Saturday, March 23, 2013

Coffee Love

Coffee Love

I picked it up and I brought it home
Just its presence seemed to light up my life
In a way that just milk or sugar alone could never do
But there it waited, surrounded in sheer plastic
Allowing me to see everything it was
And all that it contained
For only me to enjoy.
Suddenly, I was subject to global warming
My pulse heated; inside my mouth the ice caps were melting
As the slender straw drew nearer and nearer
My sense ran up a wall
It had me at first sip; I was hooked.

Guess who wrote that?

Me. Yup, the girl who can’t drink coffee. Least not the way she likes to.

Medium iced coffee, light and sweet. Everyday for a good long while during high school. I was homeschooled, and my mom and dad are big coffee drinkers so it was easy enough for me to pick it up.

It wasn’t too bad at first; it was just a coffee a day in the morning to get myself going. I didn’t have too much of a “2:30 feeling” either; my body handled it well.

However, when I began to cut out sugar, I managed to cut out the sugar in my coffee. Medium iced coffee, light, no sugar. (Why I had to actually say “no sugar” I still don’t understand. The coffee people just couldn’t get it right otherwise.) My new order worked for a good long time, till I figured out a good deal of the uneasiness and discombobulation my stomach was experiencing was due to dairy.

I’m sorry, I love the taste of coffee, but I am not my mother, and I cannot take it black. In the words of a dear friend, Esparto (a nickname, derived form the meaning of a shortened version of his real name), addressing my mom’s coffee order, “Wow, she’s a strong woman” and I, dear friends, am not. I like it sweet and creamy. So…There went coffee.

Bye, bye delicious love! It was scrumptious while it lasted!

Painfully, with much withdrawal and heartache, I went cold turkey.

Since I wasn’t having it every day, my body grew accustomed to no caffeine. Which was fine, it’s not like doctors everywhere are recommending caffeine for hypoglycemics. It’s been difficult knowing that I can’t drink coffee at all. The definite no made coffee all the more alluring.

Thankfully, because of dairy pills, I can still have some dairy. I don’t go crazy, it just means if I splurge now and again I won’t deal with a week of discomfort. So I tried a coffee a couple times. And trust me, it wasn’t pretty.

I went CRAZY! I could barely keep my brain under control. You name it; I got it. The shakes, mental instability, emotions running up the wall, and a giant crash to finish it off. But for my pure love of the drug, I persevered. A couple tries later, and I could basically tolerate it. I still get hyper and sort of shaky, and it definitely keeps me awake if I drink it too late.

The wonderful thing is though, now that I know I can drink it, I don’t crave it all the time. I don’t want to break the rules each time I drive past a coffee shop. I’m able to say no without having to feel like I’m depriving myself.

I still love coffee, I always will, but even in the euphoria of love, you need to know when too much is…too much.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

This Post Should Be Titled "How Many Foods Can Hannah Describe As 'Thick'"

In light of National Peanut Butter Month, I decided to write out my top 10 Favorite Ways to Consume Peanut Butter. I could probably write more…But I would hate to bore you. Or if this is the first post of mine you’re reading, weird you out so much you choose not to come back. Hopefully, that won’t be the case.

My 10 Favorite Ways to Consume Peanut Butter:

#10 - Out of the Jar

Pure peanut butter, nothing gets in its way, nothing violates it, just peanut butter. My dessert is often one or two (or three) scoops of peanut butter. And since I often have much more than one type in the house, I have a wonderfully varied dessert.

#9 - Peanut Butter and Yogurt

I love Greek yogurt. Being lactose intolerant, it gets difficult to eat it. There are some brands that sell alternatives, however, there aren’t many stores reasonably near me that sell it. So I made my own. Using So Delicious yogurt and PB2 (powdered peanut butter) plus a vast amount of peanut butter, I’ve created (what I think) is an even better version. Leaving the mixture in the fridge for as long as possible allows it to thicken up to mimic the texture of Greek yogurt.

#8 - Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of my first choice bases to work off of, while it has a flavor it’s not overbearing and goes with pretty much anything. Adding peanut butter helps to make it thicker (I like thick foods, haha). Oatmeal, even Old Fashioned, can have a big impact on my blood sugar, so having some protein in there helps balance things out. Plus, not only thick, the oatmeal gets gooey; gooey oatmeal is never a bad thing.

#7 - Instead of Milk

It started out with just Cheerios. It was an improvisation on dinner at work. I had planned yogurt and peanut butter, but upon opening my yogurt I found a nice blot of mold. Figured that would be bad to eat. It then spread of Honey Nut Cheerios, then an organic version. Then, one of the best choices I’ve ever made came into existence: Peanut Butter and Honey Bunches of Oats. If you follow my Twitter or Tumbler account, you realize just how obsessed I am with this dish. I use a 50/50 mix of Honey Roasted and With Almonds flavors, and then coat them in excessive amounts of peanut butter.

#6 - Peanut Butter Pasta

Peanut Butter Pasta is my version of Mac and Cheese. Don’t get grossed out, I don’t use cheese. The sauce that coats the pasta is water, peanut butter, PB2 (seriously, if you haven’t already, look it up. You need to.), and spices. I tend to like my food with flavor but hot. I add cumin, curry, red pepper, cinnamon, and sometimes a little nutmeg (minuscule amounts); besides the nutmeg, I usually add a good dosage of each. The sauce, as it cools, tightens and thickens around the pasta (again, with the thickening, what can I say?).

#5 - Between the Bread

Classic. No way to get past it. Toasted, roasted, grilled, refrigerated, or even as is. Not much else to say, honestly. It’s a sandwich, who doesn’t love a sandwich?

#4 - With Rice

Please believe me. Please, please believe me. It tastes good. It really does. Make a good batch of rice throw in just enough peanut butter to flavor and bring the rice all together but not enough to be obnoxious. Peanut butter and rice is sticky, silky, good warm or cold, and mushy. (Mushy in my book is a good thing, if a food is supposed to be mushy.) Like, not soupy mushy, but not grainy or crunchy (less you prefer crunchy peanut butter, in that case it should be crunchy).

#3 - Ants on a Log

You know how all different things can bring a person back to a memory? Well, I’m extremely sensitive to tastes. Apple juice and Pringles bring me back to sleepovers at my Grandparent’s. Ants on a Log brings me back to my childhood. I think of my mother, when she shared her favorite treats with my brother and I. Besides the way that celery’s watery, crunch and the chewy sweetness of raisins mixes heavenly with Jif peanut butter, my love for Ants on a Log is almost completely about the sensory experience.

#2 - In Sweet Potato

I thought I was weird for this one. Then I joined Tumblr. Apparently, it’s not so weird. So you should try it. Because frankly, it’s number two on this list. Which should say a lot. In sweet potato soup, sweet potato mash, just on a sweet potato, or any other way you can think of. The distinct sweet potato flavor plus the nuttiness of peanut butter…I’m sort of at a loss for words with it.

#1 - Out of the Jar

Honestly, who are we kidding? I mean, we can think up as many fancy ways to eat it as we can, but does anything really beat straight out of the jar?

Okay, there's one more. 

As I was promptly alerted, I forgot to mention one important way I love to consume peanut butter. When The Boy cooks for me!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hannah-friendly Peanut Butter Donuts

Birthday Veggie Stir Fry with Haitian Hot Pepper Peanut Butter (with teriyaki mixed in the sauce)

Flourless Peanut Butter Muffins
I enjoy dating a cook.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Just Like Clockwork

Some people I know think that this whole hypoglycemia thing just sort of appeared out of the blue in my late teens. In truth, I’ve been dealing with it since I was a little kid. When I was younger, my mom looked after me; she made sure I didn’t eat too much sugar and ate regularly. As I got older, I took responsibility of it myself.

I wasn’t too good at it.

I was pretty moody. The kind of swings that’ll throw you over the top of the swing set.

My blood sugar dropped at random times because of what I ate. Because of what I didn’t eat (I wasn’t doing the vegetarian thing correctly) I had a rough go with anemia (it beat my butt for a while). And while I wasn’t fat by any standard, I wasn’t exactly happy with how my body was beginning to look.

So probably junior and senior year of high school, I worked to cut out all the things I’ve mentioned on this blog.

In doing so, I realized life was a lot more fun when I didn’t lose control of my emotions every other minute. I also enjoyed getting back to my regular, active, hyper self when I finally started overcoming my anemia. Also, I’ll definitely admit that I didn’t mind getting back in the gym and losing about 30 lbs.

I felt good going to the gym, even just playing outside wasn't so much of a chore anymore. I felt more muscle; I saw more muscle. 

But besides the physical changes, my mind was more active, I had more confidence. I also learned how to control and live with my hypoglycemia. No longer did I have to continually fight my body. 

However, my hypoglycemia became extremely sensitive. Every two hours on the dot, I HAD to eat again.

My doctor said it probably had to do with all the changes I’d put my body through and a lot to do with my age.

Annoyingly, my blood sugar had put me on a pretty strict schedule. While now, at 20 and a sophomore in college, it has loosened up a bit, it’s still pretty straightforward.

9:00am - Breakfast.
11:00am - Lunch
1:00pm - Snack
4:00pm - Dinner

(Usually with an after dinner snack or second dinner around 6pm.)

For an even better description, think of a hobbit.

Obnoxious as it was, I realized that it helped a lot. While sometimes hypoglycemia can be unpredictable and there are those days when it’s just a struggle to keep my blood sugar up, it’s basically always foreseeable.

Which, for me, is like the best gift God could give. I like to plan almost every detail and I was frustrated at it’s sensitivity. What if I’m somewhere and I can’t eat anything?

THEN! The light bulb went off.

(Typical Hannah moment.)

My hypoglycemia works like clockwork. Follow the pattern. Go wherever you want to. When your travels fall over a meal or snack, pack it.

It sounds so simple and upfront as I type it out. But believe me, in the middle of the situation, it was a dream come true to realize.