Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars (Over the Past Year)

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

From the time I was my heaviest back in 2008 when I got married, I reached 178 pounds. That may not sound too heavy for a guy, but at 5’9”, I was actually “overweight” according the height/weight chart.

And I know… many people don’t like to take those charts seriously. But I do, on a personal level. Because at my heaviest, I also had health problems like eczema; as well as constant sinus pressure, and reoccurring sinusitis, and pet allergies.

My theory is that with the extra weight on my body, along with it came health problems.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

On Thanksgiving Day of 2008 (a few months after getting married), I became like a faithful Jew and gave up pork and shellfish. That was the beginning of the slippery slope, as I found myself becoming a vegetarian by December of 2011.

By April 2013, I became a full vegan, and in the process, I accidentally went from a size 34 to size 31 pants. That summer I got down to 153 pounds, without even trying.

That means I lost 25 pounds in the process of getting healthy. Yet losing weight was never my goal; I just wanted to be healthy.

As you know, all my previously mentioned health problems have disappeared and remained in remission since becoming a vegan.

For the majority of these past 3 years of being a vegan, I leveled out and remained right at around 155 pounds. Until this past year…

With my vegetarian wife being pregnant from July 2015 to April 2016, she began craving “fun food”. So I began picking up vegan chocolate bars at Whole Foods Market on the way home for work.

Vegan Confession: I Gained 7 Pounds by Eating Tater Tots and Vegan Chocolate Bars

It began a normal thing for us to go through a whole bag or two of tater tots over the course of each week.

Keep in mind, we were still eating our normal healthy meals too. But ultimately, both the chocolate bars and the tater tots contained oil; which we typical avoid. Not to mention, the chocolate bars also contained extra sugar as well.

Remember what I always point out about veganism:

Being a vegan forces a person to consume 0% of their daily cholesterol; as the amount of cholesterol even in the fattiest vegan foods (cashews, avocados, and even oil) still never reaches 1%.

Even so, I was at 162 pounds when my daughter was born 3 months ago; which is about 7 pounds is heavier than I’m used to.

My size 31 pants were so tight in the waist that I asked my wife more than once if she recently had begun drying our clothes on a higher heat setting.

Nope. It was the all the vegan chocolate bars and tater tots over the course of the past year.

Chocolate Tater

Four weeks ago, I nixed those items from my diet, along with all fried foods, and gluten.

While I haven’t publicly announced I am now gluten-free in addition to being a caffeine-free vegan, it’s working for me so far.

I’ve lost 2 of the 7 pounds so far and I physically feel better.

So yes, it’s possible for a vegan to gain weight just by eating foods with more oil and sugar.

Granted, it took me an entire year to accidentally gain those 7 pounds. Now the question is, how long will it take to lose it all?

I refuse to buy a bigger pair of pants!

The Shell Diet: Kosher- Pork and Shellfish are Not Clean Nor Good For You, Even If They are Low in Fat

Eat like the Old Testament Jews did.

1) Why don’t Jews eat pork or shellfish but Christians do? Because most Christians that I know take Peter’s dream in the book of Acts literally to mean that it became okay to eat any kind of animal, after Jesus conquered death.  And it can appear that way if the chapter is not read carefully.  But when I read Acts 10 in its entirety, it’s clear to me that God gave Peter the “animals on a blanket” dream to represent to him that Peter should stop seeing non-Jews as “unclean” and start preaching to everyone, since the mainstream Jewish population rejected Jesus as the Messiah.  And by the end of the chapter, we see that for the first time, non-Jewish people trusted in Jesus for salvation.  And not just a few, but thousands of Gentile people were converted, because of the symbolic dream that God gave to Peter.  It was a dream God used to get Peter’s attention.

If it seems difficult to accept that Jesus dying for our sins on the cross didn’t also change the dietary law that God gave to Moses in the book of Leviticus, consider this: Why are so many people allergic to shellfish?  And why is eating pork the leading cause of people getting intestinal parasites?  Because Jesus dying on the cross didn’t change the fact that the bottom feeders, scavengers, and carnivores still eat the leftovers and the crap left over at bottom of the food chain.  Science didn’t change.  By eating these forbidden animals, we are eating lightly toxic food.

In short, eating Kosher means you can eat these animals: chickens, turkeys, sheep, goats, cows, and fish with gills (tuna, salmon, tilapia, etc.). But you can’t eat these ones: pigs, ducks, rabbits, deer, shrimp, scallops, octopuses, sea urchins, or bottom feeder/carnivorous fish (catfish, sharks, swordfish, etc.).

2) And because red food dye is made from scale insects and/or petroleum, any kind of food containing Crimson Lake or Red 40 (mainly candy like Twizzlers and red M&M’s, Skittles, etc.) has ingredients that are not Kosher.  Kosher law does not allow anyone to eat insects other than locusts (which John the Baptist ate), nor does it even mention eating petroleum, but it shouldn’t have to, because it’s pretty clear to me: Petroleum is oil, not food.

3) Also, meat and dairy products are not supposed to be eaten during the same meal.  I’m not saying I never eat a cheeseburger and that I only eat vegetarian lasagna, but I just keep in mind that evidently meat and dairy products were not meant to be digested together, because it slows down the digestion process and promotes constipation.

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

So Maybe I’m Allergic to Peanut Butter… in Large, Consistant Amounts

But not allergic to peanuts themselves.  Noted, I’m no doctor.

One of the darkest places in life for me is when I am throwing up- which only happens a few times each decade.  It’s that feeling of inescapable depression, like being a notches away from a sickly death- a hellish gravity so overwhelming that I tend to wonder if I will wake up as a ghost like Bruce Willis and not realize I’ve been dead the entire movie.  Usually I try to keep things a bit classier when I write, but in this case there is really no way around the fact that over the weekend I spent the hours from midnight until 4:30 AM constantly vomiting, only interrupted with sporadic periods of rest on the bathroom rug.  I understand that some people have never gotten food poisoning.  As for myself, I can easily think of my three worst occasions: The Central Park drive-thru in 1990, the shady Chinese buffet restaurant in 2007 (back when I still ate pork and shellfish), and the apple & peanut butter incident of 2010.

I don’t know; maybe getting food poisoning every couple of years is like getting stuck by lightening more than once in a lifetime.  Or maybe my digestive track is just ultra-sensitive to any food that is slightly less than proper and sanity.  But what I do know is that I am unable to digest slightly massive amounts of anything- even if it hasn’t been setting out in a Chinese buffet for three hours unattended. What clued me into my possible allergy to large, consistent amounts of peanut butter was my Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup overdose of 2003, when I consumed 36 of them in less than 24 hours: I had just came back from spending a summer in Thailand where both peanut butter and rich, American chocolate are rare finds.  I experienced a major depression for the following two days along with a mild rash on my left wrist for the next six months.

Last week my choice snack every day was an apple with three tablespoons of peanut butter. So good- and seemingly healthy.  But I guess by Day 6 of this treat, which I made my lazy dinner Friday night, was just enough peanut butter in a week’s amount of digestion to throw my digestive track into shock.  Because this was the first time that after I puked up all my food from that evening, I puked up a thick yellow substance, then a thick green substance, then blood- and that pattern repeated a few times before I finally fell asleep until late morning. Eventually though, every single trace of peanut butter was erased from my body. Now, a few days later, I was able to eat my first meal with meat (tilapia, okra, and salad), though my voice is raspy from all the ralphing and my ribs hurt any time I cough or sneeze.

To my understanding and according to my self-diagnosis, I have survived yet another case of food poisoning- and surprisingly this time it didn’t involve a restaurant, but instead a good snack.  I’ve eaten a lot of peanuts in a week’s time and never had anything like this happen.  There must be something about the simple process of smashing the peanuts to turn them into butter than makes them slightly toxic to me.  Sure, I didn’t experience any of the typical symptoms of peanut butter allergies like swelling, but I just think it that peanut butter is smart enough of a food to hurt people in its own sneaky ways.

Lesson learned: From now on I’ll go light on the PB.

The Cure for Eczema and Hand Dyshidrosis: Replace Processed Sugar by Eating Whole Fruits, Get Rid of Metals, Consume Chlorella, Sweat a Lot, Become a New Person

STOP! WAIT! This blog post is nearly 7 years old. I only keep it online to document my journey in curing dyshidrotic eczema. But I have learned a lot more since I wrote this back in 2010…

I beg you, please, instead, read the much-updated, and much more accurate 2018 version of this article. Just click the link below to find out how to cure dyshidrotic eczema:

How I Cured Dyshidrotic Eczema in 5 Steps and Have Remained Symptom-Free for 5 Years (But No One Cares Since I’m Not a Medical Expert)

It costs nothing but a lifestyle change.

For you to be taking the time to read this article, chances are you or someone who is close to you has suffered for years from the skin condition known as eczema.  Of course, after visiting at least a few doctors and/or skin specialists, the answer was that there is no cure.  Then a topical lotion was prescribed to “help keep things under control”.  But there is a cure that I had to discover the hard way, and thank God for it.

Make note that I am in no way a medical doctor.  And that’s a good thing.  Because the doctors say there is no cure.  But I say there is.  And I’ve been cured of eczema, specifically dyshidrosis.

I will make no money by telling you the cure.  You will not buy a book from me, nor will you subscribe to website that costs you any money.  You will simply read what I have to say and apply it to your life.

My hand a few months before it got really bad.

This is a very cut-and-dry issue.  It works if you do it.  It doesn’t work if you don’t, or if you cheat yourself by not fully committing.

If you are desperate enough to be healed, like I was, you will be willing to change your lifestyle.  And that’s what this will cost you- your lifestyle.  But not your life.

How to Be Cured of Eczema

1)     Completely cut out sugar from your diet, except for fruits in their whole form.  That means no fruit juice.  That means no yogurt (which is loaded with sugar.)  Instead, eat at least three servings of fruit everyday: bananas, oranges, apples, and grapes are the easiest and cheapest way to go.  You need the healthy sugar from the fruit with the fiber from the fruit.

This is the exact cilantro/chlorella extract I used.

2)     Completely cut out unnecessary metals from your body.  If you have metal fillings in your teeth, get them taken out.  (I even had to switch to a ceramic wedding ring.) If you have cartilage piercings, remove them.  Stop eating shellfish (shrimp, scallops, lobster, etc.), which have high levels of heavy metals.

3)     Sweat as much as possible.  If you have access to a sauna, take advantage of it.  If not, do plenty of outdoor exercise.  If nothing else, sunbathe.  Sweat helps remove the toxins from your body that sustain the eczema.

4)     Eat lots of chlorella (seaweed extract) and cilantro.  These both help your body to extract the poisons in your body that feed the eczema. I used a heavy metal detox like this one.

5)     Read these other articles I’ve written which explain more about why the first four steps are so important:

The Shell Diet

healthnutshell: The Unholy Trinity of Food

healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette

healthnutshell: No Pork on My Fork

You should start seeing results by the third week.  It took me about seven months for my body to be fully removed of my eczema.  And if you go back to your old lifestyle, (not following my 5 steps) your eczema will return.  You have been chosen to live a different lifestyle; you have to accept it.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or stories you have for me.  Remember, I’m not a doctor.  Just someone who’s been where you are and wants this good news of hope to be spread.  There is a cure.

Contact me by email: nickshell1983@hotmail.com

 

Religious Views on Facebook Profiles

“You gave your life to Jesus Christ… and you were not the same after that.” – “Not the Same” by Ben Folds

It’s interesting to see what people list as their “religious views” on their facebook profiles if they are Christians. Some just simply list “Baptist” or “Protestant”. And many, in an effort to creatively avoid a label, list something like “saved by grace” or “in Christ alone”. And that’s cool.

I’m sure for others, summing it all down to one phrase can be difficult, especially for those who believe in God but not necessarily that Jesus is the only way to Heaven as the Bible teaches and as Jesus himself proclaimed. They are not Christians. But they are not atheists either.

For me, simply listing myself as a Christian is a struggle. Because “Christian” has become somewhat of a watered-down generic term, thanks to the way many non-Christians and non-Americans perceive Christians.

I’m quite familiar with the fact that often non-Christians see Christians as selfish hypocrites, as non-Christians often use some of our worst specimens (or those who claim Christianity) as the model for all of us.

And from a non-American perspective (especially non-Catholic and non-Protestant countries), everyone in America is a Christian. They see influential American pop stars and their famous lifestyles and assume that is Christianity. Britney Spears is suddenly the epitome of what all Christians stand for.

I am a Christian. And I don’t believe that I am better than any person in this world nor do I believe that Christians are better people than any other religious group of people. If anything, I feel quite inferior to most people on this earth. I strive for a more giving spirit, like the kind I see in those who have much less than I do.  I’ve got a long ways to go.

I belong to a Baptist church. That means my ultimate goal in life is to introduce others to Jesus as the only way true to eternal life, by showing them love and truth. And I believe that being baptized is an important outward symbol of the surrendering of my life to God, as Jesus did.

The Baptist denomination best resembles overall what I believe.

But there are some things about the Baptist culture I stray from. For example, I don’t oppose the reasonable consumption of alcohol or feel it’s taboo for a Christian to drink. Yet I share the all the same major spiritual doctrines as Baptists. Therefore I’m a little bit Presbyterian. (My wife and I were married in a Presbyterian church.)

http://wp.me/pxqBU-2I

http://wp.me/pxqBU-2L

And though as a Baptist I’m very aware that I can’t earn my salvation by anything I do on my own, I’m a little bit Catholic because I believe salvation in Christ is more than just saying a prayer for Jesus to save me and then saying “I got saved” and then going to church.

My faith does require “works” in order to prove my faith to be genuine and alive; by serving others- caring for the poor, helpless, lonely, and misunderstood. Because that’s what Jesus was all about.

And that’s something that perhaps has best been taught to me through some of the examples of some of the Catholic saints and missionaries I’ve heard and read about, the most obvious being Mother Teresa.

It troubles me that many Baptist churches are so good about making sure no one in the congregation leaves the service without being given the opportunity to “become a Christian” by saying “the sinner’s prayer”. But afterwards, these confused spiritual infants are often left without being nurtured through discipleship.

Not understanding that so much of their sought-after Heaven is just as much in this life as it is the next. And that it takes serving others to help bring Heaven to Earth.  I really like the way that over the centuries that Catholics have chosen some of the most humble servants as their legendary heroes. Of course I don’t pray to saints, but I’ve learned to admire and attempt to mimic their lifestyles.

I’m a little bit Jewish because I share the Old Testament with the Jews. The Old Testament actually makes up around 2/3’s of the Bible’s content. And of course I don’t eat pork or shellfish (or many other kinds of carnivores, predators, and “bottom feeder” animals) as God instructed the Jews in Leviticus 11.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-jO

I’m a little bit Seventh Day Adventist. They are the health nut freaks of Christianity. Most of them are vegetarians and avoid processed foods and the consumption of sugar (except in the form of whole fruits). Seventh Day Adventists also have a better understanding of resting “on the Sabbath”.  And statistics show they live around 7 years longer than the rest of us believers.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-sf

http://wp.me/pxqBU-q8

So that is my religious status.

When all that is thrown into a blender, arguably it could be said I am closest to being a Baptist who unofficially converted to Messianic Judaism.

Messianic Jews are of Hebrew heritage but unlike other Jews, they accept Jesus as the Messiah. And though I have still yet to prove that somewhere back in my Italian lineage there was a Jew in there (my Mexican grandmother is convinced that’s the case), a person without Hebrew heritage can still convert to become a Messianic Jew.

http://wp.me/pxqBU-i6

Maybe I should just list my religious views as “It’s Complicated”.

No Pork on My Fork: Why I Decided to Go Kosher

I’m not Jewish.  But I am Jew-ish.

If vultures and possums were easy to sell and market to the public, and people enjoyed the way they tasted, would people still eat them? Surely not. Because those are gross animals. (I’m assuming.)

Hard to believe now, but from 2006 to 2008 I lived in a house full of 4 other guys. If a near cliché is needed here, it was the ultimate “bachelor pad”. A house where there was no such thing as “cleaning day”. The big screen TV was always playing in surround sound. The soonest anyone went to bed was around midnight. Cooking food ourselves almost never happened. Christmas lights on the roof and rotted jack-o-lanterns on the porch were not seasonal items, they were constant.

The owner of the house, Jared, always had a new “toy” that he exploited for all its worth. First it was a bread machine: “You haven’t had real bread until you’ve had my homemade bread…” A few months later: “Taste this beer- I made this stuff myself with this new kit I bought at CVS.” (I specifically remember him also inventing “twine”, a cross between sweet tea and wine.) But my personal favorite was the fruit juicer. He read to me all 67 benefits of drinking carrot juice from Wikipedia as I had a glass myself of it myself.

Juicing really can be a fun thing. I ended up going to Publix and buying grapes, apples, even a banana (which ultimately caused the juicer to disperse a mucus-looking substance). One day after work I was making a healthy concoction when I looked up at Jared at said, “What if we juiced a ham?” He said it would probably give us nothing but yellow fat water.

That mental image has disturbed me ever since. It also helped me realize I’ve never been a fan of ham anyway. Ham is pretty much an accessory to the main dish. I can’t think of many times in my life seeing ham as the main meat of meal on a restaurant menu, with the exception of places like Cracker Barrel.

I may even go as far to say that ham has become an irrational fear of mine. Just the thought of touching slimy, sliced ham. Sickening, really. But everyone else seems to be cool with ham. So what’s the true issue?

I had to accept that one of my destinies in life is to not eat ham. This calling eventually would lead me to learn way more than I or anyone else would want to know, and that knowledge I would gain would be so shocking and unbelievable that those who heard it either A) believed it and acted upon it, B) scorned my stupidity, or C) were intrigued, yet indifferent.

It all started last November when I began going regularly to a hydro colonics specialist in an effort to clear up my eczema. Ultimately, it’s the glorified version of the ancient Egyptian practice of getting an enema. Throughout my many visits, several worm parasites were released from my body. The biggest one was comparable to the size of a human finger. It was clear with a black head.

http://www.ablebodycolonics.com/practice.html

Of course I asked the doctor what caused this. My two summers in Thailand? My visit to a Korean sauna? Nope. The mostly likely cause of a human having parasites in their digestive system is from eating undercooked pork.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cysticercosis

While this incident that happened to me is nothing less of disgusting, it does raise a great question: Which is worse, A) to hear someone tell about pork-transmitted worm parasites that were released through something as weird and socially unacceptable as hydro colonics, or B) to go on living knowing that the chances of having the same worm parasites are pretty favorable, yet doing nothing about it?

With some research, I read that at least 1 out of 3 people in America are living with a similar kind of parasites that I had; some sources stated as high out 7 out of 10. But what good are statistics? Eighty-two percent of statistics are made up anyway, right? The proof was in the pudding (pun).

After sharing my personal results with them, I convinced at least 5 other people to see the hydro colonics specialist. Four out of the five had at least one parasite worm (if not several) come out of them. So all but one out of the six people (myself included) had parasite worms. I’m not good at math. But 5 out of 6 (83%) people is much more definite than 1 out of 3 (33%), as prior estimated statistics had predicted.

Growing up in a Baptist youth group, I always thought it was funny to hear the youth minister pray over our fast food dinners: “And Lord, we pray You will bless this food to the nourishment of our bodies and our bodies to Your service…” Really? French fries, cheeseburgers, and soda? All that saturated fat, sodium, and sugar? I see why that would be a necessary prayer, but seriously…

Wouldn’t it make more sense not to eat crap? Speaking of eating crap, I think it’s a little ironic that thousands of years ago God instructed the Jews about certain foods they should not eat. He set apart certain animals to serve as the “clean-up crew of the Earth”. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=leviticus+11

They eat the rotting carcasses and/or feces of other animals. In plain English, these scavengers include, but are not limited to pork and shellfish (shrimp, scallops, lobster, crabs). Similarly, there are also catfish which are called “cleaner fish”; they feed off the dead skin and parasites they find on other living fish.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unclean_animals

Catfish find rotten blood appetizing.

Is it any coincidence that so many people are allergic to shellfish? (Thanks to Dwight on The Office, many Americans learned that the black vein on the spine of a shrimp is feces in its digestive track.) The scavengers of the sea often have a higher level of mercury, commonly being the main cause of allergies in humans. For me it was hard to look past the wonderful taste of these creatures. But if you are what you eat, and especially if you are what shellfish eat…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shellfish

Going back to those lovable piggies, the more I learned about them the more repulsed I became at the thought of eating one. They are different creatures, physically structured to carry out the task of be custodians of the ecosystem. Pigs have a very high tolerance to toxic substances. They can be bit by poisonous snakes and usually survive.

Instead of toxins traveling through their entire body, they go to the animal’s fat and are stored there. And oddly, they don’t have sweat glands. They are not able to “sweat out” poisons the way most mammals do. Therefore they roll in the mud to cool themselves off. Eventually, humans eat the fat which stored the toxins the pig consumed. What’s really weird is that pork fat, when consumed by humans, remains pork fat, instead of converting to human fat like other animal fats do. It’s hard for me to think of bacon the same way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig

We eat these...

But not these.

This is my destiny, to eat like a Jew. My wish for the world is for everyone to continue enjoying sausage, pepperoni, bacon, shrimp, scallops, lobster, crab legs, and catfish as I did for 28 years. But since May 2009, I have chosen to take this whole thing a little too seriously.

http://bible.cc/deuteronomy/14-8.htm

Below is a word from a frenemy. This is one thing I can agree with him on.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJrJkFBEt_c

My Jewish Upbringing

“You’re just another face that I know from the TV show.  I have known you for so very long.  I feel you like a friend.”

– “Turn It On Again” by Genesis

When I was in 6th grade (1992-1993) my friend Chad Mathers was telling me about this funny TV show he had began watching called Seinfeld. He explained that the main character was Jewish. Then he said to me, “You’re Jewish, right? Your mom looks Jewish, so that means you are too.” I replied, “Yeah, I guess I’m Jewish.”

Most of my classmates knew my mom because she was a substitute teacher. And they knew by her physical traits she wasn’t just “American”. She was something ethnic. No one really knew exactly what nationality she was, though. Neither did I. Because I just never thought to question it as a kid.

In fact, I had every reason to believe I was Jewish. My mom was always using words like, “kosher”, “schnozzle”, “finagle”, and “hoopla”. (Though only those first two words are actually Jewish words.) And she always perfectly and naturally handled the family budget- she now works at a bank.

Her parents: My grandfather was 5’ 6”, dark-skinned, curly haired, and had the “schnozzle”. He never used the word “church”- instead he called it “tabernacle”.  The only kind of bread he ever had at his house was Jewish Rye.  He saved most of his money and when he rarely bought a new car, he paid for it in cash. My grandmother is 4” 8”, even darker-skinned, with long black hair. Neither of their accents helped- respectively Kenosha and Buffalo. Seemed Jewish to me.

Most Jews living in America have German last names, often including “sch”, “stein”, “berg”, and “man”. My last name, Shell, is German and was originally spelled “Schel”.

And my family has always been close. Every holiday and birthday was spent together. Meatballs were often a part of the meals. Only they weren’t Matzah balls.

My earliest memory of learning my true heritage was in 9th grade. Evidently it took that long for me to be self-aware enough to question my heritage.  It’s not that I actually thought I was Jewish before, it’s that I didn’t question it.  I just assumed.  But despite all the Jewish clues, I learned I wasn’t all that Jewish. My grandfather (Albert Metallo) was Southern-Italian and my grandmother (Lola Mendez) Central-Mexican. And on my dad’s side, German and English.

But after doing some in-depth some research, I learned there’s a good chance that too of my great-grandmothers were Jewish (Wiseman and Vite), not to mention a Green and an Ullman a little bit further back.

My mom and I in 2004

While I’m fully proud of my actual heritage, I feel more Jewish than I actually am. Thinking back on the last decade, the celebrities that people have said that I look like are all Jews: David Schwimmer, David Arquette, Paul Rudd, Zack Braff, and Ben Savage (from “Boy Meets World”). And I have played Jesus in more church skits and plays than any of my friends, because I always “looked the most Jewish.” I was the obvious choice.

And like the Genesis song “Turn It On Again” talks about, the characters I knew from the movies and TV shows (and even musicians) I watched growing up became like family to me, in a very cloudy, subconscious sort of way.  In particular, as I kid I thought I was Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) from The Wonder Years.  And in talking to my sister in preparation for this post, I learned that she always thought that too.  We never knew that we both thought that until now.

The Three Stooges. Seinfeld. Friends. Pauly Shore. Bob Saget. Ben Stein. Howie Mandel. Dustin Diamond. Adam Sandler. Andy Samberg. Bob Dylan. Billy Joel. Just a few Jewish people who have surely influenced the culture of my life in some minutely tangible way.

Several years ago I stumbled across an obscure brand of wine that evidently has become my favorite.  The name caused me to think it was German.  But once I read the label carefully, I realized it is wine mainly used for Jewish services.  It’s Manischewitz brand, one of the nation’s leading brand of kosher products.

And this year I officially stopped eating pork and shellfish. Therefore the word “kosher” means something important to me. It means “hot dog I can eat”.

Some Jews actually have no Israeli blood, but they convert to the religion of Judaism. I sort of feel like that somehow. However, the only Jews that believe Jesus is the true son of God are the Messianic Jews.  Clearly put,  I feel like a Gentile (a person is not from the lineage of the nation of Israel) who has converted to Messianic Judaism. Yes, I’m a technical Messianic Jew.