Health Hero Super-Power #1: Defying The Retch Reflex

by Claudius J West

Witches_Brew-1As my quest for better health and longer life picks up speed, I find myself confronted by unlikely concoctions, unappetizing substances, and gag-inducing taste experiences.

At an earlier time in my life, faced with such food choices, I would have said: Not a chance of that getting past my ruby red lips.

But, but, but—-I want the health benefits of raw chocolate, bee pollen, chia seeds, green drinks,  and coconut oil. How do I get them inside my body?

The only way to get them there is to open my mouth and swallow.

I banged up against this same dilemma a few years ago when I was bodybuilding and wanted to drink protein shakes in obedience to all of the muscle magazines. My first attempt was with egg protein. I don’t think I made it through the first glassful of that wretched stuff.

My next attempt was using whey protein. The taste of whey proteins has improved noticeably in the past decade. Ten years ago, though, whey protein required a lot of forgiveness.

My first glass of whey protein shake I held with undeniable trepidation. Before commencing to chug it as quickly as I could, aiming for one non-stop gulp, I repeated to myself, out load: “I love this stuff; I love this stuff!”

And, when the deed was done, I repeated “That tasted so good,” not remotely believing myself, but wanting to believe with the sort of sincerity that Linus harbored for the Great Pumpkin.

Mighty Oaks From Little Acorns Grow: Building A Habit

How I ever succeeded in keeping down the highly offensive Aloe Vera I’ll never really know, but my success in that area engender in me an infectious confidence that spread like a slow contact dermatitis, in a good way.

chia pet in bull shapeCh-ch-ch-Chia

The same ingredients that make Chia Pets green and ornamental (still selling approximately half a million units a year) also happen to be a vaulted superfood that has been used in Mexico since the time of the Aztecs. What’s super about chia seeds? Loads of fiber, omega-3s, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, and other minerals (zinc, copper, potassium).

My usual way of eating chia is to make it into a pudding by simply mixing in liquid (in this case, coconut milk) in a 1:2 ratio. Within twenty minutes, it thickens up. I like to chill it in the frig, which thickens the texture even more, making it somewhat rubbery. Then, on go the raspberries, split almonds, cinnamon, and a huge dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Problem is, I’m not in a mood for chia pudding every day. What other ways of consuming it are there? I’ve seen people in a documentary mix the chia with water to make it drinkable, but I never saw anyone actually drink it. When I tried, only supernatural effort got is down my gullet.

Instead, I got the idea of pulverizing the seeds in a coffee grinder, then adding water.

Chia has an amazing ability to gel up fast. It takes a surprising amount of water to keep it liquid. My first few attempts at getting the mixture right left me sucking down a paste-like gruel. The occasional lumps at the bottom (can’t waste superfood) have the consistency and similar taste to  lumps of Cream O’ Wheat, none of which, I suspect, tempts you to follow in my footsteps.

But, wait, it gets worse.

SONY DSCThe Buzz: Bee Pollen

This weekend, while walking through Princeton’s Whole Earth food store, I chanced upon a largish jar of bee pollen. I had recently seen bee pollen mentioned in the documentary Food Matters as being a superfood, so, being an impressionable lad, I added it to my basket.

But how to get it into my body?

Hello, coffee grinder. Bee pollen powder, meet chia seed sludge.

Drinking the chia seed was already a rough haul, but I figured a little extra gravel could be tolerated.

And then, thinking that the furious kinetic energy of the grinder might generate unwanted heat that could potentially harm the precious super-ness of my bee pollen, I switched to mortar and pestle. Up to this point, I haven’t had a reason to use the mortar and pestle, a lovely set carved from heavy stone material. What a treat to finally put it to use.

After reading more about how fantastic raw cacoa beans/powder is, I was tempted to throw that into my witch’s brew, but, I hesitated. I’d hate to waste all that super-goodness if it turned out I couldn’t stomach all three ingredients together.

Organs And Bones

While at a health food fair this weekend, I bought some  soup bones and organs. The seller was clean out of liver and heart, so I settled for sheep kidneys. After reading plenty of anecdotes about the value of organ meat, and liking to indulge in an occasional plate of liver and onions (with sour cream, and, if it’s in the house, bacon, too), I figured, yeah, why not? When I got home, I threw a pair of kidneys in the crock pot along with the soup bones and let them  stew.

Next day, in the middle of the biggest bone clung a wad of whitish marrow. I held it between my finger and thumb, a giant gumball-sized lump of jelly-like substance, and asked Ms. Immortal if she’s like a try, knowing the answer would be an unequivocal “Not if my life depended on it.” Having secured an easily shocked audience,  I popped it in my mouth. It tasted like soft fat, not the yummy, crispy fat you get on the side of a pork chop, but the wiggly, “feels raw, maybe even alive” kind of gastronomic experience. I considered spitting it out, but, hey, if I could swallow aloe vera, then I could swallow this giant booger of marrow, too.

mare-roasted-bone-marrow-hI know I’m a long way away from being ready for a reality game show where bowls of unfortunate pulpy larvae that will never survive to become rhinoceros beetles are on the menu, but it seems to me that the more one is willing to experiment beyond the familiar eating habits most of us established when we were mere children, the more one has the chance of experiencing health promoting foods like Brussel sprouts, goji berries, bee pollen or cacoa powder.

Without the determination to overcome one’s reluctance to experience new tastes, the world become a much smaller place.




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