.) They are a full service deli, having boars head meats and cheese that they will slice to order. Add into the mix a plethora of bagel sandwiches to choose from, and more ‘flavors’ of bagels than I’ve ever seen – all made fresh, and I was in a literal heaven.

My favorite bagel is the Everything bagel, and theirs took it to new heights in my estimation the kosher salt mixed in with everything, made it amazing. When I added to it with their Harmony fillings, minus the humus because they weren’t sure what kind of oil was used, and this bagel sandwich loving girl and found her new favorite breakfast/lunch place. It helped that they served decent coffee, and offered milk substitutes other than soy, and they were OK with me bringing in my own coconut milk for my coffee! The Harmony consists of Turkey, ham, cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado you seriously can’t get much better than that. Well the humus would be a great addition, but I’ll wait until they aren’t as busy so I can find out exactly the kind of oil they use, but still the sandwich is phenomenal without it, so I’ve got nothing to loose.

My favorite before soy, and I’m an even bigger fan since my soy allergy.

If you are looking for breakfast, coffee, lunch, whatever…This is an amazing place. The employees are very helpful, and willing to do the leg work if needed to find out about allergies. Plus their place markers, so they know where to bring your food, are as unique as they are. We were the comic for a Freudian slip more than once. Also, another nice touch are their hot beverage cup protectors. You get to choose what panoramic view you put on your cup. I chose poppies, butterflies, and a field of wild flowers. Whatever strikes your fancy that day, from bagels to your cup decor they aim to please. I can’t wait to return!

Every unique touch just adds to the experience. Pets are welcomed on their porch, and as I said they are willing to look into their food for your allergy if you point them in the right direction.

Finding The Fun Of Moving

Isn’t he cute!

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions, being a military wife is the only thing I can think of that could prepare you for the move we just did; however, being retired military and moving across the country is another story all together.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and the shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now, it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog, and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

There were a few unforeseen things we encountered as we were in the final press to get out of Colorado that shook our plans to their core, but thankfully the military prepared us to get through the unexpected. Two weeks before the day we planned to drive out of Colorado

Planning; Derailed

There aren’t many things in life that can prepare you for a move of mammoth proportions. Being a military wife I felt at least somewhat prepared for such a move. My husband had moved to England and back, and I had a couple of military moves under my belt, so I figured we were set and had planned for all unforeseen. Remember the saying, ”want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”? Keep that in mind.

We moved from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Maine (we haven’t decided on a city yet). It was a 6 day 2K+ mile drive to get us to Maine. Our longest day in the car was almost 12 hrs, and our shortest was 6 hrs. Looking back on it now it’s a wonder that Hubby, the dog (Chaz), and myself were able to stand each other by the time we pulled up to our hotel in Augusta, Maine.

We had carefully planned the whole trip, from what to have by packed by when, to exactly where we could and would stop along the way for me to be able to eat. Looking back maybe we planned things to closely. The issues cropped up two weeks, almost to the day, before we were to leave.

We had reached the pinnacle of Hubby leaving his job, he’d given them 2 months notice and at last the day had finally arrived. We planned a mini vacation to get away from the boxes and chaos at home for a few days to decompress before the craziness of the new few weeks hit. We got back from that short trip and we to grab a bite to eat. Hubby got junk food (Arby’s) while I went to my favorite salad place for a dinner salad (Modern Market). The following Morning (Monday) Hubby woke early with a tummy ache. Knowing he had eaten junk food I told him to get the heating pad and to lay down. A few hours later, with a cup of tea that should have helped, if it was from dinner the night before, Hubby wan’t better. After careful consideration and a call to the nurse… we were off to the ER. Eight hours later…hubby was in surgery for a hot appendix. Yeah, I felt really bad after realizing that was the issue.

After surgery he felt much better, but he was told 6 weeks of no lifting anything that weighed more than a gallon of milk. I called our move organizer while we were waiting in the ER and thankfully they were able to schedule packers to come in and finish packing us out, because I had my hands full keeping hubby in bed, resting. One week after surgery we moved into a hotel so we were more comfortable while the house was mostly void of furniture.

Everything progressed as planned, until the day we were scheduled to drive out. Our dog got so stressed out about hubby being sick, my being stressed taking care of everything because hubby couldn’t, and still trying to work (thus I wasn’t sleeping much). The dog is very attached to me, I’m the one who’s home with him all day, I feed him, and he sleeps (quite literally) on me at night. So this, probably more than anything, really stressed him out. We got everything on our pre-move check list done, and got into bed for our final night in Colorado, and the dog was up twice in the middle of the night with diarrhea.

Leaving, Finally

Saturday, the first day of our journey, was our longest day on the road. We were up at 0600 and on the road by 0700, it was supposed to be a 7.5 hr drive to our final stop of the day. We got some coffee and some food and we were off, our first scheduled stop in 2.5 hrs so hubby could walk around and the dog could release himself. Half an hour later the dog was asking for a break, it was a good thing we stopped as the accidents from the night before were not a two time thing. Nope his tummy trouble took our 7.5 hour day and turned it into a 12 hour day. Poor little guy. Thankfully as they day wore on he improved. He got 12 hours of my either holding him, or him sleeping on his pillow next to me. We figured he just needed a little momma time.

The rest of the trip was rather uneventful, by day two Chaz was fine and our planned stops were more attainable. Off we went. With one major thing that had to be dealt with. Hubby was not allowed to lift anything, so guess who loaded and unloaded the car every night. You guessed it… me! Hubby had to hold the dog and endure the looks of disgust from those around us, very few of them offering any sort of help to me. I felt sorry for him, but that the same time there was nothing to be done about it. And as the days wore on I got rather good at it, if I do say so myself. Though by the fourth day we were happy to allow the porters to help when we had them at our disposal.

Moving is stressful, change is stressful, and all that stress can be over-powering.  The key is to breath, the goal is to endure, and the final product is to be enjoyed.  More to come.  Who knew getting a new doctor in a different region could be so much work.

It was gorgeously green, and far too sunny and hot for my liking.

A European Dining Experience in Colorado

In my never-ending quest to find restaurants who understand my food allergies and take them seriously, I stumbled across this gem. My Husband’s favorite story to tell of his time in Europe is how laid back the dining experience is. No hovering, no rush, and no hurry to turn over a table. “When you walk-in they expect that you are going to be there for the rest of the night.” I finally understand what he means.

 

Due to my food allergies I always call ahead to ensure I can eat at a new restaurant, and Chef Ben took my call seriously and made the time to answer my questions. When hubby and I arrived I was cautiously optimistic, and in return was blown away.

 

Chef Ben was experimenting with some new recipes for rolls (they are attempting to make all of their offerings in house including the bread), the rolls are amazing and I really hope those make it to an every day offering. It is a rare thing for me to be able to eat the rolls offered; that alone would ensure I come back again and again.

 

I was hoping to be able to have their Caesar salad, but thankfully they were on their toes because I couldn’t have it nor could I have their port  dressing (because of my food allergies), which was offered on their wedge salad…however, Chef Ben was also working on a new vinaigrette. I put my taste buds at the mercy of Chef Ben and ordered the Local Organic Green salad with the Blood Orange Candied Shallot vinaigrette! Oh! My taste buds were so happy! It was worth the risk.

There are a few things on their menu subject to change. Their Peacemakers Punch is just such an item, it is different not only every night but also each batch. You are literally at the mercy of your bartender, so ask what’s in it if you are trying to avoid certain ingredients. On this night I was in luck as there was no pineapple in the punch, no indeed, I had a delightful concoction that I can only describe as lavender lemonade. And it was heavenly.

peace makers punch in the tall glass and their version of a mule.

Hubby got their Hogan’s mule; it was a bit tart for his taste but the apple garnish made the drink absolutely delightful.

 

When I said the experience was completely European, I wasn’t exaggerating. We were seated, and served water; with an explanation that dinner was made from scratch and only once we ordered it. Thus it takes a little more time than we might be accustomed to.   Then my husband got up to go to the bathroom and whole process stopped till he returned. We had questions about the drinks menu so we got that settled and only then were we brought the dinner menu.

 

As is my process I did have the waiter check on the two entrees I had chosen for me to eat so I could then choose which one I wanted. Thankfully I could have both of them so I just had to make up my mind. This process took time, as it should, however, Sean and Chef Ben made sure I knew that they were taking my food allergy seriously.

Horseradish crusted salmon

 

Once dinner was done, we were brought the dessert menu and at that point my night took a decided turn for the better. I could have dessert, and not just the Crème Brule; I could have all but one of their offerings plus or minus an ingredient or two. I got their chocolate stout bread, with passion fruit sorbet the perfect complement to the sweat and dense cake. Hubby had their bread pudding, claiming it was the best bread pudding he had ever had, and that is saying something as it is his favorite dessert and has had it in every location he has ever traveled to and with his military career that is an extensive list of bread pudding locations.

 

We have a new location for special nights out. Since you pay for quality you can expect a hefty check at the end of the night. However, you can also expect to not mind one bit, because you know you ate a quality meal made from quality ingredients.   Be sure to check them out when you are in the area.

 

Checkout my reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor!

An Ingredient By Any Other Name

(While compiling this information I realized just how poorly I was handling my soy allergy. My Soy-Free existence isn’t so soy-free after all. We never stop learning and we must constantly be researching our allergy to stay on top of the name game.)

An ingredient by any other name couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

When I was first told I had food intolerances, though they didn’t know to what, I had no idea where that string would lead me.

My endocrinologist was the first Doctor to suggest I had food intolerance. While I’ve never been a big eater, I am a foodie so trying new things was kind-of my thing. However, when I wanted to really crack down on my symptoms I knew I had to figure out what I was reacting to.

So I off I went, from reading books to reading labels.

I started by omitting wheat and dairy (as suggested by my doctor) for 10 weeks I avoided gluten and dairy as best I could. Nothing changed, or so I thought, so after the 10 weeks I began to slowly reintegrating wheat and dairy into my diet. As suspected…there was no change.

When checking for food allergies the longer you can go without what you think you are intolerant to the better you will be able to see how the allergen in the food affect you.

While reading labels during that 10 week period there was one thing I noticed. Every thing I picked up to eat contained soy. Some research into the NIH and Mayo Clinic websites suggested that soy was the issue as it is on the rise as far as people being allergic.

So began my long and arduous trek to a Soy-free existence.

One thing to think on, if you think you have food intolerances, is that to truly have a life free of your intolerance you have to know everything about the ingredient. And that if you aren’t careful and keep piling on the ingredient you can’t process correctly it can lead to you becoming allergic to the ingredient. So diligence to avoid your ingredient is crucial to living your best life.

A food by any other name…couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

Wrong!

As I have forged my soy-free existence there is one thing that I have come to understand…nothing is as it seems on food labels. And while you might think you are avoiding soy you are in-fact, not avoiding it at all!

My first clue that I was indeed allergic to soy was when I started dropping weight when I avoided it. And by avoiding it I mean, I basically at fresh vegetables with olive oil and vinegar if I wanted a salad, and if I wanted more than a salad (because I’ll admit salad is my favorite food) I would only eat it if I made it myself. Which is always your best bet, but in this fast paced world – when you aren’t eating enough – it simply isn’t feasible to make everything from scratch.

I started out making sure the word soy was nowhere to be found on my food labels. This basically means I stayed away from:

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce and shoyu sauce
  • Soy-based fiber, flour, grits, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cheese
  • Soy protein
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable protein
  • Tofu

This is the basic list, as I knew it. [3]. Though now on that list is Natto – something I’ve only recently started avoiding. So long as these weren’t named, and the allergen list didn’t say “Contains: soy” I thought I was OK.

Then there’s the obvious. I can’t eat at Asian restaurants, which really sucks since I love Asian Cuisine! It’s just too difficult to ensure that I don’t get any cross contaminations. Though  believe me when it comes to soy and my reactions – a little is far easier to deal with than a lot.

While figuring this all out I accidently got some soy when eating out and figured, “what the heck, I’ve all ready gotten some soy and I want Chinese food so I’m gonna go all out”.

(It’s hard to stick to the diet, believe me especially when you really like something, so this mindset of “I’m gonna eat it anyway” can, and will, kick-in at any time. However, what I’ve come to realize is the amount does matter.)

So off hubby and I went to a local Chinese cuisine restaurant we loved and I proceeded to eat my weight in my favorite foods: fried rice, low-mein, egg rolls, egg drop soup, sweet and sour pork, and anything else that struck my fancy, and it all received a healthy dose of soy sauce. What’s the point of rebelling if you don’t go all out? Am I right?

It was a big bill, but I left with a contented smile on my face. And that smile lasted for about 18 hours.

Thankfully Hubby was traveling for work and left the next day. He was gone for two weeks and it’s a good thing he was, because once the symptoms started there was no turning back. And when the dog decides he’d rather be on a different floor than you are on…you know it’s bad.

While I lost weight initially, it didn’t stay off and I’ve had to re-evaluate my strategy to remain soy-free.

Other foods found in Asian Cuisine that might contain soy you might not have thought of are [1]:

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Kinako
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Yuba

From There I made sure I could pronounce the ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. This helped at first, and made me realize my best option for maintaining this was to eat organic and non-gmo foods only. But even this only got me so far.

Here is a list of soy based ingredients that might not say ‘soy’ [1]:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Mono- and diglycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, mild, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soybean oil
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Then there are the lists of possible Soy Ingredients [1]:

  • Bulking agent
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Gum arabic
  • Guar gum
  • Lecithin
  • Mixed Tocopherols
  • Natural flavoring
  • Stabilizer
  • Thickener
  • Vegetable gum, starch, shortening, or oil
  • Vitamin E

Think about those lists for a moment and all the labels you’ve read, seeing those words, and ate anyway thinking they were safe. I know I ate a lot of things that contained those ingredients because they didn’t say “soy”.

Bad on me, I know. But still, the label didn’t say soy anywhere, so it should have been safe. Right?

If you’d like a quick cheat sheet check out [3] and print it out. Though a much more extensive list can be found in [1], though just be ready to have your boat rocked in the realization that what is in your pantry could contain soy.
Compiling this has been an eye opener.  There are so many things I thought were safe, and aren’t. No wonder my reactions have been continuously turning more and more anaphylactic. It started with just gastric upset and has progressed to vomiting and migraines when I consume soy.

Finally I had to do even more research because it was clear, by my continued weight gain and other symptoms, that I was still getting soy somewhere. I realized food manufacturers are very sneaky (in my opinion), and there were other foods to avoid all together if I could because they just might contain soy (this is why an allergy card just isn’t feasible for me).   I’ve even had to drop some of my supplements because they contain hidden soy.

Here are some not so obvious foods that I’ve had to reassess because they might contain soy [1]:

  • Baked goods and baking mixes
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Candy
  • Cereal
  • Chicken (raw or cooked) that is processed with chicken broth
  • Chicken broth
  • Chocolate
  • Deli meat
  • Energy bars, nutrition bars
  • Imitation dairy foods, such as soy milks, vegan cheese, or vegan ice cream
  • Infant formula
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers or sausages
  • Nutrition supplements (vitamins)
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein powders
  • Sauces, gravies, and soups (pre-made or sauce packs)
  • Smoothies
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes: veggie burgers, imitation chicken patties, imitation lunchmeats, imitation bacon bits, etc.

How is that for a list, huh? I mean what is left at this point? That doesn’t include breads, hotdog buns, and hamburger buns.

But wait! It only grows more intensive.

I was sent to the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH) for testing for an environmental allergy and found out that chicken and pork may also cause reactions because they are fed soy. My response was…”Then what the heck am I allowed to eat?” The answer,“Grass-fed beef”. Thanks!

I can also eat wild caught fish, and wild caught sea food.  That’s great, but overall very expensive, so I’m trying to find other ways to eat chicken.

And what do I eat? Organic chicken (so long as there’s no chicken broth used) and pork from a local store that can scale the care given to the animals, while I don’t eat a lot of pork it helps knowing if its local and what it was fed.

All of this to say…  I still have a lot to learn about soy and what I need to avoid.  I do my best to make things from scratch, if you’d like to follow along on that journey follow me on Instagram  I recently made chicken soup with multicolored carrots. It was very interesting…the purple ones turned white while cooking.  I also had my first success at baking a sweet potato.  It was awesome!  Check me out, and follow me for more of my cooking adventures.

[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)

[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)

[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD

An Ingredient By Any Other Name…Part 3

Finally I had to do even more research because it was clear, by my continued weight gain and other symptoms, that I was still getting soy somewhere. I realized food manufacturers are very sneaky (in my opinion), and there were other foods to avoid all together if I could because they just might contain soy (this is why an allergy card just isn’t feasible for me).   I’ve even had to drop some of my supplements because they contain hidden soy.

Here are some not so obvious foods that I’ve had to reassess because they might contain soy [1]:

  • Baked goods and baking mixes
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Candy
  • Cereal
  • Chicken (raw or cooked) that is processed with chicken broth
  • Chicken broth
  • Chocolate
  • Deli meat
  • Energy bars, nutrition bars
  • Imitation dairy foods, such as soy milks, vegan cheese, or vegan ice cream
  • Infant formula
  • Margarine
  • Mayonnaise
  • Meat products with fillers, for example, burgers or sausages
  • Nutrition supplements (vitamins)
  • Peanut butter
  • Protein powders
  • Sauces, gravies, and soups (pre-made or sauce packs)
  • Smoothies
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegetarian meat substitutes: veggie burgers, imitation chicken patties, imitation lunchmeats, imitation bacon bits, etc.

How is that for a list, huh? I mean what is left at this point? That doesn’t include breads, hotdog buns, and hamburger buns.

 

But wait! It only grows more intensive.

I was sent to the Nation Institutes of Health (NIH) for testing for an environmental allergy and found out that chicken and pork may also cause reactions because they are fed soy. My response was…”Then what the heck am I allowed to eat?” The answer,“Grass-fed beef”. Thanks!

I can also eat wild caught fish, and wild caught sea food.  That’s great, but over all very expensive, so I’m trying to find other ways to eat chicken.

And what do I eat? Organic chicken (so long as there’s no chicken broth used) and pork from a local store that can scale the care given to the animals, while I don’t eat a lot of pork it helps knowing if its local and what it was fed.

All of this to say…  I still have a lot to learn about soy and what I need to avoid.  I do my best to make things from scratch, if you’d like to follow along on that journey follow me on Instagram  I recently made chicken soup with multicolored carrots. It was very interesting…the purple ones turned white while cooking.  I also had my first success at baking a sweet potato.  It was awesome!  Check me out, and follow me for more of my cooking adventures.

 

 

 

[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)

 

[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)

 

[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD

An Ingredient By Any Other Name…Part 2

A food by any other name…couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

Wrong!

As I have forged my soy-free existence there is one thing that I have come to understand…nothing is as it seems on food labels. And while you might think you are avoiding soy you are in-fact, not avoiding it at all!

My first clue that I was indeed allergic to soy was when I started dropping weight when I avoided it. And by avoiding it I mean, I basically at fresh vegetables with olive oil and vinegar if I wanted a salad, and if I wanted more than a salad (because I’ll admit salad is my favorite food) I would only eat it if I made it myself. Which is always your best bet, but in this fast paced world – when you aren’t eating enough – it simply isn’t feasible to make everything from scratch.

 

I started out making sure the word soy was nowhere to be found on my food labels. This basically means I stayed away from:

  • Edamame
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce and shoyu sauce
  • Soy-based fiber, flour, grits, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy-based milk, yogurt, ice cream, or cheese
  • Soy protein
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable protein
  • Tofu

This is the basic list, as I knew it. [3]. Though now on that list is Natto – something I’ve only recently started avoiding. So long as these weren’t named and the allergen list didn’t say “Contains: soy” I thought I was ok.

Then there’s the obvious. I can’t eat at Asian restaurants, which really sucks since I love Asian Cuisine! It’s just too difficult to ensure that I don’t get any cross contaminations. Though  believe me when it comes to soy and my reactions – a little is far easier to deal with than a lot.

While figuring this all out I accidently got some soy when eating out and figured, “what the heck, I’ve all ready gotten some soy and I want Chinese food so I’m gonna go all out”.

(It’s hard to stick to the diet, believe me especially when you really like something, so this mindset can, and will, kick-in at any time. However, what I’ve come to realize is the amount does matter.)

So off hubby and I went to a local Chinese cuisine restaurant we loved and I proceeded to eat my weight in my favorite foods: fried rice, low-mein, egg rolls, egg drop soup, sweet and sour pork, and anything else that struck my fancy, and it all received a healthy dose of soy sauce. What’s the point of rebelling if you don’t go all out?

It was a big bill, but I left with a contented smile on my face. The smile lasted for about 18 hours.

Thankfully Hubby was traveling for work and left the next day. He was gone for two weeks and it’s a good thing he was, because once the symptoms started there was no turning back. And when the dog decides he’d rather be on a different floor than you are on…you know it’s bad.

While I lost weight initially, it didn’t stay off and I’ve had to re-evaluate my strategy to remain soy-free.

Other foods found in Asian Cuisine that might contain soy you might not have thought of are [1]:

  • Bean Sprouts
  • Kinako
  • Nimame
  • Okara
  • Yuba

 

From There I made sure I could pronounce the ingredients. If I couldn’t pronounce it, I didn’t eat it. This helped at first, and made me realize my best option for maintaining this was to eat organic and non-gmo foods only. But even this only got me so far.

Here is a list of soy based ingredients that might not say ‘soy’ [1]:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (HSP)
  • Mono- and diglycerides
  • MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Soy (albumin, cheese, fiber, grits, mild, nuts, sprouts, yogurt, ice cream, pasta)
  • Soy lecithin
  • Soy protein (concentrate, hydrolyzed, isolate)
  • Soybean oil
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

Then there are the lists of possible Soy Ingredients [1]:

  • Bulking agent
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein (HPP) or hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Gum arabic
  • Guar gum
  • Lecithin
  • Mixed Tocopherols
  • Natural flavoring
  • Stabilizer
  • Thickener
  • Vegetable gum, starch, shortening, or oil
  • Vitamin E

Think about those lists for a moment and all the labels you’ve read, seeing those words, and ate anyway thinking they were safe. I know I ate a lot of things that contained those ingredients and ate them anyway because they didn’t say “soy”.

Bad on me, I know. But still, the label didn’t say soy anywhere, so it should have been safe. Right?

If you’d like a quick cheat sheet check out [3] and print it out. Though a much more extensive list can be found in [1], though just be ready to have your boat rocked and just what is in your pantry that could contain soy.
Compiling this has been an eye opener.  There are so many things I thought were safe, and aren’t. No wonder my reactions have been continuously turning more and more anaphylactic. It started with just gastric upset and has progressed to vomiting and migraines when I consume too much soy.   Keep checking back I have more to share.

 

[1] A Soy Free Diet Means More Than Just Checking For ‘Soy’. By Jill Castle, MS, RD (2016)

 

[2] Diseases and Conditions: Soy Allergy. By May Clinic Staff (2014)

 

[3] Living With A Soy Allergy. Web MD

 

(While compiling this information I realized just how poorly I was handling my soy allergy.  We never stop learning and we must constantly be researching our allergy to stay on top of the name game.)

An ingredient by any other name couldn’t possibly be soy…right?

When I was first told I had food intolerances, though they didn’t know to what, I had no idea where that string would lead me.

My endocrinologist was the first Doctor to suggest I had food intolerance. While I’ve never been a big eater, I am a foodie so trying new things was kind-of my thing. However, when I wanted to really crack down on my symptoms I knew I had to figure out what I was reacting to.

So I off I went, from reading books to reading labels.  

I started by omitting wheat and dairy (as suggested by my doctor) for 10 weeks I avoided gluten and dairy as best I could. Nothing changed, or so I thought, so after the 10 weeks I began to slowly reintegrating wheat and dairy into my diet. As suspected…there was no change.

When checking for food allergies the longer you can go without what you think you are intolerant to, the better you will be able to see how the allergen in the food affect you.

While reading labels during that 10 week period there was one thing I noticed. Every thing I picked up to eat contained soy. Some research into the NIH and Mayo Clinic websites suggested that soy was the issue as it is on the rise as far as people being allergic.

So began my long and arduous trek to a Soy-free existence.

One thing to think on, if you think you have food intolerances, is that to truly have a life free of your intolerance you have to know everything about the ingredient. And that if you aren’t careful and keep piling on the ingredient you can’t process correctly it can lead to you becoming allergic to the ingredient. So diligence to avoid your ingredient is crucial to living your best life.

I wasn’t going to break this post up, but I’m only half-way through and it’s already almost four pages long.  So breaking it up makes it easier for you all to keep up with the posts and not want to rip your eyes out for all the reading and technical terms.  Keep an eye out, I have lists of ingredients that are called something else, but are really soy.  It’s scary!

2016: The Year In Review

A lot has happened in this twelve-month period. We put our home on the market, after a mad rush to get it all painted and pretty – inside and out.

I started selling photos this year, it’s been a very slow climb but I think I’m gaining traction. I just pray that it continues growing in 2017 (and I hope for a new lens for my landscapes, just saying).

I also started blogging, and that means trying to find ways to monetize it. I’m finding that my health issues combined with my food and environmental allergies have a foot hold in the blogosphere I just need to learn more about how to grow it into a business which means reading more about it.

I can’t help but marvel at how most of my goals are centered on reading more. I often feel like I waste a lot of time reading, when in reality it is the center to my success. It’s official! I can be paid to read! #GOAL

 

2016 the year of stress… Between getting the house ready to sell, and my health issues “stress” is he only word that could apply to 2016.

Mother nature doing her best to keep our expectations in check… we had a huge hail storm in Southern Colorado and that left me unable to get a contractor out to paint our house until the last minute because so many homes were still unlivable that my house wasn’t a priority.

I had over a month wait with most contractors to get an estimate to get the house payment. And even then they couldn’t guarantee that they could get the house painted within the time frame I needed it done if we sold the house before 1 Nov. I was told this in August. We closed early October.
Thankfully I found a contractor who was able to fit me in, the outside of the house looked great when they were done, before we closed.

Every time we had weather move through I prayed it wouldn’t cause more damage anywhere in the city. I never realized just how stressful selling a house could be. I’ve watched HGTV you don’t see them freaking out on the shows about selling houses, but man! I sure did.

 

We finally sold the house, and we had a hiccup in moving into a rental; so we spent a month in a hotel. I can’t say it was a hardship. Having the room cleaned every day was a huge luxury I completely and thoroughly enjoyed. We had moved into a suite that had a small kitchenette so I could cook – somewhat – and so we could carry on as normal as possible.

Finally, as I was settling into a routine at the hotel, we got a rental. So every crazy bit spooled up again as we prepared to move into the house.

Thankfully we were able to space the signing of the papers and the actual move in so that we had time to clean the house, and buy carpets for the living areas that were hardwood. Everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go – well, other than the people who packed up our pods did so in a way that damaged most of our wooden furniture pieces. We are still trying to work out the paperwork for the moving company to fix everything. (See…stress.)

 

Thanksgiving rolled around, we were set up in our new home and all seemed to be calming down.   We had a wonderful Thanksgiving…then we set off on a journey to see my In-Laws. Two day in a car, one way, and then the actual visit. More stress… but this time with good coffee, good food, and a wonderful day with just Hubby, Chaz and I going and visiting the missions in and around San Antonio.

I have shared about the coffee…but I haven’t been able to get to the rest.  

Finally home, we got down to Christmas. Sadly Hubby’s travel schedule, and my poor health, meant that we didn’t get our decorations up. So we carried our Christmas spirit inside our hearts and let our home remain undecorated.

During this trip I started writing reviews for Yelp and TripAdvisor. I’m gaining a following there, so it will be fun to see where that takes me next year.

 

I hadn’t felt well for most of December, but I couldn’t figure out why. I had started Botox injection in the summer for my migraines and received my shots in December and that should have boosted my energy. Sadly it didn’t. My energy continued to be lagging until the week before Christmas when I realized why I felt so badly.

Kidney stones.

The very mention of them often brings people to a halt, with faces twisted in a sympathetic grimace. I had passed a couple without medications, but finally Hubby said no more and insisted I at least call the nurse to see what needed to be done. I called. Hubby was right (I’ve had to repeat that several times so Hubby can bask in the knowledge that he was right) the nurse said a visit to the ER was in order. So, I was taken to the ER and the CAT scan revealed I had three more stones to go. UGH! I left with meds and orders to see my doctor ASAP.

The next day I called my doctor and went into see him for some different meds that work better for me.   It was then that I found out I also had ovarian cysts, something any woman who has dealt with them will sympathize with me over. Since I had both at the same time, hurting is an understatement.
Finally Christmas Eve, I passed the last of them (or so I thought) and I am starting to feel better. I have more sleep that is needed to heal; thankfully my body has no problem in letting me know I’ve done too much.
So I’ve had to basically write off the end of 2016 as healing time, instead of doing a last big push to finish the year strong. I must admit that is a nice aspect to building your own business; you are the only one to suffer if you have to take time off. It’s also a great learning moment.

I’ve heard the saying that, “When you work for yourself, your boss can be a real jerk” Nathan Lowel [1], so this means that I have to remember to take care of my employees (myself) so they are healthy to produce quality work.

Upon writing this I have discovered I have one more stone to go, my right kidney is not happy but hopefully the end is near.

2017 – are you still with me???

I’ve never been one to set outrageous goals for myself. However, since I passed a milestone in 2016 – the age of 35 was given to me as a goal to reach by my allergist, a healthy dose of paranoia got me here and now I’m ready to spread my wings and reach for the stars.

So my plan for 2017 is several things that I have no way of prioritizing.

  • Make money from my blog
  • Make money by writing
  • Make money by editing
  • Make money from selling my photos

Are you sensing a pattern here?

So here the plan… I need to move out of Colorado. When you are allergic to the sun living at high altitude is not a good idea.   In order to move we have to be able to find jobs in the new location, or have a mobile income to take with us. This is where my blogging, writing, editing, and photography come into play. All of these can be done from the road or a new location, so there you have it.

Look for new posts, areas that are allergy friendly, and maybe even recipes…haven’t decided yet.

New health goals…

  • Avoid dairy, and thus kidney stones, at all costs
  • Continue to fight my anaphylaxis
  • Continue avoiding soy at all costs (had to mark a restaurant off my OK list)

Here’s to a brighter and successful new year…2017!!!

To endless horizons in the New Year!

[1] Nathan Lowell (2014) Owner’s Share (Trader’s Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper) (Volume 6)

 

 

A Vegan Breakfast?! What?!

Don’t worry; I have not crossed over the vegan bridge.  If you have chosen to adhere to the vegan lifestyle, more power to you I could not do that for the love of bacon, and steak, and turkey. However, on this day of our trip we had a lot packed into the day and I needed sustenance. So off to my apps I went.  After some digging we decided to try Revolucion Coffee & Juice.

Located in the small shopping center at 7959 Broadway, Ste. 507 (though when we got to that slot they were actually to the left and in the corner though I did not catch the new suite number).  They offered almond milk as a substitute for milk (as well as soy if you are so inclined), but they even have cashew milk for their vegan bowls.

I walked into clean and pristine white coffee house (not something I’m used to seeing).  I waited for the crowd to thin out, so I could talk with the lady at the counter and not feel rushed or that I was keeping someone from their much-needed coffee fix.

I found out I could have their peanut butter and jelly bowl with cashew milk made in house.  Oh my! It was wonderful.  Add into it the Revolucion Latte, a lavender infused honey with espresso and almond milk complete with coffee art, and my breakfast was as satisfying as it was beautiful.

The coffee was good, I wasn’t wowed by the flavor of the coffee, however, I have definitely had worse cups of coffee.

The bowl was very filling, I couldn’t even finish it all. But it stuck with me for the rest of the day, and I didn’t have a night of eating because of all the exercise I’d gotten…a huge deal for me.

It was worth every meatless bite.  The fruit was fresh, ripe, and flavorful, while the granola held up for the duration of the bowl. My last bite had just as much crunch as the first.  Though the PB seemed a little over powering at first, and I was hoping for more Acai flavor since the color was definitely there, still it was a wonderful breakfast.

Hubby deemed the food “too hippy” (a word my family have assigned to food I can eat) for him.  So we left there and went and got him breakfast tacos from a local place.  He checked – I couldn’t eat there but he at least got some sustenance for the day.

Revolucion Latte; honey is lavender infused

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