Summer Break, Gardens, and Happy Hour Sushi

globe artichoke backyard garden
I haven’t been doing much writing this summer, but I plan to get back on schedule this fall. It’s been one busy summer!

Things kicked off with my birthday in June, and two days later I started summer school classes (Statistics and Political Science) which required non-stop studying and writing which reduced the writing itch as well as changed my focus from nutrition.

In my spare time, I tended my first vegetable garden in four years, and renewed my efforts toward keeping up my yard’s fruit trees. I planted watermelon, yellow squash, zucchini, cucumber, butternut squash, three kinds of beans (green, wax, and purple), globe artichokes, Jerusalem artichokes (actually, they planted themselves), and some basil. The yellow squash and basil both failed to thrive, however the cucumber is working in a professional capacity, and the artichokes have already put out several small chokes. If I collect beans for a week, then there are enough for two, and while the zucchini plant seems to visibly take over the garden, it hasn’t been putting out. I did finally see a couple of small watermelons though which gives me hope I’ll get a few of those before the growing season ends.

The funny thing about zucchini that doesn’t seem to apply to any of the other squash is any contact I make with the leaves gives me a mean-looking rash. It’s like a stinging nettle reaction and usually goes away by the next day unless I get a bad spot; then it lasts for a week or so. I’m usually suspicious of eating anything that reacts with my skin, however zucchini never seems to cause any problems, so I keep watering and hoping it’ll give me something more to work with.

Nothing says summer to me like drizzling chopped zucchini, red onion, and mushrooms with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (like soy sauce however it’s not fermented and therefore doesn’t contain any aspergillus fungus, nor does it have any other ingredient than soy) and some olive oil and grilling on the bbq in a grill basket.

Another indulgence this summer has been hitting the downtown sushi restaurant, The Raw Bar, for its happy hour, so I can enjoy a couple of cut rolls while people-watching as the restaurant faces the downtown park quad. Sushi is a favorite of mine, as long as I bring my own Bragg’s, because I can usually find something to eat without any special help.

raw bar chico happy hour
Philly rolls, which contain smoked salmon, cream cheese, and green onions wrapped in rice and seaweed, are a favorite. I do like to request my own special roll, however, and most places I’ve gone are more than happy to accommodate my request. In fact, The Raw Bar is thinking up a name for it since I request it every time. My custom roll is: tuna, avocado, daikon radish, green onion, rolled inside out with sesame seeds and tobiko (flying fish roe) on the outside. Delicious with some Bragg’s and wasabi. I skip the ginger because it usually contain citric acid. For those sensitive, some sushi restaurants use seasoned rice vinegar in their rice which does contain a little corn syrup; often times the wasabi contains corn starch, so be careful if you are sensitive.

Unfortunately, I decided to venture out of my safety zone and ordered a different roll I thought might be ok for me to eat, but I discovered just as I was swallowing my first bite it contained tempura. It was the first time I had any gluten grain in my mouth and known about it in several years. I didn’t know what to do! And my waitress was very attentive and apologetic, saying she knew I brought in my own soy sauce but didn’t put two and two together and realize I was gluten-intolerant because people who have Celiac disease usually bring tamari instead. In actuality, I should have been the one to say something to begin with, but have had such good luck with sushi restaurants I had gotten careless. At any rate, I greatly appreciated the concern and care taken in making sure I had something else to eat and made sure I showed up the next week so she knew I survived.

It’s tough with me and gluten, however, because with this exposure, it took several days to become obvious. I think it may have to do with how long it’s been since I’ve had any gluten, so it was subtle at first. However, about five days later, the familiar head-crushing migraine “storm” struck and then the stomach problems, the aching all over in my joints, and the emotional roller coaster that lasts for about three weeks.

The gluten reaction even kicked up a major Interstitial Cystitis flare, complete with pelvic floor spasms, which surprised me as I hadn’t considered they might have any relationship. I think the common denominator may be firing up of the abdominal nerves and inflammation caused by the autoimmune reaction. At any rate, I survived ok but there was a rough week or two in there where I once again felt strongly resolved in my making gluten a thing of my past.

I’m still trying to understand how food reacts with the body and hope to learn more this fall as I learn more about organic chemistry and physiology. And I’ll post some new recipes I’ve learned and concocted this summer.

Thanks for reading!

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