Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Honesty, Health, and Stew Beef Enchiladas

The beauty of the human condition is how broad personal experiences can be, especially when there is a willingness to share them with others. That is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place; I want to share what I’ve learned and reflect the impact reading what others have experienced.

And I want to do it every time I post.

My next post: Spiraling Spirulina Oatmeal

There are two bloggers who’ve each posted an entry that really struck home for me. Shauna of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef wrote about the dark side of blogging (titled "warm brown rice and grilled vegetable salad"), about how people choose to use the anonymity of the Internet to be cruel, and basically make themselves feel all-powerful by using hurtful words in attempt to belittle another.

No one has done this to me through my blog, but after the house fell through, one of the landlords’ kids (and once a friend of mine) sent me a message through Facebook saying how dare I disrespect my roommates and her home. Her last statement was this: “Good luck finding an apartment. I hope it takes you months.” It’s not like she was outlandishly malicious or anything, because she was angry and that’s how she felt. I responded with an “I’m sorry you feel that way…” sort of spiel and said I found a place that was just what I needed. As of now I am commuting to school from home, and as the consequence of living at home, I am slowly moving and unpacking all my things in the manner to my liking. The boyfriend is staying in the guest bedroom, and as mentioned in my last post, I am happier than I’ve been in months.

In a matter of days, however, new friends filled the void, and it just keeps getting better and better. Misery loves company, and it doesn’t like those who soar high overhead above it. Shauna embodies that tenfold. She has a life filled to the brim with joy and prosperity that some envy and possibly resent, so they nitpick the most ridiculous of things just to bring her down to their level. But she doesn’t go down, not even a centimeter; she simply flies even higher.

Yesterday, Iris of The Daily Dietribe wrote a post titled “Does She Really Have a Food Sensitivity or is it an Eating Disorder?” As I was reading, I couldn’t help but think how much it related to my experiences, particularly when people give me that “look” when I tell them I can’t eat something they made especially for me. It sucks when I go over to a house and know I can’t eat much or anything being offered, because that means I have to deny a very intimate connection that food seems to offer interpersonally. It sucks that I have to be so anal and paranoid when I go to a restaurant (if at all), sometimes even eating beforehand so my stomach won’t grumble as I watch people enjoy their orders. And yes, sometimes I do wonder if I have an eating sensitivity or if it is purely a psychological malfunction, an eating disorder that manifests discomfort every time I accidentally consume something on my “Red” list. Maybe it’s a bit of both, but all I know is I feel better not eating wheat, soy, refined sugars, artificial flavors and sweeteners, anything processed, and weird chemically things found in food I can’t pronounce.

So do I have a form of disordered eating? Maybe. Probably. I certainly used to be: excessively counting calories, limiting food intake, exercising a certain amount of calories at a time (also known as exercise bulimia), and had panic attacks when something not Morri-friendly entered in my system without my knowledge. I’m part of a cooking club at the University (Café GMU), and to make up for my inability to eat anything, even when gluten-free bread like Udi’s is being provided, I help in the kitchen and make people laugh. Do I wish I could taste the food? Of course I do. I always do. I never binged on food I restricted from my diet, but I dream about it often. Why, just last night I dreamed of pita bread rising in the oven, and the night before I dreamed of eating a muffin, a gluten-filled muffin. Sometimes in my dreams I wonder why I bother being gluten-free, and I take a bite and savor the taste with every chew until I swallow. Seconds later, I panic, and wake up wondering if I really did eat it because of the vividness of the act. It’s better than my reoccurring zombie nightmares, but still, it is always a very uncomfortable and upsetting thing to dream about.

I’m telling you this because these two amazing and strong women have been upfront and honest with what they go through, the good and the bad. As for me, the idea of being honest about the struggles behind the scenes seems, well, unnerving. I’ve talked about disordered eating and fanatically exercising before, but I didn’t talk about the things beneath the surface. I never talked about my hypothyroid condition in length, or how my bowels and digestion were delicate and fickle. And because I was afraid of people I knew thinking what I wrote to be a “too much information” sort of thing, I didn’t mention my hormones being topsy-turvy because my menstrual cycle was either obscenely light or non-existent.

Well, I’m being honest now.

Last year, from May to about February, I went nine months with only one period from that summer up to coming back to Mason from my semester in Sweden. That was before I was diagnosed with a hypothyroid, and it may have been that I was simply not eating enough for my body to believe I wasn’t starving. Regardless, I felt less of a woman, and it impacted my life more I than I realized. That’s what happened on Friday; after a four-month hiatus, Lady Red came to town. Something shifted, and immediately I realized my down-in-the-dumps attitude was because of an extended version of pre-menstrual symptoms (a better terminology for PMS), that made me fatigued, in a funk, not wanting to fix what I could fix, and wanting to hide under the covers until it was all over. Suddenly I felt connected to the world and The Way. The stress went away and those little things that affected me so negatively don’t even exist anymore. I am able to keep up with my classes and still make time for CARmunity as Director of Student Representatives and Diplomatic Affairs in S/CAR. I have the energy to go to the gym and was pleasantly surprised that I wasn’t as bad off as I thought I was. The current I fought so hard against is flowing to my pace, and I am beyond ecstatic and feel amazing. 

Stew Beef Enchilada

1.5 lbs. Lean stew beef meat, cut into manageable chunks
1 can (14.5 oz) Diced tomatoes
1 tsp. Chili powder
1 tsp. Chipotle powder
1 tsp. Paprika
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Trader Joe’s smoked sea salt (or whatever salt you have on hand)
1/4 tsp. Cracked pepper
1 tbsp. Unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp. Olive oil
1 Shallot
3 Garlic cloves
8 oz Filtered water
8 oz Riesling
1 1/2 Green zucchini (medium-sized), finely grated
2 Carrots, finely grated
10 oz Ricotta
1 can (14 oz) Black beans, drained
12 Trader Joe’s Corn Tortillas
2.5 oz Pecorino Romano, finely grated

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
With a pressure cooker or large pot, grease the bottom generously with olive oil and cook the meat on medium-high heat.
Put in the blender the tomatoes, spices, oil, shallot, garlic, and the water and blender until thoroughly pureed.
After the outside of the meat is cooked, though still raw in the middle, put half of the sauce including the Riesling in with the meat and cover the pressure cooker or pot with the lid, and cook of medium-low heat for at least half an hour.
Using a fork or a wooden spoon, tear apart the stew beef chunks into individual strands.
Grease a deep 9x9” pan and start the layering process, beginning with 4 tortillas on the bottom, then veggies, ricotta, meat, and beans, repeating once more with some of the sauce splashed throughout.
Top with the last 4 tortillas, the remaining sauce, and the Pecorino Romano.
Bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the cheese has browned and the sauce is bubbling.

Makes 6 – 8 servings.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your own story. I know for myself that just being as honest as I can in my blogging helps me to feel better, and I'm sure it helps everyone who reads this as well.