Tuesday, May 31, 2011

[Blog] Cleaning My Parents' Kitchen


My father and brother are laughing like hyenas. It's so hysterical to listen to that despite not knowing the cause I can't help but grin ear to ear. I can hear them through the floor.


Whopping 82 degrees here in Buffalo today. I spent around half an hour sunning my legs with the rest of me out of the sun. My legs rarely see sunshine at all, and I expect it's probably good for my vitamin D levels as well as the skin on my legs. Sure, burning is harmful. But it does seem that if you sun yourself just a little, not enough to get a noticeable tan (and never enough to burn), that it has a positive result.

The Kitchen Of Doom

My husband and I have been cleaning my mother's kitchen essentially all day.

It's so vital to read ingredients.

My mother, whose always thought she was eating "fairly healthy" has a kitchen chocked full of things loaded with mono sodium glutamate, hydrolyzed soy protein, white refined conventional sugar, corn syrup, dextrose, sucralose, etc, etc. The only things she's successfully avoiding which are toxic: soda, cheap candy, and aspartame.

Read the spice labels too! I was so shocked to find that "mono sodium glutamate" is listed in plain English as one of the first three ingredients on many of my mother's "spices." Things labelled "Chicken Seasoning" or "Beef Marinade" or even "Italian Seasoning" contained a shocking amount of pure chemical garbage.

The really surprising part about this is that my mother knows that sugar makes her arthritis act up. She knows it's been proven to cause multitudes of ailments, from cancer to candida to diabetes. She knows that she's been diabetic in the past and resolved that through avoiding sugar. And yet, and yet, and yet...

Just by not reading the labels, she's got one out of three things in her kitchen containing sugar. Rice-flavoring packets, noodle-flavoring packets, cereals, spices -- most of these things advertised as savory-type dishes. But yes, tomato puree, dried raisins, packaged dates, chicken broth, etc, may all contain refined sugar or corn syrup.

Of course, I'm saying this all in the present tense, but actually, as of today, 95% of the items containing msg, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil, hydrolyzed soy protein, bleached white flour, dextrose, maltodextrin, etc, are now in the trash on the curb.

I'm going to start doing the cooking around here, even though it does mean cooking. My mother has been away for a week at a convention running an art show with some friends. While she was gone I had the brilliant idea to clean her kitchen and make dinners for my brother, husband, father and myself in her absence.

Sit-down dinners have not happened in this house in a long time, and the downstairs dining room (my parents' dining room) is a disaster, so I've been hosting the dinners on the second floor in my apartment.

I've written an e-mail to my mom explaining my desire to take over the grocery shopping and cooking. It's too painful to watch my family poisoning themselves daily and then griping about their pains day in and day out. My brother is always getting his spine out of alignment, and spraining his ankles. My father, whose never had a pot-belly in my childhood, now has acquired one.

My mother actually passed out a couple months ago. I don't know if the cause was known; it happened shortly before I moved back to Buffalo. I just got the cliff notes.

My plan is to make meals that seem to be like their ordinary meals, but slowly change them. So, they're used to eating a lot of potatoes, pasta, rice, meat, canned beans, etc. So, sure, I'll still use a lot of that stuff that is in the kitchen (that doesn't contain added sugar, msg, etc), but I'll add vegetables, always serve a salad with dinner, often serve vegetable-fruit juice with dinner, etc.

Over time, the cooked part of the meal will become the side, and the raw portion will become the main course. Eventually the meals will be entirely raw several days out of the week.

I doubt my brother and parents will go 100% raw, or even 100% vegan. Not even likely that I can get them 100% vegetarian. But, I find it likely than I can get them 60% raw, 30% quality vegan cooked food, 10% S. A. D. junk, within a year.

Me, Myself & I

I'm doing alright. I think I've given up on juice-feast for now. It's unfortunate, I suppose, but the truth of the matter is that I'm going through a fed-up-with-food phase. It doesn't happen to me often, but this is how it breaks down for me right now:

I'm tired of apples, oranges and bananas.

I'm no longer making any exceptions for bread, of any kind, despite the high quality organic local bakery being so close by.

I'm trying to cut back on the cold-pressed organic olive oil I love slathered on my salads.

I'm trying to cut back on the amount of seaweed and celery salt I like with my salads.

I'm not crazy about salad without the salty seaweed and celery salt.

I've been eating so much watermelon that it seems to be making me feel slightly sick each time I have it now. Don't know why, since I still love the flavor.

Every tomato I buy, despite being organic or organic heirloom, for some reason, is tasting like complete crap.

I'm tired of smoothies and juice.

I'm tired of making a dessert filled with lots of dates to bring to a potluck and then eating way too much of my own dessert and feeling like I ate a brick of lead.

I'm tired of going through so much effort to make myself a meal that is both healthy and delicious and then it not even being delicious much of the time because I'm trying too hard to make it perfectly healthy. Of course, a lot of the time it's just because I've gone and bought something out of season.

I'm enjoying the home-grown edibles more than anything else. Fresher is so much better. I think it's just making everything else seem drab. But yesterday all my sunflower sprouts were moldy and that was really depressing.

So, my obsession with food is on vacation today. I've been essentially water fasting today. It feels really good, honestly.

While that list of reasons why I'm not interested in food today seems very depressing, I'm actually in a much better mood today than I have been for a few days.

I went to an "Encounter Meeting" yesterday where everyone at the group opens up and talks about things bothering them.

The point is to focus on your emotions and revile in having everyone full attention. Part of the exercise to provide eye contact and sit still while the others are speaking. It's incredibly powerful to have all those attentive eyes on you. It's very rewarding, really.

I think my ten minutes of spewing did make me feel a lot better. I actually cried, which was embarrassing, but only two people in the group didn't cry.

My "confession" so to speak, was about how I feel a lot of self-pressure to be incredible. I can't stand the idea of being an ordinary person. Perhaps I'd be okay with being ordinary if I didn't feel there was so much important work to be done. I want to captivate and inspire people to live better lives.

All that self-pressure can be hard to take when there are so many mundane things I must accomplish in the immediate months that prevent me from pursuing my larger quests. Sure, mundane things must be done too, but the monstrous amount of tasks I have ahead of me before I can get to the really rewarding tasks is very daunting.

But after talking about that last night, and crying about it openly... I feel relieved. I feel this sense that things will move along better than I expect and that I will achieve my goals in good time.

Perhaps time has been wasted before, but it's just wasting time to dwell on past losses.

My future is full of beauty. I just have to be open and feel.

Yours Truly,


-- Thanks for reading. *smiles*


  1. Sounds like some powerful transformations going on for you. Awesome that you are helping your fam with their nutrition: are they open to it ? Sounds like they are. How does your husband feel living in such close proximity with his in-laws?

    I honestly believe that "80% healthy" is just fine for most people, and is much less intimidating and more manageable. Sounds like you made a great start. Sounds like you're also being very hard on yourself. Seaweed is awesome food! If you enjoy it, enjoy it--and when you've had your fill, you won't crave it so much.


  2. Raederle, I absolutely LOVE reading your blog. I find it so informative and you have a way of explaining and saying things that just makes sense!
    Felic xx

  3. Ela,

    Jay is having his ups and his downs with my folks. We're not in direct contact with them for long periods of time generally, but we are seeing them daily, and sometimes I think he's a bit wrung out about my parents' bad habits.

    I think I went through a body-image funk there for a while, and I might have been subconsciously projecting my self-dissatisfaction to food-dissatisfaction. Working out more, getting out more, gardening more, and stressing less about food have made that clear up again.

    My family is open to change, but they don't really realize the big-time changes I'd like to make in their lives, or how positive those changes could be. I think trying to take too many of my parents' problems on -- as though I could just "fix" them -- was really stressing me out. The last few days I've been letting it go. They'll live their lives as they will. I can direct, show and speak my mind, but I can't take responsibility for their failures.

    I think blaming salt for my issues was a cop-out for ignoring how stressed out I was making myself. I seriously doubt the hefty amount of salt I apply to my salads is making a huge dent in my level of well being, if it is even harmful at all.

    Thanks for your input. It's good to know I have not lost my marbles. :D

    ~ Raederle

  4. Felic,

    I'm glad you're enjoying it. :D

    I should be around online more often when the warm weather of Buffalo passes and I have little reason to be outdoors anymore.

    ~ Raederle


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