Dear Holly: You Like to Make and Eat “Panic Cakes”

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

Ever since you got your Peppa the Pig kitchen play set for Christmas, you have been somewhat obsessed with the concept of making pancakes, or as you pronounce it… panic cakes.

Picking up on this, Mommy decided to make some buckwheat pancakes a few Saturday mornings ago, and it turns out, you love to eat pancakes- not just pretend to make them.

It’s now to the point where Mommy has to make enough on the weekend so that you have enough to eat leftovers throughout the rest of the week; each morning before school.

In fact, you love them so much, that you sort of have a little panic attack if you don’t get your panic cakes!

So maybe “panic cakes” isn’t that far off of a pronunciation…

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Your Sister is Horrible at Doing Mazes

7 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend we spend the morning with some friends for breakfast at First Watch. Fortunately, it was early enough in the day that you nor your sister had any kind of behavioral issues. Instead, the two of you were quite occupied, largely in part due to the kids’s activity sheet and the pack of crayons our waitress gave you.

During most of the wait for our food to arrive, I didn’t hear a word out of you. That’s because you were completely focused on completing all the activities in front of you.

After you completed the whole thing, you then turned to your sister to help show here what to do. She grabbed a crayon and immediately got to work on the corn maze; in which the goal is to draw a line from one end of the maze to the other.

Your sister was so happy to be at work, the way her older brother had been. A few minutes passed and then sort of turned to you for your approval.

What she received from you was this sincere statement:

“Holly, that’s horrible. You didn’t come anywhere close to getting through the maze!”

Being not even 2 years-old yet, she appeared to be completely unfazed by your overly direct criticism.

I laughed out loud.

She was just happy and oblivious that there was some sort of bigger concept, beyond just dragging a red crayon across some lines, as well as a picture of a mutant cob of corn and completely conscious fried egg.

Ultimately, the activity sheets perfectly served their purpose. You and your sister were able to behave in a restaurant, while being intellectually challenged at your own individual levels.

Give it a few years though, and I think your sister will be able to improve your maze skills.

Love,

Daddy

The Shell Diet: Fiber from Whole Grains, Fruits, Veggies, and Much Less Meat

Build your meals on fiber from fruits, veggies, and whole grains, not meat or carbohydrates.

1) Eat less meat: Most of us have grown accustomed to building our meals based on meat.  We’re accustomed to “getting full” instead of “staying regular”.  By eating more than 4 to 6 ounces of meat per day (the size of a deck of cards, or your hand not including your fingers), if nothing else we’re giving our bodies too much sodium and making ourselves at least a little constipated.  (Ideally, you should be “going #2″ at least once a day”.)  I make it a daily goal to only eat meat in one meal of the day, typically either lunch or breakfast.

2) Replace meat with vegetables and whole grains:For breakfast, here is what I eat (click here).  For my other meatless meal, I make sure it’s filled whole grain (wheat) rice, pasta, or bread and vegetables or fruit.

3) Whenever you’re hungry (not bored), eat. If you get hungry in between meals or after a meal, it means your body is craving and needing more fruit, veggies, or whole grains.  Not processed snacks, ever.

4) Don’t eat too much at once. By putting your two hands together to make a bowl, that gives you an idea of the amount of food you should eat in a meal.  Any more than that, and there’s a good chance of you’re overeating, and that means you won’t poop at least once a day.

*But wait, there’s more…Go back to the main page of the The Shell Diet by clicking right here.

Readers’ Expectations 8: The Biological Chicken, Sweaty Dexter, and Tyler Perry with a Hickey

Sometimes I feel like Dear Abby, except that the questions and comments people type into search engines to get to Scenic Route Snapshots are a bit on the incoherent side.  Here’s the newest batch:

“I haven’t failed; I’ve had 10,000 ideas”- Right.  You’ve had 10,000 bad ideas.  Or another way of looking at it is this: The glass is half full.  Yeah, full of bad ideas!  Zing!  Next…

“biological chicken”- We live in a time where most chickens are no longer biological.  Ever since the Droid Empire took over our planet, most of our food is simply projected figments of our imagination, linked in to the Droid scanners.  Even still, tastes like chicken.

“They’re always sweaty in Dexter”- That’s because the show takes place in Miami.  Similarly, they’re also always sweaty in most reality dating shows on VH1, but that’s for a different reason.

“bacon egg sandwich, grapes, chocolate”- What are you, a ten year-old boy?  Does your mommy know you’re playing on the Internet?  Admittedly, I could see how that could make for mouth-watering breakfast on the right kind of morning.

“beer scripture fellowship”- Jesus and His disciples drank wine.  But that was so like 2,000 years ago.  It’s time for Christian men in Bible studies to switch to beer.  Nothing like reading through Habakkuk with a Heineken in hand, I always say.  Fat Tire and Phillipians, anyone?

“what to do to bad people”- Sarcastic remarks and physical injury only fuel the fire, so I’ve learned from the past.  My new thing is to sincerely pray that they enter into an authentic relationship with Jesus as their Savior.  Then they may end up on my side and fight Satan with their negative vibes.  It’s a win-win.

“how to compliment a classic song”- Man, that’s a tough one.  Just a shot in the dark, but you could try this: “Hey it’s ‘More Than a Feeling’ by Boston…  I love this song!  This song rocks!”  Change the title of the song and the name of the band as needed.

“Can black people get hickeys?”- Good question, but I’ve got a better one: Can black people “get” camping or Monty Python movies?  Even better question: Can white people “get” stomping or Tyler Perry movies?

Reading the Backs of Cereal Boxes for Entertainment

The childhood habit lives on in me today.

An important part of being a kid at the grocery store with your mom was getting to decide which goofy cereal to commit to that week.  My mom always let my sister and I each pick out our own box of cereal to enjoy for the next seven days, given that the first ingredient was not sugar.  Back then, in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the Major Three (Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Post) were all about competing with each other by seeing who could give the coolest toy in the bottom of the box.

But aside from the rainbow colored oat bits, unnecessary marshmallows, and the free sticky octopus toy that would cling to the wall when you threw it, there was still that entertaining back of the cereal box to look at.  Mazes, crossword puzzles, “can you find?…” pictures.  Enough entertainment to stay preoccupied to the point that you almost forget your brother or sister is sitting there just a few feet away trying to find Barney Rubble hiding behind a Stegosaurus on the back of the Fruity Pebbles box.

Because without the barriers of those boxes in front of us at the kitchen table, that meant that we might accidently look at each other, or purposely look at each other, to “bother” the other person.  As a kid, there were a plethora of ways to be annoyed by your sibling, and for some reason, being looked at was one of them.  I thought it was just my sister and I that had to read the backs of cereal boxes so we “wouldn’t have to look at each other”, but after recently walking down the cereal isle at Publix with my wife, revisiting our favorite childhood cereals, I learned it was the same way at her house.  So I can only assume this is an American phenomenon- an expected part of Saturday morning breakfasts.

Now as an adult, I still read the backs of my cereal boxes.  Learned habit, I’m sure.  I have to admit though, the back of the box of Shredded Wheat isn’t quite as fun as Lucky Charms always was.  And of course, no free prize at the bottom of the box either.

Misadventures in Daycare: Summer of 1987

Three months in the Alabama Slammer.

The smell of burnt scrambled eggs is so distinct. Somehow the cooks at my summer daycare in 1987 managed to consistently make sure breakfast was less than gourmet quality. For me at age six, I treated daycare like prison. I was forced to be there. I was made to sleep on a cot for an hour even though I wasn’t tired. I had to watch TV shows I didn’t want to see, like Reading Rainbow marathons. For the most part, I kept my head down and stayed out of everybody’s business. I wasn’t there to make friends. I was there to serve my time and move on.

At least my partner in crime was there with me. My sister Dana, being 3 years younger than me, was with a different age group for most of the day. But from 2 to 3 o’clock all the kids were in the same room for nap time. The entire floor was covered with grungy green army cots we had to balance on and pretend like we were all sleeping. Baffled by all these strange kids around me who for some reason actually seemed to enjoy being there, the only person I would talk to was my sister. Not only was she easy to talk to (she was 3 at the time) but she thought I was funny.

One day during nap time on the cot next to hers, I held up my hand near her face, waving hello. Then I pulled in three of my fingers to my palm to make a gun. Next I pulled in my thumb and pointer finger to make a fist. She was impressed with my ability to wave, make a gun, then a fist with the same hand in a matter of seconds. A woman in charge saw me do it and said in front of everyone, “Nick, put your hand down and stop bothering your sister.” I didn’t care enough to explain that she liked it and so stood convicted of my new crime.

By the end of the summer though, a wonderful event occurred. A prospective parent brought their child in to visit the place, all dressed up like they were from Connecticut or something. While giving the tour, one of the ladies in charge of the place showed the parent and child where the restroom was.

She opened the door only to find there was a boy sitting down on the toilet with his shorts around his ankles. He didn’t lock the door and therefore was exposed to the parent, child, and everyone facing that side of the room. It was great. That made my summer at Lad & Lassie Day Care worth the while.

Classic.

healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?

A new way to view the worth of the happiness that sugar brings us.



I have never understood the addiction a person encounters who is dependant on alcohol or nicotine. Half-jokingly I have even said that I should take up smoking to prove that I have the will-power to stop. And while my body knows no enticement to the addictive qualities of alcohol or nicotine, I have been fighting a physical addiction my own life.

In high school, when I was “using” the most, I quickly became aware that I had symptoms of an unhealthy person. I had a lot of difficulty breathing, to the point it took hours to fall asleep at night. Not to mention my abundant allergies. So what was my addiction? Refined Sugar. (Sugar that is added to a food or processed in any way.)

Back in those days I ate a king size Little Debbie fudge round for breakfast every morning and another for an afternoon snack. And that was just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.

Evidently, men aren’t supposed to admit to loving sugary things. But I openly acknowledge my love and addiction. Chocolate. Ice cream. Cookies. Milk shakes. Peanut butter brittle. Candy. Sweet tea. Dr. Pepper.

Since childhood, I could never finish a meal without having some kind of sweets. My worst vice was Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I even overdosed on them one time back in 2003, eating 36 of them in a 16 hour period. From that day I developed a rash that lasted 6 years. Six years, not days.

In October 2008, I “hit rock candy bottom” after my hand eczema (dyshidrosis) got “out of hand”. Take a look at the pictures on this Wikipedia entry to see what I was suffering from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyshidrosis.

I stopped eating shellfish and realized that it helped tremendously, because I learned by wearing my metal wedding ring that my hand eczema is triggered half by contact with heavy metals, which shellfish are full of. The other 50% is the consumption of refined sugar.

It has taken me since October 2008 to get to the point where I am now.  Which is basically a 0% tolerance policy on refined sugar. I couldn’t quit cold turkey. I needed my sugar too much.  Like any threatening drug, I was addicted.  Mentally and physically.

It’s been a long process. The only sugar I eat now comes from 100% fruit juice, fruit, and whole grain bread. Sweets are out of my life.

Aside from the hell that resided on both of my hands for most of last decade, something else helped inspired me to stop my sugar addiction. A realization. A new mindset:

Consuming a tablespoon of sugar is equal to smoking one cigarette.


That may seem like a broad claim since I am not a doctor nor has there ever been a clinical study to prove it. All we really have to go on is the following research I have done, along with the fact my hand eczema is currently 95% cured (thank God).

But consider this: It wasn’t until people began adding sugar into their diets that they began getting cavities. Toothbrushes and toothpaste came about because people starting eating sugar.

Even today, people from tribes in the world that do not have access to Coca-Cola and do not have a concept of adding sugar to their diet coincidently do not suffer from tooth decay. Nor do they suffer from the rate of cancers and diseases that the rest of us do.

I’m not the first to say it: There is a definite link between the health of a person’s teeth and how prone they are to developing health problems in the rest of their body:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/pubs/oral-bucco/2009-smile-sourire/index-eng.php

No one needs to be told of all the horrific things smoking does to the human body. Just in case, here’s an overview:
http://quitsmoking.about.com/od/tobaccorelateddiseases/a/smokingrisks.htm

However, most of us truly don’t realize that arguably, the presence of sugar in our diets causes all kinds of cancers and diseases as well.  Most notably, the consumption of refined sugar leads to diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay.  Plus:
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20060818171925AA5czDQ
http://www.rheumatic.org/sugar.htm

This isn’t to say that consumption of refined sugar causes lung cancer and the same exact health problems that tobacco causes. But eating foods that are processed with refined sugar leads to just as many health problems.

I am confident that a person who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day (20 cigarettes), compared to a person who consumes 20 tablespoons of sugar a day, will be just as affected with an unhealthy body. Whether it’s for 5 years or 30 years.

The more sugar in a person’s daily diet now, the unhealthier they will be later in life. Like cigarettes, the damage isn’t instantly obvious. It can take decades before the person’s body begins to scream for help, like mine did.

To find out how much sugar is in a product, take a look at the nutrition facts. Look under “Total Carbohydrate”. Then scroll down to “sugars”. Divide that number by 12. That is how many tablespoons (not teaspoons) of sugar is in one serving of that product.

The average can of soda contains around 3 ½ to 4 tablespoons of sugar, or according to my analogy, has the same health dangers as smoking 3 ½ to 4 cigarettes.

Therefore, a person who drinks a 2 liter of soda (or the sugar equivalent of it through other sweets) a day will have the comparable health risks of a person who smokes one pack of cigarettes a day.

(For some great visuals, click here: http://www.sugarstacks.com/ )

But as we know, it doesn’t take smoking an entire pack of cigarettes day for a person’s health to be affected by it. So it’s important to check out those forgettable smaller amounts of sugars we consume as well.

Let’s a take a look at a classy favorite, Starbucks. Just a tall (the smallest size) Caramel Frappaccino has 53 grams of sugar, which is 4 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 4 ½ cigarettes. A tall iced white mocha has 41 grams of sugar, which is 3 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or 3 ½ cigarettes. http://www.starbucks.com/retail/nutrition_info.asp

A Snickers bar has 28 grams, or nearly 2 ½ tablespoons of sugar, or cigarettes.

Ten years ago, the Atkins diet surged with popularity, and suddenly everyone was avoiding carbs. But we need carbs. It’s the sugar in them that’s bad.

Whole grain bread is an important part of our diet, since it contains a good amount of fiber that we need to our food to push through our intestines. But even whole grain, whole wheat fiber has some sugar in it. It’s a matter of finding bread with the most fiber and the least sugar. And dividing that sugar content by 12 to find out how many tablespoons of sugar it contains in a serving.

From all my research, it’s difficult to find a nutritionist who will give a solid number for the amount added sugar we are allowed in a day. Because many that I talked to said ideally, none. But for the ones would give me an answer: 37.5 grams of added sugar per day. About 3 tablespoons.

In other words, a king size Snickers bar or a Starbucks tall iced white mocha will meet this limit 100%. (Though a can of soda would be over the limit.) So we have a fun snack like that and think we’re okay. But, what about the rest of the added sugar we are going to eat that day too?

Like bread? Fruit juice? Whole grain cereal? Yogurt? Milk?

By simply eating the healthy foods we should be eating already, we are naturally going to get close to that those 37.5 grams (or 3 tablespoons) of sugar. So it leaves out room for any sugary snacks.

Because even if we eat completely healthy balanced meals, once we add a bag of M&M’s, we exceeding our daily allowance. And keeping in my unproven theory that a tablespoon of sugar is equal to a cigarette, just one sugary snack on top of an already healthy diet would be like smoking a few cigarettes.

But the truth is this: Most people don’t already eat healthy, balanced meals. So that’s even more “cigarettes” in a day.

The good new is, we don’t have to count all sugars against our 37.5 gram allowance:  Like whole foods such as bananas or blueberries. Or really any food that has not all been processed and has had some kind of sugar added to it.

Because even healthy bread and yogurt have added sugar, even if its organic evaporated cane juice. For example, I just finished a serving of Stonyfield strawberry yogurt which contained 34 grams of sugar. They added organic sugar and strawberry juice to sweeten the yogurt. That’s my full allowance of added sugar, and that was an attempt to be healthy. Not to mention the grape juice I drank earlier today. Lesson learned. Next time I’ll go with cottage cheese and strawberries I slice myself.

And even 100% fruit juice is processed- juice is only a part of the whole fruit. So it must count against the 37.5 gram allowance.

But somehow if the fruit is eaten whole, with the fruit flesh, it counteracts the negative elements of the sugar it contains.

And of course, there’s no cheating the system. Artificial sweeteners are not a safe alternative, with links to potential cancer risks, negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs, gastrointestinal problems, developmental problems in children and fetuses and headaches, to name a few:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I think the most motivating element for me in all this is not so much a fear of getting cancer, but more about getting diabetes. Multiple sources continue to report that 1 out of 3 American children will become diabetics as adults if their current lifestyle continues:
http://www.truthaboutabs.com/artificial-sweeteners-natural-stevia.html

I have lived the first 28 years of my life in favor of becoming a diabetic. After seeing a few photographs of people who had to have their legs removed because of the disease, I decided that I don’t mind getting old, but I do mind getting old and unhealthy and account of my carefree lifestyle in my young adulthood.

So which is worse? A tablespoon of sugar or a cigarette?

At best, they’re the same. They both have enough potential to give us cancer and diseases. I’m not willing to risk my life for either one. I want to be the next Juice Man. Out of control eybrows and all.

Related posts by the same author:

Barley into Beer  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2L

1.2 Billion People Can’t Be Wrong  http://wp.me/pxqBU-43

 Beauty and Self-Worth aren’t the Real Issues  http://wp.me/pxqBU-2c