Wellness Wednesday: gut bacteria and glucose levels

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I wrote here that I was a bit unsure about the benefits of improved diversity in "good" bacteria in your gut.

An interesting post-script to that post, in this arstechnia article regarding artificial sweetners and glucose intolerance, discussing a study in which researchers determined that artificial sweetners negatively alter the makeup of bacteria in your gut, researchers opined that the imbalanced nature of the bacteria actually caused glucose intolerance.  The theory seems to be that the gut bacteria play an important role in your insulin sensitivity.

One more card stacking the deck toward making the effort to promote a healthy diversity of bacteria in your gut!

A nicely mixed weekend

Sunday, September 14, 2014

This weekend has been a great mix of productivity and fun.  On Friday, I stopped by a quick happy hour with the coworkers after work before kicking off the weekend with A.  Saturday morning, I finally checked out a nearby Farmer's Market, Urban Harvest, which had some interesting items, including peach almond spread, spicy mango chutney, and veggie samosas.  I picked up a beautiful box of peppers to try to work into the meal planning this week, and in the meantime, they're a beautiful fall-feeling decoration.

After the Farmer's Market, I ran to the grocery store.  Then, A and I went rug-shopping.  We've been looking for a rug for months off and on, but haven't wanted to shell out a fortune and have had slightly conflicting goals for the rug.  A has been largely utilitarian about it, he mainly wanted the rug to cover up a cord, but I have had trouble spending that much money on a piece that didn't add any color or design to our uniformly brown apartment.  Our patience actually paid off.  We found a grand total of one rug that we both liked.  After several rounds of some serious "good cop," "bad cop," we were able to negotiate the price down by $125, which made it actually affordable.  It's kind of amazing how much the rug cozies up the room. 

I managed to slip in a quick hot yoga class before making chicken and green beans for dinner.  After dinner, A & I made a Starbucks run so I could finally indulge in a pumpkin spice latte and the baristas gave us our drinks for free!  Then, I agreed to try playing videogames with A...which was a first for me.  It actually ended up being a lot of fun, which confirms that I should be more open to things like videogames and television--although I still think that severe time limits on that kind of thing make for a much fuller life.

This morning we dropped off my car in for new tires and inspection and then I set off for a four-mile run.  I am sort of training for a half-marathon, by which I mean, I am haphazardly following a training program and am still with it but am not 100% convinced that I'll actually complete it because it just seems like way too much.  That said, a year ago I might have made the same statement about four miles.  As an avid enthusiast of every type of 5k known to man, I'd managed to enjoy running that amount, but I brought myself to a complete halt at 3.1 miles and never exceeded it.  It was an invisible line that I felt I couldn't cross.  I managed to keep it up, though, even during the Houston summer and was regularly running a little over 2 miles multiple times per week, and a little over 3 every so often, even in the 100 degree weather.  Today, the temperatures dropped into the 70s and suddenly 4 miles felt the same as 2 or 3.  My feet and ankles hurt a little bit more than usual, but I could see trying for 4.5 miles next week.  5 the week after is another story, but I don't have to encounter it for two weeks :).
View of downtown Houston from the running trail that abuts our apartment.

Tonight we're heading out to the beach for a double date.  This weekend has had just a little bit of everything.

Belated Anniversary Post

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I didn't write any type of anniversary post on Sunday, which marks a year since our traditional wedding and the anniversary date that A prefers.  I love reading anything real that anyone writes about themselves or their relationships.  I hate reading a list of cliches--"I married my best friend."  Even if you did really marry your best friend, I can't tell from your writing if you really feel that way or you heard someone else say that and thought it sounded cute.  It's undeniable, though, that particularly on big days, a lot of what we do and feel is cliche.  That's how I was Sunday.  And, so, I couldn't write a post.

A day or two after A proposed.
I might have some kind of indie-elite thing going on regarding relationships.  That'd be irrational and stupid, but it might be true anyway.  I find myself denying logic all the time.  In my family law class, we talked about how nobody thinks they're going to get divorced, so nobody gets pre-nups, but really if we were rational we all would because we know that many people who don't know it at the time will get divorce and we have no way of distinguishing ourselves from those people and the pre-nup saves a lot of heartache and expense.  I wholeheartedly agree with that logic.  But, I don't have a pre-nup.  Cooling down from a run with a friend, I was confessing my deep fears of dying and the way they affect my daily life too much.  We talked about that fear.

She had it.  Death didn't bother her.  She feared getting into a marriage.  "No way.  Really?  Marriage?"  It's the only thing I've done in my entire life that I feel entirely sure of.  No, I didn't hesitate.  I recognize that I know nothing about marriage or maintaining relationships past the seven-year-death-mark or after you've both changed, or this, or that.  It doesn't worry me, though.  We'll be on that road together, I know we will.  My feelings about my marriage deny my faith in logic constantly.

I do not believe that we have a soul-mate out there.  I believe we become soul-mates as we journey through life together.  I think that, initially, there are plenty of people out there you could choose to love your entire life and you'd have a beautiful life.  But, after you journey so far and over certain terrain with one person, it can become impossible to turn back and live your life with anyone else.  For me, it would be.

There was a moment, during our time of uncertainty, where A & I were trying to decide whether to get married early.  At that point, we didn't really know how the cancer journey was going to go.  The point of getting married early would be so that if he died, we would have been married.  Necessarily, in making the determination, I thought about what I would want if A died before our anticipated ceremony date in September.  If that happened, would I want to be a widow or a single girl whose fiance had passed away?  The thought crossed my mind about trying to date someone else in the future and what would I want.  At that point, I realized that in my heart, I'd already crossed the Rubicon with A and there was no way that some future with someone else would work--even if A weren't alive.  I wouldn't want it.  The choice was easy.  It was clear to me that he is my soul-mate.  And that is that.

Apple Pie Recipe

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I don't do much in cooking that is "mine" and there's a good reason for that.  But, for whatever reason, apple pie is something I've turned into a science.  This is my process.

A & I at Kimmel Orchard picking apples.

  • Note: The apples make the pie.  In Nebraska, we would go pick bags of apples and then I would spend the day making caramel and all kinds of apple treats, but we haven't yet found a convenient place to pick in Texas.  Apple pie without fresh apples isn't quite as good, but timing your pie for late August-September makes a big difference, even with apples from the store.  Most people recommend a green apple with some sourness to it.  I prefer honeycrisps or red/green mixes. 
  • A word: I am totally okay buying a Pillsbury dough crust.  They taste great and are so much easier.  Some shortcuts are worth it.  To me, this is one of them.

    • Pillsbury dough crust
    • 6 apples (I like honeycrisps)
    • 3/4 cup white sugar
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3T flour
    • 1/4t salt
    • 1T cinnamon
    • Dash of nutmeg
    • Lemon juice or lemon
    • Aluminum foil
    • Pie plate
    • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Unroll the first pie crust and place it in the pie plate.
    • Peel, slice, and core the apples.  I have an apple peeler, corer, and slicer.  This contraption is about $20 and makes the job so much easier.  Many kitchen knick-knacks don't actually help you.  This one does.  After you have the apple slices ready, drop them into a bowl of water with some lemon spritzing to keep them from turning brown.
    • Combine apples, sugar, brown sugar, flour, salt and spritz of lemon juice in a bowl.  Drop them all into the bowl, then use your hands to mix it all together.  Drop the mixture into the crust.
    • Sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg on top of the pie mixture.
    • Unroll dough pie top and place the top crust on the pie, pressing the edges into the ridges of the pie plate.
    • Cut slits in the upper crust with a knife.
    • Take aluminum foil and cover the edges of the pie.
    • Bake in the over 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.  (I always begin checking at 35 min.!)
    • Remove aluminum foil before serving

    Quick trip to Austin

    Appellate bootcamp binder.
    This past week/weekend I went to Austin for a work conference/CLE and got to spend some time with a good friend and my little sister.  Unbeatable deal.  The conference was actually really great and informative and I knocked out most of my CLE (continuing legal education) requirements for the year.  I spent the work days in typical fashion, learning things and socializing with other attorneys.

    But, after the conference was over, I got to have some quality time with my little sis.  She introduced me to moon milk, some kind of magical combination of seven secret ingredients added to coffee, taught me how to SUP (stand-up paddle), and showed me the Social Work School at UT Austin.  Austin was lovely and quirky, as self-described.  And I was happy for a quick trip to a new place.
    SUPing on Ladybird Lake in Austin.

    Menu at Summermoon, filled with all kinds of "moon" drinks.

    I got to buy my little sis a hot chocolate, coffee, ice cream drink after she had a bad day.  What else can a big sis ask for?