Good enough, Day 11: Too hot to be bothered


When I tell people about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, their first reaction is usually a brief take of mock shock and/or sympathy over how terribly restrictive it is, followed immediately by a round of that game no one seems to tire of, "Can You Eat X?" But really, the SCD, a diet for people with Crohn's and ulcerative colitis (and, believe it or not, autism) isn't any more restrictive than diets for people with diabetes or high cholesterol. And I'm way, way happier forgoing bread and pasta and fries than I would be suffering through them the way the folks with hypertension do—WITHOUT SALT. Sweet Jesus of Nazareth, talk about pointless.

No, after 11 years on and off of it, I can honestly say that the only place SCD really falls short is in the area of convenience. Since almost all processed foods are out—illegals like starch, sugar, and the murky "flavorings" are almost always lurking therein—you're down to preparing most stuff yourself or finding quality places you really trust. Things have gotten far easier since the advent of the Paleo Diet, which mimics ours in many ways (and again, which I find far worse—WTF, no cheese??), but it's still dodgy, eating out, not to mention expensive.

* * * * *

When you are literally chief cook and bottle-washer, you end up eating the same things over and over, especially when dietary needs get tricky. My prayer to the dating gods is for them to deliver me a loving chef with something to prove. Until then, I see myself sticking to the same six or seven menu items, swapping them out seasonally, or when I get bored.

For example, I went through a years-long omelet phase, varying only fillings, and only under duress. When I burned out on omelets a couple of years ago, I switched to a hard-boiled egg and a bowl of SCD-legal yogurt with seasonal fruit.

Lunch and dinner are easy in cool weather. I make big batches of soup, chili, stew, and so forth, freeze them in portions, and pull them out as needed. Even the early part of summer is fine: I make a big salad every day, and that's that. For years, I did the Meat Blueprint Salad. This summer, I switched to greens, tuna, peppers, and avocado, dressed simply with oil and vinegar.

But when hell sets in here, usually sometime in late August, the idea of even this much prep is exhausting.

So I swing by the deli, pick up 1/2 lb. of turkey and 1/4 lb. of cheese, some romaine lettuce, and a gritty, sour mustard free of illegals, and eat these until the heat breaks. Over the sink. Quickly, so I can get the hell out and back into some library or coffee shop that's air-conditioned.

If you're new to the SCD, know that even deli meats usually are not safe. They are pumped full of disgusting things to make them look pretty and stay stable; they are absolutely processed foods are not part of the program of "fanatical adherence" that our beloved founder Elaine Gottschall wisely advised maintaining if you want to see results. What you can do, in this case, is track down a minimally-to-unprocessed turkey breast and roast it yourself. Roasting will heat up your kitchen like mad, but if you do it in the cool of the evening, it's slightly less heinous. Portions freeze beautifully, and a breast will last a good long time.

There's a lovely kind of comfort to be had, having the same things over and over. And there's a correspondingly wonderful feeling of gratitude and delight when I get to switch things up again.

(Someone remind me of this when I have to move, okay?)

xxx c

The skinny on, plus all previous 21-Day Salutes™.

Good enough, Day 2: The Freezer-Burn Smoothie


It has been more than a good-enough summer here in Los Angeles; it has been nothing short of spectacular. Warm (but not overly so!) days, sandwiched by mornings chilly enough for long walks and evenings cool enough—with the assistance of cross-ventilation and some strategically-placed fans—for the winter comforter. (L.A. "winter", anyway.) But, oh! There is a give-and-take to all spectacular things, is there not? In this particular case, what has given is smoothies, a mainstay of my summer-in-L.A. diet for a good 10 years, or whenever I bought my crappy old blender. I have a somewhat inefficient internal temperature regulation system, you see. I don't shed heat well, except in winter—yes, even L.A. "winter"— when it bleeds from my extremities like Jesus on the cross. Smoothies were introduced as a corrective—a means of bringing down my core temperature a half-degree or so when the temperature here in the E-Z-Bake Oven climbed over 85ºF—and they work. (This could, of course, be purely psychological, but I resist looking up the science involved, because you try living in this joint without air-conditioning or hope in the middle of a monthlong heat wave.)

Here's the thing, though: if the temperatures do rise and catch you unprepared, you are hosed, smoothie-wise. The (sorry) smooth preparation of smoothies requires, among other items, a ready supply of frozen bananas. And because of my fabulous-yet-persnickety diet, my smoothie-bananas have to be black when they go into the freezer, which requires even more foresight. So the surprisingly clement temperatures gifted us by the roller-coaster ride that is global warming, coupled with my apparent inability to remember to check weekly forecasts for the errant day from hell, did not just throw me off my smoothie game—they took me out entirely.

But oh, the gifts a challenge comes bearing under its own, sweaty wing. In my desperation, staring into the minuscule, apartment-sized freezer for the 75th time, hoping bananas would miraculously appear, I spied a stash of diced avocado (stuck in there during a stretch of exasperated thrift, no doubt). I had enjoyed avocado smoothies elsewhere over the past year, in Ojai (deadly hot) and Portland (you'd be surprised, and they are TOTALLY unprepared for that shit). Yes, these were professionally blended in budget-killers I will never save enough Amazon points for, but hey, I could give it a try. The worst that would happen was my own blender dying, which would suck eggs, but something-something zombie apocalypse anyway, right?

I am DELIGHTED to report that this desperation introduced the most delicious smoothie variation I have found since I learned to replace OJ with apple juice. My avocado/coconut milk/strawberry smoothie went down like (insert sexist, circa-1956 locker-room joke here), and did a bang-up job of cooling me down.

The Good-Enough Freezer-Burn Smoothie

  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 good handful frozen, diced, ripe avocado
  • 1 good handful frozen, sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup coconut milk*
  • 1/4 cup apple juice (if you like it sweet, like I do; otherwise, add more coconut milk)
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey (again, for sweet-toothed folks)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt (optional)

Pulverize ice cubes in blender. (It should scare the cat.) Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together until smooth. If you have an old-timey blender like mine, keep an ear out for the motor sticking, and stop/hand-stir, and/or add more liquid.

Makes two 1 1/4-cup servings, or one big-ass serving.

*I made this the lazy-man's way. It's a little gritty, made with an old-timey blender, but you don't notice the grit in a smoothie.

Good enough!


Image by me, and definitely good enough—just!

SCD recipe: Smoked salmon and goat cheese bites

salmon bites

Note: if you're a "Crohnie" or UC patient or parent of an autistic kid who came for the recipe, feel free to skip ahead to the recipe. (Although I'm guessing most kids won't be too into lox.)

Likewise, if you're a self-involved tool equally disinterested in understanding the suffering of others and broadening your body of knowledge, feel free to skip ahead. Although be warned: just because you don't have IBD now doesn't mean you or someone you love won't someday, especially if you keep on eating your crapass, Corporo-Fascist-approved Standard American Die-Yet? Incidence of IBD on the rise in Westernized countries.

No, really, go ahead: blow off the back story. We'll be here via the Google when your insides have turned into raw hamburger. Hopefully, it won't be too late! Toodles!


For the rest of you...


Readers come here from all kinds of search strings, but one that comes up a lot is "Specific Carbohydrate Diet" + ("you name it").

Most likely this is because the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is notoriously difficult to follow. The list of legals and illegals only makes sense up to a point: Why navy beans and not kidney beans? Why provolone and not mozzarella? Why honey and not maple syrup?

I noticed. And while we're at it, what the hell's up with you hippies and your homemade yogurt?

Bottom line is this: the SCD is predicated on the thesis that undigested matter lingering too long in the gut provides a 24-hour feeding station for irritating intestinal bacteria. The more bacteria, the more mucous (yum!), the less the gut is capable of doing its (you'll pardon the pun) duty; also, the more irritation, the more abrasion, again, leading to a reduction in functional capacity. Not to mention the garden of attendant earthly delights like diarrhea (regular, explosive and bloody varieties), extreme fever and underweight, energy loss, body aches, pain and...wait for it...puppy-killing farts.

Or, in the words of the wise and eloquent Seth Barrows,

The SCD combats bacterial and yeast overgrowth by restricting the energy they require to live while keeping the host well fed.

But no one really knows why it works, just that, in many cases, it does work.

Unfortunately, in many cases it doesn't, but no one knows why on that count, either, it could be user error, as the SCD is notoriously difficult to follow. Even when you start to get what you can and can't eat; even when you're well enough to eat the full range of allowable foods (in the beginning, when you're really sick, many "legals" are verboten), there's hella prep involved in eating legal.

So there's no getting around it: following the SCD is a pain in the ass.

For those of us who've found relief, however, not following it is an even bigger pain in the ass. I fell off the wagon shortly after meeting The BF (not his fault! not his fault!), and have been on and off in the three years since. (I was in Fanatical Adherence mode for the two years prior.) I started to get another scare just before Thanksgiving, and had an epiphany much like I did when I felt the bronchitis coming on for a third time and quit smoking on the spot, in mid-pack: 20 years, and I'm still smoke-free.

Of course, it is MUCH harder to stay on a diet than to quit a substance entirely, because hey, you gotta eat. And not only is it difficult to steer clear of the temptation all dieters are faced with, there are literally hidden evils in everything. Every. Thing.

So we eat mainly non-processed food. Nothing canned, bottled, boxed or to-go. No convenience foods. Which makes life...inconvenient.

There's another downside to this: food gets scary-boring. I mean DEADLY boring. Because it's so much work finding and making food, one's intake on the SCD gets numbingly repetitive. Honestly, if I could have any luxury, when I can have any luxury, the first one I want it a private chef to come in three times per week and cook me stuff. (And for my chef friends out there, now you know that the thing I love most is being asked over for a tasty, SCD-legal dinner!)

One trick I've learned to apply from the other part of my nerdy life is batch-processing. Make a tub of yogurt and then figure out the 17 different ways you can use it. Find a recipe that freezes well in portions and make a shitload of it. Four dozen cookies, six loaves of "bread" (which you then turn half of into toasts).

So the following recipe is what you do with some of the homemade goat's milk yogurt it takes you 26 hours to make. It's fecking hawesome, as Shane Nickerson speaking in a bad British accent might say, and it made my night.

Also, for you normies, you can have it on real bread toasts, if you like. But the cuke makes it lighter and less caloric, in case you care about stuff like that.


Serves 1 hungry-ass SCD-er as a meal, or several dainty types as hors d'oeuvres

  • 1 cucumber, sliced into 1/4" rounds
  • 1 cup DRIPPED SCD-legal goat's milk yogurt*
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallion
  • a few tablespoons capers
  • 4 oz SCD-legal smoked salmon**
  1. Spread rounds with dripped goat "cheese".
  2. Press sprinkling of scallions on each round.
  3. Press a few capers (to taste) on each round.
  4. Layer with generous swath of salmon.
  5. Eat your damn face off!

*Can substitute SCD-legal cow's milk yogurt, although not as tasty
**Check package, even if brand you used last time was legal; I think suppliers change for brands, and many add sugar

This is very tasty with a Virgin or Bloody Mary. Vodka, fortunately, is 100% legal on the SCD. moderation, of course.


Image by chocolate monster mel via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license. And no, that recipe is totally illegal. Looks good, though!

Other SCD-legal recipes on communicatrix-dot-com:

A loaf of bread, a crapload of artichoke dip and thou

tour guides

I had my gals over last night. They are an extraordinary bunch and deserve only the finest: delicious food, wine that costs more than $5/bottle and a clean, clutter-free environment in which to enjoy both.

Since we've finally been gifted with The End of the Horriblest Summer on Record, I thought I'd bust out the Chief Atheist's family gravy recipe, a.k.a. pork-and-tomato-flavored crack, with meatballs, and kick off the season properly.

I am pleased to report that I have worked out the last kinks in making the recipe 100% SCD-compliant. I have not, however, received official permission to release the recipe to the general, salivating public, so you're all going to have to feed your own red lead jones via the Soprano family recipe I linked to in a previous gravy-related post.*

But since I am not a completely heartless bitch, I will provide you with another amazing recipe I adapted from the back of a Trader Joe's product:

Tasty Artichoke Dip


2 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1 fistful fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, washed & dried, stems removed
buncha (1/4 c? 1/2c?) extra-virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Pulverize garlic in food processor. Add artichoke hearts and parsley. Process, drizzling olive oil as you go until you see a nice, pulverized mix (1/4 - 1/2 cup or more, depending on how decadent you want to be). Add salt & pepper to taste.

Eat with carrots if you are an SCD-er, or delicious bread if you are blessed with a normal digestive tract.

Bonus benefit: not only is it SCD-compliant, it is also IC-safe as well! And it actually tastes good, I swear!

Well, okay, not as good as the gravy, but come on: what doesn't taste better with pork?


*UPDATE: Gravy boy pulled his link. Until I can post the real deal, this is the most authentic recipe I can find.

Most excellent photo courtesy of Patrick Q via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cheering the Hell Up, Day 11: Iced tea, hold the sugar

iced tea

Iced tea has always my summer drink of choice.

And since I've been on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, plain, brewed iced tea sans sugar is the order of the season.

And it gets a little...well, old after awhile. You can mix it up with plain, brewed peppermint tea (the other allowable tea on SCD), but sometimes, you want a little caffeine with your flava.

So how stoked was I when I went to my friend Richard's house and he poured me a long, tall glass of delicious with NO sugar and TONS of flavor:

Iced Green & Grey Tea Chez Waterhouse

Bring a kettle (or 1 quart) of water to a boil.

Pour over 3 bags green tea and 2 bags Earl Grey* tea in a Pyrex or other heat-proof pitcher.

Let steep until cool. Discard bags (squeeze 'em first). Pour tea in 2 quart pitcher and fill with cool water.



*Earl Grey tea is not strictly SCD-legal. I make sure to use a brand that contains actual oil of bergamot, not "flavor", which is the catchall through which illegals often slip through. SCD followers should not drink this unless they substitute black or peppermint teas for the Earl Grey.

Cheering the Hell Up, Day 06: Coffee and Tuna Nicoise!

tuna Sometimes you eat the bear; sometimes you meet him at Starbucks and you both get to eat (or at least have a beverage).

Yes, the communicatrix finally met internet giant Citizen of the Month, the one, the only Neilochka! For me, it harkened back ye old days of online dating, only we are both involved with other people and this wasn't a date. But the strange, I-sort-of-know-you-but-I-sort-of-don't feeling was the same.

Given that we're both enormous dorks, you'd think we'd talk about...oh, I don't know, dorky stuff, and maybe gossip about our readers (okay, his, since there are only five of you here and that's hardly enough for a conversation). But mainly, we ended up talking about food, my wacko diet, the delicious rolls at a particular bakery in the Farmer's Market that Neilochka had arrived early to consume so as not to torture me, why factory farming is evil.

We also talked about cooking and learning how to eat properly which, unless you're a ga-jillionaire, involves cooking. Being a straight man, Neilochka never learned to cook; being a man-like straight woman whose mother hated cooking, neither did the communicatrix, at least, not until she was 31, jobless and married to a different straight man who also didn't know how to cook.

Sadly, I can't really teach anyone how to cook; all I can do is make lame-ish suggestions based on my own experience. And in my experience, it's helpful to start out with a few VERY simple recipes (i.e., not stuff from The Silver Palate) and branch out from there as you gain confidence with handling food and understanding which flavors go well together.

Today's non-lession was inspired by the tube of anchovy paste I picked up at the French grocery store in the Farmer's Market. Generally, anchovies, sliced, dressed fishies, are a component of a delicious French salad, Nicoise (which just means "in the style of Nice", which is where there are a lot of goddam fish). For most of us, anchovies are just a punchline involving pizza and truly, truly disgusting, but they do have a nice, salty, robust flavor that adds a certain I-don't-know-what (translation: je ne sais quoi) to a dish. And anchovy paste, which removes all recognizable traces of the fish it came from except for the picture on the box, is a great way to add zip without triggering the gag reflex.

Nicoise also usually involves boiled and cooled, skinned (or not) red potatoes. These are not SCD-legal so I skip them now, but if you like, go ahead and boil yourself a batch of the baby ones (they scream as you drop them in the water) and halve or quarter them to add once cooled.

SALAD NICOISE (adapted for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet)

1 can water-packed, solid albacore tuna 2 hard-boiled eggs 2 cups haricot verts* 2 tablespoons capers 10-15 Kalamata olives (optional) 10-15 cherry tomatoes (optional) 2 cups lettuce, washed and torn up (I like spicy mixed baby greens)


3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1/4" squirt anchovy paste (totally optional)

Steam the haricots verts in a little water on the stove until just tender-crisp (not wiggly!) and let cool.

While the beans are cooling, chop the eggs into 1/2" sized pieces. (Don't worry, they don't need to be perfect.) Drain the tuna well. If you're using them, pit and cut the olives into quarters and halve the cherry tomatoes.

Arrange the lettuce in a wide, shallow bowl or on individual plates (this recipe makes about two servings for piggy me). Layer the cooled beans on top of the lettuce, then flake the tuna from the can with a fork on top of the beans. Strew the chopped egg and capers and olive pieces on top of the tuna, in that order (looks best!). Arrange the cherry tomatoes on the side of the dish.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a little bowl with a fork. Pour the dressing on the salad and eat!

See, Neilochka? Even you could make this delicious, healthy salad as easy as un, deux, trois!

xxx c

*long, skinny, French green beans. Trader Joe's sells them bagged and frozen; you can find them fresh at some markets. You could substitute regular green beans in a pinch, but the haricots verts are soooooo much better you shouldn't judge the recipe till you've tried them.

Photo by bzibble via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

Cheering the Hell Up, Day 01: Strawberry-Chicken-Walnut Salad!

chicken-strawberry salad I play the sympathy card when it comes to me and the SCD, but make no mistake: the Specific Carbohydrate Diet* is ten billion-gazillion times (a) easier to follow; (b) lenient; and (c) tasty than 99.99% of the cockamamie diets out there. And it's healthy! And it doesn't make your breath smell like the three-day-old vomit of a furry mammal that crawled in your mouth and died somewheres around your midsection!

As the late, great Elaine Gottschall, standard-bearer and patron saint of the SCD, used to say when someone on the listserv would grouse about all the things we couldn't eat, "Stop complaining and think of all the wonderful foods we can enjoy!" And Elaine didn't even have to be on the SCD; she put herself on it in solidarity with her ulcerative colitis-afflicted daughter (who fully recovered from UC after two years on strict SCD).

One of the great things I can and do still enjoy on SCD that normal people like, too, is salad. True, the days of throwing a little brown rice (starch is a no-no) or feta (ditto, fresh cheeses) or tofu/beans (see "brown rice") are over, but there are puh-lenty of coolio things to throw in a bowl and call "lunch", especially in Southern California, especially in spring and summer.

The above pictured salad is my own variation on one I sampled at a terrific eatery in Ojai (whose name, alas, escapes me) a couple of years ago. It's primary components are chicken, strawberries and leafy greens, but it also serves as a great template for how to put together an "interesting" (i.e., non-iceberg, non-mixed-greens-with-a-cherry-tomato) salad in general.

The Communicatrix's SCD-Legal, Idiot-Proof Strawberry-Chicken-Walnut Salad

SALAD: 3 skinless chicken breasts 1 cup walnut pieces 1 pint strawberries 4-5 green onions 3 stalks celery 1 outrageously overpriced package fresh tarragon (or good handful from the garden) 1 package mixed baby greens (or lettuce of your choosing, or no damned lettuce)


5 tablespoons walnut oil 3 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar

MAKE THE SALAD: Poach chicken breasts (simmer in water to cover with an optional bay leaf) until cooked, 5-10 minutes. Let cool. Chop into bite-sized, salad-y pieces.

Meanwhile, toast the walnuts in a 350ºF oven until golden-toasty brown, about 8 minutes, but keep an eye on them. They burn quickly! Let cool.

While this other stuff is going on, wash all your produce and dry it if you haven't. Then...

Slice off strawberry tops and discard; slice remaining strawberry into 1/4" (or nice, salad-y sized) pieces.

Slice off ratty part of scallion and celery tops and the roots; slice remaining bits into 1/4" ( get the idea) pieces.

Chop up that tarragon, sistah!

Arrange lettuce in large, shallow bowl. Strew chicken pieces, walnut pieces, strawberry slices, scallions, celery and tarragon on top.

Purists can whisk the walnut oil and vinegar together first; I just sprinkle the oil and then the vinegar right on top of the salad because I am LAZY and have a TINY KITCHEN with no room for DIRTY DISHES.


More importantly, this recipe serves as a kind of template for an easy, protein-based salad. The general idea is to have:

1. a protein for substance (cooked, cut-up chicken or beef or pork; grilled, meaty fish like tuna or swordfish; shellfish like cooked shrimp or scallops or crab)

2. a fruit, fresh or dried, that goes with it, for sweetness (think lighter with chicken, strawberries, grapes, pears; heartier fruits like apples, oranges and grapefruit work with beef)

3. a toasted nut for variety and omega-3 (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pignolias, etc)

4. greens to fill things out and keep things moving down the chute

5. an onion, for snap (scallions, thinly-sliced sweet onion or red onion or maybe shallots, lightly sauteed or not)

6. veggie "filler" to get your 5-7/day (cukes, celery, radishes; tomatoes; carrots, although you'd probably want curls, like you'd make with a vegetable peeler, so they don't overwhelm; roasted, sliced beets, if you dig 'em, although they can be overpowering and/or central to a salad, so you might want to adjust other ingredients; etc.) NOTE: sometimes the fruit and the veggie filler together can be like wearing all your jewelry at once, not so tasteful. Try to imagine the flavors of your favorite salads before you throw in everything willy-nilly.

7. a dressing (hearty for beef/pork, wine vinegar & olive oil & dijo, or an SCD-legal yogurt-based blue-cheese dressing; lighter for the others, some light vinegar like cider or white wine and olive oil always works)

8. complementary, preferably fresh, herb (tarragon, basil, rosemary, cilantro, etc; pronounce the "h" if you are a Brit, don't if you're a Yank)


9. a tasty cheese for fatty goodness! (any SCD-legal, cuisine-appropriate thang, thinly-sliced cheddar, swiss, parmesan, asiago, manchego, etc.; non-SCDers can also opt for feta with a Greek-type salad or bufalo mozzarella with an Italian chix/tomato/basil salad)

I like to mix up all the stuff except the greens in quantity, then add greens and nibble off of it for a day or two. The flavors get more concentrated the second day, but the dressing will wilt the greens.

Enjoy it with your favorite beverage and just TRY being crabby. I dare you...

xxx c

TAGS: , , , ,

Beef with Broccoli without _________


It occurs to me that while I've been bitching and moaning about what I can't eat on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, I've done precious little talking about what I can eat in my sugar-free, starch-free world.

Since I've been craving one of my old delivery staples, beef with broccoli, for some time, I finally decided to see if I could approximate it at home in SCD-friendly fashion.

The primary no-no in all commercially-prepared Chinese food is hidden starch. Obviously, the sticky rice is verboten, but the sauces themselves are generally laden with cornstarch, soy sauce (which ontains wheat and soy), shortcut liquid extenders (i.e., which contains commercially prepared broth with starches) and sugar. SCD cooking is stripped of all these, so our sauces tend to be thinner (unless you cook them down within a drop of their lives) and less "coat-y". But we are allowed honey and, after we've been on the diet a bit, tamari in judicial doses, so a quick scan of the following recipe I found via looked like it was adaptable:



2 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 lb. boneless sirloin, cut across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices


1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. med. dry sherry or scotch
1/4 c. chicken or beef broth or water
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. Oriental sesame oil


3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger root
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 (4 inch) fresh red chili, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1/2 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
1 lb. broccoli, cut into flowerets and stems peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick sticks
Cooked rice as an accompaniment


Prepare the beef: In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, sugar, salt, add the beef and let it marinate for 20 minutes.

Make the sauce while the beef is marinating. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and stir in the sherry. Add broth or water, sugar and Oriental sesame oil.Put 3 tablespoons oil in stir fry pan or wok, add ginger root, garlic, fresh red chili, and broccoli. Finally add beef and cook until meat is ready. Serve with rice.

So here's what I did to make it legal:



2 tsp. soy sauce 1 tsp. tamari
1/4 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. honey (more than I need, but makes it thicker)
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 lb. boneless sirloin, cut across the grain into 1/4 inch thick slices


1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. tamari
1 tbsp. med. dry sherry or scotch
1/4 c. chicken or beef broth or water
1 tsp. sugar 1/2 tsp. honey
2 tsp. Oriental sesame oil


3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger root
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 (4 inch) fresh red chili, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1/2 tsp. dried hot red pepper flakes
1 lb. broccoli, cut into flowerets and stems peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick sticks
Cooked rice as an accompaniment

Prepare the beef: In a small bowl, stir together with fork the soy sauce, sugar whisk the tamari, honey, salt with fork, add the beef and let it marinate for 20 minutes. Make the sauce while the beef is marinating. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and stir in the put the sherry scotch. Add broth or water, sugar and Oriental sesame oil. Put 3 tablespoons oil in stir fry pan or wok, add ginger root, garlic, fresh red chili, and broccoli. Finally add beef and cook until meat is ready. Serve with rice.

With these few simple adjustments, the dish is completely SCD-legal and, I might add, delicious! The BF, who can eat whatever the hell he likes, damn his eyes, chowed down an enormo-portion. Some people might say he did it to please me or with ulterior motives, but since (a) we had already had sex earlier that afternoon and (b) he got up and left the table when he was done to go lie down and take himself a nap while I was still eating, thankyouverymuch, I don't think that's the case. QED.

Anyway, just a little something to show you that SCD can be lovely and delicious just like regular-people food.

And in many cases, a helluva lot better for you.


Photo by Ben McLeod via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

TAGS: , , , ,

I {heart} Western medicine...and chopped chicken liver

little girl with bowl of yummy chopped liver

The lie of Western medicine (here's your silver bullet; see me in two weeks) gave my dad permission to live with for-shit quality of life for 40+ years.

The truth of Western medicine (hey! quantifiable information, here!) allowed him to live out those 40+ years, period.

I just got word from my G.I. doc that my iron levels came back waaaay low on the blood panels we had done this Tuesday. Which means that much of the fatigue I've been struggling with is likely due to shitty (ahem) iron absorption over the past few months, and not necessarily because I'm in the death grip of a Crohn's flare.

According to Doc, this is an easily fixable problem with the administration of a handy OTC iron pill and a strategically placed stool-softener.

According to me, this is an easily fixable problem with the administration of a few pints of organic chicken livers sauteed with onions in butter and whirled together with salt and a dash of fine whiskey in il Cuisinart and some strategically placed almond-bread toasts.

You see!? We both agree this an easily fixable problem. Who says the Establishment and the hippies can't get along?



Colleen's Highly Loose Recipe for Chopped Liver

1 lb. chix livers, rinsed and patted dry
1 big-ass sweet onion, sliced super thin
2 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 T scotch whisky (optional)
Salt to taste
Chopped hard-boiled egg
Something to put it on or a spoon or your finger.

Heat oil until hot on high heat. Add butter. When butter begins to brown, add onion. Let cook until onion browns crispy, stirring.

Lower heat and add chix livers. Saute until almost cooked through (okay to cut one and peek.)

When just done, slide the whole thing into Cuisinart, add Scotch and process until smooth (or pulse if you like it chunky). Add salt to taste. Enjoy, and watch your iron count soar!

Photo of DELICIOUS chicken liver by Susan NYC via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

The inside poop on SCD

cooking of Takayoki

As I was grocery shopping for what seemed like the 14th time this week, it occurred to me that I haven't ever gone into much detail on what day-to-day life on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet is like for Crohnies (and UC patients), most likely because way back when I started this here blog, I was already down to about 95% SCD-compliant, which, as any true SCDer will tell you, means you are not actually doing SCD at all.

SCD, you see, requires what its major proponent (the late, lamented Elaine Gottschall) called "fanatical adherence". Since it's predicated on eliminating every rogue bacterium in the gut, and since rogue bacteria can have a company picnic on one potato chip, there has to be a zero-tolerance policy towards fucking around. After all your symptoms are cleared up for a year, there's cautious talk about introducing "illegals", but most people on the SCD choose to remain on a modified version of the diet indefinitely, since it's way healthier and they're way scared of a repeat on the room-clearing gas and projectile diarrhea that brought them to the SCD in the first place.

Initially, my few cheats were small, but big: a half-piece of particularly toothsome bread, something I hadn't tasted in 2 1/2 years, on an early date with The BF. A lavender cupcake at a friend's film opening two months later.

But then I hit on what I should really use my cheat allowance for: dealing with the rogue illegals that turn up in virtually all restaurant food, no matter how 'clean' you try to order. Restaurant dining becomes more enjoyable by an order of magnitude when you do not have to grill the server on every, no, seriously...EVERY ingredient. In the steak. Or the steamed spinach. Or the "absolutely plain" house vinaigrette. Because I can almost guarantee you, that "absolutely plain" vinaigrette will have a minimum of three to five non-SCD-compliant ingredients which, in the early stages of recovery, could send you running for the toilet.

Everything was going relatively well (no pun intended) until last December, when I decided to get jiggy with the starches for the holidays. Mind you, my recent transgressions, an entire piece of rye toast at breakfast AND a forkful of potatoes AND a salad with Thousand, all in the same 24-hour period, were nothing compared to my old, "thank-you-drive-thru" ways. But a little too much fast & loose, plus a heavy round of antibiotics after some incredibly minor skin surgery and I was done fer.

So now I am back to square one, at least as far as the diet is concerned. Everything cooked and peeled. Nothing "challenging" like, oh...say...peppers or mushrooms or, heaven forfend, onions. After almost knocking myself out with my noxious wind after ingesting a stray piece of onion in last Saturday's steak dinner, onions are off le menu for awhile. Along with steak.

It is not all bad, though. Tonight we are having baked acorn squash, sautéed baby spinach and bay scallops with shallots in a butter and wine sauce. (Smaller member of the onion family = smaller farts.) There's a vat of homemade applesauce in the fridge (because the commercial stuff might contain sugar), along with homemade yogurt (because the commercial kind definitely contains lactose) and leftover homemade chicken stock (because the commercial kind contains, among other things, starch, stabilizers, gums and the dreaded catch-all "spices").

Collectively, though, they represent dozens of man-hours of shopping, peeling and cooking. That is the hardest thing about following the SCD: finding the time in which to do it. With planning, you can really streamline operations, but the bottom line is it much, much harder to make everything from scratch than it is to 'cheat' with canned broth, pre-made yogurt and a thousand other modern convenience foods. When I'm on SCD, my convenience food is stuff I've made in bulk, portioned up, and frozen.

On the other hand, if you want a lesson in patience, humility and gratitude, you'd be hard-pressed to find one better than fanatical adherence to the SCD. Barring subjection to a major natural disaster or life-threatening illness. And with the worst of Crohn's behind me (there's that ass-punnery again, dammit), maybe it's good to have a little refresher course in the difficulty of day-to-day living for most of this planet's inhabitants. At least I have supermarkets, and a car to drive to them, and the relative security of knowing I won't be shot at while shopping for them (although that graffiti-tagged car in the Vons parking lot this afternoon shook me up a little).

My complaints are tedious and few, and I tire of the whiny voice in my own head as I head out for the store yet again to get what too many people would weep with gratitude over being blessed with.

And so to dinner. And, after we wail through the leftovers, to the grocery store again tomorrow, I'm sure. I've been craving muffins, you see, which can only mean one thing:

Muffin cup liners...


PHOTO: Ungodly, surely SCD-non-compliant deliciousness Cooking of Takoyaki by tab2_dawa via Flickr

In Memory of the Late, Great Elaine Gloria Gottschall

elaine gottschallThree years ago today, I met my friend, Lily, each in our respective pairs of dark glasses, to see the guilty-pleasure, chick flick, Blue Crush; it was the last movie I was well enough to see in a theater for four months.

Four days later, I was admitted via the emergency room to Cedars Sinai, due mainly to a collaboration of genius trickery on the part of my sainted sister, Liz, and my brand new G.I. doctor, Graham Woolf, who the day before had looked over the results of a colonoscopy done seven months before by a colleague, a highly-respected colorectal surgeon at Cedars, and informed me, for the first time, that I had Crohn's disease.

How bad was it? I weighed 90 lbs. after they slapped an I/V on me and dumped in two liters of fluid. I was shitting upwards of 20x/day. I had been running fevers for weeks, many of them in excess of 100º, four over 104º. The night before my admittance, my temperature shot up so high, 104.4º, I had to lower myself into a tub of cold water to bring down the fever; Tylenolâ„¢ wouldn't put a dent in it. I was mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted, so much so that I stayed in the hospital 11 days (for those of you lucky enough to have avoided it, an almost unheard-of amount of time in this day and age).

I got a little bit better during my stay. They managed to get break the fever, probably thanks to the bottomless cocktail of antibiotics and prednisone they had me on. The two pints of blood I'd shat out of my ass had been replaced, and the bleeding, at least, the heavy bleeding, had stopped. But despite the unbelievable quantities of food I was ingesting, double breakfasts, lunches and dinners, supplemented by matzoh ball soup and turkey sandwiches from Jerry's Deli smuggled in by friends and associates, I could not get the scale to move.

At the end of that 11-day stretch, I was given a choice: I could stay at the hospital over the weekend, let them continue to observe me, hope that my shit count dropped and my weight improved and go on a much more aggressive round of drug therapy the following Monday if it didn't; or I could go home and see if I got any better there.

I went home with a case of Similacâ„¢ my sister and I picked up for me at the drugstore and a copy of Elaine Gloria Gottschall's Breaking the Vicious Cycle; by the next day, I'd dumped the Similacâ„¢ down the drain and gone on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) to eliminate my Crohn's.

Elaine Gottschall wasn't a big, noisy hero. She never set out to change the lives of thousands of people with inflammatory bowel diseases. She was just a mom desperate to help her very sick daughter. But after seeing the remarkable recovery Judy made on the grain-free, lactose-free, sucrose-free diet Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas suggested, Elaine went back to school at the age of 47, earning degrees in biology, nutritional biochemistry and cellular biology so that she could learn the science behind the diet and make sure that the diet did not die with Dr. Haas.

Long after things were better, after her daughter was well, after she'd written the book, after there was a strong support network for the SCD on- and offline, Elaine continued to stay active in the SCD community, talking to newbies via the Long Island Listserv and answering emails, phone calls and faxes. In her last years, Elaine devoted most of her limited time on the SCD/Autism site, working with parents who had their kids on the stricter SCD (prevailing wisdom in that community has kids on the GF/CF diet).

There's no money in food, as we say on the SCD List, so the drug companies stay away and the medical community remains skeptical of the curative powers inherent in Right Diet. But a few doctors here and there are willing to think outside the box, thank you, Dr. Haas, and a few people are brave and selfless enough to upend their lives to ease the pain and suffering of others.

According to an e-mail I received last evening, Elaine Gottschall died peacefully on September 5th, 2005, her immediate family by her side.

Her extended family mourns her passing from a little farther off. And once the mourning is over, let's hope we celebrate her legacy by carrying on the good work she began almost 50 years ago.


Photo of Elaine Gottschall courtesy of, ©2005

Proving doctors wrong, one patient at a time

Since writing this post, I've aggregated a number of helpful Specific Carbohydrate Diet-related links, both internal and on other sites, on this dedicated SCD page. I'll say this upfront: I have never been the dieting type. I'm pretty tiny, it's pretty much genetic, and I pretty much top out at about 5 lbs. over my fightin' weight of 104 lbs. B.G. (Before Gold's); I guess if I worked reeeeally hard at it now that I have some muscle on me, I might be able to make it to blood donor weight.

But I'd have to work really, reeeeeeeally hard at it, now that I'm on the first restricted food plan of my life: the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or SCD. I've been following it with "fanatical adherence" for over two years now, ever since I was released from my 11-day incarceration in the IBD ward of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.

That's one of the crazy things about the SCD, as its major proponent, Elaine Gottschall, B.A., MSc., has emphasized repeatedly on the many Listservs and bulletin boards she still frequents for sufferers of Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis (UC) and autism, in order to work, the diet must (at least, initially) be followed with fanatical adherence. As in, no "just this one cupcake" or "just this one beer" or even "just this one sip of Coca-Cola", you either follow the SCD 100% or she very kindly but firmly insists that you are not actually following the SCD.

Elaine Gottschall stumbled upon the precursor to the SCD when her young daughter was diagnosed with UC. After dragging her from specialist to specialist, she finally met Dr. Valentine Haas, who put Elaine's little girl on a diet he'd found successful in alleviating a number of gastrointestinal disorders. Her progress was slow but steady; to this day, some 40 years later, she remains in remission (and on a modified version of the SCD). Elaine was so impressed by this remarkable recovery that she went back to school to further research the diet. She subsequently wrote a book about the SCD, outlining the science behind it and including an extensive list of allowed and disallowed foods, as well as a batch of recipes that she had come up with over the years.

Very simply, the premise behind the SCD is this (from Seth Barrows's site):

The premise of the diet is that damaged intestinal walls and bacterial overgrowth are a part of a vicious cycle that wreaks havoc with the body's health and immunity. The diet restricts the types of carbohydrates that feed these pathogens, thereby restoring the body's inner ecology. The SCD diet is very similar to a Paleolithic diet, except it allows the consumption of certain legumes, fermented dairy products, and dry alcohol.

The SCD also resembles the Atkins diet in certain respects (although as SCDers are always quick to point out, unlike Atkins, you can be on the SCD and eat a lot of carbs. You just can't eat any of the good ones). The diet basically excludes all disaccharides and polysaccharides, which pretty much in turn excludes all processed foods, since they rely heavily on sugars and starches.

So for 2+ years, I've had no ice cream, sherbet, sorbet, cake, cookies, cupcakes, candy, pasta, pizza, rice, tofu, potatoes, pancakes, waffles, syrup, bread, bagels, crackers, chips, gum, soft drinks, Russian/French/Thousand/Ranch dressing, ketchup, coffee, beer or chocolate. And that's a partial list.

But for most of the past 2+ years, I've been healthy. I've put back the weight I lost in my initial Crohn's onset and actually gained enough energy to start a weight-training program. I've been tapering off my meds successfully and plan to be off them completely by early 2005.

My doctors still think diet has had nothing to do with my recovery. This is a fairly standard reaction, I'm told, which is sad. Out of all the doctors I've met since I was diagnosed, only one was even aware of the diet, and as he said, "It's really hard to follow and we can't explain the science so we don't really recommend it to most of our patients."

So if you know of someone with Crohn's, UC, IBS, candiasis, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, or even a parent of an autistic child (there's an incredibly brave and intrepid parents' SCD group which Elaine has lent a great deal of support to), please send them here. Or here. Or here.

The SCD can't cure everyone, but it can't cure anyone who doesn't know about it.

xxx c

UPDATE 3/4/11: I fell off the SCD wagon roughly two months after writing this post, and did not get back on (with fanatical adherence) until September of 2010, which I did through the aid of hypnotherapy. (The hypnotherapist, James Borrelli, cured my wandering eye for carbs in one session. WELL worth it.) While I can't blame falling off the diet for the flares I suffered afterwards, there are many, many things that can trigger a Crohn's flare, I know that I feel better, look better, maintain a healthier weight and have way less G.I. distress (not to mention much less stinky gas) when I follow SCD 100%.

Does luck come in flavors?

It's official, I'm sick. I hung in there for awhile, but I've been exposed to too many germs from too many people in too small a space, and I've succumbed. (Theaters, nursery schools and hospitals are notoriously difficult places to stay healthy. They're dropping like flies at the show these days.)

My dumb luck, right? Getting sick in the middle of the holidays?

Well, maybe. And maybe not.

You see, two years ago, I had what some people would characterize as a really nasty streak of luck. In February of 2002, my father found out he had to go on full-time dialysis. In May, my live-in boyfriend of 3 years and I broke up. And finally, in September, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Crohn's is a super-chic disease whose symptoms include fever, weight loss and diarrhea. And we're talking high fevers (104ºF +...several!), severe weight loss (I was 90 lbs. when they released me from the hospital), and, well, I won't even detail the horrors of my bowel movements except to say that at my nadir, they were happening 32x/day and necessitated the replacement of 2 pints of blood.

The thing is, when I'm done cataloguing the many delights of my illness, I always follow up by assuring my now-horrified listener that it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Because it was. Not only did I have a bona fide epiphany in the hospital (worth the price of admission, alone, believe me), the sucker actually took. My outlook shifted. I relaxed, for one. I began greeting each day with genuine delight, instead of worry or aggravation. I began to rely less on "The Colleen Show" and got more in touch with my authentic self.

If I hadn't gotten sick, I wouldn't have found the amazing diet that not only sent my Crohn's into remission and improved my overall health, but taught me that I was the best authority on my health, not some doctor. I might have met my new best friend, Jan Pessin, in fact, we already had met prior to my illness. But if I hadn't been sick, she wouldn't have been my advocate in the hospital. We might never have bonded over our illnesses and become good friends. And we certainly wouldn't have written our show.

I don't mean to discount the tragedies great and small that befall us all; I would never use the word "lucky" to describe someone who has suffered a loss of any kind. But since my own so-called misfortune, I much more leery of automatically classifying something as being bad for me, whether it's an election outcome, a relationship that ends painfully or a much needed job that falls through. I enjoy my good times, but it's my difficult ones that have moved me to look at the world differently, to become more compassionate, to educate myself, to change.

I suppose that sometimes a rotten thing that happens to you ends up just being a rotten thing that happens to you. Lord knows I don't have all the answers (I'm still learning to recognize the damned questions.)

But sometimes, just sometimes, what you think is the worst thing that ever happened to you can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you.

If you're lucky, that is.

xxx c