Dear Holly: Eating Culver’s Chocolate Frozen Custard for Breakfast, Thanks to Our Church…

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

As we exited through the front doors of our church this past Sunday morning around 9:20 AM, one of the executive pastors turned to our family with an unexpected solicitation: “Frozen custard! Right here! Chocolate for vanilla?”

There was no reason to even bother asking why our church was giving free Culver’s frozen custard to all the members and visitors of The Bridge. They are known for committing random acts of kindness; like during the first week of school recently, they gave literally every school teacher in surrounding cities a free cup of Starbucks.

Somewhat miraculously, Mommy and I were able to convince both you and your brother that it wouldn’t be a good idea to try and eat your ice cream during the 10 minute car drive back to the house.

But the moment we made it to the kitchen, the two of you set up shop. There wasn’t much conversation going on during your chocolaty breakfast. In fact, I don’t recall either of you saying one word.

Instead, it was simply a matter of how much chocolate ice cream you both could scarf down until the brain freezes started kicking in.

The answer? Not a whole lot, really.

You both made it about 5 spoons in when you realized that while it was indeed great stuff, it was probably a bit too much awesomeness so early in the morning; on a mainly empty stomach.

I noticed only as I was washing your face afterwards, that you had the perfect chocolate mustache!

It’s a rare thing to be able to start a Sunday morning off right, with Culver’s frozen custard. But thanks to our church, The Bridge in Spring Hill, Tennessee, everything lined up just right.

Now that I think of it, you and your brother are pretty lucky kids!

Love,

Daddy

What Ingredients Make Up the Flavors of Cola, Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, and “Superman” Ice Cream?

Vanilla just got cool.

Should it remain a mystery or will finding out what gives these popular yet unquestioned items their flavor? Like a magician who actually reveals his tricks, so will I tear away the ancient veil.  Obviously, sugar plays a huge part in all these flavors, what what else is added to make these flavors so distinct, timeless, and magical?

Cola: Citrus oils (derived from the peels of citrus fruits: orange, lemon, and lime), tamarind, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Cotton Candy: Fruits, berries, honey, molasses, vanilla and maple sugar.

Bubble Gum: peppermint, spearmint, menthol, vanilla and fruit.

“Superman” Ice Cream: Vanilla (plus several different colors of food dye.)  Just vanilla.  Seriously. That’s all it is and has ever been.  The rainbow colors play tricks on our minds.

The common ingredient these mysterious flavors have in common, besides a whole lot of sugar, is vanilla.  The connotation of the word “vanilla” sometimes carries the idea of being plain and ordinary.  However, without it, these wonderful American flavors would not be the same.  Vanilla: who knew?

dad from day one: Pickles and Ice Cream

Thirty-four weeks.

So the legend goes, pregnant women get crazy cravings for weird food combinations.  The token pairing of pickles and ice cream has become so familiar that it’s now a swanky maternity clothing store.  But is it a funny cliché or simply a reality?  For us, it’s the real deal.

Though my wife has not once dealt with morning sickness throughout the pregnancy, she has definitely battled leg cramps.  Of course, I’ve documented how she’s overcome them, by giving her body a surplus of the nutrients the baby is taking.  Yet since then, as our baby has been getting much bigger, the discovery of pickles (which provide electrolytes) and ice cream (which provides calcium) has helped ensure those leg cramps are kept at bay.

And hey, I’ve got no complaints.  Last Friday night we had to make an “ice cream run” after dinner at the house.  She chose a box of fat free Vanilla frozen yogurt, while I chose a low fat French Silk Chocolate.  As usual, she liked mine better.  Her secret to eating low fat ice cream is this- add two spoons of peanut butter and a little Hershey’s Syrup.  Some might think this defeats the purpose of low fat ice cream.  We’d rather live in ignorant bliss.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

My Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, Spirituality, Writing, and Recaps

What’s my writing style?  Spumoni.


If I was smart, I would listen to the authors of “how to be a writer” and “how to have a popular website” books when they clearly tell me, “Find your niche and just focus on it alone.”  Then I could be like the fortunate clever-minded writers who all now have book deals simply because of the popularity of their WordPress websites:

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

http://stuffchristianslike.net/

http://1000awesomethings.com/

Here’s the problem though- I’m not attracting just one type of reader.  I’m luring in several different types of people who are both completely unrelated to each other and yet at other times couldn’t be more alike.  It sort of reminds me of the way that MSN’s home page (http://www.msn.com/) is set up.  Their main categories are news, entertainment, sports, money, and lifestyle.

By default, I have ended up emulating that concept, only mixing it up with my own alternative, off-beat main topics.  Instead of the mainstream-friendly Neapolitan (chocolate-strawberry-vanilla) topics, my twisted version is more like Spumoni (chocolate-pistachio-cherry). *Ironically, Spumoni came first (from Italy), but by the time it became popular in America, it evolved into Neapolitan.

I have come to the conclusion that there are ultimately six main categories I write about: nostalgia, people, storytelling, spirituality, writing, and recaps (of TV shows, mainly).  (“Uncategorized” is an additional generic title given to all my posts as well.)

Of course I struggled with making “Jewish references” and “humor” their own separate categories, but just like a few other “should I make these their own categories?” categories, certain topics aren’t simply things I write about; they’re a part of everything I write.  It would just simply be redundant; stating the obvious.

Being able to read through an entire one of my posts without coming across the words “Jew”, “Jews”, or “Jewish” somewhere in there is about as rare as biting all the way through a Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookie without eating a chocolate chip.  And I would hope that there is at least a little bit of irony that comes across as humorous in most of what I write as well.  I shouldn’ have to label it “funny”, otherwise I may be defeating the purpose.

This is just a cool picture. In reality, I do not actually offer newsletters (unless you subscribe to this site; that would count), competitions, free ice cream, or much more.

So who am I attracting on a daily basis?

Fans of LOST, Dexter, The Bachelor, and/or The Bachelorette.  Jewish people.  Christians.  People who grew up in the 1980’s.  People concerned with healthy living.   People who found my website by searching one of those things and then saved my website in their “Favorites” and forwarded the link on to their friends.

In other words, my readers are as random as I am.  Random Spumoni.  Takes one to know one.  Welcome to the club.

Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt

The Unholy Trinity of Food: Sugar, Fat, and Sodium Cause Obesity, Heart Disease, Cancer, Depression, Inactivity, and Hyperactivity

Sugar, fat, and sodium.  The three most rare food elements found in nature are the same three that have caused a national epidemic of obesity, heart disease, cancer, as well as allergies, depression, inactivity, and hyperactivity.

Given that these health problems have been steadily increasing since World War II, it only makes sense to return to the way people lived before the 1940’s.  In order to do that, we must take matters into our own hands and fight the Unholy Trinity, by simply avoiding this enemy as much as possible.  The members of the Unholy Trinity are none other than sugar, fat, and sodium.

Sugar:

Consider a time in history when food couldn’t be bought in boxes or bags.  A time when people cooked their own food based on ingredients they either grew themselves or traded at the local market.  Most likely, the people simply ate fruits, vegetables, whole grain bread, oats, and lastly, meat, as they could afford it.  And they drank water, wine, and beer.

foods high in sugar

Did they eat ice cream, cookies, and cakes?  Did they eat Nutrigrain cereal bars which are also loaded with sugar?  No.  While they could get their hands on sugar, which wasn’t necessarily easily obtainable, they mainly only cooked with sugar in very rare occasions.

Cavities were much rarer in those days.  A person’s intake of added sugar directly affects his or her ability to fight off cancer and disease.

Sugar is a drug that is so easy to get a hold of these days.  But it hasn’t always been that way.

Fat:

In order to eat foods high in fat, a person must have access to an animal that is either milked or killed for its meat.  We do, we just forget about how much trouble that is.  We just buy it from a store or restaurant.  Because we’re so far removed from livestock and farms, we don’t realize how easily we’re consuming animal products on a daily basis.

foods high in fat, obviously

There is such an awareness of women’s breast cancer and finding a cure for it.  But my question is this:  For all the money we’ve already donated to research, what have we learned?  While it’s important to find a cure, what have we learned about prevention?  After all, it’s better to avoid getting breast cancer all together than to ever have to fight it.

 

Until theres’s a cure, which I hope we find as soon as possible, there’s prevention.

The smartest thing to do is to look to the women who are not getting breast cancer:  Asian women living in Asian countries.  Specifically Japanese women. They are the least likely to get breast cancer.  Why?

Very low fat content in their diets. http://www.cancerproject.org/survival/cancer_facts/breast.php

Very high intake of chlorella, which is found in seaweed, which they eat regularly (namely in sushi). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NAH/is_1_29/ai_54062648/

Research over the decades has shown us that the #1 reason women get breast cancer is from a high fat content in their diet.  Unsurprisingly, American has the highest rate of breast cancer in the world.  Breast cancer is the 2nd most common cancer in America, and the 2nd most common cause of cancerous deaths.

Just in case we need more evidence of how to avoid breast cancer, when Japanese women move to America and adopt an American lifestyle and American diet, their immunity to breast cancer disappears.

So it’s a little ironic that from time to time M&M’s does a campaign where they donate a portion of the profit from their pink M&M’s to breast cancer research. The more M&M’s we buy (and eat), the more money that is spent to learn what we already know:  That the more fat in a diet a person has, the more likely a person is to get breast cancer.  And the more M&M’s a person eats, the more fat they are adding into their diet.

That actually makes me angry.

Sodium:

Let me ask myself a question:  In real life, how many times have I seen salt on its own in nature?  The answer:  Never.

Yet salt is everywhere and in everything.  Especially in appetizers at restaurants, frozen foods, canned soups, and all meat.

My boss got an app on his iPhone called My Fitness Pal.  It counts all his calories based on sugar, fat, and sodium to help him make sure he’s eating right.  He was eating perfectly.  Only lean, organic meats along with whole grains, fruits, and veggies.  Yet he kept going over his sodium.

foods high in sodium

I told him, “It’s from the meat.  Only eat meat in one of your three basic meals every day and see if that works.”

It did.  We eat too much meat.  And it’s giving us too much sodium, which leads to hardening of the arteries and heart disease.  But that’s a different post, and I haven’t finished it yet…

I have found that the best way to avoid fat and sodium is to avoid sugar.  Sugar is the easiest unholy member to get a hold of.  Because it’s even in wheat bread (unless it’s Ezekiel Bread).  To find food without added sugar, in most cases, means it’s a food with low fat and low sodium.  And a food without added sugar most likely means it’s not a processed food.

So ultimately, the bottom line is this: The best way to avoid the Unholy Trinity is to avoid processed foods– 1) anything that comes in a box or bag, 2) anything that has more than 6 ingredients (because more than that means those ingredients probably include either chemicals or one of the Unholy Trinity), and 3) anything that can last a long time in your pantry or fridge before it goes bad.

It’s a lot of trouble though.  To avoid sugar, fat, sodium, and processed foods.  To have to plan and prepare healthy meals ahead of time to avoid being tempted by convenience foods.

Is it worth it?  Is it worth the trouble to be healthy and avoid cancer and disease?

For a lot of people, it’s not.

healthnutshell: What Exactly is Food, These Days?

We all play with some kind of fire.  And we all know that the less we do it, the less likely are we to get burned.

I mean, I shouldn’t have to ask what constitutes as food, but it has kind of gotten to that point.  Can we really count soda and fast food and processed snacks as food?  It tastes good and is for the most part digested by our bodies, but what if it does more harm to our bodies than good?  Is that food?

I went to the place I get most of my research, a place I see as the most practical and relevant.  Wikipedia defines food as any substance, composed of carbohydrates, water, fats and/or proteins, that is either eaten or drunk by any animal, including humans, for nutrition or pleasure”.

Dang it.  And dag gum.  I was really hoping the words “or pleasure” were not part of that definition.  I wanted to make a good point about how America is not actually eating food anymore because food is for nutrition only, not pleasure alone.  But the word “or” messes that up for me.  That definition means the sole purpose of eating for food can be for just pleasure, not attached with nutrtion.

So based on that definition of food, all I can do is say this:

But if eating for nutrition seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day why you eat, whether for the nutrition that your forefathers ate which prevented cancer and disease, or for the pleasure-giving gods of the Americans, in whose land you are living, who let you become sick and cause you to have a lower quality of life and cause you to depend on a national health care plan that upsets many people.  But as for me and my household, we will eat for nutrition.

When we use our outward appearance as the only indicator of our health, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.  The thought:  “I can eat a decent amount of fried foods and have just one soda a day and be alright, because I don’t really gain any weight.”  Dangerous thought.  Not for now, but for later.

I’m less concerned about how much I weigh and how I look, and instead completely concerned that I won’t have a bad heart or Diabetes by the time I’m 50.  That’s only about 20 years from now.

It’s all a matter of putting this into perspective.  Until we truly understand what we are doing, why change?

For example, take my original theory that eating one tablespoon worth of sugar (12 grams) in food is equal to smoking one cigarette.  I refuse to even drink 8 ounces of orange juice because it’s equal to about two tablespoons of sugar (22 grams).

Read  “healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?” http://wp.me/pxqBU-sf

In my mind, drinking a small glass of orange juice is equal to smoking two cigarettes.  Despite the fact orange juice is loaded with vitamins and cigarettes are not, the concentrated sugar, over time, can do more harm than good.  Besides that, the fruit should be eaten whole because the flesh of the fruit needs to be consumed several times a day by the human body anyway.  Eaten, not drunk.

What makes this concept even more real to me is this:  I have smoked a few cigars in my lifetime.  Not a lot.  Literally just a few.  And just for the record, I like them.  No denying that.

But it’s hard to truly enjoy something I outright know gives cancer to people, over time.  Will I smoke another cigar in my lifetime?  Yes.  Will I start regularly smoking them or cigarettes?  No.

I translate this to food I eat:  Will I eat a big fat juicy cheeseburger from Chili’s again in my life?  Yes.  Will I start regularly going through the Wendy’s drive-thru?  No.

Will I sometimes take my wife out on a Friday night to get us each a “Like It” ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery?  Absolutely yes!  Will I start buying ice cream and keeping it in the freezer at our house every week?  No.

This parallel between tobacco and bad eating habits has been so helpful to me.  Because there’s an obvious stigma with tobacco, but people tend to laugh off bad dieting as just another failed New Year’s resolution.

By taking the matter into my own hands by smoking a few cigars, it helped me register the “badness” of the sugary and fatty and processed foods I’ve eaten most of my life.  Both can kill a person eventually, when consumed enough.  Now I equate a cigar with a banana split (up to 8 tablespoons of sugar).

So I ask myself:  How often can I smoke a cigar, being that I do enjoy it?

Depends.  How often can I eat out at restaurants (which if nothing else, will load up the food will sodium which will cause heart disease) as compared to cooking at home?  How often can I go a whole day without eating any fresh vegetables or fruit in the name of inconvenience? How often can I go back for seconds?  How often can I get dessert?

Over some mysterious amount of time, that accumulative next cigar or next bottle of soda will cause a serious a problem health.  But if it’s done very sparingly, it’ll probably be okay.  It’s a gamble.  For anyone who eats sugary, fattening, and/or processed foods or uses tobacco of any kind.

So the question is, no matter which consumable pleasure we choose, how often are we willing to gamble our heath?

Read the indirect sequel: healthnutshell: That’s Not Food  http://wp.me/pxqBU-DY